Behind the Mic: America’s Guest (The Saga Continues)

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

In my previous blog, I spoke of having played seven of the top 20 golf courses in Pennsylvania.  The caveat of doing that was that I had not paid to play any of them.  Due to RCN, Lafayette, and a couple of “Joes”, I had managed to be a guest at all seven.

You can find the courses listed on this site: Golf Magazine’s 20 Best PA Golf Courses and the ones I played on my previous blog.

I bring this up, because on July 2, I was supposed to play my 8th – the Philadelphia Cricket Club, which is #4 on the list.  Once again, this was as a guest.  I was prepared to put another checkmark on my bucket list.  That morning (7:31 AM) I received this e-mail – “There are no carts out today due to the week’s heavy rains.  Any issues or concerns?”

For me, there were both “issues” and “concerns”.  I had no idea if this would be a difficult walk and, at 75, the last thing I wanted to do was hold up my three playing partners, all of whom were much younger and had lower handicaps.  I did not wish to spoil their enjoyment.  As disappointed as I was, I told them to play without me and enjoy the day.

At 8:49 AM, this email arrived: “Good news- Joe bailed us out with a tee time at Saucon/Old Course at 12:30 today.  Let’s meet around noon and hit a few balls.”  This great golf course has been the venue of many PGA events with the Senior Open coming up next year.  I have played it before, but it is a golfing treasure.  Any opportunity to play it is certainly special.  This past Friday was no exception.  The course was in magnificent condition; the golf was good; and the camaraderie and the friendly insults were flying.  It was what a day of golf should be.

More importantly, I continue to be amazed by friendships that offer benefits far beyond my ability to reciprocate.  The best I could do here was to give my hosts Saucon Valley Senior Open golf hats as a token of my appreciation.  Naturally, however, they gifted, not a sleeve of golf balls, but a BOX of golf balls (of course, they were Titleists).  As you can see, it’s hard to balance their generosity.

The final line of the last email said, “I will circulate some alternate Cricket dates and we can reschedule that visit, too.”

In conclusion, I WILL get to play the Philadelphia Cricket Club (#4 on the list of Pennsylvania’s best courses) this summer.

I think you would agree that the early disappointment caused by the “no carts” rule at the Cricket Club was more than overcome by what transpired the rest of that Friday and what is certain to be another memorable round of golf in the future.  I am not sure why I am so fortunate and I am not sure how I will ever repay their generosity, but the list of things I am thankful for is constantly growing – friendships being near the very top of the list.

 

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

 

  1. Did you watch golf’s The Match – Tom Brady and Phil Mickelson vs. Aaron Rodgers and Bryson DeChambeau? On the second hole, Mickelson made the comment, “We’re not in a rush”.  And they were not.  The round was not good television – little drama, with few great shots by the pros, and much, much too long.  Thank goodness for Aaron Rodgers.  His shots, especially his putts, made for some enjoyment.
  2. It was announced this week that there will be no fans at the Olympics in Tokyo. Does this mean that those who have the rights to broadcast the events are disheartened or secretly smiling?  Now the only way for anyone and everyone to get their Olympic “fix” is by watching the events on television.  And, ironically, it is because of television that the Olympics will go on.  75% of the IOC’s income for the Olympics comes from television rights estimated to be worth $3 to $4 billion.
  3. It has been a long time since I set aside the time to watch the MLB All-Star game and an even longer time set aside for the Home Run Derby. But this Monday and Tuesday, I want to watch because of the LA Angels’ Shohei Ohtani.  He is a two-position All-Star (pitcher and DH) and the modern day Babe Ruth.  He will be in the HR Derby and he will also pitch in the game.  He is worth watching.
  4. Speaking of All-Star games, 50 years ago, the All-Star game featured 22 Hall of Famers – Rod Carew, Brooks Robinson, Luis Aparicio, Frank Robinson, Carl Yastrzemski, Reggie Jackson, Al Kaline, Harmon Killebrew, Jim Palmer, Johnny Bench, Willie McCovey, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Willie Stargell, Lou Brock, Tom Seaver, Steve Carlton, Ferguson Jenkins, Juan Marichal and Roberto Clemente, who would sadly be there for the final time. The managers, the Orioles‘ Earl Weaver and the Reds‘ Sparky Anderson, are also in the Hall of Fame. This was the greatest collection of baseball talent on one field ever.

