Friday, August 30, 2013

Thought for the Day

That's right.  For better or for worse, the second Ron Burgundy movie is coming in December.  And so, to revive Thought for the Day (aka TftD), I felt I must pay tribute to the great Anchorman.

"He had a voice that could make a wolverine purr and suits so fine they made Sinatra look like a hobo. In other words, Ron Burgundy was the balls."

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Bart Palosz and the Sickness of Bullying

From Bart Palosz's Google+ site
If you haven't seen the story of Bart Palosz, then read what my friends and colleagues Ken Borsuk and Kait Shea wrote at the Greenwich Post website.

This story - of a 15-year-old Greenwich High School student who chose to end his life, perhaps due to bullying* - is chilling.  His Google + feed read with the thoughts of a troubled young person.  I won't post the link to it, but I read it and it sickened me.

He talked, quite openly, about killing himself.

* All of the facts aren't out, but there is enough chatter to suggest that it's real.  The investigation is continuing.  Whether that is the reason or not, it should serve as a wake up call regarding bullying.

It won't.  But it should.

Bullying happens - everywhere.  It happens - at every age.  It's nothing to screw around with.

This story is just, well, what can you say?

The signs HAVE to be taken seriously.  He talked of killing himself.

Then he did.

If Greenwich schools aren't doing enough about bullying, as I've heard charged, then let's hope they do something.  But it goes deeper than the administration.  It has to go down to all levels.  Staff and students.

Stand up to it.

Stop it.


Another Thursday

Well here we are.  Another Thursday.

It's kind of become my day to jump on here and say "what's up?"

Or maybe it's my opportunity to say: "What day was yesterday?"

Hump DaayyYY...YEAH!

Thanks to Harold, we have this GREAT two-part documentary about Action Park, which to be honest, I never felt concerned about.  Apparently tons of people got injured there.  I laughed with friends, got bounced around on the rides, played mini golf and arcade games, and met girls.

I don't see a problem there.  But, apparently, I was one of the lucky ones.

In hindsight, watching these videos, it's AMAZING that my parents let me go there.  I don't think my dad, who was an avid newspaper record, ever saw anything about how bad it was.

Documentary Part 1
Documentary Part 2

A friend of mine was struggling with the notion that his kids were starting kindergarten.  Sean went and did a walk-through at middle school today.  I was along for that.

Time flies, without a doubt.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Vin is Back For Year 65

We're lucky, aren't we?  In baseball broadcasting, we are fortunate to know that the very best who has ever grasped a microphone, Vincent Edward Scully, will be back for his 65th season in 2014.

Vince, Vinny, Vin - they all apply - first stepped into Red Barber's booth in 1950, plucked straight off the streets of Washington Heights and into Ebbets Field.  The redhead from Fordham worked his way up to being the Dodgers' top man and made the move with the Bums from Brooklyn to Los Angeles following the 1957 season.

Though he once had the chance to return to New York and become the Yankees play-by-play voice, reuniting him with Barber, Scully stayed in LA where he became a fixture, a legend, and an icon.

Yes, we're very lucky.  Lucky to have heard his very brilliance.  Lucky to have had that greatness still around.  Lucky to have a reminder that, after all of the "look at me" broadcasters, and those who just aren't very good, there's still Scully, calling games the way Barber taught him.

He's 85.  Of course there's an occasional gaffe (jeez, don't we all make them) but otherwise, he's still better than anyone working.

Think about it: earlier this year, we had Mariano Rivera, closing out a game at Dodger Stadium.  In the booth, calling the action, was Vin Scully.  Two of the very best at their respective positions.  That's pretty good.

I beg, plead, and implore all broadcasters to listen to him.  He still does the first three innings of Dodgers home games on both TV and radio.  The rest are TV only.  To me, Major League Baseball would be very wise to have a "Scully" channel, so that we can all hear the great one do it as it should be done.  Scully highlights should be readily available.

