Before You Ask

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 are back on the air with sports!  It was a long time coming – from our last football broadcast on November 20 until our next, January 2, there was a total of 43 days in between.  The good news is we now have a winter schedule planned.  The bad news is – it won’t quite look the same.

As I write this, we will have broadcast three Lafayette games with 12 more to follow.  We have a great relationship with the Lafayette athletic department as well as a contractual obligation to televise a specific number of Lafayette football and basketball games.  The Patriot League basketball season consists of games played exclusively on Saturday and Sunday.  Two teams play each other back-to-back and home and away each Saturday and Sunday.  We televise the women on one day and the men on the other.

This will create some disappointment for our high school fans.  There are going to be fewer high school games and fewer wrestling matches.  So, before you ask, I thought I would explain. 

Our company has accepted the responsibility to keep their employees as safe as possible and we are certainly grateful for that.  I know our fans are used to us being able to do two events on any given day or night.  Covid mitigation regulations will not allow that to happen.  In order to strictly adhere to the social distancing and mask requirements, we must use our two production trucks at a single event.  This keeps our crew at the venue properly separated and as safe as possible.  However, it also does not allow us to do two separate events.

It also requires a separate crew back at the studio because that is where the announcers are located.  I’m sure you have noted that many of the networks do not have their announcers at the venue.  Some won’t allow it; others feel it is the safest approach.

So, with the Lafayette schedule filling almost every Saturday and Sunday until at least February 21, our local high school schedule will be limited to three events (basketball and/or wrestling) per week, where we normally would do five or more, on average.

Much like all of you, we would love to get back to bringing you all the games we have in the past.  And we are sure that day will come again.  But, for right now, it is imperative that you stay safe and we stay safe.

Rest assured, we miss seeing you, talking with you, interviewing players and coaches, being with ADs and fellow media personnel, and soaking up as many events as possible.  We WILL do that again.

I anticipated you would wonder about our schedule, so I hope this gave you some insight before you asked.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

  1. The Patriot League will play a football season.  The first game is scheduled for March 13 and the schedule will conclude on April 17 with a championship game.  The League will be divided into two divisions of three teams each (North – Holy Cross, Fordham, and Colgate; South – Lafayette, Lehigh, and Bucknell).  Each team will play their two division opponents and two from the other division for a total of four games.  So… there will be a Lafayette-Lehigh game in the spring!!
  1. Eagles’ owner Jeffrey Lurie and head coach Doug Pederson met this past week and just when everyone thought both would go back to work, it appears that they may not be on the same page.  The Eagles have plenty of personnel problems, the most glaring being at quarterback.  There will also be a total revamping of the coaching staff.  Lurie and Pederson will meet again this week in Florida and Pederson’s vision for the future needs to agree more with Lurie’s or the Eagles will be looking for a new coach.
  1. Tampa Bay had not won a playoff game since 2002.  That year they won the Super Bowl.  Their quarterback is Tom Brady and, if memory serves me, he’s won Super Bowls before.  Could it be?
  1. No matter whether you were rooting for the Bucs or the Washington Football Team on Saturday night, you had to love the performance of Taylor Heinicke, who made just his second NFL start ever.  He threw for 306 yards, a touchdown, and rushed for a touchdown, while being in pain most of the game.  He even had a chance to win the game at the end.  A true underdog story – and who doesn’t like those?
  1. High school basketball returns this week.  On Friday night, RCN-TV will bring the Parkland at Central game to you LIVE at 7:00pm.  We were originally scheduled to do Freedom at Northampton, but the Bethlehem schools did not fulfill their mandated 10 pre-season practices so the game was postponed.

Gary’s Guesses: NFL Picks – (LAST WEEK – 3-3; OVERALL- 165-94-1 – 64%)

Divisional Round

Green Bay

Buffalo

Kansas City

New Orleans

 

New Year Resolutions

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.

My research tells me that New Year’s resolutions started 4,000 years ago with the Babylonians.  They actually celebrated the New Year, but it was in mid-March.  Promises were made to pay off debts, return borrowed objects, and offer loyalty to the king.

In 46 BC, Julius Caesar declared a new calendar with January 1 as the first day of the New Year.  Romans reflected back on the past year and promised they would conduct themselves properly in the coming year.

