Wednesday, April 30, 2008


We didn’t need a poll to tell us that Americans are struggling to stay happy and healthy but we have one anyway. The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index started polling 1,000 people a day on January 1st and the results are not shocking but might be a bit surprising. Almost 40% of those polled said they were significantly stressed the day before with two-thirds saying they had at least one chronic health problem, including high blood pressure or cholesterol. 28% said they were not well-rested, 23% reported being in physical pain, a third said they were worried about money the day before and 30% said in general they had a lot of worries.

One of the findings after speaking with 100,000 people so far is that adding stress factors together can multiply the negative effect by several times. Among those was a bad work environment where people were dissatisfied, and felt there was little trust…if you combined that with things like health concerns you were likely to have an unhappy person. Another negative to come out of the poll is that two-thirds of working adults are overweight or obese which certainly adds to bad feelings.

In addition to the way this all affects an individual’s stress, chronic health conditions and negative work environments are having a major impact on the productivity of workers and resulting in a higher number of sick days and lost wages. However overall job happiness increases when businesses allow employees to meet and get to know one another through social gatherings.

There is some good news in that social time with friends and family can be a buffer for much of the stress. Americans overall happiness rises sharply on the weekends and drops during the week. So far the happiest days of the year are New Year’s Day, Super Bowl Sunday and Easter Sunday.

As you might expect the survey shows that people who are thriving tend to have higher incomes, more education and less illness while those who are suffering have trouble meeting their basic needs, including food, shelter and medical care. This is not a one-shot poll…Gallup is committed to doing it for the next 25 years. As the song says….”don’t worry…be happy.”

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Favorites Comes To Toms River

If all goes according to plan New Jersey’s third off-track wagering facility will open in Toms River today against the wishes of some opponents who have predicted dire consequences. Favorites at Toms River is a 759-seat betting parlor with a restaurant and bar that is located on Route 37 West in what used to be a Grand Union supermarket. It will join OTW facilities that are currently operating in Woodbridge and Vineland and comes seven years after state officials approved a resolution that would allow up to 15 licenses for betting parlors in New Jersey. The move was made to help the state’s slumping horse racing industry and the operation in Woodbridge is already a huge success with many predicting the same for Toms River.

This state is way behind the times when it comes to making it easier for those who like to bet on horse racing as OTB and similar operations have been in existence for years all around us. The new Off Track Wagering Parlors are not to be confused with store-front OTB stores like those in New York. This is a state-of-the-art facility with plasma TV’s everywhere and its expected people will come for a day or night of entertainment.

Opponents might have a valid concern or two but they’ve gone way too far with some of the arguments. How much of a traffic problem can there be, especially at night when that part of Route 37 is least utilized. We are not talking about a place that holds thousands of people so with few exceptions the impact should be minimal and no greater than other retail establishments in that area. Some question the location of a gambling facility in close proximity to so many senior citizens living on a fixed income and I could laugh at this one. First of all a large percentage of those who enjoy horse racing happen to be seniors and many of them have had to drive to Monmouth Park for live or simulcast racing…now they have a place much closer to home. And if we’re going to all of a sudden get involved in morality let’s not forget about those busses loaded with seniors heading to Atlantic City each day and of course there’s the state-run lottery in which you can purchase tickets on just about every corner. On the other end you have the enticement to young people and just like at the race track you’ll have to be 18 to make a bet and 21 to have a drink in the bar or restaurant.

Look Favorites of Toms River will have some bumps in the road but at the end of the day I think the positives outweigh the negatives…only time will tell if I right or wrong.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Kevin's Weekend

Random thoughts on this final Monday of April:

How is it that each week you watch a NASCAR race and see multiple vehicle accidents with cars racing at 150 MPH and rarely are there any major injuries? It’s a dangerous way to make a living but so is driving on the Garden State Parkway.

I drove south on Route 9 to Barnegat over the weekend and could not get over the amount of commercial building taking place at a time when the economy is in such bad shape. Restaurants and shopping centers are going up and while that’s a good thing it can only make traveling on Route 9 even more of a challenge.

I did stop at the Sonic in Waretown on the way back…the only New Jersey location for the popular drive-in restaurants. Business seems to be very good as an employee was outside directing cars waiting for slots to park in. There are more than 3,000 Sonic locations, many in the southwest where the first Sonic opened more than 50 years ago in Oklahoma.

