Interested in Colin?

 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.

 While I was away, the Eagles played a preseason football game against the Tennessee Titans.  Normally, I would have very little interest in any of these games, particularly in the first one.

However, a major event occurred that could affect the entire Eagles’ season – backup quarterback Nate Sudfeld suffered a fractured wrist in his non-throwing hand.  Doctors indicate he could be out for six weeks, which makes his return in late September.

Every Eagles fan is well aware of the injury history of Carson Wentz.  He is healthy now, but, in the NFL, you are one play away from your season being over.  Just look at last year.  But, last year the Eagles had Nick Foles, who did a great job replacing Wentz.  Foles is no longer on the team.  He is now on the roster of the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Every time there is a quarterback slot made available through injury, the name Colin Kaepernick comes to the forefront.  He has not played since 2016.  Is it worth taking the risk of alienating a large portion of the population by bringing in a talented player like Kaepernick?  Will people ever forget he took a knee during the National Anthem to protest what he considered unjustified shootings of black Americans by the police?  Philadelphia fans are not the most accepting in the league.  If you thought booing Santa Claus was bad … (well, you finish the statement).

And Kaepernick’s story was back on the sports pages again this week when Race Imboden, who won a goal medal with two other USA teammates in the Pan Am foil competition, chose to take a knee during the National Anthem.  “We must call for change,” he said.  He pointed out the areas of “Racism, Gun Control, mistreatment of immigrants” were his major areas of concern.  In protesting, however, he broke his commitment to the USA Pan Am teams to “refrain from demonstrations that are political in nature”.

But, in every one of the stories about the Imboden protest, Colin Kaepernick’s name is mentioned.  The story will not die.

So, it is my opinion that the Eagles will stick with Cody Kessler and Clayton Thorson as the back-ups for now and consider a number of other possibilities before giving much thought to bringing in Colin Kaepernick.  Kaepernick just this week said that he continues to pursue an NFL job.  He also continues to pay the price for doing what he considered to be the morally right thing to do.

When you make that kind of commitment, you must be willing to pay the consequences.  For Kaepernick, those consequences continue.  Stay tuned!

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS) 

  1. If summer basketball tournaments are any indication, the winter EPC season should be a very, very competitive one.  Allen, Easton, Emmaus, Freedom, Northampton, etc. all had special moments on the outdoor courts.  I can wait, though, because high school football looks to be just as interesting.
  2. There obviously are no summer football games, but looking at Freedom, Emmaus, Parkland, Easton and the rest of the league, it appears that Friday night football (with a sprinkling of Saturday games) should make for a great season.  So I can’t wait for those games to start.
  3. Speaking of the start of high school football, we will have our traditional Colonial League opener on August 23 when Notre Dame hosts Northwestern.  Not only should the game be a good one, but Notre Dame will be dedicating their stadium to Deacon Anthony Koury.  He was a great friend as AD and is most deserving of the honor.
  4. In the “You’ve got to be kidding” department, the Phillie Phanatic technically becomes a free agent next year and could be taken from the Phillies.  This is a court case for sure.
  5. John Leone’s blog last week, which filled my space perfectly, noted that John recently retired from Lafayette College.  Rest assured he has not retired from the RCN-TV broadcasting team.  He will still sit alongside Chris Michael on Friday nights and be on the sideline for our Lafayette football games and alongside me for Lafayette basketball.  We won’t let John retire.

Finding Bigfoot, by John Leone, Guess Blogger

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 retired last week. They say that nothing is forever, so file that information under the “for what it’s worth” tab in the now non-existent cabinet in the non-existent desk in my non-existent office.  But at least for the moment, after 45 years of waking up in the morning with a clear set of tasks before me, my career North Star has drifted behind a cloud of uncertainty. Of course, I am lucky to still have a boss, but had I performed for my previous one the way I do for the current one, I’d have been out of work a long time ago. The “honey-do” list is seemingly ubiquitous and deadlines are a mere suggestion. But I’m muddling through. It’s certainly an adjustment.

As the weeks leading up to my final day grew shorter, my anxiety level rose. It was as if I was standing at the edge of a high dive for the first time. But the pleasant distraction of so many thoughtful notes, visits, and the kind well-wishes from so many friends and from folks with whom I’d crossed paths over so many years made it easier to take the plunge. It also gave me real pause to reflect on just how lucky I had been to have encountered so many good people along the way. Some I’d first met as high schoolers as I recruited them to Lafayette. Suddenly it seems, they now have high schoolers of their own.  Others were well-established professionals in their own right, more than willing to show me the ropes as I made the adjustment to a new career. So many more relationships were the result of some serendipitous confluence of events that brought us together. I’m always reminded of Forest Gump, who wondered aloud if we were all just floating around “accidental-like on a breeze” or if we all have a destiny that needs fulfilling. In the end, the conclusion he drew was the right one. It’s both, he reckoned. As a younger man, I fell in love with coaching basketball and made it my destiny to succeed. It was a strong breeze that took me in a different direction.

