SUMMER HOOPS: August 2021

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

 

This week will be our final update on the local summer high school basketball leagues along with our last look at some of the still pictures featuring teams in the RCN viewing area. We also want to give a shout out to RCN freelance crew member Dan Moyer, as his son and grandson, as coach and player – respectively, reached the finals in the Forks Township summer baseball tournament. Great job!

 



As you saw on RCN SportsTalk a few weeks back (but can still see the entire interview through RCN on demand–free for RCN customers), TOC Director Eric Snyder announced that the annual Catasauqua basketball tourney will not be conducted this year.  Also, its future is also very much in doubt.  This year’s decision was based on the declining interest and participation in summer basketball programs around the entire region. Quite a few coaches have also been on our show this past year expressing concern about the lack of participation numbers in certain sports programs, most noticeably in basketball, baseball and several girls sports. It will certainly be something to watch over the upcoming weeks and months.

A couple of annual basketball tournaments were held over the last month, including the Holy Name July Tournament and this past weekend’s “AwesomeFest” (formerly SportsFest of Allentown.)

The Holy Name Tournament featured outstanding performances by the Northampton, Whitehall, Allentown Central Catholic and Notre Dame-Green Pond girls basketball squads.

This tourney also had decreased numbers of school participants but featured a great semi-final matchup in which Central Catholic edged Northampton 45-40. The Vikettes went on to win the championship over Scranton Prep later that same day.

“Awesomefest,” meanwhile, was dominated by teams from OUTSIDE the Lehigh Valley.  Dunmore captured the girls title and Reading High School defeated Lincoln of Philadelphia for the boys championship. Pocono Mountain West was another team that also impressed many before losing its semi-final matchup late Sunday afternoon.

We’ll begin to turn our attention to the fall sports programs as all local high school teams have now “officially” begun their preseason workouts this week.  On this Thursday’s SportsTalk TV show, we will start our fall sports previews by featuring the new head football coach at Allen High School.

Keep checking back for more fall sports previews as we get you ready for the upcoming seasons!

The Dog Ate My Homework

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

An excuse explains why you are not responsible for the failure.  It is plausible deniability.

Every teacher has heard the cliché excuse from a student, “The dog ate my homework. ” I wonder if that excuse ever actually worked and whether a gullible educator ever accepted it.  I have my doubts.  In my many years teaching English, I heard many excuses why students did not read an assignment or finished a paper.

“I had to care for my sick mother.”

“My homework fell into a puddle on the way to school.”

“My computer wouldn’t power up.”

Creativity abounded.  Here at RCN, we used to employ a graphics person (who was very good at his craft, by the way). In fact, he now works for ABC in New York.  However, he was famous in the office for misspelling words and NEVER, EVER taking the blame for it.  This was astounding because there was no other person who could have been responsible for the mistake!  He, somehow, blamed the computer or there was a glitch in the rendering (both impossible, by the way).  Excuses abounded.

Just last week, during the British Open, Bryson DeChambeau had a particularly bad round of golf.  When asked why, he responded, “With the driver right now, the driver sucks.”  In other words, he took no responsibility for his poor performance.  He was swinging perfectly, but the piece of equipment was letting him down.  His equipment sponsor, who I am sure pays him millions to endorse their product, was not happy with his reasoning.

With the Olympics going on for the next few weeks, imagine if this “excuse” mentality becomes the norm.  We could be hearing the following:

Artistic swimming – “The water was too cold.”

Badminton – “The shuttlecock had seen better days.”

Beach Volleyball – “The sand was too hot.”

Boxing – “Mom, he hit me.”

Judo – “I couldn’t concentrate because he was making these awful sounds.”

Fencing – “His epee is longer than mine.”

Surfing – “Whatever ‘rad’ is, I didn’t have it.”

Baseball – “I did not catch the ball because the laces on my glove were not placed properly.”

Basketball – “I missed the shot because the rim was not properly attached.”

Soccer – “The soles of my shoes were coming off.”

Wrestling – “Eww, he was sweaty.”

The list could go on and on.  But the best excuse I ever read was:

Zambian tennis player Lighton Ndefwayl was in no mood to be graceful in defeat after losing to compatriot Musumba Bwayla in a local tournament in 1992. “Bwayla is a stupid man and a hopeless player. He has a huge nose and is cross-eyed. Girls hate him. He beat me because my jockstrap was too tight and because when he serves, he farts, and that made me lose my concentration, for which I am famous throughout Zambia,” he said.

