As many of us sports fans begin to transition into the marathon that is 162 games in 180 days, we look to Opening Day as a new start. Every team is 0-0, every fan has hoped that once October starts their favorite team has 11 more wins in them that will lead to a celebration on a field and tshirts and hats purchased that signify a World Championship.
For others, it has the feeling of the first day of school, time to see your seat mates, meet some new people that for 81 days throughout the early spring til early fall will share in the ups and downs, the cheers and tears, the hot dogs, beers and ice cream cones that quench the heat in July and August.
Last season, I had the privilege of working along side Bald Vinny, for 86 Yankee games at Bald Vinny’s House of Tees. Opening Day last year had a different feel to it as this year also has one.
You see, last year I was the new student on the first day of school, the person everyone had to get to know, this year is different, the anticipation of opening day leads to seeing the friends that I made last season, and of course meeting new people along the way. Last year was nerve wracking, can I be Vinny’s right hand man, will I be accepted by the Creature Faithful? Will what seems to be the ultimate dream job for a sports fan be just that and those answers are YES!
The season on River Ave. is long at times, short at others, the rain sucks, the heat is hotter, but nothing beats it. the walk off wins are exciting, the environment is only compared to working for Disney and seeing ca kid’s face the first time they meet Mickey.
Meeting people from all over the country and world is awesome, hearing how they made Yankee Stadium and stopping by the House of Tees, is something I’ve heard Vinny talk about on The George Brew Show and on other various interviews is more humbling that you would think. The people that I knew through a twitter handle only, became real living breathing people, who were cool folks that I became friends.
Walking into the Yankee Bar and Grill, to see a smiling Tracey, or Nicky, or Peg, or Chris, who like you were there until 11 or 12 the night before and the smiles on their face at 10 am make the day go quicker and just overall better. The ability to see the early morning sun as it peeks through the clouds and sun splash Yankee Stadium is picturesque. When the rain pounds you into submission, there sure is a rainbow that follows and it usually leads to Yankee Stadium,
This article is dedicated to Bald Vinny, the best boss, friend and mentor anyone can have, but it also is to those of you who made the 2012 season memorable for me. Thank you for the memories, and lets make 2013 a whole hell of a lot better. See you on River Ave. tomorrow, for yet another 1st day of school.
This is a special Trade Deadline Preview episode of Gloves OFF! with your Host Matthew Barnaby.
This episode is dedicated to the Buffalo Regals U14 Tier 1 Minor Hockey team….. heading to Nationals next week in PIttsburgh with Matthew as their Head Coach!
On Today’s show….It’s 7 days until the trade deadline…. Matthew will take a look at all the potential Buyers and Sellers in the East and West. Which teams are going to say…. Let’s Make A Deal!
Jarome Iginla….. now a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Brendan Morrow….. now a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Douglas Murray….. now a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Ray Shero has thrown down the gauntlet! Did he open the floodgates for an active Trade Deadline or did he handcuff those teams needing impact players?
The Boston Bruins must respond to the Penguins moves….. What will they do?
The Los Angeles Kings and Chicago Blackhawks are looking for the pieces to push them over the top! Watch the chess match unfold in the next 7 days!
Are you ready….. Matthew’s ready to take the Gloves OFF!
What’s Brewin with the Bruins by Tim Rosenthal of http://www.bruinsdaily.com
(Getty Images) Despite reports suggesting that he’d be a member of the Boston Bruins, the Calgary Flames traded Jarome Iginla to the Pittsburgh Penguins early Thursday morning.
Well it looks like the Boston Bruins lost out again.
Early Thursday morning, Calgary Flames GM Jay Feaster announced that Jarome Iginla has been dealt to the Pittsburgh Penguins. In return, Calgary receives prospects Ben Hanowski, Kenny Agostino and a 2013 first round pick.
This coming after numerous reports suggested that Iginla would be coming to Boston – including from TSN’s Bob McKenzie and Aaron Ward.
Here’s the confirmation from a tweet on the official Penguins’ Twitter account
With the addition of fellow veteran Brenden Morrow from the Dallas Stars and depth defenseman Douglas Murray from the San Jose Sharks, the red-hot Pens have increased their odds of capturing their second Stanley Cup in five years.
Peter Chiarelli and company will need to look elsewhere now. Potential names that have been floated around include Jaromir Jagr and Ryan Whitney, just to name a couple.
In the meantime, one can’t help but to wonder that this is a missed opportunity for Chiarelli and company.
This is always the best day at Loudmouth headquarters, when the new Spring designs come in. We hope it’s the best day for you too. The supplies are limited on these so please do not delay.