Upon my retirement and the obligatory farewell gatherings, one of those many well-wishes was from a wise and good friend. His message to me felt overstated and certainly humbling: “left a big footprint.” It got me thinking about what one of those looks like. My perception of a big footprint is so much different at 67 than it was when I was 22. For a big footprint to have impact, it has to be at least as deep as it is wide. At 22, I instinctively knew that the pursuit of my dreams would require a certain pace – one considerably quicker than the pace to which I’ve now grown accustomed. But by moving so quickly, was I compromising my impact? The truly successful folks I’ve known seem to have managed to do both – move quickly enough in the right direction, but with a pace that allows relationships to develop both depth and substance. Whether that is a lesson learned in time, or just a product of life taking its natural course is a discussion for another time. Whatever the case, the whole point here is to say how grateful I am for the people I have known. On occasion, someone will ask how I can remember something that happened years ago – something so seemingly inconsequential and even obscure. That’s an easy one because I’ve learned that true gratitude is when memories are stored in the heart, not in the brain. My memories are nothing more than that – true gratitude. Holding on to them is, for me, as natural as taking a next breath.

Life hasn’t always seemed fair, but it’s certainly been good. And every stage has had its own version of excitement and anticipation. As I enter the next one, I expect nothing less – and I hope for nothing more. I want to watch my family grow and develop, and I want to keep as closely connected as possible to my friends. I want to keep moving forward – leaving behind footprints that are as deep as they are long and wide. The pathway before me is clear, primarily because of the lessons learned from my parents – lessons of honesty, fairness, and service. Upon his own retirement, I recall my dad fending off a lot of fanfare. “Clean out the desk and go home,” he said. “A man’s work is his legacy.” He, like my mom, led by example, and theirs was a life of two fundamental components – love and work. After all, when you stop to think it through, what else is necessary?

At 22, I couldn’t have possibly understood those lessons the way I do now. At 67, their wisdom and vision is as relevant as ever – possibly even more so. Those lessons still provide the guideposts that will help ensure that this next stage is every bit as fulfilling as the ones that preceded it. And the footprints left will, hopefully, enable someone else to leave their own as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Temper Tantrums

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.

Most of us have experienced temper tantrums in our lives.  We tend to forget any of our own and never forget those we have seen in others and often like to recount the incident later in life.  I once ordered a McDonald’s hamburger for my grandson when he was very young and forgot to tell them, despite his emphatic request, to put nothing on it.  He acted like I was trying to murder him when he saw the catsup, cheese and onions.  He could not be consoled.

Who hasn’t seen a child in a supermarket or mall crying, hitting, kicking, stomping, throwing things and as a last resort (and one of my favorites) – holding their breath?

I remember putting a rubber spider on my sister’s shoulder and then pointing out that the ghastly insect was there.  She was around seven years old and after screaming in terror and watching me roll around on the floor in laughter, she quietly went to her toy pile, grabbed a roller skate and proceeded to clobber me over my head.  She was very, very angry.

As we become parents ourselves, we learn that tantrums are quite normal and, for the most part, should be ignored.

We are a little more shocked when adults, however, throw a tantrum.  I once was playing golf with a friend who became so frustrated at the game (and possibly himself) that after having a particularly bad round and hitting a poor shot from the fairway on the 18th hole, individually threw every one of his clubs into the nearby woods.  He then also tossed his golf bag in the same direction.  We ignored him and took great pleasure in watching him try to retrieve every one of his clubs and bag.

Much like a child in a store, Trevor Bauer of the Cleveland Indians on Sunday vented his frustration about being taken out of a game by throwing the baseball from the pitcher’s mound over the center field fence.

http://www.espn.com/video/clip?id=27276659

While it is easy to understand Bauer’s frustration, his reaction to it – not so much.  But it isn’t exactly a new phenomenon.  Basketball coach Bobby Knight threw a chair across the court when he didn’t like a referee’s call.  Tennis great John McEnroe was the king of the tantrum when he questioned a line call.  NBA’er Dennis Rodman once almost stripped down to his jock strap and kicked over a Gatorade cooler when he got tossed from a game.  He followed that up one other time when he kicked a cameraman (who, by the way, was carried off on a stretcher).

I was in attendance in Madison Square Garden in New York the night the Boston Bruins went into the stands after the New York fans after one of them slapped a Bruins player with a rolled-up program.  The fans suffered quite a beating.

I think the epitome of anger getting the best of a sports figure, however, occurred during the Mike Tyson – Evander Holyfield WBA heavyweight championship rematch.  In the third round, Tyson became so frustrated by Holyfield’s tactics that he bit off a portion of his opponent’s ear.  Even with a part of an ear on the boxing ring’s canvas, the fight continued until Tyson did it again.  Then the fight was stopped and Holyfield declared the winner.

I am positive there are much better ways to vent your frustration than demonstrated here.  But, I must admit, it is often entertaining to watch someone lose it!

