NFL over-under win totals: Let the games begin

This might be my favorite time of the year, not that there is a ton going on in the sports world, but it’s a beautiful month thanks to the blissful combination of sunny weather and the start of NFL training camp.
As such, fans have begun launching spirited arguments regarding their team, specifically the number of wins and chances of post-season participation. One of my favorite exercises, other than the Elliptical, of course, is checking out predicted regular-season win totals installed by various casinos.
As an example, to those unfamiliar, the Cardinals’ over-under is 7½, so folks who think the Cards will win at least eight games would pick the over, and those who think they will win fewer than eight games would pick the under.
Anyway, I’ve listed the numbers according to Bovada, (www.Bovada.lv, Twitter: @BovadaLV), and the digits given to the New York teams jump off my page.
The Giants are over/under eight. Listen, at the risk of sounding like a shameful homer, of which I’m actually not:
I will be stunned – STUNNED! – if the Giants don’t win at least nine games this season. Three things must happen for the Giants to win fewer than eight games, all of which, this being the NFL, are entirely possible:
1. Eli Manning would have to perform as miserably as he did last season. I think he will smoothly transition into new coordinator Ben McAdoo’s offense and have a big bounce back season.
2. The rebuilt offensive line would have to be a complete failure. This is, and will continue to be, the team’s greatest concern heading into the season.
3. The Giants would have to get buried with key injuries, which indeed has taken place on several occasions under Tom Coughlin.
But, again, I would be surprised if all three factors play out. If I had to make a prediction today, I’d put the Giants at 10-6.
A couple thoughts from Kevin Bradley, Sportsbook Manager with Bovada.lv (sorry, Cowboys fans):
“NFL win totals continue to take more money than any other future market we have up right now for the NFL, and a few teams are really standing out as popular bets. The Chicago Bears over 8.5 has taken over 95 percent of the money, but we are comfortable holding the number at 8.5, especially in a pretty competitive division. The Saints (10) and Patriots (11) are seeing the same type of action forcing each of their win totals to move up half a win. The two teams who have caught my eye taking quite a bit of under money is the Dallas Cowboys dropping from eight to 7.5 wins and the Carolina Panthers (8½) with 80 percent of the public expecting them to regress from their surprising year in 2013.”
I will talk a bit about the Jets’ number (seven) later, of which I think might be a tad low as well.

Arizona Cardinals: 7½
Atlanta Falcons: 8½
Baltimore Ravens: 8½
Buffalo Bills: 6½
Carolina Panthers: 8½
Chicago Bears: 8½
Cincinnati Bengals: 9
Cleveland Browns: 6½
Dallas Cowboys: 7½
Denver Broncos: 11½
Detroit Lions: 8½
Green Bay Packers: 10½
Houston Texans: 7½
Indianapolis Colts: 9½
Jacksonville Jaguars: 5
Kansas City Chiefs: 8
Miami Dolphins: 7½
Minnesota Vikings: 6
New England Patriots: 11
New Orleans Saints: 10
New York Giants: 8
New York Jets: 7
Oakland Raiders: 5
Philadelphia Eagles: 9
Pittsburgh Steelers: 8½
San Diego Chargers: 8
San Francisco 49ers: 10½
Seattle Seahawks: 11
St. Louis Rams: 7½
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 7
Tennessee Titans: 7
Washington Redskins: 7½

kgleason@th-record.com; Twitter: @th_KevinGleason

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Today’s quiz: Name West Point’s most successful program the past seven seasons

If you were asked to name the top five most respected sports at West Point, chances are you might forget to mention boxing.
After all, it has become a somewhat forgotten sport on the national scene, a virtually anonymous sport collegiately, and at West Point tends to fall off the radar as a club sport.
That is, unless you spend some time around the program, which in April won its sixth national title in seven years. Spend a couple hours in the boxing room and you would quickly realize that it’s not only one of the most successful sports at the Academy, but one of the most popular.
Ray Barone, West Point’s director of boxing since 1999, has done a remarkable job building the program and maintaining a first-class operation. He expects to have some 130 cadets out for the team with tryouts beginning on Aug. 19. More than 90 incoming freshmen have expressed interest in giving it a shot. And the Black Knights look to defend their title with 30 returning boxers.
Barone has talked about his boxers going on to do big things in the military. It’s no surprise given the level of dedication and commitment required to be part of the prestigious program.

