Sunday, March 31, 2019

Not This Year

There. I've posted something Green. Shawn Green. (Getty Images)
March is often a rough month, but a month that I also sort of like.

I like it because it means spring is upon us by the time it's over.  I like it because of March Madness and we're that much closer to baseball season (though baseball started early this year).

It's rough because it also has painful memories. Memories that I chose to ignore this year.

I lost a grandmother in March of 1983. She was 80 and in poor health.

I lost a father in March of 1989. He was 59 and was probably not the vision of health, but his heart attack was still a shock.

I still can't figure this March out, if I may speak out loud, thus "making it about me."

My feelings are weird. Me -- emotional, wearing my heart on my sleeve -- feeling nothing. Not sad. Just. Nothing.

March 17 -- St. Patrick's Day -- is the date my dad passed while watching The Quiet Man on TV. This year was the 30th anniversary of that horrible night. Pre-cell phone, I was told to get home, arriving at an empty house. I called for answers and got it.

Dead.

I was largely alone for the 30th anniversary. Nobody seemed to concern themselves with raising a glass to the old man. Nobody seemed to need to visit the cemetery.

I had two texts about him. My mother barely mentioned his passing. I didn't hear from my siblings or other family members. It was a day. Just an average Sunday.

I did nothing on social media (I normally do). I didn't write about him here (ditto...until now). I didn't dedicate my podcast to him.

It was like he didn't exist, or didn't matter.

The whole thing is hard to explain.

So I sat home, save for having to go out for a few hours when I really didn't want to.

Alone, and yet not.

I rolled my eyes and ignored the myriad people who had to post the GIF/picture/song/meme/movie clip with green this and Irish that.

It felt tone deaf, but I realized I could say nothing. It was my problem.

By the way, nobody posted about former Dodger Shawn Green, so I've taken care of that.

All along, I continued to feel this ambivalence. I couldn't even feel sad for not feeling sad.

I still can't figure it out, but something has changed. There's a foreign beast called "Don't Care" that has climbed inside of me. Things that normally impact me are either getting buried or just rolling off.

Frankly, ambivalence scares me.

Even here on the blog, it has taken until March 31 for me to acknowledge any of this. If not for my post of the day approach, I might have let it all just go.

I figure you've all heard enough about my old man. He was great. He was flawed. He was kind. He had a big heart and a huge smile.

But time also marches on, and maybe I just didn't want to mourn this year.

It's a day. It's a month.

Éirinn go Brách (Ireland forever).

April is approaching. Move along.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Less...More

WHAT IS YOUR MAJOR MALFUNCTION? (Found via Google)
We all deal with criticism in the media and have to develop a thick skin to survive.

Recently, I was calling an event when a person I'd never met approached me out of nowhere. They introduced themselves and said they had a title that I figured could matter.

But this person didn't stop by -- mid-game, mind you -- to thank me for the efforts on the broadcast.

"Someone once advised me to stick to the task in front of you," they said. "More baseball. Less bullsh*t.

"So. That would be my advice."

For what it's worth, the sport was not baseball. So. Yeah.

And that was it.

My new friend didn't exactly bring sunshine into the room and it was sure nicer when they left. They seemed to bark at everyone, and then everyone was expected to laugh at them.

Oh yeah, that type of person. My favorite.

Instead of getting into a conflict, responding with sarcasm, or doing literally anything, I just put my headset on and got back to work.

I felt bad for the person that I was working with because the attack was aimed at both of us. The broadcast, frankly, suffered as a result of the approach.

Instead, my plan of attack turned to being as vanilla as possible. This person, who portrayed themselves as "an executive producer" (a little research indicated that wasn't true), had a certain level of power in that moment, and I wasn't going to cause a scene.

"You want boring," I thought? "I'll give you boring."

I decided they were clearly jealous. They probably wanted to call this and felt threatened by me. Vin Scully probably would have gotten crap from this clown.

"So, um, that story you told about Pearl Harbor, Vin? Don't do that again. Nobody cares what happened in 1941. We just want to know what this player did on a sunny day with a blue moon and the wind blowing under 25 miles per hour with temperatures at EXACTLY 46 degrees."

Red Barber once told Mr. Scully that he brought something into the booth that nobody else brought. Astounded, Scully wondered (and worried) what that might be.

"Yourself," Barber said, firmly.

And so do I, for that matter. Sports isn't rocket science. It gets treated professionally with respect and reported accurately, but my job is to also to keep you engaged. So talking about a player who might be from Manchester, CT might lead to a conversation about traffic in Connecticut -- certainly, a worthy discussion if the analyst is still learning their way around.

That's sort of what caused this kerfuffle.

I've worked with magnificent partners over the years who came into my booth, or I into theirs. We've reported and cajoled as necessary. But as my old hockey partner John Spang always noted, the look in my eye changed when things got serious.

There was literally no reason for this "executive producer" to handle this as such, and it certainly took me to a bad place. The right thing would have been to meet with me before the game, or perhaps after. Or, maybe, accept different styles.

Baseball (and softball) aren't called like hockey, which isn't called like football, which isn't called like basketball. And so on.

To be honest, if I had a say, it would have gone to a higher level because it was unprofessional, and even bullying.

As I'll likely never deal with that person again, it's over and done with, and I'm writing it here as a cautionary tale. How we treat people matters. Acting like a spoiled, entitled bully won't be forgotten.

Treat people as you want to be treated. I've tried. I occasionally screw up.

Trust me. I learned the name. I'll never forget it.

I've dealt with this nonsense before. Before games. During games. After games. In texts and emails and in-person.

I bring myself into a broadcast, and I'm keeping it that way.

(P.S., I hit my 22nd anniversary at WGCH today, so I'm doing something right)

Friday, March 29, 2019

Walterboro, SC

Google Street View
Walterboro, SC is a city of roughly 5,400 people. It is serviced by two exits along Interstate 95 where those of us traveling to and from Florida grab a meal, fill our tanks or rest our heads.

It's a place to pass through, though there is an antiquing scene, according to the interwebs.

Honestly, other than the old Howard Johnson's motor lodge and restaurant off State Route 63, I know very little about the place.

But we'll come back to that.

Today Walterboro is in the news for the wrong reason. A story of bullying and death has emerged from a place called Forest Hills Elementary School. RaNiya Wright, a 10-year-old fifth grader, died after a fight with another classmate.

Read that again. It's baffling, isn't it?

A fifth-grader is dead. Due to a fight. What isn't baffling is the apparent cause: bullying. Yet nothing in these sentences makes any sense. Families are shattered. Another student (and who knows who else) has to deal with this for the rest of their life and lives.

And a 10-year-old is dead. Over bullying. Why? Because she didn't fit in?

There's literally no excuse. There now needs to be answers. Schools are supposed to be safe. We put our kids there believing we're going to safely get them back at the end of the day. We believe "it's not going to happen here," despite Sandy Hook, Parkland, Columbine...

We know they're going to learn, and there are even things we don't want them to learn. So is the social mixing bowl of school.

No child deserves to die. Especially at school. No child deserves to be bullied. It sounds like a culture needs to be changed.

(April 19, 2019: Please note there has been an update to this story. See the bottom of the post for more)

*****
It was 1983, and my grandmother was dying. In New Port Richey, FL, we scurried to figure out how to best depart. My sister, father and I grabbed brunch with my paternal grandparents at Innisbrook, near Tarpon Springs, and my mom packed us up at our hotel.

We were on the road by the early afternoon, and only able to get as far as -- you guessed it -- Walterboro, SC.

We were Howard Johnson's aficionados, thanks in part to me. My dad, with his raging arthritis, needed a comfortable bed, and the Holiday Inns of the day didn't quite cut it. On a whim, in Ocala, Florida, in 1980, he asked me to pick where to stay. I said, "I don't think we've ever stayed at a Howard Johnson's" (maybe we did, but I don't remember).

