Too Much to Watch?

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

Maybe (and it’s a big maybe) a plethora of professional sports will return very shortly.  There certainly can be an argument made that it is foolhardy to come back when it appears the virus is also making a comeback.

But, for arguments sake, let’s assume that the current return of sports will come off as planned. A sports fan will find him or herself moving from four months of virtually nothing to watch except reruns of past games to figuring out what sport(s) deserve his utmost attention. All major sport organizations – MLB, NBA, WNBA, NHL, NFL, MLS, and NWSL are scheduled to come back in the next few months.

Here are the plans:

MLB – Baseball teams will start play July 23 and 24. Teams will play a 60-game schedule and there will be some significant rule changes for the season. There will be a designated hitter used by all teams. Extra innings will start with a runner on second base. Any position player can pitch and a pitcher must face at least three batters, if necessary, in a given half inning. Teams will play against their division rivals 40 times and their regional rivals 20 times. The NL East will play the AL East in the regional rivalry games.

NBA – The National Basketball association will resume on July 30. Twenty-two teams will participate for the eight spots in the run to the playoffs. All games will be played near Orlando at the Disney World athletic complex. Florida virus numbers have soared in the past ten days. Eighty-eight games will be played in 16 days to determine playoff seeding.

NHL – The National Hockey League is set to skate back on July 30. Twenty-four teams will vie for the Stanley Cup. Sixteen teams will play eight best-of-5 series and the top four teams in each conference will play a round-robin to determine seeds. With that said, some contractual issues came up again this week that might make players reconsider their willingness to compete.

WNBA – The Women’s National Basketball Association will begin play in July in Florida. The teams will play a 22-game schedule followed by the playoffs. All games will be played in Florida.

MLS and NWSL – Men’s soccer will resume with a tournament beginning in Florida on July 8 and the women will start this weekend.

NFL – Games in the National Football League kick off on September 10. But, each day more cases are reported and there has been an upsurge of late approaching the numbers which were seen back in April.

Since almost everything is televised somewhere these days, will there be too much to watch or will owners and players realize in the next month that the risk is too great to play at all? Schedules are made and ready to be implemented. Will the players risk their health for their paychecks? The next few weeks are critical for owners, athletes, and fans. Lately, the news is not good.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

1. The Phillies did not benefit from the revised MLB schedule. Only the Marlins and the Baltimore Orioles look like “patsies” on their schedule. The Nationals, Braves, Mets, Yankees, Rays, and Red Sox could all be better than
the Phils.

2. Baseball, by the way, will be played in the home ball parks and may allow fans depending on the particular state guidelines in place at the time. Some stadiums will have fans; some will not. Unfair advantage? Wait and see.

3. The 76ers had the best home record of any NBA team before the shutdown.  They were an amazing 27-2. However, they were 10-24 on the road. This is the second worse road record of the 22 teams competing in the playoffs. The rest of their games this year will be played in Florida. The 76ers need to figure out how to win on the road.

4. Baseball, basketball, hockey, and soccer will all have playoffs when the NFL is beginning and this is the time when we might see the surge in infections that some expect will occur when a second wave hits us. The outlook remains precarious at best.

5. At least there is golf. I have gotten used to watching without fans and still enjoying the competition. The PGA has had three terrific weekends and without the presence of Tiger. But, seven of their players were forced to
withdraw this past week in order to self quarantine. And golf allows for social distancing.

A Top 5 Perspective

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

This past Sunday in The Morning Call, preeminent sports writer and RCN Sportstalk co-host, Keith Groller, offered up the results of a poll he took naming the Top Five Lehigh Valley high school basketball players of all time.  The headline suggested that there would be plenty of debate about the selections.  I am one who has no debate with the choices and I believe I speak with a bit of authority.  You see, I either played against or covered nine of the top 10 first and second team selections.  I believe the readers got it absolutely right.