And in case you’re wondering, my grandson grew up to be a very mature, successful,  and quite likable young man, although we often remind him of the hamburger incident.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS) 

  1. Add Carson Wentz to the list of people who eat gluten-free. In an effort to do the most that he can to avoid injuries and prepare his body, his nutritionist recommended he go gluten-free.  The nutritionist also advised him to give up beef for two full months.  Wentz says he feels great and even goes vegan from time to time.  Eagles’ fans hope it works!
  1. It will be even more fun this season when the Giants play the Eagles. Penn State fans will be torn – root for Saquon Barkley or root for Miles Sanders.  Both will be prominent in their respective backfields and both are game breakers.  Both are former Nittany Lions.
  1. Whom do the Phillies root for this week when the Washington Nationals play the Atlanta Braves, the two teams who are ahead of them in the standings? I know – the Phillies should worry about themselves.
  1. A 10-year-old boy suddenly fell to the ground during pre-game at Coca-Cola Park on Saturday. His leg was bleeding behind his knee.  It was determined that he had been shot by a bullet that came from the sky as far away as one or two miles. The boy will be fine, it appears, but doctors say they will not remove the bullet fearing nerve damage.  This appears to be a mystery that will never be solved.  Prior to this incident, the Pigs had never even had a fight or thrown a fan out of a game in their existence.
  1. John Leone will be a guest blogger next week as I work in a little time off before the first football game broadcast (August 23). Much like his work behind the microphone, his writings are always entertaining!

 

 

The SportsTalk Shop: A Great Hire

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 many times when I am asked to comment on a school’s hiring of a new head coach—especially for football.

In nearly every situation, my initial response is to say that on the surface it seems like a good hire, but also point out that since I’m not involved in the interview process and usually don’t know every person who applied for the position (unless you believe the rumors that accompany most major coaching vacancies), we won’t know for sure until some time has passed.

At worst, if there’s someone who I’m not sure about or someone who I might have questions with, I opine that we wait at least three to four years and preach patience while waiting to see if the decision was a good one.

In the case of Central Catholic’s hiring of a new head football coach, I don’t have to wait…it was not a good hire.

It was a GREAT hire.

Tim McGorry is a 1999 alum of Allentown Central Catholic. He earned a B.A. in Organizational Management from Ashford University with a concentration in education. McGorry has an extensive football coaching background beginning in 2004 as the ACCHS Assistant Football Coach. Throughout his career, he has worked as an Offensive Coordinator at schools such as Parkville HS, Moravian College, Parkland HS, ACCHS and Wide Receivers Coach at Lehigh University. In addition, he has been a guest speaker at various youth athletic camps and events in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

McGorry’s experience includes coordinating off-season strength and training programs as well as overseeing aspects of player development, practice prep and game strategies. At the college level, he organized team travel, alumni events, community outreach programs and coordinated recruiting efforts.

Under his leadership, McGorry was an integral part in various programs’ achievements:

  • ACCHS: DXI 3A Championship in 2009, 2010 & 2011; PIAA 3A State Championship, coached Parade All-American 2011, and finished #14 in the country (2010) and #38 in Total Offense (2011).
  • Parkland: DXI 4A Championship; State Quarterfinalist and ranked #7 in the state for total offense.
  • Moravian College: Second best record in school history; Centennial-MAC Bowl appearance; broke 26 school offensive records; and increased all major offensive categories from the previous four years.
  • Lehigh University: 2017 Patriot League Champions; 2017 and 2018 First Team All Patriot League Wide Receivers, #6 Total Offense in the country (2017)

Furthermore, McGorry has always been a very likeable, personable and knowledgeable coach over the years every time I have had the pleasure to speak with him about football, his career and the programs of which he was currently working.

I honestly can’t think of someone who would be better suited or more equipped to take over this program.

But you don’t have to believe me, you can find out for yourself on this Thursday’s “SportsTalk” program—our final one of the summer broadcasting from the Buffalo Wild Wings in Whitehall. The show starts at 7:00pm.

McGorry will be our guest, along with members of his new coaching staff and his players.

Come on out to support Vikings football, meet the new coaches and hear their thoughts on the new high school football season, with the start of official practices just a couple weeks away.

Be sure to get additional details on this event here on our website and to find out how a portion of you food bill at this event could help a local charity.

A Seinfeld Sports Weekend

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.

When one was asked to describe the Seinfeld program, the most common phrase was that it was “a show about nothing”.  That’s the way I approached this past weekend in terms of sports interest and viewing.  As far as I was concerned, there was a bunch of nothing on and I was not really interested.

But, wouldn’t you know, after my wife and I returned from running some errands and doing some shopping, she wanted to go back out and do some shopping on her own.  She was positive there was a sporting event that I wanted to watch.  And, I must admit, that is almost always the case.  I could not convince her that she was wrong.  There was really nothing I wanted to watch.  But off she went.

After doing some reading, I finally decided @ 4:15pm that there must be something on to watch.  I quickly discovered there were three golf matches on, Wimbledon tennis finals, and the Phillies.  My interest was not really peaked, but I figured I could go back and forth and stop at the more interesting spots.

