Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Do You Know My Buddy, Derek Jeter?

I had a dream last night. I was walking on the street with Derek Jeter and I ran into an ol’ friend

“Howie?…….is that you…..oh my god, is that?….”

“Hey!!!, it’s been a long time. How have you been? Do you know my buddy, Derek Jeter”….

“Is that really Derek Jeter?”

“Yes it’s really him, we’ve known each other since, uhh, 1996 I believe, right buddy?”

“That was a great season. You won the AL Rookie of the Year Award and the Yankees won the World Series.”

“You were there?”

“Yeah, that was great, right Derek. I was in the winning locker room with you and the guys, getting splashed with champagne, I was so happy for you and myself. Here I was, in the World Series, winning locker room of my favorite team, that I grew up with, getting soaked with champagne”

“Wow, that must’ve been great. I know we haven’t seen each other in a long time, a lot has happened since then”

“A whole lot. Hey Derek, remember the time you dove into the stands. Your face was a mess but you played the next night at Shea against the Mets”

(I playfully push Jeter) “Yeah, yeah, I get it, my face is always messed up”

“I remember that game. I was watching it on TV”

“Derek was in the first game I ever scored”

“When was that?”

“1998, I got a chance to score my first game and the rest is history. Hey Derek, I don’t know how many times I’ve written your name into the box score”

“Looks like you guys have a good relationship”

“Well, there’s been some times that the relationship was strained. Hey Derek, you were pretty pissed at me with the “E” I called on you eight years ago in that game against Baltimore”

(All 3 men laugh)

“That call was a firecracker for sure. Hey buddy, I had to call it on you, it’s in the rule book”

“What call was that?”

“It was a pop up in the infield. Derek and Alex Rodriguez converged on it but it dropped and I called an error on A-Rod. Someone came up to me and said Jeter may have bumped Alex and according to the rule book, he should be charged with the error, so I made the change an inning later. Derek didn’t know about the change until after the game and we had a little “pow-wow” about it. I ended up getting my name in a number of the papers, there was a column written by Wallace Matthews, you remember that Derek. Wally wrote it like you were trying to intimidate me, ‘button-hole me up against the wall, right”

“You’re like a celebrity”

“Well, not really but a couple of years ago, Ian O’Connor wrote a book called “The Captain: The Journey of Derek Jeter” and he interviewed me about that incident and wrote it in the book”

“You’re shaking your head Derek, what’s wrong? You didn’t like the book, uhh”

“He didn’t authorize the book so I can understand it a little bit, but people want to know about you, buddy”

“You get your name in the paper, I’ve heard your name mentioned on T-V by Micheal Kay. That’s gotta be pretty cool”

“Yeah, it’s nice but Derek can be a pain in the neck for the scorers”

“Why is that?, does he confront you on any calls?”

“Only that one with A-Rod but, you hit so many of those little dribblers and damn, if you don’t hustle down the line every freakin’ time. Most times the scorer has to call a hit and there are some out there who believe we favor you on the calls”

“Were you the scorer when Derek got his 3000th hit?”

“No, my colleague, Jordan Sprechman worked that game. I had enough problems with hit #2987”

“What do you mean?”

“In 2011, Derek was in pursuit of his 3000th hit and he was 14 shy of the milestone when the Yankees hosted the Red Sox. Derek hit a chopper towards the middle that Marco Scutaro backed up on and then threw the ball to first in the dirt. Adrian Gonzalez couldn’t pick it, Jeter reached and, to the despair of many, I called it an infield hit”

“They thought it should be an error”

“A number of people did. Bob Raissman wrote an article about how the scorers in town are dealing with Jeter's run to 3000 and he happened to call me the next day. I also got into a heated argument on-air at Sirius XM with Chris Russo”

“You could write a book”

“Maybe one day but I still need the job”

“(Laughs) yeah, I guess that would cause a problem”

“What’s that buddy, you gotta go. Already? It’s only been 20 years. Okay, I get it, you gotta leave. Well, I’ll be seeing ‘ya”

and then, I woke up and realized, hey, he is leaving 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

How would these Winter Olympic Games Play in NYC?