We did. He loved it. Along with having a place to eat dinner and breakfast, the scene was a win-win-win.

Flash forward to '83. We dressed the next morning and climbed in the car to go to the on-site restaurant. I got out of the car to check the door...

The parking lot looked too quiet for 5:00 a.m...

But most HoJo's were open 24/7, right?

I pulled the door...

(You can probably guess)

Locked. I glanced at a sign; they opened at 6:00 a.m.

As the co-pilot and "all-knowing one" of all things roads and roadside culture, I immediately felt guilty for not knowing this.

It probably took one second for me to turn around, but it felt like an eternity. I knew what was coming.

I looked and shook my head, likely saying the words "It's not open."

The response was immediate and volcanic.

"GO*DA*MIT!"

I got back in the car.

The ol' man, bless his weary heart, needed coffee and his HoJo's Big Breakfast (TM). Now, in the wilds of the lowland of South Carolina, we needed a plan B for the 17-hour drive back to Mahopac.

We eventually found a truck stop, thanks to those trusty roadside signs, and likely my I-95 book (yes. I really had one, and still do).

"Everybody OK with that?"

Who were we at that point to argue?

I think I had questionable pancakes.

I'd actually kill for those now.

Incidentally, my grandmother lasted roughly a week. I recall her telling my mother, "Tell Robbie I said goodbye. I mean, hello," when my mom visited her in the hospital. She died on March 7, 1983.

I wish this was my only thought on Walterboro, SC.

Sadly, today, it's not.

(UPDATE, April 19, 2019): It looks like RaNiya died of natural causes.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Opening Day

 From left: Lou Gehrig, Joe Cronin, Bill Dickey, Joe DiMaggio, Charlie Gehringer, Jimmie Foxx, and Hank Greenberg

Few phrases make me smile more than Opening Day.

No other sport has people counting down to it like baseball fans.

That's not to demean other sports, and you probably know I love so many other sports.

But baseball is special.

Think about it. There are special pop culture moments regarding baseball. Some movie channel will run a baseball festival. Radio shows will chime in with baseball-related programming and music.

Opening Day of baseball season is just different. If only we could get back to Cincinnati being first before everyone else, but I know that train left the station a long time ago.

Besides, I'm an ESPN guy (yeah, right) so who am I to criticize?

Anyway, it's sort of become a thing to repost the post I wrote on April 5, 2015, simply entitled Baseball. A little backstory for you: I was in at a low point that weekend due to extemporaneous noise. I sat down and wrote that Sunday to just put a little spirit back in me. I felt emotional writing it, and that's normally a barometer that I've done something sort of OK.

I posted it, and the reaction was just beyond my expectations. So here it is again, as I wrote it (and even read it on the air) from that day.

I've made very minor changes to move it forward to 2019.

*****
Check out that picture above. Look at them: Gehirg, Cronin, Dickey, DiMaggio, Gehringer, Foxx, Greenberg. Even non-baseball/sports fans know at least two of those names (Gehrig and Joe D., of course).

It was taken at the 1937 All-Star Game at Griffith Stadium in Washington. Look at that glorious NBC sign in the background. Incidentally, three radio networks broadcast that game (NBC, CBS, and Mutual).

You might not know that every one of those players are enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Yet they are. Those guys aren't scrubs. They're among the best to ever play the game of baseball. Naturally, I've written tons about The Iron Horse, and a few words about DiMaggio as well. Bill Dickey, by the way, is vastly overlooked.

For you non-fans, Jimmie Foxx was the loose model for Tom Hanks in A League of Their Own.

You probably know this, if you've read anything here, but I love this great game. My god, we've screwed it up incredibly over the years. The race issues were deplorable. The sport struggled with growth and competition from the NFL through the 70s (and it continues today). We've added playoff teams, and dealt with drugs (steroids, greenies, cocaine, etc. Go on. Look it up.). We're worried about pace of play and bringing the inner city back.

We had Black Sox and a gambling Red (just put him in the Hall of Fame, please?).

We have the Babe. The one and only. The single greatest, most important athlete in the history of sports. Yes, I know, Jim Thorpe, Bo Jackson, and others might have been better true athletes, but given everything involved, there's Babe Ruth and everyone else.

We've sold our souls too many times. Baseball shouldn't open at night, but ESPN's money is too much to overlook (2019 Rob here: it doesn't start at night. Thankfully).

Yet today, in the day, with the stands full and the records 0-0, the lines will be painted fresh. The grass will be gloriously green. I wish a band would play, and we could recreate some of the openings of seasons past, but a voice will intone the starting lineups, and they will gather on those freshly-painted baselines. The anthem will be sung. A ceremonial first pitch will be thrown. There might be a flyover or some other special effect.

Then, as there has been since 1869 (the generally-agreed upon "first year" of Major League Baseball), a batter will step up to home plate. A pitcher - 60 feet, six inches away - will author a first pitch.

And there will be baseball. To me, for its history, grandeur, strategy - everything - it is the greatest game of them all.

Football is the national passion. Baseball is the National Pastime.

Give me 714. Give me .406. Sixty-one. Fifty-six. I wish we could have 1918 back, but time marches on. A fan knows what these numbers are.

Give me the billy goat. The Bambino. Curses real or imagined.

Give me those uniform numbers that we all know: four. Three. Seven. Five. Forty-two.

Give me The Mick. Jeet. Gabby. Dizzy. Daffy. Dazzy. Pudge. Yaz. Three-Finger. Blue Moon. Vida. Catfish. Bucky. Stan the Man.

Give me Willie, Mickey, and The Duke. Tinker to Evers to Chance.

Give me The Called Shot. The Homer in The Gloamin'. The Shot Heard Round the World. The Miracle of Coogan's Bluff. Those last two are the same thing.

Give me Ebbets Field. Forbes Field. Crosley Field. Now give me Camden Yards and Fenway and Wrigley. The Big A. Chavez Ravine.

Give me the corner of E. 161st Street and River Ave. The most famous address in sports history.

Give me the Royal Rooters and the Bleacher Creatures.

Give me 27 rings.

Give me those great quotes, from music to movies to TV and beyond.

Take Me Out to the Ball Game. "Luckiest Man."
“That's baseball, and it's my game. Y' know, you take your worries to the game, and you leave 'em there. You yell like crazy for your guys. It's good for your lungs, gives you a lift, and nobody calls the cops. Pretty girls, lots of 'em.”
―Humphrey Bogart
Give me Vincent Edward Scully. The man known as Vin. The man who learned at the side of Walter Lanier Barber, the Old Redhead himself sitting in the catbird seat, while the bases were FOB (full of Brooklyn).

Give me a Ballantine Blast. Tell me "It's Miller Time" or "This Bud's for you."

Give me Cooperstown.

I love this game. It energizes me. Engulfs me. Fills my heart, yet breaks it. It enraptured me for sure when I saw my first pro game in 1972 and a guy named Murcer doubled off another guy named Palmer. One is a hall of famer. The other doesn't need to be.

(Note: I actually first saw the Yankees play the Royals in the first game I ever went to. It was still 1972, and Bobby Murcer actually hit a home run. But...let's stick with the above paragraph)

It made me cry when in 1996, my boyhood team won their first title in 18 years, and I couldn't share it with the one person I wanted to share it with.

Most of all, selfishly, give me a microphone so that I can broadcast it.

This is the beginning of my year. This is when I feel refreshed.

This is when I know that this horrible winter is over.

It's Opening Day.

Play ball.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

A Long Day Is Over

Now take that space and, basically, cut it in half.
Honestly, I don't have much in me tonight. It happens.

As always, I poured my heart and soul into 14 innings of softball. There are reasons why I do things the way I do them. I'm not saying I do them particularly well.

