Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Big Things Happening

Big things are on the horizon for yours truly.  If you've known me for a while, you know that football season is the busiest season of the year for me.  I've challenged myself to put myself out there more from now until the end of the year.  That's not an ego thing, that's a career goal thing.  This time of year reignites the fire I had 22 years ago when I started in radio.  It's a fire I wish I had year around, but on-air jobs are few and far between and that's why I take what I can get, when I can get it. With that said, here is what I am doing the next few months at least.

1. First and foremost is the biggest thing.  I am entering my ninth season as co-host of the AIA365.com Friday Night Wrap-Up Show.  We start next Friday, August 30th on AM 860, heard valleywide.  I'll have online info on Twitter and Facebook when I know for sure if you can listen online.  It will be myself and cohost Curt Blakeney for another season.  We always have fun, some surprises and you never know when an upset will happen, especially this season.  Our show will be on every Friday night from 9:30-11:30, once again on AM 860.

2,  This I am pretty excited about. This is the first year I will be a part of the Tackle The Trib high school football pick em contest as a VIP. Trust me, the whole VIP thing isn't going to my head and never will.  But, it's a group comprised of myself, East Valley Tribune writers, ABC 15's Craig Fouhey and a cast of characters from AIA365.com including PBP and Saturday radio show co-host Jim Grieshaber, who I plan to crush.  Just kidding Jimmy...sort of.  So look for my picks each week, Thursday, I think, in the East Valley Tribune or at Varsity.evtrib.com 

3. This last one may be the most difficult.  I've decided to start a weekly podcast.  Of course it will be sports related, but putting all my thoughts on paper and how I want to go about it will take some time.  It's something I've always wanted to do, I just have to sit down and plan it out.  It will encompass all I do during the week, my thoughts and maybe occasional guests if the thing takes off.  The possibilities are endless in my mind, I just have to get it started.  Once I do, the rest is easy.

So, there's my immediate future.  Either find me on radio on Friday nights, my picks in the Trib on Thursday or coming soon to a website near you, the podcast.  Lots of stuff on the table, but it's time to give this thing a serious run.  Hope you enjoy all of my endeavors and I appreciate the love and support I've received along the way.


Sunday, August 11, 2013

No One Like Jim

Today (Sunday) we lost one of the best professionals I've come across in my 20-plus years in journalism.  Former Arizona Republic Phoenix Coyotes beat writer Jim Gintonio died of cancer.  I first remember Jim by reading his Media column in the Republic when I was in high school and college.  As a radio guy, I wouldn't miss it. It was good fun to see who he was going to criticize next.  During this run as a media critic, he got the name "Gin Tonic" by a valley personality who he wrote about on occasion.  I first met Jim when I started covering the Coyotes for then Metro Networks back in 2004.  He was always great to me, even though I gave him more crap then anyone in this business.  Mostly because he let me do it and give it right back to me.  It was never personal between he and I, it was more schoolyard picking on and I loved it.  I have a few stories about Jim I'd like to share. 

It's amazing the relationships Jim had with people and the players he covered.  Believe it or not, former Coyotes goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov loved Jim.  Well, loved to pick and have fun with him. Bryz was just a different dude.  Another one that liked to have fun with him was former Coyotes forward Danny Carcillo.  He maybe was one of the most ruthless toward Jim. His last year with the Coyotes, he purposely stopped by the Blackhawks locker room to say hi to Danny.  Carcillo was working out post game in the hallway when they saw each other.  Danny tells him in mid-stretch "hey Jim..I heard you were retiring..it's about time." Jim returned with "when was the last time you played man." Carcillo was a scratch for a few games that season.  I laughed after he said it and we walked back to the media center and I told him that may be the funniest thing I'd ever heard him say.  Jim says "He loves me."

One thing I admired about Jim is he never wanted any attention on him, right until the end.  The night the Coyotes presented him with a jersey with his name on it, signed by the team he never stopped smiling.  I guess he never knew he was thought of the way the team thought of him.

Of all of the memories of Jim, this one is my favorite.  If the Coyotes, or the opposing team, made him rewrite his story late in the third period this phrase came out of Jim's mouth. "Those no good rotten bastards!!" Now..that could be directed to someone on the opposing team, Bryz, the refs, or on occasion his computer.  He had a love hate relationship with his work computer, mostly hate.  It will be a while, if ever, until I walk into the media center at Jobing.com Arena and not hear "you no good rotten bastards" especially late in the game.  That killed me..every time. 

Jim was friends with everyone.  We all knew him, loved him and respected the hell out of him.  Not only that, travelling beat writers liked Jim too.  Jim would go out of his way to update them on Coyotes stuff if they needed it. 

Toward the end of is career, Jim discovered Twitter and Facebook.  You never know when you would hear from Jim, but I always knew I would.  Even if it was something simple like mentioning the attendance from a D'backs game, when he would chime in with "did you count them?" It was a cool avenue for Jim, one that I'm not sure he totally got a grasp of, but had fun with.  As I write this the word "gintonio" is trending on Twitter in Phoenix.  That's the first time Jim has been trendy. Had to take the final shot my friend.

Now for one more.  One year he got an intern from ASU to help him during games.  Some blonde-haired girl from Canada that lived hockey.  I mean this girl came in blazing the sport.  She was from Edmonton and knew what she wanted to do.  Jim took her under his wing and showed her the ropes.  From covering the team daily to game coverage.  After a while you just saw this girl was pretty good, really good actually.  So one day I asked Jim, "so, it's been a few weeks, what do you think of Sarah."  He looks down, smiles and says "she's good, definitely knows the game and probably will cost me my job..(laughing)."  Of course, smart ass me says "we can only hope so."  Jim knew as Sarah got the gist of things around the arena and the team that when he decided to retire, or the paper decided for him, that the job of beat writer for the Coyotes was in more than capable hands.  Sarah, if you are reading this, he thought the world of you and enjoyed the time with you very much. 

When I say he was humble, he was.  When he was diagnosed with cancer, he didn't talk about it much with a lot of us.  I'd be a pest and ask him how things were with treatment and everything.  He was very short with me but thanked me for asking.  Last season, the Coyotes gave him passes to come to a game with his girlfriend.  He told me then that he was going to stop chemo and just enjoy life.  An angel came to his side in the woman in his life.  I never saw him smile as much he did when he was with her.  She made his final days the best of his life, I can just tell. 

Finally, one thing I learned from Jim is this. He was never ego-driven, high and mighty and full of himself like some are in this profession.  Jim lead by his actions and his work.  He was a good writer and even better person and if I can live out my days as good as Jim did, I'm a lucky, lucky man.  Good bye my friend.  You were a good guy and games at Jobing.com Arena won't be the same without you around even if it was chiming in on social media.  Thanks for your friendship over the years.