First Trip to Citi Field

April 23, 2009

Ah, my first trip to Citi Field. I have the 15-game Friday pack, and it is the first time I have ever had a ticket plan with the Mets. My tickets are in Left Field in the Promenade Level. The ticket is $20 per game.
There is plenty of parking, with about 14,000 less seats and the more spots available due to the construction being completed this makes it easier to get to Citi Field by car. Be prepared to pay $18 to park. I like to park by the Marina, it is the easiest way out after the game. If you can take the 7 train, it’s only about a 15 minute trip from Grand Central Station.

Shea is nothing but a square piece of dirt right now. Only the memories remain. Many of those memories are shown around the walls of Citi Field, which does have an Ebbets Field facade to it.

Anything was better than Shea. This is true on so many levels. Escalators that work perfectly, there are even elevators, and the support staff at Citi Field are nice and friendly, and you almost forget you are in New York City. They must have hired a 1,000 people. Luckily, most of the people that worked at Shea seem to be living at Shady Acres.

This place is about the concession stands. They surround the concourses. The prices were about the same as Shea. The food options were robust. I ate before the game. A hot dog is $4.75, $6.50 to $7.50 for a beer, there are burger places, pizza, sausage & peppers, tacos, burritos, etc. Behind Center field is the Shake Shack that is very popular with even more options. The one problem with that place is that the scoreboard blocks your view of the field while you are there. It was cool to see the old Mets sign with the NYC skyline above it that used to be over the old Shea scoreboard.

Bill Veeck once said that, “The knowledge of the game is inversely proportional to the price of the seat.” He said this decades ago long before there would be 5 levels of club seating, seat licenses, waitress service to seat, etc. God, if he was alive today, what he would say. There are 5 Clubs at Citi Field, a different one for the ticket you hold. I do not have access to any of them. I have sat in Club Seats before, it is nice, but it is only good if you get free food with your ticket. Most of the Clubs at Citi do not give you free food. The real Met fans who probably sat in the Orange and Blue Levels in the past have mostly migrated to the top. The infamous Cow-Bell Man is up with us. Most of the “Let’s Go Mets” chants started with our sections, the people who paid 3 figures for the seats seemed content to sit on their hands, and hope the Mets win by at least 2 points.

My seat is no wider than it was at Shea, but there is more leg room and cup holders at every seat. And the rows are situated where you can see over someone regardless of height instead of looking between people’s shoulders. I am in the 6th row of section 534, I have a very nice view of the field, every seat faces home plate, which was something that was an adventure at Shea where you had to turn your body to see the pitcher. The height of my seat is about the equivalent to the Mezzanine level at Shea, so the view is not necessarily a nose bleed view. There are obstructed views and my seats are not immune from that. Because the seats overlap the Left Field wall, anything hit to the wall cannot be seen below you. I knew this when I bought my tickets, but, I wanted to be part of this place, and I was not going to spend thousands to get the perfect seat.

It is not a big deal to me that the seats are green and the wall is black. Everyone will learn to live with that. The Phillies have blue seats and a green wall at their park which does not really match their colors either. I would have rather seen a nice design built into the seats like the ones that exist for the Denver Broncos, Philadelphia Eagles and Manchester United.

The Jackie Robinson Rotunda is very nice, but it is 45 years too late. This should have been part of Shea and not Citi Field. The Mets have 47 years of history on their own. Yes, most of it is tragic and laughable, but some it is actually historic. The Mets are only one of three teams since the 1962 expansion to capture multiple World Series titles. The Blue Jays and the Marlins are the other two, and the only team to capture 4 Pennants. While, I am huge Brooklyn Dodger fan, I am in the 90 per cent majority who was not alive to see Jackie play. I would say only about 2 or 3 per cent of last night’s attendance actually saw a game at Ebbets Field, my father, who is 68, is in that 2 or 3 per cent.

