Thursday, October 31, 2019

The New Hudson Valley Renegades Broadcaster

This will be my view in the summer of 2020.
The journey began in 2001, but it's something that I've wanted since 1994.

That's when the Hudson Valley Renegades first appeared on the scene.

I wanted to be their broadcaster but had no idea how to achieve that and, to be honest, I wasn't ready. I had never called a game professionally.

But, beginning in 2020, I'll call a whole lot of games for the Gades. I'm the new play-by-play announcer for the Hudson Valley Renegades, the Class A Short-season affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays. The Gades play their games at Dutchess Stadium in Wappingers Falls. The season runs from June to September.

So, let me quickly clarify. This isn't a full-time job. This isn't some magic panacea. While I'm at it, I'll still be around high school and college sports as needed. Local Live, WGCH, and Robcasting are still very much part of my plans. I'd love to do more Yale and St. John's and Marist (hint) and other college sports (hello? Fairfield U?).

But back to 1994. They went with a fine broadcaster named Bill Rogan. I eventually attended a couple of games as a fan.

By 1999, Bill had been replaced by Rick Schultz and, eventually Sean Ford. The Gades won the New York-Penn League title in '99.

In 2001, I was looking through the Baseball America Directory and saw that Sean was working alone. That's when it hit me: I wonder if they'd like some free help.

It was gutsy of me, but I sent their radio station (then: WBNR/WLNA) a letter. I stressed I'd do it for free and that I didn't want to impact anyone. I didn't want Sean's job.

After a little back and forth, it was decided that I would board-op some games in the studio and I could go to the ballpark when I wasn't.

I met Jay Verzi, who became an immediate friend at WBNR/WLNA. I pestered him, and I soon had a credential to go to Dutchess Stadium. That's where I met Sean for the first time.

It was July 12, 2001. The Renegades were hosting the Batavia Muckdogs.

I figured I'd just watch. Learn. Meet and get to know him.

The theme music swelled.

"If you're going to be on the air, you better put those on," he said, gesturing to the headset on the stool in front of me.

He threw me on the air during the opening. I did some color. We reached the end of the third inning.

"You're doing the middle three," he said.

It was official. I was a minor league play-by-play announcer.

We also became good friends, and I talked with him yesterday from his home in North Dakota.

And so it went. I did a bunch of games in 2001, some in 2002, and a few in 2003. Would I go back in 2004?

Nope. The next four seasons went by without a game. Suddenly, I was asked to rejoin in 2008 and there are plenty of stories on the blog about those days, when I did color from the studio (!), hosted a talk show and did lots of play-by-play.

But Sean was out after '08 and I was devastated for him.

Was it my time? No.

Geoff Brault did a nice job in '09. But that was it for him.

So me in 2010, right?

Negative. Nick Gagalis and Gary Ayd were on. Also good broadcasters.

As 2011 got started, there was talk that I'd again jump on, but it soon felt like I was more of a nuisance than anything.

More than anything, I felt like it was a younger persons' game. I felt old.

I thought it was over. I'd pass the view of the stadium on Interstate 84 and sigh.

Let me stop here and say that I tried my best to remember every Gades broadcaster and I think I'm a couple short in the mid-2010s. I'd love any help with that.

Later in the decade, I saw that Josh Caray -- yes, of the Caray broadcasting family (son of Skip) -- was now the Renegades broadcaster. Josh also worked for Stony Brook out on Long Island and needed a fill-in for two games in 2017.

I got the call and it felt like I'd gone home. More than anything, for two nights it was "my" booth. As a broadcaster, that is crucial. No matter what, it was Sean's booth. Or Geoff's. Or Nick's. Or Josh's.

I came back in 2018 for one game. It just didn't click as much as I'd hope. Again, I wondered if maybe my time was up.

As 2019 began, I saw that Josh was moving on to Rocket City Trash Pandas of Class AA ball. I texted him to wish him well and asked if he'd be around for the '19 season. He said he would.

Once again, it was 1994. I wasn't entirely sure how to proceed, except that it was 25 years later and I was a little smarter.

Fate intervened.

Kristen Huss -- Vice President of Community Partnerships for the team -- was a guest on The Clubhouse. I asked her about it.

"You'd be perfect," she said, her eyes growing wide. "Get your stuff to (team President/GM) Steve Gliner ASAP!"

She texted him. I emailed him immediately.

Steve and I -- he was with the team when I joined in 2001 -- met in early August. Our children attended the same high school. The meeting was easy. He wanted me to come back and sit in for two broadcasts.

Nervously, I auditioned in late August.

Director of Baseball Operations (and manager of the broadcaster) Joe Ausanio patted me on the back on the second night.

"Welcome back," he said.

Could it be -- could it actually be -- that I was going to get this?

Well, you know how it all played out. We met two weeks ago today and finalized everything.

I'll do all of the home games. I can do road games if we can work out the arrangements. I'll also write game stories for the website. My intention is to be at opening night in Aberdeen, Maryland on June 18. I'd like to do some games in Staten Island (that's important for my SI friends), Brooklyn, Connecticut (Norwich), and Tri-City (Troy, NY). There are other games, and if anyone wants to do a road trip, let me know.

To that end, Steve and Joe -- who have been amazingly supportive of my hiring -- have told me the broadcasts are an "open slate." I'd like to add theme music to the broadcasts and other in-game elements.

I've been told I can welcome friends into the booth to join me, and I've already got a list in mind. The team trusts me, and that means everything. Chris Erway, Chris Kaelin, AJ Szymanowski, and a lot of others will lead the parade to join me on the air. I'm planning on a "Clubhouse Takeover Night" where Dave Torromeo and Mark Jeffers join me.

Lots of ideas. Lots of work ahead.

Posts for other nights.

The news first hit (and thanks to Phil Giubileo for posting) on Ballpark Digest. Then, out of nowhere, my high school friend Corinne posted a link to a Poughkeepsie Journal article.

I'm simply overwhelmed with the love that this news was given. I have too many people to thank for supporting me -- with my son (who might work with me at the ballpark) and Susan leading the way. I have no words other than "thanks."

But it's Mick and Paul and Chris Erway and Kato and Ryan DeMaria and Hector and Kristy and Jon and Laura and Kelly and my sister Laura and my brother and Eric Scholl and AJ and Shawn Sailer and Tim and Kris and Jake Zimmer and Dan Gardella and (fellow #Project365er) John Nash and my Hunt Scanlon friends and Mike hirn and Nate Stidham... and wow, so many people.

It's also Steve and Joe and Kristen and team Vice President Rick Zolzer -- The Zolz -- who also gave his thumbs up. Zolz is the true "Voice of the Renegades" to be certain.

It's every team and every outlet, from the Gades themselves to Mount Saint Mary College to the Bridgeport Bluefish to Fairfield Prep to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers to Darien and the FCIAC and Local Live and HAN and Majic 105 and the Bridgeport Bluefish and Little League Baseball and Trumbull baseball (and those great Babe Ruth tournaments) and Norwalk baseball and Mahopac baseball and hockey.

And, of course, Brunswick and Greenwich everything.

And WGCH.

(I know I'm missing some -- and no slight intended)

And Mom, who has enthusiastically supported this whole thing.

And Dad, whose memory and (I hope) pride had me fighting to keep it together as I walked out of the team offices on Oct 17.

I'd like to think he's now a Gades fan.

I hope you all will be also.

Thank you to everyone for believing in me.

My message tonight is "never give up." I'll be 51 by first pitch next year. My path is my own story. My time is now.

The games will air via the team website -- hvrenegades.com (or go directly to TuneIn Radio).

Prospective broadcasters, you can stop calling the team. The job is filled.

