Thursday, December 28, 2006

Back from vacation

Ah yes, after flying from Oakland to Salt Lake City, continuing on to Cincinatti, and then on to Burlington, I have returned to the great old north of Vermont. I returned with a nasty cold thanks to my nieces, a greater appreciation of said nieces, and a desire to throttle Delta Airlines.

First, the good of the trip. It was great to see the family again and to see how BIG my two nieces are. They are both AMAZING children who are creative, happy, affectionate, and SMART!! Lucy, who is a couple of months short of two, showed off to me that she can count to ten, and turned an orange slice into a lady bug which she then promptly ate......Along with everything else in the house. Janie, who is now four, greeted me with a massive hug and a kiss, then promptly asked where her aunt was. Thanks Janie, it is good to know where I stand.....When we left the Bay Area yesterday, Janie told me she loves me, planted a couple of kisses on me, and then I didn't want to leave.

Now for the ugly.....I hate Delta Airlines. I could deal with two connections on the way home, that is just standard. What I couldn't deal with was the fact that this beaten up and battered sportsclown couldn't manage to get a wheelchair. Now for those who know me, you know I am not totally disabled by any means; I just have an aching and creaking left knee which makes simple things like walking without searing pain impossible. I knew full well with tight connections, there was no way I could hobble, stop every minute or two, and make the flights, so I requested a wheelchair through customer service. Not only did I do that, but told the flight attendants(Who were VERY nice) the same, and it was to be taken care of. Do you think it was? Strike one!!!!

Going from Burlington to Cincy, there was one, but since we had to change concourses, the dude left me at the bus and I had to hobble up a flight of stairs and then drag the leg behind me. Ya know, he could have called ahead and asked someone to meet me!! I am not hard to miss!! I had a bag, ESPN shirt, and dragging the dead weight of my leg behind me. Not difficult!!! My wife had to fly up ahead to make sure they knew I was hobbling along and would eventually be there, and we ended up making the flight by a hair.

The way home was an adventure all in itself. We got to Salt Lake City with a chair waiting but no one to drag my gimpy butt to the next concourse. I waited, asked for a lift, was told to sit, and someone would be there. Five minutes later, no dude or dudette to drag me, so I had to drag myself. One gate agent actually told me I did not need a chair. Holy fark, I almost lit her up but then realized I had another tight connection to make and had to hobble in a hurry. Yes, we made that one too but I was in serious pain.

Fast forward to Cincinatti where I had again arranged the chair, and it was waiting for me thanks to a very kind and vigilant flight attendant named Jennifer who made sure my chariot awaited. The designated driver was hysterical when he said he was expecting an old man. He took me to the bus, we cracked jokes, and he actually called ahead to have someone meet me. Small problem........No one was there. I asked a couple of people for a lift, they looked at me like I had three heads. Finally some old coot had me hobble with him to get a chair, and I was at the gate. Oh yeah, one more thing.....Man alive that is a long walk in the commuter terminal to get from the gate area to the actual gate. A lift would have been nice!!!

Of course I fired off a nice little e-mail to Delta about the whole deal. Needless to say, I was one miserable radio dude whose knee needs to be chopped off with a chainsaw.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Live from San Francisco..........

Yes folks, I am in fact in San Francisco for some time with my family and a much needed vacation. This vacation thing is kinda cool actually. I wake up, my uncle has made coffee, Mom has made breakfast, and the only thing I am forced to do all day is play with my nieces. I think I can live like this...........

The only thing of note that would interest anyone but myself is my wife felt her first ever earthquake this morning. Yuppers, it was centered about five miles from here and registered 3.5 on the Richter scale. It only lasted a few seconds, and of course I thought it was funny. I get to town and an earthquake hits. Ah yes, the pleasures of being home.

Happy holidays everyone, my nieces are tugging at my knees and are demanding I have a tea party with them.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The world as we know it is ending.........

No, Babe Ruth is not back from the dead; George Steinbrenner did not grow a heart, but something else of monumental proportions happened.......I stopped being stubborn for a mere day.

As some of you know, I have the absolute knee of doom. I have had it scoped twice, I can walk without searing pain for about ten seconds a day, and the doctors have said they can't do a stinking thing. Well, my beloved wife and I are heading out west for five days with my family, and we have a TIGHT connection in Cincy. When I say tight, we are talking 35 minutes tight thanks to Delta and their love of inflicting torture on their passengers. Now, I am as stubborn as the Republican party is corrupt. I don't care if my body will fall apart with the next step, I am still taking the step because I simply don't know any other way. Either that or the family genetics get in the way which means there is a glossy photo of us in Websters next to the word "stubborn". Anyway, back to the connection. With the connection as tight as it is, and with as miserable as walking is, I conceded that I will need some assistance getting from one terminal to another in less than three days. So, I called Delta and told them I need an old person mobile at the gate.

When I mentioned this to my wife, she almost had a coronary. "My husband?? Ask for help?? What alien took control of your brain that made you actually do something logical??" (I kicked her with the good knee, fell over, and she laughed.) So, if you see someone hiding their face at the airport in Cincy, leave me my one bit of humility and don't laugh so hard your ribs break. I am doing this ONLY because I want to get back to my beloved San Francisco so I can eat Mom's food, drink her booze, and spoil my nieces ROTTEN!!!! (Only because I can give them back...Sorry sis.) I am still stubborn, still a pain in the word the FCC wouldn't like me to use, and always will be!!!! There is no getting around it world, regardless of what you do!!! Well, there is, but only for tight connecting flights. I blame this all on Delta and genetics........

Sunday, December 17, 2006

The stretch run.......

Ah yes, after doing three games in four nights, I can now really start counting down the days until my much anticipated vacation. Today one part of the body will be taking a much deserved day off........My voice. Yes folks, after doing two hockey games and a basketball game with more or less non-stop talking, my voice is cooked, toasted, killed, mauled, and silent. Now civilization as we know it is probably quite pleased that I sound like an obscene phone call gone horribly wrong, but it happens. The interesting thing should be tomorrow when I go into work and do my usual thing. I can picture it, "I'm Chris Fells, or something resembling Chris Fells with.......".

I had some pretty good games this week. The first one was a bit of a yawner as Colchester just crushed Middlebury in boy's hockey 9-1, but that was followed up the next night with a track meet of a boy's hockey game in which Montpelier pressed Lyndon into submission by nine. Last night I had the Burlington/BFA Saint Albans girls' hockey game which was a GREAT game. Alas, the voice started going in the third period. Oops.

Two more this week and then I am headed to San Francisco for five days of spoiling my nieces and catching up with the rest of the family that I haven't seen in a year and a half. To say the least, I can't wait.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Vermont Frost Heaves

At long last, after bending my schedule, and then finally getting the time, I made the trip down Interstate 89 to Barre, Vermont to finally attend the latest game in town; the Vermont Frost Heaves of the American Basketball Association. The Frost Heaves are the brainchild and dream of Sports Illustrated writer Alex Wolff, who wanted to bring basketball to his adopted home state. Alex is a prolific writer, having written countless books on basketball, and basically being obsessed with the game from about 30 seconds after being born.

The ABA is a struggling minor league with countless problems and issues ranging from corrupt owners, to corrupt upper leadership, and teams who have folded in mid-season, failed to pay their players, and whose commissioner has all of the PR skills of a two year old who is throwing a tantrum. Last year, the league played half of its games, but yet commissioner Joe Newmann has plans to expand his league to over 100 teams. Don't let these statements turn you against the Frost Heaves, Alex Wolff is a man who if others follow his lead can turn this league into a success.

So, after calling the Saint Michael's/LeMoyne game on WCAT, I made the trip down I-89 to the Barre Auditorium. "The Aud" has been recognized by the USA Today as one of the top ten venues in the country for high school basketball with great views of the court, and an intimate and LOUD environment. The Aud is packed for the state basketball tournaments, and everyone I bumped into seems to have a memory of one game or another from years past. Barre is a blue collar area whose fans know their basketball who have the days counted down until the next game at the old brick arena.

Alex is a man who as my mother would say "gets it". Being a Vermonter, Alex has honed in on what will bring fans to the games. All of the products sold and produced are environmentally friendly, and are tied into the local economy. The team bus is low emission, and the concessions are all done by local companies from Central Vermont and are very affordable. Forget the standard cold hot dog with a soggy bun; Alex had a place with fresh grilled sausages and hand made crepes. Tickets are a bargain at 12 bucks for a balcony seat, and the parking is free.

Some of the players themselves have local ties. Dana Martin starred at Stowe High, Burlington product and Saint Michael's standout B.J. Robertson gets some time, and local favorite Kerry Lyons who hasn't seen a second of playing time this year has a cult following because of his easy going manner and the fact he hasn't stopped smiling since the tryout sessions. All of the players willingly sign autographs before and after the game and have been known to hold impromptu teaching sessions while they are warming up. Coach Will Voigt is a graduate of Cabot High School who is a basketball savant. At the age of 30, he has already coached college ball, and overseas at the pro level. He has worked with the San Antonio Spurs, and many say Will has a solid chance at being an NBA coach.

The fans are entertained during timeouts and in between quarters with a variety of promotions including a race where kids go from one sideline to the other and change the banners in front of the scorers table. Fans are recognized, by the PA guy who keeps yelling for more ringing of the cowbells (Don't ask, they gave me a migrane and I had to block them out) and throwing out facts about Frost Heave players. The Aud holds about 1,500 and I think I counted 50 empty seats.

The quality of play isn't bad, but it could be better. These are guys who are hanging on to their dream of playing professional basketball and are doing everything they can to hold on. The pace is frantic as only seven seconds are allowed to cross mid-court, and if the ball is turned over in the backcourt, and the opposing team scores, an extra point is awarded. Quebec City was able to turn two field goals into three points, and another two three pointers into four. Defense is emphasized, and if you can't run for 48 minutes, then get in shape.

