BML Baseball Update 2021

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.

Coming up this week on “RCN SportsTalk,” it’s our annual chat with members of the Blue Mountain League, along with a friendly reminder that you can check out our “BML Game of the Week” every Tuesday evening in July on RCN-TV.

Scheduled to appear on this week’s program are BML President Bob Varju, Vice-President Ted Plessl, Secretary/Treasurer/Media Relations Liaison Tim Fisher, along with new team managers Nate Kester (Northampton Giants) and Joey Troxell (Hellertown Royals).

In addition to taking a look at the first two-and-a-half months of this summer’s baseball action, there are a number of topics we will focus on.  These include:

  • The personal history of Giants’ Nate Kester–he started in the league in 2010, ironically with current VP Ted Plessl (who was then manager of the now defunct Bethlehem Hawks). He started his BML career as a senior in high school and played with that team through 2014.  He then changed teams to Northampton after the Hawks folded, and struck up an amazing, close relationship with then Giants manager and longtime BML player Ed Wandler.  Kester describes Ed as a “father” to him and offered him the managerial job this past year when Wandler had to retire due to health issues.
  • “Change of Scheduling”
    Over the last year, they have changed the way they compile the regular season schedules.  It’s now based largely on avoiding traffic/congestion issues and also working around community ballparks’ priorities (the BML use to have first dibs, but now are sometimes second or third in priority for getting fields, so the BML now has to work around other leagues’ schedules).
  • To that end, the BML now starts with a Sunday/Tuesday/Thursday plan, then adjustments are made and Saturdays are left open for rain/rescheduled games…or allowing for a family day if a team wants to avoid playing on that day–if possible. More scheduling issues and changes for this season will be discussed.
  • They have added roster spots to allow for more players on each team, combined with a deadline that “freezes” the roster (which just occurred this past weekend) for the playoffs.

Regarding the almost annual issue of “losing daylight” for their championship series (which usually takes place in mid-August, when the sunset time moves in front of 8pm), a proposal is made every year to have the finals at Limeport Stadium (which has lights)…only to be rejected.  We’ll learn more about this idea and discuss why this suggestion is NOT employed to avoid having games being called “on account of darkness.”

There’s many more issues we will discuss, along with some general thoughts on baseball overall, the top teams and players will be identified, and much more!  If you like local baseball and want to learn more about the BML…tune in this Thursday at 7pm on RCN-TV, set your DVRs and/or watch the show through RCN On-Demand!

 

The Sports Talk Shop: Summer Hoops – July 2021

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 continue to keep you posted on the local summer high school basketball leagues in the RCN viewing area.

On the one hand, a few of the regular league and tournaments have been held–some with the same number of teams as usual, others with dramatically lower turnouts.

The Holy Name girls tourney was held recently (a month later than “normal”) and Jim Thorpe came into the Lehigh Valley and surprised some very good teams by bringing home the championship.  Nazareth, Easton and hosting Allentown Central Catholic were the local contributors that played very well.

The Nazareth boys basketball team has come on strong of late and captured the “JamFest” title in Allentown the previous weekend.  The Blue Eagles had a very young team last winter and those underclassmen might just be hitting their stride.  Keep an eye on Nazareth this winter — they should be fun to watch once this upcoming season gets underway.

Also, the summer league in Forks Township had a good month.  Notre-Dame, Wilson, Lehigh Christian Academy and Bangor have been some of the top teams that I have seen so far.

Meanwhile, areas like Catasauqua, the Slate Belt, Stiles and other regions continue to struggle this summer–either having issues fielding teams and/or conducting their regular tournaments.

TOC Director Eric Snyder was just on RCN SportsTalk last week to provide an update on the struggles many squads are having this summer.  Eric, the longtime head basketball coach at Catasauqua High School, chose our program to announce some significant breaking and exclusive news concerning his career — along with sharing some controversial opinions on some key local basketball and baseball topics.

