Gary Laubach

About Gary Laubach

Gary began his broadcasting career with Twin County in 1972. Twin County eventually became C-TEC and then RCN. Gary holds the dual role of Director of Media Services and Sports Director/Broadcaster. He currently broadcasts about 140 sports and entertainment broadcasts a year, and oversees the scheduling of all sporting events for RCN.

The Madness Begins

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.

It’s here.  After all the regular season games and the grind of trying to win a conference championship, it’s time to play for all the marbles.  The NCAA Basketball tournament begins officially on Thursday with 64 teams in the race for a National Championship.

Four teams will vie to get into the 64-team bracket when Temple plays Belmont and Fairleigh-Dickinson plays Prairie View  in play-in games.

Without a great deal of time to study, here are my thoughts on the regions:

EAST – Duke 

Zion Williamson is back for Duke and that makes ALL the difference.  If he stays healthy throughout, Duke should win the East playing Michigan State.  I like Yale in a first-round upset and I would love to see Fran Dunphy in his last season at Temple get into Thursday’s first round.

WEST – Gonzaga 

Even though Gonzaga lost the West Coast conference championship game, when Gonzaga is at its best, they are as good as anybody.  Remember, they beat Duke and Williamson played in that game.  Michigan looks like they could be upset before getting to the West final.  Nevada could be troublesome especially on offense.

SOUTH – Tennessee 

It just seems to me that every year Virginia finds a way to lose – no one will forget their first-round loss last year to UMBC.  I do not see them losing early, but I also do not see them winning their region.  Tennessee has been as good as any team in the nation at times this year.  If they put it all together here and get a monster effort out of Grant Williams, they will get to the Final Four.

MIDWEST – North Carolina 

I wish I could have more shocking news for you this year, but it looks like the #1’s are the best.  I even think Virginia is the best, but I cannot in good conscience think all four #1’s will get through.  Carolina’s road to the Final Four looks fairly certain.  Perhaps, Kentucky can give them a game if Kentucky gets to the Elite Eight.

My National Championship pick is forthcoming after I screw up my own bracket.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSING) 

  1. Bryce Harper is still hitless (if you don’t count getting hit by a pitch). Anyone getting nervous?  He is 0-8.  There are still 10 days until opening day.
  1. I am starting to feel badly for Saquon Barkley. The Giants just seem to be making themselves worse and worse with their trades and anyone who watched them last year knew that their real problem was the offensive line.  Remember how great running back Barry Sanders was on a very bad team – the Detroit Lions?  He never achieved team success.  Is Saquon the next Barry?
  1. One team’s displeasure can cause great anticipation from another team. For example – Odell Beckham to the Browns; Le’Veon Bell with the Jets; Joe Flacco to the Broncos; Michael Bennett to the Patriots; etc.  There’s excitement in the air, particularly in Cleveland where the air seems to disappear around the fifth game every year.
  1. I am not that familiar with “Fortnite”, but I know it’s the rage with younger people. Well, I heard it was also the rage in the Phillies locker room last season to the point where some players were playing it during the game.  Veteran Carlos Santana took care of that problem by taking a bat to the TV to make sure no one would play again.  Good for him!
  1. The Southern Lehigh and Bethlehem Catholic girls are in the PIAA state semifinals. Congratulations to the teams and their coaches.  Here is hoping they play for the PIAA state championship this weekend.  Go Spartans!  Go Hawks!

 

 

 

Is It Still Baseball?

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 Atlantic League is an independent professional baseball league.  Eight teams are in the league and are located in Pennsylvania (2), Maryland, Texas, North Carolina, New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey. In the past, they have used a pitch clock and a clock between innings to speed up the game.  They have decided to get more innovative.

This year, the League has agreed to a three-year partnership with Major League Baseball to implement some changes to the game.

The League will incorporate seven changes this season:

  • Computers using radar tracking systems will assist umpires in calling balls and strikes. Plate umpires will wear an earpiece and will be given the ball/strike calls.  Umpires can override the call.  If a ball crosses home plate after bouncing in front, the computer may incorrectly rule that pitch a strike. That call can be changed.  In addition, an umpire will rule on check swings.
  • The distance between the pitching rubber and home plate will be lengthened from 60 feet-6 inches to 62 feet-2 inches. This rule will take effect the second half of the season.
  • The time between innings will be reduced from 125 seconds to 105 seconds.
  • Pitchers must face at least three batters or get to the end of an inning (an injury to a pitcher supersedes the rule).
  • No visits to the mound will be allowed, except to change pitchers or due to injury.
  • Infield alignments must have two players on both sides of second base.
  • Speaking of bases, their size will increase to 18 inches from 15 inches, so, in essence, runners will be three inches closer to the bases. Home plate size remains the same.

