Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Kurt Warner Gold Jersey

For anyone that knows me, they know I am a very superstitious person when it comes to sports. I have been my whole life. I had my routine when I played baseball and soccer. I still have the same routine when I play on my soccer league now.

However, my superstitions carry over to watching sports as well. If I am doing something that is affecting my team, I pay attention. Which is why when I had a BBQ in 2002 to kick off Notre Dame’s football schedule and they won 22-0, I had a BBQ each week after, even if I was just cooking for myself. Notre Dame was 8-0 to start that season, however the curse of the green jersey far out weighted the mojo I had going with my BBQ and Notre Dame lost 14-7 in South Bend to Boston College. Ugh

When the St. Louis Cardinals advanced to the World Series in 2004, I kept the playoff beard going from the regular season through the third inning of Game 4 in the World Series. When Boston jumped up 3-0 in the third inning I shaved it off mid game but it was too late, the Red Sox were on their way to winning the World Series. Ugh

But no amount of superstition in my sports history goes as far as the Kurt Warner Gold Jersey.

I never owned one piece of St. Louis Rams paraphernalia until the Rams made it their second Super Bowl, its was Super Bowl 36 and the year was 2001. I was walking in the mall and spotted a Rams alternate Gold Warner Jersey and I bought it for the Big Game.

Little did I know I was about to take down one of the most beloved figures in sports history and doom a franchise.

I wore my jersey and the Rams lost 20-17, a game they should have easily won, they were favored to win and could have begun a long run of winning, much like the Patriots ended up doing. Unfortunately, the Rams did the opposite.

In 2002, I took out my Warner jersey and wore it for the first pre-season game, a loss for Warner and the Rams. I wore the jersey every start Warner had in the pre-season and Warner and the Rams went 0-for-4.

When the 2002 regular season started, I was convinced the jersey couldn’t be the reason and continued to wear it. Warner and the Rams went 0-for-4 to start the season.

So since I bought the jersey and wore it, Warner and the Rams were 0-for-9. Ouch.

Warner got benched and did not start again until Week 12 and 13 of the 2002 season and he lost both those games as well.

In Week 1 of the 2003 season, Warner started and lost. So to date, Warner and the Rams are 0-for-12 with me wearing the Gold Warner Jersey. Warner did not play again until Week 17 at Detroit and even though he didn’t start, the Rams still lost.

Warner began a new chapter in his life in 2004, playing in New York for the Giants. I decided to wear the jersey for his Giants debut and in Week 1, Warner started and lost to the Eagles 31-17. An 0-for-13 stretch, which incidentally is Warner’s number, 13.

I finally stopped wearing the jersey after that game and Warner won his next four straight starts and was 5-3 over his next eight starts before finally being replaced by Eli Manning.

The bad karma was so bad from my Gold Jersey fiasco, that I really do believe Warner did not rebound until the 2007 season culminating in 2008. I have yet to wear the Gold Jersey since Week 1 of 2004 and I have no intention of wearing it for this Super Bowl.

It has hung in the back of my closet on a hanger ever since, only being moved when I change places to live. My only hope is Warner can win and break the curse of the Gold Jersey. It might help not only Warner, but the Rams organization and myself as well.

Go Warner!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Long Days In Single-A Baseball

I am not sure too many people realize the amount of work and hours it takes to be a broadcaster in Minor League Baseball, at least at the Single-A level. I am not sure on the hours put in by Double-A and Triple-A broadcasters since I have yet to reach that plateau, but in Single-A, the days were long and grueling.

I was in a discussion with a college kid the other day about working in broadcasting and the day to day work expected. We got on the subject of my days in baseball and he, like I am sure everyone else in college or people that are not familiar with the industry, assumed I worked just the game. So a typical day was about four, maybe five hours long.

On the contrary, I usually was at my desk at 8:30 in the morning and did not leave the office until 11:30 p.m., sometimes later if there was a rain delay, double-header, or the game just dragged on. If you want to know what I did exactly, you can read about a typical day on the job here.

Try doing seven, eight, 10 days like that in a row. Try doing six days in a row like that, then having to be back at work at six in the morning because you have a game at Noon to prepare for.

Those days were the trickiest for me, games that started at 10:30 a.m. or Noon games. Sometimes the stats were updated instantly on the web and most work could be done after the game so I would stay up until one and two in the morning getting my game notes done for the early game the next day.

However, there are those times when other games in the league and in the organization go long and the stats don’t get updated. So the only option is to wake up at five or six in the morning to get the work done in time for that early start.

The hours I put in during a typical week usually added up to around 90 hours a week on average.

