As we embark on the dog days of summer, I’d like to share some random sports thoughts with you this week. In these seemingly troubled times of economic uncertainty and the lunacy on Capitol Hill, I often look to find solace in the sports pages.
Last weekend it appeared that half of Chesterfield County converged at the Beulah Pool and Tennis Club for the annual Chesterfield Aquatic League championship. In sweltering heat, Chester Recreation took yet another title; one of the most incredible dynasties in local sports history. The new swim facility at Chippenham and Rt. 10 should really elevate our already strong swimming community.
July 31 marked the trade deadline in Major League Baseball. It is both an exciting and sometimes sad time as players jump from place to place. General Managers carefully define their particular ballclub as a buyer or a seller with about 50 games remaining on the schedule. The buyers mortgage at least a part of the future hoping to acquire the one player that will carry them to the post-season. Sellers often let go of their lone star in exchange for a handful of prospects that may brighten their futures. Sometimes it works out to be a win-win situation. Locals remember the Doyle Alexander-John Smoltz trade. Alexander helped the Tigers win a pennant, while the young Smoltz blossomed into a Hall of Fame caliber pitcher in Atlanta.
And then the Nats are killing me! I have become the hardest of a hardcore Nats fan. In the middle of June I was celebrating what looked like a possible run to the playoffs. My wife and I then witnessed the team go into their latest tailspin by blowing an 8-0 lead to the Cubs in early July. The march to the cellar has been fast and furious. I cannot defend a hitting coach when the entire team has been in a season-long slump.
In the most curious event of the summer, Jim Riggleman walked away as manager of the Nats. The team had just won 12 of 13 games, but it became apparent that the team was not interested in locking Riggleman up for the long term. First hired as an interim replacement, it was obvious to Riggleman that that status had not really changed. I wish him well, now with the Giants.
The NFL finally came to its senses just in time to save the start of the season. Forgiving fans are driving ticket prices up on the secondary market, often paying two to three times the face value for an already inflated priced ticket. One pair of end zone tickets for the Cowboys-Patriots game will set you back $900 on Stubhub. Will we ever learn?
The Futures Tour returns to the Richmond Country Club this month. Up and coming LPGA professionals will be joined in the field by Manchester’s Lyberty Anderson. Speaking from my team’s experience, THAT GIRL CAN PLAY!
Also, the NBA lockout continues. Trickles of players have signed to play in the European League. If the lockout continues, more will sign. Unlike football, the public seems to care less. Basketball is a world game now, with fan loyalty centered on individual players, not teams.
VCU lead assistant coach Mike Jones landed the job at Radford University. Radford has never been a powerhouse, but up until the last coach, they have prided themselves with putting a squeaky clean and competitive program on the court. Jones is a great guy and a super coach. VCU will miss him and Radford will rise to the top of the Big South real soon.
Butch Davis was fired at UNC, following by the resignation of the AD. This proud academic institution has been embarrassed to no end. Davis should have been shown the door 12 months ago. Come to think of it, they should have never fired the highly regarded John Bunting in the first place.
Shane Beamer looks like the real deal as he has taken charge of recruiting in Blacksburg. The Hokies are just about set with their 2012 signing class. Mike London is getting closer at UVA, but the chasm remains wide.
High school fall sports begin in earnest this week. Golf leads the way, followed by volleyball, cross country, hockey, and of course football. Our kids deserve the community’s support. And don’t forget the cheering squads, dance teams and marching bands that have put in tremendous time and effort in honing their skills.
Farewell and best wishes to recently retired Ron Paquette at L.C. Bird. It was a true pleasure working with someone who was so open and helpful. Also congratulations to Joey Richeson, MBK’s AD, who takes over as Chairman of the Central District.
The Flying Squirrels continue to pack them in at The Diamond. They are an exciting club, and as of this writing, find themselves only a ½ game out of first place. You owe it to your family to see a Squirrels game during one of these last remaining home stands.
The beaches are still open for business and it is cooler in the mountains. Hopefully your family can enjoy at least one more fling this summer and I hope everyone has a terrific school year.