Items tagged with 'sports'

Checking out the Saratoga Ninja Lab

Saratoga Ninja Lab monkey bars

By Cristin Steding

If you've ever watched the television show American Ninja Warrior and thought "I could do that" -- -- here's your chance.

The show -- on which ultra-fit competitors run through a punishing obstacle course -- has inspired an entirely new type of workout, and now you can try it locally.

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A pro soccer team for the Capital Region? Sure, in some form, why not?

FC Cincinnati crowd CC Hayden Schiff

FC Cincinnati -- and its big fanbase -- is making the jump from USL to MLS next season. / photo: Flickr user Hayden Schiff (CC BY 2.0)

Every now and then we see the idea of the Albany area getting a pro soccer team pop up during a discussion.

And, yeah, that could be a lot of fun.

Of course, when most people think "pro soccer" for the United States, they think MLS. And that... well, that's not going to happen in the Capital Region anytime soon (if ever).

Here's why, along with some other options for pro soccer that look a lot more likely.

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The Albany All Stars Roller Derby opens its home season this weekend

Albany All Stars at ACC 2017

The Albany All Stars Roller Derby 2018 season opens this Saturday, April 28. The All Stars will be back at the Albany Capital Center to take on the Suburbia Roller Derby Suburban Brawl from Yonkers.

Tickets are $12 ahead / $15 day of / kids 10 and under are $5. First whistle is at 7 pm.

Last season was the roller derby's first at the new convention center. It makes use of the big multi-purpose space on the second floor. (The one with the LED ceiling.) There's food, a bar, music, and halftime activities.

The All Stars have seven home games this season -- one a month through October. Season passes start at $75.

Hellions of Troy
The Hellions of Troy started up their new season in March at the Rollarama in Rotterdam. They're next in action at home May 19 against Suburbia Roller Derby. Tickets are $10 ahead / $12 at the door / kids 12 and under are $3.

The NCAA women's basketball regional is at the TU Center later this week

Times Union Center exterior 2018-03-01

Let's look ahead to the weekend: One of the NCAA women's basketball regionals will be at the TU Center this Saturday and the following Monday. The series of three games will decide one of the teams for the women's tournament final four.

The field of four teams for Albany regional isn't set just yet. Three games this evening (Monday) at other sites will narrow the field. But...

+ There's a very good chance that one of the teams will be undefeated, #1 ranked UConn -- women's college basketball's Death Star just has to find a way to somehow slip past the powerhouse that is Quinnipiac. The Huskies beat St. Francis (PA) in the first round 140-52. Yep, 140-52. Presuming they win Monday night, they'll bring a big crowd to Albany. UConn has won the title 11 times.

+ And the group of four already includes #2 seed South Carolina, which won the title last year.

All-session tickets for the games at the TU Center start at $40 for adults / $20 for kids and seniors. Single-session tickets start at $21 for adults / $12 for kids.

Future years: The TU Center is set to host the women's tournament again in 2019, and the men's tournament in 2020.

Registration is now open for the 2018 Freihofer's Run for Women in Albany

Freihofers Run for Women 5k course map

The 5k course map.

This year's Freihofer's Run for Women is June 2 and registration is now open. The entry fee for the 5k is $25 for the first 500 registrants online. The fee increases by $5 increments monthly starting in April leading up to the race.

This is the 40th year for the Freihofer's Run for Women. It draws all sorts of runners, including some high-level competitors seeking the $10,000 first-place prize. Last year more than 3,200 women participated with times that ranged from 15:49 to 1:18:58.

The course for the 5k starts near Albany City Hall, heads up Washington Ave, winds through Washington Park, and then returns back on Washington to finish near the start.

Race day also includes a junior 3k (registration $15) and a free kids run.

Leading up to the race, there's also a training program with beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels. It's a 10-week program and it starts in March. Registration for that is $55.

And the name is... Albany Empire

Albany Empire logo background image

The new arena football team that will be playing at the TU Center officially announced Tuesday evening that it will be calling itself the "Albany Empire."* The team says the name won the public voting with 44 percent.

Name and logo blurbage:

Team Name Manifesto: Power gets more intense as it is confined. A wide river wedged through a tight canyon. Wind forced through a tunnel. Politicians squeezed into a small state capital.[**] Power is why New York is the Empire State. There may be more prominent capitals and bigger cities, there is no better place for Arena Football. If Albany knows anything, it's the X's and O's of a good strategy, and the bloody knuckles of a good fight. We know that a committee of eight is more than enough to get things done and any more than that is just slowing things down. [***] And we know power - where it comes from, how its used, and that it is the ultimate aphrodisiac. [****] The AFL is coming home to Albany. But we aren't just fielding a team. We are BUILDING AN EMPIRE!
The unique Empire logo features the team's official colors, a fiery reddish orange, dark navy blue and grey accents. The logo encapsulates strength, versatility and boldness, with an attractive display of the Empire battle mask and shield, as well as a football. Designed by The Martin Group--an award-winning Upstate New York branding and integrated communications firm, with existing clients such as New Era Cap and Under Armour--the bold, yet attractive design conveys the inherent power of both the team, the sport and city it now represents.

The Albany Empire joins just three other teams that currently make up the active participants in the AFL: Philadelphia Soul, Baltimore Brigade, and Washington Valor. The Tampa Bay team announced in December it was ceasing operations. And the Cleveland team is sitting out the next two seasons to catch its breath, hydrate, and eat some orange slices.

Albany's new team opens its season April 14 at the TU Center against Philadelphia. Season tickets are currently on sale, with single-game tickets still to come.

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The new-again Albany Patroons open their home season this weekend

Washington Ave Armory interior 2017

The resurrected Albany Patroons open their home schedule at the Washington Ave Armory this Saturday. The Patroons face the Rochester Razorsharks at 7:05 pm. Tickets are $10-$30 and available online.

The new-again Pats are playing in the new North American Premier Basketball, an 8-team pro league that's a bit of throwback to the old the CBA (Yakima Sun Kings!) in which the Patroons had their heyday in the 80s and 90s.

And the Albany roster includes a few players you might recognize, including former Siena star Edwin Ubiles and former NBA player Smush Parker. And the coach/general manager is Derrick Rowland, the all-time leading scorer in Patroons history.

The Patroons and Razorsharks opened the league December 31 in Rocester, a 110-92 Albany win in which Ubiles had 24 points.

The Armory seats about 2,500 people for a basketball game, so there's basically not a bad seat in the house. And if the games can draw decent-sized crowds, the atmosphere could be fun. The season runs through April, with playoffs in May.

+ The Albany Patroons are making a comeback
+ What's up with the Washington Ave Armory

Arena football is returning to Albany

times union center overhead

It's now official: Albany is getting an Arena Football League team. Again.

The ownership group for the team publicly announced the new, un-named team Tuesday morning. It will start play in the spring of 2018.

The team's ownership group includes Times Union publisher George Hearst III, Dan Nolan, and Ed Swyer. And it's partnering with the league's Philadelphia team. The teams will share top level management, and there will also be local management here in Albany.

And the name? Press release blurbage:

The name of the team has yet to be selected. Fans can go to and submit a team name suggestion. Final choices will be selected and made available for fan vote. The winning name will be announced after the voting period. The person that submitted the team name that was ultimately selected will receive a special team prize pack.

(Paul's voting for "The Albany Steamed Hams.")

This will be the AFL's second go-around in Albany.

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The Albany Patroons are making a comeback

Albany Patroons announcement Derrick Rowland

A new version of the Albany Patroons is set to play in a new professional basketball league next year in their old venue, the Washington Ave Armory.

Here are a few details about what's coming up...

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Rock climbing at The Edge

The Edge rock climbing bouldering section

A part of the bouldering section at The Edge.

By Cristin Steding

Rock climbing might have once had the reputation as a sport reserved for the young, fearless, living-in-a-van-while-touring-the-country crowd. But in recent years, the explosion of rock gyms around the nation has made the sport more popular and accessible for everyone.

And for the first time, rock climbing will be included in the 2020 Olympic games in Tokyo, which will likely make it more popular than ever.

Even if you don't have Olympic dreams in your future, there are a few places around the Capital Region you can try it for yourself. This time of year, when the snow is melting but the grass isn't quite green yet, visiting a climbing gym is a great way to beat the spring blues, get a challenging workout in -- and have some fun.

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Albany All Stars Roller Derby has a new home

Albany Capital Center multipurpose space basketball court

At the Albany Capital Center ribbon cutting, there was a full-size basketball court set up in the center's big multi-purpose space to show off both the size of the room and its ability to host sporting facilities.

Updated Thursday morning.

The Albany All Stars Roller Derby launches into its 10th season April 15 -- at.a new home.

The All Stars are moving to the new Albany Capital Center.

"It's a huge, beautiful space and we're very excited," said Kimberly Eisen, AKA "Dottie Damage."

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A night match on the pitch

ualbany syracuse soccer game casey stadium 2016-10-04

The other kind of football.

The local college sports that tend to get the most attention in the Capital Region are basketball and hockey. And that's understandable -- the local teams usually do well in their conferences, and sometimes make a bigger, national splash.

But the calendar's full of other sporting events. For example: Tuesday night UAlbany's men's soccer team took on Syracuse at (the relatively new and very nice) Casey Stadium. We'd never caught a soccer game there, so we dropped in.

It was a lot of fun! Tickets were just $7 -- if you get there a few minutes early you can snag one of the seats with a chair back. Parking was free, easy, and close. There was even a good-sized crowd (1,000+).

And UAlbany won 2-1, pulling off the upset against #3 Syracuse, thanks to a few opportunistic goals and some gritty goalkeeping.

Not bad for a Tuesday night.

Golf lessons for adults?

golf club head in grassFred emails:

I'm trying to find some golf lessons in the Capitol Region, but haven't had much luck as far as suggestions. I know that every course has a pro who will (usually) give lessons, but I'd like to hear some recommendations. I'm not looking to become the next Tiger Woods here, just want to get myself playing at a level where I'm not embarrassing myself. I'm possibly looking for a place with indoor facilities, so I can brush up over the winter. And, I know this isn't a cheap sport, but I'd also like to avoid a huge price tag, if possible.

As Fred noted in his message, we had a similar questions a few years back about finding golf lessons for kids. As he wrote, "hoping that you would have some insight for us big kids."

We've been kind of curious about these indoors places, too, if only because they might be something to do during the winter that gets you up and moving.

So, got a suggestion for Fred? Please share!

Capital District Roller Derby Showdown

capital district roller derby showdown 2016 posterCheck it out: The Albany All Stars and The Hellions of Troy will be facing off at the TU Center on June 4. It's the first time the two local roller derby orgs will go at it against each other on the track.

There is, of course, some history here. Back in 2008 the Albany All Stars Roller Derby had its first official bout at the Washington Ave Armory. And it was successful, drawing thousands of people. But later that year there was a derby schism and the Hellions of Troy broke off into their own org. Since then the two derby orgs have been operating in parallel here.

Both groups are now part of the Women's Flat Track Derby Association, and they're separated by a just a handful of spots in the WFTDA rankings.

The bout at the TU Center will be a home game for the All Stars.

Doors open at 6 pm, the first whistle is at 7 pm. Tickets are $15 / $5 for kids 12 and under.

There will be music from Diva & the Dirty Boys, along with activities and a raffle. A portion of the proceeds will go to the Food Pantries of the Capital District. A non-perishable food item will get you entered in a drawing for a prize.


Check out the short clip above from Tuesday night's Albany Devils playoff game against the Toronto Marlies at the TU Center. Yep, Albany's Ben Thomson shattered the glass on the penalty box with a hit. [TU+]

The Devils lost the game 7-2. And the series is now tied 2-2. [Daily Gazette]

Game 5 of the Calder Cup playoff series is Thursday night at the TU Center at 7 pm.

There's an Albany Patroons documentary in the works, and it looks like it could be good

Via Chuck comes word that there's a documentary in the works about the old Albany Patroons professional basketball team. It's being produced by the Upside Collective, which is based here in Albany. Blurbage:

As the premiere franchise in the Continental Basketball Association from 1982 to 1992, the Albany Patroons left an indelible mark on the city of Albany, the CBA and the NBA. From elite coaches like Phil Jackson, Bill Mussleman and George Karl to standout players like Michael Ray Richardson, Mario Ellie, Tony Campbell, Sidney Lowe, Rick Carlisle and Scott Brooks, the Patroons' legacy continues to shape the world of professional basketball. We are working to bring you the untold story of the Patroons' quick rise, championship success and ultimate downfall. Beyond the franchise's ups and downs, the stories of the individuals involved, from fans, to executives to coaches and players are implausible, hilarious and inspiring.

The site linked above includes some clips of interviews with Phil Jackson, George Karl, Rick Carlisle, and others. The clip embedded above is from an interview with former player Derrick Rowland about coach Bill Musselman -- it's a funny story (and the editing in the clip is really good).

The documentary is scheduled to debut in 2017, according to the website. The producers of the doc are looking for old video, photos, memorabilia, and other stuff like that. Contact info is at the project website.

Dodge, dip, dive, duck, and... dodge

Kearney Cup Dodgeball TournamentThese could be fun... or prompt uncomfortable grade school flashbacks:

Kearney Cup Dodgeball Tournament
The annual Kearney Cup Dodgeball Tournament will be at Siena April 17. The tournament is a fundraiser for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Albany.

Registration for a ten-member team is $500. (There's also an option to register as an individual for $50.) The deadline to register is April 11.

That first link above includes photos from last year's tournament.

Corporate Challenge Dodgeball
The Empire State Sports Council has organized a new tournament -- The Corporate Challenge Dodgeball -- at the Schenectady Armory April 15-16. Registration is $150 for adult teams, $60 for youth and scholastic teams. The registration deadline is April 1 (there's a $25 late fee after that, and there's no day-of registration).

The tournament will include round-robin match-ups in each division, with seeded, single-elimination championship round.

Admission to watch the tournament is $3 per day, $5 per weekend, $1 per day for students, kids 10 and under are free.

photo: Boys & Girls Clubs of Albany

Syracuse is in the Final Four. That is completely bonkers.

Hit a three-pointer while only wearing one shoe? Sure, of course, why not.

As you've probably heard, the Syracuse men's basketball team punched its ticket to the Final Four with a win over Virginia Sunday night. And there was much rejoicing throughout Upstate New York.

But if you don't follow college basketball, it might not be clear the levels of bonkers this string of Orange tournament victories has been. (Hint: totally, completely, unbelievably bonkers.)

Let us quickly run through some of the ways.

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UAlbany women get NCAA matchup

florida and albany logos

The brackets for the NCAA women's basketball tournament are out and UAlbany has its matchup: The #12 seed Great Danes will face #5 seed Florida Gators at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse Friday at noon. The game will be on ESPN2 (and also available via WatchESPN).

As the seeding indicates, a Great Danes win would be an upset. But it might not be that surprising. UAlbany was very competitive in games against big schools such as Tennessee (a #7 seed in this year's tournament). And in last year's NCAA tournament the Great Danes almost pulled the upset against Duke.

UAlbany has been on a remarkable streak of success in recent years. This will be its fifth straight appearance in the NCAA women's basketball tournament. The Great Danes have one of the Capital Region's all-time great college basketball players -- senior forward Shereesha Richards has now scored 2,403 career points (best all time at UAlbany) and is the three-time conference player of the year; she had three straight games of 30+ points in the America East tournament.

AOA NCAA Tournament Pool V

ncaa tournament bracket 2016

In true franchise fashion, the AOA NCAA Tournament Pool is returning for a fifth installment. And again the prize is a $25 gift card to Stewart's. Because the only thing better than delighting in the knowledge you lucked out in picking Directional State University in an upset is doing so while eating ice cream.

The AOA pool is set up at Yahoo. This link should take you to the sign up page for the pool. The password is "greatdanes" (no quotes). If you already have a bracket set up at Yahoo, you should be able to add it to the AOA pool with just a few clicks. (Or, if made up a bracket for the AOA group, you can add it to other groups.)

The deadline to complete your bracket is 12:15 pm this Thursday. The "first four" games Tuesday night aren't included.

As we did last year, we'll post the winning bracket and the top-10 finishers here at AOA. The reigning champion in the AOA pool is Jenna. (Thank you, again, Jenna for your patience on getting you the prize.)

Important: The winner will be determined by Yahoo's tournament pick 'em system. In the event two (or more) people tie for the win, we'll randomly draw the winner from the top finishers. The winner will be notified via email by 5 pm the day after the championship game and must respond by 5 pm the next day. We'll contact you through the Yahoo system, so please be sure to designate an email address that you actually check.

Tournament teams

UAlbany women
The UAlbany women find out Monday night who they're playing in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

By some sort of miracle, the Syracuse men's basketball team got picked for this year's NCAA tournament. The #10 seed Orange play #7 seed Dayton in the Midwest bracket on Friday at 12:15 pm on CBS.

Siena men and UAlbany men
The Siena men and UAlbany men are playing in the College Basketball Invitational. (It's the post-season tournament Siena won in 2014.) Siena plays Morehead State this Tuesday at 7 pm at the TU Center. UAlbany travels to Ohio University for a game Wednesday at 7 pm.

So, Shereesha Richards is pretty good

ualbany basketball shereesha richardsIn case you haven't been paying attention:

+ UAlbany senior Shereesha Richards is averaging 24.4 points per game, a rate that ranks third in the nation in women's Division 1 college basketball.

+ Richards is putting up those points while shooting 59 percent from the field, good for 17th in the nation. (We'd love to know what her offensive rating is. Why is there no KenPom for women's college basketball?!)

+ While making all those buckets, Richards is averaging more than 8 rebounds per game (including almost 3 offensive rebounds per game).

+ Richards was named the America East women's basketball player of the week this week. That's the third time she's gotten the honor this season. And the 18th time in her career (a conference record).

