I had a phenomenal time as the guest speak at Starr Commonwealth Schools Founders Day. Starr Schools does a fantastic job giving youngsters a second chance in life. In many cases these are young people that are faced with major problems but through the efforts of the people at Starr, many go on to become very productive, outstanding citizens. It was such a thrill to meet many of the youngsters that are enrolled at the beautiful facility in Albion, MI. Dr. Martin Mitchell and his staff were so cordial to my wife and I. I loved participating in the seminar in which I sat down with about thirty youngsters sharing insights about the Game of Life.
Midnight Madness is later this week and that signifies the start of the hoop season. My friends, I am picking Rick Pitino to get back to the winner’s circle. My choice to cut down the nets in Atlanta is the Louisville Cardinals. This is a team that returns an experienced nucleus. The Cardinals had a taste of the Final Four last year before falling to Kentucky. Having a guard like Peyton Siva back to run the offense is important. There is depth in the lineup as well. Look for big things from Wayne Blackshear, Chane Behanan and Gorgui Dieng as well. I believe that Dieng will be a huge factor in the middle. Having a shot-blocker in the paint can make a difference, intimidating opponents, changing their shots. Go ask Kentucky how important Anthony Davis was in the middle last season. Pitino is a flat out winner. He should be in the Hall of Fame, and I am shocked that he is not enshrined in Springfield yet. Winning it all would add a big feather in his cap. His outstanding leadership skills will help get this team to the winner’s circle. I still give the nod to Louisville over Indiana and Kentucky to put it all together and capture the national championship. I cannot wait for the season to tip off, baby! It should be awesome with a capital “A”!
I had a great night speaking at the TEAM Impact Gala in Boston. Over 600 attended and the emcee was ESPN’s, Wendi Nix. It was a night that was touching and there were also moments that were heartbreaking. Youngsters with life threatening diseases are matched with college teams in the North East through a draft system. The youngster becomes part of the team, attending meetings, practices, and games. The youngster has a blast and has the opportunity to get away from their everyday treatment.
I can’t thank enough three members of the Board of Directors that are vital to the success of TEAM Impact: Dan Kraft (son of Patriots owner, Robert Kraft), Mark Plansky (fomer Villanova star and now in the financial world), and Jay Calnan. A super night for a terrific cause.
The playoffs are set, and while I am sorry that my Rays fell just short, I think the postseason will create a great buzz. I am a huge baseball fan, so here are my predictions:
Tigers over Athletics. It has been a great season for Oakland, but Miguel Cabrera and company move on.
Yankees over Orioles/Rangers winner. That one-game playoff is tough. Tigers over Yankees. Justin Verlander and company get it done. Addition of Prince Fielder is a factor.
Reds over Giants. Aroldis Chapman is a big factor in the series.
Nationals over Cardinals/Braves winner. Gio Gonzalez and Bryce Harper key for Nats. Reds over Nationals. Dusty Baker’s team has been underrated all season.
Tigers over Reds. Congrats to Jim Leyland as he gets to the winner’s circle.
I am a big baseball fan. The season is winding down, so it is time to look at the major awards. If I had a vote, here are my choices, baby!
AL MVP: It is a tough call, but I would pick Miguel Cabrera of the Tigers to edge out Mike Trout of the Angels. Cabrera is right there in the Triple Crwon race and carrying his team to a likely division title.
AL CY YOUNG: Jered Weaver has had a terrific year, as has Justin Verlander and Fernando Rodney. My call is David Price of the Rays. It is not just because I am a Rays fan, but Price has won 20 games, leads the league in ERA and has limited run support in Tampa Bay. Price has had to be sensational day in and day out.
NL MVP: I know you can make a case for Ryan Braun in Milwaukee, but I give the edge to Buster Posey of the Giants. Posey has done a great job behind the plate and at first, batting around .330. To the winner goes the spoils and the Giants would not be where they are without Posey in the lineup.
NL CY YOUNG: There are many candidates like R.A. Dickey of the Mets and Braves closer Craig Kimbrel. My vote would go to Gio Gonzalez of the Washington Nationals. He was involved in a pennant race for much of the season, dealing with the day to day pressure. Every game was meaningful when he took the mound.
