Friday, January 31, 2020

Broadcast. Entertainer.

Would Krusty make a good play-by-play announcer (The Simpsons)
Oh, boy.

I was looking in the forums at staatalent.com tonight (a place for sports broadcasters to converse) when a job caught my eye.

The title? "Baseball Broadcast Entertainer."

The job description was, well, it was. That's all.

"In this role you will consider the normal guidelines for baseball play-by-play then do . . . the exact . . . opposite."

That was only the opening sentence. The bullet points?

* Instead of describing the game, you'll talk about the game as fans do. "Why in the heck is the number 9 hitter swinging on 3-and-oh with the bases loaded?!"
* Instead of cookie-cutter home run calls, they want CHEESE. The cheesier the better!
* Instead of pre and post-game interviews on the field or in the locker room, you might do them from the shower.
* Instead of interviewing only players and coaches, you might interview fans, kids, local business people and front office staff.
* Instead of working with an ex-player as your analyst, you might work with rotating fan analysts or even players from the active roster!
* Other ideas include doing an inning of imitations of some of the famous broadcast calls of all time including, “Do You believe in Miracles?” Or you could be doing an inning of all movie quotes and famous song lyrics. You could possibly get suggestions from fans for a word of the night that you need to mix into your broadcast. You could also showcase the players in unique environments.

Now, before you say they're reinventing the wheel (or microphone in this case), please take a breath. We've already established otherwise (Mike Lange, Dizzy Dean, etc).

But, yeah, this clearly isn't my kind of job. I'm sure you have someone else in mind. And, hey, why not? Let the flavor of the month head to this college baseball league. This trend will wear itself out.

I'm a firm believer that one can still be a reporter and remain a professional and still have fun. I mean, I do it all the time, and we've been through all of that, so there's no need to go through it again.

Report. Inform. Educate. Entertain. To put it in hashtag form: #RIEE

All of that can be done without interviewing a player in the shower.

There are so many of us having a blast doing what we do. Don't let the ones who are leaning on stats and telling us WHO they know or trying to impress us with cutesy prepared lines on the legal pad next to them fool you.

I'm the only one of me...baby, that's the fun of me! (Picture: Psychcentral.com)
And while I'm at it, let me tell you a story that I've wanted to tell for some time. I had a chance a few years ago to take on a gig that wouldn't pay but I thought it would be a good thing to do anyway. With that in mind, I set out to find people who would be right for the broadcast.

I grabbed a friend who embraced it immediately. Then I had an out of the box idea. I thought of someone who I don't really know, but we're connected on social media.

I was going to ask a fellow broadcaster for a reference, but before I ever got to that point, I looked closer at their social media accounts, especially Instagram.

Every. Thing. Was. About. Them. You know how you can have a grid of pictures -- roughly 15 or so? Their face was in every picture. Every instastory was more narcissistic that the one before it. It quickly occurred to me that this person was only interested in one thing: Them. It was all about having the right look, job, life, and focusing on this almost-unrealistic view of perfection.

Noble goals. Sure.

But, it said nothing for them being able to be part of a broadcast team and I quickly got turned off.

And I never pursued it. And I've never seen anything to change my mind.

I've made social media mistakes. Trust me on that one. We post things we regret. But, the lesson (good and/or bad)? You never know who is watching/reading (or listening).

We all have egos. Mine is, frankly, a mess (talk to those who really know me and you'll understand). We have to have some ego to work in this business. We have to all have a little narcissism.

But, there's a line.

Those who cross it are perfect to be a Broadcast Entertainer. Come up with cheesy home run calls, out-sized exaggerations of every game, and cutesy perfect outfits.

Have at it.

You know where I'll be.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

The Audition


It's a chilly January Thursday in London. It's lunchtime so, despite the cold, you decide to venture out.

You hear music. Really good music. And a crowd has formed.

It's January 30, 1969 and you're near 3 Savile Row, the address of the Apple Corps headquarters.

The Beatles are playing the famous "Rooftop Concert."

I can't guarantee how I would have reacted to such a thing at any age in my life, but I'm fairly certain "Holy ****" would have emerged from my mouth.

The Four Kings of EMI (as stated by The Monkees) played for 42 minutes, doing five versions of "Get Back" including the famous one where John Lennon says "I'd like to say thank you on behalf of the group and ourselves and I hope we've passed the audition."

While the police from the nearby West End Central station eventually broke the party up, they're not exactly the heavies that they are made out to be. They, in fact, warned the gang at Apple Corps that they'd be over (thus giving everyone time to dispose of...um...well...time to flush the toilet and get rid of any scents) and actually let The Beatles finish a final version of "Get Back" (with John's famous quote) before shutting things down.

In truth, Savile Row had become snarled with incredible traffic -- vehicular and pedestrian.

The concert was part of the recording of the Let It Be album which, up to that point, hadn't gone too well.

Director Michael Lindsay-Hogg, filming his documentary Let It Be (which I've still never seen and is hard to find) had a crew on hand. Billy Preston -- brought in ostensibly to reduce tension among The Beatles -- was on keyboards. By that point, Paul wasn't thrilled with John or George, George threatened to quit, Ringo did quit at one point, John was on his way out, Ringo was happy to just be there and basically everyone hated Paul.

George Martin (for my money, the true "Fifth Beatle") produced the effort, with Glyn Johns engineering, as well as Alan Parsons, who sat in the basement of 3 Savile Row and recorded the music on two eight-track recorders. Some of what has been lost as the Lads goofed around on things such as "God Save The Queen" was a result of Parsons changing tapes.

Call it an "Alan Parsons Project."

Yes. Yes, I went there (and yes, it's the same guy).

Director Peter Jackson has a documentary coming out that he says will disprove that the Let It Be recording sessions weren't as bad as they've made out to be. I look forward to seeing that.

As for the audio of the Rooftop Concert, it exists in several forms. Some of it appeared as official releases in various places, including Anthology 3 and the Let It Be...Naked collections. I was given a bootleg of it years ago that I have on CD (thanks, Jon!).

I'm supposed to go to London for Hunt Scanlon later in 2020, and among my sites to see is 3 Savile Row -- now the location of a Abercrombie Kids store -- as well as a return to Abbey Road so I can get pictures at the crosswalk that I can actually keep (pictures of me there in 2000 are...er...unavailable).

Anyway, the audition turned out just fine, even if all was about to end. The Beatles went back and recorded Abbey Road, released the shelved Let It Be album, and faded into obscurity or something.

For many, the Rooftop Concert was their last glimpse, even if many couldn't actually see them.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Bell Let's Talk

It's January 29, 2020.

It's also Bell Let's Talk Day. It was held on Jan 30 last year, and I decided to open up and write something important. With that in mind, I'd like to run that again.

Please know there is nothing wrong with admitting you need help, whether it's depression or anything else. There are people who care, love you, and will talk to you. Please. Now, more than ever.

Love each other. Watch out for each other. Please. Before it's too late.

This is what I wrote just about a year ago today:

*****
Today is Bell Let's Talk Day.

Created by Bell Canada, the telecom company pledges to donate $.05 to what they call "mental health initiatives” for each social media interaction that uses #BellLetsTalk.

While the money goes to Canadian mental health initiatives, it helps keep an important conversation moving forward worldwide.

It needs to be said again: depression is real. Mental health is a real problem.

There is no shame in discussing it.

I'm not ashamed to say that I've battled dark moments.

There are many reasons for this.

Money. Loss of time with my son. Fearing that I've wasted my life. Worrying about my friends and family.