For those who love charts and graphs and colors, I barely had space for my phone and held my scorecard on my lap. I didn't even bother with my iPad or laptop.

I tried to work with a crew I've never worked with, including two different young broadcasters -- one for each game.

I'm proud to say I've now done something with ESPN, as well as with Yale.

I thought I was ... ... ... meh (as always), but others say differently.

Thanks to those of you who supported me in one way or another. I really appreciate it.

I didn't get a recording of either game, and that's fine.

I otherwise lack the eloquence tonight, so I'm going to sit this one out.

See you tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Overthinking Broadcasting


I'm heading to Yale University tomorrow for softball.

For the first time in my "illustrious" career, the letters E S P N will be associated with my name. That will certainly look nice on my resume.

Indeed, I'll have the call of the Central Connecticut/Yale softball doubleheader with game one at 2 p.m. and game two sometime after 4 p.m.

Both games will be carried online on ESPN+.

They have their own style and I'm sure I need to learn out cues and so on. Since I'm not expected to see any camera time (it's best for all of you, really) I don't have to dress up. I just have to stay warm.

Most of my fears have already been resolved.

I belong to a play-by-play group on Facebook. Nice to be among peers, though it's a different flavor from our beloved Call of the Game discussion page of now some 10-15 years ago. Still that page produced people that I'm proud to call friends.

I'm often fascinated by what I read in the Facebook group. Sometimes it's fairly high and mighty people preaching from on high. Other times it's solid advice and conversation. It's an interesting mix. I act as an observer and chime in when I think I can help. After over 20 years of play-by-play (counting the PM-Kraft softball days) I have stories to tell and wisdom to pass along.

My belief is to keep it simple. Report, tell stories and have some fun.

There are plenty of things for the play-by-play enthusiast to read, such as Logan Anderson's "Say the Damn Score" page. Logan blogs and opines about things relevant to the world of sports broadcasting, with the latest entry being about covering a tournament.

I love the challenge of a tournament. When the Babe Ruth World Series came to Stamford, CT in 2002, I couldn't wait to give it a try. We didn't get to call all of the games due to some technicality but we were the broadcasters for several of the big games, including the National Championship. Not many can say they've had the opportunity.

The first real tournament that I got to call was the 2015 Babe Ruth New England Regional. It was suggested to us by a local person, and I was all-in. Fifteen games in five days? Oh hells to the yes.

I called every pitch. Every moment. Four games per day from Friday to Sunday, with two games Monday and the championship on Tuesday.

I had a similar stretch in 2017 but was content to let Dan Gardella and Jake Zimmer each handle calling some of the action to give my voice a rest. Each night heading home in 2015 felt like I had sandpaper in my throat.

Last year, I called (nearly) every pitch of another Babe Ruth tournament in Norwalk. There was no press box, so I fought heat and rain while standing on the blacktop. Plus Fairfield Little League wanted me on their games (and Cal Ripken baseball in Greenwich and the Trumbull Babe Ruth team before that). It was a wonderfully exhausting stretch. I worked almost every game completely solo or had Shawn Sailer, Paul Silverfarb, or Chris Kaelin come by. But mostly, it was me.

The key to it is to not overthink it. With teams coming in from all around New England, I mine the local newspapers and baseball web sites until I find some things. Some years, teams will fill out little bios for us. Then I make sure my computer and phone are always available for tidbits that I haven't thought of, such as facts about the towns the teams are from.

At the game site, coaches are happy to say hello for pronunciations and maybe a few things to expect. Depending on the atmosphere, families will stop by and tell you a few things. Play along, and you make friends.

I had a T-shirt brought to me from Maine in 2015. Last year, I got hats from Rhode Island and Norwalk (plus Del's lemonade mix from Rhode Island), a sign saying "Keene" from the New Hampshire team and plenty of kindness from every team.

Lastly, I have this thing in my head. A brain. With a ton of knowledge. And I use it.

From there, I make sure to have honey lemon drops for my throat, bottles of water and seltzer to stay hydrated, and know where the nearest restroom is for between games.

As Kevin Costner says in Bull Durham: "Don't think. It can only hurt the team."

In this case, don't overthink. Trust your instinct to describe and tell stories. I'm not going to know everything about Yale or Central Connecticut by tomorrow. I'm hopeful that, as with St. John's, there will be other opportunities, and then it will become second nature.

Once again, I'll be working with people whom I have never met. Once again, this is not my favorite mode of chemistry, though I did exchange emails with one of the guys I'm going to work with. I've been blessed that I've had few (if any) booth problems. When I've been the number two guy in the room, I've respected that it's their place. Phil Giubileo, Sean Ford, Geoff Brault, and Josh Caray are examples of booths like that. It's their room.

I've also been blessed to share the booth with so many friends, and that chemistry shines every time. You know those names by now.

So for now, I'm going to get a decent nights sleep, do some reading in the morning, and head out to the stadium.

It's softball. It's sports. This isn't rocket science.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Great Band, Popular Song, and I Detest it

Looks like a blast

So many things rolling around in the ol' brain tonight.

*****
Horrible sadness over Jeremy Richman, the father of one of the children who died at Sandy Hook in 2012, took his own life today. With the suicides of two survivors of the Parkland, Florida shooting, we're seeing some awful news.

I don't have the words, but I will implore you once again to seek help if you're troubled. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255, and there are friends and family who are there. Let's take care of each other.

*****
Let's turn from sadness to silly minutiae, symbolic of basically nothing. I saw this tweet tonight:

The way I'm understanding this is that I have to like the band (or even love the band) but hate one of their popular songs.

There has to be one. The very first thing that came to my mind was "All You Need is Love," but I don't know if I hate it that much. I admire the production values that went into it, but I find it droning a bit.

Still. Hated? No.

So what song would it be? I'm sure there is one.

Could I go with the second version of "Candle In The Wind" by Elton John, even though I like the original?

Somehow I thought this would be easy, but I'm struggling.

Oh, and to the person who commented to the original tweet with a deep shot to planet Huey Lewis and the News...just whatever. Have a nice day, and I hope "Hip to Be Square" is stuck in your cerebral cortex for eternity.



Incidentally, there is no song that I detest by them. No shock there.

For now, I'll give you an answer, but it's not much of an answer since it's a "song" by definition only.

Numbah nine. Numbah nine. Numbah nine...



Sunday, March 24, 2019

St. John's Baseball

This should be a picture from baseball today. But it's Sal's Pizza in Mamaroneck, NY. Don't judge.

Today was baseball day.

With surprises.

I got the first one yesterday when I heard that I might have a partner for today's baseball games at St. John's.

Now if you know me, I pride myself on the chemistry of a broadcast booth. It's so important to making a game sound good.

So I again made the 55-mile drive down the campus in Queens, showing up long before first pitch. I eventually got into booth number four and began to set up. Soon, Bob Hirschfield, a hall of fame coach at New York Institute of Technology, joined me.

"Another new partner," he said.

If you've ever been around minor league baseball, then you know that doubleheaders are two seven-inning games. In college baseball, it's two nine-inning games. That was the second surprise.

Some six hours later, it was all over. St. John's swept Hofstra by scores of 9-1 and 9-0.

It all went well and I'd have to say I'm somewhat pleased. I suppose there's a chance that I will be asked back, and we'll see what it leads to.

I stood for a moment at the foot of the steps to the Bob Sheppard Press Box at Jack Kaiser Stadium and pondered the weekend. No matter what happens -- for one wonderful, exhausting weekend -- I was a play-by-play broadcaster in Division I athletics.

I called the games as I know how. The way that I believe is the right way.

Thanks to the many friends who tuned in from around the country and told me that they listened.

