Newer head shot

Friday, March 24, 2017

Major concern about young girls in D.C.

The sports world has to stop spinning for a few minutes to address a more serious issue. March Madness has to take a backseat. The NHL playoff push is secondary for now. Opening Day of the Major League Baseball season is approaching, but right now, it can wait.

The major news of the day coming out of our nation's capital has nothing to do with whether the Republicans had enough votes to overthrow the Obamacare medical insurance program, although if you watch all the cable news networks, that's all you will find on the air. House Speaker Paul Ryan has received more air time today than even Press Secretary Sean Spicer.

But the names that should be more relevant belong to teenage girls of African-American and Latino descent. They are 13-year-old Yahshaiyah Enoch and Aniya McNeil, 15-year-old Juliana Otero, Jacqueline Lassey, Dashann Trikia Wallace, Dayana White and Morgan Richardson, and 16-year-old Talisha Coles.

These names are not household names by any stretch, but right now they should be. Because these young ladies have gone missing in Washington. They've all vanished over the last three days. These are just eight names of the 13 young ladies that were reported missing over the last three days in our nation's capital.

It's unfathomable to think that so many teenagers could be missing in such a short time frame, all from the same backgrounds, the same neighborhoods. Thirteen teenage girls have gone missing in a three-day span  from our nation's capital. That should be the headlines. That should get most of our attention.

It shouldn't be whether Obamacare stays in effect and the Republicans go back to the drawing board to find a more suitable alternative. Right now, politics has to play second fiddle in our nation's capital. There's a serious epidemic of missing teenagers and for some reason, it's not drawing a lot of attention on the news networks.

If it were just one or two girls, then I might think it was a case of disgruntled teens taking a hiatus from their parents. But 13? No, this is major reason for concern tonight, because we may have a sick and deprived individual doing some hideous things. Maybe there are more than one of these fiends. Who knows?

But right now, that should be the focus of our attention. It should be assisting the Washington police department in finding these young ladies, offering assistance in terms of information of where these girls might be. It's time for collective prayers and solemn thoughts, because this is an epidemic. This is not a case of runaways. Frankly, there will not be a happy ending to this story.

It should be the focus, the lead story, the reason why anyone would turn on the news at this hour. We should all do whatever we can to help the people of Washington find these missing girls alive. Even people who live in the state of Washington instead of the District of Columbia. We should be giving whatever kinds of assistance we could give to find these young ladies.

I don't think there will be a happy ending here. I just don't understand why the news coverage has been so limited. We've been deluged with President Donald Trump's saga every day since he took the Oath of Office, so swamped with Trump that the entire news cycle has almost forgotten these missing ladies.

Let's all hope and pray that there's some semblance of good that comes out of these missing girls in Washington. It's really a sick and sad situation _ far worse than any politician sticking out his chest and making a dramatic stand about a health care policy.


Now, a bit about sports.

Although there haven't been a host of buzzer beaters and nail biters in March Madness this year, there has been some excellent performances. Xavier of Cincinnati, who almost didn't get into the field of 68 and was the last of the No. 11 seeds not sent to play in the First Four games in Dayton, mainly because of the proximity of the schools, has stunned the world with their three wins to get to the Elite Eight.

The Musketeers, guided by brilliant head coach Chris Mack, have defeated Maryland, Florida State and now No. 3 seed Arizona to get to the Elite Eight. Junior guard Trevon Bluiett has been absolutely sensational and is making everyone stand up and take notice. This is a team that lost six straight games in February, the worst stretch the program has endured in 35 years.

I went to Milwaukee in February to see Marquette play Xavier and the game wasn't even competitive. The Golden Eagle Warriors won by 22 (83-61), but it was far worse that that. Bluiett was benched for that game with a sore strained ankle. Bluiett, the son of parents who are both products of the U.S. Marine Corps and met when they were serving in the Marines, had to do whatever he could to get back onto the floor and help his team.

Myles Davis, a senior guard, a local product who once played for my high school alma mater St. Peter's Prep, had a phenomenal career at Xavier, but became disgruntled this season and quit the team. Davis had to sit out the first half of the season due to misdemeanor criminal charges hung over his head. Davis ranks as one of the school's all-time leading scorers, but he was done. Edmond Sumner, the starting point guard, blew out his knee on the final day of January and he was done. The team then lost six straight. They were dead in the water.

