ESPN: Temple University Top 20 college basketball programs

LAST WEEK ESPN RANKED THE MOST PRESTIGIOUS MEN’S BASKETBALL PROGRAMS of the modern era, since 1984-85.

It came as no surprise that Temple University, my alma mater, was among them – ranked 20th.

20. TEMPLE OWLS, Atlantic 10
Positives: 13 conference titles (6 regular-season, 7 tourney); 15 20-win seasons; 17 NCAA berths; 5 Elite Eights; 6 NITs
Negatives: 1 losing season; 0 first team All-Americans; 0 Final Fours
Total points: 179
Did you know? The 2007-08 season was the first 20-win season for Temple since the 2000-01 season, but the Owls have been respectable in that downturn, falling under .500 just once (2006-07). The Owls have five Elite Eight appearances since 1985, a tally that helps them fly up the charts, but we’d be remiss not to mention that they are 0-5 in those chances to reach the Final Four.

I was an avid fan myself. The same research ranked the Atlantic 10 the No. 8 conference in the country of the modern era.

Image courtesy of PBase. Source. See Top 10 here.

Finals: Michael Jordan flu game in 1997

I rarely go a day without posting something, however, it is an extremely rough week. The last finals week of my college career. So, because it will be slow, I’ll give you other “Finals” themed fodder.

Here, your man Michael Jordan in the 1997 NBA finals. Game 5, our hero had been suffering flu-like symptoms the entire night before. …Yeah, we all knew the Jazz were in trouble.

I was at Mike Schmidt's wine-tasting

IT WAS IN MARCH THAT I first reported for the Philadelphia Business Journal that Mike Schmidt, one of the most celebrated third basemen in baseball history and easily one of the most iconic Philadelphia sports heroes, was launching a charity wine: a Zinfandel.

Now, I may have thought it a little funny, if only because two worlds seemed to collide, and when I went to the product’s first wine tasting for media yesterday, it may have seemed a little sillier still when I took a freight elevator to the basement and wandered passed the Citizens Bank Park groundskeepers in pursuit of the tasting. But, to be fair, as we all know, Schmidt is putting his name on the line to raise funds for Cystic Fibrosis research.

Continue reading I was at Mike Schmidt's wine-tasting

Covering Joe Frazier for The Temple News

© Pete Marovich /drr.net

Yesterday I wrote for The Temple News another in a series of stories on a controversy surrounding the possibility of Joe Frazier’s Gym closing. There will be more to come, for sure.

Joe Frazier has developed a reputation for business failings that rival his status as a boxing legend. That much is confirmed by those closest to him.

But debate over the recent closure of Joe Frazier’s Gym, the North Philadelphia landmark at North Broad Street and Glenwood Avenue, has pitted a British boxer and her fiancé-manager against the 20th century sports icon’s business manager.

Read more.

Philadelphia Eagles, Phillies show holiday spirit

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Never posted this, thought it as good as time as any, at this point, to celebrate the marketability of professional athletes giving back. -cgw

Interview and article prepared for the Philadelphia Business Journal, as filed, without edits, to run in the Jan. 11, 2008 edition.

Two Eagles lent their significant star power to brighten the holidays for a group of Philadelphia kids, last month.

Through a partnership with the Greater Philadelphia Urban Affairs Coalition, running back Brian Westbrook and free safety Brian Dawkins met individually with 70 Philadelphia children on Dec. 18, giving each a present at GPAUC’s Center City office.

“This was all the generosity of Brian Westbrook and Brian Dawkins,” said Bonnie Grant, spokesperson for the GPUAC, a business-community partnership that unites a handful of regional non-profits. “They wanted to make it a very special holiday for children with need.”

It was a particularly special day for Westbrook, who got word of his most recent selection to the Pro Bowl less than an hour before his appearance. GPUAC president Sharmain Matlock-Turner made an announcement during the event. The children cheered, even if some weren’t old enough to know much about Westbrook’s running game.

“The kids were thrilled,” Grant said. “It was as if there were in the presence of magic.”

Not to be outdone, the Phillies had their holiday spirit in full force.

