Friday, December 11, 2009

9125 days

-Those who know me know that I take great pride in being a Dad. I say Dad (capitalized) because, as I've written here before, being a Dad isn't nearly as easy as being a father. In short, anyone with the proper functioning equipment can be a father. To be a Dad, you have to earn the title. That means actually caring for, and loving with all your heart, that little person you helped to create...watching that person grow..and teaching him or her, when possible, how to avoid life's pitfalls and problem spots. It means being there when needed and providing as much support for the life that young person wants to live as possible. Of course, there's much more...but if you have that first part right (the loving) usually most everything else somehow falls into place. For me, the loving part has been easy. It came as naturally as breathing. Providing all the support I'd like to for what my two sons have wanted to do with their lives...well, that hasn't been nearly as easy as I'd like it to be.

Still..both sons have both turned out to be what I consider to be exceptional people. I'd like to think that's partly because they had an OK Dad. I know they had a Mom who is as good as they get.

It was 25 years ago today that I was given the honor of becoming a father for the second time. Ian will turn 30 next year. Stewart is 25 today. Which got me to thinking. Just how much time have I had to influence their paths? It seems like a blink...a moment...a flash. In Stewart's case, its a quarter century...which sounds like a long time. But let's analyze a bit.

1 year = 365 days x 25 years = 9,125 days.

Of those days, on average, 8 hours was spent sleeping. Another 8 hours was usually spent working (by me) or at school (by him). My work frequently required me to be away in the evening (Blues, Grizzlies, broadcasting a game, etc.) maybe on average 3 days a week. On those days I may not have seen my son(s) at all. That would be 156 days a year x 25= 3,900 days. (close to half of those 9125 days). Even on the days we were many hours was it? 3...4?

After the time the boys went to high school..and especially after they started driving...there have been many more days where our time together was extremely limited. After hours socializing, away at college, etc. I'll say 30 percent of the days since high school have allowed for little or no interaction. I think that's conservative. 9 years (since turning 16) =3285x 30% = 985.5 days + the above 3900 = 4885.5 days.

So, having done the math (give or take a few days) I have been a part of less than half of the days Stewart has lived...most of those occuring since he started high school. And of the days I have been a part...just a few hours of those days.

Taking all this in has made me very wistful about the days of being a young Dad...grateful for having married a special woman who is a great mother...happy for, and proud of, how these young men now conduct themselves as adults...and sad about the scant time that I now spend with "my boys". I will resolve to consider very precious the time that both are home this year for Christmas.

Those of you reading this who are...or plan to be... Dads, enjoy and savor each and every moment of your offspring's youth..for it will certainly be gone in an instant. And while 25 years seems like a long's not nearly as long as it sounds. Do the math.

Happy Birthday Stewart! I'm proud to be your Dad.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Multiple Personalities

-Well it's been a while. Let's opine about people in the (sports) news.
-Matt Holliday batting least on this blog. Not expecting he'll be back with the "birds on the bat". T'would be nice...but I'm thinking the DeWitt boys and Mo are too concerned over keeping their first baseman happy to go overboard with Mr. Boras's client. Sign Nady for left...DeRosa for second...let Freese play third...rotate Schumaker in the outfield and/or second base...sign a fourth starter (there are plenty of possibilities) then sign a closer (Valverde?) and call it a team.

-Andy Murray...I like the coach. I'm not sure how his detail-oriented approach plays with the boys in the room...but I would rather have that than someone who is loosey-goosey. The youngsters will eventually get their ice time...probably more as the season goes on. The veterans have likely been operating under the "it's a long season" mentality. As I've pointed out here before, don't get too worried about anything until after Christmas.

-John Davidson...congrats on the Foster Hewitt Award and the HOF. Nobody could be more deserving. It was also nice to see the big guy tear up a little during the pre-game speech to the Blues crowd. Genuine article.

-Steven Jackson...I am ready to take back any bad words I may have written here in the past about him and his behavior. He has been a strong pro in every sense of the word this year...particularly hard to do on such a dismal team. He has approached his role in life with great dignity least from this viewing post.