Ladies and gentlemen, I'm the new Hudson Valley Renegades broadcaster.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

The Night Before Halloween



Fate
Up against your will
Through the thick and thin
He will wait until
You give yourself to him

- Echo & the Bunnymen, "The Killing Moon," 1984.

I don't quite know why I found myself thinking about this song. Maybe there's no correlation to Halloween.

But it feels dark enough.

There's some romance in it. But it's deep.

Plus "killing" and "moon" are in the title.

So it works for me.

And so it's here tonight on a misty, murky, spideresque night.

Sure, it's also Game 7 of the World Series, and I've certainly got my eye on that.

But there are certain songs that just find it. They probably never found it again in their career, but Echo & the Bunnymen hit a stride here.



Maybe it's not cool enough. Maybe it's too easy. Maybe I didn't dig deep enough to find a song tonight.

That's fine. I accept all criticism.

The experts say It's supposed to rain tomorrow. So there are actually people who want to move Halloween to the weekend.

Yes, and I'd like to make Christmas more reasonable for the calendar. Thanksgiving also. Say, fourth Saturday of the month? Can we make that happen?

Humanity makes my eyes constantly roll.

Let your kids go out and get soaked. They're kids. Have fun.

I like Halloween. I like seeing the costumes. I like seeing the kids happy. I like seeing the adults do what they do. I haven't been in a place to participate for several years, and I guess that's fine. I have no parties to go to and I don't really have a social life. So I just take it all in.

The more I think about it, could we just make it official and have Vincent Price be the saint of Halloween? Just his spoken words from "Thriller" would be enough.

Baseball ends tonight. It's three outs away, in fact.

I'll miss it.

See you soon.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

The World Series

(Photo: Harry Cabluck, AP)

Game 6 of the World Series is going on. It's currently 3-2 Nationals.

While we complain about Joe Buck (a national tradition, of course), length of games, pitching changes, and lousy strike zones in the otherwise meh collection of games, it got me thinking about the best Series games I've seen.

Man, that sentence was silly long. Sorry. I'm better than that.

I remember every series since 1975 and that's a great place to start.

Game 6 is generally regarded as the greatest game ever played, due to Bernie Carbo's game-tying blast and Pudge Fisk's shot down the line as he wildly willed the ball fair. A rat in the rafters of Fenway Park caused that iconic TV shot because the cameraman focused on Fisk as he kept an eye on the rat.

Game 7 was pretty fantastic also, as a Joe Morgan ninth inning bloop single broke the heart of The Hub.

Reggie Jackson, of course, propelled his legend into overdrive with three big swings in Game 6 of 1977. It was otherwise an 8-4 game.

In 1979, it was Game 7 and Wilver Dornell Stargell. Pops' sixth-inning two-run shot gave the Family the title.

We'll move forward a few years to 1986, of course. Once again, Games 6 and 7 were epic as the Mets grabbed their last championship.

Then of course came Kirk Gibson. Game 1, 1988. Three and two to Gibson. Nobody believed what they just saw...but in a year that had been so improbable, the impossible happened.

Perhaps the best game I've ever seen -- end to end -- was Game 7, 1991. Jack Morris and John Smoltz gave everything in the rags to riches battle of the Twins and Braves, a night after Kirby Puckett hit the home that made this game possible.

1993: Joe Carter ends a strange Series and never hits a bigger home run in his life in Game 6.

1996: The 1-0 majesty of Game 5 (sorry again, John Smoltz) as Andy Pettite outdueled the Braves. An unearned run was the difference and Paul O'Neill pounded the wall after the final out.

A year later, the up and down and ultimate heartbreak of the late 90s Indians was magnified as the Marlins became the youngest franchise to win a title, walking off thank to Edgar Renteria.

There was a long night in the Bronx in Game 1 of 2000 (oh, Timo Perez and Armando Benitez).

There's simply too much to deal with in 2001, of course. Games 4, 5, and 7 were bad for the heart.

Since then we've seen David Freese in 2011, the Cubs actually winning in 2016, and a crazy 13-12 game in 2017.

And missing many other games, such as the Don Denkinger game of 1985. I can still remember watching that in stunned silence.

I'm glad -- regardless of rooting interest -- that I've watched all these years.

We could be down to the final pitches of 2019 and I hope that's not the case because I love a Game 7.

Except for Game 7 in 2017. That was awful.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Darien/Greenwich and Other Monday Thoughts

I don't have a picture available of the Darien press box. No slight intended.
Audio of the Darien/Greenwich football game has been loaded on the interwebs for your perusal.

I'm proud of the effort of Chris Erway, as well as Damian Andrew and the DAF Media crew. I think I was fine.

I've received several kind reviews after the fact, and I appreciate it.

All the praise goes to Darien for their 27-21 victory.

It looks like I've picked up some games, with a slate of girls soccer Sunday joining the Greenwich/Trinity Catholic-Wright Tech game on Saturday. There are a few other things in the works that I can't get into yet that will make the winter very busy (hopefully).

And I'm still holding a piece of news that I can't reveal yet.

So, we just keep grinding and hope for good things. It means my weekend is shot but that's OK. Plus Sean generally doesn't mind anyway. It's not like the days when he used to have to go with me to games. He's a big boy now.

We'll hang up Friday night and, who knows, maybe he'll ride with me on Saturday.

A note of thanks to Tim Parry, for texting me last night with a kind word that was much-needed. Last night was post number 300 of 2019 and 302 days in a row of posting. Where I've thought maybe the quality of my writing has gone down, he feels just the opposite.

A kind word goes a long way. Thanks to him -- and the myriad others who have commented -- for the boost.

The World Series will be over tomorrow night (in case you were wondering).

Honestly, that's about it for tonight. I've argued enough for one day.

Download Darien/Greenwich football here or stream it below.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Let It Go


I have a great-niece named Isabella. She's adorable and loves Disney princesses.

Unbeknownst to me, the new Frozen II comes out on Nov 22, which happens to be my birthday.

Isabella wants me to go see Frozen II with her on my birthday. Full disclosure: I've never seen Frozen.

But, I feel like I need to "Let it Go" anyway.

I'm struggling to get yesterday out of my head. The best thing for anyone is to get back to business the next day after an emotional day. Get back on the bicycle. Reach a happy place. Just move on.

Let it go.

Instead, it's a rainy, disgusting day and I've got terrible football games on TV. I hate to admit it, but that's serving as background noise.

I find myself thinking about Halloween on this gloomy day, given that costumes disguise who we really are.

"We all have a face that we hide away forever and we take them out and show ourselves when everyone has gone." -- Billy Joel

Yes. Yes, indeed.

Again, let it go.

New York Rangers fans think Doc Emrick dumped on them on national broadcasts because he was the "voice" of the New Jersey Devils for years.

Even Vin Scully -- yes, seriously -- got the wrath of San Francisco Giants fans especially because Vin was the Dodgers broadcaster.

But a professional is a professional, right?

Let it go.

I turned off the NFL. I still love the sport of football and, in some ways, still love the NFL. But these games didn't do it for me, including watching the Patriots and the Browns. So I told Alexa to play some Background Baseball. Game 4 of the 1948 World Series it is. The Braves (then of Boston) and the Indians (always of Cleveland). Larry Doby has just hit the first home run of the series.

In Game 4. A game that took 91 minutes to play, with 81,897 in attendance.

I'll still watch the Steelers tomorrow night as they play the Dolphins. Those were the first two football teams of my life.

That 1948 World Series was the last won by the Wahoos of Lake Erie. Mike Hirn has been so close to a title.

Hirn, a good friend. Like Chris Erway. Like Susan.

I'm blessed with great, true friends. Too many to name.

Few have my back more than Susan. That matters.

Let it go.

