Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Memorial Day Weekend Memories

You could not draw up a better holiday weekend then what we just experienced
and it was certainly a badly-needed shot in the arm for Jersey Shore businesses that rely on visitors. Three days of sunshine and warm weather following a long winter and often dreary spring sent record crowds in some cases to beach towns where finding a parking spot this weekend was often challenging. Yesterday started with heavy rain in many places and some decided to head back home early but those that stayed were rewarded with another day in which it was much more comfortable at the beach than inland. For many businesses Memorial Day weekend is the busiest of the season and it certainly has many feeling good about the upcoming summer.

I do find it somewhat ironic that so many people, even those on the radio, were wishing others a Happy Memorial Day. Truthfully it’s not that kind of holiday and actually should be more solemn than celebratory. I guess too many it’s just the day that marks the unofficial start of summer. Interestingly enough things will really quiet down for the next couple of weeks or until school gets out for summer.

How many times have we pushed it when it came to a dwindling gas tank? Knowing when empty really means empty is something many of us have dealt with in the past and sometimes we’ve been burned. That’s what happened to NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. over the weekend as he ran out of gas on the final lap which cost him a win at the Coca Cola 600 in Charlotte. Earlier in the day at the Indy 500 Danica Patrick had to stop for gas with ten laps left and it cost her the lead and eventually she had to settle for a 10th place finish. Just goes to show you that men often gamble with fuel….women tend to be more conservative and fill up.

For those of you who don’t know or care the Stanley Cup Finals begin Wednesday with the Boston Bruins facing the Vancouver Canucks for the most storied trophy in all of sports. This matchup was not good news for Boston Pizza, which has 340 restaurants in Canada, including 62 of them in the province of British Columbia where Vancouver is the largest city. The company could not expect Canuck fans to order pizza from a place named after the city of their opponent so they simply changed their name…temporarily. The 62 restaurants in British Columbia have been re-branded as “Vancouver Pizza” until the series is over.

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Snooki Roll

The Office Restaurant & Lounge in Toms River is well known for its sushi and my favorites are the rolls of which there were 41 of them at last count. Many of them are named after people, some who work there and there is even a Yankee Roll named after a certain baseball team which of course I refuse to try. The list of roll choices has actually reached 42 and I guess this is the first named after a celebrity. You can now order “The Snooki Roll” which is a tribute to the Jersey Shore reality TV show star and her love of pickles. The roll is a Tempura Pickle on the inside with White Tuna and Avocado with Chili Sauce on top. I guess I’ll have to give it a try.

If you are a Phillies fan then you’ll probably be interested in knowing that Shane Victorino will be playing with the BlueClaws Saturday & Sunday at FirstEnergy Park. The speedy centerfielder has been sidelined with a hamstring injury and his rehab assignment sends him to Lakewood for a pair of games this weekend. Both
games are against Greensboro and start at 7:05 with fireworks afterwards. Victorino wore a BlueClaws uniform for one game during the 2007 season as he was recovering from an injury.

As expected the Jackson Board of Education has named Aaron Gottesman the head wrestling coach at Jackson Memorial High School where he succeeds Doug Withstandley, who went 81-14 in four seasons before stepping down for personal reasons. Gottesman was an assistant under Withstandley during those four years and prior to that was the head coach at Lakewood. He has big shoes to fill as the Jaguars program is among the best in the state and winning is expected.

Memorial Day weekend is here and while to most it’s the unofficial start of summer and maybe the first chance to get to the beach we should at the very least take a moment on Monday to remember what the day is about. Memorial Day is our national tribute to all who have sacrificed…it is when we thank those in the military who gave all their tomorrows so we could have ours. As a well-known cartoon says, “Thanksgiving is a day when we pause to give thanks for the things we have. Memorial Day is a day when we pause to give thanks for the people who fought for the things we have.”

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Enforcer

Most of you probably have no idea that part of my job title here at WOBM is Vice President of Quality Control.

I won’t try and explain exactly what that means and I think there are some who believe I’m the Head Janitor or Groundskeeper because at times I’m obsessed with seemingly trivial things that drive me crazy. Well I raised some eyebrows when I sent out an email addressing what I perceive as a growing problem for not just us but society…the use of the “F word.”
Now I don’t want you to think we are a bunch of gutter-talking Neanderthals who throw vulgar words around in every conversation because we are not. However as one of the elders I have noticed that the use of the “F word” has certainly increased over the years and because we work in relatively close quarters it’s heard far too often in the office. I admit to being among the violators and since I have the authority and yes power to do something about it I am.