I remind you again that when it comes to sports the word “fan” is short for fanatic and that’s what many of us are. How else can you explain Mets fans wanting to run Carlos Delgado out of town for his poor play until Sunday when he hit two home runs. Now some are upset he didn’t come out for a curtain call after getting a standing ovation following his second home run.

Speaking of fanatics? If you watched any of the NFL draft on television over the weekend then you know those who were at Radio City Music Hall to watch the proceedings are not fans…but lunatics. Some adults just don’t want to grow up.

Last call for the Lakewood High School Athletic Hall of Fame Induction Luncheon, which will be held this Sunday at Woodlake Country Club in Lakewood. 14 former athletes and three teams of distinction will be honored and for more information and tickets you can contact the Lakewood Athletic Department at (732) 905-3537. Sunday’s event begins at noon.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Gas Prices

It was as the saying goes “déjà vu all over again.” There I was Thursday sitting in a gas line and it could have been thirty five years ago when the sight was all too frequent. However this gas line was not due to availability but rather price as I and many others sought a break at a time when we’re not getting any in the cost per gallon. We’ve been watching the price rise almost daily for more than a week but gas stations on the Garden State Parkway and New Jersey Turnpike can only raise their prices once per week and that day is Friday. So yesterday the cost of $3.17 for a gallon of regular at the Lukoil at the Wall rest area on the Parkway was a bargain and worth the wait for….or was it.

I actually waited in line for about 20 minutes to fill up and when all was said and done saved about $3.00 or a couple of cups of coffee. But it was not just about saving a few dollars but feeling for once that you were getting a deal which is pretty funny when you think about how much the cost has gone up just in the last couple of weeks. What is more of a concern to most of us is not what the cost is today but rather what will it be in July or September or say just before Election Day because make no mistake about it this will become a major issue for voters. We all keep hearing about the profits being made by large oil companies while prices close it on $4.00 per gallon. The increases are having a major impact for the thousands who commute each day from the shore area, are effecting the costs of goods and services on just about everything and could be devastating to tourism this summer.

By the way it my memory serves me correct we had two gas crisis during the 70’s. The first started in the fall of 1973 and lasted through March of 74 with prices going from about 40 to 75 centers per gallon. The second crisis which was not as bad came in 1979 and we were paying about a dollar per gallon at that time. Now almost 30 years later prices are out of control and clearly we feel used and abused.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Kevin Takes The Top Spot

The Toms River-Ocean County Chamber of Commerce holds its 45th Annual Reception and Dinner tonight at Eagle Ridge Golf Club and I guess it should be a big deal for me. That’s because during the evening Jim DeAngelis, the Community Relations Director for the Lakewood BlueClaws will hand me the gavel as I take over for him as Chairman of one of the state’s largest and best chambers of commerce. I not telling you this because I want you to be impressed…as a matter of fact I have tried to convince our leadership that Jim should say for another year as Chairman and I should be passed over. However that’s not going to happen so I guess for the next year I’m the guy who handles as many ribbon cuttings as possible.

The reason I’m not intimidated with this new role is because Lucy Greene is still the President and the face of the Chamber along with her hard-working
and dedicated staff. Plus I’ll have plenty of people to lean on including the other officers and Board of Directors because in truth my main role is to take charge of meetings and be in a lot of pictures and other things which are not very important.

What is important is the role of this and other chambers in the business community and I can tell you that many people work extremely hard to improve the climate for business and growth. It’s a challenging task, especially in today’s environment but it’s one that should not be overlooked and what I hope for more than anything is that area businesses support the chamber like we try and support them.

I do know this….I join a very impressive list of people who have served as Chairman in the past starting with Joe Citta more than forty years ago. Among those to hold down the job since were Zev Rosen, Harvey York, Bob Novy, Nina Anuario, Joe Coronato, Gary Lotano, Bob Shea, Mike Ritacco and Domenick Servodio. I have nothing in common with them…their all successful but I’m a better public speaker.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

105 Years Ago

Couldn’t help but notice the obituary of a woman earlier this week who had just died at the age of 105 and it’s amazing to think of the changes she had witnessed in her lifetime. When she was born in 1903:

· Sugar cost 4 cents per pound and eggs were 14 cents a dozen.
· Only 6% of all Americans had graduated from high school.
· Only 14% of homes in the US had a bathtub.
· Only 8% had a telephone and a 3-minute call from Denver
to New York cost $11.
· There were only 144 miles of paved roads in the entire country
and only 8,000 cars to travel on them with a speed limit of 10 MPH in most cities.
· Alabama, Mississippi, Iowa & Tennessee were each more heavily
populated than California.
· The population of Las Vegas was 30.
· More than 95% of all births took place in the home.
· 90% of all American physicians had did not have a college education but instead attended medical schools, many of which were criticized by the government and press for being “substandard.”
· There were only 230 reported murders in the entire country.
· A Baltimore baseball franchise was purchased for $18,000 and moved to New York…the team was nicknamed the Highlanders
and would later be known as the Yankees.
· The Pepsi Cola Company was formed.
· Due to a drought the US side of Niagara Falls ran short of water.

Among those also born in 1903….Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, George Orwell and Lou Gehrig.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Happy Earth Day

Today is the 38th Anniversary of Earth Day and it takes me on a stroll down memory lane as to when I was a student at Central Regional High School we decided to do our part to save the planet…I say this with tongue-in-cheek. I’m not sure what year it was but a bunch of us who lived in Seaside Heights and Seaside Park thought the best to observe Earth Day was to ride bicycles to school. It’s probably about 15 miles from Seaside to Central and of course that means you have to ride over the bridge. Remember this was in the early 70’s and traffic was not nearly like it is now….especially in April.

I only wish I could remember how many of us made the trip but it was probably somewhere between 12-20 and in truth we used Earth Day more as an excuse to not ride the school bus. I know we left early in the morning but we stopped often and never really had the intention on arriving to school on time which would have been impossible without riding in the dark. If my memory serves me correct was stopped for a rather long rest at Huddy Park in downtown Toms River and probably did not get into school until late morning. This was a time when Central was on split sessions and our school day was over around 12:20 so we might have only made it for the last class or two. Again I’m a bit shaky on the specifics but I’m sure we ended up getting marked for an absence and had to bring in notes from our parents the next day. I don’t think they were very upset because we tried selling them on our message to save the planet but of course we know parents aren’t as
stupid as kids think they (we) are.

Anyway I’m pretty sure some of us repeated the bike trip to and from Seaside the following year but that was the second and last time for this short-lived tradition. It lasted about as long as Earth shoes which in looking back were really ugly and if you don’t remember them well….you’re just a bit too young.

Happy Earth Day!

Monday, April 21, 2008

The 75 Skills Every Man Should Master

I hope you had a nice weekend because I’m wallowing in pity for myself after reading “The 75 Skills Every Man Should Master” in the current edition of “Esquire” magazine. The article suggests that over time we men should be able to:

Give advice that matters in one sentence. Tell if someone is lying. Take a photo. Score a baseball game. Name a book that matters. Know at least one musical group as well as possible. Cook meat somewhere other than the grill. Not monopolize the conversation. Write a letter. Buy a suit. Swim three different strokes. Show respect without being a suck-up. Throw a punch. Chop down a tree. Calculate square footage. Tie a bow tie. Make one drink in large batches, very well. Speak a foreign language. Approach a woman out of his league. Sew a button. Argue with a European without insulting soccer. Be loyal. Drive an eight-penny nail into a treated 2-by-4 without thinking about it. Cast a fishing rod without shrieking or sighing or otherwise admitting defeat. Play gin with an old guy. Play go fish with a kid. Understand quantum physics well enough that he can accept that a quarter might, at some point, pass straight through the table when dropped. Feign interest. Make a bed. Describe a glass of wine in one sentence without using the terms “nutty”, “fruity”, “oaky”, “finish”, or “kick.” Hit a jump shot in pool. Dress a wound. Jump-start a car, change a flat tire and change the oil. Make three different bets at a craps table. Shuffle a deck of cards. Tell a joke. Know when to split his cards in blackjack. Speak to an 8-year old so he will hear. Speak to a waiter so he will hear. Talk to a dog so it will hear. Install a lighting fixture without asking for help. Ask for help. Break another man’s grip on his wrist. Tell a woman’s dress size. Recite one poem from memory. Remove a stain. Say no. Fry an egg sunny-side up. Build a campfire. Step into a job no one wants to do. Sometimes kick some butt. Break up a fight. Point to the north at any time. Create a playlist in which ten seemingly random songs provide a secret message to one person. Explain what a light-year is. Avoid boredom. Write a thank-you note. Be brand-loyal to at least one product. Cook bacon. Deliver a eulogy. Know that Christopher Columbus was an SOB. Throw a baseball overhand with some snap, throw a football with a tight spiral, and shoot a 12-foot jump shot reliably. Find his way out of the woods if lost. Tie a knot. Hold a baby. Shake hands. Iron a shirt. Stock an emergency bag for the car. Caress a woman’s neck. Know some birds. Negotiate a better price.