The name says it all! They’re swirly, they’re wild, but they still look super sharp, especially with a black shirt. Or just go full volume with a Lemon Chrome, Autumn Glory or Stark White shirt!
Currently available in USA only. Available in Australia in 2 days!
Will soon become available in Canada, Europe.
Let me take you on a little journey in the way back machine if I may. I take you back to August 1992, Yanitelli Center in the campus of St. Peter’s College in Jersey City and The Bob Hurley Basketball Camp. Hundreds of aspiring basketball players filled the 3 court gym that is the home of the St. Peter’s Peacocks that day, for a multitude of reasons, but the main one was Mr. Hurley’s sons were going to be there.
Being a Jersey City kid, who had never heard of Duke University until my Catholic School 4th Grade teaching mother had come home in January of 1990 and said that one of her former students was going to be playing on Channel 4 that Sunday against Notre Dame, was in fact pretty damn cool and exciting. So the next day I walked into St. John the Baptist School and into Mrs. Sheridan’s 2nd Grade Class Room and said that my mom taught a kid who is playing basketball on Channel 4 on Sunday against Notre Dame. It’s 1990, I’m 7 and I’m a Catholic School Student, of course the only College I knew were Notre Dame and Harvard and I only knew Harvard because my parents had taken me to Boston the year before on Easter break. After making this statement to Mrs. Sheridan she looked at me and I thought she must think I’m nuts, but instead” Your mom taught Bobby Hurley”, huh who is all I could think. I get home and said to mom, did you teach Bobby Hurley, she said yeah, and I said oh Mrs. Sheridan asked after I told her about him being on Channel 4.
This may have been the first basketball game I had ever watched and immediately, I was hooked. That week I started asking my parents and grandparents for anything Duke, t-shirt, hat, rubber basketball, but the holy grail was a #11 Duke jersey, I figured at that time I had a Phil Simms and Sean Burke one, why not get my favorite basketball players. The jersey though would have to wait.
It was then that I began following Duke, hell I even learned how to spell Krzyzewski at 7, thanks Mrs. Sheridan for all the help on that one, if Duke was on TV, I had to watch them. And this was in the days of only 1 ESPN, so imagine how hard it was then to find a Duke game on TV. While kids in the neighborhood were Seton Hall fans after their run to the Final Four in 1989, I was a Dukie, while they pretend to be Michael, Larry or Magic, I wanted to be Bobby, the kid from Jersey City, the kid my Mom taught in 4th Grade at Our Lady of Mercy.
After Duke advanced to the National Championship game in 1990, Mrs. Sheridan asked me if my parents were going to let me watch Duke play UNLV that night, I said yes and she said make sure you get to bed right after it’s over, imagine that a teacher saying it’s ok to stay up late and watch a basketball game… The next morning ass dragging after Duke got it’s ass kicked by UNLV, she asked me how I was and I told her I cried myself to sleep, because Bobby and Duke didn’t win. ( Get off my back I was 7, you are allowed to cry at 7) When it came time to pick number in Little League, I wanted to be #11, worked for Simms and Hurley, had to help me.
But getting back to the original story, Mr. Hurley’s basketball showed one thing to me, I had no shot at the NBA, but I enjoyed playing the game and it was good exercise so why not at least get a little better to play with the neighbor hood kids. Their had to be more than 100 kids at the clinic and everyone wanted to coached, by the reigning Most Outstanding Player of that year’s NCAA Tournament and the kid from Jersey City who a month earlier was playing games against Larry, Magic and Michael, we all wanted to be those guys and in the ShopRite on 440′s photo center their was a picture of Bobby next to those guys. Now at this point, I had probably watched every single Duke game that was on TV since the 1990 season, I learned how to read box scores to see how well Bobby and the team were doing, and I am on the same building, let alone the same basketball court as him. As the camp awards and prizes were given out, now I know there were 101 kids there, if for no other reason, my loving mother has broken my balls enough about, not winning a raffle prize to this day. I’m 30, it was 20 years ago, I’m over it.
So after the camp is over Bobby gets mobbed, I work my way over with the help of my Mom and Bobby’s 4th Grade teacher to get my copy of Sports Illustrated with Bobby on the cover signed, which I still have, but I also own an 11×14 reprint that hangs on the wall of the Man Cave Studio. After Bobby put his John Hancock on it, my mom said let me introduce you to his brother Danny. Danny who I knew from watching the Sweet Sixteen game between Duke and Seton Hall, and it was even cooler seeing the whole Hurley family on Good Morning America back in March. I told Danny he played a great game against Duke that night and thought that he was very good and I looked forward to watching him play the following year, he thanked me and we started talking and shooting around, he asked me where I went to school and said my Mom was his favorite teacher, something I hear a lot of, I only wish I had her. After maybe 10-15 minutes we said our good byes, mom snapped some pictures, still have this adorable one of Danny holding my sister, I thanked my mom for sending me to the camp and how great it was to meet my sports hero.
