Sunday, March 19, 2017

THE COURAGE OF JOHN MARTIN



"I was waking up at 4 a.m. every single day asking myself if all this was real."

John Martin's near-perfect life was shattered in early October when he was diagnosed with ALS.
Sleepless nights and questions to himself were returned with brutal answers. One minute, Martin
was living the dream as a father of two beautiful girls while firmly entrenched in a job he truly
loved. The next minute, a doctor gave him the news that's altered the course of his life.

"It blew me away," Martins said of the diagnosis. "It still blows me away. I can't believe it.
But I am staying positive and doing everything I can to stay that way. That is the biggest part
in all of this. I'm maintaining a positive attitude daily."

Upon learning he had ALS, Martin left his job as a videographer at NESN, his employer of 19
years. Martin has made it clear he's handling the disease  his own way, creating a path that
suits him and only him. Martin recently spent two weeks at a wellness facility in West Palm
Beach, Florida.

"It was a lot of green drinks, wheat grass, salads, and sprouts." Martin said from his home
in Newton, Massachusetts. "It was a type of mental and physical cleansing thing. No caffeine,
no alcohol, and some meditation."

Martin says he is embracing both the Western and Eastern approach to dealing with the
disease which includes acupuncture, meditation, and an energy trainer. He says he's also
working out daily with a stretching routine and a lot of swimming.

"I feel great," he said. "Just like I did before. But sometimes when I look down, there
is a little less muscle than there was before. I'm not expecting to wake up and everything
will be OK. I know that's not going to happen, but I'm dealing with it the best way I can."

Martin also credits his great team at Massachusetts General Hospital for helping in his battle
against Lou Gerhig's disease.

Perhaps, the best medicine has come from his friends back in Boston. Martin is one of
the most beloved members of the media and you'd have to search far and wide to find
someone to say a bad thing about him. If they did, they either never met John Martin or were
flat out lying.

The support for Martin has been heartwarming. A GoFundMe page was set up for Martin
shortly after his diagnosis and in the first two weeks of it going on-line, more than $80,000
was raised.


Red Sox manager John Farrell chipped in with a $1,000 and sent Martin, who covered
the team for many years, a text he will always cherish:

"Throughout all the dealings with media- your positivity and being real  has
always been a strength! That strength will always be present."

"That meant a lot to me," Martin said. "He also invited me to visit his office and watch a
game. I've always liked John. He is a class act."

Martin said he's been overwhelmed by the donations that have come in from all over New
England and beyond. Longtime friends have shown their love and generosity. People Martin
has never even met contributed to his cause.

"This college kid sent me five dollars and wrote, 'I don't know you personally, but you sound
like a great person. I don't have much money, but wanted to help out.' "That means as much
to me as the donations that have come in from the big hitters."

Many of Martin's good friends have stepped up in a big way to put a smile on the face of
their buddy. Bryan Brennan, a former colleague of Martin's at NESN, bought a beautiful Stetson
hat during a trip to Nashville while covering the Bruins. Brennan did a little something extra
for Martin. He went into the Bruins locker room and asked them all to sign the hat for Martin.
Every player on the B's did.

Martin with cowboy hat signed by Bruins

"That was awesome of Bryan and the Bruins." he said. "For the Bruins to take time out and
sign that hat. That was really cool."

Martin's love for his work had cooled since his diagnosis. He had covered the Red Sox for
so many years, shooting interviews while making the talent look really good. You can
forgive him if the job took a backseat to what was going on in his life.  But his love for
the Sox and his job was re-ignited in early February.

"When I started to see all the reports from Fort Myers while sitting at home, I started
to get the itch a little bit. I missed it."

Martin missed a lot of his former colleagues at NESN and when he stopped in Fort Myers before
his trip to the wellness facility in West Palm Beach, Martin enjoyed a night out with his buddies
from NESN.
Martin with his NESN buddies in Fort Myers

"That was great. Tom Caron and Steve Lyons were there. So was Mike Narracci, longtime
director for NESN and Bill Titus," Martin said. "It was great catching up with them.
It was like I never left."

Martin is back in Boston now with his two girls and wife, whom Martin calls his "rock."
"Adrienne has been really amazing. Always has been. She's taking care of me. She's taking
care of the kids. She's taking care of everything."

