I went through a fantasy sports withdrawal for nearly a decade. It started in 2003, when I got the draft time wrong and learned my entire football team had already been completely autopicked. I remained indifferent about that team all season. Then a few months later, I accidentally placed sensational NBA rookie Carmelo Anthony on waivers instead of the injured Anthony Carter and my fantasy basketball team plummeted. I immediately quit playing fantasy sports.
For years, before every football, basketball, baseball, and hockey season, the invitations would pour in from friends, acquaintances, and co-workers. “Join my fantasy league!” I declined all of them. Eventually in 2012, I gave in and joined a friend’s fantasy football league. I loved it. I have not turned down an invitation to any league I have been invited to since.
So if I received an invitation in the mail to join something called “The League,” I would probably do it. I first learned of “The League” this week. WETM-TV in Elmira reported that an Addison (13 miles southwest of Corning) man received a ten page letter in the mail Tuesday telling him that a secret society called “The League” was recruiting him and had been watching him for a while. The letter said he had to send back his invitation certificate, by mail or fax, by the end of the week or his membership would expire. The recipient learned that this was a scam in which the victim pays $140 in advance for a full booklet which you never receive.
But I’m not that smart to be able to figure out it was a scam. If I received this letter, I would have been excited for the opportunity to join “The League.” I love watching History Channel specials on The Free Masons, The Illumanati, and Skull and Bones , and have always wanted to join a secret society. I surely would have wondered, “What is 'The League?'”
Silverman's Top 5 Guesses:
5) “The League”
I get to play fantasy football with Nick Kroll and his buddies? Sign me up.
4) The Fantasy Baseball League in "Knocked Up"
I got Matsui!
3) "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen"
Some of the greatest literary characters of all time…and me!
2) The League of Nations
It was kind of replaced by The United Nations, but not forgotten!
1) The Justice League
The Avengers have Iron Man. The Justice League would have Silverman. Although instead of Robert Downey Jr., the former Brat Pack-er playing me in the movies would likely be Anthony Michael Hall.
Sadly, it appears "The League" is fictional and actually a scam. So don’t join “The League,” guys! But if you do create a legitimate fantasy league or secrety society, please invite me.
Cactch Eric Silverman on "Between the Lines" on ESPN Ithaca 1160/107.1 and ESPNIthaca.com weekdays from 4-5 pm, alongside Jeremy Menard. Follow Eric on Twitter at @ericcsilverman.
Last week, Time Magazine announced its 2013 "Person of the Year.” Pope Francis came away with the honor, with Edward Snowden runner-up.
My "Between the Lines" co-host Jeremy Menard and I, thought, we would come up with our finalists and winner of Ithaca’s 2013 "Person of the Year.” Then we realized we’re sports guys. The only people we know in town are coaches, athletes, and those who serve us beverages at our favorite local establishments. We have the same amount of credibility picking Ithaca’s “Person of the Year” as Miley Cyrus would have had as Time Magazine’s “Person of the Year” (she was a finalist for it though, seriously).
So instead we came up with our finalists for Ithaca's Sports “Person of the Year.” Jeremy and I came up with our lists separately, without discussing ours with each other. Here are Jeremy’s. And here are mine:
5. Sean Rossi (Ithaca College Basketball Guard)
During the 2012-2013 season, Rossi became the all-time assists leader in Division III men’s basketball. During his senior campaign, he led IC with over seven assists per game, good for fourth in the nation. He was also named a D3Hoops.com Second-Team All-American.
4. Tim Locastro (Ithaca College Baseball Shortstop)
In the spring of 2013, Auburn native Locastro led IC baseball in batting average, hits, runs scored, triples, and home runs. The shortstop earned a spot on the Empire 8 First Team and led the Bombers to the College World Series. After the season, the junior declared for the MLB Entry Draft and was selected in the 13th Round by the Toronto Blue Jays. Locastro played for the Bluefield Blue Jays of the rookie Appalachian league, finishing with a .283 average, 28 runs, 13 RBI, and 12 stolen bases in 43 games.
