Monday, April 30, 2007


Random Thoughts from the week in sports:

First off, the NFL Draft--

--The draft had some serious surprises. Locally, David Ball wasn't selected, but has signed a free agent contract with the Chicago Bears.

--How about Brady Quinn dropping all the way down to the 22nd pick? That was something I did not see happening. I figured he could go anywhere from the third pick to maybe 12, but alas was wrong. I was actually thinking for awhile that Quinn would be the first pick with the logic being that Al Davis is in charge, so anything can happen.

--What wasn't a shock was Troy Smith being picked up in the fifth round. Smith has great ability, a strong arm, but he just isn't tall enough.

--Randy Moss to the Patriots for a fourth rounder threw me off a bit. Not just the fact the Raiders took a fourth for him, but that Moss the Pats are willing to take a chance on him. Moss is a tremendous talent, but as we all know, he is a bit of a malcontent. Bellichick will have his hands full, but if anyone can turn Moss around, it is Bellichick.

The Yankees:

Although the Yankees free fall isn't the fault of Joe Torre, I think he will be gone by Wednesday. Steinbrenner is fuming over the Crankees being in last place, but with all of the injuries to their pitching staff, what does he expect? The offense is there, and they can put up runs in bunches, but with a staff of rookies on his pitching staff, it is difficult to win while allowing eight runs a game. Torre, who is one of the best managers the game has ever seen, will end up being the fall guy when it is Brian Cashman who hasn't made the deals and failed to develop strong pitching in the farm system. Torre can only make do with what he has.

The Red Sox:

Deadly offense and strong pitching has this team rolling right now. The only concern I have is on the defensive end with Mike Lowell having an awful season at third, and the middle infield hasn't exactly been stellar. If Lowell sews up the holes in his glove, this is a team that very well could win 105 games this season.

The NBA:

Now, I don't follow the NBA much anymore because, well, it is the NBA. What has to be pointed out though is my beloved Golden State Warriors are up 3-1 on the Mavericks. Now, I know the Warriors had the Mav's number throughout the regular season, but I don't think anyone could have seen this one coming. The rest of the NBA Playoffs.......Who cares?

Sad News:

The Saint Louis Cardinals must think they are snake bit following Sunday's tragic death of pitcher Josh Hancock. Hancock's SUV crashed into the back of a parked tow truck and he was killed instantly. First Darryl Kile, and now Hancock. Terrible things are happening to one of the classiest organizations in all of sports.

Other stuff:

I had a blast doing the Opening Ceremonies for the Middlebury Little League on Saturday, and my own team in the Center City Little League kicks off on Saturday. We have a young team, we are going to have to scrap for runs, but man these kids have come a long way in a short period of time. There is nothing like being out on the field with a bunch of kids who are playing the game because they want to be there. If you are out and about on Saturday morning at 11:00, head over to Roosevelt Park in the Old North End and check out our Opening Ceremonies. Champ will be there, and some great baseball between my Red Sox and the Yankees will be the season opener.

This just in.......

According to Ralph Cindrich, the agent for former Spaulding and NFL standout David Ball, Ball has signed a free agent contract with the Chicago Bears. Ball, who was not selected in this past weekend's draft, is expected to make a run at the team's fourth receiver spot. Terms of Ball's deal were not disclosed.

Monday, April 23, 2007

My weekend with Special Olympics

Spring is here!! Spring is here!! The snow is gone, people are back outside, and life is back to being warmer here in the Green Mountain State and it is about time!!

This weekend was a busy one for me, but I am not complaining at all. Saturday and Sunday, I was honored to speak at the Opening Ceremonies and announce medal winners at the Special Olympics Spring Games at UVM. For many years, I have been a volunteer with Special Olympics and this is an organization which means the world to me.

These are individuals who have taught me what it really means to live life. The athletes have various developmental disabilities, but hold down jobs, perform community service, and in the case of one athlete, he is training to be a Special Olympics coach. (Way to go Greg.)

What people don't seem to realize about those with developmental disabilities is they have abilities the rest of us just don't have. These are people who see people for what they are and not what society thinks they should be. It doesn't matter if you are black, white, Asian, or any other race; they like people when they are nice to them. If you smile, they smile back.

