Thursday, June 18, 2009

iFungo Ordinance Bats Supports Our Troops and USA Cares

At every baseball game I attend, I stand tall and proud with my hand over my heart as the Star Spangled Banner is played. I scold the people around me when they are too oblivious to take off their caps or when they start to cheer when "Our Country's" song is only three-fourths of the way complete.

I realize how lucky I am that my son and daughters remain here at home while the sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, husbands and wives that make up our military are overseas to protect the country that I love.

So when I heard about i-Fungo's new line of commemorative bats, the "iFungo Ordinance Bats", I got that same feeling in my belly as when they unfurl the flag over the Green Monster at Fenway. Some how the synergy between baseball and my country makes me feel warm inside.

I called iFungo owner and CEO, Garrett Berger, to find out more about his exciting line of "Feel Good" bats.

"The Ordinance Bat is a professional quality wooden baseball bat that we engrave with a personal message for your loved one in the military," explained Berger who was the former number one draft pick of the Florida Marlins in 2001 before hurting his arm. "It's a way to let your soldier know that you support them."

"Imagine how they'll feel when they open their care package from home and inside is a beautiful wooden bat engraved with their name, rank, and a personal message."

I asked Berger how he got the idea, "I've been working with the American Cancer Society on a Cancer Survivor bat for about ten months. A pink bat like the pros use on Mothers Day to honor cancer survivors and fighters who lost their battle. It's a big process to get their support. While thinking about the ACS bat, the idea of a bat that honors our military popped into my head."

Berger, whose parents' God son is stationed in Iraq, has taken this cause to USA Cares, a charity for military families in need, and will be donating 50% of all profits to the organization.

"Our goal is to sell 555 bats because that means we could donate $10,000 to USA Cares. I actually have been researching the number five to see if there is any significance in the military or if it is just a cool number."

"Not only would it equate to a donation of $10,000 to USA Cares, but it means that 555 of our men and women would get this awesome symbol of love and appreciation," added Berger.

“We take pride in the fact we don’t just offer premium baseball equipment to the
masses. Any ability we have to help out a worthy cause we jump at. USA Cares is a
very reputable charity and when we presented the idea to them they immediately fell in love with the idea."

"Baseball is very much still America’s favorite pastime, and in my opinion it’s about time we helped our own soldiers in the process," added Berger.

The bats, which sell for $80 + SH feature a stars and stripes logo and personalization at the end of the bat. The first line features the soldier's name and rank followed by the second line, where the purchaser will be able to display a personal message to their soldier.

Choice of bat colors include black, navy, yellow, olive green, silver, or two-tone colors with natural finished handles.

“I know quite a few friends and family that are overseas defending our freedom and
for me this is just a small token of appreciation for their efforts.”

Berger went on to tell me that he also envisions soldiers purchasing the bats for their children.

“There is nothing better than a child of a soldier wanting to honor their father or mother by using a bat with their name on it. I hope these bats will provide them with the same courage and grit their fathers/mothers possess to help them get through an at bat or the entire season."

Berger and iFungo is also a supporter of the children's book, "A Glove of Their Own." The beautifully illustrated book written by a group of baseball parents, revolves around the amazing power of 'Paying It Forward.' With every purchase of a glove of $100 or greater, iFungo will include the book as well as make a $3.00 donation to USA Cares.

"Baseball has stood the test of time and we only hope that this will provide the same strength to these families to get through this time.”

To order your iFungo Ordinance Bat go to

Todd Civin is a freelance writer who writes for the Bleacher Report. He can be reached at for hire or comments. He is also a supporter of "A Glove of Their Own" and encourages you to visit the site at When purchasing the book use today's donor code USC247 USA Cares.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Born and Bred Sox Fans Espouses About His Yankee Brethren

Though the gates are still pulled down around our beloved Fenway and George, the peanut man, has yet to roast his first "Pistaaaaaachio", they've already started to swarm around Yawkey Way.

