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July 14 District 12 Tournament -- Nottingham wins No. 24!
Sunnybrae runner Tony "T-Bird" Bencivengo and Nottingham shortstop James Werosta both anxiously await the umpire's call during the hectic sixth inning in tonight's District 12 final (Photo by John Blaine/purchase photos by e-mailing jbsportsphoto@aol.com). 

After Nottingham survived Sunnybrae's sixth-inning ruckus, the Square Boys quickly went into celebration mode after winning a district championship (Photo by John Blaine/purchase photos by e-mailing jbsportsphoto@aol.com). 
Click here for more photos of the 2011 District 12 final
Nottingham wins second district title in three seasons
By Rich Fisher
Fish4Scores.com
            July 14: They’re baaaack!
            In a scene that Mercer County and surrounding areas are starting to (unwillingly) get used to again, Nottingham Little League’s 12-year-old All Stars celebrated the 24th District 12 championship in league history with a 9-5 victory over Sunnybrae tonight at Sayen Field.
            After winning its third straight in 2002, Nottingham went on the longest district title drought of its history by not winning one for six years. But tonight gives the Sayen Gang two Jim Davis trophies in the last three summers and puts them in Monday’s Section 3 Tournament in Tinton Falls.
            Not to be forgotten was the effort of Sunnybrae, which made it to the 12-year-old finals for just the second time in 50 years. The Yardville gang pushed Nottingham to the limit despite not playing with one of its top players – injured Jake Beyer – throughout the tournament.
            And trailing 9-3, Sunnybrae still kicked up a late fuss before Nottingham finally nailed it down in front of another gigantic crowd.
            Led by Matt Ricci, who came in with something to prove after being knocked out in the first inning by the ‘’Brae on Wednesday, Nottingham had a big enough cushion to hold on.
            Ricci came out and struck out the side in each of the first two innings while racking up eight Ks on the night. He also provided plenty of offense in celebrating his Trentonian Athlete of the Week award in style.
            Ricci and Justin Keegan wreaked havoc from the three-four hole in the lineup, combining to go 5-for-6 with two walks, four RBIs and two runs scored.
            Nottingham took a 3-0 lead in the second inning, although there was a scary moment during the uprising. After Austin Oldfield and Matt Coiante sandwiched walks around Thomas Persichetti being hit by a pitch, Ricci drilled a frightening line drive off the left forearm of Sunnybrae pitcher Ryan Mostrangeli.
            One run scored on the play and Mostrangeli, who could have been seriously hurt had the ball gone a few feet another way, gutted it out and moved to shortstop. Reliever Tony “T-Bird” Bencivengo was promptly greeted by a two-run single from Keegan.
            Nottingham added a run in the third when Tony Morency singled and scored on Andrew Moticha’s double. In the fourth, Ricci doubled, went to third on a wild pitch and scored on Keegan’s single.
            Sunnybrae, which won this tournament as 11-year-olds last year, proved they had a heart of a champion by coming back with three in the fourth. Bencivengo crushed a two-run homer and one out later, Charlie Geiger hit one out for the second straight night.
            Sorely in need of a shutdown inning, however, the ’Brae could not get it as Nottingham scored four in the fifth to get enough insurance. Sam Guarino singled and scored on an error, Moticha walked and scored on Persichetti’s ground out, Werosta reached on an error and scored on an error and Coiante doubled and scored on a wild pitch.
            Sunnybrae then tried to rally, but Coiante came in from right field to close it out, starting a joyous celebration by the Square Boys.
            A celebration that has been pretty familiar over the decades. 

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FISH TALES

(Also known as Rich Fisher's blog)

Apr. 19, 2015
I hate to say it, but
history tells us that
Mets or Yankees

will win it all by '19
       Apr. 19: The Mets and Yanks are feeling pretty good about themselves this weekend after sweeping teams from Florida.
      Are they on the precipice of something big?
     I’m not sure it will be this year, but it’s not far off.

