Monday, August 31, 2009

Summer's Almost Over

You look at the calendar and realize this is really the last week of summer
and wonder where it went. For some of course summer has already ended because they’re back in college and for those that are retired, well as long as the weather is nice then its still summer. However for the majority of us what we know as summer is fast coming to an end. Schools will open this week for some teachers and even students in Ocean County and of course by next week everyone is back on their regular schedule. Most people have used up their summer vacations or will do so this week and then try and tie ii into a long Labor Day weekend.

Regardless the summer season has, is or will come to an end very soon for everyone and that to me is both sad and depressing and it’s magnified this year because it stated late and seems to have ended early. June was so bad you almost forgot it even existed…I mean what we had like 25 days of rain that month. July and the first two weeks of August were pretty good but we lost most of the last two weeks to storms and rough seas that were great for surfers but not for families with kids who wanted to swim in the ocean.
There is reason to be optimistic that this final week of the “season” will be sun-filled….we certainly deserve it.

Signs of summer ending are everywhere though as not only have many kids left for college but high school soccer, field hockey and football fields are filled with those getting ready for the new season to begin as the first games are right around the corner. Back to school shopping is in the home stretch
and book bags and backpacks will be replaced by Halloween candy and costumes before you know it. That is really a horrible thought.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Give Vick His Chance

Let me preface this by saying I have never been a Michael Vick fan. I didn’t care for him when he played at Virginia Tech or when he was quarterbacking the Atlanta Falcons. I had followed him enough to know he kind of had that “thug” mentality that people my age find distasteful although tons of little kids could be seen wearing his #7 jersey. Vick was not my kind of pro athlete. Now that he’s a Philadelphia Eagle it’s even easier to root against him but yet there I was last night watching a pre-season NFL game and hoping he would do well.

I have not changed my opinion of him but I just can’t understand all of these people who refuse to accept that he is being given a chance to resume his career and life. Of course we are talking about a man who spent 18 months in prison for his involvement in an illegal dog fighting ring….an operation that resulted in dogs being tortured and killed. There is no defense….it was a heinous crime that cannot be defended. However Vick served the time he was given which of course interrupted his rising football career and would lead to the loss of millions of dollars. Again nobody is really sympathetic towards that because he did this all to himself.

But he has paid the debt society gave to him and has been given a chance by the Eagles to show he can still play. They would like you to believe they are doing the right thing in giving the 29-year old a shot at redemption but they (and we) know they signed Vick in the hopes that he will make them a better team. Only time will tell if they are right. While I don’t expect most people will ever forgive him for his crime it’s time to leave him alone. The animal rights advocates who continue to make him their whipping boy should find something or someone else because just about everyone….even Michael Vick deserves a second chance.

On an unrelated note….a correction to something I talked about yesterday. The walk to remember Lisa Zindell and raise awareness of domestic violence is this Sunday and not Saturday. That event will take place at the Manasquan Reservoir in Howell from 11am-2pm…again on Sunday.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Thursday Stuff

Friends of Lisa Zindell have organized a walk on the Manasquan Reservoir in Howell for this Saturday to not only remember her but help raise awareness of domestic violence in Ocean and Monmouth County. The 30-year old Toms River woman was killed by her former fiancĂ© as part of a murder-suicide earlier this month….a story that has stunned and saddened many, especially those who knew and worked with her at the State Division of Youth and Family Services. Saturday’s walk will take place between 11am-2pm and purple ribbon magnets in memory of Lisa will be sold to promote domestic violence awareness.

Last night’s minor league baseball game between Louisville and Toledo was postponed by rain so the Frazier brothers were denied an opportunity to play against one another for a fourth straight night. Younger brother Todd got the best of older brother Jeff during the three games played between the Triple-A affiliates of the Reds and Tigers. Todd belted a pair of home runs in the series, including the game winner Tuesday night. We’ll wait and see if either or both former Toms River South standouts get a taste of the major leagues in September.