With names like "Joey", "Mario", "Tina", "Joey" ,"Mario", and "Tina", they gather around the only remaining hallowed ground and talk of the "New" House that Tax Payers Dollars Built.

The smell of Pacco Rabanne overpowers the scent of "The Sausage King", which hovers over Gate C after every Red Sox game. Crammed into designer jeans and frequently combing the big hair on both the male and female of the species, they stand out from the much more "normal" Boston fans.

Chest hair aplenty flows from the top of their pinstripe shirts, with A-Rod's 13*, and Jeter's familiar 2, as far as the eye can see. As they line up in front of the Beer Works and The Cask three hours before the ballpark opens, the voices of Doug and Carrie Heffernan broadcasts loudly over the streets of the Fens.

Like a circus procession from the Greatest Show on Earth, the Yankee fans have made their way out of Co-op City and GPS'ed their way up Interstate 95 as a three-game series between sports' most heated rivals is on tap.

With first place on the line, fans from both sides dream of a sweep for no other reason than bragging rights. Scratching and yanking at themselves like Bronx Zoo chimpanzees, the Yankee fans are a sight to behold.

Intelligent conversation like "Yo Joey. Mingya," and "Oh, yeah, well you wish you could date Madonna" echo through Landsdowne Street in the guttural groan spoken around every Da Bronx neighborhood.

Gold rope chains, sold by the inch on the busiest NY city street corner, are emblazoned with Yankee medallions the size of the hub caps from their thin-wheeled BMW's.

Designer T-shirts adonned with well thought-out phrases like "Got Rings" and "Youk's Mother Loves Pedroia" are nearly as abundant as the window decals with the little Yankee dude going pee-pee on the Red Sox symbol.

"Yo, Joey. I love that one," snorts one of the Yankee throng.

As a team, I confess, this Yankee team doesn't bother me nearly as much as some in the past. I have to admire guys like Jeter, Rivera, Cano and Melky. I'm admittedly jealous that we didn't get Teixeira and would love to have seen him launching bombs 81 games a year into the Citgo sign instead of the Yankee Stadium jet stream.

There is no greater writer and more thoughtful human being than "Heartbeat of the Bronx". I love his passion and his sense of style and aspire to consistently write with no hint of a Papi-like slump. I even begrudgingly call him a friend (only during baseball season, Stephen).

But, Lord, I thank you every day I was plopped dead in the middle of Kenmore Square, instead of living in the shadows of Yankee Stadium. I somehow feel that the distribution of brain cells ceased just south of the Hartford.

I wear my Red Sox tattoo proudly and joke with Yankee fans that I also have a NY one in a place where the sun don't shine.

I've sat many a Yankee-Red Sox game listening in the bleachers while heated conversation took place between passionate Red Sox fans and equally passionate Yankee fans. The banter goes something like this.

Sox fan: "Oh yeah, well who choked in 2004?"

Yankee Fan: "Yo...look at the rings."

Sox fan: "Oh yeah, well who choked in 2004?"

Yankee Fan: "Yo, look at the rings."

Sox fan: "Word."

Sox fan: "I know, I know...Yo, look at the rings."

So, I know what you're thinking. I'm seeing the world again through my slightly jaded Red Sox glasses. Guilty as charged. I'm sure there is some intelligent life beyond New Haven.

After all, I've tossed back a few Guinness with Pete and Ivan at the Hairy Monk
(337 3rd Ave.@ 25th St). But on the whole (tell 'em how you really feel) , I suspect that most Yankee fans are a few fries short of a happy meal.

And so, I end with my favorite Yankee joke (no, it's not Jeffrey Maier):

Albert Einstein is at a party and asks one of the guests:

Albert: “What is your IQ?"

Guest: "165."

Albert: Great, we can talk about nuclear physics and cosmology.”

After a few minutes of lively discourse, another party guest tries to get in on the conversation.

