April Fool’s

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay safe and healthy.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS) 

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

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s Not Kid Ourselves

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

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

I am no longer optimistic.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS) 

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

 

 

 

 

 

Thrill: Agony

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 phrase “the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat” was first spoken by Jim McKay on ABC’s The Wide World of Sports in 1961. Those words have become synonymous
with big athletic events throughout the ages. You know, somebody wins and somebody suffers a crushing defeat. This past weekend, those words took on even more significance. There was the “thrill”, but it was most certainly accompanied by the “agony”.

On Saturday evening, the District XI 6A Boys basketball championship was played. This is considered to be the top championship basketball game in the Lehigh Valley. Two teams, Northampton and Freedom, had upset higher-ranked teams and would battle for the championship. The fact that both were in the final was surprise enough, but the overriding interest was created by the fact that neither had won a District title for a combined 92 years.

Northampton last won in 1972 and Freedom did it in 1976. Both were coached by individuals who taught the game the right way, had paid their dues (one for 20 years and the other for eight years), and were true gentlemen of the game. It was easy to root for both; hard to accept that one would lose.

The contest was well-played. It was a two-point game with two minutes to go in the third. Freedom ended up winning 58-48. Coach Joe Stellato won his first District title in 20 years as the Freedom head coach. The “thrill of victory” was written all over the faces of the coaching staff and the players. Even Northampton knew they had played hard – somebody wins; somebody loses.

But that is not the “agony” I alluded to at the beginning. Upon arriving at the same gym on Friday night, I was told that the mother of 23-year Allen head coach, Doug Snyder, had passed away on Wednesday before they played in a semifinal game against Freedom. Doug’s father insisted he coach that night. He was told that is what his mother would have wanted. Doug did not tell the team until after the game; his team lost. All of us were both shocked and saddened by our friend’s loss.

Imagine the shock that upon arriving to do the 6A game, I was informed that Doug’s father, Dr. Richard Snyder, died the previous morning. Doug called his father Friday morning. Some said he was going to see if his dad wanted to go to Allen’s Saturday consolation game. No one answered the phone. Doug drove to the home and discovered his father had passed. Doug lost both parents in 48 hours.

Doug’s father and mother led valuable lives and left a legacy of public service. They also raised a son who is the epitome of a coach teaching all the right values to a team of inner city kids. The challenges are great, but Doug has always put character way ahead of wins and losses – yet he is one of the most successful coaches the Lehigh Valley has seen.

It is hard to get a sense of the “agony” Doug must be feeling now. My sympathy goes out to him and to his family. But this “agony” has absolutely nothing to do with “defeat”.

A really good son lost really, really good parents.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

1. The Philadelphia Flyers are in second place! They have won six games in a row and are in a good position in the playoff race.

2. The NBA is into the 20th week and the 76ers are listed as #10 in the rankings.  They have a good record at 37-23, but struggle on the road and struggle to maintain a healthy lineup.

3. The Baylor Bears are the #1 college team right now as March Madness quickly approaches. If you are ready to fill them in as the National Champions, remember that they have never won a national championship.

4. Some bad news out of the Phillies spring training camp – Andrew McCutcheon will not be ready for opening day. He is still recovering from a torn ACL. He is important to their lineup. The expectations are he will be ready sometime in April.

5. Here are the TV games for this week:

Friday, March 6 @ 6:00pm
4A Boys – Bethlehem Catholic vs Archbishop Carroll
Central Catholic vs South Philadelphia
6A Girls –Nazareth vs Parkland
5A Boys – Southern Lehigh vs William Penn

Saturday, March 7 @ 1:00pm
4AG – Bethlehem Catholic vs Prep Charter;
2:30 PM 6AB – Northampton vs Lower Merion
4:00 PM  – Freedom vs Downingtown East

Put Me In, Coach

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 am pretty sure that every kid who plays sports dreams at one time or another of becoming a professional athlete.  I know I certainly did.  As you get older and compete against better and better athletes, reality, at some point, sets in and you realize there are much better players than you.  But it takes a while to sink in.

I do remember having those aspirations when growing up.  I played three sports – football, basketball, and baseball.  As a quarterback it was apparent from the very beginning that I was just average at best.  I enjoyed being part of the team.  I particularly liked being the center of the action.  The play only started when I said so.  It also was a very good place to watch the game.  Hand the ball off, throw a pass, or keep the ball and run meant I always had a good seat to observe.  Johnny Unitas of the Baltimore Colts was my football hero, but I was never going to have his moxie and his ability and it was apparent early on that I had absolutely no future in football.

