Thursday, April 30, 2020

A Whole Lot of Calls

Vin Scully (you were expecting someone else?)

A broadcaster named Jack Benjamin put together a collection of over 350 play-by-play calls as he begins the process to select The Greatest Play-by-Play Calls of the Last 50 Years.

Jack has divided everything up into different sports and different categories within those sports.

While there could be criticisms for the calls being selected, Jack has allowed space for suggestions, so kudos to him.

In fact, kudos to him for this whole project, which has me bleary eyed tonight.

I'm not going to sit here and criticize his effort because, again, he worked on selecting over 350 calls, with clips of each call included.

But, if I may, my only criticism is why not go back further? Play-by-play recordings exist back to 1927 with The Long Count of Gene Tunney and Jack Dempsey. Full baseball games date to 1934. By not including anything prior to 1970, we're missing on a lot.

Just think of the names, like Red Barber, Mel Allen, Foster Hewitt, Ray Scott, Bill Stern, Graham McNamee, Ted Husing, and so many others.

Plus you're missing 20 years in the career of Vin Scully which, granted, we all know that's unfair anyway.

But, seriously, you're then missing on the Koufax perfect game* and the Greatest Game Ever Played and Wilt's 100 point effort and Roger Maris and Don Larsen and The Shot Heard 'round the World. I haven't even touched on the '47 World Series and the Olympics and college football, and...

*I get tired of debating the Koufax perfect game as not being a "moment." It's an inning. OK, fine. It's the finest piece/segment of sports broadcast ever, but beyond that, let's just pick it up with two balls and two strikes on Harvey Kuenn. It's still utterly magnificent in Scully's ability to set the scene, stay measured, but still get excited. It's a master class. Thus, a perfect call of a perfect moment.

As we're essentially at the 100th anniversary of play-by-play (opinions vary; baseball began on KDKA in 1921) this then eliminates the first half-century.

Instead, the oldest call is of Bobby Orr's famous Stanley Cup Finals goal in 1970. Both calls (Dan Kelly and Fred Cusick) are in consideration and both got very high marks from me.

But it's Jack's project so, as I said, criticisms end there.

The process is simple: go through each call and determine if it is:

- Definitely one of the Greatest Play-by-Play Calls
- Worthy of Consideration as one of the Greatest
- Maybe/Maybe Not one of the Greatest
- Probably Not one of the Greatest Definitely
- Not one of the Greatest

They'll then be assembled into brackets and further discussion will ensue.

I'm a tough judge (I know -- no shock). If the analyst steps on a call, it loses points, or loses out completely. That's a huge problem, especially in basketball and local football broadcasts. Some Olympics also.

If the play-by-play announcer can't keep their voice under control (hi, Gus!) well, you know how that's going to end.

Not every Doc Emrick call is "definitely great" in the hockey category, but none of them are below "worthy" (and that's considering his masterful work of Mark Messier's three-goal night in Game 6 of the 1994 conference final isn't included, when Doc called the game for the opponent -- the New Jersey Devils).

Every Vin Scully call (and there aren't that many here) is "definitely great." When you're the master, well, that's too easy.

I'm doing football right now. To that end, here's Vin calling "The Catch."

That's about as loud as Vinny ever gets.

That's the thing: a great call needs excitement but it needs all the facts also. It needs the reporting. Losing your mind doesn't tell me what happened. It certainly doesn't tell my mother, for instance. The play-by-play announcer is still supposed to be a journalist. (Remember: Report, Inform, Educate, Entertain)

Simply screaming OHMYGODHECAUGHTTHEBALLANDHITTHESHOTANDDROVEINTHEWINNINGRUNNWHILESINKINGTHEPUTTLOCKITCOCKITROCKITRESTOCKITANDITSGARGANTUAN!
...does not suffice.

But, as we told by a well-placed troll, he had to teach Jenga to blind people or some such nonsense (that is to say he doesn't remotely care about this).

So that's enough. That's my night. Hope yours has been fine.

I'm heading back to breaking all of these calls down.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

The Waiting Is the Hardest Part



Earlier today a report on Twitter that said Minor League Baseball was all but finished for 2020 due to the pandemic.
Knowing I'd be asked and have several people tell me about the tweet (and story), I chose to get in front of it by tweeting it was just a report.

For now, it is just that -- a report.

There are sources. I don't doubt that. Not questioning any integrity here. However, the report was enough to get MiLB to respond.

So, that's where we are for now. Hope continues to spring eternal.

JJ Cooper and others have done solid reporting on this.

I've been told Little League Baseball is still hoping to play.

I don't know about Babe Ruth Baseball or anyone else.

So, we'll keep hoping.

I know the reality and I know I'm prepared.

If and when there's news, I'll let you know on here and/or on my social media accounts.

But, for now, we keep waiting.

It's all we can do.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

The Offer I Couldn't Refuse

Sonny looks on with disgust. (Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)
A friend should always underestimate your virtues and an enemy overestimate your faults.

I have a friend that I call The Godfather.

It happened because I was set to broadcast a game involving his family. He hadn't met me and I was concerned that if his team lost I'd be "sleepin' wit duh fishes."

But, it turned out they won and, whether that mattered or not, he became a fan.

He wrote something today and was interested in my reading it, so he sent it to me.

Now, he doesn't know I'm writing this tonight, and I won't share what he wrote, but it was just a nice message about life.

I work my whole life, I don't apologize, to take care of my family.

It could easily be his version of a  "Luckiest Man" speech, a la Lou Gehrig.

Like anyone, he acknowledged how things aren't exactly splendid, but then he took the time to count his many blessings.

He has his health. He has his work. He has his beloved family.

A man who doesn't spend time with his family can never be a real man.

We've survived so much, he surmised and he's seen a few things. Korea, the Red Scare, JFK, Vietnam, Nixon, Cold War, right on through to the Gulf War, Sep 11, and so on.

So, sure, he's lucky. In many ways, aren't we all?

There's no doubt there's fear and frustration at this time.

But, sometimes, we just need to see the forest for the trees.

One day, I'm hoping to call upon him to do a service for me.

And live to tell about it.

I want reliable people, people who aren't going to be carried away. I mean, we're not murderers, in spite of what this undertaker thinks...

Monday, April 27, 2020

The Stones

Not them.
"You Can't Always Get What You Want," I suppose.

That is to say, to maybe not be in pain.

I felt...something Friday night. Maybe it was back pain. Whatever it was, something was up as soon as I finished eating dinner.

OK, I'd sleep it off. No big deal.

But, Saturday arrived and I still felt pain in my back. Or, was it in...

No...please, God, no...

Was the pain in my kidneys?

F***...

I have experience with kidney stones. The first time was in 1997. It struck while I was Christmas shopping in White Plains with pain like I've never known in my life. Fearing all kinds of things, I made my way to Phelps Memorial Hospital in Sleepy Hollow (was it still North Tarrytown then? I don't remember).

The nurse looked at me. Then she spoke.

"Robert," she said, "now you have a vague idea of what childbirth is like."

It's like pushing an elephant through a straw.

I spent a chunk of that night in the hospital and stayed home from work the next day. I graduated from college that Sunday in, true to form, a completely forgettable ceremony and experience.

Thirteen years later, on the exact same weekend, I woke up in the middle of the night with intense pain. Again. I fought through the night, watching TV and sleeping just a little. My cousin came over to fix my brakes in the garage. I thought that would take my mind off of it.

He and my mother both knew I needed to go to the hospital. Again. It kept me away from going to see Christmas lights with Sean, whom I sent with the rest of the family as I drifted off thanks to Tylenol with codeine. Weeeeeeeeeeee...zzzzzzzzzzz...

I've had occasional pain ever since the first bout in '97 that immediately has me rushing to drink all of the water I can find.

