From the Cheap Seats

KG Snub, Jar Jar Nightmare

October 31st, 2012 at 11:52 pm by under From the Cheap Seats

We are back in the saddle in the sports department after three days of hurricaneSandycoverage. Major props to my colleagues here at WPRI/WNAC, it was a true pleasure to watch the tremendous work and professionalism of everyone in our building and out in the field.

 The first real sense of normalcy we got this week on the sports scene was when the Celtics tipped off Tuesday night in Miami. I am surprised at how out of sorts the C’s looked but I am not surprised that the Heat is still the team to beat in the East. KG ignoring Ray Allen only added to an entertaining and intense rivalry. For the record I side more with Garnett. I think his me against the world act is a little tired and rubs people the wrong way, but he should be able to show his true emotions about a former teammate that apparently didn’t say as much as “good bye” on his way out the door in Boston.

 Tom Brady tied Peyton Manning for most AFC offensive player of the week honors. Both have earned the award 22 times and you can bet they’ll both add to that total. Those two really will be connected at the right arm all the way to Canton.

 Disney bought Lucas Films and immediately promised more Stars Wars movies. As a big fan of the series I am excited but early rumors have Jar Jar Binks in an expanded role. If this is true George Lucas should use the $4 billion he got in the deal to invent a procedure to erase Jar Jar from the memories of every Disney executive. That or burn down every movie theater in the world to spare us the pain of reliving the biggest mistake of a character in the history of cinema.


Yankee Meltdown, Bring Back Pat, New Hampshire Nice

October 18th, 2012 at 7:48 pm by under From the Cheap Seats

I have a legit question? Would you rather be a Red Sox fan right now or a Yankees fan? At least the Sox know where they stand. The Yankees on the other hand just suffered their worst postseason beat down in 35 years with over $39 million sitting on the bench. Are Jeter, A-Rod (unless some team like the Marlins is dumb enough to trade for him) or Granderson viable options going forward? They have the money to spend their way out of nearly every setback but I don’t envy the challenge in front of General Manager Brian Cashman.

 I might be in the minority but I actually like the white helmet, red jersey, Pat the Patriot throwback jersey’s more thanNew England’s regular uni’s. Most fans side with Flying Elvis but I think Pat is back in style and the entire ensemble has a clean, nostalgic feel to it.

 Last year at this time I said the words Tim Tebow about 17 times a sportscast. Now it seems Rex Ryan is making up excuses just to get the former phenom’s name in the headlines. Rex said today that Timmy is going to be used as a running back Sunday. I can see Bill Belichick shaking in his hoodie (sarcasm)

 I spent the weekend inNew Hampshireto watch my alma mater St. Cloud State play hockey against UNH. Although my Huskies got swept out of town I have to give major props to that fan base. They know their hockey and are very welcoming to outsiders. The student section even had a sign that read “Gopher’s Rejects”, very clever and probably true in some cases.


Spikes Tweet, Bucking The Trend, Armstrong Accusers

October 11th, 2012 at 9:58 pm by under From the Cheap Seats

In truth Twitter is a great thing that gives us insight into the psyche of those that interest us, including athletes. The sad truth is that sometimes a person’s thoughts are better left unsaid or in Twitter’s case unwritten. It’s nearly impossible to stop the free flow of sometimes vulgar, idiotic, mind numbingly stupid 140 character sentences posted on a daily basis. (despite Bill Belichick’s best efforts I presume) The latest embarrassing act comes from Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes. His lame attempt to brush off his homophobic views as a joke shows just how moronic this man really is. So far no word from how the team will handle the situation but if Rob Gronkowski was scolded for posing with an adult film actress, Spikes has to be in the dog house. Too bad, he’s having a tremendous year on the field but no matter what happens he’ll be remembered for being one of the most boneheaded athletes to have a Twitter account.

 It’s been a rather quiet baseball postseason in these parts. The Red Sox are in full managerial search mode so the majority of the fan base has turned its attention the Pats. Even the pocket of Yankees fans in the area have kept it under wraps. I guess they don’t get excited until the World Series.

 Speaking of baseball, my manager of the year vote (I don’t really have one) goes to Buck Showalter. I admit I didn’t really care for the guy when he switched over to TV. I thought he sounded too much like a hick and was really boring in his role as an analyst but man the guy can manage. If it wasn’t for the back end of his bullpen springing a leak the O’s might be preparing for the ALCS.

 I am on record as saying that I don’t really care about Lance Armstrong and his cheating to win 7 Tour De Frances but after the latest bombshell dropped by the USADA I have changed my tune a little bit. According to 11 of Armstrong’s teammates he not only cheated but was one of the most sophisticated dopers in the history of sports. It’s enough to make Barry Bonds blush. Yes Lance has done wonders in raising money for cancer research but figuring out a way to be the best cheater sticks out as a pretty major character flaw.


Offensive Explosion, Heisman Trophy Connection, Oh Deer That’s Spendy

October 1st, 2012 at 7:46 pm by under From the Cheap Seats

I tweeted Sunday during the 3rd quarter of the Pats-Bills game that I thought the Patriots would score 30 points in the second half. Turns out I was way off! They instead plastered a helpless Bills defense to the tune of 45 points in just 30 minutes of action.

They also racked up some impressive numbers along the way. For example, the Pats had two 100-yard rushers (Bolden and Ridley) and two 100-yard receivers (Welker and Gronk). Only the second time in NFL history that has ever been done, the 2008 Packers were the other team to pull it off.  Easy to forget that this team was actually trailing at halftime and in danger of falling to 1-3 on the season.

Oh by the way, the Red Sox are still playing. It’s not often in these parts that a Sox-Yankees series to end the season can fly completely under the radar but that is exactly what’s happening. The question I have been posing to Sox fans, would you rather keep the Yankees from grabbing an AL East title or get revenge on the O’s after they drove the final stake through your epic collapse last season? The answer I most commonly get, take out the hated Yankees.

Is it a coincidence that our summer intern goes to West Virginia and left our sports office adorned with Mountaineers gear and that WVU’s Geno Smith tossed 8 touchdown passes Saturday in taking an early stranglehold on the Heisman race? I think not. He is definitely feeling the added powers of support from all the way out here in Rhode Island.