The fan experience is tremendous, the staff goes above and beyond, and owner Alex Wolff is a class guy who deserves all of the success in the world. He is bringing affordable basketball to an area in need of something to hold onto, and if the commissioner of the league would stop handing out franchises to anyone whose check clears, the league may make some money for everyone and not just those in the family of Mr. Newmann. Alex has marketed the team, is a PR genius, has gotten out in the community, and made a name for his team. Many teams in this league have not done that and have failed miserably; including six teams who have folded this year. Off the record I was told two more and possibly three more will fold in the near future. If every team follows Alex's model, and Mr. Newmann REQUIRES all prospective teams do the same, the league will grow. If Mr. Newmann fails to do that, his league will go into the sunset.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

More from the old job.......

First of all, thanks to Cathy Resmer for linking my blog in her "Tuesday Linkdump" section. It is good to see that people are reading my ramblings.

Now, to more of the questions I get asked about my duties at ESPN Radio......

1) "Why don't you do more local sports coverage?"

We do what we are able to as far as covering action in the area. There are only two of us doing games being myself and Larry Richards, so unless cloning is now legal, there is only so much we can do while keeping our sanity and preserving our marriages. Actually, wait, more games may save the marriages........

2) "What sport is the most difficult to call?"

So far, I have to go with hockey. I did a game last week in Middlebury and the action is so quick, there are so many changes, etc that it is difficult to keep up with it all. Football you have more time to talk about the play, and there is are some breaks in there. Hockey, the play doesn't stop and when it does, it is a quick turnaround. The voice tends to get a bit tired during those games.

3) "Why are there so many commercials, and why can't you give more analysis during timeouts instead of going on and on about sponsors?"

Simply, because I want to get paid. Advertisers pay our salaries, heating bill, insurance, etc. We promise sponsors a certain number of mentions, and we do that and a bit more. Again, we do have bills to pay.

4) "Who has the best press box?"

Middlebury College has the Taj Mahal of press boxes when it comes to football. It is heated, the view is fantastic, stats are quick, and the food is always hot. In high school, Essex High is fantastic. There is PLENTY of room, and again, the munchies are good and we are treated very well. Colchester High is tied for first as well because of the size and the true hospitality shown by Leigh Mallory, the AD at the school.

5) "Who has the worst press box?"

Trinity College in Hartford is pretty miserable. The parking is terrible so I had to lug my equipment for quite a distance, and the thing resembles a tin can. Simply horrible.

More later on this week or next.......South Burlington/Middlebury tomorrow on WCAT 1390 at 6:45, then Saint Mike's against Le Moyne at 1:15 on CAT and WRSA.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Random Vermont thingy

You are 77% from Vermont!

You probably got a lower score because, even though you're a real Vermonter, you must be one of those rednecks who failed history.

How Vermont are you?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

Holy crap, have I turned into a Vermonter?

Saturday, November 25, 2006

This crazy job......

Time and time again I get asked about my job, how I do it, why I do it, etc. Well, here are some of those questions and the straight forward answers:

1) "Hey Fells, your Sportscenters are 90 seconds long, so that takes you about five minutes to do?"

Ummmmmmm, no. Let's take the morning Sportscenter update. First off, I have to go through the 20 or so e-mails that hit between 8pm and 5am to pick out the important scores, stories, etc; condense those, and throw them into the script. Then, for the scores that didn't get e-mailed to me, I have to go through the Free Press, Press Republican, Times Argus, and the Rutland Herald for what I missed. I pick apart which scores are important, then toss those in the script. I usually edit things down, read it over once, edit again for time, and then voice it into the computer system. After that it has to be edited for slips of the tongue, brain, and for time. (Try saying some Eastern European name before the first cup of coffee hits.) Throw in the music bed, double check for time, then send it over to station number one. THEN, scripts have to be modified for each station so they can be tailored for each listening audience. Repeat the editing process, and four 90 second Sportscenters take me about an hour and 45 minutes; including e-mailing/file transferring over. Weather spots(three of those) take about 15 minutes total since I copy and paste those from a service. Repeat the process for the afternoon with details on certain games.

2) "How long does it take you to prepare for say a college football game?"

About eight to ten hours or so. Each week, I would contact the opposing team's Sports Information Director for updated stats and a Word version of their roster, go over their previous games, look at play trends, etc. Then, read over the roster about 15 times in order to avoid totally relying on memory for numbers, names, hometowns, etc. Then, writing a 22 minute pre-game show takes me about four hours or so with editing; lineup halftime guests, have plenty of material for injury timeouts, get all of the sponsor tags, record the promos, make sure my color guy has all my notes, and prepare for the weekly coaches' show. So yeah, about eight to ten hours, sometimes longer.

3) "How about basketball?"

Less time since I only need to go over the roster about three times. It is less since there are only 12 players on each team and it is easier to take a quick look down when I blank on a name.

4) "If I want a career in sports, what is the most important skill to have?"

Two things: First of all, be able to think on the fly. During a game, you never know what in the world is going to happen. You never know if there will be a 29 lateral play, a record broken, or a 20 minute injury timeout. Having the ability to improvise and talk about anything is a very important skill. Also, BE ABLE TO WRITE!!!!! I had an intern last year who told me he wanted to get into radio because his writing skills stunk and in radio he wouldn't have to write. HAH!!!! Trust me, you can't do everything from memory, and what do you think I am doing now? My scripts are written, intros are written, I write TONS of notes that are in small paragraph form, I write commercial script, and tons of other stuff. If you can't write, what you say on air can sound moronic and that is the last thing you want.

5) "I hear that pay in radio isn't good; why do you do it?"

It sure as hell beats working for a living. Seriously, how many people can say they love their jobs? I can!! I watch sports, I talk about sports, I write about sports, and guess what? I actually get paid for it!!!!! Man, this is every sports junkie's dream!! Now granted, I could make more money doing something else; in fact I took a serious pay cut to take this job, but there is something to be said for being happy.

Off to the grocery store. After all, I do need to be domestic.......Before I watch football.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Alive and well......

Yes, I am alive and kicking after the college and high school football seasons. The season was a drain on the three braincelled mind of mine as I had many roadtrips, many miles logged, and the task of trying to commit to memory about 150 new players a week. Trust me, that never happened and I was forever relying on notes so I didn't sound like a total moron.

The football season was a fun one; my first as a broadcaster. Since July, and this includes the Vermont Ice Storm, I did 36 games, logged a ton of miles on the old car, and now have been able to braindump the season a bit so I can prepare for the hockey and basketball seasons. My wife is pleased with the fact that I will not be taking daytrips that start at 4:00 in the morning, ending at 11:00 at night when I am seeing purple iguanas from driving for too long. Yes, those little suckers play games with you after driving for 11 hours, and being on the "A" game for another six while at the game. Now, she only has to get used to three or four games in a week, but at least the trips are local.

Saint Michael's basketball is going to be a blast this year. Both the men's and women's teams have shown quite a bit of improvement. If the men can get consistent play out of Chris Cayole, and Brendan Mullins continues his improvement, this could be a team to contend with in a wide open Northeast Ten. In the first three games Brian Monahan has showed he can rebound, and the youngsters have grown up a bit in the past year. Running and gunning seems to be the way to go for this team.

The women are now 3-0 and are rolling. The Rayner twins look fantastic, and Anna Florent could be the most improved player in the conference. Two freshmen, Meg O'Shea and Alexis Keller are two good shooters with quickness and good defensive skills. Allison Dunn is shooting from long range well, and coach Jen Niebling has this team looking very strong. If they can play the first half the way they play in the second, this is a team that could very well make the NCAA Tournament this year.

Monday, November 06, 2006

The trip to Hamilton.......

Off to Hamilton for another drive around the NESCAC.

Well, the drive down to Hartford last week was about as exciting as watching paint dry. Thankfully my last trip of the NESCAC season had a little bit more scenery as I made my longest trip of the year to Clinton, New York for the Middlebury/Hamilton game.

First of all, as much as I love my job, travel is the least glorious part. Some writers and broadcasters get to travel by plane, or even with the team on the team bus. I on the other hand get to travel in the luxury and style known as my 2000 Hyundai with vanity plates and 115,654 miles on the thing. The most fun part of the beginning of the travel day is waking up at 3:45 in the morning after getting home at 10:00 following a high school playoff game and trying to find a 24 hour gas station in Northern Vermont that at least serves Green Mountain coffee. Yes, those of us in the media are coffee snobs as it must have significant caffeine content and have a little flavor to its robust aroma. Ah yes, the glory of it all.

Anyway, as is my habit, I digressed. (Just ask my wife about that, she could tell you some stories.) When the sun comes up, the drive from Burlington, VT really is a nice one. In Vermont, the drive takes you through the towns of Shelburne, Vergennes, Addison, and then miles of hills and farms. Word to the wise, if you don’t like the smell of various animal dung, roll up the windows and turn off the air. There is about a 15 mile stretch of Route 22A in which the smell is so bad, the car automatically speeds up about ten miles an hour to get away from the stench. Upon entering New York state, the obscure and the downright amazing become evident. First for the obscure since that is what I do best. When driving in between the state line and the New York Thruway, (interrupted by I-87) counted 14 Baptist churches (yes, I counted; I was bored) with various messages saying things like “Jesus is Lord”, “YOU were God’s best decision”, and other various messages looking to convert heathen tourists into Bible quoting messengers as they go to spend their milk money at the outlets. Also, if you are going to make this trip and don’t have satellite radio; go get one now. In Vermont I was able to hear Dana Jewell of WDEV giving me the local news and mentioning next Saturday’s “state holiday”; the opening of deer hunting season. Ah yes, if you are going into the woods of Vermont for the next couple of weeks, just remember to wear orange, it will save your life. If you don’t wear orange, some dude named Bubba who has had two cases of beer for breakfast will somehow confuse you for a four point buck. “Dayum, I could have sworn that thang had antlers. Ah sheeewt, I guess we can still mount him on the wall next to the 57 Chevy we shot last year.”

