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Let’s Go Kings – I Love L.A.

June 4, 2014

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I never liked the New York Rangers. As a 10-year old kid I used to like the Philadelphia Flyers of all teams! I even had a Bobby Clarke poster in my room. Then in 1978, something happened. I watched an amazing playoff series between the New York Islanders and Toronto Maple Leafs. Game Seven went into overtime and that is when Lanny McDonald broke my heart. But I had a new team to cheer for and they played on Long Island, which is a lot closer than Philadelphia.

The next season the Islanders finished with the best point total in the league, 116 and a record of 51-15-14. The Montreal Canadiens finished with 115 points and a 52-17-11 record. The Isles and Habs also finished 1-2 in goals scored, 358-to337. The Stanley Cup finals were predetermined in my mind. It would be the Islanders and Canadiens.

Then a funny thing happened on the Islanders way to the Stanley Cup Finals – The New York Rangers. If Mr. McDonald broke my heart the year before, The Mafia Line of Phil Esposito, Don Maloney and Don Murdoch (the Godfather and the two Don’s…get it? –one of my favorite line names of all time) stepped on it, kicked it off the roof of Madison Square Garden and on to 8th Avenue where traffic ran over it again and again. Thus my hatred for the Rangers was born!

Fortunately the Canadiens took care of business in five games and the chant of 1940 lived on! If the Islanders-Rangers Series of 1979 destroyed my heart just think about what Ranger fans went through the next four years. The Islanders won the Stanley Cup from 1980 through 1983. Revenge was mine! Four championships in a row including 19 straight playoff series wins. Take that you obnoxious blue seaters! Those four championship years more than made up for that one playoff series loss.

After 11 years of no Stanley Cup finals in New York City or Long Island, another funny thing happened. The Rangers actually won the Cup in 1994. What a great spring that was for the city of New York and Madison Square Garden particularly. The Rangers and the Knicks made it to the finals of their respective sports with both series going seven games. The powers that be at Madison Square Garden had to be happy with that.

The Knicks lost to the Rockets and the Rangers of course beat the Canucks. And you know what? My life didn’t change one bit. Oh sure I could no longer chat 1940 at Islander-Ranger games, but there are worse things in this world. The majority of my friends that are Ranger fans gave me grief. But life went o and my hatred for the Rangers sort of subsided after they won.

A few years later as my sports career progressed, I actually got to meet and interview many members that made up the core of that Ranger team that won the Cup in 1994. And you know what I realized? They were a great bunch of guys.

Mark Messier, Brian Leetch, Mike Richter and especially Adam Graves were some of the nicest athletes and more importantly, people, you would ever want to meet. I enjoyed covering their practice sessions; I liked being around them and talking to them and writing stories about them and the great game of hockey even if they were my team’s arch rivals.

One of my former editors, who’s as big a Ranger fan as you can find, put it best, “Like the players hate the uniform.”

Jerry Seinfeld had a bit about when a player on “your team” moves on to another team, and all of a sudden you are booing him. He was so good last year now he is no good. So technically you are rooting for clothing. The player puts on a different shirt and he gets booed.

I saw this first hand when covering a Ranger game vs. the San Jose Sharks in the late 1990’s. Former Ranger playoff hero Stephane Matteau was now with the Sharks. He got into a scrap with a Ranger player and fists started flying with the Ranger player getting the best of Matteau. The Ranger fans in Madison Square Garden actually started cheering. A fellow reporter turned to me and said, “How soon they forget.”

I just nodded at him. Remember it was Matteau’s goal against the Devils that got them to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1994. Rooting for clothing indeed!

As a Yankee fan I can’t root for the Red Sox, as an Oakland Raider fan I can’t root for any other team in the NFL, especially those in the AFC Western Conference. And as an Islander fan, well I just can’t root for the Rangers, nice guys or not.

The only ways I’d root for the Rangers to win are:

1.)    If it could help the Islanders in the standings and

2.)    If they played against a team made up of al Quada and Taliban operatives.

Since the Islanders are a few years – and that is being kind – away from being a playoff team, and terrorists don’t play hockey in the dessert, I am pretty safe.