I was watching Monday Night Football when the replacement officials missed a call which cost the Green Bay Packers a game. My friends, the fill-in refs look like they are rehearsing for Halloween in their costumes as refs. What has gone on lately makes the real refs look like Gisele Bundchen and Heidi Klum in a beauty contest. The NFL makes zillions of dollars, yet it is so stubborn on the issue. It is hurting a terrific game. Do you think the case of real officials got a little stronger after last night’s comedy? The replacement refs are not able to handle the speed of the game. They are guys from Division II and III and other leagues like the Arena Football League. Now the integrity of the game has been hurt. I hope the regular officials are brought back soon because it is tough to see what is going on the field these days.
Wow- what a great college football weekend in South Bend, as the Irish hosted the Michigan Wolverines! I was pleased to be the guest speaker at Friday night’s pep rally on campus. It was rockin’ and rollin’ and the student body was fired up! I was thrilled to be able to introduce the 1977 National Championship team to the audience (the team led by quarterback Joe Montana). The Irish were fired up, and what a superb performance by Manti T’eo!!! He put on a defensive show! The Irish are 4-0 baby!!!
It is always an exciting time for my wife and I to be with all the youngsters from the Boys and and Girls Clubs. Today was our Dick Vitale Scholarship Day and Awards event and it really thrills me to see youngsters chasing their dreams and their goals.
I told them to never, ever believe in the word “CAN’T” and to always make good decision and choices in pursuing their goals. My wife and I presented a total of $5,000 in college scholarships— $1,000 each to five outstanding Club members bound for college.
As long-time supporters of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota County, we have donated a total of $75,000 for scholarships in the last 15 years. This year the recipients were:
Lee Wetherington Club:
Jordan Palavra is an 18-year-old member of the BGC Keystone Club and teen volunteer. Jordan attends The University of South Florida, St. Petersburg Campus. Jordan has been a member of the Club since 2006. He is pursuing a double major in Psychology and Accounting.
Josh Slater is an 18-year-old member of the BGC Keystone Club and teen volunteer. Josh attends Sarasota County Technical Institute. After two years at SCTI, he plans to attend a State University to study Culinary Arts and photography. Josh has been a member since 2006.
Gene Matthews Club:
Krystal Antoine is an 18-year-old graduate of North Port High School and was a BGC Member for 10 years. She currently attends State College of Florida, pursuing a Nursing degree, and volunteers her time teaching performing arts at the Gene Matthews Club. Her special interests include basketball, dancing, and traveling.
Robert and Joan Lee Club:
Cynthia Nixon is an 18-year-old graduate of North Port High School. Cynthia was the Youth of the Year for her club this year and attends the University of Florida.
Roy McBean Club:
Anquanesha S. Rutledge graduated from Booker High School, class of 2012 and attends Jackson State University in Mississippi and pursuing a Nursing degree. Anquanesha has been a member of the Roy McBean Club for 12 years, and she is a current member of the Air Force J.R.O.T.C.
There was great news for the NC State fans, as the Wolfpack learned that diaper dandy, Rodney Purvis, has been declared eligible.
One has to wonder why it took so long for the NCAA to come up with this decision. It took 44 days before the ruling, with the process starting in early August and costing the young man a trip with his teammates on a foreign trip. Why have him hang waiting to determine his status?
He can flat-out play and caoch Mark Gottfried has to be excited to have him. Gottfried has the program going in the right direction.
I believe, when you look at the make-up of this Wolfpack club, with Purvis and C.J. Leslie, that they are the favorite to win the ACC.
That does not happen very often when you look at Duke and North Carolina in the league. It will not be cupcake city for the Wolfpack.
Gottfried also signed guard, Anthony Barber, for the future. He is a top 10 prospect with potential, potential, potential.
College football is here!!!! What a blast I had in South Bend for Notre Dame’s home opener versus Purdue. There is always a magical feel on campus on football weekends in South Bend. We started the weekend with the Quarterback Luncheon, where we sat with basketball head coach, Mike Brey. We then walked the spectacular campus, taking in the exciting atmosphere. My grand kids got to play tennis at the indoor facility, and spent time with head women’s tennis coach, Jay Louderback (both my daughters played tennis under him). Then it was time to head to the Rockne building to see the pep rally and celebrate 125 years of football at Notre Dame. Saturday the campus was electric, gearing up for the big game against the Boilermakers. It was a beautiful fall day and the game didn’t disappoint. The Irish squeaked out a tough fought battle, 20-17 on a last minute field goal. Another thrilling game and a wonderful college football weekend spent with my family at the Golden Dome!!!