Monday, March 08, 2010

archie's place

They say that New Yorkers don't visit the Statue of Liberty. I never have, even though I grew up in the nearby suburbs. I try not to repeat that mistake when traveling, which is why I'm surprised it has taken me this long to make it to the top of the Gateway Arch. The Arch is the centerpiece of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial in St. Louis.

On our 3,000 mile road trip in the summer of 2007, my family had the bad luck of visiting the Arch two days after a power outage caused all sorts of havoc. I got some nice pictures from the base, but did not ascend. We thought about going to the Arch in January, but it was completely engulfed in fog.

This past weekend, my wife and I made a quick trip through St. Louis after picking up our son at college. We had enough time on Saturday to go up in the Arch and to see the excellent (although dated) movie, "Monument to the Dream." I just put the DVD on my wish list.

The documentary shows how the landmark was constructed in the early '60s. It made me wish I could go back and see television news coverage from the raising of the last piece on October 28, 1965. I did find a good YouTube video with some pre-Arch history. A model outside the theater shows the last piece being raised into place.

The land below the Arch looks like a quiet, grassy park. It conceals an underground complex with two theaters, gift shops, a museum and more. The Museum of Westward Expansion featured lots of information about the Louisiana Purchase and an interesting smaller exhibit about baseball teams moving and expanding to the West. The warning not to touch the taxidermied animals amused me. Apparently not everyone knows that dead bison grow no hair.

The view out the city side of the Arch was more interesting than the view out the river side. Looking toward the north I could see the Edward Jones Dome. Looking toward the south I could see Busch Stadium. I really want to attend a Cardinals game there some day.

Because our plan was to leave early enough on Sunday to get home to watch the Oscars (we made it with minutes to spare), we wanted to go to a vigil Mass on Saturday night. St. Louis has a plethora of Catholic parishes and we hadn't decided which one to visit. I even asked my friend Fr. Ragan Schriver for suggestions. Once we had seen the movie and looked at the Museum of Westward Expansion, it was after 5:00 p.m. and we didn't have time to get to either of the churches Fr. Ragan had mentioned. I was collecting some brochures from the ranger at the information desk when I realized the answer was on a flyer in my hands. In fact, two hours earlier, I had photographed The Old Cathedral from 630 feet up. We could easily walk there in time for the 5:30 Mass.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

roid rage

Now that Mark McGwire has admitted what was as plain as the neck on his face, what do I do with this?

By the way, I heard a reasonable defense of McGwire by Chris Core on my fancy new WiFi radio today.

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Sunday, February 08, 2009

mixed marriage

The George Mason at James Madison basketball game seemed like a good thing to put on the TV while my wife and I were relaxing at home yesterday, that is until the Dukes narrowly won in an upset. At least my wife, the JMU alumna, was happy about our schools' rivalry for the first time in five years.

The game was on DirecTV channel 642, which is Comcast SportsNet MidAtlantic. The technicians had some trouble deciding whether or not the broadcast was supposed to be in HD. They switched several times from widescreen to pillars and back. I was hoping to hear the "Mason Nation" jingle during the game. I have read about it but not heard it yet.

The GMU Patriots will be televised again on Thursday night when their away game against the Delaware Blue Hens is on ESPNU. Fans at the game will be entertained by multiple mascots, which might be lucky enough to get some nominal TV coverage. No word if Two Face will be there or not.

Apparently the University of Delaware is a mascot factory. Who knew? In addition to the current YoUDee, the court will be filled with former UD mascot team members who are now working as mascots for professional sports teams. The list includes Screech from the Washington Nationals, Slapshot from the Washington Capitals, Poe from the Baltimore Ravens, Wool E. Bull from the Durham Bulls and Swoop from the Philadelphia Eagles. They should ask Jennaphr Frederick to show up and dance with the mascots like she did a few years ago.

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Monday, January 12, 2009

rich it is

As rumored yesterday, the next Bishop of the Diocese of Knoxville was introduced at a press conference this morning. Bishop-elect Richard Stika is moving to Tennessee from a parish in St. Louis where one of his parishioners is Stan "The Man" Musial.

Three local television stations covered the event. WBIR and WVLT each sent a cameraman. WATE also sent reporter Kristyn Caddell who remembered me from our recent encounter with the Christmas penguin.

I also saw reporters from the News Sentinel and the Farragut Press. After breaking the news at 6 o'clock this morning, the Catholic blog Whispers in the Loggia linked to a profile of the Bishop-elect from the St. Louis Beacon.

The best photos of the press conference will probably be the ones taken by Deacon Patrick Murphy-Racey. He also had the best position for his video camera. I hope to see his work on either the Diocese website or his own site. I couldn't find any of his pictures tonight.

Many of the priests of the Diocese were in attendance as well as the Bishops of Nashville and Memphis. Louisville Archbishop Joseph Kurtz was warmly received by his former staff. It was his first time back to the chancery since his elevation to Archbishop.