3. Mike Welch (Ithaca College Football Head Coach)
Before the 2013 season, the Bombers were predicted to finish fourth in the Empire 8, in the conference’s coaches poll. Throughout the year, IC suffered countless injuries, including a season ending injury to starting quarterback Phil Neumann. Yet a team starting a backup QB and a third string runningback, was crowned Empire 8 Champions. It then went on to win its first postseason game in a decade. Why? The coaching of Mike Welch. The Ithaca College head man got the most of a battered offense, and he and Defensive Coordinator Mark McDonough led a defensive group that allowed just 15.9 points per game (22nd in the country). This team was not the most talented, but it played hard for its coach, a coach who got the most out of his team.
Courtesy The Ithacan
2. Rob Pannell (Cornell Lacrosse Attack)
The expectations were high for Rob Pannell’s fifth year of eligibility at Cornell. And he delivered. The attacker led the Big Red in scoring and brought Cornell back to its first Final Four since 2009. Pannell became the first ever three-time Ivy League Player of the Year. He also joined Max Seibald ’09 as the second Cornellian ever to win the Tewaaraton Award for the nation’s best lacrosse player.
1. Kyle Dake (Cornell Wrestler)
2013 was the year of Kyle Dake in Ithaca. The Cornell wrestler won his fourth national championship in four years. He became the third collegiate wrestler ever to win four title in four years, and the first ever to win them in four different weight classes. The Lansing native won the Dan Hodge Trophy for the nation’s best wrestler, won the Sports Ilustrated Male College Athlete of the Year, and was a finalist for the ESPY for Best Male College Athlete.
Catch Eric Silverman on "Between the Lines" on ESPN Ithaca 1160/107.1 and ESPNIthaca.com weekdays from 4-5 pm, alongside Jeremy Menard. Follow Eric on Twitter at @ericcsilverman.
Sure, Syracuse sophomore forward Michael Gbinije referred to it as a “business trip.” While it might not have been a vacation on paper…the Orange’s trip to Maui last week was not exactly an all-day conference in an airport motel.
Syracuse’s Thanksgiving week “business trips” have only gotten better and better over the past few years. In 2010, SU played in the Legends Classic in Atlantic City. Yes, AC is down the Jersey Shore. But if you’ve ever been there, especially during a season other than summer, or have even watched "Boardwalk Empire," you know it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. In 2011, Syracuse took the court at Madison Square Garden in the NIT Season Tipoff. That was certainly an improvement over Atlantic City. In 2012, the Orange did not play in a Thanksgiving week tournament, but it did open up the season on an aircraft carrier in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of San Diego.
How could SU top these sites? Well, it went to Maui. A tropical island. So how can Syracuse top that for next season? Is there a better place on this planet to leave frigid CNY and play a basketball tournament in? I don’t believe one exists. So instead, I picked places that may or may not exist.
Silverman’s Top 5 Suggestions for Syracuse’s 2014 Thanksgiving Week Tournament
5. The Twilight Zone
Rationale: Laws of physics and science no longer exist. Who knows what will happen?!
Maybe we find out one of Syracuse’s players is really an alien. Or Jim Boeheim gets transported back in time to try to stop Keith Smart’s game winning shot in the 1987 National Championship only to fail and somehow cause Carmelo Anthony to not come to SU, resulting in zero Syracuse titles.
Photo Courtesy PaleyCenter.Org
4. Middle Earth
Rationale: “One ring to rule them all” would be the first holiday tournament prize of any significance.
Photo Courtesy NPR.Org
Rationale: After very high travel costs for this year’s Maui Tournament, Syracuse finds simply walking into a wardrobe closet to reach its destination is a lot more financially sound.
Photo Courtesy TheGuardian.Com
Rationale: No, no, not the Atlantis Tournament on an island resort in the Bahamas. I mean the actual utopia of Atlantis.