Last week I sent out an email to everyone who works in our Bayville office addressing what I perceive as a concern more than a major problem. I also felt that just asking people to watch their language wasn’t good enough…there had to be a penalty to fit the crime. So I instituted a fine that would be assessed every time someone uttered what was at one time was a word never used and now has become to some just another adjective or verb. This week only it will cost you a quarter if you slip and drop what’s known as an “F bomb” and we have customized a large plastic jar in which violators are to drop their fines in. However that’s just for this week which I have called a transition period because once we return after the holiday weekend the fine is going up to a dollar for a vulgar holler.

Enforcement clearly is going to be a problem because I can’t hear everything that takes place in this building. I have asked that we all monitor one another but I’m getting the sense that some don’t think I’m serious…which I am. I have watched over the years as society has become more accepting of foul language which now doesn’t even shock anyone and can be heard on regular TV on a daily basis. However I think there is a line which should not be crossed and I am drawing a line in the sand with the “F word.” I’m trying to sell people, especially those that are younger that this is also for their benefit because what’s happening is many just use a bad word when they can’t come up with anything to express their frustration or anger. Well they better expand their vocabulary because at a buck a throw it’s going to get expensive around here for frequent violators. My name is Kevin Williams and I am the Vice President of Quality Control…don’t push me.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The King Of "A Day Late & A Dollar Short"

The last two days I have talked about Toms River’s Todd Frazier and the developments that led to him reaching the major leagues at the age of 25 this week. This morning’s segment is how professional sports can truly be a cruel business while at the same time crowning myself the king of “a day late and a dollar short.”

As I said yesterday I was planning to watch Todd and the Cincinnati Reds last night as they played the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. My son Brandon is a close friend and had to work some magic with his job for a public relations firm in New York because he vowed that no matter when and where when his former Toms River South classmate and teammate made it to the majors he would be there.

I then worked some magic on my end to secure tickets for not only us and two
of Todd’s other friends but my daughter and two of her friends. Everything was in place and just as we were getting ready to leave my daughter gets a text that the Reds have sent Frazier back to the minor leagues. I of course dismiss this with a chuckle as a very bad rumor. However she gets more information via another text and this time it includes the name of the player who is coming up from the minor leagues to replace Todd. Now I’m starting to get a bit curious and immediately call my son who just boarded his bus in New York. Moments later he calls me back to say it’s true but the bus has left and he can’t get off. This my friends is turning out to be one giant cluster______.

Within a few minutes we have determined that amazingly Todd Frazier’s first major league call-up has lasted less than 24 hours. We decide to go to the game anyway, in large part because my son is on a bus heading that way and I have the tickets. I won’t bore you with the details as there is nothing worse than being at a game in which you have no rooting interest as because of the way Frazier was treated I kind of hate both teams. I left in the 6th inning and my son ended up staying in the city with friends and is actually going to tonight’s game because he had tickets and was meeting up with other friends. Todd while disappointed will take the high road, spend a couple of days at home in Toms River and then re-join the Triple A Louisville Bats. He’s now in the Baseball Encyclopedia, having played one game and struck out in his one at-bat. His chance will come again and we’ll be there.

On a somewhat related note. Congratulations to Tommy Ruscitti, who threw a perfect game in the Berkeley Little League Tuesday night as his Yankees beat the Red Sox. Ruscitti needed just 68 pitches to retire all 18 batters he faced.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Todd Frazier Gets To Bat

I know to most of you it meant nothing but to some of us Todd Frazier making his major league debut last night was a big deal and it brought a certain amount of pride to see “one of our own” make it where so few have.

As first reported here Monday the Toms River native was called up from the minors by the Cincinnati Reds and last night wearing #21 there he was on the field at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. It had been a whirlwind 24 hours or so for the 25-year old Frazier who spent most of Sunday night calling family and friends when he learned that he was being promoted from Triple A Louisville to the big club. Many asked about tickets which of course first went to family members, including parents Charles and Joan and older brother Charlie. Every game in Philly is a tough ticket as they’ve officially sold out their last 149 at Citizens Bank Park but Monday was even more difficult because All-Star Chase Utley was making his season debut and it was dollar hot dog night. As it turns out 45,841 squeezed into the park…the largest regular-season crowed in its eight-year history. About 100 of them were there to see Frazier’s major league debut and in the 6th inning he was told to grab a bat and he made his way to the on-deck circle.

Lefthander Cole Hamels was struggling a bit for the Phillies and it seemed like a good matchup for the former Toms River South and Rutgers star but the inning ended just before Frazier’s turn to bat. However he would lead off the 7th as a pinch-hitter and one can only imagine the butterflies that he felt; although this is a moment he’s prepared for since his days as a little league star. The Phillies brought in hard-throwing righty Michael Stutes and Frazier’s first swing on the first pitch was memorable as the bat slipped out of his hands and landed near the photo pit behind the Reds dugout pretty close to fans. He would end up striking out and while disappointed those who came to see him were at least rewarded for their efforts.

