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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 email@example.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 firstname.lastname@example.org).
Click here for more photos of the 2011 District 12 final
Nottingham wins second district title in three seasons
By Rich Fisher
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.
Track & Field (winter)
Track & Field (spring)
Track & Field (winter)
Track & Field (spring)
This day in
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(Also known as
Rich Fisher's blog)
Feb. 28, 2014
You’re a good man,
Feb. 28: Well here’s a nice story I’m happy to share.
Not quite as nice as me winning the million dollar lottery, but hey it, I’ll share it anyway.
After Thursday night’s CVC basketball banquet, Hightstown Athletic Director Gary Bushelli was driving out of the Mercer Oaks parking lot when he saw an Oaks employee walking out to Village Road in the freezing cold. And when I tell you it was freezing cold, I’m probably understating it.
Bushelli stopped and asked the guy why he was walking. He said he had to go catch his bus home. Bushelli asked where the bus stop was and he told him it was at Quakerbridge Mall.
We’re talking what would be at least a 45-minute walk, maybe more, in bitter freezing cold, just to catch a bus. Bushelli asked the guy where he lived, the guy told him, and Bushelli put him in his car and took him home.
Despite the fact that made Bushelli late for our post-banquet gathering, I could not have been more impressed by that act of generosity. All I ever really want to do is bust Bush’s chops. I love the guy but praising him is not in my DNA.
But Bush Man, you deserve all the credit in the world. That’s as generous and as nice it gets. Well done!
* * *
As nice as that story was, here’s one at the other end of the spectrum.
Hamilton West senior Claudia Olsen, who never got to compete in winter track until this year when the township re-instated it, promptly qualified for the Meet of Champions in her first season ever doing high jump.
So what happens? She returns from a class trip to Key Largo and at practice Thursday she broke her wrist in two spots and also broke her elbow.
“I landed on the mat with my arm behind my back, and when I came down I heard it crack and break,” Olsen said.
That folks, is absolutely brutal and pretty damn sad.
Good luck Claudia. Get better for spring track quickly!
* * *
Speaking of the CVC basketball banquet. . .kudos to Jay “D-2” Malloy. The third-year Hamilton West boys’ coach was named the Coach of the Year and there probably wasn’t a person there who disagreed with it.
However, Malloy needs to work on his speech technique a bit. He walked up, grabbed his plaque and turned around and walked back. The presenter yelled “Don’t you want to say anything?” He was nearly back to his table and yelled “Thanks!” . . .then five seconds later said “I owe it all to my players.”
For folks who wanted the night to move along quickly, you couldn’t have gotten a better speech (Right, Courtney Adams? Lol) .
* * *
To Lauren Kelly, Kristin Jacobs and Erin Wolverton, I must say, I don’t care who didn’t show up! It was awesome hanging with you guys at the post-banquet!
* * *
Also at the CVC banquet – GQ Award of the Night goes to Tevin “No Look” Williams who was styling with his red shirt and white bow tie.
* * *
Congrats to former Princeton University player and coach Bob Bradley for being inducted into the US Soccer Hall of Fame. Bob is a unique guy who is fascinating to talk to. His take on things is always thoughtful and unique, be it soccer or life in general.
Bradley comes from an extremely successful family, as his brother Scott played in the Major Leagues and now coaches Princeton, and his other brother Michael is a nationally renowned sports writer.
I met their dad a few years ago while he was watching grandson Kevin Bradley play baseball for Hopewell, and you would have never known he had such talented offspring.
It’s great to see humbleness still exists, and this honor for Bob is well deserved.
* * *
I really need to thank Angela LaBelle for her help in tweet updates this year.
First off, I thank all the hoop parents who helped me out – the Adams, the Kellys, Frank “52-49” Bennett. I seriously appreciate it. I know it’s a pain in the neck watching your kid play and then saying “Oh cripe, I gotta send Fish a text.”
And yet you did it and I soooo thank you for it, and I know all the Fish4scores twitter followers appreciate it. You are the unsung heroes.
But Angela gets the “extra mile” award. Ang texted me the updates of the Steinert boys games, and about 75 percent of the time they went down to the wire or into overtime.
Ang didn’t just update the final score. She would send updates every timeout during the closing minutes, including things like “Plunkett jumper ties it” or something like that. I wrote actual stories off what she sent.
It was great stuff Mrs. LaBelle. I guess we need to thank Frank as well, for leaving you alone to do your "job." I’m just glad Chris is a freshman. No good deed goes unpunished my friend! You’re stuck for three more years!
However, as far as post-banquet gatherings go, the LaBelles and Garcias dropped the ball. They are now on double-secret probation unless they show up at Texas Roadhouse on one Athlete of the Week Sunday and keep me company!
* * *
I say this every year and I will say it again. The Colonial Valley Conference is blessed to have Jimmy Hines running the show at Mercer Oaks.
The former Notre Dame soccer standout not only provides reasonable prices for athletic banquets, he and his staff put on an outstanding event. There are never any glitches, everything runs exactly according to plan and the food is always good.
Keep up the great work Jimmy. You are the best!
* * *
While I’m thanking people, I just want to acknowledge outgoing Steinert girls’ soccer coach Aimee Turnbull for being such an easy person to deal with over the years. Whether Steinert won or lost, played good or played bad, Aimee was always cooperative and pleasant in post-game interviews.
Evidently she is the same way as a guidance counselor, as several parents praised Aimee on Facebook for her work with their kids.
So thanks Aimee, and enjoy your time with the family!
