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Behind the Mic – Nov. 14th

November 16, 2012 By Gary Laubach Leave a Comment

“From time to time, I will probably get particularly irritated or, hopefully, excited with events outside of sports and feel compelled to say something.” This is what I said in my very first Blog. Today is one of those days when I am “excited.”

Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc..

I am beginning to believe the “Social Network” has no boundaries and, in the next few years will totally control our relationships (if it doesn’t already). Well, I wish I were young again.

Every day, I receive at least 10 requests for me to “accept” someone as my “friend” on Facebook or to be “linked in” to someone’s professional career. All of my friends “tweet”, although I have not quite caught on to this phenomenon, primarily because of my age. Now I am told that, if I just get “with it”, I could get a great deal of instantaneous news and information. My grandson, who is in the research business, tells me he gets information faster from Twitter than he gets from the news.

Having been a teacher for almost 30 years and having been before the public eye as a television broadcaster for 40+ years, I have, obviously, met many, many people. Some have taken the time to contact me through these various networks and I appreciate their concern about what I have done since we last spent time together. Honestly, some have contacted me and I do not really remember them, but I knew that would happen. I used to tell my students they only had to remember one of me. I taught @ 200 of them every year for 30 years. I think I can be excused for not knowing some of them. It does amaze me, however, that so many take the time to just simply say “hello, how are you?”

I am a little jealous of the “younger generation” who move so easily from one technological advancement to another. They have mastered the art of “social networking”. I am still a novice. It seems as I get comfortable with one, another comes along to add to the challenge.

And speaking of challenges, I am going to go see if I can master this “twitter” thing.

 

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

  1. I feel honored to once again broadcast the Lafayette-Lehigh football game. It is college football’s most played rivalry and this is the 148th edition. Saturday afternoon will be fun.
  2. Zach Zweizig, Lafayette’s sophomore starting quarterback, lost his father this week. He suffered a stroke on Friday night and was in intensive care as Zach tried to lead the Leopards to victory on Saturday afternoon at Fordham University. Lafayette gave Zach the choice of playing or going home. He chose to play, return with the team, and fulfill his academic obligations before getting to his father’s bedside. Zach’s father passed away. Zach will play against Lehigh on Saturday. That’s what his father would have wanted. And that’s the type of son he raised.
  3. I broadcast our first college basketball game on Monday night. The Lafayette men beat LIU-Brooklyn in overtime 98-94. It was a great game and it did not take long to get into a basketball frame of mind.
  4. While in the Bronx on Saturday, I saw gas rationing, food lines, plowed snow, and some devastation. Why do we call this an act of Mother Nature? No Mother would treat her charges in such a manner.
  5. Hopefully, you all have met the challenge of Sandy and Thanksgiving will be a bit more personal this year.

NFL PICKS FOR THIS WEEK
(Last week – 7-6) (33-21 overall for the season – 61%)

Buffalo
Atlanta
Dallas
Green Bay
Cincinnati
Washington
Tampa Bay
Houston
St. Louis
New England
New Orleans
Denver
Baltimore
San Francisco

Behind the Mic – Nov. 7th

November 9, 2012 By Gary Laubach Leave a Comment

“Colgate wins the toss and defers.” That is how referee Stuart Mullins started the Lafayette- Colgate game this past Saturday. Trust me when I tell you that is the last time Colgate deferred in this football game. Not to spoil the ending, but Colgate won the game – 65-41. 106 points in 60 minutes! Colgate piled up 755 yards of offense (a Patriot League record); 531 yards rushing (a Patriot League record); and 224 yards passing. Colgate averaged 10.6 yards per play! Colgate’s only negative play was a completed pass for a minus 3 yards. Colgate scored on their first 7 possessions; 10 of their first 11. Suffice it to say, Colgate never punted.

Despite doing nothing in the first 3 series (70 yards rushing; 6 yards passing; 1 first down), the Lafayette Leopards decided to get involved in the offensive show themselves. Lafayette ran up a total of 542 yards! They averaged 10.4 yards per play!! And they had their highest point total for the year! They scored on 6 straight possessions.

