Chris Michael

About Chris Michael

Chris handles play-by-play for RCN sports events, including baseball, football & basketball games and produces/hosts the station’s 60-minute live call-in show. Among Chris’s other responsibilities include reporting on local news & sports stories, conducting “Take 5” interviews with community and political leaders, producing commercials, voiceovers and promos; and generating blog entries and videos on the internet. Click here to listen to the weekly Sports Talk podcast.

Summer Hoops ’18 (Part 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. 

There are a number of intriguing storylines developing in local high school basketball this summer following last weekend’s tournament at Cedar Beach in Allentown. Among the highlights:

  • Emmaus’ Mark Swedberg did not disappoint. In addition to reaching the final round of Saturday’s Slam Dunk competition, he and his teammates provided a balanced attack throughout the tournament, enroute to the Hornets’ second straight summer tourney championship. Following this past season, Emmaus figured to be one of the top teams this winter based on the returning talent. Don’t forget, the team gets an added lift from Whitehall football/basketball transfer Ethan Parvel…so don’t hand the upcoming winter’s EPC trophy to Bethlehem Catholic just yet.
  • Emmaus’ rival to the north—Parkland—also looked very impressive and features some very talented rising underclassmen. At the end of the scholastic basketball season, we talked on “SportsTalk” about players like Nick Rappa, Jared Kucharczuk, Jake Melany and other young players who really started to gel as the winter went on…and that continued improvement is evident even more in their summer play.
  • Nazareth also looked strong last weekend, with some new players in the mix joining an already tall and lanky frontcourt.

    • In Colonial League action, Palmerton continues to be a standout team this summer. They have a number of returning top tier players and look like they are definitely going to be major players in the winter season’s playoffs.

  • Saucon Valley is another team that has lots of players returning—including a pair of players approximately 6’5”. Height like that in the Colonial League is hard to beat and should make the Panthers more of a force for the 2018-19 campaign.


Coming up on this Thursday’s edition of “SportsTalk,” we’re going to have even more videos featuring interviews of coaches and players participating in summer basketball action.

In addition, we’re going to have a live report from the Washington, DC area as the DMV region gets ready to take on the national spotlight as hosts of Major League Baseball’s All-Star game next Tuesday.

Also, keep checking back here at “The Shop” over the upcoming weeks as we bring you additional news, rumors and images from different venues featuring athletes from the RCN-TV viewing area.

 

More HS All-Stars 2018

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. 

Thanks again to Mother Nature for the high school calendar year getting stretched due to all the snow days (some schools in the Poconos didn’t officially finish until last week!), but we finally completed the 2017-18 school year in Eastern Pennsylvania.

The honors and accolades are in for high school sports, and we would like to mention these student-athletes’ special accomplishments.

First, here is a look the spring Eastern Pennsyvlania Conference All-Stars for local softball players….

Next, the EPC Scholar Athlete Award Winners for each sport…

Wrestling – Greg Bensley (Pocono Mountain West)

Girls Basketball – Leanna Deegan (Easton)

Boys Basketball – Jake Lisicky (Whitehall)

Cheerleading – Amanda Wagner (Nazareth)

Boys Swimming/Diving – Matthew Ceh (Parkland)

Girls Swimming/Diving – Zoe Sheridan (Parkland)

Rifle – Amber Zegler (Emmaus)

Boys Tennis – Seungkwon Son (Parkland)

Softball – Krista Colussi (Nazareth)

Baseball – Collin Duff (Parkland)

Girls Lacrosse – Leanna Deegan (Easton)

Boys Lacrosse – Ryan Miller (Nazareth)

Boys Volleyball – Robert Corba III (Parkland)

Girls Track & Field – Emily Deschler (Allentown Central Catholic)

Boys Track & Field – Habeeb Salau (Parkland)

And, here are your “EPC18″ All-Stars for local wrestling….

Last but not least, you can find the latest results for local track-and-field results for the Colonial League Championship, here:

Thanks to the administrators, coaches and athletic directors for passing these lists along to us to promote these student-athletes to all of you. And, special congratulations to all the recipients!

Summer Hoops ’18 (Part 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.

The summer high school basketball season is underway and our “SportsTalk” cameras have been out and about covering the action on the macadam (and hardwood, when the weather forced games inside) over the last month.