America on Line has been breaking down the best TV shows by decades and today they revealed their best of the 60’s. The “Twilight Zone” was rated as number one followed by “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In” and the “Dick Van Dyke Show.” Rounding out the top ten were:

4. Bonanza
5. The Andy Griffith Show
6. The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour
7. The Fugitive
8. I Spy
9. Get Smart
10. Star Trek

My personal favorite was “Mod Squad” which was #30.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Senator Edward Kennedy 1932 - 2009

Regardless of how you felt about Sen. Edward Kennedy you almost have to experience a sense of sadness today over the death of the powerful political figure because it truly is the end of an era. The third-longest-serving senator in history died at his home in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts at the age of 77 after a long battle with a brain tumor.

Many will remember Kennedy as a liberal lightning rod in Washington but to portray him simply as a liberal would not do him justice. He made a career out of being a senator and worked hard at it….authoring more pieces of major legislation than anyone else. You may not have liked his politics but he was a voice for many who could not get anyone to listen to their problems. First elected to Washington in 1962 he was the last surviving son of what was America’s version of royalty….the Kennedys.

Depending on your age what you might remember most about Ted Kennedy is that he was often the family spokesman after tragedies and he offered eulogies and comfort to widows, nieces and nephews with all the world watching. He was only 31 when his brother President John Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas and less than five years later another assassin’s bullet claimed the life of his brother Bobby as he sought the Democratic presidential nomination. At his best during tragedy he witnessed another just ten years ago when John F. Kennedy Jr. was killed in a plane crash. As always he found the right words when they were needed the most.

Of course he had his own problems to deal with and never really overcame the shame and questions surrounding an accident on Chappaquiddick Island in the summer of 1969 that claimed the life of a woman who was in the back seat of his car when it left a bridge and went into a pond. That incident probably ended any real hopes that he would be President some day although he did run in the 1980 primary against incumbent Jimmy Carter before bowing out gracefully during the convention.

After that he would be content to spend the rest of his life as a respected Senator and he captured the national stage from time to time. He was popular among Democrats and the target of many Republicans but there was never a doubt about his effectiveness. And now the last light of America’s royal family has been extinguished.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Frazier Brothers Head For The Majors

If you follow sports in this area as well you are no doubt aware of Toms River’s Frazier Family and the three sons of Charlie and Joan. Last night I would imagine there was some family representation in Toledo, Ohio as Jeff and Todd went head to head for the first time in their pro baseball careers.

The stage for this was set when 23-year old Todd was promoted to Triple A
Louisville before the weekend after spending all year with the Cincinnati Reds Double A team in the Carolina league. Despite a bit of a slump lately Todd was hitting .290 with 14 home runs and 68 RBI’s when he got the call up and in his Triple A debut Saturday at Indianapolis he went 0-3. Louisville then headed to Toledo to open a four-game series last night where Todd would get to see his 27-year old brother Jeff, an outfielder with the Mud Hens who has had a sensational second half of the season after a miserable start. I am happy to report both boys gave their family and friends something to cheer about Sunday.

Todd , playing 2nd base and batting fifth in the lineup flied out twice before making his first Triple-A hit a memorable one as he belted a two-run homer in the 7th inning. Jeff had also flied out in his first two at-bats before doubling in both the 7th & 8th innings to finish 2-4 with an RBI and two runs scored in a 6-3 Toledo victory. He is now hitting .306 with 11 home runs and 51 RBI’s it would seem he might merit a September call-up to the Detroit Tigers. Meanwhile the boys get to play three more games against one another this week which just happens to be the 11th anniversary of Todd leading Toms River East American to the Little League World Series championship. Of course Jeff was one of the stars of the 1995 team that also made it to Williamsport, Pennsylvania as success came to both at a young age.

There was also good news for another local athlete as Manchester’s Kevin Malast turned in another solid performance in his bid to earn a spot on the Chicago Bears roster. The rookie linebacker out of Rutgers led the Bears with five total tackles in their pre-season win over the Giants Saturday night.

Wearing #62 Malast has made 12 tackles in the first two games and earned praise from announcers for his play. He is currently listed as the 3rd string weakside linebacker on the Bears depth chart. Ironically like the Frazier’s, Malast is from a family of three boys who were all accomplished athletes.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Rite Of Passage

Many people will tell you that there are still three weeks until Labor Day and plenty of summer left. However to parents whose children are getting ready to leave for college summer is all but over and they are experiencing all kinds of emotions. I and many of you have already been through this and in my case I’ll do it again next summer when my daughter leaves for school. However this “right of passage” in which son or daughter leaves home for the first time is difficult if you’ve never gone through it before.