There are also the long bus rides and overnight trips to and from cities. Don’t expect to get too much sleep on those buses, they are not the most comfortable things in the world. The seats are usually close together and are tough on the knees, back and neck. If we have a sleeper bus, the rookies and first year guys immediately head to the beds thinking those are the prime seats.

Within an hour of the trip, guys are pouring out of the beds because if you have a bed at the top of the bus, it’s hot as hell and you are dripping with sweat. If you have a bed at the bottom, it’s usually the coldest place on the earth.

During a typical summer, a broadcaster can expect maybe 12 days off with three days off in a row for the Mid Season All-Star Game. So take away those three days off, and during a five month season in which 140 games are played, a broadcaster can look at having nine off days. Now depending on where a broadcaster is working and the league, some of those off days have to be used for travel days because cities are so far away, so an off day is not really an off day.

I was fortunate to work in Augusta where most cities were three-four hours away, so our travel was usually done the day of the game, or after the last game of a series.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved working in baseball. Going to work everyday and getting paid to watch baseball and talk about, what more could you ask for? I loved every minute of it!

It is work though, and requires a lot of hours at the lower levels and not much free time. Summer time growing up was the best time of the year. Pool parties, BBQ’s, hanging out at the lake with friends and just enjoying the long summer days.

However, if you want to work as a baseball broadcaster, you need to realize when everyone else is making plans to head out after the game, go to the lake, or whatever, more than likely you will still be working.

So that’s it in a nutshell, a little peak into the world of Minor League Baseball for all those out there who are not familiar, or thinking about getting into it.

A lot of fun, but a lot of work and a lot of hours.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Sports fans deserve better than the BCS

There are many things in this world that are flawed; the price of gasoline, the cost of checking a bag on an airplane, having to pay for cheese on a whopper and then of course the BCS.

I can not continue to speak of how stupid, idiotic and dumb the Bowl Championship Series is. Utah did it again, went undefeated in the regular season and won its BCS game by knocking off Alabama and still will not get recognized as a National Champion. Second time in five years.


That is the question everyone is asking, except Florida and Oklahoma.

The BCS represents all that is wrong in sports and America, it’s all about money and greed and some guy making his wallet fatter. It makes me sick.

It’s a complex formula that is made to pair up the two best teams in the country for the National Championship, assuming those two teams are from the proper conference with one of them being an SEC team.

First off, the SEC is the most overrated conference, yeah I said it. Contrary to what you all may think in SEC country, God did not create the SEC on the seventh day.

In case you haven’t noticed either, your SEC Alabama team got beat by Utah, the team that should be crowned National Champion.

There are also those people out there that say that the Championship game would not be interesting with a team not from a major conference.

Three out of the last four Championship games have been blowouts, and all four included teams from “Major Conferences.”

In 2004 USC destroyed Oklahoma 55-19, in 2006 Florida ran over Ohio State 41-14 and in 2007 LSU walked over Ohio State 38-24. The only interesting one was Texas and USC in 2005, 41-38 Texas.

So tell that to all the uninteresting teams that make “March Madness” so uninteresting.

Tell that to the NFL, MLB, NHL and every other sports team out there. Because if the American League East has the best two teams in baseball, then they should just play for the World Series. Forget the National League. Same goes for the NFL, forget the AFC because they are not worthy.

To have a Championship game that DOES NOT have at the time the best two teams in the game going head to head is ludicrous.

Who cares if they played well all year long, who cares if they have a tougher schedule, who cares if they are from a conference that is not a big money maker or high profile.

The point is to have a Championship worthy of crowning a champion. Championships should not be second guessed be everyone with questions about the legitimacy.

One of the greatest things about sports is the underdog winning, it’s what this country thrives on. Not two rich schools that have vast amount of resources meeting.

It’s getting to see the USA defeat the USSR in Hockey, or Appalachian State going into the Big House to knock off Michigan, the Patriots coming out of no where to shock the Rams and all football fans.

It’s staying up late and watching the Red Sox beat all odds and knock off the Yankees and then sweep the Cardinals in the World Series, incidentally the Cards were the best team all year long and had the best record. That doesn’t matter in college football though.

Then, two years later the Cardinals, underdogs entering the postseason, defeated the Mets and then the Tigers to win the World Series in a post season they barely made.

Let's not forget about the Tampa Rays in 2008, who actually gave them a shot to win the American League?? Good thing they play the games and have a playoff system.

Sports is about the dramatics, the pageantry the underdog, the heartbreak and the Championships.

Unfortunately, all college football has is the pageantry because some guy is sitting in his big high back chair counting the money he is making because the National Championship is the biggest sham in sports.