This time was, thankfully, nothing like either of those. I cleaned the workroom on Saturday, mindful of not working too hard to avoid stress on my back. Again, I wasn't sure if it was back pain and I'm sparing you further details that had me questioning what was going on.

The pain persisted into Saturday night. On Sunday morning, well, all I can say is there's a certain sensation that tells you you've gotten rid of such a thing. Some times it's more, shall we say, pronounced.

There was a feeling of, "Oh. Yeah, I think that was it." Not pain. Definitely not pleasure. Just... "Oh."

And the pain was pretty much gone after.

So, yes, my money is on a small kidney stone, as I feel fine tonight.

This was, honestly, nothing, compared to the events of 1997 and 2010.

Which sort of felt like Kramer on Seinfield.

Which is what I think of every time I conjure the notion of passing a kidney stone.

YAH!

This time, I got...er..."Satisfaction."

Sunday, April 26, 2020

The Loretta Swit Interview

Alan Alda, Wayne Rogers, Loretta Swit
I was preparing to go on the air at HAN one morning. I was gathering scores and writing my script. It was April 2016.

"We can interview Loretta Swit," Coffee Break anchor and my then-coworker Kate Czaplinski said.

While I was sports director or sports anchor or lead sports play-by-play voice or whatever my title was at that point, I knew this interview should be mine.

"I'll do it," I think I said.

Loretta Swit  -- once and forever Margaret "Hot Lips" Houlihan from M*A*S*H -- was coming to Bridgeport to perform in a one-woman show as Eleanor Roosevelt. Given my knowledge of M*A*S*H as well as the Roosevelt's I felt I was suited to conduct the interview.

Kate agreed.

The interview took place four years ago today. When Ms. Swit called us, we struggled to get her via our phone system (our fault, not hers). I asked if she would consider Skype and, while she had never used it like that before, she said would give it a try.

The interview went off without a hitch after that. She was polite and delightful and it was a highlight for me. In this case, the thing for an interviewer to always remember and understand is that Ms. Swit is coming on first and foremost to promote her current work. Thus Eleanor Roosevelt was at the top of my thought process. I'd only ask about M*A*S*H and other things when appropriate.

She's also a wonderful follow on Twitter and Instagram where she not only posts about her career but about her passions, including animals. Her Instagram feed is full of old pictures from M*A*S*H. She has done many other interviews, including appearing with fellow M*A*S*H cast members on Alan Alda's podcast some time back. I consider it a must-listen.

But, I also recommend you listen to this interview.

It's a favorite of mine.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

One Person's Waste of Time...


You probably know I love to travel.

From the planning to the packing to the rest. Business trip. Pleasure trip. It matters but it doesn't.

Just look at San Francisco. I was there for business but I made every second count, including one of the best days I can remember (I would have preferred to not be alone but so it goes).

Trip=trip regardless of what and why and I (generally) love it all, even if I'm grumbling in the moment.

But, burying the lede, I'm not here to merely talk about traveling but to use this is a prologue.

I read a click bait piece about "Ten Overrated Landmarks..."

We all have these kinds of opinions and, yes, places like The Leaning Tower of Pisa, Plymouth Rock, and Stonehenge do seem a bit, er, unimpressive to a certain extent.

Another one on this list is the Hollywood Walk of Fame. I have personal experience with that one.

You may recall I was in San Diego for a few days in 2011 before heading to a spot north and west of Los Angeles for the rest of the trip. We didn't have a lot of time, but it was enough to see some things.

What to do...what to do?

People tried to talk me out of it but I felt like I had to see Hollywood. I'm pretty good at seeing things and leaving so a lot of time wouldn't be necessary.

Long story short? I saw the theater where the Oscars take place, checked out the hand and footprints in cement and looked at some of the stars. I saw the Beatles' stars and Terry Bradshaw's but didn't see Vin Scully's. So it goes. It felt like I was able to check it off my list.

It was every bit as seedy as I expected it to be. For my money, I would never recommend Times Square to someone coming to New York (it's not seedy enough anymore) but still, most people want to see it, if only to say "wow" and move on.

As someone who doesn't really gamble, never plays poker, and is generally out of place there, I'll recommend seeing Las Vegas forever. Because, again, just seeing it is an experience.

So, I guess the point is, if you want to see Plymouth Rock or Stonehenge, see it. You might find it a waste. You might find it something that you were glad to check off the list.

Like so much of life, it's a personal preference.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Who's Zooming Who?

We've come a long way. Who remembers this?

A month ago, I'm not sure if I knew was Zoom was.

Now, it's almost like I can't live without it.

I had two Zoom calls tonight.

We're conducting The Clubhouse on it.

I've recorded podcasts and had guests on Doubleheader via it.

Now, I've been pulled onto something called Houseparty. So, hey, feel free to connect with me over there, I guess.

Quite a time, this is.

I was talking about that with my son today -- in person!

We were marveling at modern conveniences, as well as talking with my mother to get her perspective as someone who is old enough to remember World War II. Obviously, there was no Zoom back then.

Oh, and if I didn't mention, it's my mom's birthday. Tough old bird, she is. Every time I think things are bad, well, she rallies. The first quarter of 2020 was a bear, for more reasons than coronavirus. Things turned upside-down a little over three months ago. Multiple facilities later, things are, well, I guess they're better.

Anyway, when people want to complain about boredom or anything else in this pandemic, I find myself thinking about how lucky we are, at least from a technology point of view.

World War II? Just the radio and newspaper. Telephone also (Call MA-8-1234). Yes, people could go out but there were also hours when you had to be home, as she was reminding me.

Those of us from "my generation" remember channels 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13. Cable? What's cable? Oh, you mean closed circuit or that Wometco Home Theater. My parents weren't going to PAY for TV?

Nah, MTV ruled. My friends had it. I went there to watch it until that glorious day in 1985 when my sister insisted on cable being installed. It was just before Live Aid. Awwwwww yeah.

So, we've clearly come a long way.

What we have today allows to stay in touch. I can see my new baby great nephew, whom I no doubt would have met by now if not for COVID-19. I can visit with family and friends from anywhere.

Mark Jeffers, Dave Torromeo, and I can have a virtual happy hour and plot our next edition of The Clubhouse (a BIG Connecticut-meets-NFL football show is on the horizon next week).

Now I've heard the naysayers about Zoom specifically. Security concerns and whatnot. Duly noted, and I'm paying attention to it for sure. But, so far, so good for now.

These are the ways to fend off the loneliness and other demons. I have family stretched from Massachusetts to New York to Pennsylvania to North Carolina and Florida and parts elsewhere.

We can talk. We can see each other.

We've got that going for us.

Which is nice.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

You Meet the Strangest People



I meant to post this story last night. It's the anniversary of that picture.

My niece was having surgery. Kristy and Hector and their kids had just moved from their rented house to a new one about a half-hour away in North Carolina.

In fact, I helped them move into it, driving down for a long weekend with my mother and sister. I served as the driver of the U-Haul truck on a fairly warm (or even hot) March/April weekend.

But now, just three weeks later, it was time to make the drive again to North Carolina from New York.

My mother hadn't decided for sure if she was going. My job was to go back to NC and serve as babysitter for Evelyn, Eleanor, and Isabel for as long as needed, along with getting Kristy to and from the hospital, as she hadn't really made friends in the new neighborhood who could help out yet.

In a midweek conversation with my mother, I said, "The car leaves at 5:30 Saturday morning."

For the second trip in a row, Sean couldn't join me because he had school. But, this time, there was an extra wrinkle. Sean plays the saxophone, part of a dynamic band from John Jay High School. They've won awards at various competitions and, in this case, he would be taking part in one near Fredericksburg, Virginia.

Right on the path between Mahopac and Fayetteville.

Could I make it in time for the performance?

