Sunday, September 29, 2013

What Not To Say In Play-By-Play

From today's TIMES and NEWS-STAR

This will come as a shock to readers who respect the English language, but two years ago, Learfield Sports Properties hired me as “color analyst” for Louisiana Tech football games.

(I know. I was surprised too.)

The most endearing play-by-play guys on the magic that is radio are the ones whose voices excite and soothe and inform. Those who live in that rarefied air are a treasure because, I am here to tell you, it is harder than it sounds.

Granted, I am only the color guy. On television, the color guy is the star. On radio, the play-by-play man is the star. He’s your eyes. It’s his show.

Hall of Fame broadcaster Dave Nitz is “The Voice of the Bulldogs” at Tech and has been for nearly 40 years. We call him Freeway Dave, a distinction he’s earned since, in a half-century of broadcasting basketball, football and baseball (he’s the former longtime “Voice of the Shreveport Captains,”) he has traveled more than Willie Nelson (one of his heroes), is on a first-name basis with the U.S. Interstate System and, as he likes to say, has been in more hotel rooms than the Gideon Bible.

Freeway is my friend. And a pro. And the star of every broadcast he’s a part of. I sweep up after Freeway Dave.

Unless something comes up.

Like his food. Which is what happened a couple of weeks ago, just after the second half of a football game we were doing began.

Freeway had been ill for days but, trooper and nut that he is, drove from his Haughton home to Ruston to do the Saturday night game. He battled through the pregame and the first half. Nearly passed out at halftime. Then, just as the third quarter began, he turned to a trash can behind us, face white as Vacation Bible School paste, and pointed a finger at me that looked like the finger The Ghost Of Christmases To Come pointed at Scrooge.

What? Who. Me?

This is how I know that play-by-play, like baking or gardening or hitting a long iron high and soft, is harder than it looks.

Normally a play on the radio would sound something like this:

“Here we go. First snap of the second half. The Broncos have outscored their opponents in each second half this season…

“Manning from the pistol, looking, steps up, good protection, Welker  crossing and he’s got him at the 50, Welker to the 40!, Howard has an angle, Welker to the 25, they won’t get him, they won’t get him. Welker at the 10. Touchdown, Broncos! Manning to Welker, and now Denver’s making it look easy…”

And in your head, when somebody points to you “on the air” and tells you to describe what’s happening, that is the same way it sounds in your head. Only what comes out of your mouth is something more like this:

“The boy just hiked the … it’s a pass. That boy is running. He’s being chased and the pass…another boy just knocked him down. Knocked him … that will bring up a whole other down…Boy.”

Not quite the same -- I don’t know -- flow, maybe?

Young radio engineer Ryan Kavanaugh, who’s done high school play-by-play, was quickly summoned from his perch behind us – what was now Sick Bay – and together we tangoed through the advertisements and “action on the field.” I like Ryan, mainly because he’s never thrown up on me.

Yet. It’s a long season…

On the bright side, Dave’s recovered. Not all of us have.


Thursday, September 26, 2013

Note From FCA's Terry Slack: Paul Dietzel And FCA

If you read The Times recently you noticed a very nice article in the Sports section about former LSU Coach Paul Dietzel, and his passing.

At the end of the article it mentioned a request, in lieu of flowers, for all donations to go to the Baton Rouge Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

All of these donations will go to help Marla and Andy Stroup with the ministry of FCA in Baton Rouge, and LSU.

Coach Dietzel was very involved with FCA for many years.  He attended the first FCA Camp, along with many LSU athletes, held in Estes Park in 1956. 

God used FCA to have an influence and impact on his life.  Coach Dietzel attended many FCA events and camps for years.

If you would like to make a donation, go to, or mail your donation to Baton Rouge FCA, PO Box 14559, Baton Rouge, 70898.

Lord Bless,
Terry Slack

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Teamwork Is Power When Talkin' Flowers

From today's TIMES and NEWS-STAR

Now about this flower thing we were talking about…

Sometimes I feel so lost in the world of flower gardening…overwhelmed.

Covered in kudzu.

No confidence. Couldn’t sell a fried pie to a fat man.

But time waits for no man, and decisions have to be made. That’s where you come in, fellow flower lover.

Welcome to the first day of autumn!, or, as we call it in north Louisiana, “still July.” Sure enough though, the days are getting a bit cooler, and certainly they are getting shorter. A true autumn season will come. Might not be until Thanksgiving, but it’ll get here.

Seems like most everything else in fashion gets to us late. Why should the change from summer to fall be any different?

In a nutshell, I got my money’s worth out of this summer’s blooms. More, by leaps and bounds and blossoms, than I’d hoped. And some are hanging in there, which I’ve noted and charted.

But if I took a team picture, our summer flowers – mine and yours -- now look, for the most part, like 1970s San Diego Padres’ jerseys. If you are not either a San Diego fan or a baseball fan and can’t grasp the reference, think Cleveland Browns. Or Taco Bell. Bingo. Are your begonias supposed to look like refried beans? Are those petunias, or half-eaten burritos?

It’s a jungle out there.

I wrote an “Ode To Summer’s Passing Flowers” a month ago. (You know who has the name for such poetic work?: Elizabeth Barrett Browning. “’Twas barren in my garden/And I said, Will you pardon/Me whilst I dig a hole/To climb into?...”)

Many of you told me I must have been peeking into your flowerpots. So my guess is that you, too, are caught in this wonderful seasonal transition that demands both timing and precise decisions. And, if you can afford it, some really good landscape mix.

So far, it’s been slow goings on advice at this bureau. Recently I asked a dear friend, a charming Southern lady, for some pointers. She is, after all, in a “Garden Club.” She laughed at me as if I had purple iris growing out of both ears and dianthus out of my nostrils.

“Dear, we don’t know anything about DIRT,” she said, leaning in, her fingers now on my shoulder. “It’s really more of a BOOK club. Or a wine club. Don’t you SEE?”

One day when I decide what trees to plant, I might have her over so she can read and sip mint juleps in the shade. Meanwhile, I asked her to call me when their Book of the Month had anything to do with knockout roses or how to get a confederate jasmine to grow up the side of my bricked garage.

So what are YOU planting? And where? And why? Tell me by email or shoot me a photo by Twitter @MamaLuvsManning. (Momma, like Ernest T. Bass, was “torn right between them two loves” Sunday when Denver played at the Football New York Giants, but that’s another story. Like the periwinkle in our back yard, she survived.)

I need some groundcover. I need to ponder some border plants. And some color like black-eye Susan maybe? Coreopsis? Goldenrod? Russian sage? True geranium? Counterfeit geranium?

I’m thinking perennial too. And also some trees. A hickory? That fall yellow sure is pretty. Pink dogwood. Kwanzan cherry. What about a crabapple? Some sort of ash? And three little fruit trees. But which?

Help me to keep from having just a pot of pansies.