Friday, February 15, 2013

Pinewood Derby

This weekend our boys will race their 14th (!) Pinewood Derby car. After this year, only one more to go. Last year I wrote about my Pinewood Derby anxieties in the City Mom blog at Chicago Now.

You can read it here.

Sexy Sadie

From Bob Dearborn's The Olde Disc Jockey's Almanac, this little tidbit from 45 years ago today...

February 15, 1968…John Lennon, George Harrison and their wives traveled to India to study with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Beatles bandmates Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr soon followed. Many of the songs for the Beatles' "White Album" were written during their stay in India.

One of those songs on the White Album was actually about the Maharishi, but John Lennon changed it to "Sexy Sadie" because he didn't want to be sued. It's a scathing rip job on the Maharishi, who Lennon eventually believed was a fraud.

Some Love for The Balding Handbook

The blog B2B Insights has singled out "The Balding Handbook" as one his choices for "Unusual Leisure Reading Recommendations".

I love that.

Here's what he says: "The Balding Handbook, by Chicago writer David Stern, is ideal B2B (bald to bald) weekend reading. If you’re uncomfortable with your impending baldness, Stern’s book will ease your pain … or perhaps intensify it. Either way, you’ll get plenty of laughs combing through the author’s witty, at times rather scathing, and always spot on reflections. If I were bald, I’d read it twice."

Rubio's Water Swig

The conservative on-line publication The Daily Caller has an article about the media's replaying of Marco Rubio's water swig, tallying up the number of times each cable news outlet replayed it: MSNBC 155, CNN 34, and Fox News 12.

This, the article implies, clearly proves media bias. For once The Daily Caller is correct.

It proves that Fox is biased.

Cable news didn't make this a story, no matter how many times they showed it. There aren't even that many people who watch cable news. This story exploded in social media. It was the subject of every comedian's monologue. It was a HUGE story because it was funny. The fact that Fox News only played it 12 times (and nearly all of those times during segments crying about media bias), proves a lot ot things. It proves humorlessness. It proves whininess. It proves that they are biggest bunch of babies that ever pranced in front of a television set.

Cry me a river.

Today's Best Tweets

Here are some tweets that caught my eye today...

Ken Rosenthal ‏@Ken_Rosenthal
Lucchino's remark about the $160 million #RedSox being "scrappy underdogs" is an insult to scrappy underdogs everywhere.

Rob Hart ‏@RobHart1980
Shorter every text to every radio station ever: YOU GUYS SUCK BECAUSE YOU DON'T PLAY SONGS THAT ONLY I LIKE.

Slate ‏@Slate
The footage of the massive Russian meteor everyone is talking about is stunning--VIDEOS:

Anita S ‏@Chezhdchick
Wonder how many Russians first thought was, "Oh shit. Putin FINALLY pissed the Americans off." Second thought, "Pass the vodka."

NPR News ‏@nprnews
'Cruise From Hell' Was A Mix Of 'Survivor' And 'Lord Of The Flies'

Kevin Robinson ‏@robinsonradio
Really. 5 days w/o clean @water on a luxury cruise ship? You tasted what 780 mil people LIVE everyday. They have no escape. #realitycheck

Scott Smith ‏@ourmaninchicago
Uncanny is my ability to immediately spot the person who will violate the rules of the quiet car.

Chubby Checker sues over manhood app

HuffPostWorld ‏@HuffPostWorld
More than 200 pounds of cocaine washes ashore in Denmark

Chet Coppock ‏@ChetCoppock
Larry Wert is the greatest motivator I have ever ever worked with. I have no doubt he will knock the ball out of the park in his new role with the Tribune Company.

Dale Jr., the Radio Show

Dale Earnhart Jr. is a huge star on the NASCAR curcuit. So much so, he's got his own radio show. It's called "Dirty Mo Radio" and it launches on February 18th.

Click here for more details.

Some Love for "Records Truly Is My Middle Name"

From Morning Mouth, which goes out to 5000 disc jockeys and radio programmers around the country. Click on the image to see the whole article.