Baseball purists love the game because there is NO clock.  Baseball critics complain that the game takes too long.  I find this experiment to be fascinating.  There should be shorter games with more offense.

This is a league that does not produce a large number of major leaguers, but the league does draw fans to their ballparks.  The stadiums can accommodate @ 5,750 fans on average.  It seems like the perfect place to experiment.

I do not expect that many of these rules will be adapted.  But, I do expect most of them to create interesting conversation and the Atlantic League, I’m sure, does not mind having the focus on them for the next three seasons.

I know I will be checking out opinions on the changes.


ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSING)
 

  1. Guess who wants to come back to the Eagles? DeSean Jackson!  He was a second round draft pick in 2008 and spent six years with the Eagles.  Chip Kelly cut him after he had his best professional career.  The Eagles do need a deep threat.  And, thank goodness, Chip Kelly is gone.
  1. College football spring practice begins this week. Penn State has to replace Trace McSorley who was the heart and soul of their team.  Tommy Stevens will get his chance to shine, but he will have to do it with a very young roster.  The expectations are lower than usual for this team.
  1. If Joel Embiid can stay healthy, the Sixers have a shot at an NBA title. Without him, they do not.  They are just better than average when he does not play.
  1. A-Rod and J-Lo got engaged this week. I hope those two “kids” can get off to a good start in life.
  1. March Madness has begun with conference titles to be decided this week followed by the NCAA selections for their tournament. It’s time to really start paying attention so you are not embarrassed by your office pool.  I speak from experience.

Just Imagine…

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.  

Just Imagine . . .

That I made a call this morning to Scott Boras, the sports agent who specializes in baseball.  I played baseball in high school and college so I felt I had a natural affinity. I was hoping he felt the same way.

The reason I called him was to renegotiate my contract.  After all, he certainly helped Alex Rodriguez, Max Scherzer, Jayson Werth, and, most recently, Bryce Harper become very wealthy.

For example, Bryce Harper just signed for $330 million for 13 years.  Even though it is not divided up evenly over the years, it is still worth $25,384,615.40 a year (I wonder if the Phillies pay the 40 cents). By the way, that is $156,695 per game.  That’s right – every time the Phillies play, Bryce Harper makes much, much more than your annual salary.

But, in case that is not quite enough to support his lifestyle, he gets another $50,000 if he makes the All-Star team; another $50,000 if he wins a Gold Glove; another $50,000 for a Silver Slugger award; $50,000 more if he is the NLCS MVP; $100,000 more for earning the World Series MVP award; and finally, another $500,000 if he is the NL MVP.  You don’t have to add those up – it’s another $800,000!  And that is each year or $10.4 million extra available to him for performance through the length of the contract.

In addition, we can only imagine how awful the hotels are for professional athletes when they are on the road.  So Bryce gets his own suite for every road game.  And, if he so desires, he can purchase a suite at Citizens Bank Park, the home of the Phillies.  Boras couldn’t get that for him?

Now, all I want Scott Boras to do for me is walk into my boss’ office and DEMAND that I get the following:

Two hot dogs AND a Coke for every game!

Extra compensation for all overtime games.

Extra compensation for the number of people who say they enjoy our broadcasts (I’ll keep track).

A complete remodel of my suite (at home).

Man, I am having trouble even recommending things to Mr. Boras to negotiate.  I hope with his experience, he can think of plenty more items that must be painful to do without.  I can’t (and I’m hoping my boss doesn’t even read this – he might get mad).

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSING) 

  1. A final word about Bryce Harper. During his first press conference he was quoted as saying, he wants “to bring a title back to D.C.”  I hope that’s his last error.
  1. Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley is currently at the NFL scouting combine working out for the NFL scouts. Do you think he can make it as an NFL quarterback?
  1. Speaking of NFL quarterbacks, it appears Nick Foles will be with the Jacksonville Jaguars next season. No deals can be announced until March 13.  But the Jags current QB, Blake Bortles, is expected to be released, even though Bortles will make $6.5 million anyway.  John DeFillipo is the Jags’ offensive coordinator.  He was the Eagles’ QB coach in 2017 when Foles was an Eagle.
  1. It looks like the NFL may have learned their lesson from the missed pass interference call that should have been called against the Rams in the NFC Championship game. The NFL is contemplating having an eighth official as a “sky judge” who can make calls like any on-field official.  All 24 owners would need to approve.
  1. PIAA basketball begins this weekend. Every team still playing now has the goal of winning a state championship. Our girls’ teams are Northampton, Freedom, Nazareth, Southern Lehigh, Bethlehem Catholic, and Notre Dame.  The Allen, Parkland, Bethlehem Catholic and Central boys are still playing.  We will be at as many venues as possible.  Good luck to them all. 