He's too modest, of course.  He hates the attention.  He doesn't like the movement to get him to call some World Series action - even when he's the very guy we all want to hear.  But it's not his thing.  Heck, he didn't like Curt Smith writing a book about him back in 2009.

Some guy was wise enough to put together a collection of highlights (yes, it was me, and I've seen many websites use it since then).

Of course, there are just too many highlights.  All of the no-hitters.  The World Series games.  The legendary players.  The All-Star Games.  The priceless moments.  The great quotes.

We are lucky.  We get to listen to Vin Scully in 2014.  We should also be thankful.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Huey Lewis and the News on Long Island

If I didn't mention it (and I didn't), I saw Huey Lewis and the News for the 11th time last week.  The free concert, in East Meadow, NY, was, er, sort of seen and heard by me, Sean (his first concert!), the Mighty Mick, and Gretchen the Great.

It was a great night.  The weather was wonderful.  I was with people I truly love.  We had a nice dinner.  We all had fun.


Well, this is what happens with a free concert.  If you weren't in the park and claimed a spot by, say, 5:00, you were pretty much out of luck, in terms of seeing the show.  We sat at the top of the hill, but couldn't see the stage.  The music was audible, but not strong.

The band, of course, was awesome.  Nothing different there.

Knowing that a large crowd would be looking to get out, we actually left early.

I know, I know.  I never leave early.  Well, I rarely leave early.  But I also know how the show ends.  In fact, I knew the setlist.

Long story short, the idea of making Sean and my friends sit in crazy traffic because I wanted to see the end of the show made no sense.  Instead, we were out within about 20 minutes, and it was worth it.

But don't think that the concert was a bust.  Oh, geez, hardly.

First, selfishly, I finally saw the boys on the Sports Tour.  But I missed them in '84, and saw them on the Live in '85 Tour.  Now, granted, this was the 30th anniversary tour, but this T-shirt still made me smile. 

Oh yeah, and I was in the men's room when the show started.  This was unlike any HLN show I had ever been to.  It was more like a Huey Lewis picnic!  People were walking in with pizzas.  They had little tables set up.  Drinks?  Yeah, nobody was stopping that either.  But, still, who better to picnic with than Huey, Johnny, Bill, Sean, JP, James, Marvin, Rob, and Johnnie?

Sean and I grabbed a look at the stage during "The Heart of Rock and Roll."
Huey's to the right of the drums, playing the harmonica.

The setlist, you ask?  Let's start by doing the Sports album in order (from "The Heart of Rock and Roll" to "Honky Tonk Blues"):

1) The Heart of Rock and Roll
2) Heart and Soul
3) Bad is Bad
4) I Want a New Drug
5) Walking on a Thin Line
6) Finally Found a Home
7) If This is It
8) You Crack Me Up
9) Honky Tonk Blues
10) While We're Young (a new hearing new HLN)
11) Trouble in Paradise (still sounds great, from the first album, but the version from '85 at the old Kabuki Theatre in San Francisco still kicks ass).
12) Some Kind of Wonderful
13) But It's Alright
14) We're Not Here For a Long Time, We're Here for a Good Time (to end the main set)
15) The Power of Love (they've done it every night for 28 years! In fact, it's the first song I ever heard them play live - in Middletown, NY).
16) Do You Believe in Love
17) Workin' for a Livin'

We left as "Do You Believe in Love" was being played.  It just made sense to get out.  Had we been closer, I would have stayed and dealt with the traffic.  The sound wasn't great, and we couldn't see.  Plus people were talking, etc.  But, hey, it was free, so who can complain?  But in this case, it was logical to go, have dinner, and head for home.

In case you think I'm crazy, this was our view of the stage...
Keep in mind, this is while the show is going on.  I overheard a few people say that this was more people than they expected.  I'd have to agree.  WCBS-FM (101.1) promoted the heck out of the show, and Long Island (and Putnam County) responded!

At least we had fun...
I grabbed Sean's hand during "We're Not Here For a Long Time..." and took him for a better view.  We stood there as they got ready for the "encore" and I knew what was coming.  "The Power of Love" kicked in and Sean was dancing.