I rewarded myself with Sal's Pizza in Mamaroneck as I made my way home. Susan has preached to me about Joe and Pat's on Staten Island (and it's awesome). Paul has long said Frank Pepe's, especially in New Haven, is the way to go. Both (and so many others) are great (and I don't need "One bite, everybody knows the rules" to know what a great pizza is).

Sal's was phenomenal.

So for tonight, let's enjoy all of this as a good thing, and start a fresh week tomorrow morning. Thank you to KJ, Jon, and all of those who made this possible. The real game archives are on redstormsports.com and my embedded archive files are below.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

St. John's Softball

This headset is $450. I got to use it today.
So I called softball today in New York City.

Given I like facts more than stats*, allow me to give you a silly tidbit: I've now called a game in every borough of the big town, except for Manhattan.

*Allow me to pause for this reminder from Scully, Vincent Edward regarding stats:
I was loaded with stats galore today, thanks to Dylan from the Athletic Communications department at St. John's for the call of the Red Storm and the Providence Friars.

The Storm won the game 5-1 in back of a complete game effort from Madison Morris. Gretchen Bowie homered in the win.


Check this out on Chirbit I was out of the house a little after eight this morning, figuring I could get ahead of whatever Saturday traffic there might be. With the game scheduled for Noon, I guessed I could be safely at St. John's by 9:30 or so, giving me time to set up whatever needed to be set up.

I had plenty of questions. Dress code? Radio or TV (I wasn't sure until last night)? What time did they want me there? Are there commercials?

Among other things.

Well, let's see, no dress code (I could have shown up in my normal attire, but opted for a business casual look), radio (redstormsports.com), whatever time I got there comfortably, and no...no commercials. No outcue. Nada.

After doing a loop of the campus, I was at Red Storm Field by 9:30. Alex, the grad assistant who was setting up, told me that the game had just been moved to 1 p.m., thus meaning I had a lot of time to cool my heels.

Jon, the assistant to KJ, who was my contact at SJU to get this gig, set me up with a mixer, headset, and everything else, and seemed impressed when I told him I had bags of equipment in my trunk, just in case.

"You seem like a pro," he said.

When I asked him if there was a pregame show, his answer turned into: "You pretty much have complete creative control. If you want to do a pregame interview, go ahead. Do what you want."

With lots of time to spare, I took some time to walk the campus, which allowed me to visit Jack Kaiser Stadium, where I'll go for baseball tomorrow, and discovered the door to Carnesecca Arena was open. So I was able to visit the place that I watched the Johnnies play basketball so many times (when they weren't playing at Madison Square Garden).

The temperature was cold, and the wind cut through me, but I was content. I was back in the booth at Red Storm Field in plenty of time to go through the notes that Dylan left for me, and settle in for the call.

It can actually be possible to have too much time before a game, and this might have been the case, but I'm OK with it. The call was fine; I had some rust on me but I'll cut myself some slack.

I realize I mistakenly said "the mound" at one point and also said the runners would move up 90 feet (both baseball terms, of course), and that annoys me, but so it goes. Still, it's not like I haven't called softball before.

After it was over, I recapped the game and signed off. I packed up and chatted with a few people in the booth before heading out.

"You did a really good job," one person said. "We were listening to you. You also had a couple of good lines that had us laughing."

See, the thing is, I like to be invisible when I broadcast a game. I got uncomfortable working in a crowded room, but the headset is a sort of refuge. I can hear laughter at times, which I normally assume is mocking (don't ask why) but I try to stay in a vacuum, hoping nobody hears me when I know everyone can hear me -- and is listening.

The reviews were kind, with those I talked to hoping I would return.

So do I, folks.

(You can judge for yourself. The game is archived here.)

So back to the notes and stats. As I said, they can be overwhelming, and I'm trying to avoid that urge for tomorrow. What I had to remind myself is to stay true to what I've been for almost 20 years. Don't overthink it. Just call the action, tell stories, and lean on numbers where pertinent.

And don't -- do not -- prepare silly one-liners. Those are fine for Mike Lange in Pittsburgh (if that's your thing) or Ron Burgundy.

Who sort of isn't a real person.

Friday, March 22, 2019

The Gym Rat

Photo: Focus On Sport/Getty Images
For two nights, I've been sitting on some news, and I was finally able to tell what was going on earlier today on social media.

Let's go back to 1984. My love of basketball was not full yet.

I was a massive baseball fan, and had been since...forever isn't wrong to say.

I was football nuts also.

I'd become a bit of a hockey fan, first through the Rangers and then the Islanders of the late 70s and early 80s.

Basketball was coming along, via the Knicks and college basketball.

Then along came Chris Mullin.

Though he was 6'7", he never seemed big on the court, but the guy could shoot. He had this mop of hair. The short shorts. That uniform number 20.

He was all of us. He had a key to the gym to practice shooting. He was the kid from Brooklyn, playing at St. John's.

And in 1984-1985, he, coach Lou Carnesecca, and the St. John's Redmen (later renamed the Red Storm) were arguably the biggest thing in New York City, battling Georgetown in Madison Square Garden and eventually advancing to the Final Four before big bad Patrick Ewing and Hoya Destroya ousted the Johnnies.

These were the days of Mattingly and Winfield and Rickey, but no titles. Doc and Darryl were wowing in Queens, but they weren't ready yet. The Giants of Simms and LT were close also. The Knicks were an afterthought and the Rangers weren't particularly great.

But the City buzzed over St. John's.

I was hooked, and Mullin became my favorite basketball player, though Ewing would become a favorite Knick. I even began practicing hoops play-by-play as I watched the Johnnies.


I bring this up because tomorrow at Noon, I will become a broadcaster for St. John's University.

Now, don't get me wrong. I preach professionalism, and I'm going there this weekend to call softball (Saturday at Noon) and baseball (doubleheader beginning Sunday at Noon). I won't root. I can't root. Those days of Mullin, Bill Wennington, Malik Sealy, Walter Berry, Mark Jackson, and Ron Artest are long over.

But it's really cool to say I'll be there. It's literally a one weekend thing, so I'll give it my best and hope it leads to more.

Softball can here heard here, while baseball can be heard here
In that same way, I'll add another Division I school (and move from the Big East to the Ivy League) for softball at Yale next week. I'll follow up with links in a later post.

Both are fill-in gigs, yet what was I saying about promise? About hope?

Thanks to a touch of my being in the right place at the right time, and a recommendation from my friend Phil Giubileo, I'm getting a great chance.

Oh, and if you would, please listen, watch, tweet, retweet, talk about it on social media, and tell the world just how GREAT it sounds/looks! The kind words could go a long way.

Of course, only do that if you think I'm good. If not, then never mind.

So if you'll excuse me, I have more prep to do.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Fair Game

Should everybody get a ribbon? Should no one?

In case you were reading last night, I can't give you the full news of upcoming broadcasts. Nothing is confirmed. Could be a nice run, albeit short. I should have some confirmation tomorrow.

In other news, I hope you saw Ichiro depart baseball today. The all-time great decided to walk away in his native Japan today. It made for wonderful theater and served as a reminder of the greatness of the game of baseball.

March Madness is off and rolling. A mix of good and bad games, as always. My bracket is the usual: so-so.

*****
As a broadcaster who has covered so many youth sports events, I've long believed, and have preached, that criticism of the athletes we cover has to walk a delicate line. It certainly can't be personal, and even the language used is important.

Still, if they make a bad play, we try to report it fairly. Off the field stuff is even dicier, and we address it on a case-by-case basis. There have been very few complaints in nearly 20 years, so I figure we've done something right.

By playing sports, these athletes have put themselves into the spotlight. The same goes for young broadcasters, yet there is this belief that they're above any criticism.

