Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Red Sky At Night

Lisa and I took a walk on our first night here in Virginia Beach, when we spied a red orb beyond the water.  The image was strange.  What was it?  A special effect? 

Just the moon - a fabulous view.  My camera didn't do it any justice.

Anatomy of a Picture

OK, people, let's get to the bottom of this.

By the way, hello from Virginia Beach.  The weather is good, although cool.  The company is great.  The food is great.  The beach is comfy.  The water is cold.

But I digress.  Yesterday, I posted this picture, taken by my cellphone...
Now, what was supposed to be a priceless view of #LifeIsGood as turned into a mini Adams controversy.

Yes, my legs look red in the picture.  But I was sitting in an orange sun tent (that's the key to keeping me on the beach). I did get some color on my legs the day before, but it was further up on my thigh.

But that didn't stop Facebookies from telling me that I needed more sun screen.  Even after I told them that I was fine, some persisted.

Last night, I took uploaded pictures off of my Panasonic camera.  Have a look at almost the same angle...
They look more red in the cell phone picture.

But, most of all, my girlfriend - the nurse - said I was fine.  And as I sit in room 1010B thinking about breakfast, my legs look quite colorless.

I appreciate the concern, but trust me, I'm fine.

Carry on.

Friday, May 24, 2013

A Couple of Pleasantville Videos

Not much time on this Friday.  As always, I'm reminded that on the day before you leave for vacation, you wonder if going on vacation is even worth it.

As always, thanks to Tom Prizeman, Shane McGaffey, and PCTV for having me around.  It's quite possible I might be back in the Fall.  I was only able to call one baseball game and one lacrosse game for PCT in the spring, but I was happy to do so.

Tom called a wonderful lacrosse game, and the final moments are ones that he should save for an audition tape.  It's easy, in a big spot, to lose your stuff and go "Gus Johnson-esque" (and the free world knows how I feel about that).  But, to Tom's credit, with the game on the line, he gives an excited, but measure call.  You know who he is rooting for,  but there's no harm there.

The call is here.

Tom also put together a terrific boys basketball highlight reel.  Featuring uptempo music (and props for the music choices), he drops in a few of my play-by-play calls.

Good stuff - watch it here.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


It's not un-American to question why in the hell Major League Baseball is subjecting everyone to these hideous aberrations.  In fact, it's QUITE American!

It is also, of course, about the almighty dollar.

I get that they're supposedly raising money with the sales of such things.  Great.

But I'll leave it to my cousin, Kris, who said it best: "Wish they would leave the uniforms alone and just donate the "profits" from sales on that day."

For me, a sitckler for tradition, I don't want to see the uniform messed with.  Certainly not the Yankees classic uniform.  I will bend, however, when it comes to throwbacks, as I am a fan.

Plus, and this can't be ignored, Memorial Day is about remembering those who perished in battle.

Keep that in mind when you're strolling the open stores on Monday.  Which should be closed.

That's a whole different rant.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


(Photo: Steve Gooch, AP)
The images are stunning.

Moore, OK, a suburb of Oklahoma City, took a fierce punch from a tornado yesterday afternoon.  The numbers have moved around a little bit since it first hit about 24 hours ago.  As I write, the word is that death toll - once as high as 91 - has been revised to 24.  One can hope it goes even lower.

In times like this, we always generally say the same thing: "thoughts and/or prayers." Yes, it seems trite.  Yes, it often seems lame.  Yes, it's a cliche.  Some feel that prayer is useless.  Some feel thoughts and best wishes are worthless.

Yes, action is needed.

But sometimes hopes or prayers or thoughts are all that we have or can offer.

I'm babbling, of course.  I absolutely offer my thoughts and condolences on this day, and won't apologize for it.  For a god-fearing area like Oklahoma, guess what?  There's a large chance they want your prayers today.

Of course, the Red Cross, etc, want donations as well and they'll take any dollar amount.

The truth is that there is no manual for these moments.  People do what they can.  From there you hope their heart is in the right place.

But first things first.  Let the first responders do their job.  May they find more survivors.  May they also find strength.

Let's start there.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Sports at 30

Found!  Thank you, Best Buy in the Poughkeepsie Galleria - May 18, 2013 (RA photo)
You remember certain things.  You know where you were, the date, and other details.

Of course there are the big events - the life-changing ones.

Then there are much smaller, impactful events. Take, for instance, music that blew my mind.

It was 1984. February or March, as I recall. Because we didn't have MTV, I had to record "Friday Night Videos" on VHS every week.  The first show I recorded it featured "Heart and Soul" by Huey Lewis and the News.  I hadn't thought much of them before this.  I knew they did "Do You Believe in Love" back in '82.

