From the "What was he thinking?" file:
Yankees president Randy Levine wasn't satisfied with the team winning an arbitration case over reliever Dellin Betances the other day. Levine took to the media to take a cheap shot at Betances' agents, who work for a lesser known sports management firm, who tried to elevate Betances' salary to the level of a closer. While that didn't work, you can't fault them for trying in this case. Even though Aroldis Chapman is back after winning a World Series with the Cubs, who's to say Chapman won't disappear again if the Yankees fall out of contention this summer? Maybe the agents can be held for thinking too far ahead, but I get their logic in this case, and that for me is rare, given how much I've shredded the biggest agent in the business, Scott Boras (Badenov) in this space over the years.
What holds me back from bestowing Levine a set of Weasel ears or a Dunce Cap is that his affronts aren't worthy enough to merit such consideration. How the Steinbrenner brothers have kept this goof around for so long is a real mystery. Good thing he doesn't own a stake in the team. Then, we'd be in trouble.
All that being said, with pre-season games due to start at the end of the week, we'll see if the Yankees have enough offense to complement their pitching, especially with Mark Teixiera (ESPN) and Alex Rodriguez having retired. Don't be surprised come June-July to see Chapman's name in trade talks again.
The "Frozen Four", if you will, in the high school hockey playoffs are now set after Burnt Hills-Ballston Spa defeated defending champion Saratoga on Saturday night. For the Spartan Scotties, that's the good news. The bad news is that up next is top-seeded LaSalle, which has already beaten them twice this season. The winner gets the winner of CBA-Shenendehowa on February 28.
Over the last year, we've seen teams and cities end championship droughts. First, it was Cleveland (NBA), then Chicago (World Series), then Troy High & Cambridge (high school football). Could LaSalle, which last won a sectional hockey title in 2000, be next? We'll know within the next 8 days.
Meanwhile, Troy High's women's basketball team won their first round game in the AA sectionals on Friday, beating Colonie, 53-47. The Garnet Raiders had hoped to avenge a loss on the same court where Troy had won their season opener 2 1/2 months ago, but it didn't happen. After splitting two regular season games (one non-league) earlier this season, Troy will get a 3rd crack at Suburban Council blue division champ Shaker on Wednesday night in Latham. The boys' team will play their first round game at home tomorrow vs. Albany, having just beaten the Falcons on the road two weeks ago, with the winner likely to play Bethlehem at Hudson Valley Community College on Saturday afternoon.
As we've documented over at Saturday Morning Archives the last couple of days, a pair of wrestling legends passed away at the end of last week.
Ivan Koloff, real name Oreal Parris, and originally from Canada, passed away at 74 from liver cancer. Koloff had retired from in-ring competition in 1989 after a lengthy stint in the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA), where a lot of fans rediscovered him via cable television (TBS) after he'd left the then-World Wrestling Federation for the final time in 1983. Just a guess, but I think Koloff will eventually enter the WWE Hall of Fame, as virtually all of the promotions champions, save for current stars John Cena, Triple H, and Randy Orton, are already in.
George "The Animal" Steele (William James Myers), a mild mannered school teacher & football coach in Michigan by day, adopted the guise of the neanderthal heel with a taste for turnbuckles and parlayed it into induction into the Hall of Fame in 1996. Steele turned babyface in the 80's, and memorably seconded Rick Steamboat in a classic bout vs. Randy Savage for the Intercontinental title at Wrestlemania 3 30 years ago. Steele also landed his only commercial endorsement during this period, working with actor Tony Randall in a bit for Minolta.
Both Koloff & Steele were also born again Christians, Koloff converting in 1995 and becoming an ordained minister. Both were called home within a space of 24 hours. May they both rest in peace.
On the positive side of the wrestling tip, Ring of Honor is giving two men with ties to the home district an opportunity to unseat three-time champion Adam Cole next month.
Bobby Fish, already 2/3 of the way to the ROH Triple Crown as a TV champ and multi-time tag team champion, will likely have support from family & friends from Albany & Saratoga when he faces Cole in New York on March 3. If he succeeds, Fish would advance to face Christopher Daniels at ROH's 15th anniversary PPV event a week later in Las Vegas. After that, former radio personality Dalton Castle awaits at Supercard of Honor in Lakeland, Florida, on April Fool's Day. Castle spent a few years with WQBK-FM, even doing a video talk show, before turning to wrestling full-time. Heh, Jerry Lawler started in the radio business, too, before becoming a mat legend many years ago. When Dalton was in town last year for Dynasty Pro Wrestling, I asked him if he missed being in radio. He does. That said, Ring of Honor, give the Peacock a talk show ASAP!