<---Not the "real" Atlantis
Photo Courtesy Blogs.Sun-Sentinel.com
1. The Death Star
Rationale: Nowhere in this galaxy or any galaxy far, far away, has hosted more epic battles than The Death Star. Obi-Wan Boeheim would instruct Syracuse to use “the force” (aka the 2-3 zone).
Photo Courtesy Today.com
My “Between the Lines” co-host Jeremy Menard also came up with a list. Unlike mine, some of his locations have been confirmed to exist.
Menard’s Top 5 Suggestions for Syracuse’s 2014 Thanksgiving Week Tournament
5. Grand Canyon
Rationale: Syracuse can play on that Nik Wallenda tight rope, 1,500 feet in the air.
Photo Courtesy TheGuardian.com
4. Jurassic Park
Rationale: It would be cool to play against dinosaurs, like when Vince Carter went 1-on-1 with a Raptor in the late 90s Gatorade commercial.
Photo Courtesy TheGuardian.com Photo Courtesy CGW.com
3. The Bat Cave
Rationale: Unlike the Gotham Classic that Syracuse participated in, in 2012, this would take place in the real Gotham City.
Photo Courtesy TheHollywoodReview.blogspot.com
2. The North Pole
Rationale: Playing next to Santa’s workshop would be a lot of fun.
Photo Courtesy StarPulse.com
1. The Moon
Rationale: Syracuse has already played on land and sea. How about space?
Photo Courtesy NASA.gov
Catch Eric Silverman on "Between the Lines" on ESPN Ithaca 1160/107.1 and ESPNIthaca.com weekdays from 4-5 pm, alongside Jeremy Menard. Follow Eric on Twitter at @ericcsilverman.
It's hockey season.
The 2013-2014 NHL season began Tuesday night and tonight the AHL hits the ice for the first time this year.
To help the Lynah Faithful follow along with Cornell alumni in the professional ranks this season, I have compiled a "Where are they this season?" for Cornell alumni in the NHL and AHL. A name you will find missing is 2006 CU alum Ryan O'Byrne. After playing for the Colorado Avalanche and the Toronto Maple Leafs last season, the defenseman is playing overseas this year for HC Lev Praha (Czec Republic) in the KHL.
Cornell in the NHL
|Cornell Alum||Position||Big Red Career||2013-2014||2012-2013||Notes|
|Colin Greening||LW||2006-2010||Ottawa Senators|
47 games: 8 G, 11 A 10 playoff games: 3 G, 1 A
|Completed first full season at NHL level|
|Matt Moulson||LW||2002-2006||NY Islanders||NY Islanders||47 games: 15 G, 29 A|
6 playoff games: 2 G, 1 A
|Entering his 5th season as an Islander and 7th in the NHL|
|Douglas Murray||D||1999-2003||Montreal Canadians|
San Jose Sharks
32 games: 4 G, 5 A
|Traded midseason to Penguins. Signed offseason with Canadians. Out 4-6 weeks with injury|
|Riley Nash||C||2007-2010||Carolina Hurricanes|
Charlotte Checkers (AHL)
29 games: 3 A
|Split last season between NHL and AHL|
|Ben Scrivens||G||2006-2010||LA Kings|
Toronto Maple Leafs
Toronto Marlies (AHL)
|20 games: 7-9, 2 SO, 2.69 GAA, .915 save %|
22 games: 14-7-1, 2 SO, 2.22 GAA, .917 save &
|Traded during offseason to LA Kings|
Cornell in the AHL
|Cornell Alum||Position||Big Red Career||2013-2014||Organization||2012-2013||Notes|
|Sean Collins||C||2008-2012||Springfield Falcons||Columbus Blue Jackets|
Columbus Blue Jackets - NHL (5 games)
|Made NHL debut last season|
|Nick D'Agostino||D||2009-2013||Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins||Pittsburgh Penguins||Cornell Big Red||Drafted by Penguins in 7th round of 2008 NHL Entry Draft|
|Greg Miller||C||2009-2013||Bridgeport Sound Tigers||New York Islanders||Cornell Big Red||Signed with NYI organization in offseason|
|Brendon Nash||D||2006-2010||Hartford Wolf Pack||New York Rangers|
Hamilton Bulldogs - AHL (26 games),
|Played for three AHL teams last season. Signed with NYR organization in offseason|
Catch Eric Silverman on "Between the Lines" on 1160 ESPN and ESPNIthaca.com weekdays from 4-5 pm. Follow him on Twitter at @ericcsilverman.
