Bang, Zoom Goes Charlie Slowes

Bang, Zoom Goes Charlie Slowes

(photo credits: Washington Post)

It did not happen overnight for Charlie Slowes. The kid born in the Bronx didn’t just wave a magic wand to become the radio voice of the Washington Nationals. No, Slowes worked very hard from a very young age to get where he is today.
Slowes’ first broadcasting experience came as a teenager when he would go to Mets, Knicks, Islanders, etc. games and sit in an empty section to record himself calling the game. As a senior at Roosevelt High School in Yonkers, New York, Slowes gained experience working his school’s football games in the first televised events form that city.
For college, Slowes attended Fordham University where he was a central part of Fordham’s school owned, student run, 50,000-watt FM radio station, WFUV, 90.7 FM. With WFUV, Slowes was a regular on daily sportscasts, weekly sports talk shows, and he was able to do play-by-play for baseball, basketball, football, hockey, and soccer. A jack of all trades, he also wrote professionally for the Gannett Westchester Newspapers, covering high school and college sports.
Even when Slowes was not on the call for Fordham radio, he would still find time to practice his play-by-play skills. As long as he had a credential for a college or big-league sporting event, Slowes would find an empty booth in the press box and record himself.
While Slowes’ road to a major league booth was looking good, when was he going to get his big break? That break came one Sunday afternoon in Manhattan at the Loew’s Summit Hotel. With the St. Louis Blues slated to take on the Rangers at Madison Square Garden that night, a mutual friend introduced Slowes to legendary coach and General Manager Emile Francis.
With a golden opportunity in front of him, Slowes gave Francis his broadcasting tapes. Continuing the domino effect, Francis passed the tapes on to Blues’ play-by-play broadcaster Dan Kelly. Like a game of hot potato, Kelly passed Slowes’ tapes on to KMOX Radio in St. Louis.
KMOX liked what they heard, as they gave Slowes a free-lancing job where he covered games in New York. Slowes’ hard work paid off in 1984 when a spot at KMOX opened and he was given the position. While working in St. Louis, Slowes did sportscasts and talk shows. In his spare time, he attended multiple Blues and Cardinals games and continued his tradition of recording himself call games in empty booths.
Slowes got his first crack at professional broadcasting when he was a fill-in color commentator for the Blues. Being in St. Louis was Slowes’ second break. With the Oakland Athletics scheduled to play the Royals in Kansas City, Slowes was called into emergency duty on the CBS Radio Game of the Week.
Yankees’ broadcaster Bill White was supposed to be John Rooney’s color man that night, but White stayed in Toronto after the Yankees beat the Blue Jays to pull within two games of first place with two games remaining. Thus, it became Slowes’ time to shine as he and Rooney rotated play-by-play that night at Royals Stadium.
While in St. Louis in the spring of 1986, Slowes was offered the play-by-play job for the Tidewater Tides, the New York Mets Triple A affiliate. It did not take Slowes long to get an offer from a big-league team. Six weeks into the Tides job, Slowes was offered the opportunity to do play-by-play for the NBA’s Washington Bullets, a stint that would cover 11 seasons. During that time, Slowes earned the opportunity to do an NBC Game of the Week in 1988, and he also did freelance work for ESPN and Westwood One.
Slowes returned to his first love, baseball, in 1998 when he was named an original radio voice of the expansion Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Slowes teamed up with Paul Olden for the Devil Rays’ first seven seasons.
Slowes returned to our nation’s capital as did baseball in 2005 when the Montreal Expos moved to Washington and were re-named the Nationals. Along with his partner Dave Jageler, Slowes is a staple on 106.7 The Fan for Nationals games with his “Bang, zoom goes (player’s name)!” home run call and “A Curly W is in the books!” after Nationals victories.
Even as the radio voice of the Nationals, Slowes’ journey in the broadcasting field has seemed to always lead him to be in the right place at the right time. In 2018 Spring Training, Capitals’ radio play-by-play man John Walton was away in South Korea calling women’s hockey at the Winter Olympics.
The ultimate coincidence, the Capitals happened to be playing the Panthers in Sunrise, only an hour away from the Nationals’ spring training home in West Palm Beach. So, it was Slowes who spent a night at BB&T Center calling an NHL game, the sport that helped jumpstart his career. Washington ended up taking an ugly 3-2 loss that night, but they went on to win their first Stanley Cup that spring. Slowes jokingly said he is still waiting for his Stanley Cup ring due to his one-night appearance on Capitals radio.
Slowes did not have to wait much longer for a championship ring though. He was on the call for the Nationals’ magical ride to their first World Series title this past season. Heading into Game 7 at Minute Maid Park, Slowes kept a positive attitude. “I had a call if they won, but not if they lost. I wasn’t thinking about that.”
With Washington leading 6-2 in the bottom of the ninth, Slowes knew it was time to get his call ready. “When Altuve struck out on three pitches you kind of knew it was coming. The Astros looked dead; the ballpark was dead. I felt it coming, I just wanted to make sure it was something people could understand and something that would mark the moment.”
Slowes surely did not swing and miss with his championship call.
As a World Series champion broadcaster, Charlie Slowes knows getting into the broadcasting field takes a lot of hard work and a little bit of luck. But at the end of the day, it was Charlie Slowes’ fight to finish, and he certainly did.
The NCAA Is Dead

