Corona 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.

Everybody wants LIVE sports.  I had a taste of it the past two weekends, when two golf events were presented for charity without fans. I found one (Tiger and Phil) quite entertaining while the other had very little excitement.  I found it ironic in the one sport where fans must be quiet during a golfer’s swing, the absence of a crowd to reward a good shot made competition, dare I say, both interesting in one telecast and boring in the other.

So what will the “interest meter” register when baseball makes its return, which it, surely, will do in a short while?  Remember, there will be no fans in the stands.

This past week, Major League Baseball presented a 67-page document (the number is not a misprint) to the players’ union outlining the rules teams and players must follow.  Baseball is going to have to hire someone who really has memorized all of the rules just to oversee every game.  I certainly can’t imagine players, managers, and umpires remembering everything they need to do to comply.

Let me give you some examples of the procedures outlined:

  • Players and, I assume, all personnel, must take their temperatures twice before coming to the ballpark. It must register under 100.  Upon arriving at the park, temperatures will be taken twice again.
  • They must take their own car or team bus to the stadium. No public transportation allowed.
  • Lockers will be at least six feet apart and everyone must wear a mask.
  • Team meetings will be “virtual” or held outside with proper spacing and team meals will be “box lunches”, no more buffets.
  • Dugouts will only have managers, coaches, and players ready to enter the game. All other players will be in the stands.
  • No mascots, ball girls, or bat boys.
  • No meeting at home to exchange lineups. Lineups will be presented electronically.
  • No spitting (Geez, what will the cameras shoot between pitches?)
  • Players are to wash hands after every half inning.
  • No high-fives, hugs, fist bumps, or fighting (obviously bench-clearing is a no-no).
  • Baseballs will be changed after multiple “touches” by players.
  • No throwing “around the horn”.
  • No postgame victory celebration.
  • And players must shower at home or in their hotel room after the game.

Remember this is a 67-page document.  I have, obviously, only scratched the surface here.

And remember, the players came out with a response document of their own and players’ paychecks are still being debated, so nothing is firmly in place yet.

And with the only fans being television viewers, the real interest, other than the game itself, might be sitting around the TV, six feet apart, and spotting some of the new rules violations.  Sounds like a potential drinking game to me.

Play Ball!!

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

  1. Tom Brady’s birdie shot on the seventh hole on Sunday was nothing short of miraculous. Not only did it earn an extra $100,000 for charity from Brooks Koepka, but it came right after Charles Barkley got under his skin for his poor performance up to then.  Any golfer knows how rare such a shot is for an amateur and for it to come at that moment was storybook material.  I did wonder, though, after the shot why someone who makes the money Brady makes would wear a pair of pants that split in the back.
  1. I have one other question about Sunday’s match – How can four players, and two are the very best in the world, take almost five hours to play 18 holes? They each had their own individual “souped” up carts; played nine holes in a format that is like playing as a twosome; and could pick up their ball when a hole was decided.  If that was the group I played with, a ranger would have asked us to leave the course.
  1. With the SEC announcing there will be football this year, it is beginning to appear more likely that college sports will be back in the fall. And with some fans.  Obviously, a lot can happen between now and then, but, at least, there appears to be hope.
  1. Congratulations to Bob Hartman, the District XI Chairman, for being elected to the position of PIAA Vice-President.
  1. Keep enjoying RCN TV’s look back of some of the memorable broadcasts of this past year. We will be back eventually, hopefully, sooner and safer than ever.

That Is The Question 

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.

“To be or not to be, that is the question” is the phrase uttered by Prince Hamlet when he is contemplating suicide instead of dealing with a life that seems so unfair.

“To play or not to play” is the question facing school boards, administrators, and athletic directors as they contemplate the upcoming start of a new school year.  Both colleges and high schools across the nation have yet to determine what to do.  The decision is, one would think, certainly not as dire as the one facing Hamlet, although, for too many perhaps, it IS a matter of “life or death”.  Sports can affect people that way.

You have heard the phrase uttered by Dr. Fauci quite often and this is the dilemma facing the decision makers – “You don’t make the timeline; the virus determines the timeline”.  Although many across the nation are now protesting the conclusion of that statement, it is as true today as when it was spoken on March 25.  And, if we still agree with the science, then the decision to not only play sports, but to even open up high schools and college campuses across the country is still being determined by the virus.