 

 

 

Behind the Mic: Oil and Water

One of the great benefits of sports is that, for a few hours, one gets away from the trials and tribulations of everyday life and watches cars go around an oval, a pass being thrown, a homerun being hit and, … well, you get the picture.

And one of the focal points of everyday living certainly has become politics.  There has not been anything more polarizing in our society since this last election.  Everyone not only has an opinion, they have very strong opinions and they do not particularly want to hear yours!

So it is probably best if the sports worlds and the political worlds are kept separate.  It certainly didn’t help Chris Christie’s popularity in New Jersey when he attended the Dallas Cowboys game against Detroit as the guest of the Cowboys’ owner.  Seems Christie does not root for the Jets, the Giants, or the Eagles – the three closest NFL teams to New Jersey – he roots for the Cowboys.  He would have been better off politically if he had just stayed home.

The sports and politics worlds collided again this past weekend.  The LPGA held the U. S. Women’s Open at Trump National in Bedminster, NJ.  This did not sit well with a large number of protesters, both at the course and around the country, who felt the women should not be playing at a course owned by the President whom they feel has sexually harassed women.  To make matters a bit worse (if that’s at all possible), there was video of Trump driving across a Trump National green a few weeks ago.  Driving across a green – this violates all rules of golf etiquette (unless you own the course, I guess).

And the players got caught in the middle.  This is the most important championship in women’s golf.  It has the largest purse and is the most prestigious.  To ask them to skip the tournament in protest against the host seems unfair.  During the week, the players went out of their way to stay out of the controversy because they are well aware that any answer would be seen as the wrong answer by so many.

So they played.  And the President showed up.  To the President’s credit, he did not get too involved other than watching from his temporary bungalow.

There were some peaceful political demonstrations, but the tournament took center stage and it was a great one.  An amateur almost won and the three-day leader couldn’t hang on until the end.

Politics and sports came together, but much like oil and water, they did not mix and that’s the way it should be.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

  1. At the MLB All-Star break, two rookies are making the most impressive news.  In the National League, the Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger has 22 home runs in 52 games and hit 10 homers in 10 games, a record.  On Sunday, he hit for the cycle.  In the American League, the Yankees’ Aaron Judge has set the Yankees record for home runs by a rookie (30) and leads the majors in six categories.  And, he was the first rookie to win the Home Run Derby.
  2. Speaking of the MLB, the games so far this year are taking longer than ever – three hours and nine minutes.  This is five minutes longer than last year.  ESPN’s 18-inning game lasted six hours and five minutes.  Rule changes to speed up the game are on the horizon.
  3. What has happened to the Cubs?  As I write this, they lag five-plus games behind the Brewers.  They are in the bottom third in the league in runs scored and hitting.  Their pitching is giving up almost five runs per game.  Joe Maddon will need some second-half magic.
  4. Jeongeun Lee played in the US Women’s Open but was listed on the board as Lee Je6.  On the Korean LPGA tour, she is the sixth player with the exact same name.  There was another Jeongeun Lee in the Open and she was, as you might expect, Lee Je5.
  5. We finish up our Blue Mountain League game of the week next Tuesday, July 25.  It has been a great year in the BML with very competitive teams and games.  The playoffs should be terrific.  If you’re a baseball fan, get out to a game or a series.  Thanks to the League officers and the managers for all their help.

Behind the Mic: Golf Language

For most fathers, Father’s Day is a special weekend.  My family celebrated on Saturday and it was a wonderful day.  The celebration continued into Sunday like it does every year for me because that is when the US Open Golf Championship is decided.

