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POST SEASON PLANS

February 5, 2021 By Chris Michael Leave a Comment

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

Before we take a look at this week’s high school basketball polls…

I was invited to participate in the District XI press conference this past Friday to hear about how the postseason plans will change for this unusual winter sports season. 

 A few of the changes for girls and boys basketball within this region include:

  • Districts will start w/pigtail rounds on 3/2 & 3/3 and continue on the “typical” Tue/Fri & Wed/Sat schedule.
  • Tournament is an open field, everyone qualifies but teams can “opt out” if they’re not happy with the seating and / or have health concerns.
  • If a school has COVID issues, their game will be postponed “as long as realistically possible” — if a team can’t play and officially goes “out” for COVID, then they are out for good and cannot re-enter the playoffs at a later date.
  • Games will be at the higher seeded team’s site until championships, that will be held at a neutral site – if possible.
  • Hosting site determines restrictions/crowd capacity.

For this winter wrestling postseason, adjustments include:

  • Teams championships will take place on Feb. 14th, although District XI Chair Bob Hartman indicated most teams will probably “opt out” this year.
  • Individual wrestling tournaments will commence the following weekend (matches will be held on the weekend to avoid scheduling issues with schools)
  • Individual wrestling regionals will be held on Feb. 27th featuring the previous rounds top eight wrestlers for each weight class, with “Super Regionals” (Districts I, II, III, IV, XI and XII) the following weekend and PIAA state finals, the weekend after that.
  • Currently there is no site available for the local district individual championships — obviously finding a school or other venue that is willing to host this event will be an extremely high priority over the next two weeks!

Plans are already underway for a special district winter sports playoff show discussing these and other issues on the February 25th edition of RCN SportsTalk, debuting on at 7:00 p.m. on RCN TV and will be available for free for RCN customers to view it anytime on demand!

***********

It’s time to look at our scholastic basketball polls involving the District XI teams in our viewing area heading into this week’s action.

For this winter, we are breaking the two polls down into the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference (Lehigh Valley teams only) and Colonial League schools, within the RCN broadcast area.  With the reduced schedules and many of our teams staying mostly “in country” with their opponents this year due to the COVID-19 restrictions, this plan for our polls will keep things interesting since many of the top teams within the local conferences will not have the opportunity to actually face each other this fall.

While both local leagues are trying to press on with conference playoffs, the possibility of being able to crown league/district champions is still not 100-percent definite thanks to the pandemic.  Our polls will be an intriguing barometer to who in fact is the best team in each conference (and, of course, bragging rights through the winter months).

So below we have high school polls for both leagues, along with the listing of all of the teams that are included in our respective categories.

Feel free to email me at Chris.Michael@rcn.net for your thoughts on this week’s poll and we might read and respond to your emails on this week’s SportsTalk show.

EPC-LV TOP 5

1) Allen 

2) Central Catholic

3) Dieruff

4) Parkland

5) Northampton

Eligible Teams (in no particular order):

Central Catholic, Bethlehem Catholic, Easton, Freedom, Liberty, Dieruff, Allen, Parkland, Whitehall, Emmaus, Nazareth, and Northampton

COLONIAL TOP 5

1) Notre Dame

2) Northwestern  

3) Bangor

4) Palmerton

5) Southern Lehigh


Eligible Teams (in no particular order):

Bangor, Pen Argyl, Notre Dame – Green Pond, Wilson, Catasauqua, Salisbury, Saucon Valley, Northwestern, Northern Lehigh, Southern Lehigh and Palisades

Be sure to bookmark our high school winter sports broadcast schedule here on the website and check it frequently.  With several games already postponed or canceled so far this season, there could be changes from day to day!

 

 

 

 

 

Prop Bets

February 1, 2021 By Gary Laubach Leave a Comment

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

The Super Bowl is serious business.  After all, a 30-second commercial this year costs $5.6 million, compared to last year’s $5.1 million.  By comparison, baseball’s World Series costs $500,000 for 30 seconds; the Oscars cost $2.6 million.  NFL football, as you can see, means big bucks.

Just as big is all the money bet on the game.  It is estimated that a billion dollars will be legally bet on the game this year in 20 states.  Las Vegas Sportsbook won $18.7 million in 1919 of the $154.7 million bet.  It is estimated that about 7% of the US population (23 million) bet on the game in 2019.  This year, Caesar’s Sportsbook took in a single $120,000 bet on the Chiefs less than 24 hours after the line was posted.

