"Lazzari's Sports Roundup" - - - - 12/7/13

*ATTENTION--all single, wealthy, attractive actresses out there (a la Sandra Bullock, Sharon Stone, etc.): Aging sports columnists may be underpaid and unable to afford to do things like stay in 4-star hotels/reside in the Trump Tower, but they're extremely loyal and EXCELLENT boyfriend material..........TRIVIA QUESTION: Who was the last member of the New York Knicks to lead the NBA in free throw percentage? Answer to follow..........Did you know that in 1986, WR Henry Ellard of the L.A. Rams led the team in receptions with a paltry total of just THIRTY-FOUR? Running back Barry Redden was second on the squad with 28 catches. In fact, the team recorded only 194 receptions during the entire regular season (just over 12 completions per game)--BY FAR the lowest total in the NFL that year..........I recently had Fordham football coach Joe Moorhead as a guest on "Monday Night Sports Talk"; the man's serious approach to his work was apparent and his knowledge of the hurry-up offense impressed me greatly. As soon as the interview was over, my co-host Tony DeAngelo offered these words: "That man WILL coach in the NFL someday."..........Another "Warner Wolf Moment": If you had the Illinois Tech women's basketball team and 67 points, YOU LOST!!! Recent final score from the Midwest: Buena Vista 111, Illinois Tech 43..........I continue to miss the presence of former Philadelphia 76ers P.A. announcer Dave Zinkoff--especially during basketball season. As I've said numerous times, his humor and colorful delivery remain incomparable. Another classic line of his--once delivered during a break in the action: "There's a car in the parking lot, Pennsylvania license plate # XXX XX. Your doors are locked, your lights are on, and your motor is HUMMMMMMMINGGGGGGG!" Yes, there was only ONE Zink........The definition of "ugly": My alma mater, Fordham, shot a pathetic 24% (19-for-80) during a 104-58 loss to St. John's last weekend. But WAIT--it gets UGLIER. The Rams' freshman sensation Jon Severe (who WILL play in the NBA someday) shot 1-for-21 from the field during this debacle. Listen--I know some players are capable of shooting their way out of slumps. But a freshman attempting to do this at Madison Square Garden during his first BIG college game? I'd call it a "severe" lack of good judgment on the young man's part--wouldn't you?..........More evidence of the continued downfall of sports broadcasting: NY Post columnist Phil Mushnick--quoting legendary sportscaster Verne Lundquist in his column last weekend: "I'd never be hired today, not by any network. I have no schtick, no profile, no gimmicks. I wouldn't get a second look." Yes, SO true, Verne--and SO very sad..........Just imagine if WNBA player Sugar Rodgers preferred older men and decided to marry former NFL QB Milt Plum. Fans of sweet treats would surely enjoy her married name of Sugar Plum..........GREAT NY Post headline last Sunday--after a Yankee team official talked about how A-ROID's disgraceful contract impacted negotiations with Robinson Cano: WON'T GET FOOLED AGAIN..........Answer to trivia question: ALLAN HOUSTON, who led the league in 2002-'03 with a sizzling mark of 92%--converting 363 of 395 FT attempts..........Finally, condolences go out to the family of former Arena Football League coach Tim Marcum--who passed away recently in Florida at the age of 69. Marcum won an astounding SEVEN AFL titles--one with the Denver Dynamite, three with the Detroit Drive, and another three with the Tampa Bay Storm. The majority of his career was spent in Tampa, where he compiled a record of 156-79 over a 16-year span. Marcum, a former college quarterback, is considered to be one of the most influential figures in league history--always promoting the AFL and being so honest/open with media members. Tim Marcum was elected to the AFL Hall of Fame in 1998. He is survived by his wife, Lynne, four daughters, a brother, a sister, and three grandchildren. May Coach Marcum rest in peace.

"Lazzari's Sports Roundup" - - - - 11/9/13

Yale football home games just aren't the same anymore without the presence of Mr. Sam Tilery--who passed away recently at the age of 65. The longtime promotions guy at WPLR-FM, I'd always stop by the radio station's tent outside the Yale Bowl just to see Sam. He possessed the type of warm personality that's difficult to explain; you just FELT it. He'd always be sitting in his usual folding chair near the exit where we'd exchange pleasantries; he'd always end the conversation by saying, "Awwwww-right, man--see you again soon." I'm a better man for having known you, Sam T.; you'll be missed..........TRIVIA QUESTION: The 1996 Denver Broncos had three players who accumulated more than 500 yards receiving apiece. Can you name this trio? Answer to follow..........Whenever I experience a tough time while shaving, I immediately think of Mike Napoli of the World Series champion Red Sox trying to remove ALL the facial hair that he sported during this past season. My own shave automatically becomes MUCH smoother..........I think most people remember former NBA player Yao Ming as a very good scorer/rebounder; after all, he DID stand 7 feet, 6 inches tall. But did you realize that the center from China shot an impressive 83% from the free-throw line during his eight-year career? Ming attempted nearly 3,000 free throws during his NBA days. His best full season came during the 2008-'09 campaign when he shot a blistering 87% from the charity stripe--converting 381 of 440 attempts..........*Here goes: Famed Olympic figure skater Michelle Kwan marries former SUNY-Buffalo pitcher Charles Mye, divorces, then walks down the aisle with ex-major leaguer Albert "Don't Call Me Joey" Belle. Fans of Beatles music would surely delight in her full married name of Michelle Mye Belle..........Ah--if only Richie Incognito could live up to his surname, huh?..........I used to think that watching Jerry Rice running pass routes was the ultimate thing of beauty. That all changed the other day when I saw a picture of lovely actress Kate Beckinsale decked out in a stunning blue Gucci gown at an art/film gala in Los Angeles. Holy cow..........I'm thinking of having Eli Manning select my next set of lottery #'s. Why? Because he seems to have mastered the art of "pick 6's"..........I've always hoped/wished that I'd never have to say the following words: Tennis great Roger Federer can't win the "big one" anymore. Umm, I think I just uttered them..........Answer to trivia question: SHANNON SHARPE (1,062), ANTHONY MILLER (735), and ED McCAFFREY (553)..........Speaking of growing facial hair in order to duplicate the Red Sox' success: I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that if all the members of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were to grow beards right now, they STILL will not win five games this season..........Finally, condolences go out to the family of former California football coach Ray Willsey--who passed away recently in Idaho at the age of 85. Having played quarterback/defensive back for Cal in the early 50's, Willsey later played in the CFL for the Edmonton Eskimos for a couple of years. He then coached in various capacities at the pro and college levels; he coached Cal amid immense campus unrest in the late 60's--sometimes arriving home after practice having been exposed to TEAR GAS. In the NFL, Willsey was a Raiders assistant from 1978-'84 and was part of two Super-Bowl winning teams. He was predeceased by a wife, Barbara; he is survived by his partner of 30 years, Joanne May, three daughters, and five grandchildren. Rest in peace, "Coach."

"Lazzari's Sports Roundup" - - - - 10/26/13

During the recent ALCS, Fox play-by-play man Joe Buck pointed out that Red Sox pitcher/Yale graduate Craig Breslow majored in molecular biophysics and biochemistry while at the Ivy League school. Color man Tim McCarver followed that up by saying that he couldn't even PRONOUNCE what Breslow studied in college..........TRIVIA QUESTION: The 1991-'92 Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins had three players on the squad who tallied more than 40 goals apiece. Can you name this trio? Answer to follow..........Here we go: Former women's football star Linda Jefferson marries Hall of Fame QB Bart Starr--divorces--then marries former NFL running back Marcel Shipp. Fans of legendary rock bands would surely enjoy her full married name of Linda Jefferson Starr Shipp..........Did you know that the 1940 Philadelphia Eagles rushed for only 298 yards AS A TEAM? Fullback Dick Riffle led the squad with a modest total of 238. The next lowest rushing total for an entire team that season? The Pittsburgh Steelers with over 1,100 yards--almost FOUR TIMES the total of Philadelphia..........*ATTENTION CT media members who cover high school football: If anyone out there comes across a HS roster that is both accurate AND complete, let me know; it's worthy of being noted in some type of "Believe It Or Not" publication..........My take on some of these modern renditions of the National Anthem performed at sporting events? The singers should focus more on the SONG and less on THEMSELVES..........People ask me why I no longer listen to/call into WFAN Radio in NY after having done so for over 20 years. The answer is very simple: MIKE FRANCESA. His "schtick" finally just became a bit too difficult for me to stomach: his rudeness and belligerent nature toward callers, the "know it all" approach, the narcissistic mentality, etc. In fact, it got to a point where it was literally sickening; in his column last weekend, Phil Mushnick of the New York Post called Francesa "bully boy." Yes, folks, I know "shock journalism" sells these days and it's all about entertainment. But when someone stoops as low as Francesa does--belittling the same people who allow him to earn an exorbitant salary--it's time to look elsewhere for some "brusque-free" sports talk radio. Sorry, no room for ANY type of nastiness in the life of THIS particular columnist.........Christie Brinkley and I played a round of early morning golf the other day, had a pleasant lunch date at a downtown NYC eatery, played some tennis in the afternoon, then topped off the day with a romantic dinner on Long Island. Yeah, then yours truly WOKE UP from one heck of a dream..........Answer to trivia question: KEVIN STEVENS (54), MARIO LEMIEUX (44), and JOE MULLEN (42)..........A Warner Wolf moment: If you had Briar Cliff and 66 points last weekend, YOU LOST! College football final score from the Midwest: Morningside 67, Briar Cliff 0..........Finally, the basketball community lost two of its esteemed members recently--Wes Bialosuknia and Bill Sharman. Bialosuknia--who died at the age of 68--played at UCONN in the 1960's and averaged 23.6 ppg over his three seasons. His average of 28.0 during the '66-'67 season remains a UCONN record; no UCONN player had more 30-point games in a career than Wes (17). Sharman--a Hall of Famer--passed away at the age of 87. He was part of three Boston Celtics championship teams in the late '50's/early 60's and led the league in free-throw shooting SEVEN times. In fact, over his 11-year CAREER, Sharman shot a staggering 88% from the charity stripe. Condolences go out to the families of these two former players, and may they both rest in peace.