Not enough work. Lost work.

Lack of health insurance, thus worrying about my health.

When the clouds are dark, it all becomes magnified. Bad.

In those bad moments, I become the worst broadcaster ever. I become the worst father. I become a profound failure.

The loneliness creeps in. The despair becomes tangible.

This is reality. I need help.

You might need help also.

Seriously -- it's OK.

I'm here. I'll listen. I'll help however I can.

Let's talk.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

There Are Still Journalists Who Do It Right

Except...as of this writing...he's not. (WFSB)
I feel like I'm in a daily fight to defend, support, and promote journalism, and I won't back down from it.

But dammit, we've dropped the ball over the past few days.

I told you about the screw ups of the reporting of Kobe, his daughter, and the seven others who died in the helicopter crash on Sunday.

Now I'm following a disaster of journalism in Connecticut. Fotis Dulos -- accused of killing his estranged wife -- reportedly tried to kill himself a few hours ago. That does not seem to be in doubt.

I saw the story break and I checked my sources. The Hartford Courant was on top of it and, just after Noon, reported that Dulos was dead. Several sources -- ones that I trust -- backed that up.

I teach the Rule of Three -- three verified sources.

I watched WFSB-TV from Hartford (Rocky Hill, to be exact) as they tried to stumble and carry along the breaking news. Look, I get that. I've done breaking news. You're stretching, straining, and struggling for things to say. You find all of the "ums," "uhs," and "you knows" to get through it. You repeat yourself.

This is what I lovingly call "HAN Radio Stormcast."

Then, in a flash, I watched as WFSB (channel 3) came to a halt. The anchor reached for her IFB -- that earphone worn by TV people.

I could almost sense her blushing in agony of embarrassment.

Something was amiss. Dulos' attorney, Norm Pattis, put out a statement that Dulos still had a pulse.

It was a journalistic miracle! Praise Edward R. Murrow!

Except Murrow would be horrified.

We. Had. It. Wrong.

And with my retweeting and sharing via social media, I felt complicit in passing along errant information.

It's not about me. I realize that. But I feel responsible to be someone you can all trust.

We're letting you down, and it becomes low-hanging fruit for those embittered by this business, or angry at us because we don't talk about Trump enough or whatever to attack and say journalism is "dead."

It ain't dead. There are plenty of us -- I know them -- who won't let it die. They honor this business every day and are an inspiration to me. They're not hung up in the narcissism of who they know in the business as they make the story about themselves.

There are plenty of us who scour, source, double-check and triple-check stories. There are plenty of us who are unbiased in what we do.

But, we screwed this one up.

As I write, Fotis Dulos is in the hospital and efforts are ongoing to save his life. Whether or not his life matters is for another time, when I'm not wearing a journalism hat.

We need to do better and I'll be damned after today if I know how to do that.

Frank Reynolds was an ABC News anchor. Watch him meltdown on the air as information was found to be wrong during the Reagan assassination. I saw this live and, to this day, I'll never forget his reaction as news about press secretary James Brady and Reagan came forward:

"Let's get it nailed down ... somebody ... let's find out! Let's get it straight so we can report this thing accurately!"

I can't say it any better than that.

Monday, January 27, 2020

The Overreactions


Emotions are raw tonight.

A day after Kobe Bryant, his daughter, and seven other people died in a helicopter crash, there has been a collection of suggestions on how to honor him.

Major League Baseball retired Jackie Robinson's number 42 across the league in 1997.

The National Hockey League retired Wayne Gretzky's number 99 in 2000.

Since then there have been calls for baseball to add Roberto Clemente's number 21 and, once in a rare while, Babe Ruth's number 3.

Beginning last night, basketball fans have recommended hanging up Kobe's two uniform numbers (8 and 24) league-wide.

Some have suggested making August 24th (8/24...get it?) Kobe Bryant Day.

Still more have said the the NBA logo -- modeled after the great Jerry West -- should be changed to be a silhouette of Kobe.

To that end, a petition exists that has over 280,000 signatures as of Monday night.

Look, I get it. Everyone handles grief in their own way. Far be it for me to say how anyone should grieve.

But this is over the top.  Kobe died yesterday. Let's stop the fast break.

In due time, there will be appropriate, rational ways to honor Mamba, his daughter, and those who died.

A Kobe statue certainly makes sense at Staples Center.

A Kobe Bryant Award is also logical.

But I think we need to calm down a bit.

The Lakers postponed their game tomorrow night. I actually would have been OK with the NBA taking last night off, but I kind of feel like it would have been good for fans in Los Angeles to be back together.

This isn't something I feel strongly about that I want to have a debate but it does bring me back to Aug 3, 1979 when the Yankees hosted the Orioles.

We all needed it. Over 51,000 fans attended and cheered.

For nearly 10 minutes.

The cheering roared through the grand ballpark as the Yankees openly wept on the field and the spot behind home plate remained empty.

The roar of the crowd was like a wave. It kept going, grew stronger, began to subside just a touch, then exploded again.

I watched on TV, and stood in silence. Even at 10, it was overwhelming.

It was cathartic.


The Lakers can have that moment when they're ready, I suppose.

But I don't think tomorrow night would have been a bad thing.

*****
I sat down last night and started a recorded edition of Doubleheader that I finished up this morning. I talked about Kobe, Eli Manning, and Derek Jeter, among other things.

I wanted it to air today at 4pm, as I would be unable to host a live show. I'm still running to and from Poughkeepsie and balancing things.

The show did not air due to lack of time to put it in our automation system. So I resurrected Tales From the Booth -- the Doubleheader edition. Please listen.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Kobe


I'm sitting three feet away from where I was sitting on Aug 2, 1979.

I was on the floor, watching TV, when I heard about the death of Thurman Munson.

Today, I'm sitting on a couch, and the TV was off but my phone was on.

And, today, Kobe Bryant is dead, along with his 13-year-old daughter in a helicopter crash in California.

Kobe was otherworldly as a basketball player. I'm not quite sure I need to even go into his legacy.

Yes, I realize there was also a rape allegation and, if we're going to be fair, then we have to slot that into the story somewhere. Best teammate? No. But, let's not. Not here. At least not today.

Sure, with full disclosure, I was never the biggest Kobe fan, but my God you HAD to respect that he was a marvelous talent with incredible confidence. He had a special DNA that only certain greats do.

And, today he and his daughter -- along with what is being reported as seven other people -- are gone.

Reported.

The story broke around 2:45. TMZ -- heaven forbid! -- was first. ABC's Los Angeles affiliate was also early to the story.

Let's be honest. Find me a story that TMZ was wrong about. All of us "news snobs" need to accept that. They're legit. And they were right.

My first thought was that ESPN would be all over it. Nope. They were airing the Pro Bowl. At the same time, ABC was ALSO airing the Pro Bowl, as a simulcast.

Let me say that again. They were airing the Pro Bowl, generally regarded as the least respected of the all-star game in the major sports. A game that the NFL would have been smart to come out and tell ESPN/ABC to adjust their broadcast of somehow.

But, back to the reporting.

Look, I'm all about confirmation and getting three sources before breaking a story. But TMZ had it. So did ABC's LA-based station.

Still, the Pro Bowl started -- on ESPN and ABC -- and nothing. Finally, at 3:02 p.m., Joe Tessitore acknowledged it (only after Adrian Wojnarowski confirmed and tweeted it) on the broadcast.

ABC/ESPN eventually did a special report but still went back to the Pro Bowl on both channels.

OK, again, I get it. Sponsors, deal with the NFL, blah blah blah. Doesn't breaking news supersede this?