With that said, there are contingency plans, obviously.  Here are some thoughts being bantered about:

  • No classes; no sports
  • Start the season as scheduled in September (or actually late August)
  • Start the season in late September and end in December
  • Start the season in September or October and play only league games
  • Start the season in January or February, knowing classes will resume (works for colleges; not for high schools)
  • Play, but with no fans, or hope there is a solution to maintaining “social distancing” (easier in high school; not so for colleges)

Almost all of these ideas have merit at the college level, but some would be very difficult to incorporate into the high school scenario.  College athletes primarily play just one sport.  Athletes at the high school level play many sports all year round.  A winter or spring coach certainly would argue against a fall season that conflicts with his/her roster and season.  One would think that fall sports at the high school level, at least, must occur in the fall or not at all.

Hamlet was Shakespeare’s longest play and one of his most tragic.

It appears that Co-Vid 19 will be here for a long time and it is certainly one of the most tragic historical events ever.

Shakespeare not only wrote “To be or not to be” for Hamlet.  In the same play, Shakespeare also penned, “The play’s the thing”.  Now it is up to administrators at every level to decide within the next month or so whether “To play is the thing”.  Stay tuned.  Let the arguments begin. 

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

  1. Speaking of contingency plans, major league baseball was in the news this week as they appear to be moving closer to having a shortened season (82 games). The problem now appears to be getting the players to play for a lot less money than their contracts demand.  That issue may be the hardest to overcome.  Most, if not all, revenue would come from television.
  1. It was April 6, 1973, when baseball’s American League sent the first designated hitter (DH) to the plate. It has been an American staple ever since, but not in the National League.  It appears that with a shortened season and different divisional alignments, the DH will be used this year in the National League.  Will it stay after Corona remains to be seen.
  1. The national rules committee for high school sports, once again, turned down a shot clock for high school basketball. The late Coach Dick Tracy of Whitehall is happy.  No one used the absence of a shot clock better than he did.  For me, I would like to see a shot clock incorporated into the high school game.
  1. The Blue Mountain League regular season has been cancelled due to the ongoing pandemic.  However, they are tentatively planning a tournament style short season starting in mid to late July.  This season will culminate in a final game to be played sometime during the second weekend of August.  RCN-TV hopes to bring you some of those games, should they be played.
  1. Keep enjoying our look back of some of the memorable broadcasts of this past year. We will be back eventually, hopefully, sooner and safer than ever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Virtual Vacation

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.

If you are a fan of our sports programming and I am finding out many of you are because you are telling me how much you miss it when you recognize me behind my mask.  You know that, in a normal year, once football season begins in late August and basketball season ends in late March, all of us on the RCN4Sports team are extremely busy.

Couple that with the fact that almost every weekend is filled with both sports.  It is extremely rare to have a Friday or a Saturday free and basketball serves up four nights of broadcasts.  I am not complaining at all.  I love doing the games.

However, my wife and I certainly look forward to the end of basketball season because there is a lull until baseball begins and that is our time to go off, reunite, and take our vacation.

We had a great one planned this year.  We are cruisers, taking at least one a year and often two.  We were especially looking forward to this year.  We were going to take a “repositioning” cruise.  That means the ship, Adventure of the Seas, would leave one port to start and finish the cruise at an entirely different port, in other words, it would “reposition”.  In this case we would board a plane in Newark, fly to Ft. Lauderdale, and finish the cruise at Cape Liberty in Bayonne in twelve nights, where we could be home in a little over an hour.  It was perfect.

Since we only needed to fly one-way, I decided to buy a first-class ticket for the first time ever.  We were actually looking forward to the flight.  We were to board the ship on May 3.

We would be making five stops at the following ports of call:

Aruba

Curacao

Bonaire

Antigua

St. Thomas

We had been to all of them before, but nor for quite awhile.  They are all beautiful, offering up beautiful beaches, great island cuisine, and interesting tours.  We especially were looking forward to our return to Antigua.  We had vacationed there for 12 years in a row and had so many fond memories.  We looked forward to meeting up with our long-time driver, Glentis Cole, who had become a friend while getting us to all the wonderful destinations on the island and making sure we were safe.  He is in his eighties and this might have been our last chance to reacquaint.

In addition, we would have 6 ½ days of just being on the ship enjoying all the good food, entertainment, and scenery a cruise has to offer.

But it was not to be.  Instead, we move from living room to family room to kitchen to garage to office to bedroom.  The scenery is okay, the meals are adequate, the entertainment rather blah.  No one makes our bed; there are no eggs Benedict in the morning, no hot tub, no one offering unlimited lobster tails, and no Las Vegas entertainment.  In other words, there is no vacation.

