1999-07-17 / Sports

Graybeard Hoops

Bouquets For All Good Men

Lemme tell ya, it’s been a frustrating year at the keyboard. Usually by this time in the season Kevin Kelleher has submitted a stinkeroo performance which inspires several paragraphs of derision----each sentence a joy for this scribe. Not this year. The long-limbed all-star is the front-runner for MVP as he’s been nothing short of flawless, game in and game out. Even his airball from the foul line was a thing of splendor.

Although Kelleher is the likely MVP it’s not as if he’s the only one performing in the upper strata. Chris Boyle, opened the season with 39 points in a game in which he sat out the final 10 minutes of play. He looked like a shoo-in to take home MVP hardware until a bum knee sidelined him. Dan Leary is always a candidate and dropped a 37 point reminder on voters in a game against Leaper and friends. Speaking of Leaper, the legendary high-flyer doesn’t care about regular season MVP----he goes for MVP of the playoffs. Nobody wants to see Leaper when it’s single elimination time. MVP talk would be incomplete without giving props to newcomer Mark "Head" Cannon. The versatile, intense Cannon tosses in 23 a game while guarding the other team’s top dog. He’s the number one guy on the number team. Yeah, that’s the Men from Maroon---who barring a late-season collapse will be crowned regular season champs at this year’s annual beach party. (With the late breaking news that Cannon would miss Thursday’s game maybe that collapse is pretty certain).

Another newcomer, Billy Collins, is extremely valuable but because of too many missed games can’t be considered most. But he’s got time and the talent to earn playoff honors.

Longtime league observers know, however, that winning MVP is an admirable achievement---but it don’t mean squat. This league is about winning the long-sleeved t-shirt. And you only win it if you’ve got strength in the trenches. Like where Jimmy Dunn plays. And Tom Carroll. And Steve Stahis, J.D. Donovan, Bill "Whopper" Armstrong, Harry Werner, Bob Risi, and Jack Weber. These guys do the dirty work, allowing the pretty boy MVP-types to do their business without breaking a fingernail never mind a sweat. Most of these guys not only provide depth to teams but width, too.

Other guys make their teams go with a little bit of scoring, a little bit of dee, and a lot of sacrifice. You got guys like Jughead McCormack, Tom Boggiano, Dan Murphy, Whipper Stathis, Gary Carroll, Chris Davidson, Kevin Judge, Long-Haired George, Richie Ryan and Eddie Cashen making the difference in games. While supernovas tend to cancel each other out, the wins and losses are directly traceable to the aforementioned few.

Many games seem to turn on the contributions by the second and third bananas in a line-up. Dan Conlon, Greg Raphael, Jim McCool, Brian King, Pete Brady, Bobby Bruns, Jimmy Roberts, and Sean O’Leary are the guys who take the load off the number one gun. When these guys get 20 their teams cruise.

Kevin Boyle reduced to designated foul shooter while playing on one leg has, at least, done that reasonably well.

No team can compete without leadership from the point guard position. Consistently good play has come from Tom McCann, John Cosgrove, GI Joe, Bugsy Goldberg, and Bill Seiz. These guys penetrate and somehow find good shooters like Tom McVeigh, Kevin Lunny, Bill Nolan, and Joel The Sweater Mirrer ready to fire from the perimeter.

And there have been some notable surprises. Bob Geary saved a game---and maybe the season--- with a defensive play in game two. Brian Machine Gun Kelly earned the fastest nickname in league history; while Louie The Laser Pastina put up a shot faster than anyone in league history. Both have been positive additions to the league. Two things are fairly certain: Laser will put up a soft shot one day and he’ll make a run at joining the top wits in the league. (Though he might not make it).

This highlight reel wouldn’t be complete without somebody asking: has Kevin Raphael ever missed that 15 footer? The lanky (last measured at 7’2") small forward is money from 15 and is quietly making a claim for the coveted Most Underrated trophy.

Suntan Edwards has delighted crowds with his patented dipsy-do to the hoop and is especially valuable come the beach party for he picks up the hot dogs and hamburgers.

And Kenny Brady eats them.

Who, by the way, gets credit for requesting cut-off uniform shirts. (Kenny’s the Tommy Hilfiger of the league).

**We don’t know how it could’ve happened but league groupies must’ve found better looking men somewhere. We’ve hardly seen Helen Brady, MJ Howley, or Marian Dunn this year. We used to have the best looking fans now we just have Mr. Bogart.

**Heard on the stage: About Jack Weber: "He doesn’t sweat much for a guy his size."….About Gunner Geary: "He’s sharing ammo with Machine Gun Kelly. That’s charity with a capital C."….About Suntan: "When you want to tie on a package over night, he’s your man."…. ..About Kevin Raphael …."Maybe we should say thanks to him more often."…. About Ed Cashen: "He doesn’t look bad with an earring."…About Pete Brady….It’s scary how he looks younger all the time. I’d hate to see the portrait in his closet. He’s probably gonna play in the under 35 next year."

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