Thursday, January 31, 2008

WOBM's Biggest Loser Challenge

It’s that time of year again for me and nine of my co-workers…the WOBM version of the Biggest-Loser Challenge. We started three weeks ago with the idea that misery loves company when it comes to losing weight and with some cash on the line there would be extra motivation. Some of you might remember last year I came up just short, finishing second in the contest in which the winner is decided by largest percentage of weight loss from when you started. The irony of last year is that five days after our contest ended I had my gall bladder removed….had them occurred a few days earlier I would have been the big winner.

I will admit that I was very ambivalent about even entering this year because
we started the contest on January 7th…last year we waited until the day after the Super Bowl. Plus it was decided to put men and women in separate groups and while 7 females signed on only two other guys entered. So when we started I really had little enthusiasm and no plan for how I would lose weight except to say “I’ll just change my lifestyle” which is an admission I was clueless and not committed.

After the first two weeks my weight loss was only a pound and it didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out I was going nowhere. As for the other men in the contest….Mark was the same weight after two weeks and Mike, who I think gained during last year’s competition, was clearly on a mission…dropping 7 pounds. Again the winner is not based on weight loss but a percentage and Mike had just about clinched up the men’s division.

However using the old sports axiom, “it’s not how you start the race but rather how you finish” I decided to get serious. Last Wednesday “Weight Watchers” became the latest of my many weight-loss programs, when I signed up in Toms River. I attended a meeting in which I felt like I was in the studio audience for an Oprah Show….there was like 30 women and 3 men. But I’m focused and when I went back yesterday and weighed-in I had lost 9 pounds in the first week. I don’t think I can catch Mike but I promise to make him sweat a bit.

In fairness to the women here at the radio station many of them are doing very well especially Andria, Kim & Regina. Of course the next weigh-in comes right after Super Bowl Sunday which will be a real challenge…at least for some.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Baseball & Politics

The Presidential Race and Baseball are my topics of conversation today.

Let’s start with the race for the White House in which we’re starting to really separate pretenders from contenders and who would have thought just a few months ago that Rudy Giuliani would be gone from the race before next week’s “Super Tuesday?” However that apparently is what’s going to happen after the former mayor of New York City finished third in the Florida primary Tuesday…a state he had targeted and pretty much had to win. Now Rudy is expected to bow out and throw his support behind John McCain, whose win in Florida gives him a lot of momentum heading in to next Tuesday where 22 states, including New Jersey will hold primaries or caucuses and 41% of the GOP delegates are up for grabs.

McCain was pretty much considered out of the picture just a couple of months ago but the Arizona senator looks more and more like the front-runner with only Mitt Romney now posing a serious challenge. Here’s one for you….how about Giuliani running as Vice President on a ticket with McCain? That would be a long-shot but it would make an interesting duo to battle Clinton or Obama in November.

New York Mets fans have been ripping management for not making any off-season moves to help their pitching staff. The patience of General Manager Omar Minaya has paid off though with a tentative trade that brings one of baseball’s best pitchers to Flushing, Queens. The Mets and Twins have reached tentative agreement on a deal for Johan Santana in which New York gives up four prospects but not any of their regulars. The Amazins’ now have until Friday afternoon to sign Santana to a contract extension, one that could cost more than $150 million over six years. You would expect that this deal will get done and it dramatically changes things in the National League where the Mets are now the favorites.

Basketball teams are beginning to clinch division titles with a trio celebrating with wins Tuesday night. The Toms River North Boys wrapped-up their first Class A South title in ten years…Monsignor Donovan secured the Class B South Non-Public championship and the Point Boro Girls clinched at least a share of the B South crown.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Tattoo You

Growing up I always associated tattoos with men in the military, hard-core bikers and Popeye the Sailor Man. I was around 20 years old when my first clean-cut friend got a small one on his upper arm….he tried to talk me into to getting one but I never even considered it. This was in the mid 70’s and I told him tattoos were a fad and like all others would pretty much go away and only be associated with less than desirables. That was one bad prediction.

