Thursday, September 29, 2011

Will He Or Won't He?

Will he or won’t he run for President? That is the million dollar question that just everyone is asking New Jersey Governor Chris Christie who continues to say he is not seeking occupancy in the White House but rather trying to cure the problems in Trenton. It seems that the more Christie insists he is not throwing his hat into the ring the more political followers say he may be still be testing the waters. We are at the point where commentators are trying to find subtle hints in his speeches or reading his body language to determine if the governor has indeed closed the door on a 2012 Presidential bid. It does seem that what Christie is likely doing is building a base for a run in 2016 when the race will probably be wide open, assuming President Obama is re-elected. By then his stature…pardon the pun, as a state leader and national figure will have grown and so might a war-chest of cash to make a real run at the biggest office in the land.

Of course what also has to weigh-in (again pardon the pun) is whether or not Christie can win because losers often become old news very quickly. He is portrayed by some as the man who could save the Republican Party from the religious zealots who have tried to take over. Of course one does wonder if a Republican could emerge victorious without the support of those who have made religion such a big issue. Certainly Christie is a far cry from many of the current Republicans seeking the Oval Office who are just as likely to talk about what’s in the bible then President Obama’s health care reform. Christie may not play well in the traditional bible-belt states where he will be portrayed as another one of those brash and big-talkers from the northeast which many seem to despise. Even if he could get past Romney, Perry and the other candidates to earn his party’s nomination beating a sitting President would be no walk in the park. Of course if things continue as they are by next year Obama could be very weak but even then winning…which is what this is all about…will be difficult.

Like him or not our Governor is an interesting figure and it would be entertaining to see how he would do on a national stage. In a state that now has strict guidelines against bullying in our schools; he is to some the ultimate bully and I would love to see how his act played in Alabama, Oklahoma, Texas and all across the nation. My guess is we’ll have to wait four years to find out.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Toms River Standouts

Count me among the few who made it through last night’s 13 inning Mets game which I watched only because Toms River’s Todd Frazier played the entire game
for the visiting Reds, who finally prevailed 5-4 at Citifield. The Cincinnati rookie struck out his first two at-bats before finishing 1-6 with his lone hit a 12th inning single. Frazier did make a sensational play at third base in the 6th inning as he robbed David Wright of what probably would have been a double. That play merited a crowd shot of the Frazier family and entourage on SNY. Todd, who was promoted to the majors in July, has appeared in 41 games and belted 6 home runs while showing he can play several positions. Hopefully it’s just the beginning of things to come for the 25-year old Toms River High School South graduate.

The Monmouth University football team was not expected to challenge for the Northeast Conference title this season but after a 24-12 win over pre-season favorite Central Connecticut State last Saturday it appears the Hawks might be better than most experts expected. Monmouth got a big boost from former Toms River North standout Steve Barroso, who was named NEC Defensive Player of the Week for his play against the Blue Devils as the sophomore linebacker made a career-high 12 tackles. Barroso and the rest of the Hawks will take on defending NEC Champion Robert Morris on Saturday at noon which will also mark my return as PA Announcer at Kessler Field.

The Monsignor Donovan Boys & Girls Varsity Soccer teams will hold a pair of memorial soccer games over the next two weeks. The boys’ team will host Barnegat this coming Monday (Oct 3) in the 4th Annual Evelyn Gere Memorial Game which is in honor of the late wife of school Principal Dr. Edward Gere. Evelyn lost her battle with pancreatic cancer 3 ½ years ago and proceeds from the game will benefit the Robert Fine Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund. On Wednesday, October 12th the Griffins Girls squad will host Wall in the 5th Annual Lori Long Memorial Game which is held in memory of the former Donovan player killed in an auto accident in 1988 during her senior year. The money raised from that game will go towards an annual scholarship in her name given to a Mon Don senior.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

You will be hearing and reading a lot these next few weeks about breast cancer as October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This may or may not mean much to you although it’s likely that just everyone at least knows of someone who has been diagnosed with a disease that claims a life somewhere in the world every 69 seconds. It has special significance in our family as my wife Jane is a breast cancer survivor and each year she assembles a team of family, friends and co-workers to walk in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer fundraiser in Point Pleasant Beach with this year’s event set for Sunday, October 16th.