The only player I did not see play “live” was the late Bob Mlkvy.  I did see plenty of video on him and his brother, Bill.  I also connected with him in a number of various gyms since he was the color analyst for the Blue Ridge Cable high school basketball games.  He still wore his sneakers of choice from back in the day – Converse All-Stars – to every broadcast.  When he went on to Temple, he became known as “The Owl without a Vowel”.  So many fans would tell me Bob Mlkvy basketball prowess stories that I cannot argue his position on the Top Five.  He is, also, on my list of one of the five nicest people I have met.

The next three players I had the privilege of watching.

Billy McCaffrey came from a family of outstanding athletes: brother Ed was an outstanding football and basketball player who went on to play in the NFL for the Denver Broncos; sister Monica was one of the great girls’ basketball players at Central Catholic before going on to Georgetown to play college basketball.  But “Billy the Kid” led Central to a State basketball championship and a state runner-up title.  Had he not fouled out in his second state final game, I feel he would have been part of two state titles.  He could and did do it all on the court.  He went on to play on a Duke team that won a national championship.

I was privileged to see the greatest single game performance I ever broadcast when Antoine Hubbard scored 63 points against Nazareth in a Salisbury win over the Blue Eagles.  He scored 40 of the last 48 points and 30 in the fourth quarter alone – and every player on the floor knew he was going to shoot and, yet, he could not be stopped.  He finished his career with over 2,000 points.  I have never been great at remembering specific games or performances, but that game is one I will lock away in my memory bank forever.

It was just over five years ago when Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman finished his career at Central Catholic.  But he thrilled the Lehigh Valley and our viewers for four years. I had the privilege to watch him get better and better each year.  He was All-State for all four years and I will never forget how he almost single-handily beat Philadelphia’s Neumann-Goretti in the PIAA state playoffs.  His team finished 29-1 that year and we were there for most of it.  It was, also, special to watch him on TV during his great career at Michigan.

The only person on the team that I played against is Larry Miller.  In my mind, he was the absolute best ever.  In the games my alma mater, Wilson High School, went up against his Catasauqua squad, he never scored fewer than 40 points.  I will never forget playing against Larry at the Pennsylvania State Farm Show Arena for the District XI championship.  We could not stop him. I can still envision him rebounding an opponent’s missed shot, dribbling the length of the court, and dunking the basketball.  He could run, dribble, pass, rebound, and score better than anybody I ever saw in the Valley.  His 2,722 career high school points and 2000+ rebounds speak for themselves.  I have played or called high school basketball in the Lehigh Valley for over 60+ years.  I can say with complete confidence Larry Miller was the best I ever saw.

As an aside, let me add that no one causes me to reflect on the Lehigh Valley sports scene better than Keith Groller. I struggle every week to think of something to blog about.  Luckily, when I sit down at the keyboard, something always seems to come to mind.  But Keith finds a very interesting topic or two on a daily basis.  He is certainly at the top of the list for my all-time Lehigh Valley sports writers.  As Bob Hope used to say and I say to Keith, “Thanks for the memories”.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

  1. If things weren’t bleak enough for Major League Baseball returning to the field this year because of bitter negotiations, now multiple teams are reporting positive tests for Covid-19. It’s the “bottom of the ninth” for baseball and there is no closer in sight.
  1. The situation in Florida is not helping the NBA’s return either. As you know, the plan was to play at the Disney complex, but Florida is seeing a resurgence of virus cases – over 4,000 this past Saturday.  Players are rightfully questioning what the right thing to do is.  I am getting the impression that our chance to see team sports this year may be fading.
  1. ESPN and NFL Nation put out their all-decade team and, along with that, they listed the best player on each NFC team. They chose Jason Peters as best for the Eagles.  The future Hall of Famer played for the Eagles all ten years of the decade starting in 2009 to the present.  Fletcher Cox received the Honorable Mention pick.
  1. Watching the Belmont horse race this weekend with no fans did not seem like a race at all. It felt a little bit like a practice session for a number of horses.  TV money is so good, I guess, that it truly PAYS to hold the events anyway.
  1. Until there is a vaccine for Covid-19, can anyone be sure of anything?