Tattoos or if you prefer body art is obviously not a fad and probably here to stay although I say this with an asterisk. Yes teen-agers and young adults are getting things on all parts of their bodies like never before and some seem to have more skin with art then without it. However I really wonder what these people are going to look like when they age into their 60’s, 70’s and beyond. The tattoo which looks cool on your large bicep now might be a joke when you become a senior citizen. More interesting is what’s taking place with young women who have this affinity for large tattoos on their lower back. They of course like the way it looks when they are working out at the gym or walking the beach in a bikini. But what will that design look like after a couple of kids and about 30 or 40 years….might have to cover it or face a ticket for indecent exposure.

The same applies for body piercing but that’s easier to handle when you get older or maybe even get a job where something stuck above your eye, in your nose or on your tongue just won’t cut it. Should one chose they can simply remove the hardware from their body but getting rid of a tattoo is not as easy and certainly more painful.

Since my original prediction that this stuff was just a fad was as bad as those who said the South would win the Civil War I want a second chance. I figure somewhere around 2040 when today’s young adults have aged and look pretty hideous tattoos will go back to being small, restricted pretty much to upper arms and ankles and favorites of only men in the military, hard-core bikers and of course Popeye the Sailor Man.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Monday Random Thoughts

Random thoughts as we begin the final week of January:

Expect Super Bowl hype to get into full swing today when the Giants arrive in Arizona. It’s amazing how many people think the Giants will win Sunday’s matchup with undefeated New England, who remains at least a two touchdown favorite. I’ll hold off my thoughts on the game until later in the week.

In case you didn’t notice Seton Hall has won four straight basketball games and is in a four-way tie for third place in the Big East…the highest they have been this late in the season in more than five years. Meanwhile Rutgers is coming off back to back impressive wins over Villanova and Pittsburgh and will host Seton Hall Wednesday at the RAC.

Things are looking up for Joe Scott in his first season as the head coach at the University of Denver. The Pelican Island native and former Toms River East standout is 8-11 with the Pioneers, including a 4-4 record in the Sun Belt Conference. That’s already a big improvement over last year when Denver won only four games and had a 3-15 conference record.
Scott was the head coach at Princeton before taking the Denver job last spring.

On an unrelated note, I read with interest today a story in the Asbury Park Press about Community Medical Center’s latest attempt to expand its cardiac services. The hospital has applied to the state to be able to perform elective angioplasties, a procedure which they can now do only on an emergency basis. Community as you might expect handles a large number of cardiac cases and many patients have to be transported to another hospital
when an angioplasty is needed, which can make things difficult for patients and their families. I know from first-hand experience as just last spring my father had to go from Community to Jersey Shore University for what has become a relatively routine procedure. I’m not going to pretend to be an expert on this but it seems logical that local residents would be better served if they had the choice on whether to have an angioplasty done at Community
or somewhere else.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Football & Fundraisers

Football fans, except those who root for the Giants or Patriots are already showing signs of NFL withdrawal. This will be the first weekend without a game since pre-season play began in August and you’ll have to watch highlight shows, old games on the NFL Network or pull out a DVD to get your fix. However you can meet a couple of former and even a current football great this weekend during the Grand Opening of B&G Sports Memorabilia on Van Zile Road in Brick.

Former Giant running back Joe Morris and ex-Penn State star and Bills rookie linebacker Paul Posluszny will be on hand for a autograph signing Saturday while on Sunday it will be former Jet Joe Klecko as well as rising Ultimate Fighter Frank Edgar, who was a star wrestler at Toms River East. For more information on the grand opening events you can call (732) 451-0175.

Let me mention a few upcoming fundraisers:

On Saturday, February 9th there will be a benefit dinner and comedy show featuring Jeff Pirrami to benefit the family of Rich Petrosino, who recently passed away from cancer. The evening events will be held at the new American Legion Post building on Church Road in Toms River and for ticket information you can call (732) 232-3861.

A week later on Saturday, February 16th there will be an all-day benefit at High Velocity in Beachwood featuring some two dozen bands, dancers, singers and much more. It’s all to help 6-year old Savanna Winnie of Forked River who has leukemia. You can get more information on the festivities of the day by calling (732) 688-9240.

It’s not too early to mention the 15th Annual Law Enforcement Polar Bear Plunge, which is set for Saturday, February 23rd in Seaside Heights. The event benefits the Special Olympics in New Jersey and it’s the largest grossing single day fundraiser they run. Information and registration is available at

Thursday, January 24, 2008

In Search Of Winter

I’m not looking to get into any global warming dialogue and I’ll probably just sound like another old-timer but I am wondering what has happened to winter. Maybe this is the wrong day to ask that question since we’ve been in a fairly cold period and snow is in the forecast. However we are in late January, have had no snow to speak of and not too many mornings in which you had to scrape your windshield. I’m also not saying winter is over because February can certainly feel like the longest month of the year.

