The Recorder – Keeping Score: Is it football season yet?

Published: 07/01/2022 19:10:09

Modified: 7/1/2022 7:07:35 PM

Good morning!
The UMass football season begins nine weeks from today at 7 p.m. against Tulane. During the Spring Caravan, Coach Don Brown told the faithful at Charles River Country Club and elsewhere that this would be the year UMass goes bowling.

The first UMass Bowl game came in 1964 when Vic Fusia’s all-time Yankee Conference champion lost 14-13 to East Carolina in the Tangerine Bowl. My dad came back from Orlando and said he never wanted to hear a band play Dixie ever again.

Eight years later, coach Dick MacPherson brought UMass to the Boardwalk Bowl in Atlantic City where they defeated Cal-Davis 35-14, but that’s the extent of their bowl history.

UMass needs six wins to qualify for the Myrtle Beach Bowl, the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, or any of the smaller bowls. Las Vegas doubts they will get half as many wins. The over/under is 2½ wins. Last year it was 1½ wins. They ended 1-11 and a local bettor lost $30,000.

let’s go fishing The first two wins will be against UConn and New Mexico State. UMass is 129th in ESPN’s Power rankings, but the Huskies and Aggies are 130th and 131st, respectively.

Stony Brook is automatically a “W” because it’s an FCS team. Last year, Walt Bell was fired after losing to URI and Maine in back-to-back weeks. AD Ryan Bamford didn’t even wait until the end of the season, he sent Bell west on Route 9 and interim trainer Alex Miller came in and restored order out of the chaos.

Arkansas State’s presence on the schedule was likely arranged by Bell while he was in Bamford’s favor. Bell served as offensive coordinator at Ark. State enforced. The Red Wolves were 2:10 in 106th place in the power rankings last season. UMass wins at Jonesboro.

Temple is expected to drop into the bottom ten this season. The Owls were 3-9 last year and have lost their last seven games. Seven years ago, Temple was down 23-20 when Will Hayes returned a blocked point after a try 98 yards for two points. The Owls then marched down and kicked a game-winning field goal with 12 seconds left for a 25-23 win. Marty Maroon sought advice after that loss, and UMass needs some ying to deal with that yang.

Former MAC opponents Eastern Michigan defeated UMass 42-28 last year. Quarterback Ben Bryant and running back Jawson Hamilton combined for 436 yards of offense in that game. They’re gone now and UMass will return on October 1st with a win by Ypsilanti.

Losses are easier to predict. Texas A&M and Army will be big favorites, and Toledo, Liberty and Buffalo have been tied 9-2 against UMass since 2012. At the season opener in New Orleans, Tulane is the favorite with 29½ points.

let the fun begin

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Congratulations to Greenfield’s Sean Lavoine and Todd McDonald on a good year in their respective hockey jobs. Lavoine has worked his way up the corporate ladder to vice president of marketing and operations for the American Hockey League, and McDonald is vice president of sales and strategy for the Springfield Thunderbirds.

The T-Birds season ticket base was under 500 when McDonald arrived. This season, the MassMutual Center averaged 5,325 and the building was full for the last two games of the Calder Cup Finals. It has indeed been a good year for two locals whose love of the game began with the Franklin County Hockey Association.

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Kumar Rocker served for Vanderbilt University and was expected to finish in the top five in the MLB draft. He was 28-10 in three seasons with a 2.89 ERA and 321 strikeouts in 237 innings.

A year ago Thursday on the national stage, Rocker gave up six hits and four runs in the first four innings of a 9-0 loss to Mississippi State in the College World Series.

A bad performance wouldn’t ruin his career, but Rocker wasn’t right. The Mets ranked him 10th overall but were reluctant to sign him for a $6 million bonus after his medical report indicated he injured his elbow.

A torn ligament in the elbow is like damage to the gearbox, the car won’t run without a new drive train. Rocker Young and Tommy John’s surgery (band replacement) has an 85 percent success rate, according to ESPN.

Apparently, the 23-year-old rocker wasn’t ready to go under the knife just yet. In June, he joined the Frontier League’s independent Tri-City ValleyCats who play in Troy, NY. As of this writing, he has a 1.80 ERA with 25 strikeouts in 15 innings, and maybe those stats will convince a team to pick him up in the MLB draft two weeks from tomorrow.

(Sources: Vanderbilt Athletics and Baseball-Reference.com).

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Saratoga’s 40-day thoroughbred meeting begins a week beginning Thursday. Post time is Wednesday through Sunday at 1:05 p.m. except at 12:35 p.m. on August 6 (Whitney Stakes) and 11:35 a.m. on August 27 (Travers Stakes).

This year’s giveaways will take place on July 29th (picnic blankets), August 19th (long sleeve t-shirts) and September 2nd (mini umbrellas). Put trainer Todd Pletcher’s horses in the 2-year-old races and Chad Brown’s horses off the breaks and on the turf and you’ll come home a winner.

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Avalanche center Nazem Kadri played with a broken hand in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals and scored the winning goal in overtime. “The coach had to tie my skates,” Kadri said. “For everyone who thought I was a liability, you can kiss me.”

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SQUIBBERS: The Bernardston Kiwanis Club is considering how they can help fix Pioneer’s broken outfield scoreboard. The repair is part of AD Kerry Baird’s push to get athletics out of school. … The bleached and frayed state flag flying over the Olver Transportation Center on Olive Street is an embarrassment to the city. … Chuck Fairbanks deserves to be inducted into the Patriots Hall of Fame. His 1976 team was Super Bowl tied until Ben Dreith ripped the passer call on Sugar Bear Hamilton to keep the Raiders’ drive alive and prompted Dave Zewinski to throw a chair through the TV. … Jack Leiter, who finished second overall by the Rangers last year, is 2-6 with a 5.36 ERA at the Texas League’s Double-A Frisco. … trade update: Michael Chavis has nine home runs in 243 ABs for the Pirates, and southpaw specialist Austin Davis has a 3.33 ERA in 47 appearances for the Red Sox. Edge: Boston. …. Andrew Benintendi (.303) is rumored to be on the trade block in Kansas City. … Ole Miss scored both the starting gun and an insurance run in wild fields to upset Oklahoma 4-2 in the College World Series. … A year ago today, the Red Sox were 52-31 and leading the AL East by 4½ games. … LA Times columnist Bill Plaschke: “Mike Trout could show up at a coffee shop out here and nobody would recognize him.” For the good of the game, Trout needs to get out of the Angels organization like Giancarlo Stanton had to get out of Miami. … A reporter asked Cale Makar about his plans for the Stanley Cup. “I don’t know,” said the Conn Smythe winner. “Now just take a picture with the boys.” … The Cleveland Guardians will end the regular season with six straight home games against the bottom-ranked Royals. … Franchy Cordero must be a romantic. His walk-up music is Si Algun Dia Las Ves, “If one day you see her” by Sergio Vargas.… Track caller Dave Johnson on Bob Baffert’s year-long suspension from the New York Racing Association: “I never thought of Baffert a doper, just sloppy and his own worst enemy.” … East Longmeadow’s Frank Vatrano was mentioned numerous times during the Rangers’ playoff run from game to game. His family owns a popular grinder and pizzeria at the bottom of the hill in Springfield’s South End. … If the good Lord wills and the stream doesn’t rise, I’ll be back here on August 6th. Until then, Happy Birthday America.

Chip Ainsworth is an award-winning columnist who spent four decades writing his observations on the sport in Pioneer Valley. He can be reached at chipjet715@icloud.com

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