Monday, December 31, 2018

Resolve Today

The sign that could have hung here today.
While driving to work this morning on NY Route 35 (it goes from Peekskill to the Connecticut line, where it continues as Conn Route 35), I saw my phone light up that I'd been tagged in a Facebook post by John Nash.

I wondered what I had done this time.

John is starting something he is calling "The ‘365 Days of Me’ Project" and he'd like to see me do it also.


So...er...um...maybe? He used a road sign for the post. That's hard for me to resist.

This blog is 12 years old and I've cranked out 2,350 posts. I've also slowed down considerably, with just 35 morsels coming out of my keyboard in 2018. That's my lowest ever.

There are reasons (aren't there always)? Most of all is a complete and profound loss of confidence as a writer that is hard to explain.

I also need to factor in a loss of edge, in that I reached a point where I had to watch every word I said, and that includes on the air. Yes, I know, that seems strange given I can appear to be such a "loose cannon," but you have no idea how much I hold in.

Let's just take 2018, for example. The full story of this year would be something to read, though I'm not foolish enough to think I'm different from anyone else. Yet this year one was...something. I put blame for everything at my own feet, but oh boy did I have plenty of help.

I wish I could just let it fly and tell you everything. I can't. Or I shouldn't.

But I can tell you this: I need changes, and I don't need to wait for Ryan-freaking-Seacrest.

First and foremost, there needs to be a change in my employment situation, and to get paid for outstanding work. I'll leave the latter part of that statement right there for now, but let's just say I'm not unwilling to take that story public. I try -- so hard -- to take the high road. But...yeah.

Anyway, work. I clawed my way through myriad broadcasts out of love of the craft and belief in getting games on the air. I also did it to build my -- gulp -- Robcasting brand. I cultivated new relationships, often at a loss of income.

I have an idea for the job. Somebody needs to take a chance for it to happen.

It's time for those trees to bloom, or go do something else so that I can do games on the side.

Or just walk away and get a life.

That's where I was on the blog also. I had thought of hanging the "Gone Fishin'" sign.

I lost faith in my use of grammar. Spelling. Punctuation. No I'm not kidding. All of it.

My posting yesterday was actually fairly significant, and I don't expect anyone to understand why.

So with John's idea, maybe -- just maybe -- I can rediscover a little fire. Only with practice will I rise from the ashes. I've asked a friend to edit my work (I do my best but I miss stuff).

It would be tempting to take 2018 and call it the worst year of my life and so on. But no. Let's call it a success because I'm still standing (yeah yeah yeah). Seriously, that's all we can do, right? We fight to see another day.

It's the very reason why one of my favorite song lines is, "All I want from tomorrow is to get it better than today." Yes, that's Jacob's Ladder, written by Bruce Hornsby and John Hornsby, and perfected by Huey Lewis and the News (well, duh).

So when I hear nonsense about fresh starts and 2019, etc, I get a little crazed. John tagged me in this today. Change can start any time.

Like now.

Will I write every day? I love the idea, but fear (well, that's me in a nutshell, I suppose) that I won't. I'm bound to forget. I'm bound to be in a rut.

On the other hand, I've written two days in a row. So that's something.

So let's see where this goes. I'm making no promises. I'm calling for no resolutions. I'm not hanging the "Closed" sign.

One day at a time, folks.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Classic Play-by-Play

Hi friends. It's been a while.

With the two football games currently being offered on TV not to my liking, I popped on the Classic Baseball on the Radio steam via YouTube.

As you can imagine, it's pure nirvana for me.

While there are plenty of full broadcasts to stream, they often run a live stream with random games. At this time (er, press time), they are airing Game 4 of the 1943 World Series with Red Barber calling the first 4.5 innings, and Bob Elson handling the last half of the game.

I'll save you the drama and tell you the Yankees beat the Cardinals at Sportsman's Park in St. Louis, 2-1. The game was played in a crisp two hours and six minutes.

There is such joy in listening to this. Barber is descriptive and brilliant in his Mississippi-born, but Florida-based drawl (despite going to Cincinnati in 1934 and Brooklyn in 1939). "The Old Redhead" as he calls himself, gives every ounce of details, from the pitch location to the small items in the crowd.

"Bob (Elson)," Red says at one point, "will you check these numbers?"

Why? Because people are listening and, more importantly, keeping score at home. Beyond that, Red is a stickler for accuracy.

These are the things that Red will impart upon another young redhead beginning in 1950. That kid, Vin Scully, turned out to be pretty good also.

Red (and, later, Elson) reports and gives facts. In 1943, there aren't color analysts. Any commentary between the two announcers is minimal at best, mostly confined to any mentions of Gillette, the longtime World Series sponsor (this game is on the old Mutual Broadcasting System).

Each broadcaster, during their play-by-play innings occasionally tells the other to "come in." The reason being that "voice" is to do the sponsor read. There are no other sponsor mentions, though this is due to the Army not allowing sponsors on shortwave broadcasts. The game is being carried to the troops.

Remember, it's 1943, and thus the middle of World War II. Patriotism is obviously quite high.

Another note is that Elson is in the Naval Reserve as of this game, so he is allowed to the call with the permission of the Navy. However, Elson's announcing fee is donated back to the war effort.

What I keep coming back to is how pure this all is. It's not scripted, other than the sponsor reads. Red and Elson, in fact, were blissfully unaware that the Star-Spangled Banner was to be played when, suddenly, Red stops his sponsor mention and says, "Here's the National Anthem."

For the young broadcaster, I can't suggest more strongly to listen to games like this. There's no uncontrolled screaming (too many examples of this to cite). For sure, we've evolved, and things had to change, but there's still a fundamental basic premise: Report. Be accurate. Tell stories. Entertain.

Most of all, while your personality does matter, the game is still the thing.

Find a broadcast from the icons: Scully, Barber, Allen, Harwell, Costas, and so on. Listen and learn. But do not try to imitate them.

Another Barber belief, that he passed to "Young Scully" was that broadcasters bring something into the booth that no one else does: themselves.

Really enjoyable to listen to this. I highly recommend it.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Be Kind

Kindergarten. 1972
So I turn 50 this week.

That's not a plea for gifts or birthday wishes or whatever.

This birthday -- more than any other -- has befuddled me.

The date in question is this Thursday.

Thanksgiving.

I'll call the Staples/Greenwich football game in the morning, and I'm looking forward to hosting the senior day ceremony, as well as eating a lot at the tailgate, because my Thanksgiving plans are...er...unsettled.

Yes. That's the word I'll use.

Trip number 50 around the Sun for me has been quite the thing. It could be its own blog post, and I could settle a whole lot of scores. For now? No. Let's not do that.

Instead, let's find the positive.

I want something*, but nothing material.

(*Yes, there are things that I want, but this is different.)

You see, many people -- far more benevolent than I -- have begun using social media, and Facebook specifically, to ask users to donate to a charity. It's a noble thing, and I applaud those who do it. Then we get notifications on Facebook to donate.

I don't want to do that to you. By all means, please donate to something because you want to, but not because I've given you a Facebook notification. This is basically the same philosophy I used for the Ice Bucket Challenge of 2014. Do it if you want.

**But, please feel donate to Arthritis Foundation, in honor of my dad. Or any myriad causes that will eradicate us of cancer, ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease), and heart disease. Or give to Big Brothers/Big Sisters or Boys and Girls Club.**

There are many places that deserve your money or time. I don't want to hit you up for any of that, mostly because I can't afford to do it myself, and it hurts me more than you know. I'm practically a charity unto myself (again, a whole different blog post).

No, what I want, is goodness. Seems phony, I know. Trite, even.

