BACK IN THE BOX! Returned last season as the host of "the Penalty Box", the post game call in show for Rochester Americans broadcasts on Sports 1280 WHTK, as well as studio host for game broadcasts and intermission updates. Looking forward to starting a second straight season this upcoming year.
Weekend morning newscaster on WHAM.
Sometime fill in host for Bob Matthews or John DiTullio, as well as hosting call-in shows during Yankees and Red Wings rain delays.
Graduated from West Irondequoit high school (in 1984) where I was the sports director at the student run radio station, WIRQ, as well as the "voice of the Indians" football and basketball radio broadcasts.
Graduated with a B.A. degree from Florida Southern College (in1988). Announced FSC basketball games on local cable TV. Also announced local high school football games on local cable TV.
Have worked for WBBF-AM, WPXY-AM, Sportsradio 990, and then moved on to Clear Channel in 1997, where I have worked for WHAM and WHTK since as a board operator, producer, newscaster, traffic reporter, weatherman and sports host, as well as all-around good guy.
I am also psyched to be back on the air hosting "the Penalty Box", the post game call in show for the Rochester Americans radio broadcasts on 107--3 FM and 1280 AM.
I recently also started reading newscasts on Newsradio 1180, WHAM. It is a good opportunity for me, although I never saw myself as a "news guy". I am still enjoying the opportunity.
I was watching NFL games Sunday on my new best friend, NFL Red Zone and I heard a stat that immediately made me root hard for the Carolina Panthers.
The stat went something like this, "since 1940, in the 18 elections that have been held, everytime but once that the Redskins won the game before the election, the current President won the upcoming election, and when the Redskins lost that game, the Presidential challenger won the upcoming election".
Obviously not a lock for Romney, but if only ONE lousy time that did not work, well I am crazy enough to believe in it. So, I was immediately cheering for the Panthers. At least I want to believe in it. I want to believe ANYTHING that tells me that Barack Barry Hussein Soetoro Obama will NOT be re-elected come Tuesday night around midnight. When all the votes are tallied and someone is standing up on a podium giving their consession speech, I would give up pizza for a year if that man was Obama.
"Why do you feel so strongly about this election Craig?", you may be saying. "Why are you gripping so hard....it's only politics. Our lives won't change that much either way", you are probably thinking.
Well, call me an alarmist, but that is just the kind of thinking that has gotten this country in a whole lot of hurt the past four years. Not only has the economy gone in the dumper, but what these people...most people quite frankly, fail to realize is that our entire way of life as an American is in serioous jeopardy, and I feel a sense of impending doom if Obama is re-elected.
For me to have realized this is like Pete Rose realizing that betting on baseball was wrong. It's like Buddy Nix realizing that Ryan Fitzpatrick will never lead the Bills to the Super Bowl. For most of the years of my life, I was never really politically inclined, but like many people, the older I get, the more you start understanding how the world around you works, and it's only natural to have some interest in who is running that world.
What has become painfully obvious to me is that Obama is clearly a danger to the American way of life, and I can't for the life of me see how more people continue to be snowed by him and not see this.
It's not just a "Republican" or "Democrat" thing either. I have been a lifelong Republican. I was brought up that way. But I have NEVER felt as strongly negative about any Demorcratic politician in my life. I even kind of liked Clinton. He seemed like a country bumpkin, but actually was very smart, and had a likeability to endear himself to both sides. I even gave him a pass about the whole Lewinsky deal. "Hey, even PRESIDENTS have needs" I figured. Carter was a decent guy, but was more radically left than Clinton and a little incompetant, but I didn't dislike him. Kennedy was a strong presence, who I think would have put Clinton to shame if we had the same type of media then that we do now, if you know what I mean, but from all I have read and learned, would have been a great President.
No, this guy (Obama) has had the most transparent agenda of any President in history. I know I might sound like a conspiracy theorist, but I would not be surprised if his rise to the oval office was not somehow orchestrated by someone, perhaps the Democratic party, perhaps even higher than that, I don't know, but his rise to prominance is truly remarkable in a "how the hell did that happen" kind of way.
How does a guy, born in Hawaii, Indonesia, Kenya (we don't really know do we?), with a college background that no one can corroborate, and who became a "community activist" and had no experience running anything really or owning a business, or with a law background--become President??? And do so so very easily, exalted almost to the throne by the masses and the media, almost like coronating a king?
We were warned that Obama was the most radical leftist President ever, but for some reason, no one listened. In an economy that was reeling from George Bush (who Obama continues to blame everything on) and his tenure, Obama immediately bailed out the auto industry and the banking industry with government money, then set about to passing his monstrous "Obamacare", which he did two years into his Presidency, despite most of the people who voted for it had no idea all the things that were in it.
Obama has raised the deficit from 10 to 15 TRILLION dollars in just four years, more of a jump in just four years than the country has had in the previous hundred years combined! Gas prices are double what they were in 2008, unemployment is up, the median income for families is down. Of course, it is still all Bush's fault right?