The NCAA Is Dead

With the sports world in limbo and with league returns being forced to a single location in these hub and bubble locations. The way sports are played is changed forever, and this will kill the NCAA.

The NCAA has not said much about how all sports will be played in the fall semester of 2020. Which is not a good sign as we inch closer to the start of the fall semester for most universities. With the prospect of COVID-19 spiking again in the fall how will this affect the NCAA? Unlike all the professional sports leagues across the world, there is no logical way for teams to play in a specific location the NCAA is a collection of thousands of schools under one banner. To get each division and each sport to move to a single location to play a season’s worth of games is impossible.

The NCAA would not only have to get consent from the parents of each of the athletes but they would also have to get the schools to agree upon moving their students for an extended period. The schools are also an issue in themselves, as several schools such as Rutgers University and Queens College have already announced that online classes will continue in the fall. This will defiantly affect the number of student-athletes available to participate in events.

Along with schools not having classes in person the bigger problem is state regulations. Each state has its regulations on gatherings and training for athletes. Not to mention the rules each sperate university has on COVID testing and social distancing. This is even worse for foreign students who come to NCAA colleges to play sports. They would have to be brought in under even harsher regulations depending on which country they are coming from.

Lastly the money, this is the biggest problem for the NCAA with no spring sports and the cancelation of the 2020 Men’s and Women’s basketball tournaments this past march. The NCAA has not had a steady stream of revenue coming in to fund the countless sports programs. With no explanation from the NCAA on how football their most profitable sport will be played the NCAA will have lost millions of dollars if they cannot come up with a plan and fast. So, the NCAA is dying and will soon be a thing of the past.

WHAT KIND OF IMPACT WILL CAM NEWTON HAVE ON THE PATRIOTS?

WHAT KIND OF IMPACT WILL CAM NEWTON HAVE ON THE PATRIOTS?

NEW YORK, N.Y.- Has Bill Belichick done it again? Is the evil empire pulling a line from Lee Corso and saying, “Not so fast my friend!” to all of those who are burying the Patriots dynasty? The legendary head coach, after departing from a quarterback who helped him win six Super Bowls this offseason, pulled a rabbit out of his hat with the signing of former MVP Cam Newton on Sunday evening. While the move is a flashy one with a big name set to fill the void left by Tom Brady, there’s little reason to believe Newton will have much of an impact for the Patriots this season and even less reason to believe he’ll even beat out Jarrett Stidham to win the starting job week one.

Health is still the most pressing question for Newton. Since taking the Carolina Panthers to the Super Bowl in 2015, the former Heisman Trophy winner has played a full 16-game season just once in the last four years. This is a player who missed the final 14 games of the 2019 season and two games in the prior season. As the old cliché in sports goes “The best ability is availability.” It’s impossible to deem the Patriots true Super Bowl contenders because their newest acquisition is far from a guarantee to step on the field.

While getting on the field is one concern, staying on the field is an even taller task. The good news for the Patriots is that Newton did pass a physical back in March, with both his shoulder and foot “checking out well,” according to a source who relayed that information to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. So while the Auburn product has checked the first box, it’s far from a foregone conclusion that this will equate to a healthy 2020 season. Cam’s body has taken a ton of abuse throughout his nine-year career. He’s had surgeries to his shoulder (twice), foot and ankle while also suffering back vertebrae fractures after a car accident.

AP Photo/Paul Sancya

As a Colts fan myself, I’ve witnessed first-hand how a player’s body gets worn down over time to the point where the slightest injury could end a career. Andrew Luck, while not as reliant on his legs as the 2015 NFL MVP, would still use his body to run over defenders while also being able to bounce back up after punishing hits. Years of exposure to big hits eventually took its toll, as Luck decided to retire in 2018 in part because of all of the punishment his body suffered.