It became even clearer in the game of basketball.  You just cannot make yourself grow!  At 5’11”, I could play in the backcourt in high school and in college, but my basketball future would be playing in summer leagues on the playgrounds for as long as I wanted.  I went to many college and pro basketball games, but never thought that I could compete against those guys. They were too big, too strong, and too good.

Baseball was a bit different.  When my father and grandfather took me to see the Phillies or the Yankees, I always came away thinking there was a chance.  All I wanted to do when we came home from those games was grab my glove and go play catch with my dad.  I even felt that way when we returned home at midnight.  If I could talk my dad into it, I would have played pitch and catch right away.

As I got older, I had my most success, athletically, as a pitcher.  I did not lose a high school game in my last two years.  I was MAC pitcher of the year in college and pitcher of the year in the Blue Mountain League.  I played against good (probably not great) competition and, for the most part, I was better.  I even got a one-day look from the Pirates.  It was one day and led to nothing, but it certainly was nice to feel like “maybe there was a chance”.  It was not to be.  I accepted my limits and continued to play any sport for fun.

Imagine, though, the feeling of David Ayres this past Saturday.  He is the Zamboni driver at the Toronto Maple Leafs’ arena.  He is, also, the practice goalie for the Leafs.  And he was, on Saturday, the stand-by goalie for both teams in case a team had both goalies injured.  It happened.  The Carolina Hurricanes lost their starter in the first period.  Ayres got the call to get dressed.  Their backup got injured in the second period.  The 42-year-old became the next man up.  The first two shots went right past him.  The next eight, however, he stopped.  The Hurricanes won 6-3 and he became the oldest to win a regular season game.

Ayres had a kidney transplant 15 years ago and thought he would never play hockey again.  He not only played; he made history.  By the way, he got paid $500, got to keep his jersey, and, within hours, his replica jersey was being sold to fans.

Knowing that, I just might go try to find my baseball glove.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS) 

  1. Do you believe the Phillie Phanatic is 42 years old? So, it stands to reason, he needed a little “plastic surgery”.  Much like many of us, his posterior got bigger, his tail turned blue, he got scales under his arms, and his nose got a little shorter.  Oh, the pains of growing old.
  1. Tom Brady, Philip Rivers, Dak Prescott, Jameis Winston and 11 other quarterbacks are all free agents. There is a feeding frenzy, I’m sure, right now in various NFL board rooms.
  1. It is hard to believe, but last year’s NCAA Basketball champion, the Virginia Cavaliers, are not a lock to get into this year’s tournament. Three ACC teams will certainly get in – Duke, Florida State, Louisville.  Virginia is playing better now, but needs to continue their success.  You cannot defend your title if you don’t get in.
  1. How can the 76ers have the best home record in the league and a 9-20 record on the road? Same players, same game – different results.  Mind-boggling!
  1. Here are the TV games for this week:
  • Tuesday, Feb. 25: 6:00pm – Bethlehem Catholic vs Tamaqua; Central Catholic vs Wilson; Girls – Freedom vs Pocono Mountain West; Nazareth vs Parkland
  • Wednesday, Feb. 26: 6:00pm – Easton vs Northampton; Allen vs Freedom on Channel 4

7:00pm – American vs Lafayette women

  • Friday, Feb. 28: TBD
    • Saturday, Feb. 22: TBD

 

Play Ball! Differently!

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 all the conversation about much-needed rule changes in Major League baseball, finally something has been done. The changes were actually agreed to last spring by both the owners and the union. The announcement came as the teams reported for spring training. Here are the important ones:

THREE-BATTER MINIMUM
This was a much-needed rule in my estimation. Pitchers will now be required to face a minimum of three batters or finish the half-inning. Exceptions will be made for injury or illness. Obviously, this eliminates a manager bringing in a reliever to face one batter followed by another visit to the mound to again change the pitcher. To give you an idea of the impact, in the last three years, there was an average of 694 visits to the mound to change the pitcher that would no longer be allowed. Obviously both strategy and time will be affected by this change.