I still have my vacation days available – now, will we get the chance to use them?  And if we do, where will we safely be able to go?  That remains to be seen.  In the meantime, I can only dream about what we missed virtually.  But isn’t that how we are doing most things right now?  And, believe me, it is NOT nearly as enjoyable.

Stay safe.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

  1. The NFL schedule came out this week with no mention of the virus stopping play. The Eagles start and end with the Redskins. They will play four primetime games – two on Sunday night, one on Thursday, and one on Monday Night Football.  Sounds good (if they play).
  1. What a difference Tom Brady makes to a team. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a team not often shown in our market, will get five prime time appearances this upcoming season (one Thursday, two Sunday nights, two Monday nights).  They will, also, get at least two of Fox’s featured games of the week.  Tom Brady interest seems to be at an all-time high.
  1. I was able to get out and play golf last Sunday. Each player had his own cart; the starting times were staggered enough that we never met up with the players in front of us. You could putt into the hole and lift the ball out with a pulley device, using just your putter.  Touching the flag was not necessary and only you touched the golf ball.  It was fun and safe.
  1. So far, every event that we would normally bring to you – the high school baseball league and district playoffs, the McDonald’s banquet and football game, some Grandview Speedway racing, and the Lafayette spring game have all been cancelled. The Blue Mountain League is our only holdout at the moment.  They have postponed some early games, but holding out hope to play a partial season.  I’m ready when they are.
  1. This quarantine situation is so bad that I am actually enjoying cutting the grass.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fore!

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 know that there are certainly more important things going on in your life right now.  Many of you are missing paychecks, many have yet to see their stimulus check, many can’t get through to the unemployment web site, and many have lost someone close due to the Corona Virus.  I understand that, for sure, but, just this one time, allow me to feel a little self-pity and I emphasize “a little”.

This past week was supposed to be a good one – On April 25, the Lafayette Maroon-White football game was to be played and I would be in the booth to once again preview the upcoming football season.  The outlook was brighter than it had been in quite awhile.  Lafayette had won 4 of their last 5 games last season and they looked to be much stronger this year.  The game, obviously, was not played.

On Sunday, eight of us were set to embark on our 16th straight golf trip.  We call it The War at the Shore because we stay near the boardwalk in Ocean City. It is a great time – one practice round followed by 4 official rounds leading to a championship.  Place of finish is important because that becomes the order for room choices the following year.  Believe me when I say you do not want to finish 7th or 8th.  Those are children’s rooms with appropriately sized beds and mattresses.  The battle for the two master suites is intense.  It includes your own bath and shower, a TV, and an oversized bed.

The scores are handicapped so, technically, we are all about even when we play.  Handicaps are vociferously debated especially when a good golfer finds himself below a not-so-good (sometimes awful) golfer.  The handicap debates are a source of argument and laughter at the same time.

Each day, the scoreboard is updated to reflect each player’s position.  Good-natured (I think it’s “good-natured”) ribbing ensues while we all enjoy dinner, refreshment, the battle for what shows to watch on the main flat-screen TV.  Trust me, I will never forget the year we watched about 200 episodes of Dangerous Catch.  Obviously, my vote did not count for much.

On the fifth day, after the final round, we meet in the parking lot and the order of finish is announced, with appropriate, and inappropriate, trophies rewarded.  The top players exhibit those awards throughout the year and the bottom trophies are not for public viewing.  And we get into our cars and return home, proudly or quite humbly.  I, more than I care to admit, but constantly reminded, am often humbled.

I am writing this because this Sunday afternoon I am going golfing.  Yes, Governor Wolf opened up the golf courses for play this weekend.  I am writing this now so I don’t accidentally put my score in the story.

There are plenty of restrictions – one player in a cart, no scorecard, no pencils, social distancing in effect, no touching the pins, etc. – in other words, reduce the camaraderie to a minimum.  Since I am playing with three other “War at the Shore” participants, reduced camaraderie is fine with me.

So, I am done whining to you about this minor problem.

Oh, did I mention that instead of playing golf this past Sunday, my wife and I were to leave on a cruise that day?

But whining about that is for another time.

Stay safe!

