Tuesday, August 24, 2010


One broadcasting buffoon bellows his biased bilge like he’s experiencing his first sexual encounter, simply because a home run breaks a windshield in a parking lot beyond the left field wall. Another roars with insincere exclamations flying in every direction when two Yankees go “back-to-back, belly-to-belly.”

The most irritating guy of them all utters with slang-ridden disdain, “He gone!” when an opposing player strikes out and unabashedly calls the White Sox “the good guys.” When the opposing team does something electric, all you hear is a mumble.

So this is the subjective slant that baseball broadcasting now peddles, and as I wade through this bog of unprofessional pretenders [as little as possible], I hear news that the great Vin Scully, 82, is coming back in 2011.

The timing was great for me. I like to follow the Cincinnati Reds and they were visiting Vinny’s L.A. Dodgers over the weekend. Given the blessing of the Comcast “Extra Inning” package, I took advantage of a rare treat.

No one has more reason than Scully to root, root, root for the home team. The absolute best broadcaster in the history of the game has been at the Dodgers’ microphone since 1950, two years before this 58-year-old writer was born.

But Scully doesn’t resort to hometown blather. In fact, this Reds fan didn’t take exception to one thing he said during two of the three games I saw. In the other, I was sorry to get the Reds announcers, who aren’t the worst on the planet, but can’t hold Scully’s scorecard.

I’m sure somebody in the business could explain it to me. Perhaps it’s just another example of my trying to hold on to nostalgic elements of my younger years. But the shameless sound of announcers heaping praise on the “good guys” and dumping on the “bad guys” makes me shiver with distaste.

You may enjoy the whining Joe on Red Sox radio guy pouting when Lyle Overbay rakes two three-run homers off his ace lefthander. Maybe it sets your heart all atwitter when the Evil Empire’s lout quakes, “THEEEEEEE Yankee win!” like it’s some kind of religious awakening.

I found a new one that chortles like a hometown ham -- Josh Lewin of the Texas Rangers. Lewin spouted the following bourgeois tonight, “I’m surprised that Twins manager Ron Gardenhire hasn’t won a manager of the year award and he won’t this year because our guy Ron Washington has it wrapped up.”

How’s that for some one-sided crap. What about Gardenhire? What about Joe Maddon? What about Terry Francona with all the injuries he’s had to endure? When an opposing player makes a great play, Lewin arrogantly announces that their shortstop has made the same play so many times. Pass the barf bag, dear, and will somebody in Texas please pull the plug.

Every baseball fan should allow Vin Scully’s melodious voice to fill the living room once in a while. His offerings sometimes come out sounding like poetry.

Here are my least favorite broadcasters, some of which you’ve already guessed, with excessive hometown bias as my primary criteria. I give you The Insincere Seven:
1. Ken “Hawk” Harrelson, Chicago White Sox
2. Joe Castiglione, Boston Red Sox
3. Rex Hudler, Los Angeles Angels
4. Suzyn Waldman, New York Yankees
5. John Sterling, New York Yankees
6. Josh Lewin, Texas Rangers
7. Mark Grace, Arizona Diamondbacks

Here are the guys I like best:
1. Vin Scully, Los Angeles Dodgers
2. Jon Miller, San Francisco Giants
3. Dave O’Brien, Boston Red Sox
4. Dick Bremer, Minnesota Twins
5. Don Orsillo, Boston Red Sox
6. Marty Brennaman, Cincinnati Reds
7. Gary Cohen, New York Mets

Thursday, August 19, 2010


As my aging body slowly stirred to life this morning, I was totally overwhelmed by the outpouring of birthday wishes on Facebook. Thank you, all of you, from the bottom of my heart for taking a moment out of your days to wish me well.

As it turns out, I have to work today, but all of you know, covering the Rock Cats beat isn't work. First off, it's baseball, and I cherish my relationships with the young men who play the games.

It's also being with dear friends like: keeper of the scoreboard Larry Michaels, the kindly yet indefatigable official scorer/former New Britain High wrestling coach Ed Smith; the always smiling and equally accommodating Dowling brothers Bill and Bob; "JD squared," those masters of the microphone Jeff Dooley and Joe D'Ambrosio; Luke Pawlak and Mike "Manny" Papazian, the extremely gifted guys running the technical operation; old friend and dedicated New Britain sportsman Mike Torres.

