Saturday, April 04, 2020

The Ghosts in the Workroom

The cane from the corner
There are some realities that one must face.

The Patriots will be a bad team eventually.

The Yankees will win a World Series again.

And a house that's been lived in for over 56 years will eventually change hands.

I've been facing that reality for a few years and have begun chipping away at cleaning it.

With the COVID-19 pandemic in full effect, there's no way anyone can help me currently so i've been on my own, facing the most daunting part: the workroom.

While my brother and I can each lay claim to it, there's no question whose dojo that workroom was.

My father.

Oh, it's changed some since 1963, and even more since 1989.

But, it's still his.

Except he wouldn't have allowed it to become the put of doom that it currently is, and I accept that blame.

There are reasons why things like that happen. No time to be in there, no answers for where certain things should go, even just exhaustion or laziness and, lastly, a certain level of sadness/ambivalence/resignation.

But. it's time to face the beast.

There was a crash one night some time back, and after looking around, I found...nothing. Later on, I found out that a an old (well, like everything else) table/peg board had rusted so bad that it crashed.

A bag of screws scattered on the floor.

I was finally able to clean it out today.

Yes, it looks like I've done nothing, and that's just because I'm really just getting started.

It's a time when you have to be heartless. You can't save a nail because your deceased dad might have bought it. Yet, to be honest, there's been nothing like that so far, save for some old pencils from his old company and a few other things.

I guess what I'm saying is there might still be ghosts are there. I cleaned a corner that probably hadn't been touched in a minimum of 20 years but it wouldn't surprise me if it was 50 years. In another pocket, I came across what I think was a cane that belonged to my father.

That did not get thrown out, for the record.

Those moments can get emotional as I discover something that tugs at me.

Not today. At least, not yet, although the cane took my breath away.

If anything, I felt a little resentment at him for not being here to be a part of this project.

Not really, but I chuckled to myself. Keep in mind, he'd also be 90.

I sit here tonight a bit sore from crawling around and carrying out garbage.

The project will continue.

If there are ghosts, they'll wait for another day.

Friday, April 03, 2020

Notes on a Broadcast (or Broadcasters)


I had the opportunity to critique the work of two young broadcasters today. Each one had different skill sets and were at different stages of their development.

Each one will get better with practice.

I took great joy in doing this and doing it for the right reason.

Not because I could make money off of them (I didn't) but because it was professional courtesy and my belief of paying it forward.

I love helping broadcasters achieve their goals and trying to bring out their very best. I also love passing on the wisdom of those that have walked before us.

These two are off to fine starts. They have opportunities that are great and have the humility that will carry them. They also understand that not everyone has the talent or ability to do this.

They have the right attitude. That matters. A lot.

*****
I'm very excited to announce "The Clubhouse" is returning next week. Mark Jeffers and Dave Torromeo joined me on "Doubleheader" today and, among our topics, we announced that not only would the show return, it would be on a network of stations!

So you can catch "The Clubhouse" on WGCH, Robcasting, and we'll be distributed for a limited time (and maybe more) by Sports Byline USA. That means potentially over 200 affiliates around the country and the Virgin Islands as well as Sirius-XM (on the Dan Patrick Channel -- Channel 211) and American Forces Network (Armed Forces Radio).

My understanding is the Sports Byline USA distribution will be via tape delay over the weekend.

If you don't know, "The Clubhouse" is sort of a sister program of Doubleheader in that we have guests (and some pretty prominent ones, I might add), commentary, "The Clubhouse Report" and some fun.

Normally broadcast from Grand Prix New York in Mount Kisco, NY we'll be doing the show via Zoom funneled to me and then passed onto WGCH.

If you're familiar with the show, then know that nothing will change despite the national rollout. It's still going to be Westchester/Fairfield/Putnam County-based with a national edge.

We're excited. Plus it's a sense of normalcy.

Thursday, April 02, 2020

At Least Spell It Correctly

Yeah. They hate each other. Mantle, Murcer, Maris (1965)
I belong to a bunch of different groups on Facebook.

There are the road group and the sports groups and the radio groups and the the play-by-play group and the Mahopac groups and the Howard Johnson's (restaurant, not the former New York Met) group and on and on.

There are some that aren't active and others that I should probably just purge.

I tend to read and participate when needed.

In the case of the play-by-play group, that is the land of "Thou Shalt Not Criticize" and there are the police in the group who only want to read positive things. Thus, no "Joey" talk, if you know what I mean.

In fact, that was tried and quickly scuttled.

Which I find sort of sad and laughable. Shouldn't conversation be encouraged? Nah. Instead it's just a bunch of wanna-be's sitting on their high perch.

I was in a group about vintage baseball pictures today because I saw someone posted Mickey Mantle's 500th home run.

Jerry Coleman with the call on WPIX.


On one hand there was plenty of fawning over number 7, and deservedly so. The Mick was The Man, especially to the, ahem, "Boomer" generation.

In Yankee-land, of course he's on Mount Rushmore with Joe D, Gehrig, and The Babe.

But it's well-known that Mickey Mantle was no saint and my oh my were the haters out en force, with some even calling him "overrated" to go along with him being an overall miserable human being.

Now, was he the best dad? No. Best husband? No.

But he was also a great teammate, a great friend, and most of all, a pretty fantastic ballplayer.

So it was that I was reading a lot of vitriol about Mantle which, to be honest, I understood. Haters are going to hate, they say.

I mean Mantle (who wasn't a miserable human being as far as I know) is generally regarded as an icon but he's also -- GASP! -- a Yankees icon. Thus it's haterade time.

Then came one that accused Mantle of being so horrible that he said bad things about -- ready? --

Deep breath...

Bobby...

Mercer.

Yes. MErcer.
Just pure hatred between them
I read it and initially ignored it.

I read more in the thread and it was repeated. So I weighed in.

"Bobby Murcer was a pallbearer at Mantle's funeral and they were fairly close," I wrote. "I know in the one time that I interacted with Mantle he was kind."

I didn't even add that Murcer wore number seven in Chicago with the Cubs in honor of his friend.

I was willing to let it go.

He made a snide comment about fanboys and those who were fawning. Still calm, I responded again.

"Hmmm," I added. "I don't think that was me but you do you."

Nope. He wasn't done.

"Try reading the comment again," is the best way I can paraphrase what he said.

So I called out his condescension and decided to let him know that "if that's you way you want to play this game, try spelling MURCER correctly. We're done here."

A few minutes later, that portion thread was gone.  Deleted.

I don't normally play grammar police. I let most of it go, and goodness knows I make my share of mistakes. I was willing to let the spelling error go.

But once I saw the line had been crossed, it was game on.

And, quickly, game over.

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

The "Woody Woodpecker" Show


I lost it today.

I've had enough of the selfishness and obstinance.

So, I tore into a 12:53 rant that co-starred Woody Woodpecker.
Yeah. That happened.
Why? Well because I lost my mind.

Look, for every person that says they're being smart, why are they then being so obstinate, as if "The Man" is making everyone hide? It's a pandemic. The numbers are real. A six-week old died today of COVID-19 complications.

I can't go through the outrage again here in written form, so I've posted the audio below.

I'm not hiding. I'm doing what I have to do, and I don't begrudge anyone who needs to go out and is being safe. I was out of the house far more than I was in it today -- but it was stuff I HAD to do.

It's the irresponsibility that's making me explode.

So, after being beaten down, I spoke out. I was so flustered I said "Thursday."

But, I needed to say this.


Listen to the rest of the show here.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

I'll Start With "Thank You"

A healthcare worker sits on a bench near Central Park, March 30, 2020. (REUTERS/Jeenah Moon)
Thank you.

It's not enough but it's all I have.

The thank you goes to everyone on the front line of this pandemic.

My sister works in a medical office. She has been administering COVID-19 tests. We're not good at being soft and emotional, so I'll write my admiration for her here, not tag her in it online, and move along.

But she's just one example of the doctors, nurses, EMT's, and everyone else in the medical world. I have several in my family and, simply, they rock.

Not to be forgotten are the police and corrections officers and firefighters who are exposed on  a consistent basis. I have those in my family as well.