Now to the downright spectacular. When the sun comes up over the Adirondack mountains, the view is simply stunning. Route 29 takes you through the Adirondack State forest and the road is literally surrounded by trees. For a few moments, the trees envelop the road and one feels like they are in some sort of natural tunnel. Despite the fact the temperature was in the low 30’s, I still opened up the windows so I could smell the trees and the various lakes and streams I was experiencing. I was tempted to take a side trip to some of the various historical sites along the way, but held off since I did have a game to do.

Once I got onto the New York Thruway, I was very pleasantly surprised with the scenery. As I bombed my way towards Clinton, the drive takes you along the Mohawk River and into the hill country near Oneonta and Cooperstown. If you glance off to the right, you can see the dams and the hills that lead you into some of the small towns of this region. I have to admit that being the baseball addict I am, when I saw the Cooperstown exit, I was tempted to call the boss, say I was sick, couldn’t do the game and head to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Thankfully I am not that stupid and then turned my attention to passing a semi that was going only 45 mph.
When I arrived at Hamilton College, I was beyond impressed. I went to the first building to find a restroom and ask where the Student Union was so I could grab coffee and breakfast, and it turns out the man I asked directions from was none other than head football coach Steve Stetson. Steve wasn’t content with just giving me directions, he offered to walk me over, and to give me a brief tour of the campus. Hamilton boasts a brand new 9.7 million dollar science center, a new athletic facility, new training rooms, and countless other improvements to their academic facilities. The campus blends the old and the new to near perfection and it creates a wonderful setting for Hamilton students to study and learn. I also have to say this for Coach Stetson, he is truly a world class man. Here he was, two hours before a game, and he was taking the time to give me an education on the school he loves, he bought my breakfast, and then we talked more about the school and his football team. He had a recruit to talk to before the game, and he kept apologizing for the fact he had to run and keep our visit short. Trust me coach, I was thrilled you took the time to give me a tour and appreciate some very good company after a very long early morning drive.

Here are the final, and obscure stats from a season's worth of NESCAC road trips: (Yes, these are actual counts)

Cups of coffee consumed: 17
Cans of energy drinks guzzled: 4
Times I said, "Crap, where am I?": 7, all during the Hamilton trip.
Buffett CD's listened to: 7
Times I did three games in the weekend: 2
Miles driven: 1,784
Gas stops: 11
Times I screamed, "Why don't I have satellite radio???": 238
Cops who passed me: Only four, I leave so early in the morning they aren't even awake yet.
Tolls paid: $18.30
Times I called my beloved mother to ask if she listened to the game: 4
Times she actually listened to the game: A big fat gigantic goose egg.

Home stats next week, but those aren't nearly as interesting.....

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Middlebury Tailgate.......

Well, this week I was going to write about the trip down to Hartford for the Middlebury/Trinity game, but the weather was nasty, it was all freeway, and due to some automotive challenges when I got to the game I wasn’t able to do the usual walk around the campus. Instead, a tradition the parents of the Middlebury Panther players have made me a part of.

Tailgaters in college football are everywhere. There are the tailgates done by clubs, organizations, alumni groups, and in this case the parents of the players. It all started for me when I received a very nice e-mail from George Hrdina, the father of running back Stefan Hrdina who was complimenting me on the quality of the broadcasts. I went to go say hello at the Colby game and was offered breakfast, coffee, and even some snacks for the game. I was then more or less ordered by Donna Secor, the mother of captain and defensive back Scott Secor, to join them after the game and for the rest of the gatherings throughout the season.

To say these guys and gals put out a spread would be like calling the Grand Canyon a hole. There is chicken, pasta, drinks of the adult variety, but most importantly, it is a chance for the players to talk to their families, and get a good lunch after a hard fought game. In the case of Saturday’s game at Trinity, there was a cake for linebacker Eric Woodring whose birthday was on Sunday and of course everyone sang happy birthday to Eric.

Being someone who isn’t used to being on the inside so to speak, I have gotten a chance to get to know the players and their families in a more relaxed setting. Tiger Lyon’s parents fly up from El Paso, Texas for every game, and his sister comes for the home games. Scott Secor’s parents come from Lake Odessa, Michigan, and Mac Conn’s family came out from my old stomping grounds in Piedmont, CA. This is something the parents do for every game and they love every second of it. I have learned that Scott Secor was injured as a freshman, and barely knowing anyone always had a room full of friends in his hospital room to keep him company and give him real food. By the way, Scott already has a job lined up on Wall Street. This weekend I met Eric Woodring’s family for the first time, along with about another 10 family members of other players that Donna introduced me to. I am getting the chance to find out what makes these players the outstanding young men they are, and just how tight knit the entire Middlebury College family is. This is a point of view that most broadcasters don’t get the chance to get. Thanks everyone for making me feel part of the family.

By the way, as I say hello to this wonderful woman during every broadcast………Hi Donna!!!!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The drive to Williams

When I was assigned the play-by-play duties for Middlebury football on ESPN 1490, I knew that covering Division III football would be fun because of the competition, the academics, and a couple of players I bumped into the previous year. Being a history buff and one who enjoys good scenery and a good story or two, the road trips were going to be fun as well.

Two weeks ago I was in Williamstown, Mass., the home of the Williams Ephs. Once the sun comes up in central and southern Vermont, the drive is one of the most spectacular you will ever see. Now going through Rutland isn’t the fun part, but when you get outside of Rutland it is nothing but wide open spaces, and more trees than even a transplanted Vermonter could imagine. During the fall, the natives complain about slow drivers on Rte. 7 who are trying to look at the leaves while driving and dodging moose, but I am convinced even they sneak a peek here and there to remind them they deal with the nasty winters in exchange for some colors.

The first real city one sees outside of Rutland is the historic city of Bennington, Vt. Bennington is the site of one of the Battle of Bennington, one of the more memorable battles during the Revolutionary War. At the site of the Bennington Battle Monument, American colonists stored important food and weapons which the British tried to, but were not able to capture for their own troops. You can see the 306 foot high monument for many miles outside the city. Williamstown itself is about a stone’s throw from Bennington. Having never made the trip, I was surprised to see the Williamstown sign about five minutes outside Bennington. Williams College was founded in 1793 and is one of the most prestigious institutions of higher learning in the USA. Williams holds the distinction of not only holding the first organized baseball game in 1859, but Williams was the first college whose graduates wore caps and gowns.

Being a football historian, I was interested in one of the great traditions in college football: The Walk. The walk takes place if Williams defeats their longtime rival Amherst. The players will walk up Spring Street to Saint Pierre’s Barber Shop where owner Roger Saint Pierre has cigars lined up, and the upperclassmen will shave the heads of the freshmen on the squad. When I walked into Saint Pierre’s, I was actually going to get my hair clipped while talking about the history of The Walk. Well, there was one small problem in they don’t take credit cards, and I was dumb enough to leave my debit card at home. I did end up spending a good 45 minutes talking to Roger about the tradition, its evolution, and looking at the wall of pictures that adorn the walls. When I asked Roger how he got involved in this, he laughed and shook his head a bit. He said it was unintentional, but it snowballed. He said about 40 years ago, after a win against Amherst, the players asked if they could walk up to the shop and celebrate. Well, the beer flowed, the heads were shaved, and a tradition was born. Roger said this is one of the greatest traditions in all of college football, and one he is pleased to be a part of. Roger said to me, “Well, things have changed though. It used to be that the kids would come in here, have a few beers, and do their thing; but that was years ago and the state is a little tight on those things nowadays.” When I asked why the tradition is so important to the team he thought for a second and said, “For the seniors, I think it is their way of holding on to their college football careers for just one more minute. You see, these are all kids who are not on athletic scholarships, and most likely won’t play football again. If they can hold on for just one more second, it seems to complete their careers and they are ready to move on.”While Roger was talking, I was looking at the pictures on the wall and just picturing what it would be like to be in that small barber shop with 80 guys smoking stogies and shaving the heads of their freshman teammates into outrageous styles.

Thinking about it made me wish I was about six inches taller, 50 pounds heavier, and had SAT scores about 600 points higher so I could take part in such a tradition. It seems simple, but it is one of those things that make a memorable experience even more memorable.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

NESCAC this week.........

Here are my fearless, if you want to call them that, predictions forthe weekend in the NESCAC. Now, I tend to write more about the NESCAC because it is a conference I cover for ESPN Radio up here in the woods of Vermont. It is a good conference with some quirks, but the level ofplay is pretty good. The one thing I don't like is the fact they don't play outside of their own conference and do not play in the playoffs. I will spout off more on that later.

Bates at Middlebury: Bates is a perennial loser, and Middlebury's defense has been tough this year, with the exception of last week's 40-9 loss at Williams. Middlebury's defense will do well against theBobcats, but the offense has to start kicking it up a notch or two. Prediction: Middlebury 10 Bates 3.

Hamilton at Colby: Hamilton scored their first points of the year lastweekend, and their defense looked as good as it has all year. Colbyhas the weapons on offense, but haven't been consistent of late.Prediction: Colby 17 Hamilton 0.Williams at Tufts: This is by far the game of the week in the NESCAC. Williams has a potent offensive attack and their defense isn't half bad either. Jon Dreckenhan and Brendan Fullmer will give the Tufts defense fits all afternoon. Prediction: Williams 35 Tufts 21.

Trinity at Bowdoin: Let's see here, perennial power Trinity againstBowdoin, a team that has only scored 13 points this season. Trinity 49Bowdoin 10.

Amherst at Wesleyan: I actually like this Wesleyan team as they aremuch improved from last year. Zack Librizzi has put up good numbersand is running that wide open offense very well this season. Freshman Danny Granatell had a fantastic game last weekend with seven receptions for 111 yards and I think that is what the kid needs to getgoing. Amherst will put their share of points on the board with their strong offense, but in the upset special of the week: Wesleyan 24 Amherst 20.

