Saturday, August 31, 2019

A "Memorable" Mahopac Scrimmage


I stopped by my old high school today to watch the Mahopac Indians go through a multi-team scrimmage against Somers, Our Lady of Lourdes, Nyack, and the co-op known as Yonkers Force.

Yonkers Brave (another co-op, whom Mahopac will play in their opener next Friday night) had equipment issues and couldn't participate.

Just as with calling baseball, it was a surreal thing. This is the patch of land I graduated from high school on (it was grass then; it's turf now).

I played pickup football on that field (much to the dismay of, you know, the actual football teams).

I've walked that track and rode my bike on the track (back when you could do that).

Our senior "color day" pictures were taken there, including a group shot in the old wooden bleachers (they're metal now).

I've even called two games from there: sectional finals football games featuring Rye and Harrison (when WGCH cared about such things...ah, memories).

Those games, sadly, do not exist because 'GCH used cassettes for recording back then (it was 2004). True story: we had no cassettes.

We went digital in 2005. Thankfully.

I had not been back to Mahopac for any football activity since then, until today.

I enjoyed watching the teams compete while looking the facility over, including the press box (which is also new from the last time I was there).

I spoke with Pac head football coach Dominick DeMatteo after the game and even ran into him and his son Anthony as I grabbed a sandwich a few minutes later. I'm happy to report they're fans of Robcasting and of my work, and we're very hopeful that we can link up with Local Live to make me the...er...Mahopac football broadcaster for a number of games. In fact, if it works out, I'll call the famed Mahopac/Carmel football rivalry for the first time, having called it in baseball and hockey.

Quick side note about Coach DeMatteo: he totally gets it. Along with Athletic Director (and former baseball coach when I was at MHS) Frank Miele, he's getting the word out about Mahopac athletics and supporting all of the teams. That's how he came to know me because he listened to me calling Pac baseball.

I've called Rye/Harrison and Darien/New Canaan several times. Calling Mahopac/Carmel would be special indeed.

We're also going to look into putting the audio on Robcasting.

I was glad to go today to not only meet Coach DeMatteo, who frankly comes from high school football royalty in New York. But I'm also thrilled to get some of the nostalgia out of my system. The memories obviously flooded me as I walked around.
First base is where that high grass is. I played there a few times.
Nearby, next to adjacent Mahopac Middle School, is the former varsity baseball field.

It's also the field that I played a lot of games on in the Mahopac Sports Association. It matters not even a little (though it does to me), but I won two championships on that field, in 1984 and 1986.

It's not something you'll find in any newspaper, but those details are embedded in my mind. I also recognize it's as relevant as Al Bundy remembering throwing four touchdown passes in a single game for Polk High against Andrew Johnson on Married with Children.

So I'll spare you those details.
Touched home plate to win a title here in '86.
Please note that Mahopac varsity baseball has played down the hill at Mahopac Falls School for over 30 years.

It was nice to just walk around, enjoy the day, and watch football for the second day in a row, just as I did yesterday at Greenwich High, where I saw the Cardinals and Bruins -- two teams whose games I expect to be calling again in 2019.

So I'm anxious.

Mahopac starts next Friday. GHS and 'Wick start after that.

I'm ready. Now we have to nail down the schedule.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Another Era Ends

His first day of Kindergarten, 2007
Sean left today to return to his mother.

In essence, that means summer is over.

Oh, I know what the calendar says, but our full weeks together have once again come to an end.

He returns to John Jay High School next Thursday where he'll begin his senior year.

There are pictures all over of kids starting their first day of school. They're holding message boards and hand-drawn signs announcing the new beginnings.

Others just pose at the bus stop or in their living room or on their front porch.

And they should.

There will, however, likely be no picture of Sean. Or if there is, I won't see it without begging.

But of note is the fact that he doesn't want one taken anyway. My son, who normally takes pictures willingly, isn't interested.
Last Saturday, with Taco
I suppose the bigger thing I'm driving at is that, for the last eight years (nine next week), I've not seen him get on the bus that first day. I wasn't there to force him to get his picture taken (too bad, I'm the dad, and I don't play that card often).

I'll text him, and we'll talk, but I otherwise have no involvement.

I certainly am not looking for pity here. It is, as they say, what it is, and it comes with the territory.

But this is the last full summer. It's the last "first day" of school for him.

He'll be a senior.

He'll graduate next year.

And time, of course, will march on.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Dear Vin



Vin Scully
c/o Los Angeles Dodgers
1000 Vin Scully Ave.
Los Angeles, CA

Dear Vin:

I hope it's a very pleasant day wherever you may be.

I saw in my memories on social media (what you probably call, "The Facebook") that it was four years ago today that you suspected 2016 would be your last year.

We're heading into the tail end of our third year without you behind the microphone for the Dodgers, and baseball misses you desperately.

Oh, it's not your problem to save our great game. That goes up to people who are more "heck bent" on destroying it. Not that you'd ever say that.

No, I feel like we need your grace in a booth somewhere. The Dodgers are doing just fine, with Joe Davis doing a marvelous job. He's been a breath of fresh air, and we get to hear him around the country doing national games as well.

But your spirit is missing. Many try to be you or emulate you, but there's only one you.

I know better, mind you. I learned the lessons that Red Barber taught you and you passed on to the many in the School of Scully.

"Be yourself," Red told you. I've tried to be, and goodness knows that's what I am. I try to honor you, but I probably get too excited and too loud. I'm nowhere near the poet that you are.

So, in conclusion, I'm me.

But we need you somehow.

I know you won't call anything that you're offered because you wouldn't feel prepared (ugh, that word) and you wouldn't want to show anyone up. But good grief, Vin, you'd be the best broadcaster in sports as soon as you stepped into any booth.

There's too much bad in the booth these days. Sure, Joe Davis is great, and there are plenty of others who are simply OK but think back to a time when you and Red and Mel Allen and Ernie Harwell and Al Helfer and Curt Gowdy and Bob Prince and Harry Caray were all active. That's around, say, 1960 or so, right?

And I'm just throwing a handful of baseball names out there. There are so many others.

Look, I don't want to get into naming names, but we have a ton of games on now with completely substandard "me first" types. I know those have existed for years, but I feel like there's an epidemic of hyperbolic GARGANTUAN broadcasters.

You always said you don't watch (or listen to) other announcers, and you'd never criticize them anyway, but I can't help to wonder what you think these days. Here's a sample of what's going on:

- Fake voices are in play. A lot.
- The aforementioned hyperbole.
- Out of control egos on kids who have accomplished very little.
- Screaming. Lots and lots of screaming.
- Inaccuracy.
- Less storytelling and more statistics.

Everybody seems to have a catchphrase. I think there's one guy who says, "My oh my! Watch it fly!" after every home run. Another guy has to do his wacky comparisons.

"That batter is hotter than the skillet I mistakenly put my hand on while I was home in my studio apartment." Or something like that.

I know Mel said, "Going going GONE!" but he was original. This stuff isn't.

Santa Maria, Vin, but it's exhausting. There's an awful entitlement these days, especially from students who assume everything is on a platter for them.

You didn't have parents that got you everything. There was no fancy broadcasting school.

As you know, when you left Fordham, after helping start WFUV, you spent a summer at WTOP in Washington (and a nice gig that must have been), but nothing was handed to you. Your talent got you that first (and, really, only) opportunity with Red Barber.

Within a few years, you were the best in the business and, soon, the best ever.