Even today, it is estimated that about 45% say they make New Year’s resolutions.  Sadly, only around 8% say they are successful about achieving those goals.  So I figured, what the heck, with 8% such a low bar, I would give it a shot:

  1. Get the Covid vaccine when I am eligible. I assume everyone’s goal is to get our lives back to some semblance of normality and I hope the vaccine accomplishes that.
  1. Stop worrying about whether to retire or not. It will happen; I am prepared for it to happen; and I’ll know when it should happen.
  1. Do not ask my wife, “What’s for dinner?” She is so sick of hearing that question and I get it.  We pretty much stopped asking, “Where should we go to eat?” this past year.  I want to say that more often in 2021.
  1. Get all the doctor checkups that are appropriate. Stop putting them off (another colonoscopy comes to mind).
  1. Plan vacations! It feels good just to type those words.  I can’t wait to travel again.  This past year allowed zero opportunities to get away.  That has to end.
  1. Keep reading. Being stuck at home allowed for more diverse and more in-depth reading of newspapers, magazines, and books.  I think I am smarter now.
  1. Clean out the basement. I have more clothes than you can possibly imagine.  We used to own a store and when we sold it, we brought home many of the store racks.  I have found a way to fill them all.  Despite giving away large amounts to charity every few months, they still seem to somehow multiply in the basement.
  1. Keep walking. My wife and I love to take walks.  It at least gives me the illusion that I am exercising.  You’ll notice “exercise more” is not on the list.
  1. Start shopping again. I am so sick of the Covid wardrobe – sweat pants and a sweatshirt.  I want some new clothes – I know, just go down in the basement.
  1. Improve my golf game – okay, now I have gone too far. I have moved into the realm of the impossible.

So, there you have it – my goals for 2021.  I do not have a lot of confidence I will join the 8%!

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

  1. The Patriot League basketball season got off to a rather ominous start with four Men’s games and four Women’s games postponed due to Covid in the first weekend.
  1. Speaking of the Patriot League, there is an expression in sports that has become a cliché – “That’s why they play the game”. That was never more accurate than this past weekend’s games between Colgate and Army.  On Saturday, at West Point, Colgate destroyed Army 101-57.  On Sunday, in Hamilton, NY, Army beat Colgate 75-73.  That’s why they play the game.
  1. It is not often that my wife brings me a good sports story (like never). But this past week, there was an article in the Ukrainian Weekly (yes, she subscribes) about the massive impact Ukrainians have had on the NHL.  There is a documentary out called Uke that gives the history of that impact.  For example, 50 players of Ukrainian descent have hoisted the Stanley Cup.  Only Canadians and Americans have more.  Wayne Gretsky, who many believe was the greatest hockey player of all time, tells of his Ukrainian upbringing.  There will be an English version and my wife and I will watch it.
  1. The Jacksonville Jaguars will get the first pick for the NFL draft. The assumption has been that it will be Clemson’ QB Trevor Lawrence.  But if you watched the ClemsonOhio State game, you might think the better pick would be Ohio State QB Justin Fields.  That night, Fields was better.  The Eagles will pick sixth.
  2. And, finally, speaking of the Eagles, I imagine the Giants were very unhappy with Doug Pederson Sunday night in the Eagles’ loss to the Redskins. The Eagles had a chance to kick a tying field goal at one point and did not, failing to make a fourth down conversion.  They also brought in third-string QB Nate Sudfeld in the fourth quarter in a 17-14 game.  Washington won and will play in the playoffs, eliminating the Giants.

Gary’s Guesses: NFL Picks – (LAST WEEK – 11-5; OVERALL- 162-91-1 – 64%) 

Wild Card Weekend

Buffalo

Seattle

Tampa Bay

Tennessee

New Orleans

Pittsburgh

 

Happy New Year 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.

Gary’s Guesses: NFL Picks – (LAST WEEK – 10-6; OVERALL- 151-86-1 – 64%)

Washington

Indianapolis

Green Bay

Dallas

Pittsburgh

Tennessee

New Orleans

Jets

Minnesota

Tampa Bay

Baltimore

Miami

Kansas City

Green Bay

Las Vegas

LA Rams

                  

 

 

Behind the Mic: Merry Christmas!

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.

 

and

Gary’s Guesses: NFL Picks – (LAST WEEK – 10-6; OVERALL- 141-80-1 – 64%)

  • New Orleans
  • Tampa Bay
  • Arizona
  •  Miami
  • Kansas City
  • Cleveland
  • Indianapolis
  • Washington
  • Chicago
  • Baltimore
  • Houston
  • LA Chargers
  • Philadelphia
  • Seattle
  • Green Bay
  • Buffalo

Living the (Pipe) Dream

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 played basketball for two years and baseball for four years at Moravian College.  Growing up, like most kids, I dreamt of someday being a professional baseball player.  In college, I won some awards (MAC and BML Pitcher of the Year, Scholar Athlete) and even had a one day tryout with the Pirates.

Eventually, however, common sense won out and I realized there was no way I was talented enough to pursue that dream.  I looked at the odds.  Only 5.6% of high school baseball players go on to play in college let alone the pros.  And only 0.5% of high school seniors are eventually drafted by the major leagues.  Bottom line – the chance of a high school player making the big leagues is 1 in 6,600 or 0.015 %.  Lottery odds are better.  At least I had my education to fall back on. 