Let’s Go Kings! And if the Kings falter, I will NOT be at the parade in lower Broadway.

Sorry Ranger fan friends.

Now where did I put my old school royal purple L.A. Kings Marcel Dionne jersey?

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It’s Just Name Calling

May 9, 2014

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Pardon me if I don’t get it. I love football. I love the NFL. In fact I love the NFL so much that I have a freelance gig scoring NFL games from September to January. I love watching football. The game is great. However, I will never get the fascination with fans wanting to attend the NFL Draft.

I have never had nor will I ever have the desire to attend this event. Let’s be honest here, all the draft is, is players names being called. Call me silly but I find nothing exciting about this.

Like any fan I am curious as to who will be selected first. I am also curious as to whom my team, the Oakland Raiders, will select with the fifth pick. I want to know who the hometown Jets and Giants will take as well. And like everyone else I have a morbid curiosity to see how far Johnny Manziel will slip down, that is if he slips at all. As far as being in Radio City Music Hall tonight, you’d have a better chance catching me at a Justin Bieber concert.

Will I watch the draft? If I remember to put it on I will. Even then I will be flipping channels. Keep in mind playoff hockey is in full swing and I’d much rather watch that. More than likely I will read about the draft online that evening or even the next day.

Three days of names being called? And NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has talked of potentially stretching it into a four day event? Hahahahahaha!!! Even the most hard core NFL fan would not be able to watch four days of this!

Call me silly, but sitting in Radio City Music Hall tonight listening to the Commissioner call out names is nowhere near as exciting as sitting in a stadium watching a team engineer a fourth quarter comeback after being down by 20 points.

Which sounds better:

“I was in Madison Square Garden in 2004 when I heard Eli Manning’s name called and saw him walk out on to the stage.”

or:

“I was at Super Bowl XLII in Phoenix and I saw Manning throw that pass to David Tyree which I still can’t believe that he caught.”

It is apples and oranges if you ask me. Not only does the second statement sound better but it’s something I’d much rather witness live.

The NFL Draft is not an exact science. More often than not, you can’t judge a pick until that player is four or five years into his career. Some players come in and make an immediate impact like Tony Dorsett did with Dallas in 1977, when he won the Rookie of the Year Award and then a Super Bowl Championship.

For other players it takes a few years to mature into superstardom. Peyton Manning didn’t win his first MVP award until 2003, his fifth year in the league, it would take him another three years to win his first, and as of now, his only Super Bowl Championship. Then there is Ryan Leaf who was drafted in the second slot behind Manning in 1998. I’ll just leave Leaf right there for you to ponder the “not an exact science” statement above.

I am sure there will be thousands of NFL fans in Radio City tonight. I won’t be one of them. After all it’s just names being called.

 

 

 

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Tend to Your Own House Before Passing Judgment on Mine

May 5, 2014

Grump

 

The following blog post was inspired by something I read on the Huffington Post

I wish people would mind their own business. The reason I mention this is because last weekend after my son’s tee ball game, a woman whose son is teammates with my son followed me to my truck. My son was already strapped in his car seat and the door was closed so he did not hear the conversation.

This woman, whom I recognized as we have spoken at previous games and practices, took me by surprise. She seemed to appear out of nowhere, as I was putting my chair and my son’s equipment bag in the back. She reminded me of “the sidler” from my favorite Seinfeld episode. That’s the one in which Kramer turns his apartment into the Merv Griffin Show, Jerry drugs his girlfriend to play with her antique toys and Elaine is constantly caught off guard by a new employee named Lou Filerman, aka the sidler.

“I just wanted to apologize for my friend’s behavior,” she said to me.

“I have no idea what you are talking about,” I replied, somewhat surprised.

“Oh then never mind,” she said as she began to walk away.

“Woah, woah, woah, cat’s out of the bag now lady, so you matters well tell me what this is about,” I said. Then it hit me. I did notice one woman with an infant sitting near me during the game. I also caught her staring at me with a look of contempt as I was attempting to get my son motivated and out on the field.

“Is your friend the woman that was staring at me during the game?” I asked.

“Yes,” said the woman. “She is a new mother and thinks she knows everything about patenting.”