The song grabbed me.  Not long after, I was in my room one afternoon when a new song came on WHCN out of Hartford.  The song was called "The Heart of Rock and Roll."

Officially, I was hooked.  I had to get a ride to the Jefferson Valley Mall to but the album (we had our choice - Record Town or Record World).  I went to Record World and bought the cassette.

How could it go wrong?  I already liked two songs, plus "I Want a New Drug." And the title, perfect for a 15 year-old kid who had one thing at the top of the list of things he loved.


This band was my kind of group.  Considering everything on the pop/rock scene at that time, they were like a sonic boom.  They had a rock edge but a pop sensibility.  They were old school, embracing the origins of American rock, but also stayed true to the current times.  They seemed like regular guys.

They made great songs.  I would eventually buy their whole catalog, and find rarities, bootlegs, etc.

My siblings fed The Beatles to me.  My sister helped make me a Billy Joel fan.  My brother brought me Led Zeppelin and Lynyrd Skynyrd.  Jazz and big band came from my dad.  My mom had all of the pop smarts from Sinatra forward.

These guys were mine.  This album, which I soon acquired in multiple formats, was mine.

Here it is, almost 30 years after its initial release (which happened on September 15, 1983).


New York, New York, isn't everything they say and no place I'd rather be...

The opening line of the album.  The city near where I call home.  A harmonica, good back beat, horns, even a playful video that pays tribute to rock's past.  "The Heart of Rock and Roll" has become a line that we use when talking about the very lifeblood of the genre.

Sports writer Jon Wetheim once called it one of the 10 worst songs ever.

Jon Wertheim is dead to me.  You think I'm kidding?

As I listened to it yesterday, in both the original (remastered) and live (on the included second disc, a recording from 1988 in Cleveland) still sounds great.  It still rocks, and should be played on rock stations (find some guts, radio programmers).  It's still my favorite song.

And Huey Lewis wrote it (along with guitar and saxophone player Johnny Colla) after a concert in Cleveland because he discovered, well, the heart of rock and roll really was in Cleveland, as surprising as that seemed.

By the way, where is the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame located?  Yeah...there.

Two o'clock this morning. If she should come a-calling.  I wouldn't dream of turning her away...

"Heart and Soul" is actually a cover song. I didn't know that until much later.  But I found that Exile had recorded the song in 1981.  Huey's version, which rocked it up more, became a big hit.  In fact, all of side one of the cassette/record are songs that most people know.  Beyond that, six of the nine tracks on the album got a lot of radio play. The video was fun also, featuring a party that, well, was interesting.

Back uptown to see Marie.  Nobody home, I open the door with my key. "I love you Huey" was the note I read.  But there's a strange pair of shoes...underneath the bed...

"Bad is Bad" wasn't a single.  Interestingly, they made a video for it, but didn't make one for "Walking on a Thin Line."  Again, you remember things.  I remember seeing the video for the first time at my friend Scott Wilson's house.  Scottie wouldn't be known as Huey fan, but he knew I was.

Huey and keyboardist/bass vocalist Sean Hopper wrote this along with the other members of their band Clover, a country-rock-blues outfit with bad timing.  Punk hit big in England when they were trying to make it big there.  But the seeds for the News were laid here.  The song had multiple iterations.  Dave Edmunds recorded it as a blues tune, which is the way Huey would sometimes play it live (and still does).  Phil Lynott gave it the same treatment (with Huey on harmonica).

On Sports, they took the drum sticks out of Bill Gibson's hands and had him program a drum machine.  Again, take the old and meld it with the new.  It worked for 1984.  I still love it - either way it's played.  They both have their place.

For the 30th anniversary CD, Johnny Colla (who headed up production) chose a great version, recorded in 1987 (on the Fore! tour) in Boston.  It stays true to the record, and Huey plays it up by inserting "clam chowder" where "soul stew" should go.

By the way, Clover was one of those acts who seemed to know people, including Elvis Costello.  Not many people know their music, but they had a small influence.

One that won't make me nervous.  Wondering what to do.  One that makes me feel like I feel when I'm with you...

"I Want a New Drug" was sort of misunderstood.  Sure, it said "drug" in it, but in the Nancy Reagan "Say No to Drugs" 80's, that was a no-no.  The British import said the title of the song was "I Want a New Drug (Called Love)."  Yep, avoid those nasty drug references.  The live version included for the 30th, recorded in Chicago before the album was released, even references that paranoia.