Tonight I will be among those making the trip to Philly to see Todd and once again you can expect a large group of family and friends on hand to witness what’s been years in the making. For thousands of baseball players their best days come as a little leaguer or maybe a high school player. Frazier was as big a star as you can be as a 12-year old and through his teen-age years but unlike most of them his memories don’t end there…as a matter of fact they may just be starting.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Getting The Call To The Bigs

I am sure glad the world did not come to an end over the weekend because it would have meant that Todd Frazier never got to experience life as a major leaguer. However it appears the former Toms River High School South star will indeed be putting on the Cincinnati Reds uniform tonight when they open a four-game series in of all places Philadelphia. Last night I was dozing off when my son called me to say he had just spoken with Todd, who has been tearing it up lately with the Reds’ Triple A team in Louisville. The 25-year old, who has played a variety of positions, is scheduled to arrive in Philly early this afternoon. There has been no official posting of the roster move but you would have to believe that if Frazier is being called up the Reds plan on using him somewhere.

Many, including yours truly have waited for this day to come since watching Todd help Toms River East American win the Little League World Series in 1998. A gifted athlete who seemingly could do anything Frazier has been a standout at every level, setting records at Toms River South and Rutgers University before turning pro. He is the youngest of three baseball-playing brothers and certainly had to benefit from all the time spent with Charlie and Jeff, who is with the Nationals’ Triple A team in Syracuse and got a taste of major league life with the Tigers last summer. Todd was the one all along though who most felt had the best chance of making the show and he is about to experience what is the dream of every kid who has put on a Little League uniform. The nicest part is it comes with the Reds set to play 4 games at Citizens Bank Park so you can be sure there will be plenty of family and friends making the trip down Route 70.

After losing to New Egypt in the finals of the Ocean County Softball Tournament the last two years you can’t blame Toms River East fans and even players if having the play the Warriors again brought back some bad memories. However the third time turned out to be the charm thanks largely to sophomore Jordan Weed, who threw a no-hitter Sunday and led the Raiders to a 2-0 win at Lacey High School.
Weed struck out 9 and walked 6 as sixth-seeded East won their 7th county title. The Raiders scored the only run they would need in the 1st inning on an RBI single by tournament Most Valuable Player Chelsea Guttridge. It was the second no-hitter ever thrown in an OCT final with the other coming in 2007 from another East pitcher, Lyndsey PeQueen, who ironically threw a ceremonial first pitch before Sunday’s game.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Judgement Day

You have probably seen a billboard or two and might have noticed people carrying signs and in all likelihood have paid little attention to them. According to some fringe Christian groups tomorrow, May 21st is Judgment Day and basically the end of the world as we know it. The believers say that Jesus is coming to earth and will take the good people with him to Heaven and leave most of us behind to suffer over the next five months before it all ends.

Far be it for me to know exactly what this is all about but it would see ridiculous to cancel your plans or move everything up to today which I guess is supposed to be the final full day as we know it. This latest doomsday prediction is in large part courtesy of California-based Family Radio, a non-profit evangelical Christian group that has purchased thousands of billboards, signs and bus displays across the country touting this latest end of you know what. The President of this group by the way one predicted that September 6, 1994 would the end of mankind and when that day came and went said he had made a mistake in calculations because he mis-read something in the Bible.

Naysayers point to the fact that the Bible itself tells us we can’t know when the real Judgment Day will come. In the Book of Matthew, chapter 24, verse 36 says “No one knows about the day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”

However despite the fact that most rational-thinking people are dismissing this latest “end of it all prediction” there are apparently some who are banking on it.
Reportedly people have been living their life as if it will end Saturday, spending in some cases all their savings because if life is about to end what are you saving for.
Can you imagine their despair when they wake up Sunday morning? However in all fairness if they are correct then you better approach today as if it’s the first day of the rest of your life.

With my luck I will probably hit the lottery today and tomorrow’s dire predictions will come true.

With what might be my final Hometown View, I’m Kevin Williams

Thursday, May 19, 2011

This 'n That

A little of this and a little of that on a Thursday morning:

High School Football season seems a long way away but tonight is a reminder that it’s closer than you think. Wall High School will host the annual media night for the U.S. Army All-Shore Gridiron Classic which matches recently-graduated players from Ocean County against those from Monmouth County. The game itself is scheduled for Thursday, July 14th at Toms River High School North. After several years of flirting with moving the game from Friday to Thursday organizers finally did what I have been calling for. Traveling on the Garden State Parkway during a summer Friday is simply a nightmare, especially when the game is held in Ocean County which forces many people to head south. As in the past we will broadcast the game on our Shore Sports Network.