Martin was dealt a terrible blow. His fate has been revealed and far sooner than he ever
expected. But in true John Martin fashion, he's looking on the bright side and trying to power
through a difficult time.

"I truly am George Bailey," Martin said, referring to the fictional character played by James
Stewart in 'It's a Wonderful Life.' "I still can't believe it. But I'm going to be OK."

As for those sleepless nights? Martin reports he is back to getting seven plus hours of sleep a
night.

Please continue to love and support John Martin. Donate to his GoFundMe page.

https://www.gofundme.com/jmartinfund



Monday, March 13, 2017

THE BRILLIANCE OF LAVAR BALL


Until Monday, I had never heard of LaVar Ball and didn't know much about his basketball-playing sons, Lonzo, LiAngelo and LaMelo. Oh, sure, I had seen a few highlights on ESPN of Lonzo at
UCLA, but I wasn't phased by him or his talent. He was just another guy dunking on 'SportsCenter'.

However, thanks to his father, Lonzo and his brothers, who are committed to playing at UCLA, I know about the entire family now. I learned a lot about them just by reading the avalanche of the
information about them on social media and the world's reaction to it.

According to Twitter, Facebook, and just about every media outlet that occupies space on the
web, LaVar has stoked the fire and passion of the number of sports fans who consider themselves
to be experts. That number matches the dollar amount Daddy Ball says the shoe deal for his kids should be worth:


More than a billion.

Yes, that's right. More than a billion dollars.

Michael Jordan, who just happens to be the greatest basketball player in the history of the
sports, makes about $100 million annually from Nike for lending his name to the brand. Daddy
Ball says the package for the 3-Balls, who have never set foot or sneaker in the NBA, should
start at one billion dollars.

Brilliant.

You see, the world reacts like wildfire on social-media. Then every media outlet like ESPN picks
it up and talks about it. America will hate and Pardon The Interruption will debate. And just about
every knucklhead on sports talk radio will scream, holler, and even laugh at Lavar Ball.

Go ahead, LaVar Ball is laughing--and his kids will eventually do that all the way to the bank.

And do you think it was an accident that Daddy Ball made all these proclamations right before
the NCAA Tournament? Heck, no. He knows that everybody that has something to do with
March Madness will be talking about his Balls.

I mean, look at all the money the Kardashians have made and they have zero talent. None. At
least the Ball kids can flat out, well, ball. They are a special talent and thanks to the big words
of their father, everyone knows about it.


People laughed at Richard Williams when he said Venus and Serena, his African-Americans
from Compton, California, would dominate the lilly-white world of tennis before they even
reached high school. What happened? If you know anything about sports, then you know.

LaVar Ball is taking a page right from Mr. Williams' book. He's already said Lonzo or
LiAngelo or LeMelo---I forget which one it was, would be better than Steph Curry, the
two-time NBA MVP.

Good, Lord.

Daddy Ball also added that he would've kicked Michael Jordan's ass in a game of one-on-one back
in the day.

Good, grief.

Even Big Daddy Ball knows MJ would've wiped the floor with his jockstrap, but Daddy Ball
also knows putting Jordan into any conversation will attract a lot of attention and attention is
all Ball wants. He will use anyone or anything to get it.

Now, America is angry and talking about the Balls.


It's easy to say Daddy Ball is a fool, but in reality, he's brilliant. He knows how the world
works today. It's not so much about talent, as  it is having a name that every sports can can roll
off their tongues.

People are talking about Daddy Ball. Well, they are not exactly talking about him as much
as they are hating on him. Hating is another thing the people on social media have become
experts in. They will go on their rants, take their cowardly cuts at the Balls, and Daddy will
just have one big smile on his face.

Thanks to him, all the Balls are on the national map. They will soon become household names
and eventually, very, very rich. That's just how America works. Endorsements, contracts, etc., etc., etc.

Daddy Ball has trademarked "Big Baller Brand" and is selling merchandise on the web site.

The price has just gone up for the all the Balls.

Daddy is a smart, smart man, and one with very big balls.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

NEW CANAAN STEPS UP FOR GRAHAM HARDEN


There aren't many families who've passed through New Canaan like the Hardens. Boyd,
Shea, Graham, and Holmes---siblings who define and embody what integrity, class, honor,
and respect is all about,  were raised by Lucy Gail, the sweetest of mothers, and Holmes,
the strong patriarch, who passed away far too young, suffering a heart attack at the age of
50.