Individually, some of the numbers are even more astounding. Colgate quarterback, Gavin McCarney accounted for a school record 512 yards of offense (288 rushing- second highest total in Patriot League history, and 224 passing). McCarney had runs of 40, 54 and 75 yards. He scored 3 rushing TD’s and threw for 2 more. Colgate’s tailback, Jordan McCord rushed for 203 yards on 27 carries and scored 4 TD’s. He has rushed for 100+ yards in every game this season. He and McCarney have done it in 5 straight games.

Lafayette had two 100+yard rushers and 1 100- yard receiver. Tailbacks Ross Scheurman (runs of 25 and 53 yards) and Vaughn Hebron (a 63 yard run) ran for 142 and 119 respectively. Mark Ross had his 5th 100+ yard receiving day of the season with 106 yards.

In summary, there were 16 scoring drives in the game in 23 possessions. Of the 16, 15 were touchdowns. There was a total of 1297 yards of offense.

This was a game I will never forget.

It is, also, a game both DEFENSES will try never to remember!!

 


 

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

  1. Going five days without electric made Thomas Edison my favorite inventor.
  2. I voted on Tuesday and, since I had pretty much made up my mind a long time ago about my vote, I wondered what all that political ad money could have done if it was used to make the world a better place. Maybe to make the absurdity of the cost even starker, the government looked pretty much the same on Wednesday as it did on Tuesday.
  3. My father-in-law was buried this week. He was 96. He came to America from the Ukraine, with his wife, a baby (my wife), and a valise. He spent the first two years working off the cost of his passage on a Maryland farm, and then settled in Easton, PA. He became a US citizen, worked as many jobs as he could, supported his family, voted in every election, and loved this country. His happiest day was when the Ukraine gained its independence. He was the hardest working man I ever knew. More than anything, I will miss the example he set for our whole family every day.
  4. Due to the hurricane and my father-in-law’s passing, this was a week where not much else mattered.
  5. A big “thank you” to all the service workers who tirelessly brought some sense of normalcy back to our lives

 

NFL PICKS FOR THIS WEEK

(Last week – 9-5) (26-15 overall for the season – 63%)

  • Indianapolis
  • New England
  • Giants
  • Tampa Bay
  • Denver
  • Miami
  • Baltimore
  • Atlanta
  • Detroit
  • Jets
  • Dallas
  • San Francisco
  • Chicago
  • Pittsburgh

 

SportsTalk Shop Salutes Local AD-s & District Officials

November 2, 2012 By Chris Michael Leave a Comment

First of all, I’d like to offer a sincere wish and hope that all of our local customers and neighbors are all safe and secure and have survived the ravages of the “Sandy” storm…it could have been worse, and yet, there were many scary moments this past week and we lost a few local citizens due to yet another unusual Halloween-time weather event.

Secondly, athletic directors are similar to officials and referees—you don’t notice all the great work they do and only recognize them when things go awry (regardless if it’s their fault or not). I think we are very fortunate here in Eastern Pennsylvania to have some incredibly efficient people running our local sports program, but, and perhaps more importantly, you will frequently hear these men and women giving explanations why things are done “for the kids’ sake.”

The past week was a rather typical one for “AD-s” in that they had numerous events taking place and had to shuffle things around due to bad weather, power outages, schools’ requirements over practice times et al. As usual, they made decisions with the local students safety and well-being being the paramount concern, and took the initiative to reschedule events well in advance of the hurricane hitting the coast, and were also proactive in moving sports events from their regular Friday night and Saturday afternoon slots, to alternate times (including Monday night for HS football).

The PIAA also allowed schools to move games past their standard deadline of when games are to be played. (As luck would have it, the playoffs start next week and schools in the past have had to make decisions to play or have the games not count towards the postseason). Otherwise, because of many schools’ regulation that a team cannot practice when school is closed, some teams would have had to play with no “official” practice time, which includes studying film and injury treatment.

Do you think the local administrators made the right calls with their postponements and, in some circumstances, “unusual” game starting times? Post your comments below or let us know your sports opinions on our next live “RCN Sports Talk” show on Thursdays at 6pm.