But you did it all with grace and eloquence. Oh, I know there were moments of ego, such as how furious you must have been at not getting the Super Bowl job that went to Pat Summerall on CBS. But their loss was OUR gain since you moved to NBC and further cemented your legacy.

It's not all bad, of course, but it's certainly frustrating. More than ever, I mute the games that I watch. You see, like you, I'm different in that the broadcaster impacts the game for me. So in a lot of cases, I don't watch or hit the mute button.

By doing so, it keeps me from becoming the huge broadcasting stickler and critic that I am. I suppose I'm more like Red in that regard. My goodness, he really didn't like Russ Hodges' "Giants win the pennant" call.

Oh, how I'd love to pick your brain about Red and a hundred other topics. While I'm not you and do try to be you, I look to honor you and the others who have impacted me.

I wish that same impact could be felt more consistently around our wonderful business.

Of course, you should be enjoying life away from baseball with your wonderful family. I'm happy for you.

But, like millions, I miss hearing you. We're so fortunate to have the large collection of audio and video that is available to us.

I know you can't come back, and you shouldn't. But I wanted you to know that you're missed and that the lessons you taught me won't be forgotten.

I try to teach them to my students.

I wish others would do the same.

My best to you, your wife, and your family.

Best wishes,
Rob

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

What About "Bob?"



My given name, not surprisingly, is Robert. I'm named for my father, who was known by both Don/Donald (his middle name) and Bob.

I remember hearing him say his name was Bob to people he'd meet outside of the family. His coworkers also called him that as well. In more formal circumstances, he was known as Robert.

It got confusing, and it sounded weird.

As for me, I was never Donald. I was, however, Robbie (spelled that way, and don't you forget it). To this day, I still happily answer to that, though almost nobody calls me it anymore.

I was Robert when I was in trouble or being called to do something.

I actually didn't become Rob until I was in junior high school. I can still remember my dad seeing that I used it in the yearbook.

"Rob," he said. "Hmmm."

And that was it.

I used Robbie when I first got into broadcasting because it was 1990 and I was still raw after my dads passing. By 1996, I shortened it when I was at WREF. In the rest of my world, I was now Rob.

Still, Robbie makes me smile.

I bring this all up because there's often an assumption of calling people by the shortened version of their name. My son doesn't have an issue, because Sean is Sean. Anything beyond that is a nickname, and there are plenty of those.

But Robert can get murky. Robert, of course, is too formal. Rob is what I answer to, though I've said Robbie is also fine.

But Bob? No. Like, seriously, no.

Oh, there were always exceptions, like random people of authority. Correcting them seemed disrespectful so I normally let it go.

Not everyone wants the shortened version.

Not every Susan is Sue. Not ever William is Bill (or Billy) or Will. Not every Thomas is Tom.

Not every Richard is...well...not Rick at at least.

And not every Robert is Bob.

Especially me.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

I Did My Best

The handshake line forms following the victory tonight
I'm back from the second night of my two-game stint with the Hudson Valley Renegades.

Where I felt I was off last night, I felt much better tonight.

From there, it's in the eye of the beholder, and your mileage may vary.

But I felt more coherent. More cohesive. There was a better rhythm to my play-by-play description.

The game certainly helped. It was a well-pitched, well-played, tidy 3-0 win for the Gades over the Connecticut Tigers.

My three innings produced the games first run on a groundout.

For the second night in a row, when my play-by-play innings were over, my body sagged as adrenaline just flowed out of me.

The ride of a sports broadcaster -- well, this broadcaster -- is a nasty roller coaster. The highs. The lows.

But in my case, I almost never get too high. I just refuse.

I felt dejected after last night. A little deflated, I suppose.

So, tonight, I simply walked out of Dutchess Stadium, watched the traffic, and repeated my mantra: "I did my best."

It's all I can do.

On and off, I've been around the Gades since they first took the field in 1994. I've been an (occasional) broadcaster since 2001.

Will I do anything with the Renegades in 2020? I guess only time will tell.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Back With The Gades

 


I was back on the microphone tonight, calling three innings of minor league baseball as the Hudson Valley Renegades hosted the Connecticut Tigers.

It had been 33 days since my last game.

It's not really like riding a bike. I was raw and nervous. Plus, and I've said this before, I'm never comfortable in someone else's booth.

It's Josh Caray's booth. So he called six innings of action and I stayed quiet, just doing my scorecard.

But the middle three -- the fourth, fifth, and sixth -- were mine.

I gave it what I had. When I found a rhythm, it was OK. When I didn't, well, I'm a tough judge.

There were errors, for sure. I'd like to believe nothing was major or fatal.

I suppose I need to "put away the violins," as I was once told. I'm sure various and sundry people can understand that.

I'm back at it tomorrow, as I grabbed a little two-game stretch to call the Gades.

It was nice to have some family in the ballpark tonight, and there will be friends there tomorrow.

Plus I had a few loved ones listening.

I'm grateful for that support.

Anyway, these are important games to me (but then again, they're all important).

The games air on HVRenegades.com (or on TuneIn Radio) and I'd be pleased to have you tune in (bad pun) tomorrow night. The game is also on milb.com. Game time is 7 p.m.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Back Home

What, you mean you don't have a Waffle House menu hanging on your wall?

We're back in Mahopac.

Vacations and, in general, traveling, comes and goes.

It was a long ride that stretched from 7:44 this morning until I turned the engine off for the last time in Mahopac at 4:45 p.m.

The total day, without breaks, was 7:25. Now add in the 3:38 of yesterday and our 650.8 mile odyssey took 11:03.

The southbound trip, using a much more basic approach (all I-95, all the time) and it took 622.4 miles over 11:04.

If you're keeping score, the northbound trek was 28.4 miles long and one minute shorter. Traffic is a fickle beast indeed.

The trip home was more involved, even more experimental. While I rolled out of Stedman a little differently, getting on 95 at Exit 55 (yes), the trip was otherwise standard-issue, save for the several miles where I got creative because there was a report of bad traffic near the Dunn, NC area. Otherwise, despite more heavy rain, it was a lot of 95 to our Ashland, VA hotel.

Today? I got nutty.

But first, we started with a final Waffle House breakfast, served by the delightful JoAnn, who is also a fellow New Yorker. She graced us with two menus as keepsakes.

So I stayed on 95 through northern Virginia, but the thing is, I kept going. So when 95 turned at Springfield towards Baltimore, I stayed straight right into Washington.

Traffic was reasonable, making for a close-up glance at the Washington Monument and other sites of the District.

Via I-695, I slipped onto DC Route 295, which becomes the Baltimore-Washington Parkway at the Maryland line.

If you know the B-W Parkway, you know it's annoying.

And it was. I bailed at Maryland route 197, connecting with 198, which got me back in 95.

But our Interstate 95 love story soon ended, as I grabbed the Baltimore Beltway (I-695) and rolled up tn northbound Interstate 83, which got us to a necessary break at a Sheetz in York, PA on US 30.

And the coffee, bluntly, was awful.

Once off US 30 in Lancaster, we worked our way up US 222 before a lane reduction due to construction slowed things to a crawl. Here's the thing about that: it's not that difficult. Using a "zipper" method, cars alternate their way in and traffic keeps moving.

But that's not reality, thus it was chaos, and only a truck doing God's work could stop the carnage, as he blocked those who wanted to run up the left lane and stuff themselves into the line at the last minute.

The (former) VF Outlet Center. It didn't look like this a few years ago

I thought I'd pop in and say hello to our old friend: the VF Outlet in Reading (actually, Wyomissing), PA. Major renovations have changed the entire site from what it was, and unless you've been there before, it's hard to explain just how stunning the difference was from the last time we were there. It's now known as The Knitting Mills.