It’s just that I remember things which you don’t see anymore. What ever happened to ice skating on Lake Carasaljo in Lakewood? You would drive by on Route 9 and see the area filled with people of all ages. When I was a teen-ager they used to fill the playground in Seaside Heights with water and it would freeze for a good part of the winter and kids would skate all the time. By the way I only tried skating once and my ankles were touching the ice the entire time…I knew it wasn’t for me.

How about sledding? Well you can’t do that without snow and we just don’t get much of it anymore. Was it that long ago when every kid had a sled, toboggan or saucer of some kind and couldn’t wait to use it? We had a hill in Seaside Heights that would be covered with sleds as soon as there was enough snow and later we would travel to the Toms River Country Club
or Ocean County College for more challenging sledding. Gloves and hats were mandatory but boots were not a necessity….you could just put plastic bags over your sneakers. A snow day from school or a weekend gave you plenty of time to go sledding…after you shoveled your own house and maybe those of neighbors for a few bucks.

Again I know I’m sounding like this was in the old days but in truth it was only some 30 years ago. These months were supposed to be cold, snowy and icy and they were. While I’m not looking for a return to that time maybe we could use an appearance by Old Man Winter…even if it’s only from time to time.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Bouncing Around

Random notes as I bounce around a bit today:

I listened and watched in almost amazement yesterday to the reaction of people over what is taking place with the economy on not only Wall Street but around the world. Seems many think that because they don’t have money invested in stocks the Dow Jones means nothing to them but in truth we all are affected (directly or indirectly) by the economy because of the way things trickle down. I do know that in talking with several business people in Ocean County they are very concerned with the direction we are heading in and are very unsure of what’s in store for the future.

On a much more optimistic note it has been quite a season so far for the Lacey Township High School Girls Basketball team. The Lions improved to 14-1 Tuesday night with an easy victory over Brick Memorial and have all but clinched the Class A South title thanks to a perfect 10-0 division record. Lacey’s only loss came to Colts Neck in the semifinals of the WOBM Christmas Classic and they rebounded to capture 3rd place in the tournament.
Amanda Malkiewicz, who scored her 1000th career point last week, had 18 points in last night’s win to surpass Dawn Dickten as the leading girl’s scorer in school history. Dickten is now Dawn Paget and is the head coach at Pinelands. Lacey coach Patty Cooke has done a terrific job and it’s been a great winter so far for the Lions.

January is National Mentoring Month and as part of that Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ocean County will celebrate with an open house today from 3-7pm at their office at 85 Williams Street in Lakewood…just around the corner from Kimball Medical Center. The staff, Board of Directors, volunteers and even Buster from the Lakewood BlueClaws will be on hand to talk about the nationally-acclaimed mentoring program. You can also get information today on how to enroll a child or become a Big Brother or Sister. For more information you can call (732) 905-5349.

If the hype over Tom Brady walking around New York in a walking cast is any indication it’s going to be a rough couple of weeks leading up to Super Bowl 42.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

600 Wins

Brick Township High School has the market cornered when it comes to legendary coaches who show no signs of letting up and keep adding to their impressive list of accomplishments and milestones. At the Ocean Ice Palace Monday the Green Dragons beat Jackson Memorial to give Coach Bob Auriemma his 600th career victory, the most in state history. That same honor belongs to Brick football coach Warren Wolf, who ironically was the
head coach when the hockey program began on the club level in the early
60’s. Auriemma, who started as an assistant to Wolf took over as head coach when hockey became a varsity sport in 1965 and in 42 years he’s piled up a record of 600 wins, 303 losses and 76 ties. His Green Dragon teams won six overall state championships and another five Public School titles when the tournament split in two divisions in 1995.