And -- again it was on TWO channels -- couldn't you dump one and go to news while leaving the Pro Bowl (for the love of God, really?) on the other?

I didn't really want CNN (and they also took their sweet time to acknowledge it). I wanted ESPN. Don't tell me about ESPN News or ESPN 8 (the Ocho) or whatever. For one thing, I don't have ESPN News.

So I stuck with CNN and never changed back.

Ponderous, man.

But, there's more. Again, I get it. Confirm your sources -- remember, I teach this stuff (and will do so on Tuesday). But, soon, there were conflicting reports that Bryant's daughters were on the helicopter. That story was then tweeted all over before people walked it back. Then it was said no other family member was on the plane.

As we know now -- I'm writing after 8 p.m. Eastern -- his 13-year-old daughter was on the helicopter.

We preach: be right, not first. We failed in that regard from the way it all went down on Twitter.

Personally, I blame places like -- no, I won't say it but I bet you know who I'm talking about -- news outlets that irresponsibly want things reported, facts be damned. Those clicks are so important. I raged against it then and I still do.

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

Then again, I nearly got fired once for opining on Twitter about breaking news coverage so nothing should surprise me.

This is, frankly, one of the most important sports stories in recent memory. It, of course, transcends sports. But it's Thurman. It's Roberto Clemente. I suppose it would have been what Lou Gehrig was like if "The Iron Horse" had announced his illness publicly. It's what Magic Johnson saying he was HIV positive was like.

This story is huge, and will roll into tonight, especially given that the Grammy's are tonight. Oh, and coincidentally, they're being held at Staples Center, where Bryant played from 1999 until the end of his career.

The story goes beyond sports as I said. My son knows little about basketball. He's probably heard of LeBron James and Michael Jordan.

And Kobe Bryant.

Like literally everyone, he has shot balled-up napkins into the garbage as if it were a basketball. Like many, he uttered "Kobe" every time, even before he knew who Kobe Bryant was. Of course, I quizzed him.

But today, I texted him. He was stunned.

As we all are.

Mamba out.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Rainy Saturday

A quiet hockey rink at Brunswick
I had some time in the car today, and I decided to turn the radio dial.

The AM dial is so fun at night. It's amazing the far off places you can hear. I realize that's not so exciting in the internet/satellite radio era, but it's still fun to me.

I stumbled onto a minor league hockey game and decided to listen for a stretch. Now, what have I told you about not listening to other broadcasters? It's dangerous, man. Just dangerous.

And, most of all, it's ponderous.

This was no different. There were limited details given, and there were long stretches of silence as the game went along. I rarely heard the score, and it took some time before I even figured out what game I was listening to.

As I said, the game was somewhere else (the radio station was from Canada). That's about all I'm going to give.

It's possible that the play-by-play person was having a bad night, so I'll be kind.

But ugh.

I had a game of my own today and it was fun.

While the hockey rink at Brunswick was dark (the Bruins played Hill* in Pottstown, PA) so it was a basketball day for me. I also called the Bruins in hoops on Friday.

* I called Brunswick/Hill when they played in Pottstown two years ago from the Local Live Stamford studio. While I always want to be on-site, it was still pretty cool to try it that way. Plus, I had formed a little something with Hill dating back to my days on HAN when I called Hill/Wick as well. All for another time, I guess.

Brunswick would be without some big firepower, so the odds seemed long against a talented team from Salisbury.

"We go to battle with what we have," Bruins coach Steve Juricek said to me and, as you can probably guess, his team did just fine.

Down fifteen late in the first half, Brunswick went on a 12-2 run to trail by five at the break. The lead went back to 11 with 9:45 to go. Then the began chipping away. Dan Arnold tied the game at 54 with just over three to play.

But Logan Galletta -- a freshman -- hit a three-pointer to give Wick their first lead with 75 seconds remaining. The Bruins held on from there for a 59-58 win.

It was exhilarating. The teams left, the benches were being broken down, and I sat against a wall, just finishing up the upload of the audio portion of the call. But, more than that, I was soaking in a good game.

You see, the best games leave you worn out. I used to get in trouble for hanging out with friends after games, not to gossip or grumble, but to find the energy to drive. Today felt like that.

I was missing AJ and Shawn to commiserate with.

Coach Juricek stopped over to say goodbye. The best coaches love to talk the game.

They also have a word of encouragement for what you do.

After he left, I summoned the energy to drive to Poughkeepsie.

Another night in the books.

** Last thing: My mom, Sean, and I were supposed to be in Virginia today. We were looking forward to celebrating Lilah's (daughter on Jon and Rebecca and sister of Rose) bat mitzvah today. We were all pretty excited, but it was no to be. As I alluded to last night, mom had a health hiccup and it was best that we stayed in New York. So I picked up the two basketball games to get some work (I lost a hockey game on Monday). It was really important to see all of them, as Jon and I keep reminding ourselves that life is too short and we haven't seen them in so long. We were really bummed to not go to Virginia but we'll hope to do it again in the future (well, the visit, but I'm pretty sure the bat mitzvah was a one-time affair).

Friday, January 24, 2020

Still Wiped Out

He's tired also.

I feel weak admitting it.

I felt selfish in what I wrote last night.

Yet, here we are again.

I could feel my energy lagging during my call of tonight's basketball game at Brunswick.

I gave it my all. I'm sure if I were to ask I'd be told I sounded fine.

But I -- number one critic -- felt otherwise.

So I came home, texted all appropriate parties about events of the day and made myself some dinner.

Now, it's after eleven and I'm just fried.

My legs are tired. My soul is tired. And I just heard something crash.

Super.

So this is all I've got for you tonight until my energy level returns.

I'd like to be like Chico in the picture about. Utterly passed out.

And I will be soon.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

I'm Wiped Out

Not an actual picture of me
Remember when I wrote on Monday about taking the night off?

That was night one of a crazy week.

I've told some of you what is going on.

So, let's see...missed hockey game, called a hockey game, my great niece is getting ready to have a baby, I recorded two podcasts for Hunt Scanlon, got Sean to a driving lesson and visited two hospitals with my mom.

From the sports world (besides the game broadcasts) there has been the whole Derek Jeter thing (now you know why I wasn't much in the mood for the haters, trolls, and fools), Eli Manning retiring,the Mets hiring the new manager and whatever else went on.

Is that everything? I feel like I've missed something.

Oh yeah. I was supposed to leave for Virginia tomorrow. But, such is life.

Instead I'll call basketball both tomorrow and Saturday.

So, anyway, that's life.

Oh, my mom, you say?

It's her story to tell. It's her health.

But I'll tell you this: I wrote that post Monday night at Putnam Hospital Center.

So, once again, tomorrow's another day.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

From a Common Sense Perspective


So there's been much talk about Derek Jeter missing on a unanimous vote by one.

That's not really what this post is about, but we'll use Jeter as the baseline.

That one voter has been revered and reviled in the past 24 hours.

Do I think the person did it for notoriety? No, not really. Generally speaking, that person probably had no idea they were the only one to not vote for Jeter.

Do I think there should be a witch hunt over it? No, but I would be curious to get an explanation. It won't assuage those outraged (ranging from Yankees Universe to Patrick Mahomes and others) but it would be interesting nevertheless.

But here's what I want to make clear: Telling me Jeter (or anyone) can't or shouldn't be unanimous because Aaron, Mays, Ruth, etc wasn't.

It. Is. A False Equivalency.

Here's the deal.

