The SportsTalk Shop: Basketball “Halftime” Report

 

Traditionally, the first half of the college and high school basketball seasons is…. a little peculiar.

Initially, the preseason schedule begins in the shadow of high school football playoff time—and some of the top basketball players aren’t even part of their basketball team for several weeks of the season due to their commitments on the gridiron.  College football rivalry games are in full swing, and many college basketball teams open their season with “Midnight Madness” (or extremely early morning) games or other events conducted while many of us are sleeping and/or are occupied with many other things going on during the latter half of November.

Then, when the football playoffs finally reach the championship, you’re bumping up against Christmas/holiday season.  Then, around the holidays, teams frequently travel to–or host–tournaments involving teams outside their regular area (and, if possible, get a few days to relax with their families).

After New Year’s there are inevitably a few games postponed due to the bad weather (or heavy concerns about a storm’s potential anyway).  Despite no heavy precipitation, both high school and college games in our coverage area have been affected on a couple of occasions already since we flipped the calendar.

Next thing you know, you’re at the halfway point of the high school and college basketball seasons, and it’s time to take stock about what’s gone on so far—and what lies ahead as teams start to jockey for the best playoff positions.

Which brings us to this week’s “SportsTalk” show…

Morning Call Sports Writers Keith Groller and Lynn Worthy will be on the program to break down the first half of both the local college and scholastic hoops season, and also talk NFL playoffs and other issues being debated in the world of sports this week.

And…we’ll also discuss our high school basketball poll in more detail on this week’s program, along with allowing you, our viewers, to chime in and make your opinions be known.

A bit of background on our HS basketball polls, which are a little unique from any other ranking system out there…

Our pollsters are comprised of a combination of local media members (Morning Call’s Keith Groller, RCN Sports Director Gary Laubach, RCN basketball Announcers Tom Stoudt and Dennis Laub) and LehighValleyBasketballRankings.com’s Toomey Anderson).  We also have three distinguished head basketball coaches giving their insights on the top teams in the Lehigh Valley area.  We won’t reveal the names of the head coaches to avoid any “bulletin board” material or repercussions towards them—and allow them to be honest about their picks.

All District XI schools are eligible for the poll and will be divided into either our “big schools” (5A & 6A classifications) or “small schools” (4A & below) polls within the RCN footprint.

The “small schools” consist of Wilson, Saucon Valley, Bethlehem Catholic, Northwestern, Wilson, Palisades, Palmerton, Salisbury, Notre Dame-GP, Palmerton, Pen Argyl, Northern Lehigh and Catasauqua.

The “big schools” are Bangor, Central, Southern Lehigh, Whitehall, Allen, Dieruff, Easton, Emmaus, Freedom, Liberty, Nazareth, E. Stroudsburg North & South, Pocono Mountain East, Pocono Mountain West, Stroudsburg, Northampton, Parkland, and Pleasant Valley.

So tune in to the show this Thursday at 7pm or catch the podcast at rcn.com/rcntv/sports-talk and let us know your basketball thoughts at the midway point of the season.

And a special note to our diehard wrestling fans: we’ll be taking a look at the action on the mats and previewing the upcoming post-season action on next week’s “SportsTalk” show (January 26 ).  If there’s a team, athlete or wrestling issue you’d like us to address on that show, be sure to email us at rcnsportstalk@rcn.com and tune-in for our panelists’ responses!

Behind the Mic: LI – Which Teams?

Green Bay vs Atlanta; Pittsburgh vs New England:  Which teams will make it to the Super Bowl?  It’s hard to believe they could be more evenly matched, with each team led by some of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history.  If your fantasy draft was held tomorrow would you take Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, Aaron Rodgers, or Matt Ryan?  Would it even matter – they are each that good!  No team would really seem to have the advantage at the quarterback position, but which one is better at crunch time?  Here is how I see the match-ups for this Sunday with the winner making a trip to the Super Bowl.