    I despise both teams, but I am here to say that if you are a fan of the Mets or Yankees, take heart. It’s a virtual lock that one of your teams is going to win a World Series within the next five years.  
     
  History says so.
      It didn’t start well for Gotham. The New York Giants (yes kids, the same franchise that now wins all the time in San Francisco) won the second World Series ever in 1905, and no New York team won another until the Giants won three straight from 1921-23.

       In fact, from 1921 through 1962, the longest streak of a non-New York World Series winner was three years. Three years!! The three New York teams won 27 championships during that time, the rest of baseball 15. Think about that. I know as a Phillies fan I sure do...and not with a smile.
      Most of that had to do with the Yankees, of course, as they won 20 during that period. But that “less-than-a-decade streak” was in serious jeopardy in the 1960s/early 70s when the Yanks were the worst they’ve ever been (aahhh, they were the days!). The Bombers went without titles from 1963-76 and New Yorkers needed a miracle to keep the less-than-10 streak alive.
       And that’s exactly what they got.
       It came in 1969 when the 8-year-old Mets – who were one of the worst franchises ever in their first seven years – stunned Baltimore to win the Series. They were dubbed the Miracle Mets and “The Amazins’”, a term the New York Post still uses.
      Had the Mets not pulled off the biggest shocker in MLB history, it would have been a 14-year drought in Gotham.

      Some lean times have followed, as New York toyed with a decade-long Series drought numerous times. From 1970 to 1995, there were dry spells of seven years (Yanks win in 1977-78), eight years (Mets win in 1986), and the longest one of all, nine years. But still not 10!
      We New York haters had to pay for that bliss, however, as the Yanks snapped the skid in 1996 to start a binge of four
titles in five years. That was followed by another eight-year dearth before the Yanks won in 2009.
     That was five years ago. As you know by now if you’ve managed to read this far, the famine never reaches 10.
      So sometime between now and 2019, either you Mets fans or you Yankees fans can prepare to celebrate.

      And yes, it kills me to say that. But hey, you can’t argue with history.                  * * *   
      How about Britt McHenry? What a shallow, egotistical, entitled, angry disgrace of a human being she is.       For those not familiar with the story, McHenry is the hot blonde sideline reporter for ESPN. Yes I know, I’ll probably have to be more specific since that only narrows it down to a zillion.
      Anyway, her car was towed in Virginia and she went off on the cashier at the pound and berated her in just an awful way. She degraded the other woman's job, teeth and weight, while she arrogantly proclaimed "I'm on TV!". (Maybe I should try that sometime. “Hey, I’m on Fish4scores!” How hard would that person be laughing?)
      
     Anyway, a video of this tirade went viral and ESPN gave her a week’s suspension. A week! You have to actually see the video to realize that a week is not enough.
        McHenry has her detractors and her defenders, as several columns have been written saying we don't hear what the other person said and that the towing company had a horrible reputation. But we do hear the woman telling  McHenry she was on video, so if the cashier knew this was being taped, would she really say something to instigate such responses and risk her own job?
      Whatever, Britt got suspended for a measly week.
      But think about it.
      This has become standard now at ESPN. One of their on-air personalities does or says something outrageous and all they do is get suspended instead of actually fired.

 

       Why? Because the incidents always get great publicity and ESPN knows that once these people return on air, anyone who didn’t know them before, will want to watch them now to see just who these horrible people are. Britt McHenry is more famous now than ever before.
         It’s all about the ratings, and jerks like this bump the ratings. Their horrid behavior is the best publicity ESPN could get. And this is a network that has taken self-publicity to unthinkable levels.
                          * * *
      Haven’t met a person yet who doesn’t feel bad for Princeton Day School’s Cole McManimon having a game-tying home run taken away from him when it was ruled he missed home plate against Hamilton.
       And he was told he missed it by a lot.
       As a photo by Hamilton photographer David Bremer showed, that clearly wasn’t the case.
      Three high school umpires I have spoken with, who saw Bremer’s photo of Cole’s foot either on the edge of the plate or missing it by a 1,000th of an inch, said they would never have made that call in a million years. Actually, they just said they wouldn’t make the call. I added the million years for effect.
       One coach told me “If they made that call against my team they would have had to take me away in handcuffs.”
      Hey, everyone makes mistakes, but when it costs a kid one of the most memorable moments he might have in high school, that just plain sucks.
           * * *
 

