The Most Unique New York Yankee

From 2013....

Yankee fans now get to focus on the most unique player on their roster.  In fact, he's one of the most unique in all of baseball.

I'm talking, of course, about backup outfielder Matt Diaz.

When left fielder Curtis Granderson broke his arm last week, the Yankees were suddenly in need of an outfield solution for the next three months.  The reaction of most backup ballplayers would have been, "Awesome, I'm finally gonna get a shot!"

Matt Diaz?  His way of processing the news was to get down on a knee with his son and pray for Granderson's quick recovery.  Now that is amazing!  That is Matt Diaz.

I got to know Matt Diaz in 1999, when he joined the Hudson Valley Renegades after his Florida State Seminoles were nipped by a run in the College World Series finals against Miami.  Diaz had made the all-tournament team, and immediately joined the team on the road to begin his professional career.  He showed up lugging four or five extra bags after travelling straight from Omaha.

"Some players watched me on TV during the World Series," he joked that day.  "But they said they're not impressed."  Diaz quickly became one of the guys.

Matt Diaz, pronounced DYE-az, was clearly unique, even fourteen years ago.  Within two minutes you could feel his sense of faith and the solid foundation it provided in his life.  As I detail in the book that chronicles that entire season, he was humble and mature beyond his years.  Along with Josh Hamilton and Jorge Cantu, Diaz helped the Renegades win the NYPL Title that season.

Aside from his faith, the thing Yankee fans will grasp immediately about Diaz is his 100%, all-out hustle.  He'll never loaf to first base, never lollygag to back up a base.  He was always solid, but never a sure-fire, can't miss big leaguer.  His effort - every day - has made the difference.  Diaz is all-out, all the time, a David Eckstein-type of player. 

Diaz may win the starting left field job, or he may lose out to Juan Rivera.  Regardless, this is a unique type of player and person.  I'm sure Yankee fans will take notice.
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9 Sports Reasons Poughkeepsie Is Not Miserable

My hometown of Poughkeepsie, New York is an absolute dump.  At least if you believe Forbes' recent list of America's 20 Most Miserable Cities, which ranked Poughkeepsie number 18.
Ok, now that I'm done rolling my eyes, I'm here to say that, regardless of Forbes, the Poughkeepsie area is most definitely not a miserable place for a sports fan.  In fact, it's quite the opposite.
Here are nine reasons why:

1.  The Hudson Valley Renegades - Since 1994, delivering clean minor league baseball fun for the whole family.  An exciting atmosphere rarely matched in all of professional baseball.  The Goldklang Group has it down, and they do it right.  Proud to have called games there from 94-99.

2.    Terrific high school and local sports coverage - Ken McMillan, Dan Pietrafesa, Sean McMann, Kevin Gleason, Rich Thomaselli and others cover local sports with a purpose.

3.  West Point - Historic setting.  Also excellent broadcast voices, such as Dean Darling, John Minko, Rich DeMarco, Tony Morino and the legendary Bob Outer.

4.  Proximity to  three top sports broadcasting and journalism universities - Fordham (obviously number one), Syracuse and Marist. 

5.  Hudson Valley Sports-Talk, the Valley's longest-running sports talk show, hosted by the inimitable Carl Garafolo on WHVW Radio.  Carl's feel for NY sports and passion for community outreach has made the Hudson Valley a better place.  Class act all the way. 

6.  9 major professional teams within a couple hours away.  Mets, Yankees, Jets, Giants, Knicks, Nets, Rangers, Devils and Islanders.  Plus two premier sports-talk sticks - WFAN and ESPN Radio, NY

7.  Fabulous local golfing at an array of courses.  From The Links at Union Vale to McCann, golfers have quite a choice.  College Hill even has a nicely-manicured 9, although this part of downtown really is miserable.  Forbes was right in this case.

8.  Marist Women's Basketball.  25 years ago, when Rik Smits roamed the court for the Foxes, women's games were the warmup to the night's main event.  These days the role is reversed.  With ten straight MAAC regular season titles, coach Brian Giorgis has built a powerhouse the likes of which the area hasn't seen in decades, if ever.  Unless, of course, you go back to Giorgis' days with Our Lady Of Lourdes.