Lucy Gail and the kids persevered through the tragedy of losing a father to thrive in the
community, making an everlasting impact in New Canaan through their great accomplishments
in sports and in the classroom. Shea was the smartest of the bunch. She went on to Dartmouth
and earned her MBA at Stanford. Boyd, Graham, and Holmes were great athletes, all three
going on to play lacrosse at UNC. Boyd was an All-America but Graham was All-World.
He was National Defenseman of the Year and named to the ACC's Top 50 players of All-Time.


In August. the Hardens, who overcame the tragic loss of their father, received another dose
of unthinkable heartbreaking news. Graham was diagnosed with ALS. Even in a world that
seems to yield tragedy every day, this just seemed so unfair. A great family man who has
given so much back to his community in Cincinnati as a volunteer firefighter, coach, and
through his charitable endeavors, is ridden with an insidious disease that has never lost.

However, the community where the Hardens cemented their legacy, is rallying around
Graham to see that his life is a made a little bit better and all of his medical bills are paid
for. On Friday March 3, more than 200 people gathered at Grace Farms in New Canaan
to show their  support for Graham and his entire family. It was supposed to be a fundraiser
for Graham, but turned into a remarkable show of love, admiration, and respect for
someone who  was not only one of New Canaan's greatest athletes, but greatest of men,
as well.

The love was real. The admiration, genuine. The respect, undeniable. Friends who grew
up with Graham in New Canaan, came from all over to honor a person whose had a great
impact on their lives and community. It was truly heartwarming to see New Canaan step
up and support one of its favorite sons.

Graham is taking on ALS just as he battled opponents in football, hockey, and lacrosse:
with an unmatched competitive fire and the same iron will that helped him become one
of the best lacrosse players in NCAA history.


The former All-American has started a blog http://gforcegameon.org/welcome-to-my-blog/
to keep his friends and supporters apprised of what lies ahead for him and answers questions
that many people are afraid, or too uncomfortable to ask.

Friday night was a great showing by New Canaan in its support of Graham. He is a great
father, husband, brother, son, and friend to so many from New Canaan, North Carolina, and
Cincinnati, where he currently resides.

Keep it up, New Canaan. Graham Harden deserves our love and support.



Sunday, February 26, 2017

THE INSANITY OF A 112-MILE RIDE



112 miles.

112 miles is a little more than a nice ride in the car. It's not exactly a hop-skip-and an easy train
ride, either. Trying to cover that distance using two wheels and your own two legs, two lungs, and
heart, well, it can flat-out be a bit of challenge.  Throw in a 2.4 swim before it and a 26.2 mile
run after it, and that challenge has a way of turning into misery.

Completing the middle stage of an Ironman is, arguably, the hardest one for many endurance athletes who seem to have an extremely close relationship with mind-numbing pain.

112 miles on a bike. On a hard seat. On a two-loop 56-mile course that takes you through the Adirondack region. No, not one on a flat-as-an-ironing board course one like those in Florida
or Texas. This bear of a course goes through and around Lake Placid, consisting of rolling  hills, lung-searing inclines, and a 12-mile finish that goes up, but never down.

Yeah, it's a bitch. And a long one.

A lot of riders have gone further than 112 miles and many of them do it a lot faster than
this 50-something, slow-twitch, 220-lb, boy-in-a-man's body can. Nobody gets a medal for
completing it and I'm not bragging because I've done it three times over. I'm just a guy
who wants to share my experience because there's a lot of things that go through your mind
during a stage that can least nearly seven hours without stopping even once. Not even to go
to the bathroom.

That 112-mile bike ride doesn't begin until after a 2.4 mile swim and a 600-yard run from
the water to the transition area where the man boobs flop with every stride and the brain tries
to reset itself after an hour of swimming in what seems like a blender, with arms, legs, and
elbows flying all over the lake at 6:30 in the morning. Once you slip out of the wetsuit into
cycling shoes, shorts, shirt, and a helmet, reality hits you in the face like a sledgehammer: Now
I have to bike 112-miles. That is a lot of time on the bike and a lot of time to think.