Our son Brandon (pictured above) was a high school senior when his mother underwent major surgery and he witnessed first-hand her recuperation. Last year both he and our daughter Alex surprised us by showing up to walk with their mother but when the opportunity came to do even more he jumped at it. Brandon works for Edelman, a world-wide public relations firm, in their New York office. Months ago the company announced they were looking for employees to represent them in the Susan G. Komen 3 Day for the Cure in Washington DC, a three-day 60 mile walk which is one of 14 held nationally during the year. Brandon had to write an essay about why he should be among those selected and he of course talked about his mother and how this would be a tribute to her. He was chosen along with 23 others from several Edelman offices, including New York, Washington and Atlanta. Next was fundraising and he met his quota by reaching out to family and friends as well as collecting tips as a special bartender at a place in Hoboken that is owned by a friend.

Anyway the walk took place this past weekend and it began Friday morning in a torrential downpour which never really let up. He managed just fine although quite of few of the 2500 walkers who started never made it past that first day. Jane and I headed down to Washington to show our support and we spent several hours’ right by the Washington Monument on Sunday watching walkers finish…many in tears as their journey was a tribute to someone who did not beat the disease. Around 3pm Brandon and his Edelman crew crossed the line in their pink shirts and Jane could not wait to hug him. During an emotional closing ceremony we would learn that the Washington 3-Day raised $7 million and later found out that Edelman’s $88,000 was the largest of any single group. He had some great stories to tell and wants to do another “3 Day” in the future in a different city. Wherever he goes his mother will be at the finish line and that my friends is the moral of this story.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Rain, Rain Go Away

The second week of the 2010 high school football season was disrupted by rain with many games postponed a day or even two. One year later it’s the third week of the season during which Mother Nature has decided to wreak havoc. The forecast calls for plenty of rain, especially today with a flood watch in effect until 6pm Saturday. The forecast alone resulted in officials moving tonight’s game between Manchester and Brick to Saturday night at the home of the Green Dragons. That could be the first of many changes in the schedule but the problem is the entire weekend looks wet as we might not even see a trace of the sun until Monday. Of course purists like yours truly believe that football should be played in all conditions as long as the safety of the players is not in jeopardy. Others believe that for the sake of fans and groups like the marching band school officials should postpone games and seek the best possible conditions. I’ll leave that up to others to decide but there is one factor tonight that could make it easy when it comes to a decision and that is lightning. State Athletic rules call for games to be halted for at least 30 minutes each time a bolt of lightning is visible.

The Shore Sports Network is scheduled to broadcast tonight’s Point Boro and Jackson Liberty contest with kickoff scheduled for 7pm from the home of the Lions. Ironically we were supposed to do a game from Jackson Liberty in week two last Fall that was postponed. Other games that hopefully will be played tonight find Jackson Memorial at Toms River North, Barnegat at Central, Manasquan at Monsignor Donovan, Lakewood at Wall and Lacey at Pinelands. All those games will be played on grass or should I say muddy fields with the exception of the Jaguars-Mariners game at high school north.

The weather is going to be a problem for my son Brandon, who is among the many walking this weekend in Washington DC as part of the Susan G. Komen Walk for the Cure. They began the 60-mile walk at 5:30 this morning which is scheduled to end Sunday afternoon near the Washington Monument. Camping out at night sure will be a challenge as rain is expected all day today and tomorrow in the DC area.
Brandon works for the world-wide public relations firm Edelman and was chosen with others to represent their New York office in the walk. He did a great job raising money and we are hoping to be there when he finishes Sunday.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Citizen Of The Year

In the 27 years I have lived in Beachwood I have probably attended only a half dozen council meetings and that includes last night. Truthfully I wasn’t quite sure why I invited to the meeting by councilwoman Bev Clayton but it had something to do with being honored along with former Mayor Hal Morris for our work on the committee that puts on the 4th of July Fireworks each year. I really wasn’t looking forward to going but figured our little part would be in the beginning of the meeting and I could then leave before important borough business was discussed.
What should have told me something was “up” was when my wife Jane said she would go with me and then we could grab something to eat.

