Scoring the David Wright Signing

So the New York Mets extended the contract of third baseman David Wright this week. Here we go again, another silly move by our funny owners in Flushing. Let me score it as I see things… Wright’s a clean-cut guy … Continue reading

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It’s Gotta Get Better…Part 2.

In my last blog post I whined about the state of my golf game….and mentioned my concern about the coming big Member Guest tournament at my home course MKCC.

My guest was my friend, Harry Alexander, who grew up playing in Scotland and plays some damn fine golf. He is no longer a country club member so his rounds are down and he carries a 7 handicap….but I know he’s better than that.

The tournament format is pretty simple….teams are grouped by the combined team handicap….Harry at a 7 and me at a 20 (I am embarrassed even writing that)….and we found ourselves in a flight of 5 other teams with similar team handicaps.

You play each team in your flight in a 9 hole match. Players get strokes as earned by a match of handicaps. Teams select the best net score between the partners and compare that score with the other team’s best ball.  Team with the lowest score gets one point.  Tie score .5 points. Lose the hole, no points.

On Friday we played three nine hole matches. Well, WE didn’t play three matches, Harry played three matches. I was awful. In my defense, my back went into spasm for the first two nines….and Harry carried me like the man that he is…we won the first match….and tied the second. The third match we (well I) fell down on the final hole, a par 3 where our competitor got a stroke and won with a par/net birdie.

We hit the 19th hole for a bit and came out to examine the scoreboard….we were in third place out of six in our flight…and well behind the leaders. We had work to do on Saturday.  Riding on our abilities was pride….but also a team bet….each team kicked in $100 with payouts for first and second only.

We had our work cut out for us…

Our first match on Saturday was against one of the leading teams….a fellow member I had never met and his guest, dubbed Friar Tuck by others in the flight for obvious physical reasons.  Nice enough guy and a very good golfer (2 handicap) but a little time in the barber’s chair and a salad or two for dinner wouldn’t hurt him.  Our final match was against my friend Johnny Mo…who had driven the first green with a soaring tee shot over the pines two weeks ago to win the Closest to the Pin Contest. I’ve played with him plenty and know he can bring it.

We knew too well that we needed two convincing wins, not just one or even two squeakers, if we would have any chance to jump up the leader board.   So off we went……

In the first match we were great partners….ham and egg as they call it…..Harry handled one hole and I the other. We beat Friar Tuck’s team 7 – 4…which could just as easily been 8-3 except for a 1 in 100 shot on the final hold by Friar Tuck…. A good finish, but not great.

We needed to stomp on Johnny Mo.  Harry started to struggle (for him anyway, I wish I could play like him on his bad day) and told me early on that this was my nine.  And the golf Gods smiled upon me as they sometimes do….I picked it up…..and stomp we did…beating them 8.5 – 2.5.

We ended up finishing second in our flight, cruising past Friar Tuck. The winners of our flight out-scored us by 3 points I think….and Harry and I were the only ones to beat them head-to-head…just the slightest bit of consolation.

For those final two crucial matches, I don’t really remember any specific drives, exceptional iron play or key putts….but when I looked at my final score for the combined 18 holes….I was stunned to see I had shot an 87….Cool.

Its been a long time since I broke 90 and I am really hoping that I have turned a corner of sorts and can get back to where I’d once been….there is still plenty of golf ahead this season to find out….and I am looking forward to it.

The Taco’s Last Bite:

Call me a convert….I’m done with that buffoon Craig Carton and Joe Benigno has worn me out.  I’m and ESPN Radio guy….specifically Colin Cowherd at 10am and Steven A. Smith at 1pm. Cowherd is funny and BRILLIANT…Steven A. tosses his opinions around easily…the guy is lightning… give them a shot.

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It’s Gotta Get Better

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Golf.

How could a sport that is so easy on the body be so tough on the ego?

I used to be respectable out there. Granted it was years ago…and my definition of respectable was a GHIN of 12.  I could regularly get into the mid to low 80′s. A great golfer….hardly, but I made my fair share of good shots…lots of pars and I was pretty much good for one birdie a round.