Green Bay at Atlanta – 3:05pm (Fox)
As I write this the over/under on this game is 60!  That’s right – 60 points.  Someone forgot the adage that “defense wins championships”.  So, obviously, Las Vegas does not believe either defense can stop Aaron Rodgers or Matt Ryan.

The Packers have won eight straight and Aaron Rodgers is the reason for the streak – 24 TDs and one interception.  And he just finds a way to win the game – the throw to Jared Cook on the sideline to set up the game-winning field goal is the most recent memory of Rodgers’ ability to just make something crucial happen.  And speaking of game –winning field goals, the Packers’ placekicker, Mason Crosby, has made 23 consecutive playoff field goals.  He last missed one in 2010.  At the end of the game, getting in field goal position is Rodgers’ job and winning the game has been Crosby’s job and both are getting their jobs done.

Matt Ryan of the Atlanta Falcons will most likely be the NFL’s MVP and he has a receiving corps led by Julio Jones that is better than the Cowboys.  The Packers have all kinds of trouble stopping both the run AND the pass.  If Atlanta can run enough to keep the Packers concerned about that aspect of the game, Matt Ryan could have quite a day.  Statistically, the Falcons run the ball almost as effectively as the Steelers and the Steelers’ rushing attack is very good.  Dallas was able to exploit the Packers’ secondary.  Most fans, I think, would agree that the Seattle Seahawks’ defense is more formidable than the Packers’ defense.  I am beginning to understand the over/under.

WHO WINS?  – The Falcons are favored; they are at home; but can I bet against Aaron Rodgers?  No!
GREEN BAY – 34     ATLANTA – 31 

Pittsburgh at New England – 6:40pm (CBS)
Is anybody better than Tom Brady in these situations?  Is anyone’s pass rush in the playoffs been better than the Steelers?  The answer to both questions is “No”.  But there are some troubling stats if you are a Steelers’ fan.  The Patriots have lost only once to the Steelers (Brady was injured in that game) in New England in the past 18 years and the Patriots have won nine of the last 12 match-ups between these two teams.

For Pittsburgh to win, and they have won nine in a row, they must be able to run the ball and I believe they will.  Le’Veon Bell was exceptional against Kansas City – 170 yards on 30 carries.  Throw in DeAngelo Williams and the New England rush defense will be severely tested.  Balance that rushing attack with the wisdom of Roethlisberger and his talented receivers, especially Antonio Brown, and life could get miserable for the Patriot defense.  But the Steelers did not score a touchdown against the Chiefs.

“Ho hum” for New England.  Aren’t the Patriots always in this playoff position – in the playoffs and at home?  They are 4-1 in the AFC Championship games and 16-3 all-time at home in the playoffs.  And Tom Brady is Tom Brady!  With the exception of Brady, the Patriots do not have the “name players” that the other playoff teams have, but they do have Bill Belichick.  And those two are the true “killer Bs”.

WHO WINS?  New England is favored; the game is in Foxboro; and Brady and Belichick do not lose.
NEW ENGLAND – 24     PITTSBURGH – 23

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)
 

  1. Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin made a valid point after the Steelers’ late Sunday win at Kansas City. New England has a day and a half preparation advantage over the Steelers due to the Patriots playing early on Saturday and the Steelers late on Sunday night and having to fly back to Pittsburgh.  Just what the Patriots need – another advantage.
  2. I hate to harp on the officiating, but do you agree that splitting up the NFL officials’ crews was a bad idea. There have been so many incidences where the crew just does not seem to be on the same page.  It makes them look bad and most fans think they are bad anyway.  There sure seems to be many more “booth reviews” than ever before.  Suffice it to say, no team is angrier with the officials than the Kansas City Chiefs – a holding call on the two-point conversion kept them from tying the game and sending it into overtime.
  3. Packers’ kicker Mason Crosby has been unbelievable – he became the first kicker to make two field goals of 50 yards or more in the last two minutes of a playoff game. His 56-yarder was the third longest in post-season history.  He had to make the game-winning 51-yarder twice after the Cowboys called time-out right before he made the first one.  That makes 23 in a row, a record.
  4. New Lafayette football coach John Garrett is certainly not a fan of Crosby’s. His brother, Jason, is the Dallas head coach and he had just put his team in position to go to overtime.
  5. Congratulations to both Allen and Bangor as they continue to stay undefeated in the high school basketball season. Allen is 6A and Bangor is 5A so they will not meet in the playoffs.  That’s a shame.

