#BuckFiftyADay Since March, 2014

#BuckFiftyADay Since March, 2014

Thursday, January 29, 2015

#BuckFiftyADay: Stop Telling Me What's Wrong with Youth Sports

Teammates, friends for life.
Every day, it seems, I read another story on all that’s wrong in youth sports. We are pushing our kids too hard! Let them have fun! I could go on and on, but I’d use up the entire buck-fifty. So, I’ll cut to the chase. What’s right for me, might be wrong for you. What’s right for you, might be wrong for me. I played sports like my life depended on it, from the age of 10-19. Agonized over bad days, lost sleep worrying about the next game. Big deal! Today, in large part because of all I poured into trying to be a good athlete (I was NOT a good athlete), I have life long friends who don’t remember if I booted a groundball to cost our team a game, or delivered a game-winning hit. What they do remember is that we gave everything we had for each other.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

#BuckFiftyADay: If You Only Knew Him Like I Know Him

Sometimes I think if you only knew. If you only knew about the former players who’ve told me he changed their lives, inspired them to be better players, better people, to stop drinking or doing drugs. If you only knew about the texts that come, often from players who barely speak English, to thank him, because they just got called up to their national team for the first time, or because his words, which maybe didn’t make sense when he coached them, now make perfect sense. If you only knew that coaching is so much more than putting on a nice suit on the sidelines on game day and looking the part. That coaching is time spent preparing to speak to players, because you know every word counts, every word has the potential to inspire or deflate. If you only knew him like I know him… But no, that’s impossible.

Friday, January 23, 2015

#BuckFiftyADay: My Brother Bob's First Words on the Hall of Fame

By Bob Bradley

I've not said one word about the Hall of Fame, so today I'll offer up a few with a guest appearance on my brother’s #BuckFiftyADay blog, starting things off with two names. Walter and Manfred. You see, long before my journey took me through places like Cairo and Oslo this ride began in my VW Rabbit, which I'd drive from Princeton to Union where I'd jump into Manfred Schellscheidt's Rabbit and make the four-hour trip to State College with a Union Lancer team or Region I team, or a pickup team, for a game at Penn State. Walter Bahr's Penn State. Manfred always made sure we'd spend a few hours at the Bahr home where we'd be welcomed by Walter's beautiful wife Davies. Sitting in the living room, a young coach had the amazing opportunity to listen to two great men discuss experiences, challenges, ideas and wishes for our game. Doing it with intelligence, humor and humility. I'll never forget their wisdom. I hope those two Hall of Famers know how much it meant to me. Congratulations also to Kristine Lilly and Brian McBride on your induction.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

#BuckFiftyADay: Every Day I Write the (Fatherhood) Book

I’ve never read a book on fatherhood or parenthood, I guess, because I find it hard to believe that there’s a book worth reading. A book on fatherhood would have to be written in pencil and you’d need plenty of erasers on hand. Or, it would have to be written on a Word document, so you could continually make changes. What I did right today may not work tomorrow. Words that didn’t get through last week suddenly registered today, but will probably evaporate soon. Sometimes yelling works. But yelling too much becomes a din. Sometimes a quiet mentoring session resonates. Sometimes you see your son glancing at his phone. I’ve been at this for 18 years and every day is a new test, a new challenge. The only thing I could write that would hold up is this. I love every single minute of it, even on the worst days.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

#BuckFiftyADay: No Access, Favor or Discretion = Anything Goes

I like Deadspin.com. I swear, I do. I like Deadspin because it’s entertaining and it’s informative and because they clearly have a hard-working staff. That’s apparent because of the volume of content, which is ever-changing and always fresh. But if you’re going to be a Deadspin fan, like me, I think it’s important to understand their motto: “Sports News without Access, Favor or Discretion.” What they’re saying, really, is “anything goes.” They occasionally nail a true investigative piece, but it could play alongside a story about a fan taking a dump in a plant. The motto is a catch-all. They don’t want access because with access comes accountability. They favor no one, because, well, why would they? And the “Discretion” part gives them license to not really give a crap what anyone thinks. So, I like Deadspin. But I know what it is. It’s a little bit of everything.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

#BuckFiftyADay: Saying Goodbye to the Long Run

At the age of 37, I ran my first marathon. Over the next 13 years I ran 26.2 miles a total of six times. I am not one of those people who thinks finishing a marathon is a big deal. My typical response when someone says, “Wow!” or “That’s amazing!” is to say, “Oprah and P-Diddy ran marathons.” I fell in love with marathoning not because I was good at it (personal best: 3:28...personal worst: 4:13), but because I loved the process of preparing. I’d usually train for four months and the feeling two months in, when you were 10 miles into a 12-mile run, cruising, and thinking back to when you struggled to run five, was awesome. Sadly, as I type this, my body can’t handle the training anymore. I still work out, try to keep in shape, but nothing will replace the long run.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

#BuckFiftyADay: MLS or Europe? It's Complicated

I’m amused at how many Answer Men we have among our soccer fanbase these days. People - good people I am sure - who think they know everything about what’s good for the game in our country. You’d think the questions were easy, so proficient they are with the solutions. Within my self-imposed 150-word limit I can’t get into it all, so let’s just focus on everyone’s current fascination with our national team players’ choosing between Europe vs. MLS. The answer is so simple, it’s complicated...see what I did there? Here’s what is simple. It’s not one-size-fits-all. For some players, being at the right club in the right league in Europe is exactly what’s needed. But for others, a key role on an MLS team serves them better. Making matters more complicated, in both MLS and Europe...no one on either side has all the answers right or wrong.