Much of the time when I play these days, it is in a charity tournament. Ninety-percent of the time the format of the tournament is a “scramble”.  This means after everyone hits, your group takes the best shot and everyone plays from there.  That process continues until the ball is in the hole.  Because we are always playing the best shot, it is not unusual, unlike when one plays their own ball, to get pars and birdies.  This allows one’s team to get scores much like the pros.

So Sunday, I am camped in my recliner watching the golf and being amazed by the shots of eventual winner Brooks Koepka.  He is making birdie after birdie on the back nine and he even threw in an eagle.  My wife, supposedly reading the Sunday paper and playing games on her phone, seemed to become very interested in the leader.  “He certainly goes to the gym”, she offered up and I now realize she is suddenly interested in golf.  This is as rare as a snowstorm in July.

Then she opines, “Why do they call the scores pars, birdies, or eagles?”  No one ever asked me that before.  I know what they are; I do not know their origin.  So I decided to find out.  I’m not sure she really wanted to know, but now I did.

It turns out a man named Hugh Rotherham in 1890 standardized the number of shots a golfer should take at each hole.  This score eventually became a “bogey” named after the Bogey man, a goblin or devil.

Par was derived from the American stock exchange term which is a stock’s normal figure.  Par was actually used before bogey, but Americans did not like the British system and began referring to one over par as a bogey.

“Birdie” was an American slang term meaning excellent.  It originated at the Atlantic City Country Club in 1903 and meant one under par.  A stone on the course signifies the origin (I’ve played there and have seen the rock below):

birdie

“Eagle” just became an extension of the bird theme and came about shortly after “birdie” came into vogue.   It meant two under par.  The extremely rare three under par was named after a very rare bird – an “albatross”.

So now I know the origin of the terms and I will tell my wife to read this blog.  I just have a feeling that if the blog does not include a picture of Brooks Koepka, she might not be all that interested.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS) 

  1. I’ve had it with the pace of Major League baseball. Pitchers take too much time; batters step out of the box too often; managers make too many trips to the mound and there are too many pitching changes.  Throw in a 17-inning game from time to time and baseball becomes excruciatingly slow.  I hope the rules “they are a-changin’”.
  1. It looks like the “76ers” are going to get a first-round draft pick. It appears that Washington point guard Markelle Fultz will be the selection.  A great point guard could actually make them competitive.  Dare a Philadelphia fan get one’s hopes up?
  1. Ever since her UConn days, I always loved watching Diana Taurasi play basketball. Her talent and enthusiasm were what made her stand out.  She just seemed to love the game.  This past Sunday she became the all-time leading scorer in WNBA history.  After Sunday’s game, she had scored 7,504 points.  Amazing!
  1. Watching golf on FOX is still not the same as the Golf Channel, NBC, or CBS. Joe Buck had an awkward moment when Brooks Koepka kissed a girl after he won the US Open and Buck incorrectly identified her as Koepka’s former girlfriend.  The young lady was his new girlfriend.  It was later corrected.

P.S.  FOX is much better than they were the first two years.  However, there is still room for growth.

  1. Watch the Blue Mountain League Game of the Week every Tuesday night at 9:30 PM.  On Friday, June 23, you can watch the Senior Baseball League on RCN at 9:30 PM.  That game will be from Sam Balliet Stadium.  It’s always nice to go back there.

 

The SportsTalk Shop: A Non-Football Sports Event This Weekend

While high school football is now in full swing and the Philadelphia Eagles—and the NFL—will be kicking off its season, there’s a rather important non-football event taking place within the RCN viewing area. The 2014 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship will be held at the Saucon Valley Country Club in Hellertown.

Here are some golf experts’ thoughts on the course, SVCG’s history of big-time events and thoughts on this year’s tournament.

Just for the record, these guys know their golf. Gene Marrate is the General Manager and Director of Golf Operations at Saucon Valley Country Club. Robin McCool is not only SVCG’s Greens Committee Chairman, but a 15-time USGA Champion Qualifier, 7-time U.S. Mid-Amateur participant and a 10-time champ at SVCG. Both are in the Lehigh Valley Golf Hall of Fame. Barry Treadwell is the Mid-Am Chairperson and has accepted a massive undertaking in handling the challenging role of operations at the national Mid-Amateur Championship which is spread out over two courses. When they say this event is going to be unlike most golf tournaments many have ever seen, you can believe it to be true.