They're the heroes as the numbers grow frightening (as if they weren't already).

Thanks is so trivial. But, sometimes, it's something.

I read and hear the horror stories from all over. New York, as has been noted, is the true epicenter, and we haven't reached the peak.

Yet I continue to read things from people who are being completely irresponsible. They'd rather risk themselves (and others -- which seems to get forgotten) as opposed to staying at home.

While those on the front line HAVE to put themselves at risk.

I have no polite way to process that.

There are many other people at the front of this. Think about the sanitation workers and those in food establishments and other "essential" workplaces. They deal with the public on a daily basis and they're at risk also.

So, again, thank you.

I'm beyond grateful that March is over. It's a month that is a free fall of emotions and I chose to basically ignore it all this year, save for acknowledging the anniversary of my first day at WGCH (yesterday).

Now, we can add the memory of a pandemic to March.

May we all see hope and better days in April.

Monday, March 30, 2020

#TheBronxBracket

So flawed. So infuriating.
I wasn't going to write about this.

Nope. Too many brackets.

And then I saw the first round results and, well, here we are.

The Yankees have a bracket: The Bronx Bracket. Oh, wait, everything is a hashtag (I'm guilty): #TheBronxBracket.

We'll start in the Yankees Origins era. It was fairly straightforward, as Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak (the top seed) in 1941 raced by Spud Chandler's 1.64 ERA in 1943 when he won the Most Valuable Player. Lou Gehrig's speech from 1939 (the 2-seed) topped the Yankees donning the pinstripes for the first time in 1910s.

Babe Ruth's 60 HRs in 1927 (#8) beat Ruth hitting a 575-foot homer. Gehrig's triple crown in 1934 (5) knocked off Ruth hitting the first HR in all-star play (1933). The Yankees getting Ruth from Boston in 1919 (#4) blasted "Happy" Jack Chesbro's (still a record) 41 wins in 1904. Ruth's "called shot" in 1933 (#3) took care of George Mogridge's no-hitter form 1917.

We're fine so far. I'm even OK with the 10-seed (Yankee Stadium opening in 1923) beating the first World Series title in 1923. But Babe Ruth saying farewell to baseball in 1947 (#6) is an important moment and it was beaten by Gehrig's 2,130 game-playing streak. Well, OK. Fair enough.

I'd take DiMaggio's streak over the 60 home runs, Ruth coming over from Boston, the "Called Shot," and Gehrig's speech. DiMaggio's streak would knock off Ruth from Boston and Gehrig's speech tops the Called Shot. I'll take Gehrig's speech out of this bracket. It's the greatest speech in sports.

Now to the Mid-Century Marvels (1949-1975):
The top seed is Don Larsen's perfect game (1956) and beat Yogi Berra winning back-to-back MVP's. Whitey Ford's scoreless streak in the World Series (#9) beat Billy Martin's 12 hits in the '53 Fall Classic. The fifth-seed Bombers' five-peat (yes, FIVE in a row) took care of George Steinbrenner buying the team in 1973. An upset took place with Bobby Richardson's six RBI's in Game 3 of the 1960 World Series besting the four-seed: Elston Howard breaking the Yankees' color barrier in 1955. For the record, I voted for Ellie.

The Mickey Mantle fans took their guy as the 11-seed (Mick's 565-foot home run at Washington) bested Bobby Richardson's catch of Willie McCovey's line drive to seal the '62 Classic (#6). The Mick's 1956 triple crown (#3) topped his "Day" in 1969 and his 500th home run (#10) beat Allie Reynolds' TWO no-hitters in 1951 (I voted for Reynolds). Roger Maris -- 61 in '61 (#2) -- beat Whitey Ford's 14-inning shutout.

Not too bad overall. To me, Larsen beats Whitey's World Series streak, the World Series 5-peat knocks off Richardson's six RBI's, Mantle's triple crown beats his 565-foot HR, and Roger Eugene Maris better beat Mantle's 500th. Just saying. After that, it's Larsen over the 5-peat, and Maris over the Mickey's triple crown.

The finale is tough. Roger in '61 or Don Larsen. I tossed a coin and Maris won.

To The Reign of the Boss (1976-2000)
The 98-00 three-peat (#1) beat Jeffrey Maier while Bobby Ray Murcer (#9) beat Jim Leyritz's clutch World Series home run in 1996. You know I voted for Bobby and those five RBI's (and I have some issues with the seeds of this whole thing). David Cone's perfect game (#5) surpassed Ron Guidry's 18 strikeouts (nope. I voted for Gator). That one isn't fatal. I also agree with David Wells' perfect game in 1997 (#6) beating Doc Gooden's no-hitter (1996) and Jim Abbott's no-hitter (#7) over Dave Righetti's no-hitter. Lastly, Reggie Jackson's three home runs in Game 6 of the 1977 World Series are rightfully superior to Donnie Baseball hitting home runs in 8-straight games.

We don't have time to get crazy over those that weren't included, like the 1984 batting crown race or Mattingly's "Hang onto the ROOF!" home run in the '95 playoffs. We'll deal with what we have here.

But...

Now, look. I was at Game 1 of the '98 World Series when Tino Martinez hit a grand slam. It was a seminal moment in my life. No question. But that -- that? -- is better than Chris Chambliss' pennant-winning home run in 1976 (#4), ending a 12-year absence from the World Series that felt like purgatory?

Or -- more-glaringly, folks who don't realize baseball dates prior to 1996 -- Mariano Rivera's playoff scoreless inning streak (the FOURTEEN SEED FOR BABE RUTH'S SAKE) topping Bucky...

Effing...

Dent (#3).

You deserve to have your voting rights revoked.

I don't even know if I want to finish voting with what is left. It's like the carnage of the Yankees-Red Sox fights in the 70s (go look them up). Where's Graig Nettles in the '78 Series in all of this? OK, I'll be a fanboy and vote for Murcer because this bracket is such a blasted embarrassment. Reggie's three homers or the three-peat will probably win, but I'm disgustingly horrified.

Consider this a protest.

Lastly, "Expanding an Empire" (2001-2019)
The top-seed is Aaron Boone's ALCS walk-off and, thankfully, it topped Aaron Judge's 52 home runs in 2017. Stupidly, they put Derek Jeter's "flip play" (#8) up against his dive against the Red Sox and "The Flip Play" won. His 3000th hit (#5) passed the 2009 championship while "Mr. November" (#4) bested the night he passed Lou Gehrig to become the hit leader for the Yankees. Mo's career saves record (#6) beat Tino Martinez's game-tying home run in the 2001 World Series, while Hideki Matsui's 2009 World Series Game 6 performance knocked off Raul Ibanez's performance in Game 3 of the 2012 ALDS.

The "Johnny-come-lately's" struck again, as Didi Gregorious' wild card home run in 2017 (how this is a seven-seed is beyond me) beat Scott Brosius' game-tying 2001 World Series home run (how this is a ten-seed is beyond me). Lastly, Jeter's last hit in New York (#2) beat A-Rod with 10-RBIs in one game.

Um...where' Mo's last game? Or A-Rod's 600th? Or 500th?

Anyway, I'll spare you further analysis (this has gotten long enough). In my opinion, Boone's home run is the winner, hands down. Yes, even over "The Flip Play."

So the final four are Gehrig's speech, Maris' 61 in '61, Bobby Murcer for Thurman Munson (that's my protest pick), and Aaron Boone. It's not easy, but Gehrig beats Maris and Boone beats Murcer.

I'll take Gehrig's speech.

And, thus, I've wasted enough of your time for one night, other than to serve you a delightful reminder why, most of the time, fans should not vote on things like this if they want to be taken seriously.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

STOP!

Who thinks this is OK? (Parking lot of DeCicco's in Jefferson Valley, NY)

OK, I've had enough.

We've tried to run a fine line between anxious and upbeat here.

Tonight, I'm mad.

Depending on your interpretation we're around three weeks into this pandemic. Yet, somehow, so many people are not getting it.

The stories are awful. Here's one from Susan about a healthy woman from Darien who suddenly picked up the COVID-19 virus.