"Lazzari's Sports Roundup" - - - - 9/28/13

A Thank You Letter To "Mo" Dear Mariano: I'll try to make this brief; if I attempted to write everything going through my mind right now regarding your greatness, it would turn into a book (which may happen someday). You pitched in the final game of your illustrious 19-year career last week as your "farewell tour" was concluding; yes, no rock band that ever conducted a farewell tour brought tears to my eyes like YOU did these past few weeks. WHY did I cry? Because I value honor, integrity, teamwork, and CLASS--and you never let me down, Mariano. Not ONCE. Nope, I'm not a maniacal N.Y. Yankees fan--nor a "homer" for any of the NY teams. I'm simply a SPORTS fan who will forever be in awe of your accomplishments, Mo--both on AND off the field. Yeah, we're all aware of the stats: the all-time saves leader (652), 42 postseason saves, five championship rings, and a 0.70 ERA in postseason play--just to mention a few things. It's no secret that YOU, Mo, were most responsible for the Yankees' success playing fall baseball these past couple of decades. Yep, whenever I hear the term "closer" from now on, your name will immediately come to mind--along with the sound of shattering bats. There are very few things in life that I'm sure of, but one thing will always be a "given" to yours truly: No one ever did it like you, Mo, and no one ever WILL. Your specialty was the "cutter"--but you never "cut corners", Mo. Thanks for that. Hard work/preparation meant a lot to you as you possessed the ultimate work ethic--and you encouraged others to follow suit. Thanks, Mo, for showing that it's possible to excel in pressure situations--over and over; hell, you made a living doing that. And Joe Torre once said that your calmness made the clubhouse stronger; you led by example in such quiet, selfless fashion. You never showboated, complained, or argued on the field. In addition, you never brought negative attention to yourself OFF the field. Yeah, in an era when negativity surrounds ALL sports, you, Mo, remained a role model--perhaps your greatest accomplishment. You simply were the ultimate "class act." Oh, I'm POSITIVE that you'll continue to do great things in your next phase of life, Mo; the Mariano Rivera Foundation and its charitable ways will only gain momentum now as your incomparable focus takes a slightly different form. Your gracious nature--exhibited by your thankful demeanor as you were showered with gifts throughout the 2013 season--will always stay with me. You were legitimately thankful for all you've been given--i.e. your natural gifts along with the opportunity to play baseball for a living--and it SHOWED. You didn't have a smidgen of "fakeness" in you, Mo; you were solid, real, genuine. I guess what I'm trying to say is that you truly "got" it. I know I'm rambling, Mo; I'm shedding a few more tears, as well. Call me selfish due to the fact that I won't be able to watch you pitch anymore. You were "relief royalty"--one of a kind--something I'll never witness again. It's sad in one way--celebratory in another; I can always brag that I saw/watched the great Mariano pitch at the pinnacle of his excellence. Funny, you share the same birth date as my late Dad, Mo; it's no coincidence that he loved watching you pitch and always valued integrity, class, and consistency above all else. Thanks for reinforcing what he always stressed to me, Mo. Yes, I think you both were on to something. Exit, Sandman. It's time for you to sit back for a bit--perhaps 'chilling' in one of the few rocking chairs you received as parting gifts--and bathe in your greatness. Soak it all in, Mo--allowing your countless accomplishments/memories to slowly infiltrate your mind. I know you'll miss the game, Mo, as you've been involved with baseball for so long. But trust me, Mr. Rivera: Your adoring fans will miss you MORE--not being able to see you dominate in a way no relief pitcher ever has in history. We'll only be able to recall/imagine things from now on--and it won't be the same. The Yankees won't be the same. Heck, BASEBALL won't be the same. One more thing, Mo: Thanks for going out ON TOP. No, your team didn't capture another championship, but you put together another typical All-Star season while showing the WORLD a "superstar" personality at the same time. Few will depart ANY sport like you did, Mo. Why am I not surprised? Take care, Mo. I never had the opportunity to speak with you; I can only hope that changes in the future as you travel up the road to Cooperstown. I'm out of words now, Mr. Rivera--attempting to convey what you meant to me as an admiring sports fan. Yeah, it's not often that a columnist is tongue-tied/speechless. But I guess incomparable greatness can do that to ANYONE, Mariano. Good luck, sir; you were the best--always will be. Thanks for being YOU, Mo.

"Lazzari's Sports Roundup" - - - - 9/14/13

Former pitcher Derek Lowe was in the NESN broadcast booth during a recent Red Sox telecast--filling for Jerry Remy. At one point, play-by-play man Don Orsillo remarked how humbling the game of baseball can be. Lowe's response: "That's why I'm sitting up HERE!"..........TRIVIA QUESTION: The 1999 K.C. Royals--who finished a disappointing 64-97 under manager Tony Muser--DID have three players on the squad with 100+ RBI's. Can you name this trio? Answer to follow..........At one point during the K.C. Chiefs home game last weekend (vs. Dallas), Van Halen's "Beautiful Girls" was blasting over the PA system. I asked myself, "Why would they be playing THAT tune?" The TV camera then focused on some of the Chiefs cheerleaders, and yours truly received his answer..........There's only ONE thing I can think of that will rival the strange feeling of Mariano Rivera not being the N.Y. Yankees closer anymore: The day when my fellow Fordham grad Vin Scully is no longer calling games for the L.A. Dodgers. The man will return next season for his 65th year in the broadcast booth; yes, simply remarkable..........Let's just hope that troubled NBA player Lamar Odom gets the professional help he desperately needs. Ah, what might have been; the talented Odom should have been a MUCH better player than one who's averaged 13 ppg/8 rpg over a 14-year career..........Did you know that the lowly 1999 Cleveland Browns had a TEAM total of just 1,150 rushing yards? Terry Kirby led the squad with 452 as the team finished with a record of 2-14. Just HOW low a total was that by the '99 team? Former Browns great/Hall of Famer Jim Brown exceeded the 1,150 mark seven times HIMSELF during his illustrious career--and that was while playing a 14-game schedule instead of 16..........*Get fit for a great cause: The RUN MS/SPOOKTACULAR 5K race will take place on October 26th at Rentschler Field in East Hartford. There will be cash prizes, trophies to age division-winners, a costume contest, music, refreshments, and a post-race party; proceeds go toward the fight against multiple sclerosis. The entrance fee is $30 ($35 on race day) with the race starting at 9 AM. For more information on this "spooktacular" event, please visit www.ctfightsMS.org..........ITEM: New Jersey high school assistant basketball coach Jimmie Smith is arrested after possessing more than seven ounces of cocaine with the intent to distribute. My first thought? If Smith spent more time concentrating on distributing the BASKETBALL instead of COCAINE, his life might be much simpler at this juncture..........Tim McCarver, on a recent FOX telecast, was recalling how downright MEAN Bob Gibson was while on the pitcher's mound--even to his own TEAMMATES. McCarver--Gibson's catcher in the early 60's while in St. Louis--recalled one day when manager Johnny Keane instructed him to tell Gibson to slow down his pace a bit. McCarver's response to Keane: "YOU go tell him--I'm NOT walking out there!" Tim also relayed that he never remembered (or perhaps didn't WANT to remember) making ANY trips to the mound whenever Gibson was pitching..........I am TOTALLY convinced that if Robinson Cano of the Yankees hustled just a little more--and toned down his cocky approach--he'd be one of the most respected ballplayers of the past 50 years..........O.K.--here goes (by popular demand): Princeton rowing team member Jennifer Hu marries Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt, divorces, marries former California high school tennis star Christopher Wen--divorces again--then marries PGA golfer Mike Weir. Her full married name would be Jennifer Hu Watt Wen Weir..........A "Warner Wolf Moment": If you took Hanover College and 68 points last weekend, YOU LOST!!!! Final college football score from the Midwest: Wabash 69, Hanover 0..........Answer to trivia question: JERMAINE DYE (119), CARLOS BELTRAN (108), and MIKE SWEENEY (102)..........Finally, condolences go out to the family of former University of Utah assistant football coach Aaron Alford--who died recently of an apparent heart attack at the age of 39. Alford coached running backs/defensive backs for the Utes from 2007-2010; current NFL players such as Brice McCain, Sean Smith, and RJ Stanford benefited from Alford's instruction while playing at Utah. A former DB at Colorado State, Alford also had coaching stops at Southern Utah, Western Illinois, Wyoming, and Akron before arriving at Utah. At the time of his death, Alford was working for Park City High School (UT) as an athletic director/assistant football coach. May Aaron Alford rest in peace.

"Lazzari's Sports Roundup" - - - - 8/31/13

What I've Learned.............. *With sports being such a big part of my life for so long, I figured I'd share some things I've learned from observing/covering the sports world over the years............... ~the sporting world is simply fueled by greed ~an athlete can lie, take drugs, and cheat on his wife--but STILL be applauded/adored by clueless fans ~NFL players cannot get THAT big and THAT fast through weightlifting alone ~I can pay the hefty admission price to a major league ball game--but then have to live on Ramen noodles for the next month or so ~golfing is NOT as easy as the pros make it look like on television ~as one ages, 10:00 PM game times become a major problem ~lead-off walks WILL come back to "bite" a big league pitcher ~the Super Bowl is no longer a game--it's a SPECTACLE ~legendary Division III baseball coach Bill Holowaty got a raw deal from Eastern Connecticut ~Don King was as exploitative as it gets ~some athletes are bigger heroes OFF the field; RIP, Joe Delaney ~Bernie Madoff will NEVER be elected to the NY Mets Hall of Fame ~Americans CANNOT run marathons like Kenyans ~some incredibly talented female journalists have been passed over for TV sports gigs--simply because they didn't have "the look" ~NFL kickers CAN'T make field goals much longer than 63 yards ~a human being CANNOT run much faster than Usain Bolt ~the "Phillie Phanatic" will always be in a class of its own ~artificial turf has ruined MANY athletes' careers ~Bill Buckner got a bum rap ~Pat Tillman was one of a kind ~athletes and nightclubs don't mix ~the bigger the athlete, NOT necessarily the bigger the brain ~the sports media biz can be very "clique-y" ~tattoos don't make a player perform better ~Steve Busby had Hall of Fame "stuff" ~J.R. Richard had Hall of Fame "stuff" ~NFL pre-game/halftime shows were much better when there were LESS people in the studio ~major league managing has become INCREDIBLY "robotic" over the past 30 years ~once you view a sporting event in "high-def", there's no turning back ~the business of big-time college athletics has VERY little to do with academics ~baseball players CANNOT legitimately hit more than 61 home runs in a season ~the sports world mirrors society in general: crime, greed, tragedy, daily ups/downs, etc. ~talent AND luck result in championships ~Nolan Ryan's career strikeout total will never be challenged ~Nolan Ryan was a 'freak' of nature ~hockey referees--for the most part--stay "under the radar" ~MLB umpiring has digressed over the years ~bowling a 300 game is EXTREMELY difficult ~many sports media members--who supposedly were trained in communication strategies--ironically remain "stand-offish" ~5 or 6 dollars for a hot dog is flat-out ROBBERY ~Vin Scully will always be in a class by himself ~Roger Federer--at his best--was better than ANYONE who ever picked up a tennis racquet ~it's very difficult to dislike a guy who hustles ~Yogi Berra made a lotta sense ~the thought of Mantle and Namath with good legs STILL scares me ~there's a reason why MLB pitchers don't throw screwballs anymore ~writer's block among sportswriters is more common than one may think ~you can't teach "guts" ~you can't teach speed ~the terms "pitch counts" and "quality starts" will always make yours truly nauseous ~there will never be a more powerful sports slogan than Nike's 'JUST DO IT' ~no boxer ever exits the fight game "unscathed" ~"Pistol" Pete Maravich was WAYYYYYY ahead of his time ~"Pistol" Pete Maravich was misunderstood and SEVERELY underrated ~Mariano Rivera is one of a kind ~I can live without the end zone dances ~young athletes should be shown videos of Pete Rose (that is, how he approached the game ON the field) ~pro football is a game of survival ~MLB players DON'T need the meal money anymore ~MLB players don't need ANY type of "bonus" money anymore ~Walter Payton was one of a kind ~the DP combination of Alomar/Vizquel was BEYOND beautiful to watch ~the average kid of today doesn't possess HALF the passion for sports as the kid of 30 years ago ~the Army/Navy football game will ALWAYS be special ~bunting is now a lost art in baseball ~having long fingers helps greatly when throwing a curveball *Finally, ~writing a column like this doesn't scratch the SURFACE when it comes to conveying what I've learned about sports over the past few decades; more to come........