That’s it and my times up. I have a lot of practicing to do.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Random Weekend Thoughts

Just some random notes and thoughts heading into the weekend:

· Some area schools have their spring break next week and if you think about it there’s logic behind the move. For those families that choose to go away on vacation they are not battling the more heavily-traveled Easter period while those who stay at home at least have better weather then in mid-March. From a logistics standpoint it would be nice if all the Ocean County school districts had the same spring break.

* The Yankees should never, ever pitch again to Manny Ramirez
as the Red Sox slugger simply owns them. I don’t care what
inning it is…simply walk him and worry about the next guy.

· David Cook clearly deserves to win “American Idol” because
in a year filled with a lot of vanilla contestants he’s rocky road,
cake batter and birthday cake all rolled into one. I know it’s a bad analogy but the bottom line is Cook is different and not afraid to take a chance.

· Every town could solve their budget problems if they could issue a
ticket to all drivers who still talk on their cell phone without a
hand-held device.

· It’s amazing how good you feel when you go to a doctor in which
the office staff treats you like an important customer and not just a patient. I always wondered why the patient says “thank you” when it should be the other way because without us the doctor is out of business.

· The HBO adult comedy “Entourage” is the funniest show on TV
and perfect for the summer when there’s not really any good shows
to watch. Unfortunately it’s another victim of the writers strike and HBO has delayed the new season of “Entourage” until September.

Take A Knee, Get In Trouble

You see it depicted on television and in the movies and in truth you’ve probably witnessed it in person at a sporting event, especially football games. Before a game a team gathers, holds hands and joins forces in a prayer…one that usually asks for guidance and safety although I’m sure there has been a few in which a small request was put in for a victory.

You might remember a couple of years ago longtime East Brunswick High School Football coach Marcus Borden was told by school officials he could no longer lead his team in prayer, something he had done for more than 20 years. A religious man who believed very much in the prayer ritual Borden quit in the middle of the season but later rescinded that and has returned to the sidelines. However the issue has not gone away and earlier this week may have reached a conclusion when a Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that East Brunswick school officials can tell Borden not to bow or take a knee during his team’s student-led prayer. This action reversed a lower-court ruling made two years ago which said the school district’s policy was unconstitutional so during this time players have continued the prayer tradition with Borden a participant and not the leader.

With this most recent and maybe final action a reasonable person would wonder what Borden or any other coach can do. If players continue to pray
and take a knee does the coach have to walk away or be a certain distance from his team? Would that not be a sign of disrespect?

As one who does not practice religion or pray on a regular basis I’ve always associated the team prayer as a part of football. Not everyone joins in verbally but surely holding hands with your teammates and asking that everyone remain safe and unified is not a bad thing. However the coach has to stay away from this but its okay for him to get in the huddle and tell everyone to go out and kill their opponent.

What a strange world we live in.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

School Board Election Recap

In analyzing Tuesday’s School Election results I’m always reminded of a quote from a man who voted against the budget in his town. When asked
why he voted it down the man replied “because it’s the one time each year I get to say no to how my tax dollars are spent.” Sadly he is not alone and you can be sure many who turned “thumbs down” to budgets yesterday did so for no reason other than they could. As much as I like the opportunity to vote on candidates and issues maybe it’s time to change the system in New Jersey because clearly a small minority is deciding the fate of education in towns and districts across the state.

My argument against the public voting on the school budget is simple…why is that the only expense of our tax dollar that is on the line each year? Does the federal government ask us about spending…or the state….or the county or even the municipalities we live in? The answer is “no” as that’s left up to elected officials to decide but yet we allow 15% of registered voters to make the call on the investment in education. New Jersey is in the small majority when it comes to this as in most states towns, districts or counties set their own school budgets. Let’s be honest even the defeated budgets from yesterday when all is said and done will not look that much different after they are scrutinized by local and state officials because there is only so much you can do without. However what often does get cut are improvements in areas like technology that are so badly needed but yet to some are considered waste.