The writers receive a ballot. They are instructed to pick up to ten players. They can send back a blank ballot. They can not send a ballot at all (though that doesn't impact the percentage of votes).

Then the writers look at each player and they answer one -- ONE -- simple question.

Really. It's quite simple.

Are you ready for it?

Can you handle it?

Are you sure?

OK...

Is that player a Hall of Famer?

That's. It.

No more. No less.

Judge the individual player. Is Derek Jeter a Hall of Famer? Yes or no. Is Larry Walker a Hall of Famer? Roger Clemens? Barry Bonds?

Base your answer on whatever metrics you choose. I generally go initially with gut feeling and eye test before I dig into numbers when discussing players. Naturally I don't have a vote because I don't belong to the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

And so, let's have a look at a ballot, shall we?


This is Randy Miller's ballot from NJ.com. Read the directions. Pretty straight forward, no? Are the players on that ballot Hall of Famers? If yes, in the estimation of the voter, check the box. Pick up to ten.

Nowhere there does it say to compare Bobby Abreu, for instance, to Reggie Jackson.

Nor does it say that you can't vote for Derek Jeter because 11 people didn't vote for Babe Ruth.

In 1936.

Can you begin to see how silly that logic is? It's not a apt comparison.

Eleven people didn't vote for Ruth. Same goes for Honus Wagner. Four didn't vote for Ty Cobb. But, again, this was in 1936. The reason I've heard behind Ruth, for instance, was that some writers thought it was too soon for his inclusion. Ruth had only retired in 1935, which of course was before the creation of the five-year waiting period.

Look, I can't explain why nine writers didn't vote for Hank Aaron in 1982 or 23 passed on Willie Mays in 1979. Three didn't vote for Junior Griffey in 2016.

There were notions that there couldn't be a unanimous Hall of Famer but that finally went out the window with Mariano Rivera in 2019.

There's still the notion of a first ballot Hall of Famer, which is a supposed to be a badge of honor. It means little thought was necessary on that player, but can also be imperfect (see: Puckett, Kirby)

There, honestly, could have been anything ranging from racism to the player in question slighted the writer somewhere along the line. Given opinions are involved, the process is hardly perfect.

Twenty writers didn't vote for Ted Williams in 1966. Why? Ted had a prickly relationship with writers. They're supposed to overlook that, but opinions and biases still happen.

There is the character clause which many writers have hidden behind for one dumb reason or another.

But how a ballot was voted on in any previous year (or player) has no bearing on how this year played out.

THIS is the ballot for 2020.

Next year, voters will judge only the players on the 2021 ballot.

So to tell me Derek Jeter or Ken Griffey Jr or Sandy Koufax or Johnny Bench or Tom Seaver can't be unanimous because Babe Ruth or Willie Mays or Christy Mathewson or Ted Williams or Stan Musial weren't? Don't you see where it's sort of illogical?

Or is it just a sheer matter of basic jealousy?

Or is it you're a hater of the player/team?

This post isn't about whether or not Jeter is unanimous. I lost no sleep over that fact.  As a reminder, he's in the Hall of Fame today, so the point is irrelevant.

In reality, it's not really about Jeter at all. We could be talking about any player.

It's meant to attack the bogus logic I've seen flying around since around 6:15 last night.

The hot takes and hatred have just been wonderful. Thanks for all of it.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

YEAH, JEETS!


Along with "27 Rings," "Yeah, Jeets!" might be our most obnoxious quote. Yankees fans -- like any successful sports franchise -- certainly have that tendency.

Like a party trick, it makes haters flip out. Fun for the whole family!

And, oh my, are they flipping out tonight as Derek Jeter enters Cooper2town.

Sorry. I couldn't resist.

You see, here's the thing. The one thing -- the ONLY thing -- that the Derek Jeter haters (read: Mets fans, Red Sox fans, and, well, haters in general) can hold on to is that he wasn't unanimously elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

He missed out by one vote. Let the games begin!

Well, OK, yes, there's the thing of now breaking him down. You know: "He's not a Hall of Famer." Then there are the comparisons and the "overrated" comments and, my personal favorite, the "crappy defense" argument.

But, make no mistake: he's going to Cooperstown. He's the featured attraction this summer. Get ready for a "YUGE" crowd this summer, with a lot of pinstripes to be seen.

(And by the way, big congrats to Lary Walker. Who doesn't like Larry Walker, eh?)

Truth: Derek Sanderson Jeter was never my favorite Yankees player. It was always Paul O'Neill or someone else.

But, he was there. Mr. Clutch. Mr. November. Mr. Whatever-the-hell-he-wanted-to-be.

He was that good. We knew it.

I was there for a ton of it. My son -- noted as not a big sports fan -- jumped in my arms when he got the hit that put him as tops in the history of the New York Yankees. We were both there on a rainy Friday night to watch it.

He and I watched Jeter hit DJ3K (aka, his 3,000th hit) from our living room a few years later. Again, he jumped in my arms. Special. Father. Son.

Hate Jeter all you want. I'll hold onto those moments.

In need of a big hit on Mickey Mantle Day when he was a rookie? Bang. Walk off hit.

Game 6, 1996? Bang. Base hit off Greg Maddox, who spurned the Bronx for the burning of Atlanta.

The Mets climbing back into the 2000 World Series? Ha, I say. First pitch. Game four. Bobby Jones. One-nothing, New York Yankees. Series basically over.

Go into the stands against the A's in '01 or the Red Sox in '04? Sure.

He's also Mr. November, of course.

The Flip Play.

The last at-bat in the Bronx, followed by the last AB in Boston.

Every fist pump. Ever win.

Yankees win. You know the rest.

I get it. You think he's overrated. Because how could a guy by THIS good?

He was never the best...doesn't deserve to be unanimous because Ruth, Aaron, Mantle, Mays, Musial, Junior, Cobb or Piazza weren't. It's flawed logic, but you do you, I suppose.

He was that good, and he would have been anywhere. But, in New York, he found the right combination. The bright lights. The big city.

Bernie and Jorge and Coney and Paulie and Mr. Torre and Zim and Andy and Mo and Tino and SupercalifragilisticexpialiBrosius all played parts in those four rings from 1996-2000.

But, it could have been Shelly Duncan or Shane Spencer or Aaron Small. It didn't matter.

Five rings overall. Endless playoff appearances.

And, arguably, the greatest shortstop ever. Yes, I said arguably.

I got to be around him once, in the Yankees locker room following a win against the Blue Jays in a makeup game in 2003.

It was surreal. He said everything and nothing. He was respectful and in control. It was masterful.

No athlete I've covered has impressed me more.

Yeah, I know. "Rob's biased." "Man crush." Whatever. You'd be impressively wrong with that take.

He's not on the Yankees' Mount Rushmore. Those spots sit clearly with Mssrs. Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, and Mantle. Yogi is probably next.

But 3,465 hits are hard to ignore.

He has hurt his image in Miami, no doubt. He's following in Michael Jordan's footsteps as an executive. But he's Derek-freaking-Jeter, and I have no reason to doubt him.

No athlete has kept himself more squeaky clean in the limelight, despite involving himself with Mariah Carey (I told you so at the time).

So, no. Unanimous happened last year with Mo. Game over with the closer. As it should be.

I didn't need to see 100% next to DJ's name tonight.

He's in.

Yeah, Jeets.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Just Taking Tonight Off

" Well, here's another nice mess you've gotten me into!"
I'm hoping you'll cut me a break tonight.

Today was...um...a day.

I produced a new podcast for Hunt Scanlon, talking to someone from London this morning.

