Thursday, February 16, 2012

A Perfect Book for Middle Grade Girls

Our wonderful middle grade novel, Maddie Takes the Ice, is a book that we intend to sell for a long time. Sometimes, a book can gain popularity overnight--when your author is on a major TV show. But for most successful books, it takes a lot of work and time. We are lucky that Maddie Takes the Ice is essentially timeless.

We've had great reviews for Maddie and perhaps just as important, we've had great feedback from readers. There is nothing quite like a nice letter from a young reader who wants to thank the author and tell her about her own skating experiences.

More Coverage of Nicolette House

Our author, Nicolette House, will likely get some press in selected magazines as we get closer to the next winter Olympic Games in Sochi city of the Russian Federation. More coverage may come from renewed interest in figure skating as a sport that encourages healthy lifestyle choices around it. Nicolette's coaching and professional skating is another story behind the book that you may see as well. Nicolette's family--her Mom being a coach and former professional skater, and both of her grandmothers' interest in the sport is also a story line that I hope the media will pick up on. There is much to be said about the book and its author.

But when everything is said and done, we have two of the best reviews we could have hoped for anyway. One review by Jo Ann Schneider Farris gave us a number of hits on site and reached people across the country. A review by IceMom.net was also wonderful and inspiring.

Regretfully, one will never find a book like Maddie Takes the Ice at most neighborhood bookstores--at least not until we get on national TV. For now, the book can be ordered online directly from the publisher.
http://www.sportingchancepress.com/

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Joe Freedy from Quarterback to Priest

Joe Freedy is one of the athletes discussed in Patrick McCaskey's personal chronicle, Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout published by Sporting Chance Press. The discussion below is based on that in Sports and Faith. It is Freedy's photo, taken by Mark Bolster, that graces the cover of the book designed by Don Torres.

A decade ago, a Buffalo newspaper’s sports headline read: “University of Buffalo Bulls Defeats Ohio Bobcats 44–0.” In that game, Buffalo quarterback Joe Freedy threw for a season-high 296 yards to lead the Bulls to a stunning victory. UB had moved up to Division 1A and wins had been few that season and would be for the next few years. Freedy’s offense piled up 538 yards total and life was sweet for the handsome young man who commanded his team. He had good friends, a pretty girlfriend, and a good family. He was loved and respected.

Joe Freedy would go on to graduate the following year after he put up some solid career numbers on the University of Buffalo gridiron. Upon graduation, he had many options. He chose what many would call an unlikely path for a handsome young quarterback—the priesthood. Joe Freedy had developed an interest in a religious vocation as a young boy. It is a common consideration for untold numbers of boys, but one that often fades in time as manhood approaches. It was not something he talked about much and he had put it on the back burner.

His family was a quiet Catholic family—going to Mass, praying at meals, and following the tenets of the faith. Perhaps life was also just a little too busy to notice Joe’s interest much with five children running about. Nevertheless, Freedy parents’ faith had spoken volumes to their son.

A “big man on campus” in high school, Freedy had natural athletic abilities that made it easy to compete and excel. But at the University of Buffalo, everyone on the field was a gifted athlete. Without a solid work ethic, Freedy found himself so far down the depth chart, it seemed like he had no chance at all to ever play. He turned to other means to become popular. He partied hardy. But before long, he found himself miserable. Like many other young men who travel down the wrong path, he was pulled back on track by a young woman who exuded an honest dignity and femininity. And in her goodness, he was able to reflect back on her his own sense of masculinity.

Through an odd twist of fate, injuries to other players on UB’s football team pushed Freedy into position to play. He responded and grew in maturity.

Off the field, he took a harder look at his parents and began to get a better appreciation of their faith and character. Scot Hahn’s The Lamb’s Supper helped him develop a whole new appreciation for his church and helped renew a sense of vocation in him. As Freedy was drawn again to the vocation of the priesthood, he was torn with having to break away from the young woman who had helped to right him. After circumstances pulled them geographically apart for a time, his sweetheart found someone else. A period of painful adjustment followed.

After college, it was time for Freedy to channel his zeal into his vocation and his calling to serve others. “It was a huge tug on my heart,” Freedy said, “but the Lord was calling me to this.” He had to break from his friends to dedicate himself to preparing for his ministry. He received his master’s degree in philosophy from Duquesne University and attended the Pontifical North American College at the Vatican.