Bearman

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.  

Ask people around the Lehigh Valley who Kevin Schutts is and they probably will give you a blank stare. Ask almost anyone in the Valley if they know “Bearman” and, first, they will smile and then they will tell you about the Bearman and Keith. Kevin and Bearman are one in the same.

You probably know by now that Bearman passed away this weekend.  It was sudden and unexpected. The Valley woke up Monday morning in shock. I turned on WZZO-95.1 this morning and there was only music. I am sure Keith, much like Bearman’s family and the listening audience, was devastated.

Years ago (I am not good at dates), the RCN marketing department asked me if I would be willing to go on the radio once a week and be part of the Bearman and Keith show. I hesitated, but it was obvious the RCN wanted the exposure and they were going to be a major sponsor. I accepted and my life changed dramatically.

There was bad news. Every Monday morning, I had to get up at 5:30 AM in order to be at the ZZO studio by 8:00 AM. It also meant sleepless Sunday nights as I wracked my brain thinking of what I would say that anyone would find interesting. And, to add to my discomfort, Bearman and Keith were crazy. I had no idea what would come out of their mouths and, early on, I had no idea what they wanted me to talk about. Sometimes they would lead me down a path that I knew RCN would not be comfortable with me traveling. They always kept me on my toes.

My anxiety was relieved immediately. They were two of the nicest people I had worked with. They wanted me to talk sports, but in some humorous fashion. That was easy because they always looked at life in a very quirky way. And their audience was vast and loyal. If I was their friend, then the audience became my friend.

I am not sure when, but early on Bearman started introducing me as “Gar-eeee Lauuu-bach!” Boy, did that catch on. I could not go anywhere without someone shouting it out when they saw me. Their influence in the Valley was unbelievable. For example, one summer, my wife and I were on a cruise in the middle of the Caribbean waiting to get on an elevator on the ship. The doors opened, a woman stepped out, gave me a look and screamed, “Gar-eeee Lauuu-bach!” To say the least, my wife was flabbergasted. I was just in awe of the power of those two guys. It still follows me to this day. Some people still ask me if I am on. I have not been on for years.

After doing the show for awhile, the boys asked me to come on Friday mornings to make NFL picks for the Steelers, Giants, Jets, and Eagles. I could phone it in at 8:00 am. Raymond the Amish comic was in the studio most Fridays and all we did was laugh. I could plug our weekend football games and start my morning with a big smile on my face. And I know the audience loved it. They would say so.

It’s been described that the show was “two goofy guys doing goofy things”. That pretty much sums it up. And it was unique, sometimes off the wall, and always entertaining. And a final word about Keith. Over the years, I have lost two of my long-time sidekicks – Bob Gehris and Dick Tracy. When they passed, our on-air time had already ended.  Their decline was gradual and their passing not unexpected. It was still devastating. It is hard for me to imagine the pain Keith must be feeling. You cannot mention one’s name without the other. They were joined together, not at the hip, but at the lip! I wish him the very best emotionally and vocationally.

I know the Valley and I will smile a little less each morning now as we drive to work.

May Kevin “Bearman” Schutts rest in peace.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSING)

  1. It appears that we will know about Bryce Harper this week, perhaps, as early as Tuesday. The Nationals offered him a 10-year, $300 million contract which he turned down.  It appears the Phillies have the best chance of getting him to sign.  Worth it?  He would be a Phillie until he was 36 years old.  After signing Andrew McCutchen and J. T. Realmuto, the excitement and the pressure could be dramatic and overwhelming.
  1. Is this the year the Golden State Warriors do NOT win the NBA title? The Milwaukee Bucks have won nine of the last 10.  The Warriors are banged up and losing, but don’t count them out.  When they are healthy, they are the best.
  1. Portland was in town to play the Sixers on Saturday night. This allowed Portland’s and Lehigh’s C J McCollum to attend the ceremony to retire his number at Stabler Arena on Sunday afternoon.  He is having a great pro career and certainly will be remembered as one of the best to ever put on a Patriot League uniform.
  1. I watched the Flyers play the Penguins outdoors at Lincoln Financial Field on Saturday night. 70,000 fans were there.  It was raining the entire game, so I hope the fans stayed until the end.  The Flyers were down 3-1 before they made their comeback, tying the game with 19.7 seconds on the clock.  It took just one minute and 59 seconds to score the game winner in overtime.  It may not be good enough to get the Flyers into the playoffs, but it kept them alive.
  1. District basketball championships will be decided this week on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Seeds #11, #7, #5, and #1 are still alive in the 6A boys’ bracket.  Crazy year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Bad Is It?