This story could be worse (spoiler alert) but, well, read it for yourself.

This thing is bad and, if you don't think so -- if you REALLY think we're overreacting at this point -- wouldn't it at least be prudent to pay the warnings a little mind?

I mean, is there anyone stupid enough to think this is a hoax at this point?

This going to impact everyone somehow.

I know friends of friends who have died from it.

It has now impacted my family.

I can't go to the grocery store without being very concerned, and that's the only place I go these days.

And yet -- yet -- there are those still gathering in groups like it's a big joke.

Read that again: a joke.

There are those dumb enough to have parties. Some of those parties are actually "Corona" parties.

Oooooh...what a contrarian you are! So edgy!

You're an ass is what you are.

From the dopes who went to Florida for Spring Break -- "If I get corona, I get to corona"-- to those at Mardi Gras to people who think they can gather for any ol' reason (sports practices, neighborhood parties, even weddings) I seriously have to ask:

Serious question: what is wrong with you?

(OK, maybe not YOU...but you. Or you. But not you.)

This thing isn't being picky. Like cancer, it doesn't discriminate.

Tom Hanks. Rita Wilson. Princes Charles. Doris Burke. Boris Johnson. Idris Elba. James. Dolan. Rudy Gobert (forever the answer to a trivia question). Kevin Durant. Just a small sample of the "famous" names to be receive positive test results for coronavirus.

And, tonight, musician John Prine is "critical."

I mean, what more do you need?

I know the first selectman of two towns personally, and both have had to close segments of their respective towns because people would not stay away in groups.

At this point, I don't care who it is or why.

I have a mother that I have to look after.

I also have to be slightly concerned with myself.

This is easily summed up: stay home. Go out for necessities (food/life/death-type of stuff).

The sooner you do it -- the more you do it -- the sooner it will all be over.

I'm not working. My son has to go to school via computer. He's losing his senior year. He might lose his graduation and prom.

People are losing a lot.

But stop bitching about it, sack up, binge watch something or read or whatever, and make smarter decisions.

Let's get this over with.

*****
One last thing, and it's about that picture.

Honestly, who throws (or drops) their gloves in the parking lot of a grocery store (or wherever) and thinks that's OK?

I was in another parking lot where there were four pairs on the ground.

It's unnecessary and gross, plus it puts those cleaning that up (because you're too good to do it yourself) in danger.

I'm a little tapped out with society tonight.

Let's hope for better stories tomorrow.

Stay safe and I'll see you for Doubleheader at 4:00 p.m.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Frank Sinatra and The Beatles and Nov 1968

(Obviously photo courtesy of Alamy)

This is just another one of those nights where I don't have a clue what to write about.

I've tried a few hours ago.

I stopped for dinner.

I sat down and started watching the latest season of Doctor Who to clear my brain. Funny thing, this Doctor is. I absolutely adore Jodie Whittaker and her performance of the 13th Doctor. I like her companions.

But the stories have largely been meh and my trusty Whovian -- my son -- has almost no interest in watching, so I'm watching it alone.

Anyway, while thinking about a topic and pondering a post about nothing (it worked for Jerry Seinfeld), Susan texted me with an idea. She always has ideas. I'd love to be more like her when I grow up.

How about the movie that was number one on the day you were born?

Curiously, I've never looked. I know a few things about the day I was born.

- There was an ice storm and my parents slid to the hospital. That should have been their first clue.
- The number one song was "Hey Jude." In case you don't know, that was a song by The Beatles.
- Speaking of the lads, they released their eponymous album -- The Beatles -- in the UK on my birthday. It was released in the US three days later. Literally everyone calls it "The White Album."
- Johnson was president. No further political statement to be made.
- The Detroit Tigers had just won the World Series over the Cardinals.
- The Colts were rolling through the NFL and they had no chance of losing to whatever the AFL sent to the third Super Bowl, right? Although those Jets were a feisty bunch. Still. No chance.
- On TV that night, NBC aired an. Episode. Of. "Star. Trek." (It has to be said like Captain Kirk). Later on, the Peacock had a nighttime version of "Hollywood Squares." Frankly, TV wasn't very impressive that night otherwise, save perhaps for "Gomer Pyle, USMC" over on CBS.

And the answer to the number one movie? Seems it was a groovy, doobie-doobie-doo detective movie called Lady in Cement. The movie starred Frank Sinatra (baby) as a private investigator named Tony Rome (the movie is a sequel to Tony Rome in 1967).  Raquel Welch co-starred.

Overall, the movie received mixed reviews and was a loss to studio 20th Century Fox.

According to Wikipedia, Roger Ebert said, "In the movie's few good scenes, Sinatra once again painfully reminds us what a controlled, effective actor he is."

Doesn't sound like it was a ring-a-ding classic in the Sinatra canon like Ocean's 11 or any of his other movies.

Still, it's Sinatra, so that's something.

These are the things that are amusing us during this pandemic, but it beats going out when we should be sheltering in place.


Friday, March 27, 2020

My Friday Night

James Harrison after his INT return...or me after I watched that game
Time is tight tonight but there's enough time to say hello.

I made the decision to bring my son here tonight for the weekend. You might disagree but he has been quarantined and he social distances as well as anyone. He'll stay in his room, come out to eat or take a shower, and maybe pet Chico.

And I'm glad he's here.

I watched a replay of Super Bowl XLIII tonight, and my heart raced as if I didn't know the outcome. Obviously, I did but I was still nervous as the Steelers had to rally late to beat the Cardinals. I did a bit of writing on that night in 2009 (five posts!), including a collection of thoughts during the second half.

Sean was with me that night also. It's among many memories of that evening. He and I had been in Pennsylvania that day, with made me happy because I didn't think too much about the game. I remember placing a phone call to see if anyone would be joining us at our house and getting told...um...no.

And that's all I have to say about that.

I remember being probably as amped as I've ever been for almost any game (part of the reason? Read between the lines of the last two paragraphs and you'll see I needed some happiness).

I was...in short...a maniac. Sean -- ever the trooper -- eventually went to bed and slept through the fourth quarter.

It was just me for the roller coaster of emotions of the final fifteen.

Pittsburgh 27, Arizona 23.

It was a totally different time in my life.

*****
I've rebuilt my home studio for probably the seventh time in two weeks. It looks like one of my old mixers might be dying (unless someone can help me save it). But I had a good talk with Dave Torromeo and Mark Jeffers after Doubleheader today, and we're gearing up for some "at home" Clubhouse shows, beginning this Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. If you're on Zoom and know how to handle, you too might wind up as a guest!

More to come on that topic.

Let's regroup and get the weekend going. But first, words of wisdom from an old friend (and of the few who talk about praying without me turning it off).

Thursday, March 26, 2020

It's Opening Day but It's Not

The first pitch of 1993 -- Jim Abbott to Brian McRae
It's always on the calendar.

OPENING DAY.

Not description needed. Not Opening Day of a new Wal Mart or Opening Day of school or Opening Day of other sports.

No. They get their own description. Opening Day needs no qualifier.

It's Madonna. It's Cher.

It's The Babe. It's The Mick.

It's Opening Day.

Of baseball season.

Yes, I know it's a bit early this year. Er. Wait. It WAS a bit early this year.

And I was resigned to it not happening. Nothing we can do and we'll get things going...um...eventually.

But today -- THE day -- it hit home.

The sun is shining (in New York) and it would have been 60 degrees in Baltimore for Gerrit Cole's first pitch against the Orioles (or whomever you were looking forward to watching)

It would have been baseball.

The best openers have a touch of a chill and the sun shining. Yes, there are exceptions, like when Hideki Matsui electrified Yankee Stadium with a grand slam a day after a snow storm dumped on New York.


It's Bob Feller pitching a no-hitter. It's Tuffy Rhodes hitting three home runs. It's Derek Jeter homering in his first opener (holy cow!). It's Andy Pettitte in the snow. There are others, of course.

Like Raul Mondesi in 1999 (and listen to the sweet sounds of Vinny on the call).


It was April 9, 1981 and the Texas Rangers were in New York to face the Yankees. It was a day game. It should ALWAYS be a day game (yes, that's a rule of mine). I rushed home from Austin Road Elementary School to watch the game on channel 11.

