Monday, June 06, 2005

Back in the Saddle

Strange how something that is so second nature, can also seem so foreign.

Sunday, I produced and hosted the first ever Grizzlies This Week radio show on 1380AM ESPN. (It will be heard at 10am every Sunday during the Grizzlies season) I have been around radio stations and the production of programming for 30+ years, so I didn't think putting this show together, and performing it, would be any big deal. Wrong!

Oh, studio facilities are about the same wherever you go. The technology in producing a radio program has changed over the years, but I've kept up with most of it. However, being in a somewhat strange environment, coordinating the show with a board op (the guy who runs the equipment for you in the studio) that I had never met until 20 minutes before going on the air, made the experience a little "perspiration inducing", to say the least. And, of course, doing just about anything for the first time puts enough doubt in your mind about whether all the bases have been covered to put you on edge too.

So, the result was a show that I was very close to being happy with...but not quite. Most of the guests were very good. Joe Pott, the Grizzlies broadcaster, is a pro. He easily articulated his thoughts and was an excellent contributor. Joe also helped immensely by providing game highlights to use on the show. Frontier League commissioner Bill Lee is very broadcast-savvy too and was a great guest. He was particularly poignant in describing the anguish of doling out a suspension to Grizzlies manager Danny Cox. (Danny made contact with an umpire during an argument in a recent game). Grizzlies GM Tony Funderburg gave us a great behind-the-scenes look at his day-to-day activities and management philosophy in running the "model franchise" of the league. Corey Stephens, Grizzlies Promotions Director, was her usual vivacious self in talking about upcoming promotions and giveaways.

The only major "boo-boo" of the show came when we couldn't make connections, for some unknown reason, with Grizzlies manager, and former Cardinal pitcher, Danny Cox. We thought everything was in order there....but no Danny on the other end of his cell phone. Just one of those things, I guess.

There were a few little technical issues that need to be cleaned up for future shows. But, that will be no problem. I hope baseball fans, and Grizzlies fans in particular, make it a habit to give us a listen Sunday mornings this summer. Now that the "jitters" are out of the way, it should be a great addition to any local baseball fan's schedule.

Thursday, June 02, 2005


Time has no mercy for anyone…it’s difficult to watch the Golden Bear stumble back to his den. Could he possibly be putting us in a position to pity him? It seems that it could come to that.

Jack Nicklaus has always been impervious to the realities of physics. The laws of nature meant nothing to him. He did the things on the golf course we all wished we could. And, he did them at times when most of us would be too nervous to stand…let alone strike the ball into the cup. Now, however, the Golden Bear’s judgment as to his playing future seems muddled, clouded. It was just a few weeks ago that he said this year’s British Open would be his last competitive tournament. We said…”Oh… that’s good…He’ll go out at St. Andrews…the home of golf…that’s fitting. It has a symmetry. He always said you didn’t have a career unless you won there. Let’s hope he has a decent showing.”

But, now..the Bear…at 65…is holding out the possibility that he may play after that at future Memorial tournaments in his home area of Dublin, Ohio. It’s the tournament he annually hosts and is thought of as one of the top stops on the tour. He said he may try to play as a past champion…(he won the tournament in 77 and 84). Why would he do this? My guess is that there’s some underlying financial motivation being pushed on him by the tournament organizers and sponsors…But even The Bear himself said at a press conference this week that the best he could hope for would be to make the cut. That’s not the Jack that we know and love. And for that very reason we hope he changes his mind.

Wouldn’t it be awful to…somewhere down the road…have to view video of the Golden Bear becoming…just a bear. How tremendously painful it would be to watch him swat futilely at a ball from behind a tree…or take a Billy-Casper-like 14 on a par 3…or perhaps take five to get out of a trap. Video tape such as that should be burned to preserve the hall-of-fame memories of the game’s greatest hero. But it wouldn’t be. We’d have to watch in agony…over and over again. Until The Bear’s shining moments…became distant images of faded golf history. His triumph in the ’86 Masters…would suddenly seem not nearly as super-human as it was 19 years ago.

Use the great good sense that you’ve always used on the course Jack. Change your mind about playing at the Memorial…. and instead walk off into the mist of the Scottish countryside at St. Andrews…with the crowds simultaneously cheering and weeping…and the bagpipes saluting your incomparable glory days.