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Behind the Mic: What Were They Possibly Thinking?

May 29, 2013 By Gary Laubach Leave a Comment

I am not dumb enough to think that terrific athletes or sports personalities are necessarily, also, intelligent people. But, all too often these days, there are incidents that force average “Joes” like me to wonder, smart or not, what were they possibly thinking?

Let’s start with Ozzie Guillen who recently managed the Miami Marlins. One of the reasons he was chosen was because he related well to Spanish-speaking citizens in and around Miami. So what does he do? He talks about his respect and admiration for Fidel Castro in a city where many Cubans have fled Cuba because of their hatred for the Cuban leader. What was he possibly thinking?

Dennis Rodman visits the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, who runs death camps and oppresses his people. Rodman said, “He’s a good guy to me. He’s my friend.” Rodman totally disregarded all of the tragic history of the country and the man. Rodman’s statement implies that those who have suffered have earned their suffering. Otherwise this “good guy” would not have done these evil things. Dennis, what were you possibly thinking?

Sergio Garcia, one of the most recognizable members of the PGA tour and loaded with product endorsements, attacks Tiger Woods for an unsportsmanlike incident which turned out to be totally inaccurate. He not only doesn’t retract what he said, but he also doesn’t apologize and further tarnishes his image with a racist comment about serving “fried chicken” if he had Tiger over for dinner. All he had to do was ascertain the facts about the incident and keep his mouth shut. He didn’t do either! Instead of continuing to be a popular golfer, he will lose future endorsements and constantly hear a chorus of boos from the galleries. He goes from good guy to bad guy because of an incorrect interpretation. What was he possibly thinking?

Notre Dame went to College Football’s National Championship game last year with freshman quarterback, Everett Golson. Golson was looking at three more years playing the most glorious position at college football’s most historical football institution and the adulation that comes with THAT territory. All he had to do was just stay in school. However, Everett Golson is no longer enrolled because of “poor academic judgment.” We do not know what he did – cut classes, cheated on tests, had someone take his tests, failed too many courses – the list could go on and on. The bottom line and most obvious question is, “What was he thinking?”

I could certainly give you more examples – NBA’er Andrew Bynum bowling on a bum knee, causing him to now have two bum knees; NBA’er Amare Stoudamire punching a glass fire extinguisher following a loss to Miami; Lance Armstrong’s arrogance in denying his use of illegal substances when he knew he had been caught; etc., etc. I wish I could understand what they were thinking. But, alas, I cannot!


1. I have tried to watch the Phillies, but their pitching is bad and the hitting is worse. They are getting to be an old baseball team and it is showing.

2. Heartbreak occurred at the Indianapolis Speedway again for the Andretti family (Mario, Michael, Marco). Marco was right there, kept all the locals in front of the TV, and, once again, fate dealt a stunning blow with a caution flag that cemented defeat and a fourth place finish for Marco. The family says there is no curse; I do not believe in curses; but, if I did, the Andretti history at Indianapolis would certainly qualify as one.

3. Tiger Woods, whose golf schedule is certainly limited, has agreed to play in the Turkish Airlines Open in Europe. Why there, you may wonder. There is a $7 million purse. Still wondering?

4. I needed to prepare for the District XI baseball championships over the holiday weekend. It is very difficult to get information when schools are not in session. I finally got everything I needed Monday night at @ 10:30 (after numerous phone calls to coaches). I worked all day Sunday with what I had. Guess what? The games were rained out on Tuesday and one of the games (already done) was moved and will not be televised. I am not complaining; just a little venting. Thanks for listening.

5. I am hosting Sportstalk next Thursday (June 6) and the panel will be discussing the best 5 high school football players at various positions. Dick Tracy, Dennis Laub and Joe Craig will offer their lists. Join us with your opinions. I am sure there will be many.

Behind the Mic: Does Your Shoulder Hurt…

May 21, 2013 By Gary Laubach Leave a Comment

Most guys know that men don’t really talk seriously to each other most of the time. In fact, it is a rare “guy” conversation that is not laden with put-downs and jokes about the other person. Very often, if you say something nice about yourself, the response is, “Does your shoulder hurt?” This implies that it must be physically difficult to “pat yourself on the back”.

Well, I don’t care if at the end of this blog you feel that way because I am going to pat the RCNTV team on the back. This past week, the Lafayette Sports Network was named one of five finalists for a 2013 College Sports Media Award. The announcement came from the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) and the Sports Video Group (SVG). There are Major Network/Professional categories and College/University categories. LSN was nominated for “Best Live Game and Event Production”

Submissions had to be an uninterrupted 5 minute segment of a broadcast. There were a record number of entries (a 28% increase) that were viewed by the judging panel. The submissions were designated as worthy of Honorable Mention and 5 were selected as nominees for the award. Also nominated, along with LSN, were Florida State University, the University of North Carolina, and two Southland Conference telecasts.

LSN submitted the broadcast of Lafayette’s men’s basketball game vs. Bucknell. Lafayette senior guard, Tony Johnson, hit a pull-up jumper with 4.5 seconds left to give Lafayette a dramatic 63-62 victory.