By the time I was in high school, I was working the ear phone move, not caring what Mrs. Rundle in English class thought. Besides, she gave me a hard time for writing too much about baseball. Hmm. How's that worked out?

A scan of the lineup: Willie Randolph, Jerry Mumphrey, Dave Winfield (first game as a Yankee), Bob Watson, Lou Piniella, Rick Cerone, Graig Nettles, Dennis Werth, Bucky Dent.

Crap. No Bobby Murcer since a left-hander, former Met Jon Matlack, was pitching.

Another note of interest: my Facebook friend Billy Sample had a sacrifice fly for the Rangers.

But the Yankees built a 6-3 heading into the seventh.

The Yankees loaded the bases, and who did manager Gene Michael (in his first game) send to pinch hit? Bobby Ray Murcer, of course.

Watch him flick his wrists at the Stever Comer offering.

Boom (Phil Rizzuto and Frank Messer on WPIX).



I bounced out of the house, bat and ball in hand. Didn't care who wanted to play. It was time to go hit so Wiffle balls.

I would go to several openers. I saw the World Championship banner get raised after 18 long years in 1997. I saw a 17-13 slugfest in the Bronx between the Yankees and Athletics in '98.

You always knew you were likely getting a great pitching matchup, especially if it was the real first game of the season (as opposed to the home opener, depending on the year). So, in the 90s, that meant you might see Roger Clemens for the Red Sox while the Yankees might have Andy Pettitte or Jimmy Key.

Or Charles Hudson (in 1987).

In 1993 (the picture above), the Yankees came back to the Bronx for the home opener after a 3-3 road trip in Cleveland and Chicago (the White Sox -- not stupid interleague play). Newly-acquired Paul O'Neill had four hits to beat his current broadcast partner David Cone as the Bombers won 4-1.

In 1994, the opener at Yankee Stadium felt like it was on a rocket ship. With no pennants or playoffs since 1981 and no championships since 1978, the natives were a bit restless.

In the bottom of the first, facing Kevin Brown and the Rangers, Luis Polonia and Wade Boggs both singled. I remember thinking that if Don Mattingly did literally anything, we would launch into orbit.

He flied to left, but Danny Tartabull delivered a sacrifice fly. One-nothing after one.

Tartabull and Mike Stanley homered and the Yankees cruised to a 5-3 win, beginning what we thought was a magical summer after the Rangers won the Stanley Cup and Knicks came within a shot of a NBA title.

Then came the baseball strike and it was all over.

Each Opening Day is special. I love the introduction of the starting lineups along the base paths. A marching band might play (I remember Brien McMahon High School from Norwalk was frequently there). The bunting is hanging off the upper decks. The grass looks extra green, as if it's the first time you've seen green grass since last October.

The national anthem feels different because there is always a live singer and it just feels like it was time to play ball. The anticipation is reaching a crescendo with the "Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave" line.

Then comes the ceremonial first pitch. It could be Joe DiMaggio (or now it's guys like Mariano Rivera and Paul O'Neill). But, it could be someone different, like North Carolina head coach Dean Smith, days after winning a national championship in '93. Smith did the honors at the request of former NC State coach Jim Valvano, who considered doing so a bucket list item, but was too sick to do so. Valvano died a little over two weeks later.

There's a different energy in the air. Every team has a chance (yes, even the Mets, despite the "Family Guy" joke). The smells are just right. Hot dogs, burgers, those roasted nuts out underneath the elevated train tracks. Things are just...right.

The bars are buzzing. The souvenir shops are packed. Everyone seems happy.

You're back with 50,000 of your closest allies -- many of whom you don't know but might become lifelong friends with (Mick, Steve, Eddie...). It's a bonding experience (save for the fist fights, which I never got involved in).

Finally, after all of the pomp and circumstance (and the various and sundry), it's game on.

The first pitch? Ball? Strike? Fastball? Curve? Low and outside? Belt high?

We won't know for probably a few months.

That's the hardest part of today. We're still trying to convince ourselves this is an endless rain delay.

"Play ball" will sound out soon.

I need it.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Pictures Say a Lot Sometimes



That picture is from 2008. Hold onto that thought for a moment.

But, I want to know something first. How do you all do it?

I read it everyday: "I've worn sweatpants for ten straight days."

"I haven't taken a shower."

"I wear the same clothes every day."

I read these comments constantly.

They are not me.

I shower everyday. I shave every couple of days. I'll do the occasional "Bachelor" style facial hair (yeah, I know that's the preferred look) until I see how gray I am, and then it's gone. Plus, it itches.

I get dressed -- jeans or whatever to drive mom to dialysis or go to the grocery store. I don't do a suit and I might be in a hoodie but I'm generally comfortable.

I wear sweats or track pants when I know I'm staying home.

And everything is clean.

I know. It's me. I'm fastidious in this way.

I guess I admire how you can do what you're doing but I also don't intend to change.

So there's that.

But, back to that picture. I remember that person. I remember that picture.

I remember that weekend.

It was Mar, 2008. It was Easter weekend and Sean and I went with my niece to another nieces house in Pennsylvania. It was the first time I had gone away with Sean. While there was family around, it was purely father taking care of son.

I was nervous and, to be honest, so was Sean. He didn't feel great as we grabbed breakfast at a Dunkin Donuts before we hit the road, but whatever he was feeling soon settled down and he seemed to have a lot of fun.

The picture -- a selfie before we called them that -- was taken with an old Panasonic digital camera. I just turned it around and took a shot while Sean and his cousins ran around on a playground.

It was a small sign that I was OK despite the tornado of life rolling around me. I could still smile and I had found a happy place with my nieces and the kids.

Sean and I began traveling a little more on our own. We joined family for camping trips, we drove to Richmond and Cooperstown and did some other drives including Vermont and several to North Carolina.

I knew what I was doing as a father. I knew I should trust my instincts and not worry about what a magazine said about raising kids.

The picture would be one of my first Facebook profile pics. It symbolized a small moment of empowerment.

I will survive. Hey hey.

I see the face that says we had a fun weekend and that there would be many more, despite whatever was to come.

And there was plenty to come.

It was really only just beginning.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Survival

I'm pretty sick of memes but I saw this one and thought it was pretty good

We'll get through this.

I keep telling myself that.

I keep telling you that.

But the news continues to be bad.

Oh, wait. I know. The media.

"We" suck. I see it every day, thanks in part to a president who has waged an all-out war on the industry that I'm a part of.

And that's another thing: man, I'm sick of the obsession with talking about 45 (both good and bad). Right now, harping on political nonsense isn't going to help things. Look, I'm frankly no fan of anything named Cuomo, but I'm honest and fair enough to say the governor of New York has been quite good through this.

But, let's spend an extra moment on the "horrible" media.

Yes, we have bad apples. We've been through that. Yes, there's a desire by some to be first as opposed to accurate. Yes, everything is about web clicks and ratings.

I could continue but I know it's a tough battle. It's also a battle I believe in.

There are many of us doing a solid, honorable job.

Please stop blaming "the media." It's the easy low-hanging fruit.

But, let's get back to us getting through this.

I'm the one who could use a little picking up. It's just gotten scary and demoralizing and we really haven't bottomed out yet.

Financially, this is deadly for me, if I may speak personally for a moment.

Then, of course, is the interpersonal impact.

What's the future? I know -- bite it off in small chunks. A day at a time.

I know I don't have it worse than anyone else. I guess I'm just babbling out loud.

There have been positives. I'm not normally home this much so I've been able to clean around the house -- both inside and out.

I've rebuilt my broadcast studio probably four times now and have even considered relocating it.

Anyway, I guess I need to keep reminding myself that we're going to get through this, and that's really why I struggled to put a post together last night.

We'll get through this.

Right?

Monday, March 23, 2020

Nah

A Mahopac scene from earlier today
Occasionally, I know it's time for a night off.

Mostly, you tell me. I see the numbers dwindle and realize the product is likely stale and boring.

Therefore, this writer is also.

I feel down. It's probably the weather, but it's also lots of realities.