Einstein asks him, “What is your IQ?”

Guest: "65."

To which Einstein replies: “GO YANKEES!”

Welcome to Fenway, Yankee fans...let the games begin.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Yankees Are Starting To Scare Me: Observations Of a Red Sox Fan

My reputation proceeds me. I'm a certified Homer. Born and bred Red Sox Red. I am to the Red Sox what Heartbeat of the Bronx is to the Yankees. "My Sox" can do no wrong, and I'm quite certain that HB feels the same about "his Bombers".

It should come as no surprise, then, that after Czar Steinbrenner III backed up Daddy's ship full of Franklins this winter and effectively monopolized the free agent market, that I waxed poetic about the flawed way this is to build a championship.

Though the Red Sox are historically in the upper layers of the ozone on the spending chart, they have recently resorted to a mix of home grown talent and low risk, high reward salaries.

I know, the Sox are still saddled with J.D. Drew and Julio Lugo, but on the whole, they have changed from shopping at Tiffany's to shopping at Service Merchandise.

I wrote an article during the winter about Sabathia's weight and how he and Fernando Valenzuela had identical statistics over their first seven seasons, only to go 60-71 over his last eight.

Boy, did the Yankees overpay!

I spoke of A.J. Burnett and his knack of getting up for all the big games, as long as they occur in a contract season and how A.J. would not be able to hold up under NYC scrutiny. And I called Teixeira a spoiled prima donna after he had scorned the Sox in favor of the Pin Stripes.

How could he go to the Yankees for a mere $14 million more?

And then my wildest dreams started to unfold. A-Rod shared needles with his cousin, waltzed a bit with Selena Roberts, and then went down with a debilitating hip injury.

Wang went lame and Nady went down. And Bruney. And Posada. And Marte...and on and on.

Even Posada's and A-Rod's backups went down in Molina and Ransom. Of course, the Sox could make space between themselves and the Yankees third string.

Teixeira started out swimming below the Mendoza line and Matsui was only a stroke or two better. Sabathia stumbled a bit coming out of the blocks, and I knew it was from either one too many late nights at Taco Bell or one too many of the same at Pache'.

With each 22-4 loss, implosion of the bullpen, or jet stream shot to the right field porch, I was so sure that this was yet another case of good prevailing over evil. Another vote for my Syracuse University minor in business over Hal Steinbrenner's master's at the University of Florida. I knew how to build an organization. After all, I had that yard sale in 1995 that was the envy of the neighborhood.

Not sure whether it was Papi's shirt buried beneath the stadium, the Bizarro Curse of the Bambino, or Joe Torre's Maloik, the Yankees first five weeks of the season resembled Bernard Madoff's winter. It simply wasn't looking good.

Sitting in third, closer to fourth with a record of 13-15, the Red Sox and the surprising Toronto Blue Jays had the Yankees on the mat, with a boot to the esophagus.

Staggered, but not down. And they kicked out faster than Eddie Guerrero in Wrestlemania XX.

From the moment A-Rod came off of the disabled list, the Yankees went from stagger to swagger. The very first pitch that Rodriguez saw from Orioles ace Jeremy Guthrie was deposited into the NY jet stream, and the Yankees haven't stopped since.

Coming off being swept in consecutive two-game series at home by the Red Sox and Rays, the Yankees have gone 16-6, including 14 of their last 18. Though only hitting .260, A-Rod has contributed seven home runs and 21 RBI, and has solidified the Yankees feared batting order.

Since A-Rod's return, Teixeira has been red hot and brought his sub-.200 average to .281, with 16 homers and 44 RBI. His average since A-Rod's return is .375, including hits in 13 straight games and 18 of 19.

Sabathia followed up his sub-par April in which he finished 1-2 with a 4.73 ERA with a Sabathia-esque May, winning four of five with a 2.56 ERA. He has clearly shown that he is the top of the rotation ace that the Yankees shelled out big dollars for.