With one of the worst winters in recent memory taking place, I thought what if the 2014 Winter Olympics were being held in NYC instead of Sochi, Russia. (the city put in a bid for the 2012 Summer games but were rejected)

Ladies and Gentlemen, we present the 2014 Winter Olympic Games from New York City:

There are venues throughout the city, events include:

SNOW-HOARDING: We've got plenty of that to go around for five Winter Olympic games

GO-FIGURE SKATING: Competitors skate on an ice surface that runs on the 9th Avenue bike lanes during a weekday rush hour

CROSS QUEENS BLVD: Skiers have to navigate one of the worst roads in the city using poles to ward off maniacal drivers during a winter storm (manufactured or natural)

DOWNFALL SKIING: numerous venues (aka "No Salt Zones") throughout the city will be hosting this event

BOB'S SLED: Competitors go on a search for a sled that was stolen from a guy named "Bob" and is hidden near one of the City Bike Stations in Midtown that's been buried under a pile of snow that was put there by the Sanitation Department (the "Fredonia" Olympic team has dominated this event in the past)

SIDEWALKING (SLIP STYLE): Olympians and anyone else should get a Gold Medal for trying to walk city streets during a winter storm event

SCALE-A-TON: Competitors must be able to scale a 60' high mound of chemically treated salt

ICE HOCKEY: Teams from around the world will play with an ice cube instead of a puck

SNOW JUMPING: Olympians will have to hurdle over mounds of snow in Times Square to avoid being recruited by the US Military

SUPER-NYC: Alpine Skiing will never be the same. The route runs West on 79th street, between West End Avenue and Riverside Drive (that stretch of road features an extreme decline)

SWIRLING: Olympians skate behind two slow moving SUV's on the Belt Pkwy while trying to dodge snow that flies off the roof

In a move unique to the games, the five Olympic rings will be split up into each of the five boroughs.

The "street vendor" Medal stand will be on 49th Street and Sixth Avenue and the Closing Ceremonies will take place in the South Ferry Subway Station

Friday, February 7, 2014

Ralph Kiner, From A Yankee Fan's Perspective

Being a small part of the "baseball fabric" in New York City has been a wonderful experience over the years.

The people you meet (not just the celebrity names but the others who put in work behind the scenes) make it both wonderful and memorable.

When someone in that "baseball fraternity" passes on, you are saddened as if that person were your blood relative.

So it goes with Ralph Kiner, who passed away yesterday at the age of 91.

I grew up a Yankee fan in the 1960's.

The pinstriped dynasty was still going in the early part of the decade, but the Mets came into existence and, at the same time, so did Ralph Kiner's broadcasting career.

If you were a Yankee fan in the 1960's, you still tuned in to Mets games whenever there was a chance, because you were a baseball fan.

There was Kiner, with Bob Murphy and Lindsey Nelson doing the broadcast together as they would for such a long, glorious time.

Of course, following the games came "Kiner's Korner".

I was the farthest thing from a Mets fan in the 1960's but here I was, humming the tune from "Kiner's Korner".

I remember the graphic showing a bat rack and the theme song played, (that sounded a little like a "Polka") the sponsors were introduced and there was Ralph interviewing a Met after a win, or the opposing team if they lost.

Admittedly, I rooted for the Mets to lose just so I could see Ralph interview Willie Mays, Bob Gibson,  or other great stars.

When I began my professional career in 1980, one of my responsibilities was to cover select Yankees and Mets games.

At Shea, I got to meet Ralph Kiner and Bob Murphy, which was still a thrill, even though my "baseball roots" were in the Bronx.

Ralph just "oozed" with class and you could feel the "respect in the room" when he was there, but he never let it go to his head.

Those who worked the press room couldn't wait to "serve" Ralph, either a meal or a drink and it was always their pleasure. (and from what I remember, Ralph was a pretty good tipper)

As the years went by and Ralph's role diminished, everyone around the NY baseball scene was always pleased to see him when he did come to the games.

Unfortunately, that won't be happening anymore.

I wouldn't say I was close to Ralph but I knew him and respected him a whole lot.

His death reminded me of those who were close to me but who I have lost from my "baseball fraternity" over the recent years, the late Bill Shannon and the late Bob Shepard.

Life goes on, but special people are just a good memory away.

RIP Mr. Kiner