While Dodger fans loved Jackie, he was not their favorite Dodger, the fans of dem Bums favorites were Pee Wee Reese, the most beloved, the Duke of Flatbush, Duke Snider, Gil Hodges, who also managed the Miracle Mets (and should be in the Hall of Fame!), Roy Campanella, and the Reading Rifle, Carl Furillo were all more popular in Brooklyn than #42. What I would have done with the Rotunda would be to incorporate all 3 New York National League teams, the Dodgers, the Giants, and the Mets into one. The Field does not really have much at all in terms of Mets items associated with it. The banners hang from high flag poles out in Right Field and are hardly noticeable. Citi Field almost makes the Mets feel like a first-year expansion team with hardly any history. Now, I am not saying we needed to make a Benny Agbayani, Mel Rojas, or Tsuyoshi Shinjo Rotunda, but I think true Met fans wanted to see pictures of Tom Terrific, Doc, Darryl, the Kid, I’m Keith Hernandez, Ronny Darling, Mike Piazza, Johnny Franco, Gil Hodges, Davey, and some pictures of today’s Mets stars adorn the building. Everyone likes to wax poetic about Brooklyn, and it is a special place, and the borough is making a renaissance, but if Brooklyn was so great, how come the team moved just 2 years after a championship. You can blame Walter O’Malley and the city all you want, but attendance numbers dwindled, and the Trolley Dodgers are never coming back. We have the Mets, and the true fans bleed orange and blue, not blue and white. I look at the New England Patriots, a team that has been around for the same number of years, and with actually less history, now has a new stadium, a team Hall of Fame, a shopping area called Patriot Place, pretty good ticket prices except for the Club Seats, and that place is all about the Patriots. Citi Field should be all about the Mets.

Now to the actual game, seeing Gary Sheffield hit his 500th Home Run was special, and only done 24 other times, but what made it even more memorable was that it tied the game. A game that the Mets were cruising after the first inning, but fell asleep for the next 6 innings and trailed 4-3. Gary’s pop off the bench gave the Mets a spark that in recent years was sorely missing. The bullpen was tremendous, keeping the Brewers off the scoreboard for 4 innings, and Luis Castillo, a cross to bear for Met fans, comes through again in ’09 with a walk-off winning RBI infield single.
The crowd was about 36,000, last night, about 6,000 short of a sellout. Unfortunately, I think there will be fewer sellouts due to the high ticket prices, and that the celebs and CEO’s that that the Wilpons thought would flock to the park, are here, but the demand was not overwhelming, due to the economy and the greed of the Wilpons’ favorite season ticket holder, Bernie “Arthur Ponzarelli” Madoff.

I will be making a trip to the new Yankee Stadium this season; I drove past it last night, and it looks jaw droppingly good. I will have a write up about the $1.6 Billion new Coliseum for the Bombers. I think the Mets $800 Million was pretty well spent, it will take a while to get used to the home field, but it is our home, and hopefully the memories, like the one I had last night, will add to the Ulti-Met times to come.

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Another Buck for A-Rod

February 11, 2009

Let me begin this column by stating that I am a Mets fan, and I have no bones to pick here.  Man, Joe Torre, is one lucky guy. He fails to win a World Series in his last 7 years as Yankee manager, despite the Yankees spending a stimulus worthy amount of over $1 Billion in payroll, and you hardly hear a peep of blame.  In fact, most Yankee fans were sad to see him leave.  I do not think Joe wanted to come back with the current management structure of the Yankees, and I do not think the Steinbrenner Sons wanted Joe back.  It was bizarre for New York.  In other cities; they are a little more patient.  Jeff Fisher has been the only in coach in Tennessee’s history, and Bill Cowher was in Pittsburgh, and did not win a title until his 14th and final season with the Steelers.

Yes, Joe won 4 World Series in 5 years, and that is undeniable.  He was also very fortunate to step into a very good situation.  And last year, Manny Ramirez falls in his lap as he decides that Fenway park will never get wi-fi in the green monster, and moves to an area more comfortable for him, La-La Land.

Last week, his book, The Yankee Years, was the talk of the New York sports world. People were reacting that the Yankees were not going to retire his number 6, and that there would not be a Joe Torre Day someday at Yankee Stadium.  Now, it seems like that may happen a lot sooner than you think.  This week the book seems to be as memorable as Bill Parcells’ book about his last season in the NFL when he coached the Jets in 1999.  He returned to coach the Cowboys in 2003.  Personally, I think Joe’s book is overblown.  What I disagree with the book is the timing.  It reminds of me that car that makes a fast turn to cut in front of you, and then proceeds to drive under the speed limit.  You then look in your rear view mirror and see there was no one behind you.  My point here is, Joe couldn’t wait?  Joe couldn’t wait until his managing career was over to release some details that he thought were sacred cows of the clubhouse?  Did he need the money that bad?  I believe Joe Torre is a nice man, but I think he is a man who still likes the spotlight, and the spotlight he has as manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers is not like he had in New York.  Joe, being from Brooklyn, knows their is no limelight in sports like New York baseball.