* * *
Is Derek Jeter retiring? No one seems to be reporting on it at all, except to ad nauseum. I want to puke it’s so over the top.
* * *
People live for them.
What am I missing here?
* * *
Creighton-Wichita State NCAA championship game? Cool!
* * *
Speaking of the NCAA, I have reached the point where I may literally flip a coin for every pick in my pool and see how that works out. Can’t be any worse than usual.
Maybe that will be my strategy for Warren Bufffet's pool. Use a quarter to make a billion.
Feb 14, 2014
sure can make
Feb. 14: I don’t think it was a good idea for Johnny Manziel to say what you are about to read.
But I love what he said.
Read it first and then I’ll explain. It’s the Texas A&M quarterback talking to two Texas newspaper reporters about his home-state Houston Texans, and what it would mean for them to not make Manziel the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft. He went on to add what would happen if Jacksonville took him with the No. 3 pick.
“It would be the worst decision they’ve ever made,” Manziel said, while talking to reporters from the Houston Chronicle and Fort-Worth Star Telegram. “I’d be in the same division playing against them twice a year (with Jacksonville). Sorry, but you just turned that chip on my shoulder from a Frito into a Dorito.
“I want them to say absolutely, without a doubt, with 100 percent certainty, that I’m who they want. I want everybody from the janitor at Reliant Stadium to the front office executive assistant all the way up to (owner) Bob McNair to say, ‘This kid is 100 percent, can’t miss. This is who we want being the face of our program. We want the Texas kid staying in Texas and leading the Texans.’”
A 20-year-old pretty much calling out a team that has watched closely since childhood.
The kneejerk reaction is “Who does he think he is? Who is this punk, who has never taken a snap in the NFL, to tell a team to take him? To make threats in such bold predictions?”
Obviously, a kid whose confidence is even higher than I ever suspected. And I always suspected it was pretty high.
First off, I love that “Frito into Dorito” line. Wish I had used that in a story at some point in my life, but never did. Not sure if he made it up. But I like it.
Now, consider how boring Roger Goodell wants all his minions to be. It’s the one aspect of his own life he doesn’t feel the need to corner the market on. He wants everyone to be dull like him.
Now consider you have a kid like this shooting his mouth off in a very, very pointed way before he even gets to the league. He could drive Goodell nuts! And that, I like. Goodell might mute him and make him boring, but I’ll take my chances.
This is quite a gamble by Manziel, of course. These words will likely dog him into draft day and beyond. He has put himself out there for severe humiliation. In that same interview he went on to say he wanted to become the first rookie quarterback to win a Super Bowl.
Every bad throw he makes, every bad game he has, those words will haunt him. Then again, every big game he has, announcers will remind us “He’s a confident young man, as we all know from what he said before the draft.”
Linebackers who sack him will repeat those words as he lays smooshed on the ground beneath him. Richard Sherman. . . .oh God, what would Richard Sherman say?
This could make Johnny Football a major joke in the annals of football. Or it could make him the next Joe Namath and then some.
Either way, I love it! It’s refreshing to see someone talk this boldly about himself. He makes me think I really want him to do what he says.
Others disagree, of course. Children should be seen and not heard. Yeah, right. The last time that happened Beaver and Wally were saving up for their first baseball gloves.
Young guys have said similar things before, but man, when you actually bring up the janitor at Reliant Stadium, that’s just darn good stuff!
* * * *
When Richard Nixon lied about a break-in it was bad but it didn’t affect me personally. When Bill Clinton lied about Monica Lewinsky, it was tacky, but my life went on as usual.
One had to resign, the other was impeached.
Barack Obama has lied about Obamacare. I know, because I’m being forced to switch to it and I am discovering I won’t have the same doctor or specialists I’ve had for years. That’s just the tip of what’s wrong.
Now I am affected, in a very adverse way.
This isn’t funny. It’s sad and scary.
Not just for me, but for a whole lot of patients and people in the medical profession. One billing woman told me as I was trying to figure it all out “they are trying to dictate where people go for their health care.” I’m not going into specifics because you probably don’t care. But this all came to light today so I’m in a venting mood. For those of you in my situation, you know of what I speak and can relate.
All I know is, when someone lies like this guy has, I hope he gets punished like the other two did. Only more severely, because now we are affected.
* * * *
After last week’s blog on the Beatles, our good buddy Bird “Farkas” Fink has requested an Ants reunion. OK Bird, I’ll see if I can get the lads together! Pretty sure the air guitars and drums still work.
* * * *
Ever since NCAA pools came into vogue, I always said if there were such things as time machines and I was given one trip in either direction, I’d get in on March 1 and set it for April 7 of that same year.
I would then get out, check the internet and fill in the first perfect NCAA pool in world history. Folks scoffed at that, saying that was small-change thinking and that I should look at the stock market and clean up.
My feeling was, I’d make a fortune in all the talk shows I would go on, explaining how I did this. I would lie about how I did it of course. Not only that, people would just think you were cool.
Well now, if I do it. I’ll get a billion dollars! That’s what Warren Buffet is offering to anyone who fills out a perfect NCAA pool. So I would get the billion, plus whatever I made on talk shows. Hell, I could actually own a talk show at that point.
But there are no time machines, and I’m pretty sure despite the added incentive of a billion dollars, I’ll probably come up a little short of perfect again this year.
Which is why I kind of laugh at Mr. Buffet’s offer. I forget what they call the actual number, but the odds are a 1 followed by 17 zeros-to-1 that this can be done. At the track, 17-to-1 odds are a long shot. This is a marathon-shot.