When I turned on the TV, I found myself on the American Century Championship on NBC, a golf tournament I knew nothing about.  It was celebrity golf with players like Justin Timberlake, Stephen Curry, and Aaron Rodgers.  Former Dallas Cowboy quarterback Tony Romo was in the lead.  The scenery was beautiful and it would be interesting to see some of the celebrities hit the ball like I do.  I made a point of coming back to that.

Then, I clicked over to ABC and there was Wimbledon.  I joined the match between Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer in the fourth (and what could be the final) set.  I am not a fan of watching or playing tennis.  I always thought the only fun way to play the game was to find an opponent with equal skill so you could actually have interesting volleys.  Otherwise, I was always chasing after a ball after a lost point or watching my opponent walk after a ball after I won a point.  Seldom were there points with more than three returns.  Not fun in my estimation.

I never thought watching tennis to be that much fun either.  But I found myself unable to turn this match off.  It was historical, great tennis, and the end result far from assumed.  Okay, I will watch this except for commercials between sets.

It was off to check out the Phillies against the Nationals.  The Phils were fading fast, having lost both games in the series to the Nats.  I joined the game in the top of the ninth and watched the Phils pitcher strike out the side.  I had to come back to this for the finish!

Back to the golf.  Tony Romo was running away with this tournament. Good – I can leave this for now.

Back to the tennis.  Federer won the fourth set.  I had to stay with this to determine the winner.  The match set records for length and was the first to ever see a fifth-set tiebreaker.  Again, I was hooked to the finish, but I did go away during the commercials.

It was the bottom of the ninth in the Phillies game which was tied 3-3.  Maikel Franco was at bat (yes, that’s when I tuned in) and he hit a walk-off home run to give the Phils the win.  I thought it was nice of the Wimbledon people to have a commercial at this point.

Back to Romo.  He won easily.

Back to tennis.  Now, my wife came back home and was ready to have dinner.  I had to explain to her that I was wrapped up in a tennis match!  And that took some explaining. She knew I found tennis to be boring. The match went almost five hours and ended @ 6:00pm.

Djokovic won 13-12 in the fifth set (that’s not even a real tennis score) and it was one of the greatest matches ever.  And I just happened to watch it!

So, I concluded, that just like watching a Seinfeld episode about nothing and enjoying it immensely, I spent this past late Sunday afternoon expecting nothing in the way of sports and ended up enjoying it immensely.  Go figure!

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

  1. Did you notice that 15-year-old tennis sensation Coco Gauff lost to in the fourth round won the Wimbledon Women’s title? Simona Halep won the women’s title in just 56 minutes over Serena Williams.  It took Halep longer to beat Gauff, the youngest player to ever win a singles match at Wimbledon.
  1. The best team in the National League comes to Philadelphia this week. The Dodgers are in town for four games and the Phils are 8.5 games behind the Braves and 1.5 games behind the Nationals.  They are a half game ahead in the Wild Card race.  Some upset wins against LA would be welcome.
  1. Robbie Gould, the former Penn State kicker, reached agreement with the 49ers on a two-year $10.5 million deal that could go $19 million in four years. It’s a great deal for the former Nittany Lion.
  1. With all the movement in the NBA in the past couple of weeks, the 76ers right now are projected to be the fourth best team in the NBA. Remember they came very close to beating the Raptors, losing in Game 7 at the buzzer.  The Bucks, Nuggets, and Clippers are projected right now to be the top three teams.
  1. Our final BML Game of the Week is next Tuesday. The Berlinsville Braves will host Martins Creek. The BML Game of the Week comes on at 9:30 PM.  Join the RCN-TV sports team.

 

 

 

Youth Must Be Served

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.

For a guy in his seventies, this past weekend was a bit disconcerting in sports.  With baseball right in the middle of their season, the focus this sports weekend was on three other events – Wimbledon, the Women’s World Cup, and the inaugural 3M Golf Championship.  It turned out that it was not a good weekend for old age and experience.

Playwright David Mamet once said that, “Old age and treachery will always beat youth and experience.”  This past weekend, there was not enough treachery in sports because the very young ruled.

Let’s start with the youngest – Coco Gauff.  She is 15 years old and is the youngest player to ever qualify for Wimbledon.  She is now into the fourth round at Wimbledon.  As I am typing this, her next match is just moments away.  She is due to play Simona Halep of Romania, who is currently ranked #7 and was, at one time, #1.  Win or lose, no one can take away her win over Venus Williams, surviving two match points in her third round match, and receiving a social media message from Beyonce’s mom.  There is no question she has become the primary focus right now in tennis’ greatest tournament.  And at 15, that is quite an achievement as it would be at any age.