Now for my feelings on the NESCAC and not playing out of conferencegames and not going to the Division III playoffs. I understand thefact that NESCAC schools have strong academic traditions, and league officials don't want teams to take more time out of the classroom than need be. Ok fine, I can deal with that, but doesn't their current schedule and not playing outside the conference do a disservice to the teams? Take for example Middlebury College and not playing outside of the NESCAC. There is a fantastic rivalry up here between the Panthers and Norwich University that has not been played in years. Norwich and Middlebury are the only two schools in Vermont that play at any levelof college football. This was a rivalry that packed the respective stadiums, and was a game the entire state got involved in. Rivalries like this are what makes college football what it is today. Bring it back!! Let the teams play at least one game outside of the conference so rivalries like this can be played and continued. Especially in a state where there are only two college football teams, I think this rivalry needs to be brought back so at the bare minimum, there can be some bragging rights in the Green Mountain State.

When it comes to the playoffs, how can a team like Trinity prove theyare as good as they really are if they don't go up against competition outside their conference? This is a team who has won 33 of their last 34 games and are one of the best teams in New England. How can theyprove they are one of the best in the nation if they don't face outside competition? To me, this is a joke, and a couple of coaches I have spoken with want to have the ability to prove themselves at a national level. If other schools with equal academic traditions inDivision III football can make the playoffs, why can't the NESCAC?

That's all for me, time to prepare for the Middlebury/Bates game. For those outside of Central Vermont, you can catch the game on the web Alan O'Donnell will have the color commentary, I will have play-by-play duties. Pre-game at 12:30, kickoff at 1:00 Eastern Time.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Not a pretty weekend

This weekend wasn't the best for Middlebury College football, or college football in general. The Panthers were crushed 40-9 down in Williamstown, MA, and the Miami Hurricanes proved to the college football world why they are the biggest joke in the game.

Middlebury took it on the chin with a 40-9 defeat at the hands of Williams. Tiger Lyon looked a little unsettled at quarterback throwing for only 74 yards and three interceptions. I do have to say though that the Williams offense is just incredible. Jon Dreckenhan and Brandon Fullmer are two of the best receivers, if not the best in the NESCAC. Fullmer had two touchdowns and 105 yards, while Dreckenhan had 74 yards and had a couple of impressive catches. The Ephs offensive line was able to hold the Panther defense sackless and in check for the entire game. The game plan of coach Ritter was questioned by a few after the game as they thought he should have opened up the offense a bit more in the second half. As one fan told me, "Everyone knows what play is going to be run when they break the huddle; the offense is just too predictable." Next week the Panthers are at home against Bates.

Now to the Miami/Florida International game. What an incredible joke and travesty that was. Miami proved to the world they have no talent and have a team made up of a bunch of thugs. Guys swinging helmets, stomping on opposing players, players using the brawl as a rallying cry, and the Miami TV clown roaring saying things like "That is what happens when you come into our house!!!" is disgusting and reprehensable at best. Larry Coker should be fired, the players involved in the brawl should be suspended for the rest of the season, and the NCAA should look at the possibility of cancelling the rest of Miami's season.

The football team has guys on scholarship who have criminal records longer than my arm, and those guys are only there for football. I doubt many of those clowns know what the inside of a classroom looks like. I am sickened by the actions of both teams, but Miami's helmet swinging display made me ill. Here is the funny thing, the players involved were suspended........FOR ONE GAME!!!!! Lord, that isn't a suspension, that is like putting your kid in the corner for five minutes as punishment. Miami and the ACC should be ASHAMED for their lack of discipline and something needs to be done by the NCAA.

Yes, there is some blame to be laid on Florida International. They were the guys who roughed up Miami's holder and started the whole debacle. There have been punishments laid down by coach Don Strock with two players being tossed off the team. The thing I am reacting the most to is Miami because of their long and notorious history of on and off field transgressions. Like I said above, if you can play football, you get into Miami. Criminal record? No problem!! GPA of 0.27? Can you run the 40 in 4.3? Come on over!!!! Unbelievable. This program needs to be blown up and started again from scratch. Would you ever see this happen in the NESCAC? Not in a million years which is another reason I love Division III football.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Now I know the Panthers are for real.....

Ok, I know I said last week that the Middlebury Panthers are for real, but this week I really mean it. No really, I mean it.

Chalk another one up for the Middlebury defense as they chalked up a 7-3 victory over Amherst to go 3-0 for the first time since 1993. Kevin Ryan had another two sacks to not only break the team record for sacks THREE games into the year, but is within three sacks of breaking the NESCAC record as well. Did I say this is only three games into the season? Scott Secor was a monster on special teams, Erik Woodring was all over the place, and Alex Buggy did some damage as well. Folks, this is a defense that is third in the NATION in total defense. I am not kidding when I say my voice was shot after they shutdown Amherst on the last drive of the game.

This week, the defense needs to keep up what they have been doing, but the offense needs to kick it into gear in a big way. Williams is the team that ended Trinity's 31 game winning streak and has a very strong defense as well. Special teams and defense help, but the offense needs to start putting some points on the board as well. If the offense doesn't start scoring some points, I have a feeling they could lose to Williams. The game is on the road in Williamstown, MA and the Ephs are deadly on their home field. Take into consideration this is homecoming weekend, the Ephs have to be favored coming into Saturday. Of course, we all know what the defense can do, and if the offense starts hitting on all cyclinders, Middlebury could very well be 4-0 at the end of the weekend. I am not throwing out a prediction yet.....

Catch the game on ESPN 1490 starting at 1:00, kickoff is at 1:30. Also, you can catch the game on the web at All games are now being sold on CD for $20.00 a game, and $100.00 for the season which includes the weekly coaches show that airs on Thursday nights. Drop me a line here, or call 802-388-9000 to order.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Middlebury College football is for real

After doing the play-by-play for the first two games of the Middlebury College football season, I have come to a conclusion that this team is for real. The Panthers defeated Colby 23-0 on Saturday, a game that Kevin Ryan set a NESCAC record for sacks in a game with SIX!!! Six sacks is a career for most guys and this man did it in a game. Overall, the defense is playing out of their minds, and is now the top rated defense in the conference.

On the offensive end, Stefan Hrdina is on his way to NESCAC first team as he piled up a very workmanlike 94 yards against Colby, while Tiger Lyon continued to make smart decisions at quarterback. I am liking the way the offensive line is protecting Tiger and giving Stefan some room to run.

On special teams, Steve Haushka has been punting and kicking very well. Haushka has been putting his punts inside the 20, and has put a few kickoffs through the end zone leaving opponents in poor field position.

This week will be a test as they play a very tough 2-0 Amherst squad. Amherst has a strong defense and a triple threat in Mark Hannon who can catch, is the league's leading receiver, and has a 64 yard punt return for a touchdown. If Middlebury is to win, they will have to cover Hannon like a blanket, and the offensive line will have to protect Lyon. Look for a good game with my prediction being Middlebury on top but only 13-7 in what should be a tight defensive game. Catch the action on ESPN 1490 at 12:30 Eastern Time, kickoff is at 1:00. The broadcast is also available on the web at

Monday, October 02, 2006

Why does this keep happening?

Another day, another shooting in our schools. For those who haven't heard, three kids are dead, seven others injured when a man looking to get revenge for an incident that took place some 20 years ago, took hostages, then executed three young girls. This happened at an Amish school in rural Pennsylvania.

This is just flat out disgusting. People actually wonder why I firmly believe there should be strong gun control laws. Well folks, this incident, along with the Essex shooting and last week's shooting in Colorado are why guns should be melted down and used as manhole covers. I simply don't buy into the argument that guns don't kill people, people kill people. Give me a break, the lunatics who go and kill CHILDREN have the tools to go and kill whomever they want because we believe we should have the right to bear arms. Our founding fathers did not have killing CHILDREN in mind when they said militias have the right to bear arms.

What do we do about this? Nothing will happen because the right wing feels guns are good, no one should get in the way of barring citizens from having these toys of death.

Schools are supposed to be a place where children feel safe and can learn. Kids should not have to be afraid to go to school fearing they may be shot. Take the gun issue aside, why are these lunatics targeting kids and schools? These are precious, innocent children with full lives to lead who are being killed and there is no explanation. I hate this. I hate hearing about kids dying because we as a country cannot control guns. My wife and I want kids, but I am scared to death about what they will encounter in school. What a world we live in.......

Sunday, October 01, 2006


The marathon for the weekend is almost done and I am in the final stretch. Thursday night I had the coaches' show with Middlebury head coach Bob Ritter, then the real fun started. Friday night I did color for the Milton/Colchester game, then left at 5:30 Saturday morning for Waterville, Maine to do the Middlebury/Colby game. Right after that one, I booked it out of there and bombed my way back to Colchester in a record four hours and 45 minutes to do the second half of the Ice Storm/Lake City game. Total time in the car, nine hours and 53 minutes, 740 miles, abour 20 bucks in tolls, some really bad food, and good riddance to Lake City.

Monday, September 25, 2006

The weekend at Middlebury.......

Well, game one is under the belt, and I lived to tell about it. The game itself was good, a 10-7 Middlebury in which the Panthers scored back to back safeties in the first quarter. Now that is something we won't see for a long time.

Broadcast wise, it went far better than I thought it would. I was a wee bit nervous and snippy before the game due to a technical problem, but I threw in the backup plan and it went without a hitch.

Well, one hitch. I had one of the legends of Middlebury football, Mickey Heinecken as a guest on the halftime show and for some unknown reason, and unknown until today called him Mickey Gilcrest. Why I did that, who the fark knows? Chalk that one up to not writing notes down when the trusty SID gives me my guest.

Game two at Colby this weekend, the other games I have are Milton at Colchester and Lake City at Vermont in the EFL playoffs. I will hopefully get to that game around the second quarter, but everyone will be in the capable hands of Larry Richards until then. Airtimes for the weekend are 6:45 on WCAT for the Milton/Colchester game; 12:30 for the Colby/Middlebury game (WFAD) and 7:15 for Lake City at Vermont. (WCAT)

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Bumper sticker

My dear mother sent me the text of a bumper sticker she saw on her way home........

Democrats are sexy...Have you EVER heard of a great piece of elephant?

I love it!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Are we ready for some football?

This weekend, the college football scene in Vermont gets into full swing as Middlebury College opens up their 2006 season against Wesleyan University.