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

  1. Charles Barkley this week chose his Top Five NBA players of all time: Michael Jordan, Oscar Robertson, Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Kobe Bryant was sixth and LeBron James was seventh.  It’s hard to argue his choices.  Speaking of Jordan, I hope you are watching ESPN’s “The Last Dance”.  It is really good even for the non-sports fan.
  1. The NFL is not messing around with their schedule. Late this week, the league will release their 2020 schedule and it does not include any accommodations to the current situation.  September 10 is the opener and the Super Bowl is scheduled for February 7.  They promise to do “reasonable and responsible” planning.  That will be the interesting part.
  1. Congratulations to the following local high school basketball players for achieving All-State honors this past season:

    Boys:
    Caleb Mims – Freedom
    Daryl Coleman – Southern Lehigh
    Nick Filchner – Central Catholic
    Abe Atiyeh – Moravian Academy
    Jevin Muniz – Executive Education
    Titus Wilkins – Executive Education

    Girls:
    Talya Brugler – Nazareth
    Taliyah Medina – Bethlehem Catholic (4A Player of the Year)
    Antonio Bates – Notre Dame
    Cassie Murphy – Notre Dame

  1. The Lafayette Virtual Tailgate Party this past Saturday went very well. Mike Joseph and I were the hosts.  It was Zoomed to over 250 fans and featured Coach John Garrett, who introduced the four co-captains for the season – offensive lineman, John Burk; linebacker, Major Jordan; wide receiver Quinn Revere; and safety Otis Thrasher.  I did miss the smell of burgers and sausages on the grill and the popping of aluminum can tops.  That is hard to do “virtually”.
  1. I keep thinking that if I watch enough of the Golf Channel “how-to improve” shows, my game will, well, improve. But, as I watch, there seems to be something new to think about every time you prepare to hit the ball.  There is only so much I can remember during my backswing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Riveting-Not!

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 not riveting TV – No, I am not talking about my last ZOOM appearance on RCN TV’s Sportstalk (although truer words could not be spoken).  I am talking about the ABC, ESPN, and NFL Network broadcasts of the NFL Draft which drew an amazing 8.4 million viewers.  I was one of them.

I have never been an avid watcher of the program, for the very reason I have suggested – it’s boring.  And it’s boring not for one night, not for two days, but for three days.  However, this year when we are into rerun season of the shows we normally watch and HGTV is giving my wife just TOO MANY ideas about our house, I needed a change.  I was tired of trying to decide if we should flip or flop; list it or sell it; stay in our forever house; or what?  The Property Brothers have become nightly visitors and, all they do is make me look totally inept at doing virtually any household chore.

So – I suggested that I should watch the NFL Draft since my job does revolve around sports.  As I have said, but don’t tell my wife, I find this show boring.  In normal times, I would not watch.  There is almost no action except for the highlights of the players who are drafted.  There is the “very exciting” exchange of a handshake and team logoed baseball cap with Roger Goodell, the NFL commissioner.

You might say there is the drama of not knowing what name will be called, but draft analysis has been going on for almost two months (there was nothing else to talk about in the sports world) so surprises are few and far between.  But this year would be different.  There would be no huge crowd in Las Vegas booing the commissioner, booing a selection, and getting an immediate response from the next instant multi-millionaire right after that player is selected.  This year would be different.

Everyone stayed home.  This meant I could see Roger Goodell’s basement.  Honestly, it could have used some HGTV renovation.  And this was not his element at all.  He seemed so uncomfortable trying to rev up the 50 or so fans who were shown on the screen behind him.  Often, he saw a cue a bit late (another awkward moment) and was not aware he was on camera.  It’s a nice TV job for one night, however.  Have someone hand you a card and read the name.  I think I could do that.

I did find it entertaining and technically impressive that early on the draft choices could be shown in their homes surrounded by family (not necessarily keeping any distance).  And catching the reactions of the family after the name of their son, brother, relative, or boyfriend was enjoyable.

I still found the program to be tedious.  What I did realize is that I am desperate to find something to create interest after over 40 days and nights of self quarantining.  Truth be told, I did not watch days two and three.

But, at least on this one night, I did not hear the question, “Could we do this in our house?”  Property Brothers be damned!