I called 29 events last fall. Right now, I'm struggling to get to 20. There's no fault necessarily. It's a matter of the market and the calendar and the budget.

And it hurts my wallet. Badly.

Let it go.

Speaking of Susan, her Tales From the Graveyard series makes for fine Halloween reading (or any time you want some part scary, part messed-up stuff). Find it on Amazon.

Don't let that one go.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Driving in Silence



I remember the first time it happened. It was at the 2000 FCIAC Championship football game.

It was incredibly dramatic. A missed extra point and a missed field goal gave New Canaan the title.

I had literally zero energy driving away from Boyle Stadium that night. I felt empty, exhausted, and incapable of turning the radio on. I couldn't really figure out why.

Then it hit me. I had given every ounce of me and the game wore me out.

Fast forward nearly 19 years later. I knew it would happen. Around 2:00 this afternoon, I told Chris Erway that very thing.

"I'm going to leave it all in the booth. I'll be shot tonight."

Darien beat Greenwich 27-21 in a strange game. Not great. Not even necessarily good. A game that I'll have to break down on Monday on Doubleheader.

A game that ended with a very questionable holding call and a fourth-down spike. That's just a small sample. There was far more to this affair than that.

(EDIT: Let us be certain that Darien won the game and there shall be no question of that. They made the plays and won the game.)

It ended with such a dud. Regardless of the winner, it missed the dramatic coda that we wanted. It would have been great to see it come down to a final play. But it didn't.

My heart breaks for Greenwich quarterback James Rinello, who gave everything in the effort but will be remembered for how it ended. That's probably unfair. It's a team game and there's certainly more to the story than just that.

Sports isn't kind in that way, but Greenwich and Darien can do a lot more between now and a possible (likely?) rematch in December.

I probably have no business feeling this way. I stood and talked for three hours. Damian Andrew and DAF Media basically fell over themselves, sweating every small detail.

The players gave everything.

So did the coaches.

I talked.

Still, I got to my car and just drove after it was over. I never turned on the radio. I never put a podcast on my phone to listen to.

I simply went home.

Even now, I'm sitting home slightly overwhelmed and exhausted. Sports, at its best, does that to you. You bring everything you have to the microphone and then just collapse when it's over.

That's how I feel tonight.

That's how I felt back in 2000 when I couldn't figure out why I was so lethargic.

I'm going to bed soon.

We'll talk about this game for some time.

Friday, October 25, 2019

When Does That Hurt End?



It was another long day today.

But it was a good day. Prep for tomorrow's game is mostly done and I called the Hopkins/Brunswick soccer game tonight. I think it might have been my best soccer call of the year.

You can just feel it some nights.

Then I came home to the picture above, taken on the day of my Aunt Fay and Uncle Bill's wedding in 1960. My cousin sent it to my mom.

Yep. That's my dad on the left.

There aren't many new pictures of him to be found so it's always bittersweet to see one that's unfamiliar to me.

Of course, it took my breath away, and I stood there, trying to remain composed.

He's been gone 30 years and it still hurts deeply.

The question of "why" it still hurts is easy to answer, of course, but why must every mention of him make me struggle to hold my emotions?

I know I've asked that question on here before, and I guess I'm dealing with it again tonight.

We all suffer losses. My friends at Hunt Scanlon had a loss earlier this week. We lost my cousin Ted a few weeks ago and there's still grieving there.

I've told you all so many things about my dad to the point that have to be sick of him (and that's not unfair).

I love hearing people talk about him.

I wish newer people in my life got to know him.

I wish he had met Sean, heard me become a broadcaster, been my counsel for me for myriad stuff, and so on.

I wish he could have gotten his hips and knees done so that his pain would go away. It would have taken a certain level of stress off of his heart.

I wish he had stopped smoking, but that's a whole different beast for another post.

But my oh my am I sick of struggling to talk when he comes up.

It embarrasses me, for one thing.

This letter from Payne Stewart's daughter to him on the 20th anniversary of his passing certainly grabbed at my heart.

Anyway, I really don't like that pithy line "I'm not crying. You're crying."

No, dammit. I'm crying. A lot.

And that's the problem.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

The Wave In The Room

The booth at Cardinal Stadium (2018)
As I said last night, I'll be behind the mic for the Darien/Greenwich football game on WGCH, Local Live (via the Greenwich Athletic Foundation) and DAF Media (who will produce the video of the broadcast).

I appreciate the faith that Damian Andrew and the Darien Athletic Foundation has put in me, as well as Chris Erway, to call a fair game.

I'm seriously honored to be behind the mic on DAF Media, just as I was for Darien/Brunswick lacrosse last May.

I know my friend John Sini of Darien also supports my handling the call, even tweeting that the A-Team is coming to DAF Media.

Still, I'll be very cognizant of calling it fair.

There will undoubtedly be naysayers.

Team voices have ascended to national/network calls many times, including the World Series until the mid-70s. Vin Scully, Mel Allen, Red Barber, have given way to Joe Davis, for instance, who calls games for the Dodgers as well as FOX.

Yes, I'm associated with Greenwich football. So is Chris.

But I'm also associated with Brunswick. And Mahopac. And the FCIAC. And several other teams.

As you probably know, I'm from New York, so I didn't grow up with the Cardinals. Greenwich has kindly accepted me since I came to town in 1997.

But I have to be fair.

Chris is from Norwalk and played for Rob Trifone at Brien McMahon. I can't stress enough that he doesn't care who wins or loses on Saturday.

Chris and I believe in the same philosophy that says scoring, regardless of team, is exciting. So are big plays.

Most of all, I simply love calling games.

Want an example? One of my favorite calls is this from the 50th (and final) FCIAC Championship football game on Nov 26, 2015. Chris and I had the call on the HAN Network as Hudson Hamill of Darien grabbed the game-winning score.


Check this out on Chirbit

I've heard charges of bias before. We all have. Every journalist hears it. Joe Buck hears it on a daily basis.

It is -- overall -- garbage. Few things can make us angrier.

I'm hoping this has quickly and painlessly cleared the air before the air needed clearing.

Hopefully, Darien fans will sit back and enjoy the ride on Saturday at 3:50.


Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Saturday: Darien/Greenwich Football

Basically, this is what I'm trying to avoid (from the movie The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!)

It's the A-Team plus one.

It's not unfair to say that Saturday will feature the biggest football game of 2019.

I'm not saying it is, but it's close.

Darien and Greenwich -- the last two Class LL football champions in Connecticut -- will meet at Cardinal Stadium in Greenwich.

I'll lead the way with the play-by-play.

Chris Erway will be along with color.

And Damian Andrew will help round out our on-air crew.

The Cardinals have lost their last seven against the Blue Wave, with their most recent victory coming on Sep 20, 2007. Included in those losses is a 29-3 state quarterfinal loss in 2016 and a 31-22 loss in the state championship in 2017 -- both at Boyle Stadium in Stamford.

There's rhetoric on both sides of this matchup.

The crowd will be big.

And the press box would have overflowed, save for some common sense.
The Darien Athletic Foundation has its own broadcasting outlet -- DAF Media -- led by Damian.

The Greenwich Athletic Foundation utilizes Local Live.

WGCH has me. I believe this will be the 15th time I've called Darien/Greenwich.

So, why not combine everyone if its agreeable?

Damian and I talked it over and here we are.

You, the trusty listener/viewer, will get what you've always gotten: a professional broadcast. Adding Damian is a no-brainer because I like him and he brings the Darien angle in.

It will be right down the middle and I'm not sure you'll see a better-produced high school football game this year.

That's the faith I have in Damian and DAF Media, as well as everyone at Local Live.
I also know Damian and Chris will sound great and I'll try to stay out of the way.

So tune in wherever you choose. But, please tune in!