-Tiger Woods...Well, I guess it just goes to show ya that when you are the world's highest paid athlete, and are away from home a lot, you are going to have temptations coming at you from all directions. But, even so, how in the world does he look at the woman he married and think he can do better elsewhere? By the way...he has two Escalades and now has a hole-in-one. (You probably heard that one already)

-Bruce Weber...Continues to be what a college basketball coach should be. They can have Calipari, Pitino, and the rest of the glamour boys.   

-Chris Mason/Ty Conklin...working on becoming the best Blues 1-2 tandem since Hall/Plante.

-Tim Lincecum...probably somewhere enjoying a doobee and his unlikely Cy Young. What a rip.

-Steve Spagnoulo...seems like a smart man...but jury's still out on him as a head coach.

-Tony LaRussa...will be here as long as Albert is. Did you really doubt that?

-Darren A) a great guy and B) disrespect intended to my friend Bernie Federko...a teriffic addition to the Blues TV broadcasts.

-Patrik Berglund...???

-Mark DeRosa...will be back if he knows what's good for him...and if the Cardinals know what's good for them.

-Danario Alexander...flying way too far under the radar. Guy's numbers are ridiculous. Could the Rams use a receiver like that? Receiver first round? QB second?

-Tiger Woods...(well.. he's been on TV at least twice as much as any of these other guys)..What's the difference between a car and a golf ball? Tiger can drive a golf ball 400 yards. OK that's enough.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Stockholm Retrospective

-I had camera difficulties on the recent trip to Sweden, so I don't have a lot of photos to share right now. Some of my traveling buddies from the off-ice crew have promised to share some shots when they can. I'll have more images when that happens. So I'll give some quick memories of my wonderful hockey journey of September 29-October 4.

-Tue. Sep. 29-Flight out of St. Louis delayed. Arrived Newark late. Saw Manhattan and Statue of Liberty on approach. Had to hustle to connecting flight. Barely got on in time. Plane full of Blues fans taking the team-sponsored package trip. Took off at Newark on time...around 5:30.

-Wed Sep. 30-Flew all night...8-1/2 hrs air time. Arrived Stockholm at dawn. Beautiful sunrise over lake and waterway-filled landscape of eastern Sweden. Touched down around 7am local time. Arlanda airport amazingly clean and mall with planes. Caught NHL-provided small bus to Clarion hotel about 20 miles away in Stockholm. Checked into Clarion..(NHL and RedWings HQ's) rested most of the rest of day. In evening walked with StL/Det off-ice official crew to Old Town section of Stockholm about 2 miles from hotel. Beautifully-kept, old multi-story buildings separated by narrow, cobblestone streets. Post-card material. Many shops and restaurants. Dinner at Rodolfino Italian-style restaurant. Not sure what Swedish food is at this point. Pasta and wine...good not so much. Walked back to hotel enjoying the beautiful evening, sights, people. A beer with the off-ice crew and off to bed.

-Thu Oct. 1- Breakfast at all-inclusive hotel buffet. Usual eggs and pancakes etc. for North-Americans. Buffet includes Swedish breakfast items like lunch meat, berry sauce, milk for coffee-not cream. Bought 3-day pass for light-rail train system. Two stops from hotel to Globe Arena(pic). Rode there from stop at hotel with off-ice crew. Met Martin McCreary, director of NHL game entertainment and Stockholm show, at arena. Rest of day spent writing script for Fri/Sat games. Evening rehearsals...pre-game shows including anthem, player intros etc. Met Josefin Glenmark(pic)--Swedish singing star who will sing anthems. Made friends as she asks for advice on anthem lyrics from "American announcer guy". Met Nicklas Wikegard...former star hockey player and coach in TV guy who will host in-arena pre-game and between periods talk segments. After rehearsals..around 10 local time...walked alone back to train platform. Boarded wrong off at wrong back on wrong further lost...finally asked for help at train back to hotel around 11. This isn't StL MetroLink. Wshew! Straight to bed.