While the Luck example is an extreme one, it highlights what happens if a team neglects to protect their quarterback. The wear and tear Newton’s body accrued over nine seasons doesn’t just go away because he’s healed from previous injuries. It will only get harder for Cam to keep himself healthy as his career elongates. If the former top pick wants to continue to play his physical, bruising style of football, it’s tough to imagine he’ll be able to make it through a full 16-game schedule, which would put a damper on the playoff hopes of the Patriots.

Putting health aside for a minute, the learning curve that the former Panther has to overcome in this unusual offseason is another reason to slam the brakes on the “Cam Newton will have a huge impact in New England” narrative. Signing on June 29th, Newton will have just about a month to learn the Josh McDaniels offense before training camp begins. The difficulty level increases due to the fact that the quarterback and offensive coordinator can’t meet in person until practices officially get underway. Taking it a step further, this also means Newton won’t be able to throw to any of his new teammates until training camp. Not exactly an ideal circumstance when you’re trying to beat out a player who already knows the offense.

2020 will be a season like we’ve never seen before. Two factors that will play a major role in the success or lack thereof from teams will be: continuity and familiarity.  Minimal-to-zero offseason contact between players this offseason benefits those teams who are returning head coaches, quarterbacks and rosters from 2019. This gives Stidham a tremendous leg up on the competition. The former Auburn quarterback himself had all of last year to build chemistry with the skill position players and absorb McDaniels’ system, which will mean he’ll hit training camp full steam ahead. The familiarity that the second-year quarterback has with the offense could end up being the difference in him starting week one.  

Another pandemic-affected aspect that will benefit the returning quarterback is that the preseason has been chopped in half, as there are only two preseason games scheduled. While teams have been valuing these glorified scrimmages less and less in recent years, it would have been the perfect opportunity for Belichick & Co. to see what they have in the former number one pick. The less preseason games, the bigger the advantage for Stidham to win the starting job.

Between injuries and learning a new playbook, it doesn’t add up to Cam Newton having success with the Patriots in 2020. To already hand New England the AFC East title or even going further to state this signing makes the six-time Super Bowl champions a legitimate contender for the Lombardi Trophy is premature to say the least. When all is said and done, it will be Stidham, not Newton, that will be under center by the time week one rolls around.

Which MLB Draft was better 2018 or 219? Part 2

Which MLB Draft was better 2018 or 219? Part 2

This is part two of a series where I am going to give my opinion on which MLB draft’s top 10 players have higher potential. Picks numbered 6-10 are as follows:

The number six pick in the 2019 MLB draft was CJ Abrams. He is a shortstop with a fantastic hit tool drafted by the San Diego Padres. While the San Diego Padres have a shortstop named Fernando Tatis Jr., he may or may not be able to stay at the position long term due to defensive deficiencies. While Abrams may never win a gold glove he may be a better answer at the shortstop position long term. Regardless of where he ends up, his bat, which allowed him to hit .393 across two levels during his first season of pro ball, will play anywhere. What further allows him to have the potential of a dynamic leadoff hitter in the future is his top of the scale speed which is ranked an 80 on the 20-80 scale. The number six pick in the 2018 MLB draft was Jarred Kelenic. He is a five-tool monster who has a career minor league OPS of .882 in just two minor league seasons, with 29 homeruns and 35 steals. He may end up being the best player in the 2018 draft as he came in to the draft regarded as the best high school hitter and has further honed his skills as he has moved up the minor league ladder. Already in double A at just age 20 he may be knocking on the MLB door as early as 2020. While Abrams may one day be one of the best leadoff hitters in baseball, Jarred Kelenic is a true five tool superstar who seemingly gets better every day. While the Mets will regret trading him for a very long time the Mariners look like they have their next franchise player who could be up as early as this year.

The number seven pick in the 2019 MLB draft was the first pitcher taken in the draft, Nick Lodollo. He is a tall lefty at 6’6’’ out of Texas Christian University. He has three above average pitches and has shown an ability to command each one. He still has some projection left in his frame and he pitched very well despite only throwing eighteen and a third innings. He looks like he will move quickly and will be a main stay in a big-league rotation for a long time. The number seven overall pick in the 2018 MLB draft was Ryan Weathers of the San Diego Padres out of Loretto High School. He is another lefty pitcher who is currently the number nine prospect in a deep San Diego farm system. Weathers is the son of former MLB Picher David Weathers and while he does have four solid pitch’s he lacks a true out pitch. Weather struggled in the second half of his first minor league season, but he looks like he will fit nicely in to the middle of a big-league rotation. While both these pitchers offer fairly high floors I believe Lodollo’s slightly better stuff, out of his tall frame, allows for a bit more potnetial moving forward. While Weathers could end up being a three or a four starter in a big-league rotation I see Lodollo more as a two or a three and give him the slight edge here.