If you missed last week’s show, be sure to check it out (free for RCN customers) through our On-Demand services!

Also, checking back next month for our final update on the scholastic summer basketball scene!

CATCHING UP & GIVING BACK

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’ve always said, I’ve been very fortunate to meet some amazing people in my life.

From the time I first broke into the broadcasting business until now, I remain just as lucky to stay in very close contact with some wonderful people and consider many of them close friends … even when we don’t see each other in person very often or as much as we used to.

Their generosity in sharing their time and advice to me has been the main driving force behind me continuing to speak to students at local school districts and making myself available to young aspiring broadcasting students.  I’ve never hesitated to give people my email (which is chris.michael@rcn.net) to give advice or answer any questions about the communications industry. I’m proud to say that there’s a long line of former students with whom I worked or gave advice to, who have gone on to achieve some wonderful accomplishments in this business.

I am also not alone in being a big fan of “giving back.”

I had the opportunity to check-in with a number of “old friends” recently.

A few include…

I frequently would cross paths with long-time Pittsburgh Pirates play-by-play announcer Lanny Frattare when I covered the Phillies in the early 2000s.  Lanny was one of a number of extremely classy and generous Major League Baseball broadcasters–nearly all of them were always congenial, friendly and very helpful to a (then) young announcer who was looking for tips on advancing in his career.

Frattare has used his vast knowledge of the communications industry along with his ability to work well with young people by working as an assistant professor for Waynesburg University for over ten years now.  In addition to being a great instructor, he’s constantly staying in touch with his former students and is very quick to reach out to alums with potential job opportunities for them.

When I covered the NFL and other pro sports teams for CBS Radio in New York City, a frequent colleague in the press box and on practice fields was Michael Longo.  Mike was not only a wonderful person and a great help to me in my earlier years (and still was in good shape when I saw him at a Phillies game two years ago) but was part of a dynamic broadcasting partnership.

His wife was Donna McQuillian, who may have been THE nicest person to me on my first professional sports reporting gigs.  McQuillian was, like me, a Temple University broadcast alum and immediately took me under her wing in showing me the “ropes.”  McQuillian was an early pioneer–she was the ONLY woman covering Philly pro sports teams for many years and was a true professional in the locker rooms and during live reports.  Both Michael and Donna were extremely giving of their knowledge and worked with young people throughout their careers.  Sadly, we lost Donna a few years ago to cancer, but Mike continues to work with aspiring broadcasters for a trade school in New Jersey.

Former colleague and frequent “SportsTalk” guest Jon Marks has also kept busy.  In addition to hosting the afternoon drive time show for Sportsradio WIP in Philadelphia, he splits his “spare” time hosting a national sports show on the weekend and teaching broadcasting students at a couple schools in the Delaware Valley area.

Even though he and his wife have been extra busy the last few years — they have two adorable and highly energetic kids — Jon continues to work with up-and-coming on-air personalities.  He’s actually one of three of my former co-workers at my old stomping grounds in Philly who teaches communication courses.

Giving back is something everyone can do and there are many ways to accomplish this.  I am extremely grateful to have so many quality role-models…both for my career and for myself as a person.  I consider myself very fortunate to have learned their valuable lessons and still have the opportunity to chat with many of these classy individuals to this day.

SPRING ALL-STARS 2021: ROUND 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.

Recently here at the “SportsTalk Shop,” we started recognizing the student-athletes from the RCN viewing area who were honored by their leagues and districts for the annual “All-Star” honors from the past year.

Today, we continue our salute to these award winners by highlighting Lehigh Valley girls lacrosse players and the standout wrestlers during the last school year.

First, here are the Easton All-EPC representatives, courtesy of the Red Rovers lacrosse squad.