Gary’s Guesses: NFL Picks – (Last week – 2-2; Overall – 167-94-2 – 64%)
SEE ABOVE
 

 

The SportsTalk Shop: “Catch-up Time”

First and foremost, I hope everyone has had a wonderful holiday seasonyou’re your New Year is off to a flying start!

We have some big plans with our sports coverage coming down the pike here at RCN in 2017 and are glad you are on-board for the ride.

Before we get back into the swing of things and resume our double-header high school basketball coverage and weekly “SportsTalk” programming, I thought it would be good to play a little “catch-up” on some of the last video highlight packages we produced for our games and broadcast right before the holidays. Then we’ll get back to the “conference” basketball games on RCN-TV.

In addition to these highlights, don’t forget to check into “The Shop” next week as we resume our full-time coverage of high school hoops—and also give our insights, predictions and interviews about the second half of the high school basketball season.

As always, we appreciate you feedback and opinions of our sports coverage and any team or individual achievements during the first month of the winter sports season that might deserve some extra attention and/or mention during our “RCN SportsTalk” program.  Any sports comments about pro, college and high school sports are welcome as well.  Please email your thoughts to rcnsportstalk@rcn.com.

Also, don’t forget to catch our first “SportsTalk” show of 2017 as our in-studio guests will be Head Coach Doug Snyder and members of the Allen boys basketball team—recently named the #1 scholastic team in all of Pennsylvania.  The Canaries will talk about their season today and look ahead to a tough league schedule, this Thursday at 7pm on RCN-TV.  The show will also be available to watch through RCN On-Demand and you can hear the podcast at rcn.com/rcntv/sports-talk.

Be sure to tune in and support the Allen basketball team!

 

Behind the Mic: 2017 Resolutions

Each New Year, we are made to feel guilty because we adopt resolutions for ourselves that we rarely keep.  Supposedly, this tradition was started by the Babylonians when they promised to pay off their debts.  I’m sure even the Babylonians had trouble keeping that resolution just as I am sure we continue to make resolutions and not keep them.

I guess the overall concept is for each of us to aspire to self-improvement.  That’s not a bad thing so I guess we could all be due for a little introspection.

Again, as in years’ past, since I rarely ever even think about New Year’s resolutions, I sought some guidance to come up with some.  I found a list of the top ten so I analyzed them for myself:

1.  Stay Fit and Healthy
Not only is this a good idea, but our company really tries to help us do this.  They offer a weekly tip on exercise and diet.  But the cuisine at most stadiums and gymnasiums is not usually made up of greens and vegetables.  For my workout, I do try to run to the refreshment stand to get my two hot dogs.

2.  Lose Weight
Much like Oprah, I struggle to lose the poundage.  Now if Weight Watchers would just offer me a small percentage of Oprah’s contract, then I think I could wrap my waist around the idea, but NO CONTRACT = NO DICE!

3.  Enjoy Life More
Now here is a resolution I can wrap my head around.  I will do my absolute best to fulfill this resolution, so if it looks like I am ignoring #1 and #2, you have the reason why.

4.  Spend Less, Save More
Why tell me?  Tell my wife, my kids, my grandkids, and the people who run the Sands Casino.  They could all REALLY help here.