I hit a deer last week while pulling off an I-95 exit inCoventry. I can not think of a dumber animal in the history of animals. They have to be the easiest creature in the world to hunt. Just turn on your car and watch herds of them flock to the noise and the lights. I mean the thing literally jumped into the side of my car! Bambi, who wasn’t hurt and ran back into the forest by the way, cost me $2,000 and a lifelong distain for venison.


Nice Start, Arnie Stops By

September 10th, 2012 at 11:40 pm by under From the Cheap Seats
  • Minus a misfire on the first Gronk Spike of the season and Tom Brady’s bloody nose the Patriots looked like the best team in the NFL in week one. (bring it Niners fans!) With the added commitment to the running game Brady won’t have to worry about carrying the offense every week.
  • Welcome back Peyton Manning. The Colts are head over heels to be starting the Andrew Luck era, as they should be, but its obvious Manning still has a ton of game left in the tank. September 7th in Foxboro suddenly looks like one of the most intriguing games of the season.
  • Are the Red Sox still playing? I know the PawSox are and that they’ve captured the attention of the region. In fact one of my interns from the Boston area said he hopes to sell his BoSox tickets in hopes of making it to a PawSox playoff game. See, it’s not a total loss in Sox Nation.
  • PawSox manager Arnie Beyeler was in studio with me this afternoon. A great guy with a quick wit and a devilish sense of humor. We talked off camera about our stops in various minor league cities. Being a former minor league player and later coach and manager, his time in the game is a ton more extensive and intimate but I can swap a story or two. I told him about interviewing my hero Ryne Sandberg in Des Moines, he countered with his days coaching Alfonso Soriano in the Yankees minor league system. Good times with a good guy.

NFL’s Nightmare, Free Ricky

August 30th, 2012 at 11:43 pm by under From the Cheap Seats
  • Last year the players were locked out, this year it’s the refs. That equals two straight strange preseason’s and most likely a second straight strange start the regular season. Last night’s Pats-Giants game was one of the most embarrassing displays of officiating ever seen on any level of any sport. The league will go with replacements for week one and most likely beyond which means more than one Division III college ref will be scarred for life from the Bill Belichick death stare. The NFL has proven tough when it comes to negotiating but they may back down a bit if we have any repeats of what we saw in the Meadowlands.
  • Free Ricky is at a fever pitch. My Twitter account almost exploded Wednesday when a picture of Ledo on PC’s campus was posted to Friar Blog. As I write this we haven’t heard from the NCAA on his eligibility but Ledo and the Friars are acting like he’ll be on the floor for them this season.
  • I am still amazed by the lack of interest in college football in the Northeast. I understand the distaste for the politicking in the sport but the atmospheres, the uniforms and the nationwide discussion of who ranks number one are enough to fill my Saturday’s during the fall.

Sox Move On, I Don’t Care About Lance Losing Titles

August 27th, 2012 at 12:32 am by under From the Cheap Seats

When it comes to huge national stories that get picked apart by some of the best writers of our generation, I often times feel like the little guy standing in the corner trying to outshout the loudest voices on earth. In other words my opinion, although welcome in some circles, doesn’t carry as much weight as say Gordon Edes, the brilliant ESPNBoston.com writer that nailed the Red Sox megadeal from start to finish.

 Anyway, my thoughts are that the Sox are bolder than anyone in New England dared to believe. Josh Beckett had to go and Carl Crawford will some day wake up thinking the last two seasons were simply a nightmare, but trading Adrian Gonzalez is what makes this deal one of kind. His production suggests that he could in fact have been the centerpiece of a World Series contender for years to come, so why? Well, if you walked down the street in any New England town and asked a Sox what he or she thought of A-Gone the response you’d usually get “He’s a great player but why doesn’t he care?”

 That expressionless, head down, lunch pail approach plays well in places like So Cal or maybe even in the Midwest but not here. Fans want larger than life personalities that can dish it out just as much as they can take it. You want to cheer for the button down, clean cut All-American boys you’ll have to become a Yankees fan. We want Johnny Damon and his hair, Manny and his weirdness, Pedro and his little friend.

 It’s unfair to chastise a guy because he falls more to the “blah” side of the personality chart but in the end A-Gone will once again thrive in the NL West. Meanwhile the Red Sox can move away from one of the more awkward eras in franchise history.

 I have to admit that I really don’t care that much about Lance Armstrong losing his Tour de France titles. I actually thought this story was dead like seven years ago. I’ve been pestered in the last couple of days for an opinion but my response is usually a shoulder shrug or a blank stare. Who in this country can break down how the Tour de France works? How many stages? How does the timing work as opposed to just one guy beating out the rest of the field in each stage? Most think it’s just one guy pedaling faster than the others and he gets to wear a yellow jersey and gets flowers if he’s in first place. Those are the images that come to my mind when thinking about Lance in his prime.

 Now the image is a yellow Livestrong bracelet and the million dollar checks handed over to help raise money for cancer research. In fact NONE of his sponsors backed out when the titles were stripped. What’s more, donations to the Livestrong foundation went up 25% within hours of the news. Did he lie? Most likely. Do we feel cheated out of the pride we felt for Lance as he dominated the rest of the world? Some do sure. Not me though, I’ll go back to not paying attention to the sport until another American superstar emerges.  

 Speaking of suspected cheating athletes from Texas, I have to admit that I watched every pitch of Roger Clemens return to the mound Saturday night. I am not sure what the 50 year old is trying to prove but rest assured it isn’t that he can still strike out Joey Gathright in an Independent game. Don’t be shocked if some MLB team is crazy enough to take a chance on him. (Astros I’m looking at you)


Osborne Classic A Success

August 15th, 2012 at 11:12 pm by under From the Cheap Seats

Rhode Island already has the CVS Caremark Charity Classic but it looks like another local celeb is set to bring some serious star power to theOceanStateon a yearly basis. The inaugural Jeffrey Osborne Celebrity Classic was like many of Osborne’s best songs, a hit. WPRI/WNAC was the media sponsor of the event so we got to spend two days mingling with and interviewing the likes of Magic Johnson, Sinbad, Smokey Robinson and Johnny Gill to name a few.

 In the world of sports coverage it’s easy to be numbed by the standard “Take it one day at a time”, “We won’t overlook any opponent” droning that we hear on a daily basis. The chance to chat with a platinum artist is a welcome change. Jeffrey, a wonderful man by the way, joined me for my six o’clock sports cast but the best conversation was off camera before the interview. Osborne told me his story about leaving Rhode Island when he was 19 to pursue his career in LA, living proof that dreams can come true if you’re willing to take a shot. Good times had by all, I hope the event sticks around and continues to raise money for local charities for many years to come.