It is easy to place your bets on who will win, how many points will be scored, which team will cover the point spread, etc. These less complex bets are made across the country, not only at legal gambling sites, but in homes during Super Bowl parties (though probably not so much this year).  In other words, betting on the big game is almost expected no matter how you decide to do it.

But I thought you might be interested in some of the “fun” bets you can make on the game.  As of last count there were 1,218 ways to bet on the Super Bowl.  The more interesting and unique bets are called “prop” bets.  Here are a few:

  1. Which team wins the toss of the coin? (six of the last seven have been heads)
  2. Will there be a score in the first five minutes?
  3. Will a field goal attempt hit the upright?
  4. Which will be shorter – the National Anthem or a scoring drive?
  5. What will be the first song sung by The Weekend at halftime?
  6. Who will be the special guest at halftime?
  7. What color will the Gatorade bath given to the winning coach be?
  8. How many times will Tom Brady’s wife be shown during the telecast?
  9. Will the last play of each half be a quarterback rush?
  10. Will a lineman score a TD?
  11. Will any team score a 4th down touchdown?
  12. How many players will throw a pass?
  13. How many times will Bill Belichick be mentioned?
  14. Will either President Biden or former President Trump be mentioned?
  15. Who will the MVP thank first – team, family, fans, or God?

Obviously, the most important thing is to enjoy the game, but if you want to have some fun that can last throughout the entire broadcast, try some of these bets on your friends.

Good luck!

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

  1. There was an interesting NFL trade made on Saturday night. And it literally was a trade.  QB Matthew Stafford of the Lions was traded for QB Jared Goff of the Rams.  The Rams threw in a 3rd round pick this year and two 1st round picks in ’22 and ’23.  It appears both teams benefited from this trade.
  1. Did you know that the AFC team in the Super Bowl has won five of the past six Super Bowls? Not only that, they have covered the point spread in the same five of six?
  1. There is obviously no quarterback problem for either the Bucs or the Chiefs with Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes. The Eagles cannot say the same thing.  New head coach Nick Siriani has two quarterbacks, both of whom want to be starters – Carson Wentz and Jalen Hurts.  My guess is that one of them will be gone.  Which one would you trade away?
  1. The stock market, to me, is just another form of gambling. That is why I never understood one being so acceptable and another, for many years, shrouded in illegality and secrecy.  Some might say the stock market offers bigger risks and, possibly, a more devastating outcome for people.  With that said, I wish I understood the Gamestop controversy.  I read about it, but I can’t say I understand it.  I’ll wait for the movie to come out.
  1. Covid hit our broadcast team harder this week than at any other time. Of the five games we had scheduled, only two were played.  Actually, two different games were scheduled for this past Sunday and both ended up being postponed.  So two out of six.  The postponements came late after all the crews were set and the prep work was completed.  We will try again this week, but let’s add a major snowstorm to the mix to further complicate the season.

Gary’s Guesses: NFL Picks – (LAST WEEK – 0-2; OVERALL- 168-97-1 – 63%) 

          Super Bowl PICK 

          Kansas City – 38-28

 

 

 

 

Like Me

January 25, 2021 By Gary Laubach Leave a Comment

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

Every Sunday morning after reading the two local Sunday papers, I gather my wits, trudge up the steps to my office, and sit down to write my weekly blog.  More often than not, I make the journey having no idea what I am going to write.  I hope that Clio, the muse of writing, strikes me with some great idea as my computer lights up, ready for action.  That was not the case this week.  I knew what I was going to say.

As this week unfolded, it became obvious to me what I thought about and what I would write about.  Let me first mention the events:

  • Martin Luther King Day
  • The start of the EPC high school basketball season with three new head coaches, all of whom are black.
  • The inauguration of Kamala Harris as the most powerful woman in the country.
  • The recommendation by President Biden to surround himself with the most diversified cabinet in our history (women, people of color, LGBT members, and a Native American). Sadly, many are accompanied by the label “the first” in their positions.
  • The death of the great Henry Aaron, who broke Babe Ruth’s home run record (714) and went on to hit 755 career homers. During his run, he endured some of the most intense racism from people throughout the country.

This all occurred this week.

These events took me back to my days in the classroom as an English teacher.  I recalled vividly teaching two books:  Black Like Me and Uncle Tom’s Cabin. 