Did the administration cut spending? Hell no, they just raised the debt ceiling...twice, which caused the US first downgrade from Moody's in history. It's like if one of us owed RG&E, your cell phone bill, the mortgage from the bank, your rent-a-center account, your insurance company and every other possible payee since 1930, and you are still going out and buying big screen TV's jet-ski's and diamond necklaces every day.
But it's not just economic issues that bother me. Obama is on a mission to bring this country to socialism like no one ever before in the White House. How can you possibly doubt that folks? His insistance on trying to get the "Dream Act" passed to give citizenship status to all illegals residing in this country. His direct opposition to Senator Jan Brewer for her state law which basically just enforced the current federal laws about illegal aliens. His lax attitude to border security. The dramatic increase in food stamp and welfare recipients, who are becoming more and more enslaved to depending on government handouts and less on doing what they can to get ahead on their own.
All of these people are definites voting for Obama. Why wouldn't they? It'd be like voting for your boss to be fired, knowing the business will go under and you will be fired and homeless if you do. The more people Obama and the Democrats can get to be totally dependent on the government--the more who will never vote for the opposition. Once they have enough of these people becoming reliant on the government, they (the Democratic party (and the socialist/Marxists) can control the whole society.
Throw in Obama's complete inaction in Benghazi during the attack on the US consulate, his cutting down on nuclear weapons while other superpowers aren't, and his lack of strength on Iran's gathering of nukes, and this is a man I don't want as our Commander in chief. Yet so many people want to bury their head in the sand and not see these same things. It truly baffles me!
I was brought up on a sense of hard work equals reward. That you get ahead in this world by working hard, and giving your blood, sweat and tears to make your life as good as it can be. I believe that just because you are a citizen of this country, that you aren't entitled to jack squat. I believe if you want good health care, you work at a company that provides it or you buy it on your own. If that means you have to work even harder to make it happen, so be it.
As a person who is legally blind, I have spent time in the local DSS office. I have seen dozens of people FLAUNT how many benefits they get from the government. They have no plans to try to get off the train, and away from those benefits. It's harder to actually work for a living than it is to live off the government dime, and that is the problem with society. It is only going to get far worse if this man gets four more years in office.
In my business they say, the two things you don't talk about are religion and politics. Well, I pretty much just defied one of those. I know half of you probably dislike me more now than you did before reading this. The other half are probably saying, "Right on Craig! You da man!"
I'll take that chance. Even sports guys are entitled to their own political feelings. If you feel like I do, make sure you get out to the polls tomorrow. If you don't, make sure you get out to the polls a week from tomorrow.
I'll be praying for Romney. Our american way of life depends on it.
This blog will not be about sports. I apologize for that. The thing is, blogs are for spouting off, venting thoughts, and saying how I feel about things. Most often those things will be about sports. Right now, I just don't feel like talking about sports though.
I'm having one of those days. You know the type. The weather outside is dreary, and so is your mood, and nothing can seem to bring you out of that funk. With me though, it is probably for a much different reason that yours.
You see, I am slowly going blind. I have a disease called choroideremia. It is extremely rare, affecting around 1 in 58,000 males. It is an X linked degenerative disease, meaning I got the gene passed on from my mother (hey, I'm spoiled--she gave me everything).
Because of the lack of this gene, my body doesn't produce something called REP-1 protein. That is the thing that nourishes the photoreceptor cells in the choroid layer of the retina on a cellular level. Without that protein, those cells slowly die off. What follows is a loss of peripheral vision. It's like that scene in the movie "Back to the future", where Marty McFly started seeing members of his family disappearing from his family photo.
Right now I have what I call "bagel vision". If you hold a bagel in front of your face so that the bottom part is touching the tip of your nose, and you look through the hole in the bagel...well, that's pretty much what I see like all the time.
The disease presents differently in different people. The initial presentation starts earlier or later in different people, and progresses faster or slower as well. I am actually one of the lucky ones--well, depending on how you look at it.
You see, with me, I had fighter pilot like vision for the first 17 or 18 years of my life. I never needed my first pair of glasses until I was 20. I used to play all kinds of sports, and quite well actually. I used to drive, up until around age 40 (I'm 46 now). I used to be completely independent, and do everything for myself.
That is lucky right? That for the first 40 or so years of my life, things were pretty much totally normal. Well, now I am starting to think...not so much. Thing is, now I am watching all of those things slipping away from me. Most days, I am just able to deal with that and go on about my life. Some days, are like today.
I went out with one of my high school friends, who was visiting from New York City. A couple other friends met he, my wife and I out as well. Sitting in the Distillery on Winton Rd way in the back, I needed to use the restroom. For most people, that's no big deal right? You get up and go. For me, it's a major undertaking. What I would have liked to do was to try to do just that, but if I did, it would take me a half hour to find it. I might end up walking behind the bar, bumping into a couple walls, get stuck in no mans land behind a number of tables, possibly knocking over a couple of beers, and get stares by dozens of people wondering what the hell that guy with the stick was doing.