POSITION PLAYERS PITCHING
A player will now be designated as a pitcher, position player, or two-way player. This must be done the first day they are put on the active roster and it cannot be changed. A two-way player has to have pitched 20 innings and started 20 games as a position player, with three plate appearances in the current or previous year. Ninety position players pitched last year. One oddity in the rule interpretation is that players designated as pitchers can be position players so Shohei Ohtani, the Japanese star for the Angels, can both pitch and hit.

ROSTER SIZE
Active players on the roster will increase by one to 26 until August 31 and increase to 28 on September 1. Teams will be able to add a player for doubleheaders. Thirteen pitchers will be allowed until August 31 and then the number can increase to 14 on September 1. This is a great change eliminating the 40-man roster when the games were the most important to those teams in the post-season chase. Now teams will have to play with the roster they carried throughout the year.

INJURED LIST AND MINOR LEAGUE OPTIONS
These changes are minor for the average fan. Pitchers on the injured list will now have to miss a minimum of 15 days (was 10). Teams were manipulating the rule to rest a pitcher for one start. Pitchers must also now, if optioned to the minors, stay there for 15 days (it was 10). This rule, much like the “injured list” rule, keeps teams from rotating pitchers constantly, making more pitchers available and creating more pitching changes.

All these changes make sense in order to speed up the game, keep infielders from pitching, and create more stable rosters. I like the rule changes.

Now, “Play ball!”

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

1. Cleveland Browns’ defensive end Myles Garrett has been reinstated by the NFL. Garrett, you may recall, hit Steelers’ quarterback Mason Rudolph over the head with Rudolph’s helmet during a melee. Garrett ended up serving a six-game suspension and some thought he should have been banned from the League. Garrett still claims that Rudolph called him the “N” word, but that has been disputed by almost everyone involved and the league found no proof of that despite microphones being nearby.

2. There is no word on the status of Tom Brady for next year. Most fans forget that he was the 199th pick in the 2000 draft and is now considered by many to be the greatest of all time. He won six Super Bowls and has been paid (so far) $235 million. The retirement party should be fun, whenever it occurs.

3. The Lafayette Leopards men’s basketball team was hit with a devastating injury this past week. Leading scorer and team leader Justin Jaworski suffered both an ACL injury and a torn meniscus and was lost for the season. This, of course, after leading returning scorer Alex Petrie was declared medically ineligible before the start of the season. The Leopards were playing very well and were the only team to beat League-leading Colgate twice. It will be interesting to see how the rest of the season plays out.

4. The PPL Center created an appropriate venue for the EPC semifinals and the championship finals. Congratulations to the Bethlehem Catholic girls and the Allen boys for their championship wins. And congratulations to the EPC committee for garnering the Center. The good news is that enough fans came out for the three nights to pay all expenses and (perhaps) make a little money.

5. Here are the TV games for this week:

Wednesday, Feb. 19:  7:00pm – Boston University vs Lafayette College (Men); 9:30pm – Pocono Mountain West vs Whitehall

Friday, Feb. 21: 7:00pm –Bethlehem Catholic vs Northwestern; Central Catholic vs Palisades (Boys); Easton vs Freedom; Nazareth vs Pleasant Valley (Girls)

Saturday, Feb. 22: 1:00pm – East Stroudsburg South vs Freedom; Easton vs Parkland (Boys)

Sunday, Feb. 23: 2:00pm – Loyola vs Lafayette

Winter Regular Season Recap #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. 

The regular season is winding down for the winter sports programs in Pennsylvania, and the playoffs are heating up!

Here’s video highlights of our games over the last several weeks with a reminder that RCN customers can see all these games, for FREE and in their entirety for up to two months from their initial air date, through RCN on-demand!

 

  

 

 

 
  Check back to “The Shop” in a few weeks for more video highlight packages and insights on the local high school sports as we get ready for some exciting post-season activities.

Thank Goodness

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 must admit that Sunday afternoon felt a little weird.  There was no NFL football and, to be honest, from my perspective, nothing to really interest me in the world of sports.

Rest assured, I was busy.  With two semifinal EPC basketball games on a Monday night, most of Sunday was taken up doing the preparation.  But by 3:00, I was ready to relax and spend the rest of the weekend watching something, anything that would hold my attention.  That almost always means a sporting event.