“Ma’am, NOBODY knows everything about parenting,” I said to her. “There is no handbook, we are all learning on the job here. But I do find it funny that your friend with an infant is passing judgment on me with a six-year old.”

I then introduced myself and this woman told me her name and I told her no harm no foul.

As I drove away it dawned on me what had just happened. Some woman, who didn’t even have a kid playing in the game I just watched my son actually play, didn’t approve of my parenting skills. WOW!!!

For the record I am not one of those parents who is yelling from the stands at everyone. I realize my son, nor any of the other kids, are Derek Jeter, Mike Trout or Bryce Harper. They are 5 and 6 year olds out there to have fun and hopefully learn some basic baseball skills. They all look so cute in their uniforms and caps that at a distance it is hard to tell them apart. This is not major league baseball, these are children having fun. And kudos to the coaches who are all very patient with the kids.

As far as laying a hand on my son to motivate or punish him, I would cut off my arm before I would hit him in anger. Sure he gets me frustrated. Ask any parent out there and they will exhaust you with tales of the times their children have misbehaved. It’s just what kids do. And every parent has a different way of dealing with it. I decided to tell my boy that if he didn’t get out on the field there would be no riding the Go Carts after the game. Apparently momma know-it-all didn’t like this tactic either as that’s when I first noticed her staring at me.

Let me back track here a bit. It had been a busy day for us up to this point. We were out the door at 9:30 for team pictures at 9:45. We were done with the pictures by 10:30 so we went to lunch at McDonald’s. The restaurant was in the process of changing from breakfast to lunch so my son had to wait 10 minutes to get his happy meal, which the cashier delivered to our table. I opted to have breakfast so I was good.

We then played in the McDonald’s play area for about 10 minutes. After this, we hit the bathroom and began heading back to the field for our noon game. My son wanted ice cream as we were leaving the restaurant and I told him no, that we would get it after the game. This caused a meltdown, including an “I hate you,” coming from the person I would take a bullet for without blinking an eye.

As I strapped him into his car seat, I said, “That was mean and hurtful, especially since I would do anything for you. Don’t you ever say that again.”

He quieted down as I drove to the field. As I unstrapped him I repeated that what he said was not nice and that I never want to hear that from him again.

“OK daddy, I’m sorry” he said and he gave me a hug.

“Now let’s go and have fun at tee ball,” I told him. “Be sure to listen to the coach and do what he says.”

The problem with my son is that he always wants to hit and not play the field. After not getting to bat in the first inning (he was scheduled to bat in the second inning) he didn’t want to take the field. So I picked him up and put him in his position somewhere between first, second and right field. I stood behind him for the inning and told him to pay attention. The coach didn’t have a problem with this but apparently momma know-it-all did as I noticed her eyes upon me.

Once again, it is tee ball there are no stats kept, everyone bats and everyone plays the field. The kids all shake hands afterwards the coach awards a game ball and then the kids get a snack. My little guy was happy as he got apple juice and popcorn.

Momma know-it-all, you have no clue what my life is like and what I have been through so how DARE you sit there with a disgusted look on your face as I’m talking to my son? But since you are being so judgmental let me give you a little background on me. I never got to know my dad. He died about three weeks before my 7th birthday. I have very few memories of him. I love riding my bicycle because the weekend before my dad passed away that was one of the last things he taught me. I can’t get on a bike without thinking of my dad. I never got to play catch with him or go to a ball game with him. I don’t even know who his favorite team was. Was it the Yankees, or the Mets? For all I know he could have been a Dodger or a Giant fan.

What I do know is that I am going to give my son all the things my father never got to give me. I am going to spend as much time with him as possible and that includes tee ball, gymnastics and soccer. Yes momma know-it-all we do soccer and gymnastics too. If you like I can give you the schedules for those events maybe you can come and pass judgment on us there as well. Or maybe you can find another parent-child combination to stare at and fill them with your vast wealth and knowledge that is all of your — at most — six months of parenting experience.

