Archive for May, 2011

Sports Editor’s playbook, Thursday, May 26, 2011

Thursday, May 26th, 2011
Patrick Newell

* Oxford’s baseball team pulled off perhaps the biggest upset of the Section IV tournament Wednesday afternoon. A number 15 seed with an inauspicious 6-10 record, the Blackhawks stunned number two seed Union Springs, 7-2. Union Springs was coming off an IAC league championship, but was missing its number one pitcher due to injury. The playoffs are all about momentum and peaking at the right time. The Blackhawks started four freshman and two sophomores. In other words, two-thirds of the starting lineup could have played junior varsity. This year, however, the Blackhawks do not have a JV team, and these young men have proven themselves more than worthy to compete on the varsity level.

* I was speaking to a golf partner earlier this week about the large number of fine individual and team performances this week. The week began with Norwich clinching a Class B team tennis title before the championship rounds were even completed. It got better for Norwich as Eli Craig gave Norwich its first singles championship in decades, and three other Norwich players earned spots in the state qualifier. Also Monday night, Oxford senior Haley Witchella proved herself the most versatile of track and field athletes winning the Section IV pentathlon title. Witchella also helped Oxford to win its first sectional title in track and field. And coming full circle back to golf, Norwich junior Eric Walling played his way onto the Section IV state team. Walling finished sixth overall in the Section IV medalist tournament, and will represent Section IV next week.

* I would be remiss if I did not bid Evening Sun reporter, Tyler Murphy, a fond farewell. Today was Tyler’s last “full” day of work, and tomorrow will be sort of a victory lap for our crime/fire reporter, one that will culminate in a celebratory lunch with Sun staff members at Fred’s Inn. Most people who read the Sun know that Tyler worked for us in two stints. I cannot say I remember much about part one of his career here. Jeff Genung, our editor, saw enough in Tyler to bring him back for part two, and Tyler has not disappointed. Perhaps Tyler needed to do some inner soul searching in his time away from us, and what he found during his hiatus worked. The past two years he has been that much more mature and that much more professional.
The beat that Tyler has covered so well the past few years can really wear a person down. Especially when you are consistently exposed to so much ignorance, dishonesty, and depravity. Despite that, Tyler has remained upbeat, wistful, and optimistic during his stay. He can laugh at himself, and his dry sense of humor was a perfect complement to our newsroom dynamic. I typically only saw Tyler in the first two to three hours every morning – and sometimes late in the evening. He was always a welcomed face, and for whatever reason, I found his laid-back demeanor particularly relaxing. I get a sense that Tyler is still searching for his niche in life, and knowing how introspective he can be, I am sure he is probably thinking the same thing. Good luck my friend, you will be missed.

Follow Patrick Newell on Twitter @evesunpat

Embracing my inner geek (comic book style) part II

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011
Brian Golden

Sorry this took so long to those of who commented on the first blog. As promised, here’s the final five of my top ten comic book superheroes from Marvel and DC Comics. Again, in no particular order.

#5 – Green Lantern (DC Comics)
I didn’t get into the Green Lantern book right away when I first began purchasing comics as a youngster (from the old Corner Cigar Shop on North Broad Street). When I did, however, I immediately fell in love with the numerous characters involved, namely Green Lanterns Hal Jordan, Guy Gardner and John Stewart. I must say I’m excited for DC’s upcoming Green Lantern motion picture, although, as with Marvel’s casting of Robert Downey, Jr. as Iron Man, I’m a little wary of Ryan Reynolds as Earth’s second (they always have to change the story-line, don’t they) Green Lantern, Hal Jordan.

#4 – Captain Atom (DC Comics)
This one may surprise any comic book fans out there, as Captain Atom (the modern, Post-Crisis Nathaniel Christopher Adam) is relatively unknown compared to the other heroes I’ve listed. He was, however, a personal favorite, primarily due to his reluctant – yet efficient – leadership. I was originally drawn to this character when he headed-up the short-lived Justice League Europe, which was, at the time, one of the best books out there. In fact, I still have my copy of JLE #1 sitting at home.

#3 – The Flash (DC Comics)
I was drawn to DC’s faster-than-lightning The Flash primarily because of the excellent back-story that defined the character at the time I was seriously collecting comics. Flash #1, Jay Garrick, trapped with the other members of the Justice Society of America in an alternate universe, Flash #2, Barry Allen, probably the most popular and well known and Flash #3, Wally West, Allen’s nephew by marriage, who was my personal favorite. I must admit I’m a little surprised that a Flash movie is not yet in the works (what with all the other superhero flicks out there to date).