But the day had started falling apart before that.

I got to hang out with Sean, and that's always a good thing.

But the rest of today? No.

We keep it real around these parts, and we always have.


The options were to do this or not write a post at all, so here we are.

All is fine. Or as fine as it can be.

See you tomorrow.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Duh

"Mr. Official, let me ask you something. How can six of you miss a play like that, huh?"

A few weeks ago, I was chatting with a friend about current music. I mentioned Billie Eilish, the 18-year-old pop sensation.

He looked at me and shrugged. He'd never heard of her.

We'll return to this.

Quite a Sunday.

If you're in Kansas City, you're euphoric over the Chiefs making the Super Bowl for the first time since 1970. As I type, San Francisco is raising their collective wine glasses and cheese plates (except for the gang at the 2am Club in Mill Valley. Those are beer swillers there!).

And the Chiefs have a Mahopac High Grad on their staff. Dave Toub graduated six years before me and is the assistant head coach and special teams coordinator. So, that's cool.

Anyway, it looks like it's Chiefs and Niners in two weeks when they slot in a football game between awful concerts.*

* John Nash: AVERT YOUR EYES! There will be music criticism within this post!

Anywho, prepare yourself for two weeks of hearing stories of Joe Montana (must not opine...must not opine...), Jerry Rice, Dwight Clark (RIP), and Steve Young (Greenwich High, of course) as well as Hank Stram, Len Dawson, Willie Lanier, and Buck Buchanan.

And that's just the historical side of it.

I just saw FOX is having an extended pregame show, which isn't unusual. What's also not unusual is the collection of acts that I'll spend no time watching. The only name I remember seeing is Pitbull and I'm wondering, as I have for roughly ten years, why is that guy relevant, let alone popular?

Mr. 305/Mr. Worldwide is basically a musical cartoon character in the theme of Right Said Fred.

I'd need massive amounts of Fireball to hear him warble about Fireball.

Of course, the halftime show is pleasing because I'll barely pay attention to it. Pass me some wings!

I mean...Shakira? Jennifer Lopez?

Was Nelly Furtado not available? Kylie Minogue (who was once on Doctor Who and was quite good)? Maybe The Cover Girls, Taylor Dayne, The Pussycat Dolls, and Exposé can take part!

I know. The days of McCartney, etc. are over as halftime shows, and maybe they should be. At least we've mostly forgotten the disaster that was Imagine Dragons at the National Championship last year. In fact, it was so bad, the game didn't have a pop act play halftime this year.

If only the NFL would do the same.


I've also been seeing commercials for the upcoming Grammy's broadcast. As a result, I can't get one of Billie Eilish's (yes, back to her) big hits out of my mind because the goth synth pop beat is featured in the promo.

I think she wrote it about me. You know: "Bad Guy."

Doo doo do do do do do...

Also, with all due respect to Ms. Eilish (I promise, there is no knocking or mocking here), I have just one line from "Bad Guy" in my brain. It's the title of the post.

"Duh."

Doo doo do do do do do...

In terms of the Grammy's (my running Twitter commentary has become a thing of legend to literally two people...maybe), the rest of the lineup they're promising is about as exciting as...well, it's not exciting.

Before you (and John) begin sharpening your pitchforks, let me tell you that the Grammy's can serve as an opportunity to pick up something...anything.

But, mostly, it's a bit of a collection of moments meant to outrage and be seen.

Duh.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

The Naysayer

I'm a realist. I'm honest and have opinions.

Trust me, those get me in trouble on a daily basis -- both personally and professionally.

And it's amazing how much I've actually backed off into a place where it's bordering on ambivalence.

But I'm quickly getting off-topic here, so let me explain.

Earlier this week, iHeart Radio laid off a lot of talented broadcasters as they "restructure" or whatever they want to call it. The layoffs went from coast to coast and around many markets of varying sizes.

iHeart is continuing the trend of corporate radio losing its local flavor. It's sad how few places have a presence close to their city of license and further how few have any presence 24 hours a day. It feels like iHeart and others are trying to homogenize it.

Many of us in the business expressed our sadness over what happened this week and wished those out of work well. One site I frequent posted a request on Facebook for any advice to be given to those now looking for work.

"Get out while u can. lol," came one smart ass response.

I gripped the computer and tried to not launch it across the room. Instead, fellow understanding broadcasters (and "VOICES" of high school sports in Ohio) Nate Stidham and Mike Hirn caught my rage.

They weren't pleased, either.

I replied to the post with encouragement, as did Mike. Really. What more can we do right now? The very point is to not get out (lol) but to, more importantly, not let the bastards get you down (lol).

"Don't let this deter you or run you out of the business," I wrote.

Even if the poster was kidding (lol) it wasn't the right time for it. Don't kick a soul when they're down.

But I see this a lot. I see it in the play-by-play group. In the public address announcer group. In the AM Radio group and other places.

It's the person who insists on saying that radio is dead or to get out of the industry that you're in or whatever. It's that the sky is falling (and, sure, maybe it is).

Look, I'm all for blunt honesty and realism (back to that again) but, sometimes, it's best to just simply shut your microphone hole.

You know, "If you can't say something nice, don't say nothing at all," as spoken by noted philosopher Thumper.

Yes, we get it. Radio is in flux at the moment. This iHeart news rattled the industry a bit. I'm dealing with questions all the time on the future of WGCH (which is, you know, a RADIO station...on AM RADIO).

Yes, I further understand that play-by-play is an often low-paying gig. I explain that to my students. Why do you think I beg for EVERY game that I can possibly get? Why do you think I go nuts over the games that I lose out on?

So don't tell me about low-pay and so on.

But, and yes, this is me saying this, sometimes the honesty can be taken too far, especially in an arena like social media. If your goal is to look like a cynic or, worse, a "tough guy," then well done ol' chap! A bottle of Aqua Velva for you!

Otherwise, maybe just say nothing.

Friday, January 17, 2020

In Need of a Kick

Paula Cole
I recently had to do something I really didn't want to do. I finished it this morning.

We've visited this place before.

And in the middle of this, I began to feel guilty.

It was at that moment, I put a "Kick Me" sign on my back.

I told someone what I was thinking.

"You better not be feeling that," was a paraphrase of what was said.

I needed that.

Yes, I can be soft on occasion. Too nice, I've been told.

So I was grateful for the reminder.

As for what went on this morning, it wasn't that big of a deal. It was just a procedural thing, but it still weighed on my mind.

I'm glad it's over.

And after that, I heard Paula Cole. Yeah. Paula Cole of "Where Have All the Cowboys Gone" and that Dawson's Creek song.

Tell me: Exactly when was the last time you heard Paula Cole?

In a span of, oh, two hours (maybe), I heard Paula-freaking-Cole three times. In three different places.

It doesn't appear that there was any reason to hear Paula Cole. It was just random.

And so, that was the kind of day it was.

Yippie ki, yippie ay.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Momentum is Tomorrow's Starting Pitcher

Cubeta Stadium -- Stamford, CT. July 21, 2019
The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball.

I love baseball.

I'm sure that comes as no surprise. Yes, I love all sports. Football, hockey, and basketball for sure. I've grown with soccer. I've broadcast field hockey and water polo and lacrosse and cheerleading and wrestling and more. Honestly, more than I can remember.

That's a lot of sports over the years.

I'd go with any team that would like me in any sport. Hire me. I'll love it.

But, when you get right down to it, maybe it was because it was my first love, I'm a baseball person.

And today was a terrible baseball day.