So we arrived at the William Hornidge Municipal Complex a couple of minutes before 7pm and after seeing a lot of familiar faces we sat down and the meeting began with the hiring of a new police officer and the promotion of another. Nice stuff and plenty of family and friends on hand for that good news. At that point longtime Borough Clerk Bette Mastropasqua said it was time to announce Beachwood’s “Citizen of the Year” and she would do so by reading this little “ditty” that would provide clues. About a minute or two it I realized she was talking about me or someone who has done a great job mimicking my career.

Well sure enough as eyes glanced in my direction I realized that I had been hoodwinked, fooled, deceived, shocked, surprised and frankly embarrassed.
My wife had somehow kept it from me with her biggest concerning being that at the last minute I would change my mind and not even attend the meeting.

I of course was asked to make some comments and was presented with some borough goodies from Bev Clayton and a woman we affectionally have called “Mama Mashedpotato” for years. Never at a loss for words I admitted to being humbled by the honor and expressed concern that Beachwood was running out of candidates for the award to the point they had to lower themselves and honor yours truly. However it is a great honor and I truly love the little town I call home and the great neighbors I have and friends we have made. I’ve enjoyed being involved in the Beachwood Soccer Club, Municipal Alliance and Fireworks Committee.

So thank you to the Mayor and Council and especially Bette & Bev…this almost hometown boy truly appreciates it.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Pet Peeves

We all have pet peeves and it doesn’t matter whether they are big or small because they just get under our skin and tick us off. Like…..

• You are in a hurry at a food or department store and you get behind someone
checking out who has no place to go. Not only do they engage the clerk in
conversation but they don’t have their money ready to pay and they insist on
digging through their purse for exact change.

• Just as bad is the clerk who engages the customer in conversation and suddenly stops ringing up items to tell a story, which by the way is sometimes personal and not for anyone else to hear.

• Why do people with complicated transactions insist on using the drive-thru
at a bank and why doesn’t the teller inform that person they must come inside so they don’t hold up those waiting for a simple deposit or withdrawal? You know you are in trouble when they canister keeps going back and forth and the customer is asking questions.

• Is there anything more frustrating when you are behind someone at a Dunkin Donuts’ ordering coolatta’s and iced lattes and then they decide to get a dozen donuts and turn to others in their car for input? All you want is a cup of coffee and they are ordering one donut at a time and taking their time.

• I’ll tell you what’s worse. The person who gets to the menu board at a drive-thru and when they are asked for their order says, “Give me a minute.”
For what…to review today’s specials because there aren’t any…it’s the same menu that was there yesterday, the week before, the month before.
Know what you want or get out of the car and go inside.

• Oh and I have another one. Does anyone understand what “lightly butter”
means? Do we have an overabundance of butter in this country because it
sure seems like they spread and pack it on bagels and rolls like there is no tomorrow. Of course you could wipe some of it off later but they
never give you a napkin…have I told you that’s another pet peeve?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The College Football Shuffle

The future of Rutgers Athletics will find the Scarlet Knights competing in the Big East…or the ACC…or the Big Ten….or a newly-established conference that does not even exist today. The college sports landscape is changing on an hour-by-hour basis and the state university of New Jersey is one of the schools that really does not know where they will end up.

For those that don’t follow this stuff there has been a lot of movement the last year or so as schools align themselves with conferences based on one thing and one thing only…money. Much of that will come in the form of TV revenue as conferences with bigger TV markets result in member schools getting more cash as well. While we may think of college basketball as a big-time sport the recent moves and others being talked about really evolve around football which is the sport that drives revenue.

This all hit the fan over the weekend when out of nowhere Syracuse and Pittsburgh announced they were leaving the Big East for the ACC. Syracuse was one of the founding Big East members and Pitt came along just a few years later.
Before you point a finger at athletic officials for lack of loyalty you need to know that it’s college presidents who are often the villains and liars. They are the ones, along with trustees who are making moves that are not necessarily beneficial to their coaches, student-athletes, alumni or fans but rather will help the bottom-line which is their biggest concern. In today’s world a college president is not an educator but a CEO and fundraiser and the bigger the school the bigger the money involved.