 I just read an email from Red Sox owner John Henry. Something about a meeting in New York, players don’t like Valentine. Oh, wait.. they didn’t say that. Thanks for clearing up this whole mess and not adding another layer to a crazy saga about a mediocre ball club. Isn’t it football season??


August 6th, 2012 at 12:28 am by under From the Cheap Seats

I am back after a week of driving and lying on my couch watching the Olympics. Here are my scattershot thoughts of the sports world during my vacation

 

  • I always say that the Olympics do nothing for me but I end up watching 87 hours of handball. Aside from handball, I like the stories more than the actual sports. My favorite story from the first week is predictable but being able to watch Michael Phelps has been a true privilege. I’ve always enjoyed watching greatness in sports and Phelps is truly great.
  • Congrats to Elizabeth Beisel. She and her two medals will be welcomed home Wednesday night at North Kingstown High School. Elizabeth is one of many that stood out in a stacked field of young American swimmers.
  • I can not believe Gabby Douglas once thought about quitting. I knew the outcome of the All-Around hours before it aired but I was still nervous when the entire arena was looking up in anticipation of the final score.
  • As great as Gabby is her coach Liang Chow deserves a ton of credit as well. Douglas moved to West Des Moines, Iowa to train with Chow after he turned Shawn Johnson into a gold medalist four years ago. I worked in Des Moines during the Johnson years and got to know Chow a little bit. Great guy and great coach. My guess is that Gabby won’t be the last to uproot her life and train under his watchful eye among the corn fields of the Midwest.
  • My non Olympic watching adventures took me on a 12 hour car ride through my old stomping grounds in western Pennsylvania. The wife wanted to check out PennState so we stopped in for a minute. Joe Pa has truly vanished. In fact it took me a minute to figure out where the statue used to be. With all quiet at Beaver Stadium we decided to indulge in the region famous ice cream at the campus creamery. If you’re ever in the neighborhood I recommend peanut butter swirl.
  • The Twins are and always will be hands down my favorite professional sports team. That said the Red Sox had no business losing three out of four to the Twinks over the weekend. If Ben Cherington’s goal is to build a really expensive .500 team he will win general manager of the year.
  • The Patriots play a game this week. Didn’t we just get back from Indianapolis?

Thoughts On Penn State Sanctions

July 24th, 2012 at 12:32 am by under From the Cheap Seats

Penn State avoided the death penalty but that might have been a better option than getting drilled the way they did by the NCAA. Opinions have varied on whether or not the current crop of players and coaches deserves to take the brunt of what the NCAA considered an unprecedented lack of institutional control.

 I am personally OK with the Nittany Lion community as a whole getting burned to the core if it means Penn State fanatics can be jolted back to the reality that Joe Pa was not in fact God hiding behind large outdated spectacles. The thing I am having the hardest time wrapping my brain around is the vacating of 112 wins starting in 1998. I get it. The NCAA wants to dim the lights on the Paterno legacy inHappyValleyso why not wipe him off the top of the record book. The only problem is that the games really DID exist. To be honest I even have a hard time watching them take down banners from the Fab Five era at Michigan or taking trophies away from Reggie Bush for being on the take at USC.

 It’s a symbolic way of saying what you did during a said period of time, has no validation within the league in which you play. But I’m pretty sure people still showed up to cheer and players lined up to play the games and there was even a final score. Going back in time and pretending those games didn’t exist, for whatever reason, seems to fall flat.

Check out this tweet from former player Adam Taliaferro who suffered a career ending spinal injury while playing for the Nittany Lions in 2000.

            @Tali43: NCAA says games didn’t exist..I got the metal plate in my neck to prove it did..I almost died playing 4 PSU..punishment or healing?!? #WeAre

 Ichiro plays for the Yankees. Say that ten times and maybe it will start to sink in. The Mariners didn’t want to re-sign their icon after the season so the Yankees swooped in to offer relief. Great move by Brian Cashman. Look for Ichiro to find new energy in the Bronx and help the Yanks walk away with the AL East title.

 

 


Joe Must Go

July 17th, 2012 at 8:29 pm by under From the Cheap Seats
  • Brown University did the right thing by removing Joe Paterno’s name from the outstanding freshman athlete of the year award, and I’m sure they’ll follow through by taking him out of their athletics Hall of Fame. As of right now the board is reviewing the situation in the wake of the Freeh Report, which proves Joe Pa’s knowledge and cover up of former coach Jerry Sandusky’s continued molestation of young boys in State College. Much like the Joe Paterno statue will someday be taken down outside of Beaver Stadium my assumption is that his name will be wiped clean from the many distinguished honors he’s received from his Alma Mater. The latest chapter in the sad saga of a man once thought of as the epitome of a college football ambassador.
  • Another day another injury for the Red Sox, or as David Ortiz says, the Red Sox are cursed. Big Papi the latest victim as he limps around Fenway with a bum Achilles. So far it doesn’t appear to be anything too serious but we may have to wait until August of 2015 before we see the return of the “full” Red Sox lineup.
  • The new Aaron Sorkin/HBO creation “The Newsroom” is getting plenty of pub and has become a water cooler subject here at the news station. I have to admit I really liked the first episode but have now hit the eject button. Trust me when I say that NO ONE talks like that in a newsroom. I find myself laughing at the quick comebacks and long witty banter and in turn, I could care less about one single character. My guess is that it will still get a solid 7-8 year run on HBO. I mean Hung somehow held on for three seasons.