You don't need down. You need encouraging and positive stories.

In truth, I'm waking up most nights around 3 a.m. lately for one reason or another. Then the demons stroll in and hang out. Sometimes I'll get back to sleep after awhile.

I think I've just had too many nights of that. Too much of this rat race right now.

Too much of trying to write things that will inspire and excite you. And failing.

But, it's more than that. It's fighting with computers that can't handle what I'm trying to do and struggling with lack of technology in one form or another, all while being pulled at in several different ways. These are things that everyone is experiencing right now and, most days, you suck it up and move on.

Then there comes that one night where you're just shot.

That's me right now.

Let's try again tomorrow.

In a wonderful example of Rule 55 (aka, "Rob shuts up"), let's hear from someone whom everyone likes to hear from.


Sunday, March 22, 2020

The Archive

Fairfield Prep wins Div I 3/22/14
One of my favorite, most challenging days in broadcasting was six years ago today and I was combing through my collection of old games to look it all over.

It started in Shelton, CT where I was staying at the Hampton Inn. I was allowed to stay there during that time to avoid driving back and forth from home to go cover games in New Haven at Ingalls Rink.

So, I was in New Haven that Saturday morning for the first of four games to air on HAN Radio. But that was part of a great week that began with Greenwich/New Britain basketball on Monday followed by hockey semifinal games on Tuesday and Wednesday (two each night). On Friday, we called the D-II hockey championship between Daniel Hand and Amity.

The total was ten games between Monday and Saturday, with me on the call for nine of them.

Saturday started with the Newtown against Smith-Tolland (the Bucks co-op) in the D-III hockey championship. We cranked through a gut-wrenching game that went to overtime before the Nighthawks won the state title. It served as a forerunner of the celebration that exploded when Newtown won the football title last December.

Darien and Fairfield Prep also gave us a great show before the Jesuits won in OT.

We aired a girls basketball championship, won by Laurelton Hall and called by John Kovach at Mohegan Sun while I drove from New Haven to Uncasville. I had a hotel room near Groton but felt like I didn't have enough time to check in so I flew to the casino.

It was weird to be listening to HAN as I drove. This thing -- my baby -- had been my obsession for roughly a year and this day was a triumph for us.

I got booted from joining that Laurelton Hall game and sat outside the arena sipping a cup of Krispy Kreme coffee like a wayward child who was too sick to join the other kids at recess. That night, I got back on the air and called a classic boys basketball game as Bridgeport Central came from behind to beat Fairfield Prep.

Oh, what a night indeed.

Since we're all (basically) quarantined, I thought it might be nice to start playing some old games, including these. So I combed through the HAN games. For the most part, they're straight audio broadcasts (until we switched to video) with little editing to be done.

But I discovered some off-air banter (clean and mostly harmless) in the video/audio simulcast games as well as the games in which I still recorded audio. There's a little editing to be done so that nobody is embarrassed.

I wish I recorded audio for all of them but I didn't.

That's where I'd love to see HAN return the games that they put in private back to being public on YouTube. It would be perfect for all of us to watch, especially during this time.

Sadly, there are games that I don't even have in the archive, like the 2015 FCIAC Championship/Turkey Bowl football game between Darien and New Canaan.

So, while I didn't air those games that took place six years ago today, I'm going through to see what can run. There are plenty of games that I can choose from!

They brought back a flood of memories for me. Some good. Some bad. Some...ugh.

I listened to part of a baseball game I called in 2015 in Norwich. My analyst (when he felt like joining me)? Sean. That's right -- my hasn't-a-clue-really-about-sports son. It was absolutely priceless.

I look forward to sharing all of these memories with you.

I hope you want to hear them.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Do Some Good

(Darien Times)


We need good stories these days.

Sure, we're all trying to survive and every day feels like a roller coaster.

For one thing, we need to keep an eye on mental health because the demons don't take vacations during pandemics.

So let's do what we can to keep an eye on that. It's one of many things we have to keep looking at.

Check in on all of our friends. Check in on ourselves.

Like I said, it's a roller coaster. It definitely is for me.

Boredom hasn't gotten the best of me yet. I'm surviving.

But, again, we need good stories, and I've got one.

Today on the Darien Times website (best in the biz), our friend Susan brought the story of a GoFundMe that I think is worth reading about.

Say what you want. Play the pessimistic card.

Good people exist everywhere. This is good being done by good people: Mr. David Genovese of Baywater Properties.

Funny, but I bet this won't get many reads or retweets or positive comments. It doesn't sell.

"Get the widow on the set," Don Henley sang. "We need dirty laundry."

That's all that is wanted by the mercenaries in the media who make the rest of us look bad.

As many have said (and it's worth repeating): stick with trusted news sources.

Like the Darien Times.

And maybe this little avenue of the world.

Let's keep doing some good. Maybe it will catch on.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Just a Friday

Joe Buck does an live "commercial" from the booth during the Turn Back the Clock game from 2000
The insanity could be setting in.

But, in truth, I'm just tired.

So I just discovered that the audio for today's Doubleheader on Mixlr was terrible. Shame on me for not checking.

In terrestrial radio, there's a board operator to tell you that things sound awful. The shame of it is that a click of a switch would have fixed it. We continue to live and learn here.

I still love the grass roots feeling of the show from home, but of course I'm a perfectionist (also known as a pain in the ass).

To be clear, the Facebook audio is just fine, and I could recover it there if I wanted to.

The shame of it is that I really liked today's show, even if it was just me talking about (dare I say) various and sundry things.

*****
I was able to rediscover a game that I remember watching at the time years ago. It was on Aug 26, 2000 when FOX did a "Turn Back the Clock" game. The Cubs and Dodgers met at Wrigley Field that Saturday and the network chose the game to honor the technological advances in the history of sports broadcasting.

They begin in 1939 in the top of the first, when Red Barber called the first televised MLB game on (not surprisingly) Aug 26 between the Dodgers and Reds from Ebbets Field in Brooklyn. Columbia and Princeton had been the first baseball game of any type on May 17.

In the first half inning, the sound quality is not great and picture is difficult to see (and black and white). There are no graphics and Joe Buck called the action solo (analysts didn't exist yet). The technology improved slightly in the bottom of the first to 1944 and even more in the second when they moved to the second inning, as it became 1953. By that point, very rudimentary graphics were introduced.

In 1957 -- love it or hate it -- analysts started being somewhat prevalent, and thus Tim McCarver joined the call. In truth, one broadcaster -- the play-by-play announcer -- did most of the talking. The analyst really came into being a "partner" in the booth in the 1960s.

Later on, the technology moved to 1969, and thus attempts made at the picture in color. Again, with each half inning, the sound and picture quality improved.

Obviously, they rolled on from the 60s to the 90s.

It's a wonderful time capsule that absolutely fascinated me back in 2000, and you think about just how we've come in the nearly 20 years since.

FOX made sure to say that was not intended to be "mocking" of sports broadcasting and the people who help create those early broadcasts. That was a smart move because when FOX first came on the scene, they were very outspoken about being "edgy" and modern, and not dwelling on history. They quickly realized that was flawed logic and this day was meant to honor those who had come before them (such DuMont, CBS, and of course, NBC).

Anyway, I'm babbling as I often do. Here's the boxscore of the Aug 26, 2000 game. The game is on YouTube (shout out to Gershon Rabinowitz for finding this).

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Last note tonight: We've got Doubleheader up and running from home. We are considering trying a home version of The Clubhouse also. Stay tuned.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Doubleheader From Home

"We're dealing with a lot of s***" (Among the topics on today's show)
So I did the show from home today.

Overall, I felt it was OK.

Despite testing and preparing, the phone stopped working and wasn't ready for the show.

Frustrated, I walked away. I thought I'd try again tomorrow.

But I rallied and gave it a go.

After it was over, I replaced some cables and tried some different things. The phone line -- as we speak -- works.

Basically, if you don't know, the phone has to run through a mixer so that listeners can hear both the caller and me. Plus the listener needs to hear me and vice-versa.

Before the show, I could hear the caller. They couldn't hear me.