Now back to Rutgers. Their main concern is finding an option that is best for their football program and it just might be following Pitt and Syracuse to the ACC where they would join the likes of North Carolina, Maryland, Duke, Boston College and Virginia Tech. Actually the Scarlet Knights would be very interested in hooking up with the Big Ten and schools like Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State. Or they could stay in a Big East conference that would merge with Big 12 leftovers like Kansas and Missouri because it appears Texas and Oklahoma are on their way to the Pac 12. Remember when geography played a part in your conference….not any more. Oh and what about the Big East schools that don’t play football including Seton Hall, St. John’s and Georgetown? Good luck, you’re on your own!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Weekend Drama

A little of this and a little of that following the final weekend of summer:

Count me among those who bounced back and forth last night between the Eagles-Falcons game and the Emmy Awards and both provided some drama. The Eagles could not hold a 10-point lead in the 4th quarter and lost to the Falcons in Michael Vick’s much talked about return to Atlanta. He suffered a concussion in the 3rd quarter when he was knocked into a teammate and did not return.

The big Emmys winner was “Modern Family” which took home the award for best comedy series and also produced winners in Supporting Actor Ty Burrell and Supporting Actress Julie Bowen who play husband and wife on the show. As expected “Mad Men” was named Best Drama series again but Kyle Chandler was a surprise winner for Best Actor in a Drama for his portrayal of Coach Taylor in “Friday Night Lights.” Some had to be nervous when Charlie Sheen took the stage but he actually took the high road with nothing but nice words to say about his old show “Two and a Half Men” before presenting an award.

FirstEnergy Park is best known as the home of the Lakewood BlueClaws but the facility has hosted numerous other events including boat shows, expos, concerts and even yard sales. However a first took place over the weekend when BlueClaws fans Aimee and Frank Mitchell of Point Pleasant got married on the field. With more than 100 family members and friends on hand Saturday the couple exchanged vows right behind home plate on the BlueClaws logo as guests sat in the stadium seats. They didn’t have too far to travel for the reception as it was held on the concourse with a cocktail hour followed by a buffet dinner. Aimee and Frank and their guests then danced the night away on a dance floor brought in for the occasion with music playing over the PA system. The Mitchells have a 15-game ticket plan and not only did they get married in the ballpark but they had the rehearsal dinner in the Upstairs Bar on Friday night. All the food was prepared by BlueClaws Executive Chef Sandy Cohen and from all accounts the weekend was a home run. No truth to the rumor Aimee and Frank were headed to Philadelphia for their honeymoon.

Who would have thought that after two weeks of the high school football season that Central and Manchester would be 2-0 and Lacey and Middletown South would be 0-2?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Friday Night Lights

Just a few years ago it would seem unthinkable to call a football game between Manchester and Barnegat a big one but no doubt tonight’s Class B South meeting is among the biggest games of this second weekend of the season. The Hawks are coming off a 2010 season in which they earned just their second appearance in the NJSIAA Playoffs and last week opened with a 35-14 victory over South Brunswick. In his fifth season Manchester’s head coach Gerard O’Donnell has a team led by all-everything running back Joe Johnson and quarterback Tim Rogers. Johnson has garnered interest from many schools, including Monmouth University who has already extended a scholarship offer.

Barnegat is only in its sixth season of varsity football and last year’s 6-5 record, included a first-ever playoff victory. Gone is quarterback Nick SanGiacomo but back is Purdue-bound tight end Ryan Morris and running back Davis Smithman, who last week ran for 193 yards as the Bengals nearly stunned highly-ranked Rumson. Barnegat led 16-6 in the 4th quarter before turnovers did them in as they fell 21-16 in a non-division game.

Tonight the Hawks head south to take on the Bengals in a game we will broadcast on the Shore Sports Network, including 105.7FM and 1160AM. The winner figures to emerge as the top threat to defending champion Lacey, who will host Brick on Saturday in another key Class B South matchup.

Another game to watch this weekend will take place tomorrow night when defending Class A South champion Brick Memorial hosts Jackson Memorial. Both teams won their openers last week but this is the first division matchup of the season for both the Mustangs and Jaguars.