Monsignor Sciera of Pittsburgh counseled Freedy on his vocation and when they were both in Rome, the monsignor brought him along to a private chapel in Saint Peter’s, where the monsignor said a private Mass alongside the pontiff. Freedy remembered feeling the Pope’s holiness in a tangible way as John Paul II came into the chapel. The pontiff was ill and it was painful for him to move about, but the Mass was a highly charged faith experience.

After John Paul II death, Freedy received the first papal blessing of Pope Benedict XVI along with thousands of others in Saint Peter’s Square. He also visited with Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity at their mission in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

After completing his courses at Pontifical North American College in Rome, Father Joe returned to the Pittsburgh Diocese where he has served in parish work. He is currently director of vocations for the Diocese. He is looking to help those other quarterbacks who may receive the special signals outside the huddle that he himself received.
Copyright 2012 Sporting Chance Press.
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Sporting Chance Press is the publisher of Patrick McCaskey's Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout and other fine sports books. Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout is a personal chronicle of Chicago Bears Senior Director Patrick McCaskey that looks back at decades of spiritual enrichment and life lessons from athletes, coaches, religious and everyday people. McCaskey recalls the stories of those who strived to make the cut on and off the field—plus people who left comfortable lives to serve the under-served in extraordinary ways.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Brian Cabral: Another Bear to Remember

Brian Cabral is one of the athletes discussed in Patrick McCaskey's personal chronicle, Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout published by Sporting Chance Press. The discussion below is based on that in Sports and Faith.

Value Off the Field

Cabral is one of those rare players who meant a great deal to the team off the field as well as on it. Cabral had high expectations. His father was the first Hawaiian to play football for the University of Notre Dame. He didn't make it to the Golden Dome, but he played for Bill Mallory at the University of Colorado and it worked out just fine.

When Cabral was a junior at Colorado, he heard All-Pro Cleveland Browns defensive end Bill Glass talk about playing football to honor God. Cabral was inspired to read the Bible and listen to other people who talked about their faith.

The Atlanta Falcons drafted Cabral in the fourth round of the 1978 NFL draft. After one season with the Falcons, Cabral was briefly on the Baltimore Colts and the Green Bay Packers, but essentially spent the rest of his career with the Chicago Bears. Early on with the Bears, he played outside linebacker alongside middle linebacker Mike Singletary. Cabral was switched to middle linebacker where he ended up backing up the extremely talented and durable Singletary for the duration of his Bear career.

It is not easy for a player who has competed at the highest level in each age group to be inactive during a game. It could not have been easy for Brian Cabral during his six-year Chicago Bear career. Although he contributed to the success of the Bears as they wound their way to the Super Bowl, he was not often a starter. Brian's football career had many twists and turns that he navigated with grace, but it was never easy.

In his backup role, Cabral kept his focus and his intensity. One Bible passage in particular was front and center for Cabral:
Colossians 3:23, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men,”

Cabral and Mike Singeltary were roommates and close friends. Cabral influenced Singletary's spiritual development. Cabral career path required that he adjust--to change direction and his attitude.

According to Cabral he had to swallow his pride and give in to the "Lord's plan for me." Because Cabral couldn’t beat out Singletary as the starting middle linebacker, he tried to help the team in other ways. He led the special teams in tackles and became captain of those units. He also organized the team Bible studies and arranged for the chapel speakers before the games. Brian was intense and forthright and he kept learning about what success meant in God's eyes and not his own.

Cabral occasionally substituted for Mike Singletary as the Bears middle linebacker. When it was time to leave the Bears, Cabral left on a good note. And once he was gone, it was Singletary who replaced him as the Bears spiritual leader.

A few years after Cabral left the professional ranks, he became a coach at the University of Colorado where he is now in his 23rd year. He is an institution at Colorado where he has coached in several capacities. The change in his college plans from Notre Dame to Colorado worked out to his benefit in many ways. Considered one of the best developers of linebackers in the country, he has also been instrumental in scouting, recruiting, and mentoring Hawaiian and other Polynesian players.

Unlike many other Bear greats, Cabral is remembered for a different kind of spirit that he brought to the team.