I respect and admire Mr. Buffet, but what the hell! I can be a big man too. I’m offering 2 billion dollars to anyone who fills out the first perfect NCAA pool in history!
Can I make good on that payment? Of course not.
But I’m pretty sure that’s one offer that will never have to be paid out, until Mr. Spock actually becomes a college basketball fan.
Feb, 9, 2014
Feb. 9: Forgive the trip down memory lane, but after watching the Grammy Beatles special tonight I just have to get it out of my system.
Yes, I saw them on Ed Sullivan that first night, in a little living room in a little Cape Cod house on Andrea Lane in Mercerville.
I was freaking out, so was my mom, and my World War II veteran dad just didn't get it.
The next day I sprinted to Mercerville School to share the experience with my classmates about what we all saw. We were freaking out, buzzing like maniacs. Our teacher Mrs. Arndt had to tell us to be quiet like, a million times.
We were only in first grade and I still remember it vividly. It’s like the clearest memory I have that young (except for getting spanked). That’s a powerful presence.
A year later, me and my pals – all of second grade now – decided we were going to form a group called The Ants. Clever huh? The extent of our musical ability was that we put on Beatles albums and did air guitar and air drums before anybody else.
Shockingly, the Beatles lasted a bit longer than The Ants.
Not only could we not conquer America, we couldn’t even conquer Regina Avenue.
The Beatles, however, will last forever.
They could have very easily been a one-year fad, or craze, like so many others have been. Come over to the U.S., cause a sensation with their songs about love and holding hands, and then just pop up on oldies stations – “Oh yeah, they were that band with the long hair that went ‘wooooh’!”
But they matured, their music matured and they have written some of the greatest songs of all time beyond the realm of rock music. Their time as a group lasted through my time in elementary school.
That’s only six years.
And an impact that has lasted for 50.
By the time I got to Nottingham Junior High, Jimmy Hendryx, Janis Joplin, the Doors and Three Dog Night were the main bands. And we liked them.
But The Beatles never got out of our system. Ever. And after watching the special tonight, I’m feeling pretty good that we’re not alone.
It blows my mind that young kids love this band that hasn’t played together in 44 years. It shouldn’t but it does, because none of us ever want to like the music of earlier generations. We want to like OUR music and to heck with what came before.
To me and my pals from Mercerville School – Greg Edwards, Bob and Jack DeStefano, to name a few -- the Beatles will always be our music because it was the only thing we knew growing up other than nursery rhymes and, of course, the Monkees and Rolling Stones.
We like other music as well, but we kind of feel a pride that so many generations after us still love The Beatles. It’s like, we feel they are ours because we had the good fortune of being on the ground floor of our lives when they were on the ground floor of becoming a dynasty.
A lot of adults thought The Beatles would come and go back in the 1960s. They never dreamed that 50 years later a phenomenal special would be shown celebrating their arrival in America.
That right there tells you how special they are. To my knowledge, there hasn’t been a two-and-a-half hour anniversary special for Beethoven or Mozart; Sinatra or Crosby; Elvis or Chuck Berry. But there they were, people who weren’t even born during the first Ed Sullivan appearance, performing Beatles songs with pride.
And when Ringo was singing his solos, I loved watching Paul McCartney sitting in the crowd, singing along as if he was just some schlub who bought a ticket to watch the show.
Friends and I were texting back and forth all night, getting more sentimental and more amazed each 15 minutes at how good this show was.
It made me want to get up and write this blog right away.
And damn if I don’t feel like running to Mercerville School tomorrow and talking to everybody about the show.
Fifty years later, some things never change.
Feb. 2 2014
Let’s all have
a super duper
Feb. 2: So it’s finally here. Thank God!
How I love this day!
Wait, what’s that? There is something else going on today? A football game, you say?
Gee, how did that slip past me? I really hadn’t seen or read anything about it.
Well, maybe just a snippet or two. . . every minute. . . of every day. . . on every channel.
I am always weary of the Super Bowl hype any year, but with it being in New Jersey it is even more insane. Every Philly and New York station is on overload, looking in any nook and cranny for a unique story.
Granted, some of them aren’t bad. But there’s too many! Toooooo manyyyyy!!!
Sorry, had to freak out there for a second.
And then, of course, there are the usual national media outlets and their carnival.
As my Facebook friends now know, NFL Network hit rock bottom last week when it provided coverage of the Seahawks plane coming into the hangar at Newark Airport. The plane had come to rest, and they started analyzing who would get off the plane first, which door would open first, the front or the back?
At that point, I hit the clicker, screaming, and started watching the story of ghost trying to flip his house while eating different foods on the Biography Channel.
And for those folks – i.e., Jerry “The Beachboy” Laird and Rich Fornaro – who accused me of watching it, let me set the record straight – I was flipping through, I stopped on NFL Network just to see what was on. I saw the plane, I heard them start to talk about who would get off first and quickly moved on. Couldn’t have been on there for more than 45 seconds before I left in horror.
Fish rules state: In the world of channel surfers, there must be at least one minute between clicks before being accused of “watching.”
* * * *
Speaking of Groundhog Day, I plan on being very funny watching the game today. Every time they show an instant replay, I am going to refer to the movie by going “Hey, this already happened. . . we must be in Groundhog Day!”
Feel free to do that at your Super Bowl party. . . and let me know how stupid people think you are.
* * * *
One of the biggest laughs I got this week was reading a list of things for people to do during Super Bowl week.
One of them was selling a ticket for $12.50 for folks to come sit in the stands at Media Day and watch the events unfold.