I am done, not because I want to be, but the ink on my computer ran out.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

  1. One of the early shockers in the Olympics so far has to be the 83-76 Men’s Basketball loss by the USA to France. That snapped a 25-game Olympic winning streak by the Americans dating back to 2004.  The real shocker came in the last four and a half minutes when the US team did not make a basket.  If the team is to advance, they must beat Iran and the Czech Republic.  Neither is a basketball powerhouse.
  1. I found the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics a bit too “artsy” and “classical” for my taste. It was beautiful and I always enjoy the parade of nations, but, overall, I would have liked a touch of “lightness”.  Perhaps, in the Covid environment that exists in Japan, this was the best approach.
  1. This week the Cleveland MLB team announced they will be dropping “Indians” from their name. They will become the Cleveland Guardians.  It will be official following the 2021 season.  You will have to wait at least another season for the NFL’s Washington Football Team to change their name.  They claim the new name is on the horizon.
  1. The Phillies are in second place right now. The first-place Mets are vulnerable due to injuries and the Phillies General Manager, Dave Dombrowski, has a history of deal-making.  Up next for the Phils should be a starting pitcher, a center fielder, and some bullpen help.  I doubt if they can fill all of the holes.
  1. Our Blue Mountain League baseball television coverage ends this Tuesday LIVE at 6:00pm. The game features the Limeport Bulls and the Egypt Orioles, both battling for the regular season championship.  Congratulations to the League for another successful season, their 75th.  The playoffs begin this weekend.  Join Chris Michael and me for the broadcast.

 

 

 

SPRING ALL-STARS 2021: ROUND 1

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

Local administrators and athletic directors have started to send out their spring sports all-star lists–starting with the Eastern Pennsylvania Conferences All-Softball team members.

And this time, it’s personal.

I have three very good friends whose daughters play high school softball in the EPC.  I’m very proud to say that all three of those families have representatives on this year’s all-star lists…one isn’t even a senior yet!

With that being said (and I’m not going to show you any bias by telling you who they are), here’s the list of ALL of this spring’s All-EPC softball team award winners.  We also look forward to the other sports representatives sending out their end-of-the-season and end-of-the-year sports honors and achievements (email me at chris.michael@rcn.net) so that we can salute you here at the “RCN SportsTalk Shop.”

2021 EPC All Stars – Lehigh, Northampton, Monroe Divisions

We’d also like to salute the All-EPC singles tennis players from this spring featuring the teams in the RCN TV viewing area (we are still waiting to receive the “doubles tennis” all-stars from the official league chair).

Noah Potts, Freedom HS (League MVP)

Anthony Ronca, Liberty HS

Dan Zolotarev, Parkland HS

Curtis Gruber, Becahi HS

Quinn Erk, Emmaus HS

Josh Thomas, Parkland HS

Shayaan Farhad, Liberty HS

Eddie Chow, Emmaus HS

Jesse Coulter (Central Catholic HS)

Morning Call sports writer Dante Terenzio will be on the June 24th edition of “SportsTalk” to recap this past scholastic tennis season, as well as discuss local volleyball, wrestling and some other key sports topics. Tune in and set your DVRs so you don’t miss Dante’s insights!

Also, check back to the “SportsTalk Shop” blog for more spring all-star lists as they become available over the next several weeks!

CLASSIC VIDEO SHOWPLACE: Flip Wilson

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

As part of RCN’s celebration of Black History Month, we here at the “Showplace” are putting the spotlight on African American actors who excelled not just on the big and small screens but those who also inspired change with their courage and perseverance.

Born Clerow Wilson, Jr. in Jersey City, New Jersey, “Flip” was one of 10 children in his family who spent most of their childhood going from different foster homes.  As a 16- year old, Wilson lied about his age and joined the United States Air Force. His outgoing personality and funny stories made him popular — he was even asked to tour military bases to cheer up other servicemen. Claiming that he was always “flipped out”, Wilson’s barracks mates gave him the nickname “Flip” which he used as his stage name.

Discharged from the Air Force in 1954, Wilson started working as a bellhop in San Francisco’s Manor Plaza Hotel. At the Plaza’s nightclub, Wilson borrowed a technique from a very young Charlie Chaplin by finding extra work playing a drunk patron in between regularly scheduled acts. His inebriated character proved popular and Wilson began performing it in clubs throughout California. At first, Wilson would simply ad-lib onstage, but eventually he added written material and his act became more sophisticated.

Wilson perfected his comedy routines over the next decade, performing in larger and more well-known establishments, as well as landing guest starring appearances on television.