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 past week, it was announced that the Pennsylvania state legislature was going to introduce a bill that would separate the boundary (usually referred to as the public) schools and the non-boundary (private, Catholic, charter) schools.  The competition between the two has been going on since 1972 when Act 219 was passed.

The PIAA has long held the position that it was up to the legislature, not their governing body, to change the format of the state championships in football and basketball.     Boundary schools, particularly in the western part of the state, have been vehemently calling for the change.

The first question to ask – is it an unfair playing field?  “Non-boundary” is at the root of the problem.  Public school enrollment is determined by their geography or their boundaries.  By their very nature, private schools must recruit students to attend and are allowed to go where they need to go to get their student population, thus, “non-boundary”.

In other words, private schools do not abide by the same set of rules as public schools.  They also have the advantage that once they become seen as possessing outstanding football and basketball programs, the more talented players want to go there.  They reason, and rightfully so, that they will be exposed to more college scouts for potential scholarships and will participate in more state championship contests.

Approximately 75% of the 350,000 potential students attend boundary schools. Yet, the private schools have dominated the state playoffs and the state championships.  The football championships were split this year, but the school populations are far from split.  But history has shown that around 60% or more of the titles go to the private schools even though they have a much smaller percentage of the student population.

Maryland has separate playoffs for the public and private schools.  It seems to work.

With six classifications in Pennsylvania, it would be easy to break the numbers down.  Four public school champions and two private school champions would seem to be fair to everyone.

I, for one, will be every interested to see what Harrisburg does.  Stay tuned.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSING) 

  1. This was a tough sports weekend for me. I’m not very interested in the NBA All-Star game – watching guys play one against one basketball is not very appealing.  The weekend golf in Los Angeles took forever to complete due to bad weather every day.  Thanks goodness I could watch the Lafayette win over Loyola on the internet.  With RCN high-speed Internet, watching a game on the computer is not much different than watching it on TV.
  1. The Flyers continue to climb in the standings. They have won 12 of their last 14.  Their new goalie, Carter Hart, continues to be the difference.  The Flyers are generating excitement once again.  Can they get to the NHL playoffs?
  1. With the March Madness pools coming shortly, Duke is, once again, the top-ranked team in the polls. Duke starts four freshmen and has not lost a game at full strength.  They play North Carolina this week.  That “usually’ creates some excitement in the ACC.  Where will you put them in YOUR pool?
  1. Congratulations are in order for the Bethlehem Catholic boys and girls basketball teams and the same goes to the Southern Lehigh boys and girls teams. All of them have a championship – the former winning the EPC and the latter winning the Colonial League.  Beca’s Justin Paz had quite a week: he made a 3-point shot from mid-court to beat Nazareth by two points in the EPC semifinals and drove the length of the court to beat Emmaus in the championship game with 2.5 seconds on the clock.
  1. It’s on to the District basketball and the District individual wrestling championships. It’s the best of times for winter athletics.

 

 

 

Will You 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.

It’s called the Alliance of American Football (AAF).  It was spawned by filmmaker Charlie Ebersol after he made a documentary about the old XFL, a league that failed.  Former NFL general manager Bill Polian is considered a co-founder.  Troy Polamalu, Hines Ward, Justin Tuck, Mike Pereira, and Dick Ebersol are all involved.  The league played this past weekend.

The eight teams will play four games each weekend (two on Saturday and two on Sunday).  There is an Eastern Conference (Atlanta Legends, Birmingham Iron, Memphis Express, Orlando Apollos) and a Western Conference (Arizona Hotshots, Salt Lake Stallions, San Antonio Commanders, San Diego Fleet).  The season will last 10 weeks with a four-team playoff and a championship game April 27 in Las Vegas.

Every player signed a three-year, $250,000 contract ($70,000 the first year).  Every player no matter the position is paid the same amount with potential bonuses.  Community contributions can earn a player more money.  Some players were selected based on their college locality and the AAF team’s location.  It was called a territorial draft so fans in a given region would know some of their players.

Some interesting differences with the NFL:

  • No TV timeouts (60% fewer full-screen commercials)
  • The goal is to play a game under 150 minutes compared to the 180 for an average NFL game
  • No extra points – only two-point conversions
  • Defenses can only rush five players and none from more than two yards outside the tackles
  • No kickoffs; possessions are started at the 25-yard line
  • The play clock is 35 seconds (the NFL is 40)
  • Only the coaches’ challenges will be replayed with automatic replays, if needed, in the final two minutes of each half
  • Overtime consists of putting the ball on the 10-yard line and giving each team a possession and the team can only score via a touchdown. After one possession, if the score is still tied, the game ends in a tie.
  • There will be an extra official (called a sky judge) who reviews every play and that judge can add or take away penalties missed or made by the on-field officials.