Basically, you’re paying to watch reporters interview people, while being unable to hear what was being said.
I can beat that.
Give me five bucks, and you can watch me interview Jason “The Rock” Marasco a Nottingham wrestling match, and you can listen to what’s being said. For a Rossi’s Burger, you can sit in on my exciting conversation with Steinert swim coach Jen Smith. The price of a Jo Jo’s bar pie will grant you audience as I chat with Hamilton boys hoop coach Jay “D-2” Malloy.
Hey, that beats $12.50 any day! And my questions are even more dumb so you get to laugh at me!
* * * *
Richard Sherman is a polarizing figure. Count me as one of the people who like him. Sorry, but when listening to his interviews I find him well spoken and interesting. Man should not be condemned by one rant alone.
I know, I know. He talks a lot of trash. But for the past two weeks, you would have think his Erin Andrews “interview” is the only thing he’s ever done.
* * * *
So all the talk about the cold, snowy weather and look at it. It’s beautiful.
Then again, Roger Goodell would have suspended Mother Nature for one whole year without pay if it snowed.
I’m pretty sure the guy thinks he is that powerful.
* * * *
Of course I am in a block pool where the score of the game means more than anything else. People ask me who I’m rooting for and I say 7 and 3.
There are some guys out there pretty smug about their numbers, thinking they got it made.
I have just one word for them – safety.
The scourge of all “great” numbers.
* * * *
Is there a bigger supporter of Hamilton Township athletics than Minister Margie Greco? Her kids go to Steinert, but I see her at nearly every basketball game I am at, supporting all the township teams and players.
Good for you Margie! All towns need people like you!
* * * *
Five more weeks til March Madness, but I think it started on the first day of February when a bundle of Top 10 teams got knocked off. Bring it on baby!
Oh no. Did I just sound like Dick Vitale? Yikes!
* * * *
And finally, The Baroness busted The Daredevil.
For those who read last week’s blog, you know I alluded to Nottingham girls basketball coach Lauren “The Daredevil” Kelly abusing me for wearing a Steinert green colored sweatshirt to Nottingham.
So, who shows up at the Nottingham-Lawrence game with a green shirt on? None other than Ms. Kelly.
At first, I didn’t notice (because I notice nothing. If I ever had to describe a crime suspect to a sketch artist, the guy would never be caught).
However, my thanks go out to Tina “The Baroness” Raba for shouting out at halftime “Hey Fish, did you yell at her for the shirt she’s wearing!”
It was then I noticed, and yes, she was abused.
Well done Baroness, well done!
Jan. 24, 2014
needs a Bruno
Jan. 24: It’s my first blog of the year, but I’m not wishing anyone Happy New Year. That ship sails after the first week of January. By then, the year already feels old.
Or I do.
Sometimes it's hard to tell.
* * * *
In case you missed it this week, it snowed in Hamilton Township.
And once again, my next door neighbor came through in a big way.
This is a salute to Bruno, the best neighbor anyone could ever have. Hopefully, everyone has a Bruno on their street.
His full name is Bruno Martilotti. Some of you may know him as the Saturday night bartender at Ivy Tavern, some may know him as “Ray” on the over-50 soccer field, others may know him as the dad of Hamilton West grads Jared and Alyssa, and Mercerville School students may know him as Mrs. Martilotti’s husband.
When the blizzard hit, Bruno was out with his snow blower. He did not only my walk and my driveway, as he always does, but he did the neighbor next to me, then went over and did the guy across the street. He does it all the time, without fail, with a smile on his face.
And when you don't have a beer to offer him, he gives you one of his own! Now that's class!
He’s not just a winter guy though. He lends me his lawnmower, helps me with my countless computer problems (Fish4scores would be gone without him), invites me over for Christmas and, plain is simple, is just a really good guy and has a really good family.
One of the reasons I bring this up now is he has also been a Seattle Seahawks fan since their inception in 1976! He has an original wool cap in his garage that was purchased when Jim Zorn and Steve Largent were the team's big stars.
So I just want to say thanks to my buddy for his never-ending help, and hope that the rest of you all have a Bruno on your street as well.
* * * *
Congratulations go out to Steinert grad Matt Maher, who graduates from Bridgewater College in Virginia this May and has already secured a high school coaching job.
Matt has landed the head JV coach's job at Turner Ashby High School in Virginia. It's a program that has sent numerous players off to play Division I baseball.
Good luck Matt!
* * * *
So just for the heck of it I went on Stub Hub to check out Super Bowl tickets. Afterall, it is in my own backyard.
OK, so if I read this right, they start at a mere $1,781 and the highest seat is $801,170!!!!
I guess I'm not surprised that they go for that high. What does surprise me is, when it's $801,000, why the heck do you need to add that $170? I mean really, what is that all about?
* * * *
I am hearing so many horror stories about costs at the Super Bowl I'm not even going to go into them all. I'm just scared that somehow the NFL will be able to charge we, the people, for the privelege of living in the same state as the game is being played.
If that happens, keep saying it's in New York!
* * * *
Well, now that the Phillies have brought back Bobby Abreu, it leads me to just one conclusion.
The reason they fired Gary Matthews as an announcer, is that they're hoping to coax him back as a player. Unless of course they can get Greg Luzinski out of that Barbecue pit in right field and put him back in the outfield.
In a way, this is almost perfect. The Phillies blossomed as a team once they got rid of Abreu, as everyone said he was a bad presence in the club house. It's now come full circle. The great run is over, so bring back Bobby as a reminder of what it was like before it started.