Of course, I call baloney. Literally, every young broadcaster that has worked with me -- from Matt Hamilton to Jake Zimmer to Dan Gardella -- has dealt with criticism and critiques from me.

Last summer, I had both Matt Bonaparte and Chris Bello working with me on Doubleheader. Both were recent graduates of Greenwich High School and brought their opinions to the show. Things would get fierce at times, and I could almost sense a look in their eyes that I was beating them up.

Then we'd go to break.

"Good work, boys," I'd say. Quickly, they'd get it. This was (hopefully) teaching them to be tougher broadcasters.

They stepped into the fire, and they came out better for it. Not because of me, but because it was honest. It's a credit to them.

Not everyone gets that.

So it was that I read this letter to the New Canaan Advertiser today. The writer objects to the publication of the honor roll in the newspaper.

Now, in theory, I agree to an extent. I've never believed in judging people by degrees or grades or GPA's. I'm not a fan of tests, knowing all too well that I use to blank out on stuff I knew off the top of my head. I still believe experience is the best form of knowledge (aka "practice makes perfect").

Indeed some papers don't run the honor roll, and in Wilton, the Board of Education stopped sending the honor roll to the Wilton Bulletin.

The letter writer says "...by publishing the Honor Roll in the paper, students are being conditioned to believe that their value is determined by our grades."

Moving ahead, she adds: "It is as if every student is expected to be the valedictorian of his or her class. And yet we wonder why teens all over, and especially teens in New Canaan, have been facing declining mental health."

So we're blaming students' mental health partially on the New Canaan Advertiser?

From there, it's apparently also a FERPA violation.

So is this the everybody gets a trophy, or nobody gets a trophy at all phenomenon?

Incidentally, I couldn't help but notice that nobody has commented on the letter as of this writing.

As the letter writer is a student, she thus becomes "Just A Kid" (capitalization intentional).

Let me be clear: my bigger point here isn't to criticize her, because heaven forbid one actually does. I admire her for speaking up, but doesn't she also run the risk of the criticism? Isn't that fair?

David Hogg became the outspoken survivor of the 2018 shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School. The minute he put himself in the spotlight -- one that he craved -- he was open to criticism.

That should go for everyone, regardless of age.

Do students really stress over not being on the honor roll? I'm sure there are those who do but is it an overall thing? I'll leave the decision to print it to others above my pay grade (read: EVERYONE), but I respectfully have a hard time believing the mere publication of the honor roll, provided by New Canaan Board of Education, can be this stress-inducing.

Still, it appears that the writer should take her case to the Board of Ed, doesn't it?

Her problem shouldn't be with the newspaper.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Spring Shows Promise

(Photo courtesy Pixabay)
First, a note about last night's post.

Don't read too much into it. Yes, things have been (and are still) bad.

Yes, work is still a mega-issue, and there's still money that I'm owed that I haven't received.

But last night's post was more about wanting to defend people. About wanting to speak out, yet being muzzled.

Anyway, it's all good, and I thank those who were concerned. The work issue is the bigger thing at this point.

Staying on that topic, I got some good news today.

First, I'll be back with Brunswick this Friday for lacrosse, as the Bruins host William Penn Charter School at 4pm. The game will be carried on Local Live.

With any luck, there will be more Wick lax, and hopefully lots of Wick baseball also.

Maybe there will be more games. I hope so.

Plus I'll be back with a small slate of Mahopac baseball, which I'm doing to make me happy, and because I like the coaches at the Pac.

I got some other news tonight for just one game, but it could be pretty cool.

Unfortunately, all of the details aren't solid yet so I will hold off on announcing what this is.

But keep Sunday at 1pm open. That's all.

None of this is going to resolve things, but it gives me hope. You've got to start somewhere.

I'll be honest, hope is a dangerous thing.

But it's nice to feel something tonight.

Plus baseball started this morning, in Tokyo. If only for two games.

But I was up at 4:45, and saw the first pitch of the season at 5:36.

All of this is potential. Spring has sprung.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Biting My Tongue

Laurel and Hardy. Because they're awesome

Sometimes, I have to walk away.

You see, saying what I believe isn't always the easiest thing in the world. It's certainly freeing to speak my mind, but there are just times when I can't or shouldn't.

I watch nonsense happen all the time. I see bullying. I see lies.

I see and hear stuff that makes my ears bleed.

I want to rip each person.

I can't.

Sometimes, there is a price that is too steep to be paid, or my actions may impact someone else.

Some fights just aren't worth it.

So I stay quiet.

Plus, to be honest, what is there to gain by diving in on the interwebs? I'm not dumb enough to think I can make them change their mind.

But I want to defend people also. Sometimes I want to defend myself, sure, but mostly I want to defend people who attacked for a variety of reasons.

Just as I'd like the same.

Anyway, I'm babbling. We'll try again tomorrow.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Baseball Is Not Dead


I see it with a certain level of regularity.

"Baseball is dying."

Before you break out the black suit, allow me to first of all point you to the fact that the National Pastime continues to set revenue records, with 2018 surpassing $10 billion (Forbes).

However, the vultures circling can lean on the note that attendance was down (Forbes).

Then, of course, we reach the time-honored debate of baseball being "boring," which is to say you don't want to learn the game. I can say I'm guilty of having done the same about soccer at one time.

Knowledge is power, of course.

But that aside, there's also the "kids aren't watching/playing" point. That's a two-pronged thing. First, baseball is not doing well in the inner cities, and that's been known for some time. Indeed, African Americans aren't playing baseball in the numbers that were once played. All true.

Second, and the very crux of the problem, takes us back to the boredom issue. You see -- silly me -- I go to a game and watch the game. Many now take to their devices and pay little attention to what is actually happening on the field. Many people want their action at breakneck speed. They don't want the leisurely pace.

Some of it is on us to educate. Why is baseball such a great game? Because, at least to me, it was a game without a clock. The chess match of pitcher and catcher versus the batter is a magnificent ballet of fastball, slider, change, and curveball.

The placing of fielders -- from the Ted Williams shift right through to what we see today -- is all a part of that dance.

But baseball also has an enemy. Friendly fire, if you will.

Rob Manfred. Yes, the Commissioner of Baseball.

Writer Bary Rozner wrote for the Daily Herald that Mr. Manfred, who is trying to implement a series of new rules to baseball, "is not a baseball guy, which is why he sees no beauty in the sport."

Rozner's piece is spot-on.

The truth is some of us don't care how long a game takes. I loved Game 3 of the 2018 World Series, for instance.

I went to sleep at one point, and when I woke up, I glanced at my phone to see who had won the game. It suddenly hit me (on Twitter) that they were still playing. Thus I was wide awake when Max Muncy ended it in the bottom of the 18th.

Rob Manfred has succeeded in installing clocks in stadiums to countdown between innings and pitches and so on. Why we can't just have umpires enforce that is beyond me, but OK. I can concede on that point.

Rob Manfred wants to change up the voting on the All-Star Game. I mean, whatever. I'll deal with that. The trade deadline will be a hard date of July 31st. I'm OK with that one, as the trade deadline was a wink anyway since we all knew things could still happen during the waiver period. So, OK.

Between-inning breaks will drop to 2:00 for all games. Again, whatever. I don't see that as a big deal. You're not going to gain a whole lot of time off of that. TV needs to earn revenue. Understood.

Another All-Star Game note is to put a runner on second base in extra innings. Whatever floats your boat there, since we know it's an exhibition. There's a change to the Home Run Derby as well, and I couldn't care less.

Lastly (for 2019), mound visits per game are reduced from six to five. OK, go with that, but keep in mind it really did not impact the length of games.

Then come the 2020 changes. The 40-man roster in September will be gone, and I'm fine with that. It got silly after a while.

The disabled list...oops, INJURED list...is going back to being a 15-day list, as opposed to the 10-day list. So be it.