Had time been on our side, there could have been some deep bargains, but I felt that would be best for another time.

That, and the 17-year-old who walked in with me out of curiosity, hoping that I would not really shop. So I didn't.

Back on the roads, we made one last Wawa stop for snacks and a drink. Of course, I didn't realize that I had a Wawa reward (membership has its privileges), so Sean's drink that could have been free was not.

We got on U.S. 222 and went to I-78, took that into New Jersey to I-287 to I-87 (in New York now) to local roads before using US 202 and the Palisades Parkway to get to the Bear Mountain Bridge. A combination of roads saw us reach the finish line.

Bear Mountain Bridge, NY

The budget turned out to be very reasonable. It's just having the right vehicle to make it all happen.

And we're back. No Doubleheader tomorrow or Tuesday as I'll be visiting Dutchess Stadium for two Connecticut Tigers/Hudson Valley Renegades games.

Then back to yelling about ugly uniforms, bad baseball, bad broadcasting, high school sports, and whatever else.

Oh, and congratulations go to master pie maker Susan for her Two Crust Bacon/Fireball Apple Pie! It came in first at the Cannon Grange Fair in Wilton. She's an amazing cook and baker and pie maker.

See you all tomorrow.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

The Last Night

Those are two New York Yankees. Yes, really.

Ashland, VA -- From the desk of the Holiday Inn Express and Suites

I got into another kerfuffle about sports today. This time, the topic was the universally-despised Players Weekend uniforms.

Universal, save for one person. Of course. Hence, the kerfuffle.

The players -- you know, the people who actually have to wear them on the weekend named for them -- dislike these abominations -- don't like them either. The Cubs wore their regular hats, for instance.

The Dodgers asked if they could wear their regular uniforms against the Yankees this weekend. They were denied.

Can you imagine two of the best uniforms in baseball wearing embarrassingly awful black and white uniforms?

No need. It actually happened, and MLB commissioner Rob Manfred -- the many who is responsible for continuing to try to destroy the game -- signed off on the denial of the Dodgers' request.

Look, I also hold Joe Torre, Jim Leyland, and Tony La Russa responsible for this s--- show. They're behind the pitch clocks and other nonsense that is being tried out, at the behest of Manfred, who doesn't remotely care about the game of baseball.

And remember, Bud "What, me worry?" Selig is in the Hall of Fame for turning a blind eye to steroid abuse.

Umpires are acting ridiculous (as always). Home runs are flying at an absurd rate. The game is evolving.

But don't worry. Those blue and pink unis and these disasters are still around. Dollar signs win!

Incidentally, I'll hear "get off my lawn" as a retort, which is just fine. I'm used to it, but it's a lazy rejoinder, to be blunt.

*****
Andrew Luck? Retired? A few minutes ago, he was booed as he left the field in Indianapolis.

I've said numerous times that I don't like booing. I don't like it in this case, either. But I sort of get it. Fans are emotional. They feel like he "quit."

I wouldn't boo him, and I'd be angry at my fellow fans if they did so.

It's a shame, and there's a much deeper story that's going to come out of this eventually.

*****

I'm heading to bed. Then leaving here and making my way home. Reality (and a large cat) awaits.

Friday, August 23, 2019

He is 10

According to Timehop, this is all I said 10 years ago today.

Sean and I were walking through the Mexico Shop West gift shop last night at South of the Border when it hit me.

"I've never really processed it," I said.

We were talking about by great-nephew (and Sean's second cousin) Gabriel, who died at birth 10 years ago today in Alabama.

We've timed our trips to North Carolina just right so that we can be with Kristy, Hector, Evelyn, Eleanor, and Isabel to honor the memory of the little boy we never got to know. With Laura, Kelly, and Emma (and sometimes Mary and Kendall) we're all able to gather in a pseudo group hug.

We don't quite do the touchy-feely.

But we'll raise a glass to him tonight.

I looked back at what I wrote 10 years ago this week. Apparently, I did a "Rule 55": "Much to say from yesterday...good and bad...but I'll offer none here."

No, I've never processed it. And I hasten to say any of that because it's not about me, of course. Oh yeah, this is my little piece of real estate and all, but it is really what Kristy and Hector went through that awful morning in Fort Payne.

He was the second child and the first after Evelyn.

I was in Virginia when my cell rang. As it was my brother's birthday, I didn't expect him to be calling me. Doug is Kristy's father and, thus, Gabriel was his grandson.

I answered it with my usual greeting to him, saying something probably obnoxious.

The mood was immediately dark and he gave me the news.

I drove home from in a fog. Doug, Debbie, and Stephanie would go to Alabama. Do I drive to New York, grab my mom and go? Like, how do we handle this? How do we grieve?

I think we ultimately decided to not go because there feels like there's a point where the number of people can feel overwhelming. I can tell you that 10 years later, I would likely feel differently. I might have also needed to be home for Sean, though some of the memories are foggy.

Just like that drive.

Kristy and Hector sent pictures of Gabriel. My mother handed me the envelope. I looked at it.

Once.

I've never opened it since. Just too hard to see.

There's a picture of him roughly 15 feet from where I'm sitting. Emma -- goddaughter, great-niece, and all-around "Holy Child" -- is sitting on a couch just near it. She's playing something on her cell phone and hanging out.

The house is otherwise quiet as Sean sits next to me doing Sean things and Isabel watches TV. Kristy, more today than any other day, is resting. A dog barks outside, and five silly cats are bouncing around.

Gabriel is swaddled in a blanket in the picture. There are a few shelves of trinkets with it, including a red toy car that somehow was brought about by a dream my mother had about my father and the baby.

My dad. Always my dad.

The items had been in a curio cabinet that had a light shining in it. Kristy decided it was too formal.

More than my grief is how Kristy and Hector have processed theirs. On the occasion of his birthday in 2016, I pulled us all together for a toast and asked Hector to speak. He was wonderfully eloquent in his words.

Tough people, both he and his wife.

I can only imagine how their faith has been shattered, but this group tends to not be much for religion. The irony, of course, is Stedman is not only a "dry" town but there's a Pentecostal church only a few minutes away, with other houses of worship nearby. Kristy was visited by people of faith upon moving to town and politely declined all invitations.

In my case, it only increases my questions with faith.

Yet, if -- and we know what the "if" is -- then I hope he's dominating on a soccer team, honoring his father's love of "The Beautiful Game." I'm sure he would tell me how boring baseball is and I'd try to have him watch a game with me. I'd want to believe he'd watch USC football with his dad and maybe even support his Dallas Cowboys. Don't worry, I've already corrupted younger sister Eleanor to at least say her favorite team is the Steelers, even if she can't name a player.

But "if" then I hope he's hanging with those who've left us and watching over his family. I hope he and his great grandfather are taking a ride in that red car.

We'll raise a glass to his memory but will likely soldier on. Maudlin isn't our thing.

We're surrounded by great young women in the North Carolina portion of our family.

I wish I could have truly known this little boy.

So, forgive me.

This is my chance to grieve.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

A North Carolina Edition of 'I've Got Nothing'


Stedman, N.C. -- This has been a different kind of trip.

Normally, I'm on the go. Up early, out early. Breakfast, then do this and that and go here and there and maybe come back to the home base along the way before dinner.

Today, some of that was true, but we spent a large chunk at said home base.

And it's the third day in a row that we've done that.