The number eight pick in the 2019 MLB draft was Josh Jung a third Baseman out of Texas Tech University. He is regarded as a polished hitter and despite questions about his future power potential he has shown reliable hands and a strong arm at the hot corner. His power may ultimately determine his celling, but he may have the potential to hit as many as twenty-five or more homeruns to go along with his other sound tools. The eighth overall pick in 2018 was Carter Stewart who ultimately did not sign with the Atlanta braves after they drafted him. He threw 96-97 MPH when he was drafted and had a power curve that was regarded as one of the best breaking balls in the draft. Stewart had suffered a wrist injury and the Braves offered him a a signing bonus below slot value after the draft and he chose not to sign. He then enrolled at Eastern Florida State College for the next season and threw 13 starts with a 1.70 ERA. He then decided to sign a six-year deal to play in Japan with the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks of Nippon Professional baseball. Now we have no idea if we will ever see Carter Stewart on the mound for an MLB team and as a result Josh Jung is the player I would rather have going forward. Now Carter Stewart may have made this interesting if he had continued putting up strong college numbers and reentered the MLB draft at some point.

The number nine overall pick in the 2019 MLB draft was catcher Shea Langeliers out of Baylor University. Langeliers has always been a world class defender He also has plus raw power that he has to hit consistently to tap into moving forward. With a floor as a defensive minded starter or backup, if he hits consistently he could be one of the better all-around catchers in baseball. The ninth overall pick in the 2018 draft was Kyler Murray. People now know Murray for his football exploits as he decided to go back to college to play football after being drafted by the Atheletics and chose to continue on a path towards professional football. He was then the first overall pick of the Arizona Cardinals and was the 2019 Offensive Rookie of the year in the NFL. While Murray was a raw baseball player coming out of college due to him splitting time between football and baseball he was an exceptional athlete. Now that doesn’t always translate well into being a great baseball player, as there are many stories of great athlete such as Bubba Starling and Lewis Brinson who have not lived up to the potential many saw in them at the draft. Shea Langeliers is the player I would choose out of the two and if Murray had reached his MLB ceiling he may be the pick but Langeliers has such a high floor and the potential for so much more that he is the right choice either way here.

Lastly the number 10 pick in the 2019 MLB draft was Hunter Bishop selected by the San Fransisco Giants. He is a toolsy outfielder out of Arizona State. He has tremendous raw power but there is also some swing and miss to his game. He was inconsistent throughout his career up until his junior year of college. He also has the speed to play center field and be a threat on the base paths. In his small sample after being selected he only hit .229 but had a .438 on base percentage. Those are two numbers that usually do not align in that way, but Bishop walked almost as much as he struck out. While his potential will depend on how well he hits going forward he has the tools to be a dynamic player should everything come together even if there is still swing and miss in his game. The tenth pick in the 2018 draft was another toolsy college hitter out of South Alabama named Travis Swaggerty. While all his tools rate as a 50 or better on the 20-80 scale he has only hit .257 so far in the minors with 14 homeruns in 173 games played. He is similar to Bishop in that his ability to make contract will determine his ceiling, but he has the speed to play center and be a threat on the base paths. He did perform better in the second half of 2019 after some adjustments as well. While both hitters scouting reports are very similar Bishop is rated as a 55 overall compared to Swaggerty as a 50 overall on MLB.com. I give the slight edge to Bishop here since he is younger, and his eye was so good immediately upon entering pro ball. Both these players have similar ceilings and floors and it will be interesting to see if either or both can figure out what adjustments are necessary for them to make the big leagues.

Now I have looked at the top ten overall picks in the 2018 and 2019 MLB drafts. As of right now I give the slight edge to the 2019 draft. While the 2018 draft has the best pitcher in Mize and the best positon player in Kelenic, having lost Kyler Murray to football and Carter Stewart to Japan has hurt this draft. Even if I was to put both of them back in the 2019 draft still is a little better as Carter Stewart has never faced professional hitters and Kyler Murray was a very raw prospect and we do not know how his development would go. The top of the 2018 draft could be historic with the top 5 picks all looking like all stars and or MVP candidates the 2019 draft however has really good to all star players and maybe even some MVP candidates throughout its first ten picks. Now all stars and MVP candidate can come from all round and the rest of the first rounds could even change this going forward. Where I stand today may not be where I stand even a year from now but that is the fun of reflecting on the past, living in the now and dreaming about the future.

Is the NHL Draft Lottery Rigged?