Behind the Mic – Oct. 24th

October 26, 2012 By Gary Laubach 1 Reply

As the RCN sports crew travels around from venue to venue, we, happily, hear from so many viewers. The compliments far outweigh the criticism and, most of the time, the criticism centers around not doing a particular team or a particular game. To me, that is really a backhanded compliment because it just means those fans want to see us televise their team. Every so often, an over-exuberant fan will come up and say, “You guys are just like ESPN!” Well, I am here to tell you we are not even close!!

In an article (“More Show Than Game” – Sept. 27) written for “Rolling Stone” magazine by David Amsden, he talks about observing an ESPN Monday Night Football broadcast of a New England-Philadelphia pre-season football game. The insights offered were astounding to me and, I anticipate will be for you, too. This preseason game had:

  • 11 trucks transport the gear
  • A crew of 200 (graphics, producers, assistants, statisticians, a sideline reporter, sound editors, mixers; the list goes on and on)
  • 50 microphones
  • 20 cameramen (31 cameras are used during the regular season)
  • 216 monitors

 

That’s the staff – how about the cost:

  • $15.2 billion for the rights through 2021
  • That’s $111 million in rights fees per game
  • Broken down even further, it costs $600,000 per minute
  • Constantly introducing new and very expensive technology (ex: digital yard markers, Skycam)

In addition, staff (announcers, directors, the tech crew, etc) arrives Saturday. They spend one day with one team and one day with the other. Highlight packages are produced (about 20% used). Various storylines are discussed. Production meetings abound. On Saturday night, there is a production team-bonding activity. This particular week, all attended a Bruce Springsteen concert.

In comparison, when the RCN Television team does a Saturday afternoon college game, we have:

  • 2 trucks
  • A crew of 18
  • 15 microphones
  • 5 cameramen
  • 30 monitors

The cost:

  • Around $3000 per game, not counting equipment costs (but ESPN didn’t count that either)
  • Rights fees in the hundreds of dollars
  • Broken down even further, it costs @$22 per minute

In addition, the announcers attend a press luncheon during the week to talk to one coach on the phone for around 10 minutes and talk to the other coach for about 15 minutes. The crew arrives the morning of the game to set up for the telecast. There is not much time (maybe lunch) for a team-bonding activity.

What do I conclude from this information?

  • ESPN spends an astronomical amount of money to do the NFL games (no wonder the NFL will make $9.5 billion in profits this year).
  • NBC, CBS, FOX all have similar NFL expenses and the competition to be the best produces terrific broadcasts.
  • Despite this “apples to oranges “comparison, the RCN Television Sports Team also aims every game to be the best they can be. From the director to holding the Big Ears and everything in between, we always strive for a quality broadcast – to be the best. From the many comments we receive, I do not think we disappoint. There is no question our mindset is “just like ESPN’s”

BUT, obviously, we are not “just like ESPN”!


 

 ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

  1. I still do not like the NFL overtime rule. If the team that possesses the ball first scores a touchdown, they win the game. Give each team at least one possession. In the past, the first score ended the game and that was usually a field goal. They made the rule a little better, but it is still not fair to the team that loses the coin toss.
  2. Do you realize only two teams in the AFC have winning records (New England and Baltimore). That has never happened before this far into the season.
  3. Watched the RedZone again this week. It was great during the early games, but lost some of its luster in the later games. There were only two games and it felt like I was constantly hitting “swap” on my remote.
  4. RG III is really, really good!
  5. I feel good about Penn State’s 5 game winning streak. This staff and these players had absolutely NOTHING to do with the turmoil. They deserve their success.

 

NFL PICKS FOR THIS WEEK
(Last week – 11-2 – 85%) (17-10 overall for the season – 63%)

Minnesota

New England

Tennessee

Green Bay

San Diego

Atlanta

Seattle

Jets

Chicago

Pittsburgh

Oakland

Giants

Denver

San Francisco

The “SportsTalk Shop” Talks Non-Football Sports

By Chris Michael Leave a Comment

So much of the time, the emphasis for the sports world is on football…football and then, some more…football.