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Aldrich Jr. wins No. 5,000

Bruce Aldrich Jr. has been the most successful driver at Monticello Raceway for four years now. He added another jewel to his sparkling resume on Monday by winning his 5,000th race.

Aldrich, once more the Mighty M’s leading driver, won three races on the day. His 5,000th came in the third race driving Road Work Ahead, a horse that hadn’t even hit the board in 20 previous races.

“I’m proud and I’m glad it’s over,” Aldrich said.

Aldrich also guided Diamond Tiara, a pacing mare, to her 15th seasonal win to extend her lead in races won in North America this year.  Her wire-to-wire clocking of 1:55.2 was her fastest this year.

“She was awesome today,” he blurted. “I never even had to lift the lines. What a nice mare she is to drive.”

kgleason@th-record.com; Twitter: @th_KevinGleason

 

 

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The Renegades experience: Nobody does it better

The Hudson Valley Renegades have entertained folks in the Hudson Valley for 20 years now. And here’s the thing: They have never gotten old.

They are still the best sports entertainment value around. They are fresher than ever. And they are genuinely focused on serving their audience.

Minor-league baseball has long carved its niche as a family-fun environment filled with wacky in-game promotions and kids activities. The game has long been secondary to most fans in attendance, moms and dads watching the action but really watching their children have fun. Some teams do it better than others. I can’t imagine anyone doing it better than the Renegades, Class A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays.

Father’s Day brought us to Dutchess Stadium in Fishkill, “The Dutch,” as they call it. My son Dillon, 11, needed a wheelchair as he’s coming off a nasty battle with staph infections in both legs. So they set us up in a wheelchair assessable location in left field with a splendid view of the game. The left-field usher was terrific, at one point chasing down a foul ball and handing it to Dillon. He wanted it signed by none other than Rascal the mascot, so the usher made sure Rascal came by for a signature and picture without me having to crazily wheel Dillon toward our furry friend.

It was just a fabulous experience from a fan vantage point that always makes me feel a bit weird with almost three decades covering games from press boxes and following journalism’s most basic tenet of no cheering. There was no preferential treatment as only a few Renegades employees know me by sight. My point is that they treated us the way they treat everybody — with a bit more care for the boy in the wheelchair — which is to say that they went out of their way to ensure fans had a pleasant experience.

Just as they have for two decades running.

Of course, and I’ve written this many times over the years, public address announcer Rick Zolzer is the perfect point man. The team’s vice president and head of special events, Zolz does a masterful job entertaining the crowd while silky-smoothly handling a million duties, from directing promotions to recognizing advertisers to, yes, calling the ballgame.

If he doesn’t, Zolz should have a lifetime contract from the Gades. Judging by an evening at the park, the Hudson Valley Renegades have a long life ahead.

kgleason@th-record.com; Twitter: @th_KevinGleason

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Help create miracles to disadvantaged kids around the world

