Saturday, July 14, 2012

Can good ever come from the chaos in State College?

Just when I thought that talk of the Penn State molestation scandal (notice my choice of words, this is not a "sex" scandal) would start to fade after Jerry Sandusky was convicted on 45 counts ... the noise has fired up all over again with the release of the Freeh Report.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Solar Bears name Drew Berehowsky head coach

Getting closer to Opening Night, people.

The Orlando Solar Bears have selected the coach who will lead the team onto the ice in less than four months, and he's Drake Berehowsky, who comes to the City Beautiful and the Amway Center after three years as an assistant coach with the AHL's Peoria Rivermen.
New Solar Bears' Coach Drake Berehowsky

His hockey pedigree is without question. Berehowsky, 40, played 549 NHL games and 22 playoff games with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Pittsburgh Penguins, Edmonton Oilers, Nashville Predators, Vancouver Canucks and Phoenix Coyotes from 1990-2004. A tough and rugged defenseman, he accumulated 149 points (37 goals, 112 assists) and 848 penalty minutes.

While he has no head coaching experience, he has served as an assistant in Peoria and ) with  the Barrie Colts and Brampton Battalion of the major junior level Ontario Hockey League. He is currently completing his Level 2 Coaching Certification from Hockey Canada

Berehowsky will oversee the Solar Bears hockey operations and will be responsible for coaching the team, recruiting players, working with the Minnesota Wild/Houston Aeros (Orlando's NHL/AHL affiliates), and supporting the Solar Bears youth hockey initiatives.

It's obvious he got the job because the Solar Bears' brass loves him. Here's some quotes from the team's press release this afternoon:

Managing Partner Jason Siegel: "Drake's positive energy and enthusiasm is infectious. We expect our team to take on his personality and drive. Our fans are really going to enjoy getting to know him."

Managing Partner Bob Ohrablo: "Drake possesses all of the traits we are looking for in our Head Coach. He was an aggressive, hard-nosed NHL defenseman with a long playing career, a successful assistant coach and a student of the game. Drake has certainly demonstrated a passion for winning."

Chairman Joe Haleski: "Throughout his playing career he was a feared opponent on the ice and a leader in the dressing room."

From the coach's own mouth: "I am proud to take the reigns in Orlando and look forward to building a winning organization. We will recruit players that possess the skill and heart to win on the ice and that want to be involved in the community off the ice. I want players that aspire to win the ECHL's Kelly Cup while in Orlando and the NHL's Stanley Cup in the future."

Berehowsky has five children ages 1 to 6 with his wife Lori.

Expect the team to open its training camp and hold free agent camps in late September, as the roster begins to come together. Opening Night is Oct. 13 in Fort Myers against the reigning Kelly Cup champion Florida Everblades. The 'Blades come to play in the Solar Bears' home opener at the Amway Center on Oct. 20.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Jackson to return to Osceola News-Gazette

This is not what you think, those of you with overactive imaginations that work overtime.

After an eight-month hiatus from full-time reporting, I will be returning to the Osceola News-Gazette under a new publisher and editor-in-chief later this month.

The good news is I return to work with a great group of longtime colleagues who feel like friends and almost family. The only difference is I am returning as a general assignment reporter and will be covering more A-section news than I will sports or other things I covered on a regular basis in my prior ONG tenure. This positive change begins June 20.

I am honored that my work was thought of highly enough to be a (the?) prime candidate to fill a new role that opened up at the paper in the last month. Big things are in the cards at the News-Gazette, I feel, and while I've never returned to a place that let me go before, I've been assured it was a mistake and my trepidation level going back into this is low.

What does it mean for this blog? You mean, this space I haven't written in in over two weeks? Well, since I'll be reporting again but not scratching the sports itch, I figure I'll have plenty to share and will finally have the impetus to do so. For those who follow the radio show I co-host on WPRK 91.5 FM Thursdays from 4-5 p.m., the Community Sports Report, that will still be on my plate as well. Like I said, exciting times.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Orlando Solar Bears open Oct. 13 in Estero; host ECHL champs on Oct. 20 in Amway opener



First they got the name back, and then they got a new logo and some uniforms.

Then, they got an NHL franchise to align with.

Wednesday, the Orlando Solar Bears learned who'd they play and when they'd play them, so now they can stop talking about when they "hit the ice in mid-October."

Opening Night, October 13.

Home Opener, October 20. Get your tickets.

The ECHL released its schedule on Tuesday, and gave the Solar Bears, reviving as a franchise after an 11-year hibernation, the honor of opening the season against the defending league champions.

Orlando will play in Estero against the Southern Division rival Florida Everblades, the newly-minted 2011-12 Kelly Cup champions, to open the season. They'll play again the following Friday (Oct. 19) before boarding a nortbound bus on I-75 for the Solar Bears' first game in the Amway Center the following night.

Those two teams also play four games in March (26th-30th) to close the regular season. They play 16 times total (nine at Germain Arena, seven at Amway Center). Other notable parts of the schedule include:
  • A three-game trip to Western Conference opponents Las Vegas (Nov. 29-30) and Ontario (Dec. 1). Last year's schedule had no play across the Eastern and Western Conferences.
  • A stretch from Dec. 14 to Jan. 15 in which the O-Bears play 13 of 15 games on the road. From Feb. 13 to March 3, the team will enjoy a nine-game home stand.
  • A Thanksgiving Day game at 7 p.m. in Gwinett, Ga. against the Gladiators.
  • A Monday afternoon (3 p.m.) game on Martin Luther King Day (Jan. 21) against the Wheeling (W.Va.) Nailers.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Sign Dwight and fix the Magic

I purposely waited a day or so to write about the elephant in the room of Orlando sports right now, the shakeup at One Magic Place.

I can't say I'm shocked that Stan Van Gundy and Otis Smith no longer hold gainful employ with the Magic. I'm a little surprised in the order that things have been done -- or haven't been done.

I thought that the Dwight Howard situation -- sign him, trade him, sign him then trade him -- would get resolved first; I'll come back to this. Then the team would offer SVG the chance to return -- a chance I thought Stan would respond to by telling the suits, "Get bent." -- which is what the team would tell Otis Smith, then go find their new GM, who would find the new coach.

So simple. Too simple, so I guess it wasn't possible.

Van Gundy will go from here and write his own ticket, be it in coaching, doing TV, writing a self-help book, running for Congress, etc. He'll be the same success wherever he goes as he was here, leaving as the franchise's all-time leader in coaching victories. This team needs SVG more than he needs the Magic.

And now, back to Dwight to finish this little epic up. Sign him. I SAID SIGN HIM, DAMNIT!