This should be a good game, and one of interest for those in Chittenden County. Former Essex High School star Zack Librizzi makes his return to Vermont as the Wesleyan quarterback. Librizzi was a first team all NESCAC selection last year, and lead the conference in passing yardage and total offense. The Middlebury defense, lead by Scott Secor, will have their hands full. Despite the fact Wesleyan was 0-8 in the NESCAC, this should be a good game between two teams with strong football and academic histories.

The Panthers come into Saturday's game after going 3-5 last season. The Panthers lost their first three, but then came back to win three of their last five. Senior quarterback Tiger Lyon is back and will get the start under center. Lyon has a young offensive line to work with, but has Second Team All-NESCAC running back Stefan Hrdina behind him. Hrdina lead the team in rushing last year, and was second on the team in receptions. Hrdina looks like he hasn't missed a beat from last year, as he had a 64 yard romp in the annual Blue/White scrimmage. Lyon has a good arm, good instincts, and can run the ball when he needs to. On defense, the Tigers are strong with Secor, along with linebacker Alex Buggy. Buggy hits hard and gets his defense riled up with his intense style of play and his leadership.

This should be a good one. Catch the action on ESPN 1490 starting with the pre-game at 12:30; Alan O'Donnel and I will have the call of the game with kickoff time set for 1:00. If you can't catch the game on the radio, go to

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Six days to go

Six days and counting. Yup, six days is what I have before the opening of my first official football play-by-play gig as the voice of Middlebury College. (Division III) Am I nervous? Are you nuts? If I wasn't nervous there would be something seriously wrong with me.

Now, I know football, and have been doing quite a bit of warming up as the color voice of the Vermont Ice Storm, and doing high school football on Friday nights. I have sat in front of the tube and filled the DVR with college and pro football games and done mock play-by-play. On my way to Middlebury, I do the play-by-play of a cop pulling over a trucker. Yes, I am obsessed but ready to get the first game out of the way.

As I have learned, and the approach I will use is to picture describing the game to someone who has never listened to a single down of football. I am not one for "Lyon is going to run a 32 slot A go nuts zip 42 on six". It will be more of, "Lyon is in the shotgun, one back to his left, two receivers to the near side, one to the far side with Colby putting defensive backs right up on the Panther receivers." That is more friendly to listeners and will keep my brain from exploding.

Will I mess things up? Of course I will. Believe it or not, announcers are human and mess things up a bit. We can prepare and prepare, but then when game time hits and we can't hit the rewind button on the DVR, things are different. We may see something we actually didn't, call the wrong guy carrying the ball, or miss a tackle or three. The game moves fast, and three hours feels like three minutes. Am I looking forward to this? Does a baby go goo?

This week starts pure chaos for me. Coaches show on Thursday, high school game in Plattsburgh, NY on Friday, Sox Show on Saturday morning, Middlebury game that afternoon. The next week, repeat, but the Middlebury game is on the road at Colby, then I have to FLY back to Vermont for the Ice Storm/Lake City rematch part II in which I will be late and start doing color in about the second quarter. Ah, the glory and fun of it all.

By the way, in the announcer game from hell, Vermont took out Lake City last night 34-27. COUNTLESS problems before the game, and we had to do the game from the bleachers. I am not going there right now as I am still infuriated with some people(Not having to do with the Ice Storm or the station.) during the pre-game. Once I calm down, I will get into some more detail.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Primary predictions

For what it is worth, here are my predictions for today's primaries:

US Senate(Republican): As much as I would like to say Rich Tarrant will lose, I just don't see it happening. Tarrant has the money, has been campaigning for much longer than Greg Parke, and the citizens of Vermont actually believe his anti-Bernie campaign ads. Parke, although he is running a much cleaner campaign, hasn't been campaigning for nearly long enough, so Vermonters don't know enough about him. The ads with his daughter are cute and all, but he should have started sooner.

Senate(Democratic): Sanders by a landslide.

Raniville vs Shepard: Rainville in this one. I actually like Martha because she is more of a moderate and has taken her shots at the Bush Administration. She seems to be very level headed, and obvioiusly has the experience in running the Vermont Guard to be able to make an impact in Washington. Yes Charity, there is a republican out there I would actually vote for.

Monday, September 11, 2006

What have we really learned?

As we all know, on this day in 2001, the United States suffered the worst attack on American soil in its history. Thousands were killed, even more injured, and countless lives were effected by this horrific act of violence. The question remains, what have we learned since then?

Since 2001, we as Americans don't trust anyone; thankfully this includes President Bush and his administration who have used 9/11 as a rallying cry to keep them in office. Republicans keep spouting off that they will make sure we are safe, and the Clinton administration failed in countless ways to prevent a tragedy such as this. But, that is not my point in all of this.

The main thing that we as Americans have learned is how to be even more ignorant towards others. Many see a Muslim walking down the street and assume they are a terrorist. Those from the Middle East are given extra pat downs at airport checkpoints because they of course could be carrying a bomb or other device. Mosques are vandalized, Arabs are discriminated against, and there is no understanding for them as individuals, nor do we even try to understand the Muslim religion, we just run away and taunt.

The reality of it is that Islam is a religion based on peace. Muslims are devout in their faith, and want peace in the world and not violence. Because of the actions of a few devout and fundamentalist believers in Islam. As is all religion, Islam is one that is subject to interpretation, and some will interpret the Koran in ways that suit their own personal agendas. This is no different from Catholocism, Judiasm, or for that matter any form of religion. I read things one way, you read them another. In the case of those responsible for the 9/11 attacks, they interpreted the Koran to preach violence and to eliminate those who do not believe the same as they do. What we have Americans have done is to condemn the religion because of the actions of a relative few and not the majority.

What can we do to heal? Learn, listen, and read. Read about the Koran and you will find verses saying Allah does not condone the senseless killing of others, he condones it. "Whosoever kills a human being without (any reason like) manslaughter, or corruption on earth, it is as though he had killed all mankind. And whoever saves a life it is as though he had saved the lives of all mankind." (The Holy Quran 5:32) " This is a message of peace and not one that said to kill over 3,000 innocent people.

We need to learn to learn, and to persue knowledge of what happened and why. Systematically discriminating against millions because of the actions of a few will not allow us to move on; we will simply keep living in the past.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

We interrupt this bout of cynicism......

Ok, I have been a cynic of late, but I am going to stop.......But just for a minute.

I would like to thank the Vermont Ice Storm, Vermont Lake Monsters, Vermont Frost Heaves, Saint Michael's College, and the organizers of the Miss Vermont USA pageant for their TREMENDOUS generosity. On September 10th, a benefit will be held for Shane Bergeron, a nine year old kid in the Old North End who is suffering from Hodgkins Disease, and has an inoperable tumor. All I have mentioned have donated items that will be auctioned off during a silent auction at Sunday's benefit. Your generosity is very much appreciated.

Another note on the Ice Storm: I asked if I could place a donation jar at the entrance so donations could be collected. Well, that wasn't good enough. Volunteers went through the stands collecting donations. Through the pass of the hat, and the folks from the Miss Vermont USA pageant donating two baskets that were raffled off, $500.46 was raised for Shane's care. All proceeds will go to the family to help with medical and other costs. Thanks everyone for helping out.

If there is anyone out in the blogosphere who would like to donate anything, just drop me a line through here.


Monday, September 04, 2006

Part Two.......

Well, it is about 7:00 in the morning, I have writer's block for some promo spots I need to write, so here goes my cynicism part two......

I kinda like my country, in fact I love my country. Even with this love of the good old US of A, I have a problem with a couple of things. First of all, why do we even say the Pledge of Allegiance when there is one key line that isn't even true? "One nation, under God(Which shouldn't be there anyway due to separation of church and state), with liberty and justice for all." We all know, THAT sure isn't true.

We are a country that believes in, and practices discrimination against blacks, hispanics, women, and of course homosexuals. President Bush wants a constitutional ammendment banning marriage between same sex couples, and not allowing them to have certain rights when it comes to home ownership, medical decisions, etc. This is a policy that Bush has out in the open, and yes, it is discriminatory. If it wasn't for religion, this would not be a problem. We use the Bible, and some warped belief system that says we can discriminate against others because the Bible says so. When it comes to "Liberty and justice for all", this does not apply with same sex couples. (Oh yeah, we also turn away when their rights are violated because they are different.)

Look at the civil rights movement and to go back even farther, the Civil War. The concept of liberty and justice did not apply for African Americans; we held them as slaves against their will!!! African Americans were servants who didn't have any rights at all. They were beaten, tortured, and executed for the color of their skin. When it came to the 60's, blacks couldn't even sit in the front of a bus, and had to drink out of different water fountains!! There wasn't the concept of equality there, and nor does there seem to be much in this day and age. We still assume a black man is guilty of a crime before trial, while the white man seems to be the innocent victim of everything. Nope, no liberty and justice for all, just the white man.

If you are not a WASP in this country, you do not have the same right to liberty and justice as I do. We will find a way to kick you off of your land(Native Americans), openly discriminate against and take away rights(Homosexuals and blacks), and in the even more modern context, hold you in prison without the right to a trial. ("Enemy Combatants") Laws change to suit our own purposes, and President Bush is one of the ringleaders of this. When it comes to the post 9/11 era, we break our own laws, and violate our own principals because it suits us. Why in the world should some suffer in prison without being charged with a crime, no evidence that they have committed a crime, and hold them until we feel like releasing them? (Look at the Rolling Stone article from two weeks ago about the KID being held in Cuba, that is just chilling.)

No, we do not believe in liberty and justice for all. We should either ditch the pledge of allegiance, or at least rewrite the thing so it is accurate. Any suggestions?

Sunday, September 03, 2006

My own cynicism--Part One

Ok, I will admit, I have become more and more of a cynic as time has gone on. When I was young, I would take everything at face value, but not anymore.