1st teamers:

Lindsey Geiger, Sr., Midfielder (league MVP)

Lea Kreigher, Jr., Midfielder

Kylee Hager, Jr., Goalie

Alicia Rodriquez, Sr. Low Defense

2nd teamers:

Ava Milia, Jr. Low Attack

Eran Gleason, Jr., Low Defense

Reese Kreigher, So, Midfielder

Meghan Vizian, Jr., Utility

We’ll have more on the local girls lacrosse scene by having both the league and district champions on our July 8th edition of “RCN SportsTalk.”

Also, here are the top scholar-athlete representatives in the sport of wrestling from each school district in the District XI region. 

SCHOOL NAME  SCHOLAR ATHLETE
Bethlehem Catholic High School  Evan Gleason
E. Stroudsburg Area South High School  Ajay Hiller
Easton Area High School  Dominic Falcone
Freedom High School  Thaddeus Howland
Lehighton Area High School  Michael Yeakel
Liberty High School  Jackson Marcantonio
Louis E. Dieruff High School  Jerry Villanueva
Nazareth Area High School  Drew Clearie
North Schuylkill High School  Danny Grigas
Northampton Area High School  Jagger Condomitti
Northern Lehigh High School  Brenden Smay
Northwestern Lehigh High School  Benjamin Griffith
Notre Dame- Green Pond High School  Brett Ungar
Palisades High School  Gavin Kreschellok
Parkland High School  Luke Yatcilla
Pen Argyl Area High School  Tyler Taylor
Pocono Mountain West High School  Charlie Maloy
Pottsville Area High School  Sam Sterns
Saucon Valley High School  Sophia Riehl
Stroudsburg High School  Joshua Jasionowicz
Tamaqua Area High School  Nathan Wickersham


If you have some post-season honors or haven’t seen your favorite team or sport listed in our spring “all-star” listings recently, please encourage your respective league or district chairs to pass those lists to me at
chris.michael@rcn.net over the next few days.  We’ll be making our “last call” and posting our final edition of honoring this year’s student-athletes very soon here at “The Shop!”

America’s Guest

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.

So I’m watching golf this weekend and realize that the PGA Travelers Championship is being played at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Connecticut.  I then realize that I played that course one Friday on the way to do a Lafayette game against Harvard or Yale (I don’t remember which).  I also remember playing the TPC course in New Jersey and the TPC Potomac at Avonel Farm, again through my Lafayette ties.

This got me to thinking about some of the great courses I have had the privilege of playing.  So I went to this site: https://golf.com/travel/best-golf-courses-pennsylvania-2020-2021-ranking/ and saw the list of the top 20 golf courses in Pennsylvania.  I was shocked to discover that I had played or will play EIGHT of them, including four of the top five.  I was also shocked that I never PAID to play ANY of them.  Allow me to explain.

My good friend, Joe (I’m not sure he would want me to use his last name), a company president and RCN customer, gave me the moniker “America’s Guest” during one of the many rounds I played with him.  He came up with this name when he realized how my job often allowed me to play in charity tournaments paid for by the company.  Since he belonged to four different courses – Saucon Valley, Aronimink, Manufacturers, and the Philadelphia Cricket Club – he was not jealous, just amazed that I was able to play so many courses without paying, thus the term “America’s Guest”.  Here is a brief history of my journey through the very best courses in the state:

#20 –   Saucon Valley Grace – I have played this course many times as an invited guest, on media press day, or as part of a company-supported charity event.  Any time you are heading to Saucon Valley for golf, it is a special day.

#16 – Lehigh Country Club – This one is a yearly Sacred Heart charity event that RCN supports and graciously asks me to play.  Who am I to say no?

#14 – Saucon Valley – Old – This great golf course has been the venue of many PGA events with the Senior Open coming up next year.  Each of these events called for Press days where the tournament specifics were offered up followed by lunch and a round on the golf course.  I am guessing that I have played the Old Course at least half a dozen times.  It is hard to believe there are 13 better courses in Pennsylvania.

#11 – Saucon Valley – Weyhill – This is the most exclusive of the three Saucon Valley courses and is the best.  Recent renovations have made it even better and more challenging.  I have played here by invitation only and have appreciated every one of those invitations.