My golfing highlight came in a big tournament. My partner Mike Hickey and I signed up for the annual two day Las Vegas tourney, held each Labor Day weekend at MKCC. The format is one of my favorites….team best ball on day one with an opportunity to improve your score on each hole the following day.  Get a bogey on a hole on Saturday…and a birdie on the same hole on Sunday….use the better of the two scores in your final tally and in the above case, improve your overall score by two strokes.

Mike and I started poorly on Day 1…and I was little help…with bogeys on the first 6 consecutive holes.  I was disgusted…and on the 7th tee said to Mike “OK, that’s it….time to get it together.”

And I did.  Birdie on 7, Birdie on 8, Birdie on 9….Bogey 10, Par 11, Bogey on 12, Par 13, Bogey 14, Par 15, Birdie 16, Bogey 17 and Par 18… 3 over par on the front….3 over par on the back…..I finished with my best ever 77…we led the scoring after Day One…and held on in Day Two to take home the big prize. SWEET!

Good thing I haven’t forgotten that great round because it appears to be a real long shot to duplicate.  My swing is a mess and tee shots inconsistent…I am as likely to pull a blast as I am to dribble one 10 yards to the right. Iron play is a mix of high arcs and low line drives, pulls and more often than not short of target. Chipping has become a joke….three beautiful practice swings and then I either stub the club face or pick it up and drill a grounder through the green. Sand shots can be good….or I quit on the follow through and leave it in the trap to try again….and putting…I think I have three putt more greens this year than two putts.

I am hoping that I can play through this. I have spent more time on the range this season than ever before…and of course there I am brilliant. Our pro Chris has figured out that its all in my head…and I am placing to much pressure on myself and just need to trust my swing.  “You aren’t hitting the ball….you are taking a swing.” I have to try to remember that.

We have our big Member Guest coming up in mid June. My partner Harry Alexander is a very very very good golfer. My goal is to figure this out and contribute to our team performance.  Sounds like I haven’t stopped putting pressure on myself… uh oh….

TACO’S LAST BITE

The pundits say that we can start to make some realistic statements about the baseball season come the end of May….well right now, with about 2 weeks left before then, my Tribe is leading the AL Central.  Maybe they can keep this summer interesting….and give a post season a hard run.  Go Tribe.

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Never again a #42

By Guest Blogger Richie Graeber

  I am absolutely flabbergasted, stunned and truly heartbroken at yesterday’s mishap in KC with Mariano Rivera.  Not that he was going to be with us much longer, not that we can’t win with out him (because I believe we can) but HOW IT HAPPENED.  At least, as he said, he was doing what he loves to do.  Deep down I think we all knew that this would be his last year, but I surely hoped it would be with arms up-stretched like TD call standing on the mound winning the WS as his “swan song”; not crumpled on the ground during a pre-game mishap in early May.  Even as I write this……………..it’s like the loss of a dear friend.  My stomach churns and I wish that we could wake up and find out it isn’t true….but it is.  It’s not like being traded either and after all, in baseball, how many injuries are career ending?  Not many at all.  Trades and injuries usually keep a player around for future enjoyment.  This was a miserable and disappointing farewell to arguably the greatest closer and post season pitcher in the history of baseball.  

   Baseball had retired the #42 in homage to Jackie Robinson but Mo was allowed to continue to wear it, as it was his number already….he was “grandfathered in” so to say.  As the last remaining player to carry a #42 on his back, Rivera’s retirement means we will never see the # 42 on an active player again.  I tried to read some media accounts and couldn’t get very far through the articles without stopping.  Couldn’t finish, wouldn’t finish……………………

This is akin to August 2, 1979 – Thurman Munson – as far as the feeling in my heart.  Of course, we will be treated to Old Timer’s Days and the like, with Mo appearing again at the stadium and baseball festivities as opposed to Thurman as it was his death and infinitely sadder but the wrenching feeling I have in my gut beckons back to then.

