Winter Sports 2019 All-Stars

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.

Time to take our final look back at the 2019 standout players as decided by local Lehigh Valley coaches, athletic directors and administrators in the RCN viewing area.

Here is a rundown of “all league players” that were sent to our attention:

2019 EPC WR All-Stars (1)

2018-19 Colonial League Girls Basketball All-League Team

2018-19 Colonial League Boys Basketball All-League Team

2018-2019 EPC Girls Basketball All Star Team

2018-2019 EPC Boys Basketball All Star Team

If there are any other awards or honors that you would like us to mention, please email them to me at chris.michael@rcn.net so that we may recognize the outstanding accomplishments of our girls and boys student-athletes in the RCN viewing area!

Also, thanks to our local athletic directors and league administrators for forwarding the above names to my attention!

Quick programming update…

Coming up on this Thursday’s “SportsTalk” program, our Skype guest will be Fox Sports’ Jermaine Ferrell, who covered the Virginia Men’s Basketball team’s National Championship run.

Ferrell said the atmosphere in the gym on the final night was as electric as any sports venue he was ever at.  He shared with me and will give us several interesting storylines surrounding the Cavs’ run that he plans on talking about on Thursday, in addition to giving us his thoughts on what the title means for the DMV region.

Jermaine also recently featured a story on the first-ever all-women announcing crew in professional sports, for the Red Sox minor-league affiliate, and will give us some details on the historic first broadcast that took place last week.

We’ll also be talking about local golf as well as recapping Tiger Wood’s tremendous comeback victory at the Master’s last weekend as well as last weekend’s big Blue-and-White game at Penn State with Morning Call College Football Beat Writer Mark Wogenrich.

Unlike Any Other

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.

Unless you have absolutely zero access to anything that resembles news or social media, you know that Tiger Woods won the Masters on Sunday afternoon. The event not only produced great golf drama, but it also always produces some of the most unusual announcing, and artistic scenery.

I also believe the 9:00 AM start probably helped viewership. Knowing that Tiger was in the championship hunt, even a West Coast fan of golf would either get up early or DVR the program just to watch it when they arise. I personally loved the early start which led to an early finish. I had to emcee a function Sunday night and I would have missed the finish.

While watching the golf telecast, I am always amazed at the amount of wires, production people, and announcers that need to be coordinated throughout the four days. With ESPN involved on Thursday and Friday, the telecast must use some of their announcers (Scott Van Pelt and Curtis Strange) during those broadcasts despite their reports being somewhat awkward. They appear to be just filling contractual space until the CBS announcers take over the actual four-day golf coverage.

I’m sure you, also, notice the absolute reverence in the voices of the announcers when they describe anything – none more than Jim Nantz, who often sounds like he is offering up a eulogy instead of describing the golf.

There is no question that the Masters is different and it is required to be by the Masters committee (why else would it be called “a tradition unlike any other”?). Take note of some of the oddities:

• An announcer must refer to the fans as “patrons”. One is not to use the word “fan” or “spectator”.
• The “rough” MUST be called the “second cut”.
• Only four minutes of commercials are allowed every hour of the CBS broadcast.
• Caddies MUST wear a white jumpsuit and a green Augusta hat.
• Patrons may bring collapsible chairs, but they cannot have armrests.
• Patrons may not wear hats backwards.
• No running.
• Augusta membership is around 300. You cannot apply – you must be nominated.
• The course is actually closed in the summer.
• The green jacket won by Tiger Woods is the same jacket he wore when he won his first Masters. He may only keep it for this year and then must return it.
• Each player gets a brand new Mercedes for their use during the week.
• It may be the toughest ticket in sports, but it is not expensive to be there – $325 for the week and, if you bought everything on the food menu, it would cost you less than $57.00.
• There are 125 different styles of hats in the pro shop.
• There is a fence around the entire course which keeps out ALL animals. It is said that no one has ever seen a squirrel on the grounds.

If you would like to see it LIVE, you can enter a lottery for tickets at https://tickets.masters.com/en_US/ticket_info.html . I know people who have gotten tickets this way.