There are so many others who frequent New Britain Stadium for virtually every home game that are like family to me that listing everybody would only leave me open to forgetting somebody very important. Thank you, one and all.

But my life has had so many chapters and I have met so many unbelievable people along the way.

There's Belden Road, the cradle of my life, where such a stunning number of incredible people grew up together in middle-class splendor. Warm and wonderful Joy Bershtein, one of my dearest friends Dave Dippolino, his old BR next-door neighbor Johnny Spinato (you may know Johnny if you've had an adult beverage at Confetti, Route 10, Plainville).

There's Glens Falls, N.Y., the foothills of the Adirondacks, where baseball carried me for five wonderful years (1984-88), and where my only son Jason was born.

I've never been too terrific about communicating with my extended family -- I've heard the words "black sheep" muttered just within earshot many times in my teens and 20s -- but I have a special place in my heart for the Katzmans -- Bruce, Terry and Karen -- whom I unfortunately rarely get to see.

There are the people who once worked side-by-side with me but have moved on, like passionate family man Bobby Mayer and accomplished broadcaster Bill Schweitzer. How wonderful and typical that they took the time for a greeting.

And there are the youngsters who share the burden of putting out quality sports news every day at the Herald -- Executive Editor Brad Carroll; editor Matt Straub; Andrew Lovell.

Although I haven't heard from them yet, I want to acknowledge my two dearest buddies. Andy Vas -- Belden Road buddies for 55 years and still going strong. The miles can't keep us apart, you old fart. Ron Sambrook, the Godfather, Obbey Brother. Ain't nuthin better than a Grateful Dead concert and Obbey Ride to Cooperstown, or both at the same time.

Family comes first but I've saved the last for best. Lisa, the best wife a guy can have. Can you begin to imagine what she puts up with every day? And she got me the best birthday presents of all, autographed Gunsmoke photos.

Each and every one of you, and surely many more, have played a role in shaping my life. The one regret that life musters is that I can't have a Pepe's pizza, a platter of Jimmie's fried clams, a Glenwood hot dog, watch some great old movies or tip an adult beverage or two with y'all.

Thanks for the birthday wishes and please know that I love you all.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Anybody who knows me will tell you that I march to the beat of a different drummer.

Who else do you know that comes home from a hard evening’s work and watches a steady stream of Have Gun – Will Travel and Gunsmoke reruns when the baseball games are over? If you know of anybody, let me know. I can use some good company.

I’m crazy, right? I should be watching the shows that everybody else watches so I can stay in tune with contemporary society. Sorry, you’ve got the wrong guy.

So when Lisa and I look into a vacation, we’re not likely to show up in the usual places. We don’t have a second home in Old Saybrook or Rhode Island and we’re not prone to sit idly on the beach for hour after hour anyway. We aren’t about to book any cruises so we can play shuffleboard and sail the ocean on a ship bigger than New Britain. You won’t find us in London, Paris or Amsterdam any time soon.

In June, we went to Antietam (western Maryland), Frederick, Md., Gettysburg and the Pennsylvania Dutch County. The impetus behind that trip was Civil War history.

Last week, we used our second vacation period to tour New Hampshire. As you would guess, we didn’t go to Hampton Beach. We didn’t even take in a ballgame in Manchester, Portland or Lowell, Mass., although my sports-loving wife would have surely been okay with that.

Lisa likes moose. She had never seen one up close and personal, so we packed up the Avalanche, motored up I-91 almost as far as you can go (St. Johnsbury, VT), and cut across the skinny northern part of New Hampshire on back roads. We came through the back door of the majestic Presidential Range, slipping through nice New England towns like Lancaster and Gorham.

In Gorham, we went on a moose tour. That’s right, a moose tour. The town sponsors tours in air-conditioned vans that seat a dozen or so people. The driver, who I’m so pleased to tell you is a fellow Grateful Dead freak, took us up along the Androscoggin River.

We packed in the van at about 6:30 p.m. We scoured the Androscoggin shores, the bogs, the thickets and the evergreen forests. No moose. Lisa’s optimism – they advertise a 94-to-97 percent success rate – was on the wane.

Dusk turned to dark and the driver took out his array of spotlights, one affixed to each side of the van’s hood and another more powerful hand-held variety. Finally, he flashed the hand-held light down a forested path and Lisa got to see her moose. One moose, and a small one at that.

