#BuckFiftyADay Since March, 2014

#BuckFiftyADay Since March, 2014

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Beautiful Game and Me...

I love the game of soccer. Played a lot of it as a kid (not well), have coached a lot of it as an adult. And, for a pretty long spell at ESPN The Magazine and ESPN.com (from 1998 through the 2006 World Cup in Germany) wrote quite a bit about it.

Shortly after Germany, however, something changed. First of all, my brother Bob (older by six years, believe it or not, and known to his family as "Rob") became coach of the U.S. national team. While I never felt real conflicts covering American soccer while Bob was coaching in Major League Soccer -- the Chicago Fire, the MetroStars and Chivas USA -- when he became coach of the national team, I just felt there was no way I could cover the American game without sticking my nose in places where there'd be a clear conflict of interest. That only got more complicated when Bob's son Michael earned a spot on the team and became every American soccer fan's favorite debate-starter (that's a nice way of putting it).

Now, I've been fairly ripped in e-mails through the years for "favoring" Bob's teams in MLS. I always found it comical because I really went out of my way to not write anything about the Fire, MetroStars and Chivas USA. And when I did, I usually couched it, saying, "of course, when it comes to this team, I'm not 100-percent unbiased." Look, I root for Bob's teams. He's my brother and it's more important for me to be a good brother than a tough reporter. Plus, it's not like I've earned my living for the past 20 years as a soccer writer. I was at Sports Illustrated and covering the Yankees for the Daily News -- that ain't the bush leagues -- while Bob was plying his trade at Princeton.

Covering socccer was just something I enjoyed. Especially when it meant getting to travel to Milan to interiew Ronaldo in 1998. Getting to go to Liverpool for a story on 18-year old Michael Owen after the '98 World Cup. Writing about Manchester United's historic treble in 1999, covering the U.S. in their lead-up to the 2002 World Cup in Japan/South Korea (a World Cup I did not cover in person, by the way, because of baseball commitments). Writing about Landon Donovan and soccer in Brazil before the 2006 World Cup. And of course, getting to work in Germany, blogging daily and writing for The Mag, while stationed in Hamburg with the U.S.

Would I enjoy going back to covering American soccer on a regular basis? Sure, but knowing how hard my brother and nephew have worked to get where they've gotten, and knowing there's no way in hell I could watch them coach and play without 100-percent of my emotion tied up in it, I'm not sure how I can pull that one off. On Wednesday night in Columbus, in what was probably the biggest game of Bob and Michael's respective careers (until the next qualifier at least), I spent the night in the fetal position (exaggeration), with my face buried in a pillow (not so much an exaggeration) while chugging Maalox every 15 minutes. When the game was over, I allowed myself a few happy phone calls, a little on-line time to see who among my friends had messaged or emailed me, and then I started thinking like a damned coach. Next game...

Still, for what it's worth and to whomever may care, I'm contemplating a return in some form soon to covering American soccer...we shall see where that notion leads me.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A Leap of Faith for A-Fraud?

Here's what A-Rod said, when asked if his HR numbers should count, should he some day pass Ruth, Aaron and Bonds*.

"You wanna throw 'em out?" says A-Rod. "Fine, throw 'em out. It was only those three years in Texas."

So now, because A-Roid has "come clean" -- not exactly spotlessly clean, mind you -- he expects us to take it at face value that he was, A. Clean in Seattle and, B. clean (including of HGH, which cannot be detected in a test) in New York. Yeah, Alex, we'll hop onboard.

A lot has happened during the A-Rod Era in New York. Too much to chronicle here. I mean, the nasty stripper in Toronto, Madonna (blech), his melt-downs under pressure...

Of course, nothing compares to Alex's greatest achievement, which is that he brought an end to the so-called Curse of the Bambino. Yep, soon as old Number 13 Alex "The Cooler" Rodriguez became a Yank, seemed all the Mystique and Aura and Ghosts of the Old Yankee Stadium left the building, and the Curse came to a screeching halt.

For me, I'm guessing the Ghosts of Ruth and Gehrig and Mantle took a hike when A-Roid decided, desperately, after getting sawed off by one Bronson Arroyo, in Game 6 of the 2004 ALCS, that he should turn into a punk Little Leaguer...no, that's too kind...a punk, stickball player in a pickup game that no one wanted him to be a part of...and took a slap at Arroyo.

It was total bush-league baseball, the kind of stuff a "True Yankee" would never even think of pulling, and I'm pretty sure the Curse ended right then and there. You decide to bring a rat (ok, a bigger rat than Reginald Martinez Jackson) into your organization and you pay the price.

Honestly, though, as a Red Sox fan, I absolutely pray that John Sterling is around to call the shot when A-Rod moves past Babe Ruth on the all-time Yankee home run list.

That will be priceless.

Oh, Alex

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Long Run Friday Set List

Sometimes life gets in the way of training, so I had to cut Long Run Friday to 13 miles today (to St. Rose and Back). I had planned on going 16-18, oh well. I just want to thank my brother Scott for instilling in me a crazy fear of geese. Scott was attacked by a goose a few years back while running in Princeton. Actually had to body slam the dang thing after trying to kick it two or three times. Ever since he told me that story, whenever I run by geese (today I ran THROUGH hundreds in Spring Lake) the hair on the back of my neck stands up and I await a brawl.

Luckily, the geese left me alone today. My legs are not feeling so good lately. Knee pain, foot pain. Wondering if I've pushed too hard too soon? My weight is not dropping as I'd hoped and pigging out at Leggett's last night probably won't help. I'm about to go on (hopefully only) the 7-Day DL for something non-running-related (that's trainer speak), and I'm hoping those days off will help my body heal. April 21st seems like it's flying at me.