If a Tree Falls…

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

We have all probably heard the philosophical thought – “If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”  If you think I am going to answer this question from my limited experience and observation, you are greatly mistaken.  I have no idea!

What I do have some idea about, however, is whether announcing an event one is not actually attending is truly announcing.  I offer up this weekend’s CBS golf production of the Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth, Texas.  Because of the coronavirus, there are no fans allowed.  But, also, because of the virus, there are millions of fans just salivating over the ability to watch a LIVE sports production.

But the production itself has changed.  Not only are there no fans, but there are almost no announcers.  Jim Nantz, the CBS guru of golf, finds himself in the TV tower all by himself, with no analyst close by.  Color analyst Nick Faldo is nowhere near the tournament.  He did his analysis from Orlando, Florida.  He was joined by Frank Nobilo and Ian Baker-Finch.  Dottie Pepper and Mark Immelman walked the course with the players.  So it begs (and I mean really begs) the question – “If you are not at the event, are you really announcing?”

I will give you a couple of examples that I experienced during my 50+ years announcing sports.  On two occasions, I called a sporting event that was not happening at the time – one on purpose and one because of technical difficulties.

The first was a District XI track meet.  Since we were broadcasting a number of sporting events at the time, the District asked if we would cover the track championships.  Now, if you are not familiar with a track meet, it is very difficult to televise.  There are a number of events occurring at exactly the same time.  It is virtually impossible to cover this event because of those circumstances.  So, it was decided that we would tape all of the events and I would then announce them as we edited the competition so we could present each event separately.  It worked.

It certainly worked for me because I had all the results before announcing each competition.  I looked like a genius when I offered up favorites and potential outcomes.  Of course, I knew the outcomes ahead of time.  Suffice it to say, my “predictions” were rarely wrong (like never).

The other occasion was much more difficult.  I had called a high school football game and when I got back to the truck, I was told that during the entire game we had no audio.  Again, this was back in the day when everything was taped and not presented LIVE.  I was asked if I could watch the video in the truck and do an audio “redo”.

I gave it my best shot – calling ball carriers, tacklers, yards gained, yard line, penalties and such.  This was not easy and I don’t know whether I pulled it off successfully, but we showed the game and I heard no complaints.

Two years ago, an outside company did a Lafayette basketball game with their two announcers located in their home studio somewhere in the US, but not in Pennsylvania.  I watched.  It was okay, but surely not the same as being there.

I’ll finish the way I started – with a question.  If announcers are not at the event they are televising, is it really announcing?  You be the judge, or better yet, sit in your recliner, turn the sound down, and announce away.  You just might be pretty good at it.

I, for one, hope you are awful and we get back to doing the games the way we have in the past.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

  1. It appears that “taking a knee” during the National Anthem might become commonplace in the NFL this year. More and more people are realizing it is about protesting racial inequality and police brutality and not about disrespecting the flag.
  1. Sadly, since I wrote about negotiations in my blog last week, no movement forward has been accomplished by Major League Baseball. It appears that the MLB might just impose their will on the players and dare them to strike.  I was hoping, as I am sure you were, this would have been resolved by now.
  1. Remember the former Penn State quarterback, Christian Hackenberg, who never lived up to the hype both at the college level and for the New York Jets? After two years, he was traded by the Jets after being a second round pick and never playing in a regular season game. He then went to the Raiders and lasted only three weeks.  Now he has decided to try baseball as a pitcher.  The odds are not on his side.  In high school, he had a 7.36 ERA and walked 40 batters in 25 2/3 innings.  The word is he has a lively, but erratic arm.  Sounds similar to his football arm.
  1. The NBA is coming back and they are not messing around with the virus. They are going to test players and staff EVERY OTHER day!  A COVID-19 test and antibody test will be administered on arrival day followed by continuous testing throughout the season. The resumption of play will occur in July.
  1. Watching golf this weekend with no fans did not seem that bad. I guess, like everything else these days, I am getting used to it.  But a Ryder Cup without obnoxious fans from around the world?  No thanks.

