Anne Delaney

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Delaney: No meaning in Pro Bowl

What is the point of the NFL Pro Bowl?

Two of my colleagues glanced at the game Sunday evening. A glance is overkill. Why bother? The nature of the game makes the risk of injury too high for an end-of-year-exhibition. The players get bonuses for being selected. They don't need to play.

How about a change? Keep the Pro Bowl before the Super Bowl. The winning conference's Super Bowl representative then gets to host the game the following week. Of course it would be a logistical nightmare for the league and host city to put on a game in seven days.

Nothing is going to make this game interesting. Give the players their checks and call it a day.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Delaney: Ice Bowl is nice (and cold) bowl

I went to the Adirondack Ice Bowl in Old Forge on Saturday.

That's a pretty big assignment for a girl better suited to watching NFL Films of the 'Ice Bowl' in a cozy living room than actually covering one.

The ice hockey version on Fourth Lake was an 'Ice Bowl.' But a fun 'Ice Bowl.'

I spotted a temperature of 13-degrees on a clock in Old Forge on the way in. That's balmy from the minus-20, minus-30 I was hearing about during Friday's games. I could've stood wearing another layer or two but overall I was comfortable. It was a bright, sunny afternoon here and that helped tremendously.

The players, overall hockey players are a hearty lot, I'd say, were not bothered by the weather. They were my inspiration.

"It doesn't faze anyone," said Utica's Emerson Mish. "Once you get moving around you forget about the cold."

There were there for some old-style hockey. The concept was to bring guys, many from the Utica area, back to their hockey roots. Before sports became ultra-structured, kids played pick-up games in driveways, back yards, fields and ponds. Or at the Utica Marsh in the case of the 27-year-old Mish, a former minor league player.

Mish started skating when he was about 18 months old. Once he started playing, influenced by his brother and father, he regularly walked down Jason Street to the marsh. Mish played at Thomas R. Proctor and Notre Dame but finished high school at Canterbury Prep in Connecticut.

Three years of minor league hockey followed and now he's doing some construction work.

More than 140 players entered the tournament, made up of 24 six-man teams. That's a big jump from the first year when 16 three-man teams played at First Lake.

"It shows you can get 100-plus guys together, have a good time and play the game that they love," Mish said.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Delaney: Astronaut, actor honorary luge team captains

An astronaut and an actor are honorary captains of the U.S. Olympic luge team.

Additional honorary team captains will be announced in the near future, according to a USA Luge release. For now, two former USA Luge athletes are set to return to the sport when they accompany the U.S. team to the Winter Olympics outside of Vancouver.

Dr. Scott Parazynski is a veteran of five Space Shuttle missions and seven space walks. Parazynski was Senator John Glenn's physician on the 1998 Space Shuttle Discover when the then-77-year-old Glenn became the oldest man to enter space. Parazynski, who attended Stanford, was a member of the U.S. Luge Development Team and finished in the Top 10 at the 1988 Winter Olympic Trials.

Eric Mabius, best known for his current work as Daniel Meade on the ABC television show 'Ugly Betty,' is the other honorary captain. Mabius was a member of the U.S. Junior Luge team from 1986-1988 and competed with current U.S. doubles team sliders Mark Grimmette and Brian Martin.

Delaney: Rome Catholic girls back in conversation

The Rome Catholic girls basketball team's win over Hamilton Wednesday creates interesting scenarios in an area league and Section III Class D overall.

The Redwings' 48-39 road win over the Emerald Knights puts them right back in the hunt for the CSC Division III title after sweeping the season series, and maybe a contender for a sectional title.

Rome Catholic's path to both places got smoother because of an unfortunate injury at Oriskany.

Redskins senior guard Megan Serley is out for the season after tearing an anterior cruciate ligament (knee) early in a Jan. 19 game against Morrisville-Eaton. Oriskany was undefeated when Serley got hurt and the Redskins lost their next game to Hamilton. Oriskany defeated Rome Catholic in the teams' first meeting, but they play again on Feb. 5, and if the Redwings win both schools will have two league losses.

Oriskany was my pick to win the Section III Class D title before Serley's injury. That was without information on Sackets Harbor or Copenhagen who are always competitive. Oriskany not only had Serley, but 6-foot freshman center Christina Graziadei and at the local level an inside-outside presence can take a team a long way.