We were gone by 5:30. It was a quiet Saturday morning that allowed me to work my way out of New York with no traffic and no tolls. In fact, with a little creative driving, I "shunpiked" my way through New York, New Jersey, and Delaware without paying a toll until I drove through Baltimore.

The whole trip -- both ways -- cost $6.50 in tolls (if memory serves). That never happens.

I thought I would stop earlier to stretch my legs. I always push to make it at least to Delaware without stopping but the Nissan I was driving was getting great gas mileage. Plus my mother had fallen asleep and I was feeling good, so I just kept going.

Maybe we could actually get to the concert, at Courtland High School near Spotsylvania, VA but I kept feeling like I simply didn't leave earlier enough.

And then the traffic issues began.

The weather was rainy and, south of Baltimore, I found a line of brake lights.

Damn you, Baltimore-Washington Parkway. Damn you, Rob, for not just staying on Interstate 95.

I thought a Saturday morning wouldn't be problematic. There were no warnings.

The traffic slowed me up enough that I knew there was just no way to make the concert.

I eventually worked the car to the Capital Beltway, across the Potomac, and into Virginia.

Keep in mind I hadn't stopped since grabbing breakfast at a deli right near home.

Finally, after six hours, and deciding that we had missed the concert, I gave up and pulled off near Fredericksburg to gas up and stretch at Wawa.

A few minutes later, we were back in the car. We climbed back onto 95 south and the pull of being a father was too much.

"I think I'm going to take a stab at driving to that school," I said. Mom was fine with it, as she always is.

In classic Rob fashion, allow me to say I've never been anywhere near Courtland High School. I figured I'd find it. Of course, we're all armed with a GPS in this era anyway.

I used Exit 126 and took US Route 1. I turned right on Spotsylvania Pkwy.

I drove. I tried not to speed. No point in getting a ticket for nothing.

I found the school. Now, there had to be a simple way to drive in and find...something, right?

Nope. I had to find a place to turn around. Then sit at a traffic light.

Tick...tick...tick.

Finally, I found an entrance. I made my way in.

A moment later, I spotted a few buses that looked like they were from out-of-town. Some kids were congregating.

Across a parking lot, a solid football field or more away, I spotted a familiar shape.

Got him.

"That's my son," I said. "I know that body language from anywhere."

I pulled up closer.

"SEAN!" I yelled.

He trotted over.

"Wow," he said. "You made it."

I got out and stood with him for a few minutes. He said they played well and was confident they would get a trophy. But, now he was looking forward to getting to Kings Dominion for a day of amusement park fun before heading to dinner at Golden Corral (yes, he was in heaven) and staying at a hotel in Richmond.

I was so proud and so happy that missing the concert was almost irrelevant. Just the fact that I got to see him in this spot for even a few minutes meant the world to me and, shockingly, I could tell it meant something to him also.

It's the thought that counts and he knew I tried hard.

Our time together was short but I remembered to take my phone out.

"A selfie?" he asked.

You bet.

His band won the competition but he got on only one ride at Kings Dominion as basically everything closed down due to the rain. Still, he said they had a blast on the trip. It beat being home.

As much as I wanted to kidnap him and take him to North Carolina, I was thrilled to see him happy. That's all we can ask for our kids. I left with a bittersweet feeling but mostly overjoyed that I got to see him.

Mom and I had a lousy lunch south of Richmond before working out way to near Fayetteville, NC. The week -- surgery, babysitting, and everything else -- went off without a hitch. We were back in New York the following Sunday.

And that picture means the world to me.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Going Mad or Getting Mad

Tonight's edition of The Clubhouse featured (clockwise from top left) me,
Dave Torromeo, Mark Jeffers, David Tyree, Bob Small, Ann Liguori

Isolationgottagoout, Day 751.

*****
I'll say that tonight's edition of The Clubhouse, to be heard this weekend on SiriusXM's Dan Patrick Channel -- channel 211 -- was the highlight of the day. We had Ann Liquori and David Tyree on. In my mind, those names don't need an intro. If you'd like to hear a copy before it hits Sirius, go here.

*****
Like everyone, I'm reaching a breaking point.

I'm pretty fed up with the negativity. Reality? Sure, I'm a big supporter of that.

But the naysayers are wearing me out.

Don't do this! This isn't happening this year! We might not be back until 2022! The CDC says round two will be worse!

WE'RE DOOMED!

Enough.

You say you want a revolution, eh? Be careful what you wish for.

New York State is careening towards FIFTEEN THOUSAND DEATHS.

But, hey, let's celebrate, and de Blasio says we'll do fireworks on the Fourth of July, no matter what!

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

It's all Trump's fault, right?!

Or is it AOC's fault? Or Schumer's? I can't keep track anymore.

The government is locking us in and taking away our freedom!

Enough. No, seriously.

I haven't seen my son in almost a month because of fear.

I've tried to carry the water of positivity. I've tried.

At this point, I have no life. I realize I'm not alone, so there shall be no pity party.

I'm going out of my skull. I'm sure you are also. I'm struggling to find the positivity tonight. I've tried, but I'm getting worn down.

They're coming to take me away (with any luck).

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Have Your Pencil and Scorecards Ready!

It's so. At least it was in 1917.


Matthew C. Wallace had an idea.

He posted on Twitter that he knew the public address announcer from the 1934 World Series between the Cardinals and Tigers was barely audible on the radio broadcast. He also knew it was the oldest World Series broadcast in existence.

Thus, he thought, what if various modern PA announcers and "voices" were to read the game one lineup from a World Series, starting in 1903. He'd create a series of videos to help pass the time.

The reaction was strong. So strong, that his series -- "The Lineups "-- ultimately stretched to the first 50 years of the World Series. That way, he could dedicate each video to a different state and their first responders.

I retweeted that it was a great idea, but didn't reach out to Matthew personally. I mean, who am I? I do a handful of PA gigs for Mahopac and Carmel and others when needed (fast fact: I was asked to events at Yale. I couldn't do the first one due to a conflict. Then I was asked to announce a graduation ceremony but, well, we know how that turned out).

But my retweet got Matt to reach out to me. Humbled, I said I'd do it. I offered it Eric Scholl, but he insisted I do it.

"You're the baseball historian!" he said.

Randomly, I was assigned the 1917 World Series between the then-New York Giants and the Chicago White Sox at Comiskey Park.

Matt's notes and directions were phenomenal. Get him a picture and what you want to represent (I chose Mahopac in this case). The script was pinpoint. So, I double-checked pronunciations and did a dry run (it's Eddie SEA-cot, by the way).

I had to decide on style. Mostly, I stayed true to me, but I also spoke in a staccato-style of the day. If you've heard me do PA announcing, then you know I'm not much for flare. Bob Sheppard is my...well, shepherd, I suppose.

So, I was comfortable with a straight style.

"Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen," I read from the script. "Welcome to Comiskey Park."

I gave it a few tries until I was completely comfortable with it. Sure, I could have been "One Take Adams," but I had time, so why not?

The 1917 World Series saw two of the early powerhouses of baseball contending for the title. The White Sox were, primarily, the same cast of characters whose hosiery would later turn black and become the subject of ridicule, books, and movies.

"Say it ain't so, Joe," the myth went to the great "Shoeless" Joe Jackson (who belongs in the Hall of Fame). And Joe Jackson was batting fourth for Chicago that afternoon. Also in the lineup were Chick Gandil, Oscar "Happy" Felsch, Buck Weaver (not John Cusack), Fred McMullin, as well as Eddie Cicotte. Each of those players were eventually suspended for their role in the 1919 World Series gambling schedule.

So, yes, even if you don't know baseball history, you might know Eight Men Out (sadly, very flawed, though good).

Hall of Famers in the series included manager John McGraw of New York, Ray Schalk, Red Farber, and Eddie Collins of Chicago, and umpires Bill Klem and Billy Evans.