#2 – Wolverine (Marvel)
Come on, you didn’t think I was going to leave my favorite X-Man out, did you? As to the success of the character on the big screen, well, let’s just say I’m not surprised. A comic book hero with, by far, one of the most elaborate and mysterious backgrounds ever created, not to mention some pretty cool powers (healing factor, adamantine skeleton and, of course, those retractable claws). Something about the Wolverine has always piqued my curiosity and I’m hoping they continue to surprise me with what are arguably some of the best superhero flicks produced to date.

#1 – Captain America (Marvel)
Hey, you can’t go wrong with Captain America when you’re putting together a list of the best superheroes of all time, right? Although I never collected many of his books, I always enjoyed the few that did manage to find their way into my hands. Marvel’s upcoming “Captain America: First Avenger” (not to mention the – hopefully – awesome “Avengers” movie it precedes) motion picture that’s on the way looks to be pretty fantastic and I’m excited to catch it on the big screen. If you’re a comics fan like me – and you haven’t had a chance to check it out – find a copy of Marvel’s Civil War, and watch Captain America and Iron Man duke it out. Good stuff.

And there you have it, my top ten (again in no particular order) DC and Marvel superheroes of all time. As an added bonus, I decided to throw together a quick top five of my favorite superhero teams (I can imagine Melissa groaning when she reads this).

#5 – Watchmen
#4 – X-Men
#3 – Justice League of America
#2 – The Avengers
And, of course…
#1 – Fantastic Four

Walkabout

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011
Melissa Stagnaro

I’ve been doing a lot of walking lately. Not surprising, really, since I’m trying to get ready for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Out of the Darkness Overnight. It’s hard to believe that in just 11 short days I’ll be walking 18 miles in New York City to raise awareness for depression and help prevent suicide.

For the last couple of months, I’ve been racking up the miles. My typical walks ranged from 4 to 8 miles with a couple of longer walks – 10 to 11 miles – thrown in. But I’ve been a little nervous that even with the 30 plus miles a week I was walking, I wouldn’t be ready for the big day. Or big night, as the case may be. (We’ll be walking from 7 p.m. ‘til 5 a.m.)

I never thought I’d say this but, I think I’m ready.

On Saturday, I completed my longest training walk to date – a whopping 14 miles! I was a little sore and completely exhausted when I was done, but I was pretty proud of myself. Especially since I did it without any breaks, and on terrain which is a fair bit hillier than what I’ll have to contend with in NYC.

Our route will be a pretty interesting one. We’ll start in Brooklyn at Cadman Plaza and make our way through Brooklyn Heights to the Brooklyn Promenade and over the Brooklyn Bridge into Manhattan. From there, we’ll troupe through the Financial District to the island’s west side, where we’ll head up the Hudson River Park Greenway. We’ll turn East when we hit Midtown, then wind our way back downtown through Union Square, SoHo, the Lower East Side and China Town before trekking back over the Brooklyn Bridge in the wee hours of the morn.

Pretty cool, right?

There will be plenty of pit stops and a meal break to make sure we stay fueled and hydrated for our journey. And did I mention there will be cheering stations? If you’re going to be in NYC the night of June 4, come cheer us on!  Locations are listed on the Overnight website. It is going to be an emotional night, as we walk to prevent suicide and in memory of friends and loved ones we have lost by their own hand. We can use all the support we can get.

And speaking of support, it’s not too late to donate to Team Chenango. Several of our team members are still working to reach their $1,000 individual goals. You can donate by visiting www.theovernight.org.

Thank you once more to everyone who has been so supportive of our efforts to raise money and awareness for this cause. Together, we’ll see what a difference a night makes.

Follow me on Twitter … @evesunmelissa.

Editor’s Notebook: 5/23/11

Monday, May 23rd, 2011
Jeff Genung

• So glad to be here on a Monday afternoon and that the world didn’t end on Saturday as predicted. I did, however, wonder what percentage of my Evening Sun readers would be left post-Rapture (besides me, of course). Somehow I think ‘30 Seconds’ would have survived just fine. Kinda like that whole cockroaches/nuclear holocaust thing.

• I probably shouldn’t make jokes about Tyler’s story today about the day care inspection in Bainbridge that led to a drug bust … but man is that one ripe for the picking. No wonder those kids were so happy, dude!

• Congratulations to the Norwich High School tennis team, who captured the Section IV Class B title over the weekend. Always nice to see the hometown boys do well.

• Had a visit from Chuck Green this morning, husband of Evening Sun sales rep Linda Green. She’s still hospitalized down in Binghamton, awaiting surgery, but is in good spirits. We’re continuing to send her our thoughts and prayers for a speedy recovery.

• Narrowed down my field of candidates for Evening Sun staff writer to the top three this week. Tyler Murphy leaves us on Friday, which means we have a chair (among other things) to fill. Dick nixed my plan to hire them all and fire ‘em one per week, Apprentice-style. No fun at all. Once the second round of interviews is done, I should have Reporter X named before Tyler’s going-away party. Always interesting to see what a newbie brings to the table.