If the bluster is true, Howard got what he wanted, the prospect of a new coach and GM. To get rid of him after giving him what he wants is ludicrous. And if you get rid of him now, you're telling the fan base, "We're blowing it up. No hope for a while. See you in 2016." All those empty seats will be great when it comes time to rationalize building that new arena.
You keep Dwight Howard. Who else plays like Dwight Howard? His presence in the paint means you can run whatever offense you want, and he can bail out the rest of the guys on a poor shooting night. On defense, he's twice as good as the second-best defensive player in the NBA. (What can I say, I'm right and I'm not afraid to admit it.)

Besides, go ahead and try to trade him. What can you get in return that works in the fabric of the salary cap? Brook Lopez? Tyson Chandler? Puh-leeeze. Andrew Bynum and his weak knees? Maybe it's a deal if the Lakers also offer Pau Gasol AND they take Hedo Turkoglu's contract; then again, I'd pay $100 for a concert ticket if Hendrix came back.

It just won't work. It can't work. Sign him longterm (and do it this summer) or just admit that he's gonna walk Shaq style. And speaking of Shaq, if he's the next Magic GM, then I'll be the next Pope.

At least the Amway Center does host a winner, and with the Orlando Predators at 1-8, it ain't them. The Center was named Sports Facility of the Year at the Sports Business Awards in Manhattan on Wednesday. One of the buildings it beat out? The Superdome.

... As for another tenant of the Amway Center, the Orlando Solar Bears will have a little lather worked up when they meet their instate rivals next year: the Florida Everblades claimed the ECHL Kelly Cup Wednesday night with an overtime win over the Las Vegas Wranglers. Get your championship gear, folks.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Need a nap? Take it in the courtroom.

So, you're not smart enough to get out of jury duty, and there you are at the start of the morning in the courthouse bullpen awaiting your fate.

A fellow in the Roger Clemens perjury trial has your guide to making it a short day: fall asleep.

Here's the complete checklist, gleaned from our sleepy friend and my experience at the Orange County Courthouse ...

1. Get called into a jury pool about 2 hours into the day.
2. Be attentive, give good answers when you're questioned, and make the jury.
3. During the trial, fall asleep. Snore if needed to call attention to your plight.
4. Get thrown off the case. They'll send you back down to the bullpen.
5. By this time, they know they have enough jurors for the day's cases, and you get sent home. It's about 1 p.m. The rest of the day is yours to hit the couch, watch ESPN and eat Doritos.


Friday, May 11, 2012

This just in: Tiger is not winning

So on Thursday, I arrived early at the Orlando Solar Bears' announcement of their NHL affiliate, and the usual gaggle of TV, radio, and newspaper people were making less idle chatter than they were tapping on their smartphones, aghast at the thought of missing something, when one of the TV guys (without naming names, he's on an odd-numbered Orlando channel) says out loud, "Tiger shot 74."

Like anyone cares about a +2 round, or the guy who shot it.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Out of Hibernation, Into the Wild



Jim Mill was at the Orlando Solar Bears' very first training camp in 1995, trying to earn a roster spot.

Now 22 years later, he'll be back watching the new version of the team play, with a vested interest.

Mill's Minnesota Wild, for whom he is an assistant to GM Chuck Fletcher, was announced Thursday as the NHL affiliate of the new Solar Bears, who will play in the ECHL this October when the 2012-13 starts up. Minnesota did not have an ECHL affiliate last year, but they did have an American Hockey League affilliate, the Houston Aeros, which will serve as the midpoint on a hockey player's journey in the NHL from Orlando to Minnesota.

Solar Bears Managing Partner said a longtime relationship between he, Mill and Chief Operating Officer Bob Ohrablo helped pave the way toward aligning the Bears with the Wild.

"We've known Jim a while; it's a small community," he said. "We had a list of values that we thought would make a terrific partner. We wanted an NHL team that owned their AHL team."

Mill said the Wild wanted to seize the chance to create a complete line of teams from the ECHL up.

"We think it's important to have a base of players in our system," he said. "There's a world-class environment and facilities here, and the ease of travel between Houston and Orlando was a factor; there's non-stop flights every hour."

Mill said the Wild will assign the organization's fifth-best goalie to the Solar Bears, along with two or three defense and two or three forwards the deem as top prospects. He said the team will succeed because, in short, it will win.

"Our business is all about winning and developing winners, not hockey players," he said. "The same winning tradition we build in Houston is what we intend to develop here."

And Ohrablo said since that will be most important to the fans, it's most important to the administration.

"We strongly believe that affiliating with the Wild will provide us with a solid core of players from which we can build a competitive and exciting team for our fans," he said.

And with the three tiers of the organization in place, let the irony begin: in 1999, the Solar Bears trailed in the Turner Cup finals 3-0 before storming back to force a Game 7, which they lost. The opponent? The Houston Aeros.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Magic are done ... so check out the Solar Bears

The Orlando Magic finished one of the messiest, more tumultous season's in team history Tuesday. with an ugly 105-87 loss to the Indiana Pacers that was actually a game for three quarters. Orlando hung around, played enough defense and hit enough shots to dodge and parry with the Pacers ... and then Indiana got serious or something and outscored Orlando 36-16 in the fourth quarter.

The Magic showed heart and I wanted them to win, but it's probably best that this offseason start as quickly as possible. They MAY have to find a new head coach, they WILL have to find a new GM, and they DEFINITELY have to draw up Dwight Howard's exit strategy, or a long-term contract. If they want to remain competitive -- and they can if the rest of the team stays remotely intact -- they have to keep Dwight. His defensive presence changes shots at that end, and his rebounding makes it possible for Orlando to hoist hundreds of 3-pointers a night; Dwight can clean the glass and get second chance buckets. The Magic were never really competitive in the Indiana series after Game 1 because all they got were first chances (and hit very few of them).

Oh, and Jameer Nelson and J.J. Reddick are in the last years of their contracts, and Ryan Anderson is a restricted free agent. There's a lot of chess pieces to move.

Now we're on to the next season here in town (well, besides UCF football). The Orlando Solar Bears, who will return to the ice in mid-October for the 2012-13 ECHL season, will announce who their NHL and AHL team affiliates will be at an intimate gathering at the Ice Den at RDV Sportsplex in Maitland on Thursday at 2:30 p.m. The announcement is open to the public.

I'd say the leading front runners for the NHL team are the Florida Panthers (who currently share the Cincinnati Cyclones with Nashville), Carolina, and Tampa, who share the Florida Everblades in Ft. Myers right now, and they'd probably push to keep Tampa, of the two.

Should it be the Florida Panthers, their AHL team is in San Antonio.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Magic steal Game 1 ... but how?

I'll tell ya.

Glen Davis did just enough against Roy Hibbert (3-of-11 shooting) at the defensive end. I thought Hibbert would eat Big Baby alive, and he had quite an advantage at Orlando's offensive end.

Jason Richardson and Jameer Nelson scored 17 apiece and carried the load on a night that Ryan Anderson, who was expected to stir the Magic's offensive drink, took only 7 shots, hit 2, and scored 5 points.

