Archive for June, 2008

Our Daily Two-Way Conversation
June 30, 2008

When I arrive at 3:30 in the morning for work ( yes, that is how early is how up and no, it’s not much fun at that hour ), I always pour through my e-mails. No lie, I usually have about 40-50 per day. Some is junk e-mail, some is legit business and then, there are the letters from you. Without fail, I will usually have 5-10 e-mails from blog readers on a daily basis.

I think that’s the best thing about the blog … and more to the point, the world we live in today. We get immediate feedback on everything and it’s not just from anonymous faces and people. Every e-mail has a name and a face to it.

Sometimes those e-mails can be critical of myself or the TV station. I remember an e-mail from a viewer who was not at all happy that I read the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue and promptly said she would never watch me again. I had another from a person who wondered where my career was going now that I was covering the “Furrie” convention.

There are those from people who are complementary of the work we do. E-mails from those who love the chemistry of our morning team, like when we make mistakes and act goofy and think of us as part of their morning routine.

I have to say that more than anything else, I love hearing from all of you. When I get an e-mail, I return it as soon as possible and try to spend as much time writing back as it appears that person spent writing to me. Believe it or not, it’s your responses that got me into updating my blog on a daily basis and when I feel I have nothing to say, it’s you that inspires me.

Just wanted to share those thoughts and thanks for making writing this blog a two-way experience.

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Face to Face with the Furries
June 27, 2008

The fur has started flying downtown.

If you haven’t noticed it, you soon will. Three thousand people have descended upon Pittsburgh for Anthrocon 2008, a convention that celebrates the lifestyle of the furries. For those not aware of furries, these are people who revel in the human-like characteristics of animal from the cartoon and comic book world. This often involves wearing animal-like tails or ears or even going so far as to wear and entire fur-covered costume.

It’s quite a sight to see … and I got an up close and personal look at the furries on Thursday as I was assigned to cover the annual furfest as conventioneers checked into Pittsburgh.

Before I discuss some of the oddities, let’s talk about some of the more nomal occurances at this event. Anthrocon brings up to $2M into the local economy at a time where there is very little going on. They have been here three years and have been embraced by the local business community. Anthrocon participants tell me they love Pittsburgh and it’s people and given the natural glances and curiosity they often receive, furries tell me they feel right at home on the Three Rivers.

Face time with the Furries: I got up close and personal with the members of Anthrocon 2008

Now, to the strange stuff. Only about 15% of these folks actually go with the “full furrie look” as it were and wear the costumes which can run into the thousands of dollars. While there have been rumors that this furrie convention is no more than a cover-up for a sexual fetish involving animal costumes, the truth is those that do subscribe to that belief are most likely in the minority. Most of the people here are adults who are just living out their childhood fantasies and that fantasy world happens to involve animals. Is it different? Yes. Is it wrong? Probably no more than people like me who are into golf and wear the items our favorite golfers wear. We are just dressing up like our heroes.

My take on all this? These are people who happen to like animals – really like animals – and they come to this convention to share their passion with kindred souls. In the end, it’s just a group of people who have found others that share a common trait and it gives them a feeling of belonging. Isn’t that what we are all searching for?

 

Freedom of Choice?
June 26, 2008

Another sign that we are in trouble economically.

This morning, word from Pittsburgh International that they plan to cut back on nearly 8-percent on the flights coming out of the airport this fall. This is of course due to the rising cost of jet fuel and the uncertainty in the airline industry.

You know my feelings about the airlines and flying in general. I would much rather have root canal surgery and scratch my own eyes out that fly these days. Airline travel has become a form of torture for me and the fun of flight is gone in my eyes. However, at least I have the option of whether I want to fly and when I want to take to the friendly skies. That option is quickly disappearing.

The lack of choice isn’t just limited to the airlines. The cost of gas is keeping people closer to home. Even those long trips away for the weekend are becoming the subject of second-thoughts. Imagine, the country which was once defined by its journeys on the open road suddenly stuck at home, financially unable to leave the metropolitan area.