Me, I enjoyed an early breakfast, an early finish, and the comfort of my recliner. That is my “tradition unlike any other”.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

1. Tiger Woods wasn’t the only winner on Sunday. A bettor on a sports book in Las Vegas placed his first bet ever. He bet on Tiger Woods to win the Masters. He bet $85,000 and received 14-1 odds. With Tiger’s win, he won $1.19 million, not quite the $2.02 million Tiger won, but he never hit a shot. The last three seven-figure winners at this sports book came when the Eagles beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl in 2018.

2. If you are a NL MLB East fan, buckle up for a great ride. Of the five teams, four of them are .500 or better. The Phils, Mets, Braves, and Nationals could stick around in the race for a long, long time. By comparison in the AL East ONLY Tampa Bay has a winning record. The Yankees, Orioles, Red Sox, and Blue Jays are all under .500 which might make their division just as interesting.

3. Whitehall product Matt Millen returned to the broadcast booth on Saturday to broadcast the Penn State Blue-White game. Matt, a former Penn State and NFL all-star, received a new heart on Christmas Eve. He waited 98 days for a match to be found. The native of Hokendauqua is back and ready to work in the booth.

4. The Lafayette College Spring Maroon and White spring game will be played on Saturday and televised on RCN-TV at 11:00 AM. Mike Joseph and I will be there to make the call.

5. Morning Call sports’ reporters Paul Reinhard and Keith Groller were honored this past Sunday. It seemed like every notable Lehigh Valley sports personality was there (well over 250 people attended). The two have combined for almost 100 years of tireless sports reporting. I was proud to be able to emcee the affair at DeSales University.

HS Basketball 2019 Reflections

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

After a basketball season that started with controversy, (aka, the hearing involving Executive Education Academy allegedly taking players away from other Lehigh Valley high schools), the season itself was mixed with different opinions about the quality of play.

Clearly, there were some very strong teams across the state of Pennsylvania this winter…

This season marked one of the quickest “exits” for many Lehigh Valley boys teams in the PIAA playoffs—only three boys teams that RCN covers (Becahi, Wilson and Allen) made it to the second round of the state playoffs—with all three losing before the quarterfinals.

RCN-TV basketball analyst Tom Stoudt was in the studio the other day feeling a little disappointed by many of the regular season games he witnessed.  But he felt some of the playoff heroics and late season surges by a few teams made for interesting storylines.  You can hear more by checking out our “SportsTalk” podcast featuring Tom here on our website at rcn.com/rcntv/sports-talk

Whatever your thoughts are on the winter high school sports season, we’ll have our final winter season “SportsTalk” program—with the focus on scholastic wrestling– coming up this Thursday featuring the Morning Call’s wrestling writer Tom Housenick in-studio.

We’ll also be featuring boys and girls spring sports season packages on local teams on this week’s program.

And, check back at “The Shop” next week for our rundown of winter sports “All-Stars.”

I WON!

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

My hope here is that you never get past the title and you have the impression that I actually won something.  That is so far from the truth.  I not only lost.  I lost badly.

With all of the upsets in the NCAA tournament, I can write this BEFORE the final game is played and tell you, once again, I was embarrassed by my results in the RCN bracket pool (for entertainment purposes only).

The problem is, because I am the Sports Director, everyone expects me to do well and everyone seems to take great pleasure in beating me.  There are some (mostly women) who take even greater pleasure in my inability to appear to know anything about college basketball.

Against the RCN employees, I finished 17th out of 48.  I know that doesn’t sound so bad, but you have to understand, I was doing quite well up to the quarterfinals and could not keep my mouth.  I felt this was a good time to brag.  I sent out a blanket email to all the female nemeses (yes, that is the plural of nemesis – I looked it up) who berated me throughout past tournaments to rub in the fact that I was beating them all.  And then the quarterfinal games were played.  My drop in the standings was a freefall.

I ended up being beaten by Lori, the head of HR (what do they know about sports?); by Alyssa from the studio, who almost treats me with respect (I need to keep her away from the others); by Sandy of the business department, who to her credit, is almost too nice to belittle my ineptness; and Laura who beats me every year and cannot wait to literally rub as much salt into the wound as possible and tends to announce her superiority to anyone who will listen.  Thank goodness I am at the studio and do not have to withstand what would be constant ridicule by the entire office staff in our other building.