I think one of the most seldom asked questions in New York sports is what if Buck Showalter did not leave the Yankees after the 1995 season? People tend to forget that Buck took over the Bronx Bombers in 1992, after the 1991 season with Stump Merrill as Manager posting a 71-91 record.   Buck did not get along well with George Steinbrenner and was not really seen as a New York kind of manager, despite his success.

Buck ran it to unfortunate luck as Yankee skipper.  If the Wildcard system was in place in 1993, the Yankees would have won that.  In 1994, the Yankees appeared to be running away with American League East, they had a 6 and 1/2 game lead over the Orioles and had the best record in the AL with a 70-43 record.  No one would ever see how that season would finish as the 1994 baseball season ended prematurely on August 11th, due to the players’ strike.  Buck was named AL Manager of the Year in 1994 as a consolation prize.  In 1995, after a 144 game strike-shortened season; Buck led the Yankees into the playoffs for the first time since 1981.  The Yankees met the Seattle Mariners in baseball’s first ever Division playoff series. The Division Series originally ran with the Wild Card team hosting games 1 & 2 and the Division Winner hosting games 3, 4, & 5.  This would change after 1997; I can’t help but think that the Yankees would have won that series if it was a 2-2-1 series.  Just another unlucky piece for Buck’s resume.  It was an epic series, where the Mariners outlasted the Yankees in 5 games after a classic 12-inning finale.    There was a young 20 old shortstop named Alex Rodriguez on that Mariners team.

Alexander Emmanuel Rodriguez was a natural.  He couldn’t miss. He tried out for Team USA while still in high school.  He was drafted first overall by the Seattle Mariners.   Major League Baseball could market him as the next superstar, young, good-looking, a boy with a Latino roots but born in America and could speak to people of so many backgrounds.  He could have been to Latin-Americans, what Joe DiMaggio means to Italian-Americans,  what Willie Mays means to African-Americans, and what Sandy Koufax means to Jewish-Americans.  An American born of a minority race with unparalleled talent that would be talked about by generations of fans as their personal baseball icon.

Somewhere along the line the boy known as  Alex Rodriguez became A-Rod.  Arod is a Sindarin word that means noble.  Unfortunately, for Mr. Rodriguez, his version of A-Rod has a hyphen and now it means something totally opposite of the Sindari counterpart.  His numbers were piling up in Seattle, and then he went to Texas in 2001, where he would sign that monster 10 year/$250 million contract.  After three years of terrific stats, his Rangers failed to make the playoffs and the Yankees would trade for him in 2004.

When Alex came to New York, he was given his king’s salary and given all of the media spotlight.  But, there was no key to the city to be rewarded, because this was not his team.  (If LeBron James becomes part of the New York Knicks in 2010, you will see what the key to the city really looks like).  A man by the name of Derek Jeter has the key sealed until he retires.  Jeter is a New York icon, and held the position that Alex grew up playing which was shortstop.  You almost feel bad for A-Rod.  He is kind of like what Maris was when compared to Mantle.  The only thing is here, Maris, I mean A-Rod, makes over $20 million per season and will not receive an ounce of pity.  He would move to third base, and it would be the hot corner for him in more ways than he could ever imagine.  This week it became an inferno.

Derek Jeter was supposed to be a good player, he made it himself great through his hustle, running down to first base on almost every at bat, going after balls that few would dare, and then in 2004 by diving in to the stands and risking his body and his possibly his career to make a catch.  It was a play that was completely Jeter-esque, but it is a piece of the game that does not seem like it is in A-Rod’s repertoire.  The heart of Jeter well overshadowed the supreme talent of A-Rod.  It is a very large shadow and it is one you do not get away from if your cocky, unfeeling, and make the front page headlines for who you are dating rather than the back page headlines for his accomplishments.

A-Rod had his chances to make add to the Yankee legacy, but it was not meant to be. I wonder what Yankee fans would be saying about A-Rod today if it were he and not his predecessor at third base, Aaron Boone, who hit that home run to win the 2003 American League Championship Series.  I also wonder what would have happened if he had homered in extra innings in either Game 4 or Game 5 of the 2004 American League Championship Series to knock out the Red Sox, instead of having to be part of a dubious legacy.  But, when the chips were down, A-Rod could not deliver.  Over the years, he became the other K-Rod, or my personal favorite, Double Play Rod.