Lafayettte’s men’s basketball game vs. Bucknell

You can view the segment at
The other nominees can be viewed at

RCNTV is proud of our 15 year relationship with Lafayette and executive producer, Scott Morse. We are, also, especially proud to be nominated for this prestigious award. This is, by the way, the first time Lafayette has submitted an entry.

The winners will be selected by a panel of judges and announced at a ceremony on May 29 at the SVG College Sports Summit in Atlanta, Georgia.

Enough! My shoulder hurts!


1. No Triple Crown again this year. Orb, the Kentucky Derby winner could do no better than fourth at the Preakness. The drought is 36 years. Affirmed was the last horse to do it in 1978. He was the 11th. Will there ever be a 12Th?

2. It appears that the idea of a Superconference, the merging of the Lehigh Valley Conference and the Mountain Valley Conference, is dead for the time being. I see no reason to resurrect the idea. The LVC would gain nothing.

3. The Phillies appear to have so many weaknesses, are below .500 and, yet, as I write this, they are only 3 games out of second and 4 ½ games out of first.

Parity has sure produced the ability for mediocre teams to stay in the race.

4. Congratulations to Whitehall High School for winning their first LVC Baseball Championship. They beat an outstanding Parkland team for the title. Winning the LVC title usually is a jinx for the team as it tries to win Districts and move on to the state playoffs. Stay tuned.

5. By the way, the District XI high school baseball championships are Tuesday, May 28 and Wednesday, May 29. RCNTV will be there for the LIVE telecasts from Coca-Cola Park.

You’re invited to join us!

Behind the Mic: The Shot Clock

May 13, 2013 By Gary Laubach Leave a Comment

The college basketball rules committee is meeting this week to discuss shortening the shot clock for men’s basketball. As I am sure you know, the current shot clock for men is :35 seconds and, ironically, for women it is :30 seconds. I have already written that I feel that the shot clock for women should be the same as for men, certainly not shorter. Now, do I like the idea of the men going to a shorter shot clock?

First, let’s look at the reasons for the discussion. The average scoring this year was 67.5 points, the lowest since 1952. There was also a great deal of complaining that the games lacked action and were boring.

There are two possible reasons for these stats and the complaints. Perhaps there are fewer shots, less shooting talent, better defense, poorer officiating, etc. Obviously, there are many more potential reasons than just having to put up more shots because the clock demands it. It seems like so many bad shots are taken now. The average shooting percentage this year was the lowest in 48 years. The defense is certainly emphasized more than ever and allowed to be more physical. In fact, I would argue that officials are letting much more go on defense. Statistics show that fewer fouls were called this past season than any NCAA season since the stats have been kept. Many college coaches firmly believe that scoring is down simply because of the way the college game is officiated.

I agree with the coaches. The shot clock does not need tampering. It is time to officiate the game as it should be and the game will change. Reward offenses that work for a good shot, not a desperate one. The physical play of college basketball is in two words, too physical!! Call the fouls that should be called and defenses will adjust. Scoring will go up if much of the pushing and shoving is eliminated.

If the NCAA wants to change the shot clock, take a closer look at women’s basketball.


1. Sergio and Tiger had a war of words this past week in The Player’s Championship. Sergio accused Tiger of not being very well liked on the tour and Tiger accused Sergio of being a whiner. Finally, a little bit of NASCAR in golf. I like it! PS – I bet both golfers were probably right about the other.

2. I have been on vacation the past two weeks and, for the most part, away from news and sports. Good food and good times take the place of reality quite nicely.

3. The sport that was most available during my vacation was soccer. I just don’t get it. Looks like fun to play, but I just cannot get excited about one goal every 45 minutes or so. Shorten the field, eliminate off-sides (think basketball fast-break here), take a few players off the field and you will have more goals and more excitement.

4. I want to thank Scott Barr and Randy Kane for being guest bloggers the last two weeks. Wrestling and auto racing were their topics. It was nice to give those sports some space here.

5. It is good to be back at the desk and I am looking forward to the LVC high school baseball championship this week. Behind the mic is where I like to be.

Behind the Mic: Local Racing & RCN-TV: A Perfect Marriage

May 7, 2013 By Gary Laubach Leave a Comment

Gary will be returning with a new blog post the week of May 13. This week, he’s asked race announcer Randy Kane to guest blog. RCN TV viewers should recognize Randy from the Grandview Speedway broadcasts airing April through August each year. Click here to read Randy’s bio from the RCN TV “Our Broadcasters” page.

Local Racing and RCN TV: A Perfect Marriage

By Randy Kane

Randy Kane - guest blogger

Randy Kane – Guest Blogger

Now underway full-speed, the local racing season and RCN TV’s coverage from Grandview Speedway is a perfect marriage!