One of Flip Wilson’s funniest guest starring roles was playing the role of “Prissy” in a spoof of Gone with the Wind, opposite Lucille Ball as “Scarlett.”  He also made guest appearances on television’s biggest stages, like The Dean Martin Show, The Ed Sullivan Show and The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.

In 1970, Wilson won a Grammy Award for his comedy album “The Devil Made Me Buy This Dress.”  When NBC was looking to capitalize on the variety TV show format, Wilson became an obvious choice to pilot his own program.

The Flip Wilson Show debuted in 1970 and was an instant hit.

In its first year the show catapulted to the top of the Nielsen ratings — finishing as the second most watched overall show during the 1970-71 season.  The series earned Wilson a Golden Globe and two Emmy Awards, and at one point was the second highest rated show on network television. Wilson was the first African American to host a successful TV variety show (the multi-talented Sammy Davis also hosted a variety show in 1966 but the program suffered from poor ratings and was canceled after just one season.)

Probably the most popular character created on the show was Wilson’s portrayal of Geraldine Jones (which was Wilson dressed as a woman). Some of “Geraldine’s” most famous quotes are, “The Devil made me buy this dress!”, “Don’t you touch me, honey, you don’t know me that well! You devil, you!” and “What you see is what you get!”

Wilson also signed many popular singers to provide entertainment. African-American performers appeared on the show, such as Ella Fitzgerald, James Brown, Louis Armstrong, Lena Horne, Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Charley Pride, Johnny Mathis, Melba Moore, Roberta Flack and groups like The Temptations, The Jackson 5, The Pointer Sisters and The Supremes.

 

Wilson also featured many African American entertainers, ranging from comic great Redd Foxx to basketball legend Bill Russell.

 

Wilson recaptured the magic as the second season of his variety show also finished the year as the number two most-watched show in America.

 

In January 1972, Time magazine featured Wilson’s image on its cover and named him “TV’s first black superstar.”

 

Flip Wilson won one Golden Globe award in 1971 and received two other nominations in 1972 and 1973 for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Comedy or Musical. The Flip Wilson Show received an additional Golden Globe nomination in 1972 for Best Television Series—Comedy or Musical.

 

The show maintained solid viewership numbers for its third year but slipped out of the top 30 during its fourth year and the ratings never recovered.

 

In 1979, Wilson made the decision to cut down on his performance schedule in order to spend quality time with his five children.

 

In 1984, Wilson hosted a revival of the show, People are Funny.  In 1985–1986, Wilson played the lead role in the CBS sitcom, Charlie & Co. Two of his last TV appearances were cameos on the sitcoms Living Single in 1993 and The Drew Carey Show in 1996.

 

Wilson died in 1998 from liver cancer at the much too young age of 64.

 

You can see one of Wilson’s most memorable television guest starring appearances on The Lucy Show on RCN TV.

 

To view the complete rundown of classic programming on RCN TV, check out the weekly listings here on our website.

 

 

 

 

 

Summer Hoops 20 (Round 3)

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

We’ve been continuing to keep you updated on the latest news and rumors regarding any type of sports activity this summer.

While baseball and softball organizers have had a number of tournaments in and around the Lehigh Valley, the coordinators of local basketball events – although optimistic early last month that they were going to try to get something in – have had to cancel all of their plans for this season.  This includes the annual Catasauqua Tournament of Champions event, which RCN has broadcast for nearly 30 years. This August event usually brings back some of the biggest names in basketball and always makes for some very enjoyable moments. But, alas, even this event which featured older adults that wouldn’t have to get parents’ permission to participate, went by the boards and became another victim of the coronavirus pandemic.

In the meantime, as promised, we now bring you more never before published summer basketball pictures from previous seasons. Hopefully, we’ll start seeing some other high school sports events being played very soon.

See if your favorite athletes made this edition of our SportsTalk summer sports photo albums.

Summer Hoops ’20 (Round 2)

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

A few weeks ago here at “The Shop,” I promised to keep our fans apprised of any new developments in summer basketball activities.

While there’s been no activity as far as games played in the Lehigh Valley, there was some criticism about a huge AAU tournament held in the western part of the state – in a county where one of the most severe cases of increased positive Covid-19 numbers have popped up over the last couple weeks.

Unlike baseball and softball tournaments held recently, basketball athletes are in closer proximity to each other during games. The event featured people from different regions of the Commonwealth and, with no official testing done before or during the tournament, some were fearful this would advance the pandemic even further across the state.

Hopefully, time will reveal that these fears will not become a reality.

In the meantime, as promised, we now bring you more “never before published” summer basketball pictures from previous seasons to whet your appetite for full-time sports action coming back.

