Gary Laubach

About Gary Laubach

Gary began his broadcasting career with Twin County in 1972. Twin County eventually became C-TEC and then RCN. Gary holds the dual role of Director of Media Services and Sports Director/Broadcaster. He currently broadcasts about 140 sports and entertainment broadcasts a year, and oversees the scheduling of all sporting events for RCN.

A Seinfeld Sports Weekend

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.

When one was asked to describe the Seinfeld program, the most common phrase was that it was “a show about nothing”.  That’s the way I approached this past weekend in terms of sports interest and viewing.  As far as I was concerned, there was a bunch of nothing on and I was not really interested.

But, wouldn’t you know, after my wife and I returned from running some errands and doing some shopping, she wanted to go back out and do some shopping on her own.  She was positive there was a sporting event that I wanted to watch.  And, I must admit, that is almost always the case.  I could not convince her that she was wrong.  There was really nothing I wanted to watch.  But off she went.

After doing some reading, I finally decided @ 4:15pm that there must be something on to watch.  I quickly discovered there were three golf matches on, Wimbledon tennis finals, and the Phillies.  My interest was not really peaked, but I figured I could go back and forth and stop at the more interesting spots.

When I turned on the TV, I found myself on the American Century Championship on NBC, a golf tournament I knew nothing about.  It was celebrity golf with players like Justin Timberlake, Stephen Curry, and Aaron Rodgers.  Former Dallas Cowboy quarterback Tony Romo was in the lead.  The scenery was beautiful and it would be interesting to see some of the celebrities hit the ball like I do.  I made a point of coming back to that.

Then, I clicked over to ABC and there was Wimbledon.  I joined the match between Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer in the fourth (and what could be the final) set.  I am not a fan of watching or playing tennis.  I always thought the only fun way to play the game was to find an opponent with equal skill so you could actually have interesting volleys.  Otherwise, I was always chasing after a ball after a lost point or watching my opponent walk after a ball after I won a point.  Seldom were there points with more than three returns.  Not fun in my estimation.

I never thought watching tennis to be that much fun either.  But I found myself unable to turn this match off.  It was historical, great tennis, and the end result far from assumed.  Okay, I will watch this except for commercials between sets.

It was off to check out the Phillies against the Nationals.  The Phils were fading fast, having lost both games in the series to the Nats.  I joined the game in the top of the ninth and watched the Phils pitcher strike out the side.  I had to come back to this for the finish!

Back to the golf.  Tony Romo was running away with this tournament. Good – I can leave this for now.

Back to the tennis.  Federer won the fourth set.  I had to stay with this to determine the winner.  The match set records for length and was the first to ever see a fifth-set tiebreaker.  Again, I was hooked to the finish, but I did go away during the commercials.

It was the bottom of the ninth in the Phillies game which was tied 3-3.  Maikel Franco was at bat (yes, that’s when I tuned in) and he hit a walk-off home run to give the Phils the win.  I thought it was nice of the Wimbledon people to have a commercial at this point.

Back to Romo.  He won easily.

Back to tennis.  Now, my wife came back home and was ready to have dinner.  I had to explain to her that I was wrapped up in a tennis match!  And that took some explaining. She knew I found tennis to be boring. The match went almost five hours and ended @ 6:00pm.

Djokovic won 13-12 in the fifth set (that’s not even a real tennis score) and it was one of the greatest matches ever.  And I just happened to watch it!

So, I concluded, that just like watching a Seinfeld episode about nothing and enjoying it immensely, I spent this past late Sunday afternoon expecting nothing in the way of sports and ended up enjoying it immensely.  Go figure!

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

  1. Did you notice that 15-year-old tennis sensation Coco Gauff lost to in the fourth round won the Wimbledon Women’s title? Simona Halep won the women’s title in just 56 minutes over Serena Williams.  It took Halep longer to beat Gauff, the youngest player to ever win a singles match at Wimbledon.
  1. The best team in the National League comes to Philadelphia this week. The Dodgers are in town for four games and the Phils are 8.5 games behind the Braves and 1.5 games behind the Nationals.  They are a half game ahead in the Wild Card race.  Some upset wins against LA would be welcome.
  1. Robbie Gould, the former Penn State kicker, reached agreement with the 49ers on a two-year $10.5 million deal that could go $19 million in four years. It’s a great deal for the former Nittany Lion.
  1. With all the movement in the NBA in the past couple of weeks, the 76ers right now are projected to be the fourth best team in the NBA. Remember they came very close to beating the Raptors, losing in Game 7 at the buzzer.  The Bucks, Nuggets, and Clippers are projected right now to be the top three teams.
  1. Our final BML Game of the Week is next Tuesday. The Berlinsville Braves will host Martins Creek. The BML Game of the Week comes on at 9:30 PM.  Join the RCN-TV sports team.

 

 

 

Youth Must Be Served

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.

For a guy in his seventies, this past weekend was a bit disconcerting in sports.  With baseball right in the middle of their season, the focus this sports weekend was on three other events – Wimbledon, the Women’s World Cup, and the inaugural 3M Golf Championship.  It turned out that it was not a good weekend for old age and experience.

