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Jack McCaffery is the lead sports columnist for the Daily Times and delcotimes.com. He has spent several decades covering everything from the Phillies, Eagles, Flyers and Sixers, to college hoops, to high school sports in Delco.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

UNBEATENS STAY THAT WAY IN CHESTER

CHESTER >> Jarret Hurd won a six-round majority decision over middleweight Emmanuel Sanchez Friday in the main boxing event at Harrah's in Chester.

Hurd, of Accokeek, Md., improved to 14-0. Sanchez is 5-2.

Heralded Milton Santiago, 18, of Philadelphia needed all four rounds to win unanimously over tough Pottstown lightweight Travis Thompson. Santiago is 8-0, Thompson 7-12-3.

Also, junior lightweight Omar Douglass of Wilmington improved to 13-0 with a first-round knockout of Osnel Charles (10-12-1) of Atlantic City. Earl Newman of Brooklyn scored a first-round TKO over Jade Ealy (1-2) of Georgia to go to 3-1.

Stephen Fulton of Philly improved to 3-0 with a unanimous featherweight decision over game 2-10-1 Benjamin Burgos of Mt. Pocono. And Caleb Plant of Ashland City, Tenn., knocked out Daryl Gardner (2-5) of Spokane, Wash., to improve to 5-0.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

UNDEFEATED RISING STARS HEADLINE CHESTER FIGHT CARD



Undefeated rising lightweight star Milton Santiago will fight a four-round semi-windup against Travis Thompson Friday at Harrah's in Chester.
Santiago, of Philadelphia, is 7-0 with three knockouts. Thompson, of Pottstown, is 7-11-3 with three knockouts.
In the main event, cruiserweight Jarret Hurd (13-0, eight KOs) will oppose 5-1 Emanuel Sanchez of Laredo, Texas.
The scheduled six-bout professional boxing card features five undefeated fighters, all having had successful amateur careers, including 12-0 junior lightweight Omar Douglass of Wilmington, 4-0 middleweight Caleb Plant of Ashland City, Tenn., and 2-0 Philadelphia featherweight Stephen Fulton.
Several are affiliated with the Floyd Mayweather camp, according to the promoters.

First bell is at 7:30. Tickets, available at the door, are priced at $45 and $75.

BOUT SHEET FOR FRIDAY FIGHTS IN CHESTER

BOUT SHEET
December 5th. 2014
Red                                                                                                                              Blue
Jarret Hurd                                      vs.                                 Emanuel Sanchez
Accokeek, Maryland                          MIDDLEWEIGHT’s                       Laredo, TX
13-0 (8 KO’s)                                                    6rds                                            5-1 (1 KO’s)
                                        
Omar Douglass                                             vs.                                     Osnel Charles
Wilmington, DE                             Jr. LIGHTWEIGHT’s                     Atlantic City, NJ
 12-0 (9 KO’s)                                                    6rds                                        10-11-1 (1 KO)
                                               
Milton Santiago                                            vs.                                    Travis Thompson
Philadelphia, PA                               LIGHTWEIGHT’s                       Pottstown, PA
7-0 (3 KO’s)                                                      4rds                                        7-11-3 (3 KO’s)
                   
Caleb Plant                                                     vs.                                       Daryl Gardner  
Ashland City, Tennessee                MIDDLEWEIGHT’s                        Spokane, Washington
4-0 (3 KO’s)                                                       4rds                                          2-4 (2 KO’s)
                                                                                   
Stephen Fulton                                             vs                            Benjamin Burgos
Philadelphia, PA                             FEATHERWEIGHT’s                     Mount Pocono, PA
 2-0 (1 KO)                                                         4rds                                            2-9-1
                                                                                                                                               
Earl Newman                                                 vs                                   Jade Ealy
Brooklyn, New York                        CRUISERWEIGHT’s                         Georgia, USA
 2-1 (2 KO)                                                         4rds                                             1-1 (1 KO)


            

