Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Vizvary is quite the character

I was sad to hear that George Vizvary stepped down as the Ulster County Community College men's soccer coach today.

In my 20-plus years working here at the Freeman, I have spoken with and taken results from George more times than I care to remember. When it comes to coaches around here, there is no equal to Vizvary in terms of being colorful.

George's quotes reached legendary status around the sports department here and we can always count on him saying something colorful -- sometimes too colorful for print. But that was the way George was as a coach and I always got a kick out of speaking with him.

Now it's not completely clear whether George left on his own , was forced to do so or felt as though he was forced to do so. You could tell, however, he was uncomfortable in making this decision and that is truly sad.

In any case, I hope he finds work -- whether it's for a local high school or college -- and finds it soon. I think any institution would be lucky to have George as its soccer coach and -- personally speaking -- I can't wait to have the next conversation and get that next quote from him.

Monday, January 25, 2010

No more excuses

Now that I've had a day to relish in my going 2-for-2 with my football championship picks, one question crosses my mind.

How much longer are we going to sit around and watch the national media do everything in their power to keep the critical comments about Brett Favre to a minimum. For those of you who did not stay to see the NFC title game, here's a quick recap of the final seconds of regulation.

With the score tied at 28-28 and 19 seconds remaining, the Vikings -- after a foolish penalty -- are on the outer edge of kicker Ryan Longwell's range. With a timeout still in its pocket, all Minnesota needed was about five or so yards to give Longwell a FG attempt of about 50 yards.

Brett Favre drops back, rolls to his right, has about 10 yards of open space as well as a receiver about 10 yards down the right sideline just waiting for the easy toss. What does the 'gunslinger' do instead? He throws across his body -- a very low percentage throw -- across the field and has his pass picked off.

Game goes to overtime. Saints kick a field goal. New Orleans goes to the Super Bowl. Minnesota goes home. If Favre were a rookie, I could see him making that mistake, but a veteran of nearly 20 years -- no way.

But listening to a lot of the national media, they talked about his courage and guts to make a throw like that. It was simple stupidity from what I saw. And we've all seen him do it time and time again over the years.

It's like he cares more about winning on his terms than simply winning.

Now who knows if he'll have the chance to know what if feels like to win a big game again.


Saturday, January 23, 2010

Super picks

OK. I know you've all been waiting all week for this, so here goes my AFC and NFC championships picks.

We'll start with the NFC:

Is there a hotter quarterback in the playoffs than the Vikings' Brett Favre? After watching him shred a very good Cowboys' defense last week, I would say no. But I think this is the Saints' season for some reason. Since the game is New Orleans and Drew Brees is quite the quarterback himself, I'm taking the home team and saying Saints 27, Vikings 23.

On to the AFC:

Given what happened in Week 16, when the Jets beat the Colts after Indianapolis had pulled the majority of its starters -- including Peyton Manning -- this matchup is fitting. The Jets are a much better team than that one that won in Indy last month, but the top-seeded Colts go into this title game feeling like they have something to prove. Given that, plus New York relying on rookie QB Mark Sanchez to have to make at least a few plays, I'll once again take the home team and say Colts 23, Jets 14.

I'm picking the Saints vs. the Colts in the Super Bowl, so you know what that means -- make your bets on Minnesota and New York and you'll do fine.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Stop the (early) Madness

I was watching a college basketball game the other night, and something just got under my skin.

The game was fairly close with 2 minutes left to play, but because of timeouts, TV timeouts and fouls, the final two minutes literally took 20 minutes to play. That's not an exaggeration.

In the end, maybe my ire was raised a bit because I was waiting for the game to conclude, so I can make sure the score appeared in the next day's edition, but 20 minutes? Are you kidding me?

I can MAYBE understand something like that if it were an NCAA championship, but when a game in the middle of January takes as long as one in March, something needs to be done.

I'd like to wait until March before the Madness begins.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Getting it wrong -- again

So just how good were my football playoff picks were?

Let's see: Arizona over New Orleans (wrong); Indianapolis over Baltimore (right); Dallas over Minnesota (wrong -- big time); and San Diego over New York (wrong again).

1-for-4 -- that's about right for me. As I told you all before, if you make your picks based on my picks, go the opposite way and you'll do fine.

I'll have my Super Bowl predictions later this week. Pray I don't pick your team.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Football follies

With the divisional round of the NFL playoffs just a few hours away, it's time for me to put on my prognosticators hat, so you know who not to pick this weekend.

We'll start with today's games:

Cardinals at Saints: I really like Kurt Warner as a postseason quarterback and if you look up his statistics, the numbers will support my support. I'm not sold on the Saints, so take Arizona with a 28-24 win.

Ravens at Colts: So much has been made of the Colts' lack of success after having a bye week, but I just don't the Ray Rice and Ravens have enough to derail Indianapolis. Take the Colts, 24-17.

On to Sunday:

Cowboys at Vikings: This is certainly the marquee game of the weekend. Does Brett Favre have enough magic in his 40-year-old right arm to stop the Cowboys, who might be playing the best football of anyone in the playoffs? I say ... no. Cowboys 31-24.