Speaking of the studio, on the good side, I finished second among the players from the RCN studio.  On the really bad side, there were only two players from the studio (remember Alyssa), so second, also, turns out to be dead last.

Maurice won the pool even before the championship game was played.  No one came within 20 points of him.  He beat me by a whopping 53 points.  I do not know Maurice very well, but here’s hoping he has no interest in becoming the RCN Sports Director.

So if you read this far, you now know that, for this particular blog, the title was very misleading and I became part of the FAKE NEWS movement.  I won nothing!  Usually I would thank you for reading my blog, but for this particular one, thanks for nothing! 

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS) 

  1. I am anticipating a sleepy day on Tuesday. With the NCAA championship game starting at 9:20pm, it will be a late night for most sports fans.  Now, I usually stay up to @11:30pm anyway and arise at 6:25am.  I will probably lose about an hour sleep if I want to watch the award ceremony and wait for “One Shining Moment”.  Plus, Charles Barkley makes me want to watch the postgame analysis.  He just makes me laugh.  So, unlike the other half of the country, the rest of us must suck it up on Tuesday morning.
  1. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the Women’s National Championship game on Sunday between Notre Dame and Baylor. For one thing, the game started at 6:00pm and was over by 8:30pm (see #1 above).  For another, the talent level was amazing, and, just like the men, the game came right down to the end.  Both coaches were a treat to watch.  Good for the women!!
  1. With gambling now legal, more stories come out, usually from Las Vegas,concerning the big sporting events. It seems in November, a man who did not want to be identified, placed a wager at the Superbet for $1500 for Texas Tech to win the NCAA National Championship.  The odds were 200-1.  He wanted to place more money on the game, but the site would not take any more, limiting their risk.  If Texas Tech wins, he will win $300,000.  The Cowboys’ Dez Bryant offered to buy his ticket before the game is played for $125,000.  The offer was not accepted.
  1. Every baseball fan knew the NL East was going to be super competitive and the early results bear that out. The Phillies, the Mets, and the Nationals are all off to a terrific start.  The shocker so far is how badly the Red Sox are faring.  Remember, it’s a marathon!
  1. On Sunday, April 14, I will be emceeing a night of recognition for two great Lehigh Valley Morning Call sports’ reporters, Paul Reinhard and Keith Groller. The two have combined for almost 100 years of tireless sports reporting.  And, on the same night, RCN’s Scott Barr will be inducted into the Lehigh Valley Wrestling Hall of Fame.  I wish I could also be there.

State Basketball ‘19 Highlights (Part 2)

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. 

Here are highlights of our state basketball games broadcast by RCN (all of our programming can be seen in their entirety “on-demand” for free for RCN customers.)

These contests include RCN-TV’s coverage of the PIAA post-season events…

As we head to the end of the winter sports season, we’d like to ask local coaches, athletic directors and administrators to pass along their “all-star” listings for leagues, district and statewide sports teams so that we can post them on a future edition of “The Shop.”

Please email those lists to chris.michael@rcn.net and thanks in advance for your submissions!

Coming up on this Thursday’s “SportsTalk” show, we’ll have the Morning Call’s  MLB writer Steve Gross in studio to give his thoughts on the Phillies, Nationals, Mets, Yankees and other teams within the RCN-TV viewing area.  Also, our old friend from the Bucks County Courier-Times (and now the Morning Call’s NFL & NBA Correspondent) Tom Moore will join us via Skype.

Plus, see our first round of spring sports features highlighting high school teams in our coverage area on this week’s program.

“Sidd” Finch

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

I am writing this on April 1st which, as you know, happens to be April Fool’s Day.  I have had some fun on this day in the past.  While teaching George Orwell’s 1984 and trying to convince my students that “truth is whatever you believe to be true”, I invented a student.  I faked his registration at school, gave him a personality, a visual, and, obviously, a name.  I had my class talk about this “person” to other students just to spread the word in order to prove my lesson.  It did not take long for curiosity to take over.

Girls would stand around outside my class room just to get a glimpse of this young man, who many had said was quite good-looking.  Of course, I had to create excuses for why he was not in my class.  I would say he was called to the office, had a doctor’s appointment, etc.  I even went so far as to get him placed on the absentee list.