But as I thought about my 50th birthday, and the negative feelings I've had about it (I don't personally care about the number), I felt the best thing everyone could do is simple.

Be Kind.

I thought of the departing words of the Twelfth Doctor, as portrayed by Peter Capaldi on Doctor Who. This is the speech he gave before he regenerated into the wonderful Jodi Whittaker as the Thirteenth Doctor.


"You wait a moment, Doctor. Let’s get it right. I’ve got a few things to say to you. Basic stuff first.
"Never be cruel, never be cowardly. And never ever eat pears! Remember – hate is always foolish…and love, is always wise.
"Always try to be nice, and never fail to be kind."
(Moving forward, after he talks about never telling anyone, except children, what his real name is)
"Laugh hard. Run fast. Be kind.
"Doctor – I let you go."
That's all I want, friends. There is so much sadness. There is so much bad.

But, if we occasionally take a moment and look, it's not as bad as we think. We just see the bad more than ever, and maybe we can rise above it all anyway.

We can -- and should -- have healthy debates, but at the end of the day, let's love each other.

We should debate Bon Jovi's place in music history, and...for the love of God...John Mellencamp. I mean, why?

We should debate Don Mattingly and Keith Hernandez, or Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.

Or Jordan and LeBron.

We should never debate Babe Ruth. Well, you're welcome to try.

We should debate politics. In a healthy way. Because we all love our country (well...maybe not. I've lost some faith on that last point).

But we should hear and try to understand the other side. No matter how hard.

We should shake hands and be well at the end of the day.

Stop and help the person in need.

Hold a door -- even if they don't say thank you. That's their problem. You did the right thing.

Help a friend who needs it. Sometimes they just need to be heard, but honesty and a kind word always help.

Sometimes, simply asking if someone needs help is enough. Sometimes, just help.

Do it. There's no playbook for it.

Don't just do it for my birthday. Do it every day.

As for me, I'm going to hope the 51st year is much better. Because it will be.

"The best is yet to come," Mr. Sinatra once crooned. "And babe, won't it be fine.

"The best is yet to come. Come the day you're mine.

"And you're gonna be mine."

Forties -- I release you.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Brunswick Ends Their Season

Choate celebrates their win over Brunswick.
I just uploaded the final audio of the Brunswick football season.

Sadly, for Bruins fans, the result wasn't the desired one: Choate 25, Brunswick 8. I'm incredibly grateful to AJ Szymanowski for driving down from Cambridge, MA to join me for the call, and to Shawn Sailer for producing (aka, "keeping us company"). Also thanks to Local Live and Gus, the tremendous cameraman who ably keeps things moving.

But oh what a ride it was. This was a team that was "thought" to win maybe four to six games.

The point is nobody knew.

They found a QB, worked out a running game, and created a wonderful defense.

They played their hearts out.

They had two stellar captains in Cornelius Johnson and Nick Villis. Both will be heard from after they leave Wick.

In fact, all of these players will, and they'll figure things out for 2019.

Yes, the loss stinks. I'm sure there's regret for the loss yesterday (they finished at 8-2).

There should be no regret for the effort and pride they demonstrated.

I'm only sorry I wasn't there for all ten games.

Not many know that I've been around Brunswick athletics for roughly 20 years, and have called so many games.

Yet now -- more than ever -- I've made friends.

I'm excited for hockey and basketball at Wick, as well as the finish of Greenwich football (Thursday, 9:50 am -- WGCH). The playoffs follow.

Oh and Mahopac wants me to join them for some hockey. I'd love to see more games everywhere. Just watching the machine my friend Travis Jackson is building whets my appetite.

Anyway, I'm getting off-topic here.

Thanks again, Brunswick football. Come back soon.

AJ and I call the action (Shawn Sailer photo)


Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Xavier/Greenwich Football Broadcast Notes

An opening day view from September against Trumbull.
No fancy lede (or lead, your call) is needed here. Let's get to the facts.

Greenwich and Xavier (of Middletown, CT) were scheduled to play in a neutral site game on Thursday at 7 p.m. But snow is on the way.

So the game is now scheduled for tomorrow (Wednesday) at 6 p.m. at Cardinal Stadium in Greenwich (by definition, the game is a Greenwich home affair).

After some thinking, WGCH (including me) have come up with this plan:

-- The live audio will air on Robcasting at http://mixlr.com/robcasting-radio/ (there's also a widget on the right side of this page). Or listen right here!
Robcasting Radio is on Mixlr


-- On WGCH, regular programming will continue, including The Clubhouse at 7pm. Mark Jeffers and Dave Torromeo will carry on without me (I'll be back for the season-ender on Dec. 5).

-- At 8 p.m. on WGCH (wgch.com...anywhere), we will air the game on tape-delay (to my knowledge, only one of three times that Greenwich football aired on tape since I've been here).

-- Over on YouTube, the game will stream live through the capable hands of DJ Furano and company, with my play-by-play (and Paul Silverfarb's analysis). The stream will be here (or watch below). 

The audio will be archived after the broadcast on Mixlr, Mixcloud, and Archive.org.

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

The Morning After the Election

Bill on Capitol Hill is exhausted after last night.

I heard the word "douche" last night in a concession speech. I've actually got it recorded.

The name of the person isn't important, I suppose. I doubt it will be reported.

So it's all over. America is mad, crazy, whatever.

The midterms, baby. The sea was angry that day, my friends.

Like you, I have opinions about the elections.

But I'm a journalist (at least one or two people actually believe that), so I don't think I should offer those opinions.

Oh I'm like anyone else. I'll drop the ball on occasion and perhaps tweet one thing or another.

A rare blog item here and there also.

Yet it's not a habit, where you know my stance, to the point where you might question my ethics and my professionalism.

In fact, those who think they know me (or maybe knew me "back in the day") might be surprised on where I stand.

The point is: you don't know (unless you know me well, and even then).

Because I think it looks bad in my position -- especially the one night of the year that I'm actually a political reporter.

We talked about this around the campfire at WGCH last night before we went on the air. The opinion of being a journalist and keeping your political leanings offline was unanimous.

I have no idea, for instance, which way WGCH news director Tony Savino leans.

We should report, and that's that.

Look, I'm a sports broadcaster, and I have been for a long time. I've been "The Voice of the Greenwich Cardinals" (except hockey, or whatever) since the late 90s in one form or another.

But I'm telling you right now: I don't root for Greenwich. I can't. Sure, I like families and athletes to do well, but I can't cloud my judgement by having a rooting interest. Yes, the more GHS wins, the more coverage I'm able to provide, but I'm not a Greenwich Cardinal. It's never "we."

Ever.

I'm so proud to know journalists like Susan Shultz, the esteemed editor of the Darien Times, who doggedly works her tail off, and was up near midnight still cranking away at results, turnout, minutiae. She feels her election coverage is one of the most important things she does in a given year.

She prides herself on it. Go ahead, accuse her of bias. You'd be impressively wrong (can I name names?).

Whatever I know of her politics comes from my knowing her. Off social media.

Like me, she'll fumble once in a while (and deletes the post shortly after).

But she's the best, most honest and honorable journalist I know (I specifically did NOT use an Oxford comma here because we differ on that topic).

I wish everyone could be that way.

Oh, and one other thing: she knows I'm no phony, but I've got her back.

To sum it up, like I said Monday night, play nice.

Maybe don't publicly use the word "douche."

We're already off to a rough start.

Monday, November 05, 2018

Just Vote


The truth is: you don't need what I'm going to say. Taylor Swift told you. Your neighbors have done it.

Social media has spread it.

It's been on TV and radio.

It's been on your phone and in your mail.