But this is not the first time that Saucon Valley has gained national attention. Here are some of the country club’s highlighted events, which include bringing in huge names in the world of golf like Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Paula Cramer to name a few:

1951 US Amateur Championship
1983 US Jr. Amateur Championship
1987 US Sr. Amateur Championship
1992 US Sr. Open Championship
2000 US Sr. Open Championship
2009 US Women’s Open Championship
2014 US Mid-Amateur Championship

As for this year’s amateur event, there’s one big enticement for people who want to see some high-quality golf action…and to be right up-close-and-personal with some of the country’s best golfers:

This year’s event is absolutely free.

There is no charge for any of this year’s action, which gives you a golden opportunity to walk around one of the most majestic golf courses and country clubs, and for free, experience a world-class event within a short drive for many Lehigh Valley residents. The Championship actually starts September 4-5 when you can watch the golfers participate in practice rounds. Then the action kicks into high gear on September 6 with the first round. Here is the championship’s schedule and which courses will be used:

Sept. 6 & 7 – Stroke Play Rounds (The “Old Course” & Weyhill)
Sept. 8, 9 & 10 – Match Play Rounds (Old Course)
Sept. 11 – 36-hole Final (Old Course)

High school football will be in full swing again this weekend, but if you want to take a quick break from the pigskin action and check out something unique to this area, check out this major sports event happening at Saucon Valley.

What events will you be watching this weekend? Have you experienced one of the major golf tournaments at a course in the Eastern Pennsylvania region? Post your golfing thoughts on our site or email us at RCNSportsTalk@rcn.com.

 

 

Behind the Mic: Golf Without Tiger – Not So Bad After All

Another major golf tournament and another missed cut by Tiger Woods. And by Saturday, the popularity of golf lessens even more. Eighteen years ago, a young Tiger stepped into the professional golf limelight and became the center of attention for the sport. It seemed like a whole new audience joined golf fanatics around the world to anoint this athlete as one of their favorites ever. And now, Tiger cannot make the cuts. His body is breaking down and he has played hurt for the last seven years. Sadly, he has become just another player. He has suffered and, ergo, golf is, also, suffering.

But, in my opinion, there is hope on the horizon – perhaps, not in finding the next Tiger, but in finding great drama week in and week out. And that was never more prevalent than this past Sunday during the PGA Championship. The recipe was blended to perfection. Take a dash of the recent past (Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk); throw in an American young gun (Rickie Fowler); add a sprinkle of foreign notoriety (Henrik Stenson and Ernie Els); mix in the current favorite ingredient (Rory McIlroy) and you have the drama great golf produces.

This major had it all. Rory McIlroy won and became only the fourth player in the last century to win four majors at 25 or younger. The others were Bobby Jones, Jack Nicklaus, and Tiger Woods. He has won the last two majors of the year (only 7 players have done that). He had to overcome falling behind, waiting on almost every shot after the rain delay, watching his closest opponents, Mickelson and Fowler play directly in front of him and experiencing their outstanding moments and, at times missed opportunities. Added to that was the possibility that he may not be able to finish the round because darkness was engulfing Valhalla Country Club. The final hole was played in a mysterious “foursome” setting just to get the championship settled. It had an almost Hollywood feel to it.

It was the best golf had to order for sure. And it was “Tiger-less”. I must admit that I was one of those who did not take as much interest in a tournament if Tiger was not playing or missed the cut and was not around for the weekend. Sunday changed that. I do not say that Rory McIlroy is the next Tiger. There is almost too much talent out on tour right now for just one player to be as dominant as Woods was. But, the drama has been instilled again and the characters are fascinating enough to draw me back.