We know what happened: Mike Axisa's parsing of the Rob Manfred report on the Astros' cheating scandal says, essentially, that AJ Hinch and Jeff Luhnow took the fall because Manfred is afraid of the Players Union. Then Jessica Mendoza said some really silly stuff. Then Carlos Beltran was...er...fired by the Mets (there's such weak attempts at wiggle room, as in "it was mutually agreed upon").

Then -- perhaps most egregiously -- rumors began to surface that the Astros players were wearing buzzers under their uniforms. The video of Jose Altuve, following his ALCS-winning home run seems quite damning.


Supposedly, Beltran's niece had some sketchy tweets about more stuff, but it turned out it was NOT Beltran's niece and, at last check, might be a player using a burner account.

By night, Scott Brosius's son was on Instagram saying that Mike Trout is using HGH.

As of now, Major League Baseball is saying there's nothing to the Altuve rumor, but nobody is buying it, except Astros fans.

Even the Mets of a different time are sort of quietly in the news for what went on a few years later. This story is bad, so be forewarned.

Is that everything?

For the love of Christy Mathewson, stop.

Just. Stop.

I realize there are some conspiracy theories in this stew, and I struggled with reporting it, and even got called out on Twitter for doing so. Fair enough. But there just feels like there's a shooter in the Houston grassy knoll tonight (Yes, I realize the grassy knoll was in Dallas, but work with me here).

I'm here to tell you we'll survive.

I don't see this as darker than the awfulness of what the Black Sox scandal was like from 1919-1921, but I realize it's pretty bleak, given baseball's "weakened status."

It will take people to help our grand old game.

We're out here. We need to get people interested. Not through pithy narcissism but through fun, enthusiasm, and passion. It's out there. It's what I'll be doing, most notably when I call games for Brunswick, the FCIAC, Little League Baseball, Babe Ruth Baseball, and the Hudson Valley Renegades.

For what it's worth, even those who don't understand or like baseball have said it gets conveyed during my broadcasts, and I'm going to bring all of that.

People need to understand why this game is so great. I've had to listen to the soccer loyalists explain why it's not boring. Well, they can listen to me.

The history matters. The strategy matters. The drama matters. But the integrity and purity matters also.

America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It's been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time.

It also needs the right people. That matters a lot.

In a tweet today, I mentioned people who I think help spread the word, but it is more than just Mike Hirn, Nate Stidham, Dan Gardella, Jake Zimmer, Mike Genaro and Alex LoParco. It's Mike Buswell and Mike Scott and Shaun McGee and Myckie Lugbauer and Shawn Sailer and AJ Szymanowski and Paul Silverfarb.

Coaches. Broadcasters. Fans.

It's my beloved coach, Lou D'Aliso, who knows so much about this game that it's scary.

It's my cousin Kris. It's even my son -- if only to explain his dad's passion.

It's even my mom who, at 82, can tell me about my baseball-crazy grandfather who played semi-pro ball in New Jersey and Peekskill.

I can't possibly name everyone (Mick and Steve and the Section 5 gang and Dave Torromeo and Mark Jeffers and Kato and...my God, I can just keep going). It's Jon, who was always this closet baseball fan in some ways that surprised me.

It's Sacha and a whole lot of other women who can more than hold their own talking about it. With Susan comes Lucy and Annabelle, who have both wowed in talent and passion on the softball field (even if Lucy has retired).

It's people. Race, religion, gender, etc does not matter. It's open to all.

It wasn't always. That's part of our history. We need to explain that history.

We -- hell, I -- need all of these people. Then I need it passed on.

Yes, all of this news stinks, but don't buy into silly narratives that the game isn't fun. There are plenty of voices -- mine included -- that will tell you how great it is by simply describing it.

The game is still great. We just all need to get back on the field. More than ever.

Let's learn from this -- expose this -- and get back to playing ball.

We need a rhubarb in the catbird seat.

We need the sounds and the smells.

I need a chili dog or a bratwurst or some nachos or some other stadium concoction. Stat.

Let's argue over all of it. Try to convince Ruth isn't the GOAT (you won't win, but proceed at your own peril).

Or that Derek Jeter (yeah, Jeets!) is overrated.

Or that Tom Seaver is the greatest pitcher ever.

Do you prefer Mantle or DiMaggio?

Teddy Ballgame or Ty Cobb?

Tonight is about the Yankees and Mets and Red Sox and Astros and Rays and Twins and Renegades and literally every other team. It's about the Greenwich Cardinals and the Montgomery Biscuits and the Greenwich Cannons and the Cal Ripken League.

It's about the Mahopac Indians and the John Jay (East Fishkill) Patriots.

It's the whole sport.

Tonight stinks. I get it. I sat in my car, almost paralyzed, as I watched baseball explode today.

Now, I want an uprising.

This is still our game in that it is a motley combination of other games that we dropped into a melting pot.

I realize I sound like the Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce. Understood. The cynic can decry my "Rah! Rah! Baseball!" approach. They can mock my quoting Field of Dreams and "Take Me Out to the Ballgame."

I don't care if I ever get back. Let me root root root...

I want to have a catch. I haven't swung a bat against so much as a hitting machine in years.

Let's. Go.

People will come, Ray.

People will most definitely come.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

A Hall of Fame Post

Alex Karras closes in on Sonny Jurgenson
Before I get to the meat of this post, allow me to express my sadness over what iHeart Radio has done, putting many talented people out of work as they do a mass reorganization. Scott Fybush, the master of NERW at fybush.com, has more -- along with a growing list of names. I'm saddened to see the business take such a massive hit.

And now, back to our regularly-scheduled program...

Halls of Fame were all the rage today.

(Incidentally, Derek Jeter will be making his way to Cooperstown next week, so we'll deal with that then)

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame named their latest class, and frankly, I don't care. I feel no anger or pleasure at the announcement. I suppose, to an extent, that's a good thing.

The inductees are Depeche Mode, The Doobie Brothers, Whitney Houston, Nine Inch Nails, The Notorious B.I.G. and T-Rex. Jon Landau and Irving Azoff are the recipients of the Ahmet Ertegun Award.

I mean, OK. Sure.

I have nothing against any of these acts. I liked a few and didn't care about the others. We can skip the "Whitney Houston and Biggie aren't rock" discussions, because that debate is long gone. She had one of the great voices ever and he was hugely influential on rap.

Maybe someone else would have excited me, but I'm content to feel nothing over this, so there will be no Harold Baines-esque meltdown.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame also named a new collection of inductees. Bill Cowher and Jimmy Johnson were both announced over the weekend. Earlier today, Steve Sabol, Paul Tagliabue, and George Young were named as contributors. The players named are Harold Carmichael, Jim Covert, Bobby Dillon, Cliff Harris, Winston Hill, Alex Karras, Donnie Shell, Duke Slater, Mac Speedie, and Ed Sprinkle.

I'm particularly pleased about Sabol, Young, Cowher, and Shell.

Plus Alex-freaking-Karras! We're talking about George Papadapolis -- Webster's Dad!

And more importantly...MONGO from Blazing Saddles. Mongo liked candy and was only a pawn in the game of life.




 

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

No Dissertation Necessary

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
I'm not going to give you a rundown on why baseball did what they did.

I'm not going to tell you that baseball did the right thing over the past two days.

Cheating -- doing anything to gain an edge -- has existed forever. Gaylord Perry's doctoring of baseballs was so charming that he's in the Hall of Fame.

But I'll tell you this: it's illegal to steal signs using technology.

And that's the problem.