I taught a course called Books That Changed the World.  Harriet Beecher Stowe’s anti-slavery novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, was part of the course.  It was published in 1852.  Uncle Tom was a slave who suffered for decades.  The novel depicts the reality of slavery with both triumphs and tragedies.  Tom is eventually sold to a vicious plantation owner, Simon Legree, who eventually has Tom beaten to death.  It was the second most popular book of the century, trailing only the Bible.  Uncle Tom’s Cabin “changed the world” by showing the atrocities of the slave trade and inspired the Civil War and the end of slavery.  I wanted my students to understand this history and gain a perspective on the origin of race relations. 

Black Like Me is a nonfiction book written by a white journalist, John Howard Griffin.  It was published in 1961.  Griffin had his skin temporarily darkened so that he could pass through the southern part of the country as a black man.  He did it for six weeks.  He changed his skin, but he did not change his identity and when asked questions, he always told the truth about himself.  As you might suspect, he faced racism from both white and black people for no other reason than the color of his skin.  After writing the book and becoming a national celebrity, threats forced his family to move to Mexico.  At one point, he was beaten by a group of white men with chains when they discovered who he was.  Same man, different skin color led to much different experiences.

My hope in teaching these two works of literature was that my students (overwhelmingly white) would understand that we are really not different.  As I tried to pass on the message, I certainly did not believe I understood what it meant to be a minority in the United States, but I felt it was important for my students (and me) to begin to believe that we should do our best to treat everyone equally.  The events of this past week give me hope that this country is moving in the right direction.

I look forward to the day when “black”, “latino”, “trans”, etc. are no longer needed when describing anyone.  Suffice it to say – they are “like me” or probably, because of their position, “better than me.”  I am happy to accept that.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

  1. Congratulations to Nigel Long (Liberty), Darnell Braswell (Allen), and JT Randall (Dieruff) on their first week as head coaches in the EPC. I remember calling the high school games that both Nigel (Freedom) and Darnell (Allen) played as teenagers.  JT comes from a very successful Reading High School program. I look forward to working with all of you.
  1. Major Leaguers and legends Bob Gibson, Whitey Ford, Lou Brock, Dick Allen, Don Sutton, and Tom Lasorda all died recently. Now add the name Ty Stofflet, our local softball pitcher who many thought was the greatest of all time, to the list of lost legends.  He was inducted into the American Softball Hall of Fame, the International Hall of Fame, and the Lehigh Valley Softball Hall of Fame.
  1. Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady are in the Super Bowl. Mahomes is the best young quarterback in the game and Brady is, well, simply the best ever.  It should make for a great matchup.
  1. Speaking of NFL quarterbacks, the story of Washington’s Alex Smith’s return to the game after a horrific leg injury is both amazing and inspiring. Take a look at his 60 Minutes interview:

https://www.cbsnews.com/video/alex-smith-washington-football-team-60-minutes-2021-01-17/

  1. Covid did not interfere with high school basketball this past week. With our fingers crossed, we will bring Bethlehem Catholic at Liberty on Tuesday at 7:00pm and Allen at Parkland on Thursday at 7:00pm.  The Lafayette women return this Saturday after a 10-day quarantine when they take on American at 2:00pm and the men will play on Sunday against American at 2:00pm.  The Nazareth at Bethlehem Catholic wrestling match postponed from last week will now be held on February 3.  We will have that match for you.

Gary’s Guesses: NFL Picks – (LAST WEEK – 0-2; OVERALL- 168-97-1 – 63%) 

          Super Bowl pick next week

 

 

Before You Ask

January 11, 2021 By Gary Laubach Leave a Comment

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

We are back on the air with sports!  It was a long time coming – from our last football broadcast on November 20 until our next, January 2, there was a total of 43 days in between.  The good news is we now have a winter schedule planned.  The bad news is – it won’t quite look the same.

As I write this, we will have broadcast three Lafayette games with 12 more to follow.  We have a great relationship with the Lafayette athletic department as well as a contractual obligation to televise a specific number of Lafayette football and basketball games.  The Patriot League basketball season consists of games played exclusively on Saturday and Sunday.  Two teams play each other back-to-back and home and away each Saturday and Sunday.  We televise the women on one day and the men on the other.

This will create some disappointment for our high school fans.  There are going to be fewer high school games and fewer wrestling matches.  So, before you ask, I thought I would explain. 