However, this is the “tweener” time for college and professional sports as far as I am concerned.  I see enough basketball that, until the conference championships roll around, I am not that interested.  Those tournament games do get me mentally ready for March Madness.

I just can’t seem to sit in the recliner to devote two or more hours to the NBA or the NHL.  It’s not that I don’t enjoy watching both, it’s just the games, for me, have very little meaning until the playoffs.

That leaves golf.  Who doesn’t enjoy mentally soaking up the sun, although it is a virtual pastime, and looking at the beautiful setting that is golf on the West Coast?  I did try that yesterday when the pros were playing at Pebble Beach in California.  I found I was more jealous than interested. They were playing and I could not; they were basking in sunshine (I was basking inside –can you even do that?); and they were not playing very well due to the extremely windy conditions.  Suffice it to say, even golf did not keep my interest.

So what’s the answer – high school sports on RCN-TV.  This is the BEST time of the year for high school basketball.  This week I will see the EPC boys’ semifinals and final and the girls’ championship games. And they will be played at a great venue – the PPL Center.

Due to the unmatched talent of our local wrestling teams, I will be able to watch the District XI individual championships on February 22.  Our local teams have had a spectacular year (Nazareth won the PIAA state championship) and the individual bouts should be outstanding.

I will get to call two Lafayette games on Wednesday and Saturday as the men and women’s teams battle for their respective Patriot League slot in the playoffs.

So, all is not lost for the next few weeks, nor should it be for you.  Get out to one of the great high school events this month or, if that cannot work for you, let us choose your virtual attendance.

So even though the NFL season is done and the college and pro sports are winding down, this is the best time for OUR sports.  Thank goodness.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS) 

  1. What are your thoughts on the local Catholic schools banning their wrestlers in team competition from wrestling a girl? It has now happened twice and both times the matches were decided because the Catholic school had to, by Diocesan rule, forfeit the match when the opposing team sent out a girl to wrestle.  Both times the Catholic team would have won the match and both times six points were awarded to the opponent due to forfeit (and the opponent knew that would be the case).  Both times, that bout was the difference in winning or losing.  Do you have a solution?

    P.S.  The Catholic school wrestlers can wrestle a girl in individual tournaments.

  1. What a year for the Nazareth Blue Eagles. First, they win the EPC South division and District XI football championships and this past week, they add a state wrestling title to go along with their District wrestling title.  They were 8-0 in the postseason, won 89 of 112 bouts and 62 with bonus points.  It was total domination.  Congratulations to Coach Dave Crowell and the team.
  1. Fran O’Hanlon, Lafayette’s men’s basketball coach, was honored at a reception on Saturday afternoon. He is coaching his 25th year at Lafayette, one of only five Division 1 college coaches who can make that claim.  You may know the others:

    Jim Boeheim – Syracuse
    Mike Krzyzewski – Duke
    Bob McKillip – Davidson
    Tom Izzo – Michigan State

    Coach O’Hanlon has won 340 games, has three regular season PL titles, three Patriot League championships, has made three NCAA appearances; has been in seven conference finals; and has been named Coach of the Year three  times.

  1. Will you watch the XFL? Did you know it was on?
  1. The schedule – All LIVE

    Monday – EPC Boys Semis – 6:00 PM

    Tuesday – Colonial League Semis – 6:00 PM

    Wednesday – Lafayette vs. Army WBB – 7:00  PM

    Thursday – EPC Girls and Boys championships – 6:00 PM

    Friday – Colonial League Girls and Boys championships – 6:00 PM

    Saturday – Lafayette vs. Holy Cross WBB – 6:00 PM

EPC Playoffs

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 Thursday, the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference announced that both the semifinals and the championship finals for the boys and the girls would be played at the PPL Center.  The dates for the semis and finals are February 10 – February 13.  This is, indeed, exciting news.

I am sure many of you recall that it was three years ago that the District XI 6A semifinals were held there before more than 7,600 fans.  It was a night that is now etched into the memories of every local high school basketball fan.  All four teams were outstanding – Allen, Emmaus, Parkland and Pocono Mountain West.  The games did not disappoint.

It is hard to imagine that this year can match the excitement generated three years ago, but it is certainly a fitting venue for the Conference playoffs.  What seems to be the mystery, however, and a question I get asked throughout the year is how the teams get there and how they are seeded.