I introduced myself to Fr. John Dowling of St. John Neumann parish and asked him the question I had about his new building and the Bishop's cathedra. Fr. Dowling said that yes, the Bishop could theoretically choose to move his chair to another building, thereby making it the new cathedral. However, Fr. Dowling is not pushing for that. He agreed that the Bishop would probably want to leave the cathedral right where it is, next door to the chancery, which has seen some improvements since Archbishop Kurtz left for Louisville. I also asked Fr. Dowling about the mosaic Stations of the Cross in his new church. He bought those from a clearing house in Atlanta that sells fixtures from closed churches in other parts of the country. Because he had those first, he was able to design the width of the windows so that the Stations would fit perfectly underneath them.

I found it interesting that the Bishop-elect has had to keep the news of his appointment a secret since December 16. And that he is allowed say Mass in Aramaic when celebrating with the Maronite Church.

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Monday, September 29, 2008

weekend roundup

Several unrelated stories came across the Frank Murphy Dot Com newsdesk over the weekend.

The annual "What The Fluff?" festival in Massachusetts was postponed from Saturday to Sunday. One of the activities was a Fluff Lick Off, in which contestants had to lick a large dollop of Marshmallow Fluff off a piece of clear plastic. One blogger has posted photos that say it all. By the way, the festival still has me misidentified as "Frank Miller" on their site.

They held a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the new Body Farm in Texas on Friday. News footage from the Fox affiliate in Austin shows a guy who looks exactly like UT's Dr. Bill Bass as one of the ribbon cutters.

Perry Simon posted a link to a great article about the closing of Shea Stadium. Like all Mets fans, I'm disappointed that the old joint didn't get to host the playoffs and World Series one more time.

My wife says that her guilty pleasure today was to read the comments posted by irate Cowboys fans on various Dallas websites. She happily pointed out to me that Jim Zorn will be the only Redskins coach with a perfect regular season record at the soon-to-be-vacant Texas Stadium.

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Sunday, September 28, 2008

replay booth

A packed agenda kept me from watching all the sporting events I wanted to see this weekend, although Friday night's game was only on the radio. My wife and I heard a post-game interview with Luke Smith of Knoxville Catholic High School as we drove home from a dinner party. The description of their game against Baylor and the overtime period made me wish that the contest had been covered by Wazoo Sports. Wazoo offers a live video stream of a high school game each week on their site, which is also picked up by Next Friday they will cover the KCHS at Anderson County matchup. I couldn't get it to work tonight but in the past, I've been able to click on an archived game to see some of Catholic's victory over Austin-East.

I was at work on Saturday and saw none of the Mets game. I caught a little bit of college football. I'm glad Notre Dame won and Florida lost but I feel bad for all the UT fans. The Vols should have won their game against Auburn.

Today I had a work thing downtown at the same time as the Mets game. I recorded the pregame show on TBS, hoping to see some of the "Shea Goodbye" festivities. Thanks to a brief rain delay, I saw none of it. I found out later that most of the stuff I wanted to see happened after the game. The Mets blew the opportunity to make the playoffs and ended their season today.

I've only just now finished watching the Redskins upset victory over the Cowboys. I had to record the game while I went to a table reading for the independent film I'll be in next weekend. I didn't know the score but had a hint that the Redskins had won from my wife's tone of voice. Meanwhile, I found out that the filmmakers still need a few extras for a party scene on Saturday. Send your headshot to

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

more leftovers

The cracker crust makes St. Louis pizza unique. During our road trip last month, my wife and I went to Imo's Pizza to sample some. The crust was okay but I didn't love the creamy sauce under the cheese. Some contributors on Chowhound suggested that it's the Provel cheese I didn't like. They mentioned a place called Pi that I should try next time.

We had a better meal at the City Coffee House & Crêperie. We ordered both a savory crêpe and a sweet one to share. They used a small rake-like utensil to smooth the batter over the griddle. The crêpes get stuffed with almost anything you can imagine.

The Cardinals were playing a home game as we drove out of town. During the radio pregame show, I heard a testimonial commercial for Kutis Funeral Home. Who did they get to voice the spot? Jack Buck's widow.

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Monday, June 16, 2008

line drive

The idea of the great American road trip appeals to me. I thought that the guys who visited forty-eight states in five days missed out on seeing anything beyond the "(State Name) Welcomes You" signs. When my family and I drove from Burbank to Knoxville, we covered roughly one state per day because we allowed time for a little sightseeing along the way.

A cool road trip starts tonight in Seattle. Josh Robbins will attempt to see a baseball game in all thirty major league ballparks in only twenty-seven days. Perry Simon linked to this article about it in his column on Josh has a website where we can track his progress. To pull it off, he will have to double up a few times. On June 21, he will go to Chavez Ravine for a day game and to San Diego that night. On July 9, he'll be at both Yankee Stadium and Shea Stadium in New York. The schedule for July 10 takes Josh to Philadelphia and D.C. He hits his last two stadia on July 11 in Chicago and Milwaukee. I guess I'll have to read his trip blog to find out why the schedule looks like he'll be done in twenty-six days instead of twenty-seven. Because the trip is arranged around the teams' schedules, he'll be doing some backtracking as is shown in this animated map.