-Fri Oct. 2- Breakfast at hotel again. Rest of morning spent exploring...walking in bustling neighborhood surrounding hotel. Lots of shops, restaurants--including McD's, Subway, as in U.S. Sporting goods stores feature hockey jerseys..mostly RedWings..occasional Blues. NHL games very big item in local papers and on TV. Amazed at number of beautiful people. Being fat is apparently not an option in Stockholm. Bike lanes on most streets. Arrived Globe Arena around 3. Game-time 9pm local time. Pre-game show band Backyard Babies (once big in Sweden) is rehearsing. Review script and make last-minute changes with Martin. Ready to go. Pre-game show goes well. Game on. Sea of red for Wings...patch of Blue, but a noisy one, for Blues. Blues stun Wings in comeback 4-3. Local fans not happy...7-8 Swedes on Wings. Berglund and Steen, sort-of, for Blues. Join Tim Pabst (Fox Sports producer/director) and Carl Middleman (K-Hits radio and Blues music guy who paid his own way to Sweden and was put to work by Martin) for "one beer" at hotel bar. 3 hours later, after seemingly meeting everyone in the bar, half of the NHL New York office staff, and getting an introduction to the preferred brand of tequila in Sweden, foggy head hits pillow. Very long...but very special day.

-Sat. Oct 3- Alarm goes off at 7:30...7:30? Oh yeah..supposed to go sight-seeing with Brian Varady, Ralph Snedeker, and Tim Johnson...St. Louis off-ice officials who didn't hit the bar last night. Pulled myself out somehow. Breakfast in hotel. Lots of coffee. Jump on light rail to head for Vasa museum...major tourist attraction in Stockholm. Sailing ship sunk in Stockholm harbor in 1628. Stayed in harbor mud for 3-plus centuries. Relic raised in 1962. Re-constructed with museum built around it. Fascinating. More info here. Walked several miles to and from museum. Beautiful area--Djurgarden--one of the islands that makes up the Stockholm metro. Returned to hotel early afternoon. 2-hour nap. Raining. Wet walk from train to Arena. Arrived Globe Arena around 4:30. Pre-game band-Bullet-(AC/DC knock off) rehearsing. All is ready to go after good show Friday night. Pre-game show goes perfectly again. Great job by Josefin on the anthems. I introduce Mats Sundin who announced retirement previous week. The Swedish national hero gets thunderous ovation and drops ceremonial puck. Game on. Blues fall behind early...Uh oh. Wings out for revenge. Blues come back for 5-3 stunner. Tkachuk scores twice. I decide to go for standard Keith Kaaaaaaaaachuuuuuuuuk goal announcement. Explain to Martin on headset that Blues fans would not let me hear the end of it if I didn't. He understands. Local fans disappointed again. After game..."one beer" again at bar. Bartender offers tequila shot on-the-house. I ask why. He says.."you leave me too big tip last night." Hmmm...I got to know the bartender last night?. OK. Great conversations with Martin McCreary (who was my boss until now...becomes life-long friend), locals, NHL people, TV production crew, Matt Langen of NHLPA, and more. Glad I stayed up. Bed at 4:30.

-Sun Oct. 4- NHL bus to airport at 6:15. Ugh. Check-in and customs. Boarding at 8:30. Spoke to Blues owners Dave Checketts, Mike McCarthy and wives at gate. They'll be on same plane. Nice words from them. Checketts, one of first to board, stands at front of plane and thanks Blues fans as they get on. Classy. Plane on time. Good-bye Stockholm. Will I ever see you again? Lots of off-and-on sleep on plane. Customs and connecting flight at Newark. Say goodbye to many NHL New York-area and Detroit off-ice crew friends that were made on trip. Arrive back in St. Louis 4pm (Central). Thank you NHL for the invitation...and the forever memories. Jet lag, and return to normal life, here we come. Stockholm was wonderful...but as Dorothy said...

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


-All sports this time...first Cardinals, then Blues, and last...of course...Rams.

-Cards--It seems to me that the Birds have what it takes to win another World Series. What worries me the most though is the recent struggles of the closer. Ryan Franklin seems to be cut out of the same sort of cloth that Izzy was. He is very good when he's on...but doesn't have the sort of "blow away" stuff that gives you confidence that he can still get guys out when he's not. When he's in command of his pitches he puts them in places where the hitter either can't hit it...or hits it on the ground to someone. But lately he's been leaving the ball in other places...where the batter can drive it. Unless he finds his command in the last few weeks of the season I'm afraid we might have a very nervous time in the playoffs...and possibly short too.

I would hope that we might hear something about a new contract for Matt Holliday, Mark DeRosa and/or Joel Pineiro before the post-season. It would be nice to know that at least one or two of them will be around for more than just the rest of this season. It might keep them a little more focused on the job at hand as well.