Then we get to the three-batter minimum. Say what you want, but I can't hate this with enough certainty. There are myriad reasons to hate it, and none of this is my "Get off my law/I yearn for the old days" stuff that several of you think it is.

It's not baseball to insist that pitchers throw to a minimum. You've now messed with strategy. You'll have pitchers faking injuries. Oh, and think about that: is some twirler throwing 12 wide pitches because he has no control going to be better than a pitching change? Is it going to make the game shorter?

No. No it will not.

To Rob Manfred, pace of play is like a wall. It's his goal. It's his obsession.

Anything else be damned.

Speeding the game up is, in part, accomplished by umpires calling the strike zone they were taught to call. By truly being the arbiter of the game. They control it. Get the batters back in the box. Get the pitchers on the mound.

Pitch. Hit. Catch. Change sides.

Yes, baseball has to evolve. It somehow has to keep younger fans intrigued, which I still think is accomplished by those of us who love the game educating those who don't get it. I think it's in aggressively getting the faces of the sport out into the communities to be seen. That's a great way to create interest.

Those of us in the "back in my day" category have to adjust as well. The wool uniforms are gone. Leaving your glove on the field doesn't happen anymore. Gladys Goodding doesn't play the organ at Ebbets Field. Ebbets Field is long gone.


Players Weekend happens, whether I like it or not (and I hate it). Lament whatever we want, but baseball shall survive and prevail.

We have to make sure of that.

No matter how Rob Manfred tries to destroy it.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Tales From The Booth Episode 3 (and a Side Note)

Ty Tyson on WWJ Radio, Detroit

I recorded the third episode of my podcast, "Tales From the Booth," tonight. I continued to dig around some of the earliest play-by-play audio, centering once again on the year 1934, though I thread in a few goodies from 1927 and 1956.

The show is now available on TuneIn, iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify, as well as our home base of Whooshka. I'd really appreciate it if you'd listen and tell your friends. Write a review (hopefully a good one!).

I know I used those same words last week, but that makes it nice and easy for me to copy in the links.

It's St. Patrick's Day. If that's your thing, I hope it was nice.

It wasn't my thing this year. I feel surprisingly empty, and I can't figure it out.

See you tomorrow.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Peekskill

Postcard courtesy of City of Peekskill website.
Thanks to a gift card, I grabbed dinner in Peekskill, NY tonight.

The dinner was nice, thanks for asking. I had a large burger with a fried egg and BBQ pork butt. Hey, why not?

Peekskill means more to me than a burger.

My birth certificate says "Peekskill, NY" on it.

In truth, the Peekskill city line is roughly a quarter of a mile -- if that -- from the hospital.

Flash forward to 2002. Peekskill has gone through years of change from its time as "The Friendly City." So by that point, the hospital was known as "Hudson Valley Hospital Center at Peekskill-Cortlandt."

So it is that Sean's birth certificate -- from the same building I was born in -- says "Cortlandt Manor, NY."

Peekskill has been on the radar since 1609 when Henry Hudson noted that it looked like a good place to build a town. The city was named for a Dutch trader, Jan Peeck, and combined the Dutch word kill (meaning "creek or stream"). Thus: Peek's kill.

The trivia of the town, right on the banks of Hudson to the south of the Bear Mountain Bridge, is fantastic. As a railroad town, Peekskill got a visit from Abraham Lincoln in 1861, er route to his inauguration. Peekskill can claim the origins of Crayola Crayons, as the Peekskill Chemical Company -- the forerunner to Binney and Smith, who makes Crayolas -- was founded in 1864.

The city was also the birthplace of Mel Gibson, former NY governor George Pataki, Paul "Pee Wee Herman" Reubens, and Stanley Tucci. Jackie Gleason and NBA star Elton Brand were among those who lived there.

Brand graduated from Peekskill High School, along with another NBA player, Hilton Armstrong. Nancy Adams, nee Jennings -- my mother -- also graduated from the home of the Red Devils.

Brothers Oscar, Don, Bill, and sister Nina, also went to PHS. Oscar and Don both left Peekskill for World War II.

Sadly, there's also the Peekskill Riots, which actually took place in the Town of Cortlandt, out past Hillside Cemetery where my father, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and a cousin are all buried. The riots were aimed at singer Paul Robeson, who was considered to have communist leanings. Mr. Robeson was scheduled to sing at Lakeland Acres in 1949, but violence caused the concert to be postponed until a week later. This time, the concert happened, but violence once again broke out. It's an ugly part of the history of the city.

The latter part of the 20th Century would see Peekskill change dramatically, as the shopping hub shifted towards Cortlandt and beyond, and the city continued to try to reinvent itself in various ways, including pushing to be a creative art hub. It has a vibrant restaurant scene, including the amazing The Quiet Man Public House, where you need to go say hi to Susan, who runs the place.

Back on the positive side, "The Facts of Life" took place in Peekskill. I laughed every time I heard Mrs. Garrett mention it.

It's special to take my mom there, as it will forever be that "Friendly City" to her, though I know it's bittersweet.

It's the city where my parents met, got engaged, and married in 1957.

My parents both worked there, and I can still picture the site of my dad's old job before he left in the '70s.

My two siblings were born in the old Peekskill hospital, which was actually in the city.

I have myriad memories scattered from visiting Peekskill.

I was born there. In some way, so was my son.

My father died there.

I had dinner there tonight.

Friday, March 15, 2019

An Unwelcome Break


I called the FCIAC boys and girls freshman all-star games tonight.

Chris Kaelin asked me to do it last year, and we had a good time, so I thought I'd do it again. Where last year was sort of like a talk show, tonight was closer to being true play-by-play.

Rosters, with numbers, help.

But, to me, of course, it's all play-by-play. There are just different degrees of it.

And with those games over, I don't know when my next broadcast will be.

Obviously, as I live game to game, this is not a good feeling.

Baseball and lacrosse begin soon, so I'm hopeful my phone will buzz to get right back on the air.

Oh, don't get me wrong. I'll have plenty to keep me busy. There's personal stuff I can catch up on. I can do my taxes. I can focus a bit more on Doubleheader.

It's a good time to catch up.

Plus there's more time to job search. So yeah. All that stuff.

Still, I'll bring the equipment in from the car and wait.

Brunswick? Greenwich? FCIAC? New York? Somewhere else?

The one place I know that wants me is Mahopac for baseball.

So...who else?

I'm excited to get going again.

*****
Oh, one more thing before I close. John Nash (#Project365, ahem, #Project364 co-conspirator) wrote a scathing commentary about the TV coverage of last night's awful events in Christchurch, New Zealand. First, I'm sickened by what happened, as we should all be. But I was just as annoyed as John was at the absolutely awful work by CNN, MSNBC, and FOX News. Spare me the "there's no such thing as liberal media" garbage. There is, just as FOX News is in the tank for the President and the GOP.

But there was a time (not all that long ago) where such news would have sent the major networks (and, eventually, the cable news channels) into wall-to-wall coverage. Instead, it was agenda-driven nonsense featuring anything but actual reporting about Christchurch.

It was disgusting. John put it a little more eloquently than I did.

I moved over to Twitter and actually found live coverage there before going to bed.

We now return you to your regularly-scheduled basketball broadcast archive.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Missing The Whale



It's championship week in Connecticut. In other years, that meant I was really busy.

Tonight, I'm home.

So it goes.

They played the Division III hockey championship tonight at David S Ingalls Rink at Yale University tonight.

Better known as "The Yale Whale." Or just "The Whale," due to its unique shape.

Due to scheduling circumstances, they're playing the title games over three nights, as opposed to one game on Friday and tow on Saturday.

The Lyman Hall co-op beat Sheehan 6-2 for the crown tonight.

Had it been 2014-2015, I would have been on the call, meaning I got to hang out in that magnificent building.