"Lazzari's Sports Roundup" - - - - 8/17/13

I was talking to former MLB player Ron Blomberg recently (baseball's first DH)--a genuine character/wonderful interview. We talked about his call-up to the Yankees in the late 60's; I asked "Boomer" to share a specific moment/memory that made him TRULY realize he had made it to the "big leagues." His answer? "When I walked into Toots Shor's Restaurant in Manhattan and got to sit next to FRANK SINATRA."..........TRIVIA QUESTION: The 1997 Los Angeles Dodgers--who finished 88-74 under manager Bill Russell--had FOUR players on the squad who hit 30 or more home runs apiece. Can you name this quartet? Answer to follow..........During each NESN telecast this season, I've said to myself that Red Sox sideline reporter Jenny Dell CANNOT get any prettier. As of right now, she has proven me wrong over 100 times--and counting ..........Did you know that the 1990 Chicago White Sox were led in RBI's by Ivan Calderon with a modest total of just 74? Amazingly, the team won 94 games that season--third highest total in the majors behind Oakland (103) and Pittsburgh (95)..........Following the recent death of former first baseman George Scott (another "Boomer"), I spoke with writer John Buro about how Scott--along with guys like John Olerud and Dick Allen--played in the field while wearing a helmet. Buro: "Unlike Olerud (who once suffered a brain aneurysm), 'Boomer' played his position with a helmet in order to protect himself from things thrown on the field. In Allen's case, those objects could have come from fans, the opposing dugout, or his OWN dugout."..........Here goes: Just imagine if University of Northern Iowa soccer player Charlotte Jones married former major league outfielder Bill North, divorced, then married former Hillhouse (CT) High basketball coach Kermit Carolina. Fans of the 'Tar Heel State' would surely enjoy her full married name of Charlotte North Carolina..........ITEM: Youngstown State defensive back Dale Peterman is arrested for failing to show up for two court appearances; he's been busted on various traffic charges over the past couple of years along with possession of marijuana. In fact--regarding the pot charge from 2012--Peterman was stopped for speeding before troopers found marijuana on his LAP. Call me judgmental, but I'm gonna go out on a limb and guess that Peterman is NOT a philosophy or pre-med major at YSU..........You gotta admit: Despite the total negativity surrounding it, the name "Biogenesis" would be a REALLY cool name for a progressive rock band..........Congrats are in order for the three-time defending Ivy League champion Yale women's volleyball team. Sure, they get it done on the court, but for the SEVENTH consecutive season, the Bulldogs have received the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Team Academic Award ('12-'13 academic year). This award honors teams that collectively maintain a 3.3 grade-point average. Bravo, ladies; the team opens the 2013 season on September 6th at home vs. Missouri..........Answer to trivia question: MIKE PIAZZA (40), ERIC KARROS (31), TODD ZEILE (31), and RAUL MONDESI (30)..........Finally, condolences go out to the family of former major league shortstop Johnny Logan--who passed away recently in Milwaukee at the age of 86. A four-time All-Star, Logan played 13 seasons between 1951 and 1963 for the Boston/Milwaukee Braves and Pirates; he hit a home run in Game 2 of the '57 World Series--helping the Braves win the world championship that year. His most productive season probably came in 1955--a year in which he played EVERY game, hit .297, and led the NL in doubles with a total of 37. Following his playing career, he became a scout with the Milwaukee Brewers; he was honored by the club last month with an unveiling of his plaque on the Miller Park "Walk of Fame." May Johnny Logan rest in peace.

"Lazzari's Sports Roundup" - - - - 8/3/13

Yankees broadcaster David Cone--commenting recently regarding a manager's dilemma of sending a closer into a game if a starter has pitched a masterpiece for 8 innings--with a low pitch-count (i.e. TB's Chris Archer's gem on 7/27 vs. NY): "When a pitcher is going THAT good, sometimes it's best for a manager to just sit on his hands."..........TRIVIA QUESTION: The 1998 Houston Astros--who won over 100 games under manager Larry Dierker--had three players on the squad with 100 or more RBI's. Can you name this trio? Answer to follow..........It TOTALLY blows my mind that Bruce Chen is still pitching in the major leagues (his 15th season) while continuously throwing a belt-high, 84 mile-per-hour fastball..........I had the immense honor/privilege of interviewing Hall of Fame running back Eric Dickerson last week--a man who played 11 years in the NFL and carried the ball almost 3,000 times in his career for more than 13,000 yards. I asked him about the toll it took on his body--and if there is ANY way a football player can play the game more than a few years and come out "unscathed" health-wise: "Impossible. I don't care if you played just TWO years, it's just impossible because it's such a brutal sport--just too physical. Do I have problems? Most definitely. I have a bad back, I can't walk long distances, memory problems, bad shoulder, and I can't sleep at night. And people ask me if I'd let my son play football when he gets old enough. I tell them if he decided not to play, I would NOT push it on him. I would simply tell him what I know about the game and how rough it is."..........Anyone out there catch some of the photos of lovely actress Sharon Stone (yes, she's 55, folks) in the summer issue of "New You" magazine? Geez, and I used to think that Steve Carlton's slider was the ultimate thing of beauty.........Keith Hernandez--commenting last week on a Mets telecast vs. K.C.--used a new term for the bases being loaded: He said the bases were "intoxicated"..........Another great cause that incorporates fitness: The 2013 Walking Miles For Epilepsy will be held on Saturday, September 14th (rain date 9/15), at Eisenhower Park in Milford (CT). This is just another in a line of events hosted by the Connecticut Epilepsy Advocate aimed at building awareness about epilepsy. It will last from 12:00 noon until 3 PM; parking is free and the trail walk will be followed by food and drinks afterward. The entry fee is $20 per person; general donations of ANY amount are always welcomed. For more information on this great event, log onto www.ct-ea.org..........Here goes: European basketball player Georgia Jones marries MLB pitcher John Maine, divorces, marries Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana--divorces again--then walks down the aisle with Lowell Spinners outfielder Jose Colorado. Fans of U.S. geography would surely enjoy her full married name of Georgia Maine Montana Colorado..........On "Thursday Night Tailgate" (blogtalkradio) last week, my co-host Chris Mascaro asked "super-agent" Leigh Steinberg if any of his clients--during contract negotiations--ever asked for exorbitant money that made him scratch his head. Steinberg: "Only ALL of them"..........Answer to trivia question: MOISES ALOU (124), JEFF BAGWELL (111), and DEREK BELL (108)..........Finally, condolences go out to the family of Mr. Anthony Coscia of Derby (CT)--who passed away recently at the age of 91. Tony was a devoted member of the "Silver Sluggers" Baseball Club--a discussion-based group that continues to meet each Thursday during baseball season in southern Connecticut. I'll never forget the kind, gentle nature possessed by this man; I was always fortunate to sit next to him at the meetings. He'd smile as soon as I entered the room--ALWAYS asking, "How ya doing?!" and then offering the latest news on his entire family; I always felt like he was a "second Dad" to me while I was in his presence. A veteran of the Army Air Corps during WWII, he toiled in a factory for years in order to support his family. A very spiritual man as well, he was incredibly active in the St. Mary's Church--serving as an usher for over 35 years. Finally, Mr. Coscia flat-out LOVED baseball--particularly the NY Yankees--and grew up watching some of the greatest players who ever lived (Gehrig, DiMaggio, etc.). I'll truly miss his stories, his laugh, and--above all--his COMPANY. May Mr. Anthony Coscia rest in peace.

"Lazzari's Sports Roundup" - - - - 7/20/13

Chris Mascaro--one of my colleagues on blogtalkradio's "View from the Lone Red Seat"--commenting about Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz: "Buchholz is simply who he IS--a very good pitcher who is as fragile as fine crystal"..........TRIVIA QUESTION: Who was the last member of the Cleveland Indians to lead the American League in doubles? Answer to follow..........Some people in baseball STILL possess a sense of humor. During a recent Red Sox/Mariners telecast, one of Seattle's players drew a walk. What song immediately followed over Safeco Field's PA system? "These Boots Are Made For Walkin'" by Nancy Sinatra..........Combine fitness and a great cause and what do you come up with? The 2013 Bike MS: Cardio Express Ride--which will be held on Sunday, September 8th and begin at the Riverfront Boathouse in Hartford. This year's event marks the 18th anniversary of the ride; overall, more than 2,000 cyclists have pedaled over 200,000 miles--raising more than $1 million to help the fight against multiple sclerosis. Cyclists can ride 25, 50, or 75 miles through the scenic Connecticut countryside (crossing three bridges) before returning to Hartford. The registration fee is $45 (participants must be at least 12 years old) with the minimum fundraising amount per rider set at $175. In addition, there will be plenty of food, drink, and entertainment at the finish line. For more information or how to register for this special event, please visit www.ctfightsMS.org..........By way of this column, I believe I sent the lovely Christie Brinkley an open invitation for a tennis date approximately two years ago; ummm, I still haven't heard anything. There's a "shocker", huh?..........Did you know that Yankees outfielder Ichiro Suzuki has had 200 or more singles in a season TWICE in his career (2004 and 2007)? The only other player known to have toppled the 200-single mark in a season is "Wee Willie" Keeler, who did it a LONG time ago; Keeler--if we can trust the record book--notched 206 while playing for Baltimore in 1898..........Reader Tim Parry chimes in on NY Giants WR Victor Cruz--specifically how Cruz wasn't 'entirely happy' with his new $43 million contract extension: "Anyone remember when Victor Cruz was likable? I'm done with this guy. If I could even AFFORD a Victor Cruz jersey, I'd purchase it and throw it out!"..........Great quote by NESN's Jerry Remy recently after a fan at Fenway Park caught a foul ball--then pointed to himself while flexing/posing for the camera, etc.: "Looks like that guy has never seen the end zone before."..........Here goes: Illinois-based yoga instructor Kathy Yale marries PGA golfer Ken Duke, divorces, marries ex-NFL lineman Todd Fordham--divorces again--then walks down the aisle with former pro basketball player James 'Scoonie' Penn. Fans of esteemed higher institutions of learning would surely enjoy her full married name of Kathy Yale Duke Fordham Penn..........I am now TOTALLY convinced that N.Y. Mets pitching sensation Matt Harvey throws the "easiest" 98-99 mile-per-hour fastball that I have ever seen..........Answer to trivia question: GRADY SIZEMORE--who had a total of 53 'two-baggers' back in 2006..........Finally, condolences go out to the family of Coventry (CT) High School athletic director Nancy Levinson--who passed away recently after having a stroke at the age of 59. Nancy worked her way up from a paraprofessional position at the school to AD within a few years. In a short time, she developed some great sports programs; one of her greatest hires was the late Matt Hurlock (a man I was privileged to call a friend)--who went on to coach the girls volleyball squad to SEVEN state titles. Not too long ago, Nancy also worked feverishly to add football to the school's sports program; it remains strong and in good hands now under coach Tony Bonito. Personally, I'll never forget how accommodating Nancy was to yours truly; if I was planning to attend a CHS athletic event, all it took was a quick e-mail to Ms. Levinson and I'd be welcomed at the door/gate with the utmost respect. Nancy is survived by her husband, Michael, three children (Joshua, Adam, and Chelsea), and a brother, Bill. May Nancy Levinson rest in peace.