Here's The Long-Run Friday Song List...I put about 55% of it together myself and let the "Genius" do the rest. Not bad. Eventually I've got to dedicate myself to putting a real list up.

The Harder They Come, Jimmy Cliff
I Am A Patriot, Jackson Browne
I Miss You, Blink 182
I'm Shipping Up to Boston, Dropkick Murphys
Til Kingdom Come, Coldplay
Inside My Head, The Connells
American Girls, Counting Crows
A-Punk, Vampire Weekend
Back on the Chain Gang, The Pretenders
Born Under A Good Sign, Teenage Fanclub
Caravan, Van Morrison
Fort Hood, Mike Doughty
Hey Mockingbird, Dillon Fence
A Minor Incident, Badly Drawn Boy
Tiny Dancer, Ben Folds
Run, Ben Kweller
Rue De Lis, The Essex Green
Oxford Comma, Vampire Weekend
Off The Record, My Morning Jacket
Portions for Foxes, Rilo Kiley
Club Foot, Kasabian
Mr. Pitiful, Matt Costa
See The World, Gomez
Mansard Roof, Vampire Weekend
Catch My Disease, Ben Lee
Sweet Jane, The Velvet Underground
The Killing Moon, Echo and the Bunnymen
Banana Pancakes, Jack Johnson
I'm Amazed, My Morning Jacket
Saint Simon, The Shins
To Be Alone with You, Sufjan Stevens
Across the Universe, Rufus Wainwright

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Remembering Ms. Tina Lane

I guess this is the way I grieve. In a way, it makes sense. I am a writer, after all.

And I am a writer because of a woman named Tina Lane, who passed away on Monday...way too soon. So all I can do to honor and remember Ms. Lane is sit here this morning at my computer... and write.

I was telling an old friend this morning that I believe, 100 percent, that I could've worked my way through the ranks of my profession to my current position as a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine without a day of college. That's no knock on the UNC School of Journalism, which was fine, but more a knock on myself for being a slacker in college.

But it's also a credit to Ms. Lane, who taught journalism in High School.

I cannot name a single college professor who influenced my life. And, though it's 27 years since I graduated from West Essex High School, I can still recite Ms. Lane's aphorisms rapid-fire.

"Show don't tell."

"Maximize content, minimize words."

"If that's all you've got..."

"You've done the reporting. Now do some more."

And, I'm guessing, an expression that was probably more Jeff Bradley-specific.

"You want to put your name on that?"

Let it be known, that I was no prized pupil in Ms. Lane's journalism and creative writing classes. I was way more into playing baseball and soccer (which is funny, considering what a sub-mediocre player I was) than writing, but I was always captivated by Ms. Lane's teaching style.

OK, I confess, I was also captivated by Ms. Lane. She looked like a movie star and carried herself with more pure confidence than any teacher I'd ever laid my eyes on. I know I wasn't alone, having a little boy crush on Ms. Lane. Guys may not talk a lot about these things. But they talk.

It helped that Ms. Lane, back in the early 80s, was dating the coolest (and best) male teacher at West Essex, Mr. Montgomery, who taught history and political science. He was the male equivalent to Ms. Lane. Way cool, full of swagger, not afraid to tell you when you weren't getting the job done. Most of us figured T-Lane and Monty (nicknames you could call them to their faces) would get married some day. They did not.

Ms. Lane had a way of pushing me. At times, she used guilt to motivate me. "Look this over again, please, Jeffrey." Other times, she'd praise me, probably too much. "You have a gift, Jeffrey."

As my senior year was coming to an end, and we put the finishing touches on our final "Wessex Wire" -- I think it was some corny, Salute to Seniors thing that we passed out with everyone's yearbook -- I had the last of many heart-to-heart conversations I'd had with Ms. Lane in three long years at ol' W.E. "Not many people can make a living as a writer," I remember telling her. "Those who do, they're the gifted ones...not me."

While I can't remember exactly what Ms. Lane told me, I do recall she went back to the guilt theme. She said something like, "How dare you not believe me? I'm telling you, Jeffrey, you have the talent..."

To this day, I don't really think the word "talent" applies to me.

But how wonderful to know someone thought of me that way.

Monday, February 2, 2009

I Wish I Were Blind...Not Really, I Just Wish I Could Write...

Write, like this..., that is...

My old friend Liz Clarke, from the UNC Journalism School...I haven't seen or spoken to her in over 20 years...spins this gem for the Washington Post Magazine.

She is, in my opinion, as real as it gets when you're talking about a Springsteen fan. I disagree with her regarding "Crush on You," a song I consider a decent frat-house rocker, but I happen to agree with almost everything she has to say in this piece, particularly the part about Bruce needing a thesaurus. I told a friend this week, after listening to Queen of the Supermarket that I believe Bruce must have writer's block, and that his pals must all be afraid of him, because a real friend wouldn't have allowed this song out in public.

As for the halftime show, it was fine. It was for all those bubble-gum fans from 1984-on, who scream "Dancing in the Dark!" and "Rosalita" all night long, even when they're at an all-acoustic show on the Boardwalk in Asbury Park and have been told up-front by Bruce himself that it's going to be a night for slower, quiet music...

Call me a snob, but I have little tolerance for those who want to go see an Oldies Act. There's a band called Backstreets, a Beatlemania type act, here at the Shore...go see them.