 

   People may hate the Yankees, may boo greats like ARod & Jeter, et al  but I don’t know if I ever heard boos for Rivera.  He had a quiet dignity and professionalism which he wore like a vestment.  Never showed up a teammate, never complained about a loss, never complained to the ump, never shirked his responsibilities for the few blown saves we witnessed (i.e. Game 7 in  2001 WS & Game 4 in 2004 ALCS to name the biggest 2 that I recall).  Walked out the mound…. took the ball…. did his best and walked off the mound – except the four times he was on the mound when he was swarmed after a WS championship (’96 saw Wettland on the mound).  No one could not like nor respect Mariano Rivera - ’nuff said!  And if you did, see a counselor.  It could be a deep seeded problem or misguided and  venomous personality trait that needs to be addressed.    

 There is, at best, a minimal chance he may return to the mound this season and he claims he’ll be back for next year…. but what if he can’t do it?  He’s 42 going on 43………….then again he’s defied physics the last few years anyway.  I don’t see it happening.  I want to;  but I’ve come to expect we have seen the last of “the great Mariano” – no more Sandman

 Let’s hope and pray that there will be many more like him - everywhere in all sports - as an exemplary athlete who performed and behaved as class personified. 

 

TACO’S LAST BITE

Listened to Steven A. Smith’s ESPN radio show that other afternoon (1pm). In discussing the Knick’s postseason play (down 0-2 at the time) he opined that Carmello was in the driver’s seat…”playing with house money”…because with all the injuries, nobody expected the Knicks to win. All Melo had to do was get his 20 to 25 points and he could say he did his part.  Unreal. Winners pick their team up, place them on the shoulders or back when times are tough, and get the job done. A lot to ask of Carmello….as I don’t think he is capable. But to give him a free pass for 25 points a game as the Knicks go down…Steven A. may be smart…but he is a dope. 

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The Masters

So I tape delayed the Masters today…..Easter Sunday…and here I am, at 9:30…picking up the action where I left off earlier today.

Some random thoughts….

I have been to Augusta and the Masters…thanks to an invite from my friend Mike Hickey.  It was a fantastic few days…tons of laughs outside the course and an incredible time on the course. My favorite day was actually Tuesday…for the practice round…because it was as relaxed as could be.   We talked to Fuzzy Zoeller and by yelling encouragement to Gary Player…sold a guy a membership to Glen Arbor Country Club in Bedford.  I was really glad to go down there with Mike, Jimmy JJ, TO and Andy. We met up with my college roommate Creature too…and we bumped up to some of the guys I know from the TV business….who were ridiculously tight, boring and snobby outside of a few guys like Baker and Pickle. It’s so much more interesting watching a golf tourney when you have seen the course.  After traveling to Augusta, I have a new appreciation for this tournament.

When the coverage opened on Thursday, on ESPN, and I heard Mike Tirico’s voice for the first 12 or so minutes, I admit to being bummed. But very swiftly, the CBS crew came to the rescue…and everything just felt right again.

The CBS announcers are really really solid.  Ian Baker Finch is so damn knowledgeable.  Right up front today he commented that Peter Hanson would be better off surrendering the lead to Phil, enabling Hanson to be the aggressor instead of the protector. I bought it. Verne Lundquist is just a plain and simple classic voice…and his role in one of my favorite movies, Happy Gilmore, only improves his standing in my eyes.  Sir Nick Faldo, with his three Green Jackets, also brings incredible credibility to the action.  He and NBC’s Johnny Miller are my personal favorites. Sometimes I think Ferety tries to hard…but then he pulls something so simple out of his hat that I back off on my critical view.  His call on the second hole, of Louis Oosthuizen’s double eagle…”could be very nice…could be very nice…Oh, come to papa….YES!” was really phenomenal.

One great thing about the Masters tournament…these players are human too. Take Phil on the 4th hole Par 3…..He slings his tee shot off the grandstand into the bamboo….holy crap!   We watched how many guys miss 4 footer putts?  I guess what makes these guys so damn good is that they don’t get phased when a shot goes awry…..they just get back on the horse and do what they need to do….and stay within themselves.

It’s been interesting to read the coverage in the papers…both digitally and via good old fashioned home delivery ….. this week too.  I am most impressed by the player’s attitudes…..they just stay SO POSITIVE…and waste no energy on things when they come up short. Look forward, not back.  What a lesson for all of us…

I have little feeling for Tiger…plus or minus.  I feel he has “paid” for his transgressions and credit him for the work he has put in to get back to the higher echelon of his field.  I think that in his time away from the game, many others have gotten the chance to build their confidence levels…and who fears Tiger today as nearly the entire field once did? Nobody.

