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May 4, 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 know that there are certainly more important things going on in your life right now.  Many of you are missing paychecks, many have yet to see their stimulus check, many can’t get through to the unemployment web site, and many have lost someone close due to the Corona Virus.  I understand that, for sure, but, just this one time, allow me to feel a little self-pity and I emphasize “a little”.

This past week was supposed to be a good one – On April 25, the Lafayette Maroon-White football game was to be played and I would be in the booth to once again preview the upcoming football season.  The outlook was brighter than it had been in quite awhile.  Lafayette had won 4 of their last 5 games last season and they looked to be much stronger this year.  The game, obviously, was not played.

On Sunday, eight of us were set to embark on our 16th straight golf trip.  We call it The War at the Shore because we stay near the boardwalk in Ocean City. It is a great time – one practice round followed by 4 official rounds leading to a championship.  Place of finish is important because that becomes the order for room choices the following year.  Believe me when I say you do not want to finish 7th or 8th.  Those are children’s rooms with appropriately sized beds and mattresses.  The battle for the two master suites is intense.  It includes your own bath and shower, a TV, and an oversized bed.

The scores are handicapped so, technically, we are all about even when we play.  Handicaps are vociferously debated especially when a good golfer finds himself below a not-so-good (sometimes awful) golfer.  The handicap debates are a source of argument and laughter at the same time.

Each day, the scoreboard is updated to reflect each player’s position.  Good-natured (I think it’s “good-natured”) ribbing ensues while we all enjoy dinner, refreshment, the battle for what shows to watch on the main flat-screen TV.  Trust me, I will never forget the year we watched about 200 episodes of Dangerous Catch.  Obviously, my vote did not count for much.

On the fifth day, after the final round, we meet in the parking lot and the order of finish is announced, with appropriate, and inappropriate, trophies rewarded.  The top players exhibit those awards throughout the year and the bottom trophies are not for public viewing.  And we get into our cars and return home, proudly or quite humbly.  I, more than I care to admit, but constantly reminded, am often humbled.

I am writing this because this Sunday afternoon I am going golfing.  Yes, Governor Wolf opened up the golf courses for play this weekend.  I am writing this now so I don’t accidentally put my score in the story.

There are plenty of restrictions – one player in a cart, no scorecard, no pencils, social distancing in effect, no touching the pins, etc. – in other words, reduce the camaraderie to a minimum.  Since I am playing with three other “War at the Shore” participants, reduced camaraderie is fine with me.

So, I am done whining to you about this minor problem.

Oh, did I mention that instead of playing golf this past Sunday, my wife and I were to leave on a cruise that day?

But whining about that is for another time.

Stay safe!


  1. Charles Barkley this week chose his Top Five NBA players of all time: Michael Jordan, Oscar Robertson, Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Kobe Bryant was sixth and LeBron James was seventh.  It’s hard to argue his choices.  Speaking of Jordan, I hope you are watching ESPN’s “The Last Dance”.  It is really good even for the non-sports fan.
  1. The NFL is not messing around with their schedule. Late this week, the league will release their 2020 schedule and it does not include any accommodations to the current situation.  September 10 is the opener and the Super Bowl is scheduled for February 7.  They promise to do “reasonable and responsible” planning.  That will be the interesting part.
  1. Congratulations to the following local high school basketball players for achieving All-State honors this past season:

    Caleb Mims – Freedom
    Daryl Coleman – Southern Lehigh
    Nick Filchner – Central Catholic
    Abe Atiyeh – Moravian Academy
    Jevin Muniz – Executive Education
    Titus Wilkins – Executive Education

    Talya Brugler – Nazareth
    Taliyah Medina – Bethlehem Catholic (4A Player of the Year)
    Antonio Bates – Notre Dame
    Cassie Murphy – Notre Dame

  1. The Lafayette Virtual Tailgate Party this past Saturday went very well. Mike Joseph and I were the hosts.  It was Zoomed to over 250 fans and featured Coach John Garrett, who introduced the four co-captains for the season – offensive lineman, John Burk; linebacker, Major Jordan; wide receiver Quinn Revere; and safety Otis Thrasher.  I did miss the smell of burgers and sausages on the grill and the popping of aluminum can tops.  That is hard to do “virtually”.
  1. I keep thinking that if I watch enough of the Golf Channel “how-to improve” shows, my game will, well, improve. But, as I watch, there seems to be something new to think about every time you prepare to hit the ball.  There is only so much I can remember during my backswing.