This brings me to David Bednar.  David grew up in the Pittsburgh area and went to Mars High School, where he played baseball for his father.  Yes, he was a Martian.  He was a good high school pitcher, but there were only three colleges interested in him.  None of them were baseball powerhouses.

Lafayette was one of them.  He matriculated and played baseball there for three years and then was drafted as the 1044th player in the 35th round of the MLB draft.  You really can’t get much lower.  Only 8 players have EVER made the Major Leagues who were drafted in the 35th round.

David was three years into a highly valued and quality education.  There appeared to be only one right decision here – be realistic and stay in school and get the degree.  David Bednar decided otherwise.

He is now pitching for the San Diego Padres in the Major Leagues.  I will let him tell you his story.  The interview starts at the 2:54 mark:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qrr7ut8Vuf0&feature=youtu.be

From Mars to Lafayette to the Major Leagues is certainly a road less traveled.

It makes me wonder if I… Get over it!!!

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

  1. I asked this question last week – “What do the Eagles do now? After Sunday’s game with the Packers, it seemed obvious that Jalen Hurts outplayed Carson Wentz.  Hurts inserted instant energy into the offense; threw a touchdown pass; and made quicker decisions to run the ball.  Do they bench Wentz?”  They did bench Wentz; Hurts did many of the same things he did the week before – inserted energy; ran for over 100 yards; threw a TD pass; and helped the Eagles win the game.  Now the Eagles have a $128 million problem or they have two potentially very good QBs.
  1. There certainly some irony in Monday night’s game between the Cleveland Browns and the Baltimore Ravens.  Twenty-five years ago, Cleveland’s owner, Art Modell, packed up the Browns and moved them to Baltimore.  It has taken the “new” Browns 25 years to be competitive again.  They are this year.  Yet they still lost to the Ravens on Monday night on a last- second field goal.  Poor Karma.
  1. Is it me or does it seem like there are plenty of teams that could win the Super Bowl?  Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Green Bay, New Orleans, and the Rams are the frontrunners, but all six of them have appeared vulnerable at times.  There certainly is no lock on these six being the only possibilities either.
  1. Junior Jahan Dotson, of Nazareth High School and Penn State, had another big weekend as he caught eight passes for 108 yards and returned a punt for 81 yards and a touchdown on Saturday against Michigan State.  There is talk that Jahan could leave for the NFL after this season.  That would just add another NFL team to watch each week – the Eagles, the Giants with Saquon Barkley, and wherever Jahan would go.  It’s a nice problem to have – but don’t ask my wife.
  1. You may have noticed that my “Guesses” have gone down percentage-wise these last few weeks.  The NFL stats show why – underdogs are covering the point spread 57% of the time.  That’s the highest percentage since 1980.  Bettors, who often favor the favorite, are suffering because of it.

Gary’s Guesses: NFL Picks – (LAST WEEK – 9-8; OVERALL- 131-74-1 – 64%)               

Las Vegas

Green Bay

Buffalo

Indianapolis

Tennessee

LA Rams

Tampa Bay

Miami

Seattle

Minnesota

Baltimore

Cleveland

Philadelphia

Kansas City

San Francisco

Pittsburgh

 

 

 

A Very Bad Winter

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 an avid viewer of World News Tonight With David Muir.  I TIVO it every night and watch it religiously.  I am beginning to think it is not a good idea.

The stories do not vary much anymore.  There are the horrible numbers associated with Covid in terms of cases, deaths, and economic impact.  The promise of a surge has come to fruition and now there is talk of a “surge upon the surge”.  The Thanksgiving family gatherings are just beginning to show their impact on the already increasing numbers and the Christmas holiday is right around the corner.  That can only mean increased numbers.

Add to the dismal picture of our near future to the nightly stories about the heroic efforts by our medical teams; wildfires in California; heavy rains everywhere but California; families in desperate need of food to feed their families; unemployment; businesses forced to close; and the tragedy of the extraordinarily high number of deaths caused by so many factors.  This list could go on and on. Could 2020 possibly get any worse?

The only “light” at the end of this very dark tunnel is there appears to be vaccines on the way.  But that story is always followed by the one saying that only about 56% of Americans will take the vaccine.  Even some good news is stifled by knowing that around 44% of the population might still be willing to walk around infecting others and themselves rather than take the injection.

