Sunday, May 20, 2018

Royal "Off The Bench" Thoughts

"You look amazing, said Harry. "I'm so lucky." (Photo: WPA Pool, Getty Images)

I had no intention of watching the Royal Wedding yesterday morning. I mean, I have nothing against the House of Windsor, and sort of admired Diana, and think Harry and William seem fine, and yet? Nah. I didn't think I'd watch.

I was wrong. I woke up around five, not planning to watch it, but the tweets sucked me in, and soon I has CBS on.

First mistake.

Went to NBC next. It was OK, but no.

I decided on "the beeb," aka the BBC, and it was perfect. They didn't fawn (OK, maybe a little) and it became perfectly fine in the background as I woke up and began prepping for a lacrosse game later in the day.

On social media, many denounced the event as unnecessary and made references to us gaining our independence over 200 years ago.

Look, I can be as snarky as anyone. For instance, I'd rather silence than the Billboard Music Awards or American Idol or The Voice or whatever other dreck is on.

That being said, what was the harm of the wedding? Yes, you didn't watch it. Great. There are a lot of things I don't get the appeal of.

Still, despite the tweets and Facebook comments, the one thing I couldn't get was why not embrace it or just let it go?

Think about it: just Friday -- the day before the wedding -- we had another awful school shooting. Ten are dead. Around here, we had a pretty horrific school bus crash in New Jersey and a series of bad storms, with a tornado thrown in. Both of those events featured loss of life, plus my friends and family actually watched the tornado go by.

See what I'm driving at? We could use a little good old-fashioned romance.

I realize there were a bunch of phonies at the affair, but I smiled at thought of true love. The skeptic in me -- the snarkado in me -- took the day off.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion. Tweet what you want, of course.

It was a benign fairy tale, given so much bad in the world.

The Vegas Golden Knights are going to the Stanley Cup Final, and it's pretty cool.

As someone who loves a good story, Vegas being four wins away from the Cup works.

I would have been fine with the Winnipeg Jets advancing, given a Canadian team hasn't won the magic chalice since 1993. Yes. That's correct.

I'm sort of hoping the Washington Capitals could make it, so that Alex Ovechkin (The Great Eight) can play for his first Cup, but with all of the former New York Rangers on the Tampa Bay Lightning, I can't complain.

Oh, and Doc Emrick calls the Finals. So let's make it seven and we all win.

But...there's a belief that the NHL has rigged it so that Vegas -- a first-year expansion team -- can get to the Finals.

Um. What?

My man Mike Hirn -- Ohio's finest -- was just as baffled as I was at the idea of the fix being in.

Want a fix? Get the New York Rangers to the Finals. Then the NHL can market all day!

But the idea of the NHL being fixed for Vegas is just wrong.

I've long thought about ranking all play-by-play announcers in Yankees history. The thing is, I think I know the bottom two, and have a sense of the top five. It's the in-between that makes it tough.

Biting my tongue has never been my strong suit. But please know that I'm trying. Really trying.

And I'll often fail.

There are a variety of sports broadcasting tidbits to get to, such as how much I enjoyed being in Waterbury a few weeks ago with Tim Parry. We called Nonnewaug and Gilbert baseball at Municipal Stadium.

Tim operates his exceptional Just Woodbury site, and it should be a go-to for your news needs in that area (and beyond).

We need people who bring integrity to reporting. Integrity is questioned more than ever. I've said for too long that Susan and company at Darien Times should be your stop there.

Again. Integrity. And that brings respect.

I can't say with enough certainty how much I've enjoyed covering Brunswick School sports this year. Football, hockey, basketball, baseball, and lacrosse.

Lacrosse, you say? Why yes -- at last check, the third best lacrosse team. Period. Not regionally. Not in a conference. Not even in the United States.

Third best. That's it.

After covering Wick for 20 years, I'm actually known around there, and it's a great joy.

I'll finish with the Brunswick baseball team in the FAA Championship tomorrow. Few coaches treat me better than Johnny Montanez.

Which calls to mind another point: the amount of great coaches I work with (and have worked with). Right now, it's Ron Van Belle and Steve Juricek and Montanez and Jared Shine and John Marinelli and Chris Rurak. As a sample.

And Leo Redgate at Fairfield Prep was great to me. Sorry to see him out of there. That's one sharp basketball mind.

Also the Mahopac High School baseball crew, including Myckie Lugbauer, Shaun McGee and Anthony Nappi.

Speaking of baseball coaches, Mike Mora is working his magic again at Greenwich High, as the Cardinals have made the FCIAC playoffs.

There are so many coaches to highlight. They do a great job.

Note to parents: Let them do that job.