Tomorrow might not be like that, and I can't stress enough that I'm not complaining. Oh, sure, I had a little bout of boredom, but that had as much to do with exhaustion as it did anything else.

I woke up around 3:30 this morning. I tossed, turned, then turned again. I checked my phone, looked out at the world, and eventually sat on the stairs and petted a cat as my great-nieces slept down below.

It was just one of those nights of the snowball feeling, in which everything just becomes awful.

It happens.

I grabbed another hour of sleep before moving on with the day.

But tonight, the members of my traveling party pushed for a visit to Pedro, so we went to South of the Border. I know, it's a tourist trap but, as with Waffle House and other things I enjoy, it is what it is.

It also holds a connection to my youth, from the days that I had my family read each billboard to me. It was a highlight, whether we stopped or not. So to go back, and now to take my own son (who wants to go every time we're here) is fairly priceless.

We walk together and laugh and talk.

So I get that it's not a place for everyone. I get that it's got certain connotations. But it's still a good place for me.

I opted for the older road, mostly using U.S. 301 back as opposed to trusty Interstate 95.

We made it back to here and are beginning to settle in for the night.

Tomorrow will be a busy day.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

The Waffle House Picture



I posted a "selfie" taken at a Waffle House just off Exit 49 of I-95 just outside of Fayetteville, NC this morning.

As we speak, it has received a semi-astounding 55 (yes, really) likes on Facebook.

In some ways, I know the joke's on me. Yes, my love of casa del Waffle is as well-known as my affection for Huey Lewis, The Beatles, the Yankees, and the Steelers.

I get ridiculed for it certainly, with "various and sundry" types either mocking me openly or behind my back. Some think it's an obsession.

I also get the "it's so unhealthy for you" types, and I understand that also.

As with anything else, it's all about moderation.

I don't expect you to believe that I do things in moderation. I get teased about French dips and chili-covered whatever.


I'm in on the joke, and I hope you understand that. I play it up. That's why my smile is goofy in the picture. (OK, so it's goofier than usual)

Not that I'm phony about it. I do love exactly what I wrote in the Instagram/Facebook post.

I order an All-Star Special every time, with scrambled eggs with cheese and a plain waffle and ham and hash browns covered, plus white toast (yes, I'm lame) and coffee.

It's tasty, it's fun, and I do it a few times every year, mostly in a spurt when I'm visiting North Carolina.

But I get the joke. I even get the stereotypes.

But it's also a happy place. I need happy places.

We all do.

By the way, Fayetteville's baseball stadium is beautiful. Too bad they're not around this week for me to go to a game.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

The Mindset of a Small White Cat



My name is Cisco.

I'm barely out of my kitten year.

Ah, the kitten year. It was quite a time. There was...string. Or yarn. Or bottle caps.

I love me some caps. You know, the water bottle caps that your sports types use?

I heard there's an airport that has banned such bottles. I don't think I'd want to fly there.

Wait, what's flying anyway? I don't think I'd like that. There's probably no catnip* there.

Or Fancy Feast. By the way, why do we get served that junk? I'd like a real chicken or turkey, thank you very much.

*Catnip probably isn't available in Harnett County. They say that county is "dry," whatever that means. So catnip probably is illegal there or something.

Wait. I just want to sit on this scratching pad. Just because it's here.

I hear voices. There are weird people here.

I should investi...zzzzzzzzz

*****
Fort McHenry Tunnel, Baltimore
Stedman, NC -- OK, I asked Sean for a topic to write about tonight, and he gave me the title, so I had fun with it for a few moments.

In truth, Harnett County, which is just north of Cumberland County, is indeed dry.

So is the very town I'm sitting in, which is actually the size of, say, Tokeneke Road in Darien.

Or smaller.

We had another adventure in driving today, as the news reported a car fire on I-95 south near Baltimore. I was up at 4:30 and ready to go, but didn't leave the hotel before 5:30 and wasn't on the road until 6:00 a.m.

The impact of the car fire was that we took the EZ Pass "Express" lanes, which weren't exactly express. In my mind, the toll should be refunded, but I know it's not how it works.

And the very Washington, D.C. traffic I feared lived up to expectations. Just awful on the Beltway.

We mocked the man in the White House as we crossed the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. Not because of anything political, but we might to make fun of everyone.

Virginia was a mixed bag of traffic, with an issue between Richmond and Petersburg.

After that, things flowed nicely. But what could have been seven hours turned into eight (and close to ten when you factor in stops).

Again, I track these things.

There were moments when I was riding the brakes that I thought this wasn't that much fun anymore. Maybe I'm getting old and even a little jaded.

Then the roads opened. Plus, Richmond. I can't say enough how I love me some Richmond, VA, and it's not something I can easily explain.

It's a unique mix of people and politics and culture and natural beauty and local restaurants (and even chains) and industry and commerce. But every city has that.

But every city isn't Richmond. Every city doesn't have my friends in Richmond and the memories I've made there.

I miss Richmond. A lot.


But I do like it down here. Yes, I realize I drove past a big ol' Confederate flag, which sort of went out of style with The Dukes of Hazzard up around Noo York.

But there's also a charm here, like the young girl with the long, flowing hair at the Food Lion, who said, "Y'all have a good night." She was probably heading into her senior year at nearby Cape Fear High School, but she had a pleasant disposition.

But most of all, it's family. That can be tough because family can certainly (and does) vex us. But this family is comfortable, and that makes a huge difference.


That's Stache in the middle of the floor. I hasten to even try to think what's in that mind.

Except meowing as loud as possible.

Waffle House is up for breakfast tomorrow.

Plan accordingly.

Monday, August 19, 2019

We're Off!


Greetings from Elkton, Maryland.

OK, maybe not. I started this post at 10:16 Sunday night in Mahopac. But I'm hoping to be sitting in Elkton by sometime Monday night.

Maybe I'll wax poetic about the drive. About the time that I made on the roads out of metro New York City and down the New Jersey Turnpike, where I was counting the cars (they've all come to look for America, said Simon and Garfunkel).

Did I cut through Philly? Did I take 295? Did I stay on the Turnpike? How's Delaware these days?

Will we jump in the pool and grab dinner at the nearby Wawa, or will we hit the Waffle House?

Who knows! I'm still typing away in New York.

*****
OK, now I'm really in Elkton, MD, population 15,652.

It was once "the elopement capital of the East Coast" with the likes of Willie Mays marrying here.

A Pan Am flight also crashed here in 1963.

On the more positive side, gas prices here, and in neighboring Newark (pronounced Noo-ARK) are upwards of 50 cents cheaper than at home.

It's just across the line from Delaware and is the first exit off I-95 in Maryland. But you have to pay a toll, and I wasn't in the mood to do that, so I worked around it.

After three hours and fifty-six minutes of driving, I can be forgiven if I don't want to pay a toll.

It should never take 3:56, but rush hour in New York and New Jersey reared its mighty ugly head and hurt me bad.

Once it settled down, it became more like the drives that I'm used to.

But I'm a roads guy, so forgive me.

I checked something off my list tonight.

Interstate 95 has been a constant ribbon through my life. I have traveled and driven on it through its lower parts in Florida, and from Daytona Beach up to the Philadelphia area...then again from New Jersey to just past Freeport, ME.

There was an incomplete, NIMBY-blocked portion that caused a break until last year. Ninety-five now splits from the New Jersey Turnpike southbound at Exit 6, turns west and crosses into Pennsylvania, before turning south near Bristol, PA.

And I drove the missing link tonight.