Call me a fool but I admit I don’t know as much about education spending as the professionals who put together budgets. So as long as there are checks and balances along the way and caps on spending I’m fine with trusting officials to present fair budgets that insure quality education while keeping the taxpayer in mind. You may find it hard to swallow but leaving school budgets up to voters does not make sense.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

School Election Day

In 2007 more than 86% of registered voters in New Jersey did not bother to cast a ballot in the Annual School Election and if form holds up you can expect similar numbers today. Voters in Ocean County and in more than 90% of the state will decide the fate on proposed school budgets as well as select candidates to serve on local boards of education. Despite all the attention paid to education and the cost that goes with it most people will not take part in the voting process for a variety of reasons including apathy, frustration, and just plain laziness.

Budget increases have been held down as school districts work harder and harder to present no-frills spending plans which are leaner than ever. The public may still view them as excessive but the fact of the matter is that most of the figures in the budget are built in and non-negotiable. The budget needs to cover teacher salaries, transportation, books and supplies, maintenance and other costs which increase on a regular basis. Of course it’s local property taxes that fund the budget, which is a source of contention too many if not most voters. Talk continues about alternative ways to pay for education but there is no relief in sight. For that reason many don’t even look into the budget but rather take out their frustration on the “system” and automatically vote “no” because it’s their one chance to express their outrage.

However while it would be easy to blame these type of voters for defeated budgets the truth is they are not the problem which is no different today than many years ago when I was in school. If all the parents of school-age children…the ones who should care the most…supported their local budget then it would pass all the time. But sadly many of them won’t vote today and yet down the road will be the first to complain about things.

The system we have in New Jersey is far from perfect but so is everything else. I’ll continue to support my local budget and the school board candidates who are committed to not just watching how money is spent but rather the students and staff who make schools a source of pride in the community.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Monday Random Thoughts

A little of this and a little of that to start your Monday morning:

I felt cheated by the lack of drama surrounding the final round of the Master’s Sunday at Augusta National as Trevor Immelman became the second golfer from South Africa to wear the famed “Green Jacket.” He seems like a nice guy and is a worthy champion, having led pretty much from start to finish. However what I really wanted was to see Tiger Woods
right in the thick of things on the back nine but for the second straight year
the “greatest golfer of all time” had to settle for a second place finish. Tiger knows he let this one get away and for this year grand slam talk is over.

What’s wrong with Major League Baseball’s schedule maker? After playing three games at Fenway Park this weekend the Yankees and Red Sox play Wednesday and Thursday in the Bronx and then don’t meet again until early July. At least then they won’t have to deal with bitter weather….sorry I didn’t mean to use that word Senator Obama.

I wish more people would discover and get turned on to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Last night’s Devils-Rangers overtime thriller at the Garden was exhausting to watch and New Jersey is back in the series which I still think will go 7 games.

This has been a rough year for prime time TV because of the strike that disrupted the shows, some of which are just returning after what seems like months. I have discovered a new show which is among my favorites and that’s “Eli Stone” which airs Thursdays on ABC. British actor Jonny Lee Miller plays the role of a cut throat attorney who turns good guy in large part because of a brain aneurysm that allows him to see the future. I only wish New York Mets manager Willie Randolph had the same gift when it comes to selecting relief pitchers.

The Toms River Student Loan Fund will honor former First Assistant Ocean County Prosecutor Terrence Farley, Toms River Elks Lodge #1875 and 18 teachers from the Toms River School District during its 6th Annual Recognition Cocktail Reception. The fundraiser will be held on Friday, May 2nd at the Holiday Inn of Toms River starting at 6pm. For ticket information you can call (732) 240-3366.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Dr. Feelgood

You can’t escape all the news about what we should and should not eat and drink and how exercise is vital to your health and well-being. However not all doctors believe that diet and working up a good sweat are that important.

Here’s an email I received from a friend following a question and answer session he had with his family physician after a recent check-up.

Q: Are fried foods bad for you?
A: Not as long as they are fried in vegetable oil because vegetables
are good for you.

Q: Is it true that cardiovascular exercise can prolong your life?
A: Your heart is only good for so many beats and that’s it so don’t
waste them on exercise. Everything wears out eventually.

Q: What are the advantages though of a regular exercise program?
A: None that I can think of. My philosophy is no pain…good!