Shame on you if you take what Albert Pujols is doing for granted. The guy is an absolute baseball magician and we are lucky to be watching him on a regular basis.

-Blues--The excitement of last season's playoff run, and the ownership fans have taken in the young Blues roster, has definitely carried over to this year. The crowd at FanFest this past weekend was unbelievable...especially when you consider the apathy of a few years ago. The concourses at Scottrade were packed with autograph seekers and hoards wanting to be a part of the Blues family. It was great to see.

From what I've seen so far, I have a hard time believing that The Note won't make another playoff appearance in the Spring. Of course I'm not expecting the kind of major injuries that were part of the mix last season. There will be some injuries of course...but you have to believe that we won't be devastated like we were in '08-'09. Paul Kariya looks great so far. And Erik Johnson has started to flash some of that amazing ability that we were getting used to two seasons ago. If we get even average production from the usual places...and add a healthy Kariya and Johnson to the mix...well, you know. Keep your eye on David Perron. He seems to have a different, more determined, look in his eye on the ice so far. Could be a breakout year for this guy.

I've accepted an invitation from the NHL and am excited to be making the trip to Sweden to do the p.a. announcing for the two Blues-Wings games there. I've never been to Europe...and they say Stockholm is a beautiful city. I was surprised to get the call actually. I figured a local announcer would be handling the microphone...being in Sweden and all. But apparently the idea is to provide Swedish fans with the "total NHL experience" so this English-speaking fellow will be part of that. So when you're watching, or listening to, the games on October 2 & 3, listen for yours truly making the announcements in the background. I'll bring back pictures.

-Rams--It would be easy to say that these guys are embarking on another lost season at this point. 0-2 is what most people figured they would be. I see predictions of 0-5 before they have a chance to win at Jacksonville in week 6. I may be overly optimistic here, but I believe these guys are just about to start clicking a bit. I base this only on a feeling...mostly about the way they played against Washington...and I think some of Steve Spagnoulo's ideas and strategies should start bearing fruit about now. The defense, if they could ever get someone to the quarterback, should be OK. The offense seems to be starting to get a bit of traction. If they can avoid any more major injuries, I'm thinking they might actually win 6 or so. I'll go out on a limb and say they will start with a win over Green Bay this Sunday....let's say 24-14. (2 offensive defensive)

How 'bout this--4-4 by the bye week.
Losses--Seattle, Washington, at S.F., Indianapolis
Wins--Green Bay, Minnesota, at Jacksonville, at Detroit it's optimistic. I would rather be that way.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

A Pro's Pro

-As a mass-comm senior at SIU-E, I was fortunate to land KMOX for my broadcasting internship. Others chose music stations or television. My request was the Mighty MOX. And with the perseverance of faculty coordinator Jack Shaheen, I got it. I didn't much care what sort of work my internship would bring with it because I would be inside the hallowed halls of Robert Hyland's radio behemoth and frequently be in the same room as my hero Jack Buck. And that's all I really cared about at the time.

In January of 1972 I reported for duty for the first time. It would be 3 months of "gofering" and whatever some staff member wanted me to do. That's all I knew going in. It turned out that I was assigned to Jim White as his Friday. Jim...who passed away yesterday at 73...(read obit here)...was already established as a radio superstar on KMOX's clear channel signal. His man or woman Friday was referred to often on the show when he needed some task performed behind the scenes. Being assigned to The Big Bumper...his on-air nickname for himself...was a bit intimidating at first. Jim's crusty, on-air personality bled into his real one enough that I tip-toed around him a lot at first. I came to learn it was because he didn't suffer fools, laziness, or unprofessionalism very well. Once I made it clear that I wouldn't fit into any of those categories, we worked well together and I had a comfortable friend and mentor.

My job usually was to arrange "call-outs" for that night's show. Jim would scour the news and decide what topics, or people, were worthy of pursuing as interviews. He would give me his ideas and I would set about tracking down call-outs...usually one per hour of that night's 4-hour show. So my people skills...especially on the phone...grew exponentially during that 3 months. It always helps to line up interviews when you can drag out the phrase..."This is Tom Calhoun calling from CBS News in St. Louis". We pursued interviews with everyone from winners of the hog-calling contest to the highest officials in government. It all depended on what sort of mood The Bumper was in...and what day of the week it was. Friday night shows were always lighter than the others. I'd say we had about an 85% success rate in lining up who we wanted.