+ In the Great Danes' last game -- a 74-70 win over Yale last Wednesday -- Richards had 31 points (on 13-19 shooting from the field) and 12 rebounds. It was the 11th time she's put 30 or more in a game during her career.

The Great Danes women's basketball team -- four-time consecutive conference champion, and 9-3 this year so far -- starts America East play at UMBC this Wednesday. Then they're back home at SEFCU Arena against Vermont this Saturday at 2 pm. Tickets start at just $5 to see one of the best college basketball players in the nation.

Albany All Stars Roller Derby opens 2016 season this weekend

2016 Albany All Stars Roller Derby Season posterThe Albany All Stars Roller Derby opens its new season this Saturday, January 9 at The Armory on Washington Ave in Albany.

The Brawl Stars will be taking on the Battle Cats of the Southshire Roller Derby. There will be music from DJ Trumastr and halftime activities. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Orange Street Cats.

The first whistle Saturday is 7 pm. Tickets are $10 ahead / $12 at the door / $4 for kids 12 and under.

The All Stars have home bouts scheduled just about once month from now through June. And if you're interested in joining the derby, there's an info/recruitment night Wednesday, January 13 at 6:30 pm at The Armory.

Earlier on AOA: How to behave (or not) at a roller derby bout

UAlbany and Siena open college basketball season with marquee opponents

siena ualbany sports logos

The college hoops season tips off today, and both the UAlbany and Siena men's teams are starting off with marquee opponents.

UAlbany men's team
The Great Danes are in Lexington to take on #2 Kentucky at Rupp Arena. Peter Hooley -- who hit the game-winning shot to send UAlbany back to the NCAA tournament last year -- returns for the Great Danes this season. The game versus Kentucky is at 7 pm Friday and is on the SEC Network (TWC 384) and ESPN3 (which you can watch online via Watch ESPN or via something like Chromecast).

Siena men's team
The Saints are in North Carolina to take on #5 Duke -- last season's national champ -- at Cameroon Indoor Stadium, one of the most famous college basketball arenas. Siena returns a bunch of players from last year's team (including a few key contributor who were out injured). The game against Duke is at 7 pm and is on ESPNU and the Watch ESPN site/app.

Oh, and Siena's next game? It's at #17 Wisconsin -- last year's national runner-up -- on Sunday.

UAlbany women's team
Don't sleep on the UAlbany women's basketball team! The Great Danes have been to the NCAA tournament the last four season. They have conference player of the year Shereesha Richards back, and they were picked to win the America East again. They open their new season this Sunday at SEFCU Arena versus Pepperdine. Tip time is 1 pm.

Siena women's team
The Siena women's team opens its new season Friday night with a game at St. Bonaventure. And then they're at home this Sunday vs. Northeastern. Tip time on campus is 2 pm.

The New York State AG's attempt to tackle daily fantasy (and the state's complicated relationship with gambling)

fanduel draft kings screengrabs

If you had Eric Schneiderman starting in your state attorney general attention fantasy league this week, you're rolling up a lot points.

New York State's AG caused a big splash yesterday when his office sent cease and desist letters to the two biggest daily fantasy sports companies ordering them to stop operating in the state because his office had concluded they're "illegal gambling" operations. A clip from the press release:

"Our investigation has found that, unlike traditional fantasy sports, daily fantasy sports companies are engaged in illegal gambling under New York law, causing the same kinds of social and economic harms as other forms of illegal gambling, and misleading New York consumers," said Attorney General Schneiderman. "Daily fantasy sports is neither victimless nor harmless, and it is clear that DraftKings and FanDuel are the leaders of a massive, multi-billion-dollar scheme intended to evade the law and fleece sports fans across the country. Today we have sent a clear message: not in New York, and not on my watch."

If you're thinking "Daily fantasy what?" or "Billions of dollars?" right now, this New York Times article includes a lot of background.

Fantasy sports was already immensely popular. And it's changed the way a lot of people view sports -- following individual players and performances rather than teams. You could argue the games have, in a way, just become number generators for the fantasy games.

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It's curling season again

schenectady curling club ice wide

The Schenectady Curling Club

Autumn has arrived and that means that curling season is near.

Curling? Yeah, curling. You know, that sport in which people slide stones down a sheet ice while other people furiously sweep the path of the stone with brooms. It's an Olympic sport -- and a wintertime way to get together with other people.

The Capital Region has two curling clubs, the Albany Curling Club (which is in Guilderland) and Schenectady Curling Club (which is in Niskayuna).

If you're curl curious, the Albany Curling Club has a free open house at its facility off Schoolhouse Road this Saturday (October 10, 10 am-4 pm) and Sunday (October 11, noon-4 pm). You'll have a chance to try out curling (bring clean sneakers so you can go on the ice) and check out the place.

The Schenectady Curling Club's fall open house was last weekend (we dropped the stone on that). But its offering beginners' curling classes tonight (October 7) and Friday (October 9) that are open to anyone for $15 each night. (The cost of the classes is deductible from your membership fee should you decide to join the club.)

So what's a curling club like? Casey wrote about visiting the Schenectady Curling Club a few years back: "Overall, going to the curling match was... relaxing. I like the idea of a sport that is tight-knit, informal (in some leagues), and friendly. The players laugh, joke around and, sometimes, drink a beer while they're playing (though only from cans, glass isn't allowed on the ice)."

And here's Jess writing about her experience trying out curling at the ACC.

By the way: Curling has some great vocabulary -- bonspiel, kizzle kazzle, keen ice, and so on.

From RPI to the NFL

Kicker -- and RPI grad -- Andrew Franks made his NFL debut Sunday with the Miami Dolphins, making a field goal and two extra points. He's the first former RPI player to play in the regular season NFL game. [NFL] [RPI]

As Pete Iorizzo highlighted in the Times Union this past weekend, Franks ended up going to school at RPI because he wanted to major in biomedical engineering -- a choice that some Division I football programs apparently weren't willing to accommodate. [TU+ (link around)]

American Pharoah? Really? Please explain.

By Greg

I have to admit that I'm not a Track person.

It makes sense to me how it could be fun for some people -- the time spent relaxing at a beautiful venue, the thrill of placing a successful bet, the majestic animals, the hats. I'm just not one of those people.

Probably as a result of not being a Track person, the recent non-stop hype about the arrival of Triple Crown winner American Pharoah for the (sold-out) Travers this weekend is a little odd to me. It's a horse. I mean, obviously, a special, accomplished horse. But, still... a horse.

So, to get a better sense of the the American Pharoah hype train as it passes through our area (Do I wave? Is that how it works?), I got in touch with my friend Robert Lee -- local sportscaster, voice of Siena Saints basketball, and avid horse racing fan.

American Pharoah. Please explain.

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ValleyCats open home season this week

tri-city valleycats night game at the joe

The Joe

The Tri-City ValleyCats open their 2015 home season Thursday evening at The Joe. They'll be facing the Staten Island Yankees in the first of a three-game series. (If it seems like the season started a little late, it's probably because the team played its first six games on the road.)

The ValleyCats are a farm team for the Houston Astros in the New York-Penn League, which is the "short-season A" level. (Minor league baseball's levels go from rookie ball up to AAA.) And while that's a few steps from the majors, more than 30 one-time ValleyCats have ended up making appearances in MLB -- including Hunter Pence, Ben Zobrist, Jose Altuve, George Springer, and most recently, Vincent Velazquez (who made his debut for Houston this month).

Many of the Astros top draft picks -- especially older players out of college -- end up being assigned to the ValleyCats. And this year should be no different.

Tickets start at $5.75 if you buy ahead of time, so it can be relatively cheap night out. The Joe -- er, Joseph L. Bruno Stadium on the campus of Hudson Valley Community College -- is a nice venue. And, this being minor league baseball, there are a bunch of promotions and wacky theme nights.

UAlbany's Lyle Thompson wins college lacrosse's top trophy. Again.

ualbany lyle thompson Tewaaraton trophy 2015

UAlbany lacrosse star Lyle Thompson won the Tewaaraton Trophy Thursday night for the second year in a row. (The trophy is like the Heisman for college lacrosse.) He's the first men's player ever back-to-back winner of the award.

Thompson was the co-winner of the award last year with his brother, Miles. They were the first co-winners of the award. And they were the first Native Americans to win the trophy -- which is especially signifiant because lacrosse originated as a sport played by Native Americans. (Tewaaraton is the Mohawk name for lacrosse.) The Thompsons are from the Onondaga Nation just south of Syracuse.

Lyle Thompson finished his UAlbany career as one of the sport's all-time greats. He holds the career record for career points with 400 -- almost 50 more than person in the #2 spot. (He's #8 in points per game all time.) He's the all-time assists leader with 225 (#9 all time in assists per game). And he holds the top two spots on the all-time list for points in a season (and the #5 spot).

Thompson has already started a pro lacrosse career, and he's signed an endorsement deal with Nike.

photo: UAlbany Athletics

Drawing: Mayweather-Pacquiao at Wolff's

Floyd_Mayweather_Jr_vs._Manny_Pacquiao_at_Wolff's.jpgDrawing's closed! Winner's been emailed!

The Floyd Mayweather, Jr. vs. Manny Pacquiao boxing match -- "the Fight of the Century" -- is this Saturday evening. It's been getting a lot of hype, even beyond the sport of boxing. And it's on pay per view.

So, people will be gathering in various places to catch the match. Among the local spots are both Wolff's Biergarten locations, in Albany and Schenectady. We have a pair of tickets for the evening at Wolff's -- including two wurst plates + two liters of beer -- and we're giving them away.

To enter the drawing, please answer this question in the comments:

What are you fighting for?

As with all these sorts of questions, we're interpreting "fighting" very broadly -- it could be fighting for a cause, fighting for a better job, or even fighting the weeds for a better yard. So, it could anything.

We'll draw one winner at random. That person gets the pair of tickets, along with the food and beer, at one of your choice of Wolff's locations.

Tickets for viewing the match are Wolff's are $20 each and available online.

Important: All comments must be submitted by 1 pm on Friday, May 1, 2015 to be entered in the drawing. You must answer the question to be part of the drawing. (Normal commenting guidelines apply.) One entry per person, please. You must enter a valid email address (that you check regularly) with your comment. The winner will be notified via email by 2 pm on Friday and must respond by 8 pm that day.

357 points

ualbany lacrosse lyle thompson sets points record

UAlbany lacrosse star Lyle Thompson now holds the NCAA Division 1 career record for most points after two goals and an assist Tuesday night in a 10-8 Great Danes win at Bryant.

Thompson has racked up 357 points in his college career on 155 goals and 202 assists -- 5.7 points per game. That rate is bonkers. It's good for 6th all time -- and Thompson is the only one in the top 20 on the list to play during the last 15 years. Thompson also holds the record for most points in a season, which he set last year. (His 2013 season ranks 4th all time.) He's averaging 6.5 points per game this season, best in Division.

Thompson and his brother Miles were the first co-winners of the Tewaaraton Trophy last year (the trophy is like the Heisman for college lacrosse). They were also the first Native Americans to the win the trophy, which is especially significant because the game was invented by Native Americans. The Thompsons grew up on the Onondaga nation just south of Syracuse.

The UAlbany men's lacrosse team is ranked #8 this season. The Great Danes are the highest-scoring team in the nation at 17 goals per game -- the next closest team (Syracuse) is averaging 15.45 goals per game.

UAlbany takes on #7 Yale this Saturday at 7 pm at Bob Ford Field. Tickets are $7.

screengrab from UAlbany Athletics

Cutting down the nets on AOA NCAA Tournament Pool IV

aoa_ncaa_tournament_pool_iv_winning_bracket.pngCongrats to Jenna, the winner of AOA NCAA Tournament Pool IV. Here's her winning bracket.

Jenna correctly picked 44 out of 63 tournament games, which tied for second the highest number of correctly picked games in the pool. And she had three of the final four teams correctly picked -- Duke, Wisconsin, and Kentucky. Jenna piled up 137 points for her picks, eight more than second-place finisher Chuck.

For her sage selections, Jenna wins a Stewart's gift card.

Coming into this year's tournament Kentucky was the heavy favorite. And the AOA pool reflected that -- almost 3/4 of the brackets in the pool had UK tabbed as the winner. Three people of 33 had Duke picked as the winner. And one person had Wisconsin. (Also: One person picked UAlbany.)

After the jump, the top 10 from this year's pool. Thanks to everyone who played.

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Tour of the Battenkill 2015

battenkill 2010 pelotonThe Tour of the Battenkill returns to Greenwich in Washington County April 18-19. Blurbage:

America's largest one-day Pro/Am cycling race. Racers compete over 65+ miles of rolling terrain on both dirt and paved roads as they travel through the world famous Battenkill Valley. Set in early spring, the race courses includes covered bridges, family farms, and rural villages along the many challenging backcountry roads that traverse Southern Washington County, New York.
The 2014 edition played host to nearly 3,000 amateur and professional cyclists from throughout North America and 15 countries.

The weekend includes an open gran fondo on Sunday for "racers, non-racers, and cycling enthusiasts" in lengths of 23 and 68 miles. Registration is currently open for that race -- it's $45 for the 23-mile version and $110 for the 68-mile version (free for active and retired military members).

photo: A Mengel

AOA NCAA Tournament Pool IV

ncaa bracket blank 2015

It's a sequel to the sequel to a sequel. We have once again set up an AOA NCAA tournament pool. And, yet again, the winner of the pool will get a $25 gift card to Stewart's -- and a chance to sip from a cup containing the sweet, sweet knowledge that you were less wrong than a bunch of other people about how the tournament would play out.

The AOA pool is set up at Yahoo. This link should take you to the sign up page for the pool. The password is "greatdanes" (no quotes).

If you already have a bracket set up at Yahoo, you should be able to add it to the AOA pool with just a few clicks. (Or, if made up a bracket for the AOA group, you can add it to other groups.)

The deadline to complete your bracket is 12:15 pm this Thursday. The "first four" games Tuesday night aren't included.

As we did last year, we'll post the winning bracket and the top-10 finishers here at AOA.

The reigning champion in the AOA pool is Evan.

We will be awarding respect and admiration (and nothing else) to people who don't pick Kentucky to win the whole thing.

Important: The winner will be determined by Yahoo's tournament pick 'em system. In the event two (or more) people tie for the win, we'll randomly draw the winner from the top finishers. The winner will be notified via email by 5 pm the day after the championship game and must respond by 5 pm the next day. We'll contact you through the Yahoo system, so please be sure to designate an email address that you actually check.

UAlbany basketball headed to NCAA tournament

ualbany peter hooley last second shot America East championship

Peter Hooley's game-winning 3. / screengrab from ESPN

The UAlbany's men's basketball team is back in the NCAA tournament.

The Great Danes claimed their spot Saturday with a last-second three-pointer from Peter Hooley to beat Stony Brook in the final of the America East tournament at SEFCU Arena.

UAlbany got the #14 seed in the east region of the NCAA tournament. It will face #3 seed Oklahoma Friday in Columbus, Ohio at 7:27 pm. The game will be on truTV.

It's the third straight year the UAlbany men have made it to the NCAA tournament.

UAlbany women

The UAlbany women's team is headed back to the NCAA tournament for the fourth straight year. The Great Danes claimed their spot with an 84-75 win over Hartford in the America East final on Friday at SEFCU Arena.

Update: The Great Danes got the #13 seed in the Spokane bracket. They'll face #4 seed Duke -- at Duke's famous Cameron Indoor Stadium -- this Friday, March 20 at noon. The game is on ESPN2.

Speaking of the women's tournament: The TU Center is hosting one of the regionals on March 28 and 30.

UAlbany basketball one game away from NCAA tournament

Thumbnail image for ualbany sports logoBoth the UAlbany men's and women's basketball teams are set to play for a spot in the NCAA tournament later this week.

The men's team, which won the regular season conference title, will face #2 conference seed Stony Brook this Saturday at 11 am (because TV) at the SEFCU Arena in the title game of the American East conference tournament. The Great Danes beat New Hampshire 60-58 on Sunday in the semifinal. UAlbany and Stony Brook split the conference season series.

Tickets go on sale to the general public Tuesday at 10 am. The game will also be on ESPN2.

The women's team, which also finished atop the regular season conference standings, will face Hartford at 4:30 pm on Friday at SEFCU Arena (also on ESPNU). The Great Danes demolished UMBC 66-37 in the semifinal to advance to the title game (they held UMBC to just 9 first half points). UAlbany beat Hartford in both regular conference games this year.

Both the men's and women's teams have been a successful run to the NCAA tournament in recent years -- this could be three straight years for the men and the fourth straight year for the women.

Siena? Both the Siena men's and women's teams lost over the weekend in the MAAC tournament at the TU Center. The men's conference championship game is tonight (Monday) at the TU Center -- Iona takes on Manhattan at 9 pm (because it will be on ESPN2). On the women's site, Quinnipiac faces Marist at 4:30 pm at the TU Center (it's also on ESPNU).

Three reasons why bringing the Olympics back to New York State is a bad idea

Lake Placid bobsled track

Lake Placid still has the facilities from the 1980 Winter Olympics -- and that's great. But it doesn't mean the games should return.

Every now and then the idea of New York State hosting the Olympics pops up. And it's done so again this week, with leaders in the North Country banging the drum about bringing the winter games back and both Chuck Schumer and Elise Stefanik offering generally supportive statements. [Lake Placid News]

This is not a good idea.

Let us turn our attention to the medal stand of reasons why not...

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The Mohawk Colored Giants of Schenectady


The 1931 Mohawk Giants. / photo courtesy of Schenectady County Historical Society

Each Friday this February we'll be highlighting people and stories from the Capital Region in honor of Black History Month.

In 1913 professional and semi-pro baseball teams dotted the landscape of the United States. Baseball historian Frank Keetz says every city and town and factory had an independent team. But in the Capital Region, there was only one black pro baseball team--the Mohawk Colored Giants of Schenectady. And they were good.