There was no radio broadcast. That would not be attempted until 1921 at the Polo Grounds.

The public address announcer, working his megaphone down the line, was Pat Pieper, a legendary voice around Chicago.

In no way did I try to impersonate him. My goal was honor him and have fun.

For the record, I made no attempt to get a Yankees World Series, and I'm fine with it. I was honored to be a part of this, and it was fun to do something not involving the Yankees. Sure, reading the names of Ruth, Gehrig, Lazzeri, and later on DiMaggio, Ruffing, etc would have also been a blast, but there was something to be said about Heinie Zimmerman.

The Giants were making their first Fall Classic appearance since 1913 while the White Sox were in their first since 1906. New York would have more success in the 20s but, by then, their tenants in the Polo Grounds were also winning league titles -- the Yankees.

The White Sox won the series in six. Jim Thorpe was listed in the starting lineup for the Giants in Game 5 but did not play. So, technically, he's in the box score.

I'm beyond impressed with everything Matt did. I hope you'll enjoy it also. Please reward his work by liking the tweet and watching the video. You can also visit his website for more.

Now, climb in the time machine...

Monday, April 20, 2020

I Wonder What Vin Thinks

Red Barber, Connie Desmond, Vin Scully
Vin Scully, still sharp at the age of 92, has a lifetime of memories he can quickly convey.

One of them is about his mentor, Red Barber, who told him to not listen to other broadcasters and to be yourself in the booth.

Earlier today, STAA (Sportscasters Talent Agency of America) held a daylong summit, pulling together several great voices from the big leagues.

Bob Costas (for my money, the best active baseball play-by-play announcer), Kevin Harlan, Ian Eagle, Kevin Kugler, Beth Mowins, Pat Hughes, Chuck Swirsky, Tracy Wolfson, and -- Hello, friends -- Jim Nantz rounded out an incredible roster.

I didn't need to watch or participate and, given it's Monday, and as I play chauffeur as well as show host, I didn't have time.

Besides, I was getting missives sent to me all day via Twitter, text, and Facebook.

I don't doubt the advice was fantastic.

Costas advised sending work out all over.

Nantz cajoled attendees to believe they can achieve their goals and not give up.

The summit skewed younger, based on the amount of tweets I was reading and I was surprised at how many I knew.

The presenters showed their various spotting boards and the crowd oohed and aahed.

They took questions, and the questioners fell over themselves tweeting about it.

It was fun to watch from afar, and credit to John Chelesnik and company for making it happen.

So, back to Mr. Scully (and, by extension, Mr. Barber). I'm sure Vinny -- who rarely has a bad word to say, though he might not speak too kindly of the CBS folks from the early 80s -- would advise that attendees only pick up pieces of advice.

You see, the thing is truly to remain yourself on the air. As I've said before, we have Mike Lange or John Sterling or Vin Scully. Don't be them. Don't pick up habits -- especially the bad ones.

I truly think play-by-play is a wonderful skill, and one that applies to various parts of life. It's describing. It's reporting and informing and educating and entertaining (#RIEE>#LCRR).

It's storytelling, not number-crunching (I feel that's lazy).

"Mike Hirn is batting at .309. Hirn is from Putnam County, Ohio (Editor's note: he's not), one of several places in the United States named for Major General Israel Putnam, including a county in New York that one might be familiar with. Now Hirn waits and takes a fastball outside for ball one. General Putnam fought with distinction at the Battle of Bunker Hill as Hirn battles a curve ball and fouls it off, first base side, and it's one and one."

And, so on. Don't tell me how he's hitting .255 on a Monday in the middle of a pandemic with only two visible stars in the sky and a blah-blah-blah WAR and whatever else.

(Note: Nate Stdiham's average on Monday’s was better than Hirn's, and when he wore red socks he was three-for-four in stolen bases. See? These are the things you learn.)

While the spotting boards are lovely, my own advice (for what little it is worth) to younger broadcasters is to be prepared at the lower levels especially, where you won't have room for fancy spotting boards. I'll long-remember calling softball at Yale a year ago. I barely had room for my scorecard, measuring 8 1/2 by 11 inches. There was no room for my computer, so I utilized my iPad and my iPhone (in my lap) for anything else.

So, when folks talk about charts and graphs and colored pens, I chuckle to myself. That's great. Believe me, I would have loved to have mastered that, and I tried, but space just wouldn't allow it.

Instead I learned to improvise with a roster and a notebook. As wifi and smartphones became more common around booths (or I brought my own wifi), I leaned more there with a computer as well. I also trusted the best computer I have: the lump three feet above my...

Develop your style of notes, preparation, score card and delivery that works for you. Practice and self-evaluate. If the time off has allowed for anything, it's allowed for even more self-evaluation than I normally do, and I'm always tough on myself.

Also -- and I can't stress this enough -- young broadcasters need to climb from the depths. And they need to be bad and experience rejection. They need to drag equipment and have technical issues. That's why I like some of the things I see but I want to see more humility and the desire to be teachable. I fear that's going away with a sense of entitlement taking its place.

Then they need to ascend with their story. Everyone has a reason why they are where they are and, sadly, talent doesn't always win out. It just doesn't.

Building a network is beyond important, and don't look the gift horse in the mouth who was trying to be there for you when you were on the way up. You never know when you'll need that person again.

Pre-STAA we had the wonderful Call of the Game board where guys like Joe Block, Robert Ford, and Adam Amin were hanging out with...um...the likes of me.

I wish I could chat with teenage Rob to make sure he was comfortable with his decisions. Same with 20-something Rob, who elected to stay in a corporate job as he thought he had his life there, and broadcasting would be a side gig that could blossom.

Part of that turned out to be true. But, I appreciate my successes far more in the path that I took. That's why I still feel wonder when I see or hear anything regarding my work. It's never taken for granted.

I wish I could say that about many others.

Getting to the top doesn't necessarily mean you're truly successful. I was able to have my son grow up with me around. He was able to follow me to so many games and events and, while he's not going to be a sports broadcaster (or a broadcaster at all), he still speaks fondly of what I took him to, and the precious time we spent together.

I think there are still hard lessons to be learned. I hope the summit included that also.

But, hey, who am I?

Sunday, April 19, 2020

All Things Must Pass


I love the smell of freshly-cut grass.

It signifies warmth to me and BBQs and longer stretches of daylight.

It also means I've mowed the lawn and I'm finished.

That happened for the first time in 2020 today. It doesn't mean that I did the whole yard. Only the part that grows the most needed it.

So while my back hurts from pushing the mower, my pride is satisfied.

Plus it's another day -- and another sign -- that we're getting closer.

Perhaps most of all, the smell of freshly-cut grass reminds me of baseball. Five years ago, I was in Cooperstown at Doubleday Field with (then) HAN Radio.

I was tour guide in my home state, leading a group of cars to our hotel 45 minutes away in Herkimer. (Truth: I'd never been to Herkimer, save for passing by on the New York State Thruway. This fact is making at least a few of you smile).

Five years ago today, we called the game at Doubleday between Norwalk and Brien McMahon. As I listened back to the little part that exists in my archive, I can hear how excited I am. I was probably talking too much though.

It's also the last game Paul Silverfarb and I called together at HAN.

There's a much-longer story to all of this, but I will tell you my son will occasionally halt a conversation and say, "Everybody STOP. Where are the extension cords?!?"

It's an homage to this very weekend, when it appeared (correctly) we didn't have any power cords. That happened at the end of the long weekend of power outages and heavy rain.

Truth: Sean wasn't even there that weekend, but my telling of the story stayed with him.

I was the first to get to Cooperstown and the last to leave.

Such is the power of stories and memories. Happy memories. Some of the happiest of my time working at the HAN Network.

I was thinking about this song today. We're getting there. Slowly. Believe it. In the darkness, just remember to face another day.


