Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Tio Buck

The date was March 4, 1994. I was 17, working at the Pancake House in Flemington. Jose was our dishwasher & it was a busy Friday night. Troutman was working as our manager. All of a sudden, we hear the dishwasher shut off & Jose grabbing about 6 or 7 rags to cover the blood gushing from his thumb. It wasn't catastrophic & Jose was a very quiet, hardworking man. But it was a serious wound.

Troutman comes up to the Line where we were cooking & said, "Tony, get that Mexican to the hospital before he looses too much blood." I had only been driving for a few months, so I was eagerly willing to have an excuse to put the hazard lights on & tear up Route 31 to the Medical Center.

When we arrived to the ER, we were greeting by a never-ending pile of forms to fill out. Finally, I threw my citizenship weight around & demanded that the bubble-headed insurance receptionist, "help my friend." I recall telling the lady that we were all covered by the Pancake House & to send the bill to (owner) Jim. So after finally getting Jose in to see a doctor, I was informed he needed about 30 stitches & it would take about an hour. And so I went off to the waiting room to make a phone call on the pay phone underneath the television. I dropped in my 35 cents & dialed 782-6337 to inform Troutman we were going to be a little while. While I was waiting for someone to pick up on the other end, I looked up at the television & saw that John Candy died. I was in stunned disbelief right when Troutman answered the phone. I blurted out, "Did you hear John Candy died?" He said, "No way!" I could hear everyone on the line cooking, the noise in the background told me it was busy. Troutman told me to hang on a second as he announced to everyone in the kitchen the news of the comedic legend's death. It even forced 3 or 4 employees to grab the phone from Troutman & confirm the news.

I hung up the phone & after a spit second I realized I had just made a call from the hospital & the only news I delivered was the death of John Candy. None of us even remembered Jose, whose thumb was nearly detatched from the rest of his 80-hour a week, minimum wage body. I always felt bad about that.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

In The Garden of Lavin

I am pleased to see excitement is rapidly creeping back into basketball at the Garden. With a strong possibility of the Knicks making the playoffs and on the verge of further distancing themselves from the Isiah Thomas nightmare, one man truly stands to benefit-Steve Lavin.

St.John's hoops has had to overcome the criminal regimes of the ultra-embarrasing Mike Jarvis and Fran Franscella. The mindless alllowance of violaton and rule-bending under their Rolexes almost destroyed a very storied program. I remember with great clarity the stir St.John's basketball once created. The Chris Mullin/Mark Jackson/Walter Berry days of battle in the infant stages of a great Big East Conference. Louie and John Thompson slugging it out a la Ali-Frazier.

Lavin has a unique opportunty to grab the lightening and ride the coat-tails of an advantageous recruiting chip that is NYC basketball. Look all up and down the Big East. Look at Kentucky, look at Duke. City players sprinkled all over the country who got away. Boggles the mind. Lavin will have at his disposal, the biggest stage in the country to lure some very gifted young cagers. He is sitting on the ground floor of a potential basketball powerhouse just waiting to erupt. I believe he is just the guy to bring Garden basketball back to prominence. I hope he can establish Madison Square Garden as the Redmen's permanent home floor and make it as tough a ticket in town as the pro teams in the greater New York area.(I still slip a lot and refer to them as the Redmen). The "RED STORM" would even allow the NCAA a chance to enjoy an even bigger boom by providing exposure to classic tilts yet to come.

Lavin must run a clean program thus allowing a new buzz to be created much like that crook Tarkanian had in Vegas back in the day. Only this would be legit. Make the uniform become a flag that indicates esteemed scholar-athletes and allow it to be a symbol of excellence in producing productive members of society. Get kids who want to recieve a first class education along with teaching them the finer points of an even finer game. I know its a bit of a reach to uproot the Queens connection, but this is a shot at creating a Monster.

A huge win vs UCONN tonight coupled with a landmark beatdown of Duke, reminds us all just how special big time basketball actually is in New York City. And how much bigger it can become. I look forward to seeing where it is heading. Lavin is a good fit with New York. A lot of Rick Pitino in him. I strongly think that Lavin will soon become a "hot commodity" around the basketball world both at the college and pro levels. I just hope the fine coach will realize that he is creating something more than a stepping stone job until something bigger opens up. Lavin will hopefully decifer for himself that a job at 2 Penn Plaza is as big as it gets in the sports world.

I honestly feel that head basketball coach at St.John's has the potential to be a Top 5 sports job. I really do. What 17 or 18 year old with good skills and a sound mind would not want to showcase his talents at the Mecca? Share a locker room with an upstart Knickerbocker team that is close to obtaining Carmelo Anthony and legitimize contender hopes along with the electricity of being in the building.

I am excited for the Redmen, I mean Red Storm. I feel I am witnessing a New Age in college basketball. Redmen or Red Storm? I'll just call it a Red Dawn

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Baseball is Around the Corner.

& until it starts, I'm taking a break from blogging. Here's something to hold you all over...

or how about this blast from the past?

And there's always March Madness!