I did speak with a real estate agent yesterday who offered a slight spin on this stay-at-home trend. He says that, in many ways, it’s making people reconsider the whole idea of neighborhood and community. He’s selling home sites on the South Side and says the people that call him want to be close: close to work, close to shops and close to home. They want to walk more places and be able to walk home. In essence, they really don’t want to have to drive everywhere.

While this new sense of neighborhood is nice and all, I’m still worried about the limiting of our choices. Who would have thought gas would be thing that would slow down our ability to expand our horizons.

Just a thought. 

One Goofy Morning
June 25, 2008

Our morning show tends to be a caffeine-powered, by-the-seat-of-your-pants type of program where we are never quite sure where the ad-libs will take us. This morning was a little bit goofier than usual.

While we always try to deliver serious news in a professional manner, we have enough lighter moments that can make the two-hour show laughable. It started this morning with the fact that I wasn’t quite all there and stumbled through a couple of stories. Those stumbles included telling the audience that it was “July” instead of “June”.

Then, a story about women and caffeine which suggested it was OK to drink up to four cups of coffee a day had Kelly stunned … saying she “felt good” she was only drinking one big mug a day.

We busted on Robin Roberts regarding the Pirates big win over her beloved New York Yankees, which somehow morphed into a conversation about the new TV show “Wipeout” which somehow turned into a bet between myself and Chris Cuomo about actually running the obstacle course on the program.

 Ohio U. vs Pitt: Ohio University grads Erin Kienzle and Andrew Stockey vs Pitt grads Kelly Frey and Scott Stiller

 The strangeness finally reached a peak when Kelly did a story about surgeons trying to prevent injuries and infections during surgery by using a checklist while they work. Part of that checklist, and it makes all the sense in the world, involves a checklist to make sure the operating crew has the same number of tools and items as when they started the operation.

Coming out of the story, I said that the checklist was a good idea .. and then asked “where’s the sponge?”. The innocuous comment got us laughing again and poor Erin Kienzle had to somehow transition from that to weather.

Occasionally, the brain doesn’t work as fast as the mouth from 5-7am. For the most part, we usually have them working in sync but some mornings it’s just not happening. Then again, those “moments” ate often what people remember.

By the way, the show ended in a strange way as well. Thanks to a comment from Sky 4 reporter Sam Hall, we realized that when the camera showed all four of us on the set, Erin and I were both Ohio University grads. Kelly and Scott Stiller? Graduates of the University of Pittsburgh.

OK, enough with the goofiness. Hopefully, the brain and mouth will be back in gear tomorrow morning … as well as the fingers when I type up my blog.

Hollywood and Broadway Hit the Burgh
June 24, 2008

A few days ago, I wrote about some of the unique experiences I have enjoyed as a TV reporter. The blog was entitled “How Cool Is This?”. Well, I had another one of those moments Monday afternoon.

I was on the set for the latest movie shooting here in Pittsburgh. It’s called “Shannon’s Rainbow” and it’s based on a true story. The writer, John Mowod, is a Pittsburgh native and a gentleman I got to know when he was the owner of Tusca on the South Side.

John co-wrote the story about a young girl and a horse and the script has captivated some of the biggest names in Hollywood. Listen to this line-up: Darryl Hannah, Charles Durning, Steve Guttenberg, Eric Roberts, Louis Gossett and Jason Gedrick. That’s only the beginning.

The best part of this production? It’s all being shot in western Pennsylvania. John and his co-writer, Larry Richert, pushed to have the movie made here in town. They won their fight and the scenes are being shot in Kennedy Township and at the Meadows in Washington County.

While I was on the set of a scene being shot Monday inside the halls of Ohio Valley General Hospital, I saw Darryl Hannah upc lose.  I guess I expected to see the young woman who grabbed every young man’s eye in “Splash” circa 1984. Instead, I saw a woman who was mature, experienced and playing a role as far away from the mermaid as you can imagine. I was also stunned how many people were on the set. They must have had 25 people in this little hallway to shoot a scene where Hannah plays the doctor and Claire Forlani is the patient.