Playwright David Mamet once said that, “Old age and treachery will always beat youth and experience.”  This past weekend, there was not enough treachery in sports because the very young ruled.

Let’s start with the youngest – Coco Gauff.  She is 15 years old and is the youngest player to ever qualify for Wimbledon.  She is now into the fourth round at Wimbledon.  As I am typing this, her next match is just moments away.  She is due to play Simona Halep of Romania, who is currently ranked #7 and was, at one time, #1.  Win or lose, no one can take away her win over Venus Williams, surviving two match points in her third round match, and receiving a social media message from Beyonce’s mom.  There is no question she has become the primary focus right now in tennis’ greatest tournament.  And at 15, that is quite an achievement as it would be at any age.

Then this weekend, I watched 20-year-old Matthew Wolfe become only the third player in golfing history to win the NCAA Championship and a PGA tour championship in the same year.  Ben Crenshaw did it and Tiger Woods did it.  After it looked like experience would win the title when Bryson DeChambeau eagled the 18th hole to take a one stroke lead over Wolfe and 22-year-old Collin Morikawa, Wolff made a 26-foot eagle putt that was just off the green to win.

https://twitter.com/PGATOUR/status/1147992294122876928

He became the ninth youngest winner in PGA history and the youngest since Jordan Spieth did it in 2013.  He now has job security for two years and has qualified for the Masters.  Not bad for a 20-year-old.

And finally, there is the “oldest” of the group – US soccer player Rose Lavelle.  She is a whopping 24-years-old.  Much like the aforementioned Coco Gauff and Matthew Wolfe, she has now been labeled the star of the future in soccer.

Of course, the star of the World Cup was Megan Rapinoe, but it was Lavelle who often “oohed” and “ahhed” the crowd with her footwork, sharp passes, and strong shots. Rapinoe scored on a penalty kick on Sunday, but it was Lavelle who put the match away with a booming left-footed kick into the far corner.

https://twitter.com/USWNT/status/1147907113865400320?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1147907113865400320%7Ctwgr%5E393039363b74776565745f6d65646961&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.usatoday.com%2Fstory%2Fsports%2Fsoccer%2Fworldcup%2F2019%2F07%2F08%2Fworld-cup-2019-rose-lavelle-star-future-uswnt%2F1669783001%2F

These young athletes so thrilled me this past week that I watched women’s tennis, women’s soccer, and ten hours of golf.  Trust me when I tell you that is new for me.

Youth not only won out this weekend, but it also won me over!

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

  1. Bryce Harper is pictured on the All-Star banner that everyone sees as they come into Cleveland, where the All-Star game will be played. The problem is that Bryce Harper did not make the All-Star team.  When the banner was made, the assumption, obviously, was that he would make the team.  After all, he had accomplished that every year since 2014.  His numbers are getting better, but he is on schedule to strike out 189 times.  The Phillies desperately need him to have an outstanding second half of the season.
  1. For the first time ever, Monday’s Home Run Derby has a prize of one million dollars. Of the eight participants, five of them make less than that for the entire season.
  1. If you are looking for a team that has failed miserably in the first half of the season, look no further than the Red Sox. They are 11 games behind the Yankees. Their record is 45-41.  Last year, at this time, they were 59-29.  They did not lose 41 games until the last week of August.
  1. In June, the Phillies gave up 5.63 runs per game and the bullpen had an ERA of 6.62. The bullpen is the second worst in baseball next to the Mets.  To contend, that must change.
  1. BML baseball continues next Tuesday with the Hellertown Royals taking on the Easton Falcons. The BML Game of the Week comes on at 9:30 PM.  Join the RCN-TV sports team.

 

 

A Trip to the Past

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 hope there were a few people who missed my blog last week.  I was on vacation.  Some of you may know that my idea of a vacation is getting on a cruise ship, laying around a pool or floating in the ocean, reading a good book, eating plenty of food, watching excellent entertainment, and placing a bet or two hoping for a winning hand in the casino.

This past week, I did very little of that.  I was on a Viking river cruise down the Danube visiting various ports in Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic, and Hungary.  You may wonder why I would change my vacation modus operandi.  Very simply – our first stop was Passau, Germany, and that is the birthplace of my wife, Luba.  One of her father’s wishes was that she one day visit her place of birth.  This was the primary impetus behind the trip. We were accompanied by our oldest daughter, her husband, and our two grandchildren.

gary 1

My wife’s parents were actually Ukrainians who were displaced during World War II.  They ended up in a US government camp in Passau where they met and married.  Through research and the paperwork we possessed, we were able to discover where the camp was located and we believe we found the church where they were married and where Luba was baptized.  As you might expect, Passau was very emotional.  It certainly brought back the many stories that my in-laws shared with us prior to their deaths.

We just happened to be there for Corpus Christi, a holiday that falls on a Thursday, 60 days after Easter Sunday.  We attended a mass at St. Stephen’s Church and listened to Europe’s largest pipe organ which possesses 17,000 pipes.  We then saw a procession of the congregation through the streets of Passau following the service.  Our primary goal of experiencing Luba’s past was fulfilled.