However numbers and championships alone don’t define Brick hockey, which came on the scene many years before other high schools started playing the game around the shore. Auriemma’s program truly defines the word “family” and you only have to look at yesterday’s win in which his grandson Matt Dornacker scored a pair of goals. Both Green Dragon assistant coaches Glenn Barnfield & Mike Guarino played for him as did current Brick Mayor Steve Acropolis. The most celebrated high school player in shore and state history is Jim Dowd, who helped the team reach great heights in the mid 80’s. They are all part of an extended Brick hockey family in which the 71-year old Auriemma is clearly the patriarch. A soft-spoken man off the ice, he never talks about himself and like his friend Coach Wolf, gives credit to the players for a victory and will take the burden for a loss.

Monday’s victory, which saw Andrew Ball score a three-goal “hat trick”, raises the current team’s record to 8-4-1. 600 wins and counting for a true legend and a real gentleman.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Go Big Blue!

I’ve always felt that after the Yankees the football Giants were the most popular pro team in the shore area so there is certainly quite a bit of interest in Sunday’s NFC Championship game in which “Big Blue” takes on the Packers at storied Lambeau Field. Much of the talk this week has been about the weather forecast for Green Bay in which the high temperature Sunday is expected to reach only 6 degrees and it will likely be colder then that when the game kicks off at 6:30 our time. The good news (if you want to call it that) is that with the exception of a few flurries there is no snow in the forecast but make no mistake about it the weather conditions will be a factor.

I would imagine that TV ratings for this game will be off the charts for a few reasons. The Packers are really a national team and have fans all across the country and feature one of the most popular players of our generation in quarterback Brett Favre. In playing the Giants they meet another one of the NFL’s traditional franchises and while not having the sex-appeal of say the Dallas Cowboys, the G-Men also have a large and loyal fan base. What also makes this game so appealing is that the weather here is going to be cold Sunday…making for a perfect excuse to stay indoors. And when you throw in that Monday is a National Holiday it means there will be a lot of people attending house parties as well as local bars and restaurants because they don’t have to get up early the next day.

Of course there is another game Sunday but to me that one is a mere formality and just a warm-up to Giants-Packers. The Patriots should have little trouble in disposing of the warm-weather and injury-riddled Chargers in frosty Foxboro, Massachusetts where they play for the AFC Championship. While it won’t be as bitter as Green Bay it will not be nice as the high temperature is expected to be just 26 degrees with windy conditions. I imagine sometime late in the 3rd quarter San Diego will be looking forward to the flight home to Southern California.

As for a prediction on Giants-Packers. My heart says “Big Blue” but my head says”cheeseheads” in a close one…say 20-17.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Chamber Honors

The parking lot at Woodlake County Club in Lakewood was filled at lunch time Wednesday….not with golfers but rather those attending a special luncheon hosted by the Toms River-Ocean County Chamber of Commerce to honor Nina Anuario and the Toms River Police Department. They were recipients of the Pinnacle Leadership Philanthropic Awards for continued involvement and service to the community as both were previously saluted as Distinguished Citizens and Organizations of the year.

Anuario is a Senior Vice President for OceanFirst Bank and her list of organizations served and previous honors would take more time then I have. The Jackson Township resident is a tireless worker for many causes, including the Ocean County Vocational-Technical School and she also finds time to spend with her four grandchildren. Nina’s group of supporters at the luncheon include her 87-year old mother, husband, one of her son’s(with grandson) and a large contingent from her OceanFirst Bank family.

There were plenty of Toms River’s finest on hand as well with chief Mike Mastronardy receiving the award on behalf of his department. Mastronardy, who started out as a patrolman and has risen to the rank of chief, spoke about the quality of the people in his department and said he learned a long time ago you hire good people and let them do their job. One of the most respected chiefs in the state; he also praised Toms River officials for recognizing the importance of investing in the future of the police department. Former Mayor Paul Brush and new Mayor Tom Kelaher, along with Councilwoman Maria Maruca were among those in attendance to show their support for the chief and his department as was Seaside Heights Police Chief Thomas Boyd.

As always Chamber President Lucy Greene and her staff did a marvelous job organizing the luncheon with the help of Chairman Jim DeAngelis.
They have also announced the honorees for their 45th Annual Reception and Dinner which will be held on April 24th at Eagle Ridge Golf Club. “Distinguished Citizens of the Year” are Senators Andy Ciesla and Robert Singer along with the recently-retired Len Connors. The Salvation Army, Ocean County Citadel will be honored as “Organization of the Year” and
Former Toms River Mayor Paul Brush will receive the first “Community Service Award.”