Some may recall RCN TV began its coverage of motorsports at Nazareth Speedway. Seventeen years later, when Nazareth Speedway closed its doors, RCN TV showed races from the Flemington Fair Speedway for three years. Finally coverage moved to the high-banked clay oval in Bechtelsville, PA, Grandview Speedway, where it has been going strong for the past 13 years.

RCN TV has been part the local racing scene for close to 36 years – quite impressive, to say the least. And the fun part of it is that I’ve had the good fortune to be their racing broadcast announcer throughout all those years. As a racing journalist, it has been, and continues to be, a pure joy.

I think there are as many viewers in the area who watch local racing coverage as there are who watch televised NASCAR races. NASCAR brings in more money with its big national sponsors; however, local racing, in my opinion, is much more fun and exciting to watch. Whereas NASCAR races can sometimes go on forever, the local competition is shorter, faster, entertaining, and keeps viewers on the edge of their seats during every broadcast. NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Chase – the last ten races of the season – to crown the year’s champion is not as popular as you might think, plus all the better cars start every event out in front when the green flag waves. In addition, watching the qualifying time trials is like watching paint dry.

Local events are shorter. The winners get paid less. The better cars, usually, start further back in the starting line-up. Every racer has community business people sponsoring their car. Local racing puts a lot more fun into that complete package; and the fact that viewers can see it all on their televisions in their own living rooms, well, you just can’t beat it. RCN TV is the only television network that has been there, all these years, bringing it to you.

RCN TV coverage is a tremendous boost for the local racing teams. Racers can use the RCN TV broadcasts as a tool to attract potential sponsors – during a race a sponsor can be mentioned or seen or talked about often, as a result. The track benefits when viewers see the kind of racing that goes on and coverage gets those viewers to visit and see races in person. Bottom-line: racing attracts new fans through TV broadcasts.

As I mentioned earlier, doing the local racing broadcasts all these years has been a pure joy. Watching racing grow and the driving talent improve at the track through the years becomes a very interesting and fun path to follow. Racing almost never gets old. It only gets better with age. Kind of like a fine wine. You learn to truly appreciate the sport by being involved for years.

And, when you realize just how long RCN TV has covered the local racing scene and what their broadcasts have meant to the teams and tracks throughout the area, you’ll understand soon enough that local racing and RCN TV, together, have formed a perfect marriage. It is something that should last for many more years to come. There’s little doubt.

Behind the Mic: Olympic Wrestling

May 1, 2013 By Gary Laubach Leave a Comment

Today’s “Behind the Mic” blog is written by long time RCN personality Scott Barr. Scott’s on-air career began in 1984 with the District XI Girl’s Tennis Championship, won by Monica Yurkonic. Since that debut, he has covered a wide range of sports, including kick boxing, track and field, lacrosse, soccer, volleyball, football, and baseball. Most of our viewers, of course, will know him for his work with District XI wrestling. The 2012-13 season was Scott’s 29th season covering “the nation’s best high school wrestling.” Fans across the valley have heard him call “Give him six!” after a pin, while working with three legends of Lehigh Valley sports—Gary Laubach, Ray Nunamaker, and Jim Best. Outside of RCN, Scott helps small businesses set up retirement plans for their employees, and lives in Macungie with his wife, Melissa, and their four children, ages 6 to 22!


Quick—without Google—name the five events in the Olympic Modern Pentathlon.

It’s a sport that may continue to be included in the 2020 version of this worldwide festival of competition. As you know by now, wrestling will not. There is plenty of finger-pointing, from FILA to the IOC, but the bottom line is that this decision is heinous, and reeks of politics.

The IOC stated, in their own report:

“The board voted after reviewing a report by the IOC program commission report that analyzed 39 criteria, including television ratings, ticket sales, anti-doping policy and global participation and popularity. With no official rankings or recommendations contained in the report, the final decision by the 15-member board was also subject to political, emotional and sentimental factors.”

Allow me to interpret—they gathered the facts, but didn’t really use them. They had important numbers available, but made this decision based on “emotion and sentiment”. Does anyone else smell corruption? Maybe I’ve been listening too much to Glenn Beck.

Wrestling, as an Olympic sport, dates to 1896, and is responsible for some of the great Olympic memories. Local fans, of course, will remember Bobby Weaver running around the arena with his 8 month old son, celebrating his gold medal in 1984. I still get choked up watching that one. Some may recall Wilfred Dietrich’s amazing suplex of the 500 pound Chris Taylor in 1972—find it on YouTube—it is the most spectacular throw in wrestling history. Other moments, American and otherwise, are equally memorable. To remove this sport is a travesty.

Further, it’s not hard to imagine that the elimination of Olympic wrestling would cause a death spiral to the sport overall. Title IX has already damaged our sport dramatically, and the IOC decision could well finish it off. Since 1972, 669 colleges and universities have dropped their programs. Of the 79 Division I programs that remain, how many would fold if Olympic dreams were suddenly torn away? Once that happens, the high school programs can’t be far behind.