Our company has accepted the responsibility to keep their employees as safe as possible and we are certainly grateful for that.  I know our fans are used to us being able to do two events on any given day or night.  Covid mitigation regulations will not allow that to happen.  In order to strictly adhere to the social distancing and mask requirements, we must use our two production trucks at a single event.  This keeps our crew at the venue properly separated and as safe as possible.  However, it also does not allow us to do two separate events.

It also requires a separate crew back at the studio because that is where the announcers are located.  I’m sure you have noted that many of the networks do not have their announcers at the venue.  Some won’t allow it; others feel it is the safest approach.

So, with the Lafayette schedule filling almost every Saturday and Sunday until at least February 21, our local high school schedule will be limited to three events (basketball and/or wrestling) per week, where we normally would do five or more, on average.

Much like all of you, we would love to get back to bringing you all the games we have in the past.  And we are sure that day will come again.  But, for right now, it is imperative that you stay safe and we stay safe.

Rest assured, we miss seeing you, talking with you, interviewing players and coaches, being with ADs and fellow media personnel, and soaking up as many events as possible.  We WILL do that again.

I anticipated you would wonder about our schedule, so I hope this gave you some insight before you asked.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

  1. The Patriot League will play a football season.  The first game is scheduled for March 13 and the schedule will conclude on April 17 with a championship game.  The League will be divided into two divisions of three teams each (North – Holy Cross, Fordham, and Colgate; South – Lafayette, Lehigh, and Bucknell).  Each team will play their two division opponents and two from the other division for a total of four games.  So… there will be a Lafayette-Lehigh game in the spring!!
  1. Eagles’ owner Jeffrey Lurie and head coach Doug Pederson met this past week and just when everyone thought both would go back to work, it appears that they may not be on the same page.  The Eagles have plenty of personnel problems, the most glaring being at quarterback.  There will also be a total revamping of the coaching staff.  Lurie and Pederson will meet again this week in Florida and Pederson’s vision for the future needs to agree more with Lurie’s or the Eagles will be looking for a new coach.
  1. Tampa Bay had not won a playoff game since 2002.  That year they won the Super Bowl.  Their quarterback is Tom Brady and, if memory serves me, he’s won Super Bowls before.  Could it be?
  1. No matter whether you were rooting for the Bucs or the Washington Football Team on Saturday night, you had to love the performance of Taylor Heinicke, who made just his second NFL start ever.  He threw for 306 yards, a touchdown, and rushed for a touchdown, while being in pain most of the game.  He even had a chance to win the game at the end.  A true underdog story – and who doesn’t like those?
  1. High school basketball returns this week.  On Friday night, RCN-TV will bring the Parkland at Central game to you LIVE at 7:00pm.  We were originally scheduled to do Freedom at Northampton, but the Bethlehem schools did not fulfill their mandated 10 pre-season practices so the game was postponed.

Gary’s Guesses: NFL Picks – (LAST WEEK – 3-3; OVERALL- 165-94-1 – 64%)

Divisional Round

Green Bay

Buffalo

Kansas City

New Orleans

 

New Year Resolutions

January 4, 2021 By Gary Laubach Leave a Comment

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

My research tells me that New Year’s resolutions started 4,000 years ago with the Babylonians.  They actually celebrated the New Year, but it was in mid-March.  Promises were made to pay off debts, return borrowed objects, and offer loyalty to the king.

In 46 BC, Julius Caesar declared a new calendar with January 1 as the first day of the New Year.  Romans reflected back on the past year and promised they would conduct themselves properly in the coming year.

Even today, it is estimated that about 45% say they make New Year’s resolutions.  Sadly, only around 8% say they are successful about achieving those goals.  So I figured, what the heck, with 8% such a low bar, I would give it a shot:

  1. Get the Covid vaccine when I am eligible. I assume everyone’s goal is to get our lives back to some semblance of normality and I hope the vaccine accomplishes that.
  1. Stop worrying about whether to retire or not. It will happen; I am prepared for it to happen; and I’ll know when it should happen.
  1. Do not ask my wife, “What’s for dinner?” She is so sick of hearing that question and I get it.  We pretty much stopped asking, “Where should we go to eat?” this past year.  I want to say that more often in 2021.
  1. Get all the doctor checkups that are appropriate. Stop putting them off (another colonoscopy comes to mind).
  1. Plan vacations! It feels good just to type those words.  I can’t wait to travel again.  This past year allowed zero opportunities to get away.  That has to end.
  1. Keep reading. Being stuck at home allowed for more diverse and more in-depth reading of newspapers, magazines, and books.  I think I am smarter now.
  1. Clean out the basement. I have more clothes than you can possibly imagine.  We used to own a store and when we sold it, we brought home many of the store racks.  I have found a way to fill them all.  Despite giving away large amounts to charity every few months, they still seem to somehow multiply in the basement.
  1. Keep walking. My wife and I love to take walks.  It at least gives me the illusion that I am exercising.  You’ll notice “exercise more” is not on the list.
  1. Start shopping again. I am so sick of the Covid wardrobe – sweat pants and a sweatshirt.  I want some new clothes – I know, just go down in the basement.
  1. Improve my golf game – okay, now I have gone too far. I have moved into the realm of the impossible.