The Ocean County PBA Conference will hold its first-ever Summer Kickoff Bash tomorrow night at Joey Harrison’s Surf Club in Ortley Beach from 6-11pm. Tickets are $20 for the event and include a buffet-style dinner, drink specials, live music and a DJ. The Ocean County PBA Conference is made up of 27 PBA locals representing 29 police departments within the county. Not only do they meet to discuss law enforcement at all levels but they support the good and welfare of all officers in Ocean County. They also raise money for the State PBA Survivor and Welfare Fund. Sean McHugh of Toms River PBA #137 is chairman of the organizations special events committee which for several years has run a successful end of summer bash in September.

This week’s rain is already causing some problems when it comes to the local sports schedule, especially now that tournaments are underway. Preliminary round action in the Shore Conference Baseball and Softball Tournaments in some cases was postponed from yesterday to today but I would imagine field conditions will be a problem. Manalapan is the top seed in the baseball tournament followed by Jackson Memorial, Toms River South and Red Bank Catholic. The championship game is scheduled for June 6th at FirstEnergy Park. St. John Vianney is seeded first in the softball tournament and the Lacers drew a first-round bye as did the rest of the top six ….Red Bank Catholic, Middletown South, Jackson Liberty, Toms River East and Pinelands.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Life Pre Internet

I was going through some old Hometown View scripts and came across this one which originally aired just over a year ago and deals with one of my favorite subjects….the difference in growing up today as opposed to just 30 years ago.
Even relatively young parents with teen-agers admit that in many cases their kids have it much easier than they did:

It was not that long ago when the Internet did not exist so if you wanted to know something you had to go to the library and look it up. By the way those libraries did not have coffee shops in them either.

There was no email…you actually had to write letters on paper with a pen. Then you placed a stamp on it and had to walk or drive and put the letter in a mailbox which would take a day or two before it was delivered.

There were no MP3’s or Napster or ITunes. As for “stealing” music…well you would have to go to a record store and shoplift it yourself. Some people would actually wait for their favorite songs to play on the radio and they would tape the music. Remember this was before CD’s and there was a pretty good chance you had a tape deck in your car. Sometimes when removing the cassette or cartridge the tape would get stuck and tangled and you might have to throw it away.

There were no cell phones so when you left your house it meant you would be out of touch with your friends for more than ten minutes. Can you imagine not being able to make or receive a call or texting on a 24/7 basis? By the way there was no call waiting so when you were on the phone and somebody else called they got a thing called a “busy signal.”

In the old days like the 70’s and 80’s there was no Cartoon Network. If you wanted to watch cartoons you pretty much had to wait for Saturday morning. After school or on weekends you did not play with Xbox, Wii or Nintendo but you actually went outside and played with friends. That’s because if you came inside you might get stuck doing chores. Also child protective services did not care if your parents wacked you once in a while…as a matter of fact your friends’ parents also had permission to give you a shot when needed.

Times certainly have changed. Today’s pampered younger generation could not have lasted five minutes back in the 1980’s or any time before that!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Jorge Posada's Temper Tantrum

On a day when Donald Trump announced he was no longer running for President of the United States and the favorite to be the next President of France was denied bail on charges of trying to rape a hotel maid the topic of interest too many was Jorge Posada.

For those of you who don’t follow baseball Posada is a 39-year old longtime member of the New York Yankees who caused quite an uproar over the weekend when he refused to play in a game. In clearly the twilight of what’s been a very good career Posada is having a miserable season and his .165 batting average led manager Joe Girardi to bat him 9th in Saturday’s game against the Red Sox. That’s the bottom of the lineup and usually reserved for your worst hitters, which Posada happens to be right now. When he first learned of the demotion he seemed to accept it but later in the day, probably after speaking with his agent, Posada informed Girardi he was not going to play.

A day later he sort of apologized for his actions, claiming he had “a bad day”
and teammate and Yankee captain Derek Jeter has come to his defense. The story has taken on a life of its own with more newspaper space and radio/TV time devoted to the controversy than the Yankees poor play which has resulted in a six-game losing streak. There’s been a lot of talk about how Posada and Girardi have never gotten along because it was the then-young Jorge who replaced the veteran Girardi as the team’s catcher back in the day. This may be true but honestly it’s irrelevant. At the end of the day coaches coach and players play and while Posada might have been insulted at batting 9th he should have “sucked it up” and gone out and performed. By the way he is paid quite nicely for his services and has earned well over $100 million while wearing pinstripes and his current deal pays him about $72,000 a day. Clearly he is overpaid and collecting now for what he did in the past which is no different than Jeter.

