Hoosic Valley Eases Through Round #1

Hoosic Valley eases through round one of Sectional Play.  The Hoosic Valley Girls Team defeated Stillwater by a score of 58-27 and the Boys Team beat Duanesburg 46-36.Sydney Fitzpatrick puts up a three from the top of the key.  Fitzpatrick made four three pointers and score 14 points for the night.  She was one of three Indians in double figures.  Cassidy Chapko had the game high with 16 points and Kim Kocienski had 15 points.Cassidy Chapko kept the Warriors on their toes as they try to keep up with her running, skipping and hopping down the court.Loose ball free-for-alls are pretty common when trying to penetrate the Indians D!

Mike Pierre had a game high 13 points as he led the Indians to a win over Duanseburg.Center Ethan Ross-Hixson wins the tip in front of a full house.  Indian fans had a great night watching both teams advance to the next round.Frank Acker keeps the pressure on.  Frank’s been a solid defender all year and put up 10 points in the Indians first sectional win.

Judge and Jury – By Sports Writer Doug Keenholts


When the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) vote was counted last week and nobody was elected to the Hall of Fame this year, it signaled a tipping point in the ongoing debate about performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) in baseball.  With Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens appearing on the ballot for the first time, and receiving just 36.2% and 37.6% of the vote, respectively (it takes 75% for enshrinement), the writers have made a statement.  It can’t be argued, based on numbers alone, that Bonds isn’t in the top 5 position players of all time and Clemens isn’t a top 5 pitcher.  Absent suspicion of PED abuse, each would have been a first ballot lock.  Remember, neither has admitted (wink, wink) to knowingly using PEDs, despite mountains of evidence.  They’ve been convicted, and rightfully so in my eyes, in only the court of public opinion.  More interesting to me is the case of Mike Piazza, who received 57.8% of the vote in his first time on the ballot.  Other than rumors and innuendo, Piazza has never been formally linked to PED use.  His numbers at the catcher position certainly make him Hall of Fame worthy, but suspicions in the PED era cast a wide net.

There has been so much debate about how to handle the PED era in documenting the history of baseball.  More than any other sport, baseball is anchored by its history and its numbers.  Both have been severely tainted by the widespread use of PEDs from the mid- to late-1990s through the early 2000s.  The culpability is widespread:  Bud Selig and the owners turned a blind eye; the players’ association worked far harder to protect the dirty players than they did the clean ones; and fans and baseball media alike ignored obvious evidence of PED use, such as Brady Anderson going from 15 homeruns to 50 homeruns overnight, and Bonds’s head doubling in size.  It is for this last reason that I think the BBWAA is taking the stance it is now.  They missed the boat on this completely.  They were in these locker rooms, covering these teams coast to coast, and they somehow either missed the rampant PED abuse or chose to ignore it.  From a journalistic standpoint, it is inexcusable.  They are collectively tainted by the stain as well.  This is the writer’s chance to exert some measure of revenge.

The debate has raged since the vote as to whether no one getting into the Hall of Fame this year is a good thing or a bad thing for baseball.  My opinion is that it is a good thing.  I don’t agree that you should “just put everyone in and tell the story on the plaque”.  The Hall of Fame is, at its core, a museum of baseball history, and artifacts from Bonds, Clemens, McGwire, Sosa, et al., are prevalently displayed - Including the ball that Bonds hit for his 756th homerun, breaking Hank Aaron’s record, that is now emblazoned with a large asterisk (placed there by the ball’s eventual owner, fashion designer Mark Ecko).  This history of the PED era can be told in other parts of the museum, but to honor those individuals either implicated in or strongly suspected of using PEDs with a bronze bust and induction ceremony would be wrong.  Are there cheaters already enshrined?  Undoubtedly so.  And if a player such as Piazza never did anything wrong and is being wrongly persecuted, that is too bad.  But the clean players had their chance to stand up during this period to clean up the game and did nothing.

So I applaud the BBWAA for sending this message.  I hope Bonds and Clemens are never enshrined.  Because if they are awarded the honor, knowing what we know, what kind of message would that be sending?

Sportsmen – By Doug Keenholts

Last week, Sports Illustrated announced its choice of Lebron James for 2012 Sportsman of the Year.  As the end of each year nears, every outlet everywhere compiles “best of” and “top ten” lists, names its “person of the year,” etc.  In the sports world, SI’s Sportsman of the Year still holds some clout.  SI’s aim is to recognize the most significant sports figure from the previous calendar year, and in that regard it is hard to quibble with the choice of Lebron James.

“The Decision” and all of the venomous aftermath was only two and a half years ago.  At that time, Lebron was on the top of everyone’s “most hated” athlete lists.  Looking back, it was all quite silly.  Did he make a huge mistake in how he announced his move to the Miami Heat from the Cleveland Cavaliers in free agency?  Of course, and he’s admitted as much since.  When the Heat failed to win a title the following year, the general sports world reveled in the perceived failure.  They did make it to the finals, but the storyline centered around Lebron’s inability to finish when he averaged an anemic three points in the fourth quarter of each game.  Heading into the 2012 playoffs, despite being universally regarded as the best basketball player on the planet, the questions about Lebron continued to swirl.  They were answered emphatically in game six of the Eastern Conference finals against the Boston Celtics, when with the Heat down three games to two, Lebron delivered an epic 45 point, 15 rebound performance IN BOSTON, where he was completely and utterly unstoppable.  It was the most dominant athletic performance of 2012, and when the Heat went on to defeat the Oklahoma City Thunder in the finals, Lebron James had placed his stamp on the 2012 sports calendar.  Any stain from “the decision” has been permanently removed.