       How about the track & field resurgence in Hamilton Township?
      The Nottingham boys have been outstanding for the past seven years and are off to another great start this year. The Hamilton West boys rose from the ashes the past two years and still have some quality athletes who could do well in the state and county meets.
       And the Steinert boys – a program that has been in disarray for a long time, had a huge turnout this year and had a nice dual meet win over Hightstown last week.   The Spartans have some good weight men, an improving sprinter in Marco Granston and some nice distance runners.

       On the girls’ side, Nottingham’s Grace Dwyer is not the only game in town anymore. Hamilton West has made tremendous strides this year and have some strong sprinters, jumpers and throwers. I loved Hannah Donkor’s line the other day, saying “It’s Field and Track” instead of track and field. And Steinert has some quality throwers and distance girls that will also be heard from in states and counties.
      The best part is, when you listen to the athletes talk, they are proud of the track renaissance. It’s not just a sport for them to stay in shape. They want to succeed and they want their team to succeed.
                   * * *

    What a great night for Nottingham softball on Saturday, winning their tournament and beating a really good East Brunswick team in the title game in walk-off fashion after trailing 2-0.
       But I gotta tell you, I was pretty scared when Kristin “Z” Hallam got hit in the back with a pickoff throw and started screaming. Part of it was concern, the other was shock.
      Hallam is not just a great player, but a tough, tough kid. When you hear someone like that crying loudly and yelling she can’t feel her arm, it’s frightening.

      And I can only imagine how her teammates and family members felt.  

      Fortunately, she hung in there and scored the winning run, although she did say today that her back was “a little sore.” When I told her she scared the hell out of me, she said “I scared the heck out of myself!”

              * * *
        Congratulations to Bob Hutchinson, who came in 12 minutes under the over-under mark set for his Steinert Hall of Fame induction speech Saturday night.

       His championship softball team was inducted last year and the extremely popular Hutch proceeded to give one of the longest speeches in HOF history.
       I was informed this year by former Spartan trainer/coach Ron Sebastiani that the over-under was 17 minutes, and the actual speech took five.
       Congrats Hutch, on the well-deserved honor and on the brevity!

              * * *
        Note to Brian “The Chef” Giallella. Stop scheduling games on the same day of the Steinert Hall of Fame dinner. It seems you lose all the time on that day. Instead, you should help the kitchen prepare the dinner for that night.

Apr. 5, 2015

The blog is
resurrected!

      Apr. 5: What better day to resurrect this blog than Easter Sunday, right?
       Happy Easter everybody, I hope you’ve all had a good past eight months while I’ve been gone, and I hope you have a nice holiday today.

             * * *
       So, how about this Steinert baseball team. When you talk about amazing starts to a season, it doesn’t get better than what the Spartans have done.

       In their first two games, they rally to tie it in the seventh and win it in the bottom of the eighth. That’s a tough act to follow, and yet yesterday the Spartans beat the No. 1 ranked team in the state.
     What was most impressive about that feat is that Steinert did it legitimately. OK, maybe a few of the big hits got help from the wind, but for the most part, Steinert stung the ball against one of the state’s best pitchers. The Spartans pitching harnessed an attack that had scored 27 runs in two games, and the defense was nearly flawless.
        Kudos to both coaches afterward. Brian “The Chef” Giallella did not gloat over the win and kept things in perspective. GC’s Mike Rucci took his team to task, saying it did nothing right. But at the same time he praised the Spartans for their effort and gave them their due credit.