9.  Amazing number of first-rate, national sportscasters and sportswriters to come through or from the Poughkeepsie area.  Freddie Coleman, J.W. Stewart, Brian Kenny, Jay Reynolds, Kevin Connors, Ryan Ruocco at ESPN.  Bill Rogan dominating Denver.  Jason Barrett running stations first in St. Louis and now in San Francisco.  Mike Vaccaro with the NY Post and Pete Caldera at the Bergen Record.  Oh yeah, Mike Breen is pretty good calling NBA games, after getting his start at Marist.  And these are only some of the successful sports voices from the Poughkeepsie area.  I'm sure I'm forgetting others.

It's no Flint, Michigan or Gary, Indiana, but Poughkeepsie is a pretty great place - at least if you're a sports fan.
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Watch Out For The Salty Broadcaster!

They are often quite salty.  And quite often vengeful, spiteful and childish.  No, not politicians.  I'm talking about sportscasters.

I can recall a day years ago, on the final day of the season.  The team was on the road, so we had a few hours to kill during the morning before heading over to the ballpark.

We were all ornery, all three of us that piled unenthusiastically out of the car that day, arriving at the crowded local mall.  We were tired and didn't particularly like malls.  And we really didn't like the season coming to an abrupt end.

As we weaved through the parking lot, walking toward the mall entrance, one of my salty colleagues commented about how this one flashy sportscar was parked across two spots, in a move that would make Larry David cringe.  The lot was full, but this guy apparently thought he was super important.

Well, on the final day of the season, one of us just wasn't going to take it.  He took a final sip from his nearly-untouched Super Big Gulp and launched the soda, splashing it across the windshield of the car.

"I hate when jerks park like that," he said.  As we casually sauntered toward the mall, the dark cola oozed down the windshield and across the shiny hood and doors.

Don't mess with the broadcaster.  Especially on the final day of the season.

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First Spring Training For The Babe

Ah, the wonderful memories from Spring Training 1914.

Sporting News correspondent E.L. Schanberger wrote this about a Baltimore Orioles rookie....

"Reports from this camp indicate that he has some good prospects among his rookies.  For one there is a youngster named Frank Ruth, a Baltimore boy, who has been the pitching mainstay of a local industrial school team for years.  He has shown Dunn so much that the manager makes the bold statement that he will stick with the team this season, both on account of his hitting and his portside flinging."

Yes, the Babe certainly did have him some "portside flinging!"

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Don't I Feel Like A Jerk

Boy, did I feel like a jerk on one particular day at the ballpark in the mid-90's.  (Not that it hasn't happened a few times since)

I was sitting in the broadcast booth, diligently preparing my pre-game notes and scorebook for that night's game.  It was just 3:00 pm, and I had plenty of work to do on this simmering-hot, summer day.
"Hey Rick," my broadcast partner Bill Rogan called, as he entered the booth. "There are some people I'd like you to meet today.  A young boy, Tommy, is coming by today to shadow you for a school project.  He's a really big fan of yours.  He'd like to know what it takes to become a sportscaster, and he has a lot of questions.  He's going to be looking for you around 4:00.  He is really looking forward to meeting you.  Is that ok?"

I felt honored.  Sure I'd share some of my time, especially if I can help make a difference for a young, aspiring broadcaster!  If he was coming especially to pick my brain, I was ready to give him all the information he'd want.

About an hour later, as I sit working alone in the booth, a young boy and his mother approached my window.
"Oh, you must be Tommy," I said as I bounded out of the booth wearing a big, eager smile. "I'm Rick Schultz, great to meet you!  Come on in, let me show you around the park while we talk."
For the next hour I gave young Tommy the lowdown on the baseball broadcasting business.  I went through my pre-game duties, explaining each step to him in detail.  He looked on with mild interest.
Since he was there to see me specifically, I spent a lot of time detailing my background, my experience and how I'd become a professional broadcaster at the young age of 18.  I was pumped to share my story, but both Tommy, and now his mother, seemed distracted and somewhat disinterested.