What other performances in 2012 were worthy of consideration?  For me, perhaps the most electric and “goose-bump” inspiring moment was Gabby Douglas winning the woman’s all-around gold medal in gymnastics.  We collectively get a thrill out of rooting for members of the stars and stripes come Olympic time, but nobody on this year’s team captured the hearts of Americans like Gabby.  The stress and pressure of woman’s gymnastics, where one little bobble can cost you a place atop the medal stand, lends itself to heart-pounding drama.  But Gabby’s story and smile added greatly to the theater, and when she stuck the landing on her last tumble in the floor routine to seemingly capture gold, you could almost hear the entire country exhale and applaud simultaneously.

Another option for SI might have been the Brothers Manning.  Eli started the year off in grand form, securing his second Super Bowl victory and Super Bowl MVP trophy in February, highlighted by one of the more beautiful passes ever thrown in a huge moment:  the “dropped in a mailbox” over the shoulder throw to Mario Manningham that kick-started the Giants’ game-winning touchdown drive.  Peyton has since done his part, answering all of the doubters who thought he would never make it back from four neck surgeries, by delivering one of his greatest statistical regular seasons ever.  With a great chance at winning his fifth NFL MVP award, it will be hard to look back at 2012 without thinking of the accomplishments of Archie’s kids.

In the end, as a great calendar year of sports comes to a close, I think SI got it right with Lebron.   The scariest part is he’ll probably be in the conversation each year for the next decade as well.

Sportsmen – By Doug Keenholts

Last week, Sports Illustrated announced its choice of Lebron James for 2012 Sportsman of the Year.  As the end of each year nears, every outlet everywhere compiles “best of” and “top ten” lists, names its “person of the year,” etc.  In the sports world, SI’s Sportsman of the Year still holds some clout.  SI’s aim is to recognize the most significant sports figure from the previous calendar year, and in that regard it is hard to quibble with the choice of Lebron James.

“The Decision” and all of the venomous aftermath was only two and a half years ago.  At that time, Lebron was on the top of everyone’s “most hated” athlete lists.  Looking back, it was all quite silly.  Did he make a huge mistake in how he announced his move to the Miami Heat from the Cleveland Cavaliers in free agency?  Of course, and he’s admitted as much since.  When the Heat failed to win a title the following year, the general sports world reveled in the perceived failure.  They did make it to the finals, but the storyline centered around Lebron’s inability to finish when he averaged an anemic three points in the fourth quarter of each game.  Heading into the 2012 playoffs, despite being universally regarded as the best basketball player on the planet, the questions about Lebron continued to swirl.  They were answered emphatically in game six of the Eastern Conference finals against the Boston Celtics, when with the Heat down three games to two, Lebron delivered an epic 45 point, 15 rebound performance IN BOSTON, where he was completely and utterly unstoppable.  It was the most dominant athletic performance of 2012, and when the Heat went on to defeat the Oklahoma City Thunder in the finals, Lebron James had placed his stamp on the 2012 sports calendar.  Any stain from “the decision” has been permanently removed.

What other performances in 2012 were worthy of consideration?  For me, perhaps the most electric and “goose-bump” inspiring moment was Gabby Douglas winning the woman’s all-around gold medal in gymnastics.  We collectively get a thrill out of rooting for members of the stars and stripes come Olympic time, but nobody on this year’s team captured the hearts of Americans like Gabby.  The stress and pressure of woman’s gymnastics, where one little bobble can cost you a place atop the medal stand, lends itself to heart-pounding drama.  But Gabby’s story and smile added greatly to the theater, and when she stuck the landing on her last tumble in the floor routine to seemingly capture gold, you could almost hear the entire country exhale and applaud simultaneously.

Another option for SI might have been the Brothers Manning.  Eli started the year off in grand form, securing his second Super Bowl victory and Super Bowl MVP trophy in February, highlighted by one of the more beautiful passes ever thrown in a huge moment:  the “dropped in a mailbox” over the shoulder throw to Mario Manningham that kick-started the Giants’ game-winning touchdown drive.  Peyton has since done his part, answering all of the doubters who thought he would never make it back from four neck surgeries, by delivering one of his greatest statistical regular seasons ever.  With a great chance at winning his fifth NFL MVP award, it will be hard to look back at 2012 without thinking of the accomplishments of Archie’s kids.

In the end, as a great calendar year of sports comes to a close, I think SI got it right with Lebron.   The scariest part is he’ll probably be in the conversation each year for the next decade as well.