The circus is back in town. Yesterday, Jets Head Coach Rex Ryan stood behind a microphone on a raised platform behind a large crowd of fans who flooded downtown Cortland for a chance to welcome Gang Green for their fourth Central New York summer camp. Despite the failures of the last two seasons, Ryan’s successes leading the Jets to two AFC Championship Games earned him applause from a crowd chanting J-E-T-S, JETS, JETS, JETS!, as he stepped off the bus. The Jets head man, who has the public speaking skills and entertaining personality to become an ESPN analyst someday, then spoke about how thrilled he was to be back in Cortland and how much he loves the fan support.
Cortland Mayor Brian Tobin and SUNY Cortland President Erik Bitterbaum welcome Jets coach Rex Ryan to the stage
Ryan’s opening remarks quickly addressed the void of four-time Pro Bowl corner and former AFC Defensive Player of the Year Darrelle Revis on this year’s squad, who New York traded to Tampa in the offseason, facing a lack of salary cap room to re-sign the oft-injured defensive back.
“Every year since I’ve been the head coach of the New York Jets, I’ve had the best corner in the National Football League on my side, and I still have that,” said Ryan. At this point, I was thinking, “Is Darrelle Revis, who was a constant lockout threat to not show up to Cortland while he was a Jet, visiting Cortland to hang out with Ryan as an ex-Jet?”
“And I’d like to bring Antonio Cromartie up here,” Ryan followed. The crowd cheered for Cromartie, as they should have. No, he is not the best cornerback in the league as Ryan said he was. But he is one of the few members of the Jets who fans have heard of and are driving to SUNY Cortland over the next few weeks to see play. There is a lack of star power on this team. Cromartie (twice), center Nick Mangold (four times), offensive tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson (three times), receiver Braylon Edwards (once), tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. (once), and kickers Nick Folk and Billy Cundiff (once each), are the only players on Gang Green’s active roster who have ever made the Pro Bowl. However, Cromartie is the only one on the defense.
After Cromartie spoke, Ryan took to the microphone again. “Every year we come up here, we have one of our top picks come up and say a few things. So we’ll bring up Geno, why not.”
The crowd began to cheer, “Geno! Geno!” as Geno Smith stepped up to the podium. Unfortunately, both Cromartie and Smith spoke so low, it was hard for anyone to hear what they had to say. However, the cheering of the rookie quarterback out of West Virginia may have been an indication of what Jets fans vocalizations will be during training camp practices at SUNY Cortland, which begin today. Last year, it was decidedly a pro-Tebow crowd, who was competing with incumbent Mark Sanchez for the starting QB nod. Tebow was immensely popular, and even though he didn’t showcase much quarterbacking ability during camp, the crowd was noticeably more vocal when he succeeded than when Sanchez succeeded. Smith certainly does not enter camp with the same fan support that Tebow did last year. But many Jets fans have lost confidence in Sanchez, who was benched at one point last season after struggling, and look to Smith to win the starting job and develop into a successful quarterback.
I am intrigued to see what the fan reaction will be when Sanchez and Smith are out on the field at SUNY Cortland. The downtown Cortland crowd at the welcoming ceremony cheered loudly for Smith, but that was mainly because he is something new and shiny. From talking with many Jets fans, and interacting with them on social media, they just want someone to succeed. They don’t care if it’s Sanchez bouncing back to allow Smith time to develop as a backup or Smith showing he is ready to start in the NFL now as a rookie. Over the next three weeks, we will find out who will earn that starting nod. Even though this summer Tim Tebow is not part of it, what adds more excitement to the Jets coming up to Cortland, than a quarterback competition?