"Lazzari's Sports Roundup" - - - - 6/29/13

Let me try to describe the beauty of now-40-year-old actress Alyssa Milano using baseball terminology: As she's aged, she's lost NOTHING off her fastball; if anything, it even has more MOVEMENT than it once did..........TRIVIA QUESTION: Pete Rose and Joe Torre were the last National League players to accumulate 230 hits in a season--Rose in 1973 and Torre in '71 (both had exactly 230). Who was the last NL player to tally MORE than 230 hits in a season? Answer to follow..........I was talking to my "Monday Night Sports Talk" co-host Tony DeAngelo the other day about the epidemic now known as "NCAA recruiting violations"; the Oregon football program was one of the more recent ones to be fingered and put on probation for three years. Ummm, meanwhile coach Chip Kelly bolts for the riches of the NFL and a job with the Philadelphia Eagles. DeAngelo's take on "big-time" college football as a whole: "Let's just call it what it really IS, folks: ORGANIZED CRIME--AND RACKETEERING"..........Did you know that the 1989 Detroit Tigers--who finished 59-103 under manager Sparky Anderson--had just ONE player on the squad who drove in more than 50 runs? Infielder Lou Whitaker led the team in RBI's with 85 while outfielder Chet Lemon was second on the club with just 47..........After examining some of the people that former NFL TE Aaron Hernandez was 'running around with' away from the gridiron, I will NEVER again question my own friend-choosing ability..........ITEM: Dallas Cowboys DT Josh Brent is jailed after failing his second drug test in a month; this FOLLOWS the December 8th car crash of last year (that killed teammate Jerry Brown) when Brent was driving while intoxicated (twice the legal limit). While I have total disdain for this dolt's irresponsible, idiotic behavior, I'll also ask this: What kind of legal system allows a guy driving THAT drunk to be a free man--thus allowing him to get into FURTHER trouble?..........Here goes: Just imagine if Minnesota Lynx (WNBA) guard Sugar Rodgers married former NBA guard World B. Free. Diabetics everywhere would surely love her married name of Sugar Free.......... Answer to trivia question: MANNY MOTA--who led the NL with 231 hits in 1969 while playing for the Pittsburgh Pirates..........Roger Federer out in the SECOND ROUND at Wimbledon? The writing's on the wall as far as the end of his career is concerned, folks--in fact, it's being carved INTO the wall. Please, Roger, don't follow the lead of so many athletes of today and stay a year or two longer than you should; you have nothing--ABSOLUTELY NOTHING--to prove. You're almost 32 years-old now--ancient for a top-flight tennis player. I think I speak for many when I offer this: PLEASE leave all of us marveling tennis fans with ONLY good memories of the best player of all-time..........Finally, condolences go out to the family of former tennis coach/mentor Jelena Gencic--who died recently in Serbia at the age of 76. Gencic was the individual who discovered the talent of a young Novak Djokovic at a mountain resort back in the 1990's; she had also advised tennis greats such as Monica Seles and Goran Ivanisevic during their younger years. It wasn't ALL about tennis with Ms. Gencic, either; she also taught Djokovic--the multi-Grand Slam winner--many life lessons by providing him with books about various aspects of life. A tough woman? She would often pick practice sites for her students based on where BOMBS had fallen the night before in Belgrade; she even had a sister who died as a result of the bombings. She seemed to pass her mental toughness along to all of her students--one of her greatest gifts. She also convinced Djokovic's parents to sacrifice a lot--knowing what type of special tennis talent their son possessed. Yes, it surely paid off for Ms. Gencic AND the Djokovic family; none of us will EVER forget when Novak won Wimbledon in 2011 and proceeded to deliver the replica trophy in person to Gencic in Belgrade. May this special lady rest in peace.

"Lazzari's Sports Roundup" - - - - 6/15/13

Chris Mascaro, one of my fellow hosts on blogtalkradio's "View from the Lone Red Seat," commenting on Red Sox outfielder Jonny Gomes' struggles at the plate early this season: "He's striking out more than George Hamilton at a singles bar!"..........TRIVIA QUESTION: The 2003 Cleveland Indians were led in RBI's by a rookie who would go on to play only six years in the majors. Can you name this former outfielder? Answer to follow..........How 'bout 12-year-old Nick Carso of Andover (CT)--who recently completed the professional-level Rev3 Olympic Triathlon? Nick swam approximately one mile, completed a 25-mile cycling course, then completed a 10K run. This is a kid who recently received official notification of a complete loss of his diagnosis of autism (originally at 18 months old) after extensive testing last fall. After LOTS of hard work, Nick now excels in school, is a terrific all-around athlete, and is currently focused on inspiring others/raising funds for the Camp Care organization--benefiting needy children and their families. For more info on Nick and how to help out, go to www.gofundme.com/carsocampcare or visit campcarekids.org..........ITEM: Ten members of Congress ask NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to take action regarding the word "Redskin" being used as the Washington franchise's nickname. I was discussing this with my "Monday Night Sports Talk" co-host Tony DeAngelo the other day. His response? "You'd like to think they have something BETTER to do, say, like balancing a BUDGET or something!"..........Tim McCarver--on last week's FOX telecast--commenting about today's baseball players and their workout regimens vs. the players of, say, 30 years ago: "They LOOK better--but miss more (playing) time"..........Did you know that the 2008 Seattle Mariners were led in victories by Felix Hernandez with a total of just NINE? The team finished with a record of 61-101 that season under managers John McLaren and Jim Riggleman--with Erik Bedard, J.J. Putz, and Roy Corcoran finishing second to "King Felix" with six victories apiece..........Here goes: Legends Tour golfer Elaine Crosby marries N.O. Saints wide receiver Kenny Stills, divorces, marries NBA guard Steve Nash--divorces again--then walks down the aisle with Phillies infielder Michael Young. Rock and roll fans (and those who can remember Woodstock) would surely delight in her full married name of Elaine Crosby Stills Nash Young..........Answer to trivia question: JODY GERUT, who had 75 RBI's for a team that finished fourth in the AL Central--22 games behind Minnesota..........Putting aside/not even taking into consideration his recent arrest outside a Cincinnati bar, wouldn't the average person be ecstatic simply to have the money in LEGAL FEES that Bengals CB Adam "Pacman" Jones has paid out to lawyers over the past 7 years or so?..........ITEM: Former USC lineman Bobby DeMars claims that he was once cussed out by his defensive line coach--Ed Orgeron--for leaving practice early to attend a required statistics course. C'mon, Bobby--REALLY????? A major college football coach putting MUCH more emphasis on athletics instead of ACADEMICS???? Nooooooooooooo.......I talked to Larry Berra, Jr. recently--son of Yogi--and asked him about his Dad's feelings about having a museum (in NJ) named after him. He told me his father always says the same thing when asked about that: "It's great. Most guys who have museums named after them are DEAD." Yes, there's only one Yogi, folks..........Even as summer makes its welcomed presence and baseball season approaches the halfway point, I still find myself often thinking about football--particularly the great Walter Payton. Why? To me, he was possibly the most fascinating athlete I've ever seen. When you combine strength, preparation, talent, CLASS, and statistics, few compare to him in ANY era--and in ANY sport..........Finally, condolences go out to the family of former college basketball coach Charlie Coles--who passed away recently in Ohio at the age of 71; he had a history of heart problems. Coles coached 22 seasons at Central Michigan (six years) and Miami-Ohio (16 years)--putting together a lifetime record of 355-308. Charlie coached future NBAer Wally Szczerbiak and his teammates at Miami in 1999 when they made it to the "Sweet 16" before losing to Kentucky. He was a two-time Mid-American coach of the year and still remains the leader in victories in that conference's history. Charlie Coles is survived by his wife, Delores, a son (Chris), a daughter (Mary), and four grandchildren. Rest in peace, "Coach."

"Lazzari's Sports Roundup" - - - - 6/1/13

*ATTENTION GOLFERS: The Connecticut Sports Writers' Alliance will again host the Bo Kolinsky Scholarship Golf Tournament on Wednesday, August 14, at Lyman Orchards Golf Club in Middlefield. The tournament is named for the longtime high school sports editor of the Hartford Courant and past president of the Alliance--who died in 2003 at the age of 49. The tournament will have a noon shotgun start and a shamble format. Price is $150 per golfer--which includes a golf cart, pre-tournament snack, a terrific post-tournament dinner, and drinks. The Bo Kolinsky Scholarship is given to a Connecticut high school senior planning to attend a four-year college in pursuit of a career in sports journalism. To register, sponsor a tee sign, or for more information, contact Alliance president George Albano at (203)855-8797..........TRIVIA QUESTION: The 2003 Cincinnati Reds--who finished fifth in the NL Central under three different managers--were led in victories by a RELIEF pitcher. Can you name this former hurler who spent seven seasons in the majors? Answer to follow..........Anyone out there catch a glimpse of the revealing, cobalt blue gown that actress Sharon Stone was wearing at this year's Cannes Film Festival? My goodness. Let me compare her beauty now (she's 55) to the same woman, say, twenty years ago--using some baseball pitching terminology: She hasn't lost much off her fastball, still can hit the corners effectively, and can give MANY quality starts over the course of a season..........Oh, and regarding Red Sox in-game reporter Jenny Dell--shame on me. In all seriousness, I couldn't tell you if the woman has talent or not; her beauty is so intoxicating that it's actually difficult to concentrate/focus on her reports when she's on camera. If they ever make a movie on her life--and want to convey her beauty to movie-goers with a baseball theme--it should be called "A League of HER Own"..........A MUST-GO-TO web site for baseball fans/historians/students of the game: www.TheNationalPastimeMuseum.com It explores the great game of baseball through rare, wonderful artifacts and images; one of my favorite sections is "The Bat Exhibit"; check it out--just tremendous stuff..........My good friend/Negro Leagues historian Bill Chapman recently ran into the great Ferguson Jenkins at the annual Rickwood Classic down in Alabama. Bill told me that Fergie was asked by a reporter what his favorite pitch was. Jenkins' response? "A STRIKE."..........Answer to trivia question: CHRIS REITSMA--who went 9-5 that season; starting pitcher Paul Wilson was #2 on the staff in victories that season with a total of just eight..........Chris Mascaro--one of my fellow hosts on blogtalkradio's "View From The Lone Red Seat"--commenting about the Red Sox batters' propensity to strike out this year: "There's no 'K' in 'team', but there sure are a bunch in THIS lineup!"..........ITEM: Bears LB Brian Urlacher retires after 13 seasons with the team. Yes, the time had come. No, Urlacher didn't embarrass himself these past couple of seasons, but at age 35--and the WAY he approached his job--the correct decision was made. In his prime, very few linebackers covered the entire field like Urlacher; his energy level was amazing. He brought a toughness and "no-nonsense" approach to the position that I'll always remember/cherish. He surely continued the fine tradition of superstar LB's landing in the Windy City and spending their entire careers there (i.e. Butkus, Singletary). Yes, it's just a matter of time until Canton comes calling. Thanks for the memories, Brian..........I was just thinkin': If there has EVER been a slower base runner than Tampa Bay Rays catcher Jose Molina, then that ball player couldn't be CLASSIFIED as a base runner; he'd have to be known as a base WALKER..........QUESTION: At this juncture, shouldn't one Orenthal James Simpson be put on death row simply due to the immense embarrassment that he's imparted onto his CHILDREN?..........Condolences go out to the family of former NFL defensive lineman Dick Evey--who passed away recently in Tennessee at the age of 72. In a career that spanned from 1964-1971, Evey played six seasons with the Bears before spending his final two years with the Rams and Lions. Known as an incredibly dedicated/hard-working individual, Dick played in 102 NFL games and was credited with two interceptions and six fumble recoveries. Following his playing days, Evey worked in real estate development and construction. Rest in peace, Dick Evey..........Finally, it's been two years this week that you've been gone, Dad. Not a day (or perhaps an HOUR) passes by when you're not thought of fondly--ESPECIALLY now during baseball season. No one loved the game more than you, and I can feel your presence every time I sit down to view a telecast; yeah, you're right there with me--smiling, eating your ice cream cone, and offering your own unique brand of color commentary. Man, do I miss that--always will. For some reason, I still think you're enjoying the games more than ever in a much better place--and that makes ME smile. You were the BEST, "Big Bob"; enjoy the rest of the season, Dad.