Welcome to the Table

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.

In my past life, I was a high school English teacher. I did that job for almost thirty years and to say it was rewarding would be a major understatement. During my time as an educator, I was also the union president and served as the chief negotiator for three teacher contracts, covering about ten years. Two contract talks went well; one did not and led to a teachers’ strike. Strikes, I can tell you from experience, are far from pleasant and, often, tear communities apart. What I learned was that fair negotiations can usually lead to fair outcomes.

Putting it simply, negotiating is a process. My side would start the process by asking for more than we would accept and the other side would offer less than they were willing to give. That is when the conversation would begin to try to reach a common ground and a contract.

Like any organization, each group had reasonable people on their side and each group had “hard-liners” who wanted things to end their way or, if you did go on strike, “the highway”.

I had a secret weapon and, I guess, I would be considered the school board’s secret weapon (though they did not know it). I would get together with the school district business manager in a clandestine meeting in his basement and we would be honest with one another. He would tell me what he felt the school district was really willing to give and I would tell him what the teachers were willing to accept. It was usually the case that we were not too far apart with a few sticking points. We knew where both sides wanted to end up and mutually saw a way to get there. We often had to meet in the basement more than once but it worked. The only time this did not lead to a
contract was when we both reported that we were very far apart and there was little wiggle room. That led to the strike.

This leads me to the current situation for Major League Baseball. As I write this, no further negotiations are planned. That will mean the continuation of a lot of tough talk from both sides, followed by bitterness, also, from both sides. The owners say the players are being unreasonable and the players feel the owners are, too. The owners argue that the season needs to be shortened to 50 games; the players want 114. The reasons are obvious – more games mean more money for the players, but it means more expenses for the ownership. Remember, there will be no fans and no concessions. The more games played under these circumstances, the more the players
gain and the owners lose. This writer believes there is a compromise here – say 82 games!

The owners, since the games will be without fans, want to get to the playoffs as soon as possible because they say they fear a second wave of Covid-19 would shut everything down again. The teams stand to get well over $750 million from media rights for the playoffs. This is where the owners win, but getting to the playoffs faster means less regular season games and the players lose.

Right now, there is a serious impasse. For games to start by July 4, both sides need to find someone to “meet in the basement”.  If not, there will be no baseball this year.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

1. Dare I say it has been an awful week in America with the senseless murder of George Floyd followed by looting and destruction? There was a positive when so many in this country came together to peacefully rally against racism.  After covering sports for over 50 years, I am not naïve to think there is an absence of racism on the teams I cover, but I also see camaraderie, teamwork, shared goals, and an allegiance to one another. There can be common ground, a sense of fairness, and respect for one another. If only we could all wear the same uniform!

2. The PIAA is working with the state to come up with the guidelines that will allow fall high school sports to take place this year. I am optimistic that we will not only get back to school, but also get back to athletics in some form.  To that end, it was nice to put together a TV football schedule this past week.

3. The college scene is starting to come together, too. It appears that most colleges will start classes a couple of weeks earlier than normal in mid-August so that the fall semester classes will be completed by Thanksgiving. Students will be tested upon their arrival on campus. There will be no fall break because they do not want their students going home and coming back, potentially with the virus. The plan for athletics is still being discussed.

4. It looks like the NBA has actually figured out the resumption of play in July. Twenty-two teams will be back to finish out an abbreviated season of 71-75 games (down from the typical 82 games). The playoffs will follow. Games would be played at the Disney Complex in Orlando. Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Golden State, Minnesota, and New York will not participate because of their overall records when the stoppage occurred.

5. I am looking forward to a week that possesses many more positives than negatives. I am sure you are, too.

What’s For Dinner?

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.