#5 – Fox Chapel (Pittsburgh) – Another Joe (again, I will refrain from using his last name) invited me and a Lafayette colleague to travel to Pittsburgh.  We played in a Coca-Cola tournament on Thursday at Fox Chapel.  I managed to get Mets-Pirates tickets that night for the three of us through Mets catcher, Brian Schneider.  Joe is a huge baseball fan and I was so glad I could contribute something to the two days.  I’ll tell you about the next day shortly.

#4 – Philadelphia Cricket Club – Wissahickon – This is where the first Joe comes in.  I will be playing the Philadelphia Cricket Club on Friday, July 2.  Joe is always a terrific host and I look forward to another great day on another great golf course.

#3 – Aronimink – Joe again.  This time I played with the President of the Club and my Lafayette colleague and Joe.  It was a member-guest tournament.  My greatest memory was a par-three hole where I put my tee shot about six inches from the hole, tapped in for a two, got a stroke based on my handicap, and won a “skin” with a “net” hole-in-one.  My actual greatest memory was playing this golf course.  It is one of the most renowned courses in the country, not just Pennsylvania.

#1 – Oakmont – We culminated our weekend in Pittsburgh on Friday morning, playing the #1 course in Pennsylvania.  This occurred due to the generosity of Coca-Cola Joe.  He, too, is an amazing host.  Valet parking, lunch, a caddy with a great sense of humor, and one of the world’s great (and most difficult courses) made this a day to always remember and cherish.  I spent more time in sand traps than I wanted, but did not mind so much.

So I am forever indebted to a couple of “Joes” and to RCN for creating the opportunities to experience golf at its zenith.  I’m not quite sure why I was the recipient of such generosity, but I will tell you there is no downside.  Trust me, it is great to be “America’s Guest”. 

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

  1. What will the Eagles end up doing with Zach Ertz? His days in Philly are supposedly over, but the next stage is taking a long time to happen.  No one wants his contract or a high trade price.  Teams, I think, are just waiting for him to be released before he is picked up.  This has become a mini-series.
  1. So the Phillies stop Jacob deGrom’s shutout streak at 31 innings by scoring two runs and raising his ERA to an amazingly low 0.69. The Phils lost anyway.
  1. It is still hard to fathom that both the 76ers and the Nets are out of the Eastern NBA Finals. With all that star power and talent, who would have believed this would happen?  The Atlanta Hawks and the Milwaukee Bucks have not won a title for a combined 113 years.  Yet, they are in the Eastern Finals.
  1. Tuesday, June 29, our Blue Mountain League Game of the Week features two teams in the top echelon of the standings – Northampton Giants at Hellertown Royals. It is on LIVE at 6:00pm.  The BML shuts down for July 4th week.  We will be back on July 13.
  1. There will be no blog next week due to the July 4th Enjoy your family and stay safe.

 

 

SUMMER HOOPS: June 2021

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 promised last month, here is an update on the status of the Lehigh Valley tournament and summer leagues, which frequently includes teams from our viewing area in the Delaware Valley and even from the DMV from time to time.

The summer league schedule did start earlier this month (one month later than “normal”) and kicked off with some soggy weather.

A number of games the first week were pushed inside due to rain and unplayable outdoor conditions.

However, a few local leagues that are in play this summer have had good weather of late and played a number of competitive games over the past two weeks.

Among those that have shone so far are Notre Dame – Green Pond, Allen, Whitehall, Northampton, Parkland and a few others.  All of these teams have been part of the Allentown recreational scholastic league.  The Forks Township league starts this week in full swing (although their first day for games was postponed due to rain) and they feature a complete lineup of teams rounding out a busy schedule.

However, there is also a number of local leagues that are struggling to get on the courts this summer and a few are not fielding teams nor are holding their annual tournaments.

At least, not at this time.

