Winter Sports 2019 All-Stars

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.

Time to take our final look back at the 2019 standout players as decided by local Lehigh Valley coaches, athletic directors and administrators in the RCN viewing area.

Here is a rundown of “all league players” that were sent to our attention:

2019 EPC WR All-Stars (1)

2018-19 Colonial League Girls Basketball All-League Team

2018-19 Colonial League Boys Basketball All-League Team

2018-2019 EPC Girls Basketball All Star Team

2018-2019 EPC Boys Basketball All Star Team

If there are any other awards or honors that you would like us to mention, please email them to me at chris.michael@rcn.net so that we may recognize the outstanding accomplishments of our girls and boys student-athletes in the RCN viewing area!

Also, thanks to our local athletic directors and league administrators for forwarding the above names to my attention!

Quick programming update…

Coming up on this Thursday’s “SportsTalk” program, our Skype guest will be Fox Sports’ Jermaine Ferrell, who covered the Virginia Men’s Basketball team’s National Championship run.

Ferrell said the atmosphere in the gym on the final night was as electric as any sports venue he was ever at.  He shared with me and will give us several interesting storylines surrounding the Cavs’ run that he plans on talking about on Thursday, in addition to giving us his thoughts on what the title means for the DMV region.

Jermaine also recently featured a story on the first-ever all-women announcing crew in professional sports, for the Red Sox minor-league affiliate, and will give us some details on the historic first broadcast that took place last week.

We’ll also be talking about local golf as well as recapping Tiger Wood’s tremendous comeback victory at the Master’s last weekend as well as last weekend’s big Blue-and-White game at Penn State with Morning Call College Football Beat Writer Mark Wogenrich.

HS Basketball 2019 Reflections

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.

After a basketball season that started with controversy, (aka, the hearing involving Executive Education Academy allegedly taking players away from other Lehigh Valley high schools), the season itself was mixed with different opinions about the quality of play.

Clearly, there were some very strong teams across the state of Pennsylvania this winter…

This season marked one of the quickest “exits” for many Lehigh Valley boys teams in the PIAA playoffs—only three boys teams that RCN covers (Becahi, Wilson and Allen) made it to the second round of the state playoffs—with all three losing before the quarterfinals.

RCN-TV basketball analyst Tom Stoudt was in the studio the other day feeling a little disappointed by many of the regular season games he witnessed.  But he felt some of the playoff heroics and late season surges by a few teams made for interesting storylines.  You can hear more by checking out our “SportsTalk” podcast featuring Tom here on our website at rcn.com/rcntv/sports-talk

Whatever your thoughts are on the winter high school sports season, we’ll have our final winter season “SportsTalk” program—with the focus on scholastic wrestling– coming up this Thursday featuring the Morning Call’s wrestling writer Tom Housenick in-studio.

We’ll also be featuring boys and girls spring sports season packages on local teams on this week’s program.

And, check back at “The Shop” next week for our rundown of winter sports “All-Stars.”

State Basketball ‘19 Highlights (Part 2)

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

Here are highlights of our state basketball games broadcast by RCN (all of our programming can be seen in their entirety “on-demand” for free for RCN customers.)

These contests include RCN-TV’s coverage of the PIAA post-season events…

As we head to the end of the winter sports season, we’d like to ask local coaches, athletic directors and administrators to pass along their “all-star” listings for leagues, district and statewide sports teams so that we can post them on a future edition of “The Shop.”

Please email those lists to chris.michael@rcn.net and thanks in advance for your submissions!

Coming up on this Thursday’s “SportsTalk” show, we’ll have the Morning Call’s  MLB writer Steve Gross in studio to give his thoughts on the Phillies, Nationals, Mets, Yankees and other teams within the RCN-TV viewing area.  Also, our old friend from the Bucks County Courier-Times (and now the Morning Call’s NFL & NBA Correspondent) Tom Moore will join us via Skype.

Plus, see our first round of spring sports features highlighting high school teams in our coverage area on this week’s program.

State Basketball ‘19 Highlights (Part 1)

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

This week we continue our rundown of highlights from recent playoff games and matches broadcast by RCN-TV (these contests can be seen in their entirety “on-demand” for free for RCN customers.)