If you need any validation of this being a great night, you now have it.

Trust me, this made it all worth it. (Excuse the quality of the video - I should have just converted it to audio only, but you get the sense of how Sean and I were rocking out).

Cool.  Very cool.

So, really, I can't complain.  It was all good.

And, with any luck, the boys will be back again.

I Don't Know, Let's Do Off the Bench!

Most days, I simply don't have the time (or can't find the time) to write on the ol blogsztremski.

This works in contrast to a comment I got last week, questioning that very thing: where do I find the time, energy, etc?

A lot of times, Thursday and Friday (and, occasionally, the weekend) are my time.  It's when The Bulletin is done.  In fact, Wednesday into Thursday is when I might catch up on sleep (such as this morning).

I suppose, to an extent, feedback might inspire me to write even more.  I've noticed that happen a few times before - a simple "keep it up" or "I read all of your stuff" and I feel like I want to get back to the keyboard.

I find that when I write here, I begin to get inspired.  There are moments when I'm just for what I'm writing professionally, but once I bang out a blog post  I started this post with no particular topic, but now I'm starting to feel inspired!

See?  Exit 55 to the rescue!

If you haven't heard about Martin Manley's suicide, and how he dealt with it, Google his name or start here.  In short, he created an incredible website.  He plotted out of his story and, ultimately, his death for some time.  He continued to write on his sports web site basically until the end, then wrote a goodbye.  Then, he killed himself, outside of a police station.  Wow.

He felt that his 60th birthday was the perfect time because, in essence, he didn't want to grow old.  He said he had no kids, his parents were gone, and so on.  He was in perfect health, wasn't depressed, and any other reason that one picks for the final exit.  I find it beyond fascinating, perhaps in a macabre way.

Yahoo!, by the way, where Manley originally put his website up, took it down.  But, in true fashion, many others, including the the hacker group Anonymous (and you don't eff with them), put it back up.  So...there.

Hard to believe that we are three weeks from opening the high school football season in Connecticut.  As usual, where does the time go?  I'm not sure if I should post a link to the - GASP - competition, but I like Dave Fierro, so that's that.  Dave wrote from the Greenwich Cardinals first practice on Tuesday.  There are a lot of questions for Big Red.  I can't wait to start answering them.

Things aren't 100% finalized for the 2013 broadcast team, pending approval.  I think I can tell you, without hesitation, that I'll be back calling the play-by-play and Chris "CJ" Erway will stand next to me as the lead analyst.  Chris Kaelin will walk the Greenwich sideline (and is the most likely backup for when CJ can't be with us).  Sean Kilkelly will man the corner of Lewis and Mason Streets.

I can further tell you that Jason Intrieri is back in his role as the FCIAC Insider (and I'd welcome anything else Jason would like to add - we'll finalize that eventually), and Paul Silverfarb has offered his services as well (we are Hersam Acorn Brothers, after all).

I have the names of the stats person and an opposing sideline reporter - pending approval.  So we'll finalize that and give you an official announcement soon.  Within the next three weeks.

In case you missed it, I've called two Bridgeport Bluefish games.  RJ Garcia is the lead dog there.  He's doing his best to learn on the fly, which isn't always easy.

I need to step in to a booth and do some baseball play-by-play. Wow do I miss it.  So I might go do a "mock" broadcast.  Yeah, I'll sit in a booth and call a game as if it's live.  I need new audio of my work.

I think this fall has the chance to be very active and very interesting.  Big times and hopefully big things going on.

Yes, I still think the Yankees are an 88-win team.  Yes, I still don't think they're making the playoffs.  But right now, they're making me look potentially bad.  That's fine.  I'll happily be wrong if they make the playoffs.

I really - REALLY - don't like Alex Rodriguez.  I tried to support him, because of my son.  Then he went and dumped on all of us.  Fooled us too many times.  Cheated, lied, etc.  Was he as bad for what he did as compared to Ryan Braun?  No.  Does he get more abuse than Braun, Miguel Tejada, etc? Yes.  Is there a witch hunt?  In my opinion - no.  But does the media pile on him?  You bet!