April 29, 2020 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.

For over a hundred years some of the greatest video treasures of all time have been produced. Some have been lost in the sands of time and others, soon to be rediscovered, will become fan favorites for a whole new generation.

Each week we will feature just one of the many hidden gems that you can see on RCN TV with insights and commentaries on classic television shows and legendary cinematic performances.

Very few actors can say they were a bigger box office draw that Humphrey Bogart in the 1940s and early 50s.

He starred in several films regarded as the greatest of all time and won his first Academy Award in what many called the ultimate on-screen pairing with Katharine Hepburn, The African Queen, in 1951.

In 1999, the American Film Institute designated Bogart as the greatest male film actor of cinema’s “Classic Era.”

And in 1953, Bogart teamed with another screen legend, Peter Lorre, Academy Award winning director John Huston, multiple-Oscar nominated actress Jennifer Jones, Bernard Lee (the original “M” in the James Bond movie series) and one of the sexiest leading ladies of the era, Gina Lollobrigida, in one of Bogart’s last films, Beat The Devil.

(Beat The Devil stars, from left, Jones, Bogart and Lollobrigida)

The film was originally intended as a sequel of one of the greatest film noir flicks of all time, The Maltese Falcon.  However, shortly after co-writers Houston and Truman Capote started the screenplay, they changed direction and instead wrote a spoof of Falcon and similar films of the genre.

Unlike later parody films, the plot is interesting and the comedic lines nicely accompany the storyline with neither getting in the way of each other. While not a typical film style for any of the leading stars, the actors generally received positive reviews for their performances.

Bogart got in a real-life car crash during the production and had to have several of his lines dubbed over in order for the film to be completed on time.

The actor they hired to double Bogey’s voice?

The then-unknown actor Peter Sellers who, among other great films, became the genius behind The Pink Panther movies. (Can you tell which scenes he was in?)

Though nearing the end of his legendary career, Bogart was still clearly on his game, following up this film up with his Oscar-nominated performance in The Caine Mutiny.

Film critic Roger Ebert included Devil in his “great movie” list and singles it out as perhaps the first ever successful “camp film” in cinema history.

Beat The Devil will be featured in the RCN Movie Vault on Thursday, May 7, at 9:00 am.

To view the complete rundown of classic programming on RCN TV, check out the weekly listings here on our website. 





Sorry, Charlie

April 28, 2020 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.

Twenty-four-hour, all-sports radio stations have had an interesting few weeks trying to come up with new topics to discuss when there are literally no new topics in sports to discuss.  One program I heard recently on Philadelphia’s 94 WYSP (the station where I covered the Eagles for eight years) did bring up a Baseball Hall of Fame discussion, which led to a debate on who should and should not be in.  Among the names discussed includes one of the most positive personalities that I have ever met.

I have met, talked with and interviewed hundreds of very interesting head coaches in my day.

Among the professional head coaches and managers that I have interviewed: Doug Peterson, Andy Reid, Ray Rhodes, Larry Bowa, Gabe Kapler, Ryne Sandberg, Brett Brown, Mo Cheeks, Larry Brown … to name a few.  But I would be hard- pressed to find a more genuine and likeable pro sports coaching personality than former Phillies manager Charlie Manuel.

When I (and just about any other media member—save Howard Eskin) have had a chance to speak with Charlie about, well, anything, he was as accepting and as gracious as any person you could ever find.  He treated all members of the media the same and never gave anyone a hard time for a question he didn’t particularly like…something you can’t often say when dealing with people who have accomplished as much in a career as Manuel did.