Copyright Sporting Chance Press
http://www.sportingchancepress.com/

Baseball's Seventh Commandment by J. D. Thorne

I came across the “10 Commandments of Baseball” on an advertising card that had been a keepsake of my Dad’s from Bill Zuber’s Restaurant and Dugout Lounge in the Amana Colonies of Iowa. The “Commandments” were composed by Joe McCarthy who managed the three most storied franchises in the golden age of baseball: the Chicago Cubs, the New York Yankees, and the Boston Red Sox. He still holds the highest winning percentage for any Major League baseball manager even though he retired over a half a century ago. McCarthy's principles are at the center of my classic book called The 10 Commandments of Baseball: An Affectionate Look at Joe McCarthy's Principles for Success in Baseball (and Life) published by Sporting Chance Press. This post touches on McCarthy's Seventh Commandment.

Commandment Number Seven: “Always run them out. You can never tell.”

“Always run them out” is one of those important principles of baseball. It is taught as soon as a tee ball player can manage a swing and it is reinforced throughout the player’s entire career at every level. It is a “commandment” that is widely accepted and honored.

It is the foolish batter, who stops running to first on what appears a hopeless, routine out, only to have the fielder make the rare mistake, which would have made the player safe had he not stopped running. It seems so obvious, but it takes mental training to remember to ignore one’s first inclination to slow down at the disappointment of making an out. In the 2005 season opener, Milwaukee Brewer left fielder Carlos Lee hit a soft, floating ball toward short right field. The second baseman correctly waved everybody else off the ball as he lifted his glove. However, he took his eyes off the ball at the last second to look at the runners, being confident of the easy catch. The ball hit the heel of the glove instead of the pocket and fell safe to the ground for an error, but only because Carlos Lee never stopped running to first!

Next time you see a major league player “dogging it” on the base-path, key that player’s name on your favorite search engine the next day and you are likely to see him “burned at the stake” on a dozen baseball blogs. Baseball fans expect and appreciate the proprieties at all times. Nevertheless, reminders and remediation are needed to keep the player alert and running.

Copyright 2012 Sporting Chance Press
http://www.sportingchancepress.com/

How "Maddie Takes the Ice" Begins

Sporting Chance Press is the publisher of the very popular middle grade novel, Maddie Takes the Ice by Nicolette House. Maddie is the story of a young girl who must face pressure from many different directions as she heads to an important regional figure skating competition. The book is written by Nicolette House who has competed in National and International competitions herself. Lauded by teachers, figure skating moms, coaches and fans--Maddie entertains readers and has a lot to say. Here is how the story begins:


BRRR! When her alarm went off at 5:45 on the second Saturday of October, Madison Albright’s eyes flew open. Most girls would groan about waking up this early, but not Madison. She jumped out of bed, lifted her arms high above her head, and stretched.

She walked to her wardrobe and pulled out her favorite pink velvet skating outfit. Holding the dress in front of her, Madison looked in the mirror and sighed. The dress made her eyes shine. It was also her lucky practice dress and she would put it to good use getting ready for the regional figure skating championships scheduled for the following week.

“You ready?” called Madison’s mom.

“Be down in a minute!” Madison smiled to herself. Mom was always up on time, ready to drive her to practice.

She heard her mom’s signal: two beeps. Madison knew she was running late and flew down the stairs, grabbing a hoodie to wear in the cool autumn dawn.
“Feeling ready for regionals?” her mother asked as Madison slid into the car.
Madison grew quiet, hesitating. She didn’t want to tell her mom how nervous she was about the competition.

“Of course I am. Liz says ‘Everything is going great!’ I couldn’t be more excited,” Madison replied, reporting her coach’s opinion but hiding her own. But she was certain that Liz, her main coach, was preparing her for the regional event.
Madison knew just what to say to calm her mother’s nerves. If only Madison could do that for herself!

“Well, I’m glad to hear it. You work so hard, sweetheart. Liz said that you have a good chance of placing high—maybe even winning if you skate well.”

“If?”

“I meant when, Madison. Don’t be so touchy. You feel ready, right?”

“Right…right, I am.”

Mother and daughter rode quietly until Mrs. Albright pulled up outside the Arctic Circle Ice Arena. Madison reached over and gave her a hug.

“Bye, mom. Thanks for the ride.”