The other option is to ask my wife or one of my friends to walk me to the restroom, through the near pitch dark bar, all the way across to the other side of the room. I chose that option. I hated to do so. Not that I thought any of them would mind or anything, but just because I HATE the fact that it is easier than trying to do so myself.
Driving home later, I got in an argument with my wife because she didn't drive in the lane I would have if I was driving, and I tried to explain to her the reasons why I would be in that lane. It then occured to me that I would never be driving again myself. For someone who drove themselves everywhere for more than 20 years, you can only imagine the frustration that loss of independence would be like.
After we got home, I wanted to wrap my leftover chicken wings in tin foil, and asked my wife where it was. Rather than telling me, she felt it was just easier to get it for me herself. These things all seem so trifling don't they? But when they all happened within about 45 minutes of each other, and they all had something to do with my eyes, it drove me over the edge.
It is just so damn depressing to feel so damned helpless. Then to realize that it is only just going to get worse. It is depressing to feel like there is nothing you can do about it. It is depressing to feel like you are racing against time....how long will I be able to work, run an audio board on a radio station or reading newscasts without screwing up so badly that you just have to come to the realization that you just will not be able to do it anymore. It is depressing to fear going anywhere or doing anything where you might bump into something or someone that is going to embarrass yourself terribly.
They are doing amazing research at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr Jean Bennett and her crew are so close to finding a treatment that will at the very least halt the progression of this disease. There are other teams around the world who are doing the same thing. There are also some who are working on a possible cure, that could regenerate some or all of our lost sight.
For someone like me, I can only hope and pray that they get there in time.
All that is missing is money to fund this research. Oh they have some, but they need much much more. If they can get it, a phase one clinical trial could be only a year or so away. If they don't, it will take much longer. It's time I might not have. It's time hundreds of others like me might not have either.
For me, it's a long long way from making diving catches on a baseball field to needing fifteen minutes to find my house keys on the kitchen table. But that's my story. I would love nothing more than to change the ending....change it to a happy one, where I can find those keys in a second, drive again, and work as long as I want.
You can help me do that you know. This coming holiday season, if you make annual donations to a charity for the holidays, I would like to invite you to consider making it to the Choroideremia Research Foundation. If you don't make donations often, I'd love it if you started with us. It's very easy. You can just go to www.curechm.org, and there is a "donate now" link there. They even accept PayPal as well as all major credit cards. If you want, you can say you are doing so because you read this blog in the comment section, but you don't have to.
If that is too hard, or you are not computer savvy, you can e mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will be happy to e mail you back a mailing address.
Think of it as my Christmas gift if you will. Every dollar counts, and I can tell you, it would be the best Christmas gift I have ever received.
There are some things about sports that I continually fail to understand. Why is it that in the sport of bowling, three strikes in a row is called a "turkey"? Who the heck figured out that exactly 336 dimples were the perfect number of dimples on a golf ball? How the hell do ski jumpers ever get the guts to go down one of those super high jump ramps the first time? And how the heck does Norv Turner still have a job coaching the San Diego Chargers?
It baffles me as a football fan. The more time he has coaching the Chargers, the more it makes me wonder. I'm not specifically a Charger fan either. I'm just a football fan, and as such, I like to see a sense of order in the world of football. I want to see good teams having good records, and bad teams having bad records. The San Diego Chargers are a good team. They usually are under Norv Turner. They also usually ALWAYS have a far worse record than they SHOULD under Norv Turner.
Seriously. Can anyone name me a coach or manager in any sport who has gotten very good teams to perform worse than the Chargers under Norv? Anyone? Bueller??
I swear that Turner must have clandestine pictures of owner Dean Spanos cozying up with a farm animal. How else can you explain it? Other than our President, I can't think of anyone who has done less with more than Norv Turner.
After a less than spectacular 59-82 coaching record with the Redskins and Raiders, Turner came to San Diego. It seemed he had turned the corner as a coach at first, leading the Chargers to an 11-5 record in his first year there, winning the final six games of the regular season and eventually losing in the AFC Conference finals to the Patriots.
The next year, with Philip Rivers throwing for 4009 yards, LaDainian Tomlinson rushing for a thousand plus, and basically the same team as the year before, Turner led the Chargers to an 8-8 season.
The following year, the Chargers were back, with a 13-3 record. That team had the league's 4th best scoring offense, and were 5th best in scoring differential, yet were sent packing in a 1st round upset to the wild card Jets.
The next season, in 2010, the Chargers were the 2nd ranked scoring team in the NFL, 10th best defensive team, and 5th best in scoring differential. That somehow translated to a 9-7 record, and out of the playoffs.
Last year, with the 5th best scoring offense in the league, Norv's Chargers stumbled to an 8-8 record and another miss for the playoffs. Somehow, Turner was retained with a vote of confidence from Spanos. Turner rewarded him with a 3-1 start to the season this year. Since then, the Chargers have lost to the winless Saints, had a historical collapse on Monday night football in a loss to the Broncos, and then yesterday, scored only six points in a 7-6 loss to the woeful Cleveland Browns.