* * * *
I swear, people get more upset with a guy yelling into a microphone after an NFC championship game, than they do with people who commit real crimes. We really need to get a life.
Or in the words of Richard Sherman "GET A LIFE PEOPLE!!!!!"
* * * *
Coming this week: Fish Bowl II.
* * * *
We have had a new generation of people texting to help out with tweets this winter who need to be recognized. They include Angela LaBelle, Rick Taylor (who isn't new, but does it a lot more this year), Lori and Chris Kelly and Cindy and Tom Adams.
* * * *
And finally, when will I learn?
Thursday night I covered basketball games at Hamilton and Nottingham. I was wearing a green GAK hoodie that former Hibos soccer czar Tom Bayless was nice enough to give me.
I keep forgetting, no matter what the green stands for, it is frowned upon outside of Steinert.
As I walk up to the scorer's table, PA announcer Tom Hoglen said "Yeah you can get the lineups, even though you came here with that green on."
I then scurried over to Nottingham (well, I didn't actually scurry, but it sounds very writer-like to write that) to cover the boys game. As I'm sitting there, girls coach Lauren Kelly walks by, says hi, then walks back. "By the way, you got a lot of nerve wearing that green in here."
Hoglen, well, that's one thing. I can live with that. But when a woman who jumps out of airplanes says something to me, then I get scared!
Dec. 24, 2013
God bless you
Ernie White, for
aiding great cause
and providing a
great time for all
Dec. 24: I have been an Ernie White fan forever, back when he played at the long defunct Casey Jones on Route 130 every Monday night with his band Wind.
But my thoughts on the guy have gone from thinking he’s a fun entertainer, to outright respect for what he has done with his Christmas Show.
White hit another home run this past Sunday night in Hamilton Township with his 14th Annual Christmas Show at Princeton Gardens or Angeloni’s or Cedar Gardens or whatever they call that place. It was only the second show I saw, but long-time attendees said it was his best yet.
It would be hard to argue.
And the beauty of it, is that it benefited the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen (TASK).
For those who don’t know the concept, Ernie brings a bunch of local musicians together to jam the night away for four hours; either playing Christmas songs, or turning other songs into Christmas songs. The guest stars include everything from teens to old guys. This year, Nottingham music teacher Meg Hanson even made an appearance and knocked ‘em dead.
And Ernie took it one step further this time. With about 40 minutes to go, he brought out a surprise guest -- the legendary Richie Sambora -- to play his guitar and sing a little back-up.
Suddenly, I felt like all those lucky people who have been there when Bruce comes up on stage unannounced. A room that was already electric, went into overdrive as the former Bon Jovi member and Woodbridge native did his thing just dressed in a baseball cap, jeans and a t-shirt.
Everyone has their own opinion, but I put the guy as one of the top 5 Jersey rock legends, right up there with Springsteen, Clarence Clemens and Jon Bon Jovi.
And what was so cool is, you could just see he was having as much fun jamming on Route 33 in front of a few hundred people as he does in an outdoor stadium in front of 60,000 people.
I’ve noticed that about musicians. When the music is in their blood, it doesn’t matter what the environment is, they just love playing.
Plus, it’s a Jersey thing. Some of our biggest stars never seem to get too impressed with themselves, probably because Jersey won’t let them. No matter how big you get, you're still one of us. lol
Anyway, what made the whole night extra special, as usual, is that they weren’t doing it for their wallet, they were doing it for a good cause.
And that takes a special person. It’s not easy to pull something like that together, and it’s even tougher to bring in a guy like Richie Sambora. But Ernie White did it again. Better than ever.
Tiny Tim said “God bless us, everyone.”
I say God Bless you, Ernie White, and all the people you got to help a good cause on Sunday.
* * * *
In last week’s blog, I mentioned that former Steinert soccer player Harold “Bird” Fink bore a striking resemblance to Christmas Story bully Scut Farkus.
Tomorrow, for our Christmas Day celebration, I will provide definitive proof of this theory as I run a photo of young Bird next to a photo of Scut.
You can be the judge, but I already have assurance from Bird’s young son Justin that my assessment is correct.
* * * *
Just want to thank Mark Sacco for informing me that WMMR’s Pierre Robert gave a shout-out to Fish4scores on his workforce blocks this Tuesday. I sent Pierre an email request on Monday and he got it out on Tuesday.
Like an idiot, I missed, but Mark filled me in.
It was a good week for me and Rock ‘N Roll! * * * *
Don’t want to make this too long today because I know everyone has a lot to do. I just want to thank everyone for their support again this year and wish you all a very, very Merry Christmas.
For now, I am off to join the Christmas Eve Club at Wildflowers for the Greatest Three Hours of the Year.
We also give money to TASK. . .but somehow I don’t think Richie Sambora will be stopping in to see us. Oh well.
Merry Christmas everybody!!!
Dec. 16 2013
are the worst!
Dec. 16: In the early part of December, I tried to hold off from watching my usual traditional Christmas favorites (Rudolph, Miracle On 34th Street, Christmas Carol, Grinch, Christmas Vacation, etc., etc.) to give these current movies a shot. The 13 new ones that are on Hallmark, along with some others on Lifetime and ABC Family and channels like that.
And maaan, do they stink!
Especially the ones on Hallmark.
Every single one is the same plot. OK, let’s say 90 percent of them are the same. They try to alter them by putting different actors in there.
But they all have the same elements – a single mom, a handsome guy who is attracted to the single mom, and a villain who is usually the boss of the single mom at work (usually a department store), or the mayor of the town (often her ex-husband), or something lame like that.
