As they say on draft day ... they’re on the clock. Specifically, we’re talking about New Hampshire school districts who must notify the NHIAA whether they’re playing fall sports.
Of course, many districts haven’t yet finalized their reopening plans. Many of those plans we’re seeing include online learning, which prompts the question: Can you have a high school cross-country team if the students run all around the school but never actually set foot inside?
Manchester’s superintendent will present the district’s reopening plan next Monday. Local decisions on athletics, no doubt, will be based on the ability and willingness to conform to the NHIAA’s return-to-sports safety guidelines.
We hope for the best and trust our community leaders to do what’s right in a world pandemic. Once again, as we’ve been saying since March, patience is a virtue. Eventually, we’ll be back to what we once thought was important stuff, like postseason tournaments and the like.
• North Manchester/Hooksett will battle Portsmouth in the District 2 Little League final on Friday at 5:45 p.m. at Concord’s Grappone Field. The winner advances no further because there’s no state tournament this year, but thanks to Sally Dreckmann, Little League squads around the state will have another postseason tournament, the COVID-19 Invitational starting next week.
• Hockey East’s recent news, translated, means nonconference play will be limited or nonexistent, and games won’t happen until after the Christmas break. Other leagues will likely follow suit. In the last week, the ECAC lost two of its premier players, Cornell’s Morgan Barron and Harvard’s Jack Drury, both of whom had eligibility remaining but chose to go pro. Drury, the son of former NHLer Ted Drury, is heading to Sweden.
The million-dollar question for college hockey revolves around the NCAA tournament (assuming there is one). Without nonconference games, the Pairwise determiner for the NCAA field doesn’t work. Some leagues are better top-to-bottom than others, for sure, but how you do really know if they don’t play each other?
So good luck to whatever committee is charged with picking the field. And, boy, I hope we get that far and have a chance to gripe about selections.
• Trivia time: Name the three former Red Sox catchers who have managed the Eastern League organization that is now the New Hampshire Fisher Cats. One of the answers is easy because he managed in Manchester. (Answer at the end of the column.)
• Everybody is down on the Red Sox’ starting rotation — and for good reason. Nate Eovaldi is a good pitcher when he’s healthy, but, with Eddie Rodriguez out, who can get you into the fifth inning? Fourth inning? Do I hear third inning? My childhood Red Sox couldn’t match the arms of either the Orioles or Tigers, but at least they had some capable starters, notably Texan Ray Culp.
• Most nights, you get at least six former Fisher Cats in the Blue Jays’ lineup. Sometimes more. Brings us back to the days when most L.A. Kings were former Monarchs. According to Fisher Cats PR man Tyler Murray, 31 former Fisher Cats were on MLB rosters to start the season.
• Kyle Hendricks isn’t the only Dartmouth grad in the majors this season. Cole Sulser, Class of 20212, on Sunday notched his third save — second of two innings — for the Orioles. Sulser, who holds two engineering degrees, is a “high character guy,” according to O’s manager Brandon Hyde.
• R.I.P. department: Very sad to learn of the passing of longtime Pawtucket Red Sox front-office man Lou Schwechheimer, who recently brought minor-league baseball back to Wichita in the form of a Triple-A team affiliated with the Marlins. He died of the coronavirus at age 62.
We also note the passing of hockey legend Eddie Shack, known best as a Cup-winning Maple Leaf (but also a Boston Bruin for two seasons), and known as one of the more colorful players in a sport with lots of colorful players. He was 83.
If you want to end your day on a bright note, Google the song “Clear the Track for Eddie Shack.”
• Plymouth State promoted Devin Zeman to co-head coach of the football team. Zeman has been with the team for the last 17 years and has most recently filled the role of associate head coach/defensive coordinator.
A Nashua native, Zeman now teams up with Paul Castonia, who has been the head coach at PSU for 17 seasons.
Hope they get a chance to call a few plays this fall, even if it’s non-MASCAC ball.
• Zach Sanford’s stock continues to rise. The Granite Stater’s emergence has made his line (with Ryan O’Reilly and David Perron) one of the best second units in the league and St. Louis Blues coach Craig Berube isn’t about to break them up. “His impact this season has been huge,” O’Reilly told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “You see the confidence that is coming with him, the plays that he’s making. ... For him, it’s trusting his ability again. He knows when he’s at his best and what he can do.”
• This clarification from the Patriot League, in response to a recent column that referenced the conference’s limited scholarships: “Beginning with the class entering in fall 2013, the rule allows for each Patriot League football institution to offer up to 15 athletic scholarships and a total of 60 financial aid equivalencies per year. The NCAA limit for FCS schools is 63 total scholarships. In all other Patriot League sports, it is an institutional decision on whether they offer the full NCAA allotment of scholarships or not.”
• Trivia answer: Tim Blackwell (New Haven Ravens, 1998), Danny Sheaffer (New Haven, 2001) and Gary “Muggsy” Allenson (New Hampshire, 2013 and 2017).
None of the three finished higher than third place.