I don’t know how long it’s been since Central started a season 2-0 but I know it’s been a while. The Golden Eagles stunned Red Bank last week and tonight at Joseph J. Boyd Field will come in as a heavy favorite against a young Pinelands team. Central led by running back Kalyph Hardy, who could put up big numbers in their home opener. Likewise Monsignor Donovan could be headed for a 2-0 start but the Griffins can’t take visiting Lakewood for granted when the teams meet tonight in Toms River. Mon Don put 56 points on the board in their opener but the Piners allowed only 7, despite losing last week against Holmdel.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Swimming At Your Own Risk

Call it ironic, a coincidence or maybe a strange premonition but yesterday we ran a news story about those who swim in the ocean at this time of year even though there are no lifeguards on duty and signs warn them to stay out of the water. Well at basically the same time that story was on the air a 27-year old man was being pulled out of the ocean after drowning near the Casino Pier in Seaside Heights.

Over the past couple of weeks there have been several rescues on Ocean County beaches without working lifeguards and in all of those cases lives were saved…unfortunately that was not the case Wednesday. The unidentified man, who was with other friends at the time, got caught in a rip-tide even though he was only in waist-deep water. Eventually he was pulled under the pier and by the time emergency personnel got to him it was too late.

This will once again raise a question that does not have a simple answer. Since we know people are going to ignore signs like “swim at your own risk” and even ones alerting them to dangerous conditions do towns have a greater responsibility? We talk about how September is often the nicest month of the year as the water is warm and like the last few days the weather makes for great beach days. Should towns like Seaside Heights, knowing there will be plenty of beach-goers, find a way to have lifeguards on duty? There are two problems with one being the cost and the other being finding lifeguards to work. Most are students back in school or teachers and others back to work. Plus you could never protect all the beaches and forcing swimmers to just use a couple of blocks to swim won’t work. As we heard in the news story yesterday people will always take risks plus when it comes to swimming many think they are good at it when in truth the best they can do is float in a pool. As we also know even adequate and good swimmers are no match for ocean rip-tides and yesterday a young man learned that lesson…the hard way.

However my good friend Joe Gomulka, the captain of the Seaside Park Patrol brought up a good point last night when we talked. He said swimmers ignore you when you tell them that conditions are rough and dangerous but if anyone mentions the work “shark” they bolt out of the water. Gomulka says maybe after Labor Day they should post signs that read “shark-infested waters.” Not a bad idea but don’t let the mayor of Amity Island see them.

PS- That was the fictional town in the movie “Jaws.”

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Toms River Student Loan Fund

The Toms River Student Loan Fund was established in 1937 by a group of local business officials as a way to help graduates of what was then Toms River High School further their education. 74 years later there are three high schools in the district and this unique organization still exists with the same purpose and pretty much the same mission statement. Thousands of students from South, North and East have borrowed money to help with their undergraduate and graduate studies and then paid their loans which was in turn used to provide new loans….it’s a never-ending cycle or at least we hope so. I say “we” because I’m among the 19 trustees who donate their time to the cause as the Toms River Student Loan Fund is made up strictly of volunteers. While loan repayment is our primary source of income we also receive donations and trusts and each year hold one major event and that is coming up on Thursday, October 6th at the Quality Inn of Toms River.

On that evening the Toms River Student Loan Fund will honor Superintendent of Schools Frank Roselli and 19 teachers from the school district. Roselli has dedicated his career to students and education and has helped unify the district through some trying times. He would be the first to tell you that teachers are the strength of what is New Jersey’s fourth-largest school district and the October 6th recognition dinner will salute those who have been chosen by their peers as Teachers of the Year in the three high schools, three intermediate schools and 13 elementary schools.

Tickets for the annual recognition reception and dinner are $50 and available through Tom Totaro at (732) 341-1773.

On a totally unrelated note…..