To you (well, most of you), it's frivolous. I didn't even mention it to my family when we drove it. But I assure you that it was quite meaningful to me. I just kept my fingers crossed that rush hour wouldn't be a Philly special.

We had no issues at all. Just heavy traffic that kept moving.

We pulled into Elkton, grabbed sandwiches at Wawa, and came to the hotel. We would up with a great two-room suite thanks to the nice person at the front desk.

Then again, she sent us to the wrong room first, then we discovered our actual room is missing a chain for the toilet handle. Like...what?

Anyway, that's travel for ya.

Up early tomorrow to try to survive Baltimore/Washington/Fredericksburg.


This guy misses us already, but he'll be mightily spoiled by others this week who will keep him company.

Time for bed.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

That's Enough

Passing through here sometime tomorrow (Delaware)
I called this post "That's Enough" for two reasons:

1) I'm leaving for vacation tomorrow in North Carolina. Realistically I can't afford it and will do everything in my soul to make it affordable. But I have to go for several reasons, not the least of which is I'm George Jetson walking Astro the dog and saying, "Jane! Stop this crazy thing."

So we'll come back to that.

But then there's...

Nah. Umpire Ben May is just looking to make dinner plans and thought the Yankees wanted to join him.
2) And the truth is, I had a whole rant written about the Yankees kerfuffle in their game against the Indians with the umpiring crew. I've changed it. I said what I needed to say on social media and will let others continue to ramble on.

Those who think they know better as they sit in their towers.

The truth is, I'll change no minds, so why bother writing? Yankees wrong (oh, and I'm biased of course). Umpires right. Brett Gardner is the first to ever throw a fit.

We're good.

Enjoy this lovely collection of baseball tantrums instead (Gardner included, along with St. David Ortiz).

*****
The part of Astro will be played by Sonic the Hedgehog
With that said and put to bed, as I will not be taking questions (just like all umpires), I will move onto trip planning.

I love to travel. Like, love love love it.

But I'm not great at just throwing stuff in a bag and going. Can I do that? I guess, but it's not my style.

More often than not, I'm the planner of the whole thing. Find the hotels, restaurants, what roads, and on and on and on.

I spent most of the day in some form of travel mode. Pack. Make the proper arrangments for Chico (the large gray cat). Get dissatisfied with my choice of luggage. Pack again. Do any necessary laundry. Check that the car is ready.

Think about which route I want to take. Can I get to the now-completed Interstate 95 from New Jersey into Pennsylvania? Will I hit Philadelphia at rush hour?

We're staying over tomorrow night, a concession to making things easier, and not normally my style. I love the challenge of the one-day drive. I love writing down the times and mileage, and seeing how it all stacks up. I can draw from six previous drives, and have a spreadsheet to back it all up.

Missing from this edition of the trip will be the 5:30 a.m. start time from New York. However, we'll do that on Tuesday morning when we leave the hotel, so instead of concerning myself with New York and Philadephia morning rush, it will be Baltimore and Washington.

I was taught as a kid to fear Washington D.C. rush hour with all proper respect and might. I still do.

I'll be pondering it and relying on the Waze app, as well as WTOP Radio for constant updates.

It's like sports to me. There's a strategy involved. It can be very cerebral. It can be grueling (up early, drive all day).

If it all goes well, I'll be sitting in my niece's house by sometime Tuesday afternoon. We'll also make every effort to keep our Project 365 alive.

Waffle House awaits!

I'm bringing just enough radio equipment to do a show if we get the urge.

Otherwise, I'm out of here.

That's enough.

*****
Two last notes:

- The wonderfully eloquent Jack Whitaker died today. He was the last living TV voice from Super Bowl I, calling the game on CBS. In fact, he was the only living TV voice from the first 21 super Sundays.

He made his way over to ABC where he continued to be a voice of grace. He was at Normandy just after D-Day.

He was foolishly banned from The Masters for five years after uttering the words "mob scene."

He described the exploits of Secretariat.

He was 95.

- FIOS1 News is shutting down in November after being unable to reach a contract agreement with Verizon, and thus putting roughly 150 people at RNN out of work. I'm saddened to see local journalism suffer yet again, and even sadder to see friends and good journalists and good people behind the camera out of work. Respect and best wishes to all.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

"Exit 55" Turns 13

Fayetteville, NC (Aug 30, 2018)
It was the summer of 2006 and all the cool kids were doing it.

Friends Sean Kilkelly and Matt Hamilton were among them. So was the actor Zach Braff.

I was 37 and felt like I wanted to be a part of the fun, though trend-following has never really been my thing.

Sean was somewhere in the house that we had bought only a few months earlier. We had a pool in the backyard and a lawn that I dutifully mowed.

On TV, the Yankees were breaking ground on building the replacement for Yankee Stadium across the street.

It was time. I started writing a blog.

(I wrote the first post on Aug 16 and put it online on the 17th at 7:00 a.m. I forgot about that.)

Like basically everything I do, I didn't just jump in headfirst. I needed a name for the blog and a web address and I needed to be certain it wouldn't exist for a few months and die (and no, my podcast won't meet that fate either. There's just a different level of work to that).

I decided to use Blogger as my home and went with steelyankee as part of the address. I've used that as a faux production company name for years (and, yet, somehow it isn't SteelYankee Radio instead of Robcasting).

Next came the name. I agonized over it. How could I represent myself?

Baseball? Football? TV? Radio? Music?

Roads won out. The term "exit" hit my mind, thinking of that as a metaphor for escape. Fifty-five has long been my favorite number. Exit...55. Bingo.

I wrote about how I came up with it in the third post.

I had no illusions about what the blog would be at first. I thought it would be great if writing led to opportunities, and I think that's happened in some small ways.

It would be great if it could find an audience, and it has, again in small ways. But, as in broadcasting, I had to remind myself to do my best regardless of audience size.

I hoped it would create conversation and reasonable debate. Again, sort of.

I hoped it would strike emotions.

It's well known that, as in life, there have been ups and downs with the bloggity. I hit a high point of 464 posts in 2009 when I was willing to log on to write only a few sentences and post that.

Well, that's what Twitter is now.

So the social media aspect of it, and my very behavior has changed as the years have gone on. We have certainly ebbed and flowed.

The blog has often felt like an extension of my broadcasting, in that I find myself saying, "Wait. You read/listened?" I guess people will come (to the radio/video/blog).

But it's still shocking and a little embarrassing.

Still, there were ruts in the road. When the blog was used against me (and, trust me, it was) I wondered about shutting it down. Not because the criticism bothered me, but because...well, take my word for it. In the process, the posts became more vanilla(ish), less risky or opinionated, and most of all, less frequent.

The worst is having to explain posts or having the posts be misunderstood. It's an awful feeling to be a communicator and explain what the heck you mean so often.

That's when I'd ponder posting a "Gone Fishing" or "Sorry, We're Closed" sign.

Or I'd ponder a goodbye post.

Or I'd just stop and leave it like the end of "The Sopranos."

Maybe "Don't Stop Believing" would play on a shot of me, just sitting at the keyboard, looking perplexed.

Then, as I often do, I found a little energy at the end of last year. Normally, the turn of the calendar got me to do a few posts every year and this year was no different. Then I'd promise that I'd do one post per day.

Then I'd do nothing, often lamenting that nobody cared, even if they did.

Mick would yell at me. Susan would gently tell me she liked my writing. Others would ask why I hadn't written. This wasn't exactly Harper Lee level, mind you, but I appreciated the sentiment.

Then came John Nash and the challenge to do #Project365.

I've documented the long nights, where I'd be sitting on the side of the road to just get a post online.