Then there’s always a sort of colleague for the handsome guy. . . a flunky who is always wise cracking about his failures but is always there to help him. And the single mom always has a best friend who is there to support her through her troubles and is always talking about losing weight.
The single mom's friend is always cute, but never quite as good looking as the single mom.
So with the cast set, the movies all play out the same way.
The single mom repels the handsome man, saying he is a very nice guy but she just can’t be in a relationship now because she has too much to worry about with her job that she might lose because of her horrible boss.
The handsome man, however, has a way of helping her out by doing something to bring down her boss or the mean mayor.
The single mom’s kids and her best friend , who have always liked the handsome man from the start, point out all the good things he is doing and – surprise! – she finally falls in love with the handsome man. They all gather around the tree on Christmas Eve and sing and eat and oh how wonderful it all is.
Now, what about the other 10 percent that aren’t like this?
Well, they all have to do with Santa Claus having a problem with some elf, or trying to prove to somebody he really is Santa Claus.
This is why the classics, are the classics.
Because they are classic.
Not clones. * * * *
My Top 10 list of Christmas movies:
1) It’s a Wonderful Life (also my favorite movie of all time, just ahead of Godfather. What’s wrong with that picture?
2) A Christmas Carol (with Alistair Sim. No imitations accepted).
3) Chevy Chase Christmas Vacation (I watch it with my head sewn to the carpet in honor of Cousin Eddie’s arrival).
4) A Christmas Story (For anyone who knows Harold “Bird” Fink. . .he and the bully Scut Farkas were separated at birth).
5) White Christmas (What can I say. I still think Bing is cool. But that maid should have been shot, according to myself and Bird Fink’s wife Denise).
6) Home Alone (but moving up. Gotta love Joe Pesci).
7) Miracle on 34th Street (Kind of gets you in the spirit by starting on Thanksgiving).
8) Scrooged (Cool concept).
9) Scrooge (Musical version of Christmas Carol which I originally saw in Radio City Music Hall when it first came out. Sentimental reasons I suppose).
10) Holiday Inn (Again, Bing is cool, and so is Fred Astaire).
Now, I will say, I have not seen Elf, Bad Santa or any of the Tim Allen Santa Claus movies, and I hear that Elf is awesome. So I’m not disliking those movies. . .I just haven’t seen them yet.
Why am I explaining myself? You don’t really care.
* * * *
My top 10 list of Christmas Specials
1) Charlie Brown (which has been No. 1 since I could first figure out how to turn a channel).
2) Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol (which they never show anymore, but it’s awesome).
3) Rudolph (No one can hate Rudolph).
4) Little Drummer Boy (The serious side of Christmas!).
5) How the Grinch Stole Christmas (the cartoon, not Jim Carrey).
6) The Year Without Santa Claus (the always classic Heat Miser/Snow Miser song).
7) Saturday Night Live Christmas (some are good, some are bad, but collectively, awesome).
8) Frosty (Jimmy Durante’s greatest role!).
9) Santa Claus is Coming to Town (Fred Astaire again. . .as a mailman!).
That’s about it. I think I only like nine.
* * * *
December snow means that the Philly and New York evening news shows can take a break from covering Christmas shopping, and roar into their non-stop coverage of the weather. I’m convinced if it ever snows on Election Day, we’ll never know who the new president is until three days later.
“We’ll try and keep you updated on the race in Ohio folks, but right now let’s go to our team out in Upper Darby and see how the roads are there. . . "
* * * *
How long until we see a seasonal reality show where they plant hidden cameras in malls and show the ugly side of Christmas shopping?
Or has their already been one that I don't know about?
* * * *
I love these commercials encouraging us to buy a car for someone for Christmas. Who are these people who buy cars for people for Christmas?
If you are one of them, please be my friend.
* * * *
And finally, just saw on Facebook that Nottingham High linebacker Nick DeMarie just got accepted to the University of Pennsylvania.
Way to go Mr. President! Good start to your political career in the Ivy League.
Yale=Bush & Bush, Princeton=Wilson, Harvard=JFK, Columbia=Obama Penn=DeMarie?
Hey if Steinert can have a Supreme Court Justice Nottingham can have a U.S. President!
Dec. 8 2013
How cheap can
the NJSIAA get?)
Dec. 8: The NJSIAA put in a fifth group in football to make more playoff money, and in the process they are looking to build on that by making even more money.
Oh wait. They will tell us they put in a fifth group to give more student-athletes a playoff opportunity.
Anyway, since the playoffs started oh so many years ago, members of the media were given rosters or programs to help aid us in figuring who the players were that we were reporting on. Makes sense, right?
Heck, for a while the price of a ticket even provided free programs to the spectators.
As I walked into Lions Stadium Saturday night for the Hopewell-Lawrence game, I was informed by the yellow jacketed folks selling programs, in no uncertain terms, that “we were told we are not supposed to give any programs to reporters. Go up to the press box and they should have something up there.”
Well, they didn’t.
No one from the NJSIAA had anything for anyone up there. It became obvious that the state governing athletic body expected reporters to fork over $5 for the privilege of doing our jobs.
Needless to say, folks were livid. I suggested we all write our stories saying “Number 12 completed a pass to number 80 and was tackled by number 33.”
I mean, how freakin’ cheap can you get when you don’t even want to help the people who are promoting your product? I didn’t even care about a program. Just make copies of the rosters and leave them in the press box.
All I can say to that is, thank you, Mark Gola.
This blog is only half about a whiney sportswriter not getting his way. Waah! The other half is to compliment Mr. Gola, who went out of his way to help out.