But somehow, the Musketeers have strung together three straight wins and knocked off the mighty Arizona Wildcats, who have two absolute studs on their team in Allonzo Trier and the Finnish sensation Lauri Markkanen, but somehow Bluiett and his boys get a chance to dance Saturday night against top-seeded Gonzaga for the right to go to the Final Four in Arizona.

Xavier with its 24-13 record, became the eighth team seeded 11th or lower to reach the Elite Eight. Only three. Only three of those No. 11 seeds have gone on to the Final Four in NCAA tournament history, namely VCU (2011), George Mason (2006) and LSU (1986). It's really a remarkable story.

Now we have the great Kentucky-UCLA matchup tonight, perhaps the best game of the tourney thus far.

The recent snowstorm set the scholastic spring sports season back, forcing teams to work out in hallways and basements and classrooms, anywhere they could to get some semblance of a workout in to get ready for next Saturday's Opening Day.

Can you imagine being a baseball player and having to go out in this cold and wind and try to prove yourself to the coach to make a roster? It was so depressing for adults. I can't imagine what it felt like for the players.

Right now, they have eight days to prepare for their first game. Some teams barely got outdoors during that time. But eight days to get ready. Not exactly a lot of time at all.

But this trusty reporter will be ready for the 35th high school baseball season of his career. The first stint with the Daily Record in the spring of 1983 brings back names like Jerry Hug and Jim Price of Montville and Erik Peterson of Newton and Mike Sebesto of Parsippany. It conjures up the thoughts of the gigantic bugs at Lurker Park, bugs that were almost the size of baseballs. You could go to a game at Mount Olive or Morris Knolls and the game would begin in 75 degree temperatures and it would be 35 by the seventh inning. But it was all thrilling Morris County baseball, coverage that continued on into the summer with American Legion and Morris County Majors. It really was a great time. I can't believe 35 years have gone by.

Here's to hoping that something good comes out of Washington with those missing girls. I will say an extra prayer tonight for their safety.
You can read more of my work in the, and

Thursday, March 16, 2017

It's March Madness time

If you're a pure sports fan like I am, then the next two days are simply the best days of the year.

How can you do any better than watching the NCAA Basketball Tournament for 12 straight hours in each of the next two days? I don't care if you don't like basketball at all, you're bound to get caught up in March Madness beginning this afternoon right around the lunch hour. You can literally go from lunch to a midnight snack and never take a break from the action.

I remember in my younger days going to the neighborhood sports bar, because it had a satellite feed and they had all the games on. So I could go from TV set to TV set with Heineken in hand, watching all the games and losing money with each passing game.

Now, I don't gamble anymore and I don't have to leave my living room, because all the games are on broadcast television. I just have to make sure I know the differences between CBS, TBS, TNT and Tru-TV.

Wait a minute, wait a minute. Tru-TV? What in God's name is that? And where is that on the dial? I have to get ready.

I also have to get ready for Charles Barkley offering insightful analysis of the games _ and Good Ole Chuck doesn't know a single player on the teams. He just rolls off the team's name, talks about some certain style he thinks the team plays, and makes it seem like he knows what he's talking about.

Every announcer under the sun is working this weekend. My friend Jim Spanarkel, who I saw Monday morning after he called the Atlantic 10 final between Rhode Island and Virginia Commonwealth in Pittsburgh on Sunday, will be in Buffalo calling those four games today.

Buffalo does such a wonderful job hosting the first round of the tourney there. The people of Buffalo embrace the visitors with such vigor. The food in Buffalo is delish. The drinks flow. It's a great time. I always loved hitting Schwabl's for "Beef on a Wick" and of course, the Anchor Bar for chicken wings, but I can't handle the Buffalo wings that are way too spicy for a weak baby like me.

Anyway, Spanarkel told me that he got stuck in an elevator for more than two hours Saturday with two other people and he had to be hoisted out of the elevator. Now that's some feat for someone who stands 6-foot-5.

I hope the elevators run well in Buffalo. He does such a great job calling the games. I loved him with my buddy Ian Eagle, but CBS has now paired Spanarkel with the legendary Verne Lundquist and they do a great job together.

Part of me wishes I was in Buffalo.

Another part of me wishes I was in Greenville, S.C., where Duke, North Carolina, Seton Hall and my beloved alma mater Marquette are all playing tomorrow.