Everything right now is so psychologically bleak that I wondered, under normal circumstances in a normal time, what signs in the past would have foreshadowed a bad winter?  I actually found a list generated by Cleveland weatherman Dick Goddard, which was published in 2019.  Here are 10 of the signs on his list:

  1. Woodpeckers sharing a tree.
  2. The early departure of geese and ducks.
  3. The early migration of the Monarch butterfly.
  4. Heavy and numerous fogs during August.
  5. Mice chewing furiously to get into your home.
  6. The early arrival of crickets on the hearth.
  7. Spiders spinning larger-than-usual webs.
  8. Ants marching in a line rather than meandering.
  9. Early seclusion of bees within a hive.
  10. Squirrels gathering nuts early to fortify against a hard winter

I believe I can safely say that all of us would love to watch any one of these stories on the Nightly News, rather than what we are watching now.  Please follow the guidelines; stay safe; and hope for better newscasts.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

  1. The following email was sent out this past Friday by the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference:

On Friday, December 4, 2020, The Board of Principals of the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference voted (17-1) to further delay the start of the EPC Winter Athletic Competition Schedule to January 15, 2021. This difficult decision was made after review and consideration of additional data and advice relating to the current pandemic from both St. Luke’s University Health Network and The Lehigh Valley Health Network. Revised schedules for winter sports will be released by Friday, December 11th.

This means our high school sports season is on hold until January.

  1. Try to figure this one out – in Ohio, in response to the virus, high school wrestlers will be allowed to wrestle, but at the end of the match, the wrestlers will not be allowed to shake hands.  Now, that should control the spread.
  1. What do the Eagles do now?  After Sunday’s game with the Packers, it seemed obvious that Jalen Hurts outplayed Carson Wentz.  Hurts inserted instant energy into the offense; threw a touchdown pass; and made quicker decisions to run the ball.  Do they bench Wentz?
  1. The Eagles and their fans suffered a double whammy on Sunday when the Giants beat Seattle in Seattle and the Washington Football Team beat the previously undefeated Steelers.  The Giants after starting 0-5 have now won 5 of their last 7.  Head coach Joe Judge has his team playing at a high level and the Giants have taken over first place in the NFC East.  And Washington is getting better each week.  The Eagles are not.
  1. On Thursday night at 8:00pm, I will be interviewing David Bednar, relief pitcher for the San Diego Padres.  Why, you might ask?  He was a member of the Lafayette baseball team, drafted in the 35th round and the 1,044th player chosen.  Only 5% of players drafted after the 21st round ever make the major leagues.  You can watch the interview by going to www.Goleopards.com and signing up.

Gary’s Guesses: NFL Picks – (LAST WEEK – 9-6; OVERALL- 122-66-1 – 65%)                  

Baltimore – Tuesday

New England

Chicago

Tennessee

Carolina

Tampa Bay

Giants

Kansas City

Dallas

Seattle

Indianapolis

Green Bay

San Francisco

Atlanta

New Orleans

Pittsburgh

Cleveland

 

The “Virtual” Telethon

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 obvious that this year, more than ever before, a greater number of people are in need of our help.  And, ironically, since more and more people are suffering from the physical and financial effects of the Coronavirus, there are probably fewer people to count on for that help.  But the need for help has not changed.

In addition to that, ways of doing things have completely been altered, which brings me to the 35th Annual Dream Come True Telethon, which is held the first Monday of December every year.  RCN has hosted all 35.  I have co-hosted or appeared since the beginning and will once again be joined by the Executive Director of Dream Come True, Rayann Vasco.

The Dream Come True organization, in case you did not know, was founded in 1984 by Kostas Kalogeropoulous, a local businessman.  The goal of the organization is simple – fulfill the dreams of children who are seriously, chronically, and terminally ill and reside in the greater Lehigh Valley area.  Children are referred by family, friends, clergy, doctors, social workers, etc. and the dreams usually fall into three categories – trips, contact with celebrities, and special gifts (computers, shopping sprees, for example).  The organization has also helped with scholarships and, when sadly necessary, funerals.

This year, as I’m sure you have suspected, will be like no others.  In the past, telethon highlights have centered on the many school groups and adult organizations that stop by the studio for some good-natured conversation.  They tell the story of their reasons for getting involved in DCT, their unique way of raising money, and then they present a check to help satisfy the dreams of the children.  That format has worked for 34 years.

Not this year.  The Covid virus has forced us to go “virtual”.  Instead of having groups coming to the studio, we have had to figure out how to keep them and you involved, while maintaining a safe environment for everyone.  We think we have done that.

Because everything was done virtually, I had the opportunity to ZOOM with Dream recipients all across the country, something we could not do in our studio.  Their stories are amazing, and I mean amazing, and certainly demonstrate the value of your donations.  You need to watch them.  We  also got a bit nostalgic and went into our archives to find performances by the Dream Kids, our most popular entertainment over the years.  They will get you into the holiday spirit.