The following Duke season led to Duke being ousted by Jason Kidd and California, but for my 11th birthday the elusive Blue #11 Duke jersey was mine, yes my version of a Red Ryder BB gun, I love that jersey and still have it. But it was also awesome because Bobby had been drafted to play for the Sacramento Kings, no directv and league pass then, so Mom had promised me part of my Christmas present would be to see Bobby and the Kings play, since dumb-ass me screwed up my chance of seeing Bobby and Duke play against Rutgers in his Senior year, as long as I could keep my grades and act together, which I did. I didn’t see Duke play live and in person until this past December against Temple and you know that scene in Rudy, when his Dad walks into Notre Dame Stadium for the first time, yeah, that was me seeing Coach K walk onto the floor. What a thrill to see Bobby play against the Nets, I don’t remember if the Kings won that night, all I remember was that I was 10 rows on the floor cheering my 11-year-old heart out for “Jersey City’s Prince who became a King” as the late Ed “The Faa” Ford wrote as a headline of his column in the Jersey Journal, shortly after the night that would change Bobby’s career forever.
During the 1992 USA Basketball practices between The Dream Team and the college all-stars that were playing them to get ready to play in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, Larry Bird had said that Bobby was a future perennial All-Star, Magic Johnson fell in love with his game and I think if you ask His Airness, he would have loved to have Bobby run the point for his Chicago Bulls teams. I remember waking up early on December 13, 1993 after going to the New York Giants game the day before and learning that both the Knicks and Bulls were rumored to be interested in trading for Bobby, who at the time was splitting minutes with Spud Webb. As I turned on the TV in my room, I hear Sacramento Kings star Bobby Hurley was involved in a serious car accident and sustained life threatening injuries…….
BOOM, you hear that at 30 and you stop, think about being 11. I went and told my mom and for the next 2 hours we watched TV trying to learn more, I was crying so hard, I didn’t go to school. All I wanted to do was find out if my hero was OK The Jersey Journal kept everyone in Jersey City, updated on Bobby’s condition, I sent a get well soon card that same day, a few weeks later, a postcard came thanking me for the best wishes.
That year for Christmas, my Grandma, who hated seeing me so upset bought me a pair of ITZ sneakers which Bobby was endorsing, I got some other clothes from them which where really cool and I only wish they had survived. I got my Sacramento Kings Bobby Hurley jersey for Easter which I just found in my basement…Score!
It was that summer though, he was on the comeback trail and playing in a Summer League game at St. Rose’s gym in Belmar, were I would be all of 5 feet form the end line of a game he was playing in against Anthony Mason of the Knicks.
Sports Illustrated wrote a great article on his road back, and the road back was completed the next fall, when Bobby returned to the Kings lineup.
Why did go all fan boy in this post, 1 reason, when I learned that Bobby was going to become the new Head Basketball Coach at the University of Buffalo, I felt that the journey was now complete. I always agreed with The Faa on his headline, but I have an addition to it, “Jersey City’s Son who became a Friar, a Blue Devil, a King, a Survivor, a Grizzly, a Horse Owner, a Husband, a Dad, a Hall of Famer, is now in the Family Business, now isn’t that what a kid from Jersey aspires to be?”
I was 10 years old when my father, Jack Hague, passed away in 1971. I was truly devastated by the loss. He was my Little League coach, my life mentor, my biggest supporter, my friend. He was sick, dead and gone in a matter of three weeks, dying on New Year’s Eve. His illness was the way I found out the truth about Santa Claus, because we didn’t celebrate Christmas that year.
After my Dad died, I was extremely moody. I cried an awful lot. I kept to myself mostly, except for a few close friends. It was a tough time for all of us, but it was really hard on a growing, impressionable young boy who thought he knew it all _ and didn’t want anyone to tell him otherwise.
The next summer after Dad died, my neighbors in the St. Paul’s of Greenville Parish did a wonderfully nice thing for me. They raised a lot of money to send me to the NFL Players Association football camp at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania. I don’t know whose idea it was to send me to the camp. It was either my St. Paul’s grammar school football coachBill DeFazio or my sixth grade teacher John Tennessen. They both believed that football would point me in the right direction in life.