Dog and pony

Friday, May 20th, 2011
Melissa Stagnaro

I’ll be honest, I never heard of the New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation before I received the invitation to attend its president and CEO’s presentation at Commerce Chenango last week. Matthew Driscoll, who served two terms as mayor of Syracuse before being appointed as head of the agency, was tapped by Governor Andrew Cuomo to visit Chenango as part of our esteemed gov’s People First Tour.

How or why exactly Driscoll was selected to visit our county is an unknown. Perhaps it was because, given his Onondaga roots, he could actually find us on the map.

Driscoll himself seemed a nice enough man. He was kind enough to speak with me at length after the presentation, despite a line of questioning that he probably would have liked to avoid. And I mean him no offense by my next comments. But I have to call it like I see it, and the presentation itself was nothing more than a dog and pony show. Our governor, sending out his minions to effectively “sell” his legislative agenda.

I’m not saying Cuomo’s priorities are out of line. In fact, I support most of what he’s trying to accomplish. I’m a proponent of ethics reform and a staunch advocate for marriage equality. Heck, I’m even for a tax cap – as long as the mandate relief being promised is delivered at or before the policy is put in place. But I resent the governor sending out a representative from an obscure agency (no offense!) to deliver his message. And what I resent even more is the fact that, while at the podium, Driscoll entertained no questions. It was this, more than anything else, which seemed to bother those in the crowd.

I know we have elected officials – like Assemblymen Crouch and Lopez, and Senators Libous and Seward – in Albany advocating on our behalf. (You’ll notice I left Assemblyman Finch off the list. He lost my respect the day I had to convince one of his aides that Bowman Lake State Park was in his district.) But I can’t help thinking that Chenango County and Rodney Dangerfield have something in common.

Neither can get any respect.

Follow me on Twitter … @evesunmelissa.

Sports Editor’s Playbook, Thursday, May 19, 2011

Thursday, May 19th, 2011
Patrick Newell

In Bob McNitt’s outdoors column, he confirmed with historical data what we already knew: It’s raining cats and dogs this spring. Since March 1 until yesterday (the day McNitt submitted his column) we have experienced 57 days of precipitation out of 79 total days. In 1976, the year the total precipitation record was set, we had 48 days of precipitation in the same time frame. As a result, high school sports teams have found narrow windows to squeeze in games this spring, and playing two-thirds of seven-week schedule in about 10 school days has placed a huge burden on pitching staffs. This isn’t professional baseball where teams carry a minimum of 10 to 12 able-bodied pitchers. This is a rurally-based county with schools drawing from a small population of athletes. Most teams are fortunate to have two quality pitchers, and perhaps one or two others who can give an inning or two. Playing four or five games in a week affects overall performance – and is probably wearing out the arms of the best pitchers.

Norwich and the surrounding communities lost one of the truly good guys earlier this week. Eddie Caputo, as I knew him, passed away early Monday morning after a battle with cancer. Caputo graduated from Norwich in 1972, and was a standout high school and collegiate wrestler. As a kid at Norwich, I remember Eddie serving as an assistant wrestling coach to Don Kovalchik. I have an image in my mind of Eddie coming out of the wrestling room in a sweatshirt and sweatpants, and he was as sweaty and worn out as the rest of the high school wrestlers. He served as a junior varsity coach for many years, and after that remained a dedicated supporter of the program. Eddie was an acquaintance to me, but I grew to know him well by his upstanding reputation and his good works. His obituary in Thursday’s paper captures a large part of his essence: He was devoted to his family, his faith, and the City of Norwich. Everything good about Norwich was embodied in Eddie Caputo. He was a tireless spirit full of positive energy, and that spirit will live on in his family and the lives of the people he touched.

Mother Nature rained on the Midstate Athletic Conference softball championship game Thursday afternoon between Greene and Afton. Knowing the ominous weather forecast, I placed a call with Greene athletics coordinator, Jeff Paske, early in the afternoon. I asked him to please give me a call in the event of a postponement. At 3:45 p.m., I trekked with Sun photographer Frank Speziale down Route 12. As we were entering Greene around 4:15, Paske buzzed in to let me know the game was postponed until Monday. It wasn’t a complete waste, as Frank reminded me. The gas used will be reimbursed, and what are the chances it will rain again on Monday? Based on the earlier statistics given by Bob McNitt: About 72.1 percent.