Then this weekend, I watched 20-year-old Matthew Wolfe become only the third player in golfing history to win the NCAA Championship and a PGA tour championship in the same year.  Ben Crenshaw did it and Tiger Woods did it.  After it looked like experience would win the title when Bryson DeChambeau eagled the 18th hole to take a one stroke lead over Wolfe and 22-year-old Collin Morikawa, Wolff made a 26-foot eagle putt that was just off the green to win.

https://twitter.com/PGATOUR/status/1147992294122876928

He became the ninth youngest winner in PGA history and the youngest since Jordan Spieth did it in 2013.  He now has job security for two years and has qualified for the Masters.  Not bad for a 20-year-old.

And finally, there is the “oldest” of the group – US soccer player Rose Lavelle.  She is a whopping 24-years-old.  Much like the aforementioned Coco Gauff and Matthew Wolfe, she has now been labeled the star of the future in soccer.

Of course, the star of the World Cup was Megan Rapinoe, but it was Lavelle who often “oohed” and “ahhed” the crowd with her footwork, sharp passes, and strong shots. Rapinoe scored on a penalty kick on Sunday, but it was Lavelle who put the match away with a booming left-footed kick into the far corner.

https://twitter.com/USWNT/status/1147907113865400320?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1147907113865400320%7Ctwgr%5E393039363b74776565745f6d65646961&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.usatoday.com%2Fstory%2Fsports%2Fsoccer%2Fworldcup%2F2019%2F07%2F08%2Fworld-cup-2019-rose-lavelle-star-future-uswnt%2F1669783001%2F

These young athletes so thrilled me this past week that I watched women’s tennis, women’s soccer, and ten hours of golf.  Trust me when I tell you that is new for me.

Youth not only won out this weekend, but it also won me over!

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

  1. Bryce Harper is pictured on the All-Star banner that everyone sees as they come into Cleveland, where the All-Star game will be played. The problem is that Bryce Harper did not make the All-Star team.  When the banner was made, the assumption, obviously, was that he would make the team.  After all, he had accomplished that every year since 2014.  His numbers are getting better, but he is on schedule to strike out 189 times.  The Phillies desperately need him to have an outstanding second half of the season.
  1. For the first time ever, Monday’s Home Run Derby has a prize of one million dollars. Of the eight participants, five of them make less than that for the entire season.
  1. If you are looking for a team that has failed miserably in the first half of the season, look no further than the Red Sox. They are 11 games behind the Yankees. Their record is 45-41.  Last year, at this time, they were 59-29.  They did not lose 41 games until the last week of August.
  1. In June, the Phillies gave up 5.63 runs per game and the bullpen had an ERA of 6.62. The bullpen is the second worst in baseball next to the Mets.  To contend, that must change.
  1. BML baseball continues next Tuesday with the Hellertown Royals taking on the Easton Falcons. The BML Game of the Week comes on at 9:30 PM.  Join the RCN-TV sports team.

 

 

A Trip to the Past

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 hope there were a few people who missed my blog last week.  I was on vacation.  Some of you may know that my idea of a vacation is getting on a cruise ship, laying around a pool or floating in the ocean, reading a good book, eating plenty of food, watching excellent entertainment, and placing a bet or two hoping for a winning hand in the casino.

This past week, I did very little of that.  I was on a Viking river cruise down the Danube visiting various ports in Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic, and Hungary.  You may wonder why I would change my vacation modus operandi.  Very simply – our first stop was Passau, Germany, and that is the birthplace of my wife, Luba.  One of her father’s wishes was that she one day visit her place of birth.  This was the primary impetus behind the trip. We were accompanied by our oldest daughter, her husband, and our two grandchildren.

gary 1

My wife’s parents were actually Ukrainians who were displaced during World War II.  They ended up in a US government camp in Passau where they met and married.  Through research and the paperwork we possessed, we were able to discover where the camp was located and we believe we found the church where they were married and where Luba was baptized.  As you might expect, Passau was very emotional.  It certainly brought back the many stories that my in-laws shared with us prior to their deaths.

We just happened to be there for Corpus Christi, a holiday that falls on a Thursday, 60 days after Easter Sunday.  We attended a mass at St. Stephen’s Church and listened to Europe’s largest pipe organ which possesses 17,000 pipes.  We then saw a procession of the congregation through the streets of Passau following the service.  Our primary goal of experiencing Luba’s past was fulfilled.

Next, it was off to Linz, the provincial capital of Upper Austria.  We toured a medieval castle, walked over a bear moat, strolled through a street festival, and ate Hungarian goulash.  There was a big celebration to commemorate the first day of summer, so we were privy to a great fireworks display over the Danube at night.

gary 3

Our boat then sailed through the Wachau Valley, passing through vineyard after vineyard.  The layout of the land is stunning.  Our destination was Krems, Austria.  We toured the Abbey and were fortunate to be there for a wedding, with all the pomp of an Austrian nuptial.

Then, it was on to Vienna.  That was our only day of rain, but I had my RCN Nickelodeon umbrella so we were fine.  There are palaces, elegant public buildings, opera houses, the Hapsburg residences, and the Lipizzaner horses.  The only negative was that we were there on a Sunday and most of the shops were closed.