"Lazzari's Sports Roundup" - - - - 5/18/13

Enjoyed talking to former NBA player Mike Gminski at the Gold Key Dinner in Southington a few weeks ago. We played against each other at the middle school level; he told me he always enjoyed making the short trip from Monroe to the Valley here in CT. What probably made it MOST enjoyable for him was how his team beat the pants off ours; he was already probably 6'5" tall at the time while our tallest player had to be about 5'10"..........TRIVIA QUESTION: What pitcher has thrown the most innings in Pittsburgh Pirates history? Answer to follow..........Over/under date for the next N.Y. Jets player to get busted on marijuana possession charges: June 15th..........Tragic news about former NASCAR driver Dick Trickle--a short-track specialist who died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound on May 16th. Reportedly, Trickle had been experiencing chest pains before his suicide, but he never seemed to be able to recover mentally from the death of his granddaughter--who was killed in a car accident in 2001; he also had a nephew who was shot to death in 2007. But I'll prefer to remember him as a charismatic, unique character--a guy known for smoking cigarettes during races and poking fun at himself due to his lack of success at the top level in the NASCAR series (even though he was voted NASCAR's rookie of the year in 1989--the oldest to win the award). I just hope you're finally at peace now, Mr. Trickle; thanks for your dry wit, the fun memories, and for being one helluva driver, too..........When Red Sox utility man Pedro Ciriaco played first base on May 12th, it was the SEVENTH position he has manned during his short career; he has yet to catch or pitch. THAT kind of versatility will keep a player on SOME team's roster for a very long time..........Since the passing of golf legend Ken Venturi, we've heard a lot about his heroic efforts in 1964 when he won the U.S. Open in blistering heat in Maryland while fighting off dehydration; yes, it was his signature moment as a golfer and an amazing feat. I'd also like to point out how terrific a commentator he was for CBS after his retirement from golf--underrated, in fact; he remained with the network for 35 years before leaving in 2002. Often paired with Jim Nantz, Venturi's low-keyed approach and smooth delivery were welcomed qualities that I'll never forget. His keen insight truly taught me how intricate the game of golf truly is--and how difficult it is to master. Mr. Venturi was recently elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame but couldn't attend the ceremony due to illness. He'll surely be missed--but never forgotten--by those of us who've followed golf over the past few decades..........O.K.--here goes: Former LPGA player Sally Little marries NBA player Michael Redd, divorces, marries British alpine skier David Ryding--divorces again--then walks down the aisle with former MLB pitcher Don Hood. Fans of old fairy tales would surely enjoy her full married name of Sally Little Redd Ryding Hood..........ITEM: Former Detroit Lions receiver Titus Young is arrested at least THREE TIMES (I lost track) within a week. I don't know if this is a sports question or a societal one--but let me ask it anyway: How in the world is this guy ALLOWED to be arrested more than, say, TWICE in one week? Putting aside possible brain disorders, concussions, etc., isn't this an embarrassment on the part of our legal system IN GENERAL?..........Since signing with the Red Sox in late 2009, pitcher John Lackey has won less than 30 games for the team and has pitched to an ERA of around 5.00. He will have earned (or should I say COLLECTED) around $65 million from the team when the current season ends. I'd say that all of this qualifies as "grand larceny"--don't ya think?..........Did you know that the 2004 N.Y. Mets--who finished 71-91 under manager Art Howe--were led in RBI's by Mike Cameron with a total of just 76? Offense was definite a problem that season; Cameron also led the team in runs scored (same modest number--76), and the team didn't have one player--starter or reserve--bat above .294..........Answer to trivia question: BOB FRIEND--who threw 3,480 innings for the Pirates between 1951 and 1965..........Finally, I was also saddened to hear about the death of former N.Y. Jets wide receiver George Sauer--who passed away recently of congestive heart failure at the age of 69; he had been battling Alzheimer's disease. A star player at Texas, Sauer played just six years in the AFL/NFL, but surely left his mark. He led the AFL in receptions in 1967 with 75, but is best-known for having a game-high eight receptions in Super Bowl III--when the Jets upset the highly-favored Baltimore Colts. Sauer was considered a rebel due to his feelings about the game of football; he considered it "dehumanizing" and disdained any type of regimented routine. He looked at his poetry/writing as much more important/relevant than the game of football--even though he was such a gifted athlete. All told, Sauer caught 309 passes for 4,965 yards during his short career between 1965 and 1970--scoring 20 touchdowns. His sister, Ms. Dana Keifer, is his only immediate survivor. Thanks for the memories, George; may you rest in peace.

"Lazzari's Sports Roundup" - - - - 5/4/13

Congratulations to Valley Times sports editor Bill Pucci--who recently received a John Wentworth Good Sport Award from the CT Sports Writers' Alliance (CSWA). In addition to his various media endeavors, "Pooch" has also coached at various levels and has done tons of work on behalf of Derby High football. Given in memory of the longtime sports editor of the New Britain Herald, this award goes to deserving individuals/organizations who have devoted their time to sports in their communities. Bill was honored on April 29th at the Aqua Turf Club in Southington at the 72nd annual Gold Key Dinner. Other "Good Sport" winners were Bob Fontaine of Bethlehem, Tom DiMaggio of Waterford, Alton Brooks of New Britain, Dan and Theresa Lee of Berlin, and "Sticks for Soldiers" (the Ludlowe High lacrosse team's charity tournament). "Pooch", I'm proud of you; thanks for being a terrific colleague and a cherished friend, as well..........TRIVIA QUESTION: The 2007 Chicago White Sox--who finished 72-90 under manager Ozzie Guillen--were led in stolen bases by an outfielder who played only four seasons in the majors. Can you name this former player? Answer to follow..........Ken Davis, a Coventry (CT) resident and former UConn beat writer for the Hartford Courant, will be inducted into the New England Basketball Hall of Fame on June 22nd in a ceremony at the DCU Center in Worcester. Davis spent 20 years covering UConn, the Big East, and national basketball for the Courant and is currently the national college basketball writer for FoxSportsNext.com; he's also finishing a second book written about Kansas basketball. Having had the opportunity to interview Ken on "Monday Night Sports Talk," I can vouch that few (if any) are versed in the game of college hoops like Mr. Davis. More important, he's become a terrific friend; great job, KD--and well-deserved..........*Other Gold Key Dinner notes: A highlight of the ENTIRE evening was the BRIGHT (or should I say BLINDING) yellow sports jacket worn by CSWA president George Albano. In fact, Gold Key recipient Mike Gminski--while giving his acceptance speech--even brought attention to it. He reminded dinner guests not to worry about the darkness in the parking lot while walking to their cars following the ceremony; he simply hinted that Albano's JACKET could illuminate the way. Also, longtime CT sports writer Bob Birge (a fellow Fordham grad) and yours truly were given the assignment of checking tickets at the VIP ROOM prior to the dinner--making sure only properly-ticketed people entered. Could it be that Birge and I were stationed there strictly because we appear to be the SCARIEST-LOOKING writers who are members of the CSWA?..........My good buddy, Pennsylvania radio host Keith Rice, chimes in with this gem: "Jets QB Mark Sanchez just threw a going-away party for Tim Tebow--and it got intercepted for a touchdown!"..........Great new book for baseball fans: Facing Ted Williams--edited by Dave Heller with a foreword by Wade Boggs/afterword by Bob Wolff. This great work provides tremendous insights from legends like Bob Feller in regard to competing against the "Splendid Splinter"; it also provides testimonials on how Williams was regarded among his peers. I loved the book after I read the very first sentence of the foreword by Boggs: "Ted Williams is who JOHN WAYNE wanted to be when he grew up." More info on the book can be obtained by visiting www.sportspubbooks.com..........Did you know that the 1991 Cleveland Indians hit a paltry total of just 79 home runs as a team? To stress how pitiful that number was, let me add this: The next lowest HR total in the AL that year was California with 115--36 MORE than Cleveland. Albert Belle led the squad that year with 28 homers while Carlos Baerga was second on the club with just 11..........Answer to trivia question: JERRY OWENS--who stole 32 bases (89% of his career total); he amassed just 36 stolen bases in the majors while playing for Chicago from 2006-2009..........Finally, condolences go out to the family of former Yale hockey coach Tim Taylor--who passed away recently here in Connecticut at the age of 71 after battling cancer. Taylor coached 28 seasons at Yale between 1976 and 2006--winning six Ivy League championships. He won 337 games while in New Haven and also took two leaves of absence to coach in the Olympics; he also coached four national teams in the world championships. Taylor passed away two weeks after Yale won its first NCAA hockey championship (vs. Quinnipiac); ironically, current coach Keith Allain played four seasons under Taylor as his first goaltender. My sincere condolences to his wife, Diana, and the rest of his family; rest in peace, "Coach." 