 

The newest doctor at Ohio Valey General? Nope, just actress Darryl Hannah on the set of “Shannon’s Rainbow”.

We’ve got Hollywood in one part of town … and Broadway in the other. The New York Yankees are at PNC Park for the next three nights. It’s the first time the Yankees have come to Pittsburgh since the 1960 World Series and I think you know how it all ended. Thanks to a quirk in the schedule, it took 11 years of inter-league play to bring the Bronx Bombers to the North Shore.

While this series will not go down in the annals of history, it will pack the  for three straight nights and I believe it will give a little insight to why Pittsburgh is so passionate about it’s past … and it’s sports. Long before the Super Steelers of the 1970’s and the “Immaculate Reception”, Bill Mazeroski’s series-winning homer against the Yankees began the narrative of Pittsburgh and it’s professional sports. There is a great article in today’s New York Times that sort of spells this out.

Here we are, 48 years after this home run, and it still resonates. Even Bill Mazeroski told me he can’t believe that people still celebrate a championship that happened 48 years ago. It’s because we derive so much of who we are as a region by our achievements on the playing field. When times have been tough for us as a region, our heroes in sport have given us not only reason to cheer, but reason to believe in ourselves.

While many outside this area may think we are obsessed, we are actually very much in commandof our faculties. We just realize that sports is our way as a region of remembering when times were bad, that we could find inspiration in the successes of our heroes … and no success was greater or more unexpected than the 1960 World Series.

I would not expect lightning to strike twice … but, then again, you never know what may happen in baseball. No one expected the outcome of the 1960 World Series either.

 

 

Make Sense of the Senseless
June 23, 2008

I think I can speak for everyone here at WTAE … and probably every journalist in ths country … when I say nothing is harder than reporting a murder.

People die of natural causes all the time – that is the nature and cycle of life. However, when life is snatched away unexpectedly by another person, it is difficult to understand and frightening to hear about. It always takes a little bit out of me when I sit there and tee viewers someone has been shot and killed or that someone was murdered. I always read those stories and quietly ask my “why”. I never have the answer.

This past week there were a spree of killings region-wide and the connection bewteen them was tough to find. Some invoved teens and some involved adults. Some involved men and others took the lives of women. Some took the lives of black people while others snuffed out the lives of white residents. Some were in the heart of the ciy while others were in the subrubs. What’s the common thread? All were senseless.

I’m not writing this to scare you or to try and solve the problem of crime and murder. I don’t have the time to answer the latter. I guess I’m just conveying my frustration and anger that one person would take the life of another. I guess when I look at Pittsburgh, I see a city that should not have the kind of violence that I would expect to see in larger cities on either coast. I guess the truth is that while we see Pittsburgh as paradise, the truth is we are no different from anyplace else and murder is just part of the make-up of our town … a very ugly side.

I guess I just wanted you to know that when I’m on the air telling you about someone being killed, it’s not like any other story I read. It does affect me and it does make me think and it does make me sad. I’m sure you feel the same way as well.

How Cool Is This?
June 20, 2008

Before I start blogging today, I wanted to answer a few e-mails I have gotten concerning Wendy Bell. Wendy, as you probably know, had twins boys last week and I’ve gotten more a few e-mails wondering when pictures will be posted of the two babies. I’m sure Wendy will get to it soon, but please be patient. While she has become a popular public figure, this is one of life’s more personal moments and when she is ready I’m sure Wendy will show off her bundles of joy to the world.

Now, to today’s topic.

While I love what I do, for the most part this is still just a job. A way to earn a paycheck so that I can do the things I like to do in my spare time which is scarce these days. However, there are days when this job becomes much more than that. There are days when I can’t believe I get paid to do this. The last day or so has been – and will be – like that. Days when I say to myself “how cool is this”!