It's funny to me that Josh is a Yankees fan but will only see them once on his road trip. Meanwhile he'll see my favorite team, the Mets, three times. The Cubs, the Nationals, the Cardinals, the Tigers, the Marlins, the Phillies and the Reds also show up three times on his schedule. He'll see the Giants four times.

If I counted right, I've been to major league games in ten ballparks, not counting a spring training game in Florida. After the impending closures in New York, six of my ten ballparks will be gone. I've been to Shea Stadium, Yankee Stadium, Memorial Stadium in Baltimore, Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia, Wrigley Field in Chicago, Candlestick Park in San Francisco, Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles, Angels Stadium in Anaheim, RFK Stadium in D.C. and Miller Park in Milwaukee. I showed you my list, now you show me yours.

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Saturday, May 24, 2008

spirit of seventy-six

For most of his career, my late father was a public relations executive. If you asked him to describe himself, he would simply say that he was a writer. He had a journalism degree and worked as a reporter for a newspaper and for a wire service before going into p.r. Last week I posted a letter he wrote to the White House in 1978. In honor of his birthday, I will post another one today. As before, I am as interested in his writing style as in the content of the letter.

My parents listened to "Rambling With Gambling" every morning on WOR-AM. This letter is addressed to the show's sportscaster, Don Criqui. In his spare time, my father sang with the Glee Club of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick. You'll need to know that when you get to the last paragraph.
April 19, 1977

Mr. Don Criqui
1440 Broadway
New York, NY 10036

Dear Don:

It may be the advent of spring, retrogressive insomnia, or simple weakness of bladder as age advances that caused me to be awake this morn at 5:45 to hear your commentary concerning baseball as seen by two faculty members of the Wharton School of Finance and Commerce.

Much of what you reported they said appears to be sound and, from what I know of baseball through an association with it last year during its labor difficulties, a fair assessment of its problems. There is no doubt that fuller stadia and better television markets produce richer teams. Whether the 2.2 million break-even attendance figure holds for every team, it certainly seems a fair projection of what is needed through the turnstile to stay out of the red.

If you consider that last year's total major league attendance was 31,318,331 for 24 clubs, each then averaged only 1,304,930 or 895,070 below their estimated break-even level.

As politicians and marketing experts know, trying to get two million people to commit themselves to anything is a tough assignment.

It has been argued that the season is already too long, but the main part of the season still only runs from the second week in April to the end of September and has for many years. It is only the playoff system that extends it into mid-October, and this frankly is a creature of television. By playoff time, the season has already ended for 22 of the 26 teams, even though national attention (and highest television revenue) is focused intensely upon the remaining four divisional and then two league champions for the following three weekends.

The one idea the Wharton guys had that amused me, however, was their suggestion that baseball should rely more upon colleges to develop their player talent.

Are they, in effect, saying that the baseball industry should rely upon a government subsidy to train their entry level personnel?

Why not, you say, doesn't football and basketball? And what's this government subsidy stuff?

Well, isn't it? After all, a glance over the player rosters of major professional teams reveals that most of the players (as is true of most of the collegiate graduates) are from state supported colleges and universities. And those athletes that generally qualify for professional ranks do so because they have been outstanding athletes in high school and college. As such, they have been on athletic scholarships, which means that the taxpayers have been picking up their tuition, books, laboratory, and room and board costs.

As skilled athletes entering the labor field of professional sports, have they not been coached, trained, supported, and apprenticed with government funds at taxpayer expense? Isn't that a subsidy?

Sure scholarships come out of athletic department funds that are supposed to be self-supporting. But the institution that they attend isn't self-supporting. The facilities they use, the fields they play on, the classes they attend, the libraries (hopefully) they study in are all parts of the state supported institution.

It is hyperbole, of course, to talk in terms of direct government subsidy to baseball for player development. But there is an element of that existing in other sports.

In any event, government subsidized minor leagues have as much chance of catching on as does the idea of electronic voting on managerial decisions. I never viewed a ballpark crowd as an unbiased audience or considered it to hold a typical random sample of American opinion. Secondly, can you see Billy Martin reacting to the second guesser in the announcers' booth who puts the question to the crowd? I think it would make the Atlanta walk-off by the umpires last week seem like a casual perambulation. And finally, how long would those fancy electronic terminals at each seat hold up among our turf-gathering fanatics.

There is no question that baseball is faced with problems, but it strikes me that their source might be more easily traced to contracts with long-term deferred compensation clauses which can lead to the bankruptcy of franchises as the only means of getting those monkeys off the backs of a new ownership.

That doesn't bode well for the best interests of the players, the fans, or the sport. As the municipal unions in New York are learning and as the "city fathers" found out at the bond market, you can milk a good thing just so long until the day of reckoning. And that day always seems to arrive just when you are least prepared for it.