Madison jumped out of the car, taking deep breaths. It’s not about where you place, she reminded herself, but how well you skate. Wasn’t that what Liz always told her? But then, why did she tell mom that I could win? Madison wondered.


Maddie Takes the Ice received excellent reviews from About.com Figure Skating and IceMom.net. It was also selected as an America's Battle of the Books selection and has found fans as far away as Oslo. Maddie includes an appendix that provides helpful information on figure skating and a letter to readers from the author. The author, Nicolette House, is a four-time United States Figure Skating gold medalist. Skating since the age of three, she went on to compete in European, World, and international ice dance competitions with her skating partner, Aidas Reklys. She currently coaches and performs in professional shows. Along with her skating partner, the author creates an annual ice show that features several top international skaters. Nicolette is a recent graduate of DePaul University in Chicago.

You can order Maddie Takes the Ice directly from the Sporting Chance Press.

Friday, February 10, 2012

VanderBears: Jay Cutler Now and Bill Wade Then


Current Bear fans know some of the former Vanderbilt University players who play in navy blue and burnt orange. Although the injury bug has disrupted their play, the Bears have four talented former Commodores on the team.

Fans know that Jay Cutler and Earl Bennett were Commodores--it seems natural that this passer-receiver combination is one with great chemistry. Injuries to both players this past year prevented the tandem from reaching it's potential, but the combination has been one of the highlights of the Bears passing game the past few seasons.

Chris Williams is another former Commodore, but unfortunately his 2011 season was cut short as well. Then there is D.J. Moore starting nickelback who also played at Vandy. And fans will also remember former Commodore Hunter Hillenmeyer who played linebacker for the Bears before retiring last spring due in large part to multiple concussions.

Bill Wade in 1963

But Bears ties to the Vanderbilt Commodores goes back a ways. Many older fans remember the very tough and determined Bill Wade who led the Bears to an NFL Championship in 1963.

Bill Wade was an outstanding quarterback at Vanderbilt University--set school passing records, and was selected SEC Player of the Year in 1951. Ruggedly handsome, his photo graced the front cover of Look Magazine in its September 1949 Issues. He served for two years in the Navy before he joined the Los Angeles Rams who had made Wade their top pick in the bonus draft. The Bears acquired Bill Wade the established pro quarterback 51 years ago in 1961. Wade took the Bears to the NFL Championship in 1963. He scored both Bear touchdowns on quarterback sneaks in the 14-10 defeat of the Y.A. Tittle-led New York Giants.

Today's fan would recognize the qualities of the 1963 Bears Team--tough hard nosed defense (ranked among the 10 best Bears defenses of all time in some places) with an offense that featured a tough former Vandy QB. Bill Wade fit well into the Bears team persona. He was tough, resilient and when he ran, he was not likely to slide--opposing defenders had to take him down like a running back.

Wade's Softer Side

Bears Senior Director Patrick McCaskey, grandson of George "Papa Bear" Halas, recalls Wade being especially kind and attentive.

“When I was seven, I started going to Bears training camps with Papa Bear George Halas. Bill Wade taught us how to play quarterback. After the Bears two-a-day practices, Bill Wade tutored me in the fundamentals of quarterbacking. Before each session, he would reach down on the ground and find a four-leaf clover. That would mean we would have a good workout.”[Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout by Patrick McCaskey]

Although he played for the Bears during a period when the Bears defense dominated, Wade's numbers were impressive. In his 13-year career, Wade attempted 2523 passes, completed 1370 for 18,530 yards, giving him a 54.3% completion rate and 124 touchdowns.

Yet, Another Side of Wade

It might surprise football fans today to know that the NFL was not without its devout players throughout its history. Bill Wade did a little quiet evangelizing a long time before Tim Tebow came along. In 1962, Wade’s “Quarterback for Christ” (pamphlet) was published with the American Tract Society. In Wade’s Tract, he describes his faith and his commitment to Christ. Wade also uses sports metaphorically saying that we must “exercise ourselves spiritually to win our everyday battles.”

Bears fans should never forget our first former Commodore Quarterback, Bill Wade.