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Giants & Idol

I could care less about “American Idol” once the aspiring singers move on to Hollywood and the TV show is about talent. However if you need a good
laugh than there’s nothing like the first few weeks of the Fox show, which kicked off its new season Tuesday. There’s something about watching people make complete fools of themselves on national TV. While I’m sure many of them think they have talent I’ll always believe that some contestants are just trying to find their way onto television and to them the whole thing is a goof. Regardless it is very funny and a good diversion from reality.

That may also be the best way to describe sports and I’ll use the football Giants as a good example of that. Having the Giants still alive in the Super Bowl chase is a shot in the arm for many and comes at a time when just everything in New Jersey appears bleak. Instead of people moaning about taxes and the Governor’s toll hikes they can rally around “Big Blue” as they get ready to play the Packers in Green Bay Sunday Night. Sometimes we need things to look forward to and get our minds off the reality of the every day struggles…..sports at its best does that.

The naming of Bill Hill as the new head football coach at Toms River High School South will certainly come as a surprise to many. The Board of Education hired the 48-year old Hill Tuesday to replace Brian Wilkinson, who stepped down last month. Hill is considered among the top athletes to come out of the shore, starring in football and baseball at Howell High School and getting a taste of the pros in both. While he’s never been a head coach before Hill earned a solid reputation as an assistant at Lakewood and Asbury Park and spent a season working with Ron Signorino at South.

Back to American Idol…the Princess Leia character at the end of last night’s show….she wasn’t serious, was she?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Driving Mr. Williams

Monday was a version of “D Day” for me…actually more of “DD Day” as in daughter driving. Call it one of those defining moments for a parent and child when for the first time you’re in the passenger seat with your 16-year old behind the wheel. My Alex officially got her learner’s permit this weekend and when I picked her up at school after track practice yesterday she basically said “move over, I’m driving home.”

This was not the first time our roles were reversed but the previous driving experience was pretty much limited to an empty parking lot, not the often-congested area of downtown Toms River. Plus she did her training hours in a much smaller vehicle then my SUV which it appears about a year from now will be hers anyway.

So with that said at around 3:30pm we buckled up and proceeded south on Hooper Avenue for the trip between High School South and Beachwood which to me seemed more like a cross-country venture when it’s actually only a few miles. There were a few occasions when I told Alex to slow down, stay in her lane, etc but for the most part she did pretty well which is more of a credit to her driving instructor then yours truly. Learning to drive in local traffic is certainly not easy because everyone is in a hurry and other drivers don’t know that an inexperienced and probably terrified kid is behind the wheel. Actually I think I was more terrified than my daughter, who like all kids looks forward to the independence that will come when she turns 17 and gets her license. For now though she’ll have to be content driving with her Mom or Dad, getting criticized, cautioned and second-guessed. It’s one of those rites of passage that mark growing up from child to young adult or in my case from adult to much older adult.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Big Blue & Bucket List

I don’t want to portray all Giant football fans as those who think the glass is half-empty but I can only imagine water-cooler talk today:

Fan #1- Boy am I glad Tony Romo got hooked up with that Jessica
Simpson because she did what our defense didn’t in the first
two games….stopped him dead in his tracks.

Fan #2- Yeah and Eli was okay but he’ll be terrible in Green Bay
because it’s going to be about 9 degrees at kickoff and
everyone knows he can’t play in the cold weather.

Actually Eli was better than just “okay” and regardless of what happens next he and Big Blue has far exceeded expectations of most of their fans and so-called experts. Plus how cool is it going to be to watch a game on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field Sunday Night?

One footnote to Sunday’s game. Did you notice that appearing on the sidelines in the final minutes was Dallas owner Jerry Jones? Not only did he show up but was standing right next to the head coach. Jones loves being on camera and I’m sure he wanted to be the focus of attention when Dallas pulled the game out…instead watching his agony over the loss was (as they say in the commercial)….priceless.