Incidentally, on the 2.2 million figure, only three clubs reached that total last year -- Cincinnati at 2.6, Philadelphia at 2.5, and Los Angeles at 2.4. The Yankees, who led the league practically all season, in a brand new ballpark managed to edge across the two million mark at 2.012, marking the first time in baseball history that four clubs had scaled the two million summit.

In the event you hadn't seen it, I am enclosing an article from Forbes magazine on this topic, and because I enjoy hearing you in the mornings, I thought (boastfully) you might like to hear some others at night. So I'm sending along two complimentary tickets to a glee club concert I am associated with. As a product of that South Bend Muscle Academy, you must have some Irish in you.

Best regards,

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Monday, April 14, 2008

reblog, reuse, recycle

It's time to revisit a few old blog posts and check for updates. I think Oprah does this all the time. Once in a while I write a brief update in the comments section of an entry, like I did about Gentlemen's Top Cuts yesterday. Three of my past topics turned up in the news today, which was all the incentive I needed to write tonight's post about them.

It seemed incongruous to me that several cable "reality" shows are in high-definition but that "Survivor" and "The Amazing Race" were not. Now we hear that the seventeenth season of "Survivor" will be the first shot in HD.

When I watched a Redskins game on the NFL Network, I was underwhelmed by Bryant Gumbel's play-by-play announcing. I wasn't alone in being relieved that he will step aside.

Shea Stadium's final opening day had me thinking about the place. All the times I was there, I never thought about breaking a seat and stealing the pieces as souvenirs. The attempt to Rickroll Shea may have failed but people elsewhere are still showing the love to Mr. Astley.

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Thursday, April 10, 2008

beginning of the end

If WNBC-TV is really "for New York" like the song says, they should post their excellent half-hour special about the doomed Shea Stadium. At least a two-minute clip of "The Amazin' Shea" is available online. Maybe they could post fourteen more of them.

A producer's blog gives some background on the interviews they conducted with members of the 1969 World Championship team. A review in the Daily News and an entry in a Shea fan's blog describe the show too.

Of course Shea Stadium isn't only about the Mets. The TV special also covers the Jets, the Beatles and Pope John Paul II, who all made history there too.

Sadly, Rick Astley will only be a footnote in the Shea Stadium lore. An online vote to choose an eighth inning song was Rickrolled, in a way. The fans booed. Want to see a great example of Rickrolling? Read my friend Bean's April 1st blog entry.

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Saturday, March 29, 2008


Two of my former hometowns are hosting exhibition baseball games today. One game is in a brand new stadium, the other in a throwback venue. The Nationals play their first game in Nationals Park while the Dodgers return to the L.A. Coliseum, where they played when they first moved to Los Angeles 50 years ago. Meanwhile my Mets are playing today in the Civil Rights Game in rainy Memphis. I'll watch the beginning of each game on TV. The Mets game came on ESPN at 5:00, the Nationals game started on MASN at 6:00 and the Dodgers game is on NESN at 10:00. The Nationals game is also available for free on MLB.TV. I clicked on to it just in case MASN was blacked out on my TV. The video is the same but the computer stream is using audio from the visitors' radio broadcast.

While the architects and environmentalists are gushing over the new stadium's design and eco-friendliness, I am most excited about the food choices inside Nationals Park. They will regularly have menu items like Milwaukee brats and Philadelphia cheese steaks that honor National League opponents. Some food items will only be available when the corresponding team is visiting, like knishes when the Mets are in town and California rolls when the Dodgers visit.

As a former Washingtonian, I think it is fantastic that local restaurants will have outlets inside the stadium. Who needs a brat when some Red Hot & Blue BBQ or a Five Guys burger is available? My wife will be able to reminisce over some Gifford's Ice Cream. She and her family used to get Gifford's on the way home from the airport.

My next scheduled trips to the D.C. area will be too short to take in a ballgame. When I finally do get to the new stadium, even I should be able to resist the temptation to bring in my own food.

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Sunday, January 13, 2008

now batting, number 16...

The Washington Nationals will be in New York to play the Mets on Thursday, April 17. That morning the new Nationals Park will open its doors at 6:30 a.m. to 45,000 fans who are not expecting to see any baseball. Instead, the Pope will be in center field on the day after his 81st birthday.

Yesterday my brother-in-law sent out an email urging everyone in our extended family not to buy tickets to the Papal Mass. They're supposed to be free. He may have seen a recent Washington Post article about the event. Here's a quote from it:
Plans for distributing tickets have not been completed. In the past, tickets to major Catholic events have been distributed through parishes and Catholic organizations.

The archdiocese has been asked whether non-Catholics can attend (yes) and whether the Mass is part of the Nationals baseball ticket package (no).

The archdiocese is trying to keep the free tickets from popping up on eBay and falling into the hands of scalpers.

The Mass "is for the faithful who want to be with the Holy Father," [Archdiocese spokeswoman Susan] Gibbs said. "It shouldn't be an opportunity for people to make money."