If February 16th is your birthday or anniversary and you play the New Jersey Lottery’s Pick 3 game there’s a pretty good chance you are smiling today.
That’s because 2-1-6 was the winning number in both Monday & Tuesday night’s drawings…can you imagine if it hit again today? Of course the odds of 2-1-6 coming in today are the exact same as any other three digit number…1 in 1000.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A Little Of This 'n That

Just a little of this and a little of that for no apparent reason:

Major League Baseball really struck out for not allowing the Mets to wear special hats on Sunday to mark the 10th anniversary of 9/11. Like they did ten years ago the Mets wanted to wear hats of first responders like the NYPD and FDNY on Sunday. They did in batting practice and during a pre-game ceremony but at the urging of management wore their regular hats when the game began. MLB officials had told the Mets they must adhere to the uniform policy in place which is this case was simply dumb. I will tell you that the same policy was in place ten years ago but that group of players ignored it and wore the hats. These guys should have as well.

Certainly nobody with decent eye sight would call Jets coach Rex Ryan handsome but in comparison to his twin brother Rex is a hunk. Rob, a Cowboys assistant coach simply looks like a slob in need of a good cleaning. His first name is actually Remus and it fits.

The first of what are my regular fall TV shows returns tonight with the third season premiere of “Parenthood” on NBC. I will have to spend some time this week programming the DVR and make decisions on what new shows are worth taping.
Actually I guess “taping” is the wrong word.

Congratulations to Walt Krystopik of Jackson Memorial and Jay Price of Manasquan for collecting victories in their head coaching debuts with their alma maters on the opening weekend of the high school football season. John Wagner’s debut at Point Beach also went well with the Garnett Gulls rolling to victory.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Sports and 9/11

We often say that SPORTS should be kept in its proper perspective but in truth we only say that after something happens which forces us to take a closer look at things. However if ever there was a day that we needed to realize how true that statement is then yesterday was it…the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on our nation and way of life. It seems ironic that the anniversary should come on the opening Sunday of the National Football League because pro football can be the sport that brings out the worst in us….on and off the field. Sunday though the NFL and the rest of the sports world handled things in a truly exemplary fashion
as we paid tribute to the lives that were lost and the family members who live with the horror of 9/11 every day.

On a day in which I found myself wiping tears on a regular basis there was no more touching tribute then what took place before a meaningless baseball game between the Cubs and Mets at Citifield. You might remember that the first professional sporting event played in New York after the attacks was a baseball game between the Mets and Braves on September 21, 2001. I remember that game like it was yesterday and will never forget when Mike Piazza hit an 8th inning home run which was the game-winning hit. Shea Stadium went wild and for a brief moment it was like 9/11 never happened. Piazza last night fought a losing battle with tears as he talked about that night and then took part in a pre-game ceremony which featured the families of many who died in the Twin Towers.
One of his comments really struck me and that was then every time he hears bag pipes he thinks of that horrible day in New York. How many funerals, especially those of firemen and police officers did we watch in the days after with bag pipers prominently featured? Obviously the answer is way too many.

If you think about it yesterday pretty much summed up the American way of life, good or bad. We paid solemn tribute to those no longer with us and did so with tears in our eyes and lumps in our throats. And then, whether in stadium seats or our favorite lay-z-boys we cheered guys in uniforms with numbers and names on their backs. Many gave us thrills but the real heroes of this day were those who have and do wear a different uniform. The names and in some cases numbers are on the front and it’s their contributions that allow us to enjoy sports. Let’s try and keep that in mind because sports are an outlet….not life and death and we should all know that by now.

Friday, September 9, 2011

High School Football Begins A New Season

The High School Football season kicks off this weekend with 26 games involving Shore Conference schools and the biggest turnover in head coaches anyone can remember. Twelve of the shore’s 43 schools have guys calling the shots for the first time or in a new place and you can be sure they along with many others did not sleep too well last night.

Rob Dahl is just the third coach in Brick High School history and tonight he’ll make his debut at Keller Memorial Field. It’s a place he is familiar with having played there and later serving as an assistant under the legendary Warren Wolf.
Dahl has embraced the Green Dragons tradition and will probably have a lump in his throat when he runs onto the field and then watches as Wolf takes care of the pre-game coin toss. Brick hosts their cross-town rivals from Brick Memorial…a school that has become one of the elite programs in the shore under Walt Currie.
We will broadcast the game on the Shore Sports Network, including 105.7FM and 1160AM.