That's why AJ Hinch and Alex Cora are out of managing jobs today, and why Jeff Luhnow is not a general manager today.

Let me hit a few thoughts in here, and I'll keep it simple:

- The Astros (and the Red Sox) will not be giving up their championships. Unlike the NCAA, pro teams don't take banners down. The court of public opinion will recognize things for what they are: tainted.

- The Dodgers aren't getting any titles and, seriously, would you want it? To that end...

- The Yankees aren't getting anything either. They lost the ALCS in '17 and '19 to Houston and the ALDS in '18 to Boston. Sure, it stinks to lose like that, but I don't want to win like that either. No fan should.

So, we're here.

My concern remains how much deeper this goes. Thus I see no point in celebrating because your team -- my team -- could just as easily be guilty.

Then there's the question of new Mets manager Carlos Beltran. What will become of him? Will the groundswell be enough to get him fired before he ever manages a game? Honestly, I don't know. I keep thinking "no" because players (which he was in 2017) have been immune so far. That being said, he's not a player anymore and, thus, isn't protected by the union.

One internet genius thought it was brilliant of baseball to break this story on the morning of the National Championship in college football. Except the story dominated Monday and has now rolled into Tuesday.

Much as you might expect me to revel in this Boston downfall, I find myself feeling sad for baseball tonight.

And sports.

These are black eyes that just aren't needed.

We're still talking about the Black Sox 101 years later and the stigma of that has never gone away.

Hopefully this is where it ends.

But I'm dubious.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Greenwich Family Ties

Scooter Braun Instagram page
There's a lot of Greenwich in that picture.

Scooter Braun is a media mogul who has found ridiculous success in music and more. He's second from left in that picture.

I knew him as Scott Braun.

That's his father Ervin -- a dentist -- on the right.

In the back are three more Braun boys: Sam, Adam, and Cornelio.

At one time, I knew them all.

Scott -- sorry, Scooter -- Sam, Adam, and Cornelio each played basketball at Greenwich High School and I was their broadcaster.

Sam Manhanga and Cornelio Guibunda were brought to Greenwich by Dr. Braun to join the family and play basketball. That season was interesting, as the Cardinals went 22-3, making their way to the FCIAC championship, and producing my "Insanity" call, as GHS fell to Trinity Catholic on a buzzer-beater by Dave McClure, who would go on and play at Duke.

I'm sure (oh, who I am kidding? I know)  if I were to dig through the the archives, I'd find plenty of scoresheets and programs featuring these guys.

Sam and Cornelio brought attention (not all of it great) wherever they went. Their arrival was considered a controversial. For the record, they were great with me and our broadcasts.

From what I've seen, the Braun family has done very well in their lives. Congratulations to all. They were each always nice to me in any interaction I had with them, so I wish them well.

A quick side story: Greenwich played Bridgeport Central in the state tournament in that 01-02 year. I was approached by two people from ESPN who were doing a story on Cornelio and Sam. They connected into our WGCH broadcast for audio to use during the story.

The Cardinals lost that night and the season came to an end. I gather that squashed the story.

It was back in the day when WGCH did everything. Every game.

It was just one piece of what made for a crazy winter of 2001-2002.

Oh yeah. I also became a father that season, but that's a story for another time.

Like next month.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Sunday Musings

This view of Times Square from an airplane didn't bother me
I don't mind heights. Really, I don't.

I've stood at the top of many buildings, mountains, bridges and other places with great views. I've enjoyed window seats on airplanes, such as last September.

I've strolled across Hoover Dam.

Beavis: Is this a God dam? (Sorry, I'm still 12 somewhere)

But, and I can't stress this enough, if I don't feel safe, then I do not like heights.

I can handle part of my roof, but I needed help cleaning the rest of the gutters, for instance.

And so, it didn't go well when I tried to saunter up a ladder to change a flood light on the corner of the house today.

With temperatures in the 60s, I looked up at the light and convinced myself to try. I went and got a trusty metal ladder and began climbing. I got a few rungs off the ground and stopped.

I came back down.

I can do this!

I tried again. The ladder shook as I got higher. It just didn't feel sturdy.

My body is getting queasy as I'm typing.

Nope.

I feel so...um...weak admitting this. Like I'm a failure. But, in this instance, I am.

Damn.

*****
It occurred to me as I was teaching on Thursday that the college football national championship hasn't been played yet.

It's tomorrow.

I realize we love college football in this country. I realize parts of the U.S. are just college football nuts.

The northeast is not. As such, excitement for the game has dwindled or been forgotten.

Let's be honest, it rarely gets brought up on "Doubleheader," and you don't hear a lot of college talk on the local sports stations. I'd talk about it if anyone cares but, at least based on what I see and hear, the interest really isn't there.

Oh, don't get me wrong. People will get fired up again tomorrow night, and I'll no doubt put it on TV (where there are roughly 15 different options for a broadcast*), but I can't tell you I'm galvanized by it.

*That's not an exaggeration.

Look, I'm not knocking college football at all. I like it, though I really don't have a team (and maybe that hurts me). But I think it doesn't help to have a regular season that ended a while ago, and a bunch of bowl games that are meh at best. Even the "big" bowl games have lost luster. January 1 has become more about hockey (for me) and only now -- Jan 13 -- will we resolve the national championship.

It doesn't work for me.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Nothing Fancy

My broadcast setup today
This will drive those in the play-by-play group that I belong to on Facebook crazy.

As you can see from the picture above, I worked today's basketball game from two team chairs several feet behind the scorers table from the game floor. Sometimes it's one chair. Sometimes it's a table.

And it works just fine.

I've had a table there in the past, and while that's nice -- it gives me more room -- there hasn't been a table for me so far this season.

I never want to be a problem for anyone, and the people at Brunswick are all great -- literally, everyone that I have worked with there has been first class -- so I make do.

This setup works just fine. The audio port that I use to send sound back to Local Live is nearby (on the wall in the right of that picture), and I have a pretty good view of the floor from where I stand. I can see the officials indications for the most part, and can walk to the scorers table if I need any interpretation or to glance at the scorebook for any issues.

The players will screen me sometimes, but I also get to linger in on team conversations and relay anything that I think is pertinent to the audience.

I respect anything private and use discretion.


I love it. Literally all of it.

So I laugh when I hear my brethren in the business growling about work conditions, poor views, crazy press boxes, and limited work space.

I'm content.

My scoresheet. I designed myself 20 years ago and have adjusted as needed
This is why I normally don't work with myriad colored pens and fancy spotting charts. My score sheet is just enough to give me what I need. I glance at the computer and two rosters I have propped up for more info.

I'll say this approach seems to work because Brunswick fans seem to be happy. More so, the Hopkins head coach approached me out of the blue before today's game.

"I just wanted to say hello and tell you do a great job," he said. "We watched the game last year after we played and really enjoyed everything you do."

Both sides are happy. Sometimes both are unhappy. That tells me I'm doing something right.

And I mean what I say: "Have headset. Will travel."

Otherwise, I'm free until Friday.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Voice Issues and Farewell, Neil Peart

Neil Peart
I've been fighting a cold, essentially, since Sep 26.

I woke up that morning in San Francisco, after a great day of sightseeing and traveling, to the usual suspects: sore throat, cough, sniffles, etc.

With the support of my friends at Hunt Scanlon, I ran to a nearby CVS, loaded up on supplies, and soldiered through that days conference, where I served as moderator.

I've had a slightly persistent cough since that day and, earlier this week, began the trappings of another cold.

Perfectly suited for a week in which I have five broadcasts.