It was the first time that I was away from home on my own. I was 11. My mother, who didn’t even know how to drive yet, went with me to the Port Authority Bus Terminal to get on the bus to go to the camp.
As I got off the bus, carrying my brand new gym bag bought in the Great Western for three dollars (never had a gym bag before), the organizers said that quarterbacks went one way and running backs went another. I thought I was going to be the next Johnny Unitas, so I went with the quarterbacks. In fifth grade, it was the only position I knew.
But one of the big, burly organizers pointed me with the linemen. “You’re a lineman, son. You’re a big guy.”
He must have known something, because I was not the behemoth I am today by a long shot. Believe it or not, at age 11, I was somewhat of a runt. I later evovled into Gigantor in high school.
There was a problem to all of this. I didn’t want to be a lineman. I wanted to be Johnny U, my idol.
So when I was pushed off with the bigger kids, I started to do what I always did back then. I cried.
I was away from home. I wanted to go home. Right there and then. I was done. I knew I wasn’t too far from my brother’s house, so he could come get me. But I also thought of all those people who donated a dollar here and there to send me to the camp. How could I let them down if I came home after the first day? I’d be a disgrace to the neighborhood.
So I sat on a log and I cried. Cried some more. Got made fun of by the other kids, but I didn’t care, because I didn’t know anyone. I cried and cried. They started football activities right away, but I just sat on this log by myself and cried.
Then this huge burly guy came over to me. I couldn’t see his face because of the sun. I looked up and just saw a gigantic figure.
“Son, I heard you don’t want to be a lineman,” the voice said. “Well, I’m going to teach you to become a lineman.”
He stuck out his huge hand and helped me off the log. As I stood up, I recognized the face right away. It was Merlin Olsen, the All-Pro defensive tackle of the Los Angeles Rams, who after he retired, became famous for his roles on “Little House on the Prairie”and “Father Murphy” and as a sportscaster or even more importantly as the spokesperson for FTD flowers on commercials.
Olsen is the reason why I became a Rams fan. And I’m still a diehard Rams fan today. I have an autographed picture of the “Fearsome Foursome” hanging on my bedroom wall, with Merlin’s signature right there. My friends gave it to me for my 40th birthday.
At the same camp, my counselor, who was in charge of me and about 20 other kids, was the starting quarterback at the University of Oklahoma back then, a wonderful young man named Steve Davis.
Davis and I hit it off pretty well that week and he promised to keep in touch if I gave him my address. So I did.
About three weeks later, the UPS delivery man came to my house carrying a huge box. It was addressed to me. As an 11 year old, I never got boxes before, so I was thrilled. In the box was an assortment of Oklahoma stuff, a hat, a pennant, a T-shirt, bumper stickers, posters, notebooks, pencils, you name it. The letter in the box was from Davis.
“Keep working hard, James,” the letter was signed.
I was a Sooner fan for life and still am. Steve Davis made me a Sooner fan and Merlin Olsen made me a Ram fan and that has never changed.
I got to see Steve Davis several times at Giants Stadium, when he was working the Kickoff Classic for CBS Sports. I had to remind him who I was, but he remembered and we shared memories of that memorable week at Lehigh.
Yesterday, as I sat down at my computer to cover the Devils-Rangers game, I clicked Yahoo! Sports like I do almost every day. The first story that popped up was that Steve Davis was killed in a plane crash Monday. The private jet he was in hit a row of houses in South Bend, Indiana. Steve Davis, the starting quarterback on two Oklahoma national championship teams, was 60 years old.
I paused for a second and then did what I did when I was 11 years old. I cried.
I hadn’t seen Steve since perhaps 1996 or so, but every time I put on one of my 35 Oklahoma T-shirts, one of my 25 Sooner hats or my gaudy Oklahoma fleece, he always came to mind.
It also made me reflect that some of the most inspirational people in my life are now all gone _ my Dad, my coaches like Bill DeFazio, Dick Branagan, Bill Gargiulo; and then those two people who changed my life in the summer of 1972, Merlin Olsen and Steve Davis. They’re all gone and that’s a shame.
I hope OU recognizes Steve Davis in some capacity this season. It’s almost eerie to think that he went down in South Bend and the Sooners play there this fall.
I will always remember how good Davis was to a moody 11-year-old and how good he made that kid feel when that box arrived. I felt like a king, pulling one thing after another after that box. For that _ and for making me a Boomer Sooner _ I’ll always be grateful. Rest in peace, Steve.