The spectacle of golf needed a shot in the arm. It needed to overcome Tiger’s lack of competitiveness due to a bad back, bad knees, and a sore Achilles. Tiger Woods had become golf’s Achilles heel. His success raised golf to new heights; his failures were sending it to new lows. That “heel” ironically is beginning to heal! Who would think that it would come in Kentucky in the dark on an August summer afternoon?

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)
1. Did you hear that Ryan Howard is building a $5.8 million house in Florida? It is being built near Clearwater where the Phillies have spring training. It will have 8 bedrooms, 10+ baths, a two-story library, 2 kitchens, 3 laundry rooms, 2 elevators, a wine room, a bowling alley, and a trophy room (I hope he can fill it). The doorknobs alone reportedly cost $80,000. When you have a contract worth $180 million, you can do this.

2. A friend of mine told me that while he and his wife were watching the Eagles lose their first preseason game (they are both huge Eagles fans), she asked which six Eagles he would like to have as his pallbearers. He wondered why she would ask such a strange question. She said she thought that when he died, it would be appropriate for the Eagles to let him down one last time!

3. Speaking of the Eagles, they practiced this past Sunday at Franklin Field, the football home of the Penn Quakers. The Eagles played there from 1958-1970. It was built in 1895. Why there you might ask. Well that was the site of their last NFL championship in 1960 when they beat the Packers 17-13. That was 54 years ago. 28,000 people showed up to watch.

4. Andre Reed did himself, his family, his high school (Dieruff), and his community proud at the NFL Hall of Fame ceremony in Canton, Ohio last week. His speech was straight from the heart, especially his thoughts on Jim Kelly, his quarterback. I have a helmet in my office with both their autographs on it. That helmet was always special to me; now it is even more so.

5. I want to thank John Leone for filling in for me last week. If you haven’t read his blog, please take the time, especially if you are as passionate a sports fan, as John is. You can feel his pain and suffering. Give it a look.

 

Behind the Mic: Free Admittance is so Much Cheaper

 

One of the really nice perks about my job is the free admittance to sporting events. Granted, I have to “work” once I get there, but purchasing a ticket to an event is pretty foreign to me. Add to that the fact that I have a good seat; I get to talk to the players and the coaches; I can converse with the fans; and, sometimes, I even get free food. It’s all good.

There are some sporting events, however, I would like to attend ONCE in my life and to do that, I would probably have to buy a ticket like any other fan. So I investigated the price (in 2013) to attend some of the events on my list (obviously, in the manner I am accustomed to):

1. The Masters golf tournament – a four-day pass would cost me $4,486. I would need to travel to Augusta, Georgia, find lodging, eat for four days, and pay exorbitant prices on the grounds. I am guessing a total price around $6,000.

2. The Super Bowl – the average face-value price for a ticket for the Ravens vs the 49ers in 2013 was $1,210. Tickets were sold, it was reported, for as much as $316,000.

3. The BCS College football championship – For this one, I think I would like to sit in a luxury box suite. After all, I am used to broadcasting college football from a nice suite with free food and drink available. The best price I could find was $250,000 for the accommodations. I would be able to invite some friends – maybe I could get a half dozen to kick in $50,000 each. I am not against making a profit here.

4. Game 7 of the NBA Championship – that happened in 2010 when the Lakers met the Celtics. To sit at courtside (why would I want to sit anywhere else?) required that I purchase two tickets minimum for a cost of $115,000.

5. Major League Baseball’s All-Star game – Another event where if you wanted to sit behind home plate, you needed to purchase two tickets. That would set you back $7,200. I wonder what a hot dog and soda would cost me. Maybe I could sneak in my own peanuts.

My list may differ greatly from yours. So allow me to quickly give you some “ballpark” figures for some other major events:

Championship boxing – ringside – $30,940.
Stanley Cup Final – average price in 2013 – $1,380.
Wimbledon Championship Finals – If you are “unfortunate” to have a British finalist
(Andy Murray in 2013), and decided to buy a ticket the day of the final, it would set you back $65,000.
Opening Ceremonies for the Olympics – only $4,000.