How good? They took on one of the best major league pitchers of the day, and won.

So why did they only last a season and a half? And how were they resurrected more than ten years later to become one of the most successful black indie teams in the country?

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"Triple Play!" at the Albany Institute

Hawkins Stadium c 1950 Menands

Hawkins Stadium in Menands was the home of the Albany Senators.

Despite out evidence outside to the contrary, it won't be long until spring arrives. (It's true. We checked a calendar.) And along with spring will come baseball.

The Albany Institute is getting an early start on the season (both of them) with a new exhibit called "Triple Play!" It includes a bunch of historical baseball photos, memorabilia, and items from the major leagues and the Capital Region's own rich baseball history.

The exhibit opens this Friday night, February 6. We got a look earlier this week. Here's a quick trip around the bases...

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Check out this goal scored by Cassy Landis for Siena against Canisius Wednesday -- her back to the goal, the ball volleyed overhead and then into the net after a wicked bounce past the keeper. (We'd give her credit just for trying it.) Even better: It was in overtime and won the game for the Saints 1-0.

Because of the wide angle of the shot, it's a little hard see -- so definitely watch it in full screen in HD.

[via TU College Sports]

Fun fall 5k races

insane inflatable 5k obstacle

The Insane Inflatable 5k also includes obstacles.

By Lauren Hittinger

Fall is a good time to lace up your sneakers and hit the pavement. But, if you're like me, motivation can be a bit of a barrier when Netflix is calling. Luckily there are a handful of local races with silly or fun themes to take the edge off.

After all, nothing says motivation to run quite like being chased by someone in a zombie costume.

If the undead aren't your thing, maybe another theme appeals to you. Here are a handful of upcoming 5k races that could be fun...

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Places to watch the World Cup

wolffs biergarten exterior world cup 2014

Wolff's Biergarten is on the list, obviously.

Couldn't make it to Brazil this year for the World Cup, but still want to watch matches with a crowd? Well, you're in luck because there are a bunch of places around the Capital Region where you can cheer on your favorite team, catch the matches -- and possibly even fútbol fever.

The World Cup started this past Thursday and runs through July 13. Here's the full schedule of games. The US Men's National Team plays tonight (Monday) at 6 pm vs. Ghana; Sunday, June 22 at 6 pm vs. Portugal; and Thursday, June 26 at noon vs. Germany.

After the jump, a quick list of some bars in the area that will be showing all of the World Cup matches and offering reduced prices or special offers.

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The great pedestrian match at Troy

edward payson weston

Edward Payson Watson, the great star of late 19th pedestrian races (really), who competed in Lansingburgh.

Tim emails us this morning: "I was having pint with my brother last night at Ryan's Wake and he told me about how pedestrianism was once a huge spectator sport in America. It was basically sitting around and watching people power-walk in an arena."

Not only is this true, but there was one of these pedestrian events -- specifically, a 100 mile walking race -- in Troy, featuring the sport's greatest star.

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UAlbany's Thompson brothers win college lacrosse's top trophy

thompson brothers tewaaraton award

This is great: Miles and Lyle Thompson -- brothers on UAlbany's men's lacrosse team -- won the Tewaaraton Trophy last night (the trophy is like the Heisman for college lacrosse). The Thompsons are both the first co-winners of the award, and the first Native Americans to win the award. [UAlbany sports] [Lacrosse Magazine] [Syracuse Post-Standard]

Said Lyle in a tweet: "Words can't explain how happy I am to not only get this award but to share it with my brother."

The Thompsons had a tremendous season for the Great Danes, who had the nation's highest-scoring offense. The brothers both broke the NCAA record for points in a season. And Miles led the nation in goals per game. (Their cousin, Ty Thompson, also quite a season for the Great Danes.)

Lacrosse was invented by Native Americans, and the sport still has an important place in many Native American communities, especially here in New York. That the Thompsons -- from the Onondaga Nation near Syracuse -- are the first Native Americans to win the Tewaaraton Trophy makes their accomplishment even more significant. (Tewaaraton is the Mohawk name for lacrosse.)

UAlbany finished the season 12-6, exiting the NCAA tournament in the quarterfinals in an overtime loss to eventual national runner-up Notre Dame.

Earlier and elsewhere:
+ Trick shot and a goal
+ NYT: In a Native American Sport, a Family's Giant Leap
+ NPR: In College Lacrosse, Two Brothers Flirt With Making History

photo: Tewaaraton Award

As Tom Durkin arrives at the top of the stretch, five of his greatest calls

NYRA screengrab 2009 Woodward Stakes

"A dramatic stretch drive awaits ... Calvin Borel imploring his filly for more!" -- From Durkin's call of the 2009 Woodward Stakes at Saratoga, won by superstar horse Rachel Alexandra, the first filly to win the race.

By Robert Lee

Anyone who has watched horse racing, avidly or casually, over the last 30 years associates one voice with the sport more than any other: Tom Durkin. He announced this past wekeend that he will retire after 43 years calling races, the last 24 of those years as the primary announcer for the New York Racing Association. His last race at the Saratoga Race Course will be August 31.

In my opinion, Durkin is the greatest racecaller of my lifetime and there's really no one even close. He is fundamentally sound, giving the fan accurate descriptions of the horses and their positions while showing his great ability to know which horses are ready to move forward while others are "stopping badly," to borrow a favorite Durkin phrase.

Most importantly, Durkin shows a true flair for the dramatic, raising his game when the stakes are highest.

Here are clips from five of his greatest calls from his time as the voice of NYRA, as well as horse racing's Breeders' Cup...

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A redrawing of the Jeter-Papi line

jeter papi line nytA follow up on the very important matter of the Jeter-Papi Line that divides New York from the rest of the Northeast: The New York's Times' new Upshot site/blog/explainer product got a hold of the Facebook data used for that previous major league baseball fan map and created an interactive fan map with more detail.

Two quick things:

+ The Jeter-Papi line actually runs through Western Massachusetts, southern Vermont, and then -- gasp -- into New York State along Lake Champlain.

+ Outside a few counties in the Hudson Valley, the Red Sox registered as having more fans than the Mets in just about every other upstate New York county.

(Thanks, Tim)

map clip: NYT/The Upshot

Trick shot and a goal

This is crazy: UAlbany lacrosse player Ty Thompson scored a goal Tuesday against Siena with a sweeping, behind-the-back, ankle-level shot. There's video of the goal embedded above. It's one of those things that will make you think, "What?!" -- even if you don't know anything about lacrosse.

The video shows the goal from two angles. The first angle gives a sense of how quick it happened. Thompson's casually drifting away from the net about 8 yards out -- and then whoosh, score. The second angle is a better look at the shot.

UAlbany beat Siena 19-11. Ty Thompson had three goals for the Great Danes. His cousins -- brothers Miles and Lyle Thompson -- each had six goals. (Yep, the Thompson family scored 15 goals in the game. See the NYT profile of them from earlier this year.)

The Great Danes are 8-5 on the season. They lead the nation in goals per game at 15.33. (They're also giving up more than 11.5 goals per game, which is not so good.) And Miles Thompson leads the nation in goals per game at 4.25.

Union hockey playing for the national title Saturday

Thumbnail image for union college hockey logoThe Union men's hockey team beat Boston College 5-4 in the Frozen Four Thursday in Philadelphia, and it will now play for the national title Saturday night.

The Dutchmen will face #1 seed Minnesota in the championship game at 7:30 pm on Saturday. The game will be on ESPN.

The Gophers advanced to the final by scoring a goal in the final second against North Dakota for a 2-1 victory Thursday night.

This will be Union's first appearance in the final. It was last in the Frozen Four in 2012 when it lost to Ferris State in the semis.

Union vs. Minnesota is in some ways a David vs. Goliath game. The Gophers have won the national title five times, and the size of the school and its athletic budget towers over that of the Dutchmen.

But the two schools were ranked 1-2 in the final polls of the season -- with Union atop one poll, and Minnesota ahead in the other.

Cutting down the nets on AOA NCAA Tournament Pool III

aoa ncaa tournament pool winner 2014Congrats to Evan, the winner of this year's AOA NCAA tournament pool. Here's his winning bracket.

He topped a field of 42 entrants in AOA's pool this year and wins a $25 gift card to Stewart's. Victory tastes like Peanut Butter Pandemonium. (Or so we hear.)

Evan's winning bracket had 41 of 63 games picked correctly, including two Final Four teams: Florida and Wisconsin. He narrowly edged out Joe, who compiled the same number of points but lost the tie breaker on number of correct picks (38).

This year's tournament was bonkers. And AOA's pool reflected that. No one in the group correctly picked UConn to win the whole thing, and only three people had even two of the Final Four teams.

For some perspective: Only .2 percent of the brackets entered at Yahoo had UConn winning the tournament. And only .3 percent even had the Huskies in the Final Four.

After the jump, the top 10 from this year's pool. Thanks to everyone who played.

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Union's headed for the Frozen Four, and much bigger competition

union college hockey logoOver the weekend the Union men's hockey team beat Providence 3-1 to advance to the semifinals of the NCAA tournament -- AKA, The Frozen Four. Two more wins and Union takes the national title.

It's the Dutchmen's second trip there in the last three years. They lost to Ferris State in the semis in 2012.

Union topped one of the national polls and was #2 in another just before this year's tournament. It is the tournament's #3 overall seed.

The Dutchmen will face #2 overall seed Boston College April 10 in Philadelphia. The game is scheduled for 5 pm on ESPN2. #1 seed Minnesota takes on North Dakota in the other semifinal.

Union's recent hockey success is remarkable given the size of the school. After the jump, a quick look at how Union stacks up in enrollment and athletics spending against its Frozen Four competitors...

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The Jeter-Papi line

facebook baseball fan map clip

Counties marked in black: Yankees | red = Red Sox | pale green = Phillies | yellow = Pirates. (We added the annotation.)

For opening day of the MLB season, Facebook's data science team has created a baseball fan map of the country based on likes. A clip of the Northeast from the map is above. It depicts the most "liked" team in each county.

As you can probably guess, the counties marked in black are the Yankees, the counties in red are the Red Sox. And what about the Mets? As The Atlantic points out, the Mets registered a plurality of likes in not a single county in the country. (The Blue Jays and A's also share this dubious distinction.)

Poor Mr. Met.

Earlier on AOA: The pin stripe state

map: Facebook via The Atlantic

UAlbany hoops team exits NCAA tournament after a good effort

ualbany florida ncaa screengrab

The #16 seed UAlbany men's basketball team lost to #1 seed Florida 67-55 in the NCAA tournament's round of 64 Thursday afternoon.

The Great Danes put up a good fight. The two teams traded the lead back and forth through the first half before the Gators took a six point lead into the locker room at halftime. Florida didn't relinquish the lead the rest of the game. (The the score was tied for a bit around the 14 minute mark of the second half.) UAlbany played hard -- it was just up against too much size and strength.

DJ Evans had another stand-out game for the Great Danes. The 5-9 (maybe) guard took a beating going up against the much bigger Gators. But he finished as the game's leading scorer, with 21 points (on 6-12 shooting) with 6 rebounds.

An Albany win would have been a titanic upset. A 16 seed has never beaten a 1 seed. And Florida hadn't lost since December. These match-ups are usually blow outs. UAlbany's 12-point loss was an atypically small margin for a #1 vs. #16 game.

The Great Danes finish the season 19-15, including its "first four" win this week -- the program's first-ever NCAA tournament win.

screengrab: TBS/NCAA March Madness Live

Hey there, Andrew Catalon, sportscaster headed into March Madness

Andrew Catalon

Andrew Catalon's well-known in the Capital Region media scene from his years as a sportscaster at WNYT. But his star has also been rising on the national scene in recent years as he's worked the Olympics for NBC, and now does games as the lead play-by-play announcer for CBS Sports Network.

This week, Catalon -- who still lives in the Capital Region -- will be on one of the biggest stages possible for a sportscaster: the NCAA basketball tournament. He'll be out in San Diego calling a slate of four games on Friday.

We talked with Catalon this week before he headed out west, about being in Sochi for the Olympics, the cult following of curling, the NCAA tournament, making friends with the TSA at ALB, and working alongside some of your idols.

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UAlbany vs Florida, and a short history of #16 vs #1 in the NCAA tournament

florida and albany logos

Update: UAlbany lost 67-55 -- but the Great Danes put up a very solid effort. In the context of previous #16 vs. #1 match-ups (see all the stuff below), UAlbany's performance was notably good.

Thursday afternoon the UAlbany men's basketball team will be trying to accomplish something no other college basketball team has done in the NCAA tournament: The Great Danes will be trying to beat a #1 seed as a #16 seed. (The game is scheduled for 4:10 pm in Orlando. It'll be on TBS.)

The odds of UAlbany accomplishing this feat against Florida are... tiny. The overnight update to the FiveThirtyEight tournament projections increased UAlbany's chances -- to 1.23 percent. Vegas has the Great Danes pegged as a 21.5 point underdog.

That's the way the tournament is designed. The teams considered to be the very best in the field are set up to the play the teams considered to be the very weakest.

But some teams have come very close to doing it. Here's a a very quick history of #1 vs. #16.

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UAlbany beats Mount St. Mary's to advance in NCAA tournament

ualbany ncaa mtstm 3-point miss

A Mount St. Mary three-pointer that could have tied the game with less than a minute to go just rimmed out. (The whole game is available online via replay.)

UAlbany beat Mount St. Mary's 71-64 in its "First Four" NCAA basketball tournament game Tuesday evening in Dayton. The Great Danes now advance to the full field of 64 in which they'll face #1 overall seed Florida as the #16 seed in the south bracket on Thursday.

Tuesday's game was a bit odd. UAlbany jumped out to a 21-2 lead, then Mount St. Mary's went on its own 21-2 run to tie it. The teams were a contrast in styles this season -- the Great Danes ranked #313 in the country for tempo, and the Mount ranked #32. (UAlbany's games featured 7 fewer possessions than Mount games on average this season.)

UAlbany shot well, hitting 57 percent of its field goals and 79 percent of its free throws. The Mount shot just 37 percent from the field But that figure's a bit misleading because its effective field goal percentage -- which accounts for three-point shooting -- was 46 percent. The school from Maryland took 37 three-pointers (and made 12) compared to just 9 attempts for Albany (with 2 makes).

Also keeping The Mount the game: It turned the ball over just 4 times, compared to 14 for the Great Danes.

DJ Evans led the Great Danes with 22 points. Peter Hooley had 20.

Next: The Gators
UAlbany is up against a tall task Thursday. As mentioned, Florida is the #1 overall seed in the tournament. The Gators haven' lost since December 2. The FiveThirtyEight projection for the game has the Great Danes chance of winning at less than 1 percent.

The game is Thursday at 4:10 pm in Orlando. It will be on TBS.

screengrab: TruTV/NCAA March Madness Live

AOA NCAA Tournament Pool III

ncaa basketball bracket 2014

The pool, it returns. For another year we have created an NCAA tournament pool for AOA. And, yet again, the winner of the pool gets a $25 gift card to Stewart's.

The AOA pool is set up at Yahoo. This link should take you to the sign up page for the pool. The password is "greatdanes" (no quotes).

If you already have a bracket set up at Yahoo, you should be able to add it to the AOA pool with just a few clicks. (Or, if you set up a pool for the AOA group, you can add it to other groups.)

The deadline to complete your bracket is 12:15 pm on Thursday. The "first four" games -- in which UAlbany is playing this year (Tuesday night) -- aren't included. So you'll have some time to make your picks based on the results of those games. (Should UAlbany win Tuesday night, picking the #16 seed Great Danes over #1 seed Florida will earn our admiration for you courage, though we suspect it won't gain you any actual points.)

As we did last year, we'll post the winning bracket and the top-10 finishers here at AOA. And maybe we'll also post something here about picks from the pool pre-tournament.

The reigning champ is Dylan, who picked 41 of 63 games correctly last year, besting a field of almost 50 people.

Good luck. May the block/charge calls go in your favor.

Important: The winner will be determined by Yahoo's tournament pick 'em system. In the event two (or more) people tie for the win, we'll randomly draw the winner from the top finishers. The winner will be notified via email by 5 pm the day after the championship game and must respond by 5 pm the next day. We'll contact you through the Yahoo system, so please be sure to designate an email address that you actually check.

UAlbany headed to the NCAA basketball tournament

ualbany mtstmarys logos

Mount St. Mary's refers to itself as "The Mount."

The UAlbany men's basketball team is headed to the NCAA tournament this week after beating Stony Brook 69-60 in the America East championship Saturday at Stony Brook.

UAlbany is a facing quite a challenge. The Great Danes have been seeded 16th in the south bracket -- well, actually, they're the co-16th seed. UAlbany plays Mount St. Mary's -- winner of the Northeast Conference, from Maryland -- Tuesday in one of the "First Four" play-in games in Dayton. If the Great Danes win, they'll then play #1 seed Florida -- the tournament's top overall seed -- on Thursday in Orlando. (Yeah, the fact that you can win your conference tournament and still have to play one one of these play-in games -- as opposed to directly getting the opportunity to be demolished by a #1 seed in the regular field of 64 -- is lame, but such is modern college sports.)

The UAlbany/Mount St. Mary's game is Tuesday at 6:40 pm on TruTV. The potential game against Florida is Thursday at 4:10 pm.

It's the second year in a row the Great Danes are going to the tournament. They lost in the first round last year as a #15 seed in a hard-fought game against Duke.

Syracuse: The ongoing implosion of the Syracuse men's basketball season continues when the #3 seed Orange take on #14 seed Western Michigan Thursday at 2:45 pm on CBS.

UAlbany women: The UAlbany women's basketball team -- which won the America East for the third straight year -- will find out its seeding and tournament matchup when brackets are announced Monday evening.