The Cover

The excitement is building. Available for pre-order beginning March 1.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Day Card

This is my favorite Valentine's Day card, and it came to me via Facebook...

Valentine's Day Tips From the Onion

One for the girls, and one for the guys.

Girls: Make his favorite home-cooked meal and leave a trail of it leading to the bed.

Guys: If you forgot to buy her flowers, just point at the closest tree and tell her you planted it for her years ago.

A Touching Song for Valentine's Day

Today's Best Tweets

Here are some tweets that caught my eye today...

Deadspin ‏@Deadspin
This is the face of a hockey player as a skate slices through his Achilles tendon: 

Jon Morosi ‏@jonmorosi
The Blue Jays will live up to the hype. My column: @MLBONFOX

Crain's Chicago ‏@CrainsChicago
Blackhawks tickets scorching on secondary market

Paul Reda ‏@PaulReda
How are you celebrating Valentine's Day? I'm going to take the place of a commodities broker and steal the orange crop report.

Simon Dumenco ‏@simondumenco
Happy Valentine's Day: CDC Announces an 'Ongoing, Severe Epidemic' of STDs

Video: Oscar Pistorius charged with murder of girlfriend: Updated Story:

Ben Finfer ‏@BenFinfer
Irony would be if Oscar Pistorius blamed the murder on a one-armed man.

Dylan Byers ‏@DylanByers
51% of New Jersey voters say they would not consider voting for @GeraldoRivera at all.

Huffington Post ‏@HuffingtonPost
"Study confirms Tea Party was created by Big Tobacco and billionaire Koch brothers"

Andy Richter ‏@AndyRichter
Guys, don't be like me; you gotta read the small print! I just found out that in order to become a famous bluesman I sold my soul to Stan!

Red Wine's Health Benefits

The health benefits of red wine are overblown, according to this article in Get Healthy magazine.

Doggone it, I thought that one sounded too good to be true. Knowing the truth, of course, won't change my behavior. But it will give me something else to feel guilty about.

People tell me I'm not very emotional, but they have me all wrong. I feel both human emotions on a daily basis: guilt and worry.

Robert Kruchten

I went to a wake last night for the father of a friend of mine. Father and son shared the name Robert Kruchten. A few years ago I videotaped Bob (the son) talking about his dad and his love of the Cubs. I got two great stories, including this one...

The license plate will remain in the family.

A few years after I recorded that video I got a call from ESPN. They were doing a special pre-game show for the Cubs-Yankees series at Wrigley and needed to find three generations of Cubs fans. I immediately thought of Bob. They used Robert Sr., Robert Jr. and Bob's son Paul in the special. I looked for the video of that today to pay tribute to Robert Sr. but couldn't find it. If I can track it down, I'll post it.

Robert Kruchten is being laid to rest this morning.

May he rest in peace.

Ken Levine on Terrestrial Radio

Writer, director, producer and broadcaster Ken Levin wrote for some of the most popular shows in the past few decades including MASH, Cheers, Simpsons, Everybody Loves Raymond, and Becker to name a few. But he also writes an excellent blog that I check out regularly.

He is a life-long radio fan, and often writes about it, but the other day he wrote a devastating rip job on terrestrial radio called "Terrestrial Radio Sucks". I hate to say it, but he makes some excellent points.

He obviously follows the business closely. This is part of his incredibly impressive resume: Ken has also been the radio/TV play-by-play voice of the Baltimore Orioles, Seattle Mariners, San Diego Padres, and has hosted Dodger Talk on the Dodger Radio Network.

Larry Wert

Robert Feder called this one a few weeks ago, and as usual, he was right. Larry Wert has resigned from NBC to take over the broadcasting properties of the Tribune.

The countdown clock begins right now for WGN's hiring of Kevin Matthews, one of Larry's very good friends.

Adam Sher

Meet the brains behind the multi-million dollar media conglomerate Ryan Seacrest Productions. His name is Adam Sher and he's from Chicago.

He started out in a mailroom, and now at age 42, runs a media empire.

You know, just like you and me.