Bad Actor, Great Owner

July 11th, 2012 at 9:58 pm by under From the Cheap Seats
  • The Robert Kraft audition tape with his bikini clad “pal” is funny and disturbing at the same time. Most of the backlash is about the fact that his wife of 48 years,Myra, passed away just one year ago. Never mind his terrible acting and his swearing at a guy before fake punching him. I’m on record as being a big fan of Mr. Kraft and I haven’t lost any respect for him. I just look at it like this, sometimes you look behind a curtain and quickly pull back thinking “man I wish I hadn’t seen that”
  • Rob Gronkowski is comfortable in his own skin. We already knew that, but Gronk is taking it to a whole new level with his nude appearance on the cover of ESPN The Magazine’s Body Issue. To add to the “week of Gronk” he went out and won the Triple-A celebrity home run derby. Is there anything this man can’t do? This years IL-PCL All-Star game is in Gronks hometown of Buffalo, leading to a chorus of boos from Bills fans. Gronk simply laughed it off and called the booing “fun”. Does he ever have a bad day?
  • I admit that I enjoy the Major League All-Star game more than any of the other major sports all-star events, but that’s kind of like saying out of all the illnesses I enjoy the common cold more than the flu. With overexposure and interleague play the game just doesn’t mean as much as it did 50 years ago. Baseball’s “solution” of World Series home field advantage does not help. (how about the team with the best record having home field? There’s a novel idea) Also the home run derby is a tired act that needs some serious tweaking. Three and a half hours of Chris Berman screaming should be part of the U.S. Defense torturing program, not the Mid-Summer Classic. How do you fix it? Glad you asked. Here are some of my ideas: Start by cutting out one competitor from each league and cut one round out of the event (should help with the length). Then stick with this whole AL vs. NL thing but keep the head to head going throughout. Don’t play it off like it’s a competition between leagues when the last three guys standing are all from the American League. The top guy from the AL moves on to the finals against the top guy from the NL. Finally, make sure to have one hometown player involved so we don’t end up with another Robinson Cano booing debacle. Twitter was blowing up the other night pointing out flaws to this theory but how hard is it to make sure the top home run hitter on the home team takes part in the competition? Yes that might mean he’s NOT an all-star but in my humble opinion that makes it all the more intriguing.
  • TheCampbell’s Hall of Fame Tennis Championships started Monday in Newport. John Isner is the big draw but my favorite story from early action was Jack Sock. A Nebraska native, Sock had never played on grass. (hard to believe if you’ve ever been to the prairie land they call Nebraska) Sock passed his first test and earned a spot in the second round.

Keeping It In The Family

July 5th, 2012 at 11:17 pm by under From the Cheap Seats
  • Jeff Goodman of CBS Sports does it again. He is the first on the Billy Baron to Canisius story. I am not at all surprised that Billy decided to again follow his father even if it means joining a struggling team in the MAAC. Chances are getting a waiver to play right away at Purdue was a bit iffy but the path to jump right into the action with the Golden Griffins is much clearer. Again, we’ll know more when the announcement becomes official.
  • Former Indianapolis Colt Jamie Silva stopped by the studio today to talk about his annual camp here in East Providence. As usual Silva was both entertaining and informative. We covered everything from why his shirt wasn’t dry to his lukewarm feelings toward NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. (it turns out Goodell hit Jamie with a fine or two back in the day) Silva isn’t getting much love these days from NFL teams but he seems at peace if he never again has the opportunity to set foot on the field. He can always fall back on the broadcasting thing.
  • I don’t have the time or the energy to delve into the David Ortiz hating life with the Red Sox situation. I just get the feeling that Sox Nation is still waiting for Papi to be the good guy in a clubhouse full of malcontent overpaid blowhards. The problem is that Ortiz is becoming the poster boy for some of the Sox deeper issues. He’s playing well enough for Boston brass to ignore his outbursts but the chances of Papi playing here beyond this season seem to be getting slimmer by the day.

Dunn Deal, LeBron did what?, Sleeping on the Sox

July 2nd, 2012 at 7:59 pm by under From the Cheap Seats
  • Providence College has officially acknowledged the Kris Dunn injury. He’ll have surgery tomorrow to repair what he says is a torn labrum and a bone fracture in his shoulder. The guess is that he’ll be out for at least five months which would take us to about the end of the year. So far PC head coach Ed Cooley wants to take the wait and see approach, but I think a medical redshirt is still a very real possibility. Here is part of what Cooley said in a statement issued through the school.

              “He is a special player and we anticipate that he will make a full recovery and contribute this season for the Friars.”

  • So much for blowing up the Celtics. Danny Ainge kept paving the way to move the franchise on from the Big Three Era, but was apparently intrigued by taking LeBron and the Heat to game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. His goal now is to keep the old guys while continuing to put young interchangeable pieces around them as role players. It could be asking a lot for KG, Pierce, and Allen (assuming he comes back) stay healthy but if they do and Rondo improves…. as KG would say “Anything is possssiiiiibbbbblllle”

 

  • Speaking of LeBron have you heard about this whole Cleveland news anchor/baby story? Google if you haven’t. It won’t be as big as the Tiger Woods scandal because apparently his wife knows about it!! I mean why can’t this guy get out of his own way? First the messy divorce from Cleveland, then his failure to prove he is a winner, now this! Is he creating storylines on purpose? He’ll be the only superstar athlete to have a best selling tell-all biography by the time he’s 29 years old.

 

  • I spent the weekend with some Boston friends and the sentiment continues to be that they just can’t get into the Red Sox. I tried to stand up for Bobby V and his band of AL East warriors but apparently it goes deeper than the hate for Josh Beckett. I argued that things could be a whole lot worse with more all-stars in the ER than on the field but they didn’t want to hear it. Cody Ross? “I thought he was still with the Giants.” Mike Aviles? “Don’t they have a kid in Pawtucket ready to take the job?” The pitching staff? “I’d rather watch a Yankees old timer’s day speech on continuous loop for 48 straight hours.” I’ll check in again when the Sox take over that final wild card spot

Final Thoughts From CVS & A Dose Of Inspiration

June 21st, 2012 at 8:00 pm by under From the Cheap Seats

Every year Brad Faxon and Billy Andrade have the challenge of putting together a strong field that includes big names playing for the purpose of charity. This year they did it again. With the U.S. Open on the other side of the country no current PGA players were able to make it but the tournament felt a lot like an LPGA championship. I’ve only covered the event for two summers but by my estimation this had to have been one of the strongest galleries to grace the Rhode Island Country Club. Here are some of my final thoughts on the event.