Here are video recaps of all of our PIAA playoff coverage (the games are available through RCN On-Demand).

Also, you can purchase DVD copies of these games by calling 610-443-2909, Monday through Friday, from 9 am to 5 pm.

The regular season seemed to receive mixed emotions among basketball followers.  While some felt games were fiercely competitive and went down to the wire (including back-to-back Bethlehem Catholic boys basketball victories during the local playoffs), others thought there were too many blow-out games with a heavy dose of parody/mediocrity in the area.

The Lady Hawks from Bethlehem Catholic provided the best highlight of the winter season, culminating with their state championship victory in a game you saw last Saturday on Channel 97 on the RCN channel lineup.

We’ll be taking our final looks and reflections at this winter’s high school sports season both here at “The Shop” and on our “SportsTalk” television program over the following two weeks.

Winter Playoffs ‘19 Highlights (Part 2)

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

The state post-season action is in full swing on RCN-TV and we hope you have been enjoying our coverage in both high school basketball and wrestling playoffs.

This Thursday on “SportsTalk” we’ll recap some of these and other games played featuring teams in the RCN viewing area.

Also, we’ll take our first look at the upcoming spring sports season by honoring some of last year’s high school championship teams by having them in-studio to talk about defending their titles and their outlook for the 2019 campaign.  Among the teams we’ll be hearing from this week include the Freedom baseball team (who captured their first District XI title in decades last spring) and the Parkland girls lacrosse team, who are three-time defending champs.

Underrated Canaries

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 a season in which several teams had legitimate shots at winning a District XI 6A boys basketball title, one of the most improbable teams ended up capturing the crown last weekend.

Allen had started Nate Ellis, a ninth grader, at point guard all season.  They had another first year player, Alexis Adames, a transfer from Perth Amboy in New Jersey, starting in the backcourt with him.  They had only one returning starter (“Q” Adderley) from last year and lost one if its top players during the first half of the season.

Yet, the Canaries overcame an inconsistent first month of the season to defeat arguably the three best large school teams in the area to become gold medal winners last weekend.

Allen Head Coach Doug Snyder and his team will be on this Thursday’s “SportsTalk” show to talk about their rise to winning Saturday’s title.  When I had talked to him back in early December, he said that this team was “his biggest question mark” of any squad he’s coached in 22 seasons.  We’ll talk about what he, his coaching staff and his players did to right the ship and prove wrong the naysayers, who said the Canaries were at least a year away from being a championship contender.

Also, we’ll talk to the “Voice” of the University of Virginia’s men’s basketball team, Dave Koehn, via Skype.  Dave will talk about Monday’s record setting victory over Syracuse and give his insights on what the #2 ranked team in the nation needs to do to have success in the upcoming league playoffs and NCAA tournament.

Here are highlights of recent games broadcast on RCN-TV…

Also, as our state post-season coverage gets underway this week, make sure you bookmark the RCN High School Sports Schedule page here on the RCN-TV website.  Our broadcast schedule will be updated regularly with our coverage of your favorite teams though the PIAA state playoff season!

 

Lineup Projections & Bearman Farewell

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. 

As someone who equally loves basketball and baseball (but DESPISES the cold weather), I find myself around this time of winter starting to check out the MLB Spring Training reports from Florida and Arizona.

While I must admit a tiny dose of jealousy when I see reporters filing their video stories while wearing short-sleeves and sporting sunglasses, my thoughts begin to stray towards the season yet to come.  And, like any true baseball fan who thinks it would be “easy” to run a professional baseball team, I think about a potential lineup that I would trot out on Opening Day if I ran the show.

So, while thinking warm thoughts…here’s my lineup (version 1.0) for both the Phillies and Nationals as we stand here today on February 25th.

 

NATIONALS

Trea Turner              Shortstop

Adam Eaton             Right Field

Anthony Rendon    3rd Base

Juan Soto                  Left Field

Ryan Zimmerman  1st Base

Brian Dozier             2nd Base

Yan Gomes               Catcher

(Pitcher spot)

Victor Robles           Center Field

 

ANALYSIS

Although Eaton was originally brought in to be the team’s lead-off hitter, I think Turner can do too many good things at the top of the lineup to not have him bat first.