"Lazzari's Sports Roundup" - - - - 4/20/13

ITEM: Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Yovani Gallardo is arrested on drunk-driving charges; his breathalyzer test registered a 0.22 (THREE times the legal limit in WI) while he supposedly told police he had "a couple of beers." I'm just wondering if the "couple" of beers he consumed were served in 2.5 gallon AQUARIUMS that one can find at any PETCO store in the Milwaukee area...........TRIVIA QUESTION: Who was the last Cincinnati Reds player to lead the National League in triples during a season? Answer to follow..........O.K.--here goes: English teen/golf sensation Georgia Hall marries former NFL lineman Russell Maryland, divorces, marries MLB pitcher John Maine--divorces again--then walks down the aisle with ex-Syracuse basketball superstar Dwayne "Pearl" Washington. Fans of U.S. geography would surely enjoy her full, married name of Georgia Maryland Maine Washington..........Just wondering: Has anyone ever searched for the body of ex-Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa in the BEARD of former MLB All-Star reliever Brian Wilson?..........ITEM: Wrigley Field--the historic home of the Chicago Cubs--will get a $500 million "facelift" after an agreement was reached between the ball club and the city of Chicago. My first reaction? When a figure like $500 million is thrown around, shouldn't this be referred to as a "total body replacement" rather than a "facelift?"..........Anyone out there get a glimpse of the red dress that lovely actress-turned-director Jennifer Aniston was wearing at the recent premiere of the TV movie "Call Me Crazy: A Five Film" out in L.A.? My goodness. Allow me to compare her beauty to some baseball terminology: She may not throw a 98 mile-per-hour fastball anymore, but she still throws in the mid-90's with an effective, wicked slider..........Put it this way: If you watched that first Bruins game after the Boston bombings (vs. Buffalo, where anthem singer Rene Rancourt simply stepped aside--letting fans sing in unison) and DIDN'T get goosebumps, you may be due for a major medical check-up IMMEDIATELY (if not a REALITY check-up)..........Answer to trivia question: MARIANO DUNCAN--who led the league in "three baggers" in 1990 with a modest total of just 11..........Did you know that the lowly 1997-'98 Tampa Bay Lightning had only ONE player reach the 40-point mark that season? Center Paul Ysebaert led the squad in points-- tallying an even 40 (13 goals/27 assists) for a team that finished 17-55-10 under three different coaches..........Happy birthday wishes go out to former major league infielder Rudy Meoli--who blows out 62 candles on May 1st. Meoli played six seasons in the "bigs" between 1971 and 1979 as a member of the Angels, Cubs, and Phillies. He hit only .212 lifetime and probably was an "average" fielder at best. But he'll always be remembered for a terrific, over-the-shoulder catch in 1973 (while in California) that preserved the great Nolan Ryan's very first no-hitter vs. Kansas City (the Hall of Famer would go on to pitch seven in his career). Thanks for the memories, Rudy--and I'm sure Mr. Ryan thanks you, as well; here's wishing you many more birthdays to come..........Finally, condolences go out to the family of former college football coach Forrest "Frosty" Westerling"--who passed away recently in Washington at the age of 85. Westerling spent 32 seasons as the coach of Pacific Lutheran (an NAIA/Division III school) where he compiled a record of 261-70-5; he won four national titles and finished as a national runner-up four other times. He also had coaching stops at Parsons College in Iowa and Lea College in Minnesota. All told, "Frosty" won 305 college football games and was elected into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2005. He was a remarkable man OFF the gridiron, too--having become a successful author, motivational speaker, and professor. Yes, perhaps his greatest legacy is the life skills he passed on to young people; he was immensely passionate about passing on his coaching beliefs simply for the betterment of others. Mr. Westerling is survived by his wife, Donna, five grandchildren, and 13 grandchildren. Rest in peace, "Coach."

"Lazzari's Sports Roundup" - - - - 3/23/13

Having been an avid runner for over 30 years, I can vouch that I'm part of a unique fraternity; call it a group of people who enjoy a "sometimes-hard-to-explain" physical activity. Combine a good dose of insanity with some passion and you'll get an idea what running is all about. With that in mind, here some things that may provide evidence that an individual is a TRUE runner:


*you're always in search of the perfect running shoe--even if you already own six pairs
*you believe there is NO such thing as a smelly pair of running shoes
*you're aware that a "runner's high" feels better than any alcohol "buzz" that one can experience
*you've argued at length with someone about how walking and running AREN'T the same type of fitness undertakings
*you've spit into the wind while running--and paid the price
*you've hit "the wall"
*you've purchased a pair of running shoes that looked SO good/SO cool that you actually waited a LONG time before wearing them
*you've been undecided while trying to choose between two pairs of running shoes--and ended up buying BOTH
*you're familiar with EVERY type of roadkill species
*you DON'T need to wear headphones in order to enjoy a good run
*you've run in outdoor temperatures as low as minus-20-degrees and as high as 95 degrees--and EVERYTHING in-between
*you understand WHY a person who has run for years could never pursue a career as a foot model
*you're keenly aware that running with a hangover is more difficult than winning the lottery
*you've run on a track and have SWORN at walkers using the inside lane
*you remember the best pair of running shoes you've ever owned--and still wonder why they're not manufactured anymore
*you consider "carbo-loading" an art form
*you've given directions to countless drivers while running--but never admitted to them how they upset your stride and training pace
*you TOTALLY understand why a bad Achilles tendon can truly be someone's "ACHILLES' HEEL"
*you've had a shoe come untied during training runs and/or races--and spent at least five minutes wondering whether to stop and tie it or just keep running
*you've saved the front end of your car over the years--just by being SO familiar with the many potholes that appear along your running route
*you've "shadow-boxed" during a run
*you know all about a man named Jim Fixx
*you've been fully aware of a banana peel in your running path for a few days--and STILL managed to slip on it at some point
*you've hummed/mouthed the words to "Gonna Fly Now" numerous times during training runs
*the phrase "JUST DO IT" has gotten you through MANY training runs
*you've felt GREAT going into a run--then lumbered through it
*you've felt LOUSY going into a run--then had one of your better ones in a long time
*you're more afraid of BLISTERS than spiders or snakes
*you fear SHIN SPLINTS more than the IRS
*you've been asked by someone WHY you run. Your answer? "If you have to ask, then you'll never know"
*you've accumulated enough t-shirts from races to clothe small countries
*you're familiar with the term "conversational pace"
*you've given certain hand gestures to drivers who've honked their horns at you--even though they may have been your friends
*you DISDAIN the idea of a stationary bike being a good alternative to a training run
*you've cheered on finishers at the end of a road race after finishing ahead of them
*you value "negative splits" more than some of your most prized possessions
*you'd risk foreclosure on your home in order to purchase a pair of running shoes that significantly reduces the risk of injury
*you value Vaseline almost as much as GASOLINE
*you've canceled dinner dates and/or nights out with friends in order to get in a good training run
*you totally understand the passion possessed by the late, great Steve Prefontaine
*you have a dart board in your family room with a picture of Rosie Ruiz on it
*you've been nearly hit by cars at least 100 times--and are convinced that at least HALF of the drivers never even SAW you
*you've taken time off from work just to get in a good training run
*you've traveled to warmer climates in the winter just to get in some good training runs
*you've run in 90-degree, humid conditions on a main thoroughfare (i.e Route 34 in Derby, CT)--complete with swirling sand, fumes from huge trucks, and narrow shoulders
*you'd rather be NOWHERE else than the aforementioned, main thoroughfare
*you've based the overall quality of an entire day simply on the quality of an early morning training run
*you're familiar with EVERY type of inflammatory "-itis" known to mankind
*you're convinced that Gatorade has saved your life on one or more occasions
*you've had some of the best conversations ever--WITH YOURSELF--during training runs
*you're totally blown away by the accomplishments of one Robert "Raven" Kraft of Miami Beach, who has run 8 miles a day for over 38 consecutive years--WITHOUT missing a day
*finally, you understand that your DNA is a LOT different than that of the non-runner living next door to you
Keep runnin', folks.......

"Lazzari's Sports Roundup" - - - - 3/9/13

Speaking to my good friend Bill Chapman recently (a noted Negro Leagues historian/Harvard employee), I told him that I had just returned from picking up a friend at Boston's Logan Airport and had passed Fenway Park along the way. With wind chills around ZERO, I remarked to Mr. Chapman that I don't ever remember being in the vicinity of Fenway when it was THAT frigid. His response to me? "Reminds me of some of my past girlfriends, Bob!" (hey, I'm just the messenger, gals!)..........TRIVIA QUESTION: The 1992-'93 Philadelphia Flyers--who failed to make the NHL playoffs under coach Bill Dineen--had FOUR players on the squad who tallied 35 or more goals apiece. Can you name this quartet? Answer to follow..........Did you know that the 1986-'87 Denver Nuggets averaged over 116 points per game--yet finished with a sub-.500 record (37-45)? That team's "albatross?" DEFENSE, as they allowed close to 118 per game (the highest total in the NBA)..........You've heard of the term "one smart cookie", right? Well, let me add a similar one: "one intelligent Pancake", as in BROOKE PANCAKE--the LPGA rookie who graduated from the University of Alabama last May with a marketing degree along with a 4.0 GPA..........ITEM: Syracuse football players Davon Walls and Markus Pierce-Brewster are arrested after being caught on a University surveillance video stealing an Xbox, two Ipods, several video games, and a TV set. My first reaction? I was just wondering if either one of these "scholars" was majoring in Citizenship and Civic Engagement--a course of study offered at SU.........We often talk about individual records/single-season marks that may never be toppled again. One that goes under the radar screen is Jose Calderon's remarkable free-throw percentage of .981 during the 2008-'09 season as a member of the Toronto Raptors (minimum 125 attempts). That year, he drained 151-of-154 from the foul-line; yes--simply mind boggling, folks..........Just wonderin': Do they charge admission to take tours of "St. Jetersburg" down in Florida when Derek is out of town?..........A simple test to see if you are an avid, TRUE tennis fan: You can correctly pronounce the name of Russian tennis player Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova on the very first try..........*GREAT CAUSE: The Yale athletic department will once again hold the Mandi Schwartz Marrow Donor Registration Drive--Thursday, April 18th from 10AM-4PM. This is in memory of Mandi--the former Yale hockey player who passed away in 2011; her courageous battle with cancer has led to various efforts aimed at saving lives through marrow donations. The drive, which takes place at Commons on the corner of College and Grove Streets in New Haven, is open to the general public. Donors that could save lives are identified through testing that consists of simple cheek swabs. For more information on this special event, contact Larry Ciotti (Yale football) at larry.ciotti@yale.edu or call (203)671-9805..........Just thinkin': If German tennis player Mona Barthel ever walked down the aisle with Pennsylvania real estate investor James Lisa, fans of da Vinci's work would surely delight in her new, married name of Mona Lisa..........Answer to trivia question: MARK RECCHI (53), ERIC LINDROS (41), ROD BRIND'AMOUR (37), and KEVIN DINEEN (35)..........Finally, condolences go out to the family of John Pagliaro, Sr. of Milford (CT)--who passed away recently at the age of 80. Mr. Pagliaro was the father of former Derby High/Yale football great John Pagliaro, Jr. (a two-time Ivy League MVP); his grandson John also played football at Yale. Mr. Pagliaro was one of those devoted, blue-collar fathers back in the day--having worked for the Derby Post Office for 37 years while raising a family. Being a friend of his daughter Johanna, my only regret is that I never had the opportunity of knowing her Dad just a little bit better. He was a big Yale football and Boston Red Sox fan; yes, he truly fostered a sports-loving family during his adult life. You'll be missed, "Mr. Pags"; may you rest in peace.