I talked in the opening ceremonies about what they have taught me about life, and they have taught me more than I can even comprehend. They ran, they put up some killer three balls, but when they did something we would call failure, they just smiled. I have never seen so many high fives, loud cheers for opponents, and playing a game for what it is; a game. I saw one woman who started crying out of pure joy when she received her fourth place ribbon. I probably would have taken a match to the thing and had a ceremonial burning.

I was talking to one of my neighbors earlier on in the week and mentioned I would be at Special Olympics volunteering. He then started doing his imitation of a disabled athlete saying even he could beat one of them in a race. Well, he may be able to beat one of them running, but he will never compete with the class and style these guys and gals do. Remember everyone, these are individuals who are the same as you and I are. The only difference between us is our needs are different, and they have abilities we simply don't have. Being able to see people for what they are, for who they are, and being able to cherish playing a game is something we can all learn from. Thanks everyone for putting my life, and the lives of others into perspective again.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The week from my eyes.......

It has been an interesting week in the local and national sports scene. First off, as we all know by now, Don Imus has been canned due to his insensitive and racially charged remarks against the Rutgers women’s basketball team. Personally, I think the action taken is appropriate due to the extreme nature of his comments and the ignorance Imus displayed in making them. Now, it is time to move on.

This strange season known as spring…..Does it really exist? The weather has played havoc with the local schedules, and at this rate, baseball season will be played in August with college, high school, and Lake Monsters single admission tripleheaders being played at Centennial Field. How about this one? The Norwich baseball team has yet to play a home game and at this rate may not play one all season. The high schools will be forced to play an abbreviated season with the state playoffs basically being the whole season. Again, Mother Nature, what can we do to make up for our misdeeds? Do we sacrifice George Bush to you, or would you just spit him out and tell us to keep him? We want spring!! We need sunlight!!

The ABA owners meetings have concluded with the promise by CEO Joe Newman that all of the games this season will actually be played. Considering this year the league played 77 percent of its regular season games, and had playoff teams dropping like temperatures in Vermont, I will believe it when I see it. Here is the scary thing, Newman actually seems to believe there isn’t a problem. Hello!!!! When only 77 percent of games are played due to folding teams, scheduling issues, and a schedule that had to be made up on the fly by league executive Brad Hester, maybe that is a good number. Well, no, not really. On a positive note, the Frost Heaves cleaned up the post season awards handed out by the league. Congratulations to coach Will Voight for winning Coach of the Year honors; Mike Healey for winning G.M. of the Year, and the team for winning the award as the league’s Expansion Team of the Year. Oh yeah, lists the Heaves as the top team in all of minor league basketball. Way to go guys.

Finally, I wish to extend my condolences to the families of the victims of Monday’s senseless massacre on the campus of Virginia Tech University. The shootings were senseless, and emphasize the need for gun control in this country. I know there is the argument that guns don’t kill people, people kill people, but I can’t buy the argument. Try making that statement to the families and friends of those who were killed by a lunatic who could go out and buy weapons that are made to kill.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Just horrible

As is being reported by all of the major news networks, 20 are reported dead and 28 are injured after a shooting at Virginia Tech University. And yet, we don't need gun control......Sad.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

A Muzzle for Imus

Two weeks. Two weeks off is what Don Imus gets for his insensitive, racially charged, moronic, uneducated remarks against the Rutgers women's basketball team. Personally, I think the man should be fired, but that is another story.

Shame on you Imus. Shame on you for looking at this world from a point of view that is not only not human, but purely uneducated and moronic at the same time. Picking on the Rutgers women's basketball team?? Give me a break. These are women who define the term "student-athlete". These are individuals who are busting their tails not only on the basketball court, but in the classroom as well. Rutgers is one of the best academic institutions in the country, one with a storied history of turning out some of this country's best scholars and human beings. You have to degrade them by calling them "Nappy headed ho's"?????? Bear in mind that female student athletes have a significantly higher rate of graduation than their male counterparts. Again, you missed that bit of information in your "research" before you went on the air.

How little do you know about humanity as a whole? The last time I checked, regardless of race, color, or creed, we all bleed the same color. We are human beings who should not be set apart by race; we should be set apart by our kindness towards others, by our contributions to society, and by seemingly little things like our intelligence and kindness. Instead, you broke things down to what mankind has done since the beginning of time, and that is judge others by their sex, or color of their skin. Shame on you Imus.