Let me give you a little taste of the things that have happened – and will happen – in the days ahead. It started Thursday at the Heinz History Center when I did a story about the Parade of Champions exhibit featuring a collection of Pittsburgh’s championship trophies. Everything but the Stanley Cup was in the collection and while they were still busy setting up for the weekend, I had the rare chance to hold a piece of sports history.

 

Eyes on the prize: Holding the Vince Lombardi trophy

That’s me – wearing the white gloves – holding the Vince Lombardi trophy the Steelers won in Super Bowl XIII over Dallas. That game was the first Super Bowl I ever watched. How cool is it that 30 years later, I held the trophy from that contest.

Wait, the cool stuff keeps coming. Once I’m done for the day here, I’m heading out the Aliquippa for the first ever Chris Hoke/ Butch Ross football camp. Chris, of course, is a defensive lineman for your Pittsburgh Steelers and Butch, who died this past year, was Tony Dorsett’s coach at Hopewell High School. Chris is bringing his friends, including head coach Mike Tomlin and Bills star Paul Pozlusny to come and work with the campers. Chris asked me to speak to the campers as well. It’s quite an honor to be asked to join all these NFL stars as role models for the day.

The cool stuff culminates tonight in Latrobe. I’ll be serving as emcee of the Woodlands Foundation golf outing at Latrobe Country Club. The Woodlands in Wexford has created some special summer activities and camps for kids with special needs. Tonight’s event honors Bill Mazeroski, who has hosted a sports camp for the Woodlands for years and Arnold Palmer, winner of their spirit of golf award.

 

Teeing off with the king: Arnold and Andrew playing golf in 2005

Two of thee greatest moments of my sports broadcasting career happened with these gentlemen. I played golf with Arnold at Laurel Valley in 2005 before the Senior PGA championship. In 2001, I was there at spring training when Bill Mazeroski got the word – at long last – he was going into the baseball hall of fame.

Forgive me if this sounds like name-dropping, but it’s a thrill to be included in such company and experience such memories … all in a 24-hour period. It will be a long day to be sure and I am already tired, but not to tired to say “how cool is this”.

The Less-Than-Friendly Skies
June 19, 2008

The other day, Sharon was asking me about plans for our annual vacation. Seems once a year for the past few years, we try to do one real big trip somewhere on the planet. This past fall, it was Hawaii.

This year, I don’t know. Whenever she asks, I often skirt the question with responses like “Honey, I’m not really thinking vacation right now”. The truth is that I’m in no hurry to plan some luxurious getaway because I hate all the crap you have to go through to get there.

You know what I’m talking about: airline travel. In this new world of high fuel prices, airlines are trying to squeeze every penny out of you. It started with charging you for the second bag you check in. Now, you are charged for every bag you check. Then, there is the fuel surcharge. Then, there was an extra cost for food on a flight or for drinks on a flight ( Wonder what would happen if no one ordered food? Would they start laying off stewards and stewardess? ).  

Now, US Airways has found another way to get blood from a stone. They are now charging different prices for different seating. I guess the program has been going on for about a month, but today’s Trib has a full-blown article about the practice.

Here’s how it works: The middle seat is a certain price, but if you want an aisle or a window – and who doesn’t – it will cost you more. This sounds more like the seat pricing plan at PNC Park, but it’s on US Airways flights. What’s next? You pay more the closer you sit to the bathroom … or maybe you get charged each time you use the bathroom on board. I would laugh, but these preposterous ideas aren’t so preposterous anymore.

The bottom line is that traveling, at least for me, has lost its’ luster, It really hasn’t been fun since 9/11, but now it’s such a expensive pain in the butt, I would rather stay close to home that travel. It’s cheaper and easier for me to drive a couple of hours to Washington, Philadelphia or down to Virginia than to fly to Florida.

If Sharon wants to go overseas this fall, I will. However, my vacation will hardly be much of a break at all. That’s because of all the mess you have to go through to get there and to leave. It’s enough that I don’t want to fly anymore … unless I absolutely positively have to.