On Nov. 1st, our “RCN SportsTalk” takes a week off so that we may highlight some of the other hard working individuals in the Lehigh Valley region. I have the pleasure of announcing the District XI boys soccer championships for RCN-TV, and for that reason, I’d like to discuss some amazing facts and accomplishments among our local athletes in that sport that I’ve begun to uncover in preparing for our broadcasts. It should be noted that we did spend a good deal of time and attention on all of the sports on our show this fall season, and every team’s accomplishments deserves a solid round of applause (insert applause sound effects here).

Southern Lehigh has dominated the 2-A district playoffs, winning 14 of its 16 appearances in the championship. Salisbury is 2nd in that classification with 5 titles and, like the Spartans, have been playing at a high level again this fall. Northwestern and Moravian Academy have both won multiple championships in this sport, and the latter school was playing well when we stopped by their practice field with our camera a few weeks ago for “SportsTalk.”

The 3-A classification is always an interesting tournament, and while Emmaus has won the most titles (14), its Parkland that most people believe is the team to beat this year. Freedom and Liberty had to play each other in the opening round of the tourney, which was a tough match-up out of the game and it’s unfortunate one of those team would have to be eliminated in round one. In an autumn season in which very little positive sports publicity has fallen on ASD because of the struggles of the football team (although congrats to the Canaries for getting their first win over Lehighton), it’s refreshing to see the Allen soccer team in the mix and a chance for their students to cheer-on a playoff team.

One other sport I wanted to give special props to, as I did during our broadcast of the Emmaus/Whitehall football game, is a special “congrats” to the continuing dominance of the Green Hornets girls field hockey team. They captured their 9th straight league title last week (the only nine in the LVC’s history), and have won more state titles (5) than any other school in our coverage area. When Liberty defeated them this year, they celebrated like they just won the greatest game of their lives—as well they should have. There’s only a couple teams in the state that ever get an chance to do that each season, and it was years—literally—since a local team had defeated them in the regular season.

Who’s your favorite non-football local sports teams and which teams would you like to recognize? Post a comment here or email us at RCNSportsTalk@rcn.com and we’ll read and respond to it on our next live show, which will be November 8th!

 

Behind the Mic – Oct. 18th

October 18, 2012 By Gary Laubach Leave a Comment

I am not above “shilling” for the company and, in fact, enjoy doing it. So let me set the record straight right away. This is NOT, I repeat, NOT a “shill”. This is my opinion. I love the NFL RedZone!!

Let me preface that thought by telling you that I do not root for a particular NFL team – the Baltimore Colts stopped playing years ago (old-age wisecracks belong here). I do, however, love NFL football. And I have no trouble watching a game from beginning until the end – I did that last Thursday when the Steelers played Tennessee.

But on Sunday, it’s the NFL RedZone for me. Every big play, every scoring drive, every touchdown, up-to-the minute (although, I think they’re even quicker than that) updates, etc. A few weeks ago, I had family over for dinner and the men gathered around the TV for NFL football. I put on the NFL RedZone instead of the network broadcasts and they absolutely loved it. Even those who root for the Eagles wanted to watch every game instead of one game. For the casual fan, the fantasy nut, or the homer who needs to see what every other team in the league is doing, this is, literally the best ticket in your living room!

I counted 53 touchdowns this past weekend between 1:00 and a bit after 7:00. Included in the highlights was the 108 yard record-tying touchdown run by Jacoby Jones of Baltimore against the Cowboys. I had to watch on NBC all of the Green Bay vs Houston game in order to see the final contest of the day. Even better, right before the NFL RedZone goes off the air for another week, they recapped all 53 touchdowns right after the final play of the day is recorded. It’s ESPN on a case of Red Bull!!

I know it can be expensive and I know it is not for everyone, but, if you are truly an NFL fan, give it a look. It may just be worth the investment; worth giving something up to have it (except, perhaps, your family life).