On this Thursday’s program, our in-studio guests will include local coaches and media members talking about the spring/early summer hoops action so far, giving their thoughts on teams and players to watch for the rest of the summer basketball schedule, and giving their early predictions on this winter’s scholastic basketball campaign.

In the meantime, here’s a gallery of some of the teams, coaches and players that we have seen in our travels over the last several weeks at different stops in Eastern Pennsylvania.

Chris_12

Chris10

Chris_11

Chris_7

Chris_8

Chris_9

Chris_6

Chris_5

Chris_4

Chris_1

Chris_2

Chris_3

Also, we’ll be talking NBA basketball as well on this Thursday’s show. NBA Writer Ben Mehic on via Skype will recap last week’s NBA Draft as well as give insights on offseason news and free agency predictions for the 76ers, Wizards and other teams of interest in the RCN viewing area.

If you can’t see the show live and would like to pose a question or comment, email us at rcnsportstalk@rcn.com and we’ll try to read and respond to your email on the show (check out the program through RCN On-Demand or hear the podcast at rcn.com/rcntv/sports-talk )

Check back to the “Shop” in a few weeks as we have more news, observations and videos of this summer’s hot basketball action!

“Wild Shows 2018” (Part 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.

BWW_8

BWW_7

It’s time once again for our “SportsTalk Gets Wild” shows, broadcasting live on location from the Buffalo Wild Wings patio on Grape Street in Whitehall.

We had a great show in May featuring the senior football players and Lehigh Valley All-Star participants.

BWW_6

BWW_4

This month we are going to follow it up by featuring Lafayette Head Football Coach John Garrett, his assistant coaching staff and a number of his players.

There will be plenty to talk about! Garrett–a former player at Villanova and brother to the Dallas Cowboys Head Coach Jason Garrett — is coming off a very active spring sports season. (Lafayette’s Spring Football Scrimmage is available to watch on RCN On-Demand).  He got great performances from a number of skilled position players and there’s a ton of optimism on College Hill that something special is on the horizon for the Leopards football program.

BWW_3

BWW_5

Several of Coach Garrett’s assistant coaches will also be in attendance, as well as current players, including Julian Spigner (a Bethlehem Catholic HS graduate), Kevin Zataveski, Eric Mitchell and Jerry Powe.

We’ll learn more about these players, get updates on how some of the former high school players from around the RCN viewing area are now doing with Lafayette and get thoughts on the upcoming Patriot League football season on this show.

You can pose a question to our guests and make a comment if you come out to see the show in person and be part of the fun.

BWW_2

BWW_1

Those of you attending will have a chance to win a “SportsTalk” koozie, but also, you will be helping a local charity. Proceeds raised in our “patio section” of Buffalo Wild Wings (10% of your total food bill) during the show will benefit Lehigh Valley’s Dream Come True organization.

You can find more information on this Thursday’s event here on the RCN-TV website.

 

Phillies Pitchers To Watch

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.

During the first week of the pro baseball season, the Morning Call’s Senior Sports Writer Tom Housenick sat down with us and gave some predictions about the Phillies new season, with an emphasis on “prospects to watch” this year.

Two of those predictions included starting pitchers Enyel De Los Santos and Cole Irvin having breakout years.

So far…both pitchers have done just that.

Both pitchers have very different styles, but each with a great rate of success through the first two months of the season.

De Los Santos, acquired in the Freddy Galvis deal, is a flamethrowing right-hander. He won’t be 23 until next season but certainly looks like he’s near-ready to pitch in the Big Leagues.  He throws in the mid-90ies deep into his games, features a wicked slider and mixes his pitches well.

His ERA has been under two since the third game of the year and he currently has struck out 62 batters in 58 innings while walking 20 (plus three hit-batsmen.)

He has rarely been challenged but, when he has, Irvin has certainly kept his composure when working out of the stretch and/or getting caught in jams. If the Phillies are in a playoff chase and legitimately believe they can make a run in the post-season, he also could be a very effective reliever, especially if the Phillies find themselves in need of another hard-thrower out of the pen.

Cole Irvin is quite the opposite of De Los Santos, but has been almost as effective.


