Lazzari’s Sports Roundup – 12/27/09

I truly believe that if Florida State football coach Bobby Bowden had aged HALF as well as actress Jane Seymour has, the Seminoles would have gone 10-2 this season instead of 6-6……….TRIVIA QUESTION:  The 1991-’92 New York Rangers had FIVE players on the squad who scored 30 or more goals apiece.  How many of these players can you name?  Answer to follow……….ITEM:  In ’09, Florida Marlins pitcher Ricky Nolasco pitched LESS innings than the year before, won LESS games than he did in ’08, and his ERA rose from 3.52 to 5.06 over that two-year stretch.  The topper?  Nolasco gets a $1.8 million RAISE–recently agreeing to a one-year contract.  As I’ve said on many occasions, we’re ALL in the wrong business, folks……….Lazzari’s “Lopsided Score of the Week”:  In a women’s college basketball game played last weekend, Southeastern Louisiana pummeled Millsaps 113-53; the winning squad outscored its winless opponent 63-26 in the second half of this laugher.  If I’m the coach of the losing team, I simply utter three comforting words to my girls after the game:  “HOLIDAY BREAK, ANYONE?”……….Can you imagine if LPGA golfer Catriona Matthew married former Michigan wrestler Steve Luke, divorced, married Univ. of Cincinnati chemistry professor Jim Mark–divorced again–then married former MLB pitcher Tommy John?  Gospel followers would truly delight in her full married name of Catriona Matthew Luke Mark John……….This week in sports history, December 29, 1963:  Chicago Bears QB Billy Wade runs for a pair of touchdowns–leading his team to a 14-10 victory over the N.Y. Giants in the NFL championship game played at Wrigley Field.  The Giants’ title hopes took a major hit in the second quarter after quarterback Y.A. Tittle sprained his knee following a 14-yard TD pass to Frank Gifford; Tittle–who threw for 36 touchdowns during the regular season–ended up throwing FIVE interceptions on the day.  Wade scored on runs of one and two yards in a game played in bitterly cold temperatures………..Gotta love Mike Stevens of the WDRC/102.9 (Hartford) morning show; when reporting last week that Tiger Woods was named PGA player of the year, Stevens added that Woods should also be deemed as the “juggler of the year”……….Answer to trivia question:  MIKE GARTNER (40), TONY AMONTE (35), MARK MESSIER (35), SERGEI NEMCHINOV (30), and DARREN TURCOTTE (30)……….Congratulations go out to Kyle Penney of Columbia (CT)–who was recently named co-captain of the Southern CT State University baseball team (along with Branford’s Ed Bethke).  I had the pleasure of coaching Penney (who attended Windham High) at the middle school level–a kid who simply worked hard and led by example.  Above all, Penney has also been a solid STUDENT down through the years, too; best of luck Kyle……….Happy birthday wishes go out to former NBA player Sean Higgins–who blows out 41 candles on December 30th.  Having played at Michigan, Higgins was selected by the San Antonio Spurs in the second round (54th overall) of the 1990 NBA draft and played a total of six seasons in the league.  The amazing thing about Mr. Higgins?  He played for a total of SIX teams during his short, six year career–spending time with San Antonio, Orlando, Golden State, New Jersey, Philadelphia, and Portland.  Yes, the man should have landed a luggage contract during his playing days, right?  One of the highlights of his modest career came as member of the 76ers during the ’95-’96 season when he made 35-of-37 free throws for a sizzling percentage of .946.  All told, Higgins played in a total of 220 NBA games; he is currently the basketball coach for Edmonds Community College in Edmonds, Washington.  Best wishes, Sean……….Finally, condolences go out to the family of a friend and former coach of mine–Rich Grande of Derby, CT–who passed away recently at the age of 59.  A multi-talented individual, Rich was mayor of Derby for three terms from 1986-’91; he also possessed a degree in education and worked as a respiratory therapist for over 30 years.  One thing I’ll always remember about Mr. Grande is the unmatched love he had for kids; he coached at the youth level in both basketball and football and would always don a Santa Claus outfit when the occasion arose.  Yeah, he was one of those guys you’d never forget if you were ever fortunate enough to cross paths with him; some mutual friends have called Grande the “ultimate nice guy.”  Oh, how true.  I guess I’d sum up his legacy by offering this:  If you ever spent time talking with one Richard Grande, he didn’t make you feel like a friend; no, he made you feel like a BROTHER.  My sincere condolences to his wife Mary Ann and the entire Grande family; in baseball terms, the “angels” just added a terrific bat to their lineup.  Rest in peace, Rich.

About the Author

Bob Lazzari

Bob Lazzari is an award-winning sports columnist for both Connecticut's Valley Times and NY Sports Day--where his "Sports Roundup" column is featured weekly. He is a member of the Connecticut Sports Writers' Alliance and host of "Monday Night Sports Talk" --a cable television show on CTV/Channel14 in Connecticut. A Fordham grad, Bob is a regular contributor to ESPN Radio's "Inside Yankee Baseball"; he can also be heard weekly every Tuesday morning on WXLM/104.7 FM in New London, CT. He has a popular blog where many of his past columns have been archived.

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