In the process, something called a "mix-minus" needs to be created so that there isn't a feedback loop being created.

As I said, it's working. Right now.

But, leading up to 4 p.m., it took a moment to regain my mojo.

It's the walk of putting so much into something we do.

If you missed it, it's archived in several places: Mixcloud, Archive.org, Mixlr, as well as still being on my Facebook page.

Lastly, I used it to revive my podcast, "Tales From the Booth."

Please give it a listen. I'm planning to try again tomorrow.

I want it to be a community as we deal with this crazy time in history.

I'm not against adding Instagram or Periscope but I need a way for it to work technically.

It's a work in progress. I have to stop expecting perfection.

So, maybe I'll see you tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

What's Next For Doubleheader?


I've mostly stayed home as we're all supposed to be doing and only going out as needed.

Basically, I haven't left Mahopac/Carmel/Somers since last Thursday.

That means I haven't been near WGCH and I don't expect to see the studio for some time.

While one can say we're overreacting and panicking -- and that's certainly their prerogative -- the facts have are that we need to take this seriously.

So that means coming up with another plan for "Doubleheader."

If Bob Small is in the WGCH studio then, sure, we'll stay at 4 p.m. and things will stay (mostly) the same as I'll do the show from home.

But...if not?

How about turning "Doubleheader" into an online show via Robcasting and Facebook Live? At the same time, I could also revive it my Tales From the Booth podcast.

Thus "Tales From the Doubleheader" (no, not really the title).

Or does nobody care and am I wasting my time?

See, the truth is I fear the latter is true. When I'm on GCH, I don't know how many listens I get. But I see the ugly truth on Robcasting/Facebook/podcasting.

I think I still have stories to tell. As you know, I work from the hip with a skeleton outline so that it's not scripted. I want my show to be a place where people can gather and talk sports (or life -- everything is open).

In this way, I want to try to take phone calls for interviews and open chat.

I have a Google number -- (845) 432-5553 -- and I've rebuilt my home studio.

So, do we do this?

If it's on WGCH, we'll be committed to 4 p.m. If not, we're open.

We can play with this format and I'm open to suggestions. 

With Tom Brady moving to Tampa Bay, four Brooklyn Nets testing positive for Coronavirus, and the CIAC's wait-and-see approach to spring sports, there are definitely topics.

More than that, I'd like to get more athletes and coaches and stories back on the air, and there's no better time for it than now. I want to talk to the Greenwich girls basketball players who lost their state championship opportunity. I want to talk to baseball players in Mahopac and lacrosse players at Brunswick to get their thoughts.

I want to have media types on.

I want to tell stories because that's what I do.

I want everyone on.

Beyond that, we can hit the "Tales From the Booth" side of things with historical content, including items from my own archive, such as interviews and full games.

We have a very clean slate to work with.

Is there interest?

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

The Final Sign Off

My current home studio setup
Fellow broadcaster Don Wadewitz had an idea.


Of course, I can never do things that easily. Plus, my process was just that -- a process. There were a couple of games that could have been "the last one."

So, let's go back (please note you can listen to all full game broadcasts online at Mixcloud or Archive.org, and play-by-play highlights can be found on Chirbit).

You'll recall that I thought playoff time was going to be an incredibly busy stretch (including the lowest-read post of 2020 so far). But, as a few very highly-placed people said to me: "Money wins. Quality doesn't."

So, that changed things.

So I powered through the FCIAC girls basketball tourney. In the middle of that, I picked up a cold that killed my voice. Please note I did not miss a broadcast in that time and that I'm fully-healed (I have an idea of what you're thinking).

Then I called one semifinal in the boys FCIAC hockey tournament, before handling the semis and finals of the FCIAC boys basketball tournament. I knew that wasn't the end of winter just yet, and that's where we begin.

The audio is posted below.

0:00-1:07 -- Loomis Chaffee/Brunswick Hockey Semifinal: You can hear the rasp still in my voice but this is also stronger than I've sounded in over a week. I gave it all during the FCIAC boys basketball championship a few nights earlier, but after a full day off, I'm sounding and feeling better (and working alone). This is also the first time I've noticed people acting differently. There's more fist bumps and elbow bumps and even baby wipes around the tailgate. There's a hint of caution. I can hear how bummed I am to say goodbye to winter. At least I think I'm saying so long. I lingered around to soak it all in and get ready for spring. "But, this is not goodbye..."

1:07-2:04 -- Trumbull Basketball Doubleheader: I didn't expect to do anything more with winter sports but when Jeff Alterman asked, after giving it some thought, I thought it would be a good thing to do. I was right. Great games? Nah. A good night to have some fun? Yes. The COVID-19 pandemic was certainly circling around but we still didn't know to what extent, so life went on. I did find myself thinking about what was going to happen and change but, so long as we kept rolling, then that would be it. I sound hopeful for more, handing the close to Jeff Alterman (it was really a TEN broadcast co-produced with Robcasting). I had no idea this was the last time I'd be with a crowd. A day later it all changed when the CIAC closed shop. "But, I was happy to be here nonetheless..."

2:04-4:38 -- Episcopal/Brunswick Lacrosse: The last one, and I knew it. I had been asked by Kevin Devaney Jr to call two Catholic league playoff games in White Plains but had to decline due to The Clubhouse. I think I would have enjoyed working in the empty gym, finding it to be similar to calling games in a studio off of a monitor, as I did with Episcopal and Brunswick. I stayed away from discussing the pandemic unless it was pertinent to the broadcast. So, you can hear in my voice that I'm in a studio (we had no ambient sound save for any conversations in the studio) but you can also hear that the Bruins have already lost at least one lacrosse game on the schedule. Still, knowing the reality but also trying to stay honest and upbeat, I say how I plan to see everyone on April 1. Everything was evolving as I was talking.

But, there's a sense of foreboding in my last words: "For now, stay safe. We'll see you soon. So long, everyone."


I knew. You can hear it. I knew we were screwed. To what extent, I had no idea.

I walked outside and Stamford, CT was like a ghost town.

I haven't been back in Connecticut since and I'm not sure when I'll be back.

Nobody knows.

The Great Unknown continues.

Monday, March 16, 2020

We Survived Monday


Programming notes: The Clubhouse is on hiatus, effective immediately. Grand Prix New York -- our home for the show -- has to close in accordance with the State of New York until further notice. Additionally, I can't tell you when I'll be back in the studio. We didn't do Doubleheader today. It's possible I might move it online/Facebook only. I'm still thinking things over. I'd like the show to be a release for all of us.

It was 3:30 a.m.

I don't remember what I was dreaming, but I remember the sound that I heard.

It was a sound like an asthma attack but it was coming from Chico, the large gray cat.

Not particularly looking forward to cleaning vomit off my bed in the middle of the night, I shot up to see what was going on.

Yet, it was as if he had a tickle in his throat. He stopped, sat back down, and began to purr as I petted him.

A few minutes later, the wheezing began again. The cycle ran it's course, he never vomited, and even had the decency to stand at the end of the bed just in case.

But I was now wide-awake.

Ah, the struggle to go back to sleep in the middle of the night during a pandemic. What could possibly go wrong?

Worry about no work? Worry about paying bills? Worry about taxes? Worry about my car?

Worry about my mother catching this thing?

Yes...Yes...Yes...Yes...YES!

So, I might not be making much sense here.

I had to leave the house today, as much as I didn't want to.
I had to drive said mother to and from dialysis and take my son home*.

* Sean always insists he's at "home" with dad also.

But, as I watched him unlock the door and go into the house, the sense of dread hit me.

Honestly, when will I see him again?

It's clear he's off from school at least through March, and likely a chunk of April, but we know it's still The Great Unknown (thanks, Doug Kerr).

He could come back whenever, but at what cost? Beyond going to the grocery story and getting mom to dialysis, there aren't many good reasons to go out.

As I write the city of San Francisco is getting ready to go on a complete lock down. Will that be us?

The Great Unknown.

We're in this spot in part because people can't stay off the beach in Florida or stay out of bars.

Let's just get through this and get back to life.

This all has to go a day at a time.

We will get though this.

Monday is over.