“What’s for dinner?” These are words that no longer are spoken in my house. And I get it. It seems like the next meal is on the mind of every male while when and what we eat is the very last thing on the mind of the household female. And since the pandemic is forcing the two conflicting thoughts together almost all the time, the man better be careful if he is about to ask this question.

In more normal times, the question could easily be answered by suggesting we go out for a meal of our choosing. Menus are good for that and I miss that. A restaurant offers choices and we do not have to eat the same thing. It’s the way the world should run.

So, besides not being able to go out to eat, I began to ponder some of the things I am missing because of this self-quarantining edict:

I miss WORK. Technically, I am still working and I did spend this past week putting together a football schedule that I can only hope will be meaningful. I was supposed to spend this past week crowning District XI baseball champions. I have already missed broadcasting the EPC semifinals and championship games. I have missed a Blue Mountain League game or two. I should have hosted a red carpet gathering for Good Shepherd’s Gala in the Garden and emceed the Lafayette Pardees, which honor all of the Lafayette senior athletes, but none of those events occurred. There is something comforting about following a routine and discomforting about a nonexistent one.

I miss PLANNING. I like to be organized and usually have a good idea what the next day, next week, and the next month have in store. I like to know when a special occasion (a concert, a game, a golf tournament, etc.) is coming. You know, the things we look forward to. There are none on the list right now. I like to know where my next vacation will be and now I cannot name three places (hard pressed to name one) I would feel comfortable visiting. There just is not any solid future that requires a safe plan.

I miss GETTING TOGETHER WITH FRIENDS AND FELLOW WORKERS. It has always been easy to pass leisure time with just a phone call inviting someone over or suggesting a visit to their home. Now everyone is leery having “strangers” in their home and vice versa. Socializing at work is a fundamental way to hear new ideas, get new perspectives, and exchange thoughts on the world. We still keep tabs on family with social distancing visits, but extending that circle has not been socially acceptable for a while.

I miss SHOPPING. Yes, I like to shop. And by shopping, I mean wandering around a store that offers up clothes, furniture, golf equipment, and even food. Ordering online is not part of my DNA quite yet. I have done it during the shutdown and find it amazingly convenient, but it still confines me to my computer and my office. I want OUT!!

I miss CASINOS. Actually, not having a casino to run off to within fifteen minutes of the house is a good thing. I, like almost everyone else, normally lose, so the closure of this form of entertainment has certainly created some positive cash flow. But, it is a form of entertainment both my wife and I enjoy. My balance sheet is on the rise, but there is little to spend the money on (note the items above this one).

As I finish this yearning for the world to return to normal, I can only wonder, “What’s for dinner?” I can only wonder because, believe me, I am not stupid enough to ask.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

1. There were a number of announcements this week concerning the Lehigh Valley high school sports scene: Darnell Braswell was named the new Allen basketball coach; Marlon Randall will be the new Dieruff basketball coach; and Randy Atiyeh will be the new Allen athletic director. I do not know Coach Randall yet, but I look forward to meeting him. I know the other two and they are great selections.

2. It is hard to celebrate the new hires without reflecting on those who are being replaced. Allen AD Scott Cooperman and head basketball coach Doug Snyder were the embodiment of all an employer, fan, and parent would want for their child. They did things the right way. They will be missed and I will certainly miss them. I wish them the best in their retirement.

3. In my last two blogs, I was really optimistic about the return, in some form, of MLB baseball. Players are being asked to agree to even further pay cuts than they previously agreed to. Scott Boras, who is the agent for many of the high-priced players, is recommending the players not do it. He blames ownership for their financial difficulties. Perhaps, there will be no baseball. No players = no games.

4. It looks like the NBA will be back to finish out an abbreviated season, followed by playoffs or just go straight to playoffs… The general consensus is that the games would be played at the Disney Complex in Orlando.

5. I am optimistic we will have a high school and a Lafayette football season in some forms or another. Locations might present a problem with Whitehall, Easton, and Emmaus all having construction issues so sites might present some unique challenges. Stay tuned.

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