I've also put a few "evergreen" posts in the drafts folder, just in case. Some will likely never see the light of day (I hope).

I've bled with you. I've been honest with you. I've gotten emotional with you, and that's probably when I know those are my better posts. If I can feel an emotional nerve -- mostly, choking up -- then I know I've got something, and have to always be prepared for the all-important clicks* to be low.

*The whole "click culture" is an insult to journalism. "Hey -- do a story on the Elvis impersonator who is a greeter down at the Walmart in Norwalk!" Yeah, great journalistic instinct there, bub.

Writing has always fascinated me, from the work of famed sportswriters such as Mike Lupica, to the great authors (Fitzgerald, Lee, Steinbeck). I can barely do any of these people justice, just as I'm likely an insult to the great journalists I know (Susan, Paul, the Game Time gang, etc). As always, I can't name everyone.

A professor I had in my first year at Westchester Community College -- and, to this day, I can not remember her name -- once stopped me in the parking lot to ask me if I was interested in tutoring a student.

On writing.

I looked at her, said I wasn't available, and let her walk away. I wondered if it was a missed opportunity. But I figured she had the wrong person. Seriously, me? A Writer? I headed towards my next class, stunned. Nah. I'm just a voice.

I'm still just a voice. But a voice who keeps trying to write and report.

Thanks for reading, all. I raise my glass to you -- especially those who who have inspired and supported me for 13 years.

I make no promises, but we're still here.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Just a Kid

Life moves pretty fast, as Ferris told us, but there would have been consequences had he really gotten busted.

Life makes you grow up pretty fast sometimes.

There are, of course, circumstances in which one can, and should, be young. You know, act their age.

But there comes a point where the saying "just a kid" needs to fly out the window.

I'm a pretty tough but fair dad. I've worked with Sean on being respectful and appropriate.

Not saying "thank you" at virtually any age brought a swift rebuke.

Sorry. but "just a kid" doesn't fly there.

So when he steps into "big boy" circumstances, there are no excuses.

When he went on the air with me at the Greenwich Town Party, criticism would have been totally fair. The reviews were kind.

Yet I knew that stepping into that arena (pardon the pun) opened us both up. It would have been justified if he was bad, and I would have had to deal with it.

In fact, I was prepared for our Operations Manager at WGCH, Bob Small, to criticize him. Bob is not known to hold his thoughts -- good and bad. We've had our share of disagreements for sure as we've voiced our opinions.

Fortunately, it was not a problem.

So that's the thing. "Just a kid" becomes a crutch. It should be fair game to criticize when the "kid" steps into the big arena and, yet, they get the treatment of diplomatic immunity.

Or, more often than not, whispering goes on behind backs because no one wants to overstep the Just a Kid Treaty.

I try to build reality with Sean. He doesn't have certain advantages, and that actually includes me.

He was in a radio "club" in high school that had literally nothing to do with radio, and he quickly became disillusioned with it. There was nothing I could do about it.

He's going to earn everything in life. Just as I have.

That's not always the case, as advantages (read: money) buys opportunities. It's frustrating, but there's little that can be done about it.

Not everything deserves a trophy.

It's just real life.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Bureaucratic M. Nonsense

(Photo: Peter Carr/The Journal News)
On our way home from Yankee Stadium Monday night, Sean noticed the lights of a bridge overhead.

Shining over the Hudson River, the bridge -- stretching over the Tappan Zee area of the river, at its widest point -- is known to most of us by its original name.

The Tappan Zee Bridge, or more formally, the Malcolm Wilson Tappan Zee Bridge. Wilson was governor of New York in 1973-1974.

Of course, officially, the Tappan Zee Bridge is gone, replaced with what was codenamed "The New NY Bridge." That moniker struck me as weird, but it all made sense when New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo made a last-second legislature push to name the bridge after his father, Mario Cuomo.

Mario M. Cuomo, to be exact.

The signs went up along with the collective blood pressure of the Hudson Valley.

As we often find out, what's in a name is quite a bit. A few crossings in New York City have been renamed, including the (Robert. F. Kennedy) Triboro Bridge, the (Hugh Carey) Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, and the (Ed Koch) Queensboro Bridge.

Those newer names haven't been accepted so kindly.

On the other hand, there was once a place called Idlewild Airport. We now know it as John F. Kennedy International Airport.

Names are funny things. We have a deli on Secor Road in Mahopac that older folks still call "George's." I don't think George has owned the deli since the 1980s.

To some of us, Franklin Delano Roosevelt State Park is still "Mohansic," which was its given name.

Among a large portion of my road friends, the bridge renamings haven't gone over well.

There are others, however, who think "we" need to get over it. I get it. I respect it.

But I'll readily admit this is one that I've dug my heels in on.

The Journal News is adamant that their stylebook says they must call it the Mario M. Cuomo Bridge.

On the radio, I've made it clear that I absolutely refuse to do so.

For the record, part of the West Side Highway in Manhattan is known as the Joe DiMaggio Highway. Nobody -- me included -- calls it that.

Despite efforts to rename it as the "Tappan Zee Bridge," or compromise as the "Governor Mario M. Cuomo Tappan Zee Bridge," the Cuomo name has stayed in place.

And that's where the story has taken its dumbest turn. Earlier today, reports -- including from the Journal News, via LoHud.com -- have indicated that crews will be adding a single letter to previously-installed signs.

Where the signs said "Mario Cuomo Bridge," they now will be corrected to "Mario M. Cuomo Bridge."

You can't make this stuff up.

The pure arrogance of this situation is astounding and embarrassing.

And better yet? We the taxpayers get to foot the bill for Andy's Folly.

"We are currently in the process of installing overlays on existing signs for the sake of uniformity across the state highway and Thruway systems, and to ensure every sign reflects the official name of the new bridge," spokesman Joseph Morrissey said in a statement.

I mean, are you kidding me? This is Andrew Cuomo thumbing his nose at everyone, money be damned.

And it's not Cuomo's first sign screw up. He cost the state $14 million 514 signs that were against the standards of the Federal Highway Administration.

But New York pays the price. Literally.

It is a stunningly beautiful crossing. A gorgeous twin cable-stayed span that replaced the 1955 original. It is fantastic to see as night, as noted by Sean.

But it will remain known as the Tappan Zee Bridge, crossing the Tappan Zee of the Hudson River.

Now More than ever.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Philadelphia

(WPVI/6 ABC Philadelphia)
I'm tired tonight and need to be up early tomorrow to teach at the Connecticut School of Broadcasting.

And I'm sickened watching what happened in Philadelphia tonight.

We're seeing New York City police officers kill themselves. Eight of them have taken their own lives in 2019. (UPDATE: NINE)

Earlier today in Philadelphia, police went to serve a warrant on N. 15th St. in the Nicetown-Tioga area of town. Then gunfire erupted.

Six officers have been hit by bullets. Fortunately, their wounds are said to be minimal.

There was once a time when this would have been a pretty major story for our "Big 3" networks (ABC/NBC/CBS), but continuing coverage of such things has migrated over to CNN/MSNBC/FOX News and so on.

Except, the last I looked, it was full Trump obsession talk.

So my kudos goes to KYW Newsradio 1060 AM.

Yes. Radio. AM Radio.

For the win.

They sound exhausted as they've been on the case for hours.

My hat is off to them.

This does not take away from any previous story. Gilroy, El Paso, Dayton, and every other shooting deserves attention.

But there are people actively celebrating the NYPD cops who have killed themselves. There will be those saying, "Good," for this situation tonight.