There’s been a lot of blame being tossed around and we don’t know the half of it…nor should we really care. Yankees management might have mishandled the situation but in the end a player refused to play because he didn’t like the way he was being treated. That should not be acceptable to anyone, especially fans who shell out big money for tickets, parking, beer and hot dogs. If Posada can get a better gig for $72,000 he should take it. If not then shut up and go out and play
because that’s what players do.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Tragedy In Jackson

You can’t even find the words to comment on the tragic accident that claimed the life of a Jackson Memorial High School baseball player after a game over the weekend. 17-year old James Volpe was a passenger in a car that contained two of his teammates and collided with another vehicle just east of the Lakehurst circle. Volpe’s Jaguar teammates were not seriously injured while the driver of the other vehicle remains hospitalized in intensive care. What makes this story so horrific is it’s the latest of many fatal accidents involving students and teenagers in the Jackson School District in recent years….far too many for any one district or town to have to endure.

This is such a frightening time of year for parents with proms, graduations and a seemingly endless list of occasions in which young people are driving at night often in groups and easily distracted. Every parent’s worst nightmare is hearing the phone or doorbell ring at a time when you automatically expect to hear only bad news. One can only hope that over the next month or so that does not happen because for many parents they simply won’t be able to sleep until they know their son or daughter is home safe and secure.

The Ocean County College Men’s Basketball team is coming off a great season during which they won the Region 19 Tournament and finished fifth in the National Championships. One of the big reasons for OCC’s success has been head coach Rory Caswell, who was named Region and District Coach of the Year. The Vikings will have to find a replacement for Caswell who was named head coach at Toms River High School North a few days ago. Caswell is a former Mariner player who later played at William Patterson. He returns to his alma mater to replace Chris Kane, who stepped down after this past season.

Those expecting hush puppies, Cole slaw and plenty of seafood choices will be very surprised when they visit what used to be Jack Baker’s Lobster Shanty in Toms River. The restaurant has been completely renovated and is now Baker’s Water Street Bar & Grille. I stopped in yesterday afternoon and was very impressed by what they have done with the place which is now very contemporary and very different. We sat on a high-top outside and enjoyed appetizers and a cocktail from a menu that features salads, burgers, brick oven pizza and more.
Looks like a good place to watch your favorite sporting events and the deck will be very popular during the summer.

Friday, May 13

(This post could not be posted on Friday due to technical difficulties)

Toms River South and Jackson Memorial played four times during the 2010
Baseball season with the Indians winning three of those games, including the championship games of the Ocean County and Shore Conference Tournaments.

The Indians split a pair of regular-season games with Jackson and went on to win the Class A South title as part of a 26-4 season.

The Jaguars clearly have set their sights on reversing those results this spring and already have two wins over South and have secured the division title. Now the two teams are on a collision course in the Ocean County Tournament with both winning their quarterfinal round games Thursday.

Top-seeded South pounded Manchester 11-4 as Steven Petrosino rapped-out four hits and drove in three runs and Mitch Dressing added three hits and knocked in a pair of runs. Winning pitcher Chris McKenna helped his own cause with two RBI’s as the Indians improved to 13-4 and will host Brick tomorrow in the semifinals. The Green Dragons used a Tim Carney grand slam to help them oust Central 10-5.

As for Jackson…well the second-seeded Jaguars had to fight back from an early 5-0 deficit to beat Toms River North 7-5. Chris Russo drove in four runs to get them back in the game and then Joe Ogren led off the bottom of the 5th with a home run to snap a 5-5 tie and send Jackson into the semifinals against Lacey. Brandon Holup pitched five shutout innings of relief as Coach Frank Malta’s team improved to 15-3 and will host the surprising Lions tomorrow afternoon.

Should both South and Jackson prevail tomorrow it will set the stage for another meeting in what has become the shore’s best rivalry. Malta, in his 7th season at Jackson has built a very good program and of course in his 34th season Ken Frank’s Indians are the measuring stick for everyone else. Showing no signs of slowing down, Frank’s career record of 745-233 is a testament to the fact that players come and go but he and winning remain the constant.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Making The World A Better Place For Men To Live In

Okay I admit it….this is an oldie but goodie because frankly it just seems like a good time to bring this one back about creative ideas to make the world a better place for us Men to live in:

• Women would start with the climax of their stories and then go back to fill in the details…but only if we ask.
• All gutters would self-clean.
• There should not be any bathroom attendants.
• Carpentry, plumbing and electrical courses should be mandatory for all boys in middle school.
• All base runners would score on a ground-rule double.
• Caddies would be prohibited on the pro golf tour. No other athlete has a butler on the field with them and players should be able to figure out on their own what clubs to use.
• Movie reviewers would be forbidden to call a movie “the funniest of the year” until after the year was over.
• Every fifth year would be free of federal income tax and all of the following would be tax deductible….TV sports packages, alcoholic beverages, poker losses and tickets to sporting events and concerts.
• Jennifer Aniston would replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill.
• If you set out to climb some huge mountain wearing shorts, a tee shirt and boots but then have to be rescued by 12 men, two helicopters and a team of huskies you have to repay the cost of being an idiot.
• Singing “Happy Birthday” in the office would result in immediate termination.
• Those little ketchup and mustard packets would be twice as big and much easier to open.
• Parent-teacher nights would come with nachos and tequila shooters.
• Parents would strive to give their children self-reliance instead of self-esteem.
• Volunteering to put sunscreen on women would finally be seen for what it truly is…community service in cancer prevention.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

R.I.P. Basement Bertha

Random notes and thoughts this morning:

Barnegat High School junior football standout Ryan Morris is going to have a lot of choices when it comes to college as the 6’6, 240 pound tight end and defensive end is now up to 9 scholarship offers. The latest was the University of Illinois who officially extended an offer to Morris on Tuesday. Others who have already put full scholarships on the table are Purdue, Indiana, Syracuse, Cincinnati, Louisville, Tulane, Duke and Central Florida. Morris caught 30 passes for nearly 500 yards and 4 touchdowns last fall and was also a defensive standout for the Bengals.

As the weather has warmed up so has Toms River’s Todd Frazier, who had another big night for the Louisville Bats, the Triple-A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds. Playing third base Frazier was 3-4 with a pair of doubles and over the last ten games has been hitting at a .350 clip. After a slow start the Reds prospect is now batting .277 with 7 homers and 20 RBI’s in 32 games. Unfortunately things have not gotten better for older brother Jeff, who is in the Washington Nationals organization and batting just .143 with 2 homers for the Syracuse Chiefs.

By the way the Nationals single A franchise will be in Lakewood this coming weekend and that has caused some extra interest. That’s because Bryce Harper, the #1 pick in last June’s draft plays for the Hagerstown Suns and will be at FirstEnergy Park beginning Friday night. The 18-year old outfielder is second in the South Atlantic League with a .377 batting average and has 7 home runs through 30 games and a 14-game hitting streak. Harper signed a five-year, $9.9 million contract last August, the largest ever for a non-pitcher who was just drafted. Hagerstown will play in Lakewood Friday & Saturday night, Sunday afternoon and Monday morning.

Saturday night’s Gift Auction sponsored by the Beachwood Soccer Club at Toms River Intermediate South will feature yours truly calling the numbers. Tickets will be sold at the door beginning at 5:30pm and the $15 admission will get you entry level prize tickets, coffee and dessert. There are some fantastic prizes to be won and for more information you can call (732) 473-0915.

So good bye to Basement Bertha and General Von Steingrabber, just two of the characters created by Daily News columnist and cartoonist Bill Gallo. Gallo, who spent nearly 70 years at the newspaper died Tuesday at the age of 88.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A Great Day For Golf

Monday was a great day to play golf and those that took the course at Eagle Ridge Golf Club in Lakewood during the afternoon did so for a great cause. The 11th Annual Caring Classic Outing raised nearly $40,000 for the Caregiver Volunteers of Central Jersey and culminated with an awards dinner in the Grand View Ballroom at which I served as Master of Ceremonies. Part of the reason for me helping with the event was the formal invitation came from Lisa Carone of the Lakewood BlueClaws…it’s hard to say no to Lisa. However in truth I was there because Caregiver Volunteers is such a great organization and they did honor me a couple of years ago at their Harvest of Hope Gala. For the past 17 years they have helped elderly residents remain independent and stay in their homes even though they can’t drive any more. A network of some 1000 volunteers will drive residents to doctor’s appointments, take care of the food shopping and sometimes just sit and talk with them. Basically the fill the void left by family members who are not always available to check on their elderly relatives. It’s a tremendous organization that relies on fundraisers like yesterday’s golf outing which was sponsored in part by Woodhaven Lumber. Don Johansen of Harrogate Life Care and Trish Mazejy of Bartley Healthcare served as Co-Chairpersons of the Golf Committee and special thanks go to Jan Kokes of the Kokes Organization, the host for the annual event. Among friendly faces that played and supported the cause were Senator Bob Singer and attorneys Harvey York & Robert Novy. Novy, who an officer on the Caregivers Board of Trustees, hosts a weekend law show on WOBM AM.