Stay safe.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS) 

  1. The Eagles did not have much going for them on the excitement meter for the draft. Everyone knew they would take a wide receiver on the 21st They did.  Their selection was Jalen Reagor of TCU.  Many thought they would take Justin Jefferson, but they went with a little more speed and a better positional fit.  In the end, the Eagles drafted three wide receivers, three linebackers, two offensive linemen, a safety, and a quarterback.  If the selections are good ones, many holes have been filled.
  1. With Tom Brady paired up again with Rob Gronkowski, Tampa Bay took an offensive lineman as their first pick to protect their new quarterback. This team is going to be good, perhaps, very good.
  1. I hope you are watching The Last Dance on ESPN, Sunday nights at 9:00. It is the story of the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls with Michael Jordan as the focus. It is riveting TV and an amazing achievement for the documentarians.  If you are a sports fan or not, I think you will be mesmerized by the show.
  1. With all the innovative ways of trying to stream relatable programming to their fans, Lafayette is going to hold a virtual tailgate party this Saturday (5/2) at 11:00AM. I will host along with Mike Joseph and we will have head coach John Garrett and the 2020 football captains on to answer questions from the fans.  It will be on ZOOM.  You can be a part of the stream.  Click here for info.
  2. The teams of Tiger Woods and Peyton Manning against Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady will meet in a charity golf match next month. The event will air LIVE on TNT, without the fiasco created last time by Pay-Per-View.  Brady is already getting his jabs in.  (See below)

 

Photo courtesy of Tom Brady

 

Tele-something

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.

BEHIND THE MIC:

I do not need to tell anyone that life is far from normal.  We work from home, we stay at home, we cook every meal at home, and we try to take a walk every day not far from home – home, home, and home.

This past week, we tried to expand that environment technologically.  Our first goal was a family one – we wanted to try and celebrate Easter dinner “together”.  The logistics seemed to be a challenge: my oldest daughter and her husband were in Salisbury Township; our second daughter and family were in Northampton; our grandson was in Bethlehem Township; and our one granddaughter was in upstate New York. We were in Palmer Township.

And I, of course, was the technical novice (nicer word than idiot).  We were going to use something called “Hangouts” which was promoted by my son-in-law and grandson.  Easter Saturday became the day for “remote learning”, a term very familiar to the students who are no longer in school.  My son-in-law needed to call and text.  Let the learning begin.  It only took an hour and a half to set it up to the point where I felt comfortable using the app.

My wife and I thought that having Easter dinner together actually meant having Easter dinner together.  Well, when 6:00pm rolled around and we all got on our computers, the only ones who had not already eaten were my wife and I.  So, we ate and they talked and talked.  It certainly was not the same as gathering around our dining room table, but we saw everyone, knew that all were safe, and coping pretty well.  However, I’m sure everyone missed my wife’s Ukrainian Easter traditional dishes.  Easter was a special time for my in-laws and that tradition has carried over to my family as well.  But, the bottom line was that we did communicate with one another.

On Tuesday, it was decided that we would try to do a SportsTalk show from our homes, via, you guessed it, teleconferencing.  Only this time the format would be ZOOM.  A new learning lesson was required.  I tested my system on Tuesday and found ZOOM to be very simple.  I was either getting smarter or the process was easier.  I expect you all are assuming the latter.

Luckily, before the SportsTalk taping, I was also asked to attend an RCN staff meeting using ZOOM technology.  I was finally able to see some of my fellow workers for the first time in over a month.  There were about 15 of us.  It immediately became apparent that the camera angle was important – for many, looking up their nose was somewhat unpleasant.  I also became very aware of good posture (and its absence).  Some chose electronic artificial backgrounds.  One looked like the person was in a casino, probably not a good message during a staff meeting.  Nor, I would guess, was one where someone appeared to be on a Caribbean beach.  The good news is that we had a rather normal meeting in a very abnormal setting.

It was on to SportsTalk, which you can watch on Video on Demand if you wish.  Chris Michael and Keith Groller had invited John Leone and me to participate.  I think it was John Leone, but his full beard threw me a bit.  Here was a man losing hair on top, but growing plenty of hair below.  Chris was in the studio and the three of us were in our homes.

I began to feel like Sanjay Gupta, who is in my home more than you can possibly imagine.  Much like his reports from home, we were doing something similar and equally “important” (I’ll wait for the disdain to pass).  The show went well.  Each of the three of us had our own little box and, much like in the studio, we were able to have a somewhat lucid conversation.

It all worked.  And, amazingly, it worked for me (the technological idiot).  So, bring on Hangouts, ZOOM, Facetime, and anything else you want to throw my way.  I am ready!

Now what’s my ZOOM password?  I’m sure I wrote it down somewhere.