Q: Should I avoid alcohol?
A: No, not at all. Wine is made from fruit. Brandy is distilled wine
which means they take water out of the fruity bit so you get even
more of the goodness that way. Beer is made out of grain which we
all know is good for you.

Q: Will sit-ups prevent me from getting soft around the middle?
A: Definitely not! When you exercise a muscle it gets bigger so you
should only do sit-ups if you want a bigger stomach.

Q: Is swimming good for your figure?
A: Of course not….look at whales.

Q: Is getting in shape important?
A: Round is a shape.

By the way I asked my friend for his doctor’s name and phone number and he refused to give it to me. Only thing he said was you can’t get an appointment for a long time.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Tuesday This 'n That

A little bit of this and a little bit of that:

For Met fans today is special as it’s the home opener….the final one to be played at Shea Stadium. What makes it even more exciting is today’s opponent is the Phillies who I’m starting to dislike as much as the Braves. It’s not like Yankees-Red Sox but it’s becoming an intense rivalry, especially because so many Mets fans travel to Philly where it used to be like a Mets home game but not anymore.

Speaking of rivalries, the opening round of hockey’s playoffs will find the Rangers battling the Devils and that should make for some fun times over the next couple of weeks. Hockey is a secondary sport to many but there’s nothing like the Stanley Cup Playoffs and the New York-New Jersey matchup should be a battle to the finish.

Last week I mentioned a “Dance for the Cause” fundraiser to help Toms River North senior Caiti Brown and the Make-A-Wish Foundation. I’m happy to report that they raised over $3000 last Friday night and all those involved should be proud of the difference they made for a fellow student.

The Lakewood High School Athletic Hall of Fame will add 14 new members and a couple of great teams during their annual Induction Dinner on Sunday, May 4th at Woodlake Country Club. The new Hall of Famers are Sam Christopher, Robert Housen, Mauro Altizio, Pierre DeCausey, Gary Gunderson, Thomas Briscoe, William Mohr, Kevin King, Bob DelConte, Chrystal Navarro, Addie Dix Moore, Diamond Navarro, Thomas Carroll and the late George Bessette. For more information and tickets on the dinner you can contact Lakewood Athletic Trainer Pat Halpin at (732) 905-3537.

Friday, April 4, 2008

BlueClaws Opening Night

At times it’s hard to explain the phenomenon that is the Lakewood BlueClaws. They are a low-level minor league baseball team with players who most people have never heard of. They don’t even have a big-name manager who was a major league player that fans are familiar with.
Their parent club is the Philadelphia Phillies who certainly rate below the Yankees and Mets when it comes to shore-area popularity.

So why is it that in their 8th season of existence more than 6,300 people could not wait to meet and greet the 2008 edition of the BlueClaws? The answer is simply the experience of spending a night at FirstEnergy Park…even if the night is more suited for watching a football game. Baby it was cold last night but when the gates opened at 5:30 people began pouring in…dressed in winter coats, hats and gloves and carrying blankets. But it didn’t seem to matter especially for those who are regulars as they searched for familiar faces, many of whom they were seeing for the first time since the final game of last season. Handshakes, hugs and high-fives were commonplace and I even watched one fan show an usher pictures of his new grandson.

The beauty of the BlueClaws is that for most it’s a short trip to the park and for the same as they pay for a movie they get to sit in a great seat and watch young kids play baseball. They may not be major leaguers yet but they’re playing to have a future and if you search the past you’ll find that every one of them was a great high school player, some even legendary in their home towns. By the way it wasn’t only chilly for the fans last night but for some players it was their first exposure to cold weather. 22-year old pitcher Chris
Kissock was one who did not have any problems….after all he grew up in British Columbia, Canada. While there are no players from New Jersey on the team there are two from Australia, five from Latin America and one from Taiwan…baseball is the ultimate melting pot.

Opening night was one for drinking coffee not cold beer and many left early, including yours truly who was not around when the game ended with the BlueClaws losing 4-0 to the Lake County Captains. But we’ll be back…some as early as tonight.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Sports Thoughts

I know I have a daily sports show to talk and vent but if you don’t mind I’d like to share a few things with you this morning.

It looks it’s going to be another wild high school baseball season in Toms River and the North Mariners opened-up Wednesday with a 7-5 victory over cross-town rival TR South, who was the pre-season choice as the top-ranked team at the shore. Ryan Fontenelli belted a pair of two-run homers as North jumped out to a 7-0 lead and held on for the victory. They don’t get too much time to enjoy the win as they host Toms River East on Friday in what will be the Raiders season-opener. Fasten your seat belts because the three will certainly wear each other out before the spring is over.