"Lazzari's Sports Roundup" - - - - 2/23/13

Not much to say regarding the 2013 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue--except THIS: page 96, guys--PAGE 96..........TRIVIA QUESTION: The 1986-'87 Cleveland Cavaliers were led in scoring by a rookie--who most likely had the very best season of his long career that year. Can you name this former player? Answer to follow..........After mentioning the late, great, Dave Zinkoff in my last column (the colorful, former P.A. announcer for the Philadelphia 76ers), writer/column reader John Buro chimed in with this: "Once, I remember Garfield Heard of the Buffalo Braves scoring a basket; he was running back down the court when Zinkoff announced, 'That was Heard--of Buffalo.' Heard then looked at "Zink" in a deadpan manner and yelled to him, 'I can't believe you just said that!' "..........Recently, column reader/sports publisher Bob Swick shared his experience of meeting former MLB pitcher Denny McLain (the majors' last 30-game winner) here in CT when he was a child; he also touched on his love for sports in general: "My father took me in the late 60's to a Hamden-based Hammond organ dealer where McLain was playing. He played several songs, said a few words to the small audience that was there, and then signed autographs. I vaguely remember it being a Sunday night (maybe 6-8 PM) and as soon as it was over, he was gone. I held very tightly to his autograph all the way home and brought it into school the very next day to show everyone. I was about 10 years-old at the time and loved all sports. In fact, sports was my entire world back then; I devoured the sports section from the New Haven Register and Journal Courier each and every day. I also loved reading SI and The Sporting News, too. Ahhh, the days of great sports journalism--lost but not forgotten."..........ITEM: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell earned compensation of approximately $30 million between April 2011 and April 2012. If you still need further evidence that our society's values are, let's say, just a bit "off center", consider THIS, folks: I just examined (give or take a few bucks) five annual, average salaries of people with important jobs: a police officer, registered nurse, teacher, EMT, and social worker. I can now conclude that Goodell probably earned more than TEN TIMES than all of them COMBINED over a one-year period..........Congratulations to my colleague Bob Ehalt--who has been selected as the 2013 recipient of the Art McGinley Award by the Connecticut Sports Writers' Alliance. The award honors a current or former member of the organization for meritorious service; he will be honored at the 72nd Gold Key dinner on April 28th at the Aqua Turf Club in Southington. Ehalt, a former president of the organization who now serves as vice-president, has worked more than 30 years at various Connecticut newspapers; in addition, Bob also works as a horse racing correspondent for ESPN.com. During his outstanding career, he has received five "Top 5" awards in the national Associated Press Sports Editor writing competition. Personally, I am proud to say that Ehalt is a graduate of Fordham University--like yours truly. Tickets to the Gold Key Dinner--which begins at 4 PM--can be obtained by contacting CSWA president George Albano at (203)434-2320..........Did you know that the late Roy Hamilton--a gifted male vocalist--was once a Golden Gloves heavyweight boxer? He then became a member of the Searchlight Singers before going on to solo stardom. If you want to hear a true "superstar" at work, listen to Mr. Hamilton's recording of "You'll Never Walk Alone", folks; it's pure MAGIC..........Scenario: Australian golfer Rebecca Artis marries Buffalo Bills defensive back Stephon Gilmore. Fans of a particular 7-foot 2-inch NBA Hall of Famer would surely enjoy her full married name of Rebecca Artis Gilmore..........Answer to trivia question: RON HARPER--who averaged 22.9 ppg that season; Harper was a member of four different teams (Cavs, Clippers, Bulls, and Lakers) in a career that lasted from 1986-2001..........Finally, condolences go out to the family of Laurence Simmons--the first African-American to play football for the University of Louisville; he died in a house fire in Kentucky at the age of 79. Simmons played football for U of L in 1952 after having been a star player/captain at Central High School; he later became a teacher at Meyzeek Middle School--from where he retired. May Mr. Simmons rest in peace.

"Lazzari's Sports Roundup" - - - - 2/9/13

*ATTENTION--all who enjoy bowling (whether you've bowled 300 games in the past or have trouble breaking 100): Mark your calendars--Sunday, April 14, 2013 from 12:00 Noon to 3:00 PM. Join the Connecticut Epilepsy Advocate's "Strike Out Epilepsy" event. This is one of the annual events the Connecticut Epilepsy Advocate holds to make people more aware about epilepsy. Parties can have up to six people per lane while pizza and soda will be served at each lane. You will enjoy hours of bowling and help people with epilepsy, their family members, and friends living with epilepsy. This special event will be held at Milford Lanes--located at 1717 Boston Post Road, Milford, CT. General donations of any amount are truly appreciated. The entry fee is $30.00 per person; also, there are two levels of sponsorship banners to choose from that will be displayed above the bowling lanes (regular--$200.00/platinum--$300.00). Registration forms, flyers, and sponsorship banners are available on the organization's web site 'Events' page at www.ct-ea.org. You can register/pay on line; you can also send checks directly to Connecticut Epilepsy Advocate, Inc. 20 Salem Walk, Milford, CT 06460-7132..........TRIVIA QUESTION: The 2000-'01 New Jersey Devils--who won 48 games under coach Larry Robinson--had three players on the squad who tallied 35 or more goals apiece. Can you name this trio? Answer to follow..........Karen Newman of Old Greenwich--who overcame breast cancer to become one of the world's top age group triathletes--will receive the Bob Casey Courage Award from the CT Sports Writers' Alliance at its 72nd Gold Key Dinner on Sunday, April 28th at the Aqua Turf Club in Southington. Newman, 51, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008, but did not let this medical condition curtail her triathlon efforts. Last August, she finished eighth in the women's 50-54 age group at the USA Triathlon National Championships; she also finished second in her age category at a triathlon in New Zealand last October. Newman will be honored that day along with various others (including former NBA player Mike Gminski). Tickets to the 2013 Gold Key Dinner--which begins at 4PM--can be purchased by either contacting Alliance President George Albano at (203)434-2320 or by emailing VP/dinner chairman Bob Ehalt at Ehalt.Bob@sbcglobal.net..........I used to think that a Roger Federer backhand was the ultimate thing of beauty. That all changed recently when I saw the red gown that actress Jessica Chastain was wearing at the 2013 SAG Awards; my goodness..........Lazzari's "Lopsided Score of the Week": In a CT high school girls basketball game a few weeks back, Mercy annihilated Hamden 73-11; the winning squad outscored its overmatched opponent by a combined score of 52-0 in the first and third quarters of this fiasco. Question: With a name like "Mercy", shouldn't this score have been just a LITTLE bit closer?..........Talk about BALANCE: The 1990-'91 Boston Celtics had SIX players who scored more than 1,000 points that season (Reggie Lewis, Kevin Gamble, Kevin McHale, Robert Parish, Larry Bird, and Brian Shaw). However, they ended up losing to Detroit in the Eastern Conference semifinals--who just happened to be the best defensive team in the NBA..........One of the great inspirational quotes of all-time--from the late, great distance runner Steve Prefontaine: "How does a kid from Coos Bay--with one leg longer than the other--win races? All my life, people have been telling me, 'You're too small, Pre', 'You're not fast enough, Pre', 'Give up your foolish dream, Steve'. But they forgot something: I HAVE TO WIN."..........Any pro basketball fans out there--who remember the 70's/80's--stuck with a case of the "winter blues?" Here's the cure: Find a recording of former 76ers PA announcer Dave Zinkoff doing his pre-game introduction of Julius Errrrrrrrrrrving!!! I GUARANTEE that puts a smile on your face; there was only ONE "ZINK", my friends..........Answer to trivia question: ALEXANDER MOGILNY (43), PATRIK ELIAS (40), and PETR SYKORA (35)..........Finally, almost eerily quiet was the unfortunate death of former college/pro basketball player Jerome Whitehead at the end of December. Sadly, he was found dead by his sister in his southern California home--the victim of a gastrointestinal hemorrhage related to chronic alcohol abuse; he was 56. Whitehead was best-known for helping Marquette to the 1977 national championship; his game-winning basket at the buzzer during a semifinal win over UNC-Charlotte was an unforgettable highlight of that remarkable season under coach Al McGuire. Whitehead was chosen in the second round of the 1978 draft by the San Diego Clippers; he'd go on to play 11 seasons in the NBA for six different teams--averaging 6.5 pts/4.8 rebounds a game for his career. His best year came during the 1981-'82 season while in San Diego--a season when he put up career highs of 13.8 ppg/9.2 rpg. Altogether, Jerome Whitehead played in 679 NBA games and scored 4,423 points. Yes, his life may have had a sad ending, but he continues to give many of us college basketball fans some wonderful memories. May Jerome Whitehead rest in peace.

"Lazzari's Sports Roundup" - - - - 1/26/13

*For years, yours truly had the immense privilege of coaching baseball and basketball at the middle school level with a gentleman by the name of Roy Lawrence. He was a former captain of the UCONN football team back in the late 60's; he was later named to the school's 100th anniversary team as a lineman in 1998. He was (and remains) a man filled with discipline--a former "military brat" who was flat-out born to teach/coach. Quite frankly, I've respected few people in my life more than Mr. Lawrence--who was a mentor to me; if you coached/worked with him, you'd probably understand a bit better. Recently, I asked him to send along some random thoughts of our fond days spent coaching together--memories that I can simply reflect back on from time to time when I feel the need to smile. Well, I got MORE. He was BEYOND gracious when he sent the following words that overwhelmed me--but speak to the essence of a very special man:

Anecdotes/memories from one "old jock" to another.....

Dear Bob:

I'll never forget the respect that you demonstrated toward me and our sports programs in general; we developed the type of coaching relationship that when the boys heard YOU speaking, it was just like ME speaking. That was my goal after I realized your expertise and love for the sports of basketball and baseball. As far as basketball was concerned, I remember putting you in charge of both the 3-pt. and foul shooting after I saw you sink 5-6 in a row at practice; you had watched me teach it and then you did the same--imitating my form exactly. You then got me to watch certain boys and would tell me if they were actually doing it correctly or if their bodies just made them look funny. Yeah, that happened in baseball, too, when we taught the correct form of hitting.

I remember the season we went undefeated in basketball and had some big kids/good athletes. You and I had some pretty good schemes that we utilized: a double high post, a pick-and-roll across the baseline under the basket, and a great press-breaker. And I remember the "class" you showed when David Kohn (a parent of a player) wanted to help coach. You helped me get through that season just by listening a lot--and that helped our boys so much. Yeah, I'll never forget the first year you started coaching with me. The boys in the hallway would say "Hi" to you and talk very little. They respected you and just knew your coaching was helping--and that we had a trust relationship between us.

The years coaching baseball? I remember asking you to teach the slap tag with the first basemen--along with bunting. Only a few weeks later, we beat RHAM with a slap tag at first by Joey Dumochel and a squeeze bunt by Kyle Penny. And we did that in the last inning! Together, we also worked out the "bunt to third" play by using a stop watch. It started with a "bunt and run" and the runner was on his way to third. The bunt had to be down the third base line and the runner had to be fast. He also had to look and listen to me coaching third base. You were coaching first base and made sure the runner saw the sign. Yes, we burned a few teams with that one.