Stay safe.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

  1. You can expect LSU quarterback Joe Burrow and Ohio State’s defensive end Chase Young to go 1-2 in the draft this week. The Cincinnati Bengals will pick #1 (probably Burrow) and the Washington Redskins #2 (that means Young).  It begins Thursday.
  1. If you are a college football fan, you know the name (but probably can’t pronounce it) Tua Tagovailoa. He is the quarterback from Alabama who will be a high draft choice this year, projected to be taken by Miami.  He is left-handed.  I bring this up because out of the 73 QBs who actually played in an NFL game last year, not one was left-handed.  Two played in five games in 2017 and the last left-handed QB to start and win a playoff game in the NFL was Tim Tebow.  Tua is fighting plenty of history.
  1. I am beginning to believe we might have some MLB baseball in some form. I am also beginning to believe you will only be able to see it on TV.
  1. The high school football season is approaching. I think we can practice social distancing in the stands, but what about the young men playing on the field?  There are some very tough decisions to be made in the next month or so.
  1. Isn’t golf an “essential” pastime? The guys I play with are usually hundreds of yards apart after they hit their drives.  We can call it “social distancing” if you want instead of, “That was a terrible drive”.

 

April Madness

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.

Last week, I promised you a sports story – no Covid-19 stuff. I have kept my promise.

This past Monday, April 6, many sports and non-sports fans would have been glued to their TVs watching the 2020 NCAA Collegiate Basketball Championship. This, of course, would have been the culmination of 12 days and nights watching the entire tournament unfold.

Everyone would have been caught up in their various “pools” with even those with little interest in athletics, at all, keeping track of their sheets and throwing all the barbs that go with being wrong or right. Trust me; I speak from experience, having been the recipient of many of those jabs over the years, particularly from fellow office workers (mostly female). Obviously, that did not happen.

But after completing John Feinstein’s The Back Roads to March, I discovered some interesting March Madness facts that I thought, in the absence of real games, you might find interesting:

The first Final Four and Championship games were on NBC and began in 1968. The championship game was moved to Monday night in 1973.

Dick Enberg, Al McGuire, and Billy Packer made up the first announcing team.

“March Madness” and “Selection Sunday” are all trademarked by the NCAA. I could not legally title this blog “March Madness” because that would be a trademark infringement. I would need permission or have to pay.

CBS outbid NBC for the contract in 1982. They paid $16 million per year. NBC had been paying $6.3 million per year. In 1999, CBS paid $546 million a year for the next eleven years.

The field was expanded from 64 teams to 65 teams in 2000, with one play-in game played in Dayton. Three more teams were added in 2011 for a total of 68. Each team (or conference) received $280,367 per win in the tournament in 2018. If you lost in the play-in round in Dayton, you received nothing. This round became known as the “First Four” (also trademarked by the NCAA).

CBS got a new contract that year (along with TNT) for another fourteen years for $10.8 billion. Their current contract was extended and gives CBS the rights until 2032. It cost a mere $8.8 billion more. So, if you do the math, the NCAA is making over $1 billion a year on March Madness. The NCAA claims it keeps “only” $100 million for itself. The rest goes to the member institutions.

So all we can do is look forward to November when the college basketball season begins again. All we want is for today’s “madness” to be replaced by a more acceptable and enjoyable “Madness”. I hope I can legally say that.

Stay safe.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

1. A recent poll came out claiming that 72% of Americans said they would not attend sporting events in person unless a vaccine was discovered for the coronavirus. 12% would go if social distancing would be maintained somehow. 76% said they would watch games without fans.

2. The NFL draft will take place this month – April 23-25. The Bengals have the first pick. The Giants have the 255th and last pick. The Eagles, by the way, will have their first pick at #21. You can watch on ABC, ESPN, NFL Network and on the ESPN app.

3. Did having all major league teams begin the season by playing all the games in Arizona ever seem feasible to you? It does not to me. Players would need to be kept in the Arizona area throughout the schedule, staying in hotels and away from their families. And projections say it could last up to four months. Unless something drastically happens on the medical front, it won’t happen.

4. Now if you want me to move to Arizona so that I can safely play golf… “Hmm”, let me give that some thought.

5. There will be no high school or college sports for the rest of this academic year. Yes, I know, I am depressed, too.

Not Just a Number

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 would love to be sitting here writing about some good sports story that has happened this past week.  But sports just do not seem all that important to me right now and you probably feel the same way.

Each night we all hear the numbers.  They are hard to avoid.  Every news report whether local or national leads with the same information about COVID-19 – number of cases in the world; number of cases in the US; number of deaths for both.  And it just becomes a number.  We accept the report, knowing it will increase the next day.