  • It was an absolute thrill to interview Annika Sorenstam. She is poised and professional on the course and in front of the microphones. She’s also one of those people that can remember names. As someone who struggles with this skill I am always impressed when someone says “thank you Eric” after having met briefly just five minutes earlier.
  • Lexi Thompson is crazy popular. A bouncy 17 year old kid with some serious driving power Lexi’s gallery continued to grow by the minute. If she completely masters the short game Lexi has the chance to become the American women’s golf icon we all expected of Michelle Wie way back when.
  • Jay Haas and I are connected at the championship trophy. OK not really but I did interview him inDes Moines the first two times he won the Champions Tour event held in that city. A great guy still playing a very high level of golf.
  • I am now banning sun screen. I did manage to get a little red on the course but I was still subjected to the jokes and name calling. Casper, vampire and milk man to name a few. I need a tan, I get it. But is it really all that bad to enjoy dark rooms in the corner of the house? I like my transparent skin. Lay off.

 I just got done watching the David Ortiz rant about how it’s no fun to play inBostonbecause the media is always stirring things up. I don’t totally disagree with Papi but swearing about how tough it is to play here will not help him in the media or with the fans. At the end of the day people don’t want to hear a multi-million dollar athlete talk about how tough his life is because he gets tossed a few hard questions before the game. Major League clubhouses are like fraternities and guys get edgy when the inner circle springs a leak but lashing out will only add fuel to the fire. The best way to shut people up? Win at a high level and act like you care about your teammates for two seconds of the season.

 I had the privilege of catching up with one of our former Hometown Sports Heroes, a young boy that beat cancer and is back to playing sports on a full time basis. I’ve always said that the best part of my job is getting to interject myself into someone else’s life. It’s been a struggle for him but he’s in a great place now and I walked away with a much needed dose of inspiration.


What’s your handicap? Scattershots From A Busy Week

May 24th, 2012 at 9:01 pm by under From the Cheap Seats

I finally have a chance to sit and write. It’s been a busy week in the sports office with the Celtics allowing the 76ers to hang around like the annoying cousin you want to tell to get lost, but for some reason can’t muster up enough heart to inflict the necessary pain.

Speaking of hoops we taped our latest segment of our Hometown Hero Special. This month’s in studio guest is former St. Andrew’s star Joey Accaoui. He has instantly become one of my favorite Rhode Island athletes. Both of Joey’s parents are from Lebanon and he is candid about his experience playing for Sagesse in the Lebanese Basketball League. From how good the money is to the awesome living conditions to the religious tension in the stands, he is up front about how it is for an American making a living playing overseas.

I also had the opportunity to actually leave the office for a couple of hours last week. Dana Quigley was playing in a benefit tournament at Misquamicut and I wanted to see how the Champions Tour Pro is holding up. For those that don’t know, Dana’s son Devon was in a terrible car accident last winter and suffered brain injuries. It’s still too early in his recovery to tell how he’ll be affected long term but needless to say it’s been a long six months for the Quigley’s. Dana was emotional but happy to be on the golf course for a good cause. On a side note I had to laugh when Dana had this exchange with one of the guys in his group.

Guy: “How much ya wanna play for? $20 a hole?”

Dana: “$20? Sure”

Guy: “What’s your handicap?”

Dana: “Two, what’s yours?”

Guy: “18… how about $5 a hole?”

Somehow he didn’t know Dana was a former PGA golfer, classic.

I finally got around to touring the Sam Adams brewery in Boston. Good times had by all. I am not a huge fan of Sam Adams products (usually too hoppy for me) but the fresh Lager was quiet refreshing.


May 15th, 2012 at 8:12 pm by under From the Cheap Seats
  • Brad Faxon and Billy Andrade were at their best again yesterday morning during the annual CVS Caremark Charity Classic pre-tourney press conference. Aside from the usual comic relief the two Rhode Island pro golfers announced another strong field. Truth is that this June is a really tough month for the PGA guys to get away so they stacked the women’s roster. I am personally looking forward to the chance to meet Hall of Famer Annika Sorenstam. One of the most consistent golfers to ever pick up a club Annika also “gets” it when it comes to playing in a charity event. Expect her to be competitive while keeping it light for the fans and media
  • The Ball for Action kick ball team held its first practice/scrimmage on Saturday. I hadn’t played in about 25 years so I was a bit rusty but I quickly picked up the concept of kicking a ball and running around the bases. Trust me it is no more complicated than that. Time will tell how we will do against many of the “pro’s” that are as dedicated to the PKL as Tom Brady is to the NFL. They kept saying things like “you couldn’t do that if we were playing Brooklyn rules” and “use the shelf” when describing how to catch the ball. We may struggle to win but my early goal is to make the all-star game (yes there is an all-star game)
  • I want to say thank you to anyone that stops by The Cheap Seats for a quick read but I don’t want to hear it if you are a member of the grammar police. I write scripts for a living not novels. The great Ted Nesi has set high standards for this website so I can understand your frustration in my lack of writing skills. Just know that even as a man approaching his mid 50’s it’s still a work in progress for me.

May 9th, 2012 at 8:19 pm by under From the Cheap Seats
  • I hate to toot my own horn but I predicted that Will Middlebrooks would be a good Major League baseball player. In fact I told a buddy of mine just two weeks ago to keep an eye out for the young third baseman. In all reality a third grader playing tag at recess could have told you Middlebrooks was on the brink of doing good things on the next level. It looked like he was hitting off of a tee here in Triple-A Pawtucket and for the most part facing the Kansas City rotation IS just like hitting off of a tee so his torrid start should not be a huge surprise. Speaking of tooting horns, props to JP Smollins for grabbing Middlebrooks just a week before his big call up. CNNSI.com actually picked up on the story and used his quotes as part of their fantasy player preview article.
  • The biggest thing I miss from my reporting days is getting out into the community to meet people face to face. I also miss the sometimes sweet swag that schools give you for showing up. Sure they are usually the left over extra smalls or the XXXXXL tee shirts but the gesture is much appreciated. Luckily most of the schools around here don’t forget about the lonely anchors back at the station. Sara Hogan has had quite a haul of late. So if you see me proudly wearing a skin tight CCRI softball jacket around town you know why.
  • I made it through my ten day cleansing program and all of my organs still seem to be working. The diet/running program is still in full effect. A co-worker of mine asked how much weight I’ve lost. Truth is instead of a scale I just use my eyes. You know the look in the mirror right before the shower test. Right now I am in between the 60 year old dude on Survivor and Kirk Douglas in Spartacus (now that I think about it he was like 60 when he did that movie…I might want to rethink this program)

Junior Seau 1969-2012

May 2nd, 2012 at 7:45 pm by under From the Cheap Seats

I’m hardly to the first person bring this up or have these feelings but I’m really starting to worry about the recently retired generation of NFL football players. I am saying this in the wake of yet another head scratching death to a hard hitting former star. Junior Seau apparently took his own life Wednesday by shooting himself in the chest. The most appalling stat that jumped off the page to me is that Seau becomes the eighth member of the ’94 Chargers, who lost Super Bowl XXIX to the 49ers, to die at a young age.