See if your favorite athletes made this edition of our SportsTalk summer sports photo albums.

Note:  All photos courtesy of Chris Michael.

HS Sports Update: July Edition

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

There actually have been a few positive advancements for local sports returning in Pennsylvania.

Last week, a 12-team softball tournament, comprised of Lehigh Valley school teams, held a successful tournament.  This despite many people objecting to the games being played and a lack of adhering to COVID-19 safety protocols.  One team was photographed on the first day in a huddle with no masks anywhere present, social distancing was not always kept on the benches and most coaches and umpires were not wearing masks throughout the tourney.

Despite the detractors, the tournament went ahead as scheduled and received overwhelmingly positive reviews from RCN TV’s and The Morning Call’s Keith Groller, who stated that he felt the kids’ need to play outweighed the potential risks that could come out of participating in the event.

A similar event for baseball, featuring all but two Lehigh Valley schools plus four teams from outside the area, will take place in early August. The event’s organizers and a few local coaches will be on RCN SportsTalk on July 30 to preview this tournament and discuss ways they plan on keeping kids safe.

(As stated previously here at the “SportsTalk Shop,” RCN was first to report the news of this tournament back in April.)

Of course, it remains to be seen what schools themselves will be doing later this summer regarding their reopening plans.

On Friday, the Allentown Diocese announced that all Catholic schools will be opening on time and as scheduled this fall.

Meanwhile, a number of public school districts, including two of the largest schools in the Lehigh Valley, have already announced that their school year will begin with their students only reporting to school two days a week.

Another one of the larger school districts in the Valley – Northampton – announced last Friday that in-school attendance for students this fall will be “optional,” provided they stay in good standing and participate regularly in online courses.  If more schools follow suit, it will be an interesting challenge for coaches to conduct daily practices with their students not on the grounds prior to workout times.

Elsewhere…

For our Delaware Valley viewers, the Philadelphia sports governing body met last week and gave some direction for their upcoming sports year.  They declared baseball and softball among those sports that are listed with “moderate risk.” A few sports like tennis and golf were labeled as “less risk,” giving those sports a greater chance of having their season take place in some way, shape or form this fall.

For high school football (which nearly everyone can agree is a “high-risk” sport in terms of potentially contracting the Coronavirus)…the PIAA ruled at a meeting later last week that the season is going ahead as scheduled.

There have been rumblings that Pennsylvania could also move “less risk” sports to the fall and higher-risk sports to the spring, although a decision like that would need to occur very soon in order for all pieces of that puzzle to come together.

Current “fall” sports in the Lehigh Valley like golf, tennis and cross country could very easily conduct their competitions while adhering to current social distancing and safety protocols with minimal adjustments.

The PIAA also stated last Wednesday that it will move ahead with scheduled events regardless of how many schools or sports will or will not be able to participate.

So unless Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf objects (and he very well may), it looks like schools will have at least some scholastic sports activities starting by Labor Day.

We shall see.

I also wanted to alert our RCN customers that TOC President Eric Snyder was just on RCN SportsTalk to give an update on the status of his August tournament and, as a local guidance counselor, give his thoughts and suggestions on how we can help our young people adjust to this new normal and on how we can help them transition back to full-time sports activities.

(If you missed the interview, RCN customers can watch the interview in its entirety through RCN On Demand.)

Just one of the many insights Eric told me: even though some areas are still severely limiting the amount of outdoor sports activities, don’t be surprised if some traditional sports tournaments move their games to a different community that has lessened its social distancing restrictions.  It’s not uncommon right now in the Lehigh Valley to see some playgrounds completely restricting access yet see another facility fully packed with students playing – both sites a mile apart from each other.

Eric is also a guidance counselor and gave some great insights on how we can help our young student-athletes through this transition, as we try to get back to our “new normal.”  Snyder is also a Catasauqua baseball coach and had some great insights on the upcoming high school baseball tournament (that we highlighted above.)

There was also some controversial news elsewhere in the state regarding summer high school basketball that could have ripple effects for sports fans and participants in Eastern Pennsylvania…we’ll have more on that as part of our summer hoops update in next week’s blog here at “The SportsTalk Shop.”

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More Summer Hoops 2019

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

The summer basketball campaign is starting to wind down across local playgrounds and gyms.

With several teams losing quite a bit of their squad to graduation, there has been an abundance of young players to keep an eye on, to see which players will fill voids and which returning players (and rebuilding teams) are improving enough to make an impact for the 2019-20 scholastic season.