5.  Spend More Time With Family and Friends
I like the concept, but I think my family and friends see just about enough of me.  I have no way of gauging this, but no one seems to be clamoring to spend more time with me.  In fact, my wife often says, “Don’t you have somewhere to go?”  So, until they make it perfectly clear that this is one of their resolutions for me, I am going to ignore this.

6.  Get Organized
Check!  I am organized – on getting work done at work and avoiding it at home.  It’s an art, you know.

7.  Learn Something New/New Hobby
I already do crosswords, read, play golf, watch the NFL, college football, college basketball and attend hundreds of sporting events.  Leave me alone!

8.  Travel More
Okay, but does anyone know how to do that and “Spend less, save more”? (See #4)

9.  Read More
Look – I have a Nook Reader and  use it quite a bit.  I could probably work on a more intellectual reading list, but I like Stephen King.

10.  Don’t Make Any Resolutions
This was actually a resolution made by 16% of the people polled by the Nielsen people.  So I think I have figured out this resolution thing.  If you have a good job, a nice family, good friends, and a wonderful wife, there is only one resolution that really matters –Don’t change anything!!

I’M GOOD FOR 2017!

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS) 

  1. As bad as Wild Card weekend was in terms of interesting and competitive games, this weekend should be just the opposite. When you look at the match-ups – Seattle at Atlanta; Houston at New England; Pittsburgh at Kansas City; and Green Bay at Dallas, only the New England game looks like a rout.  I was 4-0 making the picks last week.  That won’t happen this weekend.
  2. It was reported by ESPN that Odell Beckham, Jr. punched a hole in the wall and banged his head against the door outside the Giants locker room in Green Bay after their loss on Sunday. As uncharacteristic as his performance was on Sunday, his reaction in the locker room seems just about normal for him.
  3. Penn State star and Whitehall graduate Saquon Barkley attended the Freedom at Whitehall game this past Friday just days after his amazing Rose Bowl performance. It happened to be Whitehall’s Hall of Fame night.  Saquon already has a lock on admission to that group.  Many fans wanted “selfies” and autographs. Saquon was cordial about it all, but seemed shy about his fame.  He better get used to it.
  4. Lafayette’s Matt Klinewski scored a career high 34 points this past Sunday. It was his second 30+ performance in the last four games and his third of the season.  No Leopard has ever had three 30-point games in one year since Lafayette joined the Patriot League in 1990.
  5. I don’t know if you noticed, but the Philadelphia 76ers are not the worst team in the NBA at the moment nor the second worst team. As I write this, they are 1.5 games ahead of Miami and 2.5 games ahead of New Jersey.  It must be a “cold day in…” the Lehigh Valley and it is!

 

Garys-Picks1

Gary’s Guesses: NFL Picks – (Last week – 4-0; Overall – 165-92-2 – 64%)
PLAYOFFS – WEEK 2
ATLANTA
NEW ENGLAND
KANSAS CITY
DALLAS

Behind the Mic: Happy New Year!

Wishing you a very happy 2017!

Image result for happy new year free clip art

Gary's Picks

Gary’s Guesses: NFL Picks – (Last wek – 11-3-2; Overall – 161-92-4 – 64%
NFL Playoffs

HOUSTON
SEATTLE
PITTSBURGH
GREEN BAY

The SportsTalk Shop: 2016 Year-in-Review: Part Three

Thanks for checking back for our third and final installment of our reflections of the past year (please check out the last two weeks’ worth of blog entries for even more insights and memories of the year gone by).

Here are more of the sports categories that co-host Keith Groller and I came up with, in addition to topics suggested by our viewers, along with my “two-cents worth”:

Most Overplayed Story of 2016 (any level)
Athletes and coaches giving their political opinions and commentary on the Presidential race. Many have NO clue of what they are talking about. I could tell you many stories from when I covered pro athletes proving that they truly do not have a sense of the “common person issues.” For example, one Major League player once said the average person’s yearly salary was about $600,000!