You look at A-Rod and you are not really sure that it matters to him.  He knows he is great, heck, he will tell it your face.  But, to be great in sports, especially when you play in New York, and double that when you play for the Yankees, you need to be a champion.  He had been a Yankee for 5 seasons, and the Championship cupboard was bare.  Could it get any worse for A-Rod?  Oh yes.

A-Rod came out this week and admitted he had used steroids in his time with the Texas Rangers.  Ok, let’s set the record straight, he didn’t come out, he was forced out by a Sports Illustrated report that said he had tested positive for steroids back in 2003.   After appearing, voluntarily, on 60 Minutes in 2007, and stating that he never took steroids, he now puts himself in the world of first class baseball liars along with  Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and the list grows each and every day.  One thing you didn’t think A-Rod would do was take steroids.  He did not really show any physical build up like those mentioned in the prior sentence.  With his talent, did he really need to do it?  But, he did it.  He is digging a hole so deep, that I do not know how anyone can come out of it.  There is just one thing that I don’t understand; I may find myself rooting for A-Rod.  I may not be alone.  He is about as steep of an underdog as there is right now, and New Yorkers always love an underdog.  If he can pull himself out and show the heart that matches his skills and lying ability, he just might redeem himself.  Will this happen?  I have no idea, but I am going to tune it.  I bet you will, too.

Like the opposing team’s manager his Mariners defeated in 1995, A-Rod did not have much luck in the Bronx.  Unlike Buck, he may get a chance for redemption and a chance to change his luck. Also unlike Buck, A-Rod’s wounds are mostly self-inflicted and he cannot undue the damage that has been done, but he may get a chance to do something good.

I wonder what else Joe Torre knew, maybe he will save that for his next book.


Requiem for the Sports Guy

February 6, 2009

I am writing this as a piece not to knock the Sports Guy, Bill Simmons, but it is a tribute to someone who has given me plenty of enjoyment in my life.  I am just asking him to take a break. In terms of sports writing exclusively on the Internet, Bill was one of the first.  He is a very talented writer, and since he came well before we knew what a Blogger was; he is a columnist, and I know he would like to be called that. He’s a Hall of Famer in my book. I just want him to concentrate on what he does best, which is write.  The podcasts are ok, but I really don’t give a crap about Cousin Sal every NFL week, and could care less if Johnny is worried yet.  Sometimes it feels like you are just listening in on their phone calls.  Bill has a voice made for writing.  When I see him post a diary, the ramblings or have an online chat it makes me feel like Old-Timers Day is at ESPN.  Years ago, many teams had Old-Timers Day, today it is just done by the Yankees.  I always enjoyed the event, even though I am a Met fan.  It is always cool to say, “Look, Yogi still can wear the uniform,” or “Wow, Whitey Ford can still reach the plate!”  Reading Bill’s columns now has that effect on me.

We are both Patriots’ fans and that is how I found him. I live in New Jersey.  Back in the 90’s, when AOL had an overwhelming share of the at-home Internet market, the out-of-town sports fan did not have too many options.  Newspaper websites were far from what they are today.  Some of those papers actually charged to read their content!  Personal websites were very minor and this whole social networking phenomenon was limited to chat rooms, AOL Instant Messaging, and if anyone knew how to create a Geocities page, where it would take an hour to load your 3 pictures.  Those who had dial up remember these days well.  And those of you who were too young to remember these days, you didn’t miss much at all.  Digitalcity.bostonsportsguy.com was the first sports website that I found that was informative and made me laugh as well.

His move to ESPN was not the end of the world. It was the start of something new.  This was an unbelievable jump for someone who used to write me when I made a comment on his site.  I was happy for him like I would have been happy for him if he was my brother.  He brought a lot of his days as the BSG over to ESPN, and for those who thought his columns would suffer by making the jump to tWWL (the WorldWide Leader) in 2001 (God, it’s been almost eight years already!) were mistaken.  He became more polished.  While he did not really keep track of and rate other sports columns anymore, his columns were better.  Using movie lines and songs to correlate to sports was terrific stuff that kept us wanting more.  I would take lunch late at work to wait for his article to come out and print it, so I could read during lunch or on the bowl.

My favorite article of all time is when he wrote about the Pats winning their first Super Bowl, on February 3, 2002.  He must have stayed up all night to write this.  It was a masterpiece.  He had to have been drunk as well while writing it, which makes even more impressive. It may be more of a masterpiece to me because it was a moment of shared joy for him, myself, and so many other long-time Patriot fans.  I knew Bill had made it to the big time when the Chairman of the company that I work for, brought me in to his office, two days after Super Bowl XXXVI.  The Chairman knew I was a big Patriot fan, and the only one in our New Jersey office. He talked to me about this article he received from a friend of his.  His friend is the President of another company who was up in Massachusetts, and when he gave me the print out of the article and I saw the title and Bill’s name; I knew he had really made it.