We sit and see “hot spots” parking refrigerator trucks in the hospital parking lots to serve as morgues for the rising number (that word again) of deaths.  There is just nowhere to put the bodies.  And these patients have passed unable to see or, very often, speak to their loved ones.  Ventilators keep that from happening.  Doctors, nurses, and first responders are among the tally. No final words; no final good-bye.

Due to “social distancing”, funerals are held for just a few.  Any eulogy that one might receive at some point at a memorial service would certainly include these words, “They died before their time.”  And that is the tragedy.

My sister, Judy, “died before her time” at the age of 43.  She had breast cancer; waited too long to seek treatment; never recovered.  She was building a house, had two boys in college, and needed to work.  She could not afford to stop working; in the end, she could not afford not to.  It cost her her life.

But at least there was closure.  We were gathered around at the end.  She knew we were there.  We had a chance to say goodbye.  We had a funeral for all who wished to grieve with the family and we had a moment to express our memories.  It is what the living want when a loved one has passed.

Now each day we offer up numbers.  We do not attach names for the most part and we do not consider the parents, spouses, children, family and friends left behind.  Our president tells us “We need to get back to work”, but each day the categories of numbers grow larger and larger and “getting back to work” seems to be in the distant future.

My message when my sister passed was that I knew why she lived – it was apparent throughout her life and certainly apparent at the funeral.  What was not apparent to me or anyone was why she died,

It was well “before her time”.

Thousands and thousands are asking the same question. And the answer is more than just looking at the numbers.  Each number is another tragic story.

I hope by next week, I have a good sports story to tell – I doubt it.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

  1. Remember the name Tom Dempsey, the former Eagle, who was born without toes on his right kicking foot. He was famous for the 63-yards field goal he kicked in 1970 for the New Orleans Saints.  He died at the age of 73 from (you guessed it) complications from the coronavirus.
  1. The NFL draft will take place this month – April 23-25. It will be done virtually from the homes of the various team executives and players have been invited to participate on line.
  1. Lafayette senior Myles Cherry was named on the second team of Australia’s best college players. Cherry lives in Newcastle, Australia.  The psychology major hopes to continue playing abroad.
  1. Two Massachusetts golfers were arrested after playing a round of golf in Rhode Island. Non-residents must quarantine themselves for 14 days if they enter the state.  They face a $500 fine and up to 90 days in jail.  I hope they had a good round.
  1. Now that we are isolated, a little humor – not mine, but funny: During my quarantine, I watched birds fight over a worm from my living room window. The Cardinals led the Blue Jays 3-1.

 

 

 

 

 

April Fool’s

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.

April 1 is coming this week – that’s right, April Fool’s Day.  When I was a kid and even, at times, as an adult, I was one of those who loved playing a joke on an unsuspecting audience. I often would make my mother the target because she was easily shocked.  I remember using catsup, a handkerchief, and my acting skills when I walked up to her revealing a very “serious cut” to my forehead and screaming the need for immediate medical help.  I laughed – she did not.

I remember placing one of those black realistic rubber bugs on my sister’s shoulder and screaming “Look!”  She screamed with fright; I screamed with laughter right up to the moment she got a roller skate and hit me over the head with it.

When I was teaching school and the class was studying George Orwell’s 1984, I saw a great opportunity to use April 1 as a lesson.  1984 is the novel about a totalitarian society where truth is what you believe to be true, not what, in actuality, is true.  This was a difficult concept for students to comprehend – I mean isn’t truth – truth?

As an experiment, the class and I decided to invent a student to see if we could convince the rest of the school of his existence.  I said we would give it one week of life.  It was easy.  I “enrolled” him.  By mid-week, I was able to get him on the absentee list for a day; made him a member of the basketball team (one of my actual players came to me to quit the team because he heard I said he would start for this player – I gave him the old “everyone has to earn their spot” speech to convince him to stay on the team); and had girls waiting outside my classroom just to see him (they had heard he was good-looking).

We had to stop before the week was up because someone had convinced someone else that he would go on a blind date that Friday with a girl.  I thought that was a bit cruel so we gave up the farce on Thursday.  It actually took a while to get the word out that he did not exist.  But, it certainly worked – truth became what the school believed to be true.