One night's efforts stand out in my mind. The details are a bit fuzzy, but 1972 was a Presidential election year. Early that year, the battle for party nominations was beginning to take shape and primary elections were looming. As part of that, Jimmy Hoffa, the long-time head of the Teamsters, was flying into St. Louis for a "union gathering". He had been in prison for several years for bribery and jury-tampering. He was pardoned by President Nixon in December of '71 and told not to engage in union activities as a condition of his release. He was basically thumbing his nose at Nixon by appearing at a highly political, and highly Democratic, event that night. His appearance in St. Louis was something of a surprize and Jim told me to "get Hoffa on the phone". It was not..."try to". It was "get him". After a number of calls to people who might be able to help...and leaving our hotline phone number with all of them, I received an amazing call during that evening's show.

"Hello...this is Jimmy Hoffa", said the voice on the other end. "I'm at the airport and I have about 5 minutes for an interview."

"Yes sir Mr. Hoffa", I said. "We'll get you right on with Jim White".

The Bumper was pleased. I can't remember ever seeing him quite so satisfied. He knew, and he made it clear to me, that it was a huge "get" for him and KMOX that night. Of course, Hoffa disappeared, never to be heard from again, a few years later.

It was that sort of "we can do anything" attitude that made Jim White, and KMOX in that era, so special. The nighttime signal brought information and entertainment to hundreds of thousands of people all over the continent before the advent of the internet and cable television. Jim was the king of the genre in mid-America. The ratings were off the charts.

I'm proud to have known, worked with and for, Jim White. A very, very Big Bumper in our profession. Rest well my friend...and thanks from this Friday.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


-Recently (August 8th) the Calhoun family came together for a reunion. The day was intended to be a casual and fun-filled gathering of as many of the descendants of Robert and Anna Colquhoun (original Scottish clan name spelling) as could reasonably attend. We started off with afternoon drinks and snacks at the Quail Club in rural Belleville/Millstadt, and concluded with food/drinks/baseball at the Gateway Grizzlies game that evening. We were concerned about the heat being a problem on an early August day, but thankfully Mother Nature gave us a nice breeze and comfort wasn't much of a problem.

Robert Colquhoun came to this country from Motherwell, North Lanarkshire, Scotland in the early 20th century to pursue a better life. He was recruited as a soccer player by one of the local coal mining companies and used that financial incentive as his ticket to help improve his family's lot. His wife Anna, and children Bella and James, took a steamship over later to join him here in southwestern Illinois. I was able to find Ellis Island documentation of their passage in 1908 aboard the ship Caledonia which sailed from Glasgow to New York. Sons William and John were born here in the U.S. after the family settled. Another son, Robert, died as the result of a childhood accident. We enjoyed sharing the history of Robert and Anna, as much as possible, as a way of understanding ourselves better during the Quail Club gathering.

The widows of William (my Dad)--Doris-- and John (my uncle)--Catherine--were the eldest family members of the day. Catherine, at 90, is the oldest surviving member with Doris close behind at 89. We were thrilled that they both could attend and lend their personalities and history to the day's activities.

Unfortunately we were unable to make contact with descendants of the late Aunt Belle (Bella) and her late husband Harold Peters for this occasion. Her sons Bobby and Jerry Peters still live in Memphis. Son Stanley is deceased. We hope to have some of the Peters branch on hand for the next gathering. Certainly they were in our thoughts and stories of the day.

We learned much about one another, and had many a laugh, through cousin Jody Lauf's

Calhoun Fun Facts game. Brother Bob, being old enough to remember them, shared stories of Grandpa and Granny that brought a sense of history to the day.

Cousin Gary (Uncle Jim's eldest living descendant) was chosen to display the athletic prowess of the family by throwing out a ceremonial first pitch at the Grizzlies game. His 37 mph fastball (which appeared to bounce twice before making it to the plate) will likely be talked about for years to come. (Pic below--Gary slinking off the field in embarassment)

My sons Ian and Stewart were unable to fly in for the reunion. Ian is teaching and coaching at Battle Mountain High School which serves Vail, Avon and Edwards Colorado. Stewart is our actor working to break through in Hollywood. They did however record video greetings which some were unable to see in the day's there are links to view them below.