On to Bratislava, which borders Austria and Hungary – more great architecture and magnificent churches.  We walked across the Danube and visited a music festival, reminiscent of our own Musikfest.  Plenty of food, vendors, and music surrounded us.

It all came to an awesome arrival into Budapest at 10:00 PM with the entire city lit up.  It is like a Disneyland of the 19th century.  It is a view like none other.  The next day we toured Buda on one side of the river and Pest on the other.  It was the perfect way to end our week.

gary 2

A couple of notes:

  • The Danube is not blue and we were told it never was.
  • The boats are extremely long and narrow with one hallway on each of the three floors.
  • You cannot believe the traffic on the river.
  • At times, another Viking boat is parked right alongside, so when we went out on our balcony the view was the side of another boat.
  • When this parking situation occurs, those passengers must pass through your boat to get to shore – that seemed a bit unusual, but we also had to do it on one occasion.
  • The staff of the Viking Ingvi (our boat’s name) could not be any more hospitable or efficient.
  • The food is excellent.
  • The flights are not enjoyable because of their length – 8 hours going; 10 hours returning. Thank goodness for in-flight entertainment.

In conclusion, the tears of both sadness and accomplishment on my wife’s face made passing up the Caribbean for this trip through her family’s past a once in a lifetime experience.  There is a huge regret that her parents were not alive to know she accomplished their wishes.  We all hope, in some way, they know.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

  1. Major League baseball made its way to London this past weekend for the very first time. The Yankees played the Red Sox and it was not quite the baseball we are used to – four-hour games; the teams combined for 50 runs in two games; 10 home runs; and 65 hits.  There was a 58-minute inning, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex (Harry and Meghan) attended along with 100,000+ others, and the “wave” made an appearance.  And the Yankees have won 13 of their last 14.
  1. What happened to the Phillies while I was away? They lost 13 of their last 21 and have fallen way behind the Braves.  They play three at Atlanta and three at the Mets this week before the All-Star break.  This week could make or break them.
  1. The 76ers lost Jimmy Butler and JJ Redick, two important pieces to their rebuild. They get Tobias Harris and Al Horford.  Seems to be that they are a weaker team now.  More to come.
  1. Blue Mountain League baseball coverage takes a week off as the teams enjoy a 4th of July break. BML baseball continues next Tuesday with the Hellertown Royals taking on the Easton Falcons.  The BML Game of the Week comes on at 9:30 PM.  Join the RCN-TV sports team.

 

4th of July

“You Got This”

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.

Aronimink Golf Club is a private country club located in Newtown Square, just west of Philadelphia. It is rated as one of the top courses in the United Sates – #78 in “Greatest Courses”, #44 in “Toughest Courses” and #55 in “Classic Courses”. Suffice it to say it ranks with the very best.

When the AT&T National was played there in 2010 and 2011, I had the pleasure of being invited to play a round each year with Scott Morse of Lafayette College; Joe Scott, the President of Easton Coach; and David Boucher, who was president of Aronimink Golf Club at the time.

It was a memorable round of golf. I can attest to the difficulty of the course, but also the beauty and historical significance of walking the grounds. I still recall it being one of my favorite days on a golf course.

I bring it up because there was a pro-am the week of the tournament and Joe Scott, a good friend and very good golfer, was a playing partner of Gary Woodland. I vividly recall Joe saying what a great person Woodland seemed to be. Joe said from that moment on, he would be a fan and root for his playing partner to have a great career. Woodland just won the US Open this past Sunday. And how can you not like a guy who does this:

Well, on this Father’s Day, as his father watched, Gary Woodland’s name became etched in golf history. Ten years prior, Gary’s father almost died of a heart attack. Doctors said he was gone for about four minutes before they were able to revive him. Gary said his father was always his biggest supporter. He served as his baseball and basketball coach, but not as his golf coach. He was his golf competition. “He never let me win”. He finally beat his father at the age of 13.

Woodland, too, is both a proud father and a bereaved one. His son Jaxson was born two years ago and weighed three pounds, but his twin sister did not survive the birth. Jaxson is fine. And the Woodlands are expecting twins again.

I thought of my father as I was watching the US Open unfold yesterday. He, too, would stand in the back yard and we would play catch with a baseball or football. He overruled my mom when she would not sign the papers to allow me to play football. He would encourage me to do well, to listen to my coaches, never interfering. He was a fan, but never a parent who intervened with my coaches. I had to earn my way on the field and in the gym.

Amy sent Woodward a tweet yesterday which read, “You got this”. I would like to think that my father felt the same way when I faced life’s challenges.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

1. I wrote this last week:
What would you do? Scott Berry bet $400 in Las Vegas at the beginning of the NHL season that his hometown St. Louis Blues would win the Stanley Cup. The odds were 250-1. In other words, if the Blues win Game 7, he will pocket $100,000. He could help his cause by betting on the Bruins now to insure he makes a profit or he could sell his ticket on the swap market. He says he was offered $75,000 to sell. He has declined all the offers. Wednesday night at 8:00 pm is Game 7.