In the Delaware Valley, he’s now a legend.  Winning a World Series will do that for most managers.

Manuel was on a list of 10 candidates but fell short of being elected into The Hall last December by the new “Today’s Game Era Committee,” and Phillies fans have been making a push for his name to return—with even more support—again to this year’s ballot.

Sadly, if pressed for an answer, I would have to agree that Manuel should NOT be enshrined, and if I was on any of the groups that have that power (of which there are too many—which is a subject for another blog entry) I’m afraid I would not vote him in.


A look at the facts…

Manuel won just one World Series.  In all, he won six league division titles and two pennants—all with seriously loaded offensive lineups.  While his ability to reach and connect with players, both on and off the field, was one of his best attributes, it’s hard to quantify that into the numbers game that is so key to getting that extra boost necessary to put you into the elite that is found in Cooperstown.

Instead, Manuel will more likely be remembered for that likeable, good-natured human being trait that I mentioned at the outset of this passage, than any extraordinary number or statistic you could provide in his defense.

The Hall of Fame is a place reserved for strictly the best of the best, based purely in terms of the game of baseball at the highest level and the Shrine is filled with people who had less than admirable personality traits.

Perhaps then, it is only fitting that Charlie will probably not be among them.


April 27, 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’s not riveting TV – No, I am not talking about my last ZOOM appearance on RCN TV’s Sportstalk (although truer words could not be spoken).  I am talking about the ABC, ESPN, and NFL Network broadcasts of the NFL Draft which drew an amazing 8.4 million viewers.  I was one of them.

I have never been an avid watcher of the program, for the very reason I have suggested – it’s boring.  And it’s boring not for one night, not for two days, but for three days.  However, this year when we are into rerun season of the shows we normally watch and HGTV is giving my wife just TOO MANY ideas about our house, I needed a change.  I was tired of trying to decide if we should flip or flop; list it or sell it; stay in our forever house; or what?  The Property Brothers have become nightly visitors and, all they do is make me look totally inept at doing virtually any household chore.

So – I suggested that I should watch the NFL Draft since my job does revolve around sports.  As I have said, but don’t tell my wife, I find this show boring.  In normal times, I would not watch.  There is almost no action except for the highlights of the players who are drafted.  There is the “very exciting” exchange of a handshake and team logoed baseball cap with Roger Goodell, the NFL commissioner.

You might say there is the drama of not knowing what name will be called, but draft analysis has been going on for almost two months (there was nothing else to talk about in the sports world) so surprises are few and far between.  But this year would be different.  There would be no huge crowd in Las Vegas booing the commissioner, booing a selection, and getting an immediate response from the next instant multi-millionaire right after that player is selected.  This year would be different.

Everyone stayed home.  This meant I could see Roger Goodell’s basement.  Honestly, it could have used some HGTV renovation.  And this was not his element at all.  He seemed so uncomfortable trying to rev up the 50 or so fans who were shown on the screen behind him.  Often, he saw a cue a bit late (another awkward moment) and was not aware he was on camera.  It’s a nice TV job for one night, however.  Have someone hand you a card and read the name.  I think I could do that.

I did find it entertaining and technically impressive that early on the draft choices could be shown in their homes surrounded by family (not necessarily keeping any distance).  And catching the reactions of the family after the name of their son, brother, relative, or boyfriend was enjoyable.

I still found the program to be tedious.  What I did realize is that I am desperate to find something to create interest after over 40 days and nights of self quarantining.  Truth be told, I did not watch days two and three.

But, at least on this one night, I did not hear the question, “Could we do this in our house?”  Property Brothers be damned!

Stay safe.