It's one word: VOTE.

It's a message I fully support.

But after years of this (especially since Nov. 2016), it's time to speak up on this eve of Election Day.

I'm sick of hearing "vote red" or "vote blue."

I'm sick of liberals and conservatives.

I'm sick of people who vote SOLELY on party lines.

Sick.

Of.

It.

Want to be bold? Want to make your vote matter?

Vote with your head.

I've read enough of it. There are those who make every. Single. Word about...well...you know who.

It's obsessive.

I've watched friendships get destroyed over this.

This message isn't that profound. Simply put: go vote tomorrow, if you haven't already.

But vote with your brain. Don't vote for a color or a line or a party.

If you choose to not vote out of protest, OK. That's your call. But don't go just because you're lazy, you forgot, or some other reason.

You're better served writing in "Babe Ruth" or "Laurie Strode."

However you do it, vote. Go to your polling place and be done.

I'm going up to the local community house, filling out my ballot, and leaving. It's that easy.

Then play nice (and listen to me on Doubleheader at 3 p.m. and for  Election Night coverage at 8 p.m. on WGCH)

Vote.

Monday, October 01, 2018

61

A Roger Maris 1959 Topps baseball card. Yes, it's mine.
It's October 1.

There are numerous ways that I can think of today. Some aren't pretty.

I'll always think of Roger Eugene Maris. The pride of Fargo, North Dakota (long before Frances McDormand), Roger was a baseball and football star who made good. He met his wife Pat there, and wanted to be the best ballplayer he could be.

Raj would make the Cleveland Indians in 1957 before being traded to the Kansas City A's in 1958.

In December 1959, Maris was traded to the New York Yankees, and his life would never be the same.

Maris bloomed into a full-blown star in 1960, hitting 39 home runs, winning the American League MVP and leading the star-laden Bronx Bombers to the World Series, where they would lose in seven games to the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Bucs won the title on a ninth inning home run in Game 7 by Hall of Famer Bill Mazeroski.

With manager Casey Stengel jettisoned at the age of 70 following 1960, Maris, Mickey Mantle, Johnny Blanchard, Elston Howard, Bill "Moose" Skowron, and Yogi Berra led a barrage of home runs as the Bombers launched 240 in 1961. New manager Ralph Houk used ace Whitey Ford to perfection, and "The Chairman of the Board" responded with a 25-4 Cy Young-winning year.

The Yankees would win 109 games and steamroll the Cincinnati Reds in the World Series. Honestly, that was an afterthought.

This year was all about 61 in '61.

Mantle, the golden boy in his tenth year in New York, hit 54 home runs in that magical year, and was seen as the popular choice to break the mythical record of 60, established by one Mr. George Herman Ruth in 1927.

Maris, the quiet guy from Fargo -- the man whose hair would fall out as the pressure increased -- the man so unlikely to break the record of Babe Ruth, did just that.
"I don't want to be Babe Ruth. He was a great ballplayer. I'm not trying to replace him. The record is there and damn right I want to break it, but that isn't replacing Babe Ruth."
Maris answered every question that year (and after) but he wasn't glib. He was a largely simple midwestern man. Mantle, Ford, and other Yankees were more fit for that life.

Roger, somehow, made it work.

Even the commissioner, Ford Frick, was anti-Maris. Frick (yes, the very same man who the Hall of Fame broadcasting excellence award is named after) was a ghostwriter for -- wait for it -- Ruth. Thus, the commissioner set the rule that if Maris (or anyone else) didn't reach 61 home runs within 154 games (the number that Ruth set the record in), then it would exist in a separate category.

That's where the mythical asterisk came in (which never truly existed). To that extent, Billy Crystal made a movie about it.


(Damn good movie by the way. Historical inaccuracies aside, the film is gorgeous.)

Mantle would fade due to an injury in September, leaving Roger to carry the torch. Rumors existed that the two feuded through '61, though that was false.

Maris missed the magic 61 in 154 games, but tied the record with his 60th on September 26th against Jack Fisher of the Orioles. The great Mel Allen, once and forever "The Voice of the Yankees" was on the call.


That brings us to October 1. It was the last day of the season.

A mere 23,154 fans were at cavernous Yankee Stadium on that Sunday afternoon. It was 71 degrees, and most fans filed into the right field seats, hoping to catch the magic 61st home run. Sam Gordon, a restauranteur from Sacramento, CA offered $5,000 to the fan who secured the magic ball.

Sal Durante, a truck driver from Staten Island, was the lucky man. Mr. Durante, who attended the game with his fiancee, paid $2.50 for his ticket.

The Yankees broadcast was carried, as always, on WPIX TV (channel 11) with Red Barber (mentor of one Vincent Edward Scully) on the call. Yankees legend Phil Rizzuto -- the 1950 MVP and former shortstop -- was on the radio side on WCBS (880).

The opponent? The Boston Red Sox, on their way to finishing 76-86 and drawing under 900,000 fans to Fenway Park. Tracy Stallard, a 23-year-old who would lost 20 games with the Mets in 1964, was the pitcher.

The final score was 1-0. Obviously the Yankees won, and won on the 61st home run hit by Roger Eugene Maris.

YouTube user "YankeesAtShea" paired the WPIX video with the famous radio call by Rizzuto.



The full radio broadcast is here. Barber, who seems to not be as regarded as he should be in this era, has his call here, where Allen joins him (color analysts weren't as prominent). To be sure, Red was a stern taskmaster, and his call, while exciting, lacks the elation of Rizzuto. Still, it's the basic difference between a TV and radio call.

On a personal level, it's one of my favorite Yankees/baseball history moments. Maris was horribly underrated, known primarily for the 61 home runs. Obviously that was a lofty number that he would never come close to approaching again. Roger would "only" hit 33 in 1962, leading the Yankees to a second-straight Series title (part of a run of five-straight appearances in the Fall Classic).

Maris was a brilliant defender, extraordinary baserunner, and fine hitter. Things came together for him in 1961, as he took advantage of hitting in front of Mantle, as well as substandard pitching.

Still, fans were horrible to Maris, as he could never live up to 61 in '61.

Maris would head to St. Louis following 1965, where he was a part of two appearances for the Cardinals in the World Series, winning it all in 1967.

It was there where Maris rediscovered his love of baseball, before retiring after 1968. He would run a beer distributorship in Gainesville, Fl (a byproduct of him playing for the Cardinals, owned by the Busch family).

Thanks to George Steinbrenner, Maris would return to the Yankees family in the late 1970s, appearing at Old Timers Day and other ceremonial moments. Steinbrenner retired his number nine in 1984.

Just over a year later, Maris died of Non-Hodgkin lymphoma on December 14, 1985.

He was only 51.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Keep Grinding


I have to be quick here.

There are days when this business -- and certainly any business -- will eat you alive.

I've dealt with myriad politics in media.

I've been pushed aside thanks to people with money, power-hungry people, old boys clubs, and more.

Don't think I've just hung on at WGCH for 21 years. There are times I've had to fight to be seen and heard.

Sometimes, I still do.

The politics of this business stinks -- even now, as a veteran of nearly three decades.

Everyone wants your job.

Many hate you or blacklist you.

There are stories. Oh yes.

Then there's the low pay, when being nearly 50 means finding work can be brutal (heck, I'll take an office job and broadcast on the side), but the child support bill must be paid.

How do I pay the bills?

How do I survive?

How do get my (insert term here) off my back?

How?

You don't know the full story, and you probably never will.

Power struggles stink.

I've been through and seen it all.

So when I get this, it means a whole lot.

That came out of nowhere. It wasn't a ringer, and she wasn't a friend. 