There are those who say that the sport is tough to watch, difficult to understand, and doesn’t translate well to television. For the casual viewer, clearly, these are valid. My response is equally clear—hogwash. All of these arguments can be made for dressage, rhythmic gymnastics, synchronized diving, and other events that seem to be safe from Olympic cuts. That’s right—dressage—an event where, as near as I can tell, is best described as “horse dancing”.

The final vote has yet to be cast on this decision, as this will happen in September of this year. I do not have a good feeling about it. The IOC, above all, is a political group, and their intent is clear. Dan Gable, the great American champion, is hoping that a petition with 2,020,000 signatures can sway their opinion. I hope he is right. Gable is not a man accustomed to losing, but the battle of FILA vs IOC is lightweight vs super heavyweight.

I would love to tell you “here’s what we need to do” in order to save this sport. I truly fear that the die has been cast. FILA has changed leadership, and is campaigning with urgency, but it may be far too little, and smells of desperation. Certainly, the IOC is used to outrage, and expects a good amount in the face of this decision. Dan Gable is a competent ambassador, and a passionate leader. If a miracle is needed, he may be the only one capable of delivering.

By the way — the modern pentathlon? Pistol shooting, 200 meter freestyle swimming, horse show jumping, fencing, and cross-country running. A cool event, really, but unless you are from a formerly Communist-block country, you don’t care. In 2005, the IOC affirmed its place in the competition, but will vote again in September of this year. Somebody’s out.

Behind the Mic: If Only…

April 23, 2013 By Gary Laubach Leave a Comment

In my very first blog, I warned you that there would be times when I just did not feel like writing about sports. This is one of those times.

After this week’s tragic events in Boston and in West, Texas, it is hard not to think of the people who saw their family members and loved ones go off to watch the Boston Marathon, socialize with friends, or go to work and never return. Tragedy struck, without warning, and without any opportunity to offer any final words. It gave me pause to consider things we all should say or would say if we only knew we would never see some people again:

1. Hopefully, we all would take the time to thank our parents for their discipline, their support, and their love.

2. We would tell our “significant other” how much they have enriched our lives and have made every day better.

3. We would tell our children how proud we are of their accomplishments, but more importantly, how proud we are that they are good people and good citizens.

4. We would inspire our grandchildren to continue to work hard, persevere, and treat people as they would want to be treated.

5. We would offer hearty handshakes and hugs to our siblings.

6. We would find the time to thank teachers and coaches who taught us to push harder to become more than we thought we could.

7. We would thank our employers for finding and matching our talents to their needs.

8. We would tell friends and fellow employees their time spent with us makes our days better.

9. We would show appreciation to those individuals whom we come in contact with on a regular basis, treat us respectfully, serve our needs, and thank us for our patronage and loyalty.

10. We would make amends to those we have slighted, treated poorly, and made to feel badly.

Make this your “bucket list”. Do the best you can to take the time to check off the conversations, the messages, the thoughts and feelings. This past week tells us we do not know how much time we have. Don’t be left thinking, “If only…”



1. LeBron James (NBA), Mario Balotelli (soccer), and Lindsey Vonn (Alpine ski racer) are the three athletes mentioned by Time magazine as 3 of the 100 most influential people in the world. I know 2 of the 3 and spend very little time following any of their sports. However, I liked what I read about them. Zola, an Italian soccer star, wrote about Balotelli. Derek Jeter wrote the piece on LeBron and Danica Patrick wrote about Lindsey Vonn. I know the latter two writers. I have to broaden my horizons.

2. Tiger Woods received a two-stoke penalty during the Masters when a fan called in to say he had broken a rule. The fan was proven to be correct. In a more serious vein, as evidenced this week, with today’s technology, it is hard to get away with anything.

3. The Boston Red Sox are in first place right now in the AL East just ahead of the Yankees. Even a die-hard Yankee fan might not be too upset about that.

4. I will not be blogging the next two weeks, but this space will be in the able fingers of Scott Barr and Randy Kane. Scott will talk about the elimination of wrestling from the Olympics and Randy will look at auto racing. Enjoy!

5. I want to thank Jim Best for being a guest blogger last week. He talked about his trip to the National Wrestling Championships in Des Moines, Iowa. His passion for the sport just oozed out of the computer screen.

Behind the Mic: Division 1 Wrestling Championships

April 17, 2013 By Gary Laubach Leave a Comment

Today’s “Behind the Mic”  is a guest post from our very own Jim Best! Jim was born and raised in the Lehigh Valley. As a product of the District XI wrestling community, Jim wrestled at Parkland High School from 1980 to 1984, and then went on to wrestling for North Carolina State University. After graduating from college, Jim began a teaching and coaching career in the Parkland School District. At the high school level, Jim was an assistant coach at Parkland for eight years, and he held the head coaching position from 2000-2003. In 2004, Jim began his commentating career as a high school wrestling analyst fro RCN Sports. In addition to his position with RCN, Jim currently serves as principal at Macungie Elementary School and resides in Allentown with his wife, Katie. 