You realize that the little girl or little boy you raised is no longer little but yet you wonder if they are ready to be on their own which really translates into whether they can make it without you. The answer in most cases is yes.

I think there must be a dramatic difference in how you feel based on whether it’s your daughter or son going away. When my son left we were worried about things like responsibility, organization and laundry. When he moved into a fraternity house later the majority of his mother’s focus was spent on cleanliness….or should I say the lack of it. With boys you probably don’t concern yourself as much with safety worries but I’m sure when my daughter heads off to college next summer it will be my #1 fear. It might be a stereotype but you expect that girls would be more organized and responsible and should be better at the laundry and cleanliness part. However you’ll probably sound like a broken record when you remind them to stay together in groups, especially at night and you’ll always be concerned about what goes on at parties. I assume this is all pretty normal but again if you as a parent are going through this for the first time it’s especially mind consuming.

The bottom line to all of this is it makes you feel a bit older and think that it was just the other day you were holding a baby in your arms….a baby who might be tailgating at a football game at this time next month.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets!

One thing is guaranteed….a team from the shore area will represent the Eastern Regional in the Junior League World Series later this month. That’s because this morning’s championship game will match the Holbrook Little League of Jackson against Freehold Township, the host team in the tournament for 13 and 14 year olds. Holbrook has yet to lose in the double elimination tournament and had Wednesday off while Freehold Township beat teams from Maryland and Pennsylvania to reach the championship round. The teams play at 11 o’clock this morning at Michael J. Tighe Park and if Holbrook wins than Manager Doug Benecke and his team are the Eastern Regional champions and headed to Taylor, Michigan. However a Freehold Township victory would force the teams to play again at 2pm with the winner headed to the World Series.

Adam Skidmore is getting ready for his senior year at Central Regional High School and won’t have to worry about a college choice. The 6’6, 280 pound
offensive tackle has made a verbal commitment to accept a scholarship offer from Tulane University in New Orleans. Golden Eagles head coach Vince Casale said Skidmore was also offered scholarships from Central Florida and Northeastern but felt very comfortable after visiting Tulane and decided to accept their offer.

You might be aware of the fact we broadcast sports on some of the 11 stations owned and operated by Millennium Radio through our Shore Sports Network. Our programming has been greatly expanded this fall to include New York Jets and Monmouth University football. Just this week we reached agreement to carry the Jets on 1160 WOBM AM and Fox Sports 1310 which is a bonus for local fans as there is no longer a signal that brings “Gang Green” into this area. The broadcasts will include pre and post-game shows starting with their September 13th opener at Houston. In addition both stations will be the home of Monmouth University football this fall beginning with their September 5th game at Colgate University. Matt Harmon, the longtime play by play voice of our high school broadcasts, will work the Hawk games along with another Monmouth alum Eddy Occhipinti. Our High School season opens on September 11th with Brick hosting Colts Neck and our Friday Night broadcasts will be carried on 105.7 The Hawk in addition to 1160 and 1310AM.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

MC Kevin Williams

With tongue in cheek I say that over the years I’ve been a pretty popular guest speaker or Master of Ceremonies at many events for the simple reason that I did them for free. Groups would think that offering me a free meal was compensation enough and for many years I gladly accepted invitations to get out and meet people and promote the radio station. Like all good things that trend had to end and over time I finally learned how to saw “no” to the many invitations that would turn 12 hour days into 16 hour ones.

Don’t get me wrong…as my wife will tell you there are many nights when I don’t go home after work because I’m at some event in which my time is my donation. However I pick and choose very carefully and really only do the ones that I want to and last night was one of them. After a long day at work I headed to Woodlake Country Club in Lakewood where the Jackson Liberty High School Football Parents Club was holding their 4th Annual Golf Outing. I of course don’t play golf but was on hand to MC their awards dinner and have done so for all four of the fundraisers because of Dale Orlovsky and Tim Osborne. Dale is an attorney and restaurant owner in Toms River and many years ago he asked to MC a golf outing he was running. We teamed up for years and when Osborne was named the first-ever football coach at Jackson Liberty, Dale decided to help support his friend during a golf outing and I naturally got the call. Frankly I don’t mind because I like both of them very much so there I was last night poking good-natured fun at golfers and others that I don’t really know. If I offended anyone…tough.