Indiana's core shooters (Danny Granger, George Hill, Paul George) were a combined 14-of-42 from the field. Mostly explains why the Pacers scored just 77 points.

So the first-blush reactions to Orlando's Game 1 win are this: Anderson will play better and Indiana will shoot better as the series goes on, and the Magic will have to continue to play very well AND Indiana will have to play subpar ball if Stan Van Gundy's boys are going to pull off the upset that nobody outside of the Magic locker room believes can happen.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Solar Bears' new clothes

First, we got a franchise. Actually, they just gave us back the one we had.

Then we got a building.
Then there was a name, and a logo.
Tuesday night, the Orlando Solar Bears got some new threads.
Mayor Buddy Dyer joined team officials, media and a couple hundred friends and sponsors Tuesday at a gathering at The Abbey in downtown Orlando to unveil the Solar Bears' jersey as they get closer to be ready to play in the ECHL season and a 36-game home schedule at the Amway Center in mid-October.

Former Orlando Solar Bears Allen Bester (left)
and Bob Joyce model the new home and away
jerseys for the town's newest ECHL team.

Former players Allen Bester and Bob Joyce modeled the new white, purple and green jerseys -- the home white features the Solar Bear from the neck up, and the purple roadie features the Solar Bears script logo with mascot Shades casually propping a stick behind his shoulders -- before Orlando Magic CEO Alex Martins, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Orlando Centroplex Director Allen Johnston. got to play model.

Alex Martins and Buddy Dyer model the back of the jerseys --
and does everybody have to use that gawdawful reverse color name plate?
Taking it all in was the Solar Bears' brain trust -- managing partners Bob Ohrablo and Jason Siegel and general partner Joe Haleski. And they were grinning from ear to ear.

"We were pleased with the terrific turnout (Tuesday), and thrilled that alums like Allen and Bob were a part of this," Siegel said.

He said the jersey designs and team colors were inspired by the first incarnation of the Solar Bears, which played in Orlando in the International Hockey League from 1995-2001.

"The jerseys, especially the road jerseys, are a reflection on the past. It was a real no-brainer," he said. "We wanted to do some different touches, and we knew we wanted a different crest on each jersey."

The next event will be the season ticket holder Select-A-Seat at the Amway Center on April 21.

"I'm already thinking about it," Siegel said.

The Good Day, the Bad Day, and the Ugly Day.

If you're having a rough week, there's others out there having a worse go of it -- trust me.

I give you Rick Santorum, who suspended his presidential nomination campaign to attend to his hospitalized 3-year-old daughter. My little girl is 3. I can imagine the man's stomach is in a complete knot and it's a feeling I hope to never experience. Everyone, please put your political opinions aside and pray for Rick, his family and little Bella.

Bobby Petrino and Ozzie Guillen are also having pretty bad weeks, too. So maybe it's not so bad to be, oh, I dunno, Stan Van Gundy?

I've been meaning to blog about the Stan-Dwight Howard flap, and while getting sidetracked by the Masters (Bubba went down to Georgia, he was looking for some green to wear, he was in a bind, a tree he was behind, but he hooked it like wasn't there ...), I still feel the same way about it after sitting on my thoughts for a couple of days.

I don't think this thing was ever as fiery as most media has made it out to be. I don't think Dwight Howard ever said, "I want Stan fired." Those words got put in his mouth -- maybe even by Stan. I think he happened to be hanging around Orlando Magic hoity-toity types one day and in a conversation he said something like, "I'd be interested to see what our team concept would be like with a different coach."

And I get that. Dwight's played for the Magic since 2004. SVG has coached them since 2007. But if D-12 wants to keep painstaking maintaining a reputation of not being "the bad guy" in town, he best not be known for being the one responsible for running off a head coach. Penny Hardaway got that rap for running off Brian Hill about 13 years ago. Hill, like SVG, took the Magic to the NBA Finals.

It's a yucky story, but if you want some better news, check this space out later this evening. The Orlando Solar Bears will be unveiling their new jerseys tonight at a media event downtown hosted by Mayor Buddy Dyer. I hope to have some details from the event to report tonight.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Hey, it's Opening Day ... again ...

Before we embark on the 15-month baseball season (I guess it only feels that way to me), here's a 'Good For You' to the Baylor women's basketball team for winning the NCAA title Tuesday night and rolling to college basketball's first-ever 40-win season. Granted, they have the ginormous 6'8" Brittany Griner to help them, but after watching Kentucky win the men's title -- thereby starting the clock on the "How Long Will It Take For the NCAA To Strip This Final Four Trip From John Calipari" watch -- this was a win that you could really get behind.

Anyway, here it is folks, Major League Baseball's highly anticipated 2012 Opening Night. Right there between last week's Opening Games and tomorrow's Opening Day. It's enough to make me want to give Bud Selig an Opening Wound. But everybody finally gets to play for keeps now, which is nice.

A quick nod to my folks in The Baseball League fantasy feifdom: regarding Boston's Andrew Bailey, I told you so. I knew Mark Melancon would be the closer. And I'm working hard to find a permanent home for the blog. Be patient with me, like you are with your pitchers. (Right?)

Without a whole lot of fantasy stuff to talk about yet, here are my predictions for the division races, and the new, added 2nd wild card, which I realized I'm in support of. Think about how important it is to win the division now; the wild card teams will all have burned through a day of pitching before the playoffs even start, which benefits the team with the best record in each league. I always said the wild card teams should start the DS behind by a game. Wild cards should have a very uphill climb to win it all.

Oh yeah, those predictions ...
NL East -- It's important for Ozzie Guillen to win, and the players and fans will pick up on it, and the Miami Marlins are winning this thing over an offensively challenged Phillies team that will win a Wild Card because it can pitch (thank God). How depleted? Their No. 3 hitter for the time being is Ty Wigginton. (Followers: A Washington team that will surprise people, Atlanta, the N.Y. M(y) E(ntire) T(eam) S(tinks).
NL Central -- Milwaukee, because I can't pick a rookie manager to win a division. St. Louis, playing with the We-Can-Win-Without-Albert chip on their shoulders, takes the other wild card. (Followers: A Pittsburgh team that will continue improving, Cincinnati, Chicago, Houston)
NL West -- Arizona won't surprise anybody, but winning isn't a surprise anymore. (Followers: San Fran, Colorado, San Diego, LA Magic Lakers).
AL East -- Tell me today who's pitching staff stays the healthiest and I'll give you the winner. Having to pick now, I'll go with ... er ... um, Boston I guess. Yankees get a wild card, but not before sweating out a duel with the Rays. Toronto will be in it for a while. Baltimore should be eliminated soon after Opening Day.
AL Central -- Verlander and Valverde and pray for snow, unless Fielder's bombs bring rain. Detroit wins it. Followers: Chicago, Minnesota, Cleveland, Kansas City.
AL West -- Texas outguns the Californians, who take the other wild card. Seattle and Oakland behind.
I'm taking Detroit over Arizona in the World Series, but I'm not very good at this.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Baseball dominates this "Opening Day"

Happy "Opening Day" everybody!