There are only two things that are really important to me when I begin the journey: avoid a
flat tire and hydrate myself enough so I can go the distance. Truth to be told, I really spend
most of my time on two wheels praying to God about one thing. It usually goes something like
this, "Please, God, don't let me get a flat tire." Flat tires suck. They are worse than being forced
to watch a season-long series of the Kardashian's. If  you get a flat tire during a race, it'll cost
about 30-45 minutes to repair it---that's if everything goes right.


In the first Ironman I did in 2014, the bike ride started out in a monsoon. The rain pelted my
face like brass needles into a dark board as thunder and lightning lit up the sky. My feeling at
the time was, "Well, if you're going to take me now, Lord, I won't have a problem with it.
There can be worse ways to go than during an Ironman event." I seriously didn't care about
the lightning crackling above me. I had trained for more than six months. There was no way
I was going to quit now.

The downpour went on for the entire first loop of the race. Then the skies opened and the sun
came. So did a litany of thoughts. "What the hell am I doing this for anyway? I paid $750 to
put myself through absolute torture more 12 hours? Seriously?" Yeah, when you have to sit
on a bike for almost as long as an average work day, some crazy things go through your mind.

Another one for me was, "What the hell am I going to do when I have to go to the bathroom?"
I mean, I didn't want to stop and get off the bike. If that happened, I feared  my legs would
cramp up and I'd have no desire to finish the race. But during a race where you consume more
than 20 16-ounce bottles of Gatorades, countless gels, goos, bananas, and orange slices, you
have to go to the bathroom, right?

Wrong.


For some reason, I had the urge to go to the bathroom, but never could. I'd see riders ahead of
me standing up on their bikes to relieve themselves and others squatting in the woods, but I
could never go. Ever.

The 112-mile bike ride wasn't completely filled with pain. Riding in the Adirondacks offered
some amazing scenery with rivers, mountains, and beautiful trees. It was easy to lose yourself
in the scenic ride.

But the pain was never far way--nor were the prayers about making it through without
blowing a tire. That would be a total buzz kill.

I've been lucky in all three Ironman events I completed. I never blew a tire. Thank you, Lord.
When I approached the end of the 112-mile stage knowing I wouldn't have to fix a flat tire,
I always let out a big yell, celebrating my luck and ability to avoid jagged edges, potholes. or
anything else that could've ruined my ride.


And after I changed into my running shoes, visor, and sunglasses, it was finally time to relieve
myself after six and-a-half hours on the bike. Yep, almost four minutes standing up next to
a trough-like, make-shift urinal in the transition tent. I'm not going to lie. It felt amazing.

A little relief before a 26.2 mile run does the body and mind good.








Wednesday, February 15, 2017

REMEMBERING JIM BIBBY


Jim Bibby died seven years ago today. There may have been better pitchers who toed the
rubber in the history of major league baseball, but very few of them possessed the character
and love of the game that Bibby had. This is to honor the man who touched so many lives
and gave me a lot of laughs during the two years we spent together in the Carolina League.

I first met Jim Bibby in spring training with the Boston Red Sox organization nearly 27
years ago. He was one of the biggest human beings I'd ever come across. He stood 6'5"
and God supersized nearly everything on his refrigerator-sized frame. His legs, back,
arms, and shoulders  were massive. Bibby looked more like a current NFL defensive end
than former major league pitcher.

If you didn't know Bibby, you'd take one look at him and believe he was one of the baddest
men on the planet. If you did  know him, you'd realize Bibby was one of the nicest guys
who'd ever walk into your path. His smile, laugh, and personality matched the size of his
physical gifts, making him a person you couldn't soon forget and one you always wanted to
be around.

I'll never forget shaking hands with Bibby at our first introduction in spring training back in 1988. His hands were the size of lobster traps, making mine appear to be those of a
two month-old infant. Bibby was one of the few people in the game who could hold eight
baseballs in one hand. I can hold three. A man with extra large hands can hold five. The sight
of Bibby cradling eight is mind-boggling.


Attached to his right hand was a powerful arm that vaporized hitters with 95-mph fastballs.
Bibby enjoyed a solid 11-year career in the major leagues, recording 111 victories while
authoring a no-hitter. There was nothing secret or complicated about his approach on the
mound. He'd just hump up and fire fastball after wicked fastball, challenging you to hit it.
No games, no nibbling, no backdoor sliders. Just straight heat.