Rocco’s on a Roll
June 18, 2008

Quick.

Can you remember who lost last year’s world series? How about the runner-up in the NCAA basketball tournament? I’ll bet you’re even struggling to remember who George W beat in the 2004 election. The point here is that no one remembers who came in second – until now.

Rocco Mediate lost the U.S. Open in a 19-hole playoff Monday to Tiger Woods, without question the best golfer on the planet. However, it’s Rocco and not Tiger who is doing the talk shows and garnering national attention.

Of course there was reason for this region to get excited about Rocco. After all, he is a “Pittsburgh” guy. However, his story is more than a local guy making good on the national stage. Rocco became a national celebrity Monday because of the way he lost. It wasn’t so much his grace and style, but his humor and humanity. Here’s Tiger Woods, putting on one of the greatest individual efforts in history by playing 91 holes of golf on essentially one bad leg and making miraculous shot after miraculous shot to stay in contention. However, Tiger was overt in his frustration and cursed on more than one occasion and even tossing his club a few times. Hardly a sympathetic figure.

Rocco Mediate at U.S. Open: Showing that you can have fun and be a pro athlete ( Courtesy: AP Photo )

Rocco, on the other hand, was human and showed heart. He was the underdog and not supposed to be there. He competed and forced a playoff, but he also showed America that sports need not be so serious – even with a million dollars on the line. He laughed, he joked and when he missed, he showed a brief bit of disappointment and then moved on. Yes, Rocco wanted to win but he said all along that he just wanted to enjoy the moment. He did and by virtue of that, he nearly enjoyed the ultimate prize: the U.S. Open championship.

It was that softer and more enjoyable side that rarely see in sports these days that captured the country’s attention. Every media outlet wanted to talk to him Tuesday and I’m sure his Westmoreland county based agent was happy to oblige. Now, Rocco is a national celebrity and will garner large appearance fees to appear at tournaments. Yes I still believe, having met Rocco on more than a few occasions, he will still be the humble kid who graduated from Hempfield High school.

Last night, following the Celtics series-clinching win in the NBA finals, Lakers star Kobe Bryant said of losing the championship that “being the runner-up is nothing more than being the number on loser”. Rocco Mediate proved that statement is the furthest thing from the truth. In Rocco’s case, he shows that by finishing second you can come out on top.

Cruising Along with the Cops
June 17, 2008

Not all my vacation last week was fun and sun, golf and good times. Since I actually had a week with no responsibilities, I thought I would take an evening to do what should be required duty for every citizen. I rode along with the Pittsburgh police.

The Ride-A-Long program has existed for years, designed to give citizens a sense of what city police officers face on a daily basis. Last Tuesday evening, thanks to my Leadership Pittsburgh class, myself and a classmate rode along with a city officer for four hours during his evening patrol around zone 1 which is the city’s North Side.

The officer was not only very open and honest about his daily duty, his trials and tribulations, his joys and sorrows. He grew up in Upper Saint Clair and joined the force later in life. He took us along all sorts of avenues, roads and side streets of the North Side. We went through hot areas where trouble would sometimes occur. We saw the mansions of Observatory Hill and the projects of Northview Heights.

Before leaving the station for this 6-10pm tour with him, both my classmate and I were offered the option of wearing bullet-proof vests. That certainly put the situation into perspective for us, but we both chose to go without.

Along the way, we stopped by a domestic dispute and actually got to see an arrest of a man who was wanted on an arrest warrant – in Fayette County. Upon searching his vehicle, you could smell the marijuana and we stood by as he was put in the police car and taken to jail.

While most of the night was uneventful, the experience was anything but. I learned just how difficult the officer’s job can be and just how engaged they need to be to fight crime in the city. Much of their work is proactive, meaning they anticipate hot spots and situations and speak to local residents about what’s happening in the neighborhood. They also get their share of verbal abuse from people in the community who wonder why they can’t do more.