Yeah, THE CLEVELAND BROWNS!!! The Chargers should be more embarrassed with their lack of scoring against the Browns than Hugh Grant was scoring with Divine Brown.
If I were Dean Spanos, AJ Smith and the muckety mucks in the San Diego front office, Turner would be walking the unemployment line by noon today. Heck, if I were those guys, he wouldn't even have been back on the sidelines this year, or probably the year before that.
I have nothing against Norv Turner personally. I have no axe to grind. I'm sure he is a swell guy, and a fine football man. I'm sure he will make a great offensive coordinator again in the league. However, he does not belong on the sidelines as the head coach of the Chargers anymore. Much like Wade Phillips is a GREAT defensive coordinator, but an average at best head coach, Turner should hop in that same boat.
At this point, a coaching change in San Diego might be a waste of time. That team seems hopelessly lost. But if Turner is prowling the sidelines again next year as the Chargers head coach, I'm going to go into the loony bin.
I think the Chargers braintrust is already there.
to donate to clinical trials for research for my blinding eye disease, please go to www.curechm.org
If you are a serious hockey fan, you are probably pretty bummed out right about now. The NHL lockout is threatening your enjoyment of hockey for possibly the whole season this year. It is a stalemate that seemingly could go on forever. The two sides are far apart, and there is a lot to figure out between the players and the owners.
If you are lucky enough to live in the Roc though, there is some good news. The American Hockey League is now the top hockey league in North America, and we are fortunate enough to have a franchise here in our fair city--the Rochester Americans.
Not only do we have the Amerks to cheer for, but from all indications so far, there will be a lot of cheering to be had.
So far this young season, the Amerks are showing that they will be a formidable bunch. Through a scant six games, Rochester is tied for first in the division and tied for first in the Western Conference. They are second in the league in scoring with 23 goals in six games, just a smidge under four goals a game. They scored six goals in the home opener, and eight goals in a game against Hershey on the road in a victory.
Individually, the Amerks have two players who are currently tied for the league lead in scoring--Cody Hodgson and Marcus Foligno. Foligno is tied for the league lead in goal scoring. Hodgson leads the league in assists. They have three players who are scoring more than a point a game, and one of them is a defenseman--TJ Brennan. Brennan has scored 3 power play goals, which is tied for the league lead, and he has four goals all told--on pace for 50.
The complementary players are very good as well. Mark Mancari comes back after three seasons in Portland and one with the Chicago Wolves, and got right back to where he left off with the Amerks with five points in those six games. Team captain Kevin Porter, Evan Rankin and defenseman Brayden McNabb all have four points. Luke Adam has three, but has still only scratched the surface of his potential.
The Amerks have been extremely economical also. They make the most of their opportunities. The Amerks have been outshot in each of their games so far. They have managed only 170 shots on goal in six games--an average of 28.33 per game. Yet they are second in the league in scoring with 23 goals--an average of 3.833 per game. Their shooting percentage as a team is 13.52 is one of the best in the AHL.
This won't be a cakewalk to the Calder Cup finals though. The competition is fierce. Not only the Amerks, but each team has at least three or four players who would most likely spend most of the season in the NHL if there was no lockout. The Lake Erie Monsters look to be loeaded this year, as do the Toronto Marlies again. Both are in the Amerks division. Also, due to proximity in the AHL's unbalanced schedule, the Amerks play a ton of games against the Syracuse Crunch, who are basically the same juggernaut that cruised to a Calder Cup last year as Norfolk Admirals.
It won't be easy, but it will be fun. With no NHL hockey, all current indications are that scoring will be up in the AHL. That means more goals, and more excitement for fans. Teams will be rarely out of games this year.
In the Amerks home opener, Rochester had a three goal lead over Syracuse in the 2nd period at 4-1. The Crunch roared back to take a 5-4 lead before losing 6-5. The Amerks were down 2-0 to Grand Rapids in the 2nd period before scoring 4 unanswered goals in a 4-3 victory. Rochester trailed Hershey 4-1 and 5-2 in the 2nd period before a scoring frenzy led to an 8-7 Rochester win.
It hasn't just been Rochester either. St John's trailed Portland 5-3 after the 2nd period last weekend before roaring back for an 8-7 win. It is going to be a wild, wild year in the AHL.
Just like in life, for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Such is life in professional hockey this year. No National Hockey League action equals an exciting and fun brand of hockey in the American Hockey League. If you love hockey, embrace the Rochester Americans. You won't be disappointed this year!
This is always a fun thing to do. When you write a blog or column predicting anything at all, it's kind of fun to take a look back, and see just how smart you are, or in many cases, how dumb.