I also recall you alerting our first basemen to come off the bag after an out and look toward second for a runner who might be rounding the base too much; we were only successful a few times, but it would demoralize the other team's base-runners when it happened. We just had so much fun teaching the finer points of baseball defense. In early training--as soon as we could get outdoors--you were always able to "tweek" a drill to help each boy understand it and succeed. I remember telling my wife that it was like having a clone of me coaching the finer points. I never changed anything you taught; you had my complete trust--and the boys picked up on that. Oh, by the way, I remember my wife asking, "Roy is it good to have the two of you coaching together?" I just laughed. I also remember the terrific parent volunteers who were of great help to us: Frank Murphy, Scott Lewis, and sometimes Bill McConaughy. Tom Giard (a fellow teacher) was also a great help at times and truly knew his baseball. Finally, I remember a few of the boys--like BC, Braun, and Craig--always stopping near my room in order to read your weekly column. I would print it out in the classroom and post it on my door.

I cannot thank God enough for the years that you and I spent coaching together; it was truly a highlight of my 38 years of coaching--from college football at UCONN, to Farm League/Little League/Pony League/Colt League baseball, middle school basketball/baseball/soccer/track, coaching my grandson in premier soccer, and running my own soccer camp for ten years. Bob, again, you were a great part of some of my finest years and greatest memories. Your quiet demeanor and loyalty were traits God gave you to help both myself and the many young men we coached; those kids truly learned the games of baseball and basketball. I am sure you can remember some other stories, but the ones I recall the most are those that influenced me greatly due to your character, integrity, and sense of humor. From the hallway drills of basketball and baseball to the workdays (yes, with shovels!) on the fields, I always knew I could count on you being there for me.

I remember Andy Baylock (former UCONN coach) asking me at a recent alumni football gathering, "Roy, why don't you get to more games?" I simply said, "Andy, I now coach on Saturdays--and that's what God has me doing. And I will keep doing it as long as He allows."

Bob, I send you this with the utmost respect and a warm heart; to the best assistant coach I ever had, and the best sports writer I ever read. God bless, Roy W. Lawrence

*Well, Mr. Lawrence, the feeling is mutual; I'm a better man/person for having worked with you--and I'm smiling now. There's something to be said for the specialness/bond between coaching brethren--the sole reason why I've published your kind words/response in the first place. Yeah, I was the lucky one. Thank YOU, sir; those were special days that will never be forgotten.

"Lazzari's Sports Roundup" - - - - 1/12/13

"Raven" Update: The man just simply keeps going. My good friend Robert "Raven" Kraft of Miami Beach just completed his 38th CONSECUTIVE year of completing his 8-mile daily run--yes, EVERY day, folks. At the end of April, it will be 14,000 straight days of running on the soft, sandy beach for this remarkable man who currently has logged in more than 111,000 miles since this unfathomable streak began. It started as a New Year's resolution back in 1975--to run every day for a year; he now has a cult following and even has been featured on HBO's 'Real Sports' series. He's been mentioned in this column numerous times over the years; words now seem useless when trying to describe the type of inspiration he's been to COUNTLESS people on a daily basis for a very long time. Very few things in life have caused one particular sports columnist to be awed and simply say, "Wow"; this man and his accomplishments HAVE. The legend of "Raven" continues; keep running, my friend..........TRIVIA QUESTION: The 1993-'94 Milwaukee Bucks--who finished a pathetic 20-62 under coach Mike Dunleavy--were led in scoring by a Big East product who would play nine seasons in the NBA. Can you name this former player? Answer to follow..........The Yale women's ice hockey team is dedicating its game at Ingalls Rink on Saturday, Jan. 26, to Mandi Schwartz--utilizing the game vs. Colgate as a fundraiser for the Mandi Schwartz Foundation. Aleca Hughes, Yale's former captain, started the charity in memory of Mandi--the Bulldogs center who passed away in April 2011 after battling cancer for more than two years. Everyone attending is encouraged to wear white as a "White Out for Mandi" show of support. The team is currently lining up pledges from donors based on the attendance total; no admission will be charged and donations will also be accepted at the door. Special white t-shirts will be sold, and youth hockey teams are encouraged to come wearing white jerseys. The Bulldogs will also honor Mandi in a special pre-game ceremony. In addition, Mandi's parents will be in attendance to present Aleca with ECAC Hockey’s Mandi Schwartz Award as Student-Athlete of the Year for 2011-'12. More information about this terrific cause/touching event can be obtained by visiting www.yalebulldogs.com..........From the "Can't Get Uglier" Dept.: How 'bout the Brooklyn Nets--who recently scored a grand total of just FIVE points in the third quarter of a blowout loss at San Antonio? Is it ME--or doesn't every NBA team in history score five points in a quarter just by getting off the team bus PRIOR to the game? Ughhhh..........Did you know that the 1988-'89 Indiana Pacers employed FOUR different head coaches during a disastrous 28-54 season? After going 0-7, Jack Ramsay stepped down; Mel Daniels and George Irvine both filled in on an interim basis before Dick Versace compiled a 22-31 record to finish the season..........Just thinkin': If LPGA player Amy Hung tied the knot with Kansas optometrist Jim Jury, courtroom drama enthusiasts everywhere would surely delight in her full married name of Amy Hung Jury..........How 'bout that lopsided girls high school basketball score last month out in Indiana--where Bloomington South annihilated Arlington 107-2? Arlington did NOT score a field goal in the game; their two points came on free throws during the second and third quarters. Ummm, do you think this might be MAJOR evidence for the need of a "mercy rule" in that particular league? On one hand, you just never want to see a squad take a beating like that; if you're coaching on the winning side, you also can't tell your last five players on the bench NOT to compete. Let's just hope that none of us see another 105-point victory in the foreseeable future..........Answer to trivia question: ERIC MURDOCK--who averaged 15.3 ppg that season; he played with SEVEN different teams in a career that spanned from 1991-2000..........Finally, condolences go out to former NHL coach/executive Wren Blair--who passed away recently in Ontario, Canada at the age of 87. Blair, originally a scout, is probably best-known for having signed a 14-year-old phenom named Bobby Orr to a Boston Bruins-sponsored team in 1962. Nicknamed "The Bird," Wren went on to become the first coach/GM of the Minnesota North Stars in 1967 and later held executive positions with the Pittsburgh Penguins and L.A. Kings. Predeceased by his wife, Elma, Blair is survived by a son, Dan, and a daughter, Jill--along with two brothers and several grandchildren. May Wren Blair rest in peace.

"Lazzari's Sports Roundup" - - - - 12/29/12

A few things one columnist would like to see in 2013..............



*the price of a beer at Yankee Stadium not resemble the price of an oil change
*the Dallas Cowboys allow ONLY cheerleaders--NOT criminals--on the sidelines during games
*the Pittsburgh Pirates stop teasing us--and FINALLY finish over .500
*less achy joints
*less achy EVERYTHING
*Adam Greenberg make it all the way back with the Orioles
*better media accommodations at the New Haven Open tennis tournament at Yale
*the Washington Wizards give free tours of the White House to season-ticket holders if they fail to reach 20 victories
*better media accommodations at CT high school football venues (didn't I say that last TWO years?)
*more kindness in the world
*replays of the "Legends of Pocket Billiards" competition shown on ESPN (Willie Mosconi, U.J. Puckett, Minnesota Fats, etc.)
*less NBA "coach-killers" like Deron Williams of the Brooklyn Nets
*more COACHABLE NBA players like Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls
*"shred-proof" dental floss that is, well, TRULY shred-proof
*a Justin Verlander clone
*NO clones of Ozzie Guillen ANYWHERE
*a two month, all-expense paid vacation to Hawaii for anyone who can name all 30 current NHL coaches
*the same prize for anyone who can correctly identify each NBA arena
*Carmen Electra leading a 7th-inning stretch at Fenway Park
*a sign inside the Yankee Stadium Team Store that reads "One for the price of THREE"
*larger 'bathrooms' at the Travelers Championship media tent (ALL media members will attest)
*less POLITICS in the world
*a politician who doesn't PRACTICE politics
*Lindsay Lohan locked up for at least three months--in order to keep OTHERS' lives out of jeopardy
*Robinson Cano really "bust it" down the line after hitting a ground ball--just ONCE
*approximately 20 LESS college football Bowl games
*less writer's block
*Angels outfielder Mike Trout not develop dollar signs in his eyes
*Christie Brinkley post a personal ad--seeking an aging sports columnist
*consistently good cell phone reception
*the Whiffenpoofs perform at every Yale football home game
*stadium parking rates that are just HALFWAY fair
*CC Sabathia featured in a Pilates workout video
*a future Barry Sanders or Walter Payton born somewhere
*just ONE slam-dunk (college OR pro) that isn't accompanied by theatrical showboating
*Charlize Theron follow Ms. Brinkley's lead as previously mentioned
*a Mike Francesa (WFAN Radio) doll--which automatically berates someone when he/she attempts to talk to it
*one particular sports columnist become truly convinced that Michael Vick SINCERELY cares about animal welfare
*Colts head coach Chuck Pagano remain healthy
*the Kate Smith rendition of "God Bless America" played during the 7th inning at EVERY MLB ballpark
*more TV commercials like the Miller Lite ads of the 70's/80's
*the Kate Upton SI Swimsuit Issue video shown on TV during MLB rain delays
*the NFL Pro Bowl become a touch football game (wait a second--it already IS!)
*customers receive a bumper sticker that reads "I WAS JUST ROBBED" after paying $5 for a bottle of water at Yankee Stadium
*overrated/overpaid MLB pitchers--a la John Lackey--give a few grand to charity for every earned run allowed
*a raise for the very responsible person at the Travelers Championship who keeps the freezer in the media tent well-stocked with Ben & Jerry's ice cream bars
*a future Phillie Phanatic born somewhere
*a course offered at a local college called "Swimsuit Appreciation"--with the current SI Swimsuit Issue and the aforementioned Kate Upton video used as study materials
*a baseball field built in Newtown, CT called "Angels Field"--having NOTHING to do with the big league club
*less kids playing video games/more kids involved in playground PICK-UP games (I can dream, can't I?)
*the REAL high school transcripts of John Calipari's players before they landed at UMASS, Memphis, or Kentucky
*my good friend Robert "Raven" Kraft's running streak continue; 8 miles daily, 38 consecutive years, now over 111,000 total miles
*seat licensing become illegal
*the term "quality start" be redefined as a 7-inning performance with two or less earned runs allowed
*"Pistol" Pete Maravich highlights shown during halftime of the NBA All-Star Game
*Yankees radio man John Sterling broadcast games from behind the outfield fence--in order to get HR calls CORRECT
*a normal week of JUST baseball in Boston
*the K.C. Chiefs and Oakland Raiders both gain some SIGNIFICANCE again
*a future ballplayer born who will someday be the Red Sox' starting SS for more than 5 consecutive seasons
*peace and prosperity for the readers of this column Happy 2013, folks.......
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