  1. The Eagles did not have much going for them on the excitement meter for the draft. Everyone knew they would take a wide receiver on the 21st They did.  Their selection was Jalen Reagor of TCU.  Many thought they would take Justin Jefferson, but they went with a little more speed and a better positional fit.  In the end, the Eagles drafted three wide receivers, three linebackers, two offensive linemen, a safety, and a quarterback.  If the selections are good ones, many holes have been filled.
  1. With Tom Brady paired up again with Rob Gronkowski, Tampa Bay took an offensive lineman as their first pick to protect their new quarterback. This team is going to be good, perhaps, very good.
  1. I hope you are watching The Last Dance on ESPN, Sunday nights at 9:00. It is the story of the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls with Michael Jordan as the focus. It is riveting TV and an amazing achievement for the documentarians.  If you are a sports fan or not, I think you will be mesmerized by the show.
  1. With all the innovative ways of trying to stream relatable programming to their fans, Lafayette is going to hold a virtual tailgate party this Saturday (5/2) at 11:00AM. I will host along with Mike Joseph and we will have head coach John Garrett and the 2020 football captains on to answer questions from the fans.  It will be on ZOOM.  You can be a part of the stream.  Click here for info.
  2. The teams of Tiger Woods and Peyton Manning against Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady will meet in a charity golf match next month. The event will air LIVE on TNT, without the fiasco created last time by Pay-Per-View.  Brady is already getting his jabs in.  (See below)


Photo courtesy of Tom Brady



April 20, 2020 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. 

For over 100 years some of the greatest video treasures of all time have been produced. Some have been lost in the sands of time and others, soon to be rediscovered, will become fan favorites for a whole new generation.

Each week we will feature just one of the many hidden gems that you can see on RCN TV with insights and commentaries on classic television shows and legendary cinematic performances.

People probably best remember Ginger Rogers as the other half of the greatest on-screen dancing team of all time.

But you may not know that Rogers also carved out a pretty significant leading lady persona starting in the late 1930s through the 1940s and starred in some very interesting flicks.

One of her top roles was a film called Heartbeat, directed by Sam Wood (The Pride of the Yankees, Goodbye, Mr. Chips, A Night at the Opera).

Initially, when starting her solo career, Rogers made the mistake of trying to cast herself with more reserved and less-known leading men. This backfired when, for one of her first starring films, she asked for a virtually unknown actor by the name of James Stewart to co-star in the film Vivacious Lady.  Stewart ended up stealing the spotlight despite Rogers participating in one of the most vicious on-screen fights of the time period.

(Stewart would receive his first Academy Award nomination in his very next film, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, followed by an Academy Award-winning performance in The Philadelphia Story the next year.)

Rogers did not make that same mistake in Heartbeat. Her co-stars were Basil Rathbone (who starred many times as the titular character in the Sherlock Holmes film series) and Adolphe Menjou (the star of the Charlie Chaplin classic A Woman in Paris.)

Rogers stars as Arlette, a young and rather inexperienced pickpocket who gets adopted into the professional thieving world by Professor Aristide (Rathbone).  On her first assignment she is caught by a wealthy ambassador (Menjou) and is forced to partake in yet an even bigger game of deception.

The film is a wonderful blend of comedy and romance, complete with a very fulfilling twist in the end.

Heartbeat was one of Rogers’ great films during her solo years, sandwiched around classics like Tom, Dick and Harry, I’ll Be Seeing You, The Major and the Minor, Kitty Foyle and Bachelor Mother.

She would also return to co-star with Fred Astaire one last time a few years after Heartbeat in the production, The Berkeleys of Broadway.

Heartbeat will be featured in the RCN TV Movie Vault this Sunday, April 26,  at 4 p.m.

To view the complete rundown of classic programming on RCN TV, check out the weekly listings here on our website. 







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 do not need to tell anyone that life is far from normal.  We work from home, we stay at home, we cook every meal at home, and we try to take a walk every day not far from home – home, home, and home.

This past week, we tried to expand that environment technologically.  Our first goal was a family one – we wanted to try and celebrate Easter dinner “together”.  The logistics seemed to be a challenge: my oldest daughter and her husband were in Salisbury Township; our second daughter and family were in Northampton; our grandson was in Bethlehem Township; and our one granddaughter was in upstate New York. We were in Palmer Township.