Nathan Hatalsky – Named Athlete of The Year By Sandy McBride


Nathan Hatalsky is pretty sure he was tossing a football around before he could walk, and it’s a safe bet that he learned how to tackle taking down his older brother, Chris.  Flag football was too tame for him, but he really got into the sport when he was old enough to play for the local Junior Red Raider program.  Nate loves the game of football.

   The Albany Times Union named him as their small schools Defensive Athlete of the Year and The Saratogian has also named him Athlete of the Year for his outstanding accomplishments in his senior football season. To receive these two prestigious honors is the crowning achievement in Nate’s four-year varsity football career at Mechanicville High School.  Nate was honored for his prowess on the gridiron where in his senior year he logged 72 solo tackles and 64 assisted tackles as well as several quarterback sacks in leading his Red Raider team to a 6 – 3 overall record.

 

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Time to Go Home By Doug Keeholts

 Last week, the Big East announced that Tulane University and East Carolina University had accepted invitations to join the conference in 2014 -- Tulane in all sports and East Carolina as an associate member for football only.  Feel free to read that sentence again to grasp its absurdity.  The best analogy I’ve seen regarding the Big East’s illogical expansion over the past few years is that they are the conference that stayed at the bar far too long.  While the Pac-12, SEC, ACC, and Big 10 went home hours ago with the likes of Colorado, Missouri, Syracuse, and Maryland – the Big East ordered another round of shots, looked around, and realized it was desperation time so they stumbled over to talk to SMU and Houston.  Judgment clouded by the lure of football dollars when they should have just realized it was time to go home.

Home for the Big East is men’s basketball.   Football was never supposed to be the focus of the Big East conference, but they began dancing with the devil in 1991 when the presidents voted to invite the University of Miami - a school with absolutely no basketball pedigree but a great football team - to join as a full member.  Here we are 21 years later and the time has come for the Big East to find its roots.  The non-football playing members need to break off and create their own conference - a basketball super-conference.

The core is already intact:  St. Johns, Georgetown, Seton Hall, Villanova, Providence, DePaul, and Marquette are all members that either don’t play football or whose football programs play in the lower Championship Subdivision.  The presidents of these schools need to reach out to other like-minded Universities, and there are two obvious ones that would be perfect fits:  Butler and Xavier.   Both have very strong programs featuring recent deep NCAA tournament runs; both reside in good-sized cities (Indianapolis and Cincinnati respectively); and neither has a football program playing at the BCS level.  They should also look at a school like St. Joseph’s in Philadelphia, a natural rival for Villanova and a school with a rich basketball tradition and no football team.  That would create a core of ten basketball programs, primarily in big eastern cities, with either great tradition or tremendous recent success.  Ideally, you would like a conference with twelve programs, so from there they should try to cherry pick two more schools with similar resumes (George Washington?  UMass?  Virginia Commonwealth?).  One would think a conference with such a makeup would attract a lot of exclusive television rights, be extremely competitive nationally in both competition and recruiting, and would be able to generate enough revenue to fund the schools’ other athletic programs.

And they should fight like hell to retain the name Big East.  The name means something in basketball, and the bastardized current football playing version includes San Diego State, which is east of what exactly?  Hawaii?  It’s time for someone to call the Big East a taxi, explain to them how drunk they are, and tell them that it’s time to go home.

 

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The Year of the Coach – By Doug Keenholts

 

If you could have any job in sports right now, one that should be at or near the top of the list is agent for a head coach.  If the 2012 sports year has taught us anything it’s that good coaching matters.  If I’m an agent for any successful head coach or manager right now I’m looking to renegotiate a contract.  Strike while the iron is hot.

Exactly how much value a head coach or manager adds to a team is considered a gray area, and has long been a good source for bar room arguments.  The chief example is Phil Jackson.  Eleven NBA titles as a head coach, the only coach to win more than ten in all of the major North American sports, yet for years his contributions were downplayed because none of those titles came without Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant.  There was a persistent viewpoint that just about anyone could have coached those Bulls and Lakers teams to titles.  That perception shifted with his last two Lakers titles, which were without Shaquille O’Neil and in a more balanced league, and Jackson is now perceived, rightfully in my opinion, as the greatest team coach in history.  As great a player as Michael Jordan was, he never won a title without Phil Jackson.  But that “chicken or the egg” argument still holds water with some people.  After 2012 I think it can be finally put to bed.

 

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Secretary of Sports by Doug Keenholts

 

It’s election season, and no matter what side of the aisle you reside on, I think we can all agree that the mailings, robo-calls, and commercials cannot end soon enough.  Every candidate promising this or that, when we know full well 95% of it is simply political posturing.  With all of the positions candidates take a stand on, you would think they would find some that would appeal to the masses -Democrats and Republicans alike.  I have an idea for them:  appoint a Secretary of Sports.  Imagine if President Obama or Governor Romney, in his next stump speech, announced that on his first day in office he would appoint someone to be in charge of fixing all the things wrong with sports in this country?  Would it sway your vote?  While I will quickly concede that it is certainly not the MOST important issue facing our country – I think this is an area where Democrats and Republicans could find some common ground.  In fact, I’d like to nominate myself for the position of Secretary of Sports.  Here is my 10-point plan.  Thank you for your consideration.

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