Later on in 2002, he signed on to be a writer for Jimmy Kimmel Live.   We did not hear too much from him in 2003, and I was surprised that he left Jimmy’s show and worked full-time at ESPN.  Maybe, it was contract related, or ESPN’s viewership went down and offered him a better deal.  I think his downfall in terms of his sportswriting, comes from a few things, his move to Hollywood, having two children, and other projects have truly hampered him in terms of what he does best, which is column writing.  But, hey that’s life and you cannot fault anyone for that.

I narrowed my elegy to four things that caused me to write this:

1 – The Book, Now I Can Die in Peace: How ESPN’s Sports Guy Found Salvation, with a Little Help from Nomar, Pedro, Shawshank and the 2004 Boston Red Sox

I initially thought it was great that Bill was writing a book about the Sox amazing year.  Then, I opened it at Borders.  I was shocked to see that book was just a compilation of his columns as ESPN.  He never spoke about this when he referenced the book.  It was a total let down to people who have read him for the last five years.

Here was my review that can be found under the 2-star rating:

“Bill Simmons cleans out his hard drive and calls it a day and now a book. (Sorry, it had to be said). Anyone who has read the Boston Sports Guy could have just saved his articles and added their own commentary.

Bill is a very talented and original writer but I would have rather read something that is new. I know he has a new daughter and we all need to make a buck, so I can’t blame him.  The columns are as a good as it gets about the Sox and sports, but you may have read this before.

I wish the title was a better one. First, there are a few more important things that I would like to see happen in my life than a baseball team who could care less about me (except my wallet) win a World Series. Second, the title is a complete rip-off from 1994 when a fan had made that sign at Madison Square Garden after the NY Rangers won the Stanley Cup. Adding to the non-originality of the book.”

I hope his NBA book that comes out this fall is original, I doubt I will buy it, but I hope he uses original writing.

2 – He Cannot Relate to New England Anymore

Now, every once in a while, Bill can still bring it, like in this column on the demise of home-field advantage in the NFL.  He made it work with ideas that were given to him by some of his compatriots in the Blogosphere.  But, I also noticed in his column something that really pissed me off:  “I’ve attended three Pats games in the Gillette Mausoleum.” His distance from the Boston sports fan really showed up in that sentence.   I do not care who your friends are who go, and what you hear, what websites or podcasts you read or hear, if you are not personally there, you truly cannot relate and are not qualified to comment.

He has only attended 3 Pats games at Gillette Stadium?  How is that possible?  The Stadium just finished its 7th season.  I am not saying you have to be a season ticket holder to be a diehard fan, you don’t, and you don’t have to go to any games at all.  But, let me get this straight: You write for ESPN, who would probably pay you to go to Foxborough, and you have only been there once every two years?   Even if you do not like the stadium, how do you not get out to see one of the greatest era’s of your team in your lifetime.  Yet, he is not afraid to wax poetic about Foxboro Stadium.  I, myself, have attended over 10 Pats games at Gillette, driving 4 hours to and from Northern New Jersey, and I was one of about 1,000 Patriot fans that went to Super Bowl XXXIX in Jacksonville.   I have also attended every Patriots-Jets game at the Meadowlands since 1993, but that is another story.  I am not from New England either, but I do follow the Pats religiously and follow the team on a daily basis, and see them as often as I can.  I do have friends in the area, but it does not make me an expert on what the pulse of the fans truly is.

Here are a couple of facts from a fan who has been to both many times:

A – Foxboro Stadium always was a dump. My high school stadium where I played football had more amenities.  What Bill didn’t mention about Foxboro Stadium, was that the traffic used to be the slow road to China, be prepared for a 3 hour ride home, it is better now, not great, but better.  You prayed for your car and for your bones when parking at Foxboro, most of the parking lots were unpaved, there were just mounds of dirt and rocks in the parking areas.  Oh, and if you went during a night game, leave a paper trail on how to find your car because there were about two working lights in the parking area and a million bottles you could trip over on the way back.  Those days may have been fun when you are in college, but as you cross the 30 yard line in terms of years, it blows for the most part.