Biggest Turnaround in 2016 (any level)
Penn State football

Most Lasting Image of 2016 (Local/National)
Local – Solehi girls basketball dominance in the local playoffs (both league after districts)
National – Penn State fans storming field after Ohio State game

Best Coaching Job of 2016
Nazareth Girls Basketball Head Coach Rich Bickert

Most Outstanding Individual Performance of 2016
Nazareth’s Travis Stefanik — in two sports … at the wrestling EPC Challenge (I think) … and in the 2nd half of his football game vs. Freedom: a force, just wouldn’t quit, took a few hard shots and just kept going and almost led his team all the way back from a 28-0 deficit.

Most Impressive Team Performance of 2016
Parkland boys basketball

Favorite Sports Moment of 2016
The many examples of teams getting involved in the community, out at young kids’ events, going to homeless shelters and other great charitable work I heard about this year!

And, for the “New Year” Predictions…

Toughest Coaching Challenge Looking Ahead
Dieruff football’s Kyle Beller

One team and player to watch in 2017
Players: Bangor’s Isaiah Jones (So) and Catty’s Jaylen Green
Team: Pen Argyl Girls Soccer program

Something “New” You’d Like to See in 2017
“Real” football playoff doubleheaders

One Piece of Advice for an Athlete/Coach in 2017
Head Coaches: “Hang in there” through adversity and other “strange stories” that they share with me — some of them VERY hard to believe what they have to go through!

These topics plus many more are discussed in much greater detail, along with some discussion/debating going on between Keith and me on the 60-minute special program. Be sure to catch the encore edition of our special “Year-in-Review” show that will be airing a couple more times over the next week. Check your RCN on-screen guide for details on when this show is airing.

In addition, you can also hear the podcast of our “2016 Year-in-Review” show at: rcn.com/rcntv/sports-talk and RCN customers can watch the show, for free and at anytime, through RCN On-Demand.

I hope everyone has a great start to 2017 and joins us next week for more coverage, videos and sports highlight of teams in the RCN viewing area!

Behind the Mic: Happy Holidays!

On behalf of the staff at RCN-TV, we wish all of you a Happy Holiday season!

Image result for happy holidays free clipart

Gary's Picks

Gary’s Guesses: NFL Picks – (Last week – 10-6; Overall – 150-89-2 – 63%)
Week Seventeen

TENNESSEE
BUFFALO
BALTIMORE
WASHINGTON
GREEN BAY
INDIANAPOLIS
PHILADELPHIA
MINNESOTA
TAMPA BAY
PITTSBURGH
ATLANTA
NEW ENGLAND
ARIZONA
KANSAS CITY
SEATTLE
DENVER

 

The Sports Talk Shop: 2016 Year-in-Review: Part Two

Happy Holidays to you!

I hope everybody is enjoying this special time of year. This week we have the second of three installments in looking back at some of the top players, teams, moments and events that made the 2016 sports calendar year so fun to cover for us here at RCN.

Here are some of the sports categories that come to mind when reflecting back on the last 12 months—along with a few of my thoughts on each (we go into more detail on our special TV program—see below for details)

Best Defensive Football Player in Eastern PA this fall
Jahan Worth. For the record, I touted his defensive on our football season preview show in August. I hope you heard that show; you can check out that show’s podcast here on the RCN-TV website if you’d like proof

Most Intriguing HS Teams
Dieruff boys volleyball / CCHS girls volleyball

Best & Worst Sports Decision Made in 2016 (any level)
Best – Emmaus hiring Harold Fairclough as their head football coach Worst – Just about every programming decision ESPN made this year

Best & Worst “Professional” Sports Story in Philly or DC
Best – Nationals making the playoffs and advancing to Game 5 in NLDS Worst – Caps losing in the 2nd round of the playoffs for 2nd straight year

Most Underrated Story (any level)
Successes of the Bangor baseball a and softball programs

A “Shout-out” to one sports personality this year
Catty’s Hanna Edwards (named one of the top 9 softball players in the entire country)

Sports Personality You Would Have Liked to Have Seen More Of
Liberty’s Carlo Perugini (overcame three ACL injuries to play in his first—and last–varsity football game this past fall). Carlo graduates in the spring.