We'll talk to you on Saturday afternoon.  Our radio broadcast will begin at 3:50 p.m.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Due To Technical Difficulties



I'm working off a different computer tonight, so I'm probably going to keep this one short.

My MacBook is without a power adapter as they've all stopped working.

So this will do for tonight.

The Nats and Astros are playing in the World Series as I wrote. Washington has a 5-2 lead. I discovered earlier today that I once broadcast Jose Altuve (and JD Martinez) in person back in 2009.

It was Altuve's first game as a member of the Tri-City Valley Cats.

On a completely different note, Sean played in his final Halloween concert tonight in high school.

I will be a wreck as this school year goes along.

Anyway, that's all I've got. This computer can't handle much more.

Monday, October 21, 2019

The Rolling Stone Singer List


I'm keeping this short tonight.

A list of the Greatest Singers of All Time appeared on the interwebs today. The truth: Rolling Stone ran this in 2008.

(Click the picture at the top to see it or visit this tweet)

It's an absolutely embarrassingly awful list.

I mean, I agree with Aretha, but I feel like the whole thing goes down from there.

Karen Carpenter at 94th?

What were the qualifications for this list? Like, how? If it's pop singers, where are Streisand and Sinatra? Is this just the Rolling Stone era (since 1967)?

My mind is completely blown.

Plus, whoever created this version misspelled a bunch of things. Joe Cocker became Joe ****er and that's just hysterical.

Plenty of names are missing. The order is all wrong.

Dylan? Axl Rose? Neil Young? Iggy Pop? How were they invited to the party?

Discuss.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

The Gut Punch

1995 ALDS (because I can't bring myself to post a picture from tonight)
It's 12:22 a.m. on Sunday morning.

The ALCS just ended on a Jose Altuve home run.

My god, I hate him in the most respectful way possible. He's George Brett. He's Johnny Damon (pre-Yankees).

He's the guy you detest because he destroys your team. You'd take him on your team (again: Damon).

Oh, it hurts. No question. The Yankees rallied behind a DJ LeMahieu two-run shot in the top of the ninth. It was "gutty, gritty Yankees" time!

But, then, no it wasn't, and I could feel it.

The Yankees could create no offense after that, and I had a feeling Aroldis Chapman didn't have it.

Bang. I just knew it.

This one stings. We (as fans) were destined for Game 7. A winner-takes-all.

Then it was over. See you next spring.

The trolls and haters started as the ball left the bat. Staying classy, as always.

So it goes. To the victor goes the spoils.

I've known some heartache in these spots. It's just the nature of it all and, again, nobody will have any pity on the Yankees and their fans for good reason. Yet, with the winning comes plenty of defeat.

That's sports.

I'm thinking of the soul crush of 1995. Just ugh. Every time I think of it, my heart bounces between hurt and angry.

It was Donnie Baseball's shot at a title, and Joey Cora was out of the baseline!

I'm thinking of the heartbreak of 2001. Want any further proof that some deity doesn't care about sports? New York needed a title. Or, at least, some felt they/we did.

After two epic baseball games (and one that was pretty good), the Arizona Diamondbacks smoked the Yankees in Game 6. Then a ninth inning of Game 7 that's hard to talk about, even now.

I think of 2004, while it wasn't a single moment of hurt, Game 7 still is, of course, awful (made better only by the fact it was over so early).

I can't even imagine what 1926 would have felt like when Babe Ruth was thrown out stealing to end the World Series.

Or 1955, when Sandy Amoros made the great play in left and then doubled Gil McDougald off first.

And 1960. Bill Mazeroski. I'm betting I would have sobbed.

Now it's 2019. The joy of LeMahieu's clutch home run evaporated almost immediately. Many of the details of this series and just how close it actually was will fade.

The Astros were far better. The Yankees lacked big hits and played sloppy defense and the vaunted bullpen failed and on and on and on. Yet, there they were, with an opportunity to get to Game 7 and...maybe...who knows?

Instead, we sit here. Friends are mad, hurt, sick.

But, you know what?

I'd rather be here right now than be the fan whose team is on the golf course. Virtually any other fan is lying if they tell you otherwise.

Save for the championship of a respective sport, I'll always take my chances in the postseason.

I'd rather not be in a championship than lose it. Perhaps backward-thinking, but it's how I'm programmed.

Anyway, I'm debating with friends tonight. I considered a social media shutdown after this loss, but of course, I failed.

Congratulations to the Astros and Nationals. I'll watch. I always watch.

Better days are ahead.

I still love sports. I still love baseball.

And the Yankees are still savages.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Not the Apple of My Eye

Current view
With all due respect to the late Steve Jobs, I'm fairly annoyed at Apple.

I've been a loyal Apple user for several years.

iPhone? Check.

iPad? Check.

MacBook Pro? Check.

I'm happy with my iPhone overall, and admittedly my iPad has aged, but it still works OK, even if it's slowed down.

But the MacBook? It wasn't exactly running speedy, and then I made the colossal mistake of moving to their new operating system, called Catalina.

And it's awful.

I've seen turtles move faster.

If you're of a certain age, you remember the days of the Heinz Ketchup ads that used the song, "Anticipation."



So, yeah. That.

Except, silly me, a computer shouldn't do that.

Especially not a MacBook, given its rather hefty price.

All I see as I type is a beach ball (or the spinning rainbow wheel).

I thought it might just be me, but then I talked to Paul Silverfarb at Madison Middle School's career night, and he's having similar problems.

So, two's a crowd at that point.

I blame myself for buying into the hype and performing the upgrade. It's my fault.

But, still.

I tried to play audio during my career night presentation. Nope. Didn't work. So I walked away and just kept talking. A solid five minutes later, the audio came on.

That's simply unacceptable.

I'm confident that Apple will rectify the situation eventually, but that doesn't help in the interim.

But I'm likely heading for a Genius Bar at an Apple store soon.

Consumers pay top dollar for these devices. Things should work.

It's that simple.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Stop it

Welcome to Target
The Yankees came into tonight's Game 5 of the American League Championship Series trailing three games to one.

It's not impossible to come back from it, but the odds are long.

It hasn't been a good week for the Yankees.

Though they won Game 1 easily, they lost the next three, with each one a little more embarrassing than the one before, culminating in a true clusterf**k last night.

Errors. Suspect pitching. Passed balls. Wild pitches. Baserunners left on base. Zero clutch hits.

It was bad.

But there was more. The Yankees accused the Astros of sign-stealing, saying that Houston was using a system that involved...whistling.

Come on, now.

But, for my money, the worst has been the charges of boorish fan behavior,

Zack Greinke, pitcher for the Astros and the Game 4 starter, has a known social anxiety disorder and Yankees fans decided to mock him for that.

They also mocked his mother.

Oof.

Look, I'm not hyper-sensitive, but I know society is. So, why draw attention to this?

This isn't end of the world-type stuff, but it's that bad look that people talk about.

And Yankees fans (and the Yankees themselves) should just wear red shirts and khaki pants.

As in, targets.

It's not unfair to say every fan base has buffoons. But when you're a target, you just give every media member and social media warrior the right to have at it.

When we (including myself as part of Yankees Universe) act like this, we just make it too easy. Opposing fans expect it. Media eat it up.

Then the snowball grows.

It's just too easy for Mets fans. Red Sox fans. Phillies fans. Twins fans. Angels fans. Honestly, it's literally everyone.

And it's just not necessary.

I'm not feeling sorry for Yankees fans. I'm never happy to get this kind of attention.

"It happens everywhere" isn't a sufficient excuse.

Don't let it happen here.

So why not just have fun, tell him he's awful (or whatever floats your boat) and use some common sense?

Trust me. Everyone will find another reason to hate us.

