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. 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.