There is no truth to the rumor that I’ve been missing for almost two months from this cyber space because I was campaigning for the papacy. Although Pope Pitoniak might be alliterative and I do hail from Rome – New York, not Italy – I’m probably more sinner than saint, and, therefore, probably a better candidate for a job in Washington or in sports.
I had to ignore my blog recently to attend to work on three books, as well as my weekly radio baseball talk show on WYSL AM-1040, a major freelance project involving Hillside Family of Agencies, a screen treatment for a possible Hollywood film, Syracuse basketball columns for Channel 8’s website - www.rochesterhomepage.net - and a major baseball history exhibit project for the Rundel Library.
I’m happy to report that two of the books are pretty much done and a third will be done soon. Working on one book is tortuous enough. Working on three is pure insanity.
My 16th book is titled, Juke Box Hero: My Five Decades in Rock ‘N’ Roll, which I co-wrote with Rochester’s own, Lou Gramm, the legendary voice and co-songwriter of the iconic band Foreigner. It was a lot of fun working with Lou, who remains a humble guy who never forgot his Rochester roots. We’re planning the national launch for the book here in Rah-Cha-Cha at Lou’s alma mater, Monroe Community College, on Saturday evening May 4. We’re going to do a VH1 Behind the Music program, where I do a Q-and-A with Lou, he sings some of his songs acoustically and then signs books. Ticket information should be released later today.
I also just finished up writing 10 essays for a special 75th anniversary book the Baseball Hall of Fame is publishing. I interviewed 10 Hall of Famers – 9 position players and a manager – for this special project. It was a true labor of love listening to people like George Brett, Cal Ripken Jr., Nolan Ryan and Hank Aaron reminisce about their remarkable lives and baseball careers. I’ll let you know more about the book’s availability once it gets closer to being published.
I’m also updating the book I co-wrote with Bills legend Steve Tasker from five, six years ago. We’ve added a new chapter, where Steve gives his insights on the current state of the game, the Bills future in Buffalo and his second career as an NFL analyst and sideline reporter. That book should be out in time for the start of the coming football season.
Now, that my head isn’t spinning quite as fast, I’ll be able to devote some time to this space.
Here are some quick thoughts on recent sports news:
· I liked Ryan Fitzpatrick the person an awful lot. He was a down-to-earth, engaging guy, who was great to deal with from a reporter’s perspective. Deep down, you couldn’t help but pull for him. I didn’t like Fitz the quarterback nearly as much, and I understand the Bills decision for wanting to move on. What you see is what you get with Fitz – a weak-armed quarterback whose decision-making skills when the game was on the line left much to be desired. In his defense, he wasn’t helped by the Bills defense, which has played at historically bad levels in recent years. I wish Fitz nothing but the best.
· A lot of people keep assuming that this means Bills head coach Doug Marrone will draft his former Syracuse QB, Ryan Nassib. I liked the improvement Nassib showed during his senior year, and certainly his performance helped Marrone and new offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett land their jobs in Buffalo. But this isn’t the National Sentimental League, this is the Not For Long League, which means Marrone isn’t going to allow his fondness for Nassib to cloud his judgment. The Bills need to draft a QB, but don’t be shocked if it is someone other than Nassib, who, to me, is a project not ready to step in the way recent young NFL QBs have.
· You can read my feelings about SU’s underachieving hoops season in greater detail on WROC-TV’s website. In a nutshell, I don’t like the make-up of this team and I think cranky Jim Boeheim needs to assume some of the blame for so many of these guys not showing improvement as the season progressed. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Orange is one-and-done in the NCAAs. I definitely don’t see SU advancing beyond the Sweet 16.
· As I’ve said on several occasions, every day will be Oldtimer’s Day at Yankee Stadium this season. This roster makes the Knicks look like diaper dandies. For the first time in an eternity, I can see neither the Yankees nor Red Sox making the playoffs.
· And if you haven’t already, please check out “A Talk in the Park,” the weekly radio baseball show I co-host with Curt Smith on WYSL AM-1040 Saturdays at noon. You can also listen to it on the internet at www.wsyl1040 . And there are podcasts of previous shows. We’ve had a ton of national guests. This week we talk to Charlie Steiner, former voice of ESPN SportsCenter and the Yankees, who is the current voice of the Dodgers. Also, Fairport alum, Andy Martino, who is the national baseball writer for the New York Daily News.