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Sporting Chance Press is the publisher of  Pillars of the NFL: Coaches Who Won Three or More Championships, The 10 Commandments of Baseball: An Affectionate Look at Joe McCarthy's Principles for Baseball (and Life), Public Bonehead, Private Hero: The Real Legacy of Baseball's Fred Merkle, Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout, and Maddie Takes the Ice. Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout by Patrick McCaskey includes the author's stories of Christian athletes (like Bill Wade), coaches and ordinary people who have been an inspiration.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Baseball's Sixth Commandment by J. D. Thorne

I came across the “10 Commandments of Baseball” on an advertising card that had been a keepsake of my Dad’s from Bill Zuber’s Restaurant and Dugout Lounge in the Amana Colonies of Iowa. The “Commandments” were composed by Joe McCarthy who managed the three most storied franchises in the golden age of baseball: the Chicago Cubs, the New York Yankees, and the Boston Red Sox. He still holds the highest winning percentage for any Major League baseball manager even though he retired over a half a century ago. McCarthy's principles are at the center of my classic book called The 10 Commandments of Baseball: An Affectionate Look at Joe McCarthy's Principles for Success in Baseball (and Life) published by Sporting Chance Press. This post touches on McCarthy's Sixth Commandment.

Commandment Number Six: “Do not alibi on bad hops. Anybody can field the good ones.”

No one likes hearing excuses. The field is the same for both teams. For someone wanting to be a ballplayer, it is more important to learn to field the tough chances than to explain the mistakes. For example, first basemen should practice endlessly fielding bad throws coming in on one wicked hop or wide of the bag or over a player’s head. It takes practice to anticipate the tough plays and to adjust to difficult conditions.
From 1900 through 1916 the great “gentleman” ballplayer, Christy Mathewson, was the first pitcher to win 300 games in the modern era. He pitched with great intelligence, good mechanics, and outstanding control. He averaged 1.6 walks per nine innings and once pitched a record 68 consecutive innings without one. Mathewson also had a magic pitch. He called it a “fadeaway.” It was a reverse curve thrown with an extremely unnatural twist if the arm. Today it is called a “screwball” because of the reverse twist of the arm when throwing it. It was a difficult pitch to throw, but it was even a more difficult to hit. He usually threw it no more than a dozen times a game, but the threat that he would throw it was always there. He typically would hold it back for what he called, “pitching in a pinch” (the title of a book he authored).
Mathewson once pitched three shutouts in a World Series; allowing the opposition just 14 hits. In 1908, he led National League pitchers in wins (37), ERA (1.43), stikeouts (259), and shutouts (12).

Although Mathewson was a remarkable player, he did not win every time. He understood how important it was to maintain confidence without making excuses to the rest of the world for his play. He was quoted as saying:

You must have an alibi to show why you lost. If you haven’t one,
you must fake one. Your self confidence must always be maintained.
Always have that alibi. But keep it to yourself. That’s where it belongs.




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Image is J.D. Thorne, courtesy of David Bernacchi
Copyright 2012 Sporting Chance Press, Inc.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Belichick's Principles for Business Success


If you want to learn from the top NFL coach on how to build and maintain a winning tradition, here are principles that I have garnered from my study of Bill Belichick. These are as tough as the coach. They are based on my personal take on Belichick's views that might be applied to business. These are not necessarily things that I subscribe to, but I do agree with most of them.

Bill's Business Principles:


1. Focus on your job - what you do and do it right.
2. Everyone is accountable all the time. No one is irreplaceable. Expect to be criticized and take it.
3. Team is everything. If someone does not fit into the team, they don't work in the organization.
4. Work toward perfection. Everything short of perfection is not worth working towards.
5. Keep your mouth shut outside the team. Don't criticize anyone outside the team and don't give away any information to anyone. Let the people assigned to do the PR, do it.
6. When you hire someone, hire someone who can help the team. Don't get starry eyed over the credentials or talent. Each hire should fill a need.
7. Respect your boss and your boss should respect you. If your boss will not let your do your job, move on.
8. Know your team's weaknesses and keep your eyes open at all times for ways to improve the team.
9. Know your competition's weaknesses and plan to take advantage of them.
10. Never let your competition know what you are going to do next.