Even the bullpen, which wore a path of left field to the hill during April and early May, seems to have for the most part settled down. Though Bruney and Marte are still out with injuries, veteran Brett Tomko and youngsters Dave Roberson and Alfredo Aceves have all been solid.

Chien-Ming Wang, who taxed the Yankees bullpen earlier in the season with starts of 3.2, 1.0 and 1.1 innings, has returned from the DL and thrown eight solid innings of relief.

Additionally, the Yankees wounded are starting to get healthy. Posada returned from the DL this week and has gone 3-10 with a homer, while Bruney, Marte, Nady, and Molina are all entering their final phases of rehab.

So as the two perennial AL East leaders come out of the first turn, the Yankees are on top by a half game, and I'm not nearly as confident as I was three weeks ago.

My wish of seeing them implode has not occurred, and my suspicion is I'll still be biting my nails in September.

And though five weeks does not a season make, it was sure fun while it lasted.

Monday, June 1, 2009

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of Boston Sports Media

"Greer gets the ball in play. He gets it out deep and ...Havlicek steals it..Over to Sam Jones. Havlicek stole the ball...It's over..It's over...Johnny Havlicek is being mobbed by the fans..."

The call is more famous than the play itself. We all know the "Most" (Johnny) famous call in Boston sports history. Yet as fans, many do not know the opposing team, the score or even that Hondo's theft didn't win the game, but prevented the Sixers from winning it.

And of course this isn't the only call in Boston sports lore that has grown larger than the game itself.

Joe Castiglione's radio call of the final out that ended the Curse of the Bambino in 2004 will be forever linked with Fenway Fame. The sound bite is more famous than the video footage of the event itself.

“Swing and a ground ball, stabbed by Foulke. He has it. He under hands to first, and the Boston Red Sox are the world champions! For the first time in 86 years, the Red Sox have won baseball’s world championship! CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?”

Then there are calls,which fall under the heading of memorable, yet infamous. Calls we'll always remember but not as much for capturing a moment as for their out and out lunacy.

The Bruins play by play man Jack Edwards made the following call during a recent game between the Bruins and Flyers. Not a great call per se but definitely an instant classic.

And of course, nearly any rant by Celtics announcer and resident homer Tommy Heinsohn, becomes memorable to Boston and national listeners alike.

I feel with all my heart that when God created sports, all roads pointed to Boston. Not only are we Bostonians blessed with four of the top sports franchises in the world, but we are equally blessed with the radio, television and print media personalities to enhance our sports experience.

The list of media legends or near legends is endless, Johnny Most, Will McDonough, Ken Coleman, Curt Gowdy, Derek Sanderson and Fred Cusick, Peter Gammons and Sean McDonough set the tone of Boston sports print and broadcasting.

What follows is the Best and Worst of Boston Sports Media. Thank you to the many friends and fans who participated in my "informal poll." Your opinions were invaluable. In many cases your thoughts were the same as mine and in some instances quite different. That is what makes for good sports media banter.

The list of legends in waiting is perhaps equally impressive as Jerry Remy, Bob Ryan, and Joe Castiglione both entertain and enhance the Boston sports picture in much the same manner as their predecessors.

The Good

Top Newspaper for Sports: Boston Globe

The Globe's competition is not only the Boston Herald in Boston proper, but the Providence Journal Bulletin, The Lawrence Eagle Tribune, The Worcester Telegram and the Patriot Ledger.

With such writers as Bob Ryan, Nick Cafardo, Mike Reiss, Kevin Paul Dupont and Dan Shaunessey (not my favorite, but still a great writer), the Globe coverage is unparelleled. Now if they can't keep afloat in the wake of recent problems, the nod goes to the Herald.

