Behind the Mic: Father’s Day

Due to a Monday commitment, which is the day I usually write my blog, I am sitting at my computer Sunday morning contemplating what to write about.  I have already been reminded that it is Father’s Day by my two daughters who have sent their well-wishes and will visit later in the day.  They have both made my wife and I very proud as both successful citizens, employees (one in hospital management and the other as an ultrasound technician), and, most importantly, excellent parents.  And they, for me, are what makes my Father’s Day enjoyable and special. They are the “end products” of what my wife did as a mother and, in some fashion, what I did as a father.

When we sit around the kitchen table, which we do quite often, conversation often turns to those moments when I did not do such a good job.  I vividly remember keeping Natalie from going to her first school dance because she could not find her music book when her instructor came to the house for weekly music lessons.  His trip was a wasted one, and it became obvious that Natalie had not practiced all week.  It also was the night of her first dance.  I laid down an ultimatum- if she didn’t find the book; she couldn’t go to the dance that night.  After hours of tears and frustration, the book was not found and she did not go to the dance.  I felt terrible, but I hoped that she learned a lesson.  The next morning the music teacher called to tell me that he had Natalie’s book in his briefcase – he had accidently taken it home with him the week before.

When Christine was working in banking, she was to go to a seminar in the Poconos.  She wanted to do what other employees were going to do, take her boyfriend with her because there was going to be time for socialization.  My wife and I were not comfortable letting our unmarried daughter go away for the weekend with this young man (my, how times have changed).  It created an uncomfortable moment for us with our daughter, the young man, and his parents.  And, of course, they stayed together and are now married.

These are just two examples of many where I screwed up as a father.  I am quite proud, however, that we made the girls work throughout high school, got them involved in extracurricular activities, and taught them to do the right thing.  They never let us down.

My own father died in his early sixties, but he worked hard to financially support his family, cheered his four children on in all that we did, and made us responsible for our actions.  He was certainly my role model.

So, as I sit here on Father’s Day morning, knowing that gifts are forthcoming and a nice card and a little more precious time to reminisce once again about fatherhood, I really believe that this day should be more about a father’s children.  They, more than anything, are the true measure of what Father’s Day is all about.

And, because that is my mindset, I will thoroughly enjoy this day.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

  1. The RCN-TV crew spent Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday at Penn State this past week in order to do the statewide broadcast of the PIAA baseball championships for PCN. Due to the weather, two of the games scheduled for Thursday were postponed until Friday.  We normally would do all four games in one day.  This was one of the few times that the crew was glad to see rain.  Two games one day and two games the next is a much more enjoyable experience for all of us.  Four games in one day is not an enjoyable experience.
  2. Since we were at State College, we were not all that far away from Oakmont, where the US Open was being played in Pittsburgh. The USGA was faced with the same weather problems on Thursday, but somehow they logistically figured it all out to get everyone back on track by Sunday afternoon. Now that is a scheduling nightmare, but it got accomplished.
  3. If you do not like golf or golf broadcasts, you should, at least, respect the honesty of the players. Shane Lowry who was leading the US Open as I write this, called a one-stroke penalty on himself on Saturday because as he addressed his ball to putt on the 16th green, the ball moved ever so slightly.  He did not touch it, but it did move.  He stopped play, called over an official, explained the rule violation and took the one-stroke penalty.  If he doesn’t win, let’s hope he does not lose by a stroke.
  4. Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors has threatened to cut off the WiFi in his house to keep his wife Ayesha from tweeting. She tweeted that the NBA was rigged for money after Game Six, when her husband fouled out. I’m sure the NBA frowned on that.
  5. Watch Blue Mountain League baseball every Tuesday for the next six weeks on RCN-TV. It’s good baseball played by guys who play for fun and love the game.

The SportsTalk Shop: BML Playoff Primer

 

It has been another great season for the Blue Mountain League—especially when you consider that it is an expansion year. Entering the final week of the regular season, there are still many important games yet to be played that will determine which teams will make the 2014 playoffs.