A handful of front office personnel unloaded more than 7,000 pounds of food the very same day, all donated to feed the hungry of Philadelphia’s growing Latino community.

Among those of the Phillies top brass who were on hand to bring the canned foods, collected at a Sept. 7 game against the Florida Marlins, were Ruben Amaro, Jr., Phillies assistant general manager, and broadcaster Scott Franzke. The donations, which also included a check for $25,000, were given to the region’s largest food bank, Philabundance, which has partnered each holiday season with the Phillies since 2005 when then-Phillies first baseman Jim Thome took interest.

The day before, Phillies President Dave Montgomery, General Manager Pat Gillick and several former players served dinner at the Our Brother’s Place Homeless Facility in North Philadelphia. It was the 8th year such an event has taken place and part of a week of philanthropy.

“As an organization, we recognize how important it is to give back,” said Gene Dias, the Phillies director of community relations. “Particularly at this time of year and particularly to those in the most desperate need.”

Barack Obama: the baller

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Seen CBS News taking on Barack Obama the former basketball player? (hat tip to Alex Irwin for spotting this for me)

Check out video of Obama’s basketball days below, or check out his NCAA tournament bracket here. CBS News has further analysis of his picks and their political connotations, here.

This is all about humanizing the guy, but still, it’s interesting to see it. It shows how Obama, 46, is young enough that film was readily available to film high school basketball.

Oh, and I am thoroughly disgusted that he picked against my own Temple University in his bracket, even if he was correct.

Mike Schmidt launches wine for charity… seriously

What fun to cover. This a brief for the Philadelphia Business Journal today.theslugger.jpg

Mike Schmidt, the Hall of Fame former Phillies third baseman, has taken to wine-making for charity. Along with two other members of the 500 Home Run Club, former Chicago Cubs shortstop Ernie Banks and standout switch hitter Eddie Murray, Schmidt has teamed with Eos Estate Winery in California to produce three wines, each using one of the major leaguers’ names and career home run totals. All of the proceeds will go to a philanthropic cause of the athlete’s choosing. Schmidt has decided his profits will go to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, based in Maryland. There is the Mike Schmidt 548 Zinfandel, the Ernie Banks 512 Chardonnay, and the Eddie Murray 504 Cabernet. They can be preordered now, though they won’t be available in stores until May. A bottle is expected to cost $17.”

We’ll have a carafe of the Mike Schmidt 548 Zinfandel, maybe something in a 2009.

But, I couldn’t possibly top the press release I received.I happily shared with just about everyone one quotation I read while filing the story. It came from Liz Banks, wife of Ernie Banks and president of the 500 Home Run Club.

With 548 home runs, Mike Schmidt was such a quality ballplayer that for him to launch a quality wine for charity seemed a natural fit.”

Natural fit, indeed.

Temple Owls are going dancing!

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(Photo of Dionte Christmas and Mark Tyndale in tonight’s game in Atlantic City, N.J., taken by Kevin Cook of The Temple News)

Four years ago I matriculated into a large, urban American research university with one of the more successful men’s basketball programs in the country. Trouble is, it was on the way out.

Legendary Coach John Chaney retired and the Owls hadn’t been to the NCAA Tournament since 2001 – including all of my years of cheering on the time. Of course, that is before tonight, when Temple beat arch rival St. Joseph’s, 69-64, in the championship game of the Atlantic-10 conference tournament, giving the Owls an automatic bid to the most watched college athletic playoffs.

The Owls were trailing at intermission, and it was looking bleak, but they came out and smothered the Hawks, with whom Temple split their two regular season matchups.

Vintage Philadelphia baseball video

I stumbled upon this and thought it pretty cool.

This silent film claims to be, and I have no reason to suggest otherwise, a home movie of the 1929 World Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Philadelphia Athletics, a series the Philadelphia team won four games to one.

The video owner described it as such:

Home movie footage of 1930 Flag Day followed by the 1929 World Series played between the Philadelphia Athletics and the Chicago Cubs. Both games were played at Wrigley field. The World Series was played on either October 8 or October 9, 1929. It includes opening ceremonies, crowd shots, and a few pitches.