Best Columnist: Bob Ryan

Looks like a cross between Captain Kangaroo and one of the Kennedy's to me. Not only a Boston legend but a national legend as well. Ryan has covered 20 NBA finals, 20 Final Fours, nine World Series, five Super Bowls, and the last seven Olympics.

In recent times Ryan has become less basketball-oriented and more general sports-oriented. He has also written for the Basketball Times. Bob votes for the Baseball Hall of Fame.

In 1982, Ryan would hand the torch of the Celtics beat to, then-not well known, Dan Shaughnessy and later Jackie MacMullan. He did this in order to go to WCVB for a couple of years. Ryan ended up hating it and moved back to the Celtics beat in 1984 for two more seasons before getting promoted to general sports columnist in 1989.

He has won the following prestigious awards during his Hall of Fame career.
  • Dick Schaap Award for Outstanding Journalism
  • Curt Gowdy Award from the Basketball Hall of Fame
  • Associated Press National Sportswriter of the Year
  • National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association National Sportswriter of the Year
  • Member of the College Basketball Writers and New England Basketball Halls of Fame.
Red Sox Beat Writer: Tony Massarotti

The one-time Herald writer jumped to the Globe this past summer and may have single handedly decreased the Heralds readership. The squeaky voiced scribe no longer appears on WEEI due to conflicts with the Globe but was recently seen on Red Sox telecasts to fill in for Jerry Remy.

Knowledge eminates from his very soul. Mazz alos appears on New England Sports Network (NESN). In addition, Mazz's book, "Dynasty, How the Red Sox Became a Baseball Powerhouse" is a must read for any Sox fan.

Best Patriots Beat Writer: Mike Reiss

Not to be confused with the writer of the Simpsons, Mike Reiss of the Globe might be the best beat writer for any team in any sport.

His blog Reiss' Pieces is not only a clever name but the best and most informative sports blog I read. Outside of Michael Holly, writer and WEEI sports personality, Reiss knows more about the Patriots than Belichick himself.

Best Celtics Beat Writer: Frank Dell'Appa

Though his Globe mug shot looks like is was stolen from the FBI's Most Wanted list, there is nothing criminal about Dell'Appa's coverage ofthe Celtics. Previous to this position, he was the beat writer for the New England Revolution and also reported on the U.S. National Team and international soccer.

In 1997, he was inducted in the Massachusetts Soccer Hall of Fame. He has covered five FIFA World Cup Finals and two Womens’ World Cup finals. He has been a member of the Boston Globe sports staff since 1989.

Best Bruins Beat Writer: Fluto Shinzawa

Though I personally think there is something oddly humorous about a writer of Asian decent covering hockey and NASCAR there is none better.

The BU grad is the Boston Bruins beat writer for the Boston Globe sports section. He also covers NASCAR for the paper. Prior to assuming the B's beat, Shinzawa was the lead college hockey writer for the publication. His Bruin's blog and his pre-game reports are second to none.

Best Radio Play by Play (Red Sox): Joe Castiglione

Love Joe Castig and Love Sean Grande (Celtics). This one was too close to call so we split the award. The two are both professional with Joe being the voice of experience and Grande representing the new regime of sorts.

Castig is a seasoned pro whose radio voice is calming and soothing to the often whigged out Red Sox listeners. Castiglione was a Yankee fan as a kid and this almost cost him the award here. He said in his autobiography that he then closely followed the Pirtates becasue the were the closest to Youngstown and became in Indian fan after moving to Cleveland.

Not only did Castig make that famous call when the Sox won in 2004 but he is also the Geography King. Seems to know the home town of every MLB player this side of Tokyo.

Best Radio Play-by-Play (Celtics): Sean Grande

Grande is in his seventh season as the radio play-by-play voice of the Boston Celtics working along side Cedric Maxwell.

Prior to taking the job in 2001, he was mostly known among New England sports fans as the “Flashboy” on The Big Show on WEEI He was also the program director at WEEI for three years. Grande is knowledgeable and consistent and is a good straight man for Maxwell.