Next, it was off to Linz, the provincial capital of Upper Austria.  We toured a medieval castle, walked over a bear moat, strolled through a street festival, and ate Hungarian goulash.  There was a big celebration to commemorate the first day of summer, so we were privy to a great fireworks display over the Danube at night.

gary 3

Our boat then sailed through the Wachau Valley, passing through vineyard after vineyard.  The layout of the land is stunning.  Our destination was Krems, Austria.  We toured the Abbey and were fortunate to be there for a wedding, with all the pomp of an Austrian nuptial.

Then, it was on to Vienna.  That was our only day of rain, but I had my RCN Nickelodeon umbrella so we were fine.  There are palaces, elegant public buildings, opera houses, the Hapsburg residences, and the Lipizzaner horses.  The only negative was that we were there on a Sunday and most of the shops were closed.

On to Bratislava, which borders Austria and Hungary – more great architecture and magnificent churches.  We walked across the Danube and visited a music festival, reminiscent of our own Musikfest.  Plenty of food, vendors, and music surrounded us.

It all came to an awesome arrival into Budapest at 10:00 PM with the entire city lit up.  It is like a Disneyland of the 19th century.  It is a view like none other.  The next day we toured Buda on one side of the river and Pest on the other.  It was the perfect way to end our week.

gary 2

A couple of notes:

  • The Danube is not blue and we were told it never was.
  • The boats are extremely long and narrow with one hallway on each of the three floors.
  • You cannot believe the traffic on the river.
  • At times, another Viking boat is parked right alongside, so when we went out on our balcony the view was the side of another boat.
  • When this parking situation occurs, those passengers must pass through your boat to get to shore – that seemed a bit unusual, but we also had to do it on one occasion.
  • The staff of the Viking Ingvi (our boat’s name) could not be any more hospitable or efficient.
  • The food is excellent.
  • The flights are not enjoyable because of their length – 8 hours going; 10 hours returning. Thank goodness for in-flight entertainment.

In conclusion, the tears of both sadness and accomplishment on my wife’s face made passing up the Caribbean for this trip through her family’s past a once in a lifetime experience.  There is a huge regret that her parents were not alive to know she accomplished their wishes.  We all hope, in some way, they know.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

  1. Major League baseball made its way to London this past weekend for the very first time. The Yankees played the Red Sox and it was not quite the baseball we are used to – four-hour games; the teams combined for 50 runs in two games; 10 home runs; and 65 hits.  There was a 58-minute inning, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex (Harry and Meghan) attended along with 100,000+ others, and the “wave” made an appearance.  And the Yankees have won 13 of their last 14.
  1. What happened to the Phillies while I was away? They lost 13 of their last 21 and have fallen way behind the Braves.  They play three at Atlanta and three at the Mets this week before the All-Star break.  This week could make or break them.
  1. The 76ers lost Jimmy Butler and JJ Redick, two important pieces to their rebuild. They get Tobias Harris and Al Horford.  Seems to be that they are a weaker team now.  More to come.
  1. Blue Mountain League baseball coverage takes a week off as the teams enjoy a 4th of July break. BML baseball continues next Tuesday with the Hellertown Royals taking on the Easton Falcons.  The BML Game of the Week comes on at 9:30 PM.  Join the RCN-TV sports team.

 

4th of July

“You Got This”

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.

Aronimink Golf Club is a private country club located in Newtown Square, just west of Philadelphia. It is rated as one of the top courses in the United Sates – #78 in “Greatest Courses”, #44 in “Toughest Courses” and #55 in “Classic Courses”. Suffice it to say it ranks with the very best.

When the AT&T National was played there in 2010 and 2011, I had the pleasure of being invited to play a round each year with Scott Morse of Lafayette College; Joe Scott, the President of Easton Coach; and David Boucher, who was president of Aronimink Golf Club at the time.

It was a memorable round of golf. I can attest to the difficulty of the course, but also the beauty and historical significance of walking the grounds. I still recall it being one of my favorite days on a golf course.

I bring it up because there was a pro-am the week of the tournament and Joe Scott, a good friend and very good golfer, was a playing partner of Gary Woodland. I vividly recall Joe saying what a great person Woodland seemed to be. Joe said from that moment on, he would be a fan and root for his playing partner to have a great career. Woodland just won the US Open this past Sunday. And how can you not like a guy who does this:

Well, on this Father’s Day, as his father watched, Gary Woodland’s name became etched in golf history. Ten years prior, Gary’s father almost died of a heart attack. Doctors said he was gone for about four minutes before they were able to revive him. Gary said his father was always his biggest supporter. He served as his baseball and basketball coach, but not as his golf coach. He was his golf competition. “He never let me win”. He finally beat his father at the age of 13.

Woodland, too, is both a proud father and a bereaved one. His son Jaxson was born two years ago and weighed three pounds, but his twin sister did not survive the birth. Jaxson is fine. And the Woodlands are expecting twins again.

I thought of my father as I was watching the US Open unfold yesterday. He, too, would stand in the back yard and we would play catch with a baseball or football. He overruled my mom when she would not sign the papers to allow me to play football. He would encourage me to do well, to listen to my coaches, never interfering. He was a fan, but never a parent who intervened with my coaches. I had to earn my way on the field and in the gym.