There was a part of me that was packing up today and driving to Greenville, but thought about it some more and decided to stay home and capture that Madness in my living room. I would have loved to see all those teams in action in the same venue. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

But the snow threw a white blanket over any travel plans I might have had. Since my illness in 2013, I have to worry about simply getting around. Walking is now a major chore. And falling down is the biggest fear of all. I fear going down with every step I take because if I go down, it's going to take the entire Mormon Tabernacle Choir to get me back on my feet.

And tomorrow is St. Patrick's Day. There was a time in my life that St. Paddy's Day was the most important day of the year. Well, maybe the day of the Jersey City parade, followed by St. Paddy's Day itself.

The parade day this year was way too cold for this old man's bones. I'm just not the same beast I once was.

So anyway, without further ado, here's my entire selection sheet, down to the champion


I like Villanova over Mount St. Mary, although watching Junior Robinson against the Wildcats will be fun; I'll take Wisconsin over Virginia Tech (sorry Buzz) and Virginia over N.C. Wilmington; I'll take East Tennessee State over Florida (upset special) and SMU over USC; I'll take Baylor over New Mexico State and I'll take some Midwestern Jesuit school in Milwaukee over South Carolina (OF COURSE, IT'S MARQUETTE, RING OUT AHOYA) and Duke over Troy.

Continuing in the East, I'll take Villanova over Wisconsin and Virginia over East Tennessee; I'll take SMU over Baylor and (ut oh) I'll take Duke over Marquette. Did I just pick against the Golden Eagle Warriors?

OK, in the East, I'll take Villanova over Virginia and Duke over SMU and then the Blue Devils heading to the Final Four with a win over Villanova.


I'll take Gonzaga over South Dakota State and Northwestern (Go Wildcats!) over Vanderbilt (whose nickname is the Commodores and I think right away Lionel Richie). I'll take Notre Dame over Princeton and West Virginia over Bucknell. I'll take Maryland over Xavier and I'll take Florida State over Florida Gulf Coast in a game where the first team to get to 100 wins. I'll take St. Mary's over VCU and Arizona over North Dakota.

Moving on, I like Northwestern over Gonzaga (Go Wildcats) and Notre Dame over West Virginia. I like Maryland over Florida State and I'll take Arizona over St. Mary's.

I like Notre Dame over Northwestern (see ya Wildcats) and Arizona (go Wildcats) over Maryland.

And Arizona goes on to the Final Four in its home state.


I'll go with Kansas over UC Davis (sorry Bill Herenda and Ken O'Brien) and Michigan State over Miami (Izzo never loses a first round game). I like Iowa State over Nevada and Purdue over Vermont. The Vermont fans party like there's no tomorrow and they like Ben & Jerry's there. I might have some Ben & Jerry's Chocolate Fudge Brownie in honor of the Catamounts. I like Rhode Island and my buddy Danny Hurley (go Scott Bucks) to beat Creighton and Oregon to knock out Iona. I like Michigan to knock off Oklahoma State and Louisville to beat Jacksonville State.

Moving on, I like Kansas to beat Michigan State and Purdue to beat Iowa State. I like Rhode Island (I've always been a Rams fan) to beat Oregon and Michigan to eliminate Louisville.

I like Kansas to beat Purdue (what a great game that will be) and Michigan to end Little Rhody's miracle run. And then Kansas to beat Michigan to head to the Final Four.


I like North Carolina to beat Texas Southern and Seton Hall to beat Arkansas (GO PIRATES!). I like Middle Tennessee to upset Minnesota and Butler to beat Winthrop. I like Cincinnati to beat Kansas State and UCLA to beat Kent State. I like Wichita State to beat Dayton (sorry Aggie Murawinski and Dennis Bergin) and Kentucky to beat Northern Kentucky.

Then North Carolina beats Seton Hall and Butler beats Middle Tennessee; UCLA beats Cincinnati (sorry Darren Savino) and Kentucky beats Wichita State again.

Then Carolina beats Butler and UCLA beats Kentucky and Carolina goes to the Final Four by beating UCLA (sorry Vigg).

We have Duke, Arizona, North Carolina and Kansas in the Final Four

Duke beats Arizona and Kansas beats Carolina and the national champion is Kansas.

OK, let's see how close I get

Thanks for reading

You can read more of my work at, and