Follow Patrick Newell on Twitter @evesunpat

Norwich bids for first STAC title since 1977

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011
Patrick Newell

Norwich ended a 15-year drought between Southern Tier Athletic Conference track and field division titles. The Tornado boys beat Johnson City last week in lopsided fashion to complete a perfect run through the STAC Central Division. Over the past two seasons, Norwich has just one division loss, yet, Norwich failed to make a dent in the Section IV Class B meet a year ago, and scored just eight total points at the STAC Championships.
At Ithaca High School Thursday afternoon, Norwich is one of the dark horse contenders as it bids for its first STAC championship since 1977. “I’ve ran all the numbers and played the scoreboard game with our seeds. We should do really well,” said Norwich coach Paul Sims. “Vestal is going to be tough. If some things go our way and some don’t go their way, we could post an upset.”
While Norwich performed well in the regular season last year, it didn’t have the same number of top-level performers as this year, and not the amount of depth up and down the lineup. According to pre-meet seedings Norwich has a seeded athlete in most of the events with Matt Murray (800 meters) and Patrick Taylor (long jump) bringing in top seeds. “I think it may boil down to a kid who hasn’t maybe stepped up yet or isn’t seeded, and he comes through with a place finish to give us some extra points,” Sims said.
At the least, Norwich’s program is gaining notice from other teams in STAC, Sims said, and he would be disappointed if Norwich does not finish among the top three teams. “With how we’ve performed this year…we were decent last year, but we’re much better this year,” he said. “We’ve had countless good performances this year. Other teams are now looking at us and saying, ‘I don’t know if we can beat Norwich.’”

Follow Patrick Newell on Twitter @evesunpat

Editor’s Notebook: 5/17/11

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011
Jeff Genung

• If you haven’t voted in today’s school budget/board seat elections, step away from the computer and go do it. Polls are open in most districts until 9 p.m. We’ll have complete election results in Wednesday’s Evening Sun.

• Melissa Stagnaro gets the award for most commented-upon story in today’s paper (no, not the one about the purple boxes in the trees, although a lot of people were curious about those, too) – Sheriff’s Dept. divers plunging into Round Pond in Smithville during a training exercise found, and hauled out, a 1970s Mercury Cougar convertible. No one’s quite sure how it got there. A lot of people on Facebook weighed in (my favorite was the one suggesting they look for Jimmy Hoffa in the trunk). The answer to the mystery is probably far more mundane than where our imaginations are leading us, but it’s fun to speculate. Ever see “Ghost Story?”

• Tyler Murphy wrote his penultimate column on the things he never thought he’d miss about his Evening Sun tenure today. I know one thing I’ll miss when he’s gone – he’s the one who gets the cranky phone calls asking, “How do I keep my name out of the police blotter?” My answer after fielding that question 4,753 times is generally, “Don’t get arrested.”

• American Idol fans may have noticed that I’ve been fairly quiet about my pop culture obsession this season. I honestly didn’t have much to kvetch about (aside from Steven Tyler’s drag queen wardrobe and bouts of aphasia) until last week’s unceremonious dumping of frontrunner James Durbin. How that screeching hellcat Haley Reinhart made it through and he didn’t … oh, you shake my faith, America!

Sports Editor’s Playbook, Thursday, May 12

Thursday, May 12th, 2011
Patrick Newell

* Athletes will get get injured at some point in their playing careers. For some it might be a sprain or a bad bruise, for others it could be a broken bone or some sort of torn ligament. How an athlete reacts and rehabilitates from an injury says a lot about that person. Tomorrow’s athlete of the week, Caitlin Willis of Greene, suffered one of the most severe injuries one can incur. She had a complete tear of her ACL during the fall soccer, and required complete reconstructive surgery of injured knee. A injury of that sort to a high school athlete usually leaves no hope of competing any any point in the school year. Even though Willis’ occurred over six months, Greene varsity softball coach, Rick Smith, was planning to not have Willis for the spring season. Willis surprised Smith – and her own doctors – with her aggressive rehabilitation. She was in playing shape right off the bat, and Smith said he has seen Willis compensate at all for knee, one that is protected by a brace. “She runs the bases aggressively, and there is no hesitancy at all,” Smith. “I think, because of what happened to her, she is taking advantage of the moments that she has.”

*Perhaps you saw our Norwich Sports Hall of Fame profile on the late Kurt Beyer. It can easily be argued that Beyer is the godfather of modern Norwich sports. He took the football teams to a high level much of his career, and his standard is one all future coaches for the Tornado have aspired to match. This coming Thursday we move into the more modern era of Norwich athletes as we present Jason Morris, a 1992 Norwich grad. Morris had one of the greatest single seasons of any Norwich athlete. He set the single season rushing record, was a co-captain on a 16-win basketball team that laid the foundation for Norwich’s hoops success over the past 20 years, and he completed his athletics career winning a second straight Section IV title in the 100-meter dash. Not to mention, he set a school record in that event.

Follow Patrick Newell on Twitter @evesunpat

Editor’s Notebook: 5/12/11

Thursday, May 12th, 2011
Jeff Genung

• Seriously? Have you looked out the window? It’s a gorgeous day out there! Step away from the computer and go outside!!