When The Albany Bob was a tremendous craze

Leslies bobsledding albany jan 30 1886

From an 1886 article in Leslie's Illustrated Weekly. (larger version)

Something to toss out when someone brings up Olympic bobsledding over the next few weeks (because that will happen, obviously): bobsled racing started in Albany.

So says historian and bobsled expert Christopher Lindsay, who's scheduled to give a talk at the Fort Orange Club February 8 about the first bobsled races. Lindsay, a former deputy executive director of the U.S. Bobsled & Skeleton Federation, says bobsleds were first used in the lumber business to haul trees. Eventually someone figured out they could be used to transport people -- and quickly -- down hills.

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Pond hockey tournament at Spa State Park

saratoga springs frozen classic pond hockey logoCould be fun: The Frozen Springs Classic -- a 4-on-4 pond hockey tournament -- is at Saratoga Spa State Park January 24-26. The entry fee is $375 per team, with a minimum of 4 players and max of 7. (There's also a $100 free agent entry.) The entry deadline is Friday (January 17).*

From the tournament rules page: "Games will take place on January 24th, 25th and 26th at the Saratoga Spa State Park. All games are played four-on-four, round robin style. Games shall be 40 minutes long consisting of two 20 minute halves with a 2 minute break between halves." And from a press release: "Games will be played behind the Gideon Putnam Hotel on pond rinks adjacent to Catherine's in the Park."

The tournament is being run by Townsquare Lifestyle Events, an arm of the Townsquare Media, which owns a cluster of radio stations in this area.

* Yeah, short notice, sorry about that.

[via @togianphotog]

Around the track with The Hellions

Check out this short documentary about the Hellions of Troy Roller Derby. It's a good introduction to some of the culture of roller derby, including the basics of the game, the names, and what draws people to play.

The creator of the doc is Shannon Straney, a photographer here in the Albany area. (Maybe that name sounds familiar -- we interviewed her last fall about a different documentary project.)

The Hellions 2014 season will be starting up soon -- they play their home matches at the Rollarama in Schenectady.

As it happens, the Capital Region has not one but two roller derby groups. The Albany All Stars' season picks up again in February at the Washington Ave Armory.

This year's Baseball Hall of Fame class: players you've actually heard of

baseball hall of fame 2014 classThe Baseball Hall of Fame -- in Cooperstown, as you know -- announced the 2014 class of inductees Wednesday, and it's a notable group. Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and Frank Thomas all got the nod on their first ballot. The trio will be inducted in Cooperstown this July 27.

This year's class is a big turnaround from last year's group, which was headed by... umpire Hank O'Day, and included a former Yankees owner and a 19th century third baseman. When the marquee name in an induction class is an umpire, you're not exactly talking about high wattage.

But this year is great. Maddux is one of the all-time great pitchers -- not just Hall of Fame great, but one of the handful of best ever. And Glavine and Thomas are no slouches, either. And they're recent! There's a good chance you once had one of these guys on your fantasy team.

Also adding to this year's class: managers Tony LaRussa, Joe Torre, and Bobby Cox were elected to hall by the Expansion Era Committee last month. More star power.

As a result, Cooperstown -- just about 70 miles from Albany -- should be hopping for induction weekend this year. If you're a big baseball fan, it can be fun. We went a bunch of years ago and it was... very hot. But lawn "seats" are free and "virtually unlimited on a first-come, first-served basis."

image: Baseball Hall of Fame

Troy Turkey Trot 2013 registration

troy turkey trot 2012 start Just a heads up that registration for this year's Troy Turkey Trot is now open. The Thanksgiving morning event includes a 10k, 5k, walk, and kids mile. Also this year: a costume contest.

The registration fee for the 10k and 5k is $25 until October 31, increases to $30 until November 23, and $35 up until registration closes on November 25. The walk and grade school mile have a $10 entry fee. There's no day-of registration.

Last year's event included 8,167 participants. And organizers are expecting more than 8,000 people again this year.

photo: Chris Shields / Troy Turkey Trot

How to run 196.2 miles in a day

ragnar adk 2013 composite

By Stephanie Wien

Runners have strange ideas about what constitutes fun. Getting up early on a day off to run long distances. Going out even in rain and snow.

Running 196.2 miles with 11 other people over the course of roughly 24 hours.

The latter describes the Ragnar Relay Adirondacks, in which more than 200 teams of 12 runners each recently made their way from Saratoga Springs to Lake Placid on a non-stop relay. For fun.

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"But even very rich people who may have commissioned portraits of themselves as centaurs deserve to be treated fairly."

baseball glove in grassOver at Deadspin today St. Rose political scientist Scott Lemieux plays a different angle on A-Rod and the situation surrounding performance-enhancing drugs in baseball:

But the particular focus on players of the '90s makes it clear where baseball's anti-PED hysteria comes from. It's about the boomers who are offended that better players have taken over records they believe should belong to their childhood heroes in perpetuity. The nostalgic sentimentalism that used to produce lots of drearily irritating tributes to baseball now leads to lots of drearily irritating attacks on baseball. ...
That's what the war against A-Rod is about. Not all MLB PED-users have been singled out, after all. Prominent accused users like Andy Pettitte, Jason Giambi, and David Ortiz aren't treated like pariahs, because they haven't broken certain iconic records or passed certain statistical benchmarks or threatened any sportswriter's right to remain a child forever. After comparing Rodriguez to a murderous gangster, Bill Madden goes on to complain about "the steroids plague that has tarnished the game's integrity and made a mockery of the home run records." In a sentence, that's what motivates the anti-PED fanatics.

In addition to the professoring at St. Rose, Lemieux also writes regularly at the blog Lawyers, Guns, & Money as well as The American Prospect.

44 seasons

ualbany football coach bob fordUAlbany football coach Bob Ford announced today that he'll be retiring at the end of this season -- his 44th at the school.

Ford's had a remarkable career:

+ Ford was appointed head coach in 1970 -- when there wasn't even a team, yet. Since then the team has moved from a club team, to Division III, to Division II, and now the Division I FCS level.

+ He's the only head football coach UAlbany has ever had in its modern era.

+ Ford is the longest-tenured current coach in college football.

+ At almost 76 years old, he'll end his career has the oldest active coach in Division I. At one point, when he was coaching at St. Lawrence, he was the youngest (26 years old).

+ This fall the Great Danes will play in a new 8,500 seat stadium called, what else, Bob Ford Field.

In a time when keeping the same job for four years can seem like a long time, it's kind of amazing to hear that someone has managed to log more than four decades at the same job -- even more so when that person leaves seemingly being held in high esteem by a bunch of people.

Worth a look: This Ford Q&A with the Biz Review's Adam Sichko from last year. Ford talks about his childhood (moved around a lot, lived in a chicken coop at one point), how he got fired from his first head coaching job, and why he's always wearing a hat.

photo: UAlbany Athletics

Urban Raid Albany

urban raid albany course map

The Albany course.

You know those race/obstacle courses in which people traverse challenges like climbing over walls, mud pits, and flames? Well, one of those is coming to Albany -- to downtown Albany.

The Urban Raid race series will be in Albany October 19. The 5k course will start in Lincoln Park, wind its way around the ESP, head down by the TU Center, past the Governor's Mansion, and bck into the park. Obstacles listed include: monkey bars, a cargo net climb, a "chainlink crawl," sandbag carry, and rope climb.

Blurbage: "Our immense constructed obstacles are designed to test your strength, agility and fortitude, while keeping you safe and injury free. We want you to cross that finish line exhausted and ecstatic, with your friends and family cheering you on."

Here are photos from a recent Urban Raid in Boston (and from the Boston Globe). And here are renderings of various obstacles.

Registration is already open. The entry fee is $50 until September 4. After that, the price escalates until the race date.

Saratoga Skate Jam, and a screening of Capital Distruct

From Capital Distruct.

The Spring Street Gallery in Saratoga Springs is hosting a free screening of Capital Distruct -- a new skate film from Albany's Seasons Skate Shop -- on July 25. It starts at 8 pm.

That Saturday -- July 27 -- is Saratoga Skate Jam at the Saratoga Skatepark at the city's East Side Recreation Field. The event includes free food and drinks, raffles, and the "worst trick demo." Suggested donation $5.

We originally had the date wrong for the Skate Jam. Sorry about that. It's been fixed.

Earlier on AOA:
+ In the park for Go Skateboarding Day
+ 2011: A concrete vision of the future for skateparks in the Capital Region?

Saratoga Polo

saratoga polo logoSaratoga Polo returns for another season this Friday evening. From there matches are schedule each Friday and Sunday through September 1 at the polo field in Greenfield. Tickets for matches start at $20.

Most of our polo knowledge is from that scene in Pretty Woman. But we get the strong impression that tailgating/partying/otherwise being fabulous is big part of the sport -- perhaps not has big as the horses and the people swinging mallets in close proximity to each other, but still a large part of it. So it could be a fun thing to check out this summer. (Bonus: using the word "chukker" repeatedly.)

Here's an FAQ about the game and dress code suggestions.

World Team Tennis back at SEFCU Arena

SEFCU Arena world team tennisWorld Team Tennis is back at UAlbany's SEFCU Arena this week with a matchup Tuesday that features Andy Roddick. The former world #1, now retired, will be playing for Springfield Lasers against the New York Sportimes, which use UAlbany's arena as their home court. (No, we don't know what a Sportime is.)

The headline player for this year's Sportimes is John McEnroe. He's scheduled to play here in Albany July 18.

Another notable player on the local slate was Sloane Stephens, originally scheduled to play July 15. But the rising American player -- ranked #16 in the world -- announced Sunday that an injury will keep her out of the season.

Tuesday's match is the Albany opener for the Sportimes, and there will be four (or five) more matches there during July. World Team Tennis is sort of like what it sounds like -- teams play five sets, with each set featuring different configuration: singles, doubles, and mixed doubles.

Tickets for the matches at UAlbany are $39 and up.

photo: New York Sportimes

In the park for Go Skateboarding Day

washington park go skateboarding day

We stopped by Washington Park in Albany today for national Go Skateboarding Day. A bunch of ramps and rails were set up at the basketball courts, and a few hundred skaters were taking advantage of the setup and the perfect weather.

This local event was organized by 22-year-old Dylan Longton, who's hoping it will help focus attention on the need for a skatepark in the city.

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ValleyCats season starts this week

joe bruno stadium night game

The Joe.

The Tri-City ValleyCats open their 2013 season tonight (Monday) at The Joe versus the Vermont Lake Monsters. They have a three game series with the Lake Monsters, then they hit the road. They'll be back in town June 26 for a long home stand.

The ValleyCats are a farm team for the Houston Astros in the New York-Penn League, which is the "short-season A" level. (Minor league baseball's levels go from rookie ball up to AAA.) And while that's a far throw from the majors, a bunch of ValleyCats have ended up making appearances in MLB -- including Hunter Pence and Ben Zobrist. The Astros had the top pick in this year's draft and took Stanford pitcher Mark Appel -- it'll be interesting to see if he ends up spending any time with the ValleyCats. (He's a four-year college player who's expected to be in the majors soon, so he might start at a higher level). Alas, the immortally-named Stubby Clapp has moved on from the manager's position.

Tickets for ValleyCats games start at $5.50 if you buy ahead of time, so it can be a cheap night out. And, of course, this being minor league baseball, there are a bunch of promotions and theme nights -- everything from 50 cent hot dog night to "bark in the park" (dog night) to bobblehead night. Let's face it: minor league baseball, wherever you go, is sort of a come-for-the-baseball-stay-for-the-zaniness kind of thing. Nothing wrong with that.

At the ballpark with AOA: There are just a few spots remaining for AOA's night at the ValleyCats June 26. We've lined up a luxury box and food -- and one person will get to throw out a first pitch. Tickets are $20.

Yep, the ValleyCats advertise on AOA.

Earlier on AOA: How to win a mayors race at The Joe

photo courtesy of Tri-City ValleyCats

The pin stripe state

Thumbnail image for yankees logoThe Yankees are again the favorite sports team among New Yorkers, according to a Siena poll out today.

Forty-five percent of respondents in the poll said the Yankees were either their favorite or second favorite team. Next up: the Giants, at 29 percent, and the Mets, 22 percent. The full lineup is after the jump. (Poor, Jets...)

The poll also asked people whether they support or oppose legalization of mixed-martial arts. Among all the respondents, legalization was favored 44-31. Among respondents identified as sports fans, it was 53-27. And among people ages 18-34, it was 71-16.

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Cutting down the nets on AOA NCAA Tournament Pool II

aoa tournament pool 2013 winning bracketCongrats to Dylan, the winner of this year's AOA NCAA Tournament Pool.

He bested a field of 46 other competitors in AOA's pool. And for that he now sips the sweet nectar of victory. In this case, that nectar will probably come from Stewart's, because he won a $25 gift card from there.

Dylan correctly picked 41 of 63 games in this year's tournament, compiling 141 of a possible 192 points. He even correctly picked the final match-up: Louisville vs Michigan (with a Cardinals win, of course). His bracket, which is posted in large format here, ranked him in the 99th percentile of all brackets in Yahoo's Tournament Pick 'em game.

After the jump, the top 10 from this year's pool. Thanks to everyone who played.

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UAlbany falls to Duke in NCAA tournament

ualbany duke screengrab cbs

It was a good season.

Duke was supposed to be too much for UAlbany in the NCAA tournament. And despite a good fight from the Great Danes, that's the way it turned out. The #2 seed Blue Devils just had a little too much of everything for the #15 seed Great Danes -- too much shooting, too much height, too much pressure. UAlbany lost 73-61.

The Great Danes didn't play badly. At all. In fact, they hung around for much of the game -- they were down 9 with 4.5 minutes to go -- thanks in large part to good shooting from three-point range, where they were 9-15. But they were only able to shoot 36.5 percent overall from the field. Almost half of all UAlbany's made field goals were from three.

UAlbany also had no answer for Duke guard Seth Curry (26 points, 10-14 from the field) and super athletic big guy Mason Plumlee (23 points, including two long range hook shots). The Blue Devils shot 59 percent from the field.

Jacob Iati led UAlbany with 15 points. Peter Hooley had 13, Mike Black and Sam Rowley both had 10.

UAlbany finishes its season 24-11.

box score | game video replay

screengrab: CBS

What are UAlbany's chances against Duke?

ualbany and duke sports logos

Devils and dogs.

Later: UAlbany lost 73-61.

The NCAA basketball tournament tips off today. UAlbany doesn't play until Friday, when it faces Duke at 12:15 pm in Philadelphia. (The game will be on CBS.)

UAlbany is a #15 seed, Duke a #2 seed. So, just looking at the bracket, the Great Danes appear to be facing a tall challenge.

So, what are their chances? Let's break it down -- via stats, experts, money, even "coolness"...

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Orange state

facebook ncaa tournament map

In case you somehow doubted it, most of New York State will be pulling for Syracuse in the NCAA tournament, based on Facebook analysis of "like" data. Mappage above.

The analysis is limited in that it only compares fan data for teams in the NCAA tournament, bracket by bracket. That said, Cuse fandom is probably a safe bet around New York.

A bit more interesting is some of the conference and single team comparisons in the rest of the analysis. It has much of New York State currently pegged as Big East territory -- you gotta think that will flip when Syracuse joins the ACC next year. (We know, it's not right about five different ways. College football is ruining everything.)

By the way: There's still time to enter AOA's NCAA tournament pool. Winner gets a $25 Stewart's gift card.

Earlier on AOA: New York is split between the Giants and Bills

map: Facebook

AOA NCAA Tournament Pool 2

NCAA bracket 2013

Back by popular demand* -- and for a little fun -- we've put together another NCAA tournament pool for AOA. The winner gets a $25 gift card to Stewart's.

The pool is set up at Yahoo. This link should take you to the registration. If it doesn't, here's the info:

Group ID#: 130240
Password: greatdanes

If you already have a bracket set up at Yahoo, you should be able to add it to the AOA pool with just a few clicks. (Or, if you set up a pool for the AOA group, you can add it to other groups.)

The deadline to set your bracket is 12:15 pm on Thursday. (The "first four games" -- or whatever they're called -- aren't included. As is only right.)

While you won't get any bonus points, you will get some measure of admiration and respect for picking #15 UAlbany over #2 Duke. Also: We're not responsible for you pinning your hopes on Syracuse this year.

Good luck. (And if Hollie plays again this year, you'll need it.)

Important: The winner will be determined by Yahoo's tournament pick 'em system. In the event two (or more) people tie for the win, we'll randomly draw the winner from the top finishers. The winner will be notified via email by noon the day after the championship game and must respond by noon the next day. We'll contact you through the Yahoo system, so please be sure to designate an email address that you actually check.

* OK, by popular, we mean Spencer. (Thanks, Spencer.)

UAlbany's basketball teams headed for the NCAA tournament

Thumbnail image for ualbany sports logoThe UAlbany men's and women's basketball team both won their conference tournament this past weekend -- so they're both headed to the NCAA tournament.

UAlbany men
After winning the America East tournament 53-49 over Vermont, UAlbany got a #15 seed in the Midwest bracket -- and is matched up with #2 seed Duke. The Great Danes and Blue Devils will play this Friday at 12:15 in Philadelphia. The game will be on CBS.

This is UAlbany's first trip to the tournament since 2007.

Obviously, a UAlbany win would be a big upset. Duke has been one of the top teams all season. That said Duke lost last year in the first round as a #2 seed to #15 seed Lehigh.

UAlbany women
The UAlbany women continued their domination of the America East over the weekend, winning the conference tournament 61-52 over Hartford. The Great Danes were also undefeated through the conference regular season.

The brackets for the women's tournament will be announced tonight (Monday) at 7 pm. This will be the UAlbany women's team second straight trip to to the tournament.

The Syracuse men's basketball team got a #4 seed in the East bracket, and the Orange will face #13 seed Montana in San Jose, California. The game is Thursday at about 10 pm on truTV (TWC channel 71).