My literature class could not believe the excitement generated by this non-existent person.  He became real to so many that my point about “truth” became self-evident.  In fact, I had to curtail the experiment when someone had set up a blind date with a girl.  Not wanting to embarrass anyone, I exposed the ruse.

One April Fool’s Day fell on a Monday and I appeared as a guest on WZZO as I always did every Monday morning in the Bearman and Keith’s studio.  I tried to bring interesting sports stories to their morning show every Monday.  So on this morning, I reported that one of the Phillies greatest players, Mike Schmidt, had been traded right before I got to the studio.  This was well before you could do instant fact-checking on Google.  Bearman and Keith and the audience bought in.  The report generated the most interest and the most phone calls of any of my appearances.  Fans were angry, perplexed, and bewildered.  I had a good time with it right up until the moment I revealed the lie. The groans could be heard throughout the Valley.

My escapades were minor compared to what George Plimpton did in 1985 for Sports Illustrated.  The managing editor noticed that the magazine would hit the newsstand on April 1.  He asked Plimpton to right about jokes in sports.  Plimpton could not find anything he liked so he asked if he could create his own hoax.

Plimpton created Hayden Siddhartha “Sidd” Finch, a baseball pitcher for the New York Mets.  Plimpton hired a stand-in, Joe Berton, to play the part, invented an entire biography, posted photographs, got the Mets to go along with the story, and foisted #21 onto the national scene.

Mets fans were thrilled with their newfound talent.  Editors of other publications were angry with the Mets that they gave the story to Sports Illustrated.  Finch got his own locker and media flocked to get more of the story.  A press conference was announced and, on April 2, Finch (Berton) announced his retirement.

The press release read: “He’s a pitcher, part yogi and part recluse. Impressively liberated from our opulent lifestyle, Sidd’s deciding about yoga—and his future in baseball.”  The first letters each of these words spell out “Happy April Fool’s Day – a(h) fib”.

The magazine officially announced the hoax in the April 15 issue.

If you are so inclined, you can read the entire article at this site:

https://www.si.com/mlb/2014/10/15/curious-case-sidd-finch

I hope you got through the day without any repercussions. 

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS) 

  1. The one #1 seed in the NCAA bracket that I thought would falter was Virginia. And now, they are the only #1 seed going to the Final Four.  #3 Texas Tech, #5 Auburn, and #2 Michigan State will join them.  It was reported this past weekend that the one perfect bracket left in all the various submissions (tens of millions) throughout the country faltered by picking Tennessee over Purdue.  A neuropsychologist had correctly picked a record 49 straight games until the Purdue loss in overtime.  The odds of getting 49 correct were 1 in 562,949,953,421,312.
  1. You may be wondering what the conferences make financially from the NCAA in the tournament. Every conference (32 of them) earns at least $282,100.  The more teams you advance, the more money you get.  The SEC with Auburn in the Final Four gets $32.1 million; the Big Ten gets $35.5 million; the ACC gets $33.8 million.
  1. With all the appropriate excitement about the Phillies’ start to the season, did you notice the start by last year’s MVP, Milwaukee’s Christian Yelich – home runs in each of the first four games. And he added a two-run double in the ninth on Sunday to give his team a 5-4 win.  He is looking like an MVP all over again.
  1. Bryce Harper, who hit two home runs this past weekend as the Phillies swept three games from the Braves, now travels to Washington where he signed his original contract in 2010. The atmosphere there should be electric.
  1. Lafayette College baseball is celebrating its 150th year of intercollegiate competition this season. The Leopards have throwback uniforms which they will wear when they play Lehigh to commemorate the anniversary on April 17 at 3:30pm.  RCN-TV will bring you the game.