The soft-tossing southpaw relies on pinpoint control and has also made a habit of getting ahead of hitters early in the count.

In his most recent outing, he nearly went the distance in a four-hit, six strikeout win over Charlotte (just one walk). He has walked just 15 batters while pitching 62 2-3 innings, with his WHIP just over one.

He also never seems to get flustered on the mound and also has been busy talking with some of the veterans on Lehigh Valley’s roster, trying to pick their brains and learn as much as he can to better himself and make him a Major League-ready pitcher.

While he may not be a flame-thrower, he would be the lone lefty in Philadelphia’s starting rotation—something that would work in his favor should the team be matched up against a strong lefty-swinging opponent.

One more name to keep an eye on that Phillies fans haven’t seen first-hand so far this spring is Pedro Beato. While he does have a career ERA north of 4 coming into this season, Beato has found comfort in the role as Lehigh Valley’s closer.  His control (just six walks through his first 26 innings pitched) combined with his velocity (aka ability to make batters swing and miss) could make for another nice edition for the parent club.

Keep checking back here at “The Shop” for more on the Phillies and their up-and-coming prospects. For more on “up-and-coming” position players in the organization’s system, check out last week’s entry.

To hear more about Philadelphia’s young prospects as well as other teams of interest in the RCN viewing area, check out last week’s podcast featuring MLB.com’s Jim Callis at rcn.com/rcntv/sports-talk or watch the show through RCN On-Demand.

 

Phillies MiLB Update

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 have been many positives for the Phillies this season.

Especially after a rocky start, no one could have imagined the Phillies playing this well (and winning as much as they have) through the first two months of the season.

Have they played a good chunk of their schedule against teams many had clearly envisioned to be in the “lower half” of the National League? Yes.  But to be five games over .500 in early June?  It has been a great first two months in the Gabe Kapler era.

With the Phillies’ success through the first third of the season, the popular questions now raised are:

  • Can they continue playing this well?
  • Can they compete for a playoff spot?
  • Should they trade away a few of their young prospects to add a “big piece” now?

Before you seriously start answering these questions, one must take a look at the prospects already in the system to see if they are viable options for this year’s team, along with these prospects’ “ceilings” for the upcoming season (and decide if “win now” outweighs “future potential.”)

The team has already added a few prospects this past week due to injury. At the same time, their offense—never terrific to begin with—has dipped a bit on this current road trip.

This week here at “The Shop,” we’ll take a look at the top-position players within the Phillies system and give you an update on how each is faring along with their chances of improving the team’s offense and how each might “fit” with the current roster.

Joey Meneses

He’s coming off a torrid month of May, becoming just the second Lehigh Valley player to win two “Player of the Month” awards within the same season (Andy Tracy being the other). A former top prospect with the Braves organization, his current .299 batting average and .866 OPS is well above his career average and about the same as league leaders with nine RBI.

Unfortunately, his primary position is first base, and with Carlos Santana signing a big free agent contract this past offseason, it’s not likely Meneses would be any more than a “lefty off the bench” pinch-hitting option who lacks the defensive mobility Kapler loves.

Trevor Plouffe

Plouffe started the year off slowly offensively and has only seen his batting average slide even further during the past two weeks (once dipping below .200).

Plouffe does have Major League experience and can play multiple positions, but with the Phillies still scuffling a little at the plate mixed with Trevor’s age (he turns 32 later this month), he’s probably not a guy who will get a long look in the Big Leagues.

Danny Ortiz

Unlike Plouffe, Ortiz had a great start to the season and can play either corner outfield position, which would help the Phillies with Rhys Hoskins’ injury and less-than-spectacular offensive numbers from alternating right-fielders Nick Williams and Aaron Altherr.

Unfortunately for Ortiz, his bat has also cooled of late. Despite hitting two home runs in the last 10 days, his average has been hovering in the .230-range the last few weeks while his on-base percentage is now an uninspiring .270.

Roman Quinn

Unfortunately, the very likeable and speedy outfielder has found himself on the disabled list—again. Quinn was once again leading the International League in stolen bases before suffering an injury that will keep him out of action for two months.  Injuries have been the biggest issue keeping Quinn out of the Majors, and, unless he has a quick recovery and regains his form in time for a spectacular month of August, the Phillies will have a tough decision this offseason whether to keep him on the 40-man roster or not.