Just a quick bit on Seton Hall basketball. The worst kept secret since Michael Strahangot to sit next to annoying Kelly Ripa every day became official when one of the two talented players on the Pirates’ roster, Aaron Cosby, came through with what was rumored and announced he was leaving the Hall to transfer elsewhere.
Losing Cosby was yet another blow to the tenure of Kevin Willard, who has done very little to earn this six-year contract extension that is also being rumored about.
Willard has done no recruiting whatsoever, except getting the quartet of lackluster performers from the same secondary school in Spain. None of those four kids can play.
The one good recruit was Cosby and he’s now left, because he was not happy with the way Willard treated him.
And the two recruits that Willard went after have now both been charged with felony assault.
That’s just awesome. The Pirates went 13-17, lost almost every single game under the sun since New Year’s Day and don’t have any top recruits coming in for next year. There were several top New Jersey players who the staff didn’t even bother to approach.
Reggie Cameron and Kavon Stewart of Hudson Catholic? Nope. Didn’t get a call.Hallice Cooke and Josh Brown of St. Anthony? Sorry. Trevis Wyche of St. Peter’s Prep? Not him either.
Right there are five kids less than 15 miles from the South Orange campus and they didn’t get a sniff, but those four kids from that school in Spain panned out great, right?
Haralds Karlis, who can’t put the ball in the basket whatsoever, would not play at neighboring NJIT. He’s not good enough. Tom Mayaan, who was supposed to be a god-send point guard, also can’t shoot his uniform number. By the way, he wore 0.
That program is a complete mess and Willard gets a six-year extension? That’s because the new AD, Patrick Lyons, worked with Willard at Iona. The new head of the Pirate Blue Fund? He comes from Iona, too. They’re also pursuing the Iona women’s basketball coach to replace the departing Anne Donovan as the Pirates’ head women’s coach.
Since when did Iona become the pattern school and athletic program that everyone should follow? They’re turning South Orange into South New Rochelle, a Gael-force wind of changes. Iona was no big shakes, a program constantly flirting with NCAA probation. “I-O-N-A, Idiots on North Avenue,” is the chant that the Fordham student section used to spew to rile up the Iona faithful. Well, that’s where Seton Hall is headed. A bigger, less boisterous version of Iona.
Which makes no sense whatsoever _ just like this reported extension Willard received. Until Willard landed a good solid local recruit, he shouldn’t have received an additional penny, never mind six years.
OK, here goes, the great predictions on the entire NCAA Tournament
In the Midwest, we’re going with Louisville over whomever they play first round, Missouri over Colorado State, Oklahoma State (this Marcus Smart kid is a player to watch) over Oregon, St. Louis over New Mexico State, Memphis over St. Mary’s (I think, this play-in crap has me reeling), Michigan State over Valpo, Cincy over Creighton and Duke over Albany.
Continuing there, then it’s Louisville over Missouri, Oklahoma State over St. Louis, Michigan State over Memphis and Duke over Cincinnati (sorry Darren Savino).
Then I have Louisville over Oklahoma State and Duke over Michigan State and Duke over Louisville in the final.
In the West, I got Gonzaga over Southern, Pitt over Wichita State, Ole Miss over Wisconsin, Kansas State over my mother, Arizona over Belmont, New Mexico over Harvard (take that, Tommy Amaker), Notre Dame over Iowa State and Ohio State over Seton Hall North, oops, I mean Iona.
Staying there, I like Pitt over Gonzaga (the first big upset of the tourney), Ole Miss andAndy Kennedy and Marshall Henderson over Kansas State, Arizona over New Mexico and Ohio State over Notre Dame. Then I like Pitt over Ole Miss and Ohio State over Arizona and Pitt to go to the Final Four, joining Duke.
In the South, let’s go with Kansas over Western Kentucky (in a nailbiter) and North Carolina over Villanova, who I still can’t believe is in the tournament. Then I have VCU over Akron and Michigan over South Dakota State, UCLA and my boy Kyle Anderson over Minnesota and Florida and my boys Mike Eusebio and assistant coach Rashon Burnoover Northwestern State. I like San Diego State over Oklahoma (only root for Sooners in football) and Georgetown over Florida Gulf Coast, which sounds like a place I’d rather be right now than cold Kearny, NJ.
Staying there, I like Kansas over North Carolina, Michigan over VCU, Florida over UCLA and Georgetown over San Diego State. Then I have Michigan over Kansas and Florida over Georgetown and the Gators of Florida going to Atlanta in the Final Four with Duke and Pitt.