And I, of course, was the technical novice (nicer word than idiot).  We were going to use something called “Hangouts” which was promoted by my son-in-law and grandson.  Easter Saturday became the day for “remote learning”, a term very familiar to the students who are no longer in school.  My son-in-law needed to call and text.  Let the learning begin.  It only took an hour and a half to set it up to the point where I felt comfortable using the app.

My wife and I thought that having Easter dinner together actually meant having Easter dinner together.  Well, when 6:00pm rolled around and we all got on our computers, the only ones who had not already eaten were my wife and I.  So, we ate and they talked and talked.  It certainly was not the same as gathering around our dining room table, but we saw everyone, knew that all were safe, and coping pretty well.  However, I’m sure everyone missed my wife’s Ukrainian Easter traditional dishes.  Easter was a special time for my in-laws and that tradition has carried over to my family as well.  But, the bottom line was that we did communicate with one another.

On Tuesday, it was decided that we would try to do a SportsTalk show from our homes, via, you guessed it, teleconferencing.  Only this time the format would be ZOOM.  A new learning lesson was required.  I tested my system on Tuesday and found ZOOM to be very simple.  I was either getting smarter or the process was easier.  I expect you all are assuming the latter.

Luckily, before the SportsTalk taping, I was also asked to attend an RCN staff meeting using ZOOM technology.  I was finally able to see some of my fellow workers for the first time in over a month.  There were about 15 of us.  It immediately became apparent that the camera angle was important – for many, looking up their nose was somewhat unpleasant.  I also became very aware of good posture (and its absence).  Some chose electronic artificial backgrounds.  One looked like the person was in a casino, probably not a good message during a staff meeting.  Nor, I would guess, was one where someone appeared to be on a Caribbean beach.  The good news is that we had a rather normal meeting in a very abnormal setting.

It was on to SportsTalk, which you can watch on Video on Demand if you wish.  Chris Michael and Keith Groller had invited John Leone and me to participate.  I think it was John Leone, but his full beard threw me a bit.  Here was a man losing hair on top, but growing plenty of hair below.  Chris was in the studio and the three of us were in our homes.

I began to feel like Sanjay Gupta, who is in my home more than you can possibly imagine.  Much like his reports from home, we were doing something similar and equally “important” (I’ll wait for the disdain to pass).  The show went well.  Each of the three of us had our own little box and, much like in the studio, we were able to have a somewhat lucid conversation.

It all worked.  And, amazingly, it worked for me (the technological idiot).  So, bring on Hangouts, ZOOM, Facetime, and anything else you want to throw my way.  I am ready!

Now what’s my ZOOM password?  I’m sure I wrote it down somewhere.

Stay safe.


  1. You can expect LSU quarterback Joe Burrow and Ohio State’s defensive end Chase Young to go 1-2 in the draft this week. The Cincinnati Bengals will pick #1 (probably Burrow) and the Washington Redskins #2 (that means Young).  It begins Thursday.
  1. If you are a college football fan, you know the name (but probably can’t pronounce it) Tua Tagovailoa. He is the quarterback from Alabama who will be a high draft choice this year, projected to be taken by Miami.  He is left-handed.  I bring this up because out of the 73 QBs who actually played in an NFL game last year, not one was left-handed.  Two played in five games in 2017 and the last left-handed QB to start and win a playoff game in the NFL was Tim Tebow.  Tua is fighting plenty of history.
  1. I am beginning to believe we might have some MLB baseball in some form. I am also beginning to believe you will only be able to see it on TV.
  1. The high school football season is approaching. I think we can practice social distancing in the stands, but what about the young men playing on the field?  There are some very tough decisions to be made in the next month or so.
  1. Isn’t golf an “essential” pastime? The guys I play with are usually hundreds of yards apart after they hit their drives.  We can call it “social distancing” if you want instead of, “That was a terrible drive”.


Behind the Mic: Wait and (Not) See

March 16, 2020 By Gary Laubach Leave a Comment

On Thursday, March 5, the PIAA suspended all athletic events for a two-week period.  Since then, every major and minor sporting event has been cancelled and placed in limbo for an indefinite amount of time.  Not only does it appear that there will not be any more basketball this year, it is becoming very likely that no spring sports will be played either.