The final pairing is now on the 10th hole. I have no clue what is going to transpire from here on out. I am going on record…..Bubba Watson is gonna win this thing…with the pink driver.

Taco’s Last Bite: MLB season started this week. Yankees have dropped two to Tampa. Anyone who thinks these guys are running away with the AL East needs to think again. I pick the pitching rich Rays.

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Is Bruce Springstead really Clairvoyant?

In recognition of the Knicks great start to this NBA season (6-8, 4 straight losses), I thought it time to re-post this piece, written by Guest Blogger Bruce Springstead. 

Carmelo’s Arrival just a Car-Wreck-O in Waiting?

 

By Guest Blogger Bruce Springstead

     WWWHHHOOOOOOSSSHHH. That’s the sound Spike Lee and Knick fans will be hearing on the Garden floor, now that Carmelo Anthony’s racing to New York. Like a NASCAR event, the Knicks will be zooming down the court, rapidly filling the basket for 145 points a game. Unfortunately, their tanks will be on EMPTY when they’re asked to play defense, especially during crunch time. But so what if they give up 150? Isn’t this what Knick fans have settled for — running over opponents and ringing up the score all the way to the playoffs, thumping chests, and assuming all is well again at the Garden? Finally, some excitement, right? Not so fast Kimosabe.

Knick fans and their front office are skipping down Seventh Ave., giddy with the prospect of playoff fever, which they were virtually assured of anyway, even before Carmelo’s arrival. Given the current state of Eastern Conference teams, the Knicks would still make the playoffs, even if their pre-All Star slump was extended. But will Melo and his fellow Nuggets REALLY bring the Knicks closer to a championship? Not really. Not this year, and not anytime soon. Here’s why.   

     When Amare Stoudemire was brought in to supply plenty of points, rebounds and excitement, the fans were jubilant. He has not disappointed, especially when surrounded by a bunch of non-stars. He’s one of the best athletes in the league, and he eased some of the pain fans felt when Lebron said “No Thanks” to New York. But there’s a LOT of miles on Amare’s knees. Coach Mike D’Antoni’s offensive philosophy — run like there’s a gun to you head — was fun in Phoenix, especially with Steve Nash passing the rock to Amare, but it had already started taking it’s toll on Stoudemire. Then D’Antoni came to New York to erase the stench that was masquerading as basketball in the Garden. Knicks brass apparently felt that an up-tempo offense would clear the air faster, and bring a little glitz back to the playoff starved fans. Adios to Eddy Curry and David Lee. Enter Amare.

     Make no mistake. The Knicks are Amare’s team. Surrounded by an over-achieving point guard in Raymond Felton, an improving Danilo Gallinari,  young and exciting Wilson Chandler, steady and smart Landry Fields, Amare and the Knicks started slow, but then found some chemistry. They began believing in themselves. The Knicks became competitive, feared nobody, and pulled off some impressive wins against the N.B.A. elite. There was a buzz again in New York. People were talking about Amare and the no-name Knicks. Sure, they had holes, none bigger than their defense, but they were fun to watch, and you found yourself rooting for them. D’Antoni spread his offense all over the court, the passing got crisp, and the open man was found. I started watching again. I watched more Knick games this year than in the last 5 years combined.

     But with the trade deadline drawing closer, the Nets and Lakers got more interested in the Carmelo Anthony sweepstakes, which pressured the Knicks even more. Knick players heard the rumors. It affected their play, and the team slumped. Owner James Dolan didn’t want the Brooklyn bound Nets to steal Carmelo from under him, and he doesn’t want to lose the sizzle of recent success. Then the Lakers lose interest, and “advisor” Isiah Thomas whispers sweet nothings in Dolan’s ear. The trigger’s pulled. Enter Carmelo.