Without climbing on any soapboxes, I'll just offer that it's sad.

There were shots being fired at police on a city street. It was frightening to watch.

It's terrible to watch.

Thank you to KYW Radio for their continuing coverage, as well as the Philadelphia police scanner via Broadcastify.

Radio still matters.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

The Mick

Picture of one of my baseball cards

Mickey Mantle died on this day in 1995.

I'm quick to recognize The Mick was an amazingly flawed person.

A drinker? Check. Womanizer? Check. Occasional grump? Check.

But he was also full of Oklahoma charm and boyishness, with a talent for sports that can only be described as "God-given" (or "Ruth-given").

Flawed? You bet.

He first appeared on the scene in 1951, but he worked his way through an un-Mantle-like .267 average with 13 home runs. It was the lowest home run total of his career.

Playing across the Harlem River was another rookie who would go up against Mantle in the '51 World Series. His name was Willie Mays. That's a lot of talent in the span of barely a mile.

Mickey would give baseball fans 18 years of thrills. A triple crown in '56. Three MVP's. All-star appearances every year except 1951. A fine defensive play in left center field that kept Don Larsen's perfect game alive. Myriad big hits. A career-high 54 home runs in 1961, when only a kid from North Dakota named Roger Maris could outhomer him.

Nobody hit more World Series home runs than him. Facing a 38-year-old knuckleballer named Barney Schultz in Game 3 of the 1964 Fall Classic, Mantle allegedly told catcher Elston Howard to head to the locker room, because the game was over. He was that confident.

"Forget about it," said Curt Gowdy on NBC Radio.


Watch Mantle run. Always with his head down, because he was -- at heart -- a shy kid who didn't want to show anyone up.

But those flaws. Those injuries. No Mantle man -- his father included -- lived past 40. Hodgkins Disease is awful. Mickey felt guilty about that and a lot of his behavior -- his demons -- were a result of that.

Joe DiMaggio didn't help things, but so was the fractured psyche of Mickey Charles Mantle.

When Mick was sent back to Kansas City during that '51 campaign, he called his father and told him he might not have what it took to make it. His dad drove to where Mickey was staying, busted into his room, and began packing a suitcase. "I thought I raised a man," 'Mutt' Mantle said. "I see I raised a coward instead."

That did it. Mick got it together, and Cooperstown awaited.

That fall, Mays hit a fly ball to right center. Mantle, playing right, charged in before being called off at the last minute by DiMaggio. Mick stopped, caught his spikes in a drainpipe, and wrecked his knee.

Mutt helped his son into Lenox Hill Hospital before having to be admitted himself. They watched the rest of the Series together in the hospital before Hodgkins claimed Mutt in early 1952.

Then there was the mythicism. Besides the on-field exploits for the most-famous, and most-successful team, there was the off-field impact. He was a Madison Ave darling in a golden era that would later add Frank Gifford and Joe Namath and Tom Seaver. Those boyhood looks were good, and many a baby was born to the name.

One of my closest friends will never be known by his given name. In fact, don't even call him that. It shows up on his legal paperwork, but not for a day is he known by his birth name.

He's known by his middle name: Mick.

He finished with 536 home runs, and one can only wonder what he could have done. But look around Yankee Stadium to this day, and you'll still see plenty of number seven jerseys patrolling the concourse.

His death in 1995 brought baby boomers to their knees. Just 63, years of drinking ravaged his liver. Though he received a transplant, cancer had ravaged his body. At a press conference that year, he said, "This is a role model: Don't be like me."

Though controversial, organ donations increased as a result of Mantle.

The funeral was carried on ESPN. Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Bobby Murcer, Hank Bauer, Moose Skowron, and Johnny Blanchard were the pallbearers in the greatest of Old Timer's Days. Bobby Richardson officiated in the most graceful way I've ever seen. I'd be honored to have such class do the same.

Roy Clark sang "Yesterday When I Was Young."

Bob Costas gave the eulogy of eulogies.

I listened to it on the radio at work and watched it when I got home.

1988
For the record, I met Mickey Mantle once, in the last '80s at a card show in White Plains. He could not have been more gracious and kind in the briefest of encounters. The story was memorable enough to Sean that when we talked about it last night at Yankee Stadium, he remembered it.

"You met him at the place where the (New York) Streets play," he said, recalling that I told him about it when we were at the Westchester County Center watching an arena football game.

(For what it's worth, the Yankees/Orioles last night game helped rekindle some love of being at the ballpark.)

*****
It's taken roughly 800 words to get to the real point of why we're here, in the worst case of burying the lede.

I was exchanging tweets with my friend Mark Del Franco about Mantle and baseball cards when I was reminded of my own cards. The Mick published a book of the same name in 1986 that was a huge hit. To promote the paperback edition of the book, the publisher printed baseball cards that were free giveaways. I snagged a few of them from the Waldenbooks in Jefferson Valley Mall. I still have them.

Except for one.

My father died in 1989, and that's no secret to those who have read this effort on the interweb. As he was being laid to rest, it was decided that there were going to be items that would be buried with him. I recall his Teamsters jacket being included. Feeling like I should add something to this time capsule, I began to think about exactly what.

Clearly, you can figure out what it was. With minimal notice, I grabbed one card from its sleeve, delivered the eulogy at his funeral that Tuesday, turned around, and placed it in his casket.

The Mick. With my dad for eternity.

To quote Costas: "I just hope God has a place for him where he can run again. Where he can play practical jokes on his teammates and smile that boyish smile, ’cause God knows, no one’s perfect. And God knows there’s something special about heroes.

So long, Mick. Thanks."

I hope my dad is running again as well, but that's a different story for another time.

You were flawed, Mick. You were also one in a million.

"Thanks" doesn't seem sufficient.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Almost Going Home

Mary DeCicco/MLB Photos via Getty Images

It's been four years.

In fact, it's been 1,516 days.

For me, that's a lifetime. Sort of like not winning a World Series in 10 years.

In a Yankees fans life, we count things like this.

So, for the first time in those precious 1,516 days, I'll walk back into Yankee Stadium tonight, thanks to my son.

Sean took a class in sports history and competition in the past school year. Included in the class was a field trip to Yankee Stadium.

"I want to go with you," he said.

You don't understand what that meant to me. Like, it's almost indescribable. We barely have a sports connection. He'll ask how a game went occasionally, but this class -- taught by a hockey coach who I know -- has given us a whole different bond.

I didn't forget his request to go and finally made good on it.

Orioles/Yankees tonight at 7:05 p.m.

Yankee Stadium has always been my home. The old stadium was it. Old or refurbished, it was heaven. My field of dreams.

The new one is...fine. Nice. It's just not the old one.

Being a Yankees fan is...well, it's whatever. Most hate us. Detest us. Despise us.

Winning makes a fanbase an arrogant lot, and I know that.

It's funny to remember that this franchise -- born out of the dregs of the old Baltimore Orioles in 1903 -- was a joke when it first came into the American League.

Though they battled to the last day of the 1904 season, before a team from Boston -- yeah, them -- won the pennant on a wild pitch, the Yankees* of 1903-1919 were actually pretty middling to bad.

* Yes, I know they were also the Highlanders, but as Marty Appel pointed out in Pinstripe Empire: The New York Yankees from Before the Babe to After the Boss, the "Yankees" name was fairly prominent before becoming permanent around 1912.

So when the Yankees -- the little brother to the Giants -- acquired George Herman Ruth in December 1919, the world immediately changed.