And it is not a Telethon without the help of my co-hosts.  Scott Barr and Devin Almonte will be joining the program again (virtually) this year. Scott and I have spent this night together for many, many years and I would not want to work with anyone else.  Devin joined us last year and did a marvelous job with the auction and the interviews with the children. Devin works for QVC and Scott certainly could.  They are terrific!  The difference is that we have all worked apart this time, but the cause remains a common one.  Here are the specifics:

2020 Dream Come True Telethon & Online Auction
35th
Annual Dream Come True Telethon
Benefit for Seriously, Chronically and Terminally Ill Children

 The 35th ANNUAL DREAM COME TRUE TELETHON will take place on Monday, December 7, 2020 from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. RCN customers in the Lehigh Valley (Channel 4 |1004 in HD), and Delaware County (Channel 8 |608 in HD), can watch live on RCN TV. The goal of the telethon is to increase awareness of Dream Come True, an organization that raises funds to grant the dreams of children who are terminally, chronically, and severely ill.

The online auction began Monday, November 23 and will close Monday, December 7 at 9:00 p.m. Please check the auction site frequently as new auction items could continue to be added!  You will find a variety of special items. If you want something really unique that cannot be found in any store, tune in and bid on the items.  You will make our night and, more importantly, help to make some child’s dream come true.  Just go to https://www.biddingowl.com/Auction/home.cfm?auctionID=2691

Please check the auction site frequently, new auction items will continue to be added!  As I write this, there are 57 items available for bid.

100% of the proceeds raised from the auctions go directly to Dream Come True.  

Watch. Bid. Donate.

For more information and background on the organization, go to www.dreamcometrue.org    

Thank you in advance for your consideration and support! Your donation will help make a child’s dream come true!

The important facts again are:

The Date: Monday, December 7

The Time: 6:00 – 9:00 PM

The Purpose: To fulfill as many hopes, dreams and fantasies for seriously, chronically, and terminally ill children as possible

The Phone Number to Make a Donation: 610-865-3475 (It is only a single line, so please be patient if you get a busy signal)

All proceeds from the online and on-air auctions go directly to Dream Come True.

Thank you, in advance, for your consideration and support!  Your donation will help make a child’s dream come true! 

 ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

  1. How the mighty have fallen!  Watching the Michigan-Penn State football game on Saturday afternoon was a sad reminder of how this year the two mighty programs have regressed.  My hope is that we can blame it on 2020 and they both will back to their lofty perches next year.
  1. Did you know that this would have been the last regular season game in college football?  Rivalry games would have been played around the country and teams would be fighting for a spot in their conference championships.  Not in 2020.
  1. As the NFL continues to try to complete their season, two teams, the Tennessee Titans and the New England Patriots, have been fined $350,000 each by the NFL due to individuals not wearing masks.  New Orleans was fined $500,000 this week.  More and more games are getting postponed as the season progresses. Will they make it to the end?
  1. The Eagles did not have a first down in the first half against Seattle on Monday night.  Even though the defense played well, the offense again was awful until it was too late.  There are rumblings that Carson Wentz will be on the trading block.  But then what?  No QB can be successful with this offensive line.  So which came first – the bad QB or the bad offensive line?  Talk amongst yourselves.
  1. It seems college basketball grows on me as the season moves on.  Unlike college football, I do not get that interested early on and then it gradually grabs a hold.  By January, I start to get wrapped up in the matchups, the rankings, and the broadcasts.  I wonder what Covid will do to that process.

Gary’s Guesses: NFL Picks – (LAST WEEK – 10-5; OVERALL- 113-60-1 – 65%)

Pittsburgh (Thursday)

Seattle

Las Vegas

Chicago

Miami

Houston

Minnesota

Pittsburgh

New Orleans

Tennessee

Arizona

Green Bay

New England

Baltimore

Buffalo

 

 

 

“Thanks” Giving

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.


Below is a blog I wrote last year.  Since my feelings have not changed, it is still quite appropriate so I have decided to repeat it again
with some additions in italics because of 2020:

I heard two sentences this week that really hit home.  The words were even more poignant since this is Thanksgiving week.  

The first sentence came from a gentleman in his ‘80’s.   He said, “Growing old is good”.  I thought about that since I am getting up there or, as my younger friends constantly remind me, I have already gotten there.  It is good.  Every day is a new challenge but every day is welcomed.

Sunday night on 60 Minutes, a former NFL player who now suffers from ALS said that when others listen to his optimistic outlook despite being diagnosed with a shortened life, they very often end their encounter with him by saying, “God bless you”.  His response is always the same, “He already has”.