On an unrelated note the Manchester Township High School baseball team can clinch the Class B South championship with a win today at Brick. Coach John Musolf’s Hawks secured a share of the title by scoring twice in the bottom of the 7th and rallying past Central 5-4 Monday. Jon Roszel, who is headed to West Virginia University, doubled and later scored the game-winning run on a throwing error. If Brick wins today than the Green Dragons will share the division crown with Manchester.

Jackson Memorial also clinched at least a share of the Class A South crown with an 8-4 win at Toms River North last night. The Jaguars can make it official with a win at Brick Memorial this afternoon.

Monday, May 9, 2011

End Of Freshman Year

If you looked closely at the cars, SUV’s, vans and trucks departing the campus of Penn State University this past weekend it was pretty easy to know which ones belonged to the families of female students as opposed to males. Those driven by parents or girls themselves were jam packed to the point where you could barely see while the guy’s vehicles had enough room to fit extra passengers. That sums it up in a nutshell.

About 8 ½ months after we moved my daughter Alex into her freshman dorm as a somewhat apprehensive freshman I was back in Happy Valley to pick up a young woman who had a terrific first year away from home. You might recall that during the Christmas break we had moved her into a different dorm as she re-located onto a floor occupied by members of the Kappa Delta sorority she had pledged. That was in itself a chore and because the new room had some extra space it allowed her and her roommate Nicole to acquire more “stuff.” I could not believe what I was loading into my SUV as it filled every nook and cranny with clothes and an assortment of things that left me asking “why are we bringing that home?”
What a difference from when my son was a freshman when I think we filled a couple of suitcases and bins and that was pretty much it. Of course he did not have enough shoes to open a store and clothes that could not possibly have all been worn. As a matter of fact I do recall him telling his mother that a few pairs of jeans would be the staple of the wardrobe and as long as there was always a clean pair then you were good to go.

Anyway we managed to get almost everything in my SUV although a couple of things were left behind as donations simply because we had no place to put them.
Alex said tearful goodbyes to her sorority sisters but they have plans to get together over the summer, starting with Memorial Day weekend. Now she is home which means noise is back in the house which I am grateful for as I really missed the craziness that goes with having a teenager around. Of course check back with me in a few weeks and I will probably be counting the days until she goes back.

(note: there was no Hometown View on Friday, May 6)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

We Are The Champions

New Jersey is one of only three states that does not have a football playoff system that allows public high schools to play for overall group championships but Wednesday the first hurdle was cleared to change that. The NJSIAA’s Executive Committee voted overwhelmingly to approve a change to the constitution which right now does not allow for the playing of any games past the sectional level.
The current playoff system results in some 20 schools being able to call themselves “state champs” and has left many wanting teams to play on just like in all the other sports. Yesterday’s action means the constitution change now goes to the general membership of the NJSIAA in early December where two-thirds will need to approve the measure for it to go into effect. If they do then a plan can be presented next spring to start playing overall group championship games beginning in 2013.

Leading the charge for such a plan has been Bill Bruno, the athletic director in the Brick Township School District and East Brunswick football coach Marcus Borden. They have been talking to coaches and school officials and will continue to work on a plan that addresses the many concerns that go with such a major change. At some point they will need to have a formal proposal which they can take around the state prior to next December’s vote. It has to take into consideration everything from when the season starts to what to do about the traditional Thanksgiving Day games that some still feel are sacred and must be continued. How this plan is received will ultimately decide the fate of whether New Jersey goes the distance in regards to the playoffs….or stops short like we have been doing for years.

Sad to learn yesterday about the passing of Ed Brandt, who spent most of his working years at Lakewood High School as a teacher, head football coach and later Athletic Director. Ed can best be described as simply a nice man who was liked and respected by everyone. He was a driving force behind the establishment of the Lakewood High School Athletic Hall of Fame and is a well-deserved member as well. Not surprisingly the family is asking that memorial contributions may go to a scholarship fund in his name. Information on arrangements is available at www.deliafuneralhome.com

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Wednesday Bounce

Bouncing around all over the place this morning:

Last call for a couple of fundraising golf events next week. Monday the Caregiver Volunteers of Central Jersey hold their 11th Annual Caring Classic Outing at Eagle Ridge Golf Club. Registration and lunch are at noon and I will be on hand to help with the awards dinner at the conclusion of the day. For last minute information call Lorraine at (732) 849-2719.

The St. Joseph/Monsignor Donovan High School Alumni Golf Outing is set for next Thursday (May 12) at Woodlake Country Club. Hosted by the Griffin Football Association the event is open to all friends and family of the school with proceeds to fund scholarship and tuition assistance programs at Monsignor Donovan. For information you can the Alumni Office at the school at (732) 349-8801.