This past weekend the Cedar Beach Showcase was played. While there were some competitive games, the number of schools participating in this annual event was down dramatically from any previous year.  Less than a third of the number of boys teams that traditionally participate attended this weekend’s events. Also, there were too few girls teams participating to even have their tournament conducted.

Even as we approach the July 4th weekend, there’s still many things up in the air for the next two months for local summertime basketball action.

Keep checking back for more updates and pictures!

 

SPRING 2021 WINNERS

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 were a number of great stories for the District XI spring tournament champions this year!

The Central Catholic lacrosse team became the first Lehigh Valley team ever to reach the semifinal round of the PIAA state playoffs…then went two steps further and brought home the school’s second state title so far here in 2021.

After many years of reaching both the league and district finals but failing to win any titles, the Easton girls lacrosse team finally got over the hump and captured the first league and district championships in school history.

In softball, Northampton and Whitehall — two teams that have long histories of successes but haven’t won a title in the last few years — met for the 6A District XI championship.

I had an opportunity to take in the game and it was one of the most competitive finals I ever saw!

After trading one-run leads early, Northampton built a three-run lead late, before Whitehall stormed back to tie the game in the top of the seventh inning.  The K-Kids responded in the bottom of the seventh with a timely hit to capture the title.
 

 Northampton head coach Kristy Henritzy knew exactly what that moment felt like as she shared a similar experience when she won the district title as a player back in 1996 (that same team would go on to win a state championship).  It was the school’s first championship since 2013. 

Tune into “RCN SportsTalk” over the next few weeks to hear the thoughts of our district winning teams and other local success stories from schools in the RCN-TV viewing area.  There were some tremendous accomplishments by student-athletes in Eastern Pennsylvania and I know there’s some very interesting interviews that you’ll want to hear.

If you’re not home to watch any of the district winning teams on our show when they air, be sure to set your DVRs or watch the program “on demand” … these episodes are free to watch for RCN customers for up to two months from their initial air dates.

One other local sports news note…

The 2021 District XI Wrestling Coaches Association Scholar Athlete Information was announced this past week.  The district winners are: 

2A Scholar Athlete Winner

Brett Ungar- Notre Dame Green Pond High School

3A Scholar Athlete Winner

Dominic Falcone- Easton Area High School

2A Essay Winner

Danny Grigas- North Schuylkill High School

3A Essay Winner

Evan Gleason- Bethlehem Catholic High School

Congratulations to all of these winners and check back to “The Shop” as more postseason awards and honors become available!!

Let the Games Begin –  or 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.

To be honest, I do not get very excited about the Olympics.  I must admit, however, that, for me, the excitement does build as the games progress.  I’m sure part of the reason is that there is not much to watch in the way of sports when the Olympics roll around.  With all the hours of Olympic programming, that void is certainly filled.

With less than 50 days to go before the opening ceremonies (July 23), there are serious considerations about whether the Games should be held or not:

  • Japan has actually seen four Covid surges, with the fourth now declining. May saw 7,000 cases per day; that number is now down to 3,000.
  • Much like here, until the past week or two, restaurants and bars have been closed and outdoor spectator sporting events limited to 5,000.
  • The citizens of Japan do not want the Games to happen now. Eighty-percent want the games postponed or canceled.  A petition to cancel the games garnered over 400,000 signatures.
  • There will only be local spectators if they are allowed at all. Overseas foreign travelers will not be allowed to attend.  It is estimated Japan could lose $23 billion in consumer and business spending.
  • The number of athletes, media, officials, coaches, and administrative personnel are expected to near 60,000 in number.
  • Only North Korea has withdrawn from the competition claiming they want to protect their athletes – many believe it is more about the political environment between the two countries. This withdrawal has not led to other countries following suit.
  • Only 5% of Japan’s population has been vaccinated. That number should increase dramatically with the donation of vaccines from Pfizer and BioNTech.
  • Athletes must have two negative Covid tests prior to arriving in Japan.
  • The athletes will live in “bubbles” that are “sterile and secure”. They cannot arrive more than five days before their competition and must leave no longer than two after their competition is completed.
  • NBC paid $7.75 billion to air the games through 2032. The company lost as much as $1 billion when the Games were postponed last year.  They claim to already have at least $1.25 billion already booked this year for advertising.  Insurance would cover their losses, but not the potential profit.  A huge void would be created in their programming schedule.