Most Disappointing News of the Year (Any level)
Kyle Haas won’t be coming back to Becahi

Something Witnessed That You Hope To See Again In 2017
Great support for Colonial League title games…jammed packed McIntyre Gym for the Colonial League Basketball championship and a “more than half full” BASD Stadium for Notre Dame/Pen Argyl football championship

Something You Hope Doesn’t Repeat Next Year
Anti-private school comments directed towards kids during games/matches

Best Performance By An Underclassman
Beca’s Alec Huertas and Notre Dame’s Mikey DeGaetano

Don’t forget to check back for our next look-back installment of the top 2016 sports moments in the RCN viewing area, coming up in the next week here at the “SportsTalk Shop.” We are also presenting a special “Year-in-Review” show that is airing throughout this holiday season, in which we touch on even more of these great moments and special people in the Lehigh Valley, Delaware Valley and Washington DC/DMV region from 2016. Check your RCN on-screen guide for details on when this program airs.

You can also hear the podcast of this “Year-in-Review” show at: rcn.com/rcntv/sports-talk

And, once again, a very happy holiday season and prosperous New Year’s to all of you faithfully following us here on the blog in 2016!

Behind the Mic: “Their Christmas Club”

Do any of you remember Christmas clubs?  I’m not sure if banks still have them, but I don’t know why they wouldn’t offer another way to keep your money and pay you very little for that privilege.  Christmas clubs began during the Great Depression so that bank customers would set aside a given amount of money each week so they would have some to spend at Christmas time.

My first Christmas club was a whopping $12.50.  I would put aside $0.25 every week (I could afford it because I had my own business – a newspaper route) and receive a check from the bank the first week of December for $12.50.  My younger sister also had a similar account except that she was subsidized by my parents (which didn’t really seem fair since I worked for my December windfall).  I’m not sure what my youngest sister or older brother did for Christmas money, but I sure do not remember any significant gifts coming my way from those two sources.

After receiving our checks, my sister and I would get on the local bus and head downtown to buy gifts for the five members of the family (three siblings and mom and dad).  Do the math – that’s $2.50 for each one.  I assume this is where the phrase “It’s the thought that counts” was originated.  The bigger problem, however, was that my sister always found something SHE liked while we were shopping.  She would always make her first purchase a gift for, you guessed it, HERSELF.

It was at that point that her shopping dilemma would rise up – she had about $2.50 left to buy five gifts.  She knew I had money – heck, I was an entrepreneur.  How could I refuse her?  She would always come home with a gift for everyone and the best gift for herself.  I didn’t like it, but I did it.

This is a long introduction to the main topic – what kind of a Christmas “club” might a top athlete have at their gift-giving disposal?  I decided to look at the highest-paid sports figures of the year and imagined what they might spend on each person on their list.  I’ll use 25 people to buy for as the cost basis and one day’s pay as the available amount of money (in essence, their Christmas club).  And I will use the 25 highest-paid athletes as the gift givers.

The athletes fell into the following categories: one boxer, three tennis players, three race car drivers, three NBA players, four golfers, five soccer players, and six NFL players.  Their annual incomes ranged from $35.9 million to $88 million.  The average yearly earnings for those 25 athletes were $50 million a year.  If you divide that number by 365 days, they make $136,986.30 per day or $45,662 per hour.  I’m thinking for their list of 25 people, some nice gifts are on the way.  On average, their Christmas club would allow them to spend almost $5500 per gift.