See you tomorrow.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Sports Matters but it's Not Everything and Who Cares if it Is?

Vin and Joe Garagiola on NBC in the 1987 NLCS
Well hi there, everybody, and a very good pandemic Sunday evening to you, wherever you may be. Whether you're quarantined or acting irresponsibly, pull up a chair.

We'll be OK without live sports. Honestly. We need to hang in there.

And, yet, these are the times when we need sports more than anything.

(I'll say up front that I'm in no way as eloquent as Mike DiMauro of The Day of New London but he and I have been in lock-step on this from day one.)

Mike's Twitter feed is here. I hope to get Mike on Doubleheader soon. I'm thankful for a voice of reason.

In these hazy, crazy days of COVID-19, some narratives have emerged. For one thing, there's a preponderance of holier-than-thou types who tell us from on high that we have/need to learn to communicate with our loved ones and so on.

For the love of Graham McNamee.

Who are those people (Shawn Sailer, do NOT say it's you)?

Regardless of no games to play, there are always things to talk about -- sports and otherwise.

Please go ahead and ask any significant other of mine -- anyone. If anyone is guilty of thinking I'm a one trick pony (meaning sports) then they don't know me. Heck, just go through this blog and you'll see otherwise.

So, who are those people?  I don't necessarily talk sports all the time with my fellow broadcasters that I'm close to. We talk music, relationships, and life.

Yet, if we do need sports, who's being harmed? Sports is our safe place. It's our entertainment.

For me, it doesn't have to be live sports (at least for now). There are plenty of outlets within sports without them being live. I've told you before about the Background Baseball skill on Alexa and there are plenty of classic games on YouTube, as the great (yes, great) Mike Vaccaro elaborated about in the NY Post today. Personally, I watched the Yankees/Orioles "Bobby Murcer Game" on Friday night on YES. Last night, I enjoyed parts of World Series play from 1948, 1964, and 1967.

But, there's something I've been longing for. The Master. The Poet Lauriate of Baseball. The GOAT of GOATS.

Yessir. Mr. Vin Scully. So I grabbed a "Redlegs" (it was the 50s, remember)/Dodgers game from Brooklyn on May 7, 1957. No disrespect to Jerry Doggett or Al Helfer, but I went straight for the sixth inning when Vinny greeted us.

Now THAT'S poetry. There are some (many?) who don't understand watching or listening to an old game, but I completely get it. As I did laundry and vacuumed and worked around the house, it served as comfort for me. I could hear the exploits of Jackie Robinson and Rube Walker and Don Drysdale and Frank Robinson and Carl Furillo and the Duke of Flatbush himself.

I could hear the scoreboard -- the Yankees and Indians were scoreless at the time they gave the score, though Cleveland won 2-1 and lost star pitcher Herb Score, as he was hit in cheek by a laser shot off the bat of Gil McDougald.

This, for me, is classical music. It's comfort food. It's more than just a time capsule or "a game." It's the book or movie that you inhale again.

Still, this doesn't define me. I have music. Books. Movies. TV. A son. Loved ones.

Sports is a part of me. I love it and it's in my blood. I feel bad if there are people who are that bad.

But, to hear that mellifluous voice, imploring us to light up a Lucky (Lucky Strike was the sponsor of Dodgers broadcasts, and I'm a staunch non-smoker, for the record), was simply the tonic for a Sunday.

We'll get through this. I keep saying it.

I do think the "social distancing" thing is right at this juncture. Stay out of the groups for now. Just for a short stretch. I know that's bad for bars, etc (and sports broadcasters) but let's get this thing over with. 

We can talk sports. Old sports and the future of sports. But we can also do myriad other things in a life.

Nobody needs to preach about it. We'll all be just fine.

I don't know who those people are that others are talking about.

It's not me.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

The Food Bracket!


Folks, it has come to this.

It's not unusual to have all kinds of wacky brackets at this time of year, in the style of March Madness.

But, this year, we have no March Madness basketball brackets.

This one caught my eye. I found it on Twitter, and am not sure who to give credit to (though I suspect Barstool Sports might have something to do with it). Either way, it's pretty fantastic. It appears to be somewhat old, but it's trending today and I felt we could attack it.

Now, I realize there are those fast food and fast casual chains whom aren't in the tournament. For instance, don't look for Waffle House but, then again, it wouldn't be fair to anyone else as WH would win running away.

So let's break this whole thing down!

Mack and Dick McDonald Region

FIRST ROUND
1) McDonalds over 16) Jollibee -- I don't really know much about Jollibee, but still.
8) Wawa over 9) Sheetz -- I mean, really? How in the hell do you put Wawa and Sheetz in the SAME region and the SAME game? But, OK, as much as I enjoy Sheetz, Wawa is still a king in the Adams household. Still, I'd rather see this in the Final Four or Regional Final.
4) Whataburger over 13) Quiznos -- "We love the subs!" Remember that spongemonkey thing? That might have helped Quiznos in the long run, but they've mostly left my region. So Whataburger wins.
5) Panda Express over 12) Potbelly -- sort of like trotting out two schools you don't care about or know.
12) Dairy Queen over 6) Carl's Jr/Hardee's -- Carl's had those dumb commercials. We had Hardee's here and it failed. Twice. My son liked Dairy Queen. Thus, the upset.
3) Arby's over 14) Taco Cabana -- WE HAVE THE MEATS!
10) Jersey Mike's over 7) Panera Bread -- I mean, sure, kale or whatever is fine, but sometimes I just need a good sandwich (hot or cold). One of the few ways Jersey wins with me.
2) Chipotle over 15) A&W -- Closer matchup but Chipotle gets the edge just for the friend of mine who often said "Chuh-poe-tay" and I can't pronounce it any other way not. But a chili dog and root beer from A&W? Not bad at all.

SECOND ROUND
8) Wawa over 1) McDonald's -- Get lost, Ronald. Give me a hoagie and coffee or a Coke icee.
4) Whataburger over 5) Panda Express -- An easy win.
3) Arby's over 11) Dairy Queen -- THEY STILL HAVE THE MEATS!
2) Chipotle over 10) Jersey Mike's -- Tough. Really tough. But a burrito and chips won out in the final seconds.

REGIONAL SEMIS
8) Wawa over 4) Whataburger -- You knew it, didn't you?
2) Chipotle over 3) Arby's -- The meats are THAT good.

REGIONAL FINAL
8) Wawa over 2) Chipotle -- Susan is a deli gal. She apparently makes a mean sandwich and, no, that's not meant in an offensive manner. She, however, would choose other items at Wawa and would, likely, take Chipotle over the mighty Wa. I, however, am riding the goose to the Final Four.

No Sundays Region

FIRST ROUND
1) Chick-Fil-A over 16) Penn Station -- Politics aside, it's mighty fine chicken.
8) Moe's over 9) Jimmy John's -- The queso alone wins.
13) Boston Market over 4) Culver's -- This might be controversial. The midwestern folks aren't going to like it. Yet I actually feel healthier when I eat Boston Market, plus it's one of the few times I'll take Boston for anything.
5) Domino's over 12) Torchy's Taco's -- Er. OK. I have no good reason.
6) White Castle over 11) Little Caesar's -- Are you kidding me? My NOO YAWK friends would bury me with Jimmy Hoffa out in the Meadowlands.
3) Subway over 14) Church's -- Just no. Really, no.
7) Papa John's over 10) Cookout -- Hmmm. I see Cookout has locations in Fayetteville, NC and Richmond, VA. I know I've passed them on road trips. But I've had Papa John's. Again, pass on the politics. When I needed pizza in North Carolina, this was...passable.
2) Burger King over 15) Sbarro. Sbarro tries to pass itself off as New York pizza. "The Office" made fun of it. That's enough for me.

SECOND ROUND
8) Moe's over Chick-Fil-A -- It was a battle but Moe's dumped some queso on the chicken. Game over.
13) Boston Market over 5) Domino's -- This is where the bracket if painful. So, the glass slipper fits.
6) White Castle over 3) Subway -- I'd take Jersey Mike's over Subway. My son might disown me for dumping Subway to White Castle.
2) Burger King over 7) Papa John's -- I agonized over this one. I still don't like it. But I can't take a (faux) pizza place any farther than the second round.