Options at Reading?

Occasionally there’s a great prospect who can make the “jump” from Double-A to the Majors, but talking with my contacts who see this team on a regular basis, no such player is ready for any extended time above Triple-A.

Next week here at “The Shop” we’ll take a look pitching options in the minor leagues and feature video of my interview with one of the top pitching prospects in the Phillies organization.

We’ll also be talking baseball with MLB.com’s Jim Callis, who is busy this week covering the MLB draft for MLB-TV. Jim will join us on Thursday’s “SportsTalk” to give his thoughts on the draft as well as analyze

“Shootout for Soldiers”

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 is a great fundraising event going on in a number of areas in the RCN-TV viewing area over the next several weeks that you really should know more about.

We had the pleasure on “RCN SportsTalk” to speak with Merry Troper, the Executive Director of a special charity event centered around the sport of lacrosse, called “Shootout for Soldiers,” which raises money for the men and women serving our country in the Armed Forces.

The event has been gathering momentum over the last several years and has turned into much more than a simple lacrosse tournament. The games and the ceremonies strike an emotional accord with veterans and their family members who attend.  There are plenty special events that go on, before, during and after the games.

One of the highlights includes the playing of the National Anthem, by different performers, every hour before each match starts. The match kicks off with two teams made up entirely of veterans playing each other, which starts at 9am on June 23rd.

Merry talked about more of the highlights of this year’s event in Washington, to be hosted at Long Bridge Park.

Among the other “Shootout for Soldiers” events coming up include:

Baltimore                           June 20th-21st

Washington, DC               June 23rd-24th

Philadelphia                      June 26th-27th

Boston                                July 6th-7th

Long Island                       July 12th-13th

…and more!

The games have traditionally been very competitive if you are a hardcore lacrosse fan and want to attend the matches for the quality of play, but it’s also important that people in the area of these events try to make an attempt to support our servicemen and women in this worthy cause.

The event has raised millions of dollars over the years and is setting its sights on trying to raise $50,000 for this year’s event in Washington, DC alone.

For more information on the event specifically in DC, go to:

https://shootoutforsoldiers.com/events/washingtondc-2018/

Click on “Shootout for Soldiers,” to get more information on other “Shootout for Soldiers” events taking place in Boston, Long Island, Baltimore, Philadelphia and more!

There, you can learn more about the other cities’ events, as well as find out about ways to help financially, by working as an intern or volunteer, or through other sponsorship opportunities.

 

“SportsTalk Gets Wild 2018”

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.

 May 4 BWW

 May9

With the warm weather here and the Memorial Day weekend (and unofficial start to summer) nearly upon us, it’s time to talk about the start of the “remote” season for the “RCN SportsTalk” show and our first “wild” episode coming up this week.

For the past several years, we’ve done a number of broadcasts live from “Buffalo Wild Wings” on Grape Street in Whitehall.

May1

 May2

We’ve had great shows featuring special guests and we have an exciting lineup of guests for this summer as well.

But first things first.

Our 2018 debut will have members of this year’s Lehigh Valley high school All-Star football team, including Head Coaches Kevin Ronalds and Tom McCarroll.

Both coaches had outstanding fall campaigns (which we’ll be talking about on this Thursday’s show), but we’ll also talk about the top moments of some great football players from this past season, along with their thoughts on the upcoming All-Star contest and next step in their careers.

May 3 BWW

 May 5 BWW

You can pose a question to our guests and make a comment if you come out to see the show in person and be part of the fun.

Those of you who attend will have a chance to win prizes, but more importantly, you will help a local charity. For this show, proceeds raised in our “patio section” of Buffalo Wild Wings (10% of your total food bill) will go to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of the Lehigh Valley.  Find more information on this Thursday’s event here on the RCN-TV website.

Hope to see you there!

The SportsTalk Shop: All-Star Accomplishments

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.

 

From time to time we like to honor the young athletes in the RCN viewing area when they are named to special teams or reach accomplishments.

First, here are the current Track & Field performance results for boys and girls student athletes in the Lehigh Valley’s Colonial League:

Boys

Girls

Here are the final results from the Eastern Pennsylvania Conferences Cheering competition: Congrats Easton!

