#BuckFiftyADay Since March, 2014

#BuckFiftyADay Since March, 2014

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

#BuckFiftyADay: The NYCFCmare

The New York Times reported the other day that the New York City Football Club will play its first three seasons at Yankee Stadium. The news took my breath away. Not a year. Three years. Three years of trying to weave 16 league soccer games in with the Yankees’ 81-game home schedule. Three years of excavating the infield and laying sod. Three years of playing on a field that would be considered small for a high school game. Major League Soccer has come so far. At its best, it’s Portland, Seattle or Kansas City, with their fans standing and singing. At its worst, it’s probably the New England Revolution in Gillette Stadium or DC United at old RFK. The NYCFC plan was supposed to be about raising the bar for the league in the nation’s largest media market. Instead, it all seems as makeshift as the team’s temporary home field.

Friday, April 11, 2014

#BuckFiftyADay: Challenging the MLB Replay System

About 25 years ago, I attended Jim Evans Umpiring School on an assignment for Sports Illustrated. I learned a few things. One, umpiring is incredibly hard. Two, umpires hate getting calls wrong. So I have a problem with the replay system that’s being employed in Major League Baseball, not because I don’t think they should be using replay, but because I believe they should let the umpires be in charge of making the calls. I do not like the “challenge system.” Assign one umpire to replays. When a call is close, he will know it needs to be reviewed. He will get on the case and get it right. The challenge system also sets a horrible precedent for baseball at every other level. Kids and coaches and parents should not believe you can “challenge” an umpire as a way of getting a call overturned. Let the umpires call the game.

Monday, April 7, 2014

BuckFiftyADay: The Start of Spring, Remembering Phil's First

It’s Masters Week. This is the week when I feel that Spring is actually here. The images we’ll see from Augusta do the trick. The azaleas. The green, green grass. The “patrons” dressed in colors that signify the warmer temperatures that will soon be here. And, more than anything, watching the game’s best players work into the evening hours, with enough daylight to carry on. I was lucky enough to cover the Masters nine times, including the one that took place 10 years ago, where Phil Mickelson finally won his first major. Maybe some young fans don’t remember it as epic, because Phil’s gone on to win two more green jackets, a PGA and a British Open. But in 2004, Mickelson was known more for coming up just short in the big events. When his long birdie putt on the final hole fell into the cup, his reputation changed forever.

Friday, April 4, 2014

#BuckFiftyADay: The Legend of Willie Mac, Act 2

During my 13 years at ESPN The Magazine I really enjoyed writing about golf. Probably enjoyed it because I was allowed to move my way down the Money List and write about guys who were not flying private jets here and there. Guys like Jason Bohn, Brian Davis, Casey Martin and Paul Casey. One of the best characters I met along the way was Will MacKenzie, whom I met at Q-School in 2005. Willie Mac’s backstory was incredible. A golf prodigy who gave up the game as a kid and became, basically, a snowboard/skate/surf punk, only to come back to the game and become a Tour player. Spoke to Will the other day. Told me about a lot of mistakes he’s made along the way. Basically, blew all his money. Anyway, he’s 11th in the FedEx Cup standings right now with six Top 10s so far in 2014.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

#BuckFiftyADay: When The Blinders Came Off

Every once in a while I get feisty. Today is one of those days. Stayed up late last night and watched my nephew play his ass off against Mexico. Brought back memories of four years ago. I was in Spain writing about Giuseppe Rossi. We went to lunch with a photographer. A “huge soccer fan.” He starts talking about U.S. soccer. “What the hell is the coach’s son doing on the field?” he asks. Rossi looks at me. I wink. Photographer continues, “I mean, did that kid even play for a good college program?” I catch eyes with Rossi. “No,” I answer. “He didn’t even play in college.” The photographer sits back and says, “I didn’t think so.” At that point I said, “He didn’t play in college. He started playing professionally at 16. Went to Holland at 18. Plays in Germany now in their top league.” Check, please.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

#BuckFiftyADay: To My Sons, To a New Season

My sons begin their high school baseball seasons today. Here’s a note to them. Learn from your dad, not how to swing the bat or field a groundball. Learn from your dad, who has more than 30 years of hindsight, to enjoy the game. I was never a good player. On my best days I was mediocre. I fought myself too much because I wanted to be good, and now I realize I would’ve been better if I’d just relaxed and enjoyed myself on the field. I’ve not been a perfect role model. I’ve yelled at times, gotten annoyed at things you’ve done on the field. How stupid I was. I want you both to know how much I love watching you play. On the good days and the not-so-good days. Play like kids, with smiles on your faces. Enjoy the dugout, the seeds, the busrides, the team. Love, Dad.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

#BuckFiftyADay: The Game We Love, The Things We Miss

My children will one day speak, I’m sure, of the things they miss about baseball. That’s just the way it is. I remember my grandfather talking about nickel hot dogs and my father talking about all those doubleheaders -- not day/night doubleheaders -- he attended as a boy at Yankee Stadium and the Polo Grounds. I miss a lot, too. I miss walking with my dad to the ticket window at Shea Stadium and him telling the salesperson, “Give us the best you’ve got.” I miss my dad buying us all the junk food we wanted. I miss the couple of innings I’d listen to on the radio before I fell asleep. I’m sure there’s a lot that’s good about the game today. I’m sure my kids will miss it. I still love baseball, don’t get me wrong. I guess missing what we had is part of the game.