October Madness

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 the middle of March Madness, it’s time to consider October Madness.  Since I now believe that with analytics running (perhaps, ruining) baseball, I could probably be a major league manager.  After all, there is no more arguing calls (replays take care of that); pitching changes are determined by computer; and even lineups can be best created by what the statistics tell us.  So with all the human element being taken out of the game, there will still be baseball played this week and, therefore, the need (after all, I have to fill my blog) with a human prognostication.  Here is how I see the teams finishing in their divisions with no help from any superhuman source:

American League 

West

  1. Houston – They Astros did not repeat as World Series champions last year because the Red Sox knocked them out in the ALCS. Again, much like last year, most of their lineup returns.  They win the West again.
  2. LA Angels – Mike Trout is now the highest paid athlete in sports history and will be an Angel until 2030. Japan’s Shohel Ohtani had Tommy John surgery and will be out for part of the season and that hurts them on the mound and in the lineup since he pitches and  They did improve their pitching staff.  So at the very least, this team will be fun to watch and could surprise.
  3. Oakland – This team was in the Wild Card game and lost to the Yankees. They are young, had a great end-of-season last year, and are loaded with confidence.  Only an “iffy” pitching staff could keep them from a successful year.
  4. Seattle – The Mariners do not raise expectations much anymore and they seem to be beginning to realize it. They made nine trades in the off season and are beginning their climb back.  It will take awhile.
  5. Texas Rangers – A new manager, very young players, and an absence of strong pitching will put the Rangers in the basement.

Central

  1. Cleveland – This is a team with a little less power than last year, but they will win this Division again. Now the question is whether they can compete with the Yankees, Red Sox, and Astros in the postseason. Plus, they are very, very strong in the pitching department.  Cleveland fans can’t wait for the NFL, but should have fun in the meantime.
  2. Minnesota – Rocco Baldelli at 37-years of age is the youngest manager in the majors. They also have a very young baseball team.  There is certainly potential here and they could actually challenge the Indians.  This will be one of the more interesting teams to watch.
  3. Chicago White Sox – They tried and lost. No Machado; no Harper. They have had six straight losing seasons.  They have a very exciting player in Eloy Jiminez who will break into the majors on opening day.  They are looking to improve and, perhaps, have a winning season. This team has potential and could surprise.
  4. Kansas City – They got rid of most of the older players and have lost 100 games each of the last two seasons. There is some enthusiasm about improvement and the Royals do look like they will be better.
  5. Detroit – 98 losses each of the last two years. This team is not good and rebuilding.  Enough said.

East

  1. Boston – They won the World Series last year and still everyone is picking the Yankees to win the East this year. The Red Sox have the same team back and if they can overcome complacency, I am picking them to beat the Yankees again.
  2. New York Yankees – Can they hit enough homers to win it all? They hit 267 last year and that was a major league record.  Judge, Stanton, and Sanchez will continue to bash the baseball.  They have plenty of injuries to start the season.  I can’t pick them to win the division.
  3. Tampa Bay – They won 90 games a year ago to everyone’s surprise, and still did not make the playoffs. That could happen to them again.  Remember, they won 41 games after the All-Star break. If this team gets off to a much better start this year, they could be the surprise of the majors.
  4. Toronto – They are rebuilding and are enthusiastic about their future. Their future is not this year.
  5. Baltimore – Major rebuilding going on here. Their better days are way ahead of them.

The Red Sox will win the American League pennant. 

National League 

West

  1. LA Dodgers – No World Series again last year. It was the Astros two years ago and the Red Sox last year.  The Dodgers are still loaded with talent.  Their pitching is second to none in the National League.  The only deterrent might be history – the Dodgers have never made it to three World Series in a row.
  2. Colorado – This team experienced back-to-back playoff appearances. They have a stable lineup and a manager who will be around at least until 2022.  If the Dodgers suffer a letdown, the Rockies are ready to pounce on them.  They have been in the postseason two years straight – 2019 will be three.
  3. San Diego – Can Manny Machado bring the first major sports championship ever to San Diego? The fans think so.  Ticket sales skyrocketed after he signed.  The rest of the team is young and talented.  The Padres are a sleeper and Machado might just be the key to awakening them.
  4. Arizona – This might be the best 4th-place division team in the majors. They did lose four of their top players and one would have every right to think they will struggle.
  5. San Francisco – This is manager Bruce Bochy’s last year and the players will play extra hard for him, one would think. Injuries killed the Giants last year, but Madison Bumgarner and Buster Posey start the season healthy so that makes the Giants much better.  Cinderella year for Bochy?