Saturday, April 18, 2020

I'm Outta Here

Like you, I've had it.

In some ways, my quarantine began on March 6, before I knew any better.

It began for real on March 12, after my last broadcast.

Yes, I've had to go out quite a bit, so it hasn't been a "real" quarantine. But, I've had enough of this rat race.

So, as "co-conspirator" John Nash did, I'm going away. Virtually.

John wrote a fantastic series of posts where he flew to San Francisco with a famous friend and visited Alcatraz on a special tour. To be honest, save for "virtual" in the title, it was (almost) plausible.

I often find myself about thinking about traveling. I want to go back to London (and, truth be told, I am scheduled to later this year) and Edinburgh, and see more of San Francisco, and Florida (always, especially Tampa Bay) and New Orleans and North Carolina and Richmond and Maine and finally see Seattle and Vancouver and...

But, sometimes, it can be as simple as a little over three hours away in the car.

Yup, I'm gone. Off to a place that is both real and mythical because, in theory, it shouldn't have become what it is.

I'm going to sit in the stands at Doubleday Field in Cooperstown, NY. The Mills Commission said this was the birthplace of baseball and that was very much exposed as a fraud years later. They were desperate to make baseball "the All-American game" as opposed to what it really is: a game that was concocted from Europe and brought to the United States.

It became all-American but was not solely created here.

Anyway, I'm using my TARDIS to help me get there. Just to transport me to, say, 1939.

I'll be in the stands, on a platform behind home plate. I've grabbed my overcoat and a fedora, with a press pass, of course.

And I've been placed in front of an NBC Radio microphone. I think Columbia and Mutual are both here as well, bless their hearts.

In front of me, on grass so green that I want to throw out a blanket with a picnic basket are great ballplayers past and present. They're going to play a game and I'm going to paint the word picture.

But, before the game, here comes George. Or, as you call him, "Babe." We'll have a little chat about those days with the Yankees and if his records will ever be broken. He's smarter than people realize. That's all I'll say. I bet this guy could hit 800 homers in any era against any competition.

We'd love to have his old pal The Iron Horse here. Lou Gehrig isn't well unfortunately. They call it amyotrophic something or other. I'll just describe it as Lou Gehrig's disease. Sadly.

There's Ty Cobb and Honus Wagner and Walter Johnson, "The Big Train" himself. Jeez, if only Matty had lived long enough. Finest gentleman the game has seen. Christy Mathewson. Shame what that mustard gas did.

Such a fine collection of those in uniform.

There are great smells in the air of this picturesque village, with the ballpark just a long fly ball behind a row of stores on Main Street.

"The boys will play a game today," I say to the millions huddled near their Philcos and Crosleys.

It's just perfect here in the middle of New York, despite the raging of war across the Atlantic.

Here, it's just balls, strikes, outs. I hope The Babe can wallop one! Boy, the fans will get a roar out of that! Of course, George is 44 now, so who knows what is left in that swing of his.

All of that is, in fact, immaterial. He could strike out three times. It's just a beautiful day (the overcoat isn't really necessary, but felt period-perfect) with full stands and laughter in the air. It's pure joy.

Something that I'm not sure exists elsewhere.

In truth, the greats of the game could leave. Bring on school kids. Heck, make it two teams from Norwalk, CT! Brien McMahon and Norwalk High! Let them play here. I'll broadcast THAT!

It could happen. Couldn't it? Maybe in 76 years or so?

Maybe we could even find the full broadcast again one day, as opposed to just a highlight reel.

Oh well.

No matter. For now, the sun is shining. The breeze is blowing out to right. The crowd is buzzing. There's joy in the air.

It's my own utopia.

I don't care if I never get back.

Friday, April 17, 2020

How to Produce Happiness

I like how they all wore white shirts and black ties ("You guys look great in black, have I told you that?")
"Well, take us there, Skitch."

There have many things to pass the time during the pandemic.

I tried a watch party tonight.

If you haven't done it, basically, you hit "play" on a particular item at the same time as the general public and you watch it, and various people involved with that project tweet or chat along. I've seen several for Doctor Who that I've been unable to participate in, plus there was one for Empire Records (which, coincidentally, co-starred Ethan Embry).

Tonight, the main cast members of That Thing You Do reunited to watch the movie and comment on YouTube (thanks for the heads-up, AJ Szymanowski). Among those main characters, only Liv Tyler and Tom Hanks were missing. Tyler is apparently overseas and, while she wanted to join, it was a little too late for her and Hanks is just Tom-freaking-Hanks.

Hanks was watching, apparently, and was being represented in a matter of speaking by his son Colin, a terrific actor who had a small role in the film but was a constant presence on set.

At the same time, an auction was launched to raise money for MusicCares.

What came out of it is the love the four band members of The Wonders truly have for each other.  Tom Everett Scott (who played Guy Patterson, aka "Shades"), Steve Zahn (Lenny Haise), Johnathon Schaech (James Mattingly II), and Ethan Embry (TB Player -- no, really, the bass player was known as that),  have stayed close ever since the movie, which came out in 1996.

It's a truly brilliant look at the American music scene in 1964-1965, written and directed by Tom Hanks, who also co-stars as manager Amos White.

The Beatles connections are strong, with Hanks as their gay manager just like Brian Epstein (although his sexuality is downplayed. The extended version makes that much clearer). Plus their original drummer gets injured, meaning they need "Shades" (a la Ringo Starr) to complete the band. The overlay graphic used during the big scene on the The Hollywood Television Showcase is straight out of the one used on John Lennon on the Ed Sullivan Show (Sorry girls, he's married)

The soundtrack is terrific and the homages to the era are spot-on (it's Hanks. No shock there). Plus, he finds ways to work in so many of his friends and family, including his wife Rita Wilson as a cocktail lounge waitress, and old Bosom Buddies pal Peter Scolari as the guest host of The Hollywood Television Showcase.

Plus there are other references. Lenny Haise? As in Fred Haise, from Apollo 13? Yup. Fred was played by Bill Paxton. (Not) coincidentally, the Bill Cobbs' jazz player is named Del Paxton. And, so on.

You. Are. My. Biggest. Fan.

But, I'm getting way off-topic here. The watch-along was a joy. Learning little tidbits from the four actors, along with Colin Hanks, Giovanni Ribisi and Kevin Pollak was wonderful. They told where things were shot, how they were shot, and other behind-the-scenes nuggets.

Plus they laughed. A lot.

And, so did I. Out loud.

Try not to smile when the band hears themselves on the radio for the first time. I find this scene to be so joyous.  I'd like to think we've all had that "holy s*it, that's me" moment. That's what I'm reminded of.


I ran the movie in concert with the chat on YouTube but, in truth, I barely watched the movie. I listened more intently to the chat and, for my money, it brought me some bliss in this middle of this madness.

Movies are supposed to be an escape anyway.

I escaped for a bit tonight.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Those 1989 Albums

Two Heartbreakers, one ELO, Two Beatles. Yes. Yes, indeed.
Last night, I offered up a bunch of albums to talk about. Of course, there are so many more but it became random after awhile so I just stopped.

In that post, I alluded to the albums of 1989 and their impact on me.

As we've said many times, music is such a personal thing. It's like opening a wound. It's very vulnerable and I know I haven't always been the most gracious when it comes to others showing me the same vulnerability.

Opinions are, well, I screw that one up. Let's leave it at that.

So, I feel my own sense of vulnerability when I offer music up. I don't have all of the answers and I don't think my answers are correct. I recognize talent. Those who have gotten wherever (say, hmm...Maroon 5?) have gotten there somehow.

That brings us to 1989. It was a time of profound loneliness, frustration, and confusion. (No, I promise I'm not talking about 2020). While I was working and still trying to have a life, I was still fatherless at the age of 20. I worked full-time for Kraft General Foods and had just gotten a promotion (I found out the day I returned following my dad's funeral).