Now, I figure I have spent a great deal of my life working with and getting along with athletes.  I’m wondering if I could just convince one of them to let me take them “downtown” to do some Christmas shopping.  I think I remember my sister’s ploy.  Plead poverty.  Get them to financially help me make some wonderful purchases.  It worked on me for years.  Perhaps, it would work on them.

Heck, I would even buy my sister a nice gift.  After all, that’s the Christmas spirit.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS) 

  1. Who is the best team in the NFL at the moment – New England or Dallas? Might it be Oakland or the Giants?  Or are Seattle or Pittsburgh sleepers?  No pro sport does the post season any better.  The playoff scenarios are mind-boggling and maintain interest to the very end of the season.
  2. Eagles’ fans can moan all they want about their coach, their quarterback, and the defensive secondary, but no one deserves more criticism than Nelson Agholor. He is a wide receiver who does not receive.  In this past Sunday’s game against the Ravens, he caught one pass, dropped a few, never fielded a punt as a punt receiver, and never got the one-yard necessary for a very important first down because of a poor decision.  He did receive $14.5 million as part of a four-year deal with the Eagles.  I’m sure he RECEIVES that money.
  3. The Roundball JAMboree held at Allen High School on Sunday was a huge success. The event was scheduled to raise money for the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research and honor Mike Schneider for his service to Lehigh Valley athletics.  Mike is afflicted with Parkinson’s.  Our local teams split the four games with Parkland and Allen winning while Liberty and Whitehall were defeated.
  4. RCN-TV finishes up the year with Emmaus at Parkland and Nazareth at Whitehall on Tuesday night beginning at 7:00pm and Whitehall at Parkland on Thursday at 7:00pm. It was another great year for Lehigh valley sports.
  5. This is my last blog until after the New Year so I want to wish all of you a very happy holiday and thank you for spending time with the RCN-TV team this past year.

 Gary's Picks

Gary’s Guesses: NFL Picks – (Last week – 12-4; Overall – 140-83-2 – 63%)
Week Sixteen

GIANTS
WASHINGTON
BUFFALO
TAMPA BAY
ATLANTA
GREEN BAY
NEW ENGLAND
TENNESSEE
SAN DIEGO
OAKLAND
SAN FRANCISCO
SEATTLE
HOUSTON
PITTSBURGH
KANSAS CITY
DALLAS
 

The SportsTalk Shop: Year-in-Review: Part One

As often as I try to do this—but probably still don’t do it enough … a HUGE THANK YOU to the wonderful women and men we’ve been so fortunate to have on “SportsTalk” as our guests this past year.  Here’s a quick look at only some of the very memorable people on our program during 2016 (in no particular order):