     Carmelo Anthony is a scorer. He can fill it up fast. He can create. He’s also somewhat moody. Along in the trade comes teammate Chauncy Billups, a playmaker who will make sure Melo gets his touches. Chauncy has made a lot of clutch shots in his career at the end of games. He LIKES the game enders. No longer is Amare THE MAN.  Knick chemistry is radically changed. Stoudemire could turn into Sourmire

     D’Antoni’s run and gun show will enter warp speed. Surprised? He has to prove the trade will work. But he also needs to prove he knows the value of a good bench. He thinks a bench is something for his starters to put their warm-ups and water bottles on. With little substitution, Amare will break down more as time goes on, if not this year, then certainly soon. If Carmelo doesn’t get his fill, he’ll sulk. Billups has 16 years in the league. Players like Wade and Rondo will make it tough on him in the playoffs IF the Knicks make it that deep.

   Lastly, Dolan’s dollars will be compromised soon, once the next collective bargaining agreement is reached. He already overspent on Stoudemire, giving him 100 million. And now Anthony drives his own Brinks truck. Caps and new fiscal rule changes will alter the chances of landing more big name free agents anytime soon. So the Knicks now own two studs, an old point guard, limited role players, an invisible bench, a coach who pushes his players to outscore the world, and management who can’t buy a clue, even with all that cable T.V. money. The future has been mortgaged again. Same ‘ol Same ‘ol.   

      The fans should enjoy Amare Stoudemire while he’s healthy. When the wheels fly off his chassis, it will be Carmelo’s team. Then we’re back to the starting gate. The Knicks will never win anything with James Dolan as the owner, and Donnie Walsh as team president. Period. Coach D’Antoni may keep it interesting and fun — for a while. But, can anyone explain why Isiah Thomas advises ANYONE on the Knicks? Is it any wonder this team is always within arms reach of the Self Destruct button?

     Take heart Knick fans. It’s only two years until the 40th Anniversary of their last championship.   Surely James Dolan will be there, promising another one before the 50th Anniversary.  Isaih will tell him so.

 I hope Spike Lee enjoys watching the NASCAR races at the Garden, but he should  bring a fire extinguisher. There’s a crash coming right around the corner….

Bruce Springstead is “a long suffering Knicks fan who fondly remembers the days of Clyde, Pearl, Debussch, Bradley and The Captain, Willis.  Cazzie off the bench was no slouch either.”

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Surfing…Old School

I hopped in the car last Thursday afternoon for the drive to New Hampshire to pick up Kevin for some campus visits and interviews.   It’s a four and a half hour trip that I can pretty much make with my eyes closed these days.

I have always liked driving….been to California and back 3 times, including twice in a six month span. There is something about the solitude and freedom of a casual drive….the chance to just think…the scenery if you are lucky or plan accordingly….and the exposure to the very different parts of the country.   

I love getting a flavor of new areas.  I always buy a local paper when I stop in a town…to see what constitutes “news”, to look at the ads for local businesses and the help wanteds to learn what runs the economy, the housing prices and types of used cars for sale…. it’s always interesting to me.  Of course, that requires a stop…and a study…which gets in the way of cruisin’.

So my favorite way to learn something about where I am is to surf….not the internet and certainly not “hangin ten” somewhere….but on the good old commercial radio dial. I love it.

Don’t get me wrong…I love being my own DJ thanks to my iPod and getting a laugh from Howard Stern and his Whack Pack on demand via Sirius is always cool….but there is something “freeing” about letting someone else pick and choose my music or subject matter while I just steer the wheel.  And if my appetite is unsatisfied, I just hit the scan button to find something else.

On last week’s drive I remembered that I like the sound of a slide guitar in country music and distinct harmonies provided by the Beach Boys and Eagles, how funny Larry the Cable Guy is and just how powerful a song writer Bob Dylan was. I learned that the Patriots would, in fact, solve the challenges that the Broncos option posed in their last meeting, that real estate prices on Cape Cod are down about 4.5% vs. last year and that JJ Boomers Sports Bar in Lowell, Mass. is THE ONLY place to watch the Super Bowl.