Why don't you have the class of the Rutgers basketball team? In a press conference, the team spoke of how hurt they are, how you have attempted to diminish the fact they made the National Championship for the first time in school history. Coach Stringer was correct in saying, "Before you are valedictorians of their class, future doctors, musical prodigies, and yes, even Girl Scouts," she said. "They are young ladies of class, distinction, they are articulate, they are brilliant, they are gifted." Oh yeah, they have agreed to meet with you to help create an understanding as to why you said what you did. They are better people than I am; I would have laughed in your sorry face.

Why in the world does it matter what color their skin is? Again, the last time I checked, we are all human beings and deserve equal respect. For some reason, you decided they do not deserve the respect you feel is a right, and not a privilege. You demand that respect, why don't you show some yourself?

This was not a slip of the tongue for you Imus. Somewhere, somehow, you developed these views on those who are not white. Where did they come from? While you are sitting on your ranch, will you actually explore why you said these things? I doubt it, you don't seem to think.

Bear in mind, this was not just racist, but sexist as well. Would you have made the same type of comment about a male? Women, as well as minorities, have had to fight for every bit of respect they deserve in this society of ours. Women are still systematically, and in many cases institutionally discriminated against. Thanks to you, we have taken yet another step back in the fight for equality among women and minorities.

A two week suspension is nothing to you. Imus, you will continue to stick your foot in your mouth in the name of ratings and it just doesn't seem to matter the hurt you have inflicted on others. These are individuals you wouldn't know if you tripped over them. Two weeks isn't enough. I think you should be fired.

Your "apology" was a joke. The only reason you bothered to apologize is because you were called on what you said. If no one had said anything, you would have continued on your hate filled rants on blacks, hispanics, women, and anyone who is not male and white. Do you really think what you said was wrong, or are you just covering your tail?

Instead of celebrating a tremendous accomplishment, the Rutgers basketball team has to deal with you and what you said. Are you happy now? I know that the Rutgers basketball team isn't happy.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Random Ramblings.......

Those of us who write for a living, or in my case, part of our living, will on occasion run into something that is a killer to our ego's(No comment from my wife or boss), or our dwindling sanity known as writer's block. My blog has suffered a bit, and thoughts are coming as quickly as above freezing temperatures in this rumored season known as spring in Vermont. So, here are the random thoughts of the last week.....

Spring?? It is really coming?? UVM played in the snow on Sunday at Centennial, and Cleveland and Seattle may have to play doubleheaders for a month straight if this weather keeps up. Oh Mother Nature? Whatever we have done to annoy you, we apologize. We want spring. We want to be outside without freezing, and we don't want to see Cleveland/Seattle matchups all season long. We are sorry for global warming, the Republican party, and anything else humanity may have done to annoy you. Please, bring us spring.

Don Imus has done an amazing job of sticking his foot in his mouth with his comments on the Rutgers women's basketball squad. Some have suggested a week suspension, some two, some more than that. Really, what I want is for you to run things through the brain before they go out the mouth. Your comments were insensitive, lacked thought, and reeked of racism in a society where it seems we have not learned our lessons from the civil rights movement. Next time, when a thought like that is seeping out, just stop and leave it at that.

Kudos to Alex Wolff for saying he will stick it out in the ABA. The league is a disaster right now, but Alex has the class to stick things out. I have been told by sources within the league that there is change coming, but it will take some give and take by CEO Joe Newman. For the good of what could be a strong minor league, Joe needs to do more giving than taking.

Dice-K is the real deal. This guy may not have a "gyro-ball", but with the other seven or eight pitches he throws, he will keep hitters off guard and guessing. All I wonder is if all of his comments are literally translated by his translator. Is the REAL answer to the question, "Daiske, how do you like Boston so far?"; really, "Man alive, the traffic stinks, the ballpark feels like a closet, and why did I sign with these guys anyway? I should have stayed home, but the money is better here." I think I need to learn Japanese........

Does the Easter Bunny lay eggs? Why don't we have an Easter Chicken? Chickens lay eggs, so there should be an Easter Chicken!! That makes sense to me!!

On April 21st and 22nd, the Special Olympics will be holding their Spring Games at Patrick Gymnasium. Head on over there to see athletes who don't play for glory, money, or anything else. These amazing individuals play because they can. They want to be on the same playing field as everyone else, and just love being out on the courts. As a long time volunteer with the organization, I am honored to have been asked to be a part of the Opening Ceremonies, and to perform PA during the basketball games and skills competition. These are individuals who have always amazed me with their heart, passion, and ability to be more human than those of us who don't have apparant disabilities. Head on over to Patrick and cheer these guys and gals on. Also, take the time to talk to and listen to them. It is amazing what these athletes will teach you about life.

