SFDS Summer Classic
And The Winners Are…
By John Ronayne
In perhaps the most anticlimactic revelation since President Clinton's confessions of marital infidelity, Jameson's Pub capped their undefeated regular season with a triumphant victory lap through the playoffs. As referenced in last week's column, their postseason foes offered less
resistance than a vodka-soaked sorority girl at Homecoming. In besting
Martell's Grill for the fourth time in as many outings, Jameson's officially
captured the championship that seemed their birthright since early June. To follow is a cursory summary of both semifinals and the August 24 title game...
FINAL FOUR RECAP…
Martell's Grill-60; Irish Cirlce-49.
With an unheard of 12 players in uniform, Martell's substitution patterns resembled hockey line changes. An endless wave of fresh legs harassed the five-man Circle crew into a woeful shooting performance that essentially authored their playoff demise. Circle forward John Ronayne led all scorers with 24 points, but ultimately buckled under the relentless pressure of the Martell's defensive scheme. Ryan Whelan and Eugene Brennan paced the typically balanced Martell's attack with 12 points apiece. Seemingly overwhelmed by the sheer volume of Martell's roster, Circle funnyman Kevin Coursey fainted during the traditional postgame handshaking
Jameson's Pub-74; Black Star-67.
Despite a robust 12 point spread, an undermanned Jameson's squad
narrowly escaped disaster and advanced to the championship round. As local bookmakers squirmed to make margin call, an upset-minded Black Star squad nearly stole a championship berth. With Paul Peterson and Ryan McCormick both curiously absent from the proceedings, Greg Hearn (39points/minimal perspiration/not a hair out-of-place) single-handedly salvaged Jameson's
season and punched their ticket to the Finals. During the postgame press conference, business-like Coach/GM Jamie McManus succinctly assessed the evening's events ("Survive & Advance"). Shortly thereafter, he assembled a search party for Peterson and McCormick in hopes of confirming their attendance at the big game.
Jameson's Pub 76; Martell's Grill-65. In the lowest rated swan song since "Punky Brewster" hit puberty,
Jameson's methodically dispatched Ryan Whelan's young upstarts and celebrated with the nonchalance of Casanova Kenny Green picking up drunken last-call chicks at the Irish Circle. Despite early foul trouble that enabled a 28 point Whelan outburst, Ryan McCormick (28 points) again distinguished himself as the peninsula's most explosive talent. Paul Peterson contributed 23 points
and his unparalleled low-post presence. Martell's Rookie-of the Year shoo-in Kevin Fitzgerald added 14 points and considerable cause for optimism. His future remains remarkably bright, and front office types would be wise to lock him up with a long-term deal. If this unit remains in tact, there exists a strong likelihood that they will eventually be anointed successors to Jameson's championship throne. Jamie McManus has worked wonders with the salary cap and always seems a step ahead of the league's financial structure. However, league observers openly question his ability to keep this high-powered offense together. Greg Hearn has long imagined himself behind the wheel of an Acura 3.5TL, and he would command big dollars on the open market. Ryan McCormick may seek a more challenging league to better accommodate his considerable talents, and Brendan McDonagh has griped loudly about the arduous commute from his adopted hometown of Bay Ridge. While each franchise is plagued by uncertainty, the league as
a whole must rebound from yet another lackluster campaign. At the fall meetings in October, conservators will discuss the possibility of expansion and attempt to impose a "competitive balance" designed to create rivalries and resuscitate waning fan interest.
Individual Award Winners…
Most Valuable Player---Ryan McCormick (Jameson's Pub). In a landslide vote, McCormick's closest competitors were members of his own team. The Summer Classic sorely needed an injection of star power, and McCormick emerged as a dazzling antidote. In addition to
eye-popping ball-handling and passing skills, McCormick proved a fearless rebounder and capable defender. Rare is the player who can lead the league in scoring and not come off as a self-interested ball hog. By all accounts, McCormick boasts a rare humility that has endeared him to teammates, fans, and media types.
Runners up: Greg Hearn, Ryan Whelan.