For some reason, these two sentences meant a great deal to me.  I know I often try to fill these pages with sports stories, but not this week.  I have plenty to be thankful for.  I, along with many others, I’m sure, rarely verbalize it.  Since I have this venue, this is as good a time as any to say “Thank you”.

Thanks to my wife of 57 years.  She has always been my rock.  I’m not so sure about me.  People who know me and then see her often say to her “You must be a Saint”.  I can tell you she is.  These past eight months have added to her sainthood resume.

Thanks to my children and grandchildren.  For my wife, Luba and I, they are our pride and joy.  They are all successful, caring, and nice people.  And they are happy.  What more could any parent or grandparent want?  Maybe getting together for Thanksgiving, but we all decided not to do it this year.

Thanks to RCN.  My occupational ventures have taken me from the classroom to the broadcasting booth.  The ride has been spectacular.  I started with Twin-County, stayed on with C-Tec, and continue the journey with RCN.  Vocationally, it is the best time of my life and the company continues to allow this guy to represent them in public.  I really appreciate that.  The company deserves special thanks this year – they have kept us all safe and employed.  They have allowed us to adapt to the new “normal” and, in doing so, have kept serving our customers with the highest standards.

Thanks to the viewers.  They are appreciative.  They complain when we do not games, but even that is a compliment in a way.  And when they offer criticism, we take it to heart and try to get better.

Thanks to the athletic directors, the coaches, and the statisticians.  This job would be a nightmare without their help.  Luckily they ALL help.  This Corona year has made their jobs even more of a nightmare, but they got through the ever-changing fall season by always looking out for the safety and well-being of the student-athletes under their domain.

Thanks to the student-athletes.  If you want to feel and stay young, hang around young people.  I know every time I interview a Lafayette student, I come away thinking these are the citizens who will fix the world.  I truly feel badly for all the athletes whose seasons were curtailed, postponed, or eliminated this past year.  Health priorities took precedence as they should have, but many memories cannot be captured.  Hopefully, we are all stronger and healthier because of those decisions.

Special thanks to the RCN television team.  There are so many workers (and, boy, do they work) who run the wires, set up the cameras, the audio, the graphics, and the booths for every game only to tear it down and do it all over again many times each week.  This year was like no other forcing us to adapt to a new way of doing things.  Due to the ingenuity of the RCN crew, we were able to bring you sports with a team that took every precaution to stay safe, even having us announce games without actually being at the event.  It wasn’t the same, but it worked. 

Thanks to Kristin Vitovitch and congratulations to her.  She recently was given a well-deserved promotion in our HR Department.  I have lost a valuable partner, but am ecstatic that her talents continue to be recognized! You go, girl!!

Thanks to Joanne G.  She has to read and edit this blog every week.  So at least I know one person has read it and corrected it.  She keeps me out of trouble and I thank her for that and feel a little sorry for her.  This is my 400th blog – 400th!  She continues to be my first line of defense from making a fool of myself.

Making this list felt good.  And, to review, – , “Growing old is good” and God has blessed me.

 Happy Thanksgiving to you!  

 ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

  1. The high school football season could not have had a better game to finish off this crazy year.  I hope you watched the FreedomNazareth game on Friday night.  Nazareth won their second straight 6A championship by a 37-29 score, but Freedom fought to the very end with an interception by Nazareth in the end zone ending the game.  Both teams deserve praise for their efforts.

  2. What has happened to Penn State football?  Iowa beat them this past Saturday 41-21 and they dropped to 0-5 for the first time ever.  They have allowed 30 or more points in every game this year and the offense looks just as bad.  Blue and White fans will not be pleased with head coach James Franklin.  Michigan is next and they are 1-3.
  1. The Eagles are a bad football team.  Their offensive line is just awful; Carson Wentz is overthrowing and underthrowing everybody except the opposition; the defense is tasked with making too many plays; and the coaching staff is at a loss how to overcome these problems. The Eagles play Seattle, Green Bay, New Orleans, and Arizona in the next four weeks and there does not seem to be a win there.  Wow!
  1. As we try to anticipate a winter season of basketball and football, some schools are already putting everything on hold.  Liberty, Freedom, and Palmerton are all holding off practices until the middle of January and games until the end of January.  It’s hard to imagine that others will not do the same.
  1. The Dream Come True Telethon will be virtual this year.  It will be aired on RCN-TV on Monday, December 7.  While this year is different, every day Lehigh Valley children are affected by life-altering illnesses. Now more than ever, we are counting on you to tune in, donate and help kids live their dreams.  Bid on YOUR dream items in our auction, or donate to help us make more dreams come true! Visit www.rcn.com/RCNTV for more information.