I have this code that I live by and that is I do not let other people dictate my actions for me. I am going to do what I want when I want. So my son and I are going to be at tee ball every weekend. I am going to cheering for him his teammates as well as the kids on the other teams to do well. I’ll be sitting in my chair and I’ll be motivating my son as well as the other kids. If you don’t like it, if you are so repulsed by this, do not sit near me. It’s a big field, so I am sure you can find another spot to pitch your tent. Who knows maybe you will find someone else to stare at with that tsk, tsk, tsk look of distain on your face.

For the record you are lucky you did not say anything to me because I would have told you to mind your own business. And if you think I am being a bully, I’ll be frank with you, bring down your husband, boyfriend, brother, whomever and I will tell them to mind their own business as well. It was a cowardly thing you did complaining about me, someone you don’t even know, to your friend. Your friend was so embarrassed by your behavior that she had to apologize for you. That action alone speaks volumes of your character.

See I grew up in a place called Yorkville, just a stones throw from Harlem. I grew up in an Irish neighborhood. In fact the projects I grew up in are still called the “Irish Projects” even though there are very few of that ethnic group left there. I got along with everyone, Blacks, Hispanics, Germans, Italians, Jews, Hungarians and more were all among the people I called my friends. I was never a tough guy or a great athlete but I do have what the gang I grew up with like to call “Yorkville Tough.” We don’t back down – especially when it comes to our children.

Momma know-it-all you have got a LOT to learn and I’ll give you your first lesson for free: you tend to your kid’s needs and I’ll tend to mine. Deal? How about that?

 

Here is the story that inspired me, it’s a little long but worth the read.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jennifer-ball/to-the-stranger-who-ruined-my-sons-saturday-night_b_5230283.html

 

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Of Sons and Star Wars

May 4, 2014

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I never considered myself a science fiction geek. Hell, I never even liked science in school. I was more a history, English and math person. The only science that I did care for was biology, especially anatomy. I am pretty sure that if called upon, I could still name all the bones and organs in the human body — let’s hear it for the New York City Catholic School System!

As for the other sciences such as Chemistry and Physics, all I can say is Bleeeech. In college I took a Physics course because it was required. That was the biggest waste of $900 in my life. And to make matters worse it was only offered on Saturday! Did I mention I was a Masochist? It was sheer torture.

So much for the science part. As for the fiction part I love it. I enjoy reading fiction. Spy novels, alternate history, murder mysteries, they are all on my kindle. I’ve read hundreds of fiction novels.

So there you have it in a nutshell: I hate science and I love fiction. With the big rumblings out of London this past week I am kind of excited. Director J.J. Abrams sat down with the cast of Star Wars VII for their first table reading. The movie is not due to hit theaters until December 2015, and that is when I intend to take my son Aiden to see his first Star Wars film on the big screen.

Of course we have all six films on DVD and yes we have watched them all at least a half a dozen times. But there is something about seeing a movie on a huge screen that beats the hell out of watching it at home.

In our house we have all decided on which characters we identify with the most and we have noted our favorite scenes. Aiden is Luke Skywalker, I am Han Solo and mommy refused to play. So I asked Aiden which character we could make mommy. After he rejected her as Darth Vader, Princess Leia and Boba Fett, we decided that she could be a Commando Droid. He even does the voice, “Roger, Roger.”

As for our favorite scenes, Aiden likes when Luke defeats the Rancor in Return of the Jedi. He finds it funny when the Rancor eats someone and then when the fat guy with no shirt cries after Luke kills the Rancor. I tell him it’s not nice to laugh at other people’s misfortune, even if it happens to be a disgusting slimy beast getting crushed to death. My boy also like the lightsaber duel between Yoda and Count Dukoo in Attack of the Clones. He calls it “Yoda going crazy” and he has attempted to emulate it when we fight with his lightsabers. I have also taught Aiden to use the force, which always does on the automatic doors when we are entering Target.

Personally I like the Battle of Hoth from The Empire Strikes Back which also happens to be my favorite film of the series. Empire is that rarity in filmdom where the sequel is actually better than the original. There is a familiarity with the characters, that great battle on Hoth and a cliff hanger ending.