Honestly, that's all I have to add. The kind words are a good reminder.

Don't quit. 

Don't.

Keep moving forward.

See you at 3:30 for Brunswick and Hotchkiss.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Alone Again (Naturally)

Greenwich jerseys on display Saturday to honor Steven Sudell, a 14-year-old battling brain cancer (My photo)
For more on Steven Sudell, please go here.

On Saturday, I hit another one of those "now I've seen everything" moments.

I've called baseball solo many times. Same with basketball. Hockey. Lacrosse.

I've called football alone. However, prior to Saturday, I had never broadcast Greenwich football alone.

By my count, my previous 188 broadcasts had a partner, or even the makings of a clown car as a big crew would ride along.

Things fell through on Saturday. Paul Silverfarb didn't feel well. Chris Kaelin had to tend to a family matter. Chris Erway was scheduled to be away.

By the time I could reach out to anyone else, it was too late.

For my 189th broadcast of Greenwich football (five of which were on the HAN Network in 2014 and 2015), I was on my own.

It was weird.

Don't get me wrong, I'm OK with "Scullying" games (named after the master, of course). There are drawbacks to working solo, but there are a lot of positives as well.

I did the Brunswick/Loomis Chaffee game on Friday night alone, and it was fairly blissful.

In the case of Greenwich and Trinity Catholic on Saturday, I think it was just something I wasn't used to. No Erway to laugh with and do lists of top five songs (or whatever) in the second half with the score 49-0. No Paul to joke with about the Buccaneers and Steelers. No Kato to complain about the Mets.

The booth at Greenwich was as usual, even if the faces change. We're still getting used to the new things this year. But that didn't deter the broadcast.

Anyway, I'm not trying to make a big deal of this. It was just something I noted. Jake Zimmer has already volunteered to ride shotgun for the next game, at Norwalk on September 28.

Incidentally, if it all lines up, my 200th Greenwich football game might be a state championship contest.

Just saying.

Oh, one other thing. the post I ran in honor of September 11 was called "At Seventeen," in honor of the seventeenth anniversary. I used that title because it matched up with a 1976 song by Janis Ian. This post -- titled "Alone Again (Naturally)" -- also takes its lead from a 1970's hit song. In this case, it's the monster 1971 depressing hit by Gilbert O'Sullivan. Just trying to inform those who don't know.

Highlights from Saturday, as Greenwich beat Trinity Catholic 56-0.
   
Highlights from Friday, as Brunswick beat Loomis Chaffee 35-13.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

At Seventeen

(The original World Trade Center, collection of the 9/11 Memorial Museum, gift of Jonathan Lockwood Smith, JLS Photo)

I don't have profound words today.

The memories are there still. They'll always be there.

How did we spend September 10? The Yankees were rained out.

That's what I remember.

September 11, 2001? I remember it all. I remember how I felt. I remember the looks on others faces. How I was supposed to go to a meeting in White Plains and spent a large chunk of the day in the WGCH newsroom and offices.

How I was beginning to prep for Greenwich at Norwalk. They were to play that Saturday. Were.

I remember how I watched and listened.

How I wondered if this was World War III.

That look at the sky when I heard on WCBS (880 am) that the second plane had hit, and I knew.

We all knew.

There were no tears that day.

Just shock.

What the ****? No, really. What the **** was going on?

Driving home on a basically empty Interstate 684. I'll always remember that.

The TV constantly on. Or the radio. Or -- because I'm me -- both.

That Greenwich/Norwalk game never happened. They played Trinity Catholic 10 days later.

The Cardinals football family suffered a loss in the attacks. I always look for his name.

The memories are still there. We push them aside most of the time. Then yank them back out when it's brought up, or on this very day.

For many, the horror began around 8am on airplanes departing from Boston, Washington Dulles, and Newark.

For the rest of us, that time will always be 8:46.

It carried on until 10:29, when the North Tower collapsed.

It seemed to never end, with part of the Pentagon collapsing, and WTC Tower 7 also falling.

September 12 was a strange day. It was my first time on the air.

We insisted on doing a show, and didn't need anyone to tell us how to do it.

It was a golf show, but it wasn't a golf show that night.

It was cathartic (and it's embedded at the bottom of this post).

It all still hurts.

It was an event that happened in New York, Washington, and Shanksville, PA.

But it wasn't just a New York event. This was our country.

And our world.

So much to say. I've written plenty.

Year after year I write on the blog and hurt for friends and loved ones and strangers who lost. I understand we all lost something, even if it was the end of our innocence.

Seventeen years.

And I still feel like I've said nothing.

*****

Sunday, September 09, 2018

Game One: Greenwich 42, Trumbull 7

The new scoreboard is really sweet.
Week one for the Greenwich Cardinals football team went in a similar way to how last year started. 

Initially, Trumbull was able to hang with "Big Red" before Greenwich ran away. It was 70-16 last year.

This year ended in a 42-7 win for the Cardinals as old foe Marce Petroccio began his run as head coach of the Trumbull Eagles. AJ Barber and Gavin Muir connected for three scores, while Tysen Comizio and Jack Warren added touchdowns on the ground. Ryan Raybuck's second quarter pick six was my choice for both "turning point" and "play of the day." The Cardinals followed that with a on-side kick, and they were off. Highlights here:
 
A few other thoughts:

- The scoreboard is beautiful. The lone casualty? Us! After many years, WGCH lost our corner space in the press box (at least for now).

- The crowd was really good. I didn't expect that, considering the rain. Well done, Greenwich (and Trumbull).

- The tailgate was...well, yeah. It was great. Marc Ducret is a master.

- I showed up to picture day in a blue polo shirt (representing the Hudson Valley Renegades, whose game I was calling that night). I, rightfully, got teased (and my headshot in the team program has me in that shirt). Don't want me in blue (as in Darien Blue Wave, or someone else)? Easily resolved! But I'm going to show up in a Brunswick cap one of these days!


- The program was beyond anything I could have imagined. I've always wanted a media page in the program, like the ones I used to see in the old Yankees yearbooks. Those pages listed the broadcasters and writers who covered the Yankees. So to have Chris Erway and I both featured in the GHS football program? Cool. Very cool.

- We did a live video stream of the game, produced by DJ Furano. It looked great on YouTube, with our play-by-play included. It's very much a work in progress. I'm aware there was criticism of the static camera, for instance. Hang in there with us. (Note: as of this writing, the video seems to have been taken down. Again, a work in progress.)

Next Cardinals broadcast is next Saturday at 4pm against Trinity Catholic. As of now, I'm without a broadcast partner as Chris Erway will miss the next two games. My next game is Friday night, when Brunswick opens their 2018 season at home against Loomis Chaffee School at 7:30.

** I make no promises that I will do these posts and highlights for every game.

Full game broadcast (in this case, sans commercials) here:

Friday, September 07, 2018

It's Time For Cardinals Football

Greenwich has a new scoreboard that might be turned on for Saturday's game (My photo)

I wanted to call a high school football game tonight.

I didn't call a game tonight.

So I stayed home, saw Sean (my 16-year-old son, for those who don't know*), and watched some guy named Paul McCartney perform from Grand Central Terminal.**

* I don't assume everyone knows Sean, especially since he doesn't join me on the road as much as he used to.

** Macca called it "Grand Central Station." He's Paul McCartney. I'll give him a pass.

As late as yesterday, I thought I'd be on the call of Fairfield Prep and Notre Dame of West Haven tonight, but for reasons out of my control, it didn't come to be. I might still get a Prep call later in the season. We'll see.