The duo is known as “Grande and Max.” As of the end of the 2007-2008 season, only the legendary Johnny Most and current television voice Mike Gorman have called more Celtics games than Grande.

Best TV Color: Jerry Remy

Jerry Remy is the God of color commentating. He has been working in broadcasting since 1988 and as the Red Sox color commentator since 2000. He laughs at himself and has no bones about poking fun at his perceived baseball inabilites. He promotes himself endlessly and is the first president of Red Sox nation.

Remy's hot dog stand, RemDawg's, is open outside of Fenway. He also runs a web site, called the Remy Report and is the author of children's books Hello Wally and Wally the Green Monster and his Journey Through Red Sox Nation! and his air guitar bit is legendary.

Best TV Play-by-Play: Don Orsillo

The consummate professional, even when he cracks up to Remy's antics. The pride of Melrose Ma spends much of his time laughing at RemDawg when he is not announcing top notch Red Sox.

He has been NESN's play-by-play man since the beginning of the 2001 (a no-hitter thrown by then Red Sox pitcher Hideo Nomo in his first game). He also called Cal Ripken Jr's final game, as well as the no-hitters thrown by young Sox pitchers Clay Bucholz and Jon Lester

He is sometimes referred to by fans as "announcer boy," after he was given that nickname by Red Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield in a NESN commercial. In addition to his Red Sox duties, Orsillo has called the Beanpot hockey tournanment and Boston College.

Best Sideline Announcer-Naoko Funayama

Certainly not as pleasing to the eyes as Tina Cervasio, Hazel Mae or Kathryn Tappen were, but if this is about beauty then Dan Shaughnessy is in trouble.

A graduate of Williams College and BU College of Communications, she joined NESN as a freelance feature reporter in April 2007. In her first year with NESN, she covered Red Sox pitchers Daisuke Matsuzaka and Hideki Okajima. Funayama caught the eye of NESN after she helped Matsuzaka's strugling translator during Matsuzaka's introductory press conference. Funayama joined NESN full-time in August 2008 as the Bruins in-game reporter and host of "The Buzz," a Bruins countdown show.

Best Post and Pre-game Analyist: Dennis Eckersley

No one closes it out like Eck. Rice and Donye Marshall are good for the Sox and Celts and David McCarty was my personal favorite but Eck is in a league of his own. Plus the ladies say he is still "one fine piece of eye candy."

Dennis Eckersley serves as a Red Sox studio analyst for select Boston Red Sox games. He delivers pre-game analysis and commentary on "Olympia Sports presents The Boston Globe Pre-Game Show," NESN's one-hour pre-game show. After the game, Eckersley returns for extra analysis on the network's popular Red Sox post-game shows, "W.B. Mason Extra Innings" and "Granite City Extra Innings Extra."

The six time All-Star has served as a color analyst for the Oakland A's television broadcasts (1999) and has also filled in for Jerry Remy during Red Sox broadcasts.

Boston Sports Media Hall of Fame

Johnny Most, Will McDonough, Derek Sanderson, Bob Ryan, Fred Cusick, Peter Gammons, Sean McDonough and Jerry Remy are first ballot HOF. Votes have to go to Gil Santos and Gino Cappelletti due to longevity, but I truly think both leave a lot to be desired.

Also, gaining votes are Kevin Paul Dupont, Jackie McMullen, Ken Coleman, Ned Martin and Michael Holley.

The Bad and the Ugly

Worst Sideline Reporter: Greg Dickerson

Comments on Boston Sports about Dickerson say it best.
Sluggo says: He has some talent, but his abrasive, smarmy on-air manner leads me to turn thumbs down.
NASCL says: Tough call. Kind of gives me the heebee-jeebees when he looks straight into the camera.
Steve says: Any “approvals” tell me the kid is from a large family. How is this cat employed? Period. He and Shepard give hope to morons from coast to coast. To listen to what actually comes from his pie hole is simply mind boggling.
Bricag says: He would be at the opening of an envelope if he thought he would be on TV. Best thing they ever did was get him off the Baseball show—when I see his face I switch the channel!!!!! Nuf said.