The scan button is an amazing surfing tool. With it, I sampled stations that focused on EZ Rock, the “Sounds of the 70′s and 80′s” or offered “Triple Play Thursday” themed music sets and commercial free lunch hours….and by pushing the button a second time to freeze on any particular station, found DJs who shared local knowledge….information about the lack of snow on the Vermont slopes….weather and road conditions as the rain turned to slushy snow….traffic updates around Portsmouth….and was simply and thoroughly entertained for the entire ride.

I have seen ads from Toyota of late that feature their cool technology…and included on the video touch screen are quick connections to Pandora and Clear Channel’s I Heart Radio. Those services are cool…commercial free today….and in my next car,  I will have the option to connect to any Clear Channel station (and others who have made their signal available in deals of late) around the country….but for me, right now…. local over the air commercial radio, continually changed at the click of button if desired,  is the first and last entertainment choice on a road trip. 

Do yourself a true favor and be Cool…surf Old School….

LAST BITE OF THE TACO

Try this…..Boar’s Head Blazin Chicken with blue cheese salad dressing and lettuce on whole wheat. THAT is some sandwich.

 

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Nothing Fishy About This Story

a fish story master5fishpoleHM - Version 3 copyI had breakfast with my friend Sam Roberts recently.

You might have a connection to Sam without really knowing it…..Sam’s had a long career as a voice over talent…..working for numerous networks, advertisers and radio stations to communicate their messages with his unique style, pace and inflections. Take a listen….. http://www.samroberts.net/v3/home.htm …. recognize the voice?

I admire Sam for a slew of reasons….he’s unyielding in his consistency when it comes to integrity, honesty, friendship, positive energy and generosity. A more solid dude you won’t find. He’s always happy. He’s human too….his golf game is a little wild and at our home course, Mt. Kisco Country Club, its safe to say that nobody makes par more creatively….or has seen more different angles of the holes themselves…..than Sam Roberts.

We got together because I wanted to hear about his adventure this past summer. Sam and his family went up to Canada, where he grew up, to make a feature film. That’s right….to make a feature film. Not just any film, but a very personal story about Sam’s relationship with his Dad who passed away when Sam was a in his early twenties.

The film is called, ‘a fish story’ and I promise, you will hear about it again.

Sam first starting writing the script 25 years ago and dreamed of making it as an homage to his Dad. Well, you know how life goes, things get in the way and you put your head down and do what you think needs to be done, and the years slip by and…well… dreams and goals sometimes take a back seat. Not for Sammy… ‘a fish story’ is in post production right now.

Talk about long odds.

Its been an incredible journey, marked by determination. The script itself, with constant fine tuning, had been consistently recognized and awarded by judges… including ‘Best Screenplay’ at the 2008 Moondance International Film Festival.

With some wind at his back, Sammy set out. He raised the money, found his producing partners, Michael Mosca and Francesca Visconti of Equinoxe Films in Montreal, as well as Annie Coutu and Robert Cordileone of Aisha Productions in Gatineau, Quebec. He hired his director and long time best friend from theater school 35 years ago, Matt Birman. Together they scouted locations, hired the talent, acquired the necessary permits, built the sets, found the extras… you name it, Sam and his team did it. As I said, the film is now in post-production.

I was lucky enough to see a producer’s cut two weeks ago… and I am looking forward to seeing it in a final version. With a Canadian distribution deal locked up… Sam’s next challenge is to find a distribution method here in the States. Not easy… but something tells me that after all he has accomplished so far, this task will just be something else he knocks down in time.

I’m rooting for Sam big time and if I can help him, I will. Keep your eyes and ears open for the premiere of, ‘a fish story’… at your local multiplex big screen, on a linear television network or pay per view, maybe on your computer… I can promise you, you will hear about this movie again… and if you are smart enough to see it, will walk away feeling inspired by the story Sam tells…. and Sam’s personal story of achievement as well.

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Anarchy Takes a Time Out

Oh Man. Serious Sadness. I sold my 1972 MGB today on Ebay to a  guy in Austria who wants to ship it over. Bummer.

Mental Youth

  I bought it four years ago and it was delivered on Father’s Day.  A gift to myself. It came to the house on a trailer from the prior owner in Wisconsin. I had been looking for a ’72 chrome bumper B for at least two years…and my son Kevin and I saw this one on Ebay with a realistic…$4,000….Buy It Now price.