Aiden knows that when Star Wars VII arrives in theaters he will be 8 years old. He has asked me if the movie will be scary. I told him that it won’t be any scarier than what he has already seen in the other six films. My feeling is if he can cite the scene with the Rancor eating someone, he can deal with Episode VII. Beside I have instilled in him that it is only make believe and that nothing he sees on a movie screen or on TV can hurt him.

I find these movies to be fun and entertaining. Yes they may be science fiction and set in a galaxy far, far away, but they still are simply a battle between the forces of good and evil.

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Tournament Diary – The Wrap-up

April 1, 2014

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You didn’t really think it was over after the first four days did you? There was plenty more basketball to be played this past weekend. Todd and I were back in the studio on Thursday night for a double header, Baylor-Wisconsin and San Diego State-Arizona. In the first game, the Badgers took out the Bears rather handily by a score of 69-52, behind the play of their 7-foot forward Frank Kaminsky. The big fella dropped in 19 points, grabbed 4 rebounds and swatted away 6 Baylor shots. The Honda Center in Anaheim, where the game was hosted, looked to be about half filled during this contest.

What the fans were really waiting for was the second game between the Aztecs and the Wildcats. San Diego is a stone’s throw down the road from Anaheim and the state of Arizona borders California, so it was like a home game for both teams. I noticed that Arizona head coach, Sean Miller, looks slightly like the character Johnny Roastbeef from the movie Goodfellas. After I mentioned this, the crew went into a good 10 minutes of material from the film. “What did I tell you?” “But Jimmy, it’s in my mother’s name…” “Dumb fat f#&@, he ought to wear a sign.” “One buys a Cadillac the other a fur coat.”

Between games I had my dinner which ironically was roast beef with mashed potatoes and some veggies on the side. The second game was in my opinion, the best one I watched and scored the whole tournament. The Aztecs Xavier Thames led all scorers with 25 points but the game belonged to the Wildcats Nick Johnson. After failing to score a basket in the first 37:15 of the game, he caught fire and dropped in all 15 of his points in the last 2:45 of the game. In fact he scored 15 of his teams last 16 points as the Wildcats closed out the 70-64 win. At this point I still had three of my four final four teams alive in two of my three brackets.

My colleague Greg and I took a cab down to Penn Station and got on the 1:21 train. Being so wired from the games I couldn’t nod out so I read the Vince Flynn novel I was about halfway through. I got into the house a little after three, kissed my son on the forehead like I always do when I get home late and told him that daddy loves him. I barely slept as I was still wired from watching the games. The next day at my regular gig was a little difficult due to my lack of sleep. However, it went pretty smoothly as no fires popped up and no one needed anything at the last minute.

Upon arriving home on Friday night my plan was to go to bed early. But who was I kidding? There was more basketball to watch. Even when I am not working I still want to watch, especially since I had those winnable brackets. I was back and forth between the first two games. Of course the two games I really wanted to see were the late games. I made it until around the seven minutes mark in the Kentucky-Louisville contest and went to bed. When I woke up the next morning I was pleased to learn Michigan State won and livid that Louisville lost. OK I still had Michigan, Michigan State and Arizona alive in one of my better brackets.

Saturday was going to be a busy day. My game, Wisconsin-Arizona, was not scheduled to start until 8:45 pm but I had things to do beforehand. I took my son Aiden to his gymnastics class, then immediately following that we went to a program at the library. Once he was finished with his class (he learned about Egypt, and even made a nemes and a mummy), he then played with one of the library’s iPads for about a half hour. Then it was on to lunch at McDonald’s (yeah I know bad parent – but we only do that once a week). Afterwards I gassed up the car, hit Target for a few things and we were back home. I took a power nap and then headed into the city for my final game of the season.

I arrived at the studio a little after seven and caught most of the Dayton-Florida game. I had my dinner while watching, which consisted of roast pork, pasta and some broccoli. As my game started, I was pulling for Arizona for several reasons:  one my bracket, two I like Sean Miller (aka Johnny RoastBeef) and three I once worked with an annoying character who attended Wisconsin.