Is the NHL Draft Lottery Rigged?

                Only hours after the 2020 NHL draft lottery people where upset. This year’s draft was something special as the first overall pick will go to a team yet to be determined which is a first for any sports league.  As with the NHL has yet to finish its season all teams eliminated in the play in round of the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs, will have an even chance to get the first pick in the draft. But what about the teams who are not in the 24-team playoff. They get picks 2-8 sadly so this brings up the question is the draft Lottery rigged?

                With everyone expected the horrendous Detroit Red Wings to fall into the No. 1 overall pick, the Red Wings dropped to No. 4 overall. The Ottawa Senators who had the best individual percentage at the first overall pick took the third spot with the Los Angeles Kings slotting into the second. Then, with the No. 1 overall pick on the line it was given to one of the eight teams in the qualifying round of the expanded 2020 NHL playoffs.

                Which means, one of the following teams will get the pick after they fall in the first round of the playoff should they even be played this summer:

  • Pittsburgh Penguins
  • Carolina Hurricanes
  • New York Islanders
  • Toronto Maple Leaf’s
  • Vegas Golden Knights
  • Calgary Flames
  • Edmonton Oilers
  • Nashville Predators
  • Montreal Canadiens
  • Columbus Blue Jackets
  • New York Rangers
  • Florida Panthers
  • Chicago Blackhawks
  • Arizona Coyotes
  • Minnesota Wild
  • Winnipeg Jets

Everything about this is madness, but this is not the first time something like this happened. People have said something similar happened in 2019. With teams like the Sabers and Senators losing the top three picks to big name teams such as the Rangers and Blackhawks. It’s chaos. But if it is rigged it’s going to keep the NHL in the headlines for far longer as every team has more to play for in the play in rounds so in conclusion, Gary Bettman the NHL commissioner is an evil genius.

The Other Manning Brother

The Other Manning Brother

As Father’s Day came and went on June 21, we saw a lot of dad talk on social media. In the NFL world, Eli Manning being Tom Brady’s dad was probably the number one hit, and rightfully so. But let’s steer away from dads for a minute and talk about brothers. Who is Eli’s brother not named Peyton? He would be Cooper Manning.
Both Peyton and Eli were stars in the NFL, so why not Cooper? Did he not like football? Cooper in fact loved football as much as his brothers growing up and played for Isadore Newman High School as a wide receiver.
Before Odell Beckham Jr., there was Cooper Manning at Newman. Standing at 6’ 4”, Cooper set school receiving records including a 1,000-yard season in his senior campaign. You will never guess who quarterbacked Newman that year, Peyton Manning.
But where did everything go wrong? Well, many of us New Yorkers are all too familiar with the condition spinal stenosis because of David Wright. Lo and behold, spinal stenosis took down Cooper’s career as well. Except Cooper had his career ended before it even started.
Set to begin his college career at Ole Miss, alma mater of dad Archie and later brother Eli, Cooper was diagnosed with spinal stenosis the summer before freshman year. He put his football career to an end immediately as he would have been paralyzed if tackled the wrong way.
Football or no football, Cooper still had to undergo two surgeries for his narrowing spine. Manning had to learn how to walk again after the surgeries and dealt with a blood clot near his spinal cord along the way.
While it is terrible Cooper never achieved his NFL dream like his dad and brothers, the oldest Manning brother has made quite the living for himself. Manning is the Principal and Senior Managing Director of investor relations at AJ Capital Partners. The company deals with developing new hotels and restoring old ones primarily in the Chicago area.
In the sports world, Cooper is the host of The Manning Hour on Fox NFL Kickoff. Manning interviews and puts on skits with current and former NFL players, including his brother Peyton. I highly recommend watching more of his clips.
Cooper sadly never got the chance to become the football legend his dad and brothers are, but one part of his football days will live forever in Canton. His number 18, which Cooper wore while playing at Newman. Did you ever wonder why Peyton wore 18 during his career? Peyton donned 18 to pay homage to his older brother who had his NFL dreams taken away. When Peyton’s enshrinement day in Canton comes along, he will have Cooper’s number 18 engraved on his plaque.
On a positive note, Cooper is looking like the Manning brother who will be the father of the next Manning quarterback in the NFL. His son Arch Manning threw for 2,438 yards and 34 touchdowns as a freshman on Newman’s varsity team this past year. Arch has received visits and scholarship offers from schools like Ole Miss, LSU, Tennessee, and many more. Imagine if Arch’s decision comes down to Ole Miss or Tennessee. Oh, how I’d love to be a fly on the wall for those family dinner discussions.