I really loved this song for a while, then I placed it a little lower on my list.  In fact, the band had begun playing it as a medley with the extremely underrated "Small World" (that featured jazz legend Stan Getz on the album in 1988).  But they recently performed it on "Jimmy Kimmel Live," and I felt the song pop again.

Plus Sean was humming it yesterday.  So that works for me.  The video might be - might be - their most famous.  I would offer that Huey putting his face in the sink full of ice is one the 80's more iconic video images.

Sometimes in my bed at night, I curse the dark and I pray for the light.  And sometimes the light's no consolation...

The boys didn't write "Walking On a Thin Line."  It did get released as a single - an ode to Vietnam War veterans. It was probably the most serious, and perhaps the most rocking song on the album.

It was also the only single to not go into the Billboard Top 10.

Used to make me so fed up.  People always asking me.  What are you now that you've grown up?  Exactly what I want to be...

"Finally Found a Home" is an album track.  They played it live, but it wasn't a single.  It's a good song, but it's one of those that the hardcore fans have a soft spot for.

The only video I could find for it was a live version from their "Rockpalast" Germany concert.

Now you're confessing, but I'm still guessing.  I've been your fool for so so long...

It took me a while to get to side two of Sports.  I played the hell out of side one.  In fact, Sports would be the first cassette that I would have to replace because I really did wear it out.  But it wasn't until I heard "If This is It" a little later in '84 that I really began to inhale the entire album.

It's a touch of a classic doo-wop, featuring the band's legendary harmonies, with a guitar solo by Chris Hayes and the pounding keyboards of Sean Hopper.

Again, the video was quite funny, despite the somewhat sad nature of a guy trying to find out if his relationship is really over.

So ends the hits.

With your sunglasses on.  Acting so young.  Only I know what you're really up to. You crack me up...

Track number eight, "You Crack Me Up", written by Huey and bassist Mario Cipollina, was and additional album track that referenced a friend that the two of them knew.  While I think the album is overall a timeless piece of work, this is probably the one track that sounds like 1983.

Apparently there wasn't a live version either, as the band recut the track live in 2012 at the Troutfarm.  It doesn't quite hold up as well.

I stopped into every place in town.  City life has really got me down. I got the honky tonk blues...

Looking back, as a musical historian, the recording of "Honky Tonk Blues" was a stroke of genius.  I say that because, as a band that looked to be a window to the past, playing a Hank Williams song was brilliant.

I don't mean Bocephus - Hank Williams Jr.  I mean his father - who wrote and recorded the song, a major hit, in 1952. 

That's some country music right there.

Charley Pride had a number one hit on the country chart in 1980 with the song.

HLN finished Sports with this track.  It's a quick song (just a little over two minutes long), and keeps the country edge, while still rocking, demonstrating how close the line is between the two genres, especially bluegrass and rock.  The HLN version adds a bridge of piano and changes the arrangement a bit.  It's a worthy successor to the other hit versions.  Huey's old friend (and Clover bandmate) John McFee plays the steel pedal guitar on it.

For the 30th anniversary, as with "You Crack Me Up", the band did a new live version.  John McFee shows up as well, and the song really kicks with some energy.  It's very reminiscent of the original Sports version but comes alive in a new way.  Newer Newsmen John Pierce (bass) and Stef Burns (guitar) step in for Cipollina and Hayes.


It's obvious how this album has had an impact on me.

I would go see them for the first time live in 1985 in Middletown, NY.  The live show only enhanced the fascination with the band.  Their energy, their approach, their musicianship, their lack of BS (they just played great music) and their sense of humor won me.

Their 1987 show at Madison Square Garden will, for several reasons, always be my favorite.  The place was rocking.  I felt on top of the world.

It was just one of those things.  That's the only way I can explain it.  The right album at the right time for the right kid.  It still holds for me after all of these years.  It's always on my iPad.  iPod.  On my phone.

It's always near me.  It will always be a part of me.

Thursday, May 16, 2013


I haven't had the proper time to address the Scranton trip with Sean (and I really don't now, either) but I don't think I need to do a long-winded post to say, simply, "awesome."

All of the pictures are here.

We didn't need this trip to make us closer.  Trust me.  If anything, it enhances our closeness.

I scooped him up straight from school, and his reaction was, well, like any kid.


He wanted to play with his friends, before remembering that it was the big day of our trip.  We stepped outside, here he did a "punch buggy" on me, seeing a gray one in the parking lot.

Hmmm, I said.  Let's see what happens when I press this button.

His eyes lit up.  That punch buggy was, for that weekend, our punch buggy.
We were in Scranton before 6:00, arriving at the wonderful SpringHill Suites in Moosic.  Sean had never seen such a place, and I've set the bar a lot higher than a Motel 6!