Todd and I had a good one. It even went to overtime (tournament record seventh OT game this year) which at this point I didn’t care about. I had no work on Sunday and I was planning on going out after the game anyway to have a drink and a bite to eat. Like Thursday night this game belonged to Kaminsky. The Wisconsin forward put up a game-high 28 points while completing his double-double with 11 boards. For Arizona, Aaron Gordon grabbed a game-high 18 rebounds. The Wildcats had the opportunity to win it in overtime when they in-bounded the ball with 3 seconds left. Thursday night’s hero, Nick Johnson took a shot that failed to hit anything. Wisconsin was going to the Final Four!

I said goodbye to everyone before I left the studio and said that I would see then all in September when the football season started. I then proceeded to walk down 10th Avenue in the rain (I should have taken a cab) to a pub with great Buffalo wings and a good beer selection. I found some real estate at the bar and the bartender informed me that the kitchen would be closing in 10 minutes. No problem as I knew what I wanted.

What I didn’t want were the four drunks allegedly from New Jersey sitting next to be screaming the lyrics to every song that the DJ played. Let me clarify, these were 40-something women, not 20-something girls. What made it more embarrassing was when one attempted to get up and start dancing on a chair. I was tempted to throw a dollar at her. Not for her to remove an article of clothing, but for her to stop singing “Livin’ on a Prayer.” I never really liked Bon Jovi and here was just another reason to detest him. Fortunately the bartender told her to get down off the chair. Unfortunately, she didn’t slip and break an ankle while doing so, so as that her friends would have left and taken her to a hospital.

The train ride home was uneventful as I dozed off. I got in about 3:15 kissed by son and went to bed. Sunday was a dreary day a good day to stay in and do some work around the house which is what I did. I also played some games with Aiden, he beat me at chess (I helped him win) and Candyland, I bested him in Chutes and Ladders. We also wrestled a little bit which I can never understand as I outweigh him by a good 160 pounds. After a while of him pounding on my back and midsection, I usually end up tickling him so that he’ll stop wanting to wrestle me! I also got to watch some more basketball.

Both Michigan State and Michigan lost which shot both my remaining brackets to hell. I’m out. Now who do I want to root for? Well Wisconsin is out (see annoying former colleague reference above), so is Kentucky as I don’t buy John Calipari’s one-and-done players (mark my word, Kentucky will lose a bunch of players after the season and be in the NIT Tournament next year). So that leaves Florida and UConn. I like Billy Donovan and I am sure my former ABC Sports colleague Patty would appreciate me rooting for her alma mater. Connecticut borders New York and is sort of a home team pick and my friend Andy (playfully nicknamed dumbass) is from Connecticut. Hmmmm. maybe Andy is a reason NOT to root for UConn. Decisions, decisions. OK here it is: whoever wins the Florida-Connecticut game on Saturday is my pick to win the championship. There, I took the easy way out!

So another season at CBS Sports is in the books. What started with the Oakland at Tennessee NFL game on September 8, ended with Wisconsin and Arizona NCAA Elite Eight game on March 29th. Seven months of football and basketball and my 15th season is in the books. I now get my weekends back. I am looking forward to a summer full of fun and “only” working five days a week. That is unless anyone out there has a need for a guy who can score baseball games during the evenings and weekends on a freelance basis…

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Tournament Diary – Day 4

March 24, 2014

I awoke a little tired on Sunday morning after my foray out in to New York City the night before. But it was Sunday last weekend of the first slate of games for me. After this I would be heading home. While it is fun being with the crew and putting out a good product, it’s going to be even more fun getting home to see my wife and son.  

I like the fact that our hotel is only two and a half blocks away from the broadcast center. I miss being able to walk to work. I really used to enjoy walking to work when I was younger and I lived on 94th Street and worked in the Grand Union on 86th Street. Later on when I worked at ABC-TV on 66th Street, there were those nice summer days when I would often walk home through Central Park. There was nothing like putting on the headphones and walking through the park while looking at all the pretty girls who were out biking or running of just walking along the paths.

It was a day for the underdogs as #10 Stanford beat #2 Kansas, 60-57 to advance to the Sweet Sixteen. Stanford shut down Andrew Wiggins holding him to just four points. Todd and I were all over this as it was one of the bigger stories of the day.  Wiggins also committed four turnovers which didn’t help the Kansas cause.