Friday, January 16, 2015

#BuckFiftyADay: Maybe I'm Crap. Maybe I'm Brilliant

It’s two years now since I got the call to Human Resources at the Star-Ledger, told to bring my ID and anything else that belonged to them. I haven’t been able to find full-time work doing what I (think I) do best. It’s not that I don’t like the concept of freelancing, but I have not yet figured out how to make a living one story at a time. Pitching ain’t what it used to be. There is such a glut of content online, that the challenge to be original is daunting. The glut of content also makes it harder to execute stories that require cooperation from an athlete and/or coach. A lot of them are worn out, understandably, not to mention distrustful. I’m all for hard-nosed sportswriting when there’s accountability, but there are so many guys now who wield a hatchet but never show their face in public.


So, in a way, I understand there are going to be more “not interested in doing the story at this time” responses to requests than there used to be. Guys are leery. And who can blame them? The public has seemingly demanded more “voice of the fan” type writing, which is often entertaining, but unchained. There’s no civility. No code of ethics. It’s just torch and hide. I would have no problem with it, except that it’s not what I (a fossil) was trained to do. What I was taught was the importance of building respect, through asking intelligent and civil questions, and always being fair...especially when being hard. Don’t write that a guy sucks. Write that he’s two for his last 30 with runners in scoring position. Nowadays, that’s considered “pulling punches.” I get it. Fans enjoy the hard stuff. And a whole generation has been weaned on it.


Where will I end up? Nobody knows. I appreciate all the well-wishes I’ve received the past two years. As I wrote when I was laid off, it’s humbling to know how many writers - better writers - are in the same situation, peddling their skills, now, as “content producers.” What do you need? No problem. Wait on the check. Wash, rinse, repeat. If there are full-time jobs out there, I haven’t gotten a sniff of one. Do I think being 49-50-51 has hurt? Hell, yeah. Age discrimination is supposed to be illegal, but when a website is looking for someone to write and write and write, to be in tune with the sports world in a 24-hour news cycle, you focus on hiring kids, not guys who have kids. I can’t blame folks for hiring that way. Still, I’d rather be a struggling writer, great father than the opposite.


So, to finish up, before I dig into my latest freelance piece, after 26 years of steady full-time employment, I now enter my third year as an independent contractor. It has not been fun. Not even a little fun. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t learned a lot. I’ve learned that I was lucky to have had as many years as I had at (or at least near) the top of this business. Because I’ve talked to a lot of great writers who only got to experience that for a year or two. Perhaps more than anything, I’ve learned that, in this business, everybody has a different opinion of what’s good and what’s crap. I’m talking about readers and I’m talking about decision makers. So, with that, I know a lot of people think my stuff is crap. But I hold out hope that somebody out there thinks I’m good.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

#BuckFiftyADay: The Great Glove Thief Caper

So, as you know, I am a partner in a baseball glove company called Leather Head. We’ve worked hard for two years to build our brand. Now for a story. Phone rings a few months ago. A voice on the other end says, “This is Josh Geer. I’m a pitcher in the Padres organization and I’m a cancer survivor. I’m a big fan of your gloves and I’d love to wear one when I make my return to the big leagues when rosters are expanded on Sept. 1.” A great story. Sent him a glove. Turns out it was a slimeball impostor, who played us. Anyway, I did get to meet the real Josh Geer over the phone. Great guy, survivor of Lymphoma. Turns out we weren’t the only small glove company that got duped. So, be on the lookout for a guy in Texas with a bunch of leather.

Monday, January 12, 2015

#BuckFiftyADay: Me vs. Moneyball

Moneyball has become a generic, often derogatory, term in sports, but I’m not sure anyone (myself included) totally gets it. Basically, I’ve always taken it as when a team searches for something of importance that is undervalued, and makes it the basis of it’s team-building strategy. For example, the book Moneyball, the undervalued stat was On Base Percentage. So the A’s built their team offensively around OBP. But there’s a part of Moneyball that’s always bugged me as a fan. Billy Beane talks about trying to take all human emotion out of the process, basically telling his scouts to not fall in love with a player’s swing, his movements, etc. I don’t begrudge teams for this type of thinking, it makes sense. But it also goes against everything I love about sports as a fan. I want to watch, fall in love...even if it turns into love gone bad.