 

We still don’t know if Seau’s behavior has anything to do with concussions suffered during his 20 year career but the recent trend of guys being, at the very least, a bit unsteady after they hang up the helmet is rising at an alarming rate. Were the 80’s and 90’s simply the un-perfect storm of super freak athletes like Seau playing with inferior equipment? Was that generation simply taught the wrong technique? Did guys have less concern about their own wellbeing?  All of these questions will once again go under the microscope as the NFL looks for answers in hopes of avoiding another tragic loss of a former player.

 

I have to admit I have never met or interviewed Seau. In fact I can’t remember actually seeing him play in person. I remember when I was a kid that he was in my NFL All-Stars magazine that I read about 100 times. I guess the one Seau memory that continues to come to mind is him holding back Ryan Leaf during the QB’s infamous blow up at a reporter. More proof that Seau was just as impressive out of his uniform, than he was wearing his helmet and pads.


Inspired, No Love For South Side, Glick

April 29th, 2012 at 8:32 pm by under From the Cheap Seats
  • The really cool thing about being the in TV business is all the different people that you get to meet along the way. I haven’t done much reporting the last couple of years but I still enjoy getting out into the community and telling a story or two. This morning I caught up with local surfer Zack Bastain who’ll be a Cardi’s Hometown Hero in the coming weeks. I won’t give away the story but let’s just say that I came away inspired and I won’t be complaining about anything in my life for the foreseeable future.
  • I hate the White Sox. Let me rephrase that, I really hate the White Sox. Growing up a Twins fan I was preconditioned to hate the southsiders but the late 90’s through the mid 2000’s really ramped things up. Ozzie Guillen, 1,700 different uniforms ( they wore red today against… the Red Sox. Come on man!), three true fans in the Chicagoland area, A. J. Pierzynski, and Hawk Harrelson. It was tough to see Boston beat up on Minnesota but I felt better when they followed with a beat down of the ChiSox.
  • Day Three of my body cleanse program. I have to admit that I feel better already. The hardest part will be giving up most sugars, alcohol, pizza, and pasta for the next 24 days. My goal is to one day see at least one of my abs again but losing the double chin would be a nice consolation prize. When you start looking like Jiminy Glick it’s time to pick up some better dieting habits.

Sad Day In Hockey, $10 Protein Nuts

April 26th, 2012 at 8:18 pm by under From the Cheap Seats
  • I don’t like to bring politics, religion or race into my sports shows but the Twitter firestorm brought on by Joel Ward’s game winning goal in game seven is too appalling to ignore. I heard about the tweets and sadly was not surprised. I still kind of shrugged it off until the Bruins got involved and released a statement. At that point I decided to see for myself the ugly ignorance that still plagues a small part of our society. (see for yourself if your interested http://chirpstory.com/li/6781) Keep in mind these tweets are not coming from the good ole boy connection in the deep south, most are from young people right here in the northeast. The late great Joe Paterno used to say “youth is a disease, but it can be cured.” I’m not sure we’ll ever find a magic potion strong enough to cure the deep hatred and complete lack of human compassion that took over Twitter last night. In fact one of the most shocking tweets comes from a local student athlete who is so sure of themselves and their ignorant point of view that their picture, name and jersey number are up for all to see. Sadly that person isn’t the only one that completely exposed him/herself as a bigot. (Good luck in future job interviews, this internet thing is not going away anytime soon) I understand being young, ignorant and in some cases sheltered, but when me and my friends were stumbling through our youth we stayed out too late, drove too fast, and thought we were smarter than everyone. The thought, let alone the action of calling someone out for their skin color never crossed our minds. Again, it’s a small sample from a large fan base but a great hockey series has forever been sullied by the voices of those soulless morons.

 

  • On a lighter note my grandma called me fat and I’ve now gone into full blown diet mode. True story, I walked into her house last week and she said “oh, you’ve put on some weight” I mean can’t a guy put on a little man poundage in the face? Anyway, I’ve also once again made the gym my second home. This leads to the lesson of the week. Do not under any circumstances put a $10 bill into a vending machine. I became light headed in the middle of my workout last night and in full desperation mode coughed up a ten spot for $2 protein nuts. All well and fine until I found out the machine didn’t have $8 worth of change in the reserve bin. So if you’re looking for $3 in nickels and dimes, I’m your guy

Back To Work, Bulldogs Bringing It

April 23rd, 2012 at 7:55 pm by under From the Cheap Seats
  • After a week in my home state of Minnesota I am still trying to knock out the cob webs and get ready to dive head first into baseball/golf/softball season. I admit I was completely cut off from all things sports except my constant checking of my fantasy baseball team. The good and bad news is that nothing really changed during my seven day sabbatical. Bobby Valentine still looks like he’d rather be putting on make up in an ESPN dressing room, the Bruins are back in their comfort zone on the brink of elimination, and most still think the Patriots will be an active trade partner come draft day.

 

  • Another thing that hasn’t changed is how well the Bryant lacrosse team is playing. Some guys are simply winners and Bulldogs head coach Mike Pressler is exactly that. He won 69 games in five years at division III Ohio Wesleyan before bringing Duke to national prominence while winning 153 games in 16 years in Durham. His winning touch is now being felt in Smithfield. Bryant is in the national rankings for the first time ever and will take on Robert Morris for the NEC regular season crown later this week. I am no lacrosse expert but Pressler has to be considered one of the better coaches to grace the college game.

Cotton Update

April 11th, 2012 at 4:12 pm by under From the Cheap Seats

I admit that I thought where there’s smoke there was definitely fire in the case. Turns out Bryce Cotton isn’t going anywhere. Good for him, PC and coach Cooley. Here is a statement Cotton released today.