Tomorrow, at 3:50, barring any last-minute issues (again, I'm making no assumptions), we'll flip the switch on the 2018 season, as Greenwich hosts Trumbull at Cardinal Stadium.

Wanting to make an entrance (not really), we'll be the last game to start in the FCIAC, and the second-to-last game to start in Connecticut.

For me, it's another year in a wild ride that actually began in 1997, for that was when I first walked into the hallowed halls of WGCH Radio. After initially being used as a board-operator for Sunday church services and other fill-in things, I moved over to sports in late 1998.

But it wasn't on WGCH.

It was actually on our former "sister station," WVIP, the Mount Kisco-based AM outlet that we ran out of the Greenwich studios. I was the board-op and studio host for a few Westchester County high school football games.

By late '98, I was board-op'ing Greenwich basketball and hockey, and would soon venture out to a game site or two before getting my first game call in April '99 for a Greenwich/Port Chester baseball game. I'd stay busy with lots more, including calling Westchester County high school football on WVIP in 1999.

By late spring, 2000, former 'GCH sports director John Connelly was heading out the door. John was the lead for Greenwich football. Now that door was open.

I ran through it, pulled it shut, and have never really looked back.

So that means I'm starting year number 17 tomorrow as lead broadcaster ("Voice of" always makes me uncomfortable. Mel Allen was the "Voice of the Yankees." Who can compare to that?)

Add in games that I called during two years with the HAN Network, plus being a sideline reporter in late 1999, and I'm starting my 20th year around Cardinals football, and 21 overall covering Greenwich sports.

Local Live will get the FCIAC package going tomorrow, and my understanding is Tom Prizeman -- a one-time intern for me -- will handle St. Joe's and New Canaan. I would loved to have been on that call, but my commitment to Greenwich will keep me from it.

So Chris Erway and I will buckle into Cardinal Stadium again. I'll be on the call of every play (I've missed one Greenwich game, in 2005, not including the HAN years). Have I mentioned every down will air on WGCH (1490 am) and wgch.com?

Next Friday, I'll be back with Brunswick, calling their football (and more!). That will be on Local Live and Robcasting Radio.

Local Live will get me going with plenty of FCIAC stuff (and...again...more!).

My (hopeful) point is that I will be busy. So long as I have the voice, I'll make it happen.

There's equipment that needs to be reviewed, and even then, I won't know what works until I'm at Cardinal Stadium.

There are notes to finalize and, to be honest, how many notes do I need? I'm fairly familiar with GHS. I know Trumbull pretty well.  It's football. Chris and I can call a game. There's actually a point where there can be too many notes (especially in a small booth like Cardinal Stadium).

The ability to adjust, not lean on stats, and ad-lib is immensely important to a play-by-play duo.

I'll talk to John Marinelli (Greenwich coach) and Marce Petroccio (Trumbull coach -- man that's weird) tomorrow at the field. I know them both well.

As always, I'll be nervous. Families actually rely on me to be a conduit through the radio/internet to their athletes.

But I'll take a deep breath around 3:49.

The music will build around 3:50.

By 3:51, I'll probably begin talking. Like I always have. Since 1998.

The National Anthem will play around 3:58. That's a sacred moment for me. Patriotism aside (I'm not dismissing it), it's my last moment to think. To pause and remember the father who never heard his son as a broadcaster. To hope I make my son, my friends, and the listeners (many of whom are also friends) proud.

Then...it's football. The nerves will subside.

Another year will begin.

Let's go.

*****
Greenwich has a hype video, created by DJ Furano. Have a look.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

A Kind Word

Calling hockey off a monitor in the Local Live Stamford studio (Photo courtesy Local Live Instagram)
The preparation is fully underway for the 2018-19 high school sports season.

In truth, my broadcasting year essentially begins right around Labor Day. Primarily, it stretches to sometimes around Memorial Day to late June, and then anything after this is a nice bonus.

Babe Ruth, Cal Ripken, and Little League Baseball (and the Hudson Valley Renegades) are among those that extend into this bonus time.

I'm burying the lede here.

In the midst of prepping, here's what I know: I'll (hopefully) have a busy year with Greenwich High (especially football and quite likely hockey, and maybe even -- gasp! -- water polo!). I'll also do a lot again with Brunswick (baseball, football, basketball, soccer, ice hockey...etc...).

There are several other schools in play, with a heavy dose of Local Live (I'm chomping at the bit to tell you more).

Anyway, over the past few years, while dodging arrows, I found myself having occasional "crisis of confidence," in which I thought I was, basically, a hack.

Certainly there are negative critics of me, and sometimes deservedly so. Opinions are certainly justified, and I absorb all of it.

I've also developed a cynical eye towards email, text, social media, the mailbox, and so on.

But I'm always hopeful for good things. Some I can't tell you.

Some I can.

I texted Nelson Santos, the founder and CEO of Local Live whom I've been working somewhat closely with for over a year now, mostly on Brunswick athletics. Along the way, Nelson asked me to do a few other things, such as host a play-by-play web conference, and serve as the lead announcer for the Legacy Global Sports 2018 World Selects Invitational Semifinals and Championship.

Truth by known, I was (as usual) hard on myself, especially as I missed a goal scoring at one point. I thought for sure I'd never do this event again.

In fact, I was basically the fill-in for those who were supposed to call the games originally. Plus I was calling the games off a monitor from the Local Live studios in Stamford (which I had already done prior to that). In fact, that's me doing so in the picture at the top of this post.

In the end, Anthony Agostinelli became a hero with a goal in overtime.


Check this out on Chirbit

The goal (without my call) hit SportsCenter as their number one Play of the Day. No question, it was really cool.

When I had lunch with Nelson a few weeks ago, he said he had heard nothing negative and said we'd revisit it for 2019.

I'd say I'm safe. He texted me earlier today: "They want you for next year. (They) said your call was the best they ever had."

So I've got that going for me...which is nice.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Traveling Details

I miss Holiday Inn's "Great Sign"
For the first time since April, 2017, I'm getting ready to hit the road.

This could lead to a full breakdown of the breakdown that has been life since then, but we will ignore that for now.

Despite assertions that I "do whatever I want," I can assure you I truly don't.

Like traveling. I truly love to travel. Driving, of course, being my favorite. People think I'm nuts when I say I'll jump on a bus for a road game, or drive to some far-off place to call a game, only to have to drive back home.

But I love it.

When I plan the trip, I obsess.

Such it is that we'll be hitting the road soon to go to North Carolina to officially welcome Kelly into the Hatfields...er...McCoys....um...our family. Kelly and my niece Laura will marry in early September just outside of Chapel Hill.

There's an irony to this, by the way. Kelly works for NC State, and you don't dare even mention the University of North Carolina without him glaring. If you don't know, UNC is located in...where?...Chapel Hill.

We'll be staying in Durham that night, home of "The DOOKIES." (Duke University, for those who don't know).

So as this trip has come together, I have worked to figure out our game plan. What day do we leave? What route will I use going south? North?

Where are we going to stay (besides Durham)?

My niece Kristy is going to host us for the first two nights when we get there, but then we (me, mom, Sean) are getting displaced for a party two nights before the wedding*.

*I have another name for the party. Just saying.

So I began to agonize. Did I mention we need to stay within striking distance of Fayetteville because my mom has to have dialysis treatment at a to-be-determined time on Saturday?

So I dug around.

Marriott...

Hilton...

IHG (Holiday Inn)...

I went through Trip Advisor. Trivago. Kayak. Even Airbnb (and I was really tempted).

I looked at every scenario.

Looks nice...good price...decent size room...remember, we have Sean...need at least two queen beds, if not a sleeper sofa.