The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament has reached its Final Four and the last couple of weeks have been filled with highlights and heroes. However the game has a growing problem which you really don’t see during the tournament but rears its ugly head during regular-season conference play.

A few weeks ago “Sports Illustrated” did a story on the problems of fan abuse of visiting players in which students taunt and insult opposing players which has gone way over the top. The story included a picture of Oregon fans giving the business to highly-regarded UCLA freshman Kevin Love and it was not pretty. It was also not well received by the father of one of the Oregon students shown in the picture taunting and jeering. When his son returned home for spring break his father took his car away for the rest of the year and made him take a bus back to school. What’s more the angry dad wrote a letter to the magazine and apologized to Love and his family for his son’s boorish behavior. It’s nice to know someone out there gets it.

If 50 million people watch “American Idol” each week who am I to say anything bad about the show. I do know this…the show thrives only because of Simon Cowell who just might be the smartest Englishman to ever set foot on US soil. Paula Abdul should thank her lucky stars for the show because with little talent it’s made her a star.

I just said this to show I follow more than just sports.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Dance For A Cause

There are not enough days in a week to talk about every fundraiser for every worthwhile cause but ones involving young people always tend to have a greater impact on me. So today I’m going to talk about Caiti Brown, a senior at Toms River High School North. Of course in April of her senior year she should be thinking about the prom, graduation and college but she has some bigger issues to deal with as she has Osteosarcoma, a form of bone cancer. Over the past few years she has undergone four major surgeries…to repair and replace her damaged femur, knee and some of her tibia. She also had a lobe removed from her left lung and some disease from her right lung. Caiti is currently at the Envita Medical Center in Scottsdale, Arizona where she is being treated for the cancer but while she may be away she is certainly on the minds of others.

The Toms River North Dance Team will host their first annual “Dance for a Cause” on Friday night in the school auditorium to benefit Caiti and The Make A Wish Foundation. Performing will be by the dance team as well as dancers from Lillian Dean Dance Studio, Dance Connection, Denise Danielle Dance Studio and there will be special performances by North staff members and others. The performances will be about three minutes each and it’s an informal recital with the goal to help raise money for a person and/or organization.

“Dance for a Cause” will be this Friday from 7-9pm in the High School North Auditorium and tickets are just $5 each and can be purchased at the door. It would be nice to see a great turnout from the school and community to show their support for Caiti and her family. She may be in Arizona but those back here clearly have her in her heart and in this case feet.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Final Parent's Weekend

There’s no doubt that many fathers vicariously live through their sons and there’s no question I’ve sort of attempted to do that on my visits to Penn State University where my 22-year old son Brandon is a senior. Now that he’s of legal drinking age I will admit that I’ve enjoyed the ability to hoist a few with him and his friends and that’s what I did this past weekend when his Delta Chi fraternity hosted their annual Parent’s weekend.

There were over 400 people packed into the frat house for a dinner they hosted and my wife and I enjoyed socializing with the “brothers” and their parents. We got bits and pieces of quite a few spring break stories but of course we’re only getting the “G” rated versions and maybe we’re better off not knowing all the details. However while having fun is certainly a large part of Greek like Brandon’s fraternity had reason to be proud of their house GPA and the more than $130,000 they raised for Thon…Penn State’s multi-million dollar dance marathon that raised over $6.6 million in February for the battle against pediatric cancer.

As the night wore on my son informed me that I was going out with them afterwards to visit some of the downtown bars and clubs so after taking my wife back to the hotel I rejoined the posse. A couple of the bars were so jammed we couldn’t move and left quickly and one would not allow me in, are you ready for this….because I didn’t have ID. I’m 52 years old and while I wanted to be flattered it had nothing to do with my youthful looks and demeanor but was club policy. We finally found a place in which I knew after an hour it was time for me to leave. So I stopped for a cup of coffee and then walked the 10 minutes back to our hotel and enjoyed strolling through the campus.

We woke up early Sunday, had breakfast and then took off knowing that in six weeks Brandon will graduate and that will be our final trip back to Happy Valley. Sure I’ll still attend football games but it won’t be the same as when your child is a student. However my 16-year old daughter is at least considering Penn State so all may not be lost.