Here is the All-Star list for the EPC wrestling team (Nazareth’s Sammy Sasso was named the league’s MVP).

1st Team

Nate Lackman, Becahi

Matt Maloney, Liberty

Cameron Enriquez, Stroudsburg

Patrick Noonan, Stroudsburg

Patrick Gould, E. Stroudsburg South

Steven Storm, Pocono Mt. East

Cole Handlovic, Becahi

Luca Frinzi, Becahi

Caden Wright, Emmaus

Sammy Sasso, Nazareth

Adam Lizak, Parkland

Cade Wilson, Nazareth

Jacob Frank, Easton

Sami Khamis, Stroudsburg

2nd Team

Peyton Brown, Emmaus

Evan Gleason, Easton

Matt Lackman, Becahi

Kenny Herrman, Becahi

Jonathan Miers, Easton

Ryan Anderson, Becahi

Zach Ortman, Parkland

Lenny Pinto, Stroudsburg

Kevin Vrablik, Parkland

Tyler Delorenzo, E. Stroudsburg South

Tavion Banks, Becahi

Robert Spezza, Becahi

Damen Moyer, Liberty

Hunter Werkheiser, Northampton

Last but not least, the Colonial League basketball All-Star teams for the girls

…and the boys

As we get closer to the end of this scholastic school year, don’t forget to send us your lists and/or encourage your school’s athletic directors to pass honors and accolades along to us here at the “SportsTalk Shop” by email at chris.michael@rcn.net and we’ll try to mention them in an upcoming post.

Spring Regular Season Highlights

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 have been some wonderful stories to follow for local sports fans so far this spring that we have covered on our “RCN SportsTalk” program.  Here are just a few of the Lehigh Valley highlights over the last two week’s worth of shows.


One of the area’s nicest and most skilled coaches took over the reins of the Northampton boys volleyball team this spring.  Sue Arndt has been a successful head coach at Emmaus and Catasauqua high schools, a local AAU program, and with an assistant at Dieruff when that program made a strong turnaround.

The K-Kids have a strong core of now senior players who have had great scholastic careers.  Now led by these 12th graders, the team has already posted some impressive wins this season.  With their aggressive, take-no-prisoners style on and off the court, they are looking to be major players in the post-season.


Speaking of volleyball, the Whitehall squad has gone underrated, in my opinion, for the last couple of seasons.  The Zephyrs were the 2017 runner-ups in both the EPC and the District XI championship games, but didn’t receive much mention in the local preseason previews.

Like Northampton, Whitehall is playing well and is looking to take the next step in the playoffs.


We talked a few years ago about the outstanding job Saucon Valley has done turning around its girls lacrosse program.

Now, defending District XI 2A champs seem determined to stay among the elite teams in the Lehigh Valley.

We caught up with the Panthers, currently undefeated, following another win over a bigger, EPC school and they seemed determine to keep their squad playing at a high level.


The Easton baseball team is once again having a fantastic season under head coach Carm LaDuca.

In addition to posting yet another EPC victory last Saturday, the Red Rovers also took the opportunity to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Easton team that advanced in the state playoffs, featuring both LaDuca and long-time assistant Greg Hess.

The Rovers will see some tough competition in the Class 6A district playoffs again in a few weeks, but another run in the PIAA tournament should certainly not be ruled out for this year’s squad.

With the playoffs upon us, there’s just a few weeks left in the high school sports spring season. If you have an idea for a feature, a team you’d like our cameras to stop by and visit or high school athletes who deserve a “Shout-out” on the show, email me at chris.michael@rcn.net

For more on the above stories and additional interviews with high school teams in the RCN viewing area, you can check out “SportsTalk” through RCN On Demand.

Programming note: we’ll be rebroadcasting our interview with Saquon Barkley (drafted by the Giants in last Thursday’s NFL Draft) on this week’s “SportsTalk” program.

Also, be on the lookout for more information on our first “remote” edition of “RCN SportsTalk” presented by ‘The Morning Call’” out on location. We’ll have several “remote” shows coming up over the next few months.

See more details coming soon here at “The Shop” and on the RCN-TV website.