Call 1-800-RING-RCN or go on rcn.com (Now that IS “shilling”)


 

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

  1. After traveling to Williamsburg and Pittsburgh during September to do Lafayette football, I am really impressed with the organization and coordination it takes to get a college football team ready to play an opponent on the road. Take the game in Williamsburg when Lafayette took on William & Mary. For about 100 people (players, coaches, media, etc), there were 2 breakfasts, a lunch, 2 dinners, a late-night snack, 2 airport check-ins, 2 plane rides, an historical tour, a hotel check-in, 3 buses at each location, 4 rental cars, and a huge boxed lunch after the game. Add to that a trip to the supermarket for bananas, Fig Newtons, energy bars, energy drinks, etc to keep players from cramping up during the game. Pour (and I mean pour) in a terrible storm that pushed all the after-game plans back about an hour and a half and all 100 arrive home at 4 AM. Now do that 5 or 6 times a year if you are a big-time college football program. I’m exhausted just writing this.
  2. Why is there always one week in the NFL when upsets abound – you could easily make the case that 9 games of the 14 played this past week were upsets.
  3. Did it have to be the first week of my picks?
  4. Does Andy Reid need to win 9 games this year to keep his job? The Eagles are 3-3 right now.
  5. Why do the NY Giants look so good one week and rather average another?
  6. The baseball playoffs have had some amazing games with some amazing coaching decisions (pitch-hit for A-Rod, for example – totally unprecedented and umpire calls (why can’t “instant replay” work in baseball?). How sick do you think the Nationals’ fans are??

NFL PICKS FOR THIS WEEK (6-8 for the season)

  • San Francisco
  • Tennessee
  • Minnesota
  • Cleveland
  • Houston
  • Green Bay
  • Dallas
  • Giants
  • Tampa Bay
  • New England
  • Oakland
  • Pittsburgh
  • Chicago

 

Who’s Number 1?

By Chris Michael Leave a Comment

“Who’s #1” is the thing that everyone wants to be each season … and the drive to be numero uno is especially excessive in high school football.

With Easton remaining undefeated, the co-owners of the best record and the almighty “power point” leaders in our RCN coverage area, they sit atop all of the playoff standings. However, RCN sideline reporter Tony Cocca (and other coaches and media members) have said that with the way Parkland has been playing, they’d label the Trojans as the best team–right now–in the Lehigh Valley area. Although they are a much smaller school, Catasaqua also can claim that they deserve more attention as one of the best teams in this area, and they certainly should after a completely dominating performance against the reigning champions last weekend. On last week’s “RCN SportsTalk” show there were grumblings from some Rough Rider supporters that their team wasn’t listed earlier as a “2A team to watch” in the frequently reprinted Harrisburg Patriot News statewide poll.

There’s lots of polls out there: some for the leagues’ top spot, some for districts, some for the Eastern PA region and some for even a broader scope. I’ve never been a fan of the “state poll,” which I personally find ridiculous since the voters for this poll normally only get to see teams in only one part of an area in Pennsylvania. How in the world can you compare, contrast and rank the teams in your neck-of-the-woods with most of the rest of the state’s teams that you’ll never see in person or on TV, until, of course, you get to the end of the playoffs, when it’s clear to everyone at that point who the best teams are?

We stopped doing a weekly poll on our program as it seemed a waste of airtime to spend a chuck of our show comparing and arguing who’s the better teams each week, only to have things completely change around after witnessing a couple “upsets” week in and week out. I’m very proud to say that, for what it’s worth, our own “RCN SportsTalk” pre-season predictions correctly named the 10 teams that are now the current owners of the 10 best records in our coverage area. The only thing that proves at this point is that the teams have handled the higher expectations and endured the closer scruntiny of the media. Those same Trojans that Cocca & Company have dubbed the best team in the Lehigh Valley will get another chance to test their mettle as the featured guests on this Thursday’s “SportsTalk” as they talk about their season to date, preview the road ahead to the playoffs, and respond to your questions and comments about the current football landscape. We might even see if they themselves believe they are number one in the league, the district, or beyond?

Is Parkland the best team in the Lehigh Valley right now? If and when Easton plays Parkland again in the playoffs, who do you think would win? And could Catty outlast all other local teams in the PIAA playoffs? Give us your opinions here on our blog, or email them to rcnsportstalk@rcn.com and we’ll be able to read and respond to your comments this Thursday at 6pm on RCN-TV.