Speaking of Mon Don, basketball standout Sean Grennan has officially signed his National Letter of Intent to play for Seton Hall. Pirates head coach Kevin Willard
said that the 6’2 guard solidifies the Pirates backcourt and is among six newcomers who could help the program right away as The Hall will lose many of their top players from last season. Grennan, who lives in Sea Girt and scored more than 1400 points in his high school career originally committed to Davidson last summer before that offer was withdrawn,

John Wagner was named this week the new head football coach at Point Pleasant Beach High School. Wagner is currently an assistant principal and athletic director at Roselle Park High School but prior to that had a successful 24-year run as coach at that school and in 2006 was inducted into the New Jersey Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

The Community Medical Center Foundation will hold its Sixth Annual Wine Tasting Event to benefit the J. Phillip Citta Regional Cancer Center on Wednesday, June 1st at the Toms River Country Club. “Red, White and Brew-Kick Off the Summer” will take place from 5:30-8:30 and summer attire is welcome. For information contact the CMC Foundation at (732) 557-8131.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A Political Shot In The Arm

I am certainly not alone in thinking that the raid by Navy Seals that led to the death of Osama Bin Laden may have all but ended the 2012 Presidential election. While President Barack Obama’s approval ratings have been sinking for quite some time the death of the world’s most wanted terrorist may be the shot in the arm he needed to reverse those fortunes.

Even Obama’s most vocal critics have praised him and his administration for the effort that eventually caught and killed the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks. A problem for any Republican running is at least for now it takes their main issue off the board…that of national defense and security. That GOP has hammered home in recent elections its belief that they are the party that will stress the military and security while at the same time insisting the Democrats are weak when it comes to that. For now the shoe is on the other foot as it’s the Obama Administration that finally brought Bin Laden to justice and they don’t really have to say it…we all know it. Of course things can change dramatically but despite all the other problems, from gas prices to jobs it looks like the President will be tougher than ever to beat at the polls.

While the date of Bin Laden’s death may not stack up nearly as memorable as others in history it will be one that many are able to say, “I was__________when Osama Bin Laden was killed.” Many in our area were asleep and did not learn about what had happened until they awoke Monday morning. Of course those that were at the Mets-Phillies game will become part of history and while the attendance was about 45,000 you can figure ten times that will insist they were there. May 1st does not have the same impact as December 7th, November 22nd or September 11th but it is nonetheless very significant.

Today is National Teacher’s Day and a good time to reach out to that special teacher who impacted your life. Some of mine are no longer with us but a special thanks to Cy Dunn, Ron Villano, Juanita & Lolita Carfora and others from my days at Central Regional.

Jackson Memorial has all but clinched the Class A South baseball title thanks to a 4-2 win at Toms River South Monday night. Matt Guarino, who started the evening on the bench, ended up the hero with a tiebreaking two-run triple in the 7th.
Guarino entered the game as an injury replacement and certainly made the most of his opportunity. The Jaguars have beaten the Indians twice this season and those are South’s only losses.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Death Of bin Laden

I am sure glad I stayed up to watch the Mets-Phillies game last night because that’s how I learned about the capture and death of Osama Bin Laden. In the top of the 9th inning of what was at that time a 1-1 game fans at Citizens Bank Park began chanting “USA! USA!” as they got the news through their hand-held devices. What was funny was seeing the expression on the faces of the players, who had no idea what was going on or why the crowd was chanting. Of course the announcers had already broken the news and it led me to switching channels and eventually watching President Obama’s national address at 11:30pm before going back to the baseball game that the Mets finally won after 14 innings and nearly five hours.

I do admit to being a bit perplexed over the “celebration” of Bin Laden’s death. Watching people in the streets in New York and Washington DC it almost reminded me of what it was like when the US beat Russia in Ice Hockey at the 1980 Winter Olympics. I think part of it might be that we had almost given up on finding the mass murderer, nearly ten years after he orchestrated the 9/11 attacks.
Of course what is now of concern to most is what the repercussions might be from the death of the world’s most wanted man and will it spark another wave of terrorism from those seeking revenge.

The high school baseball teams from Central and Lacey will play tonight at Leiter Field in Bayville and those attending can help a family in Alabama that was a victim of last week’s deadly tornadoes. The Berkeley Little League is hosting the game on “Random Act of Kindness” Night where spectators can donate money and purchase 50/50’s to help Sheryl & Mark Meadows who lost their home and suffered fairly serious injuries when tornadoes swept through Alabama last week. The house was ripped from the foundation and tossed about 80 feet and I’ve seen pictures which make the fact they survived seem like a miracle. The league has been collecting funds all weekend long at their Moorage Complex which will culminate tonight when the Golden Eagles host the Lions. Berkeley Little League President Bob Everett became away of the Meadows’ plight through a relative who works at Auburn University and knows the family. Tonight’s game starts at 6:30pm.