Friday, September 13, 2013

Ugh...One Rainy Night at Cardinal Stadium

The scene at Cardinal Stadium (courtesy Paul Silverfarb)
Does anyone remember when George Steinrenner, perfectionist nonpareil, issued an apology for the Yankees' performance in the 1981 World Series?  Of course, Boss George was roundly criticized for doing so, but he expected nothing less than victory from his beloved Bombers.

I feel that way after the most recent broadcast at Greenwich High School.

WGCH was in the house (Cardinal Stadium) for the Greenwich/West Haven kickoff to open the season.  Though I didn't get to the press box as early as I would have preferred, I still felt comfortable with enough time to setup shop.

I got to work; plug this here, put that there, assign this mixer pot to Chris Erway, I'll take pot number five, set something up for Matt "Stats" Bozzuto, and have the wireless mics ready to go for Tom "Sizemore" Prizeman and Paul Silverfarb.

Things soon fell apart, and fast.  We didn't have enough radios for guys to listen to the broadcast on the field.  The Marti - our transmission unit to send a signal back to the studio - wasn't working.  We'd have to go by cell phone and we didn't have the right clip to hook that up.

Turns out our antenna on top of Cardinal Stadium had been knocked down.  So while we were feeding the Marti, the Marti wasn't feeding the antenna...and couldn't send anything back to the studio.

We went with my iPhone.  Nope, that was a disaster also, as people could sort of hear me, basically not hear Chris at all, and mostly hear the public address announcer.

These were probably all things that an on-site engineer, whose sole purpose it is to fix these things, could fix.  Alas, I'm that guy.  You know, budget and all.  Except I'm doing 20 things at once.

Just to be sure, I'm hardly alone.  Many produce their own broadcasts.

On the field, they kicked off close to 10 minutes early.  That didn't help things.  In the studio, both Sean Kilkelly and Bob Small were calmly trying to assist by describing what they were hearing.

The problem was I needed help - there.  In the booth.

It took until halftime to work it out.  We simply needed time and we didn't have that.  It was all on the fly.

Greenwich had a 7-0, second quarter lead, before the Westies broke off two long runs to take a 13-7 lead at halftime.  We had our transmission problems fixed (still on via cell phone though) but I now had to hold the cell phone in my hand to keep from having ridiculous static on the line.

Tom couldn't really hear us on the field.  We didn't have a radio for Paul, so we had only one sideline guy.  Tom, to his infinite credit, was happy to be there, and would have understood if he just got to watch.  Paul, honestly, had his own hellacious day, so he was probably just as happy to pass on joining us.

Jason Intrieri, waiting patiently to do his FCIAC Insider report, didn't join us in the pregame and was ready to go at halftime, except that I was furiously trying to fix things.

Did I mention that there had been lightning strikes in the vicinity of Cardinal Stadium not too long after kickoff, and that almost all other games had been postponed?  In the second half, those strikes got closer, and eventually, with 8:33 to go in the third quarter, the officials halted the game.  They said they would reassess things within a half hour.

Now, in the booth, Tom and his dad, Ryan DeMaria (just there to watch), Chris, Matt, and me, along with assorted others, stood or sat shoulder to shoulder.  Dick Leonard stayed at his trusty public address microphone.  Evan Dubin (who thoroughly enjoyed an off-air meltdown of mine) was at the scoreboard controls.  Jason rejoined us to come on the air - having run back from the parking lot.

We did a 45-minute chat on things around football and so on.  It was, likely, the best part of the broadcast.  Of course, I did have a complaint email about the sound quality of the early part of the evening.

At 8:00, I broke for news and to go back to "regular programming" when we received the final word on the night.  Sean got me right back on the air.

The game had been officially suspended, and would be picked up Sunday at 1:00 (it's since been changed to 12:30).  "So we will talk you just before 1:00 on Sunday," I said. I wrapped up the broadcast when Sean told me, off the air, that WGCH had a Bridgeport Bluefish broadcast that would conflict with us.

At that point, what could I do other than laugh?  We've tape-delayed one football game since I started, and that was in 2000.  We've never, to my knowledge, missed airing a game.

(And yes, we are going to tape it and play it following the conclusion of the Bluefish)

The night had been an unqualified disaster.  It happens to all of us in the business.

But wait!  There's more.  Ryan informed me that, as he ran out of the stadium with Jason, he lost his wallet.  I looked and looked and looked - as rain continued to pummel - but couldn't find it.  Happily, Paul Silverfarb told me that the wallet had been found and was in the possession of the Greenwich Police Department.

I'm sure there is something that I've missed in this wacky tale (some of it on purpose), but darned if I can remember it.  In a week that I'd like to forget, this wasn't even the coda.  Earlier today, I got a call from someone I interviewed for a piece in the Wilton Bulletin.  Seems I attributed his quotes to the wrong person.  What can one do except apologize and fix it in the online edition?

Thankfully we have more football to cover this year to atone for everything (we're at Darien next Saturday).  So while we have a story to tell for the ages, we simply move on.

People watch me and ask why I continue to do it.  Some tell me to just walk away - it's bad for my health and so on.  But the "why" is simple.  I think I'm OK at it.  I care about it.  That's why I do get really frustrated/annoyed at times with the equipment, bureaucracy, etc.  I feel that we put on a really good broadcast and I have expectations. 

In the end, when it's all working, there are few places I'd rather be than in a broadcast booth.  I'm with my friends, and I'm near people that I get to see all too rarely.

Yet something was missing about opening night, 2013.  None of the buildup.  No butterflies.  No surge of emotion.  

It was a night when just about everything - for everyone - went wrong.  I feel like I should apologize to everyone for it.

Just like Boss George.

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