Rookie of the Year----Kevin Fitzgerald (Martell's Grill). Once again, a complete no-brainer. At the tender age of 17, The Boston University bound Fitzgerald burst on the scene as a highly touted wonderkind. The results were quite encouraging. Lanky and agile, Fitzy also displayed a keen grasp of the game's fundamentals. If not for Martell's
democratic approach toward shot distribution, his numbers (14 ppg.) would have been far more impressive. In the right system, this kid will post prolific numbers. A testament to fine upbringing, he is also among the most polite young men on the Beach.
Runners up: Brian McNellis, Sean Hayden.
Defensive Player of the Year---John O'Connor (Black Star). O'Connor's storied past as a rugby legend has translated well onto the hardwood. Despite Black Star's poor record, most of their games were reasonably competitive--largely due to Oakie's stifling defense. His unflinching willingness to guard the opposition's chief scoring threat speaks volumes about his fiery nature. In a league where defense is embraced about
as warmly as a bar room hug from Meatball, O'Connor's efforts are both
commendable and noteworthy. Runners up: Kevin Fitzgerald, Tom Murphy.
Most Improved Player---Bert Friedman (Jameson's Pub). On a team rife with superstars, Friedman somehow managed to contribute on a regular basis. Despite less-than-spectacular offensive numbers, Friedman's impact reached far beyond the boxscore. He rebounded and
defended with tenacity and brought some much-needed enthusiasm to a jaded, businesslike locker room.
Runners up: John Lydon, Rich "Beard" Coyne.
Sixth Man Award---Pete Stack (Martell's). The Martell's bench often resembled a gathering of music
fans sleeping out for prized concert tickets. With the game's first
substitution, Stack would amble onto the court and immediately impact the
proceedings. His leaping ability recalls vintage Kevin McEachern, and a
willingness to exert himself on the defensive end stands out in league full of Reggie Theus clones. Stack is that rare player who can assert himself without benefit of a single field goal attempt. Runner up: Kevin Coursey.
Sportsmanship----Greg Hearn (Jameson's Pub). Without a doubt, Hearn has enjoyed favorable media
coverage all season. Truth be told, he is quite deserving. While his on
court feats are indeed impressive, his affable, serene demeanor is more
commendable. Despite routine abuse by thuggish defenders, Hearn never
complained nor baited the referees. Gracious to a fault, he also tirelessly
accommodated the throngs of adoring fans who swarmed his vehicle both before and after games. Runners up: Mike Balfe, Matt Stack, Rob Ostrander.
Most Loyal Fans--- Mrs. Bert Freidman, Mrs. Marty Andressen. Most Open League games were more sparsely attended than a "Tears for Fears" Reunion Tour. However, this spunky duo became courtside
regulars, continually offering words of encouragement to the underappreciated combatants. Thank you, ladies! Your unwavering support has not gone unnoticed. Runners up: Mr.and Mrs Kenny Whelan, Dick Bogart.
Best Social Event----The James Tubridy Wedding Spanning several weeks, this sprawling extravaganza
combined family unity, Irish Step dancing lessons, and community support to touch more lives than an AT&T commercial. Despite the August 5 wedding date, many post-parties are said to still be in full swing. Runners pp: Graybeard Beach Party, Ryan Whelan Graduation Bash.
- Where have you gone Brian Dickeshied? A brilliant introductory column last month has left fans of the absurd thirsting for more. Please do us all a big favor----Bring in Da Noize, Bring in Da Funk!
- Congratulations to local teens Sean Tubridy and Brendan Murphy for their wonderfully creative lids at last week's "Hat Night." A $200 reward was
promptly squandered on video games, comic books, and the Tommy Lee/Pamela Anderson Home Movie Collection...
- The Rockaway Irish Boys (RIBs) are now reviewing applications for fall membership. Among the stringent requirements are a healthy alcohol tolerance, passing grade on the firefighter's written test, an inherent distrust of all things female, and your own apartment (or at least parents
who travel frequently).
- With this being my final column, I'd like to express my sincere appreciation toward the many readers who voiced their support (and occasional criticisms) of my work. With dreaded deadlines fast approaching, your encouragement always kept me writing.