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

COLUMN ON HALL OF FAME

The most revealing ballot in the modern history of the Baseball Hall of Fame has arrived. Finally, those who have earned the honor of a vote will be able to make one fundamental revelation.
Do they punish a player for trying to win?
Or do they choose to punish a player for being OK with losing?
That’s all. That’s what the ballot that includes the usual steroid-era candidates and also one Gary Sheffield is about. It’s about that choice.
Already, the electorate has spoken about the steroid users. Barry Bonds has yet to be elected. He is the all-time leader in a particularly significant baseball statistical category. He belongs in the Hall of Fame. He should have been in on the first try. He could open his own Hall of Fame directly across the street from 25 Main Street in Cooperstown and it would be more legitimate. But it feels good to enough voters to penalize Bonds and Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire and Mike Piazza and anyone else thought to have used designer sports vitamins to become better players.
That’s the system. OK.
But into the ring now fly hats from the Brewers, Padres, Marlins, Dodgers, Braves, Yankees, Tigers and Mets --- those ball caps disgraced during what should have been the a tainted, rotten career of Sheffield. His 509 home runs, nine All-Star Games, one batting title and .292 career batting average normally would make him a serious contender. It’s just that while baseball was obsessed over imposing a lifetime ban on Pete Rose for trying to win, it pardoned Sheffield for the one misdeed that should have any athlete at any level banished from a sport. He threatened to fail.
This is what Sheffield once told the Los Angeles Times: “The Brewers brought out the hate in me. I was a crazy man. I hated everything about the place. If the official scorer gave me an error, I didn't think was an error, I’d say, 'OK, here’s a real error,' and I'd throw the next ball into the stands on purpose.”
That is the loser who is on the Hall of Fame ballot --- the one who would purposely “throw the next ball into the stands,” the one the Brewers once dumped into the minors for “indifferent fielding.” And what greater sin could there be against a sport and the customers who pay to watch it than to have a rat like that announcing that he would deliberately fail to perform? Yet that was fine with enough teams that Sheffield could earn more than $168,000,000 to play.
That he was loosely brought into the steroid coverage will not boost Sheffield's campaign. But it will be fascinating to see how many votes he receives from those rejecting players who tried only to strengthen their bodies in an effort to succeed. Sheffield may or may not have used performance-enhancers. That should not matter. But threatening to error is unforgivable. Once he did that, the perception had to be that he was intentionally failing every time he wandered near a ball in play. And, hey, isn’t that the leading argument against Rose, who only bet on his team to win games while a manager --- that it wasn’t necessarily the crime but the perception that most matters?
Those who tried to become stronger, better players should not be denied Hall access. Those who tried to manipulate the equipment in order to gain an edge, including the corked-bat-wielding Sammy Sosa, must be rejected. Those found to have used mind-altering drugs should be considered, but very carefully. And those who once threatened to fail, even if they would later claim to have been misunderstood, must be exposed until they vanish from the ballot.
The election is thick with worthy candidates this year. At least 17 could be Hall of Fame players. But a voter can only check 10 boxes. This, then, is my ballot for the 2015 induction class, in alphabetical order: Craig Biggio, Bonds, Clemens, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, McGwire, Piazza, John Smoltz and Alan Trammell.

And I scratched out Sheffield's name and wrote in Rose's in that precise spot. Because determined winners, not indifferent losers, belong in the Hall of Fame.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