As I finish typing, the most glorious noise has exploded on my TV. The Yankees won to extend the series to Game 6 in Houston tomorrow night.

Fans are singing along with Frank Sinatra, reminding me of many a glorious night in the old building.

Onto tomorrow.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

I've Got a Secret


I can't explain why, but today was a happy day.

I haven't known a day this happy in some time.

To quote Jim Valvano: "If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that's a full day. That's a heck of a day."

I did all of that today. And a lot of it.

It was a full day, I assure you.

Now, before you get too excited, my life hasn't changed. The struggles are still real. We're still trying to figure out day-to-day stuff.

But there's a story to be told, and I can't wait to tell it.

"Don't give up," Coach Valvano said as he faced his final days. "Don't ever give up." That's literally my message tonight.

(I realize Coach Valvano was speaking about his life and the cancer that would eventually take him. I'm in no way comparing myself to him. This isn't about my health, but more so about never giving up on anything you want or believe in.)

So long as you're realistic in what you want, you'll appreciate every piece of the journey.

Details to follow.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Journalism

(Illustration: https://www.searchenginejournal.com)

My son texted me the other day.

"So I have a project in Economics where I have to interview someone based on the career we pick. You wouldn't happen to know any journalists I can interview?"

However, he didn't mean me.

"I don't know how they feel about interviewing parents."

Er...OK.

Truth is, play-by-play announcers aren't often seen in that light. But, I'll offer that I report, right? I research, right? I interview, don't I?

Plus, as you might know, I write.

Of course, Sean knows I am a journalist, given that he used to go with me on stories when I worked for the Wilton Bulletin, as well as other places where I wrote.

But, what made me want to do this?

I knew I wanted to be was a play-by-play announcer from a young age. I loved describing the action and telling stories. As we've said numerous times, that's really the nuts and bolts of it.

Along the way, I was told that my writing was OK as well.

So I began working on my writing. I began working on crafting stories.

I dabbled in writing sports recaps and features and, eventually, the opportunity to try news in Wilton came along.

That allowed me to use some of my other talents in my skill set, and I thought did just fine at it.

There's actually a notion that I never did "hard" news, and that's just not true either. I've had to do some very difficult stories in both sports and news.

Certainly sitting in a studio taking calls as parts of Greenwich were burning during Hurricane/Superstorm Sandy qualifies.

What I guess I'm driving at is that I'm a little defensive when it comes to being a journalist.

I am one.

I don't need to defend that.

For the record, Sean wants to interview Susan.

I'm glad.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Cars (to drive and listen to...sort of)

I realize Billy Joel isn't the critic's darling, but he's not that bad (Vulture)
I just got back from visiting a car dealership.

Foolishly, I tried to play in the land of leased cars and, in my usual style, it's turning into an epic disaster.

I'll spare you the details but my god is the car-buying process simply excruciating.

In short, I have to get out of the car that I'm currently in (which is now over-mileage) and get in something reasonable.

I need to get from A to B. In truth, I don't even drive for pleasure anymore unless it's with someone else. Virtually every mile is a commute or because I need something (grocery store, etc). Heck, even then, I combine the grocery store trip into the commute. God forbid Chick the large gray cat doesn't have his food, or that Sean the very tall young man doesn't have orange juice.

So, yeah, cars have become a bummer. A huge bummer.

This is my latest drama to keep me up nights. Simply trying to figure this out is exhausting.

As I've written before, I love to drive, and I miss being able to do just that. Jump in the car and go to Ohio to do a game with Mike Hirn and Nate Stidham (and to meet Nate's family, who grew by one earlier today)?

One day, I hope. But, most of the time, that involves renting a car. Such as when I did the hockey tournament back in May near Philadelphia.

Instead, I worry. Worry about the mileage. Worry about the car condition. Just...worry.

And I have to drive to Stratford, CT to teach shortly.

*****
How do Cars to listen to work into this post (which is, really, two posts in one)?

Simple: music.

That Cars are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and I saw the nominees for the class of 2020 are out. At this point, I simply laugh.

But...it got me thinking about who is the band with the most album sales that is not in the Hall?

Do you really think I'm going to bring up Huey Lewis and the News and their pitiful $30 million in sales? Nah.

Trust me, I get it. HLN is Bobby Murcer. Don Mattingly. Paul O'Neill. Good and occasionally great, but not for long enough or whatever stupid terminology you wish to put it in. HLN can also be seen in the same boat with Cyndi Lauper or, say, The Monkees (yes...didn't initially write their own songs, blah blah blah).

So, I nosed around and came up with an interesting and, somewhat obnoxiously, over-the-top piece on Vulture ranking every current member of the Hall.

I don't have the time to break it all down, but I suggest you peruse it. Honestly, I didn't read every word. I liked a lot of what was said and didn't agree with a lot either.

For instance, I thought he (Bill Wyman, though not that Bill Wyman) kind of dumps on The Mamas and The Papas. That one struck me. He also -- like most of the world -- overrates Prince to the point of being vomit-inducing. Which, I knew would happen and actually said so the day Prince died.

Prince is ranked sixth. Read that again. Higher than the Stones, I might add.

He rightfully puts The Beatles at number two, and I'm OK with it because number one sort of started it all. Though I'd still put the Fabs and number one.

And then he takes a large hacksaw on Billy Joel, but still has the smarts to put John Mellencamp AFTER Billy.

Plus I think he's dead wrong on George Harrison, but that's an opinion for ya.

Then again, in his writing on Fleetwood Mac, actually doesn't fawn just over Stevie Nicks but actually, says what I've been saying for FORTY YEARS: "Christine McVie is one of the greatest British vocalists of her generation (and wrote hits as well)"

Case rested (and nothing against Stevie Nicks at all).

Though how is it possible that Carole King isn't in the Hall on her own merit, by comparison? She's in as a songwriter but not as an artist. Like...what?

But...then he ranks Queen at 220, and calls them "the most overrated band in history." Which is simply dumb, and maybe he's just being an American snob.

But...he makes up for it with number 221 -- dead last:

Bon.

Jovi.

Look, let me go 10 years without hearing "Shot through the heart... (click)" which is how I know it.

Give some time for "Wanted Dead or Alive."

Don't even get me started on "Who Says You Can't Go Home?"

They, like Kiss, are a marketing machine. Like the Eagles (and I love them, but I get what they are also, and Don Henley is, overall, an ass -- he'd tell you that himself) they're a corporation (Henley & Frey LLC or whatever).

It's an interesting read and hopefully will make for a spirited conversation.

In a few years, we'll have the likes of Maroon 5 and Swift, Taylor to debate, I suppose. But, for now, this will do.


Monday, October 14, 2019

Blocked or Rundown

I hate to sound like I'm begging

This is post 287 of 2019.

I've found something to write about virtually every night of this year or come up with a post in some fashion.

The creator of this post-per-day challenge (and my co-conspirator) John Nash recently spoke about being (and I'm paraphrasing) burned out by the #Project365 (ish) concept.

As I frequently write, there are always topics. It's just finding the time and energy to compose it.

So, I get where John is coming from.

For me, I also deal with exhaustion.

I stayed at WGCH until around 7:30 tonight mostly because I was so tired that I was falling asleep. I felt driving would not be the best call until I was up to it.

So, I'm home now, but still tired.

Which, by the way, doesn't mean I'll have a good night's sleep either.

Such is the conundrum.

Tomorrow's challenge will be getting time to write before I go teach at Connecticut School of Broadcasting. I likely won't get home from there until 11:30 p.m.

I'll make it happen somehow.

*****
While we're here tonight, allow me to shamelessly shill.

Plead, even.

At the moment, I have no games on the horizon until next Saturday where Darien visits Greenwich.