One more win and they're in

ualbany sports logoThe UAlbany basketball teams -- both men's and women's -- are one win away from the NCAA tournament. And they're both playing Saturday.

The UAlbany men take on Vermont in Burlington Saturday for the America East tournament title at 11:30 am (yep, the morning). The game is on ESPN2.

The last time the two teams met -- in January at the SEFCU Arena -- the Great Danes lost 50-43. Yes, they both play very slow: UAlbany is 279th nationally in adjusted tempo and Vermont is 309th.

A win would send UAlbany to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2007.

Update: UAlbany beat Vermont 53-49 -- the Great Danes are headed to the NCAA tournament.

The UAlbany women face Hartford at SEFCU Arena Saturday at 7 pm.

The Great Danes have dominated their conference this year -- they were 16-0 in conference play this season. And their average scoring margin this season is +18.9.

A win would send the team to its second straight NCAA tournament appearance.

Update: UAlbany beat Hartford 61-52 -- the Great Danes are headed back to the NCAA tournament.

Siena fires its basketball coach

mitch buonaguroSiena College announced today that it has "relieved" men's basketball head coach Mitch Buonaguro of his duties. From the press release:

"I'd like to thank Mitch for his dedication and commitment to Siena basketball the last eight years," director of athletics John D'Argenio said. "This change isn't being made for lack of effort. Basketball is important in the strategic direction of Siena. We have high expectations and aspirations for this program."

This move wasn't unexpected. The Saints were 8-24 this year, and 35-59 in Buonaguro's three years as head coach.

The last few years were a tough pill to take after the tenure of Siena's previous coach, Fran McCaffrey. The Saints won almost 70 percent of their games during McCaffrey's five seasons -- with NCAA tournament appearances, big upsets, and some of the program's best-ever players. Buonaguro was an assistant under McCaffrey. And when McCaffrey left to become head coach at Iowa, players lobbied for Buonaguro -- who, by all accounts, is a very likable guy -- to get the top job.

Siena says a national search is under way. It's an attractive job. Siena has some of the best facilities in its conference. And if you win, the job can launch a coach to a big program. And if you don't win...

Catholic 7/Big East: There had recently been some talk about Siena potentially (as a long shot) being in the mix for the new Big East -- the conference being formed by the "Catholic 7" schools leaving the collapsing conference (they're taking the name with them). That talk has died down as the new conference rounds out with Xavier, Butler, and Creighton -- as well as probably Dayton and St. Louis. [Washington Post] [Newark Star-Ledger]

Earlier on AOA: Even with home court advantage, Siena to the "Catholic 7" seems like a long shot

photo: Siena College athletics

Even with home court advantage, Siena to the "Catholic 7" seems like a long shot

times union center overhead

Attractive because of its ample... seating.

Surprising bit from a recent John Feinstein report in the Washington Post about plans for the new college basketball conference being formed by the seven Catholic schools exiting the crumbling Big East: Siena is in the conversation for the new conference. From the article:

The conference leaders want six eastern and six western -- really, midwestern -- schools. The eastern division of the league will consist of Georgetown, St. John's, Seton Hall, Villanova, Providence and either Richmond (also a non-Catholic school) or Siena -- a late entry but a potentially appealing one because it's a Catholic school that (more importantly) plays in a 15,500-seat arena in Albany, N.Y.

Being picked for your gym probably isn't the reason most schools hope they'll draw suitors -- though, hey, if you got it, flaunt it. Also: it's nice to be considered.

But Siena's athletic director has already poured cold water on the speculation. [TU]

And that's not surprising, because the move would be a stretch, for a few reasons...

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World Cup qualifier at Wolff's with American Outlaws

american outlaws albany chapter scarvesThe hexagonal round of World Cup qualifying starts this Wednesday for the US men's national team with a match at Honduras. And the Albany chapter of the the American Outlaws -- the supporters group for the US team -- is getting together at Wolff's to watch the game which is on at 4 pm. (It's being carried on beIN Sport -- that would be TWC channel 658, sports pass tier.)

Also: the Albany chapter now has its own scarves. (It's a soccer thing.)

New York is split between the Giants and Bills

facebook nfl fan like data map

A few bits from a Facebook analysis of "like" data for NFL teams:

+ Unsurprisingly, eastern and downstate New York is Giants country, with a majority of people in the those counties liking the football Giants over other NFL teams. There's a dividing line running north-south around Syracuse where the majority shifts to the Bills. (And a few counties in the Southern Tier that are majority Steelers fans.)

+ The only New York county with majority Jets fans: Nassau County, on Long Island.

+ The 49ers appear to have more support in New York than the Ravens (at least, by county majorities).

+ Giants fans are most likely to be "friends" with people who are fans of these teams (in descending order): the Jets (haha), the Cowboys, the Steelers, the Patriots, and the the Eagles. As it happens, the Cowboys and Steelers show up often on the "most fan friends" lists due to strong nationwide followings.

Deadspin has more, including bigger versions of the maps.

map: Facebook

Giants training camp not coming back to UAlbany next season

Little Giants taking in practice last year at UAlbany.

The Giants announced Friday that they will hold their training camp at their practice facility at the Meadowlands (in New Jersey!) next season -- not at UAlbany. From the announcement:

"The University at Albany and the Capital Region have been great hosts for us during our training camps," Giants President and Chief Executive Officer John Mara and Chairman and Executive Vice President Steve Tisch said in a joint statement. "UAlbany truly has been the summer home of the Giants. We are grateful to Mayor Jennings and to [UAlbany athletic director] Dr. [Lee] McElroy and his staff in the athletic department for making us feel welcome and providing the resources we needed to prepare for the season. We are fortunate to have a facility in the Timex Performance Center that allows us to hold training camp here. We have told Mayor Jennings and Dr. McElroy that we will evaluate our training camp situation on an ongoing basis and certainly would not rule out a return to Albany in the future if it makes sense for both parties."

The Giants have trained at UAlbany for 16 of the last 17 seasons. The exception was 2011, which had an usual startup because of a lockout.

Traditionally NFL teams went away for training camp, but in recent years the trend has been to hold the pre-season practices at the team's regular practice facility -- 19 of the league's 32 teams did so last season. The Giants' practice facility at the Meadowlands opened in 2010 and it appears to be rather swank. There's been talk about the team moving training camp there since the facility opened.

It's too bad the Giants won't be coming back. It was fun for football fans, getting the chance to stop into practice and see the players up close.

Taking in a game at the Schenectady Curling Club

schenectady curling club ice wide

By Casey Normile

When I first found out my roommate and her family were curlers, I pictured a large, strange rink with equally large men quietly moving around the ice while you sat in a cold seat, cheering them on without really understanding what they were doing.

But in reality, going to the Schenectady Curling Club to watch a game is just like watching from the comfort of home. You get to watch other people physically exert themselves while you sit in a warm viewing room with a fully stocked bar, leather couches, and a fire place.

I love sports.

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Golf during the winter?

golf club head in grassLucas emails:

This is my first winter as a golfer in the northeast. I know all of the golf courses are shut down for the season, but are there any driving ranges anyone can recommend that are amicable to the elements and allow me to work on refining my game?

Got a suggestion for Lucas? Maybe one those indoor virtual golf places? Please share.

This is how they roll

Colonie Central High School girls bowling team practice

By Casey Normile

For most people bowling is a hobby. A way to hang with friends, a reason to hit up the snack bar.

For a handful of local high schools, though, bowling is a sport. Columbia, Lansingburgh, Niskayuna, Schenectady, and RCS are among the local schools that have teams.

But the best of the bunch could be Colonie Central High School. The girls and boys bowling teams there have combined for three state championships (and one state runner-up) over the past three seasons.

And they don't even get a pep rally.

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Recreational hockey leagues, or pick up games?

puck hockey sticks outdoor rink flickr TAZphotosSamantha emails:

I am new to the Capital Region and I was looking for Women's Club Hockey in the area. ... And if not Women's Club are there intramural teams, Men's Leagues or Club, drop in games, or beer leagues?

Know some games for which Samantha can lace up her skates? Please share!

Earlier on AOA: Indoor sports leagues (2011)

photo: Flickr user TAZphotos (cc)

Troy Turkey Trot 2012

troy turkey trot 2012 logoRegistration for the 2012 Troy Turkey Trot is now open. The Thanksgiving morning event includes a 5k, a 10k, a kids run, and a walk. The registration fee for the 5k and 10k is $20 -- and there's no day-of registration. The kids run and walk are free.

From the blurbage (link added):

A slate of changes, such as a return to the traditional Turkey Trot course using an "out and back" format along River Street, will help make this year's edition truly memorable. Other modifications include: upgraded gender-specific, moisture-wicking t-shirts for the first 6,200 participants who register for either the 5K or 10K; custom-made commemorative finishers' medals to all open, age group and team winners; finishers' medals for Grade School Milers; and, a commemorative finishers' pin for all Turkey Walk participants.

What is Thanksgiving without moisture wicking?

After two years of conducting the race itself, the city of Troy has once again contracted out the operation of the race to the previous organizer. [Troy Record]

Organizers say they're expecting about 7,000 participants for this year's event. There were a record 7,100 participants last year. [Troy Record]

World Soccer Project league starting in Albany

world soccer project nyc game

From a WSP league game in NYC.

We get questions frequently about adult sports leagues. Here's a new one that might be worth a look.

The NYC-based World Soccer Project is staring a league in Albany. The games are co-ed, 7-on-7, at Bleecker Stadium (played the across the width of the field). The season includes a minimum of 9 games, plus a four-team playoff at the end.

The World Soccer Project has a bit of an usual background. It was started not only as way to organize games, but also to raise money for charities. In NYC proceeds have gone to support public schools. (Here's the project's founder talking about the origins on NY1.) The league's website says in Albany the project will be "working with the Parks Department to bring free soccer programs to Albany's under-served youth population."

The Albany season starts September 10 (all games are on Mondays). The registration fee is $124 per player. The league is looking for both teams and individual players (it will assign free agents to teams).

Earlier on AOA:
+ One of the people involved with the World Soccer Project is Elizabeth Gray, who lives in Albany. AOA wrote about her a few years ago -- she's the head of a charity called the Wishi Project, which helps fund an education program in Ecuador. The World Soccer Project has been supporting the Wishi Project.
+ Ask AOA: Adult soccer leagues or games?

photo: World Soccer Project

How to win a mayors race

valleycats mayors mascots

A rare time out from the intensity of the race for (left to right) "Gary McCarthy," "Lou Rosamilia," and "Jerry Jennings."

By Casey Normile

While many politicians are just gearing up for the fall elections, some Capital Region politicians have been at it since the beginning of summer.

The nightly mayors race at the Tri-City ValleyCats games have kept Albany mayor "Jerry Jennings," Troy mayor "Lou Rosamilia," and Schenectady mayor "Gary McCarthy" in peak political shape.

Hardened with the fire of intense competition, honed to a razor sharp edge by experience, the three mayors now graciously offer some tips to other local politicians on how to win...

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Hey, that's Eli...

people watching the Giants practice at UAlbany

Little Giants.

We had a few minutes between appointments today so we stopped by to watch the Giants on their last day of pre-season camp at UAlbany. It is pretty cool to be able to just walk up to the field and watch an NFL team practice. Those are large, strong, and fast gentlemen.

It'd be too bad if things don't work out for the team to come back. It's fun to have them here. The few thousand people there today seemed to be having a good time.

A handful of photos post jump.

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The Giants are back at UAlbany

eli manning giants camp ualbany 2012

Two Super Bowl wins and Eli's still carrying his own bags. Do you think Peyton carries his own bags? Psh. No respect.

The New York Giants are back at UAlbany for this year's training camp. Players were scheduled to report today (Thursday), but they've been showing up for the last few days. The camp runs through August 14.

The practices are open to the public. Here's the schedule. (Autograph day is this Saturday.)

If you're a football fan, it's worth a stop. It's one thing to watch the NFL on TV, it's another to see these guys in real life. It's hard to appreciate how big and fast they when watching them on a screen. Up close you really get a sense of the freakish combination of size and athleticism.

Lombardi Trophy: The Giants are, of course, the defending Super Bowl champs. And they brought the Lombardi Trophy with them to prove it. The trophy will be on display at Albany City Hall rotunda August 2 (a Thursday) from 8:30-11:30 am.

photo: New York Giants

Ballin' at the Graveyard

Ballin at the Graveyard  Dunk.jpg

Ballin' at the Graveyard opens Friday at The Spectrum

Every subculture has its own nuances, unwritten rules, set of characters. And after watching Ballin' at the Graveyard, you're likely to think about the subculture of pick-up basketball every time you pass a busy court.

The documentary, created by local pick-up baller Basil Anastassiou and director Paul Kentoffio, is billed as "a gritty, intimate look into the culture and community of pickup basketball as told by a group of hardcore ballers at Albany NY's Washington Park." The film examines the scene at the basketball court there known as "The Graveyard," looking at the lives of some of the men who play there.

The film opens Friday for a limited run at The Spectrum. Anastassiou and Kentoffio took a few minutes to talk with us about the film, rules of the court, the importance of trash talk -- and taking it to Mario Cuomo.

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Where to go paddleboarding?

paddleboardingElisabeth emails:

I want to paddleboard! Where can i do it in the capital region?

Here's a little more about paddleboarding -- as the name implies, it basically involves standing on something like a surfboard and paddling. We get impression it's become more popular over the last few years.

Got a suggestion for Elisabeth? Please share!

photo: Flickr user free4lance2 (cc)

Adam Oates had a better day than you

adam oates at rpi hockeyRPI hockey great Adam Oates was selected for the Hockey Hall of Fame today. Oates -- who played 19 seasons in the NHL -- is the first RPI player to be picked for the hall. [RPI Athletics]

His RPI career was jammed with achievements: twice set the single season record for points, single season recrod for assists, first in career assists, third in career points. And the Engineers won the NCAA championship his senior year (1985).

In the Hockey Hall of Fame press release today, Oates mentioned his time at RPI:

"Growing up I was a guy who was kind of overlooked and I was fortunate to have the opportunity to go to RPI and have the time for my game to mature," said Oates. "This is a tremendous honour and I look back and realize how lucky I was to have great coaches to help me along the way."

Oates ranks sixth all time in career assists in the NHL. [Hockey Hall of Fame]

But, wait, there's more: Oates was also hired today to be the head coach of the Washington Capitals. (One more career accomplishment today and he would have had a hat trick...) [Washington Capitals]

photo: RPI Athletics

Adult soccer leagues or games?

soccer ball grassSean emails:

With Euro 2012 going on now and the Olympics just around the corner, there's plenty of great soccer (football?) in our midst. All of the excitement has made me want to get outside and join up with a semi-competitive league or even just play some pick-up soccer. However, I can't seem to find ANY information about either. A reader asked a similar question back in 2009, but I'm sure a lot has changed and there's more updated info out there. Any tips? I'd prefer to play outdoors (i.e. not @ Afrim's) somewhere near Albany.

Know of an adult soccer league for Sean (or anyone) to play the beautiful game? Please share!

photo: Flickr user Katie@! (cc)

ValleyCats open home season

valleycats logoThe ValleyCats open their home season at Joe Bruno Stadium tonight with a game against the Vermont Lake Monsters. First pitch is 7 pm -- as of this afternoon there were just a few tickets left for "berm" seating.

The Cats' first game of the season was this past Monday at Vermont. They'll be home Wednesday and Thursday, before going to Connecticut a three game series for the weekend. Then they have a long home stand next week. The season runs through early September.

Tickets for the ValleyCats are relatively cheap -- as low as $5.50 if you buy ahead ($6.50 on game day). And as with all minor league teams, there are always a bunch of promotions and special nights. Example: This coming Monday (June 25) is the ever popular (with dogs, at least) Bark in the Park night. And next Wednesday is 50 cent hot dog night.

The ValleyCats are a short season Single-A level farm team for the Houston Astros. A bunch of players who have ended up in the majors have spent time on the time. A few names you might recognize: Hunter Pence (now with Philadelphia), and Ben Zobrist (now with Tampa Bay).

And, of course, the Cats' manager again this year is the one and only Stubby Clapp.

Joe at The Joe: As mentioned earlier, Joe Bruno will be throwing out the first pitch at Wednesday's game. [Biz Review]

Cut down the nets on AOA's tournament pool

aoa ncaa tournament pool 2012 hollie winner bracketCongrats to Hollie -- she won the AOA's NCAA basketball tournament pool. She gets a $25 gift certificate to the Recovery Room.

Hollie correctly picked 46 of the tournament's 63 games. She also had three of the Final Four teams (she had Michigan State instead of Louisville), and correctly picked the final matchup (Kentucky over Kansas). Her winning bracket -- which was in the 99th percentile for all the brackets on Yahoo -- is posted after the jump.


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Jimmermania, on hold

jimmer fredette sacramento kingsJimmer Fredette had one of the best games of his sort NBA career last night, scoring 19 points for the Sacramento Kings in a win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. It was his second highest point total of the season (he went for 20 back in January). [ESPN] [ESPN]

Jimmer hasn't exactly lit up the NBA this season. The Glens Falls folk hero is averaging a little more than 7 points a game on 39% shooting in 18 minutes a game. That's not necessarily bad for a rookie, but he was the #10 pick -- and, you know, people are accustomed to Jimmer being Jimmer. Many games this year he's played more like a James than a Jimmer. [ESPN]

His struggles have prompted the inevitable "What's wrong with Jimmer?" questions.

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Tour of the Battenkill 2012

battenkill 2010 peloton

The peloton in 2010's pro race.

The annual Tour of the Battenkill cycling event is coming up April 13-15 in Washington County. Three-time Tour de France winner Greg LeMond will be there for the weekend -- he'll be at Battenkill Books in Cambridge on Friday signing a book about cycling jerseys. He'll also be in riding a non-competitive "bike marathon" that's open to recreational riders on Sunday (you have to register online).

