15 March 2015

I was there ... when MLS debuted in New York

I've been to at least 50 professional baseball games in the state of New York, probably closer to 100, and a distinct majority of those have been in New York City.

But until Sunday night, I had never been to a professional soccer game in New York City.

In fact, Sunday's home opener for expansion club New York City FC was only the third professional soccer game I've attended in New York state -- the other two were on Long Island.

So while I'm not wild about soccer teams being called Football Clubs, super-rich parent clubs are not my cup of tea, and I do prefer soccer-specific venues, it was pretty cool to be there with more than 45,000 fans as (New) Yankee Stadium made its MLS debut.

I was there to observe and network, rather than appear on-air, but it was a very cool atmosphere punctuated by two moments of brilliance from David Villa. (See for yourself). There was an impressive amount of light blue in the stands, given that NYC FC is a new team, and when the entire stadium got going with unison chants of "N-Y-C, N-Y-C," it gave me goosebumps.

Welcome to MLS, New York.

13 March 2015

I'm baaack! It's never easy, but the 2015 schedule is starting to take shape

It’s been more than two months since I’ve last posted here. I’ll try not to go silent that long again.

While the last two-plus months did include an awesome vacation (hello, Diamond Head, at right), I’ve spent most of it (including parts of said vacation) trying to line up work for 2015. While last year was my best yet as a professional free-lancer, it left me with no guarantees and little scheduled work heading into 2015.

While I got some early chances to stay involved, covering the 2015 adidas MLS Player Combine (see me poolside!) and working on the online stream of the 2015 MLS SuperDraft for MLSsoccer.com, one (excellent, top-25) college basketball game on Jan. 16 was my only live sporting event in the first 65 days of 2015.
This is not a comfortable position for a broadcaster. Not only is covering live events what I enjoy the most, but it’s also what I intend to make the lion’s share of my livelihood. Sitting around without work bums me out AND fails to pay the bills.

This is a not uncommon problem for me in the spring. In 2013, I went from Feb. 27 to June 1 without calling a major live event. Of course, I was planning a wedding at the time, so I had some things to do, but it was still extremely frustrating. Once I got started, however, I wound up covering a decent set of MLS games that year.

Since 2015 is my second year in the New York sports market, I have felt a little more confident than last year that work would eventually turn up. Don’t get me wrong, I was stressing it. I made calls and sent emails and went to meetings so that I could network. I sat around and waited for responses, agonized when other broadcasters got jobs I had hoped for, estimated the minimum I would make if no other jobs came along, and wondered when something good was going to happen.

Let’s just say it’s not my favorite time of year.

But I truly remained positive, moreso than in years past. My wife, my family members, and various colleagues all helped me to do so, and I fell back on the lessons of years past:
  • Something good will happen; I just don’t know when.
  • Work will find you when you stop reaching for it. 
  • Be patient. 
  • Believe in yourself.
Clich├ęs, I know, but they work. I don’t have my entire year planned out, but I have a pretty good idea of what I will be doing most months, and any additions to that mental schedule will be a welcome bonus!

For now, I am happy to say that I am on track for a busy spring schedule calling soccer, baseball, and softball for my usual variety of networks and outlets. My season started by hosting the pre-game show for the Philadelphia Union’s record-setting 6abc broadcast last Saturday, the first time I have covered the opening weekend of MLS play since I was full-time with the Houston Dynamo in 2011.
The current highlight of my spring schedule is a March 21 softball game I will call for the SEC Network, featuring top-20 teams Tennessee and Missouri. It is the highest-level production I have ever worked for in a sport other than soccer, and it is a chance for me to prove I can call multiple sports and earn more work at that level.

I also expect to call baseball games on more days this year (5 and counting) than any year since 2006 (I called about 100 games that year in minor league baseball), which is an exciting return to my broadcasting roots.

Soccer will, thankfully and not surprisingly, continue to make up the bulk of my schedule for the year, and I am waiting on several opportunities in the first half of the year that will be very exciting if (when!) they work out.

The work of landing jobs is not done. It never is. Thinking about opportunities and what may be available in the future is never far from my thoughts.

But I've got games to study for and the temperature in New York City is above 40 degrees. That makes me excited to get out of the apartment and start working on 2015!