I am certainly not complaining about the decisions made – they were and continue to be necessary until we get a handle on this grave situation.  Sports are part of the fabric of our lives proven by the void created by their complete absence right now.  But, it pales in comparison to achieving our ultimate goal – overcoming Covid-19 (coronavirus).

Since it appears that only a miracle would finish the state basketball playoffs, some mention of our three teams that were still alive is necessary.  Bethlehem Catholic, Nazareth, and Freedom were still advancing.  All three teams had moved to the quarterfinals.  Only seven teams stood between them and a state championship.  It was quite possible that Nazareth and Freedom could have met one another in the state championship on March 20.  Therefore, all three teams need a bit more ink.

Freedom was 24-5 this year losing three times to Bethlehem Catholic and in double overtime to Nazareth in the District XI championship.  They were one shy of the most girls’ basketball wins in school history.  They won both state games by double-digit margins.  Their seniors had a combined record of 82-29 and won a District Championship in 2018.  They had already advanced farther than any team in their history.  They will never know how this season would have ended.

Nazareth was continuing a great season (26-4).  Twenty-six wins is the most in a single season and they, too, had never advanced to the state quarterfinals. They managed to win the District championship after losing the EPC title to Bethlehem Catholic.  Their two state wins were by margins of 28 and 11 points.  They overcame being placed in the bottom half of the bracket and having to travel great distances for their games.  That did not matter – they won anyway.  Their team has no seniors, so, at least, they will all return next year.

Beca is in a category all their own.  Their season ended with a 29-0 record.  In the last four years, they have amassed a 112-8 record, last losing on January 31, 2019, to Freedom.  They have won 42 straight games and two of the last three state titles.  What made the end so disappointing this year was that their next opponent was Scranton Prep.  Their record was 27-0.  So without the shutdown, these two teams would have faced one another with a combined 56-0 record.  Scranton Prep had already gone farther than any team in their history.

So the only defeats in state playoffs to these teams came from Covid-19.  I would be shocked if another game is played this year.  So, disappointment will always exist, “what-ifs” will always be asked, and outcomes will never be answered.

One thing we do know with certainty – Freedom, Nazareth, Bethlehem Catholic (and Scranton Prep) all had great seasons and, for that, they should be extremely proud.


  1. There was certainly more bad news this past week concerning high school basketball in the Lehigh Valley. First, was the announcement by Doug Snyder that he was resigning as the head basketball coach at Allen High School.  This was his 23rd year at the helm and he had an incredible record of 364 wins and 263 losses.  They finished this season 23-6 and won the EPC.  Allen is not an easy place to coach with all the inner city problems, but Doug was the right person for the job.  He never wavered on the values that he taught and never let winning get in the way of doing the right thing.  He will be sorely missed.
  2. Within the same week, Liberty head coach Chad Landis decided it was time to spend more time with his wife and four daughters (certainly another huge challenge for him). Chad coached Liberty for 12 years and won 198 games.  His team was 20-6 this past year.  Much like Snyder, Landis made his players better people amid similar challenges.  Two outstanding teachers of life and the game of basketball will now have to be replaced.  No easy task, for sure.
  3. At least with NFL free agency occurring right now, there will be some sports news to report. What will Tom Brady, Dak Prescott, Drew Brees do?  There are over 100 free agents so there should be something to talk about in the next month.
  4. Thank you to all the stat people, the athletic directors, the coaches, the administrative assistants, and to the fans for another great, yet somewhat unsatisfying year.
  5. Much like the rest of the month – TBD

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November 6, 2019 By Matt Kennedy Leave a Comment

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Friday the 13th

September 17, 2019 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 not a superstitious guy.  I have opened an umbrella in my office.  I’m sure I have walked under a ladder (although I was probably NOT using it).  I have certainly stepped on a crack and, as far as I knew, my mother never suffered any undue back distress.  I cannot remember the last time I spilled salt, but if I did I would just clean it up, not make a bigger mess by throwing it over my shoulder.