Central

  1. Chicago Cubs – Joe Madden is in the final year of his contract and the Cubs have not yet offered an extension. The players love Joe and love what he has created in Chicago.  They did not make any major moves over the winter, but they are still a very good team.  They will win the Central Division again.
  2. St Louis – There is a buzz about the Brewers, but I like the Cardinals again in this spot. They did get better in the season acquiring Paul Goldschmidt and Andrew Miller.  This team will give the Cubs a run for the title.
  3. Milwaukee – What am I doing? The Brewers won the Division last year and Christian Yelich was the NL MVP.  This is a very tough division all the way down the line.  I am not feeling good putting them third.
  4. Cincinnati – The Reds picked up the Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig and that is a nice addition. They, also, got Matt Kemp and Alex Wood.  So their rebuilding came quickly.  The Reds will be better in a tough division.
  5. Pittsburgh – The Pirates had a winning season last year. Their pitching staff has talent and youth.  Excitement in Pittsburgh has waned, however.  This is a decent team in with better than decent teams.

East

  1. Philadelphia – No excuses this year. The Phils spent the money and put the pieces in place.  The six years of consecutive losing seasons should come to an end in a big way.  Harper, Realmuto, McCutcheon, and Robertson make them a much better team and, most feel, the best in the East.  Is manager Gabe Kapler the only real question mark?
  2. WashingtonNo Bryce Harper! And they missed the playoffs last year with him. With that said, they still have one of the best pitching rotations in baseball.  This team would like nothing better than to win the East without Harper.  Great incentive.
  3. Atlanta – They were a total surprise last year winning the East. Now, no one is talking about them again because of what happened in the division with the other teams.  The Braves won 90 games last year and they firmly believe they are even better this year.  I really misjudged them last year.  I hope I’m right this year.
  4. NY Mets – I don’t know – Don’t the Mets have high expectations every year, only to falter? They added five former All-Stars and have a strong starting rotation.  But they are the Mets, after all!
  5. Miami – Derek Jeter’s problems continue. The Marlins have had 10 losing seasons in a row.  Their pitching staff is very young, but talented.  They will lose games because they cannot score.  That problem will continue.

The Phillies will win the N L pennant. 

The Red Sox will win it all, again! (Although I hope the Phils win).

 

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS) 

  1. I bet your bracket-busting heart stopped in the final seconds of the Duke-UCF game on Sunday. How did Aubrey Dawkins miss the tip-in?  He made almost every shot all day, but not that one.  Is that the win Duke needed to go all the way?
  1. Okay – Tacko Fall is a freak of nature. The 7’6” center for UCF made my jaw drop.  I have seen plenty of basketball in my life, but nothing like him.  If not for four fouls and a phantom call, perhaps UCF wins the game.  I just could not believe how he dunks the ball without getting more than a couple of inches off the floor.  Marketing people should get him to change his name to Tacko Bell and show him next to the Chihuahua while eating tacos.  Genius, right?
  1. Zion Williamson of Duke is the best player in college basketball and should be the #1 pick in the NBA draft. He had 32 points on Sunday and his last field goal was over Tacko Fall and, also, fouled out the giant.  He, too, is a phenom.
  1. The #2 pick in the NBA draft should be Ja Morant of Murray State. He is a great shooter (24.4 points per game) and an even better passer (10.2 assists per game).  No college player has ever achieved double digit points and assist averages for a season.  In the first-round game against Marquette, he had a triple double – points, assists, and rebounds.  He was responsible for 63% of his team’s points.
  1. Congratulations to the Bethlehem Catholic girls, head coach Jose Medina, and the assistant coaches. They won their second state championship in three years and are heavy favorites to do it again next year!  No one could represent our area any better.

 

 

 

 

State Basketball ‘19 Highlights (Part 1)

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

This week we continue our rundown of highlights from recent playoff games and matches broadcast by RCN-TV (these contests can be seen in their entirety “on-demand” for free for RCN customers.)

Here are video recaps of all of our PIAA playoff coverage (the games are available through RCN On-Demand).

Also, you can purchase DVD copies of these games by calling 610-443-2909, Monday through Friday, from 9 am to 5 pm.