After some coaxing, we went to PNC Field, home of the Scranton-Wilkes Barre RailRiders.  The ballpark was completely rebuilt in 2012, so it had only been opened for a short time when we strolled in - procuring seats behind the first base dugout.

We stayed until the end of the 7th inning, after watching some of the game, walking around the whole place, and visiting the gift shop.  Sean needed a new miniature bat, along with a hat.  Paul Silverfarb (who isn't my son, by the way), also needed a new hat.

Our room had a view of the stadium, with thanks to the nice girl at the front desk.  A perfect vantage point for some fireworks.
 The next day, we went to the main attraction.
Then it was on to Steamtown National Historic Site, where we rode a train.  We looked at trains.  We saw a lot about trains.  And trolleys at the Electric City Trolley Museum. But when you see this face, how can you resist it?
We drove a lot.  We jumped in the pool at SpringHill Suites.  We ate Krispy Kreme and more Waffle House.  We - at Sean's insistence - went to Wawa for sandwiches.  We found the Scranton photo-op sign in the Mall at Steamtown, where we also saw a reference to Dunder Mifflin (of "The Office").

Incidentally, Scranton hosted a big farewell to "The Office" the following week.  They were at PNC Field and partied downtown.  Funny for us to see.

We had Old Forge pizza (not quite New York, but I'm biased).

We went to the really cool Lackawanna County Coal Mine Tour.

We talked.  We laughed.  We played.

We had a blast.

Instead of having too much time, we almost ran out of time!  I loved it.  Loved it all.  Hated to go home and I think he did also.

We'll do it again.

It was a priceless experience.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Why We Love Sports - Chapter 1723

Sports Illustrated photo
The Rangers beat the Washington Capitals last night, 5-0, in Game 7 of the Easter Conference quarterfinals.

The significance of this is that it was done in Washington.  It is, quite honestly, shameful to be beaten like that in Game 7, the penultimate game of a series.  The Washington Post has the details.

In a series in which Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist started terribly and finished phenomenally, it was nice to see the offense make life easier for him.

They will next play...the Boston Bruins.

That's where the story really begins.

Great friends Mick McGowan and Tom Oderwald came to "The Press Box" for a fun show.  After, Ryan DeMaria and I joined them for a post-show dinner at Sundown Saloon on Greenwich Ave.  We knew we could have dinner and hopefully watch some hockey.  After securing a table in the bar area, we glanced at the TV's.

Rangers 4, Caps 0...OK, game likely over (and it was, as I said above).

Maple Leafs 4, Bruins 2.  In fact, the game had been 4-1 in favor of Toronto.  In the third period.  In Boston.  In Game 7.  With all of the emotion of recent times in Beantown, sometimes you just run out of steam.  Which, as in Washington, wouldn't be acceptable (again, it's Game 7) but it happens.

Then something wondrous happened.

As in Game 6, the Bruins pulled their goalie, Tuukka Rask, and scored a goal to cut the deficit to one.  In Game 6, it was not enough, and the Leafs held on to force Game 7.

On this night, somewhat miraculously, the story had a different ending.

With just under a minute to play, Patrice Bergeron stuffed the puck past Toronto goalie James Reimer, and the game was tied.  Two goals within approximately a half minute.

Sitting in Greenwich, even I found myself cheering.  I couldn't help myself, and I realized that almost instantly.  I loved the drama - the unlikely notion of a team down three goals (oh, the dreaded three goal lead) in Game 7 coming back to tie it and, ultimately, winning it, as Bergeron netted the big tally in overtime (New York Times).

That's why we love sports.  That reaction.

The look of "holy s***" on Ryan's face.  The "wow's" of Mick and Tom.

Incidentally, fast forward to approximately 4:42 on this video.  It's show from above the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, where fans are watching on a big screen.  The reaction is, well, ugh.  Watch the fans scatter at 2:45 in this one.

As for video, here it is, courtesy CNBC.

But, wait!  There's more!  Deadspin has footage of Jack Edwards calling the game-winner, and Toronto in stunned disbelief.

Deadspin also feels NESN did a bad thing by showing Toronto after the tying goal but, hey, your mileage may vary.

Hey, look, we're not supposed to like Boston in New York.  I get that.  And the Bruins now advance to play the Rangers.  Each team is coming in with energy and momentum.  Each fan base can tell you while they're going to win...or lose (and I heard plenty of the former coming from WFAN as I drove home).

At the same time, we remember September 11 around here.  We remember Mike Piazza.  Tino Martinez.  Derek Jeter.  Scott Brosius.