Ryan Dempster is an ass.  That's right.  You read it.  And Red Sox fans should also think that.

Dempster, who - with John Lackey - decided to play judge and jury, threw at A-Rod more times than Sean Estes did at Roger Clemens, before finally plunking him.  A-Rod did the right thing: run to first, say nothing.  He came around to score and helped tie the game, thanks to Dempster.  Then, later, he hit a home run.  That's right: he answered on the field with his bat.  The Yankees, down 6-3, won the game.

Thanks, Ryan.  Oh yeah, and thanks to umpire Brian O'Nora for lacking a clue.

Quite a night at the ol' Fens, wasn't it?

On the other side of my sports passion, the Steelers, honestly, look no better than an 8-8 squad.  I still think they're no better than 10-6.  They lack a running game, play calling looks awful, offensive line is shaky, defense looks old, and Big Ben has no weapons.

The other night on The Press Box was, honestly, one of our best hours ever.  Just a couple of guys talking the big issues.  There was minimal "schtick" and I prefer that.  I'm more about a balance.  I don't want to be too serious.  I want to be professional.  There was debate, conversation, but little fireworks.  A really well-done hour by Ryan, Kato, Max, and Paul.

That's enough for now.  To be continued.

Friday, August 16, 2013

And So, Seven Years Later

I overheard someone before, talking about a prospective writer, essentially knock the fact that the writer in question had - GASP - a blog.
Oh, the humanity.  For the love of all writers gone before us.

Steinbeck. Willie Shakespeare. Woodward.  Bernstein.  Bradlee.  Breslin.  Faulkner.  Joyce.  Silverfarb!  My GOD! These great writers and reporters are either rolling in the graves (if they've died) or wagging their fingers at us scourges of the keyboard (or pen and paper).

Perhaps little do they know that, here, in this space, is a blogger.  A guy who started doing that very thing seven years ago tomorrow.

I understand the point.  Bloggers aren't initially considered to be the very bastion of great writers and reporters.

On the other hand, there are plenty of "us" who have put together very respectable efforts.  Some are even quite exceptional.  In some areas, bloggers have worked so doggedly that they've outpaced their "professional" counterparts.

Indeed, the line has blurred.  Many blogs have gone to a professional, paid level.

Around here, many will say that "Exit 55" is the very thing that began to drive me to where I'm sitting right now, as a - ahem - "professional writer and reporter."

This blog, this unholy area of awfulness, is one way that I've built a network of friends, combined with my work at WGCH.

Look, I'm not taking offense at what I overheard.  I laughed at it.  I understand the point of view, but it's also "new school" versus "old school."  It's also perhaps a bit of a erudite position.

In that regard, some would say blogs themselves are becoming passe and old school.  It's a debate I wage consistently with myself, and makes me wonder often if it's time to stroll away from here.

I've said it before: when I started doing "Exit 55" in 2006, several friends were actively writing.  A few more would crop up as the years went along.  Virtually every one of them has either stopped completely or backed off for a hiatus.

I guess my point is that the end will come eventually.

But, as of this moment, not now.

It's so fleeting though, isn't it?  We ride this intense roller coaster of emotions.  I admire the person who can stay so even-keeled, and not hit the highs or lows.  I wish I could be that person.

Simply put: I'm not.

Before we run, that whole "old school" versus "new school" debate brings me to baseball.  The game has now decided to enter challenges into a manager's bag of tricks.  Look, baseball needs replay, largely because we have smart phones and Hi-Def TV's that bring us - in "living color" as they used to say on NBC - the rash of umpire errors that go on daily.  I keep thinking a war room will be great, just as the NHL has, but to hand it off to umpires to have a number of challenges just doesn't fly with me.