Hello Behind the Mic readers! My name is Jim Best and I’m honored to have been asked to fill in this week for a vacationing Gary Laubach. As an experienced wrestler and former coach, I’m excited for this opportunity to share my recent experiences at the 2013 Division 1 Wrestling Championship in Des Moines with you. I’ve worked as an RCN TV High School Wrestling Analyst for the past eight years. Growing up in the Lehigh Valley, I was a two-time State Wrestling Finisher at Parkland High School. I then went on to North Carolina State University where I continued my wrestling career by placing second and third in the ACC Championship Tournament, in addition to competing in the NCAA Championship Tournament in Iowa City, Iowa. After graduation, I returned to the Lehigh Valley where I soon became involved in coaching. I served as the Assistant High School Wrestling Coach at Parkland High School from 1994 to 2000, transitioning into the Head Coach position until 2003. In 2003, I resigned from “full-time” coaching to move into school administration. I am currently employed as the Principal at Macungie Elementary School in the East Penn School District.

Back in March, I had the opportunity to attend the 2013 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships in Des Moines, Iowa. When Gary asked me to fill in for him, I immediately felt this would be a perfect topic to share with you Behind the Mic readers.

The 2013 Division 1 Wrestling Championships – History in the Making!

Des Moines, Iowa .. .probably not on the top 10 list of “places to visit for spectacular scenery”, but if you are a passionate wrestling fan, like myself, Des Moines was the place to be during the second last weekend of March for some of the most spectacular wrestling scenery you will ever see! My trip began with a fight out of Lehigh Valley International Airport (or ABE, as it is still referred to on Expedia) on the evening of Wednesday, March 20th. Later that evening, as I boarded a connecting flight from Atlanta to Des Moines, I was amazed (as I always am when I travel by plane to the tournament) how many wrestling fans had come “out of the woodwork” to converge on the NCAA Championship tournament. Most of the passengers on the plane were wearing some type of wrestling clothing (tee-shirts, hats, sweatpants, etc.) that displayed their team of choice, and/or they displayed the wrestler’s “badge of honor”, which consists of one or a pair of cauliflower ears. Put it this way, if a person on that flight wasn’t a wrestling fan, they were probably thinking “what the heck have I gotten myself into?” In any event, it was a fun trip, with interesting conversation and, by 10:00 that evening, I was in Des Moines.

The Anticipation…

The opening morning of the tournament (Thursday) is filled with intense excitement and anticipation from both fans and athletes, but the morning also presented some challenges. The tournament was held in downtown Des Moines at the Wells Fargo Arena. Des Moines is not a large city and it doesn’t have an extensive public transportation system. Of the 18,000 or so people attending the tournament, about 9,000 of those people had driven to downtown Des Moines on Thursday morning and were scrambling for a parking spot. Most of these folks are ex-wrestlers who are known to have a bit of a temper! Lucky for me, my wife accompanied me out to Des Moines (although she had no interest in attending the tournament), so I had drop-off and pick-up service, throughout the entire three day span of the tournament, at the front door of the arena. From where she dropped me off, it was a short walk to the media entrance, and from there I picked up media credentials and found “my spot” on media row (all media folks receive an assigned seat, with the exception of mat side photographers, who have as assigned area beside each mat, and you must sit in your assigned seat or risk losing your credentials). Fortunately for me, my seat was directly in front of Mat 2, and I had a clear view of all other mats (to start the tournament, there are eight mats running at one time). By 11:00am that morning, wrestling had started and I was in wrestling “bliss”.

The Athletes…

Keep in mind, this is a tournament that all of the wrestlers qualify for. Every wrestler in this tournament comes with a great deal of wrestling experience and savvy under their wrestling belts. I would venture to say, based on my experience as a wrestler in the championship tournament (many moons ago) and a former coach, that most of the young men in this tournament have dedicated a better part of their youth to compete at this level. Every match that unfolds in the tournament has the potential to be “the best match of the tournament”, regardless of tournament seeds or prior accomplishments – all of the wrestlers are that good! In addition, the wrestlers have to weigh-in, at or below a designated weight, every day of the tournament. Of the 330 wrestlers that qualified for the tournament, all but a few of the 285 pounders (who cannot weigh-in at more than 285 pounds) walk around with only 5 or 6 percent body fat…these guys are also fit!

The Tournament Unfolds…

If you are reading this blog, and you are a passionate fan of wrestling, you know that I can write for days and days to describe all of the awesome wrestling action that I witnessed over the 72 hour period during which the tournament took place…but I won’t do that because you were either at the tournament or watched the ESPN coverage! If you are reading the blog and you don’t follow wrestling, I will sum it up as best I can without losing your attention and interest.