On the East side, I like Indiana over the Jersey City YMCA, then NC State over Temple, UNLV over California and Syracuse over Montana (although the Grizzlies’ people were sure nice to this Biggun when I visited Missoula). It’s Butler over Bucknell and the Golden Eagle Warriors of the greatest Jesuit university this side of Lake Michigan taking care of Davidson. Coach McKillop is a nice man who I met at the Coaches Party in Detroit and had a few libations together, but he’s not taking out Buzz and the boys from my alma mater. I also like Colorado over Illinois and Miami over Pacific.
Staying there, I have Indiana over NC State, Syracuse over UNLV, Marquette over Butler (avenging that horrible loss to begin the season) and Miami over Colorado.
Then it’s Indiana over Syracuse and Miami over my beloved Marquette. Some have picked Marquette to go further. I can’t see it. If Buzz pulls that off, they should rename Wisconsin Avenue as Buzz Boulevard.
Then it’s Indiana over Miami to go to the Final Four.
So I have Duke, Pitt, Florida and Indiana at the Final Four in Atlanta, with Duke beating Pitt, Indiana beating Florida and then Indiana defeating Duke to win the national title.
And yes, my old friend Tom Crean gets a national crown, just not with my beloved Golden Eagle Warriors.
So there’s the tournament in a nutshell.
Thanks for reading as always.
Georgetown will face Syracuse today in the Big East Conference tournament semifinals at Madison Square Garden.
If there’s ever been a more fitting showdown for the final Big East tourney as we once knew it, it’s a matchup of the Orange and the Hoyas, two of the original members of the old league, two of the titans of the Big East.
OK, so James Southerland isn’t exactly Billy Owens and Otto Porter isn’t the same as Reggie Williams, but the meaning is still there. Sure, it’s Boeheim vs. Thompson, but this time, it’s the big, burly Thompson’s kid, not the menacing giant with the towel draped on his shoulder.
But it’s almost like karma that these two teams face each other today for the very last time _ unless they somehow meet in the Final Four. Syracuse took the ACC’s money and ran, a move that really didn’t make much sense for their entire athletic program, considering Syracuse is only beginning to become relevant in football again after many years of dormancy.
I don’t care what bowl game Syracuse goes to in the years to come, because the school was, is and always will be a basketball school _ make that a basketball powerhouse.
And we all know what Georgetown is.
But Syracuse leaving for the greener (as in $$$$$) pastures of the ACC can’t exactly excite the rabid followers of Orange basketball. Are they getting pumped up right now for that classic Syracuse-Clemson showdown? How about the Orange against Virginia Tech? Or even Virginia, for that matter? I just cannot see 30,000 screaming basketball junkies jamming the Carrier Dome for those games. Sure, Duke and North Carolina will stir some interest, but the rest of the ACC? There are no rivalries there.
Not like Syracuse-St. John’s in the heyday, with Pearl Washington going up againstChris Mullin. Or Syracuse against Villanova or Syracuse-UConn. Those were basketball games.
So this is the final year of the Big East as we once knew it. Sure, there will be a conference called the Big East next year and some of the familiar names, like Georgetown, St. John’s and Villanova will be part of it, as will my alma mater, Marquette. They’ll even play the tournament in Madison Square Garden, the arena that helped to build the Big East.
But will it be the Big East? Hardly. Not without Syracuse. Not without Pitt. Those were Big East mainstays.
For me, the Big East will be 1985, when three members of the league went to the Final Four in Lexington, Kentucky and Villanova shocked the world by stealing the NCAA title. Earlier that year, St. John’s and Georgetown met in a regular season game at the Garden, with Patrick Ewing going up against Mullin and Walter Berry. They were the top two teams in the country, facing off on a Wednesday night, with the Garden abuzz. Lou Carnesecca had that ugly sweater and Thompson unveiled a matching one. It was classic showmanship.
That game was so huge that practically every sports fan in Jersey City flocked to bars in Bayonne, because Jersey City didn’t have cable television yet. I remember standing the entire game watching in a now-defunct bar in Bayonne, where a Domino’s pizza store now stands, and the place was packed with Jersey City basketball fans.
There were other great moments, like Pearl Washington’s three-quarter court running shot, like the 1996 tourney final pitting Allen Iverson against Ray Allen, like the six overtime classic between UConn and Syracuse, like the sharpshooting of Gerry McNamara.
There were even the two Big East Tournament titles won by local favorite Seton Hall, championships thought to be unreachable when the Hall was the doormat of the league in its inception.
It was a basketball haven for Hall of Fame coaches. Just think of all the coaching greats that participated in that league. Thompson, Boeheim, Carnesecca, Calhoun, Pitino _ all Hall of Famers.