About six and a half long months ago, I wrote my preview of major league baseball. I have not checked how I fared until now, so I will write my thoughts on things as we go along. Here we go:
AL East: Predicted finish
1. New York Yankees
2. Boston Red Soc
3. Toronto Blue Jays
4. Tampa Bay Rays
5. Baltimore Orioles
1. New York Yankees
2. Baltimore Orioles
3. Tampa Bay Rays
4. Toronto Blue Jays
5. Boston Red Sox
Well, I got the Yankees right! Other than that, I can't honestly feel too badly. Looking back, the one thing I regret was not predicting Tampa Bay to finish better than Toronto. The Rays just had too much pitching to NOT be in contention. Who could have forecast the tremendous injuries that hit Boston all year, and I dare any expert to say they expected the Orioles to do what they did.
AL Central: Predicted finish
1. Detroit Tigers
2. Chicago White Sox
3. Kansas City Royals
4. Cleveland Indians
5. Minnesota Twins
1. Detroit Tigers
2. Chicago White Sox
3. Kansas City Royals
4. Cleveland Indians
5. Minnesota Twins
Yeah, check it out. I hit that one dead on! Thing is, I don't feel all that excited about it because there were no real surprises there and I think a lot of other experts would have had the same order. When I wrote my preview column, I had a reader chide me for picking the Twins last and Pale Hose second. He swore to me it would be the reverse of that. Sorry Jim, you owe me a beer on that one. I thought it was obvious the Twins had no pitching whatsoever, and they didn't...and it showed. I also said it would most likely be a two horse race, which it was, with KC finishing 13 games behind the 2nd place Sox.
AL West: Predicted finish
1. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
2. Texas Rangers
3. Seattle Mariners
4. Oakland A's
1. Oakland A's
2. Texas Rangers
3. LA Angels
4. Seattle Mariners
Well that was a fine "hoe do you do". Like most people, I completely underrated the A's pitching, and said "this team will have trouble scoring runs consistently", which they did at first. They really came on late, and Yoenis Cespedes and Josh Reddick had similar years to what I expected. I should have rated the A's higher, but I honestly think next year, I will still put them third.
The Angels took too long to promote Mike Trout and it cost them, or they probably would have won the division. The Rangers may have missed their window. They will still be good, but maybe not as dominant anymore. They disappointed me for sure.
NL East: predicted finish
1. Philadelphia Phillies
2. Washington Nationals
3. Miami Marlins
4. Atlanta Braves
5. New York Mets
1. Washington Nationals
2. Atlanta Braves
3. Philadelphia Phillies
4. New York Mets
5. Miami Marlins
The biggest surprise to me is that the Mets did NOT finish last. It truly amazed me that with all the talent assembled in Miami, it never jelled and they re-tooled halfway through the year. Like Boston, the Phillies were decimated by injuries, playing without Ryan Howard and Chase Utley for more than half the year, and Roy Halladay for more than a month. They STILL made a run and might have caught the Nats if the season was a month longer.
I did say, "the Nats win the division if a couple of things go right and Harper comes up sooner than later". They did, he did, and they did win. I can't fault my pick of the Phillies though. Without the injuries, I think they are right there with Washington. The Braves continue to surprise me, like they did most every year under Bobby Cox.
NL Central: predicted finish
1. Cincinnati Reds
2. Milwaukee Brewers
3. Pittsburgh Pirates
4. St Louis Cardinals
5. Chicago Cubs
6. Houston Astros
1. Cincinnati Reds
2. St Louis Cardinals
3. Milwaukee Brewers
4. Pittsburgh Pirates
5. Chicago Cubs
6. Houston Astros
I was obviously drinking the cool aid when I picked the Pirates to be third, thinking they were ready to take the next step and actually contend. The bigger miss though was completely underestimating the Cardinals, who played nearly as well under first year manager Mike Metheny as they did winning the World Series under Tony LaRussa. I NEVER expected that after losing Albert Pujols from the middle of their lineup. Other than those two, I was fairly close with this division.
NL West: Predicted finish
1. Arizona Diamondbacks
2. San Francisco Giants
3. Los Angeles Dodgers
4. Colorado Rockies
5. San Diego Padres
1. San Francisco Giants
2. Los Angeles Dodgers
3. Arizona Diamondbacks
4. San Diego Padres
5. Colorado Rockies
I saved my worst job of all for last. I said the D'Backs were the most complete team but they disappointed me, not getting the pitching I expected. The Giants sure did get that pitching though and although they struggled for runs at times, were the best teaam in the division. The Rockies ineptitude surprised me. I also never would have been able to forecast the Dodgers going from a team in bankruptcy to having new owners willing to trade for stars like Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez, Shane Victorino and Josh Beckett.
All in all, I think I did pretty well...maybe better than I thought I would. I did predict that even though the Yankees would win the AL East and possibly have the best record, that they once again would not make it to the World Series. I was right about that. I also said that I thought the Giants would make it to the World Series as a wild card team, and they still might. Sadly, I also predicted the Rangers to beat the Tigers to make it to the World Series, and that isn't going to happen.
At this point, with one game seven left in the NLCS, I will go on the record as saying that I think the Giants will win the World Series if they beat the Cardinals tonight. If St Louis wins, I am going with Detroit to win the fall classic. I don't think the Cardinals can shock the world TWO years in a row. If they do though, it will be quite a story. Either way, it sure is a fun time of the year.