Those of us who worked on organizing the event were pleased that so many (around 60 total) were actually able to make it. Some came from far away (Houston, Cincinnati) to be with us and the entire day's activities turned out to be rewarding, memorable, and a whole lot of fun. As most of us know, and which was reinforced by this day, we certainly can all be proud of our heritage and therefore ourselves. It's easy to see when we're all together the great genes with which we've all been blessed. Hopefully we'll do another reunion with similar results sooner rather than later.

Click here for Ian's greeting
Click here for Stewart's greeting

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Update to the Update--Duncan sent to Red Sox AAA affiliate in Pawtucket. Cards get veteran infielder Julio Lugo in return. The Duncan debacle in St. Louis is over. Somebody in the front office (GM Mozeliak?) recognized things had degenerated to a no-win situation for anybody. TLR was devoting too much energy to the unwarranted defense of young Dunc. We all remember how important Chris was to the '06 championship. But as I said yesterday, fans around here are about performance and his '06 exploits were a long time ago and no reason to excuse his '09 struggles.


Update-- Duncan sent to AAA-Memphis. Details here. The team had to do something. Interesting bunch at Memphis these days...Glaus, Duncan, K. Greene--big leaguers trying to get straightened out. Wallace, T. Greene, Mather, etc. trying to prove they can play in StL.


-We got into a discussion in the Grizzlies press box last night about Chris Duncan and the Cardinals. This morning I read where Tony LaRussa feels like vomiting because of what he feels is the shabby treatment poor Chris gets from Cardinals fans.

What? Cardinals fans treating someone shabbily? I think we can all agree that with Cardinals fans it's all about performance. When someone gets booed at Busch it can only be because they are sick and tired of seeing someone fail at their job. That's the only time it happens to our own players. We witnessed it most recently last season with the horrendous showings of one Jason Isringhausen. Izzy couldn't get it done. He didn't get it done. And he got booed. Go back in time a bit and we can remember the under-achieving and hard-to-like Garry Templeton giving the single-finger salute to the fans as they booed him. St. Louis fans are too into team success to let individual failure go by and say..."Oh well...he's a nice guy and we should accept it." No, that ain't gonna happen around here. As nice as Cardinals' fans are to out-of-town players, and as forgiving as they are to our own, they don't suffer continual under-achievement very well.

Now, we are supposed to accept that Duncan is not up to par physically without really knowing what sort of problem he's dealing with. Mr. LaRussa puts out that he is stuggling with some sort of health issue. We know he had the neck surgery in the off-season and was supposed to be back to normal this Spring. But until Tony, or someone from the PR staff, identifies the current problem and gets specific, all we know is that Dunc keeps going out there and looking like anything but a major-league ballplayer. It's hard to have sympathy for anybody if they're not straightforward with you.

Now, we can all ask the question..."If he's not healthy why is he even dressing for games?" That would be my follow-up to the suggestion that his health prevents him from maximum output. How does he earn the right to play instead of someone else A) when he's not healthy and B) when he's not producing? Beyond that, why does TLR continue to trot unhealthy athletes out to fail in key situations? Isringhausen last year...Duncan and Rick Ankiel this year? Is he trying to send a message to the GM and ownership that he doesn't have enough pieces for his chess game? One must wonder...because Tony is anything but stupid.

The other aspect to this that has been studied in detail before is that Chris is the son of Dave Duncan. We all know that Tony is loyal to a fault. He has a soft heart...(witness his ARF work and his emotional reactions to Ank the Slugger a few years ago) but covers it masterfully with his "I'm a tougher/smarter guy than you" bravado. Is he putting Chris out there repeatedly...and for that matter keeping him on the a display of gratitude to his long-time pitching coach? We can only wonder...and we do because it's the situation that we as fans are given. We can't just ignore it...because it's there. If Chris Duncan were on any other team in the major leagues would he be playing? Would he even be on another major league team? The numbers suggest he wouldn't. And if he's not a healthy athlete he shouldn't.

The bigger problem for the organization now is that he has taken himself so far down the performance chart that he has virtually no value in a trade. With his health history and hitting struggles another GM would probably laugh at John Mozeliak if he suggested Duncan had significant trade value.