I was also going to college at night, though I had a light schedule that semester. Still, when the teacher (I'll be damned if I'm going to call him a professor) failed me -- in the semester in which I lost my father -- I decided I was done with college.

Music, as always, played a huge part of my life. While I was new to finally having a CD player (a Fisher component piece that I bought at a Macy's furniture outlet near Hartsdale, NY) there was no CD player in my car, so cassettes ruled. There was always a large cassette case in my back seat.

As I said, it was a confusing time and lonely in its own ways. I wasn't a party person at all and, though I turned 21 that November, I wasn't popping open any Genesee Cream Ale to celebrate.

I was, not shockingly, lame.

I was, let's say, coerced into giving school another try that fall. I decided to go to Connecticut School of Broadcasting (I don't think everyone was in favor of this call). To that end I worked a full day in White Plains, drove to Stratford, and drove home. On the weekends, I drove back to Stratford for studio time to keep practicing (mostly reading commercial copy and being a disc jockey while messing around with sports items).

These were probably the loneliest times. It's hard to explain. Sure, I had a lot going on. Friends, family, etc. But it was still just...man, I can't quite put it into words. I think I struggle even more looking back now, especially when that allows me to think how different it could all be.

But, there was music. Lots of it. When I wasn't listening to WFAN (which I listened to a lot), I was playing a few albums constantly.

Storm Front, Billy Joel. Released in Oct, 1989, it first hit us with "We Didn't Start the Fire," which worked for me as a history guy (it doesn't quite work for me now). I've had many a conversation with Billy Joel fans about this album. "That's Not Her Style" was a rocker that I liked (I know someone who detests this song). Remove the awfulness that is Christy Brinkley in it. The lyrics aren't the best. I get it. But, it was a rocker and a good way to wake my ass up on a Saturday morning of knowing I'd be doing close to three hours of driving. And "Shameless" (go away, Garth Brooks). Those are lyrics that just...yeah. This was also the album that finally got me to see Joel in person. So while it's nowhere near my favorite album of his (The Stranger, The Nylon Curtain, Glass Houses, 52nd Street, Turnstiles, and Piano Man are all better) the album was a good escape.

Full Moon Fever, Tom Petty. Full disclosure: I was never the biggest Tom Petty fan, but this album hit it just right. So, wait. You're going to tell me the lead single ("I Won't Back Down") has Jeff Lynne as producer, bass player, and background vocals AND George Harrison on acoustic guitar and backing vocals AND the video features Lynne, Petty, the great Mike Campbell, Harrison, AND RINGO STARR? What was there for me to not love? Obviously "Free Fallin" became an anthem itself that literally everyone loves (when you go a bit without hearing it). There were plenty of other album tracks to keep the car moving as well. Plus, Petty had a sardonic sense of humor, and I needed that.

Brave and Crazy, Melissa Etheridge. She had already blown me away with her self-titled first album in 1988. "Bring Me Some Water" was enough to show just how incredible that album was. In Sept, 1989, ME returned with her second effort and she still felt like a nice little secret for those of us who were fans. Sure, it got some airplay but she wasn't "popular" just...yet. In her music was darkness. Tenderness. Rawness. Longing. Solitude. This was probably the most moody and deep of these important albums in my life. While Etheridge hit higher heights on the charts and in pop culture, she would never musically climb higher than this with me, and that's no diss. This was so strong.

These three albums were musically powerful and popular in their own ways and mostly mainstream. At the same time, I still had that jazz gene bubbling around in me, and it was probably never more important for me than it was then, as it was a connection to my later father. But, there was also something called soft jazz or lite jazz that was its own form of hell (sadly, for him, think Kenny G). Fair or unfair, it was reality. With that said...

London Warsaw New York, Basia. While this one wasn't released in 1989 (it hit in Feb, 1990) it's still part of those trips to Stratford to go to CSB. Basia, a Polish-born singer who had minor chart success in 1987 with an album called Time and Tide, was a clear disciple of the great Astrud Gilberto ("The Girl From Ipanema," if you don't know). Some of the tracks off Time and Tide would be on TV (it was the VH1 era of my life) and I recall seeing my father leave for work in the morning during this stretch (catching on now?). Her music was more on the (damn you, adult contemporary) mellow end of the spectrum and certainly made for background on those drives. There were hints of bossa nova and other influences of another era. The lead single "Cruising for Bruising" spoke of her breakup with her musical partner, Danny White. The lyrics? Not mean, like Fleetwood Mac. Just real and sad. But the entire album wasn't like that. A very passable version of "Until You Come Back to Me" (co-written by Stevie Wonder, perfected by Aretha Franklin) appears towards the end.

I'll readily accept any mocking, but my taste is my taste, and while I haven't played any of them all the way through in some time, I still feel a great deal of affection for them. I started playing Brave and Crazy one day since the pandemic began and got interrupted. So it goes.

Also a part of the 1989 mix were albums by Don Henley (another important album at that time for me), Bonnie Raitt, Eric Clapton, and many others (Queen, Phil Collins, and Paul McCartney as well). But these four still resonate for those drives to CSB. In fact, when I produced my first audition tape for radio, I used "The Heart of the Matter" by Don Henley, and I practiced talking up records to a copy of "Another Day in Paradise" by Phil Collins. Both had great opening instrumental intros to learn how to "hit the post" of a vocal or beat in the DJ world.

These albums (and others) helped those spells of emotions that powered me through 1989 and into 1990. Those drives to Stratford came to an end when I got my first radio job, at Majic 105, in Sep, 1990.

This post, while wistful I suppose, is more so a glance back with gratitude for the things that helped me survive and mold me. I've carried those thoughts and lessons for the past 31 years.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Random Albums


I just watched an interview Dan Rather did with Huey Lewis. It was pretty enjoyable, and I learned a few things.

I knew several of the stories, while others were unfamiliar, such as how the famed sax musician Stan Getz wound up playing on the Small World album.

As we've moved through the pandemic pandemonium, social media has been awash in many chains. Give me five albums and with no explanation and tag five friends. That type of thing.

Albums have always been a part of my life, so I enjoy talking about them. As I've been trying to say lately, there's no right answer to this stuff. Besides, these are albums that mean something to me for one reason or another. They're not necessarily the best ever.

Oh, and I'm just going to throw a handful here, and I'm not tagging anyone. If you want to discuss, then proceed. Feel free to offer up ones that mean something to you in whatever comment section you so choose.

Obviously, we'll start here...

Sports, Huey Lewis and the News. Even if I were to give an explanation, would it be necessary? In short, it was my album. Nobody influenced it. It also changed me -- for better or for worse. Even now, I wear a T-shirt with the album cover on it from the 30th anniversary tour seven years ago. (Needless to say, each of their albums means a lot to me, so we'll go with Sports and not do a full breakdown of them all tonight)

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, The Beatles. The album cover. The songs. Before I knew any better, this album was there. Is it The Lads' best album? No, probably not. But as Sports changed me, Sgt. Pepper changed everything. You can say whatever you want. I respect it. But, The Beach Boys made Pet Sounds. Paul McCartney said, "Oh, yeah?" Bingo. Everyone has been playing catch-up.

The Drum Battle -- Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich at JATP. This is one of a couple of sacred records in my collection. Yes. Record. If you left my father alone in the house, you ran the risk of him playing it. Loud. I can still hear it rattling the house windows while I was outside trying to be Terry Bradshaw. There's so much great jazz/swing here that it's insane. To that end...

The Famous 1938 Carnegie Hall Jazz Concert, Benny Goodman. Again, my father plays a role here. When he discovered that my sister had a stereo that could convert vinyl to cassette (it was the 80s, of course), he handed the project of recording it to me (my sister didn't mind). I painstakingly took that 1951 pressing and lovingly worked around every scratch to record it. Preserving that record was that important to the old man. I still have the album. And I have it on CD as well. And digital. He'd be amazed.