I did say, "
After Yankee captain Derek Jeter broke his ankle awkwardly fielding a ground ball in game one of the ALCS, it really got me to thinking....is Jeter the best "ballplayer" the game has ever seen?
I think it is a valid question, and I am not a Yankee fan or a Jeter fan in particular. I never disliked Jeter, but I never loved him either. I do RESPECT Jeter though and all his amazing accomplishments.
When you think of a baseball player, an overall assessment of what he does, in all aspects of the game, I think Jeter has to be at the top of the list, or at least near it.
Ability to swing the bat, hit for average, hit for power, drive in runs, bunt, hit and run. Jeter does all of those as well or better than anyone who has ever played the game. Combine that with fielding, running the bases, leadership, clubhouse presence, leading by example and even relating to fans, and you could make an argument that Jeter is the best ever.
So I thought it was time for another top ten list, to analyze this lofty notion. I am going to do it not in reverse order though, but from best on down, in my opinion at least:
1. Pete Rose. yeah, another list that I believe Rose should top, which again makes it ridiculous that Rose is still banned from Hall of Fame consideration. Rose of course is first overall in hits, 7th all time in total bases and 9th in runs created. He won World Series with the Reds and Phillies and played on winning teams nearly every year of his career. His nickname of "Charlie Hustle" typified the type of player he was. He fielded his position, whether it was left field, third base or first base better than average. He was a sparkplug, and fired up teammates with his attitude and style of play. He exemplified the word "ballplayer" better than anyone who has ever played, even Jeter.
2. Eddie Collins. The second baseman is 10th on the all-time hits list, but is first by a HUGE margin in sacrifices (512 to 392 for 2nd place) so he could handle the bat and was unselfish. His career average is .333 and on base percentage is .424 for his career. Collins had better than average speed and fielding ability. His A's teams were often winners as well.
3. Ty Cobb. Cobb is higher than both Collins and Rose on most lists, be it average, runs, steals, OBP, runs created and so on, but what holds him back and puts him 3rd on the list was his selfishness and "me attitude" compared to those two guys. If Cobb wasn't such a jerk and more of a team player, he would easily be at the top of the list.
4. Stan Musial. Musial could do it all as a baseball player. He could hit for average, power, drive in runs, and he knew the strikezone, as evidenced by his 1599 to 696 walk to strikeout ratio. Stan "the Man" was 2nd all time in total bases, 3rd all time in runs created, and 3rd all time in extra base hits. He usually played on winners and was a hugely popular player, both with fans and opponents. He was a great fielder and a solid baserunner even though he didn't have great speed.
5. Derek Jeter. He doesn't have the gaudy poser numbers of Musial or the on base percentage or batting average numbers of Cobb, Collins or Rose, but Jeter did a little of everything as well or better than everyone else. Jeter 11th in hits and 13th in runs. He has a career stolen base percentage of 78.6 and runs the bases flawlessly. He has always been a better than average fielding shortstop. More than anything, Jeter is perhaps the best clutch hitter ever. No one has ever been better at getting on base to start a big inning or getting a clutch hit with men on base.
6. Tris Speaker. .345 career batting average, .425 career on base %. 10th all time in sacrifices. One of the best fielding outfielders during his whole career, 436 stolen bases and a success rate of 73.5%. His teaam usually won. Speaker could do it all in his era.
7. Hank Aaron. Baseball's all time home run king isn't often thought of as an all around great ballplayer, but he should be. He is in the top five on most career lists: homeruns, RBI, total bases, runs created etc. He could run like the wind, especially early in his career, hit for power, hit extra bases, won three gold gloves. His teams won more than not but he isn't known for championships or being a leader though, or he would be much higher on my list.
8. Carl Yastrzemski. Much like Aaron, Yaz could do it all. Top ten in most offensive career catagories, partly due to longevity. Was a top notch fielder with six gold glove awards. Not great speed but smart on the basepaths. Always played on winning teams. Synonymous with the Red Sox.
9. Lou Gehrig. Yeah he was a power hitter, but few could handle the bat like Gehrig. Could hit for average and power better than anyone who ever played with the exception of Babe Ruth. 3rd all time in OPS (on base percentage plus slugging). Was the heart of those great Yankee teams, moreso than Ruth. Rarely struck out. The best fielding first baseman of his era. Only lack of baserunning speed keeps him this low.
10. Willie Mays. Much like Aaron, could do it all, but had slightly less numbers. Perhaps a better baserunner than Aaron as well as being a better fielder. Had perhaps the best attitude about the game any player has ever had. Loved playing baseball and it showed. You can make a very good argument that he should be 7th on this list and Aaron 10th, but it's my list and I am going with numbers.
Alex Rodriguez would be on this list ahead of Ripken if not for steroids, as well as lack of leadership. Babe Ruth had better numbers than anybody, but you don't look at him like you do these guys. he was never a great leader. Ruth never really did the little things like these guys. He was never a hood fielder or runner, other than stealing home. Barry Bonds would be on the list numbers-wise, but no one would ever consider him a team player or a leader. Rickey Henderson would also be on the list numbers wise, but was never a team leader. Cal Ripken Jr. would be #11 if I went that far.