As great as Mark was as an athlete at Hopewell Valley High and Rider University, he’s even better as The College of New Jersey’s Sports Information Director. I personally feel he is one of the top SIDs in the state at any level.
He’s professional, he responds to requests in record time and does anything humanly possible to help a writer in need. He’s also the brother of HoVal soccer coach Ed “The Ice Cream Man” Gola, but has yet to procure me a free cone with sprinkles, so he has that working against him.
Anyway, there was Mark, hanging out in the press box in no real official capacity other than to make sure everyone had a seat. He heard the griping (mostly from me) about no rosters, and immediately obtained a copy of both teams rosters from The Times’ Joe Zedalis, who brought his own.
Mark went back to his office to make copies of them, only to find his copier wasn’t working. Thus, on a cold night not conducive to walking around campus, he made his way over to another building to make the copies before taking the long trek back to the press box.
He didn’t have to do it. He just did it because he’s a good guy and a guy who looks out for the writers, even if they aren’t covering TCNJ.
So thanks Mark Gola.
And thank you, NJSIAA. . .for nuthin.
* * * *
Speaking of Hopewell football, what an amazing story. A school at which the parents worked hard against a lot of opposition to get football into the athletic program, has come up with a state sectional title in its 10th season.
What’s impressive is, this was the first time HoVal ever got to playoffs so they very easily could have been happy with that. But they wanted it all and they got it.
And, as the smallest of all consolation prizes, even though Nottingham can’t say it won the state championship again this year, it can say it was the only team to defeat the CJ Group III champion.
I don’t know if that stands for anything good, or just frustrates the Stars even more because they were moved from Group III to Group IV.
* * * *
The Steinert girls swim team looks interesting and fun this year. The Spartans have some major studettes in Maggie Herbert, Hailey Thayer, Maddie Horner and Chelsea Ackerson. How that translates into dual meet victories remains to be seen, as depth is always a key.
But this is a team built for big-meet success and the Hornet Relays should be fun to watch between the Spartans and a strong-looking Lawrence squad.
* * * *
Although they didn’t play a part in the outcome, two former Steinert players re-united on the football field Saturday in a game of tremendous importance. And it was two days shy of the two-year anniversary of their epic state final game against Neptune.
No. 15 ranked University of New Hampshire defeated No. 8 Maine, 41-27, in a NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision second-round playoff game. Adam Riese is a redshirt freshman quarterback on New Hampshire, while his former favorite target, Jordan Dunn, is a redshirt freshman receiver on Maine.
While Riese did not play, Dunn got into the game but did not have any touches.
Riese, who is playing behind two juniors and two sophomores, has played in four games this season and completed his only pass for one yard, while rushing three times for 15 yards.
New Hampshire plays Southeastern Louisiana in a quarterfinal game Saturday.
Dunn finished the season with eight catches for 93 yards (11.6 per catch) and one touchdown.
Both players have three years of eligibility remaining, so here’s wishing them good luck and more playing time in the future.
* * * *
How weird is this off-season for the Yankees. They sign Ellsbury, Beltran and McCann but lose Cano and Granderson. And seven years for Ellsbury? He’s already injured a lot, his legs are his strength and how fast will they be in a few years?
However, as a Phillies fan whose team’s motto seems to be “Be Bold! Be Old!”, I will say the path they have taken really bums me out.
The core group of Rollins, Utley, Howard, and Ruiz must no doubt be considered the greatest Phillies team of all time. And this is coming from a guy who grew up in the Schmidt-Bowa-Boone-Rose-Carlton era, so it takes a lot for me to say that.
But the numbers say these guys are it. And it’s going to be sad to watch this once exciting group of stars just kind of wither away as old, injury-plagued guys the Phils have kept around to extend that link to the glory days.
I just hope it doesn’t diminish what they did at their peak, because it was special. And I cringe at the thought of them finishing their careers playing at a half filled Citizens Bank Park in front of apathetic fans that once roared at their every move.
That’s why I was happy for Shane Victorino, who was as much a part of the Phils’ success as anyone. It was great to see him have a big moment on a big stage with the Red Sox.
I wouldn’t even mind seeing that happen with Utley or Howard. Go to a team that can win. Go out on top.
But I fear we’re just going to watch them all get older and less productive together.
I hope I'm wrong. I usually am. I'm worried I might be right this time.
* * * *
Auburn and Florida State. Interesting match-up for the BCS title. But how I would have loved to have seen Missouri top Auburn and come out of nowhere to play for the crown.
Not to mention, former Hamilton West cheerleader Carol Carter Ahl (Carol Severin in high school) is a Mizzou graduate, so in support of her, I adopted Missouri as my team. Oh well. We still have a bowl game!
Speaking of. . . .as was pointed out last week, Rutgers has made its bowl and will play one of college football’s most historic teams (Notre Dame) in Yankee Stadium, by virtue of beating six teams with a combined win total of less than 20. And it will make money for sure, as ND is always a draw in the Metropolitan area and it’s playing Rutgers in its own backyard.
Let’s hear it for the bowl system! It serves up cold leftovers and still turns a profit for the NCAA.
And I’ll bet you they’ll give rosters to reporters covering the game!
* * * *
Belated Happy Birthday wishes to Hamilton West Vice-Principal and psychotic Flyers fan Brian Smith.
* * * *
I wonder how those Andy Reid press conferences are these days after three straight Chiefs losses.
* * * *
It's been 33 years to the day John Lennon was shot and killed. Still seems like it just happened.