Yes, notice my use of quotation marks. I get what Bud Selig is trying to accomplish, noting the appearances of Ichiro Suzuki of the M's (who, four hours after the game ended, is still running around the bases at Tokyo Dome I hear) and Kurt Suzuki of the A's, and not taking the opener away from a team in a big-market city that changes the subway and the bus schedules for Opening Day. Expanding MLB appeal beyond a small handful of players is fine, but the ridiculous part is that these two teams will return to the States next week and play more exhibition games before their next ones that count. Does Bud ever look at these initiatives on paper before actually making them reality? Another reason why we need Bob Costas to be the commissioner ...

... Okay, first I had to wrap my head around calling them the "Miami Marlins", and seeing them (and Ozzie Guillen) in their new unis. Then I had to adjust to the fact that I have to drive farther into the sweaty bowels of town to go to a game at the new "Marlins Park". Now this ... who the hell is Giancarlo Stanton? You mean Mike, right? What, his mom calls him Cruz? Okay, enough of this, I can only take so much change. The only change left is to win the division. Won't happen? They said the same thing about playing major-league ball in a place where it rains most summer nights ...

A group led by Magic Johnson bought the L.A. Dodgers for two billion clams. Johnson said his role would include recruiting free agents, and while he can't talk hitting or pitching with players, he "can talk winning" and that he'll help "sell the Dodger brand" to fans. Considering all he bought, he's got plenty to sell now. Also saw the new group gets a portion of the Dodger Stadium parking lots, "valued at $300 million." Geez, even parking spaces are expensive in SoCal (and how much clamato would $2 billion getchya?) ...


I'm so stoked! The Olympics are in Rio in 2016!
Clothing optional, baby!

For the Olympics this summer in London, the committee will no longer "require" beach volleyball players to wear bikinis, thus allowing competitors from "more modest countries" to put teams in the 24-team field. Wait, this was a requirement? For the players, maybe. For me (and then other 3 billion men on Earth) we call it a luxury ...

I had North Carolina winning the Big Dance. Losing them knocked me out of the 99th percentile on Yahoo ... to the 98th. I still win my office pool if 1. Kansas beats Ohio State AND 2. Kentucky does NOT win the tournament. If I collect, duck, as that'll bring increased chances of low-flying farm animals.

Read my ill-thought out random thoughts at Twitter.com/Phoulballs.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Roars from a Tiger, Solar Bears, and Lions (MLS bound?)

Before I get to players that would be staying and playing in Orlando, I'll get to the golf tournament that just blew through.

Good for Tiger Woods winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational last weekend, and looking like his old professional ball whackin' and huntin' self by winning impressively. He got torn down -- physically, mentally and emotionally -- over the last 2 1/2 years or so, and it's good to see him get back to the top. Granted, he did a lot of the damage by himself and to himself, but aside from being the prototypical star with the challenging handling that goes with it, I don't think Tiger is a bad guy, he just got misguided for a while.

We'll see how well his game and his body are plugged in in two weeks at the Masters. Woods and Rory McIlroy, who goes back to Augusta to try and avenge his Sunday fold a year ago, are the prohibitive favorites, and I'm sure Luke Donald, Lee Westwood, Phil Mickelson and Hunter Mahan will log some leaderboard time. I wish it was this weekend.

Here's some news from teams who will be playing full seasons in town ...

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Walls ... Come Tumbalin' Down ...

Here's how I went about scoring the video of the Amway Arena demolition ...

I arrived downtown about 6:15 and planned to walk up the onramp and shoot from the shoulder of I-4, but as I got closer I noticed people actually walking toward the building with no interference, so I followed thinking I had time to kill. I chatted a guy up (who ended up watching from in front of the School Board building right across the street) when I noticed the parking garage behind it might be a good vantage point, and nobody restricted access to that, either. So up the stairwell I went until I was higher than the building in front of me.

When the last charges that took out the roof fired, the garage shoot, and then down she came. Much of the debris cloud headed our way, and the air smelled quite chalky for a while. I've got to believe that of folks on the ground, I had to be closer than the TV stations other than the ones who put a couple small cameras inside the building. Security was fairly tight as the time neared, but I successfully evaded. Afterwards, they let people walk right up to the carcass and take their pictures. Amelia Street was a complete mess afterwards, but streetsweepers moved in quickly to start the cleanup.

So here's the whole video. First charges fire at about 2:45. Building comes down about 15 seconds later. At the very end (if you make it through the cloud footage), I get chased out of the area by a cop.



Afterwards, when I got to the car I parked at Orange and Livingston (covered in dust) I was loading up and saw Paul Kennedy from Sun Sports! He was walking with a purpose and talking on his phone, so I gave him a "Go Magic" and he gave me a thumbs up.

Amway Arena, before and after

From this ....





To this ...



In about 30 seconds.


The video is being uploaded to Facebook AND Youtube now. I have to link it to YouTube from here, and Facebook is currently winning the race. Go to my Facebook page to see it first. I'll post some more pictures I little later while we wait for the upload.


Saturday, March 24, 2012

The old Amway's going down ... and I'll be there

About 620 pounds of charges and dynamite will do what Nick Anderson couldn't do with four free throws in 1995 -- bring the Amway Arena down.

Actually back then it was the Orlando Arena, then it became the TD Waterhouse Centre and finally the Amway, but by about 8am Sunday morning, you can call it rubble. It will be imploded Sunday to make way for the Creative Village high-tech corridor.
When it comes down, I'll be there to watch.
I'm getting a little bit nostalgic about this, as I probably attended upward of 40 events there from about 1990 to 2010. I saw the Magic, Predators, Solar Bears, Seals and Jackals play games, Billy Joel and Rod Stewart play songs, but missed the Mystics, Titans and Sharks. Over the course of about 14 months, I saw the Predators win the Arena Bowl (2000) and the Solar Bears win the Turner Cup (2001).
Because of that, I feel the need to see, document, and video the ol' grey mare fall to the ground. I'm not going to the "public viewing arena" on 50 across Lake Dot because, Why? I know the good hiding spaces around there and plan to offer a unique perspective of the demolition.
I'll be updating my morning's work via the blog's Twitter feed (@Phoulballs)  and will be posting the video here as soon as I can get a connection, get it on YouTube and link it. Interested in coming with? Leave me a message here and I'll check it before I leave the house around 5:45am Sunday.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Proof the Media can't get their story straight

I really hope the folks at ESPN and the other "major" media outlets feel like smacked asses today.