Suffice it to say, there is too much money to be made for the Games to be canceled.  They will go on and it will garner much of my summertime television viewing.  I am certain I am not alone.  “USA!”  “USA!”

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

  1. How much will a “small tear” lead to a giant collapse is the question the 76ers will answer in the next week or so. Joel Embiid may or may not be available in the NBA series against the Atlanta Hawks because of a tear in his meniscus.  They will win with him, but not without him.
  1. If you watch professional golf, you realize just how difficult it is to win. The competition is extraordinary, the courses are so difficult, and the mental aspect is so challenging.  Imagine having a 6- stroke lead going into the final round of a PGA tour event and finding out you tested positive for Covid.  That happened to Jon Rahm this past weekend.  He had to withdraw from the tournament.
  1. The Phillies are certainly having an up and down season so far, but, thankfully, that could be said for the entire NL East. One Phillie who is not is Rhys Hoskins.  As I write this, he is in the midst of a 12-game hitting streak with 12 home runs and 35 RBIs.  He needs some help, though.
  1. I congratulated Emmaus for winning the EPC baseball championship, their first league title since 2005. Now, I must congratulate them again – this time for winning the District XI 6A baseball championship and heading to the PIAA state playoffs.  Their last District title was also in 2005.  They will be joined by the District runner-up Parkland Trojans.
  1. The McDonald’s All-Star Football Classic will be played on June 17 at Nazareth’s Andrew Leh Stadium. We will have the game on a tape-delayed basis at 10:00pm.  Support a great cause and get out to the game.

 

The “Executive” Conundrum

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 the pre-coronavirus era, the hottest sports debate over the last couple years in the Lehigh Valley swirled around the new school, Executive Education Academy Charter School.

The Raptors were accused of allegedly taking top-tier players from other Lehigh Valley school districts…a charge that resulted in a public hearing.

While EEACS was not found guilty nor made any formal retributions, the local governing sports body (District XI) did recommend that some changes needed to be made by the academy to their “recruiting” practices, with a warning that penalties might be issued if they chose not to follow the suggestions.

This did not sit well with many surrounding school districts, who felt there was clearly enough evidence to warrant formal sanctions.

The result?

Not one Lehigh Valley basketball team had ever scheduled the school for any regular-season game the last few school years (prior to this current COVID-filled school year).

In fact, in its first year, the Raptors won the District XI 2A title without playing a single team from the Valley until the championship game.  Ironically, Executive Education Academy’s championship victory came over another “non-boundary” school, Moravian Academy.

While a few schools did play Executive this past basketball season, the common reason was, because of all the limitations placed on a number of school districts due to COVID, opponents were sometimes few and far between.  Most administrators and coaches have remained mum about the possibility of adding or resuming games with EEACS in the future.

In a completely separate news story, Allen High School anointed Randy Atiyeh as the school’s new athletic director a few months back.  A long-time assistant basketball coach and a tireless worker in the community, Randy was an obvious choice to take over the position and, so far this year, has done a tremendous job in that role.

But this hiring set up an intriguing decision for local sports fans now to ponder.

One of Atiyeh’s closest friends is former Parkland High School basketball standout player, Toomey Anderson, who is officially the assistant athletic director and a key figure at Executive Education Academy’s basketball program.  Both Atiyeh and Anderson have been co-directors of one of the annual summer basketball tournaments at Cedar Beach in Allentown–the same event that has seen most local schools drop out of competition because of Anderson’s involvement with the Raptors.