Overall, I'm old school, but I get with the times.  We don't need teams to go back to riding the rails or wearing wool uniforms.  The designated hitter is fine and, why I would love to see consistency, it's just not going to happen.  It's one of the quirks of baseball, in that we have two professional leagues under one umbrella.

That would be another thing that Uncle Bud Selig screwed up with interleague play.

I think there needs to be a better answer than challenges.

I guarantee that this system - if it passes - will eventually be altered.

Friday, August 09, 2013

Back on the Ball Field

Bringing joy to Mudville, and was it ever muddy.
Excitement was in the air today at the unfortunately named Playground Field in Ridgefield, CT today for the annual Hersam Acorn News company softball game.

Unfortunately named because there is not playground nearby - much to the chagrin of Sean.

My son specifically asked to come along so that he could watch me play, something I hadn't done in probably four or five years.  He also thought we were going back to where I played last time, which did have a playground.  Upon seeing today's field, he made a quick assessment.

"I'm going to be bored," he said.

Not so fast.

I had told him earlier in the week that, thanks to an injury to Paul Silverfarb, Sean would be pressed into service as a runner.  He was nervous - very - that he would be too slow or wouldn't know what to do.

He did just fine.  Better than just fine, in fact, as he helped Paul reach base three times (I think), scored once, and had to step in for me at another time.

I'm getting ahead of myself.

The rain, which had been a big issue early in the day, stopped enough where, with the purchase of a rake and broom, we were able to clean the field just enough to survive and improvise.  Teams had already been divided, and I was asked to play center field.  If you recall the last time I played center, please let me know, as I can't remember.

Overall, I did OK.  I made a few plays that were pleasing, but I also had one hit over my head, and dropped one that I would not have missed at an earlier age.  Not necessarily routine, but it angered me enough that I launched my glove (a reminder of my own expectations).

I also struggled with staying hydrated on this sticky, humid day.

As for my hitting, I'll take it.  I swung well in the early innings of this see-saw affair, and would end up with four hits total, an RBI (I think) and a run scored.  In the bottom of the eighth (we played nine), I doubled down the right field line, an improvement off my previous at bat, where fatigue assisted me in having a bad swing, dropping my front shoulder and causing a weak pop up.

I stood on second, ready to bring home what I hoped would be an important insurance run (we were up one).  The next batter hit a grounder to third.  I started off the bag, hoping to induce a throw, then intended to dart to third.  Instead, the third baseman (base-woman?) executed a perfect fake throw, and I was caught in my tracks.  I stopped, reversed, and dove back to second.  As I did, I knew I had a cramp in my left leg.

I was safe at second (that was my first priority).  The next thing was to indicate that I wanted time to collect myself.  I stayed calm, muttering "I have a cramp" before I was surrounded.  I heard someone say "you can see it," and it was true.

A lump the size of a baseball was protruding.

Marty Hersam (the Hersam in Hersam Acorn News) knew what to do, bending my foot back.  Somebody else went and got water.  I heard "maybe we should pour it on his face," an indication that I was probably pretty red.

Finally, as I sat up to drink, there was Sean, who had run out to check on his old man.  Once he knew I was OK, he smiled and joked with me.

I was ready to stay in and, under almost any other circumstances, I would have.  But Sean was a good, and willing, choice to take over for me.  I retreated to the dugout.

My run, sadly, did not score.

I went back out for the top of the ninth, returning to center field until we made a switch that brought me in to play second base.  Our opponents in the intra-company game regained the lead but we had the bottom of the ninth to still play.

One to tie.  Two to win.

We quickly tied it up.  I was "in the hole" as the saying goes, two hitters away from getting my chance.  I didn't need to bat.

We walked off with the win.

Sean was given the game ball by my colleague, Chris Burns.  We had as many people sign the ball as possible.

Then we walked off to eat, drink, and laugh.

Except, I didn't eat.  It was too hot, and, despite the rain cooling us off, I wasn't hungry until later.

All good.  I'll be sore for a few days, but I was so happy to be back on the diamond.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

New York's Greatest Athlete

No disrespect, but Gretzky in LA?
My friend Charles Costello penned this piece for Yahoo! Sports on the list of the 10 Greatest Professional Athletes in New York City history.