From about 3pm Wednesday and for the following six hours, if you refreshed your sports news page of choice every few minutes, there'd be a new story on the Tim Tebow trade. (Tiresome, trite? Totally.)

In the afternoon, he was going to the Jets.
Early evening: hold up, we think the Jaguars are involved.
Dinner time: we KNOW the Jags are involved.
Dessert time: the Jets AND the Jags are involved, and it's Timmy's decision where to go.
Bedtime for the kids: it's settled, he's going to New York, who paid half of the roster bonus Denver gave Tebow before they realized they had a shot with a truly great QB.

The networks will tell you they're trying to keep "up to the minute" with "breaking news". I call it throwing stuff against the wall to see what sticks, and while seeing if it does, getting the next ball of stuff ready to throw.

The Internet Age has replaced getting it RIGHT with getting it FIRST as its primary objective. Just because you have the ability to disseminate news stories very quickly, it doesn't mean you HAVE to use it, and by God if you aren't 100% sure what you're reporting is right, you SHOULDN'T use it. It used to be that the worst thing you could be in the news business is wrong, worse than being late. Now you just issue a "My bad" and move on. It's crap. At some point the world will learn that the worst thing you can be is wrong. I'd rather be injured or starving than wrong, at least when it concerns other people.

There are still great journalists who will stack up their facts and reports from sources, check them for accuracy (because they have the time) and bundle them up into a great story that runs in the morning newspaper that is focused and is worth reading. This morning you would have read every detail of the Tebow deal and how it happened without needing to be online. But those same writers have to balance (waste) their time and issue frequent Twitter updates by reader (and boss) decree. I really wish Twitter would go to hell.

The news business fought the good fight, and lost. It's been taken over by the digital monster. I saw it firsthand from the inside.

Other thoughts, brought to you more levelheaded ...
  • As for Tebow, the Jaguars need him for more reasons than I have time to type here. If it came down to the money, you take out a loan and give up the paper plant, the 17th at TPC Sawgrass and a couple St. John's River bridges to make the deal.
  • Say you're a Broncos fan, and you bought your kid a Tebow jersey last season. What do you tell them now? Do you have the "Hero today, gone tomorrow" conversation about the world often not being fair with them at an early age? Do you expect him to wear that jersey while you proudly sport your Peyton Manning one when the season starts? And what if that fused neck doesn't hold together? All I'm saying is ... I'm just sayin'.
  • You know who hates all the news about the Tebow trade, the Manning signing, the Saints' staff getting leveled for their role in Bountygate, etc ... the NCAA. Ahem, folks, we have the most wildly popular postseason tournament going on, can you just give us a little room here? After all, they have a Florida-Marquette game to televise tonight ... at 10:17 p.m. tipoff time ... on a school night. It should end around Easter.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A short ode to Hines Ward

I know that thanks to my Philly heritage I focus on stuff happening in the eastern part of the Keystone State, but something happened in Pittsburgh this morning that I think is noteworthy.

Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Hines Ward, the only man to catch 1,000 career passes and win multiple Super Bowls who's name isn't Jerry Rice, retired on Tuesday vowing to remain "A Steeler for life."

Monday, March 19, 2012

The wrong hoops teams do the job that cartoons can't ...

So my kid enjoys watching the cartoon Phineas and Ferb. On that show, the boy's older sister Candace mission in life is to "bust" her little brothers for the radical schemes and ideas they get into. She often talks about "the power of the bust".

Well, the NCAA Tournament is like Candace. Just waiting to bust me.

Admit it kids, your brackets are already shot. Straight to hell. Or wherever Norfolk State or Lehigh are located. (Lehigh's in upstate Pennsylvania, by the way. My uncle matriculated there. I think he also may have gone to classes on his way to a doctorate degree.) You had Missouri, or Duke, or Vanderbilt, or Florida State, or Georgtown going really deep, maybe all the way to New Orleans.

Lucky you. You get to watch this weekend's action and the Final Four with passive interest because the money you spent on your bracket pool would have served the same purpose than if you set it on fire in a gutter. Me? I have to watch, to wait to get busted.
Can you fix this, or do I have to go find Tim Donaghy?
Uh, yeah, of course I was talking about the wrist ...


My Final Four is still intact -- Kentucky, Louisville (that'll be one crazy national semifinal), Ohio State and North Carolina (although I hate my whole right side of the sheet, been saying it for a week now). While I'm mid-pack as of this morning in my winner-take-all pool, I have the most "possible points" and a few winning scenarios. But one of them is UNC winning it all, which seems as likely now with Kendall Marshall breaking his wrist and likely having surgery this week as me winning a dunk contest.

I rode Murray State, Vanderbilt and Florida State a bit too far (into the Elite 8), but I had Duke and Missouri not winning another game after this weekend, too. I need Louisville and The Ohio State, or for Wisconsin to bump of Syracuse (and then get bumped by OSU).  It could happen. Based on my track record (11 years in a pool at the newspaper I wrote sports for, career pool winnings of $0), it won't though I have to keep tabs to see at what point I can eulogize my sheet.

Hey, baseball's Opening Day is next week ...

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Day Orlando Stopped

Admit it, this is fun.

The news hacks here in Orlando might not be enthused with the procedure of write it-hear new story-scrap it-write it again-check Internet for new rumors, but I think the Dwight Howard story over the last week has been hilarious.

Besides, I need something to latch onto to divert me away from an NCAA tournament I have little buzz for, and UCF's drubbing at Drexel in Philadelphia Wednesday night in the NIT.

O-Town went to bed last night hearing definitively that D-12 would be a New Jersey Net or L.A. Laker by lunchtime today. Then this morning, an online report surfaced saying Howard wants to give up his opt-out clause, play in Orlando the rest of this year and into next ... so we can do all of this again this time next year.



Ya'll my bitches. But I mean that nicely. Now go get
me an Egg McMuffin, news bitches!

That online report is at RealGM.com. Sounds legit to me. And if it appears on the Internet, then it must be true, right? Puh-leeze. This story won't be over until 3:01 p.m. this afternoon, after the NBA trade deadline passes. I'll be intrigued to hear this thing evolve

RealGM.com. That's really a news website that other news organizations are citing and quoting. I've said it before, just having an Internet connection and a thought does not make you a journalist. They oughta require a license to practice journalism -- or, say, a B.A. in News-Ed Journalism from an established university.

Driving into work today, I saw 3 live news trucks parked outside the Amway Center. This was before 8 a.m. The team plane flew in from last night's game in San Antonio around 3 a.m. You knuckleheads expect any Egg McMuffin-time stuff to happen at the building? You will be held hostage by the local media all day, and I will be laughing for the next 6 hours.

Monday, March 12, 2012

For the first time ...


I slay Dragons!