 “I am fully committed to our basketball program and I am excited about the direction the program is headed in.  I am looking forward to continuing my education and graduating from Providence College.”- Bryce Cotton


Talent On The Move

April 10th, 2012 at 8:14 pm by under From the Cheap Seats

It used to be zoo keepers assistant but the job now on top of my “I’d never want to do that” list is head coach of a Division I men’s basketball program. Sure the money is nice but having to dance around NCAA rules and the middle men that are becoming more prevalent by the day would be enough to make me run headfirst into the nearest wall.

Players leaving programs for a fresh start is as old as the peach basket but transferring has become so frequent this offseason that schools need to hire general managers to keep track of players coming and going.

 The latest news to hit Friar Nation is the report that Bryce Cotton has asked for his release in hopes of transferring to another school. PC and head coach Ed Cooley have called it speculation but the source seems to be a good one. The report was posted on areacodesbasketball.com, which happens to be run by Chad Groth. At the end of the Cotton story it says Bryce will “look at his options after the school year and be advised by his mentor Chad Groth.”

That brings us back to the middle men that seem to be running the game. You either get on board like Kentucky head coach John Calipari has with World Wide Wes or you head to a directional school somewhere in the middle of the country where the term “Student Athlete” doesn’t come with a snicker and an eye roll.

Ed Cooley knows the game and although he’d no doubt like to hold on to some of his veterans, he’s still in position to reload with a crop of young talented guards. In the meantime we’ll wait and see if the Cotton report unfolds into a PC press release similar to the one we go last week on Gerard Coleman.


Hoops Is Over, NFL’s New Look

April 3rd, 2012 at 8:13 pm by under From the Cheap Seats
  • The NCAA basketball season ended with a bang. Kansas making the title game gave my bracket a faint but noticeable heartbeat. Enough to bring me from 70 something in standings to a 38th place finish. I didn’t win any money but I am eagerly awaiting my free haircut from Fresh Clips salon and shampoo artistry. From a local standpoint two former Ocean State coaches landed on their feet at two struggling mid-majors. Jim Baron wasted no time in getting back into the game. Baron takes over a Canisius team coming off of a five win season. It’s a good fit for Baron, who can rebuild programs and the fact that he’s semi-famous in western New York from his playing and coaching days at St. Bonaventure. Keno is more of a wild card. He was a one hit wonder at Drake after taking over a roster built by him and his dad Dr. Tom. He was way too much of a players coach at PC, which quickly led to the program getting away from him. Central Michigan isn’t exactly a hoops haven but we’ll truly find out how good of a coach/recruiter he really is.
  • The “new” Nike NFL uniforms created quite a buzz from fan bases throughout the league, until people saw them. Pro teams, unlike some college programs, did a good job of sticking with tradition. Other than the Seahawks, only the feel of the uniform will be different. In Nike’s own words the uni’s will have“shrink wrap tightness” to them.
  • Big thanks to Slick Willie and the Globetrotters for stopping by the station last week. No matter what city or what situation they’re in, it’s always pure entertainment. Slick didn’t even play basketball with us. In fact he worked with us for a day and as you might imagine, craziness ensued. Check it out. 

            http://www.wpri.com/dpp/news/local_news/providence/globetrotter-   wreaks-havoc-at-wpri-tv


This Is News? Knights Shine, Timhattan

March 26th, 2012 at 8:25 pm by under From the Cheap Seats, General Talk
  • Vincent Council announced today that he plans to return for his senior year as opposed to entering the NBA draft. In other news the surface of the sun plans to be hot tomorrow. Did I miss something? Is Isiah Thomas still a General Manager in the NBA? Don’t get me wrong, Vincent is a better than average player but how in the world did he think of himself as a legit prospect in one of the deepest drafts in recent memory? In fact I just scoured the internet and failed to find one mock draft that has him getting selected in this or NEXT seasons draft!  His return will indeed strengthen a PC back court stockpiled with talent, but with super recruit Kris Dunn set to the join the fray the question is this. Will Council even be the best point guard on the team next season?
  • Major props to CCRI. We may have missed out on March Madness with the Big Four schools in Rhode Island but the community college guys nearly brought home a national title. More important to the players is the amount of exposure they got during their run through the bracket. Hundreds of NCAA coaches from all divisions were on hand to watch the festivities. One kid that is sure to get a fair share of Division One looks is Desmond Williams. The freshman from Connecticut was a solid scorer throughout and poured in 41 points in the national semifinal. Maybe his path will end up being a lot like the one taken by his older brother Jordan Williams. Jordan tore it up in high school but flew under the recruiting radar until eventually landing at Maryland. After two short seasons with the Terps he was taken 36th overall by the New Jersey Nets.
  • For nearly a week co-workers have been stopping by the sports office to weigh in on Tebow. “Why would they trade for a crappy quarterback?” “Did you see the Statue of Liberty Tebowing?” “I don’t like it but green really brings out his eyes” I honestly don’t have an answer or a really strong opinion on the second biggest storyline of one of the craziest off seasons in NFL history. As a Tebow lover I am happy that he’ll rattle Mark Sanchez’s cage and get a shot under crazy Rex Ryan. As a journalist it’s like Christmas and the Fourth of July wrapped into one left handed Ah Shucks little box of joy. For at least two weeks a year I can spend seven straight days talking about something other than the new-look 4-3 defense.

Almost Famous

March 22nd, 2012 at 9:37 pm by under From the Cheap Seats

Driving back from yesterday’s introductory press conference JP Smollins and I were reflecting on the previous hour and half at Keaney Gymnasium. Being impressionable teenagers from the 90’s, we both smiled when we got to the highlight of the afternoon. “Do you realize we just interviewed former Duke star Bobby Hurley?”

 We interview tons of top athletes (Tom Brady for instance) but there is something special about the guys you looked up to when you hadn’t yet peaked behind the “It’s really just a business” curtain of college and professional athletics. It’s hard to believe Bobby will have that kind of effect on potential recruits but the Hurley combo has proven to be a winner so far.

 Dan, who had a nice playing career of his own at Seton Hall, is still not as well known nationally as his big bro. You could also make the argument that his father Bob Sr. is still the more accomplished coach. Dan has slowly climbed out of both shadows after his and Bobby’s quick turnaround job at Wagner.

 In fact the Hurley’s are so beloved on Staten Island that Wagner officials opened the door for Bobby to stay and take the reigns after Dan headed up the coast to Kingston. Always the assist man (NCAA record 1,076 career dishes) Bobby felt more comfortable staying at his brother’s side as an assistant.  If they’re as successful with the Rams as they were with the Seahawks, one of the most famous guards to have ever played college ball will help his brother become one of the most famous coaches in college hoops.