AND, if you got caught up in the World Cup this year and were wondering what it cost to attend the championship final – a mere $990. The problem here is you have to get to Brazil – from my house, it was @$3,000 for flight and hotel!

My top five would cost me around $375,000 or so just for the tickets. My air-conditioned house, comfortable recliner, hi-def TV, and easy access to snacks and drinks have me reconsidering attendance. With the money I’ll save, I think I’ll Google the nearest Porsche dealership.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)
1. The Derek Jeter All-Star salute last Tuesday night was very special. I particularly loved the late Yankee PA announcer Bob Sheppard’s introduction of Jeter. It was the perfect touch, along with allowing Jeter to run off the field in the fourth inning.

2. An interesting side note on Jeter’s career. Dan Szymborski of ESPN has created a formula called ZiPS (sZymborski Projection System) which takes the first three years of a player’s career and projects his career numbers (here are Jeter’s projection numbers followed by his actual numbers as of July 19 in parentheses). For Jeter, he would have projected a .289 batting average (.311); 2,947 hits (3,411); 418 doubles (534); 114 triples (66); 263 HR (258); 1,287 RBIs (1,287); 336 SB (355). Very impressive projection system if you ask me.

3. I love the British Open. Links golf is just different; the TV time is done to allow you to do other things on the weekend; and it is a Major. It was great to see Rory McIlroy play so well again and even his fellow players were happy for him. Sergio Garcia finished second, but now has played in 64 majors without a win. He and Lee Westwood (66 majors) endure the title of “best players to never win a Major”.

4. It was a sponsor’s dream on Sunday at the British Open when the top three golf corporations were so visibly represented – Rory McIlroy represents NIKE; Sergio Garcia represents Adidas; and Ricky Fowler represents Puma. Pretty much equal time for all.

5. Two more interesting British Open tidbits – 1) McIlroy’s former fiancée, Caroline Wozniacki, also won her WTA tennis championship in Istanbul on Saturday. They were to be married in November. Rory broke off the engagement with a three-minute phone call. 2) A fan kept yelling “Sergio is going to catch you” at McIlroy after every shot. McIlroy had a fan removed by security at the 15th hole. No one was sure if it was the same fan.

 

Behind the Mic: Two Weeks of Baseball Instant Replay

 

Instant replay in baseball was first implemented in 2008 for three reasons: 1) to determine if a home run was fair or foul; 2) did a batted ball actually leave the playing field; 3) did a spectator interfere with a batted ball.

The use of replay was greatly expanded for this season to include the following:

• Ground-rule doubles
• Fan interference calls
• Boundary calls (managers may not, however, challenge home run or potential home run calls)
• Force plays at all bases, except whether a middle infielder touched second base during the attempt to “turn” a double play
• Tag plays on the base paths—whether a runner was tagged or whether the runner touched a base (an appeal is still required ahead of the latter)
• Fair/foul calls on balls hit into the outfield
• Catch/trap calls on balls hit into the outfield
• Time plays (whether or not a run scored prior to the third out)
• Whether a runner passed a preceding runner
• Scorekeeping issues, including the count, number of outs, score or substitutions

Judgment calls not specified above, including, but not limited to, pitches called ball or strike, obstruction, interference, infield fly rule and check swings are not.

All games are monitored in New York City by a former umpire or umpire supervisor. Much like the NFL, if a replay is warranted, the crew chief at the game will go to a special monitor to view the disputed play. The umpire must see “clear and convincing” evidence to reverse the call. All of this is supposed to happen in 60 to 90 seconds.

So how is it working? The first challenge occurred March 31, when the Cubs disputed a double play call that their player was safe at first. The Cubs lost the challenge. The decision took 100 seconds. That same day, the first successful challenge was made when an initial single call was changed to an out when the Braves challenged. The first umpire-initiated review took place to determine if a catcher unnecessarily blocked the plate on an attempted score.

In the first 14 days of the season, there have been 21 overturned calls out of 64 challenges in 141 games. The average time is two minutes and 14 seconds. Missed calls are rare, but in a Yankees-Boston game this past week, a call was missed even after it was challenged.