Furthermore, Allen’s new boys’ basketball Head Coach is Darnell Braswell, who is good friends with another former Canary great, Ray Barbosa – the boys’ basketball Head Coach at, you guessed it … Executive Education Academy.

The immediate question surrounding the Allen High School sports program now becomes, will Atiyeh break the unanimous, yet unofficial union of the local schools by putting the Raptors on the Canaries’ schedule in future seasons?

We asked Randy and Darnell that very question on a recent edition of “SportsTalk.”

Here is a portion of Atiyeh’s answer.

RCN customers can get more of Randy’s response, plus Darnell’s reaction and more of their opinions by watching the entire interview though RCN’s Video-on-Demand.  And keep checking back to our “SportsTalk” show for news and analysis as this story continues to evolve for future seasons.

DISTRICT BASEBALL & MUCH MORE!

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 love high school baseball.

It’s a great sport with so many inside nuances if you are really into it…cat-and-mouse games between pitchers and hitters…or pitchers and baserunners…where to position your outfielders.  If you understand the game (and little patience is needed at times) and you have teams that play the game the right way, it’s really a lot of fun.

Fortunately in our viewing area, we have an abundance of teams that play fundamentally-smart baseball programs that makes for some very enjoyable viewing.  With the district playoffs upon us, it’s time to delve headlong into our discussion of teams and games in our viewing area.  In addition to recapping the regular season and the EPC championship game (which is now available on RCN On-Demand), we’ll be looking at the district baseball playoffs.

The brackets are out and we’re looking forward to all the matchups over the next 9 days, culminating with the District XI 6A title contest, which you will be able to watch live on RCN-TV (bookmark our broadcast schedule and keep checking back to our website for specific game information and “first pitch” time.

Meanwhile on this week’s “RCN SportsTalk,” RCN Sports Director Gary Laubach will join us to break down all the elements and preview the next week-and-a-half worth of games with Co-Host Keith Groller and myself.

We have some great storylines already in place:

Liberty’s dominating run through the regular season, only to be tripped up in the semifinal by Pocono Mountain East. Can the Hurricanes bounce back?

Emmaus won the EPC championship but it has been decades since the same team has won both the big schools’ league and district titles in the same season.  Can the Hornets break the curse?

Perennial power Parkland was also upset in the league playoffs and a few other schools who traditionally do well have been struggling of late.  Will one of those teams get hot in time to contend for a championship?

Plus, on the girls side, there’s some very intriguing matchups coming up after a very entertaining league playoffs in both the EPC and Colonial League.  We’ll talk about those storylines as well.

But baseball is not the only thing we are working on for our upcoming “SportsTalk” programs.  Here’s just a sample of the guests we are lining up over the next several weeks:

  • PIAA Assistant Executive Director Melissa Mertz talks Pennsylvania state sports issues including the spring state playoff format, current rule and procedure adjustments in the works and possible changes for the fall and winter sports seasons

  • Maret HS (DC) Head Football Coach Mike Engelberg talks about his undefeated spring sports season in the DMV after missing out on the entire fall campaign after his team won the DC state title in 2019.

  • Allentown Central Catholic’s tennis team did something no other team in our viewing area did this spring and also accomplished another feat that no one in school history had ever done.  First year Head Coach Jared Smith will explain.

  • Multi-sport Wilson HS standout Jeff Breidinger will return to his alma mater as the school’s athletic director after some successful stops as a coach at other schools and has some major changes in store for his new programs.

  • The Morning Call’s Tom Housenick and Dante Terenzio will recap this spring’s track-and-field, tennis and volleyball seasons and also get us up to date on local golf, wrestling and other sports news and issues.

  • First-time new HS football head coaches are taking over at Allen and Liberty high schools. We’ll introduce you to them and their captains — one already is making a guarantee about this fall’s season.
  • Spring sports district champions and state playoff participants

  • … and more!

Make sure you tune in, set your DVR or check out these guests and more over the next several weeks on RCN-TV and RCN On-Demand!