Price, of course, matters. But so does a pool. And it's got be clean. Sort of common sense. Free breakfast is nice but not necessary (good lord, there are TEN Waffle Houses around Fayetteville!).

I tried to tell myself it's. Just. One. Night. I argued with myself to just live for once and get something nice.

I had decided. Towneplace Suites by Marriott. It looked like it had everything we needed. It is on Skibo Road, which is a main thoroughfare with lots of commerce for a Friday night. We could grab dinner at Golden Corral (my god, Sean loves that stuff) then walk around 2nd & Charles. Then jump in the pool and call it a night. Perfect.

Not.
I had waited too long.

Soon, the Fairfield Inn that I looked at had jumped in price to where I was potentially dropping $150.

The agony continued. Kristy, finally, rescued me with a quick word and an "Uncle. You're staying at the Comfort Inn."

She booked it.

We can almost walk to Waffle House from it.

So now...do I skip the New Jersey Turnpike and the tolls? Avoid DC totally? Go out through Pennsylvania and pick up 95 near Fredericksburg...

I do love it. Promise.

* This, incidentally, will serve (for now) as our anniversary post. Shockingly, I've kept this address of the "Information Superhighway" (remember that?) for 12 years. Here's post number one, from August 17, 2006.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Master of Ceremonies For Hire

Yours truly, hosting the 1997 PM-Kraft Softball Dinner
I received an email out of the blue yesterday.

A nice burst in the middle of an upside-down summer.

It was from Rebecca Comizio, mother of Tysen, who is a bruising back and receiver for the Greenwich High School football team.

In short, Rebecca (who started by calling me "Mr. Adams." Not sure who that guy is) asked me to be the master of ceremonies for the annual football banquet in December.

I have to admit, I was stunned and deeply honored. I'm beginning my 17th year as lead broadcaster for Cardinals football on WGCH (as well as via the Greenwich Athletic Foundation and Local Live). Overall, including games that I called for HAN Network, as well as serving as a sideline reporter for a game in 1999, this will be my 20th year of GHS football in one form or another.

I've attended a bunch of GHS banquets over the years, and often thought how cool it would be to host the football one. So when the offer showed up today, I was truly thrilled.

Public speaking -- not just reading book reports in class -- sort of began for me in 1981, when our sixth grade teacher at Austin Road Elementary School made us stand at the lectern. I spoke a few times when I ran for class president (we changed it every month). Yes, I did actually win. I think I actually won a couple of times.

Anyway, that February, my parents took me to Florida to visit my grandparents. Having been pulled out of school for a few days, Mr. Levy (now Dr. Max Levy) gave me one assignment: take copious notes on the trip, and deliver a speech about it upon returning to Mahopac.

So I did. I spoke of Disney World and Kennedy Space Center and swimming at the hotel and so on. Was it the Gettysburg Address? No.

It was a start.

It led to public speaking in junior high, where I dazzled my fellow students with - what else -- the history of the New York Yankees; into college, and through a decade as the host of the annual softball dinners (starting out as Philip Morris-Kraft and ending as Altria, after I had long left the company).

There were other times that I was called on to be "the voice" or "the host," and I always enjoyed the experience.

In recent times, I've done this thing where I've called 1100 sporting events and hosted countless talk shows and news casts and everything else. You might have heard about it -- most of it on some radio station called WGCH.

Oh and there's Local Live. You'll be hearing a lot more about them.

Let's not forget our friends at Brunswick School.

Lastly, I've recently become the emcee of Hunt Scanlon's amazing conferences in New York City. I'll be the host of their next event in October. I just keep the day moving, and I (mostly) stick to the script. I'm glad Chris Hunt, Scott Scanlon, and their great crew allow me to be the "voice" of their events.

So yeah. I guess talk a lot. Yikes.

Which leads me back to this December, when I'll step to the mic to help wrap up the 2018 football season.

I'm grateful to head coach John Marinelli, his assistants, and the players for this honor, as well as to the captains and their parents:

2018 Varsity Captains Parents
​Metije Bici (Mozi #42)
Rich & Rebecca Comizio (Tysen #40)
Marc & Maureen Ducret (Charlie #7)
Tom & Lauren Feda (Jack #8)
JP & Sarah Muir (Gavin #12)

I'm confident football fans are going to love this team.

Hopefully I'll be on the call of Greenwich/Brunswick scrimmage, leading us to September 8 for game number one, as Marce Petroccio and the Trumbull Eagles come to Cardinal Stadium.

As tradition dictates, I'm always nervous before that first broadcast. I'll be wound up that day for sure. Then the theme music will rise in my headset, I'll take a deep breath, and start talking.

Just as I have on WGCH since 1997.

I'm confident Chris Erway will stand beside me for the broadcasts again (we're still finalizing that).

The pregame show is at 3:50 on September 8. All games will be heard on WGCH (1490 am) and wgch.com (anywhere).

See you then.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Becker, Fagen, and Lore-Eye


The text hit mean between the eyes:

"I have some sad news..."

My heart sank.

It was Jon from R-Va, and indeed the news was sad. In fact, it was awful.

In short, our friend Lori had gone to dinner with her boyfriend when something went terribly wrong.

By Wednesday, her family had removed her from life support, and she was dead at the age of 45.

Her obituary is here.

Forty-five.

*****
I met Lori in 2009. Jon introduced us (and Sean, as we were there on vacation) at his CarMax office. I was struck with her humor, and the fact that we were both products of damaged marriages didn't hurt.

We hit it off. We'd soon text and chat and, for a brief stretch, would talk a lot.

The truth is that, in a Facebook world filled with remarkable remembrances of a beautiful soul gone too soon, I'm probably the least-qualified person to talk about her. I mean, to those who knew her, who is this clown from New York?

Yet, I knew her. Even without knowing her.

I knew her love of Steely Dan, and we talked about the album Katy Lied. That, she said, led to the her naming her daughter Katie.

Much as my Sean is my everything, Katie was Lori's world.

But back to Steely Dan. For Lori at that time had two cats and, you guessed it, their names were Becker and Fagen, as in Walter and Donald -- the two key members (with Michael McDonald singing background vocals).

Lori loved her cats. She loved to laugh. She loved to quote movies. She loved sarcasm.

She loved to love.

Through it all, as damaged as love can make us, she seemed to have finally found what she needed in her boyfriend Dan. My heart has been as ripped apart for him as it has been for Katie in the past week.

None of this makes sense, and it never will.

Forty-five.

After the summer of '09, Lori and I communicated occasionally. The random "happy birthday" text or Facebook message would suffice.

She surprised me with a phone call one Christmas, while she was away on the Carolina coast with Katie.

I'd try to call once in a while, but I knew it wouldn't be returned, and that was OK. Life isn't easy.

Yet I knew we had this bond. It's hard to explain.

Yet I never mentioned her here on the blog, and we never took a picture together. She was shy in that way. (This post was about driving down to Richmond)

Without talking all of the time, we knew each other. It wasn't hard.

*****
She left us a gift, my friend Lore-Eye did (she said that was something that I could call her).

What she would want is for friends to laugh.

What she gave us was a harsh, awful reminder that life is far too short.

And that brings me back to Jon.

I haven't been back for an extended visit to my beloved Richmond, Virginia since that weekend in 2009. However, I stopped by in 2012 for lunch at CarMax as I was passing through the area. Besides joining Jon, guess who else I sat with?

You bet -- the life of the preppy party.

I was there for 90 minutes in their cafeteria, and it hurt to leave them. For Lori, Jon, Kevin, and the other people who welcomed the stranger off of I-95 (and 64, as they all know my strange fascination with roads) made me want to stay longer.