Plus, you have a nice right/left alternation through the first five spots in your order.  Thanks to a strong second half by Zimmerman and the addition of Dozier to solidify second base, you have a strong protection behind the Soto, to help him out in case of a sophomore slump.

Finally, although I’m not a huge fan of batting the pitcher in the eighth spot, I would consider moving Robles down to the “second leadoff position.”  However, if you would do that, I might be inclined to move Eaton back to first in this order to avoid having Robles and Turner go back-to-back.

 

PHILLIES

Jean Segura                         Shortstop

JT Realmuto                         Catcher

Bryce Harper                       Right Field

Rhys Hoskins                       1st Base

Andrew McCutcheon        Left Field

Odubel Herrera                  Center Field

Mikael Franco*                   3rd Base

(Pitcher spot)

Cesar Hernandez                2nd Base

*(or Scott Kingery, if he wins the open competition in spring training)


ANALYSIS

First of all…regarding the whole Manny Machado vs. Bryce Harper debate, the Phillies have WAY too much money available to not sign Bryce Harper, and I think the whole “mystery team” is another grand Scott Boras-created hoax, so I’m going to go ahead and say he signs with Philadelphia.

Secondly, I again have to break my own rule of batting the pitcher in the eight spot, but with good reasoning.  With a lineup this solid, you simply can’t afford to have someone of McCutcheon’s talent hitting any lower than sixth on this team—not unless he has a dreadful spring.

Furthermore, Hernandez still hasn’t convinced me he is a pure leadoff hitter (yes, I know he was “secretly” hurt through the second half of last season), but in this lineup he can be a great piece to get on base at the bottom of the order and set up Segura (ideally a number-two hitter anyway), Realmuto (another good contact hitter) and Harper.

Also, remember how well Franco seemed to hit while batting eighth in front of the pitcher last year?  It may have been an anomaly, but with this lineup, we’d see if there was something to it.

Finally, while I am a huge Roman Quinn fan, I’ll take an optimistic view of Herrera’s intense off-season workouts and say he reclaims his form as an everyday center fielder and solid middle-of-the-lineup persona at the plate.  If Quinn stays healthy and has a solid spring (and they do in fact sign Harper), I’d have Quinn bat just ahead of the pitcher’s spot (to maybe steal a base ahead of a sacrifice bunt every now and then) and Hernandez to form a “double-leadoff” position ahead of the power bats.

Keep thinking warm thoughts and, in a few short weeks, it’ll be time to talk more baseball on our “SportsTalk” show and here on our blog!

***

Before I sign off today, I did want to express my deepest condolences to the extended family of a friend and former colleague, Kevin “Bearman” Schutts — one half of WZZO’s legendary morning team.

When I first started in the communications business, one of my roles was as a fill-in traffic reporter at WAEB/WZZO.  While some of the bigger on-air personalities looked down on part-time/non-big-named employees, both Schutts and his partner, Keith Moyer, treated me like one of the gang right away and never looked down at me (or anyone else on the staff) like many media personalities frequently do.

Years later after I worked in Philadelphia and New York and had a chance to come back to the Valley and be part of a media event with them, they treated me exactly the same as they had when I first knew them—with no extra airs and just like a regular person…again, something that doesn’t always occur in this industry.

Some of the bigger names in broadcasting typically give people a once-over and decide if that particular person can help their career, enhance their life in some way, or be a threat to their job.  If it’s one of the first two categories, they’ll act like the most gregarious individual you’ve ever met…and if it’s the latter, well, heaven help you.

Whether or not you liked the playful shenanigans of the “Bearman and Keith” show over the decades, even a critic would have to say their longevity and creativity in a business which frequently changes trends (and subsequently, people) on a dime, was second to none in the Lehigh Valley.  I would also argue that in the area’s rich broadcasting history, they will go down as one of the greatest announcing duos on a short list of some incredibly talented broadcasters to come out of and/or serve this area.