CBS, CBSSN, NFL Network, TNT, and Sirius XM will all air select games.  The NFL Network’s involvement is a good sign.  CBS, which televised the opening regional games, had higher ratings than the NBA game on ABC, but a rerun of America’s Got Talent had the highest ratings.

So, I ask you, “Will you watch it?”

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSING) 

  1. MLB’s spring training is right around the corner. The Phillies have already improved their roster, but the Philly fans want Manny Machado or Bryce Harper or both.  If they get either, watch out.  Between the Sixers and the Phillies, and maybe the Flyers, the town could go crazy!
  1. The Flyers are generating some hockey interest again with their new goalie, Carter Hart. He has won a record eight straight for Philadelphia, and set a record for consecutive wins by a goalie under 21 years of age.  They currently trail Pittsburgh by six points for a playoff spot.
  1. With all the excitement about the Sixers adding Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris, JJ Redick performs at a high offensive level every night. He is averaging 18.7 points per game, makes 90% of his free throws, and 39% of his three-point shots.
  1. Congratulations are in order for the Bethlehem Catholic and the Northampton wrestling teams. The Lehigh Valley can be proud of the fact that two local teams were in the PIAA 3A championship final.  Beca won their 7th title and their second in a row.  But it is good to see Northampton is back.

P.S. Nazareth and Liberty are probably the next two best teams in the state.

  1. The EPC and the Colonial girls’ and boys’ championships are on RCN-TV on Friday night – six hours of outstanding basketball starting at 6:00pm.

 

Super Bore LIII

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 last line on my blog last week was “Enjoy the game”.   I obviously meant the Super Bowl.  In all honesty, it was hard to enjoy because almost nothing happened. There was one touchdown and there were 14 punts, nine by the Rams alone, one meaningless turnover, two missed field goals and little “official calls” controversy.  In a word, the game was “boring”.

But I did keep some notes as I watched so here is how the broadcast unfolded for me in no particular order:

  1. You may have missed the best commercial of the day because it occurred in the post-game.  Take a look.  It is hilarious. Helium never fails to disappoint.

https://www.ispot.tv/ad/In2V/state-farm-helium

  1. I also enjoyed the Peyton Manning-John Malkovich introduction to the game. Manning has impeccable comedic timing and Malkovich is Malkovich.  Despite its length, it was a great way to start the pre-game.

https://www.sbnation.com/nfl/2019/2/3/18209771/peyton-manning-john-malkovich-super-bowl-intro-cbs-video

  1. There were 115 cameras at the game, according to CBS. That’s 109 more than we use.  Our crew still seems to get all the important shots.  But imagine if we had 109 more.
  2. Why does anyone interview Bill Belichik? His pregame stop to talk to the CBS announcer was a total waste of time and Belichik looked totally disinterested and put out that he had to answer.  The NFL requires the coach to do it.
  3. Wal-Mart did a clever job with the famous cars from TV and movies. I’m sure many, like me, spent the time trying to figure out where you had seen that vehicle before, while getting the subtle Wal-Mart message.  Isn’t that what a good ad is supposed to do – get the viewer involved?  This one did for me.
  4. I did not like the early penalty on the Rams for making a tackle on a Patriot receiver. They said he was defenseless.  It did not appear that way to me.  Not much was made of it.  If it occurred later in the game, it would have been emphasized more.
  5. The Hyundai “elevator” commercial was one of the best of the day. Car shopping was put into the same category as root canal, jury duty, a vegan dinner party, etc. as the elevator was going down.  The message was clear that would not be the experience if you shopped for a Hyundai.  The elevator was going up for that.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B5FzKB5TW0Y

  1. Mermaids selling spiked Seltzer did not work for me – I never heard of Bon-Vivo.
  2. The announcers’ jinx came into play on the first New England field goal attempt. No one had missed a field goal in that stadium all year (31-31), the announcers said.  Of course the field goal was missed and so was another later in the game.  I have the same problem when I mention a player is a really good foul shooter.
  3. I’m not a beer drinker, but based on Bud Light’s plethora of commercials, corn syrup is bad for me. It’s some form of sugar, I assume, and is in some beers, but not Bud Light.  I heard the corn farmers were really upset with the spot, as were the beers that were attacked for using corn syrup.  Let them battle it out in next year’s pre-game.  I know it’s not the Puppy Bowl, but….
  4. Okay, I am going to say it here – I am not a fan of Tony Romo. I know he has been getting a number of plaudits lately, but to me, he is annoying and has managed to bring Jim Nantz down with him.  There you have it.  Let me know if you agree or disagree.  The people I talk to tend to agree with me.
  5. The Audi electric car looks great! I want to drive one.  I also was amazed by the Google translator app.  Just point to the foreign phrase with your phone and your phone translates it into English – Oh, My!
  6. Did you see the set CBS built for the pre-game, half-time, and post-game announcers? A bit much, but impressive.
  7. I thought the Halftime show with Maroon 5, etc. was a bit disjointed and underwhelming. It was certainly not one of the best.
  8. CURE Auto Insurance “screw in head” commercial was really strange and cost @ $5 million. What?