Amy sent Woodward a tweet yesterday which read, “You got this”. I would like to think that my father felt the same way when I faced life’s challenges.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

1. I wrote this last week:
What would you do? Scott Berry bet $400 in Las Vegas at the beginning of the NHL season that his hometown St. Louis Blues would win the Stanley Cup. The odds were 250-1. In other words, if the Blues win Game 7, he will pocket $100,000. He could help his cause by betting on the Bruins now to insure he makes a profit or he could sell his ticket on the swap market. He says he was offered $75,000 to sell. He has declined all the offers. Wednesday night at 8:00 pm is Game 7.

UPDATE: The Blues won Game 7 and Scott Berry won $100,000! That’s a dedicated fan.

2. Much to the chagrin of the Phillies, the Atlanta Braves are at it again. The 2018 NL East champions have won nine of their last 10 games and went from two games behind the Phillies to 2 ½ games ahead of them. The Phillies are having serious problems on the mound, whether it be starters or relievers. They need to find some solutions quickly.

3. What did you think of the demeanor exhibited by the US Women’s soccer team in their 13-0 rout of Thailand? Should they have continued to run up the score or is it more embarrassing to the opponent if the US would have just stopped trying? Were the celebrations after every goal over the top and did those celebrations demean the opponent even more? Or should they have ceased the celebrations and shown what some have called decency and respect? As you ponder your answer, remember there is one thing about sports – it brings out the best and the worst passion in every participant and fan.

4. Blue Mountain League baseball coverage continues next Tuesday with Bethlehem Steel taking on the Orioles. Tom Stoudt and Chris Michael will be behind the microphone. The BML Game of the Week comes on at 9:30 PM. Join the RCN-TV sports team.

5. My blog will be back on Monday, July 1.

The “Barr” is Higher

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.

Our wrestling fans and there are many of them are not easy to please.  They want more dual meets on television; they want the tournaments televised; they want to argue the opinions of others, etc.  In other words, they love their sport and they are willing to speak up about it.

It’s rare when you find common ground.  I think I have found it – Scott Barr – the RCN-TV wrestling announcer.  The locals love his knowledge and relish his opinions whether they agree or disagree.  Wrestlers and wrestling fans certainly know who he is. And now, it appears, he has also been discovered by the national media – more on that in a bit.

Scott started with us in 1985.  I previously knew Scott as a former student of mine, a member of our very successful Scholastic Scrimmage team, and, eventually, a fellow teacher.  He wrestled in high school and had moderate success.  But when it came to in-depth understanding of just about anything, he doggedly would do the research.

Many years ago, I found myself doing high school wrestling for the RCN telecasts.  I played football, basketball, and baseball.  I did not wrestle.  I certainly needed someone alongside me who truly understood the sport and was very verbal.  I immediately thought of Scott.

He was terrific from day one.  He not only knew the sport; he set out to become as knowledgeable about it as anyone with whom I ever worked.  It became his passion to the point where, in 1997, he authored a book about District XI wrestling called Wrestling Country.  And just this past April, Scott was inducted into the District XI Wrestling Hall of Fame.

He is equally adept at other sports having done baseball, soccer, boxing, volleyball, kickboxing, etc.  I am always confident going into a broadcast with Scott by my side.  And, perhaps, his greatest skill is demonstrated every year during the Dream Come True Telethon when he mans our auction segments.  QVC announcers have nothing on him.

That brings me to the National Wrestling Media Association.  Their Mission Statement is, “The National Wrestling Media Association (NWMA) is the national professional organization for journalists who cover the sport of amateur wrestling. This includes reporters, editors, publishers, webmasters, photographers, broadcasters, sports information directors and other media professionals who share an interest and involvement in the sport.”

Scott has been nominated by this group as their Broadcaster of the Year.  That’s right – the RCN-TV guy!

Scott Barr

The other nominees are Shawn Kenney and Jim Gibbons.  Kenney works for ESPN and does play-by-play for college football, basketball, baseball, tennis, and the NCAA and ACC wrestling championships.  Jim Gibbons is a three-time wrestling All-American, former Iowa State wrestling coach, and is a wrestling analyst for the Big Ten Network and ESPN.  He won NCAA championships as a wrestler and a coach.  This is formidable company, for sure.

I know the cliché in award shows is that, “It is just an honor to be nominated”.  But, in this case, truer words could not be spoken.  When you look at the space Scott is occupying with the other nominees, it truly is an honor for both our RCN wrestling coverage team and, more specifically, for Scott himself. The winner will be announced later this year.  I would love to see a huge upset in this heavyweight class.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS) 

