Lazzari’s Sports Roundup – 1/20/16

I used to think that watching NBA star George “The IceMan” Gervin driving to the hoop was the ultimate thing of beauty. That all changed the other day when I saw a picture of actress/model Olivia Wilde at the Golden Globe Awards–wearing a gorgeous and provocative ruby-colored gown. Goodness gracious–and I’m sure that even George HIMSELF would agree that some things are just NOT up for debate……….TRIVIA QUESTION: The 1991-’92 New York Rangers–who finished 50-25-5 under coach Roger Neilson–had FIVE players on the team who scored 30 or more goals apiece. How many of these individuals can you name? Answer to follow……….Congratulations go out to Westhill High (CT) senior running back Aaron Pettiford–who was recently awarded the UCAN Inspire Award by Generation UCAN and the Walter Camp Football Foundation. The award is given to a CT high school football player who demonstrates an unwavering desire to find success in the face of a great challenge. Aaron has battled a rare kidney disorder–focal glomerulosclerosis–which damages blood vessels in the kidneys; he remains on a waiting list for a kidney transplant. His football coach–Frank Marcucio: “Aaron has been an inspiration to his teammates and classmates at Westhill and his story has certainly caught the attention of people across Connecticut. He is a great kid who has dealt with and overcome numerous personal adversities/obstacles in order to compete at a high level.” Ironically, Aaron is the second Westhill player to receive the award in the past three years; former football captain Evan Skoparantzos was the 2014 recipient. Congratulations, Aaron–and keep fighting. Your accomplishments/heroic actions simply leave me with just ONE question at this juncture: How can you possibly NOT succeed in WHATEVER you undertake from this day forward?……….*Question: Is the reason why Browns QB Johnny Manziel hasn’t had his own reality show simply due to the fact that his day-to-day life IS a reality show?……….This past weekend, NBC’s Al Michaels brought attention to the statue of Pat Tillman that stands outside of University of Phoenix Stadium during the Packers/Cardinals playoff game. Color man Cris Collinsworth: “It’s too bad that the statue isn’t in the HALL OF FAME.” Amen, Chris……….Sad to hear about the passing of MLB Hall of Famer Monte Irvin at the age of 96. Unfortunately, he only played eight big league seasons between 1948 and 1956 (starting at the age of 30) due to MLB’s exclusion of black players, but he surely made his mark: a .293 lifetime batting average along with helping the N.Y. Giants to a world championship in 1954. I never had the opportunity to speak with Monte, but my “Monday Night Sports Talk” co-host Tony DeAngelo did. DeAngelo on Irvin: “He was an excellent ballplayer and an extremely nice gentleman who never cared if he was the ‘main attraction’. He served as a valued aide to the Commissioner of Baseball for a number of years and also was more than happy to have Willie Mays grab the limelight for the Giants when they played together. And he did everything well and without complaint. It’s sad to lose him, but he led SUCH a storied life.” Well put, Tony, and may you rest in peace, Mr. Irvin……….ITEM: Chris Davis will return to the Orioles with a contract in hand worth approximately $160 million over seven years. This is a .255 lifetime hitter, folks, who strikes out 200 times per year. Insane money, for sure (even manager Buck Showalter commented, “How much is ENOUGH?”). My first thought? There will be NO need for Mr. Davis to play Powerball once it grows to another insane amount down the road………Lazzari’s “Lopsided Score of the Week”: In a CT girls high school basketball game played last week, Morgan ANNIHILATED Hyde 77-17; the winning squad held a (ready for this?) 39-0 LEAD at the end of the first quarter (NOT a misprint). Man–I don’t know if I’ve seen a bigger mismatch since the days when Madonna was dating Dennis Rodman……….*O.K.–here goes: Former Coe College volleyball player Rachel Schaefer marries Georgia Tech catcher Arden Pabst, divorces, marries NASCAR driver Kyle Busch–divorces again–then walks down the aisle with Air Force track star Patrick Corona. Fans of various “sudsy” beverages would surely delight in her full married name of Rachel Schaefer Pabst Busch Corona……….He may be ranked 235th in the world, but professional golfer Colt Knost STILL has the coolest name on the PGA Tour……….Answer to trivia question: MIKE GARTNER (40), MARK MESSIER (35), TONY AMONTE (35), SERGEI NEMCHINOV (30), and DARREN TURCOTTE (30)……….Finally, many things in life change, i.e. the weather, our hair color, economic trends, etc. However, some things simply remain CONSTANTS. My dear friend, Robert “Raven” Kraft, recently celebrated his 41st consecutive year (yes, you read that correctly) of completing his 8-mile running route on the sands of Miami Beach–WITHOUT missing a day. NOT ONE DAY, folks. To put this into perspective, that is close to 15,000 consecutive days covering a span of over 120,000 MILES. What started out as a New Year’s resolution back in 1975 has now snowballed into “Raven” achieving ‘cult hero’ status down in Miami; many runners come from around the globe just to say that they were privileged to run with the “Raven” and play a small part in this continuing, remarkable achievement. The word ‘devotion’ ALWAYS comes to mind when I think of “Raven”, and I smile DAILY at around 4PM–knowing the man is once again out on the sand with some fellow runners and adding to a remarkable legacy. What else can I say but “Keep it going”, Mr. Kraft; I’m there in spirit every day, brother.

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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