SPORTS NOTES, COME AND GET 'EM

There have been extra-inning games, upsets, various styles of play.
There have been teams from big markets and small.
There has been good pitching, clutch hitting, strategy, upsets and rallies.
And there have been lousy TV ratings for the most riveting postseason, round for round, in recent baseball history.
There is too much sports competition on TV. There are too many pitching changes, hitters climbing out of batter's boxes, throws to first base to hold runners, long counts. A sport that begins in March should be over before late October.
But the worst impediment to good ratings is that the baseball postseason is less organized than a rec-center league. With its play-in rounds, multi-initial intermediate-round tongue twisters (is this the ALDS or is it the NLCS?), various series lengths (best-of-one, best-of-five, best-of-seven), baseball gives its fans too much brain-work just to figure out who is playing where, when and why.
Beyond that, the pre-World Series rounds are televised by every network but Comedy Central. Then, after the World Series teams are settled, baseball waits around for a formally scheduled Game 1, losing any momentum of their league-championship series.
People crave clarity in their postseasons. Baseball should have three best-of-five series in each league, oddly enough labeled --- wait for it --- “first round”, “second round” and “third round.” Minimize the air-quote travel days. There should be one network responsible for televising each league's tournament.
The World Series, which must remain at best-of-seven, should return to its former format, with the home-field advantage alternating between the American and National League each year. Flood the market with brackets, encouraging office pools.
Make it fun, not a job to watch a game.
o
And how about your Hans and your Franz making a comeback? Dreams do come true.
o
Twice in this high school football season --- once in New Jersey, once in Pennsylvania --- a program has been shut down when it was found that unacceptable hazing of players had gone insufficiently policed.
Talk about jumping offside …
Fire the coach, if guilty. Sandblast the coaching staff. Change athletic director. Question the principal. By all means, run the hazers off the team --- and if some of their reported misdeeds are true, have them arrested. Punish the guilty. But don't punish everyone else.
To discontinue a football program because of the infiltration of thugs is to let the thugs win. Why should the band be denied an audience? Why should the cheerleaders have to pack away the megaphones for the season? Why should the opposing teams be left without opponents? Why should the people who may make a buck on high school football --- security guards, media sorts, referees, trainers, doctors, scoreboard operators, nearby pizza-joint owners, cops on OT--- be hit financially? Why should the fans be made to find something else to do?
There is always another qualified coach. There should be enough capable non-guilty players. Put them out there. Let them compete.
Bullies like to ruin things for others. In those two cases, they did.
o
Should I get a tattoo on the left side of my neck or the right side?
o
Notre Dame lost a football game to Florida State last weekend when an apparent eleventh-hour touchdown reception was overturned. Said the refs, the Fighting Irish had used an illegal pick play in order to free their receiver to catch the pass.
Good for the officials.
Good for two reasons.
One, they did not retreat into the sick “let the players decide the game” excuse to not throw a flag so late in the game. If it is a penalty during the first minute of the game, it's one in the last one, too.
Two, the play appeared to be sneaky and deliberate, the kind that too many college football and basketball teams try (and in some places are taught) in an effort to deceive the officials.
The penalty was correct. The proper team won the game --- a game not decided by the officials at all.
o
Get Duck Dynasty?
o
As the Union was finishing up its fourth non-playoff season in its five-year existence, CEO Nick Sakiewicz insisted that he did not hire one player, not one, not a striker, not a midfielder, not a goalie. That, he said, was the job of the personnel department and, by extension, the manager, Jim Curtin.
His claim was not universally saluted, just put it that way.
But just like when the Flyers make their bi-annual coaching change and Ed Snider insists that it was all the general manager's call, it would be interesting to do some forensic science on the Union's roster building and see how many of the CEO's fingerprints would be revealed under a black light.
Even Sakiewicz acknowledges some ultimate responsibility for every personnel move.
“Well,” he said, “I didn't veto any.”
n The Sixers will play their home opener Saturday night against Miami. They'll probably lose. But for one reason, the games should be more enjoyable this season: The new lighting that Josh Harris helped finance for the Wells Fargo Center. On display in the preseason, they brightened the court and darkened the seating areas, allowing for more of a grand-stage effect. Together they light.
o
U.S. District Judge Michael Shipp ruled this week that major sports leagues, including the NFL, would suffer permanent harm if Monmouth Park were to accept legal sports bets.
Yep, let some guys from Jersey to go into a legalized gambling hall and bet on a football game and that would be it for pro football in this nation. It would die. It probably wouldn't even make it until the Monday night game, that's how damaging it would be. They'd have to turn the Jets-Giants stadium into a used-car lot. The Linc would become a high-school lacrosse super-site.
Whew. That was close. The last thing the world needs is gambling at Monmouth Park.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Berube chat before Flyers-Ducks game

Any news on Braydon Coburn? Skate tomorrow?