So, if you'd like a veteran broadcaster to jump on a broadcast, or to bring his little old Robcasting channel to you, please let me know.

I know, this feels kind of embarrassing, but I also figure what the heck?

Obviously, paid affairs are preferable, but sometimes it also just feels good to get in the booth.

Fall, 2019 has not remotely gone how I expected. I had budgeted for a much larger number of games. Then things changed.

I don't handle time off like this well.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Just...Nothing. Then...Something

The Homecoming Court at Greenwich yesterday
I've got the ALCS on TV (quick note: last night's post was the lowest-read of the year so far).

The Steelers and Chargers are on my iPad. It's 24-10 black and gold, so I'm content.

I've been sitting here for a few hours, and I literally have nothing I want to dive into tonight.

I've tried and tried. Rank Yankees broadcasters? Nah. Nobody will read. Go on a rant? Nah. I've done enough of those. I need to not be such a downer.

I asked Chico the large gray cat at one point and his response was as expected: "Meow."

Then he left.

So I texted Susan. Her reply gave me something to think about: "What about how to keep a broadcast lively when it's a blowout?"

Yesterday was an example.

There are games that I know are going to be bad, and the recipe was perfect yesterday.

Westhill High School has never had success with Greenwich in football.

I mean never.

Since I've been around, each game has been a Greenwich win by a wide margin (save for twice).

Westhill got the ball on an onsides kick but GHS intercepted the ball on the next play. Right after that, it was 7-0 Greenwich. Then 13-0 and so on, until it was 34-0 at the end of the first quarter, and 40-0 on the first play of the second.

Final score: Greenwich 50, Westhill 6. In fact, the most excitement was the points scored by the Westhill Vikings, as that was the first time they found the endzone in 2019, and it happened on the final play of the game.

As for the booth, it was an experience. Chris Erway was away. Chris Kaelin had to umpire baseball. Matt Hamilton had a family commitment. I reached out to a few others.

Nothing. I was solo.

I opened the broadcast talking about the history between the two teams. One thing I believe in is being honest. There are ways to do that while still recognizing it's a high school football game with young athletes.

I also believe in respecting those athletes.

From there, the focus was on calling the action. That doesn't change whether I'm alone or with a partner.

Chris Erway and I have been known to delve into other topics when the game gets out of hand, ranging from music to other sports.

Some keep a list with them in their myriad notes. I use my memory and glance at the internet as necessary to adjust to any news.

As with a blog, there are always things to talk about.

Sometimes it's the shout outs, like former "Voice of Cardinal Stadium" Dick Leonard, who is normally listening in Florida.

That's the thing. This can't be scripted. The ability to adjust and ad-lib is literally everything.

So that's what I do.

There's even the harsh reality of the game itself, because 33-0 the previous week against winless Bridgeport Central and 50-6 against winless Westhill is good for nobody, and that includes Greenwich.

Seriously, how does that help anyone?

Yeah. Ponder that. Two games and a combined score of 83-6.

But, first and foremost, the game is the star. Not me. Not Chris or any other broadcaster. It's the game and the athletes.

So, no matter what, calling the game comes first. From there, it's finding things to keep listeners and viewers engaged and entertained.

Report. Inform. Educate. Entertain.

It's that simple.

Thanks, Susan, for the inspiration.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

The ALCS

Chris Chambliss, 1976

We know the history of the New York Yankees is dazzling. Twenty-seven rings and forty American League Championships to go with nineteen American League East Division titles.

The American League Championship began tonight, with the Yankees facing off with their modern rival, the Houston Astros.

There was no such thing as the ALCS prior to 1969. If you were the team that won the most games in the American League you were the champion. With division play beginning in 1969, the League Championship became necessary.

I've seen each ALCS the Bombers have played in.

1976 -- the foundation of my dislike of the Kansas City Royals (and George Brett). It was a back and forth battle, culminating in a legendary Game 5. The Royals led 2-0 in the first and the Yankees tied it up in the bottom of the innings. The Royals made it 3-2 in the second and the Yankees took the lead in the bottom half. New York grabbed an eventual 6-3 lead before Brett hit a three-run shot to tie it in the 8th. But Chris Chambliss sent the Yankees to the World Series for the first time since 1964 on Mark Littell's first pitch in the bottom of the ninth. Yankee Stadium -- reopened after renovations -- exploded.

1977 -- It was 1976, part two. It again took five games, but this time, Royals Stadium in Kansas City was the site. Game 5 featured a brawl between Graig Nettles and George Brett (him again). The Yankees got the last laugh, scoring three in the ninth to move onto the World Series.

1978 -- It took four this time (it was a best-of-five in those days), with Game 3 being key. Brett (ugh) hit three home runs but Thurman Munson hit a two-run bomb into the bullpen to get the win. Nettles and Roy White homered the next night again propel the Yankees to the World Series.

1980 -- The Royals finally got even in grand style. Brett put the cherry on the sundae in Game 3 with a three-run shot off of Goose Gossage. Third-base coach Mike Ferraro earned the grief of George Steinbrenner by waving Willie Randolph home and having him thrown out in a one-run game. Mount Steinbrenner went nuts. Manager Dick Howser -- who guided the Yankees to 103 wins -- was fired. Howser would win a series in Kansas City, of all places, in 1985.

1981 -- Billy Martin went up against his beloved team as manager of the Oakland A's, but he didn't get a win. A largely forgettable ALCS that got Bobby Murcer to his one and only World Series. Apparently, the wave debuted in this series, and I curse it to this day.

By the time they returned to the ALCS, it was a four out of seven affair.

1996 -- It had been a while. Fifteen years after the last trip to the World Series, the Bombers got a little help from Jeffrey Maier, who pulled Derek Jeter's fly ball in Game 1 over the fence. A few innings later, Bernie Williams went "boom." The Yankees would win in six, and the wait was over.

1998 -- Despite 114 regular-season wins, the Yankees had to prove they could get by the Cleveland Indians, who "wahooed" past the Yankees in a five-game ALDS the year before. I was at Game 1 and it went quite well before Chuck Knoblauch lost his brain in Game 2. The Yankees were down two games to one when Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez won Game 4 and David Wells tipped his cap mockingly to Jacobs Field in Game 5. The Yankees wrapped it up in six games.

1999 -- The first showdown with the Red Sox in the postseason. Bernie Williams hit a 10th inning homerun off Rod Beck and it was on. Roger Clemens got destroyed at Fenway Park in Game 3, and it was over in five. The team from Boston apparently got revenge eventually.

2000 -- "Get your tokens ready," Michael Kay would say as David Justice sent Yankee Stadium into bedlam in Game 6. Clemens pitched a one-hitter and struck out 15 in Game 4.

2001 -- The Mariners won 116 regular-season games to tie the record. The Yankees scoffed and won in five. I almost felt sorry for Mariners' manager (and former Yankee, of course) Lou Piniella.

2003 -- Arguably the best-ever ALCS. Seven crazy games, including the nastiness of Game 3, when Pedro Martinez threw Don Zimmer to the field. That was the appetizer for the main course of Game 7 and Aaron Boone. Jorge Posada's bloop off Pedro Martinez to tie the game is one of my favorite moments.

2004 --  Didn't happen.

2009 -- Reconstructed after a five-year hiatus, the Bombers needed six to vanquish the Angels.

2010 -- The Yankees couldn't solve the Texas Rangers, losing in six. Once dominant in the ALCS, New York had now lost three appearances in a row, and it wouldn't get any better.

2012 -- The Detroit Tigers mostly embarrassed the Yankees, sweeping them away in four.

2017 -- Another five-year hiatus from the ALCS ended as a slightly-surprising Yankees team, led by rookie Aaron Judge, took the Houston Astros to seven games, with the home team winning each game.

2019 -- Well, here we are.