There are a lot of caring people in this world, and a special slice of humanity can be found in Baseball Miracles, a team of baseball/softball instructors who travel to disadvantaged regions of the world to teach children the sports.
The program has blossomed since Town of Newburgh resident and White Sox scout John Tumminia started it in 2011. Baseball Miracles has done clinics in the Dominican Republic, the Pine Ridge (S.D.) Indian Reservation and most recently January in Ireland.
Check out the site — http://www.baseballmiracles.org/ — and feel free to help in any way possible. The program is possible through the kindness and goodness of people. Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.
The group provides instruction, gloves bats, hats, shirts and in many cases hope. Baseball Miracles performs the operation through intense fund-raising efforts. The group is preparing to head to Africa in November, and could use some last-minute supplies to meet shipping requirements as soon as possible. Items needed are gloves, whiffle balls and tees. Shipping costs alone are in the thousands.
Baseball Miracles includes Marlboro High graduate Rob Bell, a former major-league pitcher now working for the Hudson Valley Renegades, a Fishkill-based Class A affiliate of the Rays. Sean Kober is the field coordinator and equipment manager.
“Where would all the great Dominican players be if nobody went out to the Dominican Republic to teach young kids who were throwing rocks around, and teach them how to play?’’ Tumminia says of the Dominican influence in the majors that began to take shape in the mid-1950s. “Never has an African player been drafted or signed. You have to start somewhere.’’
For information, email Tumminia at JTUMMINIA@chisox.com, or Kober at seansaloon@yahoo.com.

kgleason@th-record.com; Twitter: @th_KevinGleason

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Entry to NFL Draft free… but a bit complicated

Ever consider being one of those zany fans who fight for camera time at the NFL draft? Or if you just want to experience a unique atmosphere in which NFL dreams can be realized or dashed.
The draft, set for May 8-10 at Radio City Music Hall, also is unique in that it’s a free event put on by the NFL. Let’s face it, this league doesn’t provide much for free. The first round is 8 p.m. on May 8. Rounds 2-3 will start at 7 p.m. May 9 and Rounds 4-7 will start at noon on Saturday.
Of course, seating is limited. Here’s how you can score a ticket:
For the first round, you must obtain a wristband on Wednesday on the 50th Street side of Radio City. Distribution will begin at 7 p.m. and be given out on a first-come, first-served basis to those in line. Those wishing to attend the draft must be present to get a wristband, and will be required to register and provide contact information on-site.
Those receiving wristbands can line up for Thursday’s festivities at 6 p.m., at which time they will receive their ticket indicating seat location. Tickets will be distributed randomly. Doors open at 6:40 p.m. Fan entry is on 50th between 5th and 6th Avenues.
For Friday’s rounds, you must obtain a wristband starting at 10 p.m. Thursday on the 50th Street side of Radio City. Again, first-come, first-served and those wishing to attend the draft must be present. Those with wristbands can line up starting at 5 p.m. Friday.
In addition, fans can reserve tickets in advance to attend the second night by visiting http://1iota.com/Show/368/2014-NFL-Draft.
For the final day on Saturday, entry will be on a first-come, first-served basis when doors open at 11 a.m. Fan entry, again, will take place at the entrance on 50th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues.
Fans again may reserve their tickets in advance for Day 3 by visiting http://1iota.com/Show/368/2014-NFL-Draft.
Day 3 will feature special programming for youth football players, parents and coaches. They will have a chance to ask former NFL players and experts from USA Football questions about reaching their goals and safety measures through Heads Up Football.
To register your team to attend Day 3, go to http://1iota.com/Show/368/2014-NFL-Draft#Groups.
A collectable pin set will be given to fans attending the draft, with a collectible pin in the official draft goodie bag for those attending all three days.
Remember, security will be tight. The all-clear bag policy will be in effect so each fan will be able to carry the following style and size bag, package or container:
Clear plastic, vinyl or PVC and doesn’t exceed 12’’ X 6” X 12”; OR
A one-gallon clear plastic freezer bag (Ziploc bag or similar) and a small clutch bag, about the size of a hand, with or without a handle or strap.
Items carried in will be inspected and potentially disallowed. Fans should plan on extra time for waiting in line and security checks. Exceptions will be made for medically necessary items after proper inspection.
For more details on screening procedures and a full list of prohibited items, visit http://www.nfl.com/draft.

