Here are some random thoughts as the sports world spins its wheels trying to get going again.
Trivia Question #1
I was watching a sports video on the Internet a couple days ago, and I saw a team that had the same team name as another team in another major league sport.
It made me wonder about how many teams in the Big Four leagues, (Major League Baseball, NFL, NBA, and NHL) share team names. I thought for a while, and then I looked it up. I did not get it correct.
How many current team names are shared in the Big Four leagues, and what are those teams? (Answer at the end of the column)
Time is Tricky
With my calendar usually based on what sports are going on, my ability to figure out what time of the year we are in is completely out of whack.
Having not seen a baseball, softball, tennis, or track and field event this spring as well as having snow just a couple days ago, my mind feels like we are in a perpetual March.
However, it feels like state wrestling and the state basketball playoff were about six to eight months ago instead of just 10 weeks ago.
Writing a check has been an absolute adventure trying to guess the month, much less the actual date, to write down.
I didn’t realize how much the sports seasons affected me as well as many others in the area.
It just seems so bizarre that until the last week, it was nearly impossible to find live sports to watch on television.
Although ESPN did have some interesting competitions that were taped from the months before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down much of the world.
One Saturday night, they had a Slippery Stairs race, which is exactly what the name implied. Five competitors attempted to climb a two or three-story staircase that is covered in slime. Athletes in helmets and bodysuits, also covered in slime, to make it up the staircase, but you could take out the other racers at any time.
That was followed by a Death Diving competition. That can best be described as the opposite of Olympic diving where you want a big splash. There are classic and freestyle events, and it looked fun to watch. However, it also looked painful at times.
It’s amazing what people will watch in the sports world.
It reminds of the days of yore when ESPN had rights to very few major sporting events, and many of the down times had a sport that I loved to watch: Australian Rules Football.
I’m still not sure of all the rules, if they even had any, but it was a lot of fun to watch.
I am always looking for new types of entertainment, and I found one on Sunday.
If you are looking for something entertaining to eat up about 20 minutes or so, I highly recommend going to YouTube and typing “Building the Perfect Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder,” in the search bar.
It is a delightful and funny video of YouTuber Mark Rober, who spent a lot of time basically trying to see if he could make a squirrel go through an obstacle course to get to a bird feeder.
You will love Phat (Phantastic) Gus.
What Could Have Been?
Last weekend should have been the PIAA Track and Field Championships, and it is an event that I look forward to every year.
But this year could have been special.
We legitimately had a chance at a pile of gold medals.
Chestnut Ridge’s Duane Knisely would have been one of the favorites in the shot put and the discus, while Everett’s Kaitlyn Maxwell had already medaled in the previous two years in the 400 and 800.
Chestnut Ridge’s Logan Pfister won the state indoor track and field title in the high jump in March, and should have been a favorite in the outdoor meet as well. He also was the returning District 5 champion in all the jumping events, and possibly could have medaled in some of those.
There were others that could have made some noise at the state meet.
Northern Bedford’s Ian Zimmerman was a returning fourth-place medalist in the 1600, and Bedford’s Van May and NBC’s Ian Sherlock both had great chances in the 3200.
Tussey Mountain’s David Smith (pole vault) and Bedford’s Elijah Cook (javelin) won districts last year as sophomores, and I was looking forward to seeing how much they improved.
The Tussey Mountain 4x100 relay team had most if not all four members back from last year’s team that ran very well.
There are too many others to name including some freshmen and foreign exchange students who may have been outstanding at the state meet.
I don’t like to play the “What If” game, but there was potential for a very strong performance from the crew from Bedford County and District 5.
Some of the athletes will be back for another go at it like Pfister, Zimmerman, May, Smith, and Cook, and hopefully this will be the last time we ever have to deal with anything like this.
For the seniors all across the county, I wish you the best of health and wishes over the coming months.
What About the Fall?
We will learn more in the coming months, but the future could be interesting for a couple of the fall sports.
What will soccer and football be like? Will there be a season, or how might it be adapted in these times?
We are watching how the NHL, NBA, and Major League Baseball are all trying to get their seasons going, and how much different it could be from what has been normal.
For high school sports, especially those sports where there is proximity and contact, will there be expanded and continual testing throughout the season? Will there be fans at the games?
I don’t know the answers to these questions, and quite honestly, no one does right now.
I just have been thinking about how the fall could look a whole lot different from any other fall in the last 100 years.
Just be aware and prepared for what could happen.
Or not happen.
“Where Are They Now” Stories
I’ve had a lot of fun getting in touch with Brian Sell and Keith Williams for my recent stories and to remind people of some of our stellar athletes we have had.