After a while, Tommy and his mother politely thanked me and said they had to run.  With that, they backed away and quickly left the park.

As gametime approached, Bill returned and we continued preparations for that night's game.  Just then our boss from the radio station popped in.
"Hey guys, how's it going?" he asked. "How did it go with that young student today?  He was really looking forward to meeting you Bill."
I whipped my head around and asked, incredulously, "Did you say he was here to see BILL?"
"Of course," the boss said. "We set it up in advance, he's a big fan of Bill's."

At that moment it hit me.  I had introduced myself to a boy and his mother and told them all about myself and my career.  I had detailed what I do and how I do it.  I had offered my best advice and guidance to this young boy and his mother.  And, as it turns out, they weren't even there to see me!  While I thought they were my fans, in reality they probably didn't have any idea at all who I was!

To steal a quote from "A Few Good Men"......don't I feel like a big, self-centered jerk.

(Don't worry about me too much, I did get Bill back a time or two.  Ask him about the ice in his hotel room bed.  That's minor league baseball.)
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Sideline Reporting In The Dark

Sideline reporting is not easy.  At least doing it well is not easy.

Sure, any flashy former player or former cheerleader can talk for thirty seconds, delivering a prepared bit of information.  And that's what we usually get - a canned piece of news just as easily delivered by the color analyst.

Occasionally, however, we get to see what real sideline reporting is all about.  The ability to bring us something unique, that only a reporter on the sideline could gather.

In my opinion, that is exactly what Steve Tasker and Solomon Wilcots - both former players - were able to do during this year's Super Bowl.  When the lights went out in the Superdome, these guys were ready.

When the broadcast booth lost power completely, CBS was forced to come back from a commercial to Tasker and Wilcots.  In my opinion, its not as easy as it looks to ad-lib, inform the viewer, and throw it across the field to your colleague.  To do so smoothly, in front of the entire country, is not as simple as it looks.  It truly isn't.  I thought Tasker and Wilcots were stellar and completely up to the task.

Of course there are those who disagree with my take completely.  Chris "Mad Dog" Russo, whom I worked with briefly as an intern at WFAN Radio in NY in 1998, made it very clear that he felt Tasker, Wilcots and the entire CBS crew were caught with their pants down.  He wasn't impressed.  I was.  Especially considering these two guys were professional athletes, rather than career-trained broadcasters. 

No, sideline reporting is not easy.  Especially if you are standing the in the dark with the entire nation hanging on your every word.

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Spring Training Is A Sham

Let's be honest.  Spring Training is a sham.

I mean, it's six weeks of fluff.  Virtually meaningless, like drinking decaf coffee in the morning.

Don't get me wrong, counting down the days until pitchers and catchers report is something all baseball fans can truly get behind.  The winter thaw is near, the year's dark days stretch longer, and somewhere Dave Magadan is hitting fungos.  Baseball's yearly emergence is a wonderful thing.

I'm just saying that six weeks for well-paid, highly regimented professional athletes is much more than they need to prepare.  After all, with millions riding on each season, players stay in tip-top shape year-round.  Many say they take a couple weeks off and are back to it before Thanksgiving.

Years ago, players needed Spring Training to get back into playing shape.  Those off-seasons earning a living by working retail, painting houses or digging graves like Ritchie Hebner are long gone.  These days, the off-season job is to improve for next season.

Players today are world-class professional athletes.  And, barring injuries, managers have their season's game play in mind well in advance.  The real purpose of Spring Training is to create a couple mini-seasons for fans to buy tickets, merchandise, hotel rooms, restaurant meals and reassert their love for the game.

Spring Training is a terrific time of year.  Even if it is a sham.
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How To Be A Lousy Host

Saw a tweet recently that reminded me of a sage piece of broadcasting wisdom.

The tweet simply read, "Knicks hosting Bucks"

I was reminded of my days at Fordham University, during one of our Tuesday sportscasting sessions with legendary broadcaster/coach Marty Glickman.