So, before the quarterfinals are played on Feb. 7, let me try to clear up the process:

Selecting the eight teams:

  • Division Winners get automatic bid, BUT NOT automatic 1, 2, 3…

For example, East Stroudsburg South will be the Mountain Division champion, but will not be the #1, 2, or 3 seed because of their record.  Allen, Liberty, and Central will have better records and will fill those slots.

Seeding:

  • Overall EPC Record (16 games) is the first criteria.

As I write this seven of the eight slots are filled with the order yet to be determined (Allen, Liberty, Central, Easton, Parkland, Freedom, and East Stroudsburg South).  It appears right now that Bethlehem Catholic will be the 8th team.

  • If teams are tied:

Head to Head competition will be used, ONLY if ALL Tied Teams played one another.

If the teams did not play one another, District XI Ranking Points will be used (using ONLY EPC 16 Games).

There could be a coin flip if ALL of the above have teams still tied (This is a distinct possibility for Allen and Liberty to determine seeds #1 and #2).

Central Catholic could also finish with the same record, but the District XI Ranking Points could keep them from the top two spots.

Conclusion:

The final regular season games are played on Monday and Tuesday and then the brackets will all be determined.  This has been a very competitive year so every game promises to be extremely exciting.

I urge all fans to come to the games, but if you cannot, RCN-TV will have the boys’ semifinals LIVE on Monday, Feb. 10 and the boys and girls championship finals on Feb. 13.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS) 

  1. The first half of the Super Bowl may not have been as riveting as we expected, but the second half sure made up for it. I am bewildered that the 49ers did not attempt to score at the end of the first half.  They could have made life miserable for the Chiefs with two consecutive possessions (end of first half and beginning of second half) allowing them to put points on the board.  You defer when you win the coin toss just to set up that situation.  They had time-outs to use and did not use them wisely.  It was a good time to go for the jugular.  They did not.
  1. Patrick Mahomes, at 24, became the youngest QB to be named the MVP of the Super Bowl. Tom Brady had that spot before Sunday Night.  The irony is that Mahomes did it in his third season while it took his head coach, Andy Reid, 21 seasons to get it done.  And being on the cover of the Madden ’20 video game did not jinx Mahomes either.
  1. Andy Reid is now guaranteed a spot in the NFL Hall of Fame – he is 7th in regular season wins; he has won 222 total games; he is 4th in playoff runs and 4th in playoff appearances for coaches with 10 or more seasons. Even Philadelphia fans have to be happy for the 61-year-old.
  1. NFL draft pick spots are determined now that the season has come to a close. The Bengals, Redskins, Lions, Giants, and Dolphins have the first five selections.  The Ravens, Titans, Packers, 49ers, and the Chiefs have the last five.  The Eagles will pick #21.  Of course, all of those slots could be changed due to trades.
  1. The regular season of high school basketball comes to a close this week with games on Monday and Tuesday night. Easton takes on Freedom on Monday at 7:00 PM and on Tuesday night, rivals Wilson and Notre Dame finish out their Colonial League season on RCN-TV at 7:00 PM.  Lafayette men are off this week, but we will have the LafayetteLehigh University men’s game on Saturday, Feb. 8 LIVE at 2:00 PM.  And then it is on to the PPL Center starting Monday, Feb. 10.

GARY’S GUESSES (LAST WEEK – 1-0)  (YEAR-TO-DATE) – 175-90-1  (66%) 

I PICKED THE SUPER BOWL WINNER! 

KANSAS CITY

Then and Now

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 is Super Bowl week!  The 54th championship game has the Kansas City Chiefs taking on the San Francisco 49ers.  The game promises to be very entertaining with two exciting, yet contrasting, offenses – one, where the pass is the focal point; the other relies heavily on the running game.  All week, you will read about the match-ups on the offensive side versus the defensive side of the ball.  Special teams will be compared and pundits will dissect the two teams to the best of their abilities.

But, this week, I came across an article by ESPN staff writer Ben Baby, where he compares the first game played on January 15, 1967, (known as the AFL-NFL World Championship Game back then) to this Sunday’s game.  His research was quite interesting.

Let’s start with ticket prices. Tickets for the ‘67 game were $6, $10, and $12.  In today’s dollars the cost would have been $93.73.  Parking for this week’s game costs more than that – an estimated $120 per vehicle.  The last he looked at ticket prices for this year’s game, the cheapest seats at the top of the stadium went for $4,750.  Club seats were selling for $31,200 on Ticketmaster.