Ron Signorino Jr. knows all about the tradition of Toms River South because it was his father who built “Indian Nation” into a powerhouse during the 60’s. Junior learned a lot when he coached under his father during a second tenure at South and now the two have switched roles with the elder serving as an assistant when the Indians begin a new era tonight at Toms River East. South is coming off a disastrous 0-10 season but there is excitement and some optimism in the air and while wins won’t come easy it appears the pride just may be back.

One of the big games of the opening weekend finds Manasquan visiting Point Boro where last year at this time both head coaches were assistants. Jay Price takes over at Squan where Pete Cahill is now a school administrator but don’t expect much to change as he has a veteran staff and of course is a former Warrior player. Same at the Boro where Sean Henry replaced Calvin Thompson on an interim basis at mid-season but is now the man in charge at his alma mater.

Also making their head coaching debuts this weekend will be Walt Krystopik at Jackson Memorial and LJ Clark at Lakewood with both former assistants assuming the top spots at their alma maters.

For predictions on this weekend’s games go to, click on daily features at the top and then Forecast Friday.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

New Jersey's Anti-Bullying Law

Most people would agree that bullying in public schools is a problem but it’s questionable whether that problem was big enough here in New Jersey that we needed what’s being called the most stringent anti-bullying law in the country.
As the new school year begins schools and students have the deal with the new law which requires that all public schools adopt strict policies and guidelines. On the surface it seems like a good thing but as is usually the case this one might go a bit overboard and lead adults to take action in cases that are just part of growing up.

Of course laws like this are usually motivated by a tragedy and you only have to look at what happened just a year ago when an 18-year old Rutgers student committed suicide after being harassed by two students because he was gay. This new law, signed by Governor Christie in January, is at least partly a reaction or should I say overreaction to that and related incidents. Clearly bullying is a problem in public schools, even though there was a law already on the books which I guessed was not enforced enough. As for the new Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights well let’s take a look.

Every school must appoint an anti-bullying specialist which sounds worse than having lunch duty. This lucky individual must investigate every complaint and do so within 24 hours of the alleged incident. The school Principal then must turn in a report to State Education officials in Trenton who will actually post grades on their web site as to how each school handles matters. This all sounds noble but the law requires and forces schools to report anything that vaguely resembles bullying, even instances that most would agree is just part of childhood. So if a teacher is walking in the hallway and hears one student say to the other, “If you don’t give me back the notes I gave you for the test I’m going to smack you in the head” I guess that would require the teacher to report what most could consider a harmless matter. Worst yet if the teacher does not they could be in hot water even if they truly believe it’s not a case of bullying.

Oh and how about this. As part of the law the Department of Education must create a special fund to pay for training sessions but nobody knows where the money is coming from. So in true New Jersey and political fashion we have created a law which ultimately could cause more problems than it solves. No truth to the rumor that when the Governor was asked about that he replied, “if you don’t like it I’ll kick your…….”

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Back To Work

Some random notes and thoughts the day after Labor Day which marks the unofficial end to summer. Let’s start there because as I walked off the 2nd Avenue Beach in Seaside Park Sunday I realized it was probably the last time I would do that for quite a while. With the exception of a bad August stretch this was a great summer for the beach with many picture-perfect days. The water seemed to warm-up early and was pretty much clear and calm for most of July & August. Of course there is no reason why many can’t enjoy a few more weeks of great beach conditions but for this lover its goodbye for the most part because football season is here and weekends are now occupied.

Speaking of which it all starts this week on our Shore Sports Network with a jam packed first week of the high school football season starting with the season premiere of The Barnabas Health High School Football Show Thursday night and then a weekend doubleheader with Brick Memorial at Brick Friday night and then Howell at Toms River North on Saturday. More to come on this later in the week.

Do you remember the Oliver Stone movie “Any Given Sunday” that starred Al Pacino and Jamie Foxx? One of the things that struck me was the hideous uniforms they used for the football teams portrayed in the film. I found something just as ugly last night when I turned on the Maryland-Miami game. Have you seen Maryland’s new uniforms which were designed by Under Armour? They might have set a new standard for ugly, especially the helmets which were black and gold on one side and red and white on the other. The uni’s are modeled after the state flag which now that I know what it looks like should probably be burned. All kidding aside, you can have Maryland’s uniform….I’ll take Penn State.