I love everything about it. The intimacy of the seating bowl, the sound of the crowd, the lower level with the history of Yale hockey, the two press rows -- one on each side.

I loved it enough that I went and covered it another year with Shawn Sailer, and was able to hang out with guys like Pete Paguaga. While I was working, I watched and enjoyed the game. I rarely do that.

Last year, Greenwich went to the championship against Fairfield Prep. Shawn called it "The Adams Cup" (or maybe it was the bowl) since I had broadcast for both teams. I begged WGCH to put the game on. We did, and I called with (with Chris Kaelin and Shawn). Greenwich built up a 2-0 lead before losing 4-2.

But there's more. Whenever I got to work at the Whale, I'd drink it all in. I'd stay as long as I could. I normally had to be told it was time to leave.

We also got to do the semifinal games there in 2014 and 2015, so I got my fill of the place. I even had a hotel room in nearby Shelton, so I was almost living in The Whale.

We got thrills. In 2014, John Kovach and I were running literally on fumes. Nasty colds had sapped both of us of our voices -- especially John -- at one time or another. Paul Silverfarb, Chris Kaelin, and Ryan DeMaria were among those that helped drag us through the madness that week, as we went from Greenwich on Monday (basketball) to the Whale for two games each on Tuesday and Wednesday, before hitting the Whale Friday night for the DII championship.

Saturday, March 22, 2014, was one of my favorite days in broadcasting. Ever.

A full crew, with John and I on the call, handled the emotional Newtown/Smith-Tolland overtime nailbiter in DIII. Newtown needed a chance to smile, and they got it, winning in the extra session.

John and Paul (who rescued our banner from Ingalls Rink security, who told us we weren't allowed to hang it up), then headed to Mohegan Sun (!) for girls basketball. Chris Kaelin and I stayed behind for another nailbiter, as Fairfield Prep knocked off Darien in overtime for the DI title.

Then I jumped in the car and flew up I-95 (and 395 and Route 2A) to Mohegan Sun. I listened to some of the girls game on my phone in the car and walked hurriedly into the arena. I could have gotten on the air for the second half, but John and Paul had the call under control, so it was suggested that I go take a seat.

So I sat and ate a Krispy Kreme donut, sipped some coffee (Imus Brothers, of course), and waited to get back on the mic.

I'm not good at that.

But I was back on for the Fairfield Prep/Bridgeport Central boys basketball championship game that night.

We were this upstart group of newspaper people and me (though I was also a newspaper person at that point).

But we cranked out a collection of games with good people, and I was proud and exhausted. I remember having a celebratory drink that night before collapsing in my hotel room.

We were back in 2015, but politics and contracts reared their ugly heads by then, keeping us to only the hockey at the Whale. Yet the semifinals produced what some have called a favorite call (and they know it in Greenwich).


Check this out on Chirbit

I've gotten off-topic.

But, then again, maybe I haven't.

I miss the whole scene.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Building the Podcast

EDDIE! EDDIE! EDDIE!
I've shamelessly mentioned that I've started a podcast a few times here.

Where better to promote than my own piece of real estate (and social media)?

But what I haven't talked a lot about is finding what I'm going to talk about on the show.

There's plenty of baseball audio to be found, and I can certainly play old interviews, as well as put some new interviews together. Paul Silverfarb, Mike Hirn, and Mick McGowan have each said they'd join me, and I think there are plenty of others who have stories that will interest listeners.

But the true heart of the show is the sound files (or video that we extract the sound from). As I said, baseball is pretty easy to find.

It's the other sports that will take digging. Lots of digging.

I found a tantalizing piece of audio from 1931. Just listen.


Sadly those few seconds are all that exists from that Thursday night on WMCA/WNYC. The Rangers won 5-4 in overtime.

Keep in mind, one of the big things I'll be dealing with is copyright concerns, so it's possible that not any old audio can be used. The baseball audio, pre-1973, is in the public domain, so there's some safety there. I'm still learning about other sports.

I'm not doing this for money. If it blooms into something, then we'll address that.

For now, it's a passion project. So hopefully my playing audio isn't going to hurt anyone.

Anyway, back to acquiring things that I want to talk about. My plan is to not make this be just a baseball podcast (though it will likely dominate for a few reasons). So if you know of anything or even have anything that you'd be happy to contribute to the show, please let me know.

Sports audio is the first priority, but historical audio of any kind is very important to me, as you'll probably find out.

I found this tonight as I wading through the interwebs. Admittedly the video quality isn't good, but it's the night of Nov 2, 1975, when Eddie Giacomin returned to Madison Square Garden after being put on waivers and claimed by the Detroit Red Wings. Jim Gordon and Bill "The Big Whistle" Chadwick had the call on MSG-TV of this emotional New York sports moment.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

"To All The Parents..."


I attended one of Sean's concerts tonight.

There are roughly four concerts every year, including the holidays and the end of the year. There's also what they call "the pyramid concert," which allows the school district to demonstrate how the students have grown, by bringing in multiple levels to remind the older students that they once sounded like that.

Four different groups took to the stage, including the concert band, directed by the always energetic Mrs. Esposito, who is often the star of the evening.

Sean is in the concert band, on alto saxophone. He's worked hard, probably doesn't practice enough, and I'm proud of him regardless. Plus he looked sharp in his black suit (I tried to take pictures, but my iPhone isn't up to that task in the theater).

Towards the end of the show (frankly, it was gloriously brief tonight), Mrs. Esposito addressed the crowd and thanked the "parents, grandparents" and so on for supporting the students.

I sat there, then realized something.

Wait. I'm a parent.

It's not that I don't think of myself as Sean's dad. I do. Always. We have a profound relationship that I've discussed numerous times.

Yet, I can't explain it. I'm a parent. She was talking about me (not directly, of course)

In short, being a single parent is awful. I walk into the concert, often with my mother in tow. I watch the show. I zone out for chunks of it. I pay attention (and often get sad) when he performs. I see him in the lobby for a few minutes when it's over.

Then I go home without him.

You'd think after this many years, it would be easy. If you think that, don't. It isn't.

It blows.

There are doctors and dentists appointments that you never hear about until after they're over. There are events that happen with no advanced knowledge.

"Wait. You went where?"

You know he's always safe, but still.

There are birthday parties that you're not welcome at. So you hold your own for him.

You get this limited time -- Friday night to Sunday afternoon (sometimes more) -- and maybe a weeknight for dinner, which we used to do, then stopped.

Keep in mind that weeknight dinner thing was actually held against me years ago. It's an awful story not worth telling, but can you imagine me ever rejecting time with Sean like that?

I wanted to hug him something awful on the day of Sandy Hook, but couldn't go anywhere near him.

I once passed by the "other" house he lives in (he's very firm that where I live is also home) and could see him riding around in the yard on a toy. I was on a highway, and even if I wanted to, I couldn't go see my own child.

Even now, it's something I struggle to deal with.

Then there's the balance of figuring out your own life. If I'm not "me" somehow, then I'm no good for him. I believe that to this day.

There's the guilt of being taken away by work and/or life and trying to either include him or minimize the damage. He's been a good soldier for the countless games and other adventures. To be fair, many have been fun for him.

Let's not even get into the guilt of work/money issues. Folks, nothing has changed and it's getting worse.

There are always the pickups and dropoffs plus the conflicts.

There's that constant feeling that you have 1) no control and, worse, 2) no say.

Want to know about the night I nearly had to blow off calling my first Mahopac/Carmel hockey game because the arrangements I made weren't convenient?

It all worked out in the end, and we've actually been very good about it all. More often than not, there has been a level of cooperation that I'm sure a lot of divorces don't have.

It also helps that I run through walls to make things happen (or find people to help...mostly, my mom).