Friday, January 9, 2015

#BuckFiftyADay: My Personal Mission Statement

I hate mission statements. Why? Because I think they’re basically fiction, so they run counter to my profession, which is about truth-seeking and truth-telling. But I’ve written a few in my day. Sometimes they were called “goals” and they were equally inane and useless. I used to list goals like, “To write a minimum of five cover stories,” knowing fully well that covers were out of my control. Why did I list that as a goal? To be done with the exercise. I believe in goals in the same way that focused athletes set them, by looking through the smallest window possible. Golfers talk about it all the time. Focus on one shot. Pitchers try to de-clutter their brain after each pitch. Football coaches even preach, “Win the next play.” In the end, BS prevails and workers around the world are given the ultimate busy work assignment. A mission statement.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

#BuckFiftyADay: Living in the Pay For Play World

I’m nearing the end of a sports journey with my son Tyler. He is a senior, getting ready for his final season of high school baseball. He hopes to play in college and I am proud of him because he has worked extremely hard and been pretty good at focusing on the process and not obsessing over the results. If I could share $1.50 worth of advice to parents who are in the beginning or middle of a sports journey with your kids, here it is. We live in a pay-for-play world, whether we like it or not. So, when choosing a program for your son in any sport, choose a place where he is going to play a lot as opposed to signing him up for the program with the biggest name and/or best sales pitch. He won’t improve - or have fun - without playing time.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

#BuckFiftyADay: Maybe They Were All on the Juice

It’s a good thing I didn’t put in the commensurate number of years with the BBWA to vote for the Hall of Fame because I don't know what I’d do. I was a pretty vigilant anti-steroid voice in the Year 2000 and remained so for a long time. But as time has passed, I’ve come to the conclusion that if you’re going to assume some are guilty from the Era, you might as well assume they’re all guilty. Yeah, even the Jeters and Griffeys. Or just accept that they were all playing under a Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy created by both the Players Union and the Commissioner’s office, and vote for the guys who were the best players during that time. The clean players probably should’ve raised hell, but the game was flourishing. Everyone was making bank. Maybe we should just accept that. Or maybe not. Glad I don’t vote.

Monday, January 5, 2015

#BuckFiftyADay: I Once Resented Guys Like Stuart Scott

Been trying to think of a different kind of take on Stuart Scott, whom I met in or around 1984 as a student at UNC Chapel Hill. Here’s what I’ve come up with. There was a time in the early 90s that I resented the hell out of guys like Stuart, who went on SportsCenter and did more than tell us the score. Why? I guess because they became celebrities and when they’d show up to cover games they’d be greeted by players with hugs and smiles while those of us who were working the beat were pretty much regarded as green flies. Over time, I realized Stuart, Dan Patrick, Keith Olbermann and others were rock stars who basically created a popular genre. So, more power to ‘em. Sports should be fun. I can’t say I knew Stuart well, but I think he had fun. May he rest in peace.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

#BuckFiftyADay: It's Not Like I Didn't Try in 2014

A few things I tried this year. Writing songs. Yeah, for about a month I went on a song-writing binge. I sent them to my friend Sam Lardner, a musician in Barcelona. He ended up doing this and said my writing inspired him. Now, let me tell you, what Sam produced was nothing like what I wrote, but it was nice of him to say. I interviewed for non-sports writing jobs like, public relations for a senior living company, editor of TCNJ’s alumni magazine and manager of sponsorships for TD Ameritrade. I was a finalist for those positions. I didn’t get any of them. Selling cars. I went to a week of training, where I learned how we’d sell cars an “open and honest way.” But when we weren’t selling enough cars that way, we went back to the old back and forth to the manager thing. And I quit.

Friday, January 2, 2015

#BuckFiftyADay: A Love Note to Doug Flynn?

When I was a kid playing ball, I became enamored with the way Mets’ second baseman Doug Flynn could turn a doubleplay. It seemed the ball would barely touch his glove and it would somehow be on its way to first base. I did not care that Flynn could not hit. Watching him around the bag was mesmerizing. I would practice trying to Turn it Like Flynn. I’d also try to mimic the swings of George Brett, Fred Lynn and Jerry Remy. When I became a baseball writer, I still had crushes on certain players’ actions. Ken Griffey Jr. Everything about Junior was beautiful to watch. But my adoration wasn’t reserved for stars. For example, I had a thing for Pokey Reese. The way he threw across the diamond. Pokey Freaking Reese. What’s the point? I guess, for me, the game I love will always be about falling in love.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

#BuckFiftyADay: Workaholism, Not My Thing

I am probably the only person in the world who watches athletic events during the holiday season and sees a disease known as "workaholism." You see a full lineup of NBA games on Christmas Day and I see a bunch of dads who are working when they should be with their kids. You see the Bowl games in all their glory and I think of all the people in my business who routinely kiss the wife and kids goodbye to go to work long, strange hours. I also think how lucky I was, for 14 years, to be able to cover a lot of big events while still coaching Little League, making lunch for my kids and being around most nights to help them with homework. Honestly, a bigger paycheck could not have swayed me to work more hours than I was already working. Workaholic.That’s not who I am.