So the Big East as we knew it ends this weekend. It should remain a strong basketball conference for the years to come with the Catholic 7, along with Xavier and Butler, forming a solid conglomeration.
But can it match what it once was? No way, no how.
And we can thank the pursuit, the greed of the almighty green, for the league’s passing.
It’s basically like Dallas replacing Barbara Bel Geddes with Donna Reed or the Three Stooges replacing Curly with Shemp. Sure, the show must go on, but it’s just not the same show.
And for a basketball purist like me, it’s sad.
I was already in love with college basketball by the time the Big East came around during my senior year of high school. I already watched Bill Walton capture my fancy with the UCLA teams and saw David Thompson became David Skywalker during his North Carolina State days in the early 1970s.
And of course, I was hooked by the time my future school, Marquette, won it all in 1977.
But the Big East became my home. I gobbled up those games, those tournaments, those memories.
It’s a shame that it all ends, the way it was, this weekend. That’s why Georgetown-Syracuse tonight proves to be something special, one for the ages, one last dance to remember what it once was.
I am so totally through with Mike Francesa.
The blow-hard egotistical windbag sealed that deal earlier this week, when he took yet another passing blow at the New York Jets and especially head coach Rex Ryan.
Now, I’m not a Jets fan, but Francesa made it a point to open his show Wednesday morning taking more pot shots at the Jets and Ryan. However, this time, the narcoleptic know-it-all actually went as far as to say that maybe the Jets could play all four quarterbacks at the same time. He thought that was funny.
But when he went as far as to say, “And where is Rex during all of this? He’s invisible. He thinks he lost so much weight that he can’t be seen.”
Now, Francesa should have taken a slice of life from his former good friend Bill Parcells,who used to be as thick as thieves together, owning horses together, and now don’t speak. Gee, I wonder why.
Where in the world does Francesa get off criticizing someone for losing weight? As Parcells once said, it was time for Francesa to take a long look “at the man in the glass,” because Francesa is beyond portly.
I’ve had it with Francesa’s condescending tone to callers, his hypocritical approach with interview guests, where he kisses their collective asses when they’re in front of him, then blasts them when they’re gone. I’m done with him constantly repeating himself, over and over, to the point of annoyance.
Did anyone catch his reporting of the new Pope? It’s beyond ridiculous. And for that, he gets paid in the millions.
But when you’re a fat ass (like I am as well), you have no right to make fun of someone’s weight loss. If you are in dire need of a salad to go along with that Diet Coke you swill, then you cannot poke fun at a guy like Ryan, who had the lapband surgery and has dropped over 100 pounds.
I’m done with him. I was an avid listener and even called the mo-mo to knock him down a few pegs when he was wrong about St. Peter’s playing Monmouth in that 6 a.m. game a few years ago. He had no idea what he was talking about.
Now, I won’t listen. I have better things to tune in to. Like 80s on 8 on XM Radio.
Come on Eileen from Dexy’s Midnight Runners. Much better than blowhard Francesa any day.
You can read more of my work at www.hudsonreporter.com, www.theobserver.com andwww.dailyrecord.com, where I have a great feature about famed figure skater JoJo Starbuck and her twin sons. Check it out.
Beginning in the 2013-14 Academic Year, the newly redesigned Big East Conference has announced a landmark 12 year media contract with Fox to be the lead media rights partner of the conference. Included in the new contract will be 100 Men’s Basketball games, select Women’s Basketball and game certain Olympic Sports broadcasts. Also, Fox Sports One will be launching a mobile app for computers, tablets and mobile phones which they will also have the rights for branded as “TV Anywhere”.
Here is the release.
BIG EAST CONFERENCE & FOX SPORTS REACH EXTENSIVE, MULTI-PLATFORM MEDIA RIGHTS AGREEMENT
Rights Commence in 2013-14 Academic Year
Big East Men’s Basketball Tournament Coming to FOX Sports 1
New York – The Big East Conference, boasting ten institutions with tradition-rich athletics programs and FOX Sports have entered into a landmark 12-year multi-platform media rights agreement beginning with the 2013-14 academic year. The announcement was made today during a press conference held in New York City attended by the presidents of the Big East’s member institutions, along with FOX Sports Co-President and COO Randy Freer and FOX Sports Executive Vice President, Larry Jones. Financial terms were not disclosed.
The reconstituted Big East Conference now features Butler University, Creighton University, DePaul University, Georgetown University, Marquette University, Providence College, St. John’s University, Seton Hall University, Villanova University and Xavier University beginning with the 2013-14 academic year. Georgetown, Providence, St. John’s and Seton Hall are all founding members of the Big East, which began conference play in 1979. Villanova was added in 1980, while DePaul and Marquette joined in 2005. The official addition of Butler, Creighton and Xavier universities was also announced during the press conference today.