We - Mets fans, Yankees fans, etc, let out an amazing noise thanks to each of these men.

Some are calling this a monumental moment in Boston sports history and, given the Marathon bombing of just a month ago, I can't really argue.  But I'd like to let it breathe before we do that.  It was a conference quarterfinal game.  There's a long way to go, but still, oh my goodness.

Maybe we can add Patrice Bergeron to the list of legends.

With all that being said, it's on, Boston.  Game 1 is Thursday.

And, oh how I wish the late Pat Turk was around for this series.  Mother versus son.  Pat and her much-despised "King" Henrik, against Harold's B's.  Oh...baby.  Just saying.  That would have been fun.

Upon seeing Bergeron score, I posted the famous words of Jack Buck to Harold's Facebook page: "I don't believe what I just saw!"

Monday, May 06, 2013

May 6th

Yankee Stadium, May 9, 2012
It was one year ago today that Lisa and I finally went on a real first date.  Oh yeah, we met for a few coffees (or chai tea) back in 2009/2010, but there wasn't really a feel of a "date" to those times.  It was simply "see ya at Starbucks" and talk.  Something was off.  We weren't ready.

We each went our separate ways and said an occasional hello to each other.  By April, 2012, we were both single again.  So we talked on the phone, picked up where we left off, and decided to go out - on May 6.

I remember it being fairly simple.  Nothing fancy.  A jeans and polo shirt kind of night.  I remember we had trouble finding each other at first.  I was parked in one area.  She was waiting in another.

We went for a walk through a park and grabbed dinner at a diner ("You're buying tonight," she said.  "It's our first date.").  Then a stop at CVS for Twizzlers and onto my first drive-in movie (the awful Zach Effron flick, The Lucky One, and jeez, I don't even remember the second one - some horror thing that we left 20 minutes in).

We made fun of the movies.

I remember there was a nice tension to the night.  What was this?  Was this for real?  After saying good night (awkwardly, I recall), I waited maybe 10 minutes before texting her to say I had a good time.

That, she told me later on, was smart.

By the time of our second date - a Yankees game that I wasn't initially invited to but a ticket opened up for me - it seemed clear that we kind of liked each other.

And so it went from there.  Camping.  Hiking.  Shopping.  Cape Cod.  Florida.  Movies.  TV.  Just talking.

Soon...Virginia Beach.

We laugh.  Nothing means more to me than that.  The laughter.

Truthfully, we're still learning each other.  For us, that means real life.  My quirks.  Hers.  She has no use for sports (unless she's playing them and, therefore, kicking my ass in them).  I live for them.  I love to shop but breeze through a store quickly.  She's meticulous and looks at everything.

Real life meant job loss (mine - damn layoff).  It means death and sickness and money and trying to get vacation time and time apart and working multiple jobs and family and a child and...

I want people to get to know her better.  Crowds aren't her thing (see: last year's overwhelming congregation at Cardinal Stadium on Thanksgiving).  She's smart.  Funny.  Attractive.


Sadly, we won't see each other today, thanks to my ragged schedule.  "The Press Box" is tonight.  I also have to work tomorrow, Wednesday, and Thursday nights also.


Even if my schedule was easy, I'm battling a nasty cold.  Listen to tonight's show and you might be able to hear it for yourself.  That kept us apart over the weekend.

But she's always in my thoughts.  Always.

And here we are.  One year later.

Friday, May 03, 2013

My Last Days: Meet Zach Sobiech

Chances are, you don't remember Zach Sobiech, who I introduced you to here.

But you should.  He's extraordinary.  And you should watch this.  Because, for 22 minutes, it's uplifting, heart-wrenching, sad, happy, funny, and cute.

So watch.  Please.


What Has Happened?

Remember this?

Part of a great marketing plan by the Yankees and Adidas in the late 90's.  These spots were brilliant - absolutely hysterical.  I can remember being among family and friends and everything coming to a dead stop when these commercials came on.  Not only were the Yankees dominating on the field (125-50 in 1998, anyone?), but off the field, they were connecting with the public.

Here's another one.  This one was completely brilliant.

Not only is David Cone great in the "lead" role, but the classic delivery from Luis Sojo: "Hey, Coney, why don't YOU have a dance?"  And note - briefly - the presence of former Yankee Clay Bellinger to the right of Sojo.  According to something I read, Cone wanted him in the spot to get him some extra cash.

I interviewed Cone several years ago.  Very likeable.  Really good guy.

All of this is apropos of nothing.  Just an indication that times, just like the overpriced ballpark, have changed.  A further note that the current team is that much tougher to warm up to.

Moving on...