Jets at Chargers: If the Cowboys aren't playing the best football of anyone in the playoffs, then it's the Chargers. The Jets are playing with house money. I think this will be the continuation of the maturation of rookie Mark Sanchez, but in the end ... Chargers 24-14.

So, now you know you can book New Orleans, Baltimore, Minnesota and the Jets in the title games because I'm usually never right.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Flawed polls

It's a good thing high school athletics isn't run by the BCS.

If it were, Kingston's girls basketball loss to Minisink Valley earlier this week would have all but denied the Tigers a shot at competing for a state championship.

For those who didn't know, Kingston was ranked first in the state in AA until the unbeaten Tiger lost to the Warriors. Now, you would think a drop to seven or eight would have been appropriate, but 23rd? Are you kidding me!

Minisink is a state-ranked team, certainly not an also-ran by any stretch of the imagination, so how does losing to a state-ranked team warrant a drop of 23 places?

If you can answer that, you know a lot more than most.

Luckily, Kingston does not have to worry about rankings and I have a sneaking suspicion come state tournament time, the Tigers will be major players. They have made it to the state semifinals the last three years so maybe they deserved a little more respect by the pollsters.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Bouncing back from defeat

Sometimes a loss can be a good thing, so maybe girls basketball losses last night by Kingston and Ellenville could be the best thing that could have happened for them.

Kingston, currently the topped-ranked team in the state in AA, lost to perennial rival Minisink Valley. By all accounts, the Tigers were outplayed by the Warriors, yet a 57-50 loss that was tied at halftime certainly shows the Tigers were right there.

The Devils, ranked third in the state in Class C, held a late lead before Class B Spackenkill rallied for the overtime victory. Ellenville can certainly use the loss to know what not to do the next time it finds itself in that situation.

Not many teams can finish a season undefeated, so one loss shouldn't knock the train off the tracks. How each team responds will go a long way in determining how far each one will go when the postseason rolls around.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Another dope in the mix

So Mark McGwire FINALLY admitted to doing steroids?

Does that really surprise anyone? It certainly shouldn't. I would guess a LARGE number of players in the 90s to 2003 used some sort or performance enhancing drug.

McGwire's name is probably the second biggest in terms of players from that era to admit to using steroids. The biggest -- of course -- is Barry Bonds. But I think we might all be waiting for quite some time for the all-time home run king to make any kind of admission of guilt (if he is truly guilty).

Until then we'll have to extract our pound of flesh from another cheat until the next one is found. When will the cycle end?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Gang Green stands tall

I would say the Jets did a lot to silence the critics with yesterday's playoff win over the Bengals.

Say what you want about Gang Green, with it's defense and running game, I agree with coach Rex Ryan's assessment his team will be a tough out for anyone in the playoffs. And if Mark Sanchez can duplicate his performance in the 24-14 win, there might be a few more surprises the remainder of the playoffs.

Once again, I'm not saying the Jets are going to the Super Bowl. I still like the Chargers coming out of the AFC, but the Jets' run behind a rookie coach and quarterback is making for some pretty fun times right now.

Let's see if they can keep their roll going next week in Indy or San Diego.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Hoop-ing it up

If you like girls basketball, then tonight is for you.

Along with many great area games, three kind of standout for different reasons.

1) Middletown at Kingston: Anytime you can see the No. 1 girls basketball team in the state is a treat. Add watching two of the premier players in the area -- Rachel Coffey and Charlise Castro -- and Kate Walton should be a fun place.

2) Spackenkill at Onteora: Julia Hinchey is seven points shy of 1,000 for her career. Only three others have eclipsed that mark, so history will be in the making.

3) Millbrook at Coleman: The Stateswomen raise the banner for last year's Class D state championship and, by the way, Coleman is still the top-ranked team in D in the state this season.

Should make for a fun Friday.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Bad idea

We ran a story recently about the state setting up an upstate-downstate senior football All-Star Game in June as a replacement for the defunct Governors Bowl.

Is it just me, or is this a bad idea?

Why would any college allow its blue-chip prospect to participate in an event where he can get hurt less than three months before his college season would begin. And why would any player risk losing a scholarship because of injury by playing in this game.

And most athletes around here are prolific in more than one sport, so as they prepare for sectional, regional or state tourneys, do they pick up and leave their spring teams for this exhibition?

I've never been a big fan of All-Star Games anyway, but if you're going to play one, why not make it just after the state championships are decided? Or should baseball teams start looking to play a state All-Star Game in a dome in November.

I know in the end, not many of our area's athletes would be invited, since we are being grouped with the New York City/Long island and Section 1 teams. But the whole concept just doesn't make sense to me.

Monday, January 4, 2010

No laughing matter

Don't laugh, but after making the playoffs with yesterday's win, the Jets won't be an easy out.

They have the top-ranked defense in the league and momentum after wins against the Colts and Bengals. I'm not saying Jets fans should book their trip Miami just yet.

But defense wins championships and stranger things have happened. Remember, I don't think many -- including diehard Giants fans -- would have predicted a Big Blue title two years ago.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Giant dud

Did you see the kind of effort the Giants gave the past two weeks.

Certainly not the effort Giant fans would have thought they'd get after the first five games of the season.

What an embarrassment! Changes must be made.