Of course, I kept my eyes on the local boys-Randy Cruz (Bethlehem Catholic/Lehigh, 133lbs.), Devon Lotitio (Liberty/Cal Poly, 133lbs.), Jordan Oliver (Easton/Oklahoma State, 149lbs.), Mike Ottinger (Parkland/Central Michigan, 165lbs.), Jimmy Sheptock (Northampton/Maryland, 184lbs), Brandon Palik (Saucon Valley/Drexel, 197lbs.), and Justin Grant (Easton/Bloomsburg. 285lbs). These were all wrestlers that I watched compete just a few years ago at local high school dual meets and tournaments that the RCN team covered. So, of course, I had a special interest in how they fared. As we know now, Jordan Oliver prevailed to win his second NCAA title, and in dominant fashion! Jimmy Sheptock also had a very good performance, as he picked up All-American honors, as only a sophomore, with a sixth place finish in his weight class. Cruz, Lotito, Ottinger, Palik and Grant all had great performances, but each one suffered heartbreaking losses that would bring their season to a pre-mature close before accomplishing the goal of All-American status (the top eight place finishers in each weight class earn All-American honors). At the end of the day, win or lose in this tournament, they will never forget the experience.

The “main story” of the tournament was the action unfolding in the 165 pound weight class. Two wrestlers were predicted to advance to the final round to wrestle in a match that some wrestling fans are calling the “best match ever.” Kyle Dake, a senior from Cornell who had already won three consecutive championships at three different weight classes (141lbs, 149lbs., and 157lbs.) would square off against David Taylor, from Penn State. Taylor was the defending champion at the weight class and the winner of the Hodge Trophy (college wrestling’s equivalent to the Heisman Trophy) in 2012. Both wrestlers advanced through the tournament to the final round, and Dake prevailed over Taylor in a super-exciting 5-4 match to win his fourth NCAA title. Dake became only the third wrestler in the history of the tournament to win four titles (Pat Smith from Oklahoma State and Cael Sanderson from Iowa State were the previous two wrestlers to accomplish the feat), and he is the only wrestler to win his titles in four different weight classes. Penn State, coached by Cael Sanderson, won their third consecutive team title with five finalists and two champions. As I walked out of the arena at about 11:00pm on Saturday evening, at the conclusion of the final round, I reflected on my experience at the tournament and thought “Man, I am one lucky guy to have seen this unfold.”

Final Thoughts…

As I have described to some of my non-wrestling friends and colleagues, attending that tournament is the equivalent to a football fan attending the Superbowl, or a college basketball fan attending the Final Four – it just doesn’t get any better in terms of action and atmosphere. For three days in March, approximately 18,000 diehard wrestling fans converge at the site of the championships to watch the best college wrestlers in the country compete against each other, and then, in between the rounds of wrestling, we meet at the local eating establishments to discuss and relive the most exciting moments over a burger and some cold beverages. .. it truly is a “live, eat and breath” wrestling experience! Next year, the championships are in Oklahoma City…time to get on the Expedia website and arrange a flight out of “ABE”!

Never on Sunday – Behind the Mic – April 8th

April 8, 2013 By Gary Laubach Leave a Comment

After doing this job for over 41 years, I have tried to maintain one rule of thumb. Do not work on Sunday, if at all possible. With so many weeknights and weekends away from home, I have always tried to keep Sunday as a day I can spend with my wife and/or my family. Obviously, over the years, there have been occasions that have superseded my wish, but when I am in control, I try hard to abide by the rule.

About three weeks ago, the Salisbury Athletic Director called to see if I would attend their boys’ basketball banquet. I hesitated in responding prior to knowing the date and day because, very often, I turn down these requests. To attend one, sort of obligates one to attend them all, if possible. To attend them all, however, is not possible. This request for me to attend centered around the highlight of their season – beating a team that had beaten them three times during the year and doing it in dramatic fashion: a half-court shot, trailing by one, as time expired in overtime, in the first round of the District playoffs!!

The Booster Club and the AD wanted to relive that moment and do it by reliving our broadcast and my call of the shot. Obviously, flattery usually is a great enticement. I did not decline the invitation, nor did I accept it. I asked for the date and was told April 7, a Sunday!

Well, I am sure many of you have accepted challenges that sound like a good thing, only to question your reasoning when the day actually arrives. That was my disposition this past Sunday. It was a beautiful day – the perfect day to spend with my wife. My granddaughter was home from college; my oldest daughter invited us to spend the day in the mountains; and my son-in-law (an accountant) wanted to get our 2012 tax returns completed. I said “no” to all of the options. You see, I had already accepted the invitation to the Salisbury basketball banquet.

When I arrived, I was greeted by the Booster Club president, many parents, the AD, her parents, and the players. It was a very, very warm atmosphere. The meal was excellent, the company at my table was congenial, and the setting was simple. I was asked to speak. I thanked everyone for the invitation, talked a bit about the thrill of competing, asked the players to make sure they understood that their parents, faculty, coaches, school, and the Booster Club make everything possible. We relived the “big shot” together and my job was done.

Then the coaches spoke. They spoke, like many coaches, about the season, the dedication, the work, the hours, the development of the players, etc. But the coaches, also, spoke of a player who had never scored less than 100 on any test so far in high school. He was #1 in his class. They spoke of a player who had garnered a perfect math score on his SAT’s and was headed to Lehigh to become an engineer. They spoke of a JV player who volunteered to perform the task of doing varsity stats (a job nobody wanted and had to be ordered to do in the past). They spoke of a highly energetic manager who just beamed when he was presented with a little gift of appreciation. They talked of the tremendous parental and community support they received throughout the season.

