Thursday, December 24, 2015

Sports this 'n' that

I took advantage of a discount offer in the Albany Times-Union the other day and took in Tuesday's game between Siena and St. Bonaventure at Times-Union Center. This game says a lot about what college basketball is meant to be. Players who stay the full four years, rather than listen to a bunch of nabobs and leeches who want them to chase the money before they're ready. No "one-&-done" players here.
Siena got sloppy on defense in the second half, and it nearly cost them before they escaped with a 73-70 verdict. Nice way to spend a Tuesday night on the town when certain primetime shows are in reruns.
For all intents & purposes, the Giants' playoff chances might as well have been flushed down the tubes, not so much with the 38-35 loss to Carolina on Sunday, but the glaring immaturity of Odell Beckham, Jr., who will sit out the next game, a primetime game at Minnesota. The tabloid media in New York over-hyped a potential one-on-one matchup between Beckham, a second year receiver, and Carolina DB Josh Norman, who drew a mere fine from the league, as opposed to a 1-game suspension handed to Beckham.

What bothered me more was that 1) neither player was ejected when they started scuffling in the 1st quarter, and that the game officials couldn't be bothered to throw the book at them. Dean Blandino, VP of officiating for the league, went on record as saying Beckham, at least, should've been tossed. Critics have found fault with both the players and the game officials, the latter for their incompetence. I get that they were trying to give Beckham, an emerging star, some leeway, rather than send him to an early shower, which would've had fans upset well before halftime. As it was, Beckham and Norman had 5 personal foul calls between them. 2) The appeal process that both players are using is a waste of time in this case. Everyone saw what was going on, so take the punishment and move on. 3) Now it's coming out that supposedly Panthers players were making some derogatory remarks toward Beckham before the game. Gamesmanship is one thing, but this was just flat out stupid. In this writer's opinion, it changes the perception of the NFC South champions, who you'd hope would be the antithesis of the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots. A perception that, hopefully, can be dissipated in due course.

End result: Beckham and referee Terry Macaulay's crew get Dunce Caps. Beckham for an ill-advised appeal. The zebras for ignoring common sense.
ESPN's advertising department thinks they're being cute & clever using Santa Claus to help promote 5 NBA games airing tomorrow on ESPN & ABC. Don't ya think ol' St. Nick would be looking for something better to do after today?
For high schools, Christmas means holiday tournaments. Troy High's boys team will be in Syracuse Saturday & Sunday at Bishop Ludden's tournament, riding a six game winning streak that has them two games up in the Suburban Council's Gray division. The girls, meanwhile, will host the Troy Holiday Classic beginning on Wednesday night, starting with a rematch with Columbia. The Lady Horses blew away Columbia three weeks ago, but the Lady Devils have gotten hot since, having won four of their last five. Troy, on the other hand, has won three of five over the same stretch, winning their last two after getting blown out at home by Albany a week ago.

The road for both Troy teams doesn't get easier in January, not with Shenendehowa waiting at the end of the month. The Plainsmen have been blowing teams away, but then, what else is new? On the other hand, a much anticipated rematch of the Section II Girls' Class A final between Troy & Averill Park on January 15 sees both teams chasing the leaders in their respective divisions. Troy is 2 back behind Albany in the Gray Division. Averill Park is 4 behind Shen in the Blue Division. This will be Troy's 1st regular season visit to Averill Park, whose boys team likewise makes its first trip to Zotto Gym that night. There is also anticipation for a sellout at Zotto Gym two weeks later, when Shen's boys come to town.

Now, all we need are television cameras......!
The National Hockey League's annual Winter Classic on January 1 will be the 2nd one for the Boston Bruins, and this time, since they've already used Fenway Park, the game will be played in Foxborough, at Gillette Stadium, home of the Patriots. However, if the weather remains unseasonably mild & warm next week, it won't feel like winter to start the new year. Maybe if they can get Bob Kraft to cover the field with Miracle Whip and whipped cream, who'd know the difference? (Just sayin')

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