Gary’s Guesses: NFL Picks – (LAST WEEK – 6-8; OVERALL- 103-55-1 – 65%)

Houston

Dallas

Pittsburgh

Giants

Miami

Las Vegas

New England

Cleveland

Carolina

Indianapolis

Buffalo

New Orleans

LA Rams

Kansas City

Green Bay

Seattle

 

 

Wrestling and Basketball

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 we approach the final week and a half of high school football, the country continues to be in an even stronger coronavirus grip.  We have seen in the fall that many games never got played, that teams were forced to bow out of the playoffs, and that administrators battled with what decisions to make week in and week out.

Now that the football season is ending, it’s time to move indoors, which presents even greater challenges.  With those challenges in mind, the Colonial League, East Penn Conference, and the Patriot League all announced their plans for the winter season with mitigation plans in mind.  Here are the results of those meetings:

The Colonial League

With 12 teams that wrestle and 13 that play basketball, each team will play or wrestle all other teams one time.

The first scheduled basketball games will be played on 12/11/20 with wrestling starting the following day.  There will be no games from 12/24/20 through 1/10/21.  The schedule will pick up again on 1/11/21.

The EPC

The Conference will be divided into three divisions:

Lehigh: Allen, Central Catholic, Dieruff, Emmaus, Parkland, and Whitehall

Monroe: ESNorth, ES South, Pleasant Valley, PM East, PM West, Stroudsburg

Northampton: Bethlehem Catholic, Easton, Freedom, Liberty, Nazareth, Northampton

Wrestling – The schools will wrestle each team in their division twice for a total of 10 contests.

Basketball – Each basketball team would play each divisional opponent three times for a total of 15 games.

Much like the Colonial League, the basketball season begins on 12/15/20 and wrestling begins the following day.  There will be a schedule shutdown from 12/24/20-1/14/21.

The Patriot League

The Patriot League will be composed of three mini-conferences for both the men and the women, established by geographical locations:

North: Army, Boston University, Colgate, Holy Cross

Central: Bucknell, Lafayette, Lehigh

South: American, Loyola Maryland, Navy

Each team will play 16 games playing each conference opponent four times with Lafayette adding two games against American and two games against Boston University in order to complete a 16-game schedule.  Each team will play an opponent on back-to-back Saturdays and Sundays. No weekday games are scheduled.

Games will begin on 1/2/21 and go through 2/21/21 with no breaks scheduled.

As was the case in the fall, the major concern is to keep everyone as safe as possible while allowing competition to go on.  Time will tell if that is at all possible.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

  1. I thought I was watching Tin Cup on Sunday when Tiger Woods took a 10 on the 10th hole at Augusta National. He hit into the water three times and put his highest score on his card ever.  In a Masters practice round, Jon Rahm showed everyone how to play the water:

https://www.theguardian.com/sport/video/2020/nov/10/pond-to-pin-jon-rahm-hits-amazing-water-shot-at-masters-practice-video

  1. Dustin Johnson, who does not have the most sparkling personality, but does have one of the greatest golf games right now, managed to make the Masters a rather dull affair. I’m sure CBS was hoping that someone would challenge Johnson before the NFL games began and, early on, it looked like that would happen.  But by 1:00pm, when kickoffs were happening across the networks, Johnson held a commanding lead and never wavered.  I wonder how many switched the dial.
  1. Wow – the Eagles looked awful on Sunday. 0-9 on third down is incomprehensible; Carson Wentz is overthrowing everybody; the defense made very few plays; and coaching decisions were hard to justify.  The Eagles play Cleveland, Seattle, Green Bay, New Orleans, and Arizona in the next five weeks and should be underdogs in every one of those games.  Yikes!
  1. I was very excited last week when my #7 seed Wilson Warriors beat #2 seed Pottsville in the District football quarterfinals. That joy was eliminated this week when, due to Covid, the Warriors were forced to withdraw from the playoffs.  So they end the season with a terrific win and a disappointing withdrawal.  “The thrill of victory; the agony of defeat.”
  1. District playoff action comes to a conclusion this week in high school football. We think we have two really good match-ups for you on Thursday and Friday nights at 7:00 PM.  Central Catholic will take on Northwestern on Thursday night for the 4A title.  Freedom will play Nazareth on Friday night for the 6A championship.  Nazareth is undefeated and Freedom’s only loss was to Nazareth.  You’re invited to join us.


Gary’s Guesses: NFL Picks – (LAST WEEK – 9-5; OVERALL- 97-47-1 – 67%)

Seattle

LA Chargers

Philadelphia

Atlanta

Philadelphia

New England

Pittsburgh

Indianapolis

Cincinnati

Baltimore

Minnesota

Kansas City

Miami

Tampa Bay

 

 

The Toughest Opponent

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 the District XI was in the unenviable position of trying to play schedule a playoff football schedule. In the scope of things, I know that is not so important. And rest assured, I am not making light of what is happening here in Pennsylvania and across the nation.  In just this past weekend alone, Pennsylvania Covid case numbers skyrocketed to over 9,000 with no sign of diminishing.  The situation seems to worsen every day with daily tragic results.