If the Knicks are "hosting" the Bucks, are they laying out a decadent spread of tea and crumpets?  Serving wine and cheese, or an Italian feast?  Are they meeting the Bucks at the curb and lugging their luggage into MSG?  Putting them up in the guest room with a fresh set of linens and towels?

Marty was a stickler for the language.  He wanted broadcasters to be genuine and precise.

Last week, after my post nitpicking an Erin Andrews' sideline report, I received a tweet basically calling me a sportscasting stickler.  Agreed.

Good point to think about, though.  Unless you are satisfied being just another broadcaster, doing just another sportscast, and saying the Knicks are "hosting" the Bucks.  Just like every other broadcaster.
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Guest Post: It's All In How You Say It - By Nick Sportscaster

I’m an introvert that plays an extrovert on TV. My biggest fear when I get the “ready” cue from our director is that viewers will be able to hear my heart beating out of my chest.

But, in all honesty, when the red light goes on I couldn’t feel more comfortable.

I love what I do.

My philosophy is that no matter how big or small a story, I know it matters to someone out there and I treat it as such. I’m very passionate about what I do, and I want viewers to know that I care about matters to them.

With that, one of the things I feel that wasn’t emphasized enough during college was the difference “reading” and “delivering.”

I try to review air checks from all the shows I anchor and report in at the end of each week.

It gives me a chance to learn when I missed the mark, where I over emphasized and when I made my point.

Anybody can read. The important thing to remember in sportscasting is that it’s not about reading. It’s about delivery.

Whether for a vo/sot or highlights, there is always a way to amplify and enhance what you’re doing. It doesn’t have to be something over the top but you don’t want to jumble it all together and lose the message.

This past week, in reviewing an air check, I realized I completely missed the point in my copy regarding a local basketball team that is off to a 17-0 start, tied for the best start in school history.

My script read: “The last time they were 17-0 was back in 1996.”

I read through it like I was reading “See Spot. See Spot run.”

There wasn’t much to it. It was bland. I was disappointed. I felt like I not only let the team down, but the town that packs into the gym to watch them play.

There’s a hand full of ways to make that statement pop.

The last time they were 17-0 was back in 1996 (with the emphasis obviously on last).

I could have also thrown in a question mark to spike the curiosity of viewers, and emphasized the year to really bring home my point.

The last time they were 17-0? 1-9-9-6 (that’s a bad attempt at me trying to drag out saying 1996, but I hope you get the point).

The thing to remember with vo/sots, readers and packages is not to just plow through copy.

Deliver it.

Nick - Television Sports Anchor

"There is no script to sports and just when you think you know what's going to happen (in the words of John Madden) "BOOM!" You're mind gets blown and your left wondering," did that really just happen?""

Vin Scully nails it!

After last night's game, and with a mere two weeks until Spring Training 2013, a word from the legendary Vin Scully....

"Baseball is to football as blackjack is to bridge.  One is the quick jolt; the other the deliberate, slow-paced game of skill.  But never was a sport more ideally suited to television than baseball.  It's all there in front of you.  It's theatre, really.  The star is in the spotlight on the mound, the supporting cast fanned out around him, the mathmatical precision of the game moving with the kind of inevitability of Greek tragedy.  With the Greek chorus in the bleachers!"
     -L.A. Times, June 20, 1976

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Football vs. Baseball

"In football the object is to march into enemy territory and cross his goal.  In baseball the object is to go home."
-George Carlin

Certainly the sports are quite different, and those differences also stretch up to the broadcast booth.

Some broadcasters excel calling a fast-paced football game, while others thrive weaving anecdotes and tidbits into a leisurely baseball broadcast.   As we see so often, success for the broadcaster in one doesn't necessarily correlate to success in the other. 

In football, the action pretty much dictates your call.  With baseball - especially on radio - your preparation often dictates the quality of your call.  Add to that, we all have our strengths and comfort zones.

Joe Buck is perhaps the best on television at bouncing successfully from baseball to football.  Who else fits this category? 

And by the way, one poll shows a majority of fans feel that football has eclipsed baseball as our national sport.  Good cases to be made for each.  Your thoughts?


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