  1. As I write this, the NBA finals are not over quite yet, but the Toronto Raptors are one game from clinching the championship. And I don’t know if there is a better basketball player right now than Kawhi Leonard.  He makes almost 60% of his shots, over 40% from 3-point land, and 90% of his free throws.  And… he makes everyone around him better.  Stephen Curry with Kevin Durant may be better as a pair.  Without Durant, Leonard is the best.
  1. What would you do? Scott Berry bet $400 in Las Vegas at the beginning of the NHL season that his hometown St. Louis Blues would win the Stanley Cup.  The odds were 250-1.  In other words, if the Blues win Game 7, he will pocket $100,000.  He could help his cause by betting on the Bruins now to insure he makes a profit or he could sell his ticket on the swap market.  He says he was offered $75,000 to sell.  He has declined all the offers.  Wednesday night at 8:00pm is Game 7.
  1. I woke up this morning to the news that David Ortiz (Big Papi) was shot in a bar in the Dominican Republic. The gunman was beaten rather badly by the patrons in the bar.  Ortiz, according to the doctors, had serious injuries, but is out of danger.  Why he was shot remains a mystery.
  1. The Notre Dame baseball team continues its run towards a PIAA state championship this week. The championship game is Thursday with the semifinals scheduled for Monday.  Go Crusaders!
  1. Blue Mountain League baseball coverage continues next Tuesday with Martins Creek taking on Northampton. The BML Game of the Week comes on at 9:30 PM.  Join the RCN-TV sports team.

 

 

A Prom Story

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 is not my usual blog about sports, so if that is what you were expecting, just stop reading now.  I truly will understand.

Instead, since the local papers this past month have been featuring photographs from proms of the Lehigh Valley high schools, it made me reflect back on my own prom many, many years ago.  Things have not changed much.

I know I was nervous.  I was meeting my date’s parents for the first time.  They were Ukrainian and spoke very little English.  I was leery about my ability to show them my charm and wit if they would have trouble understanding me.  But, I figured what are a few minutes of idle “misunderstanding”?  I would be in and out.  No harm done.

Of course, when I showed up at the house, their daughter was not ready.  I was left alone.  I quickly discovered that Europeans feel that hospitality means sharing an alcoholic drink.  I was certainly aware that I could not legally drink, but I was also aware that it might be rude to turn down the offer.  And, what could one drink hurt, anyway?

The drink was called a “kamikaze”!  Yes, the same term used by the Japanese when a pilot was going to end his life during a military battle.  It contained nothing but alcohol.  The mixture was a special brew concocted by the host.  It was as powerful a potion as you could imagine.

After a couple of sips, I no longer cared if their daughter ever got ready.  I was feeling GOOD!!  She could take her time and I would allow myself to be entertained.  I even began to believe that after a few more sips, I was beginning to understand Ukrainian.

Luckily and probably to my benefit, my date came down the steps.  She looked absolutely beautiful.  I now was woozy from the drink and just as woozy from her appearance.  She looked absolutely beautiful.  I remember how nervous I was pinning on the corsage.  It was in an area where only bad things could happen.  Somehow, I managed to get the task accomplished.  There was no blood.   The required pictures were taken and off we went.

The prom was held in the high school gymnasium.  When we arrived, parents had formed two lines, much like cheerleaders form when their team is running out on the field.  The “oohing” and “ahhing” was nice.  I guess we looked pretty good.  The only thing missing was a PA announcer prefacing our arrival to the gym door with formal introductions – probably would have been a nice touch.

We waited for others to arrive.  One classmate had rented a big Cadillac and we wanted to see him arrive.  He pulled into the parking lot.  We noticed that he could barely see over the dash.  It appeared he had to look through the vent of the car just to know where he was going.  He decided to back into a space.  I’m sure when he turned around to see where he was going, all he saw was the headrest.  He backed right into a concrete pillar.  There was glass and metal everywhere.  Those of us who watched offered our condolences.  We convinced the couple to have fun and we would deal with their accident later.  Little did we know he would later damage the front of the car when pulling into his driveway and banging into a telephone pole (true story).

The prom went off without a hitch.  Up next was the after-prom party, held at a classmate’s home.  It was fun; there was drinking, but not by me (despite my earlier experience with the “kamikaze”). Beer was the drink of the night and I hated the taste of beer, so I did not partake.  As everyone began to get weary, I vividly recall the final sounds of the prom – fellow classmates vomiting throughout the night in the bathroom.  In case you’ve never experienced it, it is very hard to get sleep while others wretch their guts out.

Hangovers abounded the next day, but the prom officially ended with everyone arriving home safely.

By the way, my date that night became my wife.  I drank a few more kamikazes in her home before her parents passed away and I still get a little woozy when she gets all dolled up and I am awaiting her at the bottom of our staircase!

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS) 

  1. The Dodgers just swept the Phillies and the Yankees took the weekend series with the Red Sox. They appear to be the best teams in baseball right now.  It could be a throwback to the day when the Dodgers were in Brooklyn and the Yankees in the Bronx.  It would be a great World Series.
  1. They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. We’ll see.  Bill Belichick’s daughter, Amanda, was just hired to coach the Holy Cross women’s lacrosse team.  That means she will coach in the Patriot League against Lafayette and Lehigh.  She recently coached at Wesleyan and they went from #49 in the national rankings to #17 under her guidance.
  1. I am not sure how the Golden State Warriors do it, but they sure make NBA basketball fun to watch. They work exceptionally hard, play tough defense, and overcome injury after injury.  They could lose this series because the Raptors are very good, but it will not be because they don’t give it everything they have.  That’s all you ask of a professional.
  1. Congratulations to the Liberty and Notre Dame baseball teams and coaching staff for winning the District XI baseball championships. And congratulations to the District committee for giving the players the opportunity to play their title games at Coca-Cola Park.  What a thrill for them.
  1. Blue Mountain League baseball coverage begins next Tuesday and continues to the playoffs. The BML Game of the Week comes on at 9:30 PM.  Join the RCN-TV sports team.