The popemobile -- a specially designed automobile used by the pope during public appearances -- will be used to transport the pope into and around the stadium.
Although I can't make it, I've heard that some local Catholics are planning a bus trip to D.C. for the day. Back when I was in college, I went to a Papal Mass celebrated by John Paul II in Philadelphia. Afterward, we stood outside St. Charles Borromeo Seminary and waited for the Pope's motorcade to arrive so we could get a closer look at him.

My friend Bean went to the Vatican in September. While he was there, he bought me a couple of very thoughtful Christmas presents. I am now the proud owner of a Papa Benedetto XVI candle and a 14 episode DVD set titled "Discovering the Vatican," produced by Telewizja Polska. Fortunately for me, the discs have an English audio track in addition to German, Italian and Polish.

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Saturday, October 06, 2007

fortnight full of fun

It's been a busy couple of weeks on the blog, capped off with the news of my major award. I hope you got a chance to hear my latest Body Farm interview, if you're into that kind of thing. Three local TV stations were on the receiving end of some criticism. One for a mistimed graphic, two for misidentifying football players. I got two doses of musical culture, one real and one artificial. The smoking ban made me happy but some fire damage left me puzzled.

The Mets disappointed me. All season long I expected to be watching baseball in October. The Phillies kept that from happening. It will make me feel a little better if the Phillies lose to the Rockies or whoever they're facing in the playoffs. For a while, I thought that the Mets' collapse was part of some sort of karmic curse reversal. Perhaps the Mets had been eliminated to clear a path for the Cubs to reach the World Series. I was wrong about that too.

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Friday, September 28, 2007

who's in first?

C'mon! 135 days and it comes to this? You've gotta be kidding me.

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Saturday, September 22, 2007

amazin' race

You Gotta Believe! That was the rallying cry of the 1973 New York Mets. I gotta believe that the Mets can hold on to first place in the NL East just a little bit longer. They helped themselves by beating the lowly Marlins tonight.

The Phillies are doing their best to spoil my fun. They swept three series against the Mets this season and have shrunk the Mets' lead to a game and a half. Longtime Mets fans know about late season collapses. The Mets' 1969 pennant win had as much to do with the Cubs' collapse as anything else.

The news reached my friend Bean during his European Vacation. He used his iPhone to make sure I saw the headline in the International Herald Tribune.

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Sunday, August 26, 2007

can I get an amen?

It wasn't that long ago that I would have expected to see Mike Piazza on the cover of publications like Us Weekly or Star Magazine. His wedding to model Alicia Rickter made a splash in People Magazine. She already had plenty of magazine exposure herself, if you know what I mean.

I haven't been keeping up with Piazza's career. It was a little bit of a surprise therefore to see him on the cover of the new issue of Catholic Digest. The article mentions his marriage to Alicia, the birth of their daughter Nicoletta and her baptism. No reference is made to Alicia's pictorial past. In the online supplement to the interview he talks about his participation in the "Champions of Faith" DVD. The print edition has a quote from Mike that spoke to me:
"It's so easy to criticize the Church. And we're not trying to preach to say we're perfect. That's one thing about being Catholic -- we realize we fall down. That's part of being human. But we pick ourselves up, and we go to confession, and God's always there for us. No one's claiming that everybody who's come through the Catholic Church is perfect and without fault. But at the end of the day it's a great institution. There's nothing else like it, and I'm proud to be part of it."

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Monday, August 06, 2007

reach the unreachable star

This isn't going to turn into MetsBlog, I promise. In fact, my plan was to not write about baseball again until the end of the regular season. Perhaps I was still in the afterglow of my trip to see the Mets win two in Milwaukee when I eagerly clicked over to the Daily News website to read about Tom Glavine's 300th win. Another Mets story caught my eye first.

Shea Stadium's days are numbered as the new Citi Field nears its 2009 opening. Some dedicated Mets fans want the team to keep the same big red apple that pops up after a Mets home run. They started an online petition at Personally, I hope the Mets ditch the apple. A commenter on one of the blogs I read today described it perfectly with the word "janky." The sketches of the new ballpark do show a new big apple in the outfield. That's not good enough for the Save The Apple guys. They insist that the same beat up old apple be relocated to Citi Field. I think the move is a good time to begin some new home run traditions. Or at least refresh the old ones. I'm sure the fact that my earliest Mets memories are from before the apple was installed has a lot to do with why I wouldn't miss it. What are some other home run traditions that you've seen?

41-year-old Tom Glavine's milestone victory last night reminded me of a story about an incredible achievement by another 40-year-old athlete. On Saturday, Dara Torres set a new American record in the 50-meter freestyle at the USA Swimming National Championships in Indianapolis. Oh yeah, she took first place in the 100-meter freestyle too. Dara is now on track to compete in her fifth Olympics. The Indianapolis Star also had an interview with the owner of the world's easiest job: lifeguard at the national swim meet.