I wish everyone could take four hours and ride along with an officer. Not only would you learn more about their job and their challenges, but also you would also learn more about your city.

 

Back from the Break
June 16, 2008

Hi everyone! I’m back from a week of rest and relaxation at Kelly’s favorite vacation spot: “Porch-view” ( better known as the “stay-cation” ). I stuck around here basically getting stuff down around the house and avoiding what has become the absolute nightmare of airline travel.

Turns out staying at home might have been the best thing given the fact the weather here in western Pennsylvania was some of the best in the country. Yes, I played golf – and quite a bit of it. My golf travels included a weekend getaway with Sharon to Rocky Gap in Cumberland, Maryland and our usual overnight stay-and-play at Seven Springs. This past weekend, I joined two friends and one of their dads for a trip down to the Pete Dye course in Clarksburg, West Virginia.

 

Ready to tee off on the 10th hole at the Pete Dye Club in Clarksburg WV with my best friend, Joe and his father

Most of all, I took the week off for me. Sharon had to work so it was a chance to spend some time reflecting. I took long walks with “Boobaloo”, grew a beard that was more gray than black and spent time reading all those magazines that have accumulated on my living room table at home. I used the time to look at myself and what I wanted out of my life. Was my life going in the right direction? Was I doing enough or maybe too much when it came to charitable work? It was time well spent and while I don’t have many answers, I have fewer questions.

View of the 8th hole at Pete Dye Golf Club. The hilight of my week off happened here: A birdie

Of course, when you take a week off the world changes. NBC journalist Tim Russert died as well as former Steeler Super Bowl winner Dwight White. Wendy Bell finally delivered twin boys giving her and husband five sons ( I see a basketball team forming in her household ). However, the greatest thing about the week off is how things haven’t changed. The morning crew is still crazy as always and they still expect me to make the coffee … which I am happy to do.

Thanks to everyone who sent e-mails wondering where I was and how I am doing. I guess I need to be better when it comes to telling folks I’m going on vacation. I would blog while I’m away, but I hate doing any work when I’m off. I consider it “me” time and there is very little of it during the rest of the year. 

I Graduated!
June 6, 2008

I have told you in previous blogs about a class I have been taking called Leadership Pittsburgh. In brief, its a year-long exploration of the issues facing western Pennsylvania through field trips, guest speakers and classroom interaction. The 57 people in my class were chosen because of where they are in their lives and careers. Many are already leaders and executives in their fields of endeavor. It was an honor just being included in this talented ensemble.

Last night was graduation night .. and I could not have been more pleased. Last night’s final session completed a year-long discovery process for myself. I thought I knew the region that I covered, but I was wrong. There are so many issues, so many challenges and so many people that need help I don’t know where to begin. I went through this experience with my 56 classmates, people from all walks of life and of all ages. When you go through such a power year, you cannot help but bond with these people.

Last night, on the 31st floor of the former Alcoa building, we completed our year-long commitment. For me, it truly was a commitment and one I did not think I would complete. Our class met only once a month, but we would spend the entire day together on one issue … at a predetermined site. For me, that meant I would meet my classmates after waking up and working my morning shift.

Each Thursday during the month, I would get up at 2:15am, do the morning news and get to class by 8am. Class would last until 5pm and then I would come back to work and shoot my weekly “Check It Out” entertainment segment until 8:30 or 9pm. Then, once I got home I would sleep a few hours get back to work in the morning. It’s probably no wonder that I got sick and finally missed a few days this week. However, after a year of sacrifice, long hours, lack of sleep and hard work I finally got my diploma.

I have to tell you that I feel a real sense of personal pride and accomplishment, the kind I have not felt possibly since I graduated from college. It proved to me that I can do anything if I really want it .. and that was the message that Leadership Pittsburgh left me after a year of education. I have learned that I can make a difference in my community and in my region if I really want to and I really believe.