Is it spring yet? Please, can it be spring?

Sunday, April 01, 2007


This is an article I wrote for the Vermont Guardian that was picked up by Our Sports Central and a couple of other papers.

Another horror story from the ABA:

Of late, it seems to be one thing after another for the troubled American Basketball Association. As the Vermont Frost Heaves prepare for Thursday night’s title game against the Texas Tycoons, ABA CEO Joe Newman, and the league is under fire once again.

In an exclusive interview with the Vermont Guardian, the owner of the Mississippi Miracle, Mother Annie Williams told me of her plight in the ABA. She spoke of games being scheduled with just a couple of days notice, a schedule that was always changing, and in the case of this past week, promises that were once again broken by the head of the ABA.

In an article I wrote last week, I spoke of the countless problems the ABA has encountered this season, capping off with the defending champion Rochester Razorsharks withdrawing from the playoffs and league due to the way the playoffs have been run. When Rochester dropped out, it created a scheduling problem in which Mississippi, who had advanced two rounds without playing a game, and Wilmington who was set to play Rochester in the second round facing off. According to Mother Williams, CEO Newman told her on Friday morning that the team had to travel to Wilmington for a Sunday game, insinuating that if they didn’t, a victory would be awarded to Wilmington. When Williams balked at the cost, Newman said he would take care of all expenses, and would pay the standard 25 percent of the gate to the visiting team. This is when the difficulty started.

First, there were logistical issues as Williams had sent her team home, not knowing when their next game would be played. Williams had to scramble to get a team together, and with purchasing tickets 48 hours in advance, seats were difficult to come by. According to Williams, “We had to have our guys fly out of four different airports so we could make the game. This cost me over six thousand dollars. Mr. Neuman assured me that he would help with the expenses (airline tickets, hotel stay, etc for the entire team) and I have an email stated that he would help with the expenses. After several phones calls with Mr. Neuman, I did agree the team would make the game, on Sunday, and I purchased one way tickets to Wilmington (on my personal credit card) to play that game, so the playoff schedule would remain in tact. We were able to purchase one-way tickets for the team, because of the last minute notice. If the schedule would have remained in its original scheduling, we would not have to purchase these one way tickets, but would have ample time to drive to Wilmington and not fly.”

Upon the team’s arrival in Wilmington, the least of the team’s worries was Mr. Newman had booked one less room than they needed; that was easily taken care of. What was not easily taken care of was the bill. When it came time for the team to depart Wilmington, Williams was told the bill still had not been paid. The hotel allowed the team to stay for an extra night, but were told to leave the following day. During this time, Williams was scrambling to try and reach Mr. Newman to have the bills taken care of. When Newman did not return her calls, she reached Vice President of Team Operations Brad Hester who told Williams, “The expenses have to be approved by Joe.” When she told him the expenses had been approved, and were done so in writing, Mr. Hester said he would get back to Mother Williams, but did not. Williams also says she has sent “several e-mails” to both, none of which have been returned. On the ordeal, Williams says, “This is extremely unprofessional, disrespectful and disappointing to me as well as our team. As far as we know, we are the only team in the ABA league that has not received any support or any financial support from this league. We have been treated very poorly since our inception of this team.”

In response to these charges, CEO Newman stated in an e-mail, “Teams are responsible for their own travel to playoff games. The playoff format does call for the home team to give the visiting team 25% of the gate receipts to offset travel to the playoff game - and I assumed that Wilmington did that as Vermont will for Wilmington for last night's game. The league has subsidized travel regularly (the league subsidized Wilmington's visit to Vermont in fact), but we did not guarantee to return Mississippi to Mississippi after the game.” Newman then said he would be in contact with Mother Williams. In response, I asked Newman to get back in contact with me when things had been resolved. (So I could make the decision to run the story or not) He responded with, “I'd suggest killing the story. Lots of things are said out of disappointment. There really isn't a story here.”

This is the latest in a long line of charges against the ABA, and specifically CEO Newman, alleging promises have been made for financial help and not followed up upon. Williams has said she intends on leaving the league, and anonymous sources say at least four more teams may follow suit as a result of problems with the ABA. As I stated in a previous article, this is a league with enormous potential, it is the running of the league, and the lack of organization is where there are issues.