So, after two weeks what can we conclude? Umpires make a wrong call every 6.7 games (not bad). For the most part, the right calls are made so the umpires do not adversely affect the outcome. There are many fewer old-fashioned manager-umpire confrontations.

Sounds good, right? Uh, not quite. I used to like the manager-umpire confrontations – dirt kicked on shoes, spit in face, baseball cap turned around for face-to-face jawing, etc. It’s a bit too civil now for my taste!

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)
1. One of the great stories (and more interesting ones) to come out of the Masters this past weekend concerned Jeff Knox. You see, Rory McIlroy, one of the favorites to win the Masters when the week started, was dead last after the cut going into Saturday. He was 51st and since players go out in twosomes, Rory needed a marker (normally their professional playing partner) to go around the course with him. Jeff Knox, a club member, was chosen to be the marker and had the option of walking with McIlroy or playing with him. Since Jeff held the course record of 11-under 61, playing from the members’ tees, he decided to tee it up. They were the first ones out, played in three hours and five minutes before a huge gallery. Jeff played very, very well. He finished with a two-under 70 and beat McIlroy by one stroke! Now, that’s cool!

2. Speaking of golf, statistics say that every year, around one million golfers stop playing. The reasons given are that it is too expensive, too hard, and too elitist. I love golf, but I have to say the quitters are right on all three accounts. The lords of golf (primarily rich, white guys) need to find a way to make the game more enjoyable and more affordable to more people.

3. If you need help in your NCAA bracket next year and if Villanova makes the tournament, choose a team that is in the Wildcats’ bracket. In the last 10 years, the NCAA champion beat Villanova five times.

4. Lafayette held their Football Banquet this past Saturday to honor the 2013 Patriot League champions. Each player received a championship ring. I have to mention Mark Ross, a senior wide receiver. Mark caught 198 passes for 2811 yards and 27 TD’s in his career and was the team MVP. In addition, Mark was on the PL Academic Honor Roll, the Dean’s List, and was the PL Football Scholar-Athlete of the Year. He had a perfect 4.0 GPA. He garnered a great deal of well-deserved hardware on Saturday. He is a true scholar-athlete!

5. I hope you did well on your NCAA Frozen Four brackets office pool this year. You mean you didn’t fill out your hockey brackets? Obviously, there is a significant difference in national interest between the basketball and hockey championships. Union College beat the University of Minnesota 7-4 in the final. Union College has NO athletic scholarships and only 2,241 students. Union College is located in Schenectady, New York….but you probably knew that.

 

Behind the Mic: Don’t “Shoot” or Fire the Messenger

To: Bubba Watson and Jessica Korda:
Don’t “Shoot” or Fire the Messenger

What If?
Over the weekend, I was watching the US Women’s Open Championship primarily because of Inbee Park. She was seeking to win the first three major golf championships of the season, a feat that had only been achieved once in Women’s Golf history. Babe Zaharias did it in 1950. Park did, indeed, win the Open championship on Sunday and now has a chance to become the first woman to win four (and perhaps, five) majors in one year – the Grand Slam!

Okay, that’s why I started to watch the golf, but on Saturday, a strange event caused me to sit up and take notice – Jessica Korda fired her caddie after playing the ninth hole, halfway through the round! She ordered her boyfriend, who was in the gallery to carry her bag the rest of the way. I bring this up because you may have missed it. Had it been Tiger, Phil, or Rory who did this, it would have been front page news.

There has not been any reason given as to why Korda took this unusual action. Bubba Watson blamed his caddie two weeks ago for giving him the wrong yardage on the 16th hole and it probably cost him the Travelers Championship tournament. Ian Woosnan at the British Open years ago threw all of his clubs out of the bag when his caddie allowed too many clubs to be placed there. Neither, however, fired their caddie on the spot.

So I got to thinking about famous duos that may have been broken up on the spur of the moment because of a miscalculation:

Would Bonnie have fired Clyde if he forgot the bullets?