So, how are we as fans supposed to react? We see someone go on the field night after night...someone who is paid a major-league salary...and who does what any of the rest of us who can stand on two feet and swing a bat could do ourselves. And I'm not even talking about possible favoritism or defense. I guess the janitor in the Cardinals clubhouse had better be ready with that barf bucket.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Just Sad Follow-Up

-It was good to see and hear yesterday in numerous places that my reaction to the Stan Musial slight at Tuesday night's All-Star Game wasn't an isolated one. Many have reacted with the same level of disgust that I did. And I've gotten numerous e-mails and texts to that effect as a result of my post here yesterday.

In a Dan O'Neill piece in the Post-Dispatch and on, some of the reasons (allegedly) for the Musial slight were put forth. I think I'm even more upset if you can believe what Dan was told.

Supposedly it was all about timing in the program and the President's appearance. They say Mr. Obama's presence in the evening's script wasn't planned for until a few weeks before the game when it became known he would attend. If this were the case, it seems to me that it would have been easily enough accomplished to re-structure the Heroes Among Us segment featuring the video from the five living Presidents. That piece of the program ate up at least 7 or 8 minutes all by itself. And most of it was the video. You mean they couldn't have re-edited the video to shorten the piece up by two minutes in two weeks? A good video editor could have done it in two hours. I fully support the sentiment of encouraging volunteerism, but somebody misjudged the value of a Stan tribute any way you look at it.

Virtually eliminating a tribute to The Man was not the answer to any pre-game timing problem. It may have been an easy answer...but not the correct one.

I do believe that MLB forced the program as we saw it down the throats of the Cardinals brass who likely pushed for a more elaborate tribute to Stan. It makes sense that, as I indicated in yesterday's post, someone at the Commissioner's office cowered in the face of the President's appearance and made some inappropriate choices. Certainly, and accurately, they saw the President's appearance as one of national importance that carried a ratings bonus. They also likely saw Stan's tribute as more of a regional segment, and of appeal to a more limited number. However, this was a baseball night. This was about baseball and baseball stars. Did they forget that? Probably.

Again, if there was a scripting problem to account for, the volunteerism segment needed to be sacrificed..not Stan the Man. He is one of the people that everyone in baseball who makes their living from the sport needs to revere to the utmost in every way possible. Shame on MLB for their disgraceful and numbskulled judgement on this one.

In O'Neill's article, Bill DeWitt III covers for MLB by saying (paraphrasing) they had a lot to juggle and some tough choices had to be made. Well, what would you expect him to say? How about "We're sorry that it turned out that way. Stan is more important to us than anybody...and no disrespect intended...that includes the President." That was his correct answer if he were to make things right for Cardinals Nation and his customer base.

MLB and the Cardinals owe Stan, and all of us who consider him our hero, a heart-felt and unabashed celebration of The Man. We're all longing for it now...and Tuesday's neglectful and wrong-headed happenings have brought it all to a head.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Just Sad

-Now that the All-Star game hoopla is over here in St. Louis, I have only one question to ask--

"Who the hell was responsible for the so-called tribute to Stan Musial?"

What an opportunity Major League Baseball had to recognize one of the game's all-time greats on a national stage befitting his accomplishments. What an opportunity...that was totally and disgracefully botched. It wasn't was a misfit. The Man was reduced to a sidebar on the evening. If we were expecting something on the order of the Ted Williams tribute of ten years ago, we had another thing coming. And, unfortunately, it did.

I'll admit that I was sitting there in my home theater expecting to see Stan come out in a golf cart to the accolades of the thousands in the stadium. I was already beginning to choke up in anticipation of what was about to come. But that was it. That was all. The people were gathered and told to expect a tribute. But there was nothing else...except a handshake and hello from our sitting President. Come on. As Bob Costas said on the Channel 2 pre-game show, this is one of the top ten, at least, position players of all time. Aside from that, he is thought of by me, and most of the men and women in this part of America of my age, as not only a great player of the game...but as a greater player in the game of life. He has carried himself with an uncommon grace and dignity that is rarely seen in an athlete. Even if you don't recognize his accomplishments as a player, you should his contributions to society.