https://www.popisms.com/TelevisionCommercial/207939/CURE-Auto-Insurance-Commercial-for-Super-Bowl-LIII-2019-Screw-in-the-Head-C

  1. Did you know there was skull shaver? Me, neither.
  2. Have you noticed I am not writing much about the game because nothing happened!
  3. Eat at Burger King, like Andy Warhol does. I can’t wait for my next Whopper now!
  4. The MVP went to Julian Edelman for his 10 catches and 141 yards. It should have gone to the defense of the Patriots, but it is hard to divide it up into so many pieces.
  5. Sony Michel, the Patriots running back played for the NCAA national championship on the same field a year ago, only to come back and play in the Super Bowl. What a year!
  6. CBS’ Tracy Wolfson had a tough job after the game trying to interview Tom Brady. It was a mob scene and she was getting crushed.  You would think there would have been some post-game preparations for the interview.  And, how do all those people get on the field?
  7. With all that, I still can’t wait for LIV!
  8. Finally (this blog is almost as long as the game – my apologies), I did predict the correct winner. My final numbers are:

Gary’s Guesses: NFL Picks (Last week: 1-0)  (Overall: 168-82-2  67% )

SUPER BOWL WINNER –  NEW ENGLAND

Test Your Knowledge

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. 

TopEnd Sports has offered up some interesting facts and figures about the Super Bowl.  Which of these did you already know?

  • The first Super Bowl game was played on January 15, 1967, as a playoff between the AFL and NFL champions. The game was called the “World Championship of Professional Football”.
  • No network footage exists of Super Bowl I. Apparently it was taped over for a soap opera.
  • At every Super Bowl, two Lombardi trophies are present in the unfortunate event that one is accidentally destroyed in the celebrations.
  • Super Bowl day is the second-largest U.S. food consumption day, following Thanksgiving.
  • Mike Ditka and Tom Flores are the only two men to win a Super Bowl both as a player and a coach.
  • Each Super Bowl trophy is handcrafted by Tiffany & Co. master artisans at their workshop in Parsippany, New Jersey, and is valued at $12,500.
  • The lowest amount of points scored in a Super Bowl is 3, scored by the Dolphins in Super Bowl VI.
  • The Super Bowl is one of the most-watched U.S. television broadcasts of the year, attracting many companies to spend millions of dollars on commercials.
  • Each Super Bowl trophy takes approximately four months and 72 man-hours to create.
  • The name ‘Super Bowl’ came from AFL founder and Kansas City Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt. He had jokingly referred to the proposed interleague championship as the “Super Bowl” after seeing his daughter playing with a toy called a Super Ball. The ball is now on display at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.
  • The Minnesota Vikings have played in four Super Bowls, but have never led a Super Bowl for even a single second.
  • Chuck Howley, the MVP winner from the 1971 Super Bowl, is the only player from a losing team to be named MVP.
  • The last true day game (one which ended before local sunset) was Super Bowl XI in January 1977.
  • In 1978, both Randy White and Harvey Martin were co-winners of the MVP award.
  • The only player to win a Super Bowl ring and an Olympic gold medal was Bob Hayes. He won the 100m at the 1964 Olympic Games, and was part of the winning Dallas Cowboys team of 1972.
  • The record crowd at a Super Bowl game was 103,985 in 1980 at the Rose Bowl stadium.
  • In what is now known as the Philly Special, during the 2018 Super Bowl, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles caught a touchdown pass, and became the first player in Super Bowl history to both throw and catch a touchdown.

ENJOY THE GAME!!