I do not know what I will do with this new-found knowledge and this desire to create change, but I do know this: I have a stake in this region. I always believed Pittsburgh was my home but only through this experience did I understand that it’s not about just living here and paying taxes, it’s making sure Pittsburgh and the region is the kind of place I want to live in … and doing what I can to make my community better.

There are many issues we face as a region and I can’t solve them all, but I can just do more of what I have always tried to do. Make one little corner of the region a little bit better than when I found it. If you have ideas, I’m more than interested in hearing about them.

I’ll be off next week, taking some time rest and relax, so I won’t be blogging but I will be back. I’ll miss all your comments and kind wishes. See you soon. 

Our Cup Runneth Is Over
June 5, 2008

Our Cup runneth is over.

Pittsburgh came up agonizingly short of the Stanley Cup, but that’s the only loss the team and the city experienced during one of the zaniest rides we have ever seen in this town.

They rejuvenated the fan base long since dormant. They proved the wisdom of saving the team from bankruptcy and the building of a new arena which should open around 2010. Most of all, they brought a new kind of fan to the local sports scene. The young fan.

Unlike Steeler games, which tend to be populated by those who have had tickets for many years and people of means, we saw young and new fans showing up to Mellon Arena every night during the run. We saw fans of all demographic groups and often more women than men. That’s because these are sports heroes that the masses can relate to … and will take the time to relate to the masses. The best sales pitch for Pens hockey and the Pens themselves: young men who exhibit manners, common courtesy and maturity beyond their years. It’s this youth explosion – both fan and player – that bodes well for the future of this sport in this city.

We also saw what happens when this city embraces a team on its way towards a title. I will argue with anybody that when our teams are in the play-offs, there is no more supportive city than Pittsburgh. The fan base will buy tickets, travel with the team, write songs and hang banners ( except for members of city council who chose to put politics ahead of public support and banned a Pens banner downtown ).

Best of all, in this loss will come the seeds of future victory. Remember, the heart of this hockey team – Crosby, Malkin, Stahl and Fleury – are kids. The team captain isn’t even old enough to drink, but he will be when the Pens sip champagne from the cup in the very near future.

CBC hockey analyst Don Cherry told me last week that there are no more dynasties in hockey because the way the game is set up financially. He might well be right, but the closest the game has to a modern-day dynasty will be based here in Pittsburgh where we have a combination of youth, enthusiasm, time and a new arena. It’s a powerful combination and one that bodes well for the future of hockey here in this city.

 

“You’re not a kid anymore”
June 4, 2008

Those were the words from my wife’s lips as I laid in bed aching and sweating and getting my butt kicked by the flu. It’s hard enough when you are not feeling well, but when your spouse is telling you that you’re to blame for the mess that you are in because of your non-stop schedule, then you really start to feel bad.

I’m not blaming her. I’m probably responsible for the mess that I’m in. My schedule is non-stop and I’m always on the move. People close to me always tell me to slow down and pace myself but I never listen. I always figure I’ll have time to rest at the end of it all. Well, my thinking has changed after this latest episode.

In case you didn’t notice, I missed the last couple of days on the air. I was home, in bed, recovering from something that seemed to be a combination of the flu, the plague and Montezuma’s revenge. I was sweating, aching, sore and a bit disoriented. It came out of nowhere and it hit me like a hurricane. I haven’t been this incapacitated since I got mono in high school.

Even now, I’m still a little bit under the weather but I’ve survived the worst of it. While I was laid up, I did think about all those people close to me who tell me to slow down – my wife, my parents and even my co-workers – and they are right. As Sharon said, I’m not a kid anymore although I don’t think 40 quite qualifies as old age. I guess I need to realize that it’s OK to say “no” sometimes.

I know one thing for certain. I do not want to feel the way I did the last couple of days. I don’t need to feel like I lost a ten-round bout to the heavyweight champion of the world.

By the way, thanks to everyone who was so patient while I was not blogging the last couple of days. That’s how sick I was … I did not even feel like tapping on the keys.