And yet, the thing I remember most of this pair is simply the kindness they showed to all people.

I have always carried with me the respect they showed their co-workers and audience members alike.  It is something I have tried to emulate in my own career—something that may not be that important in moving up the “food chain,” but one of the most important lessons of life that they probably don’t even know they taught me as a young, fill-in radio guy.

RIP Bearman…you will be missed, in more ways than you can ever know.

Mid-Winter Highlights (Part 3)

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.

Once again this week we’ll take a look back at game highlights as seen on RCN-TV recently…

 

Remember to check out all the action from these games through RCN On-Demand!

Redskins’ Kyshoen Jarrett

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.

Redskins Assistant Coach Kyshoen Jarrett has had an interesting career in his 25-year life thus far.

In high school, he was a standout player for East Stroudsburg South High School, but probably didn’t receive nearly the amount of recognition as his southern competitors because of much less coverage of high school sports in the Poconos.

Then he went on to have a stellar career at West Virginia, culminating with his selection in the NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins.  His career was then cut short due to injury, but he transitioned into the coaching ranks with Washington and has gotten very good reviews of his work with the players thus far.

We will have a chance to speak with him regarding another roller coaster type of season for the Redskins and an offseason full of ambiguity for the entire organization on this week’s “SportsTalk” show.

Also, we’ll have something for our audiences in the Lehigh and Delaware Valley areas in addition to high school basketball fans in the DMV.

Maret HS Girls Basketball Head Coach Monique Liddell will be on to talk about her up-and-coming program that has started as many as five freshmen in games this year and hopes to keep their first-half season success going to qualify for the playoffs, which would be a huge step forward for her young squad.

Bonner-Prendie Head Coach Kevin Funstan will join us via Skype to talk about his team knocking off some of the top high school boys basketball programs in Pennsylvania—and how they plan on continuing their winning ways in the upcoming post-season.

And, we’ll be talking boys and girls Lehigh Valley basketball action and getting our first thoughts on what to expect in next week’s EPC and Colonial League playoffs.  Our in-studio guests will be members of the Notre Dame-Green Pond girls basketball team—the squad recently dubbed “Giant Killers” in a recent edition of “The Morning Call.”
As we get closer to high school basketball playoff time, I just wanted to throw this bold prediction out there…

Southern Lehigh girls basketball will again win the Colonial League BUT someone other than Bethlehem Catholic will win the EPC

Yes, this would be a shocker for girls basketball fans in the Lehigh Valley — both the Spartans and the Golden Hawks have been dominating local girls basketball for years.

Make no mistake, both programs will continue to post a ton of wins and have success in the state playoffs, but both leagues have quite a bit of improved programs.

Southern Lehigh still should have enough talent after graduating several top players to be the heavy favorites for their league title in February, but Bethlehem Catholic (currently undefeated in the league—again) will be tested by a number of different teams in the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference playoffs, including Northampton, Nazareth, Freedom and possibly others.  No streak lasts forever, and while I do expect them to win the District and play deep into states,  I think this is the year the Hawks fall short in their league (I also wouldn’t be surprised if they bounce back and sweep everything in 2020, however).

We’ll see if this prediction comes through over the next several weeks on RCN!

Speaking of high school hoops, here are a few highlights of recent games on RCN-TV…

Mid-Winter ‘19 Sports Recaps

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’ve reached the midway point of the winter high school sports season and hope you have been enjoying our coverage of scholastic wrestling and basketball action so far this year.

Here are the video highlights of our last several weeks of coverage on RCN-TV…

We’ll be talking about some of these games (including the battle between the Lehigh Valley teams with the two best records in the area — Becahi and Emmaus) on this week’s “RCN SportsTalk” program.  Our guests include Head Coach Steve Yoder and members of the Green Hornets basketball club to talk about their current number one seeding in the area’s largest classification.   They also have some unique storylines this season that should be interesting to our viewers to check out along with their thoughts on the playoffs coming up in a few weeks.

Also on this week’s show will be Lou Trivino, who is from the RCN viewing area and made his Major League Baseball debut this past year and is looking to return to the “bigs” this spring.