“”No. Like I said, 'We'll see tomorrow.' I haven't seen him today or anything.”

You have had 3 guys get hurt in the middle of the game and yet finished the game? How?

“I don't know. They feel like they can finish the game, so they do. I don't know.”

Do they say they can continue?

“To be honest, I didn't know any of them were bothered or anything. None of them.”

How does Bellemare compare with Lecavailier, skill wise, body type, position wise?

“I think he'll be fine. He has real good speed. I think it should be a good line. With his speed in the middle of the ice, and with Simmonds and Schenn, it's a powerful line --- a good skating line, in my opinion. So I don't see any problem there.”

That line had been going well …

“Yeah, they had been.”

What do you like about Bellemare, and has he Bellemare adjusted to the league quickly?

“His speed and his smarts. He's a very smart player. He knows how to play the game. For a guy coming over here from over there, he adapted pretty quickly. He's good on faceoffs. He kills penalties. He does a lot of good things for us.”

What did you know about him before the Flyers signed him?

“Nothing. I knew he was a good skater. That was it.”

Had you ever seen him play?

“No. I watched tape on him. And our coaches watched tape of the world championship.”

Are you committed to Umberger-Read switch for the whole game?

“Well, we'll see. I don't see it being an issue. Both of them played either side before. So I don't think it makes a whole lot of difference, to be honest with you. Read is going to be able to the ice a little better --- a pretty good playmaker. So it might help from an offensive standpoint.”

Do you like it when players are pro-active that way?

“Yeah. I've got no problem with it. I like their input. I like to know what they are thinking. And I think it's good. I think they should be able to come to me at any time with whatever they need to talk to me about.”

Was there anything that you left the preseason concerned about, and that has come to fruition here, and if so, how do you correct it?

“I don't think so. I think, in our preseason, I said, 'The schedule is tough.' We couldn't get some of the lineups we wanted to get in. But overall, besides (Claude) Giroux, who never got much time, I think everybody got their time and what they needed. I look at these first three games and we could come out of there with points. We are making some mental mistakes at times, where we can't, and start cleaning that part of it up.”

Do you feel you are a much better team at this point than when you took over --- at this point last year?

“Yes, I do. Like I said, we could be sitting here not talking about this, but we are. So we deal with it, the adversity, like everything else, and we go forward. We'll go out tonight and see what happens.”

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Flyers not hitting 'panic button'

By JACK McCAFFERY
PHILADELPHIA >> For the second time in two seasons, the Flyers are 0-and-2.
The last time, they went 0-and-3 and …
“There was a feel of huge panic here,” Claude Giroux said Saturday, after a morning skate at the Wells Fargo Center. “Guys were trying to figure out what was going on. And after three games, our coach got fired. So that was a big panic button.”
The Flyers will play the 2-0 Montreal Canadiens Saturday night at the Wells Fargo Center. Craig Berube said he would not change the lines that finished the Flyers' 6-4 loss Thursday against visiting New Jersey. Nor have the Flyers promoted any defensemen from the Phantoms, even with Braydon Coburn still out with a lower-body injury.
One change: Ray Emery will be in goal, replacing Steve Mason, who played the first two games. Thursday, Mason allowed five goals on 25 shots.
“It's the third game in four days,” Berube said. “It's his (Emery's) turn. He is sharp and is ready to go.”
The Flyers remain relatively unconcerned about their 0-2 straits.
“First and foremost, we are playing an intense brand of hockey,” said Wayne Simmonds, who scored twice against the Devils. “We've been moving our feet and skating a lot. It's just the little mistakes that have sealed our fate. If we can stay away from those, we'll be OK.”