Lunch was served in our area and it was a good one, pasta primavera, along with turkey slices in gravy. After a rough night out on the town, it was a good meal.  My co-worker Rick, who was inputting our games was enjoying my blogging about the past few days and asked if I was going to continue doing so into next weekends’ games. I told him it was something I would consider, since I am now back at my full time gig and time is limited. Then again I could always write on the train. It’s something to think about as I only have to do three more games.

The second game saw the Kentucky Wildcats defeat the previously undefeated Wichita State Shockers, 78-76. I really wanted the Shockers to win for several reasons, one I like their coach Gregg Marshall and what he has done with this program. I am not crazy about Kentucky head coach John Calipari and his rent-a player-for a year system. Kentucky won the NCAA championship in 2012 after which several of his freshman players left for the riches of the NBA. The following year Calipari and Kentucky were booted from the less glamorous NIT Tournament in the first round. Another reason I was pulling for the Shockers is that I had them winning it all on one of my brackets. I can now safely toss that bracket in the circular file.     

Between games Todd and I were trying to figure out what train we were going to catch as we were both taking the same line. We also hit the cheese platter that was brought up for us. I must say I love the cheese platter, it’s a simple arrangement of some cheeses crackers and fruits. I went for the smoked gouda and the pepper jack again as well as some grapes and crackers. Since a good wine wasn’t available (hey we are working here) I opted for a diet coke. As we were enjoying or cheese plate Todd and I decided on the 6:12 out of Penn that would get us into Ronkonkoma at 7:32. That was of course with no overtime, which didn’t happen. If Fred VanVleet’s last second desperation three pointer would have found the net the Shockers would have won by a single point. This didn’t happen as the shot was wide and Todd and I got ready to leave. But not before our supervisor uttered the quote of the day. It was a simple two word phrase, “Thank you.”

I turned to Todd as we were walking down the hall and asked, “Did he just say thank you?”

With a surprised look on his face Todd answered, “Yes.”

Our supervisor is a guy who is pretty intense when the games are going on, he asks us for information and we give it to him. He rarely makes small talk with us because he is so focused on the task at hand. Having been in production trucks at live sporting events throughout my career I understand the pressure certain people are under, especially when they want the information quickly and correctly.  

This is not a knock on my supervisor or the business in general at all. It’s just the way it is. He is the one who is in charge of that room and it’s his responsibility to see that everything runs smoothly. He is under a lot of pressure and working four 14-hour days in row can get to anyone. Plus having eight people yelling out information to you that you have to decipher and deem what is important, takes a special kind of talent. During the course of the games we are constantly shouting out things like, “That’s 20 points for player X,” “Pittsburgh is on a 20-2 run,” or “Player Y just scored a double-double, 12 points and 10 rebounds.”  The thank you was greatly appreciated. Actually I plan to give him a shout during the summer and suggest a bunch of us go to a ball game together. I imagine he is a fun guy to hang out with outside of the control room.

With that Todd and I headed home. When we got to our station, Todd’s girlfriend picked him up and my wife and son picked me up. It was great to see them after a four day absence. My son greeted me with a “Hi daddy I missed you..did you get my Lego Mini Figures?”

My wife just laughed and asked how my weekend went. Well now she can read all about it.

Just three more games and I have my weekends back for the summer. Then the NFL begins in September and we start the cycle all over again. But after one more weekend I finally get time to spend the spring and summer with my family.

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Tournament Diary – Day 3

March 23, 2014

For some reason I had a restless sleep Friday night. I caught myself tossing and turning most of the night. I can’t understand it as the worst two days are over. As my co-worker Greg said, “It’s all downhill from here.”

I awoke at about 8:30, and checked to see when Todd and my Sunday games would start. Another 12:15 start! Perfect I can be home by 8 pm Sunday night if all goes well – and that means no overtime!

Being the good dad that I am I ventured down town via subway to a store where I have found the elusive Lego Movie Mini Figures. For some reason I can’t find them in Target or the dreaded Walmart in my neighborhood. I picked up three for my son so that should keep him happy. Besides I can’t spend four straight days in New York City without getting the little guy a present.