I've actually started looking at the football schedules. I'm proud that at least five teams are interested in having me around to call their play-by-play. It's humbling, to say the least.

My schedule could start in August, but that doesn't mean I'll be quiet in the summer.

So...who wants some broadcasts?

Happy 72nd birthday, Bobby Ray Murcer. The Yankees treat you like a forgotten name, and you don't deserve that. If only they had this place to honor great players, broadcasters, executives and so on to recognize your years in the organization.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Anyone Can Do It

The Robcasting Radio banner hanging at a recent Mahopac High School game. (Not representative of the story I'm telling)

I recently called a high school game.

The site isn't important. Nor is the sport. To protect certain things, I won't give too much detail.

But holy cow, it's a cautionary tale.

Perched on the roof of a press box, I prepared to broadcast the game in question. Thanks to traffic, my arrival was much later than I would have preferred, but I didn't panic, and set about getting ready. Though I lacked a roster for one of the teams, I knew I could make it all work.

** Quick side note: We are literally begging for accurate rosters to be made available. Twice in the past week, I've had to fudge my way through a game where details weren't available and only had last names. In this era, that is simply unacceptable. In this game, I asked in the press box for a roster. Nothing. I looked around. Nada. Nobody was willing to help. I walked to the scorers table, where I took a picture of the scorebook, and worked off what I had. It was better than nothing, and I relied on what I could overhear for the rest of the details. Accurate (keyword) rosters in numerical order shouldn't be this difficult. In fact, it should be mandated.

Keep the roster thing in mind through the balance of this story.

Standing a few feet away from me were a few student broadcasters. OK, I'm all for that, and always happy to help. But in this case, I had to hurry to even get on the air. After dashing to the field to get any semblance of a roster, I literally started the game out of breath, and let the action on the video speak for itself.

I could overhear the young broadcasters nearby.

"Number eight to number 23 to number two."


Still I concentrated on my own call and got to a break.

With the students was an advisor/teacher who was clearly in charge. She stayed positioned in the booth while her young charges exploded out to do whatever they needed to get to.

"Would they like a roster," I asked?

"They would love one," came the reply.

Silly me, I felt that there would be a sharing of information -- the same thing I've done with countless other play-by-play "voices." Matt Levine, Don Boyle, George DeMaio, and numerous others know exactly what I'm taking about. You're happy to share. You talk about strengths and weaknesses of teams. Maybe little notes. Pronunciations. Anything.


As they returned to the booth, I offered to help.

"Who's the play-by-play voice?"

A hand went up. Didn't even look at me.

"Do you want a roster?"

"Nope. I'm good."


Entitlement aside, do you suppose, if you really want to do this professionally, that you might want to have accurate information, or is it just about your school, and accuracy be damned?

Where in the name of Marty Glickman was integrity?

I was astounded, annoyed, and frustrated. I would have felt worse if I were their advisor.

There is this belief, in our modern information age, that "anyone" can do "anything." You can be a writer -- thus, a blog (and I'm 100% guilty but have tried so hard to do this honorably). You can be a broadcaster -- go to any one of a number of outlets for that. Hell, with a do-it-yourself video, you can be an auto mechanic, or something else.

Still there's something to be said for training, preparation (I do far more than believed, cha cha), and...well...pride, as well as the aforementioned integrity. Have some. Anything less than what I expect sends me into fits, and giving my absolute best exhausts me**.

** Another side note: Many times, after a game, I stand in a parking lot and talk to colleagues and friends, and here's why. It's not a "gripe" session, as has often been believed. Sure, there is an airing of grievances, but it's mostly because I'm so worn out that I'm trying to find the energy to drive home. That's all there is to it. Often, it's a sign that I don't want the night to end, and I also don't want to be sleeping in a parking lot to find said energy to drive home. Do you know how many times I've stayed in a stadium/arena/field to soak it in and summon the will to drive? Too many to count.

So, to recap, while you, young plebe, just climbs down from the press box post-game in search of the free food or the cute girl, I'm climbing back into my car for a drive that normally includes a loss of all adrenaline.

And replaying literally every moment of that broadcast. And telling my friends how much I sucked.

Ask me about the aftermath of Salisbury and Brunswick last Friday. With two of the top three lacrosse teams in the world in front of me, a large audience, and a great production crew, I felt a ton of pressure to have a great call. I gave it all I had, and despite a few goofs, I drove home completely worn out (and, rarely, slightly satisfied). A 90-minute ride through Litchfield and Dutchess counties made for a long trip.

But I slept knowing that I did my best. That I cared. That I had the utmost integrity.

You think anyone can do it.

I used to think that.

You're wrong.