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Saturday, August 04, 2007

let's go to the Mets

The Mets are having another good season (despite today's nationally televised loss). I'm no fair weather fan. I've stuck with the Mets during the bad seasons too. They were my hometown team when I was growing up in New York. After moving to Virginia, I went on a few baseball road trips to see the Mets in Philadelphia, Chicago and at Shea Stadium. I remember going to a baseball game at Candlestick Park with my friend Bean but I'm embarrassed to admit that I can't recall if the Giants were playing the Mets that day. I'm also embarrassed to admit that since moving to Knoxville I haven't gone to see the Mets play in nearby Atlanta. At least I went to see the Mets last year while I was in DC and of course I went to several Mets vs. Dodgers games when I lived in Burbank.

I didn't bring a camera on my trip to Milwaukee the other day. Mine is broken and I had already returned the camera I borrowed from my daughter for our family road trip the week before. Fortunately the other Mets fan on the trip, brought his camera and was willing to share the photos from his MySpace page. Here's T the R.O.P and me in front of the Hank Aaron statue:

The picture of Bernie's Dugout gave me an idea. It would be interesting if the Brewers had two identical Bernie Brewer mascots at each game. One would only be visible in Bernie's Dugout when the Brewers are at bat. The other would only be visible in the stands or near the field when the visitors are at bat. If they timed it right, it would look like Bernie could travel really fast from the field back to his perch, similar to the way Mickey Mouse gets around in "Fantasmic." Any of the other teams' mascots can feel free to use my idea too.

On the drive from Knoxville to the Nashville airport, T and I listened to a sports radio host talking about how the Florida Marlins and their stadium are so pathetic. T had heard about a great solution. The Marlins should be moved to Portland (home of the Triple-A Beavers) and transferred to the American League West. It would create a natural rivalry with the Seattle Mariners and even out the number of teams at 15 per league. Moving the Pittsburgh Pirates from the NL Central to the NL East would then leave all the divisions neatly arranged with 5 teams each. For the idea to work, there would always be one team per league with the day off except during interleague play.

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Friday, August 03, 2007

stadia mania

Several sports facilities have passed before my eyes in the last two weeks. During our vacation road trip we drove past LP Field, Busch Stadium, Edward Jones Dome, Jacobs Field, Cleveland Browns Stadium, Fenway Park, Shea Stadium, Citizens Bank Park, Lincoln Financial Field, Oriole Park and M&T Bank Stadium.

Before heading to Miller Park yesterday, I saw a little bit of "The Today Show." By coincidence, they had a feature about going to a baseball game. Tiki Barber would try to enjoy a game at Fenway for less than $50. Although Tiki advised viewers to buy a $12 bleacher seat, the camera plainly showed him sitting in an expensive seat near the dugout. His budget also did not include the bottled water that could be seen tucked under his arm. I wonder if things are more expensive in Boston than Milwaukee. A 20 ounce bottle of Aquafina cost me $3.50 at Miller Park. I saw many amazing desserts available in the Club level. Bernie Brewer would be a lot thicker around the middle if he ate those sweets. And if he were real, of course.

I was pleasantly surprised by the sweet treat offered by Midwest Airlines as we flew in and out of Milwaukee. Warm chocolate chip cookies are served on every flight. The airline claims that they are baked on board. They looked too perfect for that. I suspect they are at least partially cooked on the ground. I heard some people worrying that the cookies might be a casualty if Midwest is acquired by AirTran.

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Thursday, August 02, 2007

national pastimes

Baseball and gambling don't mix. Just ask Pete Rose. Because of him, I used to think that baseball avoided even the most remote hint of gambling similar to the way a college with a religious affiliation might refuse to accept lottery scholarship money. As we entered Miller Park today for the Mets vs. Brewers game, we were handed a "Baseball Bingo" card from the Potawatomi Casino. The 25 squares on the bingo card had the scorecard designations for various offensive and defensive plays. Fans can win prizes if their card matches enough of the plays that occur in the game. I also noticed a small Wisconsin Lottery logo painted on top of both dugouts. This reminded me of something I saw during my recent road trip. At one supermarket I saw a Missouri Lottery machine selling St. Louis Cardinals themed lottery tickets.

Baseball has gambling controversies in its past and steroid controversies in its present. Somebody might want to mention that to the Brewers. Their costumed mascot looks ordinary enough in person but not in the animated version that appears on the scoreboard. At the start of each game, a computerized Bernie Brewer slugs long balls and shows off his unnaturally buff physique. I know he's just a cartoon but he still looks like he's been getting binary injections in his digitally generated rear end. Based on the number of t-shirts I saw, Bernie is nowhere near as popular as the famous Klement's Racing Sausages.