So, that's my list. What do YOU think?
Friday night, I get my identity back. That's because it's Amerks season once again!
The Amerks begin their 76 game regular season at the Blue Cross Arena at the War Memorial against the Syracuse Crunch, and I can hardly wait.
Most of you know that I have been the studio host for Amerks broadcasts for the better part of the last 15 years. The Amerks broadcasts came over to sports 1280 WHTK in the seaeson following the last Amerks Calder Cup win. Mike Schopp was the first studio host for us back then. In the '97-'98 season, Schopp was named the new sports director of big brother station, WHAM, as well as getting his own sports talk show, which is now the John DiTullio show.
It was about two weeks into that season. I had just been hired myself the previous March, after Sportsradio 990 went bye bye. My bosses were at a loss. Could they trust a guy like Craig Schaller to take over for Schopp? Was he experienced enough? Did he have enough of a "name"? More importantly, I think the question was, "Do we even have anyone else"?
I got the job, and remember freaking out for days before my first game. The weekend Amerks games were on WHAM back then. I had never even worked on the WHAM board at that point, much less been on the air. The WHAM board looked like the instrument panel of a 767 airplane. Plus I had to take transmitter readings on all seven Clear Channel stations, which I had never done. I would also be alone in the studio on a Friday night, with no safety net or anyone to help me if I bombed. Thinking back, I still get chills about my predicament. It was like that dream that you are sitting there, ready to take your final exam and you haven't studied for four months.
I remember watching the movie "Field of Dreams" the night before my debut. I remember thinking "what if this is my Archibald 'Moonlight' Graham moment. What if I only do one game, bomb so badly that I am replaced, and never get another shot again? Thankfully for me, it worked out.
Somehow I made it though. I continued to make it through that whole first year. I learned about hockey. I learned about my callers. I learned how to host a post game call in show.
I apparently did well enough, that my bosses wanted me to continue on doing the job the following year. I decided the post game show needed a new name. Something exciting. Something hockey oriented. Something mean, naughty and cool. I came up with the name, "the Penalty Box". It stuck.
Who knew at the time that I would continue to be the Amerks studio host for the next 12 years at that point? I sure didn't, but I am happy I have. There was a point, after the 2009 season that I was replaced. The Amerks front office wanted to go a different direction. They wanted to have their own guys hosting the post game show. They tried it for two seasons. They found it that no one called.
Whatever the reason, whether people missed me, or they didn't have enought time, or they were more analytical and less interactive, they found out it didn't work. So last year, I was back.
It worked out the way it was supposed to. I didn't mind the break. After a number of lousy teams and seasons, and the Sabres leaving for the Panthers, I had enough anyways. Last year, with the Sabres back, it made sense to have me back as well. No one advocated the Sabres/Amerks relationship more than I did.
Now its onto season number two, or season number 15 if you will. Either way, I am pumped! I get my identity back. I am Craig Schaller, the host of the Penalty Box during hockey season. When it's not hockey season, I am just Craig Schaller.
You know, it's funny. Back when Charlie Mason was inducted into the Amerks hall of fame, I joked about it. I said something like, "sheesh, if a guy who drove the Zamboni for decades could make it into the hall of fame, maybe I should too".
I was joking. At the time, I was just kidding around. Of ourse, I never thought I would be doing this little show for 15 years. Now I am not meaning to be cocky here, but maybe it's not so much a joke anymore. I am very proud to be associated with my boyhood team for a bakers dozen years. I am kind of blown away that kids who used to call my show when they were 10 are now working in NHL front offices, like I know at least one is. It's tough to have that kind of staying power in radio, or in anything, and I am very happy to have had the chance.
So, keep on listening. Keep on calling. I will try to stay here to be on the other end of the line as long as my eyes will let me.
To donate to clinical research trials for my blinding eye disease, go to www.curechm.org and click on the "donate now" link.
My life has been changed. The sun is shining brightly in my life. Birds are chirping. Food tastes better. Every song on the radio is a happy one. I am in love.
There is nothing like a new love is there? Nothing can bring you down. That's how I feel right now. A new love has come into my life, and I may never be the same.
Of course, this is not just any love. This is a love that can last. This is a love that will be realized every Sunday, and be consummated promptly at 1:00 pm. Amazingly, this is a love that, believe it or not, my wife can even join in on.
You see, I am in love with the NFL Red Zone network.
It didn't take long. I fell faster than I have in any relationship I have ever had. After Time Warner FINALLY signed on the bottom line to bring the NFL network and their sister channel, NFL Red Zone onto their lineup, I called up and promptly signed on the special "sports package" that offered the Red Zone network for the nominal fee of $6 bucks a month.
Last Sunday, I had to work, and didn't get home until after 4:30. I immediately put my new acquisition on, and just as quickly was blown away. Watching the late games on a Sunday in rapid fire fashion. Best of all, NO COMMERCIALS!!!