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Kingston Classic road race results…

can be found at http://hitsrunning.com/kiwanis-kingston-classic/kiwanis-kingston-classic-results.

It was, by all indications, another exceptional event on Sunday. HITS, of horse show fame, has added a great deal of credibility and professionalism to the Kiwanis Kingston Classic. In fact HITS connections were responsible for securing Boston Marathon champion Meb Keflezighi as special guest for pre-race festivities Saturday and on race day. What a tremendous ‘get’.

Combined HITS employees with the folks in Kiwanis, who have done a superb job by consistently focusing on the race’s benefits to the community, and you have one of the best road races in the mid-Hudson.

Runners benefit from these quality events. Race officials are about to partner with The Classic in Middletown and the Dutchess County Classic in LaGrangeville, near Poughkeepsie, to create a three-race Grand Prix for runners starting next year. It’s all neat stuff, with The Classic set to unveil a few cool surprises for its races on June 1.

 

 

 

 

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Special woman, special race

Myriam Loor has done an amazing job directing an amazing race for 11 years called the Celebrate Life Half Marathon in Rock Hill, Sullivan County.

It began when Loor was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin Lymphoma and continued running all the while enduring 4½ months of harsh treatments. She upped her weekly mileage to 35, having never run more than 20 miles a week. Her cancer went into remission and a friend, Suzy Loughlin, sent a congratulatory bouquet of flowers with a note reading, “Celebrate Life, My Friend.’’

Less than three years later, Loor, a Monticello resident who came to the U.S. from her native Colombia at age 16, organized the 13.1-mile road race. More than 700 runners from all over the country wind through a gorgeous Sullivan County course knowing that every dime of proceeds assists cancer patients in treatment.

The 11th edition went off on March 9, and preliminary numbers have been tallied.

“A few minutes ago I finished reconciling the account and I literally had tears in my eyes, believe it or not,’’ Loor said in an email the other day. “ I think we are very close to netting $60,000. That’s incredible.’’

Incredible, indeed.

Loor’s remission lasted 11 months before the cancer came back in December 2002. She has been in remission this time since 2005, and after years of blogging hundreds of short essays, she used some of them to author a recently published book called, “Because It Is I.’’

Loor will celebrate her 53rd birthday on May 23. She has completed a dozen or so marathons – not keeping track because numbers mean little anymore, other than the one on her birth certificate. Loor is looking forward to growing old. There are more races to run and direct, and more patients to help.

kgleason@th-record.com
Twitter: @th_KevinGleason

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Coleman Catholic kids made quite an impact

I am one of the last people to blame officials for a team’s loss. Even really badly officiated games rarely dictate outcomes. There are simply too many variables involved, too many things that players and coaches could have done differently to change the final score.

I felt that John A. Coleman Catholic’s 57-50 overtime loss to Utica-area New York Mills for the Class D state title represented one of those rare occasions when officials perhaps cost a team the game. New York Mills got almost every call, and wound up getting whistled for 10 fouls (yes, 10, the entire game!) to 21 for Coleman Catholic. This, despite Coleman Catholic outrebounding New York Mills 46-39, a statistic that typically suggests the more aggressive team. If New York Mills could have more than occasionally made a free throw, finishing 10-of-19 to Coleman Catholic’s 8-of-12 foul shooting, Mills would have won in regulation.

But it wasn’t just the discrepancy in fouls. Two key Coleman starters, point guard Nick Sirbaugh and rebounding-machine Doug Terrone, a forward, fouled out in the fourth quarter. Terrone was whistled for his fifth with 3:41 left in regulation, Sirbaugh 39 seconds later. So Coleman went the final 7:02 seconds, counting overtime, without two critical pieces.

For my column off the game, I was all set to focus on Coleman Catholic getting robbed. But that quickly changed when not a single Coleman Catholic player blamed the officials. They instead talked about New York Mills being a worthy opponent and deserving the win.