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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

schlemeel, schlemazel

Baseball purists often say that low-scoring pitchers' duels are the best games to watch. Maybe I would agree if a New York Mets pitcher had ever thrown a no-hitter in the 45 year history of the team. I like to see the Mets score lots of runs to win. Tonight the Mets beat the Brewers in a very enjoyable 13 run game. The convertible roof at Miller Park was open on a perfect night for baseball. We saw home runs, fielding errors, bunts and more. I'm in Milwaukee on a baseball field trip with a fellow Mets fan who works at another station in the cluster. The company that owns both of our radio stations is headquartered here. We were able to get two tickets in the company's block of seats on the club level for tonight's game and for the rubber game of the series tomorrow afternoon. That section of the stadium features a waitstaff and a menu of food options. The fans sitting right behind us had a five dollar bet on the outcome of the Klement's Sausage Race. One of the Brewer fans was convinced that "the hot dog was due" but sadly for him that's not how it turned out. The Mets gave up three runs in the first inning on a massive Prince Fielder home run but came back to score four right away in the next inning. The Brewers took the lead again but the Mets responded and stayed on top. My traveling companion plans to be a sports broadcaster someday. He recorded some video of himself at the game tonight and will eventually post it on his MySpace page. I hope he got some good footage of the irate fans yelling at him for wearing his Mets gear.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

hankerin' for some doughnuts

Hank Aaron’s longstanding home run record is about to be broken by Barry Bonds. When Hammerin’ Hank turned 70 a few years ago, I was working at an oldies station. A story about Hank in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution gave me an idea. According to the article, Hank made an early morning stop every day at the Krispy Kreme franchise he owns. We would call the doughnut shop and wish Hank a happy birthday. Each morning during the week of his birthday we called the Krispy Kreme and asked for Hank. Each morning we missed him by a few minutes. Fortunately for me, the employees who answered the phone had great personalities. Click here to listen to an edited montage of the phone calls and the ultimate payoff when we tried calling one of the car dealerships Hank owns.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

this old Wodehouse

Shawn Green hit a foul ball into the Dreamseats just before his walk-off home run Monday night. I had flipped over to ESPN in time to see the end of the game between the Mets and the Cardinals. Unfortunately, tonight's game didn't end as well.

The Dreamseats are luxurious leather recliners near the foul poles. A brief video on their website shows the seats in use and concludes with an address in Hauppauge. They may sell them from New York, but every Dreamseat is manufactured in Tennessee.

The reference to Hauppauge made me think of an old song from a musical that mentions several places we would pass on the way to Grandma's house. I thought that Hauppauge might have been one of the villages in the lyrics. But as it turns out, the song goes: "let's build a little bungalow in Quogue, in Yaphank or in Hicksville or Patchogue."

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Monday, May 21, 2007

attention deficit

Tonight's television is all a mishmash in my brain. I've been flipping between "24," "Dancing With the Stars" and "Heroes." Doyle, don't open that box! Great. Now you're blind. Laila Ali's dance costume looks like something she should wear in the ring, not in the ballroom. Uh oh. Molly says there's somebody out there worse than Sylar. What is that disgusting muck on the front of Manny Ramirez' helmet? Oops, wrong channel. I gave the phone to my wife so she could vote for Apollo and Julianne but she couldn't get through. "24" petered out around 23 and a half. What happened to the big surprise ending we were expecting? At least "Heroes" was really good. I hope they bring back Peter from outer space or wherever Nathan took him to blow up.

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Saturday, November 18, 2006

speaking of sports

So far no good for the teams I follow. Knoxville Catholic High School's undefeated football season fell apart in the fourth quarter of last night's playoff game. George Mason University raised their Final Four banner this afternoon but lost the basketball game that followed. My sister's husband went to the game and sent the photos you see below. Maybe the Washington Redskins can break this fan's losing streak tomorrow when they start Jason Campbell at quarterback. At least the New York Mets will not lose this weekend.

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Friday, October 20, 2006

to the TiVo!

The saddest website I saw today is probably this one, with instructions on how to get a refund for the tickets you bought to see the World Series at Shea Stadium.

At one point last night I thought that today's blog entry would be all about a Mets win and about the incredible catch made by Endy Chavez in the sixth inning. It turned what would have been a two run home run into a double play. If you didn't see it live, you should watch the video on the Internet. I also thought that I might scan and upload my ticket stub from the World Series game I attended as a child. Maybe next year.

I'm not the only one who thought that the Mets would win. On Wednesday, a Tigers fan (I assume) in Portage, Michigan somehow found my blog by searching for the phrase "where can I buy cigarettes near Shea Stadium?" That smoker is tenacious. My site turns up on page 20 of the results because I wrote about the Mets on August 10 and about smoking on August 11.

During the NLCS, my TiVo got completely filled up with various prime time shows. I had the same problem last month when I wrote a guest blog for Terry Morrow. Now that I don't need to watch the World Series, I can catch up on some of the shows I have "TiNo'ed." That's a new term coined by San Francisco TV critic Tim Goodman for those shows you've recorded but not watched. One of my favorite sites, TV Squad had the link.

As of tonight, my TiNo list includes multiple episodes of "Heroes," "Friday Night Lights," "Veronica Mars," "The Nine," "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" and "Shark." What's on yours?

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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

to the TV!

The Mets will play their first "must win" game of the season tonight. They cruised through the regular season and swept the Dodgers in the first round of the playoffs. The Cardinals and their backdoor curveballs have posed more of a challenge. The Mets have to win tonight and again tomorrow night to advance to the World Series.