UPDATE: The Blues won Game 7 and Scott Berry won $100,000! That’s a dedicated fan.

2. Much to the chagrin of the Phillies, the Atlanta Braves are at it again. The 2018 NL East champions have won nine of their last 10 games and went from two games behind the Phillies to 2 ½ games ahead of them. The Phillies are having serious problems on the mound, whether it be starters or relievers. They need to find some solutions quickly.

3. What did you think of the demeanor exhibited by the US Women’s soccer team in their 13-0 rout of Thailand? Should they have continued to run up the score or is it more embarrassing to the opponent if the US would have just stopped trying? Were the celebrations after every goal over the top and did those celebrations demean the opponent even more? Or should they have ceased the celebrations and shown what some have called decency and respect? As you ponder your answer, remember there is one thing about sports – it brings out the best and the worst passion in every participant and fan.

4. Blue Mountain League baseball coverage continues next Tuesday with Bethlehem Steel taking on the Orioles. Tom Stoudt and Chris Michael will be behind the microphone. The BML Game of the Week comes on at 9:30 PM. Join the RCN-TV sports team.

5. My blog will be back on Monday, July 1.

The “Barr” is Higher

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.

Our wrestling fans and there are many of them are not easy to please.  They want more dual meets on television; they want the tournaments televised; they want to argue the opinions of others, etc.  In other words, they love their sport and they are willing to speak up about it.

It’s rare when you find common ground.  I think I have found it – Scott Barr – the RCN-TV wrestling announcer.  The locals love his knowledge and relish his opinions whether they agree or disagree.  Wrestlers and wrestling fans certainly know who he is. And now, it appears, he has also been discovered by the national media – more on that in a bit.

Scott started with us in 1985.  I previously knew Scott as a former student of mine, a member of our very successful Scholastic Scrimmage team, and, eventually, a fellow teacher.  He wrestled in high school and had moderate success.  But when it came to in-depth understanding of just about anything, he doggedly would do the research.

Many years ago, I found myself doing high school wrestling for the RCN telecasts.  I played football, basketball, and baseball.  I did not wrestle.  I certainly needed someone alongside me who truly understood the sport and was very verbal.  I immediately thought of Scott.

He was terrific from day one.  He not only knew the sport; he set out to become as knowledgeable about it as anyone with whom I ever worked.  It became his passion to the point where, in 1997, he authored a book about District XI wrestling called Wrestling Country.  And just this past April, Scott was inducted into the District XI Wrestling Hall of Fame.

He is equally adept at other sports having done baseball, soccer, boxing, volleyball, kickboxing, etc.  I am always confident going into a broadcast with Scott by my side.  And, perhaps, his greatest skill is demonstrated every year during the Dream Come True Telethon when he mans our auction segments.  QVC announcers have nothing on him.

That brings me to the National Wrestling Media Association.  Their Mission Statement is, “The National Wrestling Media Association (NWMA) is the national professional organization for journalists who cover the sport of amateur wrestling. This includes reporters, editors, publishers, webmasters, photographers, broadcasters, sports information directors and other media professionals who share an interest and involvement in the sport.”

Scott has been nominated by this group as their Broadcaster of the Year.  That’s right – the RCN-TV guy!

Scott Barr

The other nominees are Shawn Kenney and Jim Gibbons.  Kenney works for ESPN and does play-by-play for college football, basketball, baseball, tennis, and the NCAA and ACC wrestling championships.  Jim Gibbons is a three-time wrestling All-American, former Iowa State wrestling coach, and is a wrestling analyst for the Big Ten Network and ESPN.  He won NCAA championships as a wrestler and a coach.  This is formidable company, for sure.

I know the cliché in award shows is that, “It is just an honor to be nominated”.  But, in this case, truer words could not be spoken.  When you look at the space Scott is occupying with the other nominees, it truly is an honor for both our RCN wrestling coverage team and, more specifically, for Scott himself. The winner will be announced later this year.  I would love to see a huge upset in this heavyweight class.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS) 

  1. As I write this, the NBA finals are not over quite yet, but the Toronto Raptors are one game from clinching the championship. And I don’t know if there is a better basketball player right now than Kawhi Leonard.  He makes almost 60% of his shots, over 40% from 3-point land, and 90% of his free throws.  And… he makes everyone around him better.  Stephen Curry with Kevin Durant may be better as a pair.  Without Durant, Leonard is the best.
  1. What would you do? Scott Berry bet $400 in Las Vegas at the beginning of the NHL season that his hometown St. Louis Blues would win the Stanley Cup.  The odds were 250-1.  In other words, if the Blues win Game 7, he will pocket $100,000.  He could help his cause by betting on the Bruins now to insure he makes a profit or he could sell his ticket on the swap market.  He says he was offered $75,000 to sell.  He has declined all the offers.  Wednesday night at 8:00pm is Game 7.
  1. I woke up this morning to the news that David Ortiz (Big Papi) was shot in a bar in the Dominican Republic. The gunman was beaten rather badly by the patrons in the bar.  Ortiz, according to the doctors, had serious injuries, but is out of danger.  Why he was shot remains a mystery.
  1. The Notre Dame baseball team continues its run towards a PIAA state championship this week. The championship game is Thursday with the semifinals scheduled for Monday.  Go Crusaders!
  1. Blue Mountain League baseball coverage continues next Tuesday with Martins Creek taking on Northampton. The BML Game of the Week comes on at 9:30 PM.  Join the RCN-TV sports team.