I can see the quarrels already.  Chris Mullin, Lew Alcindor (aka Kareem), and so on.  But they weren't professional athletes here.

Charles went with these 10, and readers have until tomorrow to vote on number 1.

- Babe Ruth
- Lou Gehrig
- Joe DiMaggio
- Mickey Mantle
- Derek Jeter
- Walt Frazier
- Mark Messier
- Joe Namath
- Jackie Robinson
- Lawrence Taylor

OK, we can debate the list if you so choose, but I don't think it's a bad list.  Are there, in anyone's opinion, any glaring omissions?  Tom Seaver comes to mind for me.  Should a boxer be included?  Anyone else?

Should, perhaps, Brian Leetch be there?  Some (indeed, many) would say he was better in New York than Messier, who was overall better in Edmonton.  Jackie Robinson or Duke Snider?  For sheer talent, Snider was a generally better player in his professional career.  Robinson was a wonderful ballplayer, and his impact socially is without debate.  I could say this was a politically correct choice, and maybe I am, but I'm not knocking Charles for it.

I get it.

But let's be real.  I know people have, and will, vote for others.  That's the problem with such a list, and to add a fan vote element to it.  The Jeter fan boys will go for their guy.  Same with LT, the Messiah, and Joe Willie.

The baby boomers will take The Mick (and note that Willie Mays isn't included).  The Italians are fiercely protective of the grace of Joe D.

Then there are those who vote who don't truly know the facts on these player. 

Oh, but seriously, there's only one.  You know it and you bet I know it.




The Babe.

It's easy.  No debate.

By the way, if you want a wonderful take on the baseball Hall of Fame, please read Joe Posnanksi's blog.  He gets it.  It should be about the greatest players, not the greatest people of character.

Monday, August 05, 2013

Z 100 Turns 30

Let me give you a taste of my radio influence, outside of sports.

As a kid, I listened to Dan Ingram, Ron Lundy, and WABC (770), before migrating to Mr. Imus in the late 70's on WNNNNNNNNNBC.  I still listened to 770 as well, but now I had choices.

Of course, all we had in the car was AM anyway.

My dad, who had (otherwise) great taste in music, tended to lean towards the Mantovani-style of WHUD (100.7) because he couldn't find anything better on the (still-hanging) Hi-Fi in the living room (that serves, primarily, as a mantle for pictures).   I suppose that was good background music, especially for taking a nap.

I had my own radio in my room, so I could go between AM and FM as much as I liked (and I did).  I could listen to I-95 (WRKI), WPLJ and WNEW (both great radio stations), K-104 (still doing their thing) and so on.

By late 1983, my listening habit changed drastically.

Z-100 had come on the air.

Led by Scott Shannon, who had arrived from Q 105 in Tampa (a station that I loved when I would visit my grandparents, and I now listen to them online), the Z Morning Zoo took "wacky morning radio" to a different, albeit clean, level.

It had a big impact on me in terms of how I would present myself if I ever did music, personality-driven, radio.  But it was also somewhat brief, as times and taste would change.  Their pop music wouldn't quite hold for me as I got older, but they're still rolling along at 100.3 and still have a great audience in a key demographic.

By 1989, I was back into listening to Imus, and WFAN.

This is an aircheck from August 4, two days after the format change, courtesy of Mike Abrams, who has a ton of old radio files. There's a lame parody of Mr. Imus, but nobody said they were ever perfect.

The actual format change (from August 2) can be heard via

Thursday, August 01, 2013

We Are New York, and New York is, Simply, Better Than Texas

Start spreading the (bleeping) news!
Lewis Black put together a brilliant piece.

"We have two baseball teams. One is the best in history.  The other we keep just out of pity."

Texas has the Cowboys.  They can have them.

I, too, approve this message.

Here's the full version of the rant, from The Daily Show.

Unbelievably great.

I played nice when I picked a picture to represent Texas