Somehow, and for the life of me, I don't know how this happened, but on my Saturday show on WFAD in Middlebury, I got into the topic of the obese. As we all know, this society is starting to explode. More and more, I see these massive people raiding the grocery stores of chips, dip, and anything that says "HIGH in fat!!!" Why is it that these lazy people feel they must clog their arteries, cause potholes from walking, and deplete the financial resources of insurance companies? Yes piggies, your fat costs us money. Things like diabetes, heart disease, blown knees, (Hey, I am a skinny former athlete, so we can't go there with my blown wheel.) and every other disease we can attribute to being fat costs us money!! Now, why are we like this? Hmmmmmmmmmmmm......

1) We are a society who thinks we should be catered to, and we can do what we want. We can now order pizza from our remote controls, there are recliners that have refrigerators, and the thought of actually walking to the store makes us want another donut. We are lazy slobs!!!!! Walk to the stinking fridge or if you need to go two blocks to the store to get Twinkies, WALK!!! I see so many people who will get in their cars for that two block trip, drive around for a parking spot for 20 minutes, and then get a motorized cart to wheel themselves around the store because walking may actually get some blood flowing. Give me a break......

2) We love being slobs. Food is a symbol of something in this society. Just listen to the ads on ESPN Radio. There is one ad that focuses on salty food and hot dogs as a reason to enjoy a football game. Oh yeah, that is why I watch football, it is an excuse to eat!! Forget the game, forget hanging out with people, it is for the pretzles, pizza, burgers and beer. GAG!!!!!!!!

Lay off the freaking donuts and go for a walk dammit!!! It may hurt for awhile, but it is good for you!! Exercise off those balls of gooey fat, but don't eat chips while doing it. It KILLS me that I can't exercise as much as I used to because of my darn knee. I love walking with my wife, playing softball, and getting out. I go insane because the best I can do are knee bends for physical therapy without feeling like my knee will explode like an atom bomb. Exercise is good!! My cholesterol is a buck 65, resting heartrate is 58, and I will be like the rest of the family and live to be 95. Yes, I eat Burger King before I do play by play or color for a game, but it is my ritual, I do it once a week, but to serve my penance, I park at the OPPOSITE end of the parking lot and walk to the field. Oh yeah, I also do a lap around the field when the knee lets me.

Can you tell I am sick of fat people? They make me gag, vomit, etc. It is so bad nowadays that there is a woman in Florida who sued a hospital because after she had her stomach stapled, she raided the fridge in the nurses station. She sued because they did not lock the fridge and could therefore eat to her heart's content. Oh yeah, her staples broke. THE CHIPS MADE ME DO IT!!!! THEY CALLED ME!!!!! IT IS THE HOSPITAL'S FAULT I HAVE NO &#%ING SELF CONTROL!!! My point is, these people can't even blame themselves for being fat slobs, they have to blame others.

I am going back to my couch, game, and ice bag now. I walked around the fair yesterday for four hours and the knee is telling me how much of a moron I am. Why did I do it? I am stubborn, stupid, and needed the exercise. The latter of the three was a good thing though. Fresh air is always a beautiful thing. As a side note, someone at the fair saw me dragging the knee from hell around and offered me a wheelchair. I wouldn't take it and started laughing because I saw a 500 pound thing in a wheelchair because they were so fat. The conversation I overheard was "I'm hungry, I need a blooming onion."........

Friday, September 01, 2006

What used to be my pet project......

As some of you know, I have been involved with the ALS Association of Northern New England for the last couple of years. My involvment came following the diagnosis of, and subsequent death of my Uncle Hal. Last year, we raised over $35,000 for patient services and research, but this year there has been NOTHING!! Nada, zip, zilch, and squat. This is an organization right now that is a total and complete disaster.

It all started when our development director Tonia Zampieri left. Tonia was dedicated, talented, and simply amazing. Since her departure, the state of Vermont has been neglected and ignored. From November until May, we did not have a development director. The office moved to New Hampshire, and no one was notified of the change. Many of us made phone calls trying to get the walk efforts started, and no one could be bothered to tell us what was going on with the office, and no one could be bothered to even return our phone calls.

When the new development director came on, we thought there would be progress; well, there wasn't. This was not Karen's fault. She came in to the job six months behind in development, had a mountain to over come, and did everything in her power to try to get something going. Well, because the organization wouldn't even kick out $200.00 for a walk kickoff, wouldn't help with publicizing the event, and seemed to be sitting on their hands wishing the state would seceed and become part of Canada, she resigned. Karen did everything she could to work towards getting a Burlington walk going, but she received no help, no information, and no support from her administration.

When Karen told us(the volunteers) what was going on, I sent an e-mail along to Executive Director Joanne Saint Pierre, and other members of the board of directors. Four days ago she finally bothered to get back to one of the volunteers and claimed she e-mailed the rest of us. Well, none of us received the e-mail. Either she doesn't know how to use the computer, or she is lying. From what I have seen and heard, I believe the latter of the two.

There is horrendous mis-management going on in this organization, and those who suffer from ALS are suffering for it. There isn't a cent being raised in this state for patient services and no one seems to care. I sent a rather nasty e-mail back to Joanne and expect to hear from her again in six months. This is not the way a non-profit should be run, and I would do backflips if something changed within the organization. Until it does, I will not do a thing in support of the ALS Association. I am also investigating to see what else is really going on there. This is a mission of mine since my uncle was very near and dear to me, and my family. These people are learning one thing, don't make me mad.

Friday, August 25, 2006

The Essex Shootings

Needless to say, yesterday was not a good day in our community. The shootings yesterday in Essex have the area, and myself in a total state of shock. This is something that just doesn't happen in our area, but now it has.

I heard about the shootings while doing my usual prep work for the Ice Storm game, and my Sox show down in Middlebury. When I heard about them, reporter mode kicked in and I booked it down to the scene to do reports for WVAA. The scene itself was chaos, but organized chaos. The police had the situation under control, but there was still so much confusion, and so much information coming in, it was just staggering. This was my first shooting as a reporter, and I never want to have to cover another one for as long as I live.

What still has me in shock was when one of the witnesses to the shooting found out her sister in law was one of the dead. We were all talking to this woman before she found out, just trying to get some information as to what happened, and found out that she had not heard word on her. The police pulled her aside, we thought to get her away from us, but the reality was that she was being told her sister in law was one of the dead. When we heard the screams, we knew exactly what she was told, no one had to tell us. When I say that every hair on my body was standing up straight would be an understatement. Those are screams I think I will be hearing for a long, long time to come.

As a reporter you have to keep your professional distance so you can be objective about a situation. When you leave the scene of an incident like this, the reality of what you have seen kicks in. This was a horrible incident, something I hope no one ever has to go through. I haven't gotten those images out of my head yet, and I don't think I will for awhile.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Yeah, yeah, I am actually alive.....

Yes, I am alive, so the reports of my demise just aren't accurate. Baseball season has had me going out of my little mind, and with football season fast approaching, there hasn't been much time for a life. By the way, for the liberal folk out there, Air America has moved to AM 1070 with ESPN going 24 hours and is now on AM 1390. ESPN 1390 will have coverage of high school football on Friday nights, along with Saint Michael's College basketball and hockey. We are working on the high school schedule for both sports, so stay tuned for that.

Speaking of football, there has been football going on in Burlington, but not many people seem to know about it. The Vermont Ice Storm of the semi-pro Empire football league are in first place in the Northern Division of the EFL. The team is made up of about 50 guys, none of them are actually paid. The reality is these guys actually pay to play, and are hanging on to their football careers, and in some cases are looking for a college scholarship.

Let's see here, their coach is a college professor, and quarterback Brad Ruderman is a freaking engineer. Yes, the guy has a degree in Mechanical Engineering and is still playing football. Austin Partain is a nutsoid wide receiver who was born without the ability to be fearful of anything. Austin can not only run around tackles and make DB's go into therapy for all the times he makes them miss, he goes right through guys. At 5'8/160, I have seen him go through 260 pound linebackers without a scratch. Guys like Jason Young, Kevin Mattot, and the ageless Troy Canada, who at 40 hasn't lost a step, make it look like running the West Coast offense as easy as putting on your shoes in the morning. By the way, Troy isn't a guy who is just playing football, he is going for his freaking PHD.

These are good, solid ballplayers, but world class guys as well. This is a group of guys who bust their tails on the field, work regular jobs, but still find the time to go out in the community and make a difference. Defensive Tackle Pierre Cotton coaches basketball in the Old North End, and is a caseworker for the state. When I mentioned I was working on a benefit for one of the kids I have coached who has Hodgkins Disease, he offered to do anything he could to help. Many of the guys go out and work with basketball teams, football teams, and the Special Olympics. Forget working 40 hours a week, and going to practice, their attitude is they need to make a difference in the world. Why don't the guys who make a gazillion dollars a year have this attitude?

Oh yeah, they play good football too. A few weeks ago they took on Lake City, and it was a game for the ages. 37-31 in overtime, and for a football fan, it couldn't have gotten much better. Back and forth, back and forth, and a chess match between the coaches that was just incredible. Ruderman threw for three scores and then ran for two more. (His first two carries of the YEAR, and he scores on both of them.) The last score in regulation was a four yard Ruderman scramble with 30 seconds to go. Overtime was theirs. Eight plays, 73 yards in about two minutes, and it was time to head to Franny O's for the post game party.

This week, the Ice Storm take on Ottawa. If they win, they go to the playoffs with their seeding to be determined. The last regular season game of the year is in Plattsburgh for a rematch against Lake City in what should be a classic. This week is at home against Ottawa at Colchester High School, game time is at 7:30. Get there early, these guys normally fill the joint, but there is always room for more.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

The Vicarious Life of a Sportswriter/Sportscaster

The Vicarious Life of a Sportswriter

The night started off simply enough. I headed to Colchester on Saturday night to do a rehearsal of sorts for WVAA’s broadcasts of the Vermont Ice Storm of the Empire Football League. Well, the boss called and told me he was sick, and the press box didn’t have a phone line, so we couldn’t test the equipment anyway, so I needed something to do while I was scouting the team. When I heard Linda, the team’s Game Day Operations Coordinator yell, “Hey Chris!!!”, I knew she would put me to work.