And to be clear, even with so many teams so close together in the standings, the baseball this season has been of good quality rather than mediocrity. I believe all those fighting for the six playoff spots are strong teams who have had outstanding seasons. I honestly haven’t seen a “bad” or poorly played ball game in years (including our broadcasts, covering games for “RCN SportsTalk” and just attending games as a fan). The games are low-scoring with very few errors and good pitching each night. With that in mind, we take a closer look at all the teams that I have seen in person that are fighting for a playoff berth.

Bulls
The Bulls have ascended from the middle of the pack to recently taking over the #1 spot in the league (including two dramatic wins on RCN-TV that were part of their second half success). Player/Manager Mike Cudwadie spoke with me about the team’s approach a few weeks ago: don’t make mistakes and take advantage of every opportunity the opponent gives you. They have nine players with a batting average of .300 or better (with at least 33 plate appearances) and their pitchers collectively have a very impressive 2.65 ERA. Their key turning point this year was coming back from a 7-4 deficit with one out in the 7th inning to winning the game in extras.

Giants
I am thrilled to see Manager Ed Wandler’s team very much in the hunt for the top spot in the playoffs. No team has had more hard-luck losses over the last several seasons. Wandler has taken lumps in previous years by acquiring very young talent. However, he has groomed them through more than their share of one-run losses while building his players’ confidence and fundamentals for the game. Pat Kregeloh and Preston Koehler have two home runs each and have combined for 25 RBI this season. Ben Hammel, Justin Aungst and Darron Whitmore are the Giants’ pitchers who have the most wins heading into the regular season’s final week.

Royals
The 2012 BML champs had spent nearly the entire regular season in first place (their lead vacillated between one and three games over the last month). The team boasts some of the league’s best hitters in Ricky Rivera, Ian Burley, Logan Winchester and Dave Toth and three of the top pitchers (Ryan Amey, Jeff LaPorta and Jim Sawyer—all with ERAs under 3). Despite several tough opponents during the final week, Hellertown should qualify for the postseason and will be a very tough match-up in a short series with three great starters anchoring their pitching staff.

Dodgers
Like Northampton, the Dodgers have had some tough previous seasons and have had their share of tough losses so far this one as well. However, they have overcome adversity this season and find themselves in the heart of the playoff hunt. They feature arguably the most dangerous hitter in the league—Matt Edwards—who is hitting about 80 points lower than his career batting average and is due for a breakout week. The team overall is hitting just .227 but has seven pitchers with an ERA under 3. They will close out their regular season with another team fighting for its playoff life, the Orioles.

Orioles
This team seems to be the most volatile in that they have bounced between being anywhere between second to tenth in the standings during the season. They also could be very dangerous in the playoffs. I think Player/Manager Dave Stoudt has done a tremendous job of mixing a ton of young talent in with some of the league’s most established veterans. The Orioles also lost a few quality players from a year ago but the young guys have stepped up and will benefit now that they’ve had two turns through the schedule. They have one of the best receivers in the BML in Doc Neiman, a player capable of hitting anywhere in the lineup, and six-time All-Star Justin Jackowicz has pitched to a miniscule 1.18 ERA while leading the team in innings pitched.

Creekers
I thought Player/Manager Eric Schmitt made some great additions to his team over the last two seasons–one of them being Eric Forth, who is currently second on the team in both home runs and RBIs. But the story of Martin’s Creek season belongs to stellar southpaw C. J. Saveri, who has won eight of the team’s 11 victories so far this year, and has posted some awesome numbers, including ERA (1.72) and WHIP (1.08). The question I’ve been hearing from the long-standing BML faithfuls has been whether or not other pitchers will step up. If they do, and the bats hit the way they are capable of, the Creekers could still defend its 2013 BML crown in the postseason.

I have not seen the other teams battling for the top six playoff spots, but the team that I keep hearing about is the Yankees. They have three very good starting pitchers, which is key to winning in the postseason. They also have several impressive hitters and don’t hurt themselves defensively. With many of these teams playing each other in the regular season’s stretch run, it’s still impossible to get a solid idea of which teams will make the playoffs.

Which teams have impressed you in the Blue Mountain League? Which players also deserve some praise for having an outstanding season? Feel free to post your comments here or email us your sports opinions to RCNSportsTalk@rcn.com and be sure check out some of RCN-TV’s final broadcast on Tuesday, along with our coverage of the BML this season on RCN On-Demand.