Behind the Mic – Oct. 10th

October 10, 2012 By Gary Laubach Leave a Comment

“Gary, we would like you to blog on our RCN TV Web page.”

That request from our marketing department is responsible for the ruminations, ramblings and some coherent thoughts that will occupy this space. I call the blog “Behind the Mike” because that is where I have been for over 40 years and it is the perspective I bring to this space. I anticipate that most (but, perhaps, not all) of my blogs will concern the sporting world. I will offer up some NFL weekly predictions, much like I used to do on the radio each week. I am most associated with sports and I assume there might actually be a few people who care about my opinions (I am not sure why) on both the local and national level.

From time to time, I will probably get particularly irritated or, hopefully, excited with events outside of sports and feel compelled to say something. No matter what, my goal is to be interesting. That critique, however, is entirely up to you.

In addition, I will have a section called “Above the Ears” where I will offer short comments and observations about almost anything, but, again, sports will be the focus.

I certainly welcome YOUR thoughts and comments. After all, a blog is only interesting if there is dialogue.

Let’s chat next week.


 

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

  1. Do you look at political debates like a sporting event and root for a loser or a winner? Do you cheer on your candidate and inwardly boo the other? OR, do you even watch??
  2. Two weeks ago, I was in Pittsburgh to do a football game and headed out to eat with four other people. On the way, the decision was made to go to the Pirates game instead. We bought $28 tickets on the street for $10. Unbeknowst to us, it was “Fan Appreciation Night”. We received a free T-shirt on the way in, had box seats along the third base line, and proceeded to watch Homer Bailey of the Cincinnati Reds add to baseball history by pitching a no-hitter. Good $10 investment.
  3. Do you think if Tim Tebow was really better than Mark Sanchez, Rex Ryan still would start Sanchez? Coaches play the player that they believe is better, especially if their livelihood depends on it.
  4. I do not think any team can challenge Alabama for college football’s national championship. Do you?
  5. Joe Paterno’s successor, Bill O’Brien, was the perfect choice for Penn State University.

NFL PICKS FOR THIS WEEK

  • Steelers
  • Bengals
  • Colts
  • Bucs
  • Falcons
  • Ravens
  • Eagles
  • Dolphins
  • Patriots
  • Cardinals
  • Vikings
  • 49ers
  • Packers
  • Broncos

Chris Michael’s Blog Post

October 9, 2012 By Chris Michael Leave a Comment

People may not realize that the district playoff system for ALL HS Sports (except for golf) has been changed, starting with the current HS sports season this fall. As opposed to the old “power point” system, that no one ever really seemed to fully understand, this new system, although confusing to follow through the initial reading, does feature some advantages, including an emphasis on trying to keep playoff games as close to home as possible. The system also will look to be somewhat easier to follow and is expected to be updated regularly so fans, coaches, players and media members can have a more current idea of the standings and what must be accomplished to make the district playoffs.

District XI’s AAAA Football and AA, AAA Boys Volleyball will be a sub-regional and therefore follow the sub-regional format. The power rating will be a combination of the team’s weighted winning percentage (TWWP) and their opponents’ weighted winning percentage (OWWP). The power rating would be the sum of 55 percent of the team’s TWWP and 45 percent of the team’s OWWP. The TWWP is based on the results of all games that a team plays. It values wins and losses by the classification of the opponent. The TWWP is calculated by dividing the WEIGHTED WIN VALUE by the sum of the WEIGHTED WIN VALUE and WEIGHTED LOSS VALUE. The complete version of new format–based on the system used by District III–is available on their website.

If this new system still seems hard to follow–you’re not alone. We debated the new process a few weeks ago on RCN SportsTalk and it was met with mixed reviews (that show is available on video-on-demand as part of our “Football Preview Show.” ) Also, we’ll have District XI Chair Jason Zimmerman and other local athletic directors on this Thursday’s show (live at 6pm) to help take us through the process and to answer any questions you may have.

Do you think the system needed changing? And does this seem like a marketable improvement over the previous system, or should more be done? Weigh in with your comments and suggestions or email me at rcnsportstalk@rcn.com with your comments or questions and we’ll address them with our special panelists from the district on this week’s show.

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