The task Linda asked me to do was to be a member of the “chain gang”, the guys who hold the first down yard markers. Ok, this seemed easy enough, hold up a stick and move ten yards when there is a first down or change of possession. I figured even a sportscaster/sportswriter could do this without much of a problem, so with the shot to have the best seat in the house, I readily agreed.

As I should have known, there is much more to this than it appears. I talked to the guys who would be with me for the game. As I had to get ready to do this in about two seconds flat, I couldn’t grab paper and a pen, so I am basically making up these guy’s names. The guy carrying the down marker is Pete, a longtime coach at Mount Abe and Otter Valley. Pete’s first piece of advice to me was, “Watch the guy with the white hat. When he signals first down, we move. Also, when you are the lead guy(where the original line of scrimmage is), place the stick right behind where I put the down marker. If you don’t someone can get hurt. Secondly, the guys on the opposing teams can be real jerks. One time when we were playing Worcester(MA), the game got so nasty, and the Worcester players were so rowdy, that with 30 seconds to go in the game, the officials told us to get off the field. The players were yelling at us, cursing the Ice Storm, etc, so they didn’t want us to get hurt. Once the final gun went off, everyone was fine, but that tells you how heated these games get.”

The man I will call “Coach” was a goateed individual with a wicked sense of humor. When I asked him what to do when a player came at you, he simply said, “Run and don’t get killed. Make sure you run AWAY from the field, and watch out, you might trip over one of the guys, and with as tiny as you are, we may need a coroner.” (I am a massive five foot eight and weigh in at a buck fifty.) Coach told me he had been taken out more than once by a player. He told me he was watching the ball carrier coming near the sidelines, and he was about four yards away, so no big deal, right? Well, a defender came flying right at him and Coach didn’t have a prayer and got taken out. He wasn’t hurt, but needless to say, I had one more thing to watch for.

The game got underway at around 6:30, and this was the Ice Storm’s first pre-season game before they start the league season against Saint Lawrence Valley. The Ice Storm play in the highest level of semi-pro football and are not paid a cent; in fact, they pay a hundred bucks a season to play. These guys practice twice a week, and hold regular jobs, so they are playing for the fun of the game. Coach told me this is a great way for the guys who are younger to keep sharp, and maybe they will get a shot at a college scholarship, or be able to play Arena ball, or head to Canada to play in the CFL.

Again, this whole holding the chains thing seemed easy, but of course I was wrong. You have to watch the ref and the linesman, keep up with the guy at the other end when a first down is made, you are keeping track of the players to make sure some 290 pound monster doesn’t turn you into compost, and are also making sure you are paying attention enough to know when to move and when not to move. I pulled about three different brain cramps in the first five minutes of the game when I didn’t set the post right, and then stopped about 20 yards away from where I should have after a Seacoast first down. “Stripes”(The linesman), then yapped, “Hey sportswriter, don’t they teach counting in journalism school?” When I yelled, “I was a social work major!!”, he just shrugged his shoulders and proceeded to throw a flag for a false start. The guy who got called for the penalty delivered the line of the night when he said, “I didn’t move!! I just moved my hand!!”

Thankfully I only made a couple of mistakes for the rest of the game, so I was able to enjoy the relentless amount of harassment I was getting from Pete, Coach, and Stripes. Stripes was just hysterical in his relentless barbs, and his explanations to coaches about calls. In the second quarter, Coach told me I was officially baptized as a member of the chain gang. On a Seacoast sweep to our side, I had three guys who hadn’t missed a meal in 30 years coming straight at me. I dropped my stick, moved back, and then almost got taken out by another defensive player coming in at about 200 miles an hour. I swear, if I would have moved three inches to the other side, I would have been in the hospital with multiple fractures and contusions. Of course, the guys were laughing hysterically, and Coach said, “I told you to watch the entire play!!” By the way, you are now an official member of the chain gang; you almost got killed.”

The Ice Storm ended up losing the game 21-18, but thankfully it was only a pre-season contest. With about three minutes to go in the game, Stripes asked me what I was going to title the article. I shrugged my shoulders and tossed some weak ideas out there, when he gave me the title. When I laughed, he said, “Hey, you are doing something most of you pansies don’t do.” Thanks for the title Stripes, and you had better be reading this thing or I will never let you blow a call without eternal grief ever again.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Opening Weekend with the Lake Monsters

This is an article yours truly did and was published in this week's edition of the Vermont Times.

The sun was out, the bats were cracking, and over the weekend at Centennial Field in Burlington, it was the beginning of a new area in Vermont baseball as the Vermont Lake Monsters opened up their 2006 home season against the Tri-City Valley Cats.

The Single A affiliate of the Washington Nationals made a major change back in November, changing the nickname of the team from the Expos to the Lake Monsters. The change was made as a result of the parent club’s move from Montreal to Washington in 2004, and the team wanted to break away from the old club, and start a new tradition with the new name. Back in November, General Manager C.J. Knudsen told me the new name reflects the character and tradition of the Champlain Valley, and incorporates the legend of the mythical sea creature “Champ” that lives in the waters of Lake Champlain.

The nickname change added to the excitement of another Opening Day at the 100 year old ballpark. Many fans told me they were excited about the opening of the season, and could not wait to spend some quality time watching the Lake Monsters. John Anderson of Waitsfield told me, “I am still getting used to the new name, and I know I will still call them the Expos for a long time. I just hope the new name will bring a better team to the field this year.” Anderson said this as his kids were nipping at his heels asking Dad if they could have a hot dog and a Coke.

As per tradition, both teams had their rosters introduced, and the Lake Monsters took the mike from C.J. and introduced themselves to the announced crowd of 3,814, and of course slapped hands with Champ while running onto the field. The loudest cheers were reserved for returning fan favorites Brandon Conway and Mike Daniel, along with manager Jose Auguacil who returned to the team the previous Friday after a change in the organization moved manager Edgar Caceras to manage the Potomac ballclub in the organization.

While there have been changes in the name and logo of the team, some things will just never change. Back with the team are the front office staff, along with longtime PA announcer Rich Haskell. Haskell returns to the mike for his 13th year with the team, a tenor that has seen him miss only one game. Rich told me the only time he missed a game was the third game of his first season, but he did have a good excuse; his wife was giving birth to their only child across the street at Fletcher Allen. Of course, the Expos(oops, Lake Monsters) beloved mascot Champ is back to get the fans riled up, and keep the kids occupied while their parents ponder which of the players will eventually make it to the major leagues. The in between innings promotions remain the same with games like Human Bowling, the frozen t-shirt contest, and Champ shooting t-shirts into the stands with his trusted shooter. (Although in game two of the series, the thing did misfire, and one t-shirt traveled a grand total of about six inches, drawing laughs from the crowd.)

A few of the other changes the team has made come in the form of the concessions and entertainment for the kids. The team has jazzed up its speed pitch game, and added a bouncy tent where kids can get all of their energy out by bouncing up and down for three minutes at the cost of just a buck. The food, which has always been good and very reasonably priced, now features the Monster Dog, and a pulled pork sandwich that will have your stomach begging for another one, two, or three. Longtime on-field emcee Jamie Scavatto has been replaced by “Rockin Ruby” as Scavatto has moved on to devote more time to his duties in the sports department at Channel Five.

The highlight of the second game of the series had to be when a three year old boy threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Now, this was something for the books. Here is this tiny kid, playing catch with the players before the game, being chased around by the players, and throwing some balls that would rival tosses of mine. Of course, when he threw the first pitch, it was a strike, and drew the loudest ovation of the night from the crowd of about 3,200.

On the field, well, it was not a good weekend for the Monsters as they dropped the first two games of the series in pretty ugly fashion. Opening night, the Lake Monsters dropped an 8-4 decision, a game that saw two Tri-City runners score from second on wild pitches, and an assortment of mental and physical errors lead to a very unhappy manager and fans. The bright spot was Brandon Conway, who came into the game with a lifetime batting average of .160. In the second, Conway hit a three run shot, his first in 222 lifetime at bats. This could be a make or break year for Conway, as if you can’t hit above .200, regardless of defensive prowess, you won’t be in baseball for very long. After the game, Manager Jose Auguacil said he was disappointed with the play of the team and said, “We will not have this type of performance again.” Well, he shouldn’t have said that, as on Saturday night, the Lake Monsters dropped a 7-5 decision to Tri-City in a game that saw the Lake Monsters snag defeat from the jaws of victory. The Lake Monsters held a 5-4 lead going into the seventh after scoring four in the bottom of the sixth. In the top of the seventh, the bullpen fell apart again with the Monsters giving up four runs in the inning. On the night, the relief pitching was not up to par, and the defense was sloppy with Vermont committing four errors. The poor defense, and pitching had manager Jose Auguacil quite angry with his players, as he went straight to the clubhouse with his team. After about 15 minutes, one member of the Lake Monsters staff came out of the clubhouse shaking his head and said, “Man, I am so glad I am not a player right now.” About five minutes earlier when someone was coming out of the clubhouse, I could hear Auggie yelling in a couple of different languages at his players. Some of the words cannot be repeated in a family publication.

Game three of the series turned out to be much better for the Lake Monsters as they pulled out a 3-2 victory over Tri-City. Brandon Conway continued his hot hitting with a two RBI single in the fourth, and Mike Daniel added an RBI triple. Of course, it got dicey in the ninth as Tri-City put two on with one out, but Juan De Los Santos was able to get Christopher Johnson to ground into a game inning double play, and for the first time this year, the famous victory balls were thrown into the stands to celebrate the victory. Before the game, Auggie told me he had some words for the team following the previous night’s game. He said the team needs to focus on the fundamentals and getting the job done. He said this is a very good ball club and they just need to play together. With the way the team played on Sunday night, it looks like they listened.

This was Little League Day at the ballpark with Little Leaguers from all over the area getting discounted tickets to attend the game. Before the game, the players and coaches paraded around the park to the cheers of the 3,200 on hand. Before the game, Lake Monsters players took a tremendous amount of time to take pictures with and sign autographs for the kids and parents. Brandon Conway told me he enjoys Little League Day and feels it is his responsibility as a professional ball player to be a role model for the kids. Conway said, “Being a role model is important to me. It wasn’t too long ago that I was one of these kids asking for autographs. Some of the smaller kids are really shy, but they warm up to you.” Conway’s statement is one that was repeated by many of the players. Lake Monsters players seem to enjoy the interaction with the fans, and take the time to say a few words to each kid that asks for their signature.