“We gave it our all,’’ senior guard Kevin Davis said. “That’s what matters most. The refs, I think, did an OK job. There is always going to be controversial calls. You gotta get past that.’’

So I chose to focus on Coleman’s classy reaction to the loss. (http://www.recordonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20140316/SPORTS31/403160327/-1/SPORTS0303). It turns out I wasn’t the only one impressed by Coleman Catholic.

A man named Matt Moyse was watching. He’s an assistant coach for Charlotte Valley Central School in Delaware County, which lost to New York Mills earlier in the tournament. When Moyse read about Coleman Catholic’s mature exit, he felt compelled to share his views in an email to Coleman Catholic administrators.  He gave me permission to share his touching note:
For starters, let me say that I am a member of the Board of Education and Assistant Varsity Boys’ Basketball Coach for Charlotte Valley Central School in Delaware County, NY.  Our young men lost in the regional round of tournament play to NY Mills just over a week ago. Despite not being there with our team, my wife and I traveled to Glens Falls this past weekend as fans of the game, but left as fans of Coleman Catholic, and specifically, the young men who represented your school.

 As a coach, I always tell our kids that referees do not change the outcome of the game and that we must accept the decisions that they make. As a fan on Saturday, I was appalled for your young men. But more importantly, I was so impressed with the demeanor and pose of your young men as they held on for dear life whistle and whistle blown against them. #5 (Terrone) sat on the edge of his seat, encouraged his teammates at every moment and supported them every second of the game after he had been unjustly disqualified. Most young men in that position would have pulled their jersey over their head and chose to not watch any more, upset that their moment was ruined.  What I saw from your players was that there wasn’t a single moment of “me,” but rather an enormous team effort from every member of that squad. Moreover, what I saw from those young men after the last horn had blown was the most impressive thing.  They received their medals, shed some tears and shared embraces with each other and their coach. And then, it was time for NY Mills to receive their medals and celebrate. Your student-athletes stood up, moved away from the bench area so they could see each player be called to center court and they applauded. A standing ovation for a worthy opponent. It was a moment of sportsmanship that is never shown between competitors in the “me” generation.

And then this morning, I looked up the local paper and saw the story of Mr. Davis’ tragedy (losing his sister at age 31 to a heroin overdose on Nov. 1) and how you have all come together to be a family.  It literally brought a tear to my eye.  I know it doesn’t take the sting of a loss away; but as a random stranger, I am so proud of your young men and program. I cannot say enough to everyone I have talked to about Saturday and the events that transpired. You are all forever Champions in my book.

Keep those heads held high – sometimes winning doesn’t always come with a trophy.

Sincerely,

Matt Moyse

 

 

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Estrada receives bye to Golden Gloves semifinals

Jaime Estrada thought he was fighting in the quarterfinals of the Daily News Golden Gloves boxing tournament on Wednesday. He got all the way to Bishop Ford High School in Brooklyn, only to learn that he had received a bye to the semifinals.

It makes Estrada, 19, a two-time Golden Gloves champion, two wins from defending his 123-pound open title.

Estrada, a New Windsor resident fighting out of the Newburgh Boxing Club, was raring to go. He weighed in at 1221/2 pounds, a half-pound under the limit, on Wednesday.

He then joined four fellow 123-pounders in a room. That is where officials held a blind draw to determine the two boxers squaring off and three others receiving byes.

“We wanted to fight,” said Newburgh Boxing Club trainer Ray Rivera. “I even told the guy, ‘Give the bye to the other guy, we will fight tonight.’ ”

Estrada’s semifinal date hasn’t been set but probably will take place in early April.

Estrada advanced to the quarterfinals, and now the semis, by beating Joshua Gonzalez 5-0 in a preliminary bout on Feb. 18.

Rivera believes Estrada is much better than when he won the title last year, and certainly improved since winning the Gloves title in 2011.

“Much more experience, stronger, hungrier,” Rivera said.

 

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