Revolver, The Beatles. I couldn't stop at just one album from the Fabs. Besides, there are no rules here. When their music finally hit CD in the late 80s, I found myself faced with which album to buy first. I was in a store called Lechmere in Poughkeepsie (circa 1988-89) and had finally gotten myself a CD player at home. It was time to pick a Beatles CD. Sgt. Pepper? Abbey Road? Nope. Revolver. Look at the track list. (PS, THIS is their best album)

The Globe Sessions, Sheryl Crow. There are certain albums that mean a ton to me. Right place. Right time. I knew of Sheryl Crow in the mid-90s and saw her open for the Eagles in 1994. I bought her records. Decent stuff for sure. The Globe Sessions still speaks to me. It's dark and moody and happy and a little bit of everything.

Glass Houses, Billy Joel. You either love him or hate him. Few tolerate him. After The Stranger, I became an even bigger fan with 52nd Street. But Glass Houses did it. One day I'd like meet someone in the bar at the Plaza Hotel, wearing a jacket and a tie. And "All for Leyna." Damn.

Sinatra at the Sands, Frank Sinatra. The height of cool. You might get whacked, but hey, that's Sinatra for ya, baby. Count Basie -- COUNT FRIGGIN' BASIE -- is his bandleader. Arranging and conducting is Quincy Jones, who Sinatra has nothing but praise for. The version of "I've Got You Under My Skin" is one of the most perfect live records I've heard.

Making Movies, Dire Straits. They had made their bones with "Sultans of Swing," which was certainly a different sound in the punk to disco scene of the late 70s. But, with this album, they hit the right notes for me. "Romeo and Juliet" is heartbreaking. "Les Boys" is awkward. "Skateaway" and "Tunnel of Love" are magnificent. Oh, did I say heartbreaking?

Songs for Only the Lonely, Frank Sinatra. "One For My Baby (And One More For the Road)" might be the greatest lonely guy closing down a bar song. While I've never been the guy closing the bar, I've sang it more than a few times. This album should have a warning label: never listen to it when feeling down. EVER.

Skylarking, XTC. They're a band that maybe you know. Maybe not. This is (for me) their masterpiece. Andy Partridge is a snarky git for sure, and he and Todd Rundgren (who produced it) were at odds the whole time. But (sorry those who are religious), "Dear God" (which got plenty of airplay on MTV) hit me in the gut at the right time (late '86) because in there was all of the angst that my 17 year-old brain had about such things. And it's never faded. Which is amazing, because they're also brilliant pop songsmiths, and "Dear God" is fairly dark.

OK Computer, Radiohead. A game-changer. Is that enough? An album that's named because of a line in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy? This is the type of stuff that showed me that maybe I had some depth to what I listened to. It was peak-Tower Records (CD) shopping time, pre-American Idol. And...yeah...

News of the World, Queen. I wasn't on Queen early enough, but I still remember hearing "Bohemian Rhapsody" for the first time. Again, a game-changer. Later, I heard what we've all heard millions of times since. Boom-boom-CLAP! Boom-boom-CLAP! I was officially in. There are other albums theirs that I prefer, but this was the first I bought. It was, in fact, among the first LP's I ever bought.

I suppose that's enough for tonight. I gave you 13 -- in no particular order (except, I suppose, for the first two). Honestly, there was no rhyme of reason. I just grabbed these albums to see what I could write about them. God, I love writing about music.

I hate what music has done to me at times (longer story there, of course) but I love what it has done to me also. I wish I could explain why I change my feelings about certain things (much longer story there, since I really don't know why).

And, one night, I'll have to dive into the albums of 1989. God, the late-80s were tough musically, but music helped save my soul.

Alas, stories for another time.

Time for one more for the road.


Tuesday, April 14, 2020

I'm Tired

The cat is tired also.
I'm pretty wiped out.

You'd think that just being home (yes, I really was home all day!) wouldn't take that much out of me, but one thing I'm proud of is there has been very little "down" time. I've been editing, listening, producing, talking, cleaning, and hosting.

I've stayed quite active, thank you very much.

And, sleep is always a wild card.

So, I'm tired as I sit here tonight.

I was going to dive into the rabbit hole of those things that happen on social media tonight.

Five albums! No explanation! Tag five people!

Post your senior picture! But, I've done that already.

Post a picture of you broadcasting! Ditto.

Though I don't really tag anyone usually. I found the Ice Bucket Challenge was enough. Nobody responded and that was that.

So, I'll hold those cards for another time.

Tomorrow's a busy one. Run Robcasting Replay. Drive to Carmel. Drive to Mahopac. Finish Robcasting Replay. Drive back to Carmel. Drive back to Mahopac. Maybe grab food. Record a podcast for Hunt Scanlon. Do Doubleheader. Maybe eat dinner. Do The Clubhouse. Then, edit The Clubhouse.

Then write the blog and try to not throw any of my computers through a window.

Good times. See you tomorrow.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Cool Things

I can't afford the $40 to see if my name is in it!

I've tried to be patient through all of it.

Obviously COVID-19 has impacted everyone. I haven't called a game since Mar 12 (nor has, basically, anyone else).

So the waiting game has been our thing, and certainly health comes first.

At the same time, I've been chomping at the proverbial bit since last October when I got the word that I was the new Hudson Valley Renegades broadcaster. I think a little about it every day.

There have been some great things to keep me going while the fall turned to winter and then to spring.

I visited Dutchess Stadium just before the pandemic made us all go home (in theory, anyway).

But, last week, things got really real with the ticket office opening up online for single game tickets, as well as the promotional schedule being released.

Get your tickets now at hvrenegades.com.

As I keep saying, it gives a little bit of hope.

But, still, there's a part of me that feels like I'm not really a member of the Gades family just yet, and I know I really need to earn my (raccoon) stripes. I'm certainly dying to do anything for them at this point and, hopefully, I'll do something soon.

And the press release was great. The newspaper pieces were great, though I'm honestly a touch befuddled why one of my own hometown newspaper ignored it. But, so be it.

You know my story at this point, so there's no point in explaining. I've never been jaded. I can still hear a promo or commercial or a game highlight or a show with my voice on it and marvel that I'm still doing this for real.

Heck, I woke up at two in the morning on Sunday to hear me on The Clubhouse on SiriusXM!

So, today, I glanced at The Broadcaster Directories, which is a database loaded with the names of the broadcasters for each team in pro sports, as well as the NCAA. I glanced at it a few times and wondered if it would ever be updated.

I had to go to Google Docs for something else today(one of two projects I'm working on tonight), and in there is a link to the professional baseball directory on Broadcaster 411.

And don't you know there, among the broadcasters of the Tampa Bay Rays organization, sits me.


Pretty cool.

I always wanted to see my name in the Baseball America Directory and the New York-Penn League media guide. I want to see it on the team website.

I want to see my picture and write for the team yearbook or program.

I'm like a kid and it's still all so overwhelming.

I still hope to be in Maryland for the first pitch on June 18, with my good friend Jon sitting six feet apart like we planned months ago. I still have plans to try to make a few road games (Staten Island, Brooklyn, Tri-City, Norwich).

I still hope to have all of you listening and visiting me at the stadium.

And I still hope the Renegades tell me do something soon -- anything -- to SHUT ME UP!

Does anyone want to have a catch -- via social distancing?

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Easter, Pandemic Style


It's safe to say this was a unique Easter.

Many spent it in different ways than normal. In some ways, it was average for me. I know I had at least one where I refused to go anywhere and ate Chinese food as I spent the day alone.

Other years I'm guilted into doing something.