And as I listened, I got a sense that this is what sports should be all about. There was acknowledgement, but it was all done in the right way. There were tokens of appreciation, but they were not elaborate. There was praise, even for those who simply practiced hard. There was a sense of community, a sense of family. I left, sincerely hoping that these kinds of banquets happen throughout the Lehigh Valley.

So despite missing a Sunday with my family, I enjoyed the invitation to join another “family”. It was nice.




1. I usually give Saturday Night Live a chance to entertain me. I am often disappointed. Some of the skits are just awful. However, if you can, call up the VOD of this past Saturday’s show. Melissa McCarthy is the host and she literally had me in tears in the first half hour. Her opening, trying to walk in the latest style of shoes for women, was hilarious and her takeoff of Rutger’s basketball coach, Mike Rice, is absolute comedy genius. Check it out!

2. Speaking of the infamous Mike Rice practice video, those of us who have played sports probably spent this past week thinking of coaches we have played for who, in some fashion, berated and belittled us into performing better. I practiced basketball for 3 hours in galoshes because the night before we played so poorly. The next day, I could not lift my legs. I had football coaches who would “jack” us up against the wall to get our attention and make us tougher. I had coaches keep us on the football practice field for hours on end until we “got it”. The list is long. Now, Big Brother is watching. Cell phones and video cameras are everywhere. This requires a better way to coach and that is a good thing.

3. The Phillies and the Yankees are off to awful starts and there are no signs to indicate things are going to get better. Even the Iron Pigs look dismal early on. It could be a very long year for local fans.

4. The Masters starts on Thursday. Try not to bother me.

5. Jim Best will be a guest blogger next week talking about his trip to the National Wrestling Championships in Des Moines, Iowa. Enjoy!

The Final Four – Behind the Mic – April 2nd

April 2, 2013 By Gary Laubach Leave a Comment

Louisville vs Wichita State: Saturday, April 6, 6:09pm on CBS

The Cardinals of Louisville are the only team that almost everyone expected to be in the Final Four. In fact, everyone probably expects them to be in The National Championship game. They are the only #1 to survive the bracket-busting in this year of parity. They were in this position last year and lost to Kentucky, the eventual national champion. They are the best offensive team for sure. With Peyton Siva and Russ Smith on the floor and the emotional catalyst of winning for Kevin Ware (severe compound fracture vs Duke) in his home town, the Cardinals look unbeatable.

If you are inclined to root for the underdog, then Wichita State is your team. They were seeded #9. Their nickname is the Shockers; their conference, the Missouri Valley, has not been in the Final Four since 1979, when they were led by Larry Bird, and they did not even win their conference. They lost to Southern Illinois, Evansville, and Indiana State twice during the season. But, remember, they just beat #2 Ohio State. A win by the Shockers would rank as one of college basketball’s greatest upsets.

Michigan vs Syracuse: Saturday, April 6, 8:49pm on CBS

It may be hard to believe but Michigan has not been to the Final Four since 1993 (remember the Fab Five?). This Michigan team, however, has all the ingredients to win it all. Trey Burke (a player of the year candidate) runs the offense, Mitch McGary can dominate in the paint and Nik Stauskas was unconscious in the quarterfinal game hitting 6-6 from beyond the arc. They also dominated a very good Florida team. They are the final member from the Big Ten, in a year when most thought that conference would dominate the tournament. In today’s vernacular, “they represent” for their now maligned (overrated?) conference. The Big Ten domination was supposed to come from Wisconsin, Ohio State, and Indiana. They are all out. Only Michigan remains.

That leaves Syracuse. If defense wins championships, then this is your pick. The Syracuse 2-3 zone has been absolutely smothering. They held a final eight team, Marquette, to just 39 points and #1 Indiana to 50 points! When you look at the strength of this team, ironically, one talks more about the coach rather than the players. This is Jim Boeheim’s fourth trip to the semifinals, having won the national championship in 2003. He is a master game-planner and a defensive genius.

These are very interesting match-ups, to say the least.

My Picks:

Louisville definitely beats Wichita State.

Syracuse ends the Big Ten participation for this year.

Syracuse is the only team left that could beat Louisville. They will not. The Cardinals win the national Championship on Monday, April 8.

This will bring a smile to many a pool player! Finally a favorite wins when they are supposed to.