Competition for Pandora

Pandora has soared in popularity and taken a big bite out of terrestrial radio, but now someone is returning the favor to Pandora.

Here comes Slacker, according to the New York Times.

One of Slacker's programmers is former Chicago Radio Spotlight interviewee Ron Smith.

Happy Valentine's Day

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Real Library Rules

This is a funny post on mental floss, featuring nine very specific library rules, complete with photos of the signs to prove they are real.

1. Keep the door closed due to bats
2. No Balloons! (I love this one...that would be my rule everywhere)
3. Deface Material, Face Hard Time
4. No Unzipped Clothes
5. No Chewing on Headphone Cords.
7. No Bathing
8. No Reshelving, Even By Library Majors
9. No Use of Library as a Commercial Business

Turning 50

I'm not the only one turning 50 this year. Sports Illustrated found some random bald guy to put on their cover too.

Today's Best Tweets

Here are some tweets that caught my eye today...

GeorgeStephanopoulos ‏@GStephanopoulos
.@marcorubio's response to the water bottle frenzy: "God has a funny way of reminding us we’re human." #sotu

Lizz Winstead ‏@lizzwinstead
So is waterbottling a thing now?

Gawker ‏@Gawker
A supercut of Marco Rubio dry mouth noises. Just so goddamn thirsty.

Jimmy Greenfield ‏@jcgreenx
Dems loved Obama's SOTU while GOP didn't. What were the odds?

Bob Nightengale ‏@BNightengale
Alex Rodriguez may be out of sight with a nearly barren locker, but unfortunately, #Yankees can't keep him out of mind

Deadspin ‏@Deadspin
Disgruntled goalie scores on his own net, flips off coaches, skates off the ice forever:

The Onion ‏@TheOnion
[In Focus] Use Of Organic Peanut Butter Adds Two Minutes To Local Man's Life

Huffington Post ‏@HuffingtonPost
10 things a man will say if he wants to cheat

Los Angeles Times ‏@latimes
Popes as next-door neighbors in the Vatican. That brings up all kinds of questions.

Roger Ebert ‏@ebertchicago
Remember when motorized wheelchairs were going haywire because of cell phones? Smart Ass Cripple does!

As the Rupert Turns

It seems like there is no end to the number of arrests in that phone hacking case in England. More of Rupert's people have been arrested. From Bloomberg...

"News Corp.’s phone-hacking scandal is widening after London police arrested six more former journalists at its now-defunct News of the World tabloid and uncovered a new conspiracy to intercept voice mail. Three men and three women suspected of hacking phone messages in 2005 and 2006 were arrested today and some homes are being searched, the Metropolitan Police Service said in a statement. Two of the people arrested currently work at News Corp.’s other U.K. tabloid, the Sun, Britain’s best-selling daily title."

I don't think the American press has come to grips with the scope of this thing. "Journalists" are going to jail, and not for refusing to divulge their sources--for breaking the law.

Helping the Follicly Challenged

An interview with Balding Handbook author David Stern...(scroll down inside the box to click play)

The Republican Response

This moment is the only thing people will remember from Marco Rubio's response to the State of the Union last night. I thought he was reaching for a chart of some kind, but no...

I'll remember one other thing, and it also has nothing to do with the content of his speech. He was obviously sweating profusely (Albert Brooks-style) because he had to wipe the sweat off the side of his head at least four or five times.

If you missed the speech, I'll try to re-create it for you. "Blah blah blah. Obama is a meanie to us. (Wipe Sweat). Blah blah blah. Obama is to blame for everything. (Wipe Sweat). Blah blah blah. Where is my water bottle?"

And scene.

SNL is going to have a field day with this, and so will Letterman, Leno, Kimmel, Conan, Ferguson, Fallon, Stewart, and Colbert. And that has nothing to do with his politics. Comedy is non-partisan. Or as Steve Martin once famously said: "Comedy is not pretty".

If it's funny, it's funny. He is going to be roasted.

The Ron Paul Minute

Ron Paul is coming to a radio near you. From Radio Ink this morning...