So, there you have it – my goals for 2021.  I do not have a lot of confidence I will join the 8%!

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

  1. The Patriot League basketball season got off to a rather ominous start with four Men’s games and four Women’s games postponed due to Covid in the first weekend.
  1. Speaking of the Patriot League, there is an expression in sports that has become a cliché – “That’s why they play the game”. That was never more accurate than this past weekend’s games between Colgate and Army.  On Saturday, at West Point, Colgate destroyed Army 101-57.  On Sunday, in Hamilton, NY, Army beat Colgate 75-73.  That’s why they play the game.
  1. It is not often that my wife brings me a good sports story (like never). But this past week, there was an article in the Ukrainian Weekly (yes, she subscribes) about the massive impact Ukrainians have had on the NHL.  There is a documentary out called Uke that gives the history of that impact.  For example, 50 players of Ukrainian descent have hoisted the Stanley Cup.  Only Canadians and Americans have more.  Wayne Gretsky, who many believe was the greatest hockey player of all time, tells of his Ukrainian upbringing.  There will be an English version and my wife and I will watch it.
  1. The Jacksonville Jaguars will get the first pick for the NFL draft. The assumption has been that it will be Clemson’ QB Trevor Lawrence.  But if you watched the ClemsonOhio State game, you might think the better pick would be Ohio State QB Justin Fields.  That night, Fields was better.  The Eagles will pick sixth.
  2. And, finally, speaking of the Eagles, I imagine the Giants were very unhappy with Doug Pederson Sunday night in the Eagles’ loss to the Redskins. The Eagles had a chance to kick a tying field goal at one point and did not, failing to make a fourth down conversion.  They also brought in third-string QB Nate Sudfeld in the fourth quarter in a 17-14 game.  Washington won and will play in the playoffs, eliminating the Giants.

Gary’s Guesses: NFL Picks – (LAST WEEK – 11-5; OVERALL- 162-91-1 – 64%) 

Wild Card Weekend

Buffalo

Seattle

Tampa Bay

Tennessee

New Orleans

Pittsburgh

 

Happy New Year 2021!

December 29, 2020 By Gary Laubach Leave a Comment

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

Gary’s Guesses: NFL Picks – (LAST WEEK – 10-6; OVERALL- 151-86-1 – 64%)

Washington

Indianapolis

Green Bay

Dallas

Pittsburgh

Tennessee

New Orleans

Jets

Minnesota

Tampa Bay

Baltimore

Miami

Kansas City

Green Bay

Las Vegas

LA Rams

                  

 

 

Behind the Mic: Merry Christmas!

December 22, 2020 By Gary Laubach Leave a Comment

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

 

and

Gary’s Guesses: NFL Picks – (LAST WEEK – 10-6; OVERALL- 141-80-1 – 64%)

  • New Orleans
  • Tampa Bay
  • Arizona
  •  Miami
  • Kansas City
  • Cleveland
  • Indianapolis
  • Washington
  • Chicago
  • Baltimore
  • Houston
  • LA Chargers
  • Philadelphia
  • Seattle
  • Green Bay
  • Buffalo

Living the (Pipe) Dream

December 15, 2020 By Gary Laubach Leave a Comment

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

I played basketball for two years and baseball for four years at Moravian College.  Growing up, like most kids, I dreamt of someday being a professional baseball player.  In college, I won some awards (MAC and BML Pitcher of the Year, Scholar Athlete) and even had a one day tryout with the Pirates.

Eventually, however, common sense won out and I realized there was no way I was talented enough to pursue that dream.  I looked at the odds.  Only 5.6% of high school baseball players go on to play in college let alone the pros.  And only 0.5% of high school seniors are eventually drafted by the major leagues.  Bottom line – the chance of a high school player making the big leagues is 1 in 6,600 or 0.015 %.  Lottery odds are better.  At least I had my education to fall back on. 