Many people told me that they got a kick out of Sell’s comment about Usain Bolt eating a “mountain” of Chicken McNuggets the day that he won the gold medal and broke the world record in the 100-meter dash.
Those are the stories that people won’t forget.
I was fortunate to see both those athletes compete at a very high level. I covered Williams on the first day that he got called up to play in San Francisco against the St. Louis Cardinals. What an interesting day that was as it was also my first Major League Baseball game that I had ever covered.
I also got to see Sell at the 2004 U.S. Olympic Trials in the 10,000-meter race. I bought tickets to it months in advance, not knowing that he was even going to be competing. When I heard that he was competing, I called and got media passes for the event.
What an extraordinary event to see and a plethora of outstanding athletes.
One of the funniest things that I saw was in the media tent where they had assigned seats for the media.
In the front row, it read: Atlanta Journal, Bedford Gazette, and Boston Globe.
I felt like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz as I thought, “I’ve a feeling we’re not in Snake Spring anymore.”
I’m also proud of some of the other stories we did including ones on Duane Knisely, Justin McCoy, and Jared McGill. Those are all fantastic young athletes who have or are going to be competing at the highest level of collegiate athletics.
It’s good to see our athletes and students do well.
One sport that has been quite difficult to accumulate history on is scholastic track and field, particularly before the 1970s in this area.
It has been fun to watch the work of Jeff Batzel with his history of District 5 track and field website, while Bill Creps and Brian Creps are working on the history of track and field at Bedford. I know it’s a lot of work and it can get quite frustrating when the old newspapers don’t have the information that you need.
They have done a great job of getting the information and putting it out there for all to see.
Trivia Question #2
How many individual PIAA track and field state championships have been won by Bedford County athletes? (Answer at the end of the column)
Well, the good news is that Pirates are tied for first place on Memorial Day, and not many people would have predicted that back in February.
With the Steelers, one of the things that I was really surprised about during last year’s season was the offensive line.
When Ben Roethlisberger went down with the injury, the Steelers were 0-2 and looked dead in the water. The defense picked up the team and helped them to an 8-3 record over the next 11 games. Two of those losses were to San Francisco by four points and Baltimore by three points in overtime.
The offense looked dismal at times with the two back-up quarterbacks at the helm. However, I think the biggest disappointment was the offensive line that did little to protect the quarterback or open holes for the running backs.
We know that the Steelers’ opponents were looking for the run with the back-up signalcallers in there, but even as they attempted to pass on non-passing downs, the defense got to the quarterbacks before many patterns could be run by the receivers.
I heard more people in the offseason talk about the problems on the offensive line that is getting older. I hope that the pick up of offensive guard Stefen Wisniewski in free agency will help solidify the right guard position and that the others perform better as well.
The last thing they need is for Big Ben to be running for his life in the backfield or another injury to happen.
“What If” concerning the Steelers’ quarterbacks
The Steelers felt pretty secure in the quarterback stable, so much that they traded away their former second-string quarterback, Josh Dobbs, to the Jacksonville Jaguars for a fifth-round draft choice after the first week of the 2019 season.
That allowed them to resign Devlin Hodges, who was cut at the end of training camp.
Six days after the trade, Roethlisberger went down with the elbow injury that ended his season.
Would the Steelers been better with Dobbs at quarterback than with Hodges or Mason Rudolph?
It’s an interesting question.
I really liked Dobbs, who was a very intelligent and athletic young man. He showed flashes of strong play in the preseason games and in some limited time off the bench. He is still on the roster with Jaguars as a back-up quarterback, but he did not play for the Jaguars last year.
The fifth-round pick that the Steelers received was traded to the Miami Dolphins, along with a couple other draft picks, just a couple weeks later in the Minkah Fitzpatrick trade.
Trivia Question #1
The answer is six.
Cardinals – Arizona (NFL) and St. Louis (MLB) Giants – New York (NFL) and San Francisco (MLB) Jets – New York (NFL) and Winnipeg (NHL) Kings – Los Angeles (NHL) and Sacramento (NBA) Panthers – Carolina (NFL) and Florida (NHL) Rangers – New York (NHL) and Texas (MLB)
Answer to the
Trivia Question #2
There have been eight state championships won by seven Bedford County athletes. Bedford’s John “Boots” Clark won two titles in 1930.
There has never been a girl from Bedford or Somerset County that has won an individual track and field championship. There have been six from District 5, and all six were from McConnellsburg (five by Kim Spriggs).