But it still sucks.

Because I'm a dad.

I'm Sean's dad.

I've lost a lot of time with him.

And I miss him a lot.

Monday, March 11, 2019

The Occasionally-Needed Overplayed Music Post


Once in a while, I need to gripe about music that I simply get tired of hearing.

I realize some music is just what you grab when you don't know what else to play. I understand that. There's a reason I've (digitally) worn out Revolver or Sgt. Pepper or Sports.

Back in my (way too brief) DJ days, I would throw something like "American Pie" or "Hotel California" on from our small selection of music at Majic 105 (WMJV FM) when I needed a break (normally around 3:00 a.m.). That was a sign that I didn't know what else to play or wanted to walk away for a few minutes.

Keep in mind that's also when DJ's had a say in what was played. Generally speaking, those days are gone.

So it was that I heard "More Than a Feeling" by Boston today. Good God, can we get a decade off from it? Or virtually anything by Aerosmith? Maybe a break from Bob Seger?

I mean, that's just a small sample of what gets just drilled into my skull on what feels like a daily basis. That, of course, is an exaggeration.

I don't hear it daily. But it does feel like something has been drilled in my skull when I hear it.

I've long railed against John Mellencamp. We get it. Little ditty about two 'Merican kids done best as they can and so on.

They've grown up. Even THEY'RE sick of it. MOVE ON.

I realize this is purely subjective (as most music debates and conversations are) but there also some accepted items here. I'd like to believe these are a few examples, but I know I'm wrong.

Heck, I overall love Led Zeppelin, but I can go a long time before hearing "Stairway to Heaven" again.

While we're at it, let's get to Journey. Look, they're sweet, safe 70s/80s "rock" (pre-Bon Jovi category, of course). At least their version of music still gets played on rock stations (grumble...Huey Lewis...grumble). I'm all for "Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)" if necessary, but we get it. Don't stop beleeeeeevin' ... .... hold onto that feel eeel eeel ing, or whatever.

And on. And on. And on.

I love The Sopranos. It's probably not debatable that it's a top 5 TV show ever. But I hate it for reintroducing that song. It went from being nicely in the background/borderline overplayed to we are going to hear it everywhere forever.

Forever.

Forever.

I realize these occasional gripe sessions will not change things.

I also realize, as I said, that this is all subjective, and YMMV (your mileage may vary).

But please. I beg. For my sake. For the sake of my ears. For the sake of even my blood pressure (yes, this is a problem, and I understand that). Break it up. Find some other things to play, be you Pandora, Spotify, or your local radio station.

Dig deep. Find something that never gets played a lot. Go look in the program logs and grab something you haven't heard in a long time.

Be bold!

Please let us see your Marianne walkin' away.

*****
By the way, I linked to the Wikipedia page for Majic 105 above. Check a screenshot from below (I might have added my name to its rightful place).

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Tales From The Booth Episode 2

Simmons, Gehrig, Ruth, Foxx -- four of Hubbell's strikeout victims (National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum)
I wasn't sure about doing Episode 2 of "Sean's Dad Does a Podcast*," more formally known as "Tales From The Booth."

* One day, I'll explain the podcasts that I'm listening to. That might make more sense then, and after producing my latest episode, I'm a bit punchy. It was a roughly five-hour process.

By midweek, I had sort of an idea in place. I wanted to go back to the oldest surviving full game broadcast. But I had to figure out what and how to present it.

In my initial plan, I'd fill in more about the place and time of where this took place, but that didn't come together tonight. Instead, I filled in the game and lots of other tidbits.

With the passing of Julia Ruth Stevens, daughter of some guy named George, I thought there was a certain synergy to the show, so I worked from that.

Ruth and Carl Hubbell, the great Giants' left-hander, are the stars of this episode. Tom Manning, who handles the play-by-play for the majority of the show, co-stars in a big role.

Now that I've posted the show, I realize I should have explained a little more about Manning, who has largely disappeared from broadcasting history, but was described upon his death in 1969 as "one of the most important men" in the history of the city of Cleveland (National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum). Manning was the lead broadcaster for the Indians on WTAM from 1929-1931.

Manning worked for NBC as well.

I also found it interesting that, as you'll hear, Graham McNamee was the pre and post-game host. Ford Bond, who wasn't in sportscasting very long (Wikipedia) serves as an analyst only in that he fills in between half innings. There are no commercials.

Again, our little podcast is a work in progress. I'm quite happy with how it turned out but also have nitpicks already. If you haven't learned, I have a fairly critical mind.

The show is now available on TuneIn, iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify, as well as our home base of Whooshka. I'd really appreciate it if you'd listen and tell your friends. Write a review (hopefully a good one!).

We'll keep trying to make them. I might stay in 1934 for next week, but I have to think about it. Also, I know I can find plenty of baseball broadcasts, but I have to find football (college and pro), hockey, basketball, the Olympics, and anything else.

Saturday, March 09, 2019

The CHSGHA Championship Game

New Canaan and Darien before the opening faceoff
I've talked extensively about calling the girls hockey state playoffs over the past few days, which concluded today with the championship game.

New Canaan -- the dominant team all season -- finished their mission with a 3-1 win over their arch-rivals Darien.

For my money, it was definitive. There's no doubt that Darien will be a force to be reckoned with in 2019-2020 due to their youth, but the Rams were the best team all year.

A few thoughts:

- As I've stressed, this is a labor of love for Mick McGowan and me. Mick brought wife Gretchen and son Finnbar with him, and I had Sean with me. I started the process of securing that we would be on the call back in December, yet nobody at Bennett Rink had any clue that we'd be there today. Mick and family were stopped at the front gate, and Sean actually had to go vouch for them. I don't blame Bennett Rink, to be clear, and everything turned out fine. Lesson learned: I've got to do this stuff myself.

- Speaking of the gate, where was everyone? Yes I know, the game was roughly 35 miles from each town, but this is the deal. Unlike the football championship, which is arranged by the CIAC, there was no Plan B for this game. The site was set as Bennett Rink, and it's a great facility with plenty of seating. You also can't just throw a hockey game at any old site. These girls work hard to get here. I (and others) keep banging the drum for girls hockey to get respect, and yet there were full seating areas that were practically empty. I've said it before: the girls deserve better.

- That being said those who were there cheered their lungs out. Good for them.

- Speaking of empty, when they presented the all-state team before the game, there were roughly five people in the stands and a few others near the main entrance. Among those in the stands: Gretchen, Sean, and Finnbar. Not exactly three people who know a lot about Connecticut girls hockey.

- These athletes deserve an audience, and thanks to those who spread the word about the game and the broadcasts. For those who might say people not in attendance were listening or watching: Nope. Not buying that. I saw the audience numbers. So clearly our message isn't getting around.

- Media-wise, Damian Andrew and the Darien Athletic Foundation were there with their video broadcast. CT Sports Now was there also shooting highlights. Dave Stewart was there, representing Hearst (New Canaan Advertiser and Daren Times). Read Dave's game story here. Otherwise, er, that was it (besides us, of course). West Haven was a veritable hub of hockey today, with two CIAC boys games after we left.

I'll repeat: the girls deserve much better.
Call us "A Team of Hockey" (per Mick's request)
Let none of this take anything away from New Canaan, as the title belongs to them. Let none of this deter from the three consecutive titles that Darien had won.

They gave us a good show. Darien tried to climb back to make it 3-2 in the third period. Bennett Rink would have been loud had it gotten there, but the New Canaan defense, led by the wonderful Jess Eccleston, shut everything down. They're a worthy champion.

Two great coaches -- Rich Bulan of NC and Jamie Tropsa of DHS. Two squads loaded with talent. Nearly forty wins between the two squads.

They battled from December until today.

I salute them.

*****
Download the game broadcast here.

 
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