"Courtside Entertainment CEO Norm Pattiz announced late last night that former Congressman and Presidential Candidate Ron Paul will make his national radio and podcast debut this coming Monday. 'Ron Paul's America' will be twice daily one-minute commentaries from Paul with his sidekick Charles Goyette."

Norm Pattiz is the former head of Westwood One. I wrote a few national radio specials for him in the early 00s. He required us to say "Executive producer: Norm Pattiz" as the last words of every special, even though he had absolutely nothing to do with writing or producing them. I always thought that was a little strange. I'll be interested to see if he does the same thing at the end of Ron Paul's America. By the way, Mr. Paul, I know that two minutes a day doesn't sound like much, but two one minute commentaries will be much harder than you think. After one month, you'll have pontificated on 60 different topics. Now what? I hope this Charles Goyette is a good writer, because Norm Pattiz isn't going to help you.

Hackers Attack EAS

I know that hackers have a lot of time on their hands, and they think it's funny to hack into things that nobody in a million years would have thought of hacking into, but the Emergency Alert System? That seems like an odd choice. From Tom Taylor's NOW column...

"It wasn’t just KRTV television and its sister CW affiliate in Great Falls which reported “dead bodies rising from the grave and attacking the living.” A poster on the Montana Board of says “they also hacked into Utah, via KSL Radio. It was stopped by live air staff on the main channels, but was auto-forwarded on the HD-2s.” The Great Falls Tribune says the alert there showed “a scrolling warning for various Montana counties, and a voice-over claimed there were ‘dead bodies rising from the grave’...and urged people to use caution.” Radio World says “the ‘zombie’ bogus alerts also aired on two television stations in the Upper Peninsula” of Michigan. The FCC and FBI are on the case."

OK, I take it back. This one is pretty funny. Still an odd choice, but at least it was done with flair.

Ash Wednesday

Today is the beginning of the Lent season, Ash Wednesday. Don't tell people that they have a little schmutz on their foreheads.

It's supposed to be there.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Act Naturally

From Bob Dearborn's The Olde Disc Jockey's Almanac, this little tidbit from fifty years ago today...

February 12, 1963…At the Capitol Tower studios in Hollywood, Buck Owens recorded "Act Naturally."

Fellow Capitol Records stars The Beatles later recorded the song too, featuring Ringo Starr on vocals. But here's the original. It's a good thing Buck and I were never invited to the same dinner party. It would have been embarassing to show up wearing the same spangly yellow suit.

Today's Best Tweets

Here are some tweets that caught my eye today...

Zack Bennett ‏@ZackTN
Abraham Lincoln was born 214 years ago today. If he were alive now, he'd probably make some joke about being 39. #notveryhonest

Anita S ‏@Chezhdchick
Despite being most popular dog in the AKC for 22 straight yrs, I don't see the Labrador listed Best in Show at #westminster EVER #conspiracy

Dag Juhlin ‏@dagjuhlin
Happy Tattoos Day!

Mark Edwards ‏@markedwards
Photo: I’m having my own Mardi Gras celebration without the parades, beads, costumes, or people Via...

Darren Marlar ‏@darrenmarlar
Hey, it's Fat Tuesday! FINALLY... a day I'm well-suited for!

Jesse Rogers ‏@ESPNChiCubs
First day of workouts in Mesa. Its 39 degrees.

ThinkProgress ‏@thinkprogress
Literature distributed at NRA Convention calls for "a combo Civil/Re-Revolutionary War"

POLITICO ‏@politico
#breaking: Obama will announce in State of the Union that 34,000 more American troops will return from Afghanistan within the year

Roger Ebert ‏@ebertchicago
I'm as happy with my new blog entry as with any entry I've ever written—and for a lot of them, happier.

bill adee ‏@Bill80
Bulls smoked pot before games back in the Jay Williams "era"?,0,7063876.story …

Happy Fat Tuesday

Biden Interview

You'll never guess which magazine just scored an interview with the Vice President of the United States.

Would you believe it's Field & Stream?

I guess it makes sense, because he'll be fielding questions about guns (no fish questions please!), but it just sounds funny to me.