This year's pro/am race starts Saturday morning in Cambridge at 8:30 am -- the last racers are expected to finish around 6:30 pm.

The pro race -- with more than 150 pro cyclists, riding for 29 teams -- is Sunday. It starts at noon in Cambridge. The riders expected to pass through Cambridge again around 2 pm on the first lap of the 124 mile race, and finish around 4:30.

Here are the race maps, and the full schedule. A press release with more info is also embedded after the jump.

photo: A Mengel

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Union! Syracuse! Madness!

union vs harvard ecac tournament 2012Update update: Union beat UMass-Lowell 4-2! They're going to the Frozen Four!

Update: Union beat Michigan State 3-1, thanks in part to a little luck. [Union athletics] [TU]

The Dutchmen now face UMass-Lowell Saturday at 6:30 pm for a trip to the Frozen Four. The game is on ESPNU.

The Union College men's hockey team faces off with Michigan State this afternoon in the first round of the NCAA tournament in Bridgeport, Connecticut. The game starts at 3 pm -- it will be on ESPNU and ESPN# (so you can watch it online).

It's been a great season for Union. It's ranked #3 in the nation after going 24-7-7, and winning the ECAC tournament for the first time in school history. The Dutchmen are a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament.

Not too bad for a school that doesn't offer athletic scholarships and only has about 2000 students. There's an interesting article in NYT today about how Union got to this height in hockey.

Also: they're not allowed to have playoff beards. [@PeteIorizzo]


Update: Syracuse lost to Ohio State 77-70. The Orange finish their season 34-3.

The Syracuse men's basketball team beat Wisconsin last night in the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA tournament (remarkable because the Badgers apparently couldn't miss from behind the arc). The #1 seeded Orange next face #2 seed Ohio State on Saturday in the regional final for a trip to the Final Four. The game is at 7 pm on CBS.

photo: Union College Athletics

The AOA tournament pool

2012 NCAA BracketWe figured it'd be fun to set up an NCAA tournament pool for AOA people. So we did.

The pool is set up on Yahoo. This link should take you to the registration. But if not, here's the info:

Group ID#: 147896
Password: greatdanessaints

If you already have a bracket set up at Yahoo, you should be able to add it to the AOA pool with just a few clicks.

To make things (only somewhat) more interesting, we'll give the winner of the pool a $25 gift certificate to the Recovery Room.

The deadline to set your bracket is 12:15 pm on Thursday. (The new "first four games" -- or whatever they're called -- aren't included. Thankfully.) Good luck.

'Cuse: Syracuse is the #1 seed in the East bracket. The Orange play UNC-Asheville Thursday at 3:10 pm. The game will be on TruTV. You can also watch it online.

Throwing jabs -- the real kind -- at the Empire State Plaza

boxing empire state plazaThere's a professional boxing at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center this Saturday night -- which struck us as kind of unusual because... it's the Empire State Plaza Convention Center. The only people who usually trade jabs there are politicians and lobbyists.

But it turns out there's a history of boxing matches at the ESP. There was a string of bouts under the Egg during the 1980s. And there was a bout there last year -- the first in 21 years. [Pugnacious Promotions] [TU]

Mike Tyson
One of the bouts back in the day included Mike Tyson, who at the time was training in Catskill. In 1986 Tyson entered the bout undefeated with a 15-0 record -- and he faced a fighter named Dave Jaco, who had picked up boxing as a hobby following a divorce, and stuck with it because of the possibility of winning money. [AP 1997] [Gazette archive]

You can probably guess how that turned out: Tyson won after knocking down Jaco three times a little more than 2 minutes into the first round. Afterward, Jaco asked reporters: "Anybody see that truck?" [Gazette archive]

The card for Saturday night's events at the ESP includes 8 bouts. The first bout is at 6 pm. Tickets start at $40.

By the way: If there's going to be boxing at the ESP, it would seem kind of hard for politicians to keep pushing the state ban against MMA.

photo: Julia Zave / Ares Boxing

Dodgeball tournament at Wash Ave Armory

boys girls club dodgeball wash ave armoryThis could be fun: registration is now open for the Kearney Cup Dodgeball Tournament at the Washington Avenue Armory in April. It's a benefit for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Albany.

Teams are made up of 10 people -- and it's $500/team to enter. Organizers say they had 34 teams last year and are hoping for 64 this year. Registration ends when they fill all those slots.

Also: there's a 5-foot trophy.

The tournament is April 15. Matches start at 10 am that day.

Speaking of dodgeball... The weekly dodgeball games at the Wash Ave Armory organized by the Albany Society are still going on. In fact, they're playing tonight at 7 pm. It's $10 for guys and $5 for women.

Albany's double-dutch team heads for Tokyo

Nanny's Double Dutch Natalie Jay-Short

Nanny's Double Dutch League of Albany

It's true: Albany has a double dutch team. And it's pretty good.

Nanny's Double Dutch League has been practicing at the Arbor Hill Community Center and competing in venues around the country for the last five years.

Later this month they'll be competing and attending workshops with 168 double dutch teams from Japan, Belgium, North Korea, Singapore and the US at the World Tournament in Tokyo.

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A look at the UAlbany stadium project

ualbany stadium project design cropped

This week UAlbany announced that it's moving ahead with its stadium and sports facilities project, and revealed a few designs. The project includes:

+ A football and soccer facility that will have 4,000 permanent seats, with another 2,000 berm seats and 2,000 temporary bleacher seats. The school says its Division 1-AA football team is currently playing on the same field it used as a club team in 1970. UAlbany moved up to Division 1 in 1999. (Completion expected fall 2013.)

+ Upgrades for the university's track and field facilities. The school says it can't currently host an NCAA event because its facilities aren't compliant. (Completion expect winter 2013.)

+ And a new multi-use synthetic turf field for recreational and intramural use. (Completion expected this fall.)

The entire project is expected to cost $24 million -- of which the school says $18 million will come state appropriations, and $6 million from fundraising. That's downsized quite a bit from the original plan, which included a 25,000 seat stadium and would have cost about $60 million. [Biz Review]

photo via UAlbany Facebook

The Giants Super Bowl license plate

nys license plate Giants Super Bowl 2012

You'll no doubt be heartbroken to find out that "ELI4EVER" won't fit on the Giants plate.

The state Department of Motor Vehicles unveiled a Giants 2012 Super Bowl Champions custom plate today. They're $60, plus a $31.25 renewal fee, non-customized. If you want to express your love for Eli with a custom plate number, that's another $60.

Speaking of this stuff: Will the city of Albany update those "Albany / Mayor Jennings welcomes you / Summer Home of the Super Bowl XLII Champion New York Giants" signs now? Maybe it's a good time to swap the signs for something along the lines of simply, "Welcome to Albany / Capital of the Empire State."

image via NY Governor's Office

Running in the cold

winter running jen is green

Jen during one of her winter races.

By Jen Masa

We're always inspired when we read about the races Jen is running. And as self-described "winter runner," she runs all year round. So we thought we'd ask her for a few ideas about how to make running outside more comfortable and fun during the cold weather months.

Yes, winter is here! But that doesn't mean we have to stay indoors and on our couches. I like to stay active throughout the whole year, especially during the winter. Even when my couch seems more inviting, sometimes exercising outside in the cold can be invigorating! And there's nothing better than feeling the sunshine on your face! When exercising, I'll take cold weather over humidity any day. Within the past few years, I've made a habit of running outside in the winter and I really enjoy it.

Here are a few suggestions to help make your winter running experience more tolerable!

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There's Derek Jeter... and everyone else

Thumbnail image for yankees logoIn the Siena poll out today 57 percent of New Yorkers said they would support a constitutional amendment to allow casinos not owned by Native Americans to be built in the state -- 36 percent said they oppose it. Respondents seemed to think that the casinos would bring more jobs (78 percent agree) and government revenue (71 percent) -- but also increase problems such as crime and compulsive gambling (54 percent).

A few other bits, about the state's apparently undying love for Derek Jeter, MMA, and sports betting...

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A concrete vision of the future for skateparks in the Capital Region?

skateboard Chatham

The Chatham Skatepark

By Siobhan Connally

A tiny modern cityscape is taking shape in the heart of Chatham's bucolic countryside. But you won't find buildings at the end of its sidewalks, and the only traffic will come by skateboard.

When it's finished in late October, Chatham Skatepark will join only a handful of outdoor skateparks in upstate New York including the skatepark at East Side Recreational Field in Saratoga Springs, Clifton Park Action Park, Blatnick in Niskayuna, Copake Skate Park, Oakdale in Hudson, and Saugerties skate park.

It will also be one of only two concrete skateparks between Montreal and New York City that offers bowl skating.

The $120,000 park is $20,000 from completion, and Chatham recreation director Shari Dixon Franks isn't confident they'll reach their goal.

"With the economy as bad as it is, how can you ask people for more money for a skatepark?"

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Finding a high school football team to root for?

Friday Night Lights Coach TaylorWith football season coming up, @ajw93 asks:

I need to find HS football (alma mater sorta far in Dutchess) good, supportive crowd that's NOT all unruly teens?
No srsly, the Titans of Remember The [Titans] fame were previous n'hood team. Also my baby sisters'school. Now I got nothin'! Help!
Yes, i know it's not the local religion, but I do so enjoy HS games esp. I'd love a poll to see if I'm alone there.

Hmm... it might be hard to find exactly what ajw93 is looking for -- the Capital Region isn't Dillon, Texas. But maybe you can recommend a spot in the bleachers.

Got a suggestion? Please share!

image: NBC

Warrior Dash photos 2011

warrior dash 2011 sebastien fire jump


This is fun: Sebastien was at the Warrior Dash at Windham Mountain this past weekend and has a great post and photoset from the race/obstacle course/mud bath.

A few more photos after the jump. But definitely go check out the whole set.

Warriors! Jen and Silvia both braved the course this year. Jen says the obstacles were a lot harder this year. And Silvia had a blast -- and ended up inventorying her injuries

Update! Diana also ran the course this year and took her camera along.

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U.S. Water Ski Show Team: Nikki Weakley

US waterski showteam Nikki performing.jpg

Nikki Weakly doing what makes her happiest.

Nikki Weakley would almost always rather be water skiing.

The 25-year-old corporate communications rep for GE put on her first pair of water skis at age four and joined the U.S. Water Ski Show Team at the ripe old age of seven.

Since then the Mariaville native has spent nearly every summer evening behind a boat on the Mohawk River, practicing pyramids, jumps and balletic swivel skiing moves with the other members of the team.

The show team practices behind Jumpin' Jack's in Scotia nearly every night, and performs on Tuesday nights in July and August. It took first place in a regional competition last weekend and recently they caught the attention of the New York Times.

Nikki tore herself away from practice last night to talk with us about skiing, wiping out and the one thing that might be more of a thrill than her lifelong hobby.

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Something wicket this way comes

But can they take all 10 wickets in an innings?

By Rob Madeo

When I was a boy, we played in the street. Stickball and street hockey, running bases, touch football. Even though there were perfectly good lawns and parks, we just sort of liked the street. Maybe it was the curbs, which were like built-in sidelines. Naturally, you had to look out for the storm sewers that swallowed countless balls, pucks, and Frisbees -- and oh yes, you had to watch for cars -- but the street was our playing field.

I don't see kids playing ball in the street much anymore, even at the dozens of basketball hoops that line our suburban neighborhoods. There are three hoops on my block alone and I've never seen a basketball being shot at any single one of them. They stand like monuments to the idea of sports. Go figure.

But things are different on my street these days. And the kids aren't playing the old reliable
standbys: they're playing cricket.

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When Stubby gets angry

What's better than a guy named Stubby Clapp? A guy named Stubby Clapp going nuts. From a recent Valley Cats game:

It's too bad the bat toss wasn't captured. A baseball manager's fit doesn't really round the bases until something's thrown.

Clapp was apparently upset because over a disputed hit-by-pitch call.

Also: If Clapp keeps this up, the Canadian authorities will surely contact him about the rule regarding politeness.

[video by Fox23 via Mark McGuire]

Jimmer, the horse

jimmer tribute wall glens fallsBecause Jimmer Mania is unstoppable, there's now a race horse named after Jimmer Fredette. It looks like "Jimmer" will make his race debut at Saratoga this season. [TU]

The backstory on the name: Pat Hammel, the wife of the basketball coach as Glens Falls HS, is on the barn staff for one of the trainers at the stable that owns the horse -- she suggested naming the colt after Fredette (sadly, they didn't go with "The Jimmer"). Hammel says the horse reminds her of Jimmer: "You look at him and you're not 100 percent sure he's an athlete, but hopefully he'll prove us all wrong like Jimmer did." [Saratogian] [Yahoo Sports]

This horse is the third thoroughbred to carry the "Jimmer" name, according to the Pedigree Online Thoroughbred Database.

What obviously has to happen now: a game of H-O-R-S-E between the two Jimmers. Come on, NYRA, let's make this happen.

Jimmer tribute in Glens Falls photo by Trampoline Design

Jimmer picked at #10 in NBA draft

jimmer nba draft espn

Jimmer with NBA commissioner David Stern on ESPN.

Jimmer Fredette was selected with the 10th pick in the NBA draft by the Milwaukee Bucks -- but he's headed to the Sacramento Kings via a trade.

Sacramento's roster is thin at the guard position, so Jimmer should have opportunity. The Kings have a few very talented young players -- notably guard Tyreke Evans -- who also have reputations for being... difficult. So it could all be interesting.

Sports Illustrated's Michael Rosenberg wrote before the draft about it being important for Jimmer to land in the right situation -- and he didn't see Sacramento as that spot:

The highest I have seen him in mock drafts is No. 7 to Sacramento, which would be a disaster on several levels. He would presumably take Tyreke Evans' job at point guard, which would probably tick off Evans; Evans isn't really a point guard, but neither is Fredette. Evans would move to shooting guard. If you think he and temperamental center DeMarcus Cousins would be happy with shot-happy Jimmer as their shooting guard, you're nuts. Plus the team might move, and Fredette would be saddled with two savior labels -- top-10 pick, and likable guy on an unlikable team. No. Please: No.

For a somewhat more entertaining projection, Grantland -- Bill Simmons' new site -- imagines movies Jimmer could star in with the Kings' cast.

Earlier on AOA: 28.5 facts about Jimmer Fredette

screen capture: ESPN

Stubby Clapp

stubby clapp canada olympicsPointed out by Andrew today: the manager of the Tri-City Valley Cats is named "Stubby Clapp." A second baseman, Stubby Clapp III's playing career has included:

+ 25 at-bats with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2001.

+ The 2004 and 2008 Canadian Olympic baseball teams. Said Justin Morneau of Clapp: "He's what Canadian baseball players are all about." (That would be "a-boot," we hope.)

+ Becoming a folk hero in Memphis.

+ Signing autographs in Syracuse supermarkets.

The Valley Cats' season opens at home this Friday night.

photo: Baseball Canada

A fast 5k around Albany

This video is fun. It's like running the Freihofer's -- but, you know, without the actual running.

[via Unspeakable Visions]

Video game Jimmer

Really for no reason beyond the fact that it's Friday afternoon, here's a collection of Jimmer Fredette highlights made to look and sound like a video game. You know you want to see Jimmer hit a ridiculous three accompanied by sounds from Super Mario Bros.

Oh, right, relevance: the Knicks apparently really are interested in Jimmer, maybe enough to try moving up to get him (they have the #17 pick in the draft). Of course, it's not clear exactly who's running the Knicks right now. [NY Mag] [NYT]

An NBA mock draft published today that we haphazardly pulled from the first few results in Google has Jimmer going to the Utah Jazz at #12. If that happens, the Jazz promotions and ticket sales teams could probably take the rest of the season off (distance between Provo and Salt Lake City: 44 miles). Jimmer apparently would be OK with that, too. [Bleacher Report] [Desert News]

So what is Jimmer up to these days? Working out for NBA teams and trying to improve his defense. [AP/Desert News]

The NBA draft is June 23.

Earlier on AOA:
+ 28.5 facts about Jimmer Fredette
+ You want Jimmer on that wall -- you need Jimmer on that wall!

Roller derby tickets!

all stars 2011-05-21 bout posterThe Albany All Stars have a doubleheader coming up this Saturday at the Washington Ave Armory: the All Star will be taking on the the Hudson Valley Horrors, and the Albany B-Squad will throwing down with the ZomBSquad.

AOA has four pairs of tickets for the bout and we're giving them away -- maybe even to you.

We're feeling kind of cranky today -- maybe it's the weather, maybe it's the jackhammering on the street this morning, maybe it was the person we sat behind at the green light while she talked on her mobile. So, to enter, answer this question in the comments:

Dude, what's your problem?!?

We'll pick four winners at random from the comments.

The All Stars bout starts Saturday at 6 pm (doors at 5 pm). Music by Slick Fitty. Tickets are $10 ahead / $12 at the door (kids are $4).

Important: One entry per person, please. You must submit your comment by 10 pm today (May 19). You must include a working email address (that you check regularly) with your comment. Winners will be notified by 10 am on Friday (May 20) and must respond by 5 pm that day.

Yep, AOA is a media sponsor of the All Stars.

Albany Ultimate 2011

albany ultimate 2010Albany Ultimate will be starting up soon for the summer season. Emails Jeremy, the president of the club: "We are always looking for new members; from experienced players to brand new players who have never touched a disc." Quick descriptions and info of the club's leagues are after the jump.

The club plays at a handful of sites around the Capital Region. We usually spot them playing at Collins Circle on the UAlbany campus.

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It's kickball season

kickball ballLocal kickball leagues/games are starting up again:

+ The World Adult Kickball Association league season starts April 28 (with a pickup game tonight).

+ The local Premier Kickball league starts May 3. (This league says you don't need a team, you can just show up and you'll be placed on a team.)

+ Those first two leagues have fees. There's also a free pick-up kickball game Mondays at Hoffman Park in Albany.