So Rolling Stone last week asked its readers to vote for the worst song of the 90’s and the results are on with the winner or loser being “Barbie Girl” which was written and recorded by that well-known Danish group Aqua. Who can forget those great lyrics, “I’m a Barbie girl in a Barbie World?” Second on the worst list was “Macarena” which did spent 14 weeks at #1, sparked a nauseating dance craze and its still played at every wedding, #3 on the list and a major candidate for the top spot was Billy Ray Cyrus’ “Achy Breaky Heart” which is just an awful song for any decade. Others that deserved to be on the list included Hanson’s” MMM Bop”, “Who Let the Dogs Out” and “I’m Too Sexy.” However “Ice Ice Baby” should have made it…people just never understood the great talent that Vanilla Ice was or is.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Summer's Over

For many this really is the final weekend of summer even though the calendar says there will be two more before autumn arrives. We of course know that September is truly the nicest month of the year and if you are retired or just plain fortunate then you can take advantage of wide open beaches, plenty of parking and warm water. However for the masses this is just about it as once the kids go back to school the routine changes dramatically. Weekends can be dominated by activities that are more likely to find you at a football or soccer field then on the white sands. For that reason many will try and squeeze a day or two at the beach this weekend even if the weather forecast does not call for perfect conditions.

I will have to try and spend a little bit of time preparing for next Tuesday’s LFL Fantasy Football Draft. As many women know, some of us guys love playing in fantasy football leagues and the draft is the highlight of the season as we load up our rosters and potato skins. Our league is named after founder and longtime commissioner Ed “Luch” Sarluca, who has given up the leadership position but is still a franchise owner. He needs more time to prepare for the high school football season where he is a valued member of the Shore Sports Network broadcast team.

It was nice to see Rutgers open its college football season with an easy victory over North Carolina Central last night with Jackson Township freshman Savon Huggins scoring a pair of touchdowns in his much-anticipated debut. We’ll find out a little more about the Scarlet Knights in their next game at the University of North Carolina. My beloved Penn State Nittany Lions open the season tomorrow at home against Indiana State at noon. Former Southern Regional standout Glenn Carson will be the starting middle linebacker and the game will be televised on the Big Ten Network.

Have you heard about Tropical Storm Katia? Nah, why talk about this storm in the Atlantic Ocean when there are still people without power from Irene.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Back To School

A welcome back this morning to those that might not have been with us for the last ten weeks or so. Yes school is back, at least for teachers and other staff members as many have professional days today in preparation for the start of another school year. Most public school students return to the classroom on Tuesday, September 6th so they have a few more days left of summer vacation.

It seems only fair that after losing last weekend to Hurricane Irene we should at least get a spectacular Labor Day weekend but it does not appear that’s going to be the case. Today will be the fourth straight beautiful day since Irene left us and tomorrow and Saturday should make it 6 in-a-row before clouds and showers take over Sunday & Monday. You also have to wonder if storm-related problems throughout New Jersey will result in many less travelers to the shore than usual over what is the final holiday weekend of the summer. Local businesses could really use a big weekend after getting shut out for the most part last week.

One of the few good things about September is the return of your favorite TV shows and some new ones look very interesting as well. I did enjoy a few summer shows the best of which I thought was Combat Hospital. The show is about a military hospital in a war zone of Southern Afghanistan and is based on a real-life Canadian-led NATO hospital. The final episode will air next Tuesday.

Did you ever get a phone call and tell the caller that you will look into something and then call them right back? I did that yesterday but can’t remember who the person is I’m supposed to call back. Starting to get a bit scary.

Rutgers opens its college football season tonight against North Carolina Central at their newly-named High Point Solutions Stadium. Many are picking the Scarlet Knights to finish at the bottom of the Big East standings which is where they were last year. One reason to be optimistic is freshman running back Savon Huggins of Jackson who played his high school football at St. Peter’s Prep and might be the biggest recruit Rutgers has landed. Huggins could even start tonight in his first game as a true freshman.