Bibby, whose brother, Henry, played in the NBA,  pitched for the Cleveland Indians and
Pittsburgh Pirates during the late 70's and, unfortunately, is pictured  (below) in two of the
worst uniforms in the history of the game.

In 1976, Bibby toed the rubber for the Tribe in those hideous all-rust colored uniforms. After
getting traded to the Pirates a year later, Bibby pitched in either all-gold, all-black, or half and
half. Imagine seeing a guy that big in those uniforms, throwing darts in the mid-90's? Scary.
The baseball looked like a Tic Tac coming out of those monster hands, rearing back in attire
better suited for Halloween than major league baseball games.




There was a lot of little boy in this mountain of a man. When I played for the Lynchburg
Red Sox of the  Carolina League, Bibby was our pitching coach. He appeared as though he
never had a bad day in his life. He was loud, funny, and still ultra-competitive. Bibby threw
batting practice to us nearly every day and always made like he was on the mound pitching
in the 1979 World Series for the Pirates.

During batting practice, Bibby moved to the front of the mound, making the distance to the
plate about 55 feet. He would grunt, groan, and release a fastball that you could hear hissing 
on its way to the plate. Bibby wanted to do two things: turn your bat into kindling wood
or blow the ball past you When he accomplished one or the other, he'd have a mile-wide grin
on his face and roar with laughter, the old man reveling in overpowering kids half his age.


When Bibby, as the pitching coach, would come out to the mound to consult with a young kid
having trouble finding the strike zone, he'd often take off his hat and bury his head deep into
his shoulder, hoping to dry the river of sweat produced on all those thick Virginia summer
nights.
  
Standing next to Bibby on the mound as he'd offer some words of advice to a struggling pitcher,
I'd flash back to his days in the major leagues and laugh to myself at an experience that seemed
so surreal. As I kid growing up, I was a baseball junkie. On Saturday afternoons, I'd always 
watch NBC's Game of the Week with Curt Gowdy and Tony Kubek. I vividly remembered the
time Bibby was pitching on a sweltering summer afternoon in Pittsburgh back in 1979.

Bibby was on the mound and I recall Gowdy saying, "Bibby is really laboring out there. Just look
at the sweat dripping off the brim of his cap." It wasn't dripping. It was more like a torrential downpour. I had never seen anything like it. I couldn't believe a human being could possibly sweat that much.

Less than a decade later, I saw first hand just how much Bibby could sweat. It was like a
tsunami rolling through the hills of Virginia. Forget about towels, he needed a leaf blower to
dry the sweat off him. Ah, but it didn't matter to Bibby, he just had that big 'ole grin on his face,
as if he was having the most fun of anybody that walked the face of this great earth.


That was Bibby, he loved life and never spent a day worrying about the past. That was gone
and he seemed like a guy who always set his alarm for early the next day because he didn't
want to miss out on what it would have to offer.

In 2002, the Lynchburg professional baseball franchise retired Bibby's number 26. It's the
only baseball number that's been retired in the city's history. Nobody deserved that honor more
than Bibby.

Nobody.


Bibby died in 2010 of bone cancer. which was about the only thing that could suck the joy and
happiness out of a great, great man. He was just 65-years-old, yet still just a kid in a large man's
body. In the journey through my baseball life, I met thousands of different people, but only a
few I can say really had an impact on my life. Bibby was a special man who was so large, so
humble, and so full of enthusiasm. He was a fun-loving guy who just never to wanted to grow up.

But that was OK. He was Bibby and everybody loved him.

                                      
                                          PITCHER BART HALEY AND JIM BIBBY

Sunday, February 12, 2017

MEMORIES OF SPRING TRAINING. THERE IS NOTHING LIKE IT.


Pitchers and catchers report for spring training.

If you're a baseball fan, those six words are simply beautiful. They mark the beginning of
a new season and unlock images of palm trees, chamber-of-commerce weather, and a tiny
slice of paradise.

