Saturday, June 21, 2014

The Skins Game

(C) National Football League. All Rights Reserved, especially those of Emperor Roger Goodell.
So let's just get to it. You know, the Washington Redskins name thing.

Here: Change the name, Daniel Snyder. Please. Pretty please.

The reason is simple. I'm sick of hearing about it. It's been beaten over my head. I'd like to be done with it.

Not because of the issue of being offensive. It is to many, and it isn't to others. There is enough data to indicate that a large number of people find it offensive.

I do think there is an argument within, and I won't debate with those who can't see another side of things, be it music, sports, or otherwise. No, that's the point I say "OK" to shut up and let you think you're better.

Your mileage, or course, may vary.

I think Mr. Snyder, who is fairly hard to like to begin with, would be doing a world of good to his image and his brand by finding a compromise and calling it a day.

Look, I hated - detested - when St. John's university changed its moniker from Redmen (so-named because they were a team that wore red) to Red Storm (sigh). Chat with an older Syracuse University sports fan about the former Warriors that became the Orangemen that became, sigh, the Orange.

Here on Jeff Pearlman's mean streets of Mahopac, NY, we still have the Indians. For now, there doesn't seem to be a push to outlaw it since, after all, Mahopac is a native American term (The Lake of the Great Serpent).

Others around here have changed, such as Ossining High School. They went from Indians to Riverhawks to...err...nothing.

Personally, I think they should honor the towns' legendary Sing Sing Prison and go with the Criminals. If it works for Yuma, Arizona...

Imagine that. A sense of humor.

Look, I get it about the Resdkins name. I get that there are those who find it offensive. Great. Duly noted. Those who don't want it changed have legit reasons such as political correctness rum amok to the fear of "what's next."

Yesterday, while talking about it, I mentioned that, for instance, one could see where "Browns" could be offensive. Now, understand I was being extreme, but I never did quite have a chance to explain myself before the idea was called "stupid." The point was missed.

And yes, I'm acutely aware that the team was named after Paul Brown. Honestly, have we met before?

What truly infuriates me about the Redskins issue is the involvement of government and of politicians. I mean, really? We don't have better things to do? Maybe, oh I don't know, keep troops from going BACK into Iraq? Keep more innocent people from being killed? Maybe fixed the quality of life for Americans?

Funny, I don't see where changing a football teams name will do any of the above.

But changing the name would be good for business. One day sponsors will pull out (that's bad, of course). But if you appease fans, you get them to buy NEW merchandise (cha-CHING$$$!)

So why not find another name that will allow the logo to continue, for instance. I hear less about their logo than Chief Wahoo of the Cleveland Indians. So go with something else, keep the logo, allow the old-timers to stubbornly and colloquially call them the Redskins, and let's move on.

Personally, if I were a fan, I'd like to see him focus on a team that hasn't sniffed a Super Bowl in 20 years.

So let's move on. Respect that there might be - GASP! - differing opinions, and let's call it a day.

Because, honest to God, it's annoying. And it's bad for the team, and the NFL.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

At the Ballpark

I will go on the air in one hour, and I'm just sitting here, in Palmer Field. It's fairly quiet, save for some baseball music that is currently playing over the PA.

OK, currently, I am troubleshooting stuff from 50 miles away (give or take). But yes, it's largely peaceful here.

The Portland Highlanders, the number 17 seed in Class S, have arrived. They have a roughly 10 minute trip here, and have started warming up down the right field line.

The point of this is to say how nice it is to be early. I was here a little after 9:00 - three hours before first pitch - to find the place open and ready. After a quick chat with one of the technical guys from CPTV*, I knew where I could start setting up. Public address announcer, writer, and all-around good guy Jim Bransfield, confirmed I could stay in the space I was in.

I'm not always allowed to relax when I do this until the game starts. Today? I'm relaxed.

Mike Suppe and I will have the call of Portland and Thomaston at Noon on We have Notre Dame of West Haven and Masuk, and Rocky Hill against Haddam-Killingworth later.

Friday, June 06, 2014

Becoming Part of the Story

(Martin V. Hersam photo)
Paul Silverfarb and I had the call of today's Class LL baseball quarterfinal game between Fairfield Warde and Trumbull at Trumbull High School.

To be honest, the game, and our coverage, seemed utterly forgettable. We bounced off the air due to bad wifi during the first inning, and didn't get back on until the bottom of the second. In the meantime, Warde had already jumped out to a 4-1 lead (and would coast to a 5-1 win).

Then something happened.

In the bottom of the 5th, the Eagles of Trumbull had a runner on first and nobody out with Connor Broderick at the plate. Paul and I were chatting about our first HAN Radio broadcast at Trumbull High School, from last November...

Now we had two jobs to do. Paul and I needed to strike a balance between concern for those in the collapse of the bleachers, and calling the game. Marty Hersam made his way to the field, and assisted us by coming on and talking about what he found out. Kate Czaplinski and John Kovach each handled the story for their newspapers, and would update it later on with our audio.

Paul and I monitored the situation as the rest of the game played out. We watched the ambulances come on, and eventually leave. We watched the yellow tape get put around the area in question. We saw the first selectman, fire marshal, and superintendent of schools arrive.