The Hopper

I can see why television networks are in a full-fledged panic about this new technology by Dish Network. It skips over commercials. Without commercials, there's no such thing as network television. Here's the ad they're running to promote the new product...

Lincoln Poetry

Today is Abraham Lincoln's birthday. Every year on this day I post the audio of this touching poem written by a sixth grader in 1974 (David Stern). It's pretty emotional. Try not to weep.

Honest Abe He Was Called*

*Note that even in 1974, Dave was throwing bald references into his work. He was 11 years old at the time.

Swimsuit Issue

The promotional video is out for SI's Swimsuit issue. I was just reading yesterday that millions of women read this issue to get swimsuit ideas, and yet the video has no information about where to buy these swimsuits. That must be the reason they call it a teaser. Right?

On the other hand, if you're looking for the best swimsuit for writhing around in the sand, at least you can see how it performs.

A New Comedy Service

Yesterday I was lamenting the demise of the American Comedy Network. Today, they re-emerge with a new name. From the RAMP newsletter...

"What a difference a week makes -- last Wednesday, the American Comedy Network was shut down by its parent company Dial Global; this week, former longtime ACN Creative Director Joel Graham is already launching the sequel, the Universal Comedy Network. Graham describes the new UCN as "an audio-intensive prep service that provides highly topical comedy content tailored to fit the needs of personalities from large markets to small who are committed to providing a unique and exclusive entertainment experience for their listeners," which is pretty much what we were going to say. Graham also wants you to know that the new UCN will offer sound, feel, and quality that is nearly identical to ACN because it will be powered by the same core team of comedy miscreants and ne'er do wells he worked with at ACN."

So, crisis averted. Lets hope there are enough radio shows still doing comedy to keep them in business.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Father Knows Nothing

My latest Father Knows Nothing column has been posted.

I call this one "Master Negotiator"

Today's Best Tweets

Here are some tweets that caught my eye today...

Bernie Tafoya ‏@ChicagoFile
Francis Cardinal George just returned yesterday from Rome but had no inkling #Pope Benedict would resign. He's surprised. @WBBMNewsradio

Marcus Leshock ‏@marcusleshock
Somewhere, Dan Brown is tenting his fingers and smiling mischievously as he eyes his skyrocketing Amazon sales. #PopeResigns

Mark Czerniec ‏@MarkCzerniec
We now enter 17 days of keen Vatican watchers predicting the next Pope will be younger. ‏@desipiodotcom
Ari Kaplan says Benedict's Wins Above Replacement Pontiff (WARP) put him well behind JPII, but ahead of Celestine IV @BruceMiles2112

Ron Smith ‏@oldiesmusic
Manti Te'o for Pope! He believes in the existence of that which cannot be seen, is probably celibate & knows the Latin phrase "alter ego."

Slate ‏@Slate
Here is what Hitchens thought of the soon to be ex-Pope: "his entire career has the stench of evil about it."

Brian Stelter ‏@brianstelter
Per NYT's @RachelDonadio, a reporter for Italian wire service Ansa broke the Pope news because he understood Latin. (Statement was in Latin)

Andy Daglas ‏@AndyDaglas
Unnamed sources close to the conclave say they're in talks to acquire Tebow from the Jets for two Cardinals and a sixth-round pick.

Bryan Dolgin ‏@BryanDolgin
There seems to be news on Twitter about Donn Pall. Wrong pope?!?

Kenny Williams ‏@NotKenWilliams
Seriously people....if Hawk Harrelson is not elected Pope...I will lose it.

Blogger Spoils Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue Launch

It wasn't me. It was a blogger named Pink Couture. (Click on the link and you can see the cover) The cover is supposed to be revealed live on the David Letterman show. He has a contract with SI--so people are very upset.

It appears that it's really not possible to keep a secret anymore.

The Pope

The Pope announced he is resigning. This is the first Pope to resign since 1415! What is the world coming to? The first one to quit in 600 years is a...German? "German Quitter" is supposed to be an oxymoron.

Watch the sky. This could be one of those signs of the Apocalypse.