Why is it so hard to find the playoff games on the radio? I don't know for sure but maybe smaller stations find it too expensive to air live sports, which usually require a human board op on duty. Last night while driving home from the Old City, I scanned the dial for a station carrying the game. The local sports station didn't have it but I was able to pick up the Mets' New York flagship station, WFAN. I had to struggle to make out all the words because a Spanish language broadcast was drifting in and out on the same frequency. My son was fascinated by the way AM stations bounce off the ionosphere and can be heard in distant cities at night.

When I got in the car this morning, the radio was still tuned to 660. Around 5:20 a.m., I heard a caller encouraging Mets fans to make a lot of noise at tonight's game. He said that if, God forbid, they should lose, the crowd should give the team a standing ovation as thanks for a terrific season. He correctly pointed out that it has been a great year to be a Mets fan. Let's hope it's not over yet.

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Friday, October 13, 2006

sports night

The Mets are struggling in the ninth inning as I write this. It looks like the Cardinals will even up the NLCS after a great Mets win on Thursday night. Tonight the Mets could have used some of those terrific defensive plays from last night. Hey, did you notice the signs at Shea Stadium for

I guess I'm a bigger sports fan than I realized. Since 7:30 p.m. I have been flipping between an exciting high school football game and the Mets playoff game. I left the downstairs TiVo tuned to CSS and the upstairs TiVo tuned to Fox. A couple of times I was able to rewind to see a home run or a touchdown that I would have otherwise missed. At 11:00, I flipped between the three network affiliates to see their coverage of the football game I had just watched between the top two local high school teams. Both Catholic and Fulton were undefeated going into tonight's game. KCHS won the game, 27 - 14.

If I'm still awake at 12:30, college basketball gets added to the mix, as I told you yesterday. I will probably just go to bed and save my Mason Madness viewing for tomorrow.

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Wednesday, October 04, 2006

play at the plate

Mets win! I took a short nap from 1:30 to 3:00 so I could watch the whole game from the beginning. And I'm glad I did. The second inning featured what is already being called the "Amazin' double play." If the Mets can take this series from the Dodgers, they will avenge their 1988 playoff loss. Hmm... maybe they could get some 1973 payback by beating the A's or some 2000 revenge by beating the Yankees in another Subway Series.

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Tuesday, October 03, 2006

guaranteed to have the time of your life

Everyone born in the '60s or earlier can remember where they were and what they were doing when Spiro T. Agnew resigned the vice presidency. Right? I was with my dad at Shea Stadium watching a playoff game between the Mets and the Reds when the news was flashed on the big scoreboard in centerfield.

The postseason started today for fans of the Twins, Athletics, Cardinals, Padres, Tigers and Yankees. Fans of the Mets (like me) and Dodgers have to wait until tomorrow afternoon. This year marks the seventh playoff appearance for the Mets. Game 1 is inconveniently scheduled at 4pm, during my nap time. Game 2 starts Thursday at 8pm, as if I didn't already have enough stuff to watch in that timeslot. Obviously I will record all my regular shows and watch the baseball game live.

My dad did some public relations work for National Bohemian, a major sponsor of the Baltimore Orioles. As a result, he was able to go to the 1969 World Series with his clients from the beer company. In 1973 it looked like the Orioles and Mets would have a World Series rematch. When the O's lost to the A's in the playoffs, Dad offered to buy the World Series tickets that National Bohemian had already purchased for the three games at Shea Stadium. Trying to look like a good guy, he must have bought several hundreds of dollars worth of tickets. I got to go to a game and so did some of my grammar school teachers and principal.

In 1986, I was working in the promotion department at WAVA. The station had chartered a plane and arranged for 105 Redskins fans to fly to New York to see a Monday Night Football game against the Giants. After the Mookie Wilson miracle in Game 6 and a rain delay the next night, Game 7 of the World Series would take place on Monday, the same night as the football game. I was at Giants Stadium with our contest winners. There were times during the game that the Giants fans would cheer wildly even when the Redskins were doing well. It turned out that many people in the stands had brought portable televisions and that they were actually cheering for the Mets.

My good friend Bean just sent me a fantastic belated birthday / early Christmas gift. It's a DVD of Vintage World Series Films from 1969 and 1986. I'm and psyched and ready to sing the song. Who's with me?

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Friday, September 15, 2006

one is the magic-est number

Let's go Mets! The Mets could clinch the division title tonight if they can beat the Pirates. People in New York are already starting to think about another Subway Series. I don't care who the Mets beat in the World Series but I can understand why it would be a little sweeter to pay the Yankees back for 2000. Of course a lot has to happen between now and then but I can dream, can't I?

The New York Daily News has a Mets blog. Finding it gave me the idea to look for more Mets blogs. There's one actually called MetsBlog and one called Mets Geek but I think I might prefer Amazin' Avenue, especially after seeing this post from Wednesday.

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