Copyright 2012 Sporting Chance Press

Image Attribution: By Keith Allison from Baltimore, USA (Bill Belichick) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
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Sporting Chance Press is the publisher of The 10 Commandments of Baseball: An Affectionate Look at Joe McCarthy's Principles for Baseball (and Life), Public Bonehead, Private Hero: The Real Legacy of Baseball's Fred Merkle, Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout, and Maddie Takes the Ice.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Belichick, the Day After the Super Bowl

There are teams that come very close to the championship game in so many sports, but lose in the playoffs. Every major sport has a playoff system and very good teams often get eliminated right just before the championship for any number of reasons. Regardless of how good a team played during the season, the other teams are not going to let them walk through the playoffs. They need to be at their best at just the right time. This is certainly true of NFL football, where one playoff loss means you are out.

In the NFL, the games are often compared to military battles with strategies, plans and execution. Yet, in some circumstances elimination seems to come down to luck. In others, maybe it's a bad call or two. Sometimes it seems that the losing team was just having an off day.

There is so much angst involved in a playoff loss, fans and pundits go to great lengths to try to pin down the reasons for the failure. It can turn into a witch hunt with the requisite negative hyperbole. But at some point, a clear-headed analysis will generally point out that the game was the same length as other games, the same number of players were on the field, the same conditions prevailed for both sides, and perhaps most importantly, a team win or loss is always...a team win or loss. There were plenty of opportunities to score points or stop the other team from doing the same.

New England's Successful Coach

If you study Bill Belichick, one thing you know for sure is that he is no Knute Rockne. His Super Bowl wins as head coach of the Patriots do not seem to be the result of great speech-making and impressive camaraderie with his players. Also, I don't think people are writing books on his innovative defenses or offenses. He is not so much an innovator as much as someone who stresses the importance of blocking and tackling, throwing and catching, pressuring and defending. He is studious, of course, and certainly responds to successful new strategies and tends, but more importantly he is also tireless and never satisfied. His mantra has remained the same every season: "Just do your job."

Bill the Builder

Belichick's strategy is to take away the opponents strengths—something he learned long ago from his father who was a scout and coach. How can his team neutralize the opposition’s strengths? He likes to see his opponents set up for one defense and then give them something unexpected.

His team lives by pressure that he unceasingly provides, but he wants them to understand the only thing that’s important is to “do your job.” When things get tough, he turns up the pressure on opposing teams and he is confident that his own team can perform under it. Teamwork is critical.

Mostly, Belichick is a team builder and his team is always under construction. He is always looking ahead. Even when he has a Super Bowl team, he is looking ahead to next year. He runs his team like a business—one that keeps improving and moving forward in an affordable way. He watches his boss's money, he hates to overpay; it leaves less for others.

Belichick will not get hung up on the reasons for New England's win or loss in the Super Bowl tonight. If the Patriots lose, he will stand there in front of the cameras, in seemingly deep pain and admit to everyone that his team did not play well enough. If the Patriots win, he will smile and try to live in the moment for a short time. But win or lose, the day after the Super Bowl, Belichick will be thinking about how his team can become better next year. For Belichick, the quest has to be one for perfection. He will never stand still. His strategy will never be focused on how he can keep his team together as other champions often do. It will be on adding better players to improve his team. No player, no coach, no administrator is irreplaceable.

Post Copyright 2012 Sporting Chance Press. Inc.

Image Attribution: By Keith Allison from Baltimore, USA (Bill Belichick) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
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Sporting Chance Press is the publisher of The 10 Commandments of Baseball: An Affectionate Look at Joe McCarthy's Principles for Baseball (and Life), Public Bonehead, Private Hero: The Real Legacy of Baseball's Fred Merkle, Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout, and Maddie Takes the Ice.

Friday, February 3, 2012

My Super Bowl Poem

I have been surrounded by women for most of my life. I had four sisters and one brother. I have one son and five daughters. I also have one stepson and one step daughter, but I can't take any credit there.

I often wonder what life would have been like if the numbers were flipped around. But daughters are just fine with me and probably a lot easier on the furniture.

I don't often think about having so many children--they came along in a couple clusters and they are a great joy. But when the 85 Bears were blazing a winning trail in Chicago that had not been blazed since 1963, there was a lot of little kids around. It was not so easy to watch the Super Bowl.

Stopping by the TV On Super Bowl Sunday


Whose cry is this I think I know.
Her room is in the upstairs though;
She will not see me stopping here
To watch the Bears with can of beer.