 

 

Athletes – Lehigh Valley

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 picked up the paper this morning and read that Sage Karam, former Nazareth wrestler and son of Liberty wrestling coach, Jody Karam, qualified for his sixth Indianapolis 500 race next Sunday.  That is quite an achievement.

Just last week, I was having lunch and in walked Larry Holmes.  Larry Holmes lived and grew up in Easton and became the heavyweight champion of the world.  He never left the area, invested money here, and has always been a good example of what hard work and perseverance can accomplish.

Current conversation about great local athletes now centers on Saquon Barkley, not only as a football player for the New York Giants, but also as an ambassador for the best qualities in a person.  Just this past week, he returned home to the Whitehall area, made a number of appearances and was patient enough to give admirers his time and focus.

Holmes, Karam, and Barkley made me realize that the Lehigh Valley has produced a number of outstanding athletes who prospered at the top of their game.  There are certainly too many to talk about in one blog, but here are a few that came to mind, in no particular order:

Mario, Michael, and Marco Andretti: For racing fans, this is THE family in the Lehigh Valley.  Mario and Marco still live in Nazareth.  Michael now is an owner and will again have a team in the Indy 500 this coming weekend.

Matt Millen: The former Whitehall and Penn State graduate won four Super Bowls, became an outstanding analyst for NFL broadcasts and is now the top analyst for BIG 10 football.  He recently had a heart transplant and will return to the broadcasting booth in the fall.

The Nasty Boys:  Brian Yandrisovitz (“Knobbs”) and Jerry Saganovich (“Sags”) were THE top WWF wrestling tag team in the ‘90’s.  Both are Whitehall High School grads.

Michelle Marciniak: The Central High School grad is a former college basketball All-American.  At Tennessee, she competed for two national championships and won one in 1996 and was named MVP.  She went on to play five years in the WNBA.

Ed McCaffrey: A phenomenal basketball and football player at Central Catholic, Ed had a great college and pro football career at Stanford and the NFL.  He won three Super Bowls as a 49er and a Denver Bronco.

Marty Nothstein: The Emmaus graduate was an Olympic gold and silver medalist in cycling.

Dan Koppen: Another Whitehall grad who centered the ball to Tom Brady for eight NFL seasons and to Peyton Manning for one year.  Koppen won two Super Bowls with the New England Patriots.

Andre Reed: This Dieruff grad is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame after an outstanding career with the Buffalo Bills and the Washington Redskins.  Andre always returns back to Allentown and has done so much for the community.

I could go on and on – Chuck Bednarik, Tom Brennan, Pete Carril, Billy Packer, Curt Simmons, etc.  The list goes go on and on.  And I know you could add to the list and you would certainly be right.

Is it any wonder that I have enjoyed so many years following local high school and college sports right here in the Lehigh Valley?  And the numbers will continue to grow.


ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)
 

  1. Before going to Mississippi State as the head football coach, Joe Moorhead was the offensive coordinator at Penn State. He was very familiar with the Lions’ back-up quarterback, Tommy Stevens.  Now Stevens will have an opportunity to play for Moorhead again after transferring to the Bulldogs.  It will be interesting to follow his success after getting beaten out of the starting role this spring at Penn State.
  1. The Astros, Dodgers, Yankees, and the Cubs are all hot and all starting to occupy places that were expected in the standings. The Phillies are still the best in the NL East with the Braves chasing them.
  1. I picked the Bucks and the Warriors to make it to the NBA final. It appears that prediction will be correct by the end of the week.
  1. Congratulations to the Northampton baseball team and coaching staff for winning the EPC baseball championship. To do it, they had to beat undefeated Liberty in the final 3-1.  Liberty was the third #1 seed to go down to defeat in the championship game.  It was Northampton’s first title since 1998.
  1. District championship baseball will be LIVE from Coca-Cola Park this coming week on RCN-TV. The games are scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday, May 28 and 29. But it always seems to rain!

 

 

Sibling Rivalry

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.

Anyone “lucky” enough to have a brother or sister or multiples of both certainly knows what sibling rivalry is.  It is defined as a competition or animosity among your siblings.  It starts according to studies at the age of one when children become sensitive to the way they perceive their parental treatment.  It is also affected by personality and experiences outside the family.

I grew up with an older brother and two younger sisters.  My brother was not very kind to me.  He often thought of things that I felt he should get punished for, but he did not.  I remember him throwing darts in my leg instead of handing them back to me.  I remember my parents telling us to settle arguments by putting the boxing gloves on.  He was six years older than me!  Had we used the stat chart they use on TV for boxing, you would see that he weighed more, had a longer reach, a powerful punch, and a mean streak.  I thought this showed very bad parenting skills.

I suppose my sisters would tell you that I was not always kind to them either.  I would scare my one sister as often as I could and my brother and I used to tell my youngest sister she was adopted.  We thought it was very funny.  They had a different opinion.  And, because they were girls, I always felt “Mom loved them best”.