So, once again, I am not a suspicious guy.  However…

This past Friday was the 13th.  Yes, Friday the 13th.  I know the date has some history to it.  The number itself is supposed to be unlucky.  Many hotels avoid having a 13th floor.  Thirteen disciples came to the Last Supper and that did not turn out well at all.  Even Hammurabi (you remember him?) left the number 13 out of his famous code.

I bring this up because this past Friday was the 13th and I had a football game to do – undefeated Nazareth at undefeated Freedom.  I always plan to arrive at the venue by 5:00pm for a 7:00pm game.  When I get to Bethlehem School District Stadium I ALWAYS park in the same place – just across the street from the stadium.  It allows easy entrance and, more importantly, easy exit.  But, my space was taken!  That never happens.

I was forced to find another.  Okay, no big deal.

About 20 minutes before the start of the game, I was informed that the officials I was given during the week were all changed.  This meant that our graphic was completely wrong.  Luckily, we managed to make the change before game time, but I was left wondering why the change.

The game began and, as is the norm, I wanted to get a report from Tony Cocca, our sideline reporter, before the opening kickoff.  His microphone would not work and never worked for the rest of the night.  He could hear us.  We could not hear him.

When a touchdown is scored, I quickly have to recap the drive and make some notes so I can recap when necessary.  Freedom scored in the second period to make it 14-13.  I started writing – time of score, who scored, how many TDs the player has scored this season, etc.  After all, the extra point was a given.  The Freedom kicker, up to that point, was a perfect 14 for 14.  He missed, but I missed the miss!

For the next ten minutes or so, I kept giving the score as being tied – 14-14.  I asked my color analyst why he didn’t point out my mistake.  He told me he missed the miss, also.

Later in the game, I “promo-ed” a game we had dropped from the schedule.  That’s right, I was building up the viewers’ expectations for another game to follow, but I was wrong.  The game was originally scheduled but then dropped from the schedule.

The culmination of the night was the outcome.  Every sportswriter (10 of them) picked Freedom to win the game.  Nazareth won 35-33.  Freedom was forced to go for a two-point conversion (because of the missed extra point that I originally missed, too).  They failed.

As I walked back to my car wondering where I had to park it, I began to think that maybe this Friday the 13th stuff has some merit to it.

Thank goodness, it only comes rarely!  KNOCK ON WOOD!


  1. Two of the superstars in the NFL, Ben Roethlisberger of the Steelers and Drew Brees of the Saints, may both be facing surgery after this past Sunday’s games. Roethlisberger grabbed his throwing elbow after throwing a pass and Brees injured his wrist and thumb after hitting the hand of a defensive tackle. 
  1. Time for my Saquon Barkley mention (seems to come up every week). His presence has me now watching the Giants, too.  He is great; his team is awful.  And Eli Manning (I know his offensive line is awful) looks lost out there.  He has no one to throw to and he seems to panic at times.  It is time to see what his backup Daniel Jones can do.  I mean, come on.  I want to enjoy the Barkley games. 
  1. Who will beat the Patriots? No one until maybe November.  That’s when they have Baltimore, Philadelphia, Kansas City and Dallas.  If they win those and Tom Brady stays healthy, it could be 16-0. 
  1. Remember Keith Jackson, Don Meredith, and Howard Cosell behind the microphones for Monday Night Football? That was (are you kidding me?) 50 years ago.  September 21, 1970 was the first broadcast of Monday Night Football.  The Browns played the Jets that night.  They played each other this week on (you guessed it) Monday Night Football.  The Browns won. 
  1. The high school football just gets better and better each week. RCN-TV has a terrific football lineup this weekend.  On Friday night at 9:30pm, the undefeated Nazareth Blue Eagles take on the once-defeated Golden Hawks of Bethlehem Catholic, who “mercy-ruled” Parkland this past Saturday.  Our LIVE game at 7:00pm features Parkland at Liberty.  Both teams already have two losses and cannot afford another.  Join us.