As snow and sleet blanket the northeast while thick icicles hang from my window, playing
catch is seemingly as far away as the distance between Connecticut and Florida. Photos of
players reporting to spring training under sunburst skies dominate the news feed on Facebook.
Thoughts of  my first spring training flood my mind like the melted ice that will be unleashed
on our roads once the temperatures work their way into the 40's.

1988. Winter Haven, Florida.


In early March of that year, I pulled into this sleepy town in central Florida with a mile-wide
grin on my face and the enthusiasm of a Little League kid playing in a real uniform for the very
first time. After a trying and unfilled career at UNC where I played three different positions
and started to switch-hit during my junior year, I signed with the Boston Red Sox on
Christmas Day.

I got a break because the team had lost Todd Pratt in the Rule 5 draft to the Cleveland
Indians. Pratt would eventually be returned to the Red Sox and enjoyed a solid 10-year
career in the major leagues with the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Mets.

It didn't matter to me how I got to the Red Sox and Winter Haven, but I was there and
enjoyed every single second of it. I was wearing a Boston Red Sox uniform and the catchers
helmet I was issued, had the 'B' on it. I still have that same helmet which fits nicely in my
closet. It has no value to anyone else on the planet, but that helmet, currently buried beneath
a bunch of old sweaters, is priceless to me.

Every day of spring training felt like Christmas. Everything is new. The uniforms. The bats.
The gloves. The spikes. And, of course, the baseballs. They are so clean and shiny they look like
pearls glistening in the sun. The air was remarkably fresh and the smell from the grass on the
perfectly manicure fields was intoxicating. The roads into the facility were lined with
palm trees and if there was a cloud in the sky during our four-weeks of camp, I never saw it.

What I did see was the best hitter who ever lived. Yep, Ted Williams.

The baseball legend was Red Sox royalty. He was a roving hitter instructor but may as
well have been God in baseball spikes to me. I was 22-years-old at the time and wasn't into
hero worshipping, but this was Ted Williams. I was in awe of the man.


During the second day of spring training, I had been one of the last players to go into the
hitting cages that were perfectly placed in between the major and minor-league camps The cages separated the facilities but they were used by everybody, from Wade Boggs, Jim Rice, and
Dwight Evans, to the last player on the minor-league roster.

I had been hitting with one of the coaches when Williams stopped to watch me hit. I said
to myself, "You have to be kidding me." Then I heard the voice of God. It was a powerful,
booming voice that I had heard during interviews with Williams on television.

"Swing with a slight upper-cut. You need to get the ball in the air."

I stopped almost immediately when Williams said, "Come here, son."  I went over
to the netting that separated us and I looked at the Splendid Splinter in amazement. I
was just as impressed with what Williams did outside of baseball, as his Hall of
Fame accomplishments.



Williams served two tours of duty as a brilliant military fighter pilot for our country. If he
didn't miss all that time, there is little doubt he would've hit 700 home runs. And this living
legend was giving pointers to a non-descript minor-league player.

Williams and I eventually walked out of the dark, dank batting cages into the magnificent Florida
sun. My grandfather, a former minor-league pitcher in the New York Yankees organization,
had traveled from Venice, Florida, to Winter Haven, to see me play. I don't think he was
expecting to see Williams.

I introduced Williams to my grandfather, who received an autograph from Williams, which
he'd send me many years later just prior to his death.

I said to myself, "I've been in spring training for two days, how the hell am I ever going
to top this moment in my baseball life?"

It wouldn't happen during the remainder of spring training, that's for sure. However, playing
baseball every day in spring training was pretty damn special and I soaked it all in like the
sunshine that beat down on us every day.


There were bus rides to places like Kissimmee and Haines City to play against minor-league
teams from the Astros and Kansas City Royals. I'd become teammates with those kids on the
buses, many of whom I am still friends with today.

There would be two more trips to spring training. One more to Winter Haven and one to
West Palm Beach with the Atlanta Braves organization. They were special as well. It's
spring training. There is nothing quite like it.

In 1995, I worked in Fort Myers as a sportscaster. The team I covered during spring training
just happened to the Boston Red Sox. They had left their long-time home in Winter Haven
for a spanking new ballpark in town. Ted Williams wasn't there, but a few of the guys I
had played with were.

They had reached the major leagues and I was there covering them. The memories came back.
The palm trees were there, so was the near-perfect weather, and hours and hours of baseball, of course.