We also saw the TV cameras. Thanks to traffic and busy schedules, they had nobody to talk to initially. So they came to us. I spoke with a cameraman from News 12 at first, then Paul chatted with him, as well as another from NBC Connecticut.

As we all wrapped up to leave, I mentioned to the NBC cameraman that we had the audio if they wanted it. I said I would review it when I got home. Upon arrival in the Pac, I saw I had an email from NBC. Sure enough, they were interested. And sure enough, they liked it. Paul shot the video of their 11:00 news.

It's weird. We're reporters. We have jobs to do. We have to focus on news, but also on the sports that we're calling. But our fellow media members needed sound and a person to talk to, and we were duty-bound to oblige.

Part of me sits here excited and proud tonight. Paul, me, Marty, John, and Kate all showed what we can do across our platforms for Hersam Acorn. Sure, I'm excited that Paul got on TV, and that our play-by-play was featured.

On the other hand, it's hardly about us. I hope those injured mend quickly and are rooting their Mustangs on next week.

Yeah, the whole thing just feels...weird.

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Jet Skiing (aka "Goodbye Cruel World")

It can be said - and it would be fair - that I'm a scaredy cat.

I'm OK with it, as weak as it makes me appear.

While I might play up a fear of the lizards here in Key West (nice to look at, and they'll stay away from me), it is quite safe to say that I'm none-too-fond of snakes, exposed heights (ladders), rejection, job loss, losing in a championship game, failing in a broadcast, and saying something stupid.

And as we got closer to coming to Key West, I kept waiting for the inevitable conversation...

Lisa: "Don't you want to go jet skiing, kayaking, hiking, snorkeling?" (take your pick among those and others)

Rob: "Um...sure."

It didn't take long for that to happen, and if you chose "jet skiing" then you either read the title of this post or saw the pictures.

My fear? Well...I'm not thrilled about drowning. I'm not thrilled about being the one that looks like an ass and holds everyone up. I also didn't want to fall off the damn thing. Lastly...I wasn't looking forward to flying on it.

But Lisa persisted, as she can, and convinced me to go. Initially, what was supposed to be a tandem ride turned into a solo for me, as Lisa and Roger each got a machine of their own.

I stayed mostly quiet in the moments leading up to the climbing on the machine, as Fearless Lisa (and Roger, also without fear at all), chatted and prepared.

We didn't get off to a good start, either, as we had a slight awkward beginning with the staff at Key West Water Tours. But our lead guide, Dante, and his assistant (in training) Phil, turned out to be really good guys.

I suited up in my life jacket, and climbed on board the blue and white Wave Runner with number 13 on it (I figured those were Yankees colors, and the number 13 is for Sean), and listened intently to everything that the guys said. They pushed me into the water and we were off for an over two-hour tour around Key West.

At first, I found steering the thing to be difficult, but the truth is that, the faster you go, the easier it gets. I veered off course once or twice, generally talking to myself the whole time, but we were soon out in the Gulf of Mexico. That gave us 10 minutes or so to get used to the machine. Lisa and Roger were, of course, flying. No big deal to them. Me? Just getting comfortable. I hit a few waves to get my bearings and balance. I opened the throttle up a little. I didn't curse a whole lot.

OK, we're good. So far.

Then Dante led us to a small canal where submarines were intended to be housed during World War II.

I followed instructions - let the others get about a four-second head start. I was happy to bring up the rear of our group of four jet skis (plus our guides).

But, er, Dante sort of sped off. So now it was sink...or swim...or just stay there.

Screw it.

I opened up the throttle, bringing up the rear of our group of four jet skis/wave runners.

The Gulf was just fine. It was fun riding. Then we hit the Atlantic...

The sea was angry, my friends. Like an old man returning soup at a Jewish Delicatessen...

I bounced. I flopped. I flew. The engine groaned. But a funny thing happened: I didn't fall. Oh sure, I got soaked, but I never lost my balance. For over two hours, I found bliss. I had no technology with me (so no pictures out there).

It exhilarated me and gave me a rush (hence the exhilaration) and a boost of confidence. I doubt that I will ever be a rugged outdoorsman type. I don't expect to be jumping out of a plane anytime soon, and I will never be thrilled to have a iguana standing at the base of my pool-side lounge. But I loved jet skiing every bit as much as I thought I might, even if I've lost what little edge I have left.

We roared around the Atlantic. We passed our hotel (I actually had enough confidence to point it our as we moved by). We went down to the Southernmost Point monument (which is truly the southernmost point that it is publicly accessible). Then we sped off, making the turn at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park, roaring past the giant cruise ship in the harbor, and next to Mallory Square.

Dante had an idea and went off course for a moment, stopping at a point in the open water where maybe - just maybe - we could see a dolphin.

While one might have hoped for Dan Marino or at least Jim Jensen, we were indeed fortunate enough to spot two dolphins briefly popping to the surface.

As we went back to our starting point, the feeling of pride and excitement finally kicked in. For Lisa, who of course rocked it, and Roger, this was no big deal. For me, well, it was good stuff. We were handed a complimentary beverage and toasted the success of a great day.