  1. The Wichita State research led me to Larry Bird. Did you remember that he originally was given a scholarship by Bob Knight and Indiana in 1974? He stayed for 24 days, overwhelmed by the size of the campus and the rather rude treatment by Indiana star, Kent Benson. He returned home to French Lick, Indiana, and got a job with the street department. After a year, he enrolled at Indiana State, averaged 30.3 points per game in three seasons, and led his team to a 33-1 record in his senior year, with the only loss coming to Michigan State and Magic Johnson in the national championship game.
  2. Is it me? I really enjoy Charles Barkley, but he must feel like the luckiest guy in the world. He adds very little to the analysis of a game, butchers the English language, and doesn’t even seem all that interested. However, he has this look in his eyes and a smirk on his face that implies he knows he is putting something over on all of us, getting richer by the minute, and we will still like him. Worst of all, he is right!
  3. I went to the VIA All-Star Basketball Banquet this past week. Bill Walton was the guest speaker – no notes, great message, memorized lists, great delivery. I have attended many banquets over the years and have seen many guest speakers. He was one of the best!
  4. Baseball started this week. In most of the NL predictions, I have seen, the Giants, Cardinals, Reds, and Dodgers have been picked to make the playoffs. In the NL East, however, I have noticed a real split among prognosticators between the Nationals, the Braves, and the Phillies. No mention of the Mets! No mention of Miami. Nail biting time for Phillies fans!
  5. The AL East is even crazier! There are five teams and all either have great talent or great tradition behind them. The talent belongs to Tampa Bay, Toronto, and Baltimore; the tradition belongs to New York and Boston. Most sportswriters are picking…. Wait for it – Toronto!!

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury – Behind the Mic – March 25th

March 25, 2013 By Gary Laubach Leave a Comment

I had aspirations to become a lawyer when I was younger. Circumstances interfered with that goal and I certainly have no regrets about the path that life took me. However, I still love reading courtroom dramas, a la John Grisham, and shows like “Boston Legal” and “The Good Wife” have always captured my interest. So, this week I am going to practice law (with no background, other than reading about and watching Perry Mason as a kid).

The background: many of you have probably never heard of Royce White and you most certainly have never rooted for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. Royce White was the 16th selection of the 2012 NBA Draft. He was selected by the Houston Rockets and signed a $1.7 million two-year contract. He has not played a game for the Rockets. His only professional basketball has been with the Vipers, the Rockets entry into the NBA Development League.

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury:

In defense of Royce White:

Royce White suffers from serious mental illness, an obsessive-compulsive disorder and an anxiety disorder. As a ten-year-old during a basketball practice, he saw his best friend collapse, drool from the mouth, and be rushed to the hospital for cardiac abnormality. His fears began then.

Since that incident, he has had an aversion to conditioning runs. Among other areas of concern, he cannot get on an airplane. Avoiding conditioning exercises and not flying (the Rockets schedule would include 98 flights) have caused much consternation for the NBA Houston Rockets. Mr. White firmly believes that it is the responsibility of the Rockets to accommodate his mental health issues. They signed him to a contract knowing his mental disorder and, therefore, should be at the forefront in helping him accommodate his illness with his ability to play basketball. His claim is that mental illness is no different than a physical ailment that would keep one from playing basketball. He has been willing to take a 68 hour bus ride in order to play two games for the Vipers. He wants to play for the Rockets, but he will not risk his physical and mental health to do so. He, rightfully so, listens to his personal doctor and does not trust the advice offered by the Rockets’ medical personnel. Through cooperation and understanding, it is up to the Rockets to make it work.

In defense of the Rockets:

The Houston Rockets drafted Royce White because he was the only player in the nation to lead his team (Iowa State) in 5 major statistical categories. His talent and his achievements at the NBA Scouting Combine made him a very attractive selection for our organization. The Rockets, also, knew he had endured 20 flights for travel during the season at Iowa State. Houston was made aware, early on in negotiations, that Mr. White would require some special accommodations – a personal bus being one of them so he could avoid flying. We made the accommodations requested and he signed the contract. It was Mr. White who decided that we were not doing enough to handle his anxiety disorder and he became absent from the team. He just stopped coming to work. The Rockets assigned him to the Vipers in order to reintegrate him into the organization. He has now quit the Vipers and returned to Houston for the rest of the season on the advice of HIS physician. The Houston Rockets have done all they can do to accommodate Royce White’s condition. It is up to him to make it work.

Who is right here – Royce White or the Houston Rockets?

You decide and since I defended both, I, happily, cannot lose my first case!



  1. I find the only way to avoid getting caught up in all the March Madness games is to just not watch. Every time I go to a game, I find myself staying with it until the outcome is decided and checking the scoreboard at the top of the screen to see where I should be focusing my attention. It is addicting, for sure. CBS has really adapted the tournament to the fan – every game in its entirety!
  2. I do have one complaint about the NCAA broadcasts, however. If you are a basketball junkie like me, I just can’t take watching the same commercials over and over again.
  3. Tiger Woods distracted me from basketball at times on Saturday, playing in the Arnold Palmer Invitational. He is starting to look even better than he was before all the problems. Sunday’s round was rained out. Good. No distraction.
  4. My former announcing buddy, Dick Tracy, is hawking hot dogs for Potts’ in Northampton just to keep busy. Last week, when a customer asked what he recommended, he said, with that glint in his eye, “Go to Yocco’s!”.
  5. Passover, Good Friday, and Easter are all this week. Spend some quality time with your family.
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