Another startling comparison was made with linemen.  The very best back then weighed around 250 pounds.  The average size of an NFL lineman today is 313 pounds!  At the end of last year, there were 372 players listed at 300 or more pounds (352 pounds being the largest).  Every 49ers offensive lineman weighs over 300 pounds while no 1966 Green Bay Packer weighed more than 249 pounds.

Quarterback comparisons are even more shocking.  The numbers back then for yards per game, completion percentage, and passes thrown per game would be dead last in today’s game.

The first game cost CBS and NBC $1 million.  A 30-second ad today costs $5.6 million.  The Grambling State University band performed the halftime show, a far cry from J-Lo and Shakira.  The winners of game one received $15,000 and the losers got $7,500.  After this Sunday, the winners will each receive $124,000 and the losers will get $62,000.

There are no statistics on how much money was bet for game one, but billions of dollars are bet today, over one billion in Nevada alone.  Some estimate that Nevada represents only about 5% of the total amount bet on the game.  And it is believed, the “house” has suffered losses only twice in the 18 years since legal betting on the game has occurred.

I actually have watched every Super Bowl game since year one.  Trust me when I say, my weight, my income, and my energy have dramatically changed as well.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS) 

  1. Kobe Bryant transcended the world of sports with his career and life. He was the greatest of his time, but that is little consolation today.  Eight families had their lives dramatically changed in a split second on Sunday morning.  Remember them all in your thoughts.  May they all “rest in peace.”
  1. As you know, Kobe Bryant played his high school basketball just outside of Philadelphia at Lower Merion High School. If my memory serves me right, we televised one of his high school games when his team played Whitehall in the state playoffs.  Regretfully, I did another game that day and left the broadcast to another team of announcers.
  1. The Chiefs are a one-point underdog in the Super Bowl. The over/under for points scored is 54.5.  The largest bet placed on the game right now is $684,000 on the 49ers +2 in New Jersey.  I’m sure that number will be surpassed as the week progresses.  With that said, so far, in Nevada, twice as much money has been bet on the Chiefs.
  1. Is there a more inconsistent team in the NBA than the 76ers? I know, I asked this same question last week.  They won five of six in the past week and beat the Lakers on Saturday by 17 points.  Ben Simmons looks like an All-League player and rookie Matisse Thybulle plays great defense.  Soon I may be able to drop the “in” in “inconsistent”.
  1. It is hard to believe that there is only a week and a half left in the regular season for high school basketball. RCN-TV will bring you Central at Whitehall basketball on Tuesday, and this Friday night, Whitehall at Parkland will be followed by Freedom at Liberty.  Our Lafayette schedule includes the Lafayette women taking on Colgate on Wednesday night at 7:00pm and the Lafayette men playing American on Saturday at 2:00pm.  The District XI wrestling championship will be held on Saturday. RCN will have the wrestling LIVE.

GARY’S GUESSES (LAST WEEK – 2-0)  (YEAR-TO-DATE) – 174-90-1  (66%)

SUPER BOWL WINNER

KANSAS CITY

 

The Statute of Limitations

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 feel rather confident that I cannot get into trouble with this blog.  After all, in legal circles, there is something called the “statute of limitations”.  This law sets the maximum time that a person can be charged with a crime.  I believe it is normally seven years, but, at my age, I don’t care if it is seventeen, or even fifty, for that matter.  Let me explain why I bring this up now.

In the news this past week, there have been many stories about cheating.  It seems like the Houston Astros and the Boston Red Sox cheated their way to World Series championships.  They have been accused of stealing signs and it has been confirmed that they did indeed do that.  Two managers have been fired and one player, who recently became a manager, was fired before he even managed a game.

Sports cheating is not a new phenomenon.  Who has forgotten – Lance Armstrong, the East German Olympic team, Tonya Harding, Deflategate, Rosie Ruiz in the Boston Marathon, the steroids era, – and the list goes on and on.

I can sit here at my computer and tell you why cheating is wrong, but you have heard those cries before.  It is wrong and, if caught, punishment must follow.  I firmly believe the Astros and the Red Sox should lose their World Series titles.  But… I say that with a guilty conscience.