I asked him, “Whadda ya think?” And after he shrugged his shoulders, I hit the buy button.  Like many married men, I paniced…and said “Don’t tell Mom.”  It was to be a project car for the two of us….something the Petrick boys could bond over. 

You’d think I’d know better.  This was my fourth MG. 

I bought my first one…a Teal blue 1972 MGB-GT…back in 1983 when I lived on the upper east side of Manhattan. It was a GREAT CAR! I garaged it in Jersey City for $50 a month…a STEAL!….and brought it into the city every Friday night…returning it on Monday mornings.  I went everywhere in it…Boston, DC, Jones Beach, the Jersey shore…..I kept it for two years and loved it….but began to feel that the whole thing about having a B was the convertible top and the wind running through my balding scalp…so I sold it to some yuppie banker who gave it to his girlfriend.  Never saw it again.

I replaced that GT with a Tahiti blue ’76 rubber bumper B convertible. Ugly color but it had just 35,000 miles on it….and nowhere near the style of the chrome bumper version. The prior owner was a TV news reporter for Channel 7 here in NYC. I picked the car up on a Thursday without a registration or insurance…I just couldn’t wait to drive it….and two days later, on a misty early April Saturday morning, drove my friend Wass to Ward’s Island for softball practice.  I purposely drove on the sidewalk, top down, circling the practice fields, and basked in the envious stares of onlookers at my incredibly cool wheels. Nice.

On the drive back, after crossing the Triboro Bridge, I hit an oil patch and slid straight into the wall, smashing the front right fender into the tire…..and then gashed my fingers deeply trying to pull the metal off the wheel so I could drive it home. No luck.  Even worse…..no registration…..no insurance….and people thought the car stolen without them.  I had to move before a cop came so I bribed a tow truck operator for a lift to a lot on 106th Street, where the car was ransacked in just one night before moving to a body shop nearby after another bribe. A full 4 months later,  I’m back on the road.  The irony…. I’ve missed the entire spring and most of the summer while the body gets fixed! 

Two months later, in October, another car ran a red light travelling west on 86th Street at Amsterdam Avenue as I am headed north one morning to Westchester County.  CRASH…and this time the front end is bent in the other direction.  Another bribe and the same body shop guy calls the car “totalled”.  I took the $2500 insurance check…and bought a ’79 B from a guy in Mill Basin, NY.

I was way too eager…. this one was a disaster. British racing green.  Leaked in the rain. Stopped anywhere, anytime.  Surprise!   On the Deegan Expressway near Yankee Stadium at midnight. At the G W Bridge toll booth on the NJ Turnpike. In the Lincoln Tunnel. I can’t even remember what sucker took that thing off my hands…..or what they paid.

Years went by…..and I got the itch again for a sports car but wanted to keep the peace at home with something reliable.  I bought a first year Miata with 6,000 miles on it from the publisher of AutoWeek magazine, who flipped cars every three or four months for work…..some gig!  The car started every time, ran smoothly, sounded great. Boy was it boring.  The press hailed it as “the new and improved MGB”. Nonsense. Not even close.  I sold it to a neighbor here in Mt. Kisco….and he still owns it and drives it frequently. It’s still boring.

This latest B cost me a small fortune. I paid $4000 and another $800 to get it here. New kingpins, brakes, fuel pump, tires, and driver’s side floor, among other things,  were necessary. New interior at my choice. It still needs a new top. And the oil leak is pretty serious. I am easily into it for $10,000 with at least another $5,000 ahead to fix it and then re-paint it. 

We have four cars now…and holding the B seems silly. Keeping it running right is costly.  I am the sole driver.  Kevin’s interest died with the first tune-up and he is at boarding school in New Hampshire.  Patty’s patience has gone beyond thin to out….and I don’t blame her.

I still love it. I have held it this long thinking my job search fortunes would change, I’d get some money and plunge ahead. Two more work related rejections this month….maybe its time to shed some of this current thinking.

While just a car, the MG represents far more to me than transport. Its youth. Its freedom. Driving with the top down, windows up, heater blasting, in mid-December…… its middle age anarchy!