It didn’t help to run into some folks from Presque Isle, Maine, during the vacation who said they see moose from their back porch almost daily. That didn’t please Lisa at all. She frowned and said, “No more moose.” No more moose socks, no more moose oven mitts, no more moose postcards.

We stayed in Jackson, N.H., just north of the bustling little burg of North Conway. The accommodations at the Inn at Ellis Falls were astounding. Jackson Falls are stunning as they cascade down the mountainside. We went on a train ride out of North Conway and heard some great historical stuff from the young conductors.

After two days in the mountains, we headed for the shore, which is a diversity that makes the Granite State so special. We stayed at a B&B (Three Chimneys Inn) in Durham, home to the University of New Hampshire, and went into Portsmouth for some shoreline frolic.

Portsmouth is the consummate New England port city, not so big and imposing like Boston but with plenty of amenities. Heck, we parked the car in a garage for 5 hours and it cost us $3. Try doing that in Beantown.

We took a boat tour of the Isles of Shoals, located about six miles out in the Atlantic, and were treated to an array of wildlife (no moose, but harbor seals aplenty), some sparkling white wine and a stirring history of the islands, part of which are in Maine and part in New Hampshire.

On the way home, we stocked up at the tax-free New Hampshire State Liquor Store (Live Free or Die) and made sure our gas tank was full to the brim so we could once again avoid paying the double tax on gasoline in Connecticut. Hey, a week later and I’m still running on that tank. I look for reasons to go out of state just so I don’t have to pay Connecticut prices, but I digress.

For years people have been compelled to show their home movies or still shots from their vacations. We’re not into the home movies but we have lots of still shots (no moose). Maybe Lisa will upload them. But I wouldn’t want to bore you any more with our run-of-the-mill existence. To many of you, I’m sure no moose is good moose.

Sunday, August 15, 2010


If I was playing the typical blogger game, I would report this a different way, like I knew something that others didn't. I would use deductive reasoning, take a shot in the dark, roll the dice and say that the Minnesota Twins' slugging first baseman Justin Morneau is lined up to do some rehabbing in New Britain.

Here are the facts:

1) Morneau remains on the disabled list as he tries to shake off the effects of a concussion sustained July 7 against Toronto when he took John McDonald's knee to his head trying to break up a double play.

2) Recovery from a concussion is tricky business. Reports are that he's had some good days and some difficult ones. The Twins are being very cautious -- they're doing quite well with Michael Cuddyer playing a solid first and Danny Valencia supplying punch at third. A healthy Morneau down the stretch would give the Twins an offensive array that rivals the Yankees.

3) One projection had the 2006 MVP returning to live action in the neighborhood of Sept. 1. Predicting the future is nothing but guesswork but it's something to work with.

4) Morneau would need at least a few games to re-adapt himself to the speed of the game, which means a rehab stint is a certaintly.

5) Why not New Britain, if his rehab time coincides with a string of Rock Cats home games? For any rehab, the preference is that the trainer has access to the home clubhouse and all its medical amenities.

So there you have it. I have used my deductive reasoning to project a possible scenario where the suffering New Britain fan gets tossed a bone for tremendous loyalty shown during one of the most decrepit seasons in Eastern League history.

Wouldn't it be nice to see one of the sweetest, most powerful left-handed swings in the history of the game back at the scene of the majestic wallops Morneau sent screaming toward the willow grove back in 2002?

With top pitching prospect Kyle Gibson now in Triple-A and Ben Revere on the disabled list with a fractured orbital bone under his right eye, there aren't many reasons to attend the remaining games. That is, unless you want to watch the Cats scratch and claw to avoid becoming the first EL team in over 50 years to drop 100 games.

Thursday, August 5, 2010


File this in your "fact" column:

Those who type hurtful and erroneous words and make them public through an internet forum without properly identifying themselves represent the most cowardly faction that has ever roamed the earth.

I pray that seekers of wisdom and truth rely solely on legitimate reporting and candid discussion rather than falling prey to the lies and deceit floated by so-called bloggers as a response to something that was written with which they did not agree.

Shouldering responsibility is part of the foundation that enables a person to rise beyond childhood and become a capable adult. If you have something to say that's worth saying, say it loud, say it clear, say it with conviction. Make sure you have some facts to back your opinion and relish the opportunity for a debate. Don't whisper when nobody's watching and hide under the nearest rock.