Guys like him and Elvis crammed more in 40 years than some of us could experience in 200. You just wonder what they would have done with 40 more.
* * * *
Why is Division I basketball in New Jersey so dreary? It’s pretty bad when FDU can go from 1-6 to beating Rutgers and Seton Hall.
I haven’t seen interest in Jersey college hoops so low in years and it’s a shame when you have some of the top high school programs in the nation in your own backyard.
* * * *
Have a good week folks, and don’t worry about Christmas shopping yet. Plenty of time!
Dec. 1 2013
In the middle of
of a magical day
of college football,
there was Rutgers
Dec. 1: A 12-hour stretch on Saturday showed all that is right with college football. We were treated to extremely meaningful games that went from good (Missouri-Texas A&M), to great (Michigan-Ohio State), to “OK, where’s the camera? I know I’m being Punk’d.” (Alabama-Auburn).
In the middle of it all, symbolizing a lot that is wrong, was our beloved home state team.
First, the good.
I don’t know if I ever saw Facebook and Twitter explode with comments about a game so quickly as they did after Alabama-Auburn. I thought I’d never see a college football game shock me with its ending as much as when Boston College’s Doug Flutie stunned Miami with his incredible touchdown pass with no time left in the early 1980s.
Boy was I wrong.
As I sat there watching Chris Davis run 109 yards with a missed field goal, my mouth dropped open as if I was watching a UFO land in my backyard while being told I won the gazillion dollar lottery at the same time Jerry Jones was calling to see if I could let a few of the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders stay at my house for a couple months.
As he ran and ran, the disbelief just grew and grew.
Five seconds earlier, I was texting my buddy Maff in Florida while they were reviewing the final running play and, after they finally put the one second back on the clock, I texted “They went through all of that just so we can watch a missed field goal.”
Maff agreed. And we were right. . . sort of.
We did watch a missed field goal. But it wasn’t “just” a missed field goal. It produced the new “greatest finish” in sports in many people’s minds.
It was magic.
And then there was Rutgers.
The Knights’ game wasn’t magic, but you did kind of wished it would disappear.
This is not really a direct shot at RU (why pile on?) as much as it is of – as I have called it here before - - the most hypocritical, cash-crazed organization in the nation, the NCAA.
You know their philosophy. On one hand it’s all about the student-athletes. But on the hand that actually works, it’s: More bowls! More bowls! More money! More money! Horrible games! Horrible games! REALLY horrible games!
Maybe the best example of the glutton of absolutely worthless bowl games we will see over the next month can be provided by examining the Scarlet Knights’ situation. After Saturday’s dismal loss to a Connecticut team that was 1-9, Rutgers dropped to 5-6.
And yet, if they defeat 2-9 South Florida at home this Saturday – and after the UConn game, we certainly can’t guarantee that – they will be 6-6 and earn a bowl bid.
Just what did they do to earn that bowl bid?
They will have defeated six teams with a combined record of 17-54.
I’ll say it slower. Seven….teen….and fiiiifty….four.
Are you freakin’ kiddin’ me?
Isn’t a bowl game supposed to reward a team for having a good season? Are you going to tell me finishing .500 by beating six teams with losing records that add up to 17-54 is a good season?
Of course it isn’t.
But bowl games aren’t really all about rewarding good teams. They are about rewarding the NCAA. The oh so sanctimonious NCAA and their student-athletes who they care so much about.
Why do I bring this up?
Because, as much as the corporate BS, dishonesty and greed makes you want to just lose interest, you get a day like Saturday.
It was a day where watching talented athletes produce magical moments from noon to midnight makes us realize once again that at its truest essence, sports really can provide us with beautiful, wonderful, memorable experiences.
* * * *
Speaking of Saturday, one of my favorite things after the Auburn-Alabama game was watching and listening to the polar-opposite reactions from both sides.
CBS, as usual, played the local radio broadcasts of the game-winning TD. The Auburn guys were going nuts in such a raw, unbridled manner, while you could hear the complete disbelief in the ‘Bama announcer’s voice, as if he didn’t really want to tell everyone what was happening.
And then, ESPN got ahold of some clips of young Auburn fans going nuts watching the return in their houses, while also getting a shot of Alabama fans watching the same thing in a dorm room. Kinda neat.
* * * *
Nottingham sophomore Grace Dwyer is going to the NIKE Nationals. That’s big-time stuff folks.
The Nationals! That’s like, New Mexico, and Idaho, and Montana and California and Maine and, well, you get the picture. You’ve had geography.
So anyway, what does Grace do on arguably the biggest day of her running career? Puts the following post on Facebook:
“Just wanted to thank my cross country team for always being there for me...you were always there to cheer me on and make me laugh. So many memories!!! You all are the best!!!”
It could be very easy for those teammates to get jealous of Grace for all that she has attained. But they have taken the right approach. They are happy for what she has done, excited for what she will do, and want to be there for her.
They have exhibited great class.
And so has Grace with that Facebook post.
* * * *
Ice hockey will have a revamped look in Hamilton Township this winter.
Steinert has a new coach in Bob Weiss, who is familiar to township fans after serving five years as Nottingham’s head coach.
The merger between Hamilton and Nottingham hasn’t really been a merger as much as Nottingham borrowing a few Hornets. Of the 28 guys on the team – now being coached by John Russo – 25 are from Nottingham and three are from West.
* * * *
I don’t like when Thanksgiving is this late.
You usually feel like you have a cushion between that holiday and December, which is when you start to get into Christmas planning mode. But Thanksgiving was Thursday and today is December.