We get the impression these are a lot like softball leagues. You play (not necessarily too hard), and then everyone goes and has a drink.

Earlier on AOA:
+ Ask AOA: Sports leagues for adults?
+ Ask AOA: Fun softball leagues?

photo: Flickr user dinnerwithkev

No fishnets in this roller derby

Men Derby Maul Bunyan

CDMRD's Maul Bunyan during a scrimmage.

By Liz Clancy Lerner

The first bout for the new local men's roller derby league -- CDMRD -- is this Saturday night at the Washington Ave Armory. It's a double-header -- the men play first against the Utica Quadfathers, and then the women of the Albany All-Stars take on Central NY Roller Derby. Doors open at 5 pm and it's likely the event will sell out.

One of the new men's league founders, George "Mooseknuckle" Dunckley, answers some questions about the new league, men's roller derby in general and what people should expect on Saturday...

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It's race season

Race Season Wide Schenectady 5k

It was a cold Schenectady Firefighter's Run for Your Life 5k this past Saturday.

By Liz Clancy Lerner

Spring's technically here which means race season is too. In the Capital Region there are lots of runs, walks, rides and triathlons to take part in.

Whether you do it for the competition, for the t-shirt, or for the charity there's likely a race around here that'll interest you...

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Tour de Troy photos

tour de troy 1

Nine corners. Two wheels.

The photo above is from Neil Grabowsky's photoset of racers in last weekend's "Tour de Troy" events, coordinated by the city of Troy and the RPI Cycling Club. The Times Union called it "one of the largest collegiate bike races in the country."

You can see more photos by Neil, of Through the Lens Studios, after the jump.

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You want Jimmer on that wall -- you need Jimmer on that wall!

jimmer tribute wall glens fallsA high-five to the people at Trampoline Design who spotted this tribute to Jimmer Fredette in an alley in Glens Falls. As they noted on Twitter: "When the Boogeyman goes to sleep, he checks the closet for Jimmer Fredette." (Incidentally, that's also the answer to the question, "What do Jimmer Fredette and Chuck Norris have in common?")

Jimmer and #3 seed BYU take on #2 seed Florida Thursday night in the NCAA tournament (you can catch the game on TBS). And did you see the great Jimmer photo on the cover of SI this week?

Earlier on AOA: 28.5 facts about Jimmer Fredette

photo: Trampoline Design

28.5 facts about Jimmer Fredette

jimmer sports illustrated coverJimmer Fredette -- Glens Falls native, a leading candidate player of the year in college basketball, folk hero -- plays in the NCAA tournament tonight. His #3 seeded BYU team takes on #14 seed Wofford at 7:15 pm on CBS. Update: BYU won 74-66 to advance.

Here are 28.5 facts about Jimmer -- one for each of the 28.5 points per game he's averaged this year. (And we're not even counting that he was on the cover of Sports Illustrated this week.)

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New Yorkers love the Yankees and Derek Jeter

yankees logoA Siena poll out Tuesday reports the Yankees are New York State's favorite sports team. Fifty-six percent of respondents said the Bronx Bombers are their first, second, or third favorite team (30 percent overall said the Yanks are their #1 favorite).

Perhaps not surprising then that Derek Jeter topped the list for "single greatest athlete of all time that played for a New York team or that you associate with sports in New York." Fourteen percent of people named Jeter when asked that question. Babe Ruth was second at 11 percent. No other athlete registered above 5 percent. The two demographic groups with the highest number of people naming Jeter: women and Latinos, both at 17 percent.

A few more bits...

Are you a sports fan? yes: 59 percent (76 percent of men, 43 percent of women) | no: 41 percent

Favorite sport: football (23 percent -- 27 percent upstate), baseball (22 percent), basketball (19 percent). By the way: soccer is more popular in New York than NASCAR.

The Knicks: A similar Siena poll last year reported that the Knicks were basically no one's favorite team. This year? The Knicks ranked #3 among most single most favored teams. All that money for Carmello and Amar'e is paying off.

On MMA: When asked whether they supported or opposed legalizing mixed martial arts in New York State, 41 percent said they were opposed. 39 percent said they supported MMA legalization. And 19 percent said they didn't know enough about it.

Instant replay in baseball: 54 percent support | 31 percent oppose.

NFL labor situation: 58 percent of people said they supported in the players in the ongoing NFL labor negotiations. 21 percent said they side with the owners. And 100 percent said to wake them when/if the season ever starts. (OK, we made up that last bit.)

The Great Zamboni

Zamboni Composite

By Liz Clancy Lerner

Part ice resurfacing machine, part intermission entertainment, it's no wonder everyone loves the Zamboni.

I had the chance to talk with Kevin Appler, a Zamboni driver for the Times Union Center, this week at an Albany Devils game. And I learned quite a bit: how the Zamboni works, how someone gets a job as a driver, and the fact that Zambonis don't really have brakes...

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Stevo Poulin

Badass of the week: Stevo Poulin of Schuylerville.

The 8-year-old and his mohawk have piled up a 256-26 record on the youth wrestling circuit. He's been described as "a blitzkrieg of speed, strength and know-how" who "scarifies" grown men -- or simply "a bad little man."

That highlight video above has been viewed on YouTube more than 6 million times. Behold the strut as he walks onto the mat.

When not blitzing his opponents, Stevo enjoys dominating spelling and math tests. He also has an outdoor cat who eats mice.

[via Post-Star Saratoga Snippets]

Have you caught Union College hockey fever?

union college hockey trophy 2011Because it's going around, apparently.

The Union College men's hockey team has had a great season. The team is currently ranked #4 -- in the whole country. And the Dutchmen are in action at home this weekend against Colgate in an ECAC tournament best-of-three series. (Colgate beat RPI in the first round. Union had a bye.) The tournament is a step toward the NCAA tournament.

The games are Friday, Saturday, and (if necessary) Sunday night. Individual tickets are $12 for adults / $6 for kids.

If you're new to Union hockey -- or college hockey in general -- the TU's Pete Iorizzo has put together a helpful guide for hopping on the bandwagon.

photo: Union College Athletics

Capital Region indoor sports leagues

Dodgeball Rec Sports
By Liz Clancy Lerner

Yesterday's weather was such a tease: mid-50s? The sun shining? That's outdoor league sports weather to me. But then today it's back to reality: a high in the 20s with gusting winds.

Indoor team sports prevail for a few more months.

Fortunately, the Capital Region has a fair amount of indoor sports leagues to choose from. And forget the stress of being the new guys on a team, being picked last, or learning a new sport.

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Riding the skeleton at Lake Placid

Skeleton Composite

Head first.

By Liz Clancy Lerner

When I was in middle school I would watch my sister's high school Varsity soccer games with my cleats and shin guards in a bag nearby. I'd often fantasize that her team would be down a player and look to the crowd for help. I would be the one they chose, I'd play my heart out, and score the winning goal.

And then, of course, I'd be a starter for the high school team as a 7th grader and go on to the Olympics after that.

Flash forward to the 2006 Winter Olympics: I watch the track events religiously on TV. I proclaim to friends and family that I want to be a skeleton slider (it's the belly-down, head-first, single-person sled race).

But I never had the opportunity to try it -- until this past weekend when I went down the skeleton track in Lake Placid.

This was my chance to be discovered.

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Super Bowl, Albany style

By Akum Norder

touchdown! You might have heard: There's a football game this weekend.

Even if you're not a regular football watcher, think of it as a shared cultural moment -- or at least an excuse to drink beer and shout really loud in public.

Here are some local resources for getting the most out of Super Bowl Sunday.

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Albany Devils welcome four-legged fans

By Akum Norder

Thumbnail image for hockey dogIs your dog no longer content to watch hockey at home? You're in luck.

The Albany Devils are offering a "Pucks and Paws" promotion Saturday night: Bring your dog to the game.

For $20, you and Bowser can watch the Devils take on the Rochester Americans. Five dollars of the ticket price will go to the Mohawk & Hudson Humane Society. Any extra human companions a dog brings along can get in for $15 each.

Dogs and their owners will be seated in the upper level of the arena.

The game will be 7 p.m. Saturday at the Times Union Center. Here's more info.

The Tri-City ValleyCats run a similar promotion every year. "Bark in the Park" takes place in August; this year's date is not yet set.

image via Flikr user bizzlenj.

The Jimmer Show

Former Glens Falls high school basketball star Jimmer Fredette lit it up last night for BYU. He scored 47 points in the Cougars win over in-state rival Utah. The Salt Lake Tribute called it "a hard-to-believe-unless-you-were-there outing." [YouTube] [ESPN] [SLT]

Three of those points came on a 40-foot shot at the buzzer before halftime (video above). The best part about that shot? The way he just sort of nonchalantly walks away, like "What? You thought I would miss?"

It was one of those nights where Fredette was in range once he stepped across half-court. His performance made him a trending topic on Twitter. (Seemingly just to prove that he's mortal, he did somehow manage to miss a dunk.) [YouTube] [CBS6] [YouTube]

Fredette is having a crazy good senior season. He's currently the nation's leading scorer at 26 points per game. And he's scoring those points efficiently -- he's shooting 54% on two-pointers, 40% on three-pointers, and 90% from the foul line. [ESPN] [ESPN] [kenpom]

A few weeks ago against Buffalo, Fredette scored just 6 points in the first half -- and then dropped 28 in the second half. The performance prompted Buffalo's coach to call Fredette "a bad dude." [Buffalo News]

For a laugh A headline this afternoon on humor site Sports Pickle: "Person Named 'Jimmer Fredette' Attempting To Be Taken Seriously" [via Amy]

Tickets for next Hellions roller derby bout

hellions bout poster 2011-01-12Speaking of roller derby... we have five pairs of tickets to give away to the Hellions of Troy bout this weekend. The Nickel City Knockouts will be in from Buffalo for a cross-state throwdown to determine who's queen of the rink.

So, if you'd like to go to the bout, submit a comment answering this question:

How much snow did you get today?

Of course, we'll take answers such as "10 inches." But "too much," "not enough" and "we got snow?" are also acceptable. Extra points (not redeemable for anything) for creativity.

The Hellions bout is this Saturday at the Rollarama in Schenectady. Tickets are $10 in advance, $12 day of ($3 for kids). Doors at 7 pm, action at 8 pm.

Important: Five winners, drawn at random, will get a pair of tickets. You must answer the question to be entered in the drawing. You must submit your comment by noon on Thursday January 13, 2011. One entry per person, please. You must include a working email address (that you check regularly) with your comment. Winners will be notified by 5 pm on Thursday and must respond by 9 am on Friday.

AOA is a media sponsor of the Hellions

How to behave (or not) at a roller derby bout

Hellions of Troy Composite

By Liz Clancy Lerner

The Capital Region is ripe with roller derby, and that's a good thing. It is a sport that empowers women, builds community and puts on one heck of a show.

We've got three leagues in the immediate Capital Region: The Albany All Stars, The Hellions of Troy and the developing Capital District Men's Roller Derby. The All Stars just had their season opener and the Hellions have a bout this Saturday. (The men have their first bout in April.)

With full schedules ahead of them, that's a lot of derby to watch in 2011.

So, as a lover of roller derby (and skater, board member and spectator), I thought it might be helpful to put together a guide detailing what to wear, what to bring and when it's okay to touch a derby girl...

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Snowshoeing in the Capital Region

katie's daughter snow shoeing in the woods

Get outside and take it all in.

By Katie Beltramo

Let's face it: we live in Upstate New York, and we're likely to see plenty of snow in the next two or three months. This time of year it takes considerable willpower for me to resist snuggling under the covers with a book and hibernating until spring.

But that's no way to live! Okay, honestly, it's pretty good for a morning once in a while.

However, since I don't want to creep out of bed on March 20 looking pasty and pudgy and blinking at the unfamiliar sunshine, I try to do winter-only activities for a little outdoor fun. And snowshoeing is great way to start.

(there's more)

Free Albany All Stars tickets: what's hot?

albany all-stars bout 2011-01-08Congrats to Audrey Deathburn, Ryan, and Diva Destruction!
The Albany All Stars Roller Derby is back for a new season at the Washington Ave Armory this Saturday night. The Capital City Legislayers will be throwing down with the Empire Skate Troopers. And we have three pairs of tickets to give away. Maybe to you.

So, we're having a drawing. Because it's January (and cold), we thought a good question would be:

What's hot?

Yep, a lot of possible answers here. We'll draw the winners at random from the posted comments.

Doors for the bout open at 6 pm, action at 7 pm. Tickets are $10 in advance, $12 at the door -- kids are $4.

Important: Three winners will get a pair of tickets. You must answer the question to be entered in the drawing. You must submit your comment by 5 pm on Wednesday January 5, 2011. One entry per person, please. You must include a working email address (that you check regularly) with your comment. Winners will be notified by 9 am on Thursday and must respond by 5 pm that day.

Be prepared to duck

golf ball in roughFrom the decision yesterday by New York's Court of Appeals, the state's highest court, in Anand vs. Kapoor -- also known as the "Should a golfer have to yell 'Fore!'?" case:

Here, Kapoor's failure to warn of his intent to strike the ball did not amount to intentional or reckless conduct, and did not unreasonably increase the risks inherent in golf to which Anand consented. Rather, the manner in which Anand was injured -- being hit without warning by a "shanked" shot while one searches for one's own ball -- reflects a commonly appreciated risk of golf (see Rinaldo v McGovern, 78 NY2d 729, 733 [1991]).

So, heads up out there. And, you know, maybe find friends who are better at golf.

photo: Flickr user One Tree Hill Studios

Giants game will be shown locally tonight

This week's Giants game against the Vikings -- postponed because of the Metrodome roof collapse -- will be shown tonight locally on Fox23. The game starts at 7:20.

If you haven't seen the video of the Metrodome roof collapse embedded above, you have to take a look. Officials from the Carrier Dome in Syracuse -- where they know a thing or a hundred about dealing with lots of snow -- have offered their assistance to the Metrodome.

Off-roading with one wheel

This is fun: Sebastien's posted video from an off-road unicycle race through Schenectady's Central Park a few months back (above).

There are more details and photos at his site.

Some of the unicyclists who rode this Schenectady course were part of the group that rode coast-to-coast across Panama in 2009. You might recognize Roland Kays, the curator of mammals at the State Museum -- he's involved in the Cooking the Tree of Life series, and he talked with AOA about his research on fishers.

Hellions "Naughty vs. Nice Bout" tickets

Slay-Belles-Text-V3-217x300.jpgThe Hellions of Troy are back this weekend. Their "Slay Belles: Naughty Vs. Nice" bout is Saturday night at Rollerama in Schenectady (doors open at 7, bout starts at 8) and AOA has 5 pairs of tickets to give away.

To enter the drawing, give us some suggestions for ways to get on Santa's "nice list" this year.

Leave your suggestion in the comment section of this post and we'll enter you in the drawing. Five people will win a pair of tickets.

Important: One entry per person. You must answer the question to be entered. You must submit your comment by noon on Thursday, December 2. You must include a working email address (that you check regularly) with your comments. The winners will be notified by 5 pm Thursday and must respond by 10 am Friday.

AOA is a media sponsor of the Hellions.

The game that went on and on and on...

Skidmore's men's basketball team played a game with 7 overtimes last week at Southern Vermont -- and won 128-123. Here are the highlights on ESPN:

The game tied the NCAA record for longest game.

[via @bcarlton727]

Pro boxer Sarah Kuhn

Sarah Kuhn in the gym

At 145 lbs, from North Greenbush -- Sarah Kuhn

Sarah Kuhn wanted to sign up for ballet class to help get her into better shape.

She'd taken it as a kid and remembered it as a great workout.

She tried to sign up three times, but the studio was closed.

So she went next door to Sweeney's gym and signed up for boxing lessons instead.

Two years later she's turned pro, and on Saturday night at the Washington Avenue Armory she won her second professional fight.

(there's more)

Backing the Bills

bills backersThe only thing worse than rooting for a bad team is not having anyone to commiserate with about how awful the team is. So, rejoice Bills fans -- Ed and his friend Bryon have started meetups to watch Bills games:

You may ask yourself, why would we form this club when our beloved gem of Western New York is 0-5 [now 0-6]? Because we can't endure this pain alone. We need to group together. So this is kind of like a support group for Bills fans and Western New Yorkers to come together every week for some great fun and specials at McGeary's Irish Pub as we watch our Bills.

Ed continues:

We've found Albany has a large population of Western and Central New York expats, and even more people like Bryon and me who are second-generation Upstaters who still have family ties out west. For us, this is really a cultural event. It's really cool the sort of positive reactions both of us have already heard from WNY/CNY expat friends of ours.

Ed says their first meetup was this past Sunday (oof, tough fumble). He says they had more than 20 people and ate through McGeary's entire supply of wings.

The next meetup is this Sunday at 1 pm, Bills vs. Chiefs.

Somewhat related: on behalf of Upstate New York, we would like to welcome the Syracuse football team back from the ranks of the embarrassing.

Earlier on AOA: Ask AOA: A good place to watch NFL games?

photo: City of Albany Buffalo Bills Backers Facebook

A good place to watch NFL games?

nfl logo footballLooking forward to Sunday, Fred emails:

My brother is coming to town for the weekend and he wants to watch the Dolphins game on Sunday (we grew up in Florida). What's a good place to catch NFL games? We're hoping for good food, too.

It seems like every pub, bar and neighborhood joint now has multiple TVs for showing the NFL.

Any suggestions for Fred and and his brother? Please share!

The games being shown this weekend on broadcast TV here are Detroit at Giants and Jets at Denver.

Earlier on AOA:
+ A question last year asked about the best sports bars
+ The Steelers' success started in... Saratoga?

photo: Flickr user Eric Kilby

Tickets for zombies vs. vampires roller derby bout

hellions zombies vs vampires boutUpdate: The drawing's closed! Congrats to StickFigureMan, Camilo, Jess, Matthias, and -S!