The biggest story at this year’s “Atown Throwdown” at Cedar Beach in Allentown last week was that most of Lehigh Valley schools did NOT participate. While Bethlehem Catholic and Central Catholic were two of the few local teams who did attend, the trend continued at the annual tournament of teams from outside the Lehigh Valley walking home with a championship. This summer was no exception as Reading took home this year’s crown.

This week here at “The Shop,” we wanted to bring you some pictures from different courts.

 

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Check out the next edition of “RCN SportsTalk” on RCN-TV and hear our next podcast for our latest round of interviews with basketball coaches and players from schools in the RCN viewing area in both the Lehigh and Delaware Valley regions.

And, for more summer basketball action, catch the Catasauqua “Tournament of Champions” title game broadcast on RCN-TV on Thursday, August 8.

With Regrets…

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

On Saturday, August 4, in Canton, Ohio, the newest inductees will be enshrined in the NFL Hall of Fame. This year, eight new members will be added, the maximum allowed in any given year.  Seven will show up.  One will not.

There will be 318 members following this year’s induction. The selection committee is made up of 48 individuals, mostly media members and each NFL city is represented by a media person.

Eligibility for a player or coach begins five years after retirement. Fans actually can nominate a player, coach, or contributor to the Hall.  The committee narrows the list to 25 semifinalists and then down again to 15.  The Selection Committee meets again and, if a nominee receives 80% of the votes, they will be inducted.  There must be at least four and no more than eight new inductees.

This year, Bobby Beathard, Robert Brazile, Brian Dawkins, Jerry Kramer, Ray Lewis, Randy Moss, Brian Urlacher, and Terrell Owens will make up the Class of 2018.

All but Terrell Owens will attend. Although he has not publicly stated his reasons, most believe it is a response to not making the Hall in his first or second year of eligibility.  His statistics certainly merited induction and many felt it was his on- and off-the-field exploits that kept him from garnering the necessary votes the first two years.

Owens is in the top ten in receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns. He was a part of three Super Bowl teams with the Dallas Cowboys.  He also was a thorn in the side of almost every team he played for and there were many.  Suffice it to say when he left a team, tears were not shed.

So despite being invited and calling the moment “one of the most memorable days of my life”, he will instead give his acceptance speech at the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga on August 4, the same day as the ceremony in Canton.

So, how has the Hall responded to the snub? They will not acknowledge Terrell Owens at all during the ceremony.  Hall of Fame wide receiver, Michael Irvin, said it best, “We can’t spend this moment for all these other guys talking about the guy that is not here.  You cannot do that and take that away. He’s doing his own thing wherever he’s doing his own thing, and God bless him. And when they mention the class they’ll mention him, but why should you steal those other guys’ moment because of the decision of this one?”

“I think it’s the right move. They’re not saying he’s not going to have a bust in the room. They’re not saying he’s not getting his jacket. They’re saying, ‘We’re honoring his wish. He doesn’t want to be here with us, we’re going to mention him as little as possible.’ I think it’s the right move.”

Terrell Owens has a right to not attend a party he was invited to and the Hall has the right to pay as little attention to the no-show as they want.

Both can respond to the invitation as many often do, “With regrets”. Only this time, I think both parties will eventually truly believe it.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

    1. Speaking of the Dallas Cowboys, retired quarterback Tony Romo won the American Century Championship this past weekend. This was part of a celebrity golf tour that now exists for sports personalities. Romo won $125,000, but plays as an amateur, so he donated his winning check to charity.
    2. Back in April when I made my baseball predictions, I could not fathom a stronger team than the Yankees in the American League. But the Boston Red Sox and the Houston Astros have been amazing. Going into the All-Star break only the Red Sox (68 wins), the Astros (64 wins) and the Yankees (62 wins) have more than 60 wins. The best record in the National League belongs to the Cubs, but they would be 13 games behind the Red Sox in the standings if they were in the same division.
    3. Speaking of the Cubs, they have quietly moved past the Milwaukee Brewers in the standings and the media in Chicago and the players give most of the credit to the locker room culture created by former Lafayette student Joe Maddon. If you are a Maddon or Cub fan, Lafayette is auctioning off two “Joe Maddon Baseball Tours” to the highest bidder. For details, go to:https://goleopards.cbsi-auctions.com/
    4. The Phillies are in first place at the All-Star break. They have done it by winning at home where they are 30-16. Only the San Francisco Giants have won more home games (31) than the Phils. Nothing is better than keeping the Philadelphia fans happy at home.
  • Our final Blue Mountain League Game of the Week will be on July 24 when the Martins Creek Creekers travel to Egypt to play the Northern Yankees. Watch at 9:30pm.