I, too, have cheated.  Is there anyone reading this who can honestly say they haven’t?  If so, I admire your integrity.  You see, back in high school, I was in the advanced classes and in the science curriculum; one had to take chemistry and physics.

I looked very closely at the value of both – would I ever need the knowledge those two subjects offered?  After a week or so in class, my answer was a resounding – “Never!” In chemistry, I already knew “absolute zero” was cold, “barometric pressure” was for weathermen only, and “valences” had something to do with electrons, but since I did not know what an electron was, I couldn’t care less.  It would take a “quantum” (get it) leap to get me interested in this stuff.

Physics was no different.  Why call something “antimatter” – isn’t that just “nothing”?  I learned about the “Big Bang Theory” on CBS, not in class.  “Dark matter” is when the electric company fails me once again and “Critical Mass”, to me, is when I am twenty pounds overweight.  Suffice it to say this was not critical knowledge to me.  And the concepts seemed impossible to learn.  So what did I do – what every industrious grade-centered student would do – I cheated.

Luckily, I had a few things going for me in both classes.  We were seated alphabetically and, after L comes M (see, I learned my alphabet because I thought that knowledge would come in handy one day).  M was very, very smart.  He’s a doctor today.  The tests were all multiple choice and I had a good sight angle from my eyes to his answers.  We were together in both classes.  Add to that the fact that my chemistry teacher was the basketball coach (I was the starting point guard) and the physics teacher was the football coach (I was the starting quarterback) and, maybe, just maybe, they did not want to catch me.  All I know is that I passed both subjects with Bs (I was smart enough not to use all of the good doctor’s answers).

I may have gotten just payback, however, before entering college.  I took the Advanced Placement tests in English, math, and Spanish.  English and math came easy – Spanish, not so much.  The entire test was in Spanish including the directions – again, it was multiple choice.  I just guessed.  To my amazement, I scored so high, I was placed in Spanish 3 and Spanish 4 instead of the introductory courses in college.  No one ever spoke a word of English in either class.  I tried to talk my way out of it, but offered up my argument in English, which I am not sure the professor understood.  So for two semesters, I did not know what anyone was saying. I got Ds.

Lest you think I am stupid (and you probably do by now), I won the Shakespeare prize and was elected to the English Honor Society.  I also was Moravian’s Scholar-Athlete in 1968.  I did well when I thought I was learning important things.

Rest assured, with all the cheating that is in the news this week, I am happy to get this off my chest.  I feel better and, oh, yeah, what can anyone do now?  Remember, there’s the “Statute of Limitations”.  Ha! Ha! Ha!

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS) 

  1. Andy Reid is back in the Super Bowl. 15 years ago Reid’s Eagles took on the New England Patriots.  There were clock management problems in that game again for Reid, something Eagles’ fans never were willing to forgive throughout his stay in Philadelphia.  You may not remember that Kyle Shanahan was the offensive coordinator for the Falcons three years ago when the Falcons gave up a 28-3 lead to the Patriots and ended up losing 34-28.  Articles will remind both coaches of those failed outcomes in the next two weeks.  The good news is one of them WILL win a Super Bowl.
  1. The Chiefs are in the Super Bowl for the first time since 1970 – that’s right – 50 years ago. Andy Reid was 11 years old.  The Chiefs beat the Minnesota Vikings that year 23-7.  It was Super Bowl IV.  Hank Stram was the coach.
  1. The 49ers won their first in 1982 when they beat the Cincinnati Bengals 26-21. Bill Walsh was the head coach.  They won four more after that in 1985, 1989, 1990, and 1995.  They lost to the Baltimore Ravens in 2013.
  1. Is there a more inconsistent team in the NBA than the 76’ers? They now have won three straight without Joel Embiid.  By next week’s end, I could be talking about a three-game losing streak – that’s just who they are.
  1. RCN-TV will bring you Allen at Liberty basketball on Tuesday and Easton at Allen followed by Central at Parkland on Friday night. Our Lafayette schedule includes the Lafayette men taking on Army on Wednesday night at 7:00pm and the Lafayette women playing Lehigh on Saturday at 2:00pm.  The EPC wrestling championship will be held on Saturday at 7:00pm.  We will have the wrestling LIVE.

GARY’S GUESSES (LAST WEEK – 2-0)  (YEAR-TO-DATE) – 174-90-1  (66%) 

SUPER BOWL PICK NEXT WEEK