Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Sports this 'n' that

Basketball season is officially over in the home market. Section II had two teams competing in the Federation Tournament of Champions last weekend at Cool Insuring Arena in Glens Falls. Albany Academy, which plays a mostly independent schedule, and unlike another independent, Green Tech, the Cadets didn't take part in the Section II tournament or the subsequent state tournament, sought to win their 3rd straight Federation Class A title.

Unfortunately, the two-time defending champs couldn't make it a three-peat, as Park School upset the Cadets on Sunday. State Class B champion Mekeel Christian Academy, out of Schenectady, was similarly denied a Federation title in a loss Sunday afternoon. It's worth noting that the Federation tournaments only cover Class AA, A, & B.
When Troy High's baseball team takes the field one week from today (weather permitting, of course) vs. Burnt Hills, they'll have a slightly different look. Pitcher David Judge is no longer with the team, and would've been in his senior season this year. Personally, after what I'd seen last year, I'm not expecting a whole lot on the diamond.

Unfortunately, the school district's ban on reporters from The Record talking to coaches continues, and now, per an article in Saturday's editions, players can't talk to the paper anymore, either, this after a respite during the football team's state title run last fall. Apparently, superintendent John Carmello has other axes to grind with the paper besides a botched "expose" on the women's basketball team one year ago.

The problem I have there, though, is that not allowing the hometown paper to talk to anyone from Troy's athletic department does a disservice to the players & coaches, as well as parents of the players, and to the paper and the school district. Non-athletic activities are one thing, but the school is, in effect, cutting itself off from its own fan base. Not good.
Contrary to what I wrote in my AL predictions the other day, the World Series champion Houston Astros will bring the trophy to town, as it will be publicly displayed at Joe Bruno Stadium on August 3, when the Tri-City Valleycats play host to the Lowell Spinners.
WWE announced the last entry into this year's Hall of Fame class last week. Weightlifter-turned-wrestler Mark Henry, who was on the 1996 Olympic team with Kurt Angle, will join Angle in the Hall. However, Henry hasn't yet completely closed the book on his in-ring career. Spending most of his time these days as a goodwill ambassador for the company, it wouldn't shock anyone to see Henry as a "special attraction" going forward.

Meanwhile, Shane McMahon, Smackdown's figurehead commissioner, has been sidelined with diverticulitis, the same malady that short-circuited Brock Lesnar's MMA career a few years back. McMahon also has some hernia issues, and likely will miss Wrestlemania on April 8. In contrast, figurehead GM Daniel Bryan (Bryan Danielson) has been cleared to compete, and after being stretchered out by Kevin Owens (Steen) and Sami Zayn on last week's show, will need a new tag team partner. Hmmmmmmmm.
I'm not digging MLB Network's lame commercial to promote their nightly highlights & discussion fest, MLB Tonight. If you haven't seen it, which airs during every commercial break, a number of analysts (read: former players), including Sean Casey, Dan Plesac, & Harold Reynolds, are quoting famous lines from broadcasts of the past. For example, Plesac uses the late Jack Buck's line, "Go crazy, folks! Go crazy!" from a St. Louis Cardinals playoff win circa 1987, I think----while on a golf course. Luckily, this farce isn't yet available on YouTube.
While WWE CEO/Chairman Vince McMahon decided to bring back the ill-fated XFL for a 2020 launch, it's gotten out that his hand may have been forced. The Alliance of American Football (an even lamer name) launches next February, right after the Super Bowl. Founded by Charlie Ebersol, son of long time NBC executive Dick Ebersol, a McMahon family friend, the AAF has virtually the same plan. 8 teams, 10 weeks, etc., but the difference is that they already have a TV deal with CBS and CBS Sports Network. The younger Ebersol also, ironically, directed last year's 30 For 30 documentary on the original XFL for ESPN. Will that one year head start make a difference? Stay tuned.
High school football season ended four months ago. Still, this next item may have been a case of the inevitable coming to pass.

LaSalle Institute parted company with varsity football coach Gary "Penny" Lauver after 2 dismal seasons, compiling a 3-13 record over that span. The Albany Times-Union reported today that former Union College coach John Audino, who spent 24 seasons in Schenectady before spending the last two at Columbia University, will replace Lauver. Audino's final season at Union was just as bad as what the Cadets endured under Lauver, if not worse. Audino went winless in 2015. However, he does have a few post-season playoff appearances on his resume at Union. The Cadets assuredly need someone with Audino's experience going forward, especially after losing their last six games last year, most in embarrassing blowout fashion.

Updated, 3/27, 7:06 pm (ET): LaSalle will also drop down in class when the new season begins at the end of August, and they're not alone.

Section II has realigned Classes AA & A for 2018. Class AA will now be 1 division, consisting of 8 teams (Shenendehowa, CBA, Colonie, Saratoga, Schenectady, Albany, Shaker, & Guilderland). Class A splits into two divisions. Something tells me that someone didn't like the fact that Troy, which nearly fell back to A last season, had been so dominant in running the table 2 years running. Troy, LaSalle, Ballston Spa, & Columbia move to A. The divisions are set as follows:

Capital Division:

Troy, LaSalle, Columbia, Green Tech, Averill Park, & Amsterdam.

[Troy now can avenge the only blemish on coach Bob "The Builder" Burns' record, the 2015 Class A title game loss to Amsterdam. Averill Park had become the class of the A league the last two seasons, right up there with the dueling Spartans of Queensbury & Burnt Hills, but now they're in the path of the runaway train from Burdett Avenue. Audino's hire at LaSalle should make the Cadets competitive enough to run with the Flying Horses. I just have to work on my post-game jokes over the next five months.]

Grasso Division (named for former Bishop Maginn coach Joe Grasso, who passed away last season):

Burnt Hills, Queensbury, Gloversville, Mohonasen, Scotia-Glenville, Ballston Spa, South Glens Falls.

[Road games in the North Country will likely be Saturday matinees. Just sayin'.]

2-time Class D champ Cambridge is also being denied a three-peat. They'll merge with Salem and move to Class C.

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