         It was a great day at Fort Giallella, which is abuzz these days with the addition of Jim “Chorizo & Eggs” Geraci as the public address announcer.
            * * *
     Since this is the first blog in 8 months, I must take time to acknowledge our new Athlete of the Week sponsor, Rossi's Tavern on Whitehorse Road. Alan Meinster, Mike Rossi and the crew have been awesome to work with.
      And for those who don't know, the legendary hamburger establishment is now running a Sunday brunch from 10 to 2, so check it out. Good stuff!
            * * *
      Who said Rutgers fans don’t have any rooting interest in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament?

        If Wisconsin can defeat Duke Monday night, the Scarlet Knight faithful can proudly say their team beat the team that went on to win the national championship. Of course, the Badgers didn’t have Frank Kaminsky in that game, and the win was followed by 13 straight losses to end the season, so make of it what you will.
             * * *

     I’m wrestling with what to make of Kentucky after last night. Everyone says it’s a special team, it went 38-0, blah blah blah. But, how special can a team be that doesn’t even make it to the finals?
      I understand that this was a team that could have let egos get in the way with so many superstars, and they all banded together, sacrificed playing time and had one heck of a run. I still think, however, they are a better team than Wisconsin. And when you’re the better team and you don’t win, that takes a little shine off the “special” tag.
      I myself think
Wisconsin is pretty special. They are a fun team to watch (as was Kentucky) and they use their personnel to perfection. Sam Dekker is the perfect complement to Kaminsky, who is unique just by the fact he always looks like he’s five seconds away from dozing off.

      And the biggest thing Wisconsin did, was make life normal again for all of us Duke haters. The scuttlebutt was that if Duke and Kentucky met in the finals, this would be one time everyone rooted for Duke because it was the underdog (I would have rooted for Kentucky).
        As it turns out, we don’t have to worry about it anymore. Goooooo Badgers!!!    
               * * *

      So I have a 17-game season ticket plan for the Phillies, and I was complaining on Friday night because one of the games in my plan was the exhibition game with the Pirates.
       Well, kudos to the Phils for pulling a class act. Because of the bad weather, anyone with tickets to that game can exchange their stubs for any game in April besides opening day.
     Granted, Phils will be hurting for fans this year. But still, it’s a nice gesture.
             * * *

     This is way overdue and something I would have written in February if I had a blog in February. But this issue of Tom Brady vs. Joe Montana as the greatest quarterback is interesting.

       Most people seem to think Montana is the better QB because he went 4-0 in the Super Bowl. He never lost. Brady, of course, is 4-2. So because he has won as many Supes as Montana, but lost two, he is not as great.      
        So, what does that mean? We are penalizing our quarterbacks for making it to the Super Bowl? If you make it and lose, it diminishes your value?

       And of course, the most ludicrous reason I ever heard (from a Philadelphia radio host) is that Montana is greater because he beat better quarterbacks.
       There is no more useless stat in sports than a quarterback’s record vs. another quarterback, because they are playing against the defense. I don’t know what the statistics are, so I’m not sure how good the defenses were that Montana beat, as opposed to the defenses that Brady beat. But that is what should determine this argument, don’t you think?
        Let’s put it this way. One of the great defenses of all time was the 1985 Chicago Bears. The quarterback of that team was a charismatic but hardly great Jim McMahon. Let’s just say the Patriots beat the Bears in that Super Bowl (instead, they got blown out).

        Going by this radio host’s barometer, New England quarterback Tony Eason’s feat wouldn’t be all that great because he only beat McMahon. When, in fact, he actually beat a legendary defense.
      Anyway, I’m putting Brady as the greatest. I think getting to six Super Bowls and winning four of them is pretty damn impressive, especially when it took a miracle catch in one of his losses to beat him.
               * * *
     OK, I know this blog is pretty boring. But hey, it’s been a while. I’m just warming up.
  The next one I write will be VERY boring. :) 

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