This brings me to David Bednar.  David grew up in the Pittsburgh area and went to Mars High School, where he played baseball for his father.  Yes, he was a Martian.  He was a good high school pitcher, but there were only three colleges interested in him.  None of them were baseball powerhouses.

Lafayette was one of them.  He matriculated and played baseball there for three years and then was drafted as the 1044th player in the 35th round of the MLB draft.  You really can’t get much lower.  Only 8 players have EVER made the Major Leagues who were drafted in the 35th round.

David was three years into a highly valued and quality education.  There appeared to be only one right decision here – be realistic and stay in school and get the degree.  David Bednar decided otherwise.

He is now pitching for the San Diego Padres in the Major Leagues.  I will let him tell you his story.  The interview starts at the 2:54 mark:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qrr7ut8Vuf0&feature=youtu.be

From Mars to Lafayette to the Major Leagues is certainly a road less traveled.

It makes me wonder if I… Get over it!!!

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

  1. I asked this question last week – “What do the Eagles do now? After Sunday’s game with the Packers, it seemed obvious that Jalen Hurts outplayed Carson Wentz.  Hurts inserted instant energy into the offense; threw a touchdown pass; and made quicker decisions to run the ball.  Do they bench Wentz?”  They did bench Wentz; Hurts did many of the same things he did the week before – inserted energy; ran for over 100 yards; threw a TD pass; and helped the Eagles win the game.  Now the Eagles have a $128 million problem or they have two potentially very good QBs.
  1. There certainly some irony in Monday night’s game between the Cleveland Browns and the Baltimore Ravens.  Twenty-five years ago, Cleveland’s owner, Art Modell, packed up the Browns and moved them to Baltimore.  It has taken the “new” Browns 25 years to be competitive again.  They are this year.  Yet they still lost to the Ravens on Monday night on a last- second field goal.  Poor Karma.
  1. Is it me or does it seem like there are plenty of teams that could win the Super Bowl?  Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Green Bay, New Orleans, and the Rams are the frontrunners, but all six of them have appeared vulnerable at times.  There certainly is no lock on these six being the only possibilities either.
  1. Junior Jahan Dotson, of Nazareth High School and Penn State, had another big weekend as he caught eight passes for 108 yards and returned a punt for 81 yards and a touchdown on Saturday against Michigan State.  There is talk that Jahan could leave for the NFL after this season.  That would just add another NFL team to watch each week – the Eagles, the Giants with Saquon Barkley, and wherever Jahan would go.  It’s a nice problem to have – but don’t ask my wife.
  1. You may have noticed that my “Guesses” have gone down percentage-wise these last few weeks.  The NFL stats show why – underdogs are covering the point spread 57% of the time.  That’s the highest percentage since 1980.  Bettors, who often favor the favorite, are suffering because of it.

Gary’s Guesses: NFL Picks – (LAST WEEK – 9-8; OVERALL- 131-74-1 – 64%)               

Las Vegas

Green Bay

Buffalo

Indianapolis

Tennessee

LA Rams

Tampa Bay

Miami

Seattle

Minnesota

Baltimore

Cleveland

Philadelphia

Kansas City

San Francisco

Pittsburgh

 

 

 

A Very Bad Winter

December 8, 2020 By Gary Laubach Leave a Comment

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

I am an avid viewer of World News Tonight With David Muir.  I TIVO it every night and watch it religiously.  I am beginning to think it is not a good idea.

The stories do not vary much anymore.  There are the horrible numbers associated with Covid in terms of cases, deaths, and economic impact.  The promise of a surge has come to fruition and now there is talk of a “surge upon the surge”.  The Thanksgiving family gatherings are just beginning to show their impact on the already increasing numbers and the Christmas holiday is right around the corner.  That can only mean increased numbers.

Add to the dismal picture of our near future to the nightly stories about the heroic efforts by our medical teams; wildfires in California; heavy rains everywhere but California; families in desperate need of food to feed their families; unemployment; businesses forced to close; and the tragedy of the extraordinarily high number of deaths caused by so many factors.  This list could go on and on. Could 2020 possibly get any worse?

The only “light” at the end of this very dark tunnel is there appears to be vaccines on the way.  But that story is always followed by the one saying that only about 56% of Americans will take the vaccine.  Even some good news is stifled by knowing that around 44% of the population might still be willing to walk around infecting others and themselves rather than take the injection.