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSING) 

  1. I would like to see the Rams win Sunday’s game, but I find it hard to believe that Bill Belichik will be outsmarted in this one, although I really think Sean McVay is a great coach. The cities have had this championship matchup before but never in football.  This past year, the Boston Red Sox beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series.  The Boston Celtics played the Los Angeles Lakers 11 times in NBA championships.  Boston won eight.  It sure looks like Boston has the edge.
  1. The Patriots were moved this week from 2.5-point favorites to 3-point favorites. That just means most big bets are picking the Patriots.  One Vegas sportsbook operator said so far 94% of all bets taken on the game picked the Patriots.  By the way, it is estimated that $6 billion will be bet on the game.
  1. EA Sports’ Madden predicts the Rams will beat the Patriots 30-27. The game says that Tom Brady will be sacked four times by Ram defensive lineman Aaron Donald.  According to the simulation, the Rams score a late touchdown to win the game.
  1. Eagles’ fans: Las Vegas is predicting a 9-7 season next year for the Birds. That should, once again, make them a playoff team.
  1. It is hard to believe there are only two weeks left in the regular season of high school basketball. There are still league, conference, and district slots to be filled.  We’ll try to help you figure it out with doubleheader action on Tuesday and Friday nights.  The District wrestling team championship is LIVE on Saturday at 5:30pm.  In addition, Lafayette basketball features a women’s and men’s doubleheader on Wednesday starting at 6:00pm.  The women play Boston University and the men play arch-rival Lehigh.  The men play Army on Saturday at 2:00pm.  Find a comfortable chair. 

Gary’s Guesses: NFL Picks (Last week: 2-0)  (Overall: 167-82-2  67% ) 

SUPER BOWL WINNER 

NEW ENGLAND

 

Taking Pride

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. 

I am sure it is only natural for a parent to feel proud of their children and their accomplishments.  I know I do.  In all honesty, I am not sure how much credit I can take for their success (it was probably Mom), but most parents do it anyway.  We tend to disregard any of their shortcomings and, if we accept them, we certainly do not take the blame.

Well, a teacher has a very similar response to their former students.  If they do well, then the teacher feels as if he or she had a very positive influence on their growth and career achievements.  Should a student struggle in their life pursuits, then certainly their teachers are not to blame.

As a teacher, I have had students who ended up in jail, embezzled money, and committed murder.  Don’t look at me to take any of the blame.  They went wrong somewhere, just not under my tutelage.

On the other hand, I have taught scientists, writers, news people, actors, authors, etc.  I’m “sure” I played a part in their intellectual growth.

For example, in this week between the Conference championships and the Super Bowl, I want to brag a bit about one of my former students, Jeff Fisher.  You may remember him locally as a sports director and announcer for WFMZ. He created The Big Ticket, which is still the place to go for a recap of Lehigh Valley Friday night high school football action.  He worked for FOX Sports Net in Chicago and he has reported on the Olympics, the World Series, and the Super Bowl.  He is a co-founder and editor-in-chief of High School Football in America (highschoolfootballamerica.com).

Jeff has written a book you might enjoy if you are a football fan – High School Football in Texas.  In 23 chapters, Jeff traces the lives of the very best national football figures who began their athletic lives playing football in Texas.  The list includes Drew Brees, Earl Campbell, Eric Dickerson, Andy Dalton, “Mean Joe” Greene, Andrew Luck, Baker Mayfield, Johnny Manziel, and so on and so on.  There are over 45 famous football players and coaches highlighted.  Each has a unique story to tell.

For instance, Drew Brees did not play tackle football until the ninth grade.  He was the only player on the team who did not play in his first scrimmage.  He wasn’t even the starting QB on his JV team.  When the starter was injured, Drew moved in to the starting role.  That team went 10-0 and Drew’s career towards becoming an NFL Hall-of-Fame began.

Football fans certainly remember the Pittsburgh Steelers’ “Steel Curtain” and their leader, “Mean Joe” Greene.  Well, it turns out, in his early high school days in Texas, he was not so mean.  In fact, he was bullied.  Despite weighing 150 pounds in seventh grade and being tall, he was afraid to walk home.  It wasn’t until a friend of his took $5 given to him by his mother that he learned to stand up for himself.  He was bullied no longer and went on to win four Super Bowls with the Steelers.

That’s only two of the stories found in the book.  Each is interesting in its own way.  The road to success in any field, obviously, takes many paths.  You will enjoy the stories of these famous Texas football people.

Rumor has it he wants to do a similar book on Pennsylvania football players.

Jeff Fisher was one of my students.  I am proud of that.  I hope he remembers me as playing a small role in his success.  If not, I’ll take some credit anyway, much like a parent.