GARY’GUESSES (LAST WEEK –11-5)  (YEAR-TO-DATE – 22-9-1  71%) 


















HS Football 2019: Week 5

September 16, 2019 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.|

In the years we’ve been doing the “Pick 4” high school football prediction contest, we usually keep the predictions’ themselves, for the most part, exclusively here on the RCN-TV website, while we post the weekly standings only on our TV show.

However, a couple times each season, we usually like to share the standings with our internet readers, just to give you an idea of how your favorite RCN personalities are doing with this year’s contest.

One of those traditional times would be this week, as we approach the midway point of the regular season. Our up-to-the-minute standings are as follows…

Tony Cocca 14-2
Chris Michael 12-4
Keith Groller 11-5
John Leone 11-5
Gary Laubach 10-6

Keep in mind, there’s plenty of time (and games) left with the second half of the season and several weeks of the playoffs yet to come. Also, it is a tight horse race (as usually stays that way into the postseason) between all participants and should make for an exciting finish in November.

Continue to watch our weekly show and hear our “SportsTalk” podcasts (found here on the RCN-TV website) for the latest standings (along with commentary from those participating in the contest).

Now, here are our RCN football experts (along with myself) weighing in on four of the biggest high school games this weekend… 

The “PICK 4” Parkland vs. Liberty Dieruff vs. Pleasant Valley Saucon Valley vs. Northern Lehigh Bethlehem Catholic vs. Nazareth
Gary Laubach Parkland Pleasant Valley Saucon Valley Bethlehem Catholic
Tony Cocca  Parkland Dieruff Saucon Valley Nazareth
Keith Groller Parkland Dieruff Saucon Valley Nazareth
John Leone  Parkland Pleasant Valley Saucon Valley Nazareth
Chris Michael  Parkland Dieruff Saucon Valley Nazareth

Keep following along each week here at “The Shop” for our predictions ahead of the weekend’s high school action and tune-in to our “RCN SportsTalk” television show for the latest “standings” to see which of our local football personalities are most correctly predicting the high school games this fall.

Also, be sure to check out the “fan voting” section of RCN-TV’s games each week here on our website to let your opinions be known as well! 


Before we get to the polls, a reminder for NFL fans to subscribe to get your “NFL Red Zone” packages.  The season is now underway and you won’t want to miss a minute of the action. Call 1-800-RING-RCN or log on to to learn the easy way to see all the great gridiron action this fall. 

Also, be sure to check out the tailgating contest that RCN is running to find out how to win great prizes and truly enhance your tailgating parties this football season.  You won’t want to miss out on all the goodies available to win! 


Now, here’s our look at our high school football “big” and “small schools” polls (as voted by select media members, coaches & administrators for District XI teams)…

 “Big” Schools Poll

1)  Nazareth

2) Easton

3)  Freedom

4)  East Stroudsburg-South

5)  Parkland


“Small” Schools Poll

1)   Bethlehem Catholic

2)  Notre Dame

3)  Northwestern

4)  Central Catholic 

Each pollster identifies their top five teams among the “big schools” and the top four squads for the “smaller” group—the top school gets five (or four for the small schools) points, the second team gets four (or three) points and so on, with an average score determining the order of teams in both of the polls.   

Check back each week here at “The Shop” to see if your favorite teams make our list! 

Programming Alert!!! 

Cleary, RCN-TV will be broadcasting the best EPC game of the weekend with our “Big School” & “Small School” number one teams playing each other (Bethlehem Catholic/Nazareth, Friday, tape delayed at 9:30pm), but the best Colonial League match-up will be a pair of 3-1 teams (Saucon Valley & Northern Lehigh) squaring off–the winner staying one game back of the top spot in the conference. 

We’ll not only have a preview of that game from one of the key people who will be involved in that Friday contest on our “SportsTalk” show this week, but he will be telling us about a special ceremony that will also be taking place at that game, along with a couple other surprises.  Tune in Thursday at 7pm on RCN (or hear our podcast, posted on Friday) to hear the big news!!!

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