My little girl must think it queer
To cry without a parent near
Between the crib and frozen pane
She shouts out like in pain.

Cathy gives my leg a shake
I tell her there is some mistake.
But at my feet she stops and stares
To say that Lizzie cries upstairs.

The Bears are tough, fast and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And a diaper to change before Liz sleeps,
And a diaper to change before Liz sleeps.


With apologies to Robert Frost. Copyright 2012 Sporting Chance Press.

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Sporting Chance Press is the publisher of The 10 Commandments of Baseball: An Affectionate Look at Joe McCarthy's Principles for Baseball (and Life), Public Bonehead, Private Hero: The Real Legacy of Baseball's Fred Merkle, Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout, and Maddie Takes the Ice.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Monster Is the New Best Thing in Tight Ends; Super Bowl May Showcase Two of Them

Whether you call him "Monster" or the more friendly, "Gronk," the 6-foot-6, 265-pound tight end Rob Gronkowski is a pretty special "freak." His 90 catches for 1,327 yards and 17 touchdowns scorched the NFL record book this year--and he's only a second-year pro. His 14.7 average yards per catch is better than the Patriots remarkable wide receivers Deion Branch and Wes Welker. New England QB Tom Brady attempted 611 passes this year and connected on 401 for 5235 yards--enough to insure that none of his talented receivers were ignored despite the rising talents of Gronkowski. New England's other tight end, Aaron Hernandez had 79 receptions for 910 yards. Although Hernandez is almost half a foot shorter than Gronkowski, but he is a powerful 245 lbs.

Gronkowski injured his left ankle in the Patriots AFC Championship game win over the Ravens and he's been nursing it the last couple weeks leading up to the Super Bowl. Returning to a light practice today, odds are Gronkowski will play in the big game.

Superfreak II

Another monster tight end is Jimmy Graham of the New Orleans Saints. Graham is in his second year as well. He had 99 catches for 1310 yards averaging 13.2 yards per catch. Graham scored 11 touchdowns and had the remarkable Drew Brees thowing his way. Brees threw for 5,476 yards, keeping things lively for all his receivers as well.

And Yet More

The Cowboys' Jason Whitten is another big tight end who spends a lot of time catching balls and has been doing it for many years. The nine-year vet has averaged just under 1000 yards for the last five seasons. Whitten is 6-6, 255 lbs.

The Giants' Giant TE

New England's Super Bowl foe, the New York Giants have a phenomenal wide receiver, Victor Cruz, who has 82 regular season receptions for 1536 yards and an 18.7 yard average. But the Giants also boast a Gronkowski-type tight end who is just getting started in 2011. Jake Ballard is 6-6, 275 lbs and has 38 receptions for 604 yards and 15.9 yard average. The Giants' QB Eli Manning threw for 4,933 yards this season, a few hundred yards less than Brady, but enough to keep his receivers busy as well.

Manning has not gone to Ballard much in the post season, but maybe with Gronkowski on the other side line, he will be inspired more to look for the big man in the big game.

Post Copyright 2012 Sporting Chance Press. Inc.
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Sporting Chance Press is the publisher of The 10 Commandments of Baseball: An Affectionate Look at Joe McCarthy's Principles for Baseball (and Life), Public Bonehead, Private Hero: The Real Legacy of Baseball's Fred Merkle, Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout, and Maddie Takes the Ice.

Super Bowl Rings Have Bling


Pretty much all football fans know that in addition to their prize money, the Super Bowl winners are also awarded a ring that includes the team name, logo and Super Bowl identification. Many football players have oversized fingers and when a cadre of diamonds and gold are added, these rings have a lot of bling.

Ring makers go through a bid process and the rings are not made until several months after the game. Jostens, the ring company that is famous for its high school rings has often been the Super Bowl ring provider. On the Jostens web site, they have a gallery of the rings that they have produced.

The NFL itself provides 150 rings to each winning team--at up to $5000 per ring. Teams can go over this amount if they want to pay the difference themselves. As you can imagine, in the age of Antiques Roadshow, there is a healthy aftermarket for Super Bowl rings with many of them selling for over $50,000. Sellers have been known to ask for as much as $100,000.

On many rings, the Super Bowl score shows prominently in the design. Thus, if you happen to be on the short side of the score, the rings serve to rub salt into the wound for a very long time.
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