One game to the next, they would switch back and forth. Whenever two or more games would have a "red zone opportunity", they would go to split screen, or three, of even the amazing "quad screen". The superfan like myself doesn't miss a single scoring opportunity. I had found nirvana. It was incredible! It was damn near orgasmic!
This weekend, after my news shift ended at noon, I had nowhere else to be than home for the rest of the day. I could hardly wait to get home, plop myself in front of the big screen in my comfy recliner in my mancave, and immerse myself in a ful day of the Red Zone.
There I sat, transfixed. My wife, far less enthused, lay sleeping behind me, That was just fine with me--she'd join me and my new love eventually. For the whole damn day, I could barely move. Even though I was exhausted from my usual lack of sleep most weekends and my eyes had to fight closing, the red zone kept me awake and enthused.
I didn't even want to get up to relieve myself. With no commercial breaks all day long, you just don't want to miss anything. I finally found the most opportune time to run upstair, pee, and then run to the living room and turn Red Zone on THAT TV while I checked my fantasy games.
When the games finally ended after around 7:30, the network showed their grand finale, a quickly paced montage of every single touchdown clip that happened in every game that day, I felt that tinge of sadness you get when something really good is coming to an end.
Finally, the Red Zone network went dark. My love had gone away....for another week. I know though that next week, precisely at 1:00 straight up...she'll be back, and all will once again be right with the world.
Til then, my love. Til then......
I normally will never do this, but for just this blog, I am actually going to post someone else's blog. This is a topic close to my heart though and I feel it is important that as many people know about my eye disease, the better. So please read and I hope you enjoy, a column by a man named Mike Kane about a good friend of mine, and brother in blindness, E.J. Scott:
I've heard the expression "Time is money" for most of my life. I heard it as a kid while I was grew up working in a diner. I heard it much more frequently after I got my first 'real' job. Chances are pretty good that you've heard the expression as well. Today however, I'd like to talk to you about flipping this expression on its head. How about this: "Money is Time"? "How so?" you ask...
Please bear with me a moment as I explain: Money IS Time when money is used to invest in things which save time (for example, flying vs. driving cross-country). While money cannot ultimately buy more time, it may allow you to more efficiently utilize the time available to you. When invested properly, you can reduce the time-distance between two points, in essence, BUYING TIME (but no, you wouldn't live a longer life, however, you may live... a better quality of life).
I'm writing this note today to support someone who is working aggressively to raise money to BUY time for my kids, as well as thousands of others across the country. By trade, E.J. Scott is not a runner (he's actually an improvisational comedian). He's never been on the cover of Sports Illustrated (well, not yet). He's never been to the White House (so far as I know); he's just a guy who shares a common genetic trait with thousands of others in America.
E.J. has a rare retinal-degenerative condition called Choroideremia which slowly steals the vision from those who have it. For the better part of a year E.J. has been running marathons across the USA, blindfolded, to raise money and awareness for his cause. E.J. is looking to master the 'Money IS Time' equation above, because, in reality, for people with Choroideremia (a.k.a. CHM), it's all about time.
You see, people who have CHM are born with normal vision. Admittedly, "normal vision" is relative, but suffice it to say that kids with CHM start out with normal night and peripheral vision. As they get older their vision changes, their night vision degrades and their peripheral vision is also affected to a point where, eventually, no vision remains.
E.J. Scott wants to buy more time for researchers to find the treatment for CHM by raising money NOW so folks in labs around the world can find the most effective methodology to stop the progression of this relentless disease. He has decided to personally make a difference by dedicating himself to the cause of raising awareness (and funds) to defeat this condition via his running 12 Marathons in 12 Months, a series of online auctions, television appearances, and YouTube posts.
E.J. Scott needs your help to win his race!
While running, E.J. has someone beside him to guide him through city streets across the U.S. - blindfolded. He does this both to protect what remains of his vision from the harmful effects of the sun and to also raise awareness for the cause he supports. While I've never seen E.J. run in person, he carries an incredible amount of weight with each step he takes. You see, he runs for my sons. He carries my hopes and dreams with each step. This weight is multiplied by the thousands of other families he runs for... And he does all this without seeing an inch of the path he's traveled.
Please consider being E.J.'s virtual running partner by donating to his (and my) cause, CHM research. By the end of 2012 E.J. will have run 12 marathons. His personal goal is to raise $12,000 per race to find a treatment for his, and for my kids' condition. At this point, he is running long miles but is short of his goal. You can help him reach that goal! No, I'm not asking you to physically run with E.J., but rather to help him convert "Money Into Time" by funding the research which will help future generations of kids keep their vision and put CHM in the WIN Column of Medical Science. The sooner we find a cure, the sooner we improve the quality of life for thousands of Americans.
If you are in the Chicago area, please head out and cheer E.J. on as he runs against time, for the tenth time this year on October 7th.
You can follow EJ on twitter @ejscott and @12marathons2012