Happily, as we get older, siblings tend to become a bit more understanding and relish the relationships with their brothers and sisters.  Although, according to statistics, about one-third of adults describe their relationship with siblings as distant and still thought of as a rivalry.

I bring this up for two reasons: 1) I am actually watching the NBA playoffs.  I guess the Sixers are responsible, but I find I am enjoying the games.  2) Steph Curry and Seth Curry will be playing against each other in the NBA Western Conference Finals.  It is the first time in NBA history that two brothers will play against each other in a conference or NBA final.

Their parents, Dell Curry and Sonya Curry, will be in the position of rooting for no one or rooting for everyone.  They need to be careful not to favor one or the other.  Both brothers said their mother gets very stressed out when they play each other.  But both are very supportive having traveled to Oakland, Portland, Los Angeles, Houston, and Denver. They have missed just two games.  Mom says one parent will wear Blazers colors and the other will wear the Warriors.

The two have played against each other nine times and Steph has won seven, but both losses came this year. This is sibling rivalry at its best – nothing like catching darts!

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS) 

  1. Speaking of the NBA, Lehigh University’s CJ McCollum is the hero for the Portland Trail Blazers as he scored 37 points and had nine rebounds in the Game 7 win over the Denver Nuggets. He also had a huge block to stop a layup late in the fourth quarter.  Now they take on the Warriors in the conference finals.  It’s the first time for the Blazers in 12 years.
  1. The Sixers were eliminated on an unbelievable shot at the buzzer by Kawhi Leonard. I find this hard to believe but it was the first Game 7 buzzer-beater in NBA history.  The game was really lost when, in the final three minutes, the Sixers were called for three shot clock violations.  Three straight possessions by the Sixers ended without a shot.
  1. After poor starts, the Red Sox and the Cubs have rebounded dramatically to win as expected. The Cubs are 24-14 as of Monday morning after a 2-7 start.  And the Red Sox started 6-13 only to be at 22-19 now.  “The cream rises…”
  1. Aaron Rodgers was in this past Sunday’s episode of Game of Thrones. He has been a fan since day one and shot a promo for the show.  He was hoping to be killed off or be in a steamy scene.  Neither happened.
  1. The Eagles signed a fourth quarterback this week. Cody Kessler, who has been with the Browns and the Jaguars, joins Nate Sudfeld, Clayton Thorson, and Carson Wentz on the roster.  It makes you wonder if there is even a greater concern about Wentz’s health and stamina.

 

 

 

 

Bad Officials

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.

If you watch any sporting event anymore with other people, the topic of bad officiating cannot be avoided. It has reared its ugly head in the NFL, the NBA, college basketball and, now even horse racing.

Let me confess up front that I know very little about horse racing. I did, occasionally, over the years go to the track for dinner and a night of very minor betting. It was just a night out. I have never studied the horses. My betting and knowledge is based on virtually nothing but whim.  In fact, the first time my wife and I went to the races with other couples, we decided to bet every other race; my wife would pick a winner for one race and I would pick a winner
for the next race. We each threw in a whopping $2.00 per race.

I remember winning a few bucks. For my wife’s last bet she picked a horse who was a 40-1 shot to win. I would always place the bet for her and as I headed toward the window, I felt by placing that bet I would just be throwing $2.00 away. So, without telling her, I bet a different horse to win.  Her horse won! She thought she had won $80.00 on her $2.00 bet. I had to tell her she did not because I messed up. It was not pretty. Suffice it to say, I would not do that again.  Lesson learned. I know no more to this day about the sport, but like many ignorant fans, I still have an opinion.

I watched the Kentucky Derby on Saturday. I was both fascinated and confused.  Fascinated by the turn of events and confused by the controversy. It was somewhat obvious that Maximum Security did move out to his right, but it was just as obvious that that movement, no matter what the cause, did not affect the winning horse, Country House, at all. In other words, the horse that won was not impeded by the horse that was disqualified. The horses that were affected finished back in the pack and it appeared they would have finished that way anyway.

To me (remember I know nothing about horse racing), it would be hard not to have some bumping. I’ve read that this race has the largest number of competitors (20) of any race and I have seen it described as “demolition derby”. It appears to this viewer that the penalty here did not fit the “crime”.  For the first time in 145 runnings, a winner was disqualified. A winner was denied the $3 million purse. A new winner was declared. That horse was never fouled the entire race.
It appeared to me that this was just another case of bad officiating. This was the non-interference call that cost New Orleans a win in the NFL playoffs. This was a missed call at the end of almost every NBA playoff game. This was the biggest of all horse races with 150,000 people in attendance. This was another bad call.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