I did fine on Tuesday and Wednesday. Thursday also.

All seemed well this morning. Then, around 2 p.m., I began to notice a bit of a rasp as I spoke. It quickly got worse.

It's my worst nightmare because a voice is, you know, sort of important to a broadcaster.

But it seemed to rally also at times.

So I wrote what I wanted to say. Then I'd whisper. Then I'd talk softly. Then I'd talk.

I drove to Brunswick in silence, with only my phone lighting up with texts about a pretty big Fairfield County sports story (see tweet below). I didn't make any calls and I saved my voice.

That story was broken by Susan, I might add.

I walked into Brunswick's Hartong Rink knowing my voice would be an issue. Thankfully, AJ Szymanowski was there to take some pressure off of me. Michael Breed stopped by to say hello and, thankfully, couldn't stay and talk.

I'm thankful because I needed to save every word for the broadcast.

I thought my voice was a wreck and it cracked during the opening, and I apologized for how I sounded during the call. But Joe Early and Susan both texted me to say I sounded fine, and AJ told me the same thing. Still, I know I wasn't right. My brain couldn't comprehend things as well as normal and my throat hurt. I could hear the rasp, and it got worse late in the third period.

Still, I got through it. I'm now resting it and getting ready for basketball tomorrow at 1 p.m.

Duty calls. I'll be there.

*****
Rush isn't a critical favorite, and I know that.

They came out of the prog rock scene in Canada and emerged as a class rock favorite.

But they played a role in my youth as I developed my taste.

Their drummer and lyricist, Neil Peart, died today of cancer. Rolling Stone contributed an obituary to one of the greatest drummers.

Rush was also my very first concert, on Sep 19, 1984 at Madison Square Garden. I was 15 and it opened my eyes.

Peart was amazing behind his drum kit.

I got to hear Rush again years later, when Mick and Gretchen and I sat outside the Jones Beach Amphitheater on Long Island. We sat in the parking lot on folding chairs, talked, listened, and didn't deal with any of the trappings of being at a concert. It was blissful.

So while, to some, it's not groundbreaking to be a fan of Rush, it still evokes happy memories of those I went to the concerts with, and listening to the music in my own time.

As I did tonight.

Thursday, January 09, 2020

Hoping to Inspire

My "broadcast booth" at Brunswick for hockey
I taught sports reporting today at the Connecticut School of Broadcasting.

It's hard to believe that I've done this for roughly fifteen years now, but I once saw where they were recruiting instructors and I decided to give it a try. It's important to me to give back to the place that helped get me into broadcasting back in 1990.

I know the drill. Every time I walk in there, I can just the feel the...er...lack of enthusiasm.

"Oh yay. The sports guy is here."

It can be a touch daunting and a little soul-sucking, but I see it as a challenge.

So, working with the great Andy Madison, I set about trying to win the class over.

It's usually a small group -- only a smattering of people for both the day and night classes -- but that means we can give the students the attention that they deserve.

Inevitably, there are one or two sports fans and the others are...meh.

Ninety-nine percent of the time they are still respectful but students are all different. I once had a student who listened to music under headphones while I was teaching and said she wasn't interested in talking sports. I've had others who talked over me. Then there are the students who think they know more than I do.

Today, I had a few students that looked like they rather be in a police lineup, but again they were respectful and listened and participated. That's, honestly, all I can ask for.

One student took a different approach to the project in question (a one-minute sports report) but I tend to go easier on students who are clearly not there for sports. So I wasn't bothered that he did this. Besides, I wasn't sure he was grasping the project but he surprised me with his report, which was more like a vignette than a report. It was quite good.

Still, I figured these people were just content to be done with me after 3.5 hours. But I do my best to show them the passion and energy that I have for sports media, and radio and TV overall. Plus new media and, yes, newspapers.

I try to get them to understand that they can take the skills that I teach them and use it in whatever they do. It's reporting and writing and storytelling and describing and so on. These are transferable skills.

I tell stories. Lots of stories. Of where I started and where I've been. Of Majic 105 and WREF and WGCH and HAN and the Renegades and Sound Tigers and Yale and St. John's and Local Live.

I tell them whatever I can remember.

I tell them about Jeter and Mariano and Dan Marino and Kay Murcer and Loretta Swit and Terry Bradshaw and countless other interviews.

I tell them about the great partners I've called games with.

I let them watch Boom Goes the Dynamite and let them know what Eat a Sandwich, Catch a Touchdown is.

I tell them about Scully. Oh you bet I do.

I tell them I won't lose them. They don't have to be sports people, but so long as they try, they'll have an ally in me.

At the end of the day, out of nowhere, the student who took the different approach to the sports report spoke up.

"I was dreading today since I'm not a sports person," he said. "But you made it engaging. I really enjoyed it."

The others agreed.

These words matter. A lot.

*****
AJ and I are on for hockey tomorrow. Salisbury and Brunswick -- two of the best programs around -- meet at 5pm. I suggest you join us for the broadcast.

Oh, and remember all of the unique original broadcasters I listed the other night? I forgot Mike Lange of the Pittsburgh Penguins. You want pithy, silly lines? Then go watch this.

I repeat: the wheel has already been invented.

Wednesday, January 08, 2020

Silence Can Be Golden


I wrote about basketball last night.

It was a safe post.

It wasn't profound or funny. It was a post about covering basketball, and the joy I felt in it.

It was just safe, and the best way for me to avoid spouting off about politics and the potential for war with Iran and other nonsense.

I've long tried to give you a no-holds barred look at my world and yet there are times when it is good to hold back.

I'm never been dishonest with you. But, truth be told, I don't tell everything. I know that's shocking but I do stay quiet sometimes.

So I decided that I didn't quite have it in me to write a post on those topics that I would be proud of in the hope that it would make you think and create conversation.

Instead, I thought it would create unnecessary discourse.

The left would be mad at me.

The right would be mad at me.

Which is fine and all, but I just didn't want it last night.

I just see and hear too much of what some of my friends say and it bums me out. So I elected to not join in last night. I've watched friendships get destroyed over this and it's just not worth it.

Just talking about Don Imus -- one of the most influential people in my life -- might have cost me personally.

So I kept quiet. I won't always. I did last night.

The sad part is I'm never going to make the hard left and the hard right think or have an appropriate conversation anyway (yes, I'm generalizing).

One side will say "BUT HER EMAILS!" and the other side will hit me with some MAGA nonsense. I'm generally sick of all of it. The divide makes me nuts.

The fact is, thankfully, our world has not exploded like the Death Star. That being said, I know there are those who think it could happen any day.

I must admit that the past week or so had me a bit concerned, as I listened to the fallout of a potential Archduke Ferdinand moment for the 21st Century.

Today, tensions seem to have calmed down for the moment and each side can claim victory and so on.

So maybe we can go back to helping people and animals in Australia and, a bit closer to home, looking out for those in Puerto Rico. Maybe we can do things to better ourselves and those around us.

Maybe we can just be better.

And, by the way, Ricky Gervais is my hero. What he said the other night at the Golden Globes was masterful. I always loved his work and was never sure I could embrace the US version of The Office in part because of him.

But I did.

Bless that man.

Also bless Tom Hanks, still my favorite actor for some 30+ years. He's the closest we have to Jimmy Stewart.

And so, friends, ranting and raving about politics and potential wars and loudmouthed presidents with insane Twitter feeds and other idiocy can wait for another time.

I'm glad I stayed quiet. Having the thoughts doesn't always mean sharing them, and I'm trying to get better at that every day.