Ah, it's spring training and there is nothing like it. Nothing.











Thursday, February 9, 2017

CONFESSIONS OF A WEATHER REPORTER


(Editor's note: this article was written with tongue planted firmly in cheek and with one big chuckle)

When a big snowstorm shows up on the radar of your local meteorologist, who somehow
manages to keep his job despite hitting on only about 28 percent of his forecasts, it becomes
like the Super Bowl, Olympics, and World Series all wrapped into one for television stations
across the country.

"Severe" weather is what news directors and executive producers live for. Mother Nature
spawns an event that allows your local anchors to use big phrases like "team coverage",
"exclusive video", and "up-to-the-second information."

I always thought it was quite amazing that all these stations in snow belts act like they are
seeing snow for the very first time, even though it happens every year during December,
January, and February going back to, well, the damn Ice Age!


Having worked in television covering sports for nearly 20 years, I must admit, I didn't pay
a lot of attention to all the chaos that goes with covering winter storms, after all, I was always
trying to make deadlines of mine own while enjoying a world where I covered professional
and college sports and got paid to do it. Covering a snowfall? B-O-R-I-N-G!

However, when I got into the news side of things and was assigned to cover BIG events
(wink, wink) like snowstorms, I discovered a whole new world, one that often had me
saying to myself, seriously?




These news directors would get so gung ho they'd often fall all over themselves. Many times
I'd have to break out my best Allen Iverson because I was so incredulous and I'd re-create
his famous press conference where he said, "Man, we're not talking about a game, but practice.
No, not a game, but practice."

Members of management at some places act like a snowstorm is a tsunami that is about
to put their county underwater forever. They'd be booking hotels for three nights for
all their on-air personnel and make enough pizza orders to satisfy the state of Louisiana.




And I'd go all Allen Iverson. "We're not talking about the ebola virus breaking out in
your local supermarket, but snow falling. No, no, no. We're not talking about poisoned
water in Flint, Michigan. We are talking about....snow falling."

Now, I do know snow can affect a lot of things: roads, work, travel, schools, etc. But come
on!  These stations just love to exaggerate things a bit. But it's television and it's how
you tilt the ratings and everybody in the business knows it.

I had the opportunity to cover my share of snowstorms over the past few years. I'd get in
at 4:30 a.m. and travel around the county giving updates every twenty minutes until noon.
With sleet and snow pelting my face and my lips nearly frozen shut, I sometimes found
it quite a challenge to come up with different ways to describe snow, because after all,
it's just snow.



"Yes, Tom, as you can see, it's really come down hard right about now." I always thought
it was kind of funny reporting on the things that viewers can clearly see for themselves. I
often wondered how many times viewers at home would be saying, "Yeah, we know
it's snowing outside. We can see that knucklehead."

It's funny seeing all these local reporters asking local people who've lived locally all their
lives what they think about the snow when they've seen it over and over and over again every
year at this time. Good, grief and I was one of those reporters! Help me. Better yet, shoot me!

In the past few years, these local stations have stepped things up and gone high-tech. Some
of them actually have put cameras inside their news vehicles to allow viewers to see how
things are inside the car and what the roads are like outside. I got to experience this last year,
and I must admit, the first few times were pretty cool. The next 273 updates you had to do
over the course of three days? Um, not so much.


And it's not exactly all that high-tech, either. The camera makes you look like you're doing a
report from inside a tuna can and when I had to wear that big news parka jacket, I kind of looked
like, well, the Stay-Puff marshmallow man. Yeah, I'd finish a report and I'd get a text on
my cell from a friend that said, "Dude, good job but lay off the Oreo cookies. Have a few,
just don't eat the entire bag."  I got texts that I said, "Hey, man, are you going to play Shrek in
the sequel?"  That's cool.  Very funny. I loved it.

Invariably, there would always be that jacked up show producer who thought the viewers
would miss out on the snow covered roads if you didn't show those  snow covered
roads immediately. They'd yell in your ear, "Flip the switch to the car-cam now!", as if they
were about to miss the triple-lindy the orangutan that sits atop President Trump's head
was going to perform it on live television.

We're talking about  snow falling.....

A few times when the BIG snowstorms that had been forecasted by these weather guys