  1. The payouts for the Derby were as follows:
    First Place – Country House: $132.40 (Win), $56.60 (Place), $24.60 (Show)
    Second Place – Code of Honor: $15.20 (Place), $9.80 (Show)
    Third Place – Tacitus: $5.60 (Show)
    The $2.00 Exacta paid a whopping $3,009.60
  2.  Jordan Hicks, a closer for the St. Louis Cardinals, has thrown the 20 fastest pitches in the major leagues this year. His fastest pitch was 104.2 mph.  Aroldis Chapman has recorded a 105.1 mph fastball which seems to be the
    accepted record.
  3. Max Homa won his first PGA tournament on Sunday at the Wells Fargo Championship. He won $1.4 million. His father, John Homa, went to high school at Marian Catholic.
  4. I know that Jeopardy is not a sport, but it is a contest. And right now, it is worth watching. James Holzhauer, a professional sports gambler from Las Vegas, has won 22 games and $1,691,008. He averages $76,864 won for each
    show, a record. He is in second place for most consecutive wins and total money won. Ken Jennings won 74 times and $2.5 million. He has a two-week break now before returning on May 20. His style is different and
    exasperating to his opponents. Set your DVR.
  5. The EPC playoffs start next week. RCN-TV will have the semifinals (5/14) and the championship (5/15) LIVE next week. The games will be played at DeSales University for the first time. Join us.

“The Magic Ball” by John Leone

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 Laubach: While I am away from my desk for a week, guest blogger and announcing partner, John Leone, offers his thoughts on the meaning of The Game:

The longer I live, the more I realize how desperately futile my attempts at originality have been. That’s not to say that those attempts have been in vain, it’s just that I’m
finding more and more that there truly is nothing new under the sun. Any successful person never lacks for an appreciation of what is good about life. But I think a complete and truly self-aware person never fails to express it, so in at least that regard, the struggle continues.

With time running short at a recent post-season basketball banquet, (or long, depending on your experiences at such events) our Coach, Fran O’Hanlon, closed the ceremony by referring to the glass-enclosed basketball to his right, one that was about to be presented to his most recent 1000-point scorer.

As he glanced over at it, his words seem to trail off just a bit. It seemed to me that he was no longer addressing the audience, but rather indulging himself in some sort of high prayer or mediation.

“There’s magic in that ball,” he said. “It connects us.” I wanted more, and having known Fran for as long as I have, I knew that there was more in there. But there was that time thing. I walked out into a cold and rainy evening feeling tied, with no chance at an overtime period.

Fran succeeded me here at Lafayette some 24 years ago as the Men’s Basketball Coach.  One thing is certain and that is that Fran never needed my help with anything related to The Game. He certainly chose his predecessor wisely. That said, I hope he won’t mind – just this once –  if I take a stab at what he may have explained to us all had time allowed.

There is magic in that ball. It connects us. Through generations and different eras and even through its evolution, names and faces change but the shared experiences of playing The Game keep it as its constant and recurring focal point. If you’ve played the game, you almost certainly remember someone by name – someone who wasn’t necessarily a close friend or even someone you’d ever see again beyond those endless summer nights on the playground courts – someone with whom you discovered a synergy in playing the game right. And you were always glad to have him on your team when choosing up sides.

Even in the most rudimentary pick-up games, I can remember the feeling of connectedness I’d experience when receiving a pass – or making one – in a key moment.
It was visceral. It was a non-verbal way of saying, “I trust you” or “I respect you”; a heartfelt exchange with someone you may have only just met. And those moments made you want to raise your game a level or two if only to enhance that sense of accomplishment and strengthen the developing bond with a basketball soul mate. It’s a
rare thing. It’s the stuff of which upsets are made at any and all levels of The Game.

Successful coaches are those who are able to get their players to do what they want them to do. X’s and O’s are overrated by comparison. They make great fodder for pundits and fans, but remember: there is nothing new under the sun. There are few – if any – silver bullets on a play sheet or a chalkboard. Imagine striving – and succeeding – over time in building for your team a oneness of spirit that brings the magic. Culture trumps strategy every day of the week. What Coach O was reminding us of that night was the link to not only the men of his program, but to all of those who came before and anyone who’s tried to play the game right.

I’ve had good and well-intentioned friends suggest to me – and wish for me – more balance in my life. All things come back to The Game for me, and Coach O’Hanlon did
me no favors that night by reinforcing in me this ongoing and arguably growth-stunting personal worldview. The Game is a metaphor for living well, and that ball surely does have magic in it.

When we share it, it enhances us. When we dominate it or hoard it, it punishes us – sometimes, embarrassingly so. When we treat it carelessly, we lose it. When we value it, it rewards us. There are times we need to work hard to gain possession of it, risking pain and even injury.

There’s a love of The Game – not unlike the love of art, or music, or dance – that engenders a physical and emotional investment. The magic does not happen without it,
and without it, we are blinded from seeing the game for all that it can offer. The magic in that ball can bring out the best in us, or it can reveal our deepest flaws. When five people can function as a single entity, a single brain and heart – subverting in some cases our own individuality for the greater good – the results can be not just magical, but sometimes legendary. My friend and former Princeton coach, Pete Carril, once said, “Let me watch a kid play for 15 minutes, and I’ll probably be able to tell you all you need to know about him as a person.”

I left the banquet that night thinking of teammates I have had throughout the years and how – despite the distance in time and place – we are and have been inexorably
connected. But even more than that, I thought of the handful of guys from those pickup games of my youth and thought that – if they showed up today after 50 years – I’d still pick them, or still want them to pick me.

John Leone