Worst Columnist: John Tomase

After his botching of a story the day before the Patriots Superbowl, Tomase should have been fired.

The Yahoo sports story by MJD went as follows:

If you aren't familiar with the name John Tomase, I sort of envy you. That would mean that you aren't terribly caught up in all this Spygate business, at least not caught up enough to know the name of the unfortunate soul at the Boston Herald who first "broke" the story of the Rams walkthrough tape, which, of course, we now know never existed.

He screwed up. He had sources that weren't concrete and he really wanted to break the story first, so he made some poor assumptions. He ended up printing something about the Patriots that wasn't true.

And in a special treat for Herald readers who demanded their pound of flesh, the Herald turned comments back on for the apology story. One hour after the story was posted (which was sometime around midnight or 1 a.m. last night), there were 53 comments, and exactly two of them weren't bile-filled rants calling for Tomase to be fired and/or beheaded, and then to have his severed head paraded through downtown Boston on a stick, while his parents are tied to the Bunker Hill Monument, where the public are invited to drop by and throw rocks at their faces.

Worst Color Man: Tom Heinsohn

No Tommy Points for Tommy-He is clearly too emotionally attached to the Green, too excitable and overall too loud. I am a homer, but when an announcer alters the truth becasue he has Green in his eyes it gets old fast. Johnny Most was endearing. Tommy Heinsohn is annoying.

Worst TV Play-by-Play: Jack Edwards

Edwards was named the Bruins play-by-play announcer for home and road games in 2007. It was during this time that Edwards started using various phrases such as "Sticks a fork in it", "sends it down the river", "fungo's the puck", "I think I heard post", "sets up in Gretzky's office", " dangles along the (blueline/sidewall)", "The Bruins gave Montreal the proverbial dutch oven!", "They have beaten them, and tonight they have beaten them up", "Oh look there's brave Steve!", "This is like Rockem-Sockem robots", "This building is VIBRATING."

Recently, NESN put together and BINGO game of "Edwardisms" that fans can play at home as Edwards broadcasts. During the March 29, 2009 game between the Bruins and the Philadelphia Flyers, Edwards cackled maniacally after Flyer defenseman Randy Jones was shoved into the boards by Milan Lucic. Bottom line. If it looks like a baffoon and it sounds like a baffoon, it's a baffoon.

Worst Radio Play-by-Play: Gil Santos

I feel a bit like I'm kicking my Grandpa here. How can he be a Hall of Fame candidate above and yet be one of the worst. The long time voice of the Patriots is rarely accurate. His voice goes hand in hand with Patriots football, but I spend most of the game thinking about innaccuracies instead of the game.

He has called Patriots games continuously since 1966, except for a stretch between 1980 and 1990. His 30 years of service makes him the longest-serving current announcer in the NFL. He is also the last team play-by-play announcer from the American football League. Time for some new blood.

Through the Eyes of...Brian McRae...Baseball Past, Present, and Future

On a huge parcel of land, in the middle of anywhere, stands a baseball field. The baseball field is surrounded by acres upon acres of corn field. The corn grows tall around the outfield and acts as a fence between dream and reality.

It's dusk now, and the field is illuminated by the setting sun.

And on that field are two men; a father and a son. And they are throwing a baseball. Back and forth to each other. Endlessly. They don't say much in between tosses. They just toss.

And catch. And toss. And catch.

No. It isn't a scene from Field of Dreams. And no it isn't John and Ray Kinsella. But the feeling is just the same.

The scene is one that is carved out of reality and though I created the scenario in the over-creative movie set of my mind, I'll bet you a brown bag full of acorns that Act III ended exactly like this.