No doubt URI would be glad to get back on the big stage and share the NCAA spotlight as well.


Coaching Search Breakdown- Fads

March 15th, 2012 at 12:01 am by under From the Cheap Seats

Coaching searches are a lot like fads. By that I mean the instant reaction of fans when a new name leaks out on the message boards or through the media. The favorite is usually the most recent. In that spirit I’ve decided to break down the four guys we know URI will, or have already talked too. Let’s start with, by far, the most popular guy and the first on Thorr Bjorn’s interview list.

 

  1. Danny Hurley/Rubik’s Cube- Smart, fairly inexpensive, and filled with endless possibilities. Would he be able to turn around URI as fast as he turned around Wagner? By the time we figured him out would he be gone? How many coaching combinations would he bring to Kingston? Danny, Bobby and dad? Dad and Danny? Just Danny and Bobby? It seems like a move that could keep us intrigued for much of the foreseeable future. Also, if he’s successful Thorr would look like a genius for poaching a high riser before the BCS conferences could get their mitts on him.

 

  1. Al Skinner/The Water Bed- He was named head coach the first time at URI in 1988. The same time period that water beds accounted for %22 of U.S. mattress sales. Bringing Skinner back would be the comfortable move. It was smooth sailing after he took over for Tom Penders, leading the Rams to two NCAA Tournaments before setting his sails north to Boston College. Much like the water bed has been transformed into air filled tubes now called the Sleep Number bed. Skinner is softer, wiser and knows the proper adjustments on how to get the program back on track.

 

  1. Joe Dooley/Troll Doll- I fully admit that the only real reason I make this comparison is because Dooley has Troll Doll hair. By all accounts Dooley has been a reliable assistant for nearly a decade at powerhouse Kansas. He’s done a great job of maintaining the pipeline of talent into Phog Allen Fieldhouse. Recruiting doesn’t seem to an issue for this east coast native but how well he can coach is a bit murkier. He had moderate success as a head coach at East Carolinain the mid-90’s. That said he’ll get interviews as long as KU keeps winning. In fact they’ve again captured a high seed in the NCAA’s and sources tell me the fact that he’s coaching this weekend is the reason he’s not available to interview with URI until next week.

 

  1. Jim Christian/Neon Hypercolor Shirts- Like the shirt that turned colors when you touched it, Christian turned Rhody blue into the red hot color during a magical run to the Sweet 16 in 1988. The problem with Hypercolor is the effect wore off after a few washes. Christian’s name is a bit washed out in these parts. Sure he’ll always have a place in URI lore but his very slow rebuilding project at TCU has him on the hot seat. That means URI would be the mid-major golden parachute before officially getting the axe from the Frogs. Not much to get hyped about in that scenario.

Dirty Driscoll, March Madness

March 12th, 2012 at 9:04 pm by under From the Cheap Seats
  • Is there anyone scummier in college hoops right now than Chris Driscoll? Not according the NY Times. Driscoll, who served as an assistant during the final year of the Keno Davis era, allegedly asked Friars guard Gerard Coleman to fake an injury so PC would lose and hasten the end of the Keno Era. Heavy accusations that PC administration allegedly looked into without finding much evidence. Driscoll also gets bashed by former players he “handled” and coaches he worked with. In fact BABC head coach Leo Papile called Driscoll the worst person in basketball. Ouch! Uncovering the seedy underworld of college recruiting is nothing new but it always open eyes when it lands on your doorstep. Safe to say Coach Cooley made a good choice in not retaining Driscoll when he took over.
  • I’ve decided to go easy on the brackets this March. I only filled out two. I’ve got Michigan State (I love Izzo) winning it all in one bracket and Syracuse in the other. I haven’t won a bracket since picking the Fab Five to win it all in 5th grade. I got a snickers bar for my efforts
  • Did you know there are now FOUR NCAA postseason tournaments? True story. Not one Rhode Island team even got close to being selected but the Big Dance can still be celebrated on home soil. The women’s regional is coming to Kingston next week. The biggest draw will be UConn. If you haven’t gone to a women’s NCAA Tourney I suggest you check it out. I’ve covered the women’s tournament four times. In fact I watched Geno Auriemma’s team pick apart Iowa State a couple of years ago in a Sweet 16 matchup in Dayton. Hands down one of my favorite assignments in my brief non-award winning career.

Final Thoughts On Coach Baron, Who’s Next?

March 8th, 2012 at 8:00 pm by under From the Cheap Seats
  • I’ve received a couple emails from upset viewers claiming that I didn’t point out enough lowlights from the Jim Baron era. On the night he was let go by URI I did make mention of the good things he brought to the university but it’s all in how you want to slice it. He won nearly 200 games, had six 20-win seasons, graduated his players and did make it to the postseason six times. The problem is it was the wrong postseason. College sports is a bottom line business and coach Baron didn’t have even one NCAA Tournament life raft to swim too when the sharks started circling. My guess is that 30 years from now the Baron Era will be looked at mostly as a success but it may be a while before Rhody fans are ready to start reflecting. They’re still too geared up for the future of URI hoops.

 

  • What’s next? As with every coaching change throughout the country these days, message boards are burning up with rumors of who might be interested in coming to Kingston. The popular choice amongst the fan base seems to be Danny Hurley. His brother is more famous and his father is at this point a more accomplished coach but D-Hurl is a man on the rise and URI seems like it would be a logical next step. Some of the well respected basketball minds that I’ve talked too don’t think the URI job is big enough for Hurley but coaching in the NEC is less glamorous than following around the elephant at the circus with a shovel. Thorr Bjorn has targeted April as his timeframe to find a new head man. We’ll see if it takes that long for a solid leads to start leaking out.

 

  • One final thought on coach Baron. I covered him for the final two years of his tenure at URI but it didn’t take long for me to understand the tremendous respect he’s gained in the local media. With the help of the Runnin Rams Weekly I got to know coach on a personal level throughout one of the most difficult seasons of his lengthy career. He always remained positive and was always engaged when I was telling him some lame story about my terrible high school basketball career. What’s more he sent a personal thank you note to the sports office and waited 20 minutes in a parking lot to talk to me just 24 hours after being let go. How many division one coaches in America would do that?