  • NFL/MLB Associated Press Writer Rob Maaddi
  • Hall of Fame/Philadelphia Eagles Radio Play-by-Play Voice Merrill Reese
  • Redskins Radio Announcer/Host Scott Jackson
  • ABC7 (DC) Sports Director Alex Parker
  • Detroit Pistons’ Guard Darrun Hilliard (former Liberty HS great)
  • Dallas Cowboys’ Wide Receiver KJ Williams (former Liberty HS great)
  • MLB.com Sr. Sports Writer Jim Callis
  • Nationals’ Beat Writer Bill Ladson
  • Nationals’ Play-by-Play Announcer Charlie Slowes
  • Olympians Marty Nothstein & Joetta Clark-Diggs
  • DCIAA Women’s Official/Fmr. Pro Football Player (and one of only three Varsity Head Football Coaches ever) Natalie Randolph
  • Joseph Basketball Standout / Fmr. DMV Star Isaiah Miles
  • George Washington Men’s Basketball Head Coaches Mike Lonergan
  • George Washington Women’s Basketball Head Coach Jen Rizzotti
  • Longtime Georgetown Men’s Basketball Play-by-Play Voice Rich Chvotkin & other Hoyas athletes
  • Lafayette College Head Basketball Coach Fran O’Hanlon
  • American University Head Basketball Coach Mike Brennan
  • Washington Times Redskins Beat Writer/CBS Radio’s Rick Snider
  • Washington Post Beat Writer’s Eric Goldstein
  • Philadelphia Daily News’ Jeff Moeller
  • Play-by-Play Announcers for Phillies & Nationals Minor League Affiliates: Mike Ventola, Matt Provence & Terry Byron
  • Head Coaches from HD Woodson, DeMatha, Sidwell Friends, Gonzaga High Schools
  • Championship teams including Parkland boys basketball team, Nazareth girls basketball team, Notre Dame football team, Emmaus field hockey team, Parkland volleyball team and others
  • NY Giants Beat Writer James Kratch
  • Washington Times Redskins/Nationals Beat Writer Todd Dybas
  • ESPN Radio (DC) Morning Show Host Kevin Sheehan
  • ESPN Radio (Philly) Morning Show Anchor/Host Eytan Shander
  • Redskins “Breaking Burgundy” Creator/Fmr. Comcast SportsNet “Insider” Ben Standig
  • “FootballStories” Magazine Editor/Show Hosts Al Thompson & Rock Hoffman
  • ESPN Draft Analyst/Fangraph’s Eric Longenhagen
  • Members of this year’s PA Football Hall of Fame Inductees
  • Writers from The Morning Call, Express-Times & LehighValley.com
  • All the RCN Sports Announcers & Commentators
  • Interviews with current Phillies & Nationals players & top prospects

Also, a reminder to watch our special “SportsTalk: 2016-in-Review” show that will be airing at different times on RCN-TV around the holiday season as Senior Morning Call Sports Writer Keith Groller and myself will take a look back at the top players, coaches, teams, special memories and more.  Our subject matter will be focused primarily on teams in the RCN-TV coverage area in the Lehigh Valley, Delaware Valley and Washington, DC regions, but we will mix in a few national topics of conversation as well.

You will also be able to hear the podcast of this show at rcn.com/rcntv/sports-talk as it will be made available over the next few days.

Now for “part one” of my year-in-review thoughts/reflections for just a few of the most requested topics of conversation over the last 12 months.

  • Pennsylvania’s New Classifications & Playoff System for HS Sports

No Lehigh Valley sports story came close to the interest (and complaining) of the revamped classification for PIAA sports and the outline of the playoff system.

 

  • The Rise & Fall of the Philadelphia Eagles


After having covered the Philadelphia Eagles for several years, I know that there’s no fan base that goes to greater extremes than the faithful followers of Philly’s NFL franchise.  Once the Eagles defeated (destroyed?) the Steelers Week 3, there was no containing the (insane?) amount of the enthusiasm for this team and its first-year head coach, first year quarterback, suspect wide receiving core, weak secondary, et al.  It was practically assumed a deep trek into the NFL inevitably and anyone (like, perhaps, me?) suggesting that the team was still a year away was dismissed as being an “overly negative media opinion.”

Then, reality sent in, sending the Eagles’ into a tailspin in which they have yet to recover, with everyone from Doug Pederson to Carson Wentz to Fletcher Cox falling under heavy scrutiny.

  • The Nationals Finally Getting to the Playoffs

The “SportsTalk” camera crew and I had the good fortune of seeing the Nationals’ top prospect Trea Turner play for Triple-A Syracuse (boy, did he put on a display!) and talked with him after an April game just shortly before he received his call-up to the Nationals.  Turner did not disappoint once he got to the Major Leagues—even with a position change from shortstop to center field while at the game’s highest level–and showed the same amazing abilities in helping Washington advance to the NLDS.

Don’t forget to check back for “part two” for more commentary on sports highlights from the 2016 calendar year in the next installment of the “SportsTalk Shop.”

And, of course, a very happy holiday season and prosperous New Year’s for all of you faithfully following us here on the blog in 2016!