If you like a movie that has the ability to make you laugh and cry then don’t wait too long to see “The Bucket List” which has to be one of the best films I’ve seen in years. The pairing of Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman is simply perfect and this is a film that all adults will enjoy. We
saw it Saturday night at the Marquee Cinema in Toms River and when the movie ended the jammed theatre broke into a round of applause…something you rarely see. This is a terrific film!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Friday Thoughts

Just a few random thoughts and notes heading into the weekend:

For quite a few of you life has or will be returning to normal as your children return to college after a long holiday break. My son heads back to Penn State today for his final semester and while we will miss him dearly we won’t miss him coming home at bizarre hours and deciding to raid the kitchen. Actually the next time he comes home we would hope it’s to gather his belongings in preparation for his first job.

Ironically I was out last night (drinking diet soda) with five of my longtime friends from our days at Ocean County College. Even though it was some thirty years ago our conversations always center on the same things we don’t want our children to do today. Sort of a “do as I say, not as I did” kind of thing.

The Toms River-Ocean County Chamber of Commerce will hold a special luncheon next Wednesday (January 16th) at Woodlake Country Club to present Pinnacle Leaderships Awards to OceanFirst Bank Senior Vice-President Nina Anuario and the Toms River Township Police Department, represented by Chief Mike Mastronardy. Both were past recipients of the Chamber’s Distinguished Citizen and Organization of the Year Awards and continue to contribute to the betterment of the community. For ticket information you can call the chamber office at (732) 349-0220.

It’s a bit disappointing that retiring Congressman Jim Saxton is backing Medford Mayor Chris Myers to replace him in Washington because it’s about time for Ocean County to have representation in the 3rd congressional district. Myers will be challenged by Ocean County Freeholder Jack Kelly in the June 3rd Republican primary and there could be quite a battle between the two.

I’m glad the Giants and Cowboys game is this weekend because I’m really tired of hearing about Tony Romo and Jessica Simpson. Here’s hoping the Giants pull off the upset and we don’t have to hear about the couple again until they announce they are no longer together, which is inevitable. Unfortunately I think Dallas will beat “Big Blue” for the third time this season.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Remembering Rich Petrosino

I’m often reminded of something my father said years ago…”the worst thing about getting older is you know more people who die.” Of course that’s something you expect with age but in a perfect world you wish young people would be immune from dealing with the reality and finality of losing a loved one way before their time. However we know far too well that is often not the case and I don’t have to look very hard for a pair of recent examples.

Just last week I attended the wake of 23-year old Keith Howells, who for many years was part of a soccer team I coached in Beachwood. It was a picture of Keith displayed at the service that provided comfort and allowed me to smile at a time of sadness. It was one of those posed sports pictures in which Keith was in his soccer uniform with that Cheshire grin that I will always remember him for.

Friday I will join many in paying respects to the family of Rich Petrosino, who passed away this week at age 44…another victim of cancer. The Toms River resident was a graduate of then-St. Joseph’s High School and was a fixture when it came to youth sports, coaching just about everything. That’s because his three children were and are very involved…oldest son Rick played baseball at Toms River South and is now in college, daughter Nikki is a sophomore who plays three varsity sports at South where youngest son Steven is a talented three-sport freshman as well.

I actually got to know Rich just a few summers ago when Steven’s Toms River Little League team won the state title and made it to the regional’s which we broadcast from Bristol, CT. He and his wife Kelly were the type of youth sports parents you welcomed….enthusiastically supporting their children in a very positive manner.

This death is especially difficult for my 16-year old daughter who counts Nikki as among her best friends. As a matter of fact she and another friend came on a cruise with us last summer and we had a really great time with the three girls. My daughter Alex has such a strong feeling of inadequacy and almost frustration in not knowing how to comfort someone she cares about.

Sadly was we get older that feeling never changes.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Nothing Serious For Wednesday

Today is one of those days in which I can’t address anything serious and need to just focus on things as trivial as the weather, which by the way has been terrific. We all know that winter will make its presence known before too long but we’re gaining daylight each day and it’s only 85 days until the Lakewood BlueClaws season-opener.

Speaking of the BlueClaws they will host the Phillies annual Winter Tour in Lakewood on Friday, January 18th at Eagle Ridge Golf Club. Scheduled to appear as part of a sit-down dinner are Phills manager Charlie Manuel, pitcher Kyle Kendrick (who played in Lakewood), catcher Chris Coste and new Phillies radio broadcaster Tom McCarthy, a graduate of Brick Memorial High School. Tickets are available by calling (732) 901-7000 or visiting the team’s web site… BlueClaws,com.