After the game, it was pure chaos on the field as it was “Have a Catch Night”. Can you imagine about 200 kids on the field, playing catch with their parents, and having free baseballs flying around? While I was walking around taking pictures, I thought I was going to need a helmet to avoid getting nailed in the noggin. One parent told me being able to play catch on the field with his son is one of the highlights of the season. “These guys do such a great job getting the fans into the game and doing things like this. It isn’t too often that a professional team allows a bunch of kids to play catch on the field. What a great experience for them.”

One final note, I was grabbing some fries in between innings, and one of the vendors I had talked to asked me how the story was going. One fan piped in and said, “Make sure you mention in your article how wonderful the players and staff are. We love coming to the games because they are all so nice and have so much to do when the kids get bored. Where else do players actually sign autographs without asking for money?” Ah yes, you have to love Centennial and the Lake Monsters.

Canseco is back.....HUH????

As I said in a post this morning, it looks like Jose Canseco is back in action and will be playing with the San Diego Surf Dawgs of the Golden Baseball League. Canseco, who has admitted to using steroids in his major league career will suit up and play in his first game on Monday against Chico as the DH and will PITCH this season.

I just got off the phone with Brian Watkins, the General Manager of the Surf Dawgs for his take on Canseco's signing. Watkins told me he had heard that Canseco was playing in a men's league up in Long Beach and was hitting the ball very well. He thought Canseco would be a great addition to the team, so he was approached, and soon after was signed to a contract that will pay Canseco the league minimum of $2,500 a month. Canseco actually mentioned he would like to pitch for the team, the team didn't ask specifically about that when they started talking. As some may remember, Canseco pitched while he was with Texas and promptly threw out his arm.

Brian did tell me the league has a no-tolerance policy when it comes to steroids. Nine players were banned from the league for the use of steroids last season. He also told me the signing of Canseco will be good for the league, good for the fans, and will help to attract attention to the fact there is minor league baseball in San Diego. Yes folks, this is a publicity stunt of epic proportions.

Why? Why in the world would a team want to sign Canseco other than for publicity? Canseco has admitted to using steroids during his major league career and seems to be known more for that than the fact he hit over 400 homers in the major leagues, is a former AL Rookie of the Year and AL MVP. If Canseco actually plays the field, I wonder if he will have another ball bounce off his noggin and into the seats.....

The league needs help as far as attendance, but it shouldn't need it this bad. San Diego signed Ricky Henderson last year, but Henderson at that time could still play the game. Canseco on the other hand doesn't have a prayer of making it back to the bigs. His reputation is tainted, and there is no way a major league team will pick him up, even if he can hit balls into Tijuana. I wonder if a ball goes into Tijuana if it needs a passport.......

The world must be ending......

From the website of the San Diego Surf Dawgs.......Steroid boy is back?? He is pitching?? Good Lord Jose, GIVE UP!!!!!!!!!! I love the part of the release that calls him "A longtime sports and pop cultural icon." (Coffee shot out of my nose at a record speed when I saw that one.)

Just when I thought I didn't have much to talk about on the show this week.......

6/29/2006(Pleasanton, CA. June 30, 2006) The Golden Baseball League announced today that former American League Rookie of the Year, MVP, and Home Run Champion Jose Canseco has agreed to contract terms with the league and will join the San Diego Surf Dawgs beginning Monday, July 3rd and will play in the game that night at 7:05 PM versus the Chico Outlaws in Chico, CA.

A press conference is scheduled for Monday, July 3rd at 2:00 PM at Nettleton Stadium, located on the Chico State Campus in Chico, California.

Canseco will have a dual role with the Surf Dawgs as he will become an every day Designated Hitter for the team, and will showcase his knuckleball as member of the team’s pitching staff.

“We are thrilled that Jose has decided to become a member of the Golden Baseball League,” said GBL President Amit Patel. “We strive to provide a high quality entertainment product, and Jose will undoubtedly be entertaining for our fans.”

Canseco, 41, has had a spectacular professional baseball career. In seventeen big league seasons he was named Rookie of the Year and American League MVP, was selected as a member of six All-Star teams, and played in four World Series -- winning championships with the 1989 Oakland Athletics and 2000 New York Yankees. This will be his second stint in a professional Independent League. He previously played for the Newark Bears in the Atlantic League in 2001 and had his contract purchased by the Chicago White Sox.

“We are excited to be the venue Jose has selected to prove to major league organizations that he can still be an asset to a big league ball club,” said GBL Commissioner Kevin Outcalt. “His signing provides yet another opportunity for the league to give our fans and our communities a great baseball experience.”

“I’m excited to have Jose on the team, for both his playing abilities and for his veteran leadership,” said San Diego Surf Dawgs Manager Terry Kennedy. “We can use his offensive power to get us into the playoffs to defend our title, and I’m very interested in seeing him pitch to see if he can help us there as well.”

A longtime sports and pop culture icon, Canseco’s notoriety raised to record heights in 2005 with the publication of his autobiographical best seller “Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant ‘Roids, Smash Hits, and How Baseball Got Big” that detailed steroid use in professional baseball. Now weighing a sleek 230 pounds, down almost 30 pounds from his playing days, he has agreed to be subjected to the GBL’s tough drug testing policy that immediately expels any players found using steroids or illegal drugs. Last season nine players, out of over 200 tested, were terminated from the league for illegal drug use. “Jose will be treated consistent with all of our players regarding drug testing,” added Outcalt.Canseco will be playing for the league maximum of $2500 per month. He will also be entering into a marketing agreement with the Golden Baseball League which includes a special Jose Canseco apparel line and interactive events with fans and kids at all of the League’s ballparks.“I’m looking forward to having fun in professional baseball again, as I’ve really missed it,” said Canseco. “I love what this league is doing for players, communities, and families, and I want to be part of it. Rickey had a great experience with the Surf Dawgs last year and it will be great playing for Terry Kennedy and reminding him of the stomping my A’s gave his Giants in the ’89 World Series!”

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Random babble........

First of all, I applaud the vote shooting down a proposed Constitutional ammendment that would make the burning of the flag illegal. While I would never do it myself, burning the flag is a way we can show our disapproval of the US government. Hey, if the KKK still has free speech, why can't burning the flag still be seen as legal?

Andrea Yates should be burned at the stake and tortured for what she did to her children. She admitted it, so why the retrial? Give me a break.

The surgically repaired knee is still in a state of disrepair. I have been referred to a specialist, but the specialist can't see me until August. I shall now continue my steady diet of ice and Aleve, which I take by the dozen.

Did you see the meltdown of the minor league manager the other night?? YOWZERS!!!! Man, that guy must have taken lessons from Earl Weaver, Lou Pinella, and Billy Martin. The base throw and the "cleaning" of the plate had me dying with laughter.

The Red Sox cannot be stopped, that is all there is to it. Ten straight wins, Papi is tearing it up, and the Yankees are going down. Class move on the part of Sox fans last night when they gave Pedro a standing ovation. Pedro was just phenominal when he was with the Sox and deserved every bit of adulation he received.

Finally, best wishes to one of the icons of sports journalism, Peter Gammons, who is recovering from surgery to repair a brain anurysm. Gammons is the most knowledgeable of the baseball writers out there, and is a class act. Get well soon Peter, and we will see you back on ESPN sometime soon.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

The Sox and Steroids

The fun continues in Major League Baseball with the disclosure in an ESPN the Magazine article by Amy Nelson that former Red Sock pitcher Paxton Crawford took steroids while with the club. In the article, which is on newsstands now, Crawford goes into great detail as to the drugs he used, why he used them, how they were administered, and that other players in the Sox clubhouse knew of his drug use and seemed to blow it off. Crawford, and to his credit, did not name names, says there were others on the team who were using performance enhancing drugs. In the article, Crawford says he started using steroids to help his recovery from a back injury. He said when he started using a drug called Winstrol, he saw his fastball jump about four miles an hour in speed and his breaking pitches had a sharper break on them. (Quote at the end of the article)

Teammates of Crawford’s have strongly denied that others were using drugs in the Red Sox clubhouse. In an interview with John Tomase of the Boston Herald, former Red Sock Jeff Frye said, “I would say most of the guys on the team wouldn’t even remember who Paxton Crawford was, that’s how little he was there,” I think Paxton’s a guy that probably saw things a little differently than everyone else.” Former third baseman John Valentin told Tomase, ““He wasn’t with us very long in 2001,” Valentin said. “For him to speculate that the team was doing steroids, how would he even know, per se, if he’s a young player?”

Folks, I have bad news for you…..This whole thing with steroids and performance enhancing drugs is just getting uglier and uglier by the SECOND!!! It was once thought, and being totally uneducated on the subject I thought the same thing, that pitchers would not benefit from the use of steroids and other drugs and man I am wrong. Doctors say that using human growth hormones and steroids helps to aid in recovery time. In an article by Buster Olney in the same issue of ESPN the Magazine, former pitcher and current ESPN analyst Orel Hershiser says, “A 32 year old pitcher using steroids can jump back ten years in time.” Yes, the drugs do help pitchers. Again, according to Crawford, the drugs helped add speed to his fastball and increase the break on his curveballs. Yes, this is a problem that must be solved now, but now isn’t quick enough. These guys are cheating and in many cases, there isn’t a way for them to get caught as there is not a reliable test out there to detect the drugs. Of course, the union will not consent to blood tests, so it is like they are denying there is a problem, or even worse are enabling their players to cheat. This must be stopped. I happen to agree with Keith Olbermann who said baseball needs to shut down the season until they come up with a solution to the issue. These are drugs that will ruin players’ lives through roid rage, and the countless other physical and psychological problems the drugs can cause with long term use. Baseball has a problem with cheating and I want it to stop now.