And, yet we try to find ways to maintain some semblance of normalcy in our everyday existence.  In this environment, the District XI athletic committee has tried to put together a football championship tournament.  Knowing the powers that be, they must be literally pulling their hair out, what little they have (that’s for Jason and Bob).

For high school football, what transpired the past ten days or so has shown what this pandemic can do to any attempt at normality.  After a shortened regular season, the tournament brackets were put in place.  In all honesty, the bracketing looked quite like it has in past years.  It appeared that the season would continue towards champions being crowned in the six categories.

But this is 2020 – the year of chaos where nothing seems to go right.  The Covid scheduling nightmare all started in the 4A bracket.  Saucon Valley was forced to withdraw from the tournament.  They were replaced by Bangor, who a few days later, also, withdrew from the playoffs.   Central Catholic would advance without playing a game.

Next up was the 5A bracket – #1 seed East Stroudsburg South (4-0) said they were out.  They had their best team in decades.  Many thought they could challenge for a state title.   Now their season was over.  Pocono Mountain East (1-3) would automatically now play for the championship.

The 6A bracket followed the strangest path of all. Earlier last week, #4 seed Stroudsburg had to drop out of the 6A bracket, meaning Parkland would advance without playing their Friday game.  Then Stroudsburg said they could play this past Friday, but their opponent, Parkland, now said they could not play – Stroudsburg was back in; Parkland was now out.  Are you following this?  It doesn’t end there.

Friday, while I was on my way to do the EastonEmmaus game, I received word that the #1seed and undefeated Nazareth Blue Eagles were forced to drop out of the tournament.  But wait!  On Sunday, it was announced that Nazareth was back into the tournament if Pleasant Valley would agree to play them on Monday night.  PV graciously said they would.  Nazareth won and continues on.

We move into another week with championships to be decided in 1A, 3A, and 5A and semifinals due to be played in 2A, 4A, and 6A.  But with each day, what is obvious is that the toughest opponent for everyone right now is the Covid virus.  Stay safe.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

  1. On Friday night, the 6A football game between Easton and Emmaus was one of the best of the year. Easton upset Emmaus 28-23 with the game coming down to the final minute.  Easton’s Marcus Williams put on quite a performance with 314 yards of total offense.  He scored on two kickoff returns of 94 and 96 yards.  He scored a touchdown on a 65 yard run and he caught a 21 yard pass for a touchdown.  That’s right – 4 touchdowns.  He finished the night intercepting an Emmaus pass inside the Easton 20 stopping a game-winning drive.  A performance for the ages.
  1. I haven’t mentioned any gambling stories this year, but with legal betting now happening all over, here is a good one: On Friday, a bettor in Las Vegas bet $4,000 that he could pick seven correct winners in college and pro games. The odds were 110-1.  His picks were: Maryland over Penn State (a 4 TD favorite), Liberty over Virginia Tech (a 17-point favorite), and favorites Oklahoma, Ohio State, Appalachian State, and Iowa State. He picked all 6 correctly.  The only game left was the Steelers (14-point favorites) over the Cowboys.  At the half, the Steelers trailed 13-9 and Ben Roethlisberger was being treated for a knee injury.  Roethlisberger returned and the Steelers won 24-19, knocking down a pass in the end zone by the Cowboys as time ran out.  The payoff for the bettor was $438,643!
  1. The Bills beat Seattle on Sunday. They are now 7-2, behind 8-0 Pittsburgh and 8-1 Kansas City, which makes their road to the #1 seed in the AFC a tough one.  Are they Super Bowl possibilities?
  1. You may not know that I went to Wilson High School. I say that because the biggest upset in the District XI tournament so far happened this past Friday night.  The #7 seed, Wilson beat the #2 seed and defending District champion, Pottsville, 18-14.  “Give me a W, give me an I, give me an L, etc”
  1. District playoff action continues this week in high school football. We think we have a really good match-up for you on Friday night at 7:00 PM when Easton travels to Freedom.  The two teams met in Week 2 with Freedom winning 21-14.  Freedom has since replaced their quarterback and Easton had to replace their top running back.  It should be a good one.

Gary’s Guesses: NFL Picks – (LAST WEEK – 10-4; OVERALL- 88-42-1 – 68%)

Tennessee

Pittsburgh

Detroit

Cleveland

Green Bay

Philadelphia

Carolina

Las Vegas

Buffalo

LA Rams

New Orleans

Baltimore

Miami

Minnesota