American Comedy Network Signs Off

This is a bummer. ACN is gone.

The American Comedy Network had been part of the radio landscape for thirty years. They weren't "on the air" per se, they wrote and produced comedy bits for morning radio shows across the country. I actually wrote a handful of bits for them about twenty years ago. At one time they were the ultimate comedy radio service. These days comedy radio shows are an endangered species, and so ACN can no longer stay afloat.

I think I'm more bummed about what this says about radio in general. I never worked on a show that really used comedy services (we wrote our own stuff), but we were in the third biggest market in America. The smaller markets used comedy services. That's the part that bums me out. The smaller markets generally don't even have local morning shows anymore.

The Grammy's

The RAMP Newsletter has the details this morning...

Album of the Year honors went to Mumford and Sons for Babel, while Gotye won all three Grammys he was up for -- Record Of The Year and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for "Somebody That I Used To Know" featuring Kimbra and Best Alternative Music Album, Making Mirrors. Fun. went home with Grammys for Best New Artist as well as Song Of The Year for "We Are Young" featuring Janelle Monáe. Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song Grammys went to Jay-Z and Kanye West for "N****s In Paris." Other notable 2013 winners include Kelly Clarkson, who took home the Best Pop Vocal Album Grammy with Stronger; Paul McCartney's Kisses On The Bottom won the Grammy for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album, Best Traditional R&B Performance honors went to Beyoncé for "Love On Top" and Frank Ocean is now the proud owner of the Best Urban Contemporary Album Grammy for his Channel Orange.

Strange Radio/Guns Story

This story comes out of Pittsburgh and is reported this morning by Tom Taylor's NOW newsletter...

"Pittsburgh jock is off the air after a Facebook posting about guns. The cause-and-effect – if any – is murky, but morning jock Tim Benz is at least temporarily MIA at Clear Channel’s modern rock WXDX (105.9). Somebody posted a critical note on the station’s Facebook page about a local outfit named Pittsburgh Tactical Firearms giving away an AR-15 rifle and 1,000 rounds of ammo. The poster said “let’s take time out from our usual shenanigans and get serious for a sec…is this the best way to contribute to the gun control debate?” As the Tribune-Review says, “Benz left the air Friday after arguing with listeners about his support of stricter gun laws.” He tells the paper, “there was a flare-up about gun control on the show, which included a good deal of flashback against the station. I wasn’t able to walk away from the fight...[so] I decided to walk away from the Morning Show.” The Post-Gazette adds this quick Facebook response by Pittsburgh Tactical Firearms – “Wow, so Tim resigning because of retaliation from negative comments made about my company...and the 2nd amendment. Goes to show you what happens when you bash the constitution on air.” Benz tells the Post-Gazette he “plans to honor the remaining terms of my whatever way the company best sees fit.”

Things do get heated very quickly when the subject is guns. (I've gotten a few doozy e-mails I have chosen not to share.) But I don't quite understand why this guy resigned from the radio station. There must be more to this story.

The Sweetest Words in the English Language

The Sweetest Words in the English Language

Bill Holub worked with me at the Loop (WLUP) in Chicago. He was in the news department there for 18 years, and every year whenever he would hear or read the words "Pitchers and Catchers Report," he would say with great enthusiasm..."Those are the sweetest words in the English language."

A few years ago I asked him to write a guest blog for me about that subject matter, and it's become a tradition ever since to re-run his piece on that special day. Yesterday was the day for the Cubs. Pitchers and catchers have reported to spring training in Mesa.

By Bill Holub

“Pitchers and catchers report."

These are indeed the sweetest words in the English language. Friends have been hearing me recite this every year at this time. I once had an old poker playing friend who used to say the sweetest words have always been “I’ll play these”. This is the same friend who couldn’t win even when dealt a pat hand. That however is a story for another time and place, where an explanation of the relationship between the quantity of beer consumed, what the cards in your hand really look like and the amount of money you bet can be fully explored. It’s really something scientists should be looking at.

In the meantime, I apologize to all those who came here looking for a sentimental dialogue on romance. I’m sorry to say it but the sweetest words in the English language are not “I love you”. Now that I think of it, this may instead be a sentimental dialogue on romance and baseball.

