February 2012

Imagination

Can you believe we are less than six weeks from opening the season in Bowie? With the nice weather we’ve had over the past couple of weeks it’s hard to believe that the season is still six weeks from starting since it feels more like late March than late February. But all in all, I’m good with the season not starting for nearly 50 days. I still have a lot to do before the season starts.

For the first time since my first season broadcasting (2002) I have purchased a scorebook. My scorecard is more involved than the kind on sale at the local sporting goods store. I need to have a place to keep notes, write down the defensive alignment, detailed pitcher information and plenty of room for subs. Since 2002 I’ve created my own scoresheet but this year I decided not to mess with that and to purchase the Bob Carpenter Scorebook. As some of you may know, Bob is the TV voice of the Washington Nationals and has been for the past several seasons. His scorebook has just about everything a broadcaster needs in the way of a scorebook. My only complaint/problem is that it was hard for me to write against the spine when keeping score on the left hand scoresheet.  We’ll see how it goes this year. I’m hopeful that I can make it work without any issues. I’ll keep you posted.

Have I ever mentioned that I consider myself a Parrothead? Unfortunately I haven’t been to a concert in over 10 years now which is a bummer. I keep hoping that he (Jimmy Buffett) will do a show in the spring or fall close to central Pennsylvania. I’m not sure I should admit this or not, but I’ve seen him in the Bay Area (two venues); Washington state; Indianapolis; Chicago; Nashville; and West Palm Beach. I think that covers all the locations.  One of my favorite stations on my XM is the Jimmy Buffett channel.

Music and baseball seem to go hand in hand, at least to me they do. Since I’m at a ballpark for many hours each day during the season,  I hear a lot of music. It’s nearly impossible for teams to take batting practice now without music. It was always this way, especially considering there weren’t even sound systems in ballparks until the early 80s. I have no idea how teams took batting practice for 80+ years without music. Nowadays if the sound system isn’t on when BP starts, they’ll yell or scream or at times throw baseballs at the press box window trying to get our attention. And then, the music has to be at just the right level and it has to be the right type of music as well.  Some of the music played is just awful. And I don’t say that just because of my age, but because the music is awful.

My other favorite channel, the radio classic channel. I love hearing the old the mysteries such as The Shadow, The Green Hornet etc., the old police shows such as Dragnet and Broadway is My Beat, and the westerns like Gunsmoke. When I’m on a trip listening to the old radio shows really seems to pass the time, much better than music.  It’s amazing to me that those shows were mostly done on a stage, live, in front of an audience. They sound so realistic, the sound of a gunfight in Dodge City or walking down an alley in Boston. I find that I probably enjoy listening to the old radio versions of shows more than watching the TV version since it allows me to use my imagination.

I used to love sports on the radio for the same reason. Listening to Bill King describe a 3 on 1 fast break for the Warriors made it seem like I was sitting courtside.  Long before I ever went to game I had an idea about what the arena was like. In those days, of course, smoking was allowed in ballparks and arenas so there was a layer of haze in the arena and the smell of cigarettes and cigars and more. The level of description was amazing, then my imagination took over. “Seeing” a Nate Thurmond block or a Rick Barry 23-foot jump shot, they were bigger than life in my mind. I can recall seeing for myself, the first time I was at a Giants game in person, Willie Mays “shading” towards right; Bobby Bonds playing “shallow”; Chris Speier and Tito Fuentes at “double-play depth”, all things I had heard Russ Hodges and Lon Simmons describe.  In my mind, Candlestick Park was the perfect place for baseball, a heaven on earth place, in reality, it was horrible for both players and fans.

I’m looking forward to this season, more than any season in recent memory, and looking forward to becoming more descriptive, less analytical, and to having more fun on the air this year. I hope you join me for the ride.

 

Goals

Hello all. Yes, I’m alive. The sun is out this morning and the temps are supposed to reach nearly 50 today. One can only hope the weather will be this nice in mid-April.

Earlier this week Emily Winslow, our Director of Community Relations, signed me up to be a speaker at St. Stephen’s Episcopal School in Harrisburg. About an hour before we headed over she came into my office and told me that I needed to talk about goals. The group of kids I spoked to ranged from the 1st grade to 8th grade, somewhat difficult to relate to all of them at the same time. Oh well, I think they had fun and I used the word goal probably two dozen times, making the teachers happy as well.

With spring training right around the corner, meaning the season is closer and closer, the talk of goals had me thinking about my life and my goals.  So I’ve been thinking the past couple of days about what I would like to accomplish both personally and professionally over the next few months. These are in no particular order…

  • Break 2:30 in the half-marathon I’m running on March 18 (I use the term running loosely!)
  • Run (again using that term loosely) 400 miles during the course of the season
  • Break 80 in a round of golf (yes, playing all 18 holes)
  • Be kinder and more entertaining on the radio broadcasts (my new partner, Matt Dudas, will help with this)
  • Go to bed earlier and wake up earlier (watching west coast baseball on TV in a hotel room is a killer for falling asleep early)
  • Eat fewer french fries
  • Eat more vegetables
  • Eat less chocolate
  • Eat more vegetables
  • Be kinder and nicer to those close to me (no, I’m not going to say I want world peace, I’m not a beauty contestant)
  • Not to let four-pitch walks to .220 hitters to cause my blood pressure to rise
  • Enjoy watching every minute of every game and realize there are a lot worse things to be doing, regardless of the score of the game
  • Write more blogs
  • To not let the radio setup in New Britain bother me
  • See the “real” Beach Boys in concert one final time

I warned you that there was no rhyme or reason to the list.

Okay, onto actual baseball related topics. I’m personally very excited for this season to start. First and foremost, things look pretty good for the Nationals to make some waves this year. And what makes that thought even more fun is the number of players on their roster that played here in Harrisburg.  Secondly, I think we will see a whole bunch of really good younger talent this year at Metro Bank Park. I’m looking forward to seeing the group of players that I’ve heard about for the past two or three seasons.  I don’t have any particulars but am guessing we will be pretty young this year. I should know a lot more when I make my annual trip to spring training in the middle of March.

I was saddened yesterday to hear about the passing of Gary Carter. The older I am the harder it is to hear about athletes passing that I watched their entire careers. I didn’t see the Expos play a whole lot of times in the 70s against the Giants, but I do remember a night game in about 1975 or 1976 that is probably the coldest night I’ve ever paid to watch a game in. I have no idea what the temperature was that evening at Candlestick, but extra socks, blankets, jackets, hot chocolate, none of it was nearly enough. And it was in July or August!

In the immediate future here at Metro Bank Park, we are beginning the process of getting everything ready for the season. The office is busy with selling tickets, advertising, and merchandise. The guys outside are busy getting the field ready (it looks great especially considering it was under 4″ of mud in September), clubhouses and the rest of the ballpark. I guess we’re still about eight weeks away from the home opener on April 12 against Reading.

Okay, that’s it for today. I’ll be back sooner than later and plan to write mini-blogs over the next six weeks updating you all on spring training, the office, and my goals.  Have a great weekend!