That's what Lori would want, despite the awful cliche that saying can be. She'd want her friends to get together and forge the bonds that they've had.

In my case with Jon, that's a friend that dates back through over 30 years of marriage, divorce (me), three kids, numerous pets, cars, music, movies, sports, terrible politicians, and life.

She'd want that. She'd wants us to keep an eye on our kids.

And she'd want this world to make sure Katie is OK.

And Dan.

We'll try, Jon and I. I sadly pass through R-Va a few times a year, wishing I could stay longer, and actually shedding a tear each time I hit the city limits (right near Exit 79), reminded of the times I spent with all of these good people.

Lori was Virginia -- despite being born in South Carolina -- from talking football with me about Virginia Tech (I once got her to watch Yankees/Red Sox with me) to Abingdon, Richmond and beyond.

And as I write this, Steely Dan mysteriously plays on the sound system.

Randomly.

Life is so weird.

*****
When I heard she had passed, I thought of what so many did: Mich Ultra.

I stopped and grabbed one on the way home from calling a baseball broadcast. A toast to a friend.

She'd have it no other way.

She had her organs donated. Of course she did. That's the spirit we'll remember.

Rest well, Lori.

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

Lou Gehrig Day


Happy Fourth of July or Independence Day. Whatever term you choose, please be safe and happy and enjoy the very freedoms that a whole of people fought for.

No political thoughts are intended in that sentence.

However, I'd also like it if you took a moment to think of Heinrich Ludwig Gehrig, or Henry Louis Gehrig.

You've no doubt heard the name. If you know sports, you know who Lou Gehrig is. He hit 493 home runs when that was still a really big deal. He played 2130 consecutive games (no further comment on the breaking of that record, which deserved to stand for all-time). He was number four to Babe Ruth's number three. There were MVP's, a triple crown, and World's Championships in 1927, 1928, 1932, 1936, 1937, and 1938.

He had a cup of coffee in 1923, and finished his career in early 1939 -- both also championship years for the New York Yankees.

In fact, Gehrig only lost one world series, in 1926, when Ruth was caught stealing to end Game 7. I can't even imagine what sports talk radio would have been like.

Gehrig was The Pride of the Yankees. He was The Iron Horse.

He also died of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis on June 2, 1941 at the age of 37.

We have come to know ALS as "Lou Gehrig's Disease."

But it was on July 4, 1939, just a few weeks after the news had broken that Lou was retiring from baseball, that he left his truly indelible mark on the world.

A reported 61,808 filled Yankee Stadium on that Tuesday afternoon to see the Washington Senators beat the Bombers in game one of a doubleheader, 3-2. Between games, a microphone was set up for the ceremony to honor Gehrig. Members of the 1927 "Murderers Row" team were on hand, and both teams lined the sides of the path between home plate and the pitchers mound.

(AP/REX/Shutterstock)
Gehrig didn't intend to speak. In his book, The Pride of the Yankees: Lou Gehrig, Gary Cooper, and the Making of a Classic, Richard Sandomir offers that Eleanor Gehrig might have worked on a speech with her husband, feeling that Lou should offer the fans something. Eleanor, who was a lot spunkier (and maybe even more controlling) than the way Teresa Wright portrayed her in the movie three years later, also didn't want Babe Ruth to steal the spotlight from her husband.

Overcome with emotion by the gifts and offerings of kindness, Gehrig waved off master of ceremonies Sid Mercer. But the crowd chanted his name. Yankees manager Joe McCarthy, who was worried that the frail Gehrig would fall over in the July heat, gently ushered the 36-year-old to the microphone.

You all know what happened next. Sort of. One of the sad parts of the story is that there are only a few portions of the actually speech. No full recording exists -- either on radio or film. Nobody transcribed it. Jonathan Eig, in his book Luckiest Man: The Life and Death of Lou Gehrig (and still the finest biography I've ever written), has the closest to the actual text.

Still, we know the words: "For the past two weeks, you've been reading about a bad break."

"Today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the Earth."

He emphasized those words: "luckiest man." He went on to explain why. He had an amazing wife. Parents. Fans. Opponents. Teammates. But more than that, he highlighted the groundskeepers, office staff, and concessionaires.

He packed all into a fairly short speech.

Sixty-one thousand listened in silence. Journalists choked back tears. It was -- as has been written by Sandomir and others -- a baseball funeral.

"That I might have been given a bad break, but I have an awful lot to live for. Thank you."
Moments after the speech, the authors of 107 home runs in 1927 embrace.
Ruth broke the tension by wrapping him in a bear hug. The Yankees of the day proceeded to wipe out the Senators in the second game, 11-1. Joe DiMaggio had three hits and Joe Gordon drove in four runs. A pitcher named Steve Sundra pitched a six-hitter.

Yankees games had just begun to be carried on the radio in 1939 (there was a silly agreement in New York that radio was bad for attendance prior to that), but John Sterling was not the broadcaster. There is no known audio of that day, and we can only imagine what it sounded like.

That was 1939. In the 79 years since, we've made some strides against ALS, but we're not close enough. Just four short years ago -- in 2014 -- ice buckets rained down on many, including me, in an effort to raise awareness. It brought ALS back into the forefront, and that was a great thing. We're talking about ALS more than ever.


Those same ice buckets hit people who didn't really know Lou Gehrig. But they cared about this disease.

It's not enough. We have much work to do on such an awful disease.

That's why I'm asking you to think of Lou Gehrig today. With no disrespect ever intended to the great Jim Valvano, Gehrig's speech is still our Gettysburg Address of sports. For Lou Gehrig -- a shy gentleman not known for making speeches -- to put together such strength and grace? It's almost unthinkable.

Valvano's speech was magical, but what else would you expect from "V?"

But those words of Lou Gehrig, the only surviving child of immigrants (whose parents, sadly, outlived him) still ring, and not just because Hollywood rewrote them for Gary Cooper in 1942.

You've heard them..."luckist man"...you've said them, no doubt with a fake echo..."Today today today today, I consider myself elf elf."

Let them ring loudly today. Like a firecracker in silence.

July 4th.

Independence Day.

Lou Gehrig Day.

Monday, June 11, 2018

It Doesn't Have To End Like This

Photo: David Scott Holloway/CNN
You know by now that Anthony Bourdain has died.

Let's be clear. He killed himself, and with the suicide earlier in the same week of designer Kate Spade, we've seen two high profile individuals choose to end their own lives.

Should you want more details, there are plenty of other places for that. We'll pass here.

I liked Bourdain, as the brusque titular member of Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations on The Travel Channel. What you saw on that show was clearly him.

Now, I'm not going to tell you that I'm in to the whole celebrity chef thing. To be honest, nothing could be further from the truth. Yet Bourdain -- Anthony, Tony -- was more. Sure, he knew food (remember, my pallet isn't exactly highfalutin), but he also traveled, and he went to places I'd never go to.

So he was eating food that I'd never eat and in a lot of places I'd never visit. Normally, that's not a combination I'd embrace. But the guy found a way to put a story together that roped me in.

That, of course, is not why we're writing today. We have a big problem on our hands and, at least for me, Anthony Bourdain was a bit earth-shaking.

I don't have answers. Like anyone else, I have struggles. I saw a dear friend open their heart and mind up online after Bourdan's death, and I thought what was written was brave and profound. It's their private thoughts, but again, it had a big impact on me.

Again, we don't have answers.

There is that belief that suicide is cowardly. To a degree, I get it.

But nobody is in that persons' brain at that moment.

I know despair. I know horrible sadness, depression, anxiety, loneliness, and angst at three in the morning, when I can't sleep over fear about money, my son, my career (or utter lack thereof), my health.