I think as much as anyone Stan Musial could be responsible for the Midwest tradition of cordial behavior toward one's fellow man. He was the face of Cardinals baseball in the era when baby boomers were just learning the game and life's rules. He showed us that we could compete with ferocity, but also enjoy and respect one's competitors. He proved that being a man isn't always about who is strongest, toughest and most intimidating. His time in the spotlight of this region was as much a lesson about respectable human behavior as it was athletic excellence. We in the Midwest embraced The Man and his approach. Many of us carry it in our DNA.

This night in July should have been Stan's night. The other Cardinals Hall-of-Famers no doubt would agree and would have gladly surrendered any time for their own recognition so that somebody could have put together a fitting video tribute to accompany Stan's entrance to the field. 90 seconds...just 90 seconds of time devoted to highlights, statistics, and tributes from those who could adequately express a bit of gratitude would have changed everything and allowed those of us who had Kleenex ready to let loose.

I, of course, don't know who was responsible for putting the pre-game show together. But I'll bet it was someone at the Commissioner's level (under 50 years old) and not anyone with the Cardinals. It had to be someone who just doesn't get it. Someone who thought that carting this 88-year-old former player onto the field in front of the crowd and on national TV and letting him hand a baseball to Mr. Obama was a tribute. That's not a tribute. It's merely recognition. I know one thing. If Jim Woodcock, one of the very best at understanding what the fans want and an advisor to the Cardinals, were involved, or had his way, it would have been different. Woody has put together some of the very best ceremonies of all time for the Cardinals and the Blues. If he, or someone who has a clue about the love we in this part of the country carry around for Stan, were involved, it would have had a chance to hit the mark. Apprently the lieutenants at the Commissioner's office are oblivious. The whole theme of the evening -Heroes Among Us- up to the point that Stan was brought onto the field was wonderful. Too bad they didn't realize that to a large percentage of those at Busch Stadium and at home The Man is our hero.

Unfortunately, we don't know how long we still have to enjoy Stan. As with all people of his age, a small ailment can turn fatal. And he hasn't been in the best of health for a while now. So, how will this wrong be righted while he can still be a part of a fitting tribute? How can we turn this dismal whiff by MLB into a grand slam for Stan? How can we turn this negative into a positive? It must be done.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Passing Through

-When three...its always three...huge stars pass away in the matter of a few days, it becomes time to think about life, both the brevity and the lasting impact.

Ed McMahon transformed being a sidekick into its own art form. Hi-ohhhh!...You are correct Sir!... and Heeeere's Johnny. How many of us can say we have phrases such as these that will immediately bring our name to mind? Ed made being an announcer and sitting on the couch next to the show host into something very, very cool. Johnny knew from the beginning that Ed was a huge ingredient in the formula that made the Carson show successful. And together they changed the face of late night TV. Their bits and skits will forever take us back to the time when talent and wit were the main elements of TV comedy...not pre-packaged, scripted nonsense. Ed and Johnny constructed a template. Too bad nobody chooses to use it anymore. Imagine the fun those two will have together in TV heaven!

We all knew Farrah Fawcett would be leaving us...and that it was just a matter of what day. The documentary a few weeks back on NBC left us with the impression that it would be days...not months. The impression was correct. I, like most other men my age, proudly displayed the Farrah poster in the 70's. One knew that you could only fantasize about being with her. But it didn't matter... the fantasy was enough. Every era has iconic sex symbols. Farrah was THE symbol of the time. The hair, the smile, the everything...all perfect. It didn't make a bit of difference if she wasn't the greatest actress in the world (an image she almost overcame) we just wanted to see her...the more the better. Too bad her passing was knocked off the top of the headlines by that of a mega-star.

Michael Jackson. What can you say about him except that his mind and body contained so much talent as to be other-worldly. His ability to write music, and perform it, was so different, and so far-and-away superior to the average that, in his prime, he had no real peer. He was the Elvis, or The Beatles of his era. But, as amazingly different as he was musically, most of us also found his weird personal choices and lifestyle to be unacceptable. So being MJ, or Jacko, all came crashing in. To die at 50 will likely serve to solidify his place as a cultural icon. Almost all of our entertainment greats seem to leave the planet early.

These people certainly made our bodies a more interesting place to be. I'm glad I was passing through at the same time.