... in school history UCF will play in the NIT. The opponent? Drexel. Ha! I've got two cousins that got their engineering degrees there. And the winner Wednesday will likely play St. Joseph's. I only had one cousin go there. (Am I conflicted? Ta hell with it. Go Knights!) Why doesn't UCF just stay in Philly and play Penn and LaSalle while they're at it?

Really guy, a sword? You do know you're
coming to West Philadelphia, right? I keep
sharper things in my desk drawers.

Oh, by the way Knight fans, Drexel Coach Bruiser Flint is "More disappointed in this snub" than in 2007 when the Dragons beat Syrcuse and Villanova but still didn't appear on the Big Dance card. So Drexel's disappointed, and UCF is excited out of their minds.

I smell upset Wednesday at the Daskalakis Athletic Center, which holds all of 2,500 people. UCF's student section could fill that place up! (Hey guys, it's only a 17-hour drive up 95!)

... And for the first time since 2000 I will not be running a NCAA bracket this year. Proud to say I did all the work by hand. I've contacted some of my old pool regulars and told them to set a $5 bill on fire and send me the remains. It'll accomplish the same thing.

(And aren't you glad, based on the title of this post, the reference isn't to some sappy ballad? Not that that's totally a bad thing.)

Friday, March 9, 2012

Yay UCF! Now I need a nap ...

If you see me draggin' sometime today, it's because I was up past midnight listening to college basketball on the radio. UCF won a game in the Conference USA tournament -- for the first time ever, I think -- Thursday night, in a 64-54 win over UAB that tipped off in Memphis at nearly 10:30 p.m. Eastern time (thanks to Marshall's crazy triple-overtime win over Tulsa earlier in the day) and went flying through the bewitching hour.

The Knights took control of the game in the first half, and after halftime they never relinquished, which was good to see, thanks to great defense and some clutch free-throw shooting down the stretch. I tell ya, A.J. Rompza might not be the most talented guy on the roster, but the heart and moxie and composure he brings to UCF is hard to measure and they're gonna miss that next year.

At least they have that tonight, which reminds me, what's the reward for last night's win? A semifinal meeting with Memphis *gulp* on their home court! *winces* You can watch this on the CBS Sports Network, or if you're among the millions who's provider won't get the rod out of their box and offer it, check out Marc Daniels' call on 740 The Game. Go Knights!

oooooooo

Was also nice to see the Magic take control of a game against a quality opponent on the road and beat the Chicago Bulls last night. Orlando took a 37-22 first quarter lead and never gave it up in the 99-94 win, although Chicago did chip away in the fourth quarter and briefly took a one-point lead. Dwight Howard looked a bit lost down the stretch in the offensive end (and especially at the free-throw line, but that's the norm now), but he was responsible for a couple of key defensive stops there at the end, and Magic fans are going to miss that when D-12 moves on, either by trade this week or at the end of the year as a free agent. All I'm saying is ... I'm just sayin'.

oooooooo

As for someone who didn't get off to the start he wanted to on Thursday, Tiger Woods began play Friday six strokes off the lead at the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championships at the Doral Blue Monster in Miami. He eagled the 1st hole and looked on a mission, but could only manage an even-par 72 that was attributed more to the brisk winds that blew. Adam Scott was 7-under after 11 and wound up with a leading 66. There's still a lot of golf left and, with Rory McIlroy looking either discombobulated or disinterested, I think el Tigre is going to be a factor come Sunday.

Why do I mention this? I like Doral. I was 1-under through 7 holes when I played there one late summer afternoon about 15 years ago. Then what happened to me? 8 and 9.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Who will win the Peyton Sweepstakes?

Now that I've finally gotten over Drexel University's loss in the Colonial Athletic Association title game to VCU (won 19 straight before that, now the Philly school gets to sweat Selection Sunday), I can focus a little bit on the news at hand ...

Where's Payton going?

First, I feel bad for Colts fans now, because, regardless of how good you think Andrew Luck is going to be next year, Indianapolis is going to suck again next year. It's awful hard to remember that suckiness in the B.M. days (Before Manning), unless you wear blue and a horseshoe every Sunday in the fall.

But, but, remember that the Colts were being called the Dolts in the days leading up to drafting Peyton No. 1 in the 1998 Draft, and during that '98 season when they went 3-13. Then they went 13-3 the next year, so there is a glimmer of hope if Luck is The Next Chosen One.

Back to today. Who wants Peyton? The question oughta be, who doesn't want Peyton? With the exception of about five teams, you get an automatic upgrade at QB by inserted even an 80% healthy Manning behind center. It's all going to come down to cap room, and how much Peyton's willing to accept an incentive-laden contract, just in case that neck made semi-bionic by doctors doesn't hold up.

I'm hearing some teams that keep surfacing, and here's what I think of them landing Number 18 ...

Friday, March 2, 2012

Weekend Buzz ... Where'd everybody go?

I'm really, really sorry that I damn near went the entire month of February without throwing a post up here or on my Twitter feed. My new job, while not being bad work, leaves me little time for extracurricular activities, consider the day starts with being the daycare center charter chauffeur for Miss Kenzie and ends right when Dinner Makin' and Dish Doin' time starts at home. 12 hours of go-go-go does a number on a brother. Plus, we haven't recorded an edition of our critically-acclaimed podcast Upon Further Review in over two weeks.

The timing of it all stunk, as both the NBA All-Star Game and the Daytona 500 invaded our fair burgh on the same weekend last week, and there was plenty to talk about. So, five days later, now that all the outtatowners have gone home, is the perfect time to look back on it all, right?

(Lemme tell you about all those outtatowners; all of this went on in Orlando the same weekend as my anniversary, so I wish they would have consulted me before scheduling ... anyway, it took 30 minutes to go 3 miles on I-4 going to dinner, and 45 minutes to go 7 miles on a back road to get to Disney for a La Nouba show. Yeah buddy, that's how I roll ...)

Put all those people in one area and things are bound to get screwy. But, tell me if this isn't right out of Bizarro World ... we can't get the NFL guys to really try in the Pro Bowl, but we watched Kobe Bryant break his nose in the All-Star Game, and then the weekend ended by dropping the checkered flag at Daytona International Speedway -- on Tuesday at 1 a.m.

Hey ladies, check it out!

I watched a little of the All-Star Game in the first half, then left it on through most of the fourth quarter as the West was trouncing the East, who manned up, showed some heart and almost pulled out of a 20-point deficit. Funny things happen when you appeal to the ego of guys in the All-Star Game ... were you watching, Roger Goodell?

Which reminds me ... I've got a way to fix the Pro Bowl: play it in August, the same weekend as the Hall of Fame Game. Guys will want to get meaningful reps at that time of year, especially coming off of training camp when they beat on guys wearing the same color. The players will try, especially those coming off injuries who want to see how hard they can really go ... where better than to go against the best in the game. But since the NFL rules the universe, those guys don't care what I have to say ...