Anyway, there was something I had to do (yes, everything I've done for the past month has been a need), so we went out this morning, meeting my sister and nephew (six feet apart) at my dad's grave.

While it's often peaceful to be there, it's obviously more bitter than sweet.

My nephew asked me about my dad's passing, so I went down that rabbit hole of talking about it. Not that it bothered me.

Hillside Cemetery contains a few of my relatives. Besides my dad, there's his mother, my mother's parents, two of her brothers as well as three of my aunts and one cousin.

One of my father's best friends is also buried there and I visit it virtually every time I'm in the cemetery. My dad and I walked over to his grave one time (probably in the late 70s/early 80s).

"Always keep it clean," my dad said. "Nobody ever visits him."

The story goes that his friend suffered badly from caner (and that's the best I way I can describe it). His passing was so hard on my father that he didn't go to the funeral in 1971.

So, while it's not always easy to find, I walk to his grave and clean it. It's a small vow to honor my dad and keep his friend in someones memory.


As for my dad's grave, there are three tiles that were placed there by my nieces not long after he died in 1989. They stayed there for, I'd say, probably 28 years. They survived wind, ran, snow, lawn mowers, and whatever else until one disappeared a year or two ago.

Even when they'd fall, I'd normally find it near his grave and put it back in their rightful place.

Lately, this one piece of blue tile has not been found. It might be buried in dirt. It might have gotten swept up in a lawn mower. Or maybe my father decided he wanted one of them for himself and he took it (and I sort of love that theory -- because it feels like it's straight out of a horror movie).

Wherever it's gone, it has served its purpose, I suppose. That doesn't mean I'll ever stop looking for it.

Having my nephew there allowed me to serve as a bit of a tour guide, though admittedly my sister is the genealogist of the family. It allowed me to point out -- in person -- that my paternal grandmother (a fascinating woman who lived around Greenwich) would be 141 years old.

"She was born not long after the Civil War," my nephew noted.

Yup. Pretty wild.

To adhere with the rules of social distancing we truly did stay apart from each other, and were even able to grab sandwiches and eat "lunch" despite talking through the window of a car in a parking lot.

It worked and, again, it's because we had to do this.

So, that was my Easter. Hope yours was nice also if you celebrate. Otherwise, hope you had a nice Sunday.

A day at a time.

We're getting closer.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Those Last Words

Interstate 95, Stamford, CT on Apr 11, 2020 at 7:11 p.m. (CT Traffic Cam)

The last game I broadcast on-site was on March 9 in Trumbull.

A day later, everything changed.

Still, I called Brunswick/Episcopal lacrosse on March 12 from the Local Live Stamford command center.

A month ago tomorrow.

Since then, I've done a Hunt Scanlon podcast and I've gotten back to hosting Doubleheader along with The Clubhouse, but all from home.

Which, by the way, aired overnight on American Forces Radio and Sirius, and will do so again tonight.

Trust me, based on the overall thud of all of this, you don't care.

Sadly there are metrics for these things and that's when I start wondering why I bother.

To that end, I have become obsessed with Robcasting Replay.

I only wish more shared that emotion and I finally had to recognize that myself today.

I was going BIG this weekend. Two games Friday!

Hell, let's do SIX this weekend!

I stayed up a chunk of the night editing.

Wait. There's a mention of gunshots at a Central/Harding game during our call of the Darien/New Canaan from 2014! Someone is going to think that's fresh news. DELETE IT!

I need a Brunswick game! I need a Mahopac game! Let's convert cassette tapes from 2001. Let's GO!

Suddenly the sound of brakes screeched.

Hold on there, Richard Petty (is that reference still relevant?). I know people appreciate your efforts, I told myself. You have a few people who listen to and read basically everything you do.

So, I backed down to two games today and none tomorrow.

You see, I ran the 2015 girls hockey classic between ETB and Simsbury. They retweeted, liked, and listened. That's when you want to do more. It drives you.

Then I ran Darien and New Canaan football from Thanksgiving, 2014. I might have been the only one listening (that's an exaggeration).

The point is to do this because I WANT to do this.

So I'm writing the post early tonight, whining to you about this stuff. Then I'm shutting down. The computers are bring turned off.

I'm not giving you my five albums for no good reason or one of the many memes and chains running around (though that might be tomorrow's post). I'm also not going to complain about how Mickey Mantle's triple crown in 1956 is (currently) beating Roger Maris' 61 in 61 in #TheBronxBracket.

Oh, wait. I just did. Well, that's a damn crime. I love Mickey (Mickey Who?) but Rajah got enough disrespect in the 60s. I know fanboys are always going to be fanboys, but be fair. Roger's 61 is still one of the great baseball moments ever, let along a Yankees moment.

Oh yeah, the post title. So, back to March 12. Going through all of these games got me to thinking about the last game I did and the last words I said before this all happened. I didn't say anything profound, except that I said (hoped) that Brunswick's next game would be their April 1 home opener.

"I plan on seeing you on April 1," I said. "I hope you plan on joining me as well."

There's still a bit of a rasp in my voice and no background noise (since I was in a studio). I'm trying to be upbeat but the whole atmosphere of that day suggested we were in for the long haul.

My last words reflect that.

"For now, stay safe. We'll see you soon. So long, everyone."


Check this out on Chirbit

We're still here of course and I haven't been back to Connecticut since.

I'm still hopeful. But, for now, those were my last words on a game broadcast.

And, for now, I'm shutting down. Until tomorrow.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Remember The Good

These two young bucks called the 2014 FCIAC Football Championship
I'm editing away at various games to run as part of my Robcasting Replay series.

Some have been hits. Some have not.

It's the nature of the beast.

What it has allowed me to do is review some of the work I've been a part of.

I learn things, of course.

Sometimes it brings up some painful memories or I get to hear voices of people who don't talk to me anymore.

But, when I allow myself to listen and enjoy it, I hear some good things.

Some really good things.

And I'm not talking about me. I'm talking about the whole product.

I edited the famous girls state championship hockey tie and it reminded me of how Eric Gendron, Jake Zimmer, and Chris Kaelin each donated their time to the broadcast of a girls hockey game involving two teams that weren't located anywhere near our listening area.

I also edited the 2014 FCIAC football championship between Darien and New Canaan (aka the Turkey Bowl). Gendron and Kaelin were again part of the broadcast, with Chris Erway and I working up in the booth.

We all went through hell at times with a lot of the "off the air" stuff (and maybe one day it will be worth telling the war stories) but hearing the actual final product reminded me of just how good it was. That 2014 game had to be pinpoint in terms of the newspapers and the radio working together.

Everyone worked their collective tails off.

A great game helps, of course, and the two that I've mentioned here each had their moments of enormous drama.

These are just two of the games that I plan to play this weekend on Robcasting.

And I'll be able to smile and feel proud of what we accomplished.

Thursday, April 09, 2020

Time to Recharge the Bat-tree

The carrot gave him SUPER POWERS!
As you probably know, I occasionally hit lulls. Or slam into a wall.

I'm there.

It happens, to the point where I think about stepping down, and I was pretty close to not writing anything tonight. I've written for 467 days in a row and I feel like lately has been crap.

Though I thought last night was kind of OK. Not sure you did, but that's OK as well.

The post I wrote about Robcasting Replay, which I'm having a lot of fun doing, landed with a thud.

And thus, ah, screw it.

Here we are, I guess.

I dragged myself to the mic today for Doubleheader.

Basically I plodded through this day.

The key to all of this has been that I've remained busy. Prune this tree, clean this junk, write this post, do this show, edit this game.

And other stuff out of my control that needs to be done.

This is my own personal rat race. There are people with bigger problems.

And so, we keep it short, because as Bugs Bunny said in Super-Rabbit (1943), "Time to recharge my bat-tree."

We'll see what tomorrow brings.