The Yankees are leading 1-0 in the fourth inning of Game 1 as

Friday, October 11, 2019

I Need To Write A Post Tonight

The night ended with cupcakes
I don't really have a topic.

Normally, that would bring concern if I was quiet because the thinking would be that I was miserable or upset over something.

Not tonight.

I'm actually tired after a long, good day.

I felt loved and happy with the people I spent time with.

There were cupcakes and pizza and laughs and family.

There was a sense of normalcy.

Baseball is on now.

I've got football to call tomorrow. It's homecoming at Cardinal Stadium.

It's a night in which issues in life exist, yet it feels like things will somehow work out.

It started with a good day and ended with a good night.

So I just feel no need to prattle on about anything tonight.

There are always things -- good and bad -- but I don't feel the push to write about any of them tonight.

So we head on to tomorrow, with the Greenwich/Westhill broadcast airing on WGCH at 2:50 (as well as on Local Live).

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Thursday Thoughts

Me, Paulette, Ted

Not much time to write tonight.

Three different people told me about Fairfield University's tweet of an opening for a play-by-play announcer. I normally don't discuss these things publicly, but given the public nature of their post, I will acknowledge that I threw my hat in the ring.

Putting an audition tape together is painful. You have to find the ability to figure out calls and moments that you think are good. Sure, friends can help (and have), but it's a very personal process.

Plus, there's no recipe for success. You don't often know what anyone wants to hear. Do they want just highlights? Do they want an extended, but ordinary, section of a broadcast? Should there be a music bed underneath it?

For the record, I went with a key at-bat from Columbia and Yale baseball, a stretch of Brunswick ice hockey (and without a goal, I might add), a chunk of the final moments of the 2019 FCIAC boys basketball championship between Ridgefield and Danbury, a small stretch of Staples/Ridgefield girls soccer, a goal call from Darien/Brunswick lacrosse, and an AJ Barber touchdown against Danbury. It was a little over eight minutes long.

I realize Fairfield U doesn't have football, but I felt it was important to demonstrate my ability to call whatever is put in front of me. I also added a link to some highlights on video.

Then a resume and an email that served as a cover letter (also not a favorite thing of mine to do). I put a lot of care into it and sent it.

Nervously. Because that's just me.

But I also (almost) liked the sampler, and that's not me.

There have been some meaningful things written on Twitter about this for me, and I'm grateful to everyone, with Chris Erway, Eric Scholl, and Eric Wuchiski being especially kind. Plus the undying support of Susan, probably my number one fan.

I hope Fairfield U (and the Stags Sports Network) likes what they hear and that we have a meaningful conversation soon.

Again, this is way more public than I get about these things, but the nature of this was different. There are far too many other opportunities, etc that I don't discuss until there's a reason to do so.

*****
I wanted to spend a moment on the passing of my cousin, Ted Jennings. Ted was among the oldest of the Jennings cousins (with me second-to-last in the order) and, age-wise, was more uncle than cousin.

The child of my Uncle Oscar (my mother's brother and my godfather) and my Aunt Jean, he was also brother to my cousins Kathy and Laura.

My immediate memories of him are his booming voice and personality to match. I'll always remember his house in Louisiana, outside of New Orleans, and staying there for a few nights in 1975. He also lived for a stretch off Candlewood Lake in New Milford. I was, and still am, close to his daughter Pam.

This is also the first loss of any of my first cousins, with the exception of my cousin Scott who died at birth over 60 years ago. Mostly, my heart hurts for the entire family, including his wife (and my pal) Paulette. We've always laughed that there was one little boy there when they got married near Binghamton...

Yup. Me.

Ted loved life and laughter. He adored his wife, daughter, and sons, along with the rest of his family. He was a devoted father, husband, uncle, brother, grandfather...

And he was my cousin.

Ted was 72. His funeral will be next week in Tennessee.

*****
Ok, Astros. Let's get this thing going. Yankees/Houston for the American League Championship.

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

Nope. Not Tonight.

His curveball was nasty (Sandy Koufax)

I'm going to sit this one out tonight.

I talked to the coach and he said I should just take a break.

"I love the streak, kid," he said. "But you're just not you. We can try to pinch-hit you later on."

But I know I'm getting the night off.

They're throwing the best lefthander anyway, and I can't hit his curveball.

So, take a break.

There's been enough to this day anyway.

Sadness, confusion, insanity. Hell, I didn't even have a full Doubleheader in me today, so I bailed and ran audio from last Saturday's football game.

I was basically a board-op and engineer for The Clubhouse.

But, at least I couldn't really say anything dumb.

"Kid, you need to be fresh," the coach said. "We'll see you tomorrow."

And so we'll try it again then.

Happy birthday, John Lennon. You were one messed up, troubled dude. But, somewhere you had a good heart. Shine on, John. We all shine on.

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

Is It Still Fun to Drive?

Slowed up on the Beltway near the Woodrow Wilson Bridge in Maryland
I suppose, in some ways, the title of this post is rhetorical.

And, yet...

I found myself pondering this back in August, somewhere around Virginia.

Too many recent trips have been painful. I'm always strategizing prior to the drive and glancing at Waze during it.

I almost lose sleep. I get grumpy.

As we're driving to North Carolina, how do we get around traffic in NYC? Philly? Baltimore? DC? Northern Virginia? Will Richmond be a problem?

I'm all for letting my wheels spin on alternate routes. That's a certain part of the joy and it occupies my mind.

But staring at brake lights on the Capital Beltway or the New Jersey Turnpike or Interstate 84 or 95 in Connecticut or the Mass Pike or anywhere else is simply torture.

Have I just gotten old? Has traffic gotten worse? (It's probably "yes" to both)

I realize my road friends might respond with traffic volumes and whatnot, so I beg they do not take me that literally.

I love a road trip. I yearn for it. There are so many more things I want to see on the great roads of this country, Canada, Europe, and beyond.

But, truthfully, is it not fun anymore? Has some of the fun been taken away?

I drove from Mahopac to North Carolina in Aug 2018 with the usual crew of my mother and Sean. We made a couple of quick stops and were down near Fayetteville in about nine hours. It was pure bliss and joy, and I fear that was an aberration.

Other trips have featured dead stop traffic or having to venture out through the mountains of Virginia, through West Virginia, and into Pennsylvania to avoid the very same.

I've wandered along Interstates 64 and 81, US 17 and 29 and 15, Interstate 66, Interstate 78.

All that to avoid Richmond to Washington on I-95 north in Virginia on a Sunday in summer.

I've done 695 and 83 and 30 and 222 to get around the Jersey shore. A very bad "situation," indeed.

Will this stop me? Oh, not a chance. I'm ready to do it again, and I'm not preparing to retire the steering wheel yet.

In fact, I went to Florida for the first time 50 years ago this December. I remember zero of it because I was a year old. But I made that drive some 14 more times, with the last one in 1989.

It's a drive I would love to do again.

So, I guess driving is still fun in theory.

But there have been some spots lately where it's caused me to wonder.

Monday, October 07, 2019

A Case of the Mondays

A lifetime ago at Boyle Stadium. Sean Kilkelly and I are lower far right (contributed photo).
There are always topics.

There's not always time.

There's not always energy.

I'm still at WGCH, lacking the oomph to drive home.

I could actually sleep.

But, I know I won't.

There's a Yankees game to watch.

So, I'll start the drive home soon.

I still love an empty arena, just as I love an empty radio station.

There are no questions. No conversations. Just peace.

There's the hum of Jim Campbell's wonderful Forensic Talk show on as I type.

There's a story in the Evansville Courier & Press I'd like to call your attention to. Written by Chad Lindskog, it discusses the impact of high school sports on the radio still has.