The fans who sit by the field have the same enthusiasm for the most part as those up in the 300’s.  While it will never be what Foxboro Stadium was in terms of its closeness, the closeness to the field from the upper level is the only thing I miss about Foxboro Stadium.  Being squeezed in on metal benches was lousy, there was one TV monitor, one scoreboard, a sound system that looked my old 8-track system complete with ropes tying up the speakers!

B – Gillette is not perfect. Unfortunately, and I agree with Bill on how the noise goes straight up instead of directing the noise on the field.  There is a wine-and-cheese crowd, luckily, most of them are in their precious Club area.  Patriot Place is amazing, but you cannot believe that you are walking into stores, restaurants, and a theatre on a place that you used to have hold on to someone else to make it over a dirt hill to get to the stadium.  It does take away from the team a little.  But, it sure beats what we had.

C – Winning breeds complacency. When your team has had as much success as the Patriots have had in this decade, you lose a little bit of that hunger to stand and yell on every down.  But, unlike the Atlanta Braves, the Pats still sell out every game and have a wait list over 50,000 fans, something we never had at Foxboro.  The fans still show up in droves no matter what the weather.  I have sat in about every possible location at Gillette Stadium, I’m still amazed by the Pats fans I sit next to during the games.  Most are very knowledgeable about today’s team.  Their memories are short and some of them would fail to recognize who used to wear #11 for the Pats, let alone know who Hugh Millen or Tommy Hodson were.  If he lived in the area or went to more games, he would know this.  You can strip him of the Boston in Boston Sports Guy.

3 – The Machine Named ESPN (hiding behind Disney) Ate Him Alive

ESPN is owned by this little mouse with ears named Disney.  That mouse has huge ears and those ears have executives with eyes that do not like when content done by one of the mercenaries, oops, I mean employees, can cross the line.  I am still amazed that the Tuesday Morning Quarterback was brought back on to ESPN’s Page 2.  You don’t create your own Blogspot page called Sportsguy Unplugged with a picture of Andy Dufresne, if you are happy about the work you are doing and the company you represent.  You know the editors at ESPN have cut his columns limb from limb in terms of censorship. I know in this past year that he couldn’t stand that ESPN was giving Rick Reilly, $3 million a year, for 800 words per column and that Reilly thought of him as a Blogger and not a columnist.  I also know that he will take his anger towards tWWL about how they screwed him over on having then Senator Obama on his podcast.  His contract is signed until 2010, this must feel like the longest year in his life.  His column does not allow comments, now I am not sure if that decision is his, or if it is made by tWWL, but it would be cool to see what others are saying.

4 – Most of Us Did Not Watch the Same Things as You or Constantly Talk About Our Friends In Our Writing

I may have watched Beverly Hills 90210, and seen the first three Karate Kids, but I do not discuss them.  I have been waiting for a Guiding Light reference someday.  Also, I do not see anyone else who mentions their personal friends, like JackO, J-Bug, and Blueboy constantly.  Seriously, who has a friend named Blueboy?  And why would you want to be named after a gay porn mag? Maybe, these guys get a piece of the action.  Mentioning your parents, or your wife and kids is fine, but I guess Bill will keep trying until he can land them a job at ESPNEWS or something.   If he ever wonders why people call him a Blogger; it is precisely there.

Competition came along as every network, newspaper and team put in these people called Bloggers, that would give fans instant access to their teams.  This was followed by thousands of fans’ posting their own columns and then came the other side of sports websites like Deadspin, SportsbyBrooks, Awful Announcing, Kissing Suzy Kolber, and too many other good ones to mention.

The need for a 10,000 word column went out of fashion.  There is just too much information that is presented in front of our faces to occupy our time anymore. By the way, if you are still reading this, thank you. You run out of hours in the day when you try read and listen to all of what you want, oh, and do your job at work, too.  In 1999, there were no iPods, cell phones were just that phones, the Internet was fledgling and 75% of the people did not know how to go online, and video games were just games, not consoles that bring so much more to the table. Time moves on, and Bill moved on to Hollywood and drifting away from sports to the world of glitz and glamour.

Rest well, Sports Guy, we will be there for you when you come back.  If you are under 40 and you write about sports, you know you have taken some lessons from him.  Thanks for some great columns and for paving the way for so much more to come since the days of my 56K modem.  I hope I am there to witness you receiving your Lifetime Achievement Webby Award.  I would like a picture.  I will put next to my picture of me and some of my friends that we took at Old Timers Day.