The agreement grants FOX Sports rights to all conference-controlled men’s basketball games, select rights to women’s basketball, all Olympic sports and extensive rights for highlights and to produce ancillary programming.
FOX Sports 1, FOX Sports’ newly minted national multi-sport channel which launches this summer, is slated to televise over 100 men’s regular-season basketball games next season. The network is also scheduled to carry the entire Big East Men’s Basketball Tournament each season, live from Madison Square Garden in New York City, the tournament’s home since 1983, and the longest-running conference tournament played at one venue.
“We applaud all the Big East schools for taking responsibility for their own destiny and forming what is clearly one of the top college basketball leagues in the country,” said Freer. “The quality of the competition is obvious. Five teams who will play in the renewed Big East next season are playing in this year’s NCAA tournament, and seven qualified for postseason play overall. We’re extremely proud and fortunate to offer college basketball of this caliber on FS1 next season and for many seasons to come.”
Added Father Dennis Holtschneider, President of DePaul University: “The New Big East is fortunate to have found a partner such as FOX Sports, which shares our intense passion for college basketball, and is committed to celebrating the student-athletes and the natural rivalries that make college athletics so unique and appealing for fans across the nation.”
In addition to this season’s men’s basketball success, schools in the new Big East are a basketball force annually, with a long tradition of NCAA tournament play. Over the years, the new Big East’s 10 member institutions have combined for well over 200 NCAA tournament appearances.
Also included in the agreement is a full array of “TV Everywhere” rights which adds to the robust content already available on FOXSports.com, one of the nation’s leading sports Internet sites and FOX Sports GO, a groundbreaking mobile sports experience for iPhone, iPad and Android devices launching this August in conjunction with FS1. FOX Sports GO offers more than 1,000 live games and events from across FOX Sports, FS1 and FOX Sports’ 22 regional sports networks, as well as scores, highlights, news, stats, and analysis. Live games and events are available to subscribers of participating cable, satellite, and telco providers at no additional cost.
Today’s announcement with the Big East Conference reaffirms FOX Sports’ long-term commitment to college sports programming. In the last two-and-a-half years, FOX Sports has procured multi-platform media rights associated with five major collegiate conferences: Big East; Big Ten (http://bit.ly/WIfGJL); Big 12 (http://bit.ly/U0xKaA); Conference USA (http://bit.ly/WIg0Z5); and Pac-12 (http://bit.ly/WIg4b5).
FOX Sports now boasts a comprehensive portfolio of college product, with approximately 2,000 marquee events showcased through national and regional platforms, including FOX Sports broadcasts, FS1, FSN, Big Ten Network and FOX College Sports. In addition to the Big Ten, Big 12, Big East, Conference USA and Pac-12, FOX Sports’ impressive roster of other conference partners includes the local rights with the ACC and SEC. FOX Sports also has multimedia third-tier rights agreements with Baylor, Florida, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, TCU, Texas A&M and Texas Tech, which include football, men’s and women’s basketball, Olympic sports and additional non-game programming.
Now that the Catholic 7, err, Big East, err The Separation of Church and State Conference has 1 elected a new pope, 2 seen his inaugural mass, the sports comes back to the front burner.
A special contribution to What’s Brewin from our friend Ken Fang of Fangsbites.com
On Wednesday, the TV deal between “The Catholic 7,” those basketball schools that broke away from The Big East and took the conference them with them, and Fox Sports will be announced.
Along with the announcement, three additional schools, Xavier, Creighton and Butler, will be unveiled as those joining the Catholic 7.
So before the press conference at the News Corp. World Headquarters in New York, let’s take a look at what we know about the new Big East contract with Fox:
- The TV rights deal will reportedly be a 12 year, $500 million contract with Fox. It could grow to $600 million if the conference grows to 12 teams.
- Games will carried on Fox Sports 1 joining the Big 12, Conference USA and the Pac-12.
- The new Big East will carry on the tradition of Monday night games. A source says that Fox Sports 1 will spread the new Big East to other nights as well.
- Fox is expected to sublicense games to other networks, most likely ESPN, however, this has not been finalized.
- The conference tournament will be played at Madison Square Garden as part of another long-term deal.
- No word yet on who will call the Big East on Fox Sports 1, however, it would most likely be Gus Johnson as the lead announcer for the Monday games and possibly the new Big East Tournament at MSG.
We’ll know more when the contract is made official on Wednesday.