REGIONAL SEMIS
8) Moe's over 13) Boston Market -- Damn, this bracket is wacky and I can see how it's going to play out. Healthy can only go so far. Give me queso!
6) White Castle over 2) Burger King -- I had to get rid of Burger King eventually.

REGIONAL FINAL
8) Moe's over 6) White Castle -- I've loved you all. It's sad to think I'm going to buried in New Jersey but so it goes.

Bag Fries Region

FIRST ROUND
1) Five Guys over 16) Roy Rogers -- How did Five Guys get a one seed? I suspect it was booster shenanigans.
9) Zaxby's over 8) Portillo's -- I've never had either but Portillo's appears to be a Chicago thing and that's cool. I've seen Zaxby's in North Carolina. I go there more often (haven't been to Chi-town since 2006, I think). So, Zaxby's.
13) Firehouse Subs over 4) Pizza Hut -- There was a time when I would have easily taken Pizza Hut. That was probably in the 80s or early 90s, when there was a still a Pizza Hut in Pleasantville, NY and another in Glenville (Greenwich). That was then.
5) Bojangles' over 12) Noodles and Company -- Tim Parry and I went to a Bojangles' in Reading, PA maybe seven years ago. We could still taste it (and it sat in my gut) all the way back to NY. But Noodles and Company just isn't my style.
6) Jack in the Box over 11) PDQ looks pretty tempting but ol' Jack is an old friend from the days when they were in Yorktown Heights, NY. I just grabbed breakfast from them in San Francisco back in September.
3) Popeye's over 14) Schlotzsky's -- So, I had the famed Popeye's chicken sandwich recently. I don't get the fascination. But, I'd like to have their Cajun rice on a more-consistent basis. So, them.
7) Long John Silver's over 10) Wingstop -- Meh. No real reason.
2) In-N-Out over 15) Baja Fresh -- I had In-N-Out after grabbing a beer at the 2am Club in Mill Valley, CA (aka "The Huey Lewis Bar). I drove there in a convertible while cranking HLN. So, yeah.

SECOND ROUND
1) Five Guys over 9) Zaxby's -- Fairly unimpressive.
5) Bojangles' over 13) Firehouse Subs -- Also unimpressive. I hope these matchups are at least exciting.
3) Popeye's over 6) Jack in the Box -- Annie (Honey) over scary, explosive Jack.
2) In-N-Out over 7) Long John Silver's -- In-N-Out wen all "animal style" and prevailed.

REGIONAL SEMI
1) Five Guys over 5) Bojangles' -- Because, er, OK.
3) Popeye's over 2) In-N-Out -- Tough call. Really tough call. I would have preferred this as the regional final.

REGIONAL FINAL
3) Popeye's over 1) Five Guys -- Honey, you've got to have that Cajun rice!

Dave Thomas Region

FIRST ROUND
1) Wendy's over 16) Wienerschnitzel -- Wendy's is legit. I love McDonald's fries but Wendy's chicken is outstanding.
8) Sonic over 9) Checker's/Rally's -- Tough, tough call. But Sean and I have good memories over our now-gone Sonic. I actually like Checker's a lot but not many around here (I think there's still one in the Bronx).
4) Shake Shack over 13) Swensons -- Shake Shack is good though it's not what us New Yorkers make it out to be. There was a line every time I passed the one in Madison Park. Swensons looks good.
5) Steak and Shake over Wings Over -- Eric Wuchiski was outraged on Twitter that S&S got a five seed but my goodness I'm a fan. Just not of the one near Petersburg, VA (which has since closed). Yet, I've started making my own chili on pasta combo ever since I tried it in Raleigh.
11) Del Taco over 6) Raising Cane's -- Del Taco has been mentioned on "The Big Bang Theory!" That's enough for me.
3) KFC over 14) Blimpie -- Blimpie has just faded. I wanted to take them. I can't do it.
10) Qdoba over 7) Skyline Chili -- While I'm intrigued to really try Skyline, I'm told it has chocolate in it. That would be a no. Plus I actually like Qdoba. Qdoba. All day.
2) Taco Bell over 15) El Pollo Loco -- OK.

SECOND ROUND
1) Wendy's over 8) Sonic -- The eat in the car thing can get tiring. I like Wendy's.
5) Steak and Shake over 4) Shake Shack -- I will not apologize for this. If a Steak and Shake ever moved into the Shake Shack location off Exit 11 in Darien, CT, I would go there.
3) KFC over 11) Del Taco -- I have literally no logic for this one. Unimpressive.
10) Qdoba over 2) Taco Bell -- Cinderella has returned! A late drive to the bucket before a slam dunk. Chips and salsa for everyone!

REGIONAL SEMIS
5) Steak and Shake over 1) Wendy's -- In a stunning victory, Steak and Shake kept the game close before dribbling a shake in for the win.
10) Qdoba over 3) KFC -- I'll be honest, I prefer Popeye's over KFC and never got the appeal. KFC made it this far because they've created some things that only I can ever like (such as a chicken sandwich with a donut).

REGIONAL FINAL
5) Steak and Shake over 10) Qdoba -- It was like VCU and Butler! Eric Wuchiski is going to question my sanity!

FINAL FOUR
Wawa
Moe's
Popeye's
Steak and Shake

Wawa over Moe's -- "Wawa has got more choies" - Sean Adams. I quite agree. Incidentally, when I told Sean what I was doing and why, he said: "Wow. You're desperate."
Steak and Shake over Popeye's -- Chili mac over Cajun rice! Honey, please?!

NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP
Wawa over Steak and Shake -- That's right, y'all. An eight seed wins it! It's Villanova in '85 all over again! They have the coffee, the icee's, the large coolers of beverages. They have the deli and the baked goodies. They also (mostly) have gas. It's one-stop shopping on a road trip! It's an oasis!

They are the champions, my friends!

Give me a Philly Cheesesteak, but no...ONIONS!

Cue "One Shining Moment."

Friday, March 13, 2020

So, Now What?

The familiar stance of Bobby Murcer on TV tonight (YES Network)
Today is Friday the 13th, and it's probably fitting because what a weird week it has been.

Yesterday was the day sports stopped.

We've documented it all week. By this morning, basketball, hockey, baseball, all college championships, golf (including The Masters), soccer, NASCAR and just about everything else had been either postponed or canceled.

The size of the event didn't matter, be it March Madness or Dodge For a Cause (at the Greenwich Boys and Girls Club).

Honestly, it should go without saying that sports is not everything, even to me.

But, it will be a unique stretch of undetermined time. We don't know when anything will be "normal."

Two weeks, baseball says? Hopeful, but I feel it's not likely.

A month, per the NBA? Maybe, but six weeks feels more probable.

We will move forward. We will figure it all out. We have to.

The rhetoric has to stop. But, we know it won't.

We'll watch TV and movies and we'll read and write and do projects around the house.

Life will continue without sports. Temporarily.

I called the Brunswick/Episcopal lacrosse game late yesterday afternoon and stuck to my game plan of allowing people to watch a sporting event (the only one, and the last one, involving a Connecticut team to my knowledge). What I mean by that is I made no reference to COVID-19 or Coronavirus.

I referred to "the elephant in the room" once and mentioned the upcoming schedule. The Bruins have already had a game canceled -- at Deerfield on Mar 28. Beyond that, I wanted people to feel what sports is supposed to be: a release. A form of entertainment.

Stamford, CT at 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, 3/12/20
The drive was eerie. While this can't be compared to Sep 11, 2001, there was still that ominous feeling of one story breaking after another, along with much less traffic as I drove.

Yes, it's a scary time. You bet it is. It's scary for health but it's also scary for the economy.

Still, folks have found plenty of ways to make it all about themselves.

That's not to say I'm not concerned but, as with all of this, there are priorities.

So, it stinks that all sports are gone. We'll be OK though. But, in any industry, it's the part-timers and freelancers who can get hurt. There's no guarantee of pay at all.

This situation is so fluid. Things are changing and will continue to do so.

One day at a time will have to be the rule.