I know the horror of the holidays. No, really, any holiday. Three-day weekends are rough. Thanksgiving to January 2nd? I'd rather be on an island. Any island. Gilligan's Island.

I've had a post written in my drafts here for nearly three years on how awful the holidays are. I was encouraged to keep it tucked away, and it will stay there, but now you have a sense of it.

I know. Me. Me. Me. That's not what this is about, but I guess that, too, adds to the demons I chat with.

This post is about our problems with mental health. How we just don't know. People smile all the time. They tell you they're fine. They see the social media posts.

"Wow, you're staying busy," they say. "I can tell you're doing great!"

No. No they're really not doing great. Call it "The Tears of a Clown," if you know what I mean.

Some are blatantly asking -- crying -- for help. Yet for reasons, including bureaucracy, they don't get that help.

Bourdain looked like he had conquered his demons. The drug abuse appeared to be gone, and I thought I even read he was kicking or had kicked smoking. He seemed to still drink, but it looked like -- there are those words: "looked like" -- he was OK. He had a child and a partner. The focus was on living.

So we thought. So it "seemed." So it "looked like."

Nobody knows what happened in that Paris hotel room. We might never know.

If you get the chance to read about Robin Williams, well, yeah. There's another sad story.

We need help. We need to get people help, and it's more than just telling someone to go get therapy. They have to get TO therapy. Short of actually driving someone there and placing them in the office, it's sort of difficult.

In some cases, there are many without healthcare (HI!). Kind of hard to get help when you can't afford it.

Then there is fear. Despite FDR's famed words in 1933, fear is a factor. Fear...Factor, indeed.

I know of a story of someone who was in therapy during a time of upheaval. One of the things they were there to talk about was money. Guess what they got asked each time they walked in the office? Did they have the -- wait for it! -- money to pay the bill!

Vicious circle, right? They stopped going to therapy then and there.

I see people who are mad at Bourdain and Spade. I get it, but I don't. Again, you're not there. They know -- we know -- that they have reasons to live. Kids, spouses, partners, friends.

Yet it can all just be too much. The pain -- whatever that pain is. The imbalance of whatever it might be. The meds help but it's possible they aren't enough or can't be purchased.

People in these states of mind see themselves as a burden. "It will just be easier if I'm not here," is the mantra.

There is no way to defend the actions of a person who takes their life, but there's no true way to indict them either. I'm sorry these people killed themselves, and I wish I could understand why they did.

We have to find how to prevent it, and I'm not smart to figure out how.

But I want to help.

It doesn't have to end this way.

Sure, everyone posts the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255), but does that help? It hardly seems like enough.

I wish I had more. This feels like a lot of words for nothing.

I recited the opening of Free Bird at my dad's funeral in 1989 (copyright, 1973, words by Allen Collins and Ronnie Van Zant).

If I leave here tomorrow
Would you still remember me?
For I must be traveling on now
'Cause there's too many places I've got to see

Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain and Robin Williams and, sadly, too many others couldn't take more pain. They couldn't take more sadness. They wanted out - for whatever reason. That doesn't make them heroic or criminals or pathetic or weak.

It just means they were done, and nobody could help them.

There were too many places they had to see.

Thanks, Tony. See you at Waffle House.

Saturday, June 09, 2018

The CIAC Airwaves Are Quiet

Notre Dame of West Haven and Masuk lineup before the Class L Championship at Palmer Field in 2014. (My photo)

OK, that title is somewhat-misleading, and I'll own that.

It's Championship Weekend in the Connecticut, as the CIAC is handing out titles in baseball, softball, and lacrosse.

I attended some of the baseball action back in 2016 because I had nothing going on, and I wanted to watch. I grabbed a media credential and sat with Shawn Sailer at Palmer Field in Middletown. We had a blast, despite the raindrops and delays.

I decided to stay away this year and get some stuff done around Robcasting Headquarters. As I was thinking about working the yard, it occurred to me how great it would be to listen to the action.

That's overall not an option.

Yes, I'm aware that (for a nominal fee), you can watch games via NFHS. That's certainly a worthy option, though buyer-beware in terms of some of the quality, to be honest. I'd be a wee annoyed to spend money and not be happy with it.

So you might say I could just pay the money and listen. Er...no, and here's why:

- I, like you, have a data plan. Mine is not unlimited. Video from NFHS eats data, and my wifi doesn't necessarily make it into all parts of my yard as I'm mowing the lawn.
- I don't want to spend the money (and can't really afford it!)
- Not every broadcaster calls a game with the necessarily level of detail for a listener.

This last one is a big one for me. There are reasons that, despite calling numerous video webcast and TV games, I still largely do a descriptive radio call. Often I'm working with a limited number of cameras that can't pick up every angle, for instance, so my voice is needed to fill in the gaps.

But I also know -- and have been told by many -- that even when they do watch, they're not watching. They're doing something else.

So I describe and describe and describe.

And thankfully, by working either on just WGCH or with Local Live and Brunswick, I can put that skill to use. Plus Local Live and Brunswick have graciously allowed me to use the Robcasting platform to give people a listening option.

That's where I'd like to see the CIAC also go. The truth is, I would have done baseball for free today.

** See, here's the thing: I need to make money. Sure, that's true. But I also like calling games, and if there's a meal, maybe gas money, and hopefully a place to lay my head down (and a shower), I'm fine. A conversation for another time, of course. The point is, yes, I need to pay my bills, but there's a balance to all of this. Anyway, I'm babbling. Back to our story.**

Now, I'm aware that George DeMaio is doing softball on ESPN Radio 1300 (and, curiously, online, which the CIAC is always grumbling at WGCH about anytime we're there). So that's great.

But as I type, Ridgefield and Cheshire are in a great baseball dual in Middletown. Plus there's zero radio coverage of lacrosse (boys or girls).

The thing is, if Greenwich is involved, I'm always rattling cages to get the game on WGCH, and to that end we did cover the football and hockey title games. I'm no "VOICE" of anything, but who is?

If Staples is involved, you get their wonderful WWPT. These students produce a remarkable broadcast that is wholly unbiased. Not many on the local level can say that.

Darien might bring their DAF Media group to various state final games, but that's also a video-based broadcast, and the CIAC tends to shoo anyone away that might get in the way of NFHS.

(Side note, when HAN Radio was...er...just radio, NFHS and the CIAC blocked us from radio coverage of both hockey and basketball in 2015 because we were an online station. That's after we did a full schedule in 2014, which was, of course, nirvana for me. They relented and let us do hockey only, yet other online stations show up at various state games, such as WCNX.)

I'm quite positive more schools will be trying the media concepts, but I'll still preach an audio-only element.

You know, like Robcasting.

Anyway, I'm not trying to get on a rant or stir up trouble. If it makes people think about other approaches to how the CIAC (and, yes, you too New York State) covers these games, then I think that's a worthwhile conversation to have.

There are myriad reporters doing a phenomenal job covering these games in print and via social media. GametimeCT is leading the way, and has really kicked things up with the addition of Pete Paguaga. He's not Petey Pageviews for nothing!

I know. It's a business. Business, however, doesn't often serve the fans. That's the problem.

*****
Things are different in Middletown today, as Jim Bransfield's spot in the Palmer Field press box was taken by Joe D'Ambrosio, the now-former UConn play-by-play announcer for football and men's basketball. There are two thoughts here: 1) UConn dropped the ball. Big time. I don't know Joe D, but I've listened to him. He's a wonderful play-by-play voice. 2) Everyone is missing Mr. Bransfield in Middletown. That being said, having Joe D there is an inspired choice. Well done.