By the way noticeably absent at the dinner was Dale, who had to take off early for work reasons. He wasn’t even there to accept the award for being part of the winning foursome for the third straight year but his son Christopher, now an attorney in his Dad’s firm accepted on his behalf along with the others. Christopher said he carried the old man on the course all day…he might as well carry his plaque.

Coach Osborne and the Parents Club did a terrific job and the outing seemed to be a big success. They’ll probably offer me the same contract and call me back next August….I’ll see if I can make it again.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Texting & Driving

There has been so much said and written lately about the use of cell phones
while driving, especially the growing trend of driver’s texting while they are behind the wheel. The solution is simple….enforcement of the laws that currently exist and if necessary stricter ones down the road. Remember when the seat belt laws went into effect? At first many ignored them and said it was too uncomfortable to buckle up. Over time there were task forces dedicated to issuing summonses to drivers who failed to use their seat belts and eventually everyone got the message…some after paying a fine or two.

Now you have this problem and make no mistake it is a problem with cell phones, BlackBerry’s and other portable communication tools. As I have said before all you need to do is observe and you will be amazed at how many drivers are engaged in conversations while cruising down the road. As bad as that is the texting phenomenon is even worse with some actually using both hands to text while driving with their knees, forearms….you get the picture.

It would be easy to say it’s just the young people, especially teenagers who are the problem but that’s a cop out. Yes the younger generation is more likely to text but I’ve seen plenty of adults in their 50’s and 60’s having a conversation with one hand on the steering wheel and the other on their cell phone. The use of a hands-free device like a Bluetooth will comply with the law and they are readily available but some don’t like the way they look or feel in their ear. That’s too bad because eventually they will pay the price… if they are lucky it will only be a ticket and not result in an accident of some kind.

Law enforcement officials need to be on top of this problem and also be given the resources much like when the seat belt laws first went into effect.
While we would like to think sound reasoning and common sense should prevail the bottom line is paying a fine out of your pocket is more likely to have an impact.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Back From Vacation Blues

Back after a week’s vacation which is usually very depressing. However I also have next week off so coming back today is not that bad, especially because I enjoyed some serious time on the 2nd Avenue Beach in Seaside Park last week. We had a few tremendous days with cool breezes off the ocean and very warm water…it was just great.

Losing their first 8 meetings of the season to the Red Sox seems like a faint memory for Yankee fans who are rightfully ecstatic after sweeping a 4-game
Series from their AL East rivals this weekend. The Yankees have opened up a 6 ½ game lead in the division and it looks like they’ll be plenty of October baseball in the Bronx.

Holbrook Little League of Jackson and host Freehold Township Little League are both 2-0 in the winner’s bracket of the 2009 Junior League Eastern Regional Little League Tournament. Holbrook rallied for a 4-3, 9-inning victory over Massachusetts Sunday while Freehold Township scored 11 runs in the 6th inning for a 22-13 win over the New York champions from Long Island. Freehold plays Pennsylvania today while Holbrook meets Maryland tonight at 7pm at Michael J. Tighe Park. The winning team in the tournament for 13 and 14 year olds advances to the Junior League World Series in Taylor, Michigan.

Former NHL standout Jim Dowd presented a check for $15,000 to the Frances Foundation for Kids Fighting Cancer before last night’s 12th Annual Shore High School All-Star Hockey Game at the Red Bank Armory. Dowd’s Shoot For the Stars Foundation once again sponsored the game which saw Ocean County snap a 7-game losing streak and edge Monmouth County 4-3. Goalies Mike Vincent of Brick Memorial and Matt Betten of Toms River North were co-MVP’s for the Ocean stars but the story continues to be Dowd’s devotion to the game and the area in which he grew up and still lives. The former Brick High School star, who played for ten teams in a long pro career, continues to shine off the ice just like he did on it.