Now, the Section III Class D title is wide open according to Rome Catholic coach Nick D'Argenio.

"The injury to Serley brings teams into the mix," D'Argenio said. "I don't think there is a clear cut team. (Frontier League) Sackets Harbor and Copenhagen are taking losses and beating each other."

Two of the teams in the mix are New York Mills and Madison, both in CSC IV, and Hamilton (4-3 CSC III, 8-6 through Thursday).

Rome Catholic (5-2, 7-6) was a mystery even to D'Argenio as recently as earlier this month. Then the Redwings went on a four-game winning streak and they seemed to show what the coach always knew was there. Kim Quinn and Samantha Strzepek both got in a groove at the same time, and the only recent bump in the road was a loss to Class C Onondaga earlier this week.

"I didn't know where we'd be," D'Argenio said of RCH before the win streak. "We lost to Madison at Madison and the team had no emotion. I didn't know where we were going at that point. I didn't know if we were a good team like I thought we were, or if we were 3-6 and couldn't beat anybody. Then we had a good practice and all of a sudden things fell into place."

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Delaney: Luge doubles

Did you ever wonder why there aren't any women's doubles luge sleds in World Cup races?

I was thinking the same thing so this week I finally asked USA Luge. I got an answer from a guy who ought to know: Brian Martin, a four-time Olympian and a member of one of the U.S. sleds going to Whistler, British Columbia next month for the Winter Olympics.

In luge there are men's singles, women's singles and doubles. The doubles are not gender specific, meaning a country can put anyone on a sled: men, women, or mixed doubles. The doubles sliders are at the team's discretion.

So why no women?

"I think one of the major factors is upper body strength," said Martin, who has Olympic silver and bronze medals with doubles partner Mark Grimmette. "Men being stronger and explosive at the start, it would be really difficult to compete if you didn't have a world class start. It's very difficult to win with a bad start and it's easy to lose with a good one. You need that speed out of the handles to be competitive."

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Delaney: Hamlin and Americans training in Italy

With a break in the World Cup luge schedule this week to allow for the European Championships, Erin Hamlin and her U.S. teammates are training in Italy in preparation for the final race before next month's Winter Olympics.

Some European nations are following a similar strategy. The Germans, Italians and Austrian Olympic sleds are foregoing the championships in Latvia in favor of team testing.

The Americans will use the extra time for extra runs on the Cesana, Italy track that hosted the 2006 Winter Olympics. The Italian track, the site the season's eighth World Cup series race Jan. 30-31, has similarities to the Whistler track outside of Vancouver where the Olympic luge competition will be Feb. 13-17.

"It's good to have a good week of training," Hamlin said. "This is a good build up to Whistler, the speed and the technical aspects to get a lot of runs on."

Racing on a technical track such as Cesana and Whistler requires more skill from the slider, more driving, to get a clean run. Hamlin said the athletes will get approximately 20 runs this week in Cesana and additional runs next week before the World Cup race.

Hamlin spoke on a conference call from near Cesana, in northwest Italy on the French border, with teammates Tony Benshoof, Mark Grimmette and Brian Martin. Benshoof, a Minnesota native, is USA Luge's all-time singles leader in international medals. Grimmette and Martin are a doubles team and are the U.S.'s all-time leaders in international medals with 65.

Grimmette, who is from Michigan, and Martin, from California, won a silver medal at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and a bronze at the 1998 Games in Nagano, Japan.

"It's a difficult track and it requires you to be precise and comfortable with the equipment," Martin said.

Hamlin is not spending much time this week dwelling on the Olympics. The Games are four weeks away, and Hamlin is maintaining a week-by-week, one-race-at-a-time focus. She was ninth at Cesana last year.

"The tracks still have so many differences and we have a race next week that I'm thinking about more because I have to compete on that track in a week-and-a-half," Hamlin said.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Delaney: Hamlin sliding well on way to Whistler

With four top 5 finishes in her last four World Cup series races, Erin Hamlin is sliding well heading into next month's Winter Olympics outside of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

But as to the reasons for Hamlin's recent consistent streak? Her guess is as good as mine.

"I really couldn't I really couldn’t’ tell you," Hamlin said Wednesday during a conference call with U.S. Luge teammates in Oberhof, Germany.