Would Penn fire Tellar if, all of a sudden, Tellar would not shut up?

What would happen to Hall if Oates thought Hall was “pitchy”?

Would Jill fire Jack because he “broke his crown”?

What would happen to Lewis if he caused Clark to get lost?

What if Tonto thought he was more important than the Lone Ranger (sounds like a good movie)?

What if the Beast got more press than Beauty?

So, you may ask, “What did I learn from Jessica Korda’s actions?” Just this – If I mess up and I have any kind of reason to blame my administrative assistant, Kristin, I will. I may even fire her, but first I have to make sure my wife knows Microsoft Word!

Behind the Mic – January 7th

As I offered up my sports highlights for 2012 last week, I decided to venture into the world of New Year’s resolutions this week.  I couldn’t think of anything worthwhile other than “Play more golf”, so I decided to research the most common resolutions and see if  I would be able to fulfill them.  In no particular order, I found these:

1.    Drink less alcohol.  Check!  No problem for me.  I drink some red wine because I heard it is good for my health, but only in moderation and not very often.  Oh – and I also have an occasional mixed drink.  That’s it.

2.   Eat healthy food.  Impossible!  If you travel from gym to gym and stadium to stadium, I defy you to find healthy food.  By my count, I have devoured  approximately 8,000 hot dogs, 4,000 Diet Cokes, and 1,000 candy bars on the job. 

3.   Get a better job.  Unnecessary!  If you exclude the eating problems (see #2), there is no better job.

4.   Get fit.  See #2 (again).

5.    Lose weight.  Ha!  Have you seen #2?

6.   Save money.  I can do that.

7.   Manage debt.  Check!  It’s managed.

8.   Manage stress.  I was fine until I started to think about #2!!  Now I am hoping to live through 2013.

9.   Quit smoking.  Can’t.  Never started.

10.    Take a trip.  If you insist.

 Wow!  My resolutions could all be resolved if I would just eliminate hot dogs!  No hot dog – no need for the Diet Coke and no need to take a trip to the snack bar.  Therefore,  no candy bars.  I have four games this week so I’ll get back to you on that NO hot dog thing!

 


 

 ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

 

1.  If Philadelphia fans need any help in how to wallow in their misery after the 2012 seasons of the 76ers, the Phillies and the Eagles, they need to look no further than the Cleveland fans for help.  The Cavs have been a non-entity since LeBron left.  The Indians finished 20 games out of first place and the Browns were dead last in the AFC North.

2.  Match the bowl game to the sponsor and the winner (I bet you can’t get two  right)

                 1.      Rose                a.  AT&T         A.  Oregon

                 2.      Cotton              b.  Discover      B.  Texas A&M

                 3.      Orange             c.  Allstate        C.  Fla. State

                 4.      Sugar               d.  Tostitos       D.  Stanford

                 5.      Fiesta               e.  Vizio            E.  Louisville

3.  The Kansas City Chiefs can save money on new coaching gear for Andy Reid.  He should be able to wear Romeo Crennell’s stuff.  Just sayin’.

4.  Golfing in Hawaii should be wonderful.  This past weekend, I saw rain and wind like I have never seen in a golf tournament.  On Sunday, it was sunny, but so windy that the balls were blowing off the tees as the players were preparing to drive, and off the greens as the players were getting ready to putt.  It was a strange way to start the season.  So they didn’t.  Postponed everything until Monday.

5.  I saw “Silver Linings Playbook” over the holidays.  Terrific movie, although a few moviegoers laughed at some awkward moments (manic-depression is not funny).  Robert DeNiro is great as an Eagles fan.

 Answers to #2:

                  1 – e – D

                  2 – a – B

                  3 – b – C

                  4 – c – E

                  5 – d – A

 


 

NFL PICKS FOR THIS WEEK

(Last week – 2-2)  (85-51 for the season – 63%)

 

  • DENVER
  • SAN FRANCISCO
  • ATLANTA
  • NEW ENGLAND