I decided to walk back to the studio from my journey downtown. It’s was a beautiful day out there as it felt that spring has finally sprung in New York. I stopped in Staples to pick up a pencil sharpener. It seems someone keeps stealing the ones out of the research area. So I spent $2.49 for a cheap manual hand held one.

Then being the good employee I am, when I arrived at the broadcast center, I sharpened a dozen pencils and put them back in the cup. My method is pens for football, pencils for basketball. I am sure my efforts will go unnoticed but that is OK, I’m just a part of the team. No job is too small. We all have to pitch in and do our part.

As for my games, Florida beat Pittsburgh, 61-45. The first half of this game was probably the best half of basketball I have watched the whole tournament. Both teams took care of the ball and there were few fouls. It’s great when a game has a nice flow to it like this one did.

I grabbed lunch at halftime which was meatloaf and mashed potatoes. The potatoes were great, the meatloaf could have used a little more seasoning, but who am I to complain.

The second game saw Rick Pitino rocking a light gray suit as his Louisville squad beat St. Louis 66-51. In my opinion Pitino is one of the best dressed coached in all of college basketball, if that’s worth anything. He is the only one whom on “White Out Night” can make the Tom Wolfe look work for him. Between halftime of the game I decided to partake in the cheese platter that was brought out.

Just before I left the studio, I announced that tonight I had no wife, no kid and New York as my playground, what should I do? My colleague Greg gets the quote of the day for responding with, “That sounds like a Billy Joel song.” Honorable mention for QOTD goes to Todd who said, “Try not to get arrested I don’t want to have to do the games tomorrow by myself.”

I returned to my hotel room checked in with the wife via a phone call, took a nap, and waited for my friend Dennis to arrive as we were going to dinner. We took a walk around Lincoln Center to my old stomping grounds, ABC-TV. The changes were too vast to list. One constant was that the Met crowd was out in force and going to the opera. Of all the changes I noticed one was kind of sad and that is Peter’s on Columbus Avenue between 68th and 69th Streets is no longer there. I really liked that restaurant. I did notice a lot of shops and boutiques along Columbus Avenue. Of course the neighborhood was dotted with Starbucks as well. It’s my prediction that soon Manhattan will be nothing my high rises, McDonalds, Duane Reades and Starbucks.

Dennis and I ended up at Hooters for dinner and more college basketball. The place was crowded the girls were cute and busty and the beer was cold. Oh yes I forgot to mention that I slipped off my Lenten promise of no booze, and had a few beers. Now that is it until Easter Sunday! I mean it! After Hooters we headed downtown to this dive bar where the one of the bartenders looks like a young Jimmy Page. This is not necessarily a bad thing, except that she is a woman.

This prompted Dennis and I to get into a discussion about Led Zeppelin and their contributions to rock-n-roll music and Robert Plant as a “rock god.” We also encountered and annoying woman named Trista, who kept ordering ice waters. After a few drinks at Jimmy Page’s place we headed back uptown. Dennis went home and I went to see some friends in a pub my friend Danny owns, called Danny & Eddies. As I was walking in my friend Donna was putting on her coat. “I didn’t think you were going to show up,” she said. “I was just leaving.”

“Well you can’t leave now, let me get you a drink,” I said and then added. “Oh that giving up drinking for Lent? That got shot to hell tonight,” She laughed at that as she took off her coat and sat down.

So was sat at a table and chatted and some other friends we both know came over and said hello. Let me mention that Donna’s sister, Krissy is the MC for Saturday night karaoke, at the pub.

There was also a celebrity sighting while I was there. Chris Noth from Law & Order as well as Sex and the City popped in for about 60 seconds. All the girls were going gaga over him with Krissy running outside after he left to give him a hug.

After having one beer I decided to get back to my hotel. I rarely take the subway in NYC anymore, and I never take it at 3 am. Let me tell you there are some very strange people traveling underground at that time.  Unfortunately many of them are homeless.

I got back to my room at about 3:15 and was quiet so as not to wake my roommate. I got a good night’s sleep and got ready for day four.  Two more games and then it’s on the LIRR and home.  I am hoping that today’s contests are well played and of course the biggest hope is: NO overtime.

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