"I feel good on the sled and my sliding has felt good, too. Everything has come together and I've got the rhythm of the track. My first runs have been very good runs. I've been able to focus on the nit-picky small things."

In World Cup races, Hamlin said sliders get six runs on a track before racing. With a good first run line, it allows her to look at details of a run rather than thinking only about just getting down the track.

Another year of experience might also be a factor, she said.

Hamlin's recent performance comes at a good time. There are two more World Cup races before the Olympics. This weekend, the U.S. lugers are in Oberhof and in Cesana, Italy Jan. 30-31.

"It feels good," she said. "It gives me less to worry about and I want to focus on the extra things that give you one-thousandth of a second. Being on a consistent streak, where I haven't been is nice."

Hamlin earned her second World Cup series medal last weekend with a third-place finish in Winterberg, Germany. The reigning women's World Champion also got on the podium earlier this season with a third place in Lillehammer, Norway for her first World Cup medal.

The U.S. singles sliders arrive in Whistler on Feb. 9. The luge Olympic competition is Feb. 13-17 and the women's singles competition Feb. 15-16.

Hamlin has a good recent history at Whistler. She was fifth there in last year's final World Cup event.

For U.S. men's singles slider Tony Benshoof, of Minnesota, who was fourth at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy, the Whistler comes close to reaching the limit for speed.

"It's a tough track, no question," said Benshoof, USA Luge's singles leader in international medals. "The track is the the fastest in the world, hands down. There's no debating that."

The length of the men's track at the Whistler Sliding Centre is 4,507 feet to 3,930 feet for the women's track and the distance makes a difference.

"They're going at 60 miles per hour by the time we enter at curve 3," Hamlin said. "We don't pick up speed until curves, 9 to 11. It's still a challenge, it's very technical. I like it and enjoy a more technical track. The men, for sure, have it a little tougher. I'm glad I'm a girl."

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Delaney: Maybe steroids belong in the Hall

With Mark McGwire being the latest former or current Major League Baseball player to admit to peformance-enhancing drug use, I am having trouble figuring out what the steroid era means for the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

My first instinct is to declare players such as Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez or McGwire automatically ineligible. As Wade Boggs said in Cooperstown this summer, steroid use is cheating.

I began to consider a different perspective Monday night listening to ESPN coverage of McGwire's admission.

ESPN reporter and Hall of Fame voter Tim Kurkjian, who I think is a level-headed and responsible reporter, voted for McGwire in each of his four years of eligibility. Kurkjian said he will continue to vote for McGwire and did not eliminate the possibility of voting for players who admit to PED use because, in part, it is the era in which they played.

Kurkjian has a point. The steroid era, no matter how distasteful, is a part of baseball history. The Hall of Fame is a museum and is responsible for documenting baseball the history, for good and for bad.

Ignoring steroids in Cooperstown would be a disservice to the game.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Delaney: Camden's Smith reaches milestone

It took a career high from standout swingman Ashley Roser to hold off a very good Holland Patent girls basketball team Tuesday. And with the Tri Valley League victory, Blue Devils' coach Jerry Smith earned his 200th career victory.

Roser, who is closing in on 1,000 career rebounds to go with 1,200-plus career points, scored 37 points and grabbed 18 rebounds in Camden's 78-69 win. Lindsay Jones added 22 points on five 3-pointers for Camden (5-2 TVL, 7-2 overall). Jones also had four assists and five steals.

"It makes me feel I was blessed with great athletes," said Smith, in his 19th season. "In the TVL, 200 wins means a lot because it's a tough conference."

The win did not come easily. Not by a long stretch. The much improved Golden Knights have five players in double figures. Nicole Dupuis scored 17 points and sisters Karlene and Allyson Freiermuth each had a double-double.

"That is the best Holland Patent team I've seen in 20 years," Smith said. "The best I've seen was tonight. We were running scared."

Delaney: Take the slippers, return the swimsuit

Ah, winter!

The post-holiday blues are easily soothed with sports on TV, fuzzy slippers, an overstuffed chair and.....the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition due out next month. I guess fuzzy slippers are optional there.

The annual glossy comes with an an out: subscribers not wanting the swimsuit issue can call 800-528-5000, tell SI they don't want the issue and SI will extend the subscription.

Take the extension, decline the swimsuit edition. It's passe and blantant sexism. In an age of equality, why doesn't SI publish a men's edition?