Brendan Burke, the radio voice of the BlueClaws whose games are carried on 1160AM and our Shore Sports Network spends his winter broadcasting hockey for the Wheeling (West Va.) Nailers. Burke has been named to he broadcast team for the ECHL All-Star game in Stockton, California later this month, quite an honor in just his second year behind the microphone. He will be returning to Lakewood in the spring to resume his duties with the BlueClaws.

The Toms River North boy’s basketball team has been on quite a roll since a season-opening loss to Toms River South. The Mariners beat Southern Tuesday for their 9th straight victory as they remain atop the Class A South standings. Andrew Bilodeau is in his first season as head coach after replacing the retired Bob Nastase but Bilodeau had success previously as the head coach at Manchester. North has been led by the play of Steve Nyisztor, who was MVP of the WOBM Christmas Classic.

I did want to mention an act of kindness with a sports twist. Michael Adamski Jr. is in his first year at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis after graduating from Lacey Township High School last June. He was one of four recipients of $500 Christmas Classic scholarships but he immediately donated his check to Ocean County College to help fund the education of a student with learning disabilities. That’s a young man who truly understands that giving can be better than receiving.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Roger Said, Brian Said

After watching the latest edition of the Clemens-McNamee almost family-feud I’m more confused then ever. Roger Clemens held a news conference in Houston Monday and after an opening statement by his attorney we all got to hear a 17-minute phone conversation that took place the other day between the pitcher and his former personal trainer, Brian McNamee. He’s the person who told investigators that he injected Clemens with steroids and human growth hormone which was revealed in the Mitchell Report last month.

Obviously McNamee did not know the phone conversation was being recorded which was legal in this case. He sounded very shaky and emotional and talked about the health problems his son is experiencing. Clemens, who continues to deny ever taking any steroids said at one point on the tape “I’m telling the truth and I want it out there” to which McNamee responded “Tell me what you want me to do. I’ll go to jail. I’ll do whatever you want.”

However what left my wife and I both perplexed (and probably many of you) was that at no point did McNamee offer to say he lied about Clemens taking steroids and more puzzling was the fact that Clemens never asked him to come forward and say that. While his attorney would later say he did not want to appear like he was coercing a federal witness it just seemed like the logical thing would have been for him to say “Brian, just come forward and tell people the truth that I never took steroids and all you injected me with was B-12 and a pain killer.”

I’ll be honest in that I don’t know what to make of this story in which Clemens has now sued his ex-trainer for defamation and next week will appear before a congressional hearing in Washington and testify about steroids in baseball. He said yesterday he will tell them “everything I know about the situation but he admitted that’s not all that much.”

One thing is for sure…this story won’t be going away soon.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Post-Vacation Catch Up

The last time we were together I was wishing you a good holiday so you know it’s been some time. I spent most of it at the Ritacco Center in Toms River where the 24th annual WOBM Christmas Classic concluded with championships for the Toms River North Boys and Colts Neck Girls.

My special thanks to an incredibly hard-working staff which makes those very long 14-hour days not only bearable but a lot of fun at times. We’ll begin working this month on our 25th anniversary tournament, which will truly be something special.

If Roger Clemens is going down he’s not going easy. The much-talked-about “60 Minutes” interview aired Sunday night in which Clemens reiterated his defense of never taking any performance-enhancing substances, which he has been accused of by his former personal trainer Brian McNamee. The interview conducted by Mike Wallace did not reveal anything not brought up before but Clemens admitted shock that his former teammate and close friend Andy Pettitte had used human growth hormones on a pair of occasions.
Just before the interview aired Clemens filed a defamation suit against McNamee in a Texas State Court and is expected to talk about that later today at a news conference in Houston.

There was a time when visiting a New Jersey Motor Vehicle Agency was an experience which you would put off until the last possible moment because it was often time-consuming and frustrating. Last week I strolled into the Toms River office in need of renewing my driver’s license and was greeted by a smiling receptionist and helpful people. I was in and out in just over 15 minutes…what a pleasure.

Some Rutgers football fans are making a bit too much out of this weekend’s bowl-game victory over Ball State. Sure it’s a nice way to end the season but the Scarlet Knights lost five games and much more was expected then a trip to the International Bowl. Plus it looks like their best player, running back Ray Rice is headed to the NFL. This is a far cry from last year when Rutgers was the talk of college football.