It’s funny how the two always converge around Valentine’s Day. Spring fever is referred to as that time of year when things start to bloom as the weather changes and love is in the air. It is no coincidence that this is the same time the baseball season opens and brings hope to all of us diehard baseball romantics.

My love affair with baseball was re-ignited in 1987-88. There was only one place to catch baseball highlights from all over the major leagues back then. Once a week you could tune in to “This Week In Baseball” with good ol’ Mel Allen. During those two seasons I was hooked into witnessing two West Coast baseball Gods embodied in the forms of a young Mark Mcgwire and Jose Canseco. This is before anyone had ever heard of andro, anabolics and the other chemical cocktails that have since cast a pall over these two. Back then, I was treated week in and week out to mammoth sized home runs flying out of every ballpark in the country. The fact that these home runs were being hit by players wearing what my brother and I had always considered the coolest looking baseball uniforms in the world (the Oakland A’s green and gold) had me embracing the game I grew up on all over again.

By 1989 I was so hooked on this game I even started collecting baseball cards again, although as much as an investor as a fanboy. I also started another nasty habit that impacts my life to this day. That is when I started a fantasy baseball league with a bunch of guys at work. 1989 also happened to be a division winning season for my beloved Cubs, so I was in baseball heaven and haven’t looked back since.


I think we can honestly say that baseball is no longer the national pastime in this country. It has been supplanted by football. I can accept that. Although I would insist the true national pastime is gambling, which is the driving force that makes football the number one spectator sport in America. I suppose I could go off on a George Carlin type of rant here on the differences between football and baseball, but that’s not why I’m writing this piece.

I just want to point out there is one major difference between the two and that is commitment. I’m talking about the commitment between baseball fans and football fans. Football is a four month season requiring your undivided attention one day a week, or two if you’re both a college and pro fan. Baseball is a six month season requiring your undivided attention throughout with your favorite team(s) playing as many as five or more games a week.

Baseball is a commitment. I believe it carries as much of a commitment as love. They both require dedication and attention. They can both go awry despite the best laid plans. An early swan dive in the standings in May that ends a team’s season before it even had a chance can be just as painful as not having your phone calls returned after the second or third date. Meanwhile an October champagne shower celebrating a pennant or World Series championship is as sweet and memorable as a ‘yes’ to a question posed on one knee.


Once that warm baseball is back feeling starts sinking in every year, I like to get fully immersed by throwing myself into my favorite baseball movies before the games actually begin. This is my form of spring training.

You’ve got your “Bull Durham”, “Field Of Dreams”, “Major League” (only the first one, please), but there is one movie that hits me in the right spot. “City Slickers” is not a real baseball movie per se, but there’s one scene that remains among my all-time favorites. It’s where the three friends (Billy Crystal, Daniel Stern and Bruno Kirby) are on the cattle drive and passing the time by discussing their favorite baseball memories. Billy Crystal remembers the first time his father took him to Yankee Stadium as a kid and how he had never seen grass that green before. Mickey Mantle even hit a home run that day. Daniel Stern recalls how growing up he and his father never saw eye to eye, but they could always talk about baseball with each other. “We always had baseball” he says.

As for me, one of my earliest baseball memories was getting to take the day off of school with my brother because my Dad got opening day tickets to Wrigley Field. I still remember wearing our warmest winter coats and knit hats, waiting to sit down while the Andy Frain usher brushed the snow off our seats. They don’t make Aprils in Chicago like that any more.


There is a sound that accompanies the words “pitchers and catchers report." It is the sound of a ball popping into a mitt. The sound of a simple game of catch. It is more than the crack of a bat sound. The sound of a mitt popping brings the memories and feelings of a lifetime of baseball flooding your senses all at once. It happens every time, whether it’s major leaguers or just a game of catch with your dad or your kid. The week pitchers and catchers report there are no cracking bats, only popping mitts. The sweetest sound in the world.

“Pitchers and catchers report."

The sweetest words in the English language.