Obviously that's a topic that is near and dear to my heart. I'm such a believer in it, even if things have become very diluted.

There are plenty of streaming options now.

I love what Local Live has done. I love the productions that Birds Eye Sports creates. I love, of course, what we've done on WGCH and Robcasting.

I love what DAF Media has done and what the Greenwich Athletic Foundation is starting to do.

There are opportunities. Great opportunities that I want to be at the front of.

Needless to say, that was my idea with HAN Radio/Network.

But I'll always advocate for professional-sounding broadcasters to tie things together. Obviously, that's a must on radio, otherwise it would just be crowd noise.

And, yes, "professional-sounding" is quite vague. What defines professional is up for discussion.

I'd still like to see radio play a big role in high school sports at WGCH, and it frustrates me how it's mostly gone away. I've said this before: WGCH used to cover football (Greenwich/Brunswick/Rye/Harrison/Port Chester/Stamford), basketball, ice hockey, baseball, softball, and lacrosse. I look at what Mike Hirn and Nate Stidham are covering on Ohio and it makes me crazy. Why aren't we doing that here?

One answer: money. We need sponsors.

Anyway, I'll stop before I drop down a rabbit hole.

See you tomorrow.

Sunday, October 06, 2019

Grand Slam

Didi watches his grand slam (Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports)

In baseball, a grand slam is probably the most beautiful of offensive terms that one can use.

Think about it: when something is a good idea, it's a "home run." But using the term "grand slam" takes it to another level.

For the uninitiated, a grand slam is a home run with the bases loaded, scoring four runs. Yes, there are people who don't know sports who read this. Even some who listen to me. Then I try to educate!

Didi Gregorius hit a grand slam at Yankee Stadium yesterday, opening the floodgates as the Bombers ran past the Twins 8-2. The Yankees have a two games to none lead in the best of five American League Division Series.

I was listening to John Sterling and his Yankees companera, Suzyn Waldman, call the game on radio when Didi took the grand tour and it took me back.

You see, a grand slam isn't ultra-rare, but it's still special. It's obviously rarer in the postseason, and even more so in the World Series.

It's happened only 18 times.

I had never been to a World Series game. I didn't even know how to get tickets. I started doing a small season-ticket plan in 1998, in part, to put me inline for Series tickets if the opportunity presented itself.

You might know that the 1998 Yankees were really good. They rolled through the Rangers in the division series and scuffled with the Indians in the league championship.

I had been to playoff games in 1995 and 1996, and now one in each of the first two rounds of 1998.

I watched the Yankees polish off Chief Wahoo and the Tribe, and my first World Series was now a reality.

It just felt different. No, I wouldn't be sitting in my normal seats in Section 5, and the price was quite inflated. But I was in the building, sitting near the very top of the upper deck off the third base line.

I loved all of it. The pageantry of the introduction of the starting lineups. Tony Bennett singing the National Anthem. Sammy Sosa throwing out the first pitch.

I was there with 56, 712 of my closest friends that night. Two years removed from the nirvana of 1996, we were ready for a coronation of 1998's epic team that won 114 games in the regular season.

Only the San Diego Padres stood in our way.

Kevin Brown was the starter that night for San Diego. The ornery but great pitcher would be a formidable foe.

We all felt rowdy when Ricky Ledee, starting in the World Series on the gut call of Joe Torre, whacked a double down the left field line to give New York a 2-0 lead in the second inning. The Padres answered as David Wells allowed a two-run homer to Greg Vaughn.

The great Tony Gwynn added a two-run shot in the fifth, followed by a second home run from Vaughn. It was 5-2 San Diego and the mood was dark.

I sat nervously in my seat. My first World Series game couldn't be like this, could it?

Guys sitting near me enjoyed some herbal refreshments. I was offered and politely declined. That probably comes as no shock.

Wells left the game after pitching seven (is that allowed now?).

The game went to the bottom of the seventh. We stretched and hoped for runs.

Scott Brosius grounded out. Jorge Posada singled. Ledee walked. That called for the end of the night for Brown.

Righthander Donnie Wall was next. He'd face Chuck Knoblauch. You need to know that Knoblauch had what can most politely be described as a "brain cloud" during the American League Championship Series that almost damned the whole season. I can still hear the radio call as I was sitting at work. "Knobby" wasn't the most popular guy in New York at that point.

All was quickly forgiven.


It was cathartic. It was as if the weight had been lifted, but there was still work to do.

Derek Sanderson Jeter (that name is probably familiar) singled. Wall was replaced by Mark Langston, a lefty who had once been a starter, and a very good one at that. Langston was also part of a deal in 1989 for Randy Johnson, who obviously did quite well for himself.

Paul O'Neill flied to right. A wild pitch moved Jeter to second (YEAH JEETS). The Padres then intentionally walked Bernie Williams. Chili Davis also worked out a walk.

Up stepped Constantino Martinez.

Tino, much-beloved, was also The Guy Who Replaced Don Mattingly. So, when Tino struggled early in his Yankees career, fans let him hear it. Tino had also not had especially great postseason moments.

But here he was, facing Langston in a tie World Series Game 1.

Tino had hit six career grand slams and was very good with the bases loaded.

But Langston had him at two balls and two strikes. Then he threw. Martinez took it. From upstairs, my knees buckled. Strike three. Inning over. Still tied.

Wrong. Ball three. Home plate umpire Richie Garcia swears, to this day, that it was inside.

"Ooooohhhhhh," I said out loud, knowing full well Tino probably got away with one.

Bad calls, as we know, are a part of life. For Langston, he couldn't let this ruin his concentration. Make a good pitch and the inning would be over.

Then Langston pitched. It looked like a hanging slider and Tino cranked.

Time, as it often does, stood still.

In a moment like that, everything goes quiet for the briefest of moments, just as with Knoblauch earlier in the inning. You can just about hear it on the TV broadcast.



Images of Elmer Smith, who hit the first World Series grand slam, in 1920, flickered in my brain. Yankees' slammers Tony Lazzeri, Gil McDougald, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Bill "Moose" Skowron, Bobby Richardson, and Joe Pepitone were still relevant in the moment. Chuck Hiller, Ken Boyer, Jim Northrup, Dave McNally, Dan Gladden, Kent Hrbek, Jose Canseco, and Lonnie Smith all awaited the next member of the World Series Grand Slam Club. Paul Konerko would join them in 2005.

And Tino Martinez, Yankees' first baseman.

Holy (bleep).

Spontaneously, strangers were hugging. This game -- and, maybe, this Series -- was over.

The Yankees put seven on the board in the seventh. The Padres got one in the eighth, but Mariano Rivera wrapped it up in the ninth for a 9-6 win.

I drove home glowing. Traffic didn't bug me (winning normally did that).

I had been to my first World Series game (I've been to four and the Yankees are 4-0 in them). I saw history. I felt the building -- the Stadium -- shake for the first time.

I thought we were going to tumble down.

The Yankees won the World Series in four games, finishing it up in San Diego.

If it's not my favorite sports memory in person, it's top three.

*****
Susantober© has returned! Follow along through the tales of haunted houses! And, for the record, I really didn't know Shirley Jackson until I met Susan. I accept whatever punishment awaits.

*****
I can't possibly let today end without noting the passing of the wonderfully psychotic Ginger Baker. The founding member of Cream was among the most extraordinary drummers even in one of the most extraordinary bands ever. A band like that couldn't last forever simply due to the type of egos that were in the band.

Not to mention the amount of substances that hung around.

Ginger was bombastic in person and on the drums. He felt he -- and Cream -- were more jazz than rock. He felt they were free-form. Whatever the case, he was brilliant.

Just listen to him explode on "Sunshine of Your Love." Listen to the cymbals crash.

Ginger Baker was 80.