I am going to get another one once things settle down a bit. Next time I will find the perfect car….a 1971-1973 Teal blue convertible, tan interior, completely rebuilt, rossi style wheels instead of wires.  Let some other fool overspend and then sell at a loss.

In the meantime, I’m the guy in the black Special Edition Honda Accord. Wave when you pass me….but you might have to honk first to jar me from the boredom….

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Happy New Year!

So we start all over….with a new clean calendar and a fresh slate.  I like this time of year and always come up with something to focus on to make me better….a resolution with a positive spin….as in “I am going to do __________” instead of “I will not __________.”  It  works. Try it.

This year, like last, the resolution is to get healthy. I was a gym demon last year….lifted consistently, aerobics on the off days and very calculated in the diet.  It worked big time. Then Memorial Day came and the beer started to taste too good…my eating habits slid a bit but the gym remained a focus….I shifted my workout schedule and ended up tearing the rotator cuff in August, resulting in a reduced gym routine until surgery in November.  Now in rehab and I finally ditched the sling yesterday…..Net result for 2011….down 13 pounds, 1.5 inches in the waste and my resting pulse rate is back around 60.  Not bad for an old fart.

This year, I plan to finish the year down at least the 12 pounds I gave back beginning with Memorial Day.  I start the routine on Monday and look forward to the challenge.

Back to what’s important…

So the Mets have hired CRG Partners….a financial firm used to help financially troubled companies. Their services are wide-ranging and include “reporting and budgeting processes” as well as restructuring, reorganization and turn-around management.  The NYTimes call these services “polite descriptions” of help needed by companies in distress. 

The Mets are in distress all right. The club is over $400 million in debt, stadium included, and parent Sterling is over $500 million in debt.  The Madoff suit hangs over them like a guillotine.  I am told that the key lenders have some very serious trigger dates coming up…like in 10 to 14 days….where the Mets must show some progress in raising outside capital via the limited shares being sold….ie 10 deals at $20 million each….or face big problems.

If Wilpon and Katz weren’t so closely in “the club” of MLB preferred owners, this entire process would be far louder, messier and transparent. As I have said before, the Mets are in deep and smelly poop. Its going to get worse.

Did you hear?

The NBA lockout is over and the players are back on the court. Who cares? Don’t even call me in June for the finals.

How do I get in on that?!

So Joe Torre quit his gig in MLB’s front office to join LA developer Rick Caruso in his bid to buy the Dodgers. It’s a “murderer’s row” list of potential buyers of the storied franchise….Larry King, Steve Cohen, Orel Hershiser, Magic Johnson, Peter O’Malley, Steve Garvey and other rich dudes.  My money, however, is on either FOX or Time Warner Cable. Both media companies are in a death match over the cable tv rights for the club…loosely valued at around $3.0 billion based on the recent deal FOX made with the LA Angels.  They have to be asking themselves, why spend $3.0 billion for TV rights alone when I can own the club…and the TV rights….for $1.0 billion?  Anybody out there need a hack sales guy? I’m available!

St. Louis Cards Biggest Loss Yet

Tony La Russa retired just after the WS win. That’s troubling. Albert Pujols took the FOX cable tv money and moved to Anaheim. That’s disturbingly distruptive. Today, pitching coach Dave Duncan took an open-ended leave of absence. That’s the end.  Duncan is La Russa’s secret weapon. The guy is, hands down, the BEST pitching coach in the game.  Pitchers go to St Louis to get fixed…Jeff Suppan and Jeff Weaver come to mind immediately….and then falter elsewhere.  Sorry Cards fans….you won’t repeat.

Last bite of the Taco:

Jets QB Mark Sanchez is getting ripped. True that he stunk as the year progressed….but to pin him as the team’s reason for failure is as silly as knighting him for their success. To me, Sanchez is still an NFL pup and he needs more coaching and time to grow. I think I’d look more to the Jets offensive line as a problem area. No time for Sanchez, who seemed pretty nervous in the pocket, to settle in for his passes. Fix the line this off season, go a long way to fixing Sanchez. Just sayin’

 

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