You can order the book on his website.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSING) 

  1. As you can see at the bottom, I went 2-0 for the AFC and NFC championship games, but I do not feel good about it. The Saints should have won the game, if not for the HORRIBLE missed pass interference or helmet-to-helmet call at the end which allowed the Rams to tie the game.  I picked the Rams.  I should have lost.
  1. I hate the NFL overtime rule. In college and high school, the teams get an equal number of possessions in overtime.  If one team scores on their possession, the other team gets a chance to match that score until a winner is determined.  Allowing just one team to possess the ball and then win if they score a touchdown is ludicrous and unfair.  Winning a coin toss should not determine the outcome.  I picked New England, but I do not feel good about it.
  1. So the best young coach (Sean McVay) takes on the greatest coach ever (Bill Belichick). McVay took over a 4-12 mess when he took the Rams job.  In two years, he has 26 wins and is taking his team to the Super Bowl.  Belichick is headed towards his ninth in 18 years and third in a row.  I will root for the youngster, but will pick the GOAT.
  1. Drew Brees said he will be back for a 19th season, despite turning 41 next season. This year he broke Peyton Manning’s NFL record for career passing yards.
  1. So many high school basketball teams find themselves “on the bubble” trying to fight their way into the District playoffs. You need to win half your games (11) or half your league games (8).  We will feature four teams trying to earn a spot this coming week.  RCN-TV also has the EPC wrestling championships on Saturday night.  We are closing in on “crunch time”.  Join us. 

Gary’s Guesses: NFL Picks (Last week: 2-0)  (Overall: 167-82-2  67% ) 

SUPER BOWL WINNER 

NEW ENGLAND

 

Behind the Mic: A Much Different Weekend

If you recall, last weekend in the NFL, all of the underdogs won.  That’s right.  The teams that were favored to win did not.  And the thought by many was that the Colts, Cowboys, Chargers, and the Eagles all had a legitimate shot to do the same thing this weekend.  Perish the thought!

The Colts were never in the game with the Chiefs (31-13).  Dallas needed a late score to make the game look closer than it was against the Rams (30-22).  The Chargers were anemic against the Patriots (41-28).  The Eagles, on the other hand, came within an unfinished drive of beating the Saints, but they, too, did not prevail (20-14).

So, the divisional round games were basically a bunch of “yawners”.  But, that should not be the case this coming weekend.  Each match-up is extremely intriguing.

According to the lines on the games – 3 points for the Chiefs and 3.5 points for the Patriots – the only difference between the four appears to be the home field advantage.  The other interesting thing about the match-ups is each game involves high-scoring offenses.  Again the over/under line is 57 for the Rams and the Saints and 57.5 for the Patriots and the Chiefs.  The 114.5 combined number is the largest in 30 years.

Obviously, the Vegas odds makers don’t just take offense into consideration when they arrive at over/under numbers.  They also must look at the defenses.  The Chiefs’ defense is the worst of the bunch and the rest of the group have average defenses, at best.

The other huge asset for each of these four teams and, it may be the best predictor of a great Sunday of football, are the four coaches.  What announcer has not mentioned the Andy Reid tree in the last month?  Sean Payton has maintained excellence throughout his career and then (duh) – there’s Bill Belichick.  That leaves Sean McVay of the Rams, who is, by far, the most innovative mind of the young coaches.  This is an elite group, for sure.

Speaking of elite – there’s the quarterbacks – Brady, Brees, Mahomes, and Goff – two future Hall of Famers and the best young talent around.

Sunday promises to be a great day of NFL football!!

P.S.  Check Gary’s Guesses to see which teams make it to the Super Bowl at the end of the blog.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSING)

 

  1. As much as Eagles’ fans want to keep Nick Foles around (and why wouldn’t they?), it will not happen. Carson Wentz is their future and the Eagles cannot possibly carry the $20.5 million price tag attached to Foles.
  1. There are cries to fire Jason Garrett of the Cowboys. He certainly is one of the most apathetic appearing coaches on an NFL sideline.  He does not seem to be the type to light a fire under his team, BUT, in the last three years, only the Patriots, Steelers, and Chiefs have won more games.  And all the noise about firing him comes from the outside, not from within the locker room. So, wait and see.
  1. If either the Patriots or the Saints win the Super Bowl, will Tom Brady or Drew Brees call it quits? Both have contracts that run through 2019.  They are so competitive that this is a tough call.  Look for them both to return.
  1. Alshon Jeffery dropped three passes all season, but every Eagles fan will remember the last one. And that is a shame. Alshon Jeffery is a great receiver and certainly was one of the main reasons the Eagles overachieved this year.  It is more appropriate to feel badly for Jeffery than to condemn him.
  1. RCN-TV has been the home of a number of upsets this basketball season – Easton over Beca, Liberty over Emmaus to name a few. This week, it’s Easton at Northampton on Tuesday night, Navy men at Lafayette on Wednesday, Easton at Parkland wrestling on Thursday, and Allen at Emmaus on Friday followed by Wilson at Bangor.

 
Gary’s Guesses: NFL Picks (Last week: 3-1)  (Overall: 165-82-2  67% )
 
NFL PLAYOFFS
 
NEW ENGLAND
RAMS