As for the 500, I was intrigued by the prospect of starting it at 7 p.m. on a Monday (all that was missing was Hank Williams Jr ... "Are ya ready for some racinnnnnn?") and when they got the thing going promptly instead of having 20 minutes of talking heads bored us, I realized that if there were no undue delays, it would finish around 10:30 ... perfect. NASCAR's biggest race would have pulled a great rating starting (and, um, finishing) in prime time, especially from casual folks who wouldn't be home on Sunday afternoon but would on a Monday night. I'd like to see more of that during the year, if we can keep gool ol' boys named Juan from breaking the jet dryers and frying the track ...

Only you can prevent unleaded fires ...
For the record, I made it to 1 a.m. Monday night/Tuesday morning to see Matt Kenseth win ... only because I feel asleep around 10:30 and woke up just in time for the checkered flag.

So, what are we doing this weekend, guys? Guys? Anyone? Is anybody here?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Tweet tweet!

Hey yous guys ...

Finally started the Twitter account for this blog, and conviently enough, @Phoulballs was available. It'll have bits and pieces of my posts here, and highlights and showtimes for my podcast, Upon Further Review.  So follow me at one of the places you can find me kids, and I'll holler out you soon.

Now, back to the full-time job that really pays the bills.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Ad Ode to Brad Lidge

One of the last pieces of nostalgia from the Philadelphia Phillies' 2008 World Series run has moved on, as reliver Brad Lidge, the closer on that team, signed a one-year contract this week to play for the NL East rival Washington Nationals.

Lidge struck out Eric Hinske for the final out of the '08 Series, bringing a championship to the City of Brotherly Love for the first time in 25 years -- exactly 100 agonizing sports seasons since the '83 Sixers won one -- and dropped to his knees in one of Philadelphia sports lore's most iconic scenes.

Oct. 29, 2008. Greatest. Night. Ever. (Top 3 at least)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Baltimore's no Vegas, but neither is Indy ...

After a night to sleep on it, here's some more thoughts from Saturday's spectacular conference title games ...

  • Even Pittsburgh Steelers fans have to feel for Baltimore Ravens fans this morning. First, Lee Evans had the winning touchdown catch, and then he didn't. If he holds on, Billy Cundiff never gets the chance to be the goat. And how can the replay official not spend an extra 30 seconds looking at that play? It only decided who went to the Super Bowl. The networks showed that Evans did not get the second foot down before the ball got punched out, but it was very, very, very close.
  • We spent all week talking about New England's offense and San Francisco and Baltimore's defense. Where were both games won and lost? Special teams. Ain't called "special" for no reason, people. Maybe if Jim Harbaugh had put Vernon Davis back to return punts, too ...
  • 
    Fu manch-blew.
    
  • Joe Flacco showed his stripes. Nobody gets to doubt him any more. He will get the Ravens to the big one someday, even with having to maneuver around Big Ben and Andy Dalton for at least another five years. (Wonder if Mike Holmgren in Cleveland is going, "Hmm, was retirement really that bad?") But, dude, shave the 'stache. You don't do porn.
  • Yes, I spoke ill will of Eli Manning last night. But that's because of the hijinks he pulled on Draft Day 2004 to get out of San Diego and into the glitz of New York. I must give mad props to his game. He got absolutely massacred by the 49ers' pass rush (five sacks and 10 knockouts, some that would have us yelling, "Check please!") and got right back up every play. He now has five playoff wins on the road and has started every game for the last 7+ years.
  • 
    Vinny, Dominic and Joey One-Brow
    await your business transaction.
    
  • Besides, NBC couldn't sell Alex Smith if they tried. Eli sells himself, especially going for a second ring (to Peyton's one) in big brother's barn. So expect big ratings. Vegas is saying that this should be the heaviest-wagered Super Bowl to date. The Patriots open as a 3-point favorite and I'll stick with them since I picked them to win it all back in September, but the Giants have been proving me wrong for better than a month.

Memo to Peyton: Make Brady and lil' Eli pay rent

Gut reactions from the AFC & NFC championship games:

  • Baltimore either plays like a world beater or an egg beater. Hard to know which is coming, but they threw everything at the Patriots and frankly deserved better, and I love Joe Flacco's grit. Would loved to have seen the Ravens in the Super Bowl.
  • Maybe Jim Harbaugh should have used Vernon Davis to return punts rather than Kyle Williams.
  • So ... Giants-Patriots. Do we really have to do this all over again?


At first I thought I'd do what I did 8 years ago when it was Carolina-New England ... dust off my bowling ball and roll some frames while I ignored the Super Bowl.  But since I can't avoid the next 2 weeks of the talking heads repeating the same story lines ad nauseum, skipping it would be like asking your buddy for the 18 cents to pay exact change at the store when you're paying with a 20.

The most popular of those storyies will be: The Rematch, Brady going for another ring in the home of his arch-nemesis, and Eli going for his 2nd in the home of his brother, and how that would give him 2 rings to Peyton's one.

Please hit me with a tire iron now.

The Patriots don't bother me so much; at the start of the year I had them winning the big game, over Green Bay. Those ferkin' Blue Blobs had to ruin it for me.

This isn't about any "I hate New York" sentiment. I feel jilted as a football fan. Green Bay and New Orleans were BY FAR the best teams in the NFC for the 4-month regular season. I should be rewarded by seeing them play for a title rather than a team that played their best over a 3-week period, or a San Fran team that got 6 games vs. the Cardinals, Rams and Seahawks.

Instead, last week was where Vince Lombardi divided by zero.

The Giants are in the playoffs soley because those around them soiled the bedsheets. If Dallas holds that 20-something point lead against Detroit or if Philadelphia had held on to double-digit 4th quarter leads at home against San Fran OR Arizona (that one just tore me up inside) the Giants would have been golfing by Jan. 9.

But if the Giants hadn't had their rash of injuries they'd be 12-4. If you think this team has 9-7 talent, you're crazy, I've heard three Giants fans tell me in different versions. But what was it that your former coach, Bill Parcells, used to say .... You are what your record says you are.

Eli Manning as a human being is another big problem for me. Remember when he got drafted and told the Chargers, who had the first pick, "Don't bother. I don't want to play for you, and my Daddy said I don't have to if I don't want to. I want to play in a bigger media market." He used his rookie clout to get San Diego to work a draft-day deal to the Giants. It's the same exact reason I would beat Kobe Bryant with the closest object possible if I ever met him -- he was drafted by the Charlotte Hornets out of high school but told them, um, no, I'm playing for the Lakers. Make it happen. (They should've traded him to the L.A. Clippers.)

Eli's a fraud. I hope he rots in Indianapolis and Tom Brady makes him looked like a smacked ass. Then again, Kobe has five NBA championships, so maybe these guys channel my hate for them into championship focus.

Dammit. So where is my bowling ball, anyway ...