 

 

A Prom Story

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 is not my usual blog about sports, so if that is what you were expecting, just stop reading now.  I truly will understand.

Instead, since the local papers this past month have been featuring photographs from proms of the Lehigh Valley high schools, it made me reflect back on my own prom many, many years ago.  Things have not changed much.

I know I was nervous.  I was meeting my date’s parents for the first time.  They were Ukrainian and spoke very little English.  I was leery about my ability to show them my charm and wit if they would have trouble understanding me.  But, I figured what are a few minutes of idle “misunderstanding”?  I would be in and out.  No harm done.

Of course, when I showed up at the house, their daughter was not ready.  I was left alone.  I quickly discovered that Europeans feel that hospitality means sharing an alcoholic drink.  I was certainly aware that I could not legally drink, but I was also aware that it might be rude to turn down the offer.  And, what could one drink hurt, anyway?

The drink was called a “kamikaze”!  Yes, the same term used by the Japanese when a pilot was going to end his life during a military battle.  It contained nothing but alcohol.  The mixture was a special brew concocted by the host.  It was as powerful a potion as you could imagine.

After a couple of sips, I no longer cared if their daughter ever got ready.  I was feeling GOOD!!  She could take her time and I would allow myself to be entertained.  I even began to believe that after a few more sips, I was beginning to understand Ukrainian.

Luckily and probably to my benefit, my date came down the steps.  She looked absolutely beautiful.  I now was woozy from the drink and just as woozy from her appearance.  She looked absolutely beautiful.  I remember how nervous I was pinning on the corsage.  It was in an area where only bad things could happen.  Somehow, I managed to get the task accomplished.  There was no blood.   The required pictures were taken and off we went.

The prom was held in the high school gymnasium.  When we arrived, parents had formed two lines, much like cheerleaders form when their team is running out on the field.  The “oohing” and “ahhing” was nice.  I guess we looked pretty good.  The only thing missing was a PA announcer prefacing our arrival to the gym door with formal introductions – probably would have been a nice touch.

We waited for others to arrive.  One classmate had rented a big Cadillac and we wanted to see him arrive.  He pulled into the parking lot.  We noticed that he could barely see over the dash.  It appeared he had to look through the vent of the car just to know where he was going.  He decided to back into a space.  I’m sure when he turned around to see where he was going, all he saw was the headrest.  He backed right into a concrete pillar.  There was glass and metal everywhere.  Those of us who watched offered our condolences.  We convinced the couple to have fun and we would deal with their accident later.  Little did we know he would later damage the front of the car when pulling into his driveway and banging into a telephone pole (true story).

The prom went off without a hitch.  Up next was the after-prom party, held at a classmate’s home.  It was fun; there was drinking, but not by me (despite my earlier experience with the “kamikaze”). Beer was the drink of the night and I hated the taste of beer, so I did not partake.  As everyone began to get weary, I vividly recall the final sounds of the prom – fellow classmates vomiting throughout the night in the bathroom.  In case you’ve never experienced it, it is very hard to get sleep while others wretch their guts out.

Hangovers abounded the next day, but the prom officially ended with everyone arriving home safely.

By the way, my date that night became my wife.  I drank a few more kamikazes in her home before her parents passed away and I still get a little woozy when she gets all dolled up and I am awaiting her at the bottom of our staircase!

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS) 

  1. The Dodgers just swept the Phillies and the Yankees took the weekend series with the Red Sox. They appear to be the best teams in baseball right now.  It could be a throwback to the day when the Dodgers were in Brooklyn and the Yankees in the Bronx.  It would be a great World Series.
  1. They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. We’ll see.  Bill Belichick’s daughter, Amanda, was just hired to coach the Holy Cross women’s lacrosse team.  That means she will coach in the Patriot League against Lafayette and Lehigh.  She recently coached at Wesleyan and they went from #49 in the national rankings to #17 under her guidance.
  1. I am not sure how the Golden State Warriors do it, but they sure make NBA basketball fun to watch. They work exceptionally hard, play tough defense, and overcome injury after injury.  They could lose this series because the Raptors are very good, but it will not be because they don’t give it everything they have.  That’s all you ask of a professional.
  1. Congratulations to the Liberty and Notre Dame baseball teams and coaching staff for winning the District XI baseball championships. And congratulations to the District committee for giving the players the opportunity to play their title games at Coca-Cola Park.  What a thrill for them.
  1. Blue Mountain League baseball coverage begins next Tuesday and continues to the playoffs. The BML Game of the Week comes on at 9:30 PM.  Join the RCN-TV sports team.