Everything right now is so psychologically bleak that I wondered, under normal circumstances in a normal time, what signs in the past would have foreshadowed a bad winter?  I actually found a list generated by Cleveland weatherman Dick Goddard, which was published in 2019.  Here are 10 of the signs on his list:

  1. Woodpeckers sharing a tree.
  2. The early departure of geese and ducks.
  3. The early migration of the Monarch butterfly.
  4. Heavy and numerous fogs during August.
  5. Mice chewing furiously to get into your home.
  6. The early arrival of crickets on the hearth.
  7. Spiders spinning larger-than-usual webs.
  8. Ants marching in a line rather than meandering.
  9. Early seclusion of bees within a hive.
  10. Squirrels gathering nuts early to fortify against a hard winter

I believe I can safely say that all of us would love to watch any one of these stories on the Nightly News, rather than what we are watching now.  Please follow the guidelines; stay safe; and hope for better newscasts.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

  1. The following email was sent out this past Friday by the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference:

On Friday, December 4, 2020, The Board of Principals of the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference voted (17-1) to further delay the start of the EPC Winter Athletic Competition Schedule to January 15, 2021. This difficult decision was made after review and consideration of additional data and advice relating to the current pandemic from both St. Luke’s University Health Network and The Lehigh Valley Health Network. Revised schedules for winter sports will be released by Friday, December 11th.

This means our high school sports season is on hold until January.

  1. Try to figure this one out – in Ohio, in response to the virus, high school wrestlers will be allowed to wrestle, but at the end of the match, the wrestlers will not be allowed to shake hands.  Now, that should control the spread.
  1. What do the Eagles do now?  After Sunday’s game with the Packers, it seemed obvious that Jalen Hurts outplayed Carson Wentz.  Hurts inserted instant energy into the offense; threw a touchdown pass; and made quicker decisions to run the ball.  Do they bench Wentz?
  1. The Eagles and their fans suffered a double whammy on Sunday when the Giants beat Seattle in Seattle and the Washington Football Team beat the previously undefeated Steelers.  The Giants after starting 0-5 have now won 5 of their last 7.  Head coach Joe Judge has his team playing at a high level and the Giants have taken over first place in the NFC East.  And Washington is getting better each week.  The Eagles are not.
  1. On Thursday night at 8:00pm, I will be interviewing David Bednar, relief pitcher for the San Diego Padres.  Why, you might ask?  He was a member of the Lafayette baseball team, drafted in the 35th round and the 1,044th player chosen.  Only 5% of players drafted after the 21st round ever make the major leagues.  You can watch the interview by going to www.Goleopards.com and signing up.

Gary’s Guesses: NFL Picks – (LAST WEEK – 9-6; OVERALL- 122-66-1 – 65%)                  

Baltimore – Tuesday

New England

Chicago

Tennessee

Carolina

Tampa Bay

Giants

Kansas City

Dallas

Seattle

Indianapolis

Green Bay

San Francisco

Atlanta

New Orleans

Pittsburgh

Cleveland

 

The “Virtual” Telethon

December 1, 2020 By Gary Laubach Leave a Comment

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

It is obvious that this year, more than ever before, a greater number of people are in need of our help.  And, ironically, since more and more people are suffering from the physical and financial effects of the Coronavirus, there are probably fewer people to count on for that help.  But the need for help has not changed.

In addition to that, ways of doing things have completely been altered, which brings me to the 35th Annual Dream Come True Telethon, which is held the first Monday of December every year.  RCN has hosted all 35.  I have co-hosted or appeared since the beginning and will once again be joined by the Executive Director of Dream Come True, Rayann Vasco.

The Dream Come True organization, in case you did not know, was founded in 1984 by Kostas Kalogeropoulous, a local businessman.  The goal of the organization is simple – fulfill the dreams of children who are seriously, chronically, and terminally ill and reside in the greater Lehigh Valley area.  Children are referred by family, friends, clergy, doctors, social workers, etc. and the dreams usually fall into three categories – trips, contact with celebrities, and special gifts (computers, shopping sprees, for example).  The organization has also helped with scholarships and, when sadly necessary, funerals.

This year, as I’m sure you have suspected, will be like no others.  In the past, telethon highlights have centered on the many school groups and adult organizations that stop by the studio for some good-natured conversation.  They tell the story of their reasons for getting involved in DCT, their unique way of raising money, and then they present a check to help satisfy the dreams of the children.  That format has worked for 34 years.