Many of you know, I used to do a radio gig with Bearman and Keith on WZZO every Monday morning.  We had a good time every week.  One show fell on April Fool’s and I decided, as I was driving to the studio, to come up with a news report that the Phillies had traded their most popular player, Mike Schmidt.  It was an absolute falsehood, but I went with it as I gave my sports report on the show.  The phones lit up.  People were shocked, angry, unreasonable, and very opinionated.  When I revealed it was just an April Fool’s joke, people were shocked, angry, unreasonable, and very opinionated.  However, Bearman, Keith, and I had a good laugh.

I would like to think all of those pranks were harmless and fun (except for the roller skate across the head).

I would like to think when April Fool’s roles around this Wednesday, someone in power will say simply “Coronavirus – April Fool’s!”  But, I fear that, too, would be a joke.

Stay safe and healthy.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS) 

  1. In this time of isolation, RCN and companies like them provide, perhaps, the most important services – cable TV, phone, and internet. They keep us informed, involved with our friends and family, and occupied during these difficult times.  What would we do without these services?
  1. I really miss March Madness, both the games of course, but also the competitive fun we had at work with the office pool. Being a sports director, everyone thought I had all the inside scoop and should do well with my bracket.  I did not and it seemed my fellow workers took great pleasure in not only beating me, but constantly reminding me of my ineptness.  Invariably, the greatest challenge came from one of the women in accounting and, thus, the greatest embarrassment.  Even the embarrassment, I miss.
  1. Things are so bad that I agreed to play the longest possible version of Scrabble with my wife on Saturday afternoon. It took almost three hours – it’s the Deluxe expanded edition.  Even that, I lost!
  1. One thing I have been able to do is email coaches, ADs, and statisticians to thank them for all their help this season and in the past. Having time helps you do the right thing.
  1. I would guess Major League baseball is, at least, a couple of months away from starting. Can we hold out hope that the first pitch might occur on June 1?

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s Not Kid Ourselves

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 have always considered myself to be an optimistic guy.  My glass is almost always half full.  The grass is rarely greener on the other side.  Life is like a box of chocolates, most of the time.

I am no longer optimistic.

I would love to say that life will return to normal soon.  It won’t.

I would love to say that kids will return to school soon.  They won’t.

I would love to say we will see the return of professional winter sports (NBA, NHL) and the  start of spring sports at all levels (high school, college, MLB, PGA), but,  I fear, we won’t.

The PIAA’s two-week moratorium on finishing out the winter season has come and gone.  Their current silence on the matter means they are just not sure what to say.  And I understand their dilemma.

Despite the message the IOC is putting forth, does anyone really believe the Olympics will take place this year?

I would love to be looking forward to the 12-night cruise my wife and I had planned for early May.  It was unique – fly to Florida, cruise to the Southern Caribbean and return to Bayonne, New Jersey.  Despite hoping this will happen, I’m pretty certain it won’t.

I and my seven fellow golfers would love to be getting ready for the 16th consecutive year for our golf trip to the New Jersey shore – we call it the War at the Shore.  Five days of golf, camaraderie and incessant busting on one another cannot happen if there are no golf courses to play.  As a proper precaution, they are closed for business.

I would love to have a sense that we are getting a handle on this thing, but I fear we are not.  I feel for the businesses, the medical staffs, the unemployed and, most importantly, the sick who, I am quite sure, have also all lost their optimism.

My glass still has liquid in it – not quite half – and my grass is looking greener, so I am sure some day we will return to a sense of normalcy.  I fear it will not be soon and the effects will certainly not be easy to overcome.

To think otherwise would just be kidding ourselves.  Please stay safe and healthy.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS) 

  1. The only sports stories to report about right now are NFL free agency and the NFL draft. It just doesn’t seem right, however, to make this feel important.
  1. I worry about my daughters who are on the front line working with Lehigh Valley Hospital. One does ultrasounds on about 20 patients every day and the other helped to organize the various testing centers for the virus around the Lehigh Valley.  I am proud, but worried.
  1. Our granddaughter is in New York, which the news is now saying is the “epicenter” of the virus. I trust she is making mature decisions!
  1. I just started John Feinstein’s new book, Back Roads to March. It is about the smaller colleges that get a chance to participate in March Madness.  Lafayette College is featured at times.  Ironically, I am not a fan of sports books, but I am a fan of good writing and John Feinstein is a very good writer and is always able to weave a good story.  It’s something to do while at home that feels like research for my work.
  1. I watched the replay of the Lafayette-Lehigh football game on Sunday morning. After doing the game, I never took the time to watch it.  The RCN-TV crew did a great job.  Lafayette won again.