Brian McRae created his own true to life Field of Dreams, with his father, Hal, appearing out of the corn field. And the two tossed and caught. And tossed and caught for hours, as the Midwest sun set around them.

"Dad was away most of the time, so we didn't get to do much until I was older", said the quiet, younger McRae, who played in ten solid major league seasons with the Royals, Cubs, Mets, Rockies and Blue Jays.

"It made people pay attention to everything I did, which I thought was strange when I was in grade school", added Brian speaking of his famous Dad, who wore the uniform of the Reds and Royals during an equally solid 20-year career as a player.

Brian, who was a .261 lifetime hitter with great speed and a solid glove, retired as a player in 1999 and has since worked in TV and Radio broadcasting.

"I have done broadcast work with ESPN, MLB.COM and the Royals. This is my first season not on air. I may do a few Royals pre-game radio shows, but am always looking for broadcast work."

Brian is also heavily rooted in the Kansas City community. "I am part-owner of two radio stations in the KC area. Sports Radio 810 WHB and Hot Talk 1510, as well as, being General Manager and Director of Player/Coach Development for the KCSluggers Baseball Program.

The Sluggers are a nationally reknowned baseball program, which is well respected in amateur baseball circles everywhere. Their reputation has developed from their hard-nosed style of play and the success that they've had against the top baseball organizations in the country.

The program began in 1991 with a group of 10-year-olds from the Blue Springs, Missouri area. The team moved each year through the different age brackets, with its nucleus of players remaining the same through nine years.

In 2000, the KC Sluggers had for the first time, two teams playing on the national scene. This past year the KCSluggers organization sponsored four teams (18u, 17u, 16u and 15u).

When McRae speaks of the Sluggers he overflows with pride, as if he is speaking of his very own kids.

"The program has been an invaluable asset for our college bound athletes. In the past nine years, over 150 KC Sluggers have graduated to play college baseball across the country in Junior College, Division II and Division I programs and 29 players have been chosen in the annual Major League Baseball Draft." said McRae.

"Amongst our draftees was Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals, the 2001 NL Rookie of the Year. In 2002, Blair Johnson became the highest pick in slugger history as the first pick in the second round by the Pittsburgh Pirates."

"In 2005, two other former KC Sluggers made their Major League debuts, Shaun Marcum with the Toronto Blue Jays, and Joey Devine with the Atlanta Braves."

"Our biggest challenge is raising enough money to pay for equipment. The families pay for the program and we have some great sponsors, but you can never have enough balls, bats, helmets and gear. If any one cares to become a sponsor, please give me a call."

He has also worked with Big Brothers/Big Sisters for 13 years and now coaches a summer league baseball program in Kansas City.

Though Brian loves his duel roles in broadcasting, and helping youngsters, his real love was playing the sport that Dad played. Brian's voice fills with energy and passion when he speaks about his decade in the game.

I asked Brian what has favorite major league city was. "I just enjoyed every single city," he sang. "You're in the big leagues."

"Old Tiger stadium was the worst though. The dugouts and the locker room weren't big enough for a team and all the equipment. I would get to the park around 1 pm and get dressed and sit in the dugout for a night game. Just to get out of the way."

Brian's finest season as a major League player was in 1998 when he played for the Mets. He hit .264 with 21 homers and 79 RBI, while also stealing 20 bases. For his career McRae hit 103 home runs and stole just under 200 bases.

He stole more than 20 bases in six of his ten MLB seasons.

I asked Brian his feelings on skyrocketing salaries and on the recent steroid situation.

"I think at some point baseball will have some type of "cap" system, but I don't know if having a "hard cap" would fly with owners or players."

As far as steroids go, we can't look backwards. What's done is done. We just need to make sure the mistakes of the past don't happen again. Baseball has always been able survive a lot during it's long history.

And it seems to me that if anyone has the right to talk about a long history in baseball, that would be Brian McRae.