Not this year.  The Covid virus has forced us to go “virtual”.  Instead of having groups coming to the studio, we have had to figure out how to keep them and you involved, while maintaining a safe environment for everyone.  We think we have done that.

Because everything was done virtually, I had the opportunity to ZOOM with Dream recipients all across the country, something we could not do in our studio.  Their stories are amazing, and I mean amazing, and certainly demonstrate the value of your donations.  You need to watch them.  We  also got a bit nostalgic and went into our archives to find performances by the Dream Kids, our most popular entertainment over the years.  They will get you into the holiday spirit.

And it is not a Telethon without the help of my co-hosts.  Scott Barr and Devin Almonte will be joining the program again (virtually) this year. Scott and I have spent this night together for many, many years and I would not want to work with anyone else.  Devin joined us last year and did a marvelous job with the auction and the interviews with the children. Devin works for QVC and Scott certainly could.  They are terrific!  The difference is that we have all worked apart this time, but the cause remains a common one.  Here are the specifics:

2020 Dream Come True Telethon & Online Auction
35th
Annual Dream Come True Telethon
Benefit for Seriously, Chronically and Terminally Ill Children

 The 35th ANNUAL DREAM COME TRUE TELETHON will take place on Monday, December 7, 2020 from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. RCN customers in the Lehigh Valley (Channel 4 |1004 in HD), and Delaware County (Channel 8 |608 in HD), can watch live on RCN TV. The goal of the telethon is to increase awareness of Dream Come True, an organization that raises funds to grant the dreams of children who are terminally, chronically, and severely ill.

The online auction began Monday, November 23 and will close Monday, December 7 at 9:00 p.m. Please check the auction site frequently as new auction items could continue to be added!  You will find a variety of special items. If you want something really unique that cannot be found in any store, tune in and bid on the items.  You will make our night and, more importantly, help to make some child’s dream come true.  Just go to https://www.biddingowl.com/Auction/home.cfm?auctionID=2691

Please check the auction site frequently, new auction items will continue to be added!  As I write this, there are 57 items available for bid.

100% of the proceeds raised from the auctions go directly to Dream Come True.  

Watch. Bid. Donate.

For more information and background on the organization, go to www.dreamcometrue.org    

Thank you in advance for your consideration and support! Your donation will help make a child’s dream come true!

The important facts again are:

The Date: Monday, December 7

The Time: 6:00 – 9:00 PM

The Purpose: To fulfill as many hopes, dreams and fantasies for seriously, chronically, and terminally ill children as possible

The Phone Number to Make a Donation: 610-865-3475 (It is only a single line, so please be patient if you get a busy signal)

All proceeds from the online and on-air auctions go directly to Dream Come True.

Thank you, in advance, for your consideration and support!  Your donation will help make a child’s dream come true! 

 ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

  1. How the mighty have fallen!  Watching the Michigan-Penn State football game on Saturday afternoon was a sad reminder of how this year the two mighty programs have regressed.  My hope is that we can blame it on 2020 and they both will back to their lofty perches next year.
  1. Did you know that this would have been the last regular season game in college football?  Rivalry games would have been played around the country and teams would be fighting for a spot in their conference championships.  Not in 2020.
  1. As the NFL continues to try to complete their season, two teams, the Tennessee Titans and the New England Patriots, have been fined $350,000 each by the NFL due to individuals not wearing masks.  New Orleans was fined $500,000 this week.  More and more games are getting postponed as the season progresses. Will they make it to the end?
  1. The Eagles did not have a first down in the first half against Seattle on Monday night.  Even though the defense played well, the offense again was awful until it was too late.  There are rumblings that Carson Wentz will be on the trading block.  But then what?  No QB can be successful with this offensive line.  So which came first – the bad QB or the bad offensive line?  Talk amongst yourselves.
  1. It seems college basketball grows on me as the season moves on.  Unlike college football, I do not get that interested early on and then it gradually grabs a hold.  By January, I start to get wrapped up in the matchups, the rankings, and the broadcasts.  I wonder what Covid will do to that process.

Gary’s Guesses: NFL Picks – (LAST WEEK – 10-5; OVERALL- 113-60-1 – 65%)

Pittsburgh (Thursday)

Seattle

Las Vegas

Chicago

Miami

Houston

Minnesota

Pittsburgh

New Orleans

Tennessee

Arizona

Green Bay

New England

Baltimore

Buffalo

 

 

 

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