Only one school in the country has had two student-athletes nominated for the ESPY for Best Male College Athlete over the past three years. That school is not Alabama, Connecticut, Auburn, Ohio State, or Kentucky. Each of those athletic powerhouses had just one nominee. But an Ivy League school, void of athletics scholarships, named Cornell, has had two.
Big Red lacrosse attacker Rob Pannell, then an incoming senior (his first go-around at it), was nominated for the Best Male College Athlete in 2011. Pannell led college lacrosse in points per game, finished second in assists per game, and totaled the ninth most goals per game. Pannell was arguably the best laxer in the nation, however he lost out to BYU basketball sensation Jimmer Fredette.
Rob Pannell at the 2011 ESPYS (Courtesy LacrossePlayground.com)
Cornell alum and Lansing native Kyle Dake, who just a few months ago became the first ever collegiate wrestler to win four national titles in four different weight classes, finished behind Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel for the 2013 ESPY.
The ESPYS are not voted on by athletes, executives, scouts, or ESPN analysts. They are voted on by fans. In 2011, it was hard to top the national popularity of Jimmer Fredette. In 2013, it is hard to top the popularity of a Heisman winning quarterback from SEC country coined “Johnny Football,” regardless of any of his possible off-the-field controversies.
It’s not just the individuals themselves in Fredette and Manziel, it’s their sports. According to the latest Harris Poll, football is the most popular college sport in the United States, followed by basketball. 11 of the 12 ESPYS for Best Male College Athlete have gone to football or basketball players. The one student-athlete of another sport who won the ESPY, was Iowa State's Cael Sanderson in 2002, defeating the likes of hoopers Juan Dixon of Maryland, Shane Battier of Duke, and Jay Williams of Duke, and Nebraska quarterback Heisman winner Eric Crouch. My only guess of how Sanderson, who had completed an undefeated four years at ISU, won, is that most mainstream college sports fans split their votes among the other four competitors. However, fellow wrestler Dake was part of a field in which fellow nominees Trey Burke of Michigan basketball and Drew LeBlanc of St. Cloud State State hockey did not have enough of a national prowess among the general public to take away a significant number of votes away from "Johnny Football."
Rob Pannell was one of the most well-known players in college lacrosse when he was nominated for an ESPY and Kyle Dake has become the face of college wrestling, if not U.S. wrestling. However, they compete in sports which are not on the national radar. Most Americans outside of Central New York, Long Island, and the Mid-Atlantic, have never seen a game of lacrosse. Many Americans are not familiar with amateur and professional wrestling, and are only familiar with popularized staged wrestling.
So neither Pannell in 2011, nor Dake on Wednesday, won an ESPY for Best Male College Athlete. They lost a national popularity/"I've heard of him!" contest. However, both received the unbelievable experience of attending the star-studded ESPY Awards (you can listen to them talk about their ESPY nights on our Between the Lines Interview Podcasts page).
And to be nominated is truly remarkable. According to the NCAA’s latest figures from the 2011-2012 season, there are 257,690 male college athletes, including 91,357 at the Division-1 level. That means over 250,000 student-athletes were eligible to have been nominated for the ESPY for Best Male College Athlete but only four were. And Cornell had one of them. And they had another one two years prior.
Cornell was the only school in the country that had two student-athletes nominated over the past three years for the Best Male College Athlete ESPY. This demonstrates how rare it is to have two talents like Rob Pannell and Kyle Dake on the same campus at the same time. But it also showcases to Americans, including future recruits, that Cornell is a place where student-athletes succeed to great magnitudes and receive national recognition for it. So maybe neither Pannell nor Dake won an ESPY, but their collegiate accomplishments, as well as their nominations, certainly count for a whole lot.