The regular season seemed to receive mixed emotions among basketball followers.  While some felt games were fiercely competitive and went down to the wire (including back-to-back Bethlehem Catholic boys basketball victories during the local playoffs), others thought there were too many blow-out games with a heavy dose of parody/mediocrity in the area.

The Lady Hawks from Bethlehem Catholic provided the best highlight of the winter season, culminating with their state championship victory in a game you saw last Saturday on Channel 97 on the RCN channel lineup.

We’ll be taking our final looks and reflections at this winter’s high school sports season both here at “The Shop” and on our “SportsTalk” television program over the following two weeks.

Winter Playoffs ‘19 Highlights (Part 2)

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

The state post-season action is in full swing on RCN-TV and we hope you have been enjoying our coverage in both high school basketball and wrestling playoffs.

This Thursday on “SportsTalk” we’ll recap some of these and other games played featuring teams in the RCN viewing area.

Also, we’ll take our first look at the upcoming spring sports season by honoring some of last year’s high school championship teams by having them in-studio to talk about defending their titles and their outlook for the 2019 campaign.  Among the teams we’ll be hearing from this week include the Freedom baseball team (who captured their first District XI title in decades last spring) and the Parkland girls lacrosse team, who are three-time defending champs.

The Madness Begins

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

It’s here.  After all the regular season games and the grind of trying to win a conference championship, it’s time to play for all the marbles.  The NCAA Basketball tournament begins officially on Thursday with 64 teams in the race for a National Championship.

Four teams will vie to get into the 64-team bracket when Temple plays Belmont and Fairleigh-Dickinson plays Prairie View  in play-in games.

Without a great deal of time to study, here are my thoughts on the regions:

EAST – Duke 

Zion Williamson is back for Duke and that makes ALL the difference.  If he stays healthy throughout, Duke should win the East playing Michigan State.  I like Yale in a first-round upset and I would love to see Fran Dunphy in his last season at Temple get into Thursday’s first round.

WEST – Gonzaga 

Even though Gonzaga lost the West Coast conference championship game, when Gonzaga is at its best, they are as good as anybody.  Remember, they beat Duke and Williamson played in that game.  Michigan looks like they could be upset before getting to the West final.  Nevada could be troublesome especially on offense.

SOUTH – Tennessee 

It just seems to me that every year Virginia finds a way to lose – no one will forget their first-round loss last year to UMBC.  I do not see them losing early, but I also do not see them winning their region.  Tennessee has been as good as any team in the nation at times this year.  If they put it all together here and get a monster effort out of Grant Williams, they will get to the Final Four.

MIDWEST – North Carolina 

I wish I could have more shocking news for you this year, but it looks like the #1’s are the best.  I even think Virginia is the best, but I cannot in good conscience think all four #1’s will get through.  Carolina’s road to the Final Four looks fairly certain.  Perhaps, Kentucky can give them a game if Kentucky gets to the Elite Eight.

My National Championship pick is forthcoming after I screw up my own bracket.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSING) 

  1. Bryce Harper is still hitless (if you don’t count getting hit by a pitch). Anyone getting nervous?  He is 0-8.  There are still 10 days until opening day.
  1. I am starting to feel badly for Saquon Barkley. The Giants just seem to be making themselves worse and worse with their trades and anyone who watched them last year knew that their real problem was the offensive line.  Remember how great running back Barry Sanders was on a very bad team – the Detroit Lions?  He never achieved team success.  Is Saquon the next Barry?
  1. One team’s displeasure can cause great anticipation from another team. For example – Odell Beckham to the Browns; Le’Veon Bell with the Jets; Joe Flacco to the Broncos; Michael Bennett to the Patriots; etc.  There’s excitement in the air, particularly in Cleveland where the air seems to disappear around the fifth game every year.
  1. I am not that familiar with “Fortnite”, but I know it’s the rage with younger people. Well, I heard it was also the rage in the Phillies locker room last season to the point where some players were playing it during the game.  Veteran Carlos Santana took care of that problem by taking a bat to the TV to make sure no one would play again.  Good for him!
  1. The Southern Lehigh and Bethlehem Catholic girls are in the PIAA state semifinals. Congratulations to the teams and their coaches.  Here is hoping they play for the PIAA state championship this weekend.  Go Spartans!  Go Hawks!