Rest in peace, Joe Paterno. Don't let it disturb your afterlife that Gerry Sandusky and the Penn State Board of Regents worked in concert to kill you.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

UCF validates ... and why in the hell I wore a Giants jersey

If you were wondering how the UCF men's basketball team would respond after beating Memphis, who played for the national title just 4 years ago, here's how. They had to go on the road Saturday afternoon and play UAB (that's not a taxi company, thats Alabama-Birmingham) and scored just 48 points.

But when you play lockdown defense, it's enough. The Knights moved to 4-1 in Conference USA play and 15-4 overall with a 48-41 win over the Blazers. There might, just might, be something special about this UCF team.

The Knights get back at it Wednesday at Tulsa.

But, in a related move that had to balance out the sports universe ... if you get the feed for my sports podcast with Orlando Predators' media relations director J.C. Carnahan, "Upon Further Review", you'll understand why there's pictures circulating of me wearing an Eli Manning home jersey.

Listen to our show and you'll understand why.

And that's all I hafta say about that ...

Thursday, January 19, 2012

"A snapshot moment" at UCF


Game. Set. Match. Hells to the mutha' truckin' yeah, baby!
 UCF 68, Memphis 67.

I typed that late last night, and then sat back and just looked at it, soaking it in.

The Knights have been to the NCAA tournament four times since 1994, but I would never go as far as to call them a "power". Memphis, on the other hand, has been nationally ranked annually for about the past 20 years, and were a couple of free throws away from winning The Big Dance four years ago.

And UCF has its first win over the Conference USA big boy in 11 tries.

Who's a big boy now?

Monday, January 16, 2012

My recap of the NFL playoff weekend; I Ain't Right

Well I picked both NFC games wrong and both AFC games right this weekend, but, then again, who didn't?

Let me get this out of the way -- do you people really enjoy the unexpected, like upsets and longshots coming through? I'm learning this about myself ... I do not. Instead, I feel gyped because I'm not getting the New Orleans-Green Bay battle royale I so desperately anticipated as a Super Bowl appetizer.

Monday, January 9, 2012

My Hall of Fame ballot

The Baseball Hall of Fame will announce its 2012 signing class later today.  The last few years, a few of my friends have shared amongst our klatch what we'd do if we had one of those ballots supplied by the BBWAA, and why. Here, for the first time for public consumption outside our consortium, is my 2012 Hall of Fame ballot, in decending order of worthiness ...

I Owned You All in Fantasyball, Beyond That There's Nothing To Say:  Jeromy Burnitz, Vinny Castilla, Juan Gonzalez, Brian Jordan, Javy Lopez, Bill Mueller, Terry Mulholland, Phil Nevin, Brad Radke, Tim Salmon, Ruben Sierra, Tony Womack, Eric Young.

Some consideration:
Fred McGriff -- solid hitter for a while but not enough OSF (Oh Sh!t Factor) when he came to the plate
Rafael Palmeiro -- my lasting memory of him is wagging his finger at Congress, and it turns me off
Lee Smith -- Outside of his longetivity, his stats were underwhelming at an overrated position
Bernie Williams -- Sorry Yankee fans, there just isn't enough there
Don Mattingly -- I had him on my ballot for years as in, probably because he deserved better than he got. I've given up the ghost on him as a HOFer, but still think he had the greatest, silkiest swing for a lefty that I may have ever seen.

Plenty of careful consideration:
Larry Walker -- Wow. So very close. Actually looked up the stats. Hit .353 and averaged 30 HRs and had an OPS of 1.089 from 1997-2002, and it included one season of 83 games due to injury. Had his share of OSF, but did a lot of his damage in Colorado pre-humidor. I will hold him off for consideration next year, when he'll be a strong maybe again.
Alan Trammell -- A lock for the Hall of Very Good. A .297 hitter in his prime years. Good SS, but I just don't find the credentials there.
Barry Larkin -- Everyone seems to think he's a lock to get in this year, but I don't see it. He was a 10-time all star ... hell, Dave Concepcion was a 9-timer. See Trammell, Alan.
Dale Murphy -- If you could delve more into his stats, you might find something here. His RBI numbers don't jump out, but then again he was on some pretty bad '80s Braves teams so he often had nobody to drive in. If he gets in I won't really disagree, but my vote is a hesitatant thumbs down.
Jack Morris -- I've championed him for like the last 10 years. Winningest pitcher of the '80s, but is that like being the surfing champion of Nebraska? I've cooled on him now.

And my 2012 Hall of Famers are ...

Edgar Martinez -- Like  and Jason Stark said this year, now that we're getting pure DHs on the list, we have to consider them, and why not start with the greatest one to ever play the "position".









Jeff Bagwell -- Career OPS: .948. Absolute monster in his heyday. 30-30 twice. Not bad for 1B. Had just enough OSF for me. Trying to remember if I voted for him last year.









Tim Raines -- In the '80s only 2 men led the NL in steals -- Raines and Vince Coleman. Greatest leadoff hitter of our era not named Ricky Henderson.










Mark McGwire -- Didn't get my vote the 1st 2 years, but I've changed my tune. He was never asked to run, or bat leadoff, or field his position like a Gold Glover. He was asked to slug. And slug he did over a long enough period. Was held in the same regard from 1996-99 as Barry Bonds in his best era, and guess what, I'm voting for Bonds, too, come that time.




Friday, January 6, 2012

So THIS is what the Solar Bears will look like

I like the old look better. But this ... this is, um, different.
The Orlando Solar Bears, the ECHL team that will hit the rink at the Amway Center this October, presented their new-look logo at halftime of Friday's Orlando Magic-Chicago Bulls game at the Amway. The presentation is a part of the team's "Out Of Hibernation" marketing campaign.
Your 2012 Orlando Solar Bears! Let's go Bears!
"Shades", the ever-popular mascot, is back on the logo, holding a stick in a new and rather macho manner. A sun shaped in the letter 'O' for Orlando sits behind Shades.
He's holding the stick behind his shoulders, kind of like he's waiting on deck at a baseball game, instead of ready to pounce on a puck or an opposing winger. And the 'O' doesn't impress me.
But, it's not bad, and it's definitely interesting. I guess we were expecting it to have the panache of the Old O-Bears, who played in the International Hockey League from 1995-2001, winning the Turner Cup in 2001 before the IHL folded.

This guy look familiar?

In addition to the unveiling during the Magic game, the logo lit up the roads throughout Orlando on ClearChannel Outdoor Digital locations in a synchronized manner at 11 p.m. in an official "Orlando Solar Bears Road Block." (If you're reading right after I write it ... you have 45 minutes to hit the road and check it out.)
The Solar Bears will introduce their jersey designs, announce an NHL affiliation and introduce its coaching staff in the next 4-6 months, the team website (www.orlandosolarbearshockey.com) said.
There's more details in my story at Examiner.com found here.

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