They made their first World Series in 1921. They won their first title in 1923, which is the same year that the REAL Yankee Stadium opened.

There have been 26 more titles since then. They didn't go very long without winning, so to a Yankees fan, the years of 1962 to 1977 and 1978 to 1996 were purgatory.

It's been 10 years. They've haven't gone a decade without a World Series appearance since the 1910s.

And if they don't get better pitching, that's going to happen in the 2010s.

So they need to continue to feast on the Orioles, which they'll do tonight at 7:05.

Thanks to Sean.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

I'll Pass

A double rainbow over Stewart Airport on Thursday night
I think I'm going to sit this one out tonight.

It's a combination of being tired and tapped out.

I don't want to write deep stuff. I don't want to write angry stuff.

Not to say there isn't positive stuff. There is.

But then again, I had a long debate over the picture I posted the other night. The person did not even read the post.

So...

Instead of negativity, I'd rather just pause and step away.

The upcoming radio schedule is: no show tomorrow, then we're moving Doubleheader to 4pm starting Tuesday. We'll do the show Tuesday through Friday, then I'm taking the next week off. Then I'll be off Aug 26-27 (can't say why yet). Then back fresh on Aug 28.

Tomorrow is Monday. We can start fresh then.

I have plans tomorrow night. Might have to write before I go.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Just a Saturday

Oh, Belinda Carlisle. You and your dancing in the "Head Over Heels" video.
The Great Music Project continued for a chunk of today, but at this point, I'm into cleaning it up.

Most of the heavy lifting seems to be done, with thanks to AJ Szymanowski, who tipped me off to a database that helps fill in some blanks.

There's still more to do, but I'm in a much better place than I was.

Still, it reminded me, as I peered through the window of musical regret, what the hell was I thinking with some of the downloads? I mean, I actually spent money on some of this dreck?

But different times call for different sounds and different laughs.

In the process, I eradicated roughly 1,500 songs from my iTunes. A Bon Jovi album bit the dust, and I took joy in saying "Ta ta" to the Spice Girls.

Both were items I acquired from others when they gave me their entire catalog of music.

On the other hand, I cleaned up the Bon Jovi greatest hits album that I have and didn't delete it.

I cut deep at times, and I was proud of myself for doing so. Practicality and common sense (which is simply not that common) won the day!

In the midst of this sort of strange week, my son announced he had gotten his learners permit. I'm proud of him for taking that initiative and for wanting to surprise me. It was wonderful. Now we need to hit the road.

But first, he's heading to a party tonight at a friends house. One thing I've avoided in my life has been the late-night pickups for whatever reason. So I have no reason to say no, even if it means going from Mahopac to Hopewell Jct and having to hangout up that way until I pick him up around 11.

If you know him, you know he's a great kid, dude, young man...

Wait. He asked me for a razor today. Although he has shaved, he hasn't done so here.

So I guess he's a man of 17.

We're not going to have a "Cats in the Cradle" moment though.

I just noticed I have a copy of that in my iTunes. It's the only Harry Chapin song I own, and that's sad.

I'm also deficient on Phil Collins. No, I mean good Phil Collins.

And Joni Mitchell. While Tom Hanks once said -- playfully -- "I could never be with someone who likes Joni Mitchell," I assure that I can.

He said it You've Got Mail, and it makes sense if you've seen the movie.

Even though I have thousands of songs, there are still plenty of things that I lack.

By the way, while I'm enjoying the pleasant "Kumbaya" feeling of the Yankees/Mets peace accord, all it will take is one obnoxious fan to have me spouting like a Mitch Williams fastball ("Wild Thing," you know).

So let's please let sleeping dogs lie, shall we?

I'll never understand why some have to poke the bear.

I rediscovered I have both versions of "Pretty in Pink" by the Psychedelic Furs. Here's the movie version, which I'd forgotten that I owned.

Friday, August 09, 2019

Metsmerized!

Did anyone know about this?
I had it in my mind as I began typing to begin writing a post in which I would announce that I had seen the light.

That I was opening my heart to the Metsies of New York.

While I'll admit they're a fun team to watch, it also would be patently phony of me to suddenly climb on a Mets bandwagon.

I can certainly ride along with a fan base, but come on. Let's be real here.

Besides, no Mets fan worth their interest in David Wright would want me.

So I'll take the role of an onlooker. I'll enjoy watching the games.

Tonight's game was a great one, for instance.

Down 6-3 in the ninth inning, Todd Frazier* hit a three-run homer to tie it.

*Todd Frazier is from Toms River, NJ. He also once stood on the field at Yankee Stadium next to Derek Jeter. These are storylines that should be furthered by sports media.

The Mets soon walked it off a few batters later.

Put it in the books!

On the other hand, the New York Yankees -- the team I've rooted for since 1972 (even if Joe on Twitter doesn't buy it or whatever that dudes problem is) -- got blasted by the Blue Jays.

Brett Gardner got ejected because the home plate umpire heard "something" and figured, oh what the heck, let me throw Gardy out of the game. He seems...guilty. He's got a reputation. So he's gone.

No biggie.

Tomorrow is another day for the Savages from The Bronx.

But tonight is about the Mets.

Thursday, August 08, 2019

Movie Quotes

Good talk, son.
Twitter had something called the #BestMovieLineEver trending today.

Which isn't easy, of course. Too many movies. Too many great lines.

I immediately reached for my Ferris Bueller's Day Off bag of tricks to use "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."

Oh yeah (chibba cha kaaaaaa).

Chris Kaelin chimed in with some goodness from The Godfather (again, highly quotable).

There were others, and I'm sure you get the idea.

Horror quotes. Literary quotes. Dramatic quotes. Humorous quotes.

In a 2005 list published by the American Film Institute, they went with "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn" from Gone with the Wind at number one.

In truth, can you go wrong with any quote?

We can go for Caddyshack, Bull Durham, Major Leauge, Airplane!, Blazing Saddles, any of the Star Wars movies, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, any John Hughes movie, Pulp Fiction...well, you get the idea.

So many quotes and so much fun.

The best is when you hear the quotes and never know where they came from. Sean (he of the brand new learners permit) didn't realize how many quotes came from Caddyshack until he watched it for the first time last year.

We could just do a list of sports quotes.

"Just a bit outside."
"Dynamite drop-in, Monty. That broadcast school has really paid off."
"If you build it, he will come."
"MOONLIGHT GRAHAM."
"The rose goes in the front."
"Candlesticks make a nice wedding present."
"Lollygaggers!"
"I mean anything travels that far oughta have a damn stewardess on it."
"You Adrian!"
"WE'RE LOSIN'! They're burying us alive!" "Eddie Shore?" "Oh, piss of Eddie Shore!"
"Come on, Hobbs, knock the cover off the ball!"
"There's no crying in baseball!"
"The cathedral that is Yankee Stadium belongs to a chapel."

And, speaking of crying...
"I love Brian Piccolo. And I'd like all of you to love him, too. And so tonight, when you hit your knees, please ask God to love him."

I haven't even gotten to Rudy, Remember the Titans, Hoosiers, Miracle, and so on.

I mean, I'm just giving you a small sample.

So, anyway, how could we possibly come up with one single quote and call it the best ever?

Besides, many quotes get bungled anyway (Ilsa doesn't say "Play it again, Sam" in Casablanca. She says, "Play it, Sam.").

So to close, I say, "Good talk, son" (which is from National Lampoon's Vacation) and is often misquoted as "Good talk, Russ."

Incidentally, Vacation is by far the best of the National Lampoon movies, but that's a debate for another time.