The Hellions of Troy roller derby has a zombies vs. vampires themed bout coming up this Saturday night. We have five pairs of tickets for "The Battle of the Undead" and we'd like to give them away -- maybe to you.

So, we're having a drawing. To enter, post an answer to this question in the comments:

What's your favorite vampire, zombie, monster, ghost or ghoul? (Or whatever in the vein.)

There's a big range here -- it could be everything from The Creature from Frankenstein to Angel from Buffy. We'll pick five winners at random from the posted comments.

First whistle for the bout is at 8 pm Saturday at the Rollarama in Schenectady. Tickets are $10 ahead of time, $12 at the door ($3 for kids under 12). The Hellions say fans are encouraged to come dressed up to root for their favorite side.

Important: One entry per person. You must answer the question to be entered. You must submit your comment by 8 pm Wednesday October 13. You must include a working email address (that you check regularly) with your comments. The winners will be notified by noon Thursday and must respond by 6 pm that day.

AOA is a media sponsor of the Hellions.

Warrior Dash 2010 photos

warrior dash jump over fire


The Northeast version of the Warrior Dash -- basically a 5k mashed up with an obstacle course, run by people wearing costumes -- was this past weekend at Windham Mountain. And it looks like it was some crazy fun.

Diana ran the race with her friends -- and has in-race photos on her blog. She writes: "I've had a few crazy days during my years and this would definitely be in the Top 5!" Jen also ran the dash: "Holy crap, it was incredible, and unlike anything I've ever done in my entire life! It is safe to say that this might be one of the craziest days of my life!"

Sebastien and B used "the good old 'camera excuse' to watch the show from a safe distance" and came back with some great photos. Sebastien has helpfully broken up his photoset into collections of mud pit photos and face-painting photos. B's photoset includes some great details -- like Elvis jumping over fire or the pile of donated sneakers. B comments on his blog that the race prompted a lot of smiles and "the sense of camaraderie was impressive."

Earlier on AOA: Julie asked about where to train for the Warrior Dash.

photo: Sebastien B

New season of Albany Dodgeball

albany dodgeballAlbany Dodgeball lets loose on a new season tonight at the Washington Ave Armory. The games are open to everyone and run from 7-9 pm. It's $10 to play.

Also, Albany Dodgeball is organizing a tournament on October 16 at the armory. They're looking for teams of eight or more. It's $200 per team.

Earlier on AOA: World record dodgeball match at the Washington Ave Armory

photo: Sebastien B

In Your Face Wrestling

IYFW amateur wrestling slam

He probably knew this was coming. But still... ouch.

By Rob Gierthy

While at The Track Saturday, baking in the August sun waiting for the Travers to begin, I was talking with some guys and said that this was my first time photographing horses. They asked what I normally shoot.

"Roller derby," I replied.

"Seriously, or are you just messing with us?"

My answer was the "I <3 Rollerderby" button that I keep on my camera bag.

We talked about the local teams for a bit and then they told me about a wrestling event -- In Your Face Wrestling -- scheduled for that night in Ballston Spa, and that I should go take some shots.

(there's more)

By a nose

travers 2010 photo finish


Check out the photo finish image from the Travers this past weekend: Afleet Express defeated Fly Down by just a nose. Here's video of the race.

Attendance and handle (the amount bet) were way up for this year's Travers, compared to last year. NYRA reports that 45,764 were at The Track on Saturday, up more than 33 percent from last year. A little more than $8.2 million was bet onsite that day (up almost 20 percent). Of course, last year's Travers Day was rainy -- and this year the weather was gorgeous.

Rachel, Rachel, Rachel Superstar horse Rachel Alexandra ran at the Track on Sunday in the Personal Ensign -- and lost. A horse called Persistently passed RA down the stretch. Persistently was 21-1 and paid $45.00 on a $2 bet to win.

By the way: in the crowd this past weekend at The Track -- a three-month-old (human) named Rachel Alexandra. After the horse. [Saratogian]

photo: NYRA

Windham World Cup Mountain Bike Finals

Windham Mountain Bikes.jpg

Dirty, yes. Dangerous-- sure. But kinda cool.

Italy, France, Belgium, Windham N.Y.

The final leg of the Tour De France of Mountain Biking-- The World Cup Mountain Bike Finals -- gets rolling this week about an hour from Albany. The best mountain bikers in the world are gathering on Windham Mountain this weekend to compete for the World Cup title.

This is the first time the World Cup final will be held in the U.S., and it's the first East Coast World Cup race ever.

After the jump, a few details about the weekend and some video of what you can expect to see.

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The US Water Ski Show Team in Scotia

us water ski show team scotia

Hold on!

After seeing mention of the US Water Ski Show Team on AOA, Sebastien checked out one of their shows in Scotia. The result is a fun photoset -- both nice moments and "Look at that!"

And it sounds like Sebastien had a good time:

This is definitely a family oriented team, you can feel everybody is involved. Children, parents, grand-parents, there is a healthy energy going on. The announcers are a bit cheesy but it's all good, this fits the occasion and the location, in a nice way. Bring your iPod, you never know, maybe I was just super jolly that night. There are always looking for new volunteers by the way, you don't even have to know how to ski. I would try if I had one ounce of balance in me. Picture the enormous splashes.

The team has two more shows lined up in Scotia this summer: August 24 and August 31. The team performs on the Mohawk, right near Jumpin' Jack's (map).

photo: Sebastien B

Tyler White is a lumberjack

Tyler White Saw.jpg

and he's OK

Three years ago Tyler White went to woodsman team practice with a friend at SUNY Cobleskill to see what it was all about. All that chopping and sawing and rolling on logs looked like fun, so he gave it a try.

Next week Tyler will compete against five of the nations top collegiate lumberjacks at the STIHL TIMBERSPORTS Collegiate Championship in Oregon.

(there's more)

Quality opponents lined up fo Siena, UAlbany

siena ualbany sports logos

The Siena and UAlbany men's basketball teams released their non-conference schedules this week. And both schools have lined up some quality, big name competition.

Both schedules are after the jump. A few of the at home highlights:

UAlbany November 12 vs. Cornell (Sweet 16 in the NCAA tournament last season)

Siena November 23 vs. Butler (you know, the runner up in last season's national title game)

Siena December 22 vs. Georgia Tech (against old coach Paul Hewitt)

Also: The Siena-UAlbany game will be December 4 at the TU Center.

(there's more)

Free roller derby tickets!

hellions of troy summer 2010Update: The drawing's closed. Thanks for entering! Congrats to Kamala, Dan and Dawn!

The Hellions of Troy are back in action this Saturday at the Rollarama against the Central Mass Roller Derby's Petticoat Punishers. We have three pairs of tickets and we're giving them away.

Here's how you could win a pair. Post a comment answering this question:

What's one thing in everyday life that you would whistle as a "foul"?

This could be anything -- from people taking too long in the drive-thru ATM (!) to people who hover at the pick-up counter in Five Guys 9 (!!) to co-workers who talk to too loud on the phone. Blow the whistle and tag 'em with a penalty!

We'll pick three winners at random from the posted comments.

The Hellions throw down at 7 pm on Saturday (doors at 6pm). Tickets are $12 at the door ($10 ahead of time) -- kids are $3. From what we heard, the last bout was a packed house.

Important: One entry per person. You must answer the question to be entered. You must submit your comment by 1 pm Friday August 13. You must include a working email address (that you check regularly) with your comments. The winners will be notified by 3 pm Friday and must respond by 6 pm.

AOA is a media sponsor of the Hellions.

Clifton Park's Claudia Braymer -- World Cup rugby player

Claudia Braymer w:ball.jpg

She's 5'3" and can probably take you down.

Meet Claudia Braymer.

Claudia is a 5-foot-3, 28-year-old mom and attorney from Clifton Park.

She enjoys running, teamwork and tackling people much larger than herself.

And in two weeks, she's off to England to represent the US on the Women's World Cup Rugby Team.

(there's more)

Rachel Alexandra coming back to Saratoga

rachel alexandraSuperstar horse Rachel Alexandra is coming back to Saratoga. She'll be racing in the Personal Ensign Stakes August 29.

Rachel (we don't think she minds the informality) was the Horse of the Year in 2009. She won eight races last year, including the Preakness (one of the Triple Crown races) -- the first filly do so in 85 years. She also had a dramatic win in the Woodward Stakes at Saratoga before a huge crowd (she's the only filly to ever win that race).

As you might expect, NYRA is stoked that RA is coming back. It's even set up a microsite for her.

photo: Adam Coglianese/NYRA

Where to train for the Warrior Dash?

warrior dash logoJulie emails:

I had a momentary lapse of sanity and signed up for the Warrior Dash down at Windham Mountain in September.
Where in the Capital Region could I train for such an event? The obstacle I'm particularly worried about is the one where I have to climb over a wall. Other obstacles include jumping over fire and crawling under barbed wire.
Any help would be much appreciated!

The "jumping over fire and crawling under barbed wire" bit made us curious about what exactly Julie had gotten herself into. The Warrior Dash site bills the race as "the ultimate event for thrill-seeking athletes," where "where 13 obstacles from hell await this 3.23 mile course." Also: the race is "more about mental toughness than being in great shape." And it looks like people wear costumes.

The event has been held in other parts of country in years past -- this is the first time in the Northeast. It's September 18 and 19. Registration is $65 and closes on September 7.

So, anyone have suggestions for Julie? Please share!

Fun softball leagues?

softball closeupSummer emails:

A friend of mine would really like to get involved with a softball league that's fun and not too competitive. He's not a bad player but he's afraid he's not good enough to be welcomed by some of the more competitive leagues out there. Also, he's gotten the impression that without an "in," he won't be able to find an opening.
Any ideas?

We fear that Summer's friend may have missed his chance for this season, but maybe there are some mid-summer leagues that are starting up. If anything, tips on good leagues will help out for next summer.

Got a suggestion? Please share!

photo: Glenn Tremblett (Flickr user ragingtornado)

Where to learn parkour or other unusual sports?

There was a fun article in the Saratogian today about a commercial being shot by Empire State College that features a parkour expert bounding through -- and above -- downtown Saratoga (check out the photos).

What's parkour? The Wikipedia entry describes it as an activity in which "participants jump, vault, and climb over obstacles in a fluid manner." The video embedded above shows a bunch of (crazy) examples. And here's more from a a How Stuff Works article.

This all prompted Steve to email:

[Are there] any parkour/freerunning gyms or groups in the area? It's something I've wanted to get involved in for years now, but I've never had much luck finding anything locally other than a few Facebook groups that don't seem that active. Plus, health care costs being what they are, I'd rather learn from someone that knows what they're doing and not someone that learned some basics on the Internet.

This seems like it could be a tough one. So, we'll widen it a bit to include groups or gyms that do training for any sort of odd or unusual sport.

Any ideas or suggestions? Please share.

Earlier on AOA: In 2008, Jess checked out a gym in Albany where people work out by doing stuff like flipping huge tires and dragging heavy chains

Free Albany All Stars roller derby tickets

albany all stars roller derby action

Update: The drawing's closed. Thanks for entering!

AOA has a bunch of tickets for the Albany All Stars bout this Saturday (10 pairs, to be exact). And we'd like to give them to you.

The Empire Skate Troopers are taking on the Queen City Roller Girls at the Washington Ave Armory in the AASRD's last bout of the season. It should be a fun time. Tickets are $10 ($12 at the door). The first whistle is at 7 pm.

Here's how you could go for free.

It's easy. Post a comment answering this question:

What's your favorite sports team?

This could be any team in any sport, at any level. It could be a major league baseball club, a college team or a World Cup side. Whatever. The team could even be fictional.

We'll pick 10 winners at random. The deadline to enter is 3 pm Friday!

Very, very important: One entry per person. You must answer the question to be eligible. You must post your comment by 3 pm on Friday June 17, 2010. You must include a working email address (that you check regularly) with your comment. The winner will be notified by email by 4 pm that Friday -- and must respond by 6 pm that same day.

Yep, AOA is an AASRD media sponsor.

photo: Brian Kraus / AASRD

Ladies and gentlmen, your Albany Devils...

albany devils logoThe NHL's New Jersey Devils officially announced today that they're moving their minor league affiliate in Lowell, Massachusetts to Albany and the TU Center. (The River Rats scurried off to North Carolina earlier this year.)

The new team name: the Albany Devils. That's the logo on the right.

We're now wondering what the mascot will be. Buzzy Beelezubub? Dev the Devil? Pitchfork Pete? The parent club's mascot is the creatively named...N.J. Devil.

This is the second time New Jersey's had a team based here -- the Rats had been their minor league team for 13 seasons, ending in 2006.

Earlier on AOA: Rowdy the Rat goes searching for a new home

Giants coming back to UAlbany

ualbany giants campThe New York Giants announced today that they'll be back at UAlbany for training camp again this summer. The agreement also includes an option for the team to train there in 2011 and 2012.

Camp runs from August 1-20.

While the practices aren't exactly what we would call exciting, if you're a football fan it is kind of cool see the team up close. Just watching on TV it's hard to get a sense of how remarkably big and fast these guys are.

The Giants have trained at UAlbany since 1996. Fan attendance at last year's camp was 46,960.

[via @AndrewCatalon]

photo via NY Giants

Freihofer's Run for Women results and photos

Freihofers Run for Women 2010

Kenyan Emily Chebet set a new course record in the Freihofer's Run for Women this past weekend in Albany with a time of 15:12 for the 5k (that's an average of a 4:53 mile). Chebet's time smashed the old record by six seconds. She won $10,000 for the top finish.

Race organizers report that 3,927 women participated in this year's race. There are more results after the jump.

Sebastien's posted a photo set from the race -- he captured a lot of great expressions on the faces of the runners.

photo: Sebastien B

(there's more)

"You love cheese, right?"

With the River Rats hockey team moving to North Carolina, Rowdy found himself out on the street with no place to go.

He eventually found his way to the Mohawk & Hudson River Humane Society -- and scored a spot on WTEN's Pet Connection (video above).

Thankfully, there's a happy end to this story.

[via Brian, who has all four videos lined up on one page]

CDPHP Workforce Team Challenge 2010

workforce team challenge 2010

Thursday rush hour traffic.

There were more than 8,000 participants in this year's CDPHP Workforce Team Challenge race, a record.

Sebastien's posted a photoset from Thursday's race. And Flickr user speedracer927 has a few shots from above of the big crowd of runners at the start.

Here are the results from the 3.5 mile race. A team from GE took the coed team title. A NYS Insurance Fund team won the women's title, and ARE Event Productions the men's title.

Chuck Terry from New Visions of Albany finished first (17:35) -- his third time doing so. Emily McCabe from the NYS Assembly Minority office finished first among women (20:49).

photo: Sebastien B

Albany Ultimate 2010

albany ultimate 2010We get questions fairly often from people looking to join some sort of sports team or league. Here's one that might be fun.

Albany Ultimate (as in frisbee) is starting up again soon. From Peter, who's one of the organizers:

Similar to last year we have several different options for new players. We will be running a women's league so that ladies can come out and play and learn the sport in a positive setting with excellent coaches. We also have a Social League which is for new players to get out and learn the game and not be overwhelmed by newer players. And also a Competitive League which is for more experienced players. Both Social and Competitive leagues are coed.
Currently pickup Ultimate is occurring at Collins Circle at SUNY Albany Campus on Tuesday and Thursday starting at 5pm and is open to anyone.

Registration opens April 9. It's $35 to play in the social and competitive leagues and $20 for the elite league. Games start June 1.

photo via Peter A

Photo roundup from Tour of the Battenkill

battenkill 2010 peloton

The peloton coming up Joe Bean Hill for the second lap.

At one point during this weekend's Tour of the Battenkill pro cycling race in Washington County, eventual winner Caleb Fairly told Velo News he was thinking: "I hope someone is taking pictures."

And, of course, they were! A whole of bunch of photos from the race are up on Flickr.

Fairly finished first (he won some chocolate milk), followed by (momentary Tour de France winner) Floyd Landis and Jay Robert Thomson (full results). Danny Goodwin (grifwin) has a photo of the winners on the podium (and from the start). Fairly and Landis dueled toward the end before Fairly pulled away solo.

The Battenkill course was 25 percent dirt road -- muddy conditions captured by Daniel Sharp (d_sharp) and Flickr user ffron. And from this picture by Meghan Eddy, it looks like there was plenty of spatter.

Even more photos: Ian Creitz (IanC83) has posted a huge photo set from the race -- almost 700 photos.

And here's a set from Amy and Aaron Mengel (that's their pic at the top). A trio of video clips they shot are embedded after the jump.

(there's more)

The Yankees bandwagon is crowded

siena sports poll

A Siena poll out this week reported that more New Yorkers root for the Yankees than any other team. Thirty-eight percent of respondents said the Yanks were their first or second favorite team.

The chart above shows the results for other teams. It's good to see Syracuse finishing ahead of the Knicks (the Orange do have more wins this season). We're a little surprised to see the Steelers make the chart.

A Marist poll from earlier this month reported that 58 percent of New Yorkers were Yankees fans and 28 percent root for the Mets. As people pointed out then, it'd be interesting to see if the Red Sox polled better in the Capital Region.

A few other interesting bits:

+ Only 21 percent of people say they've entered a NCAA basketball tournament pool at least once (Really? That's it?) -- yet 45 percent said they've placed a sports bet or entered some sort of pool. (Forty-eight percent said they've entered a Super Bowl pool.)

+ Seventy-seven percent said they'd rather watch a game on TV than go in person. Eighty-eight percent said they agree the cost of going to a game "has gotten out of control."

+ Eleven percent say they've played fantasy sports. That jumps to 24 percent for 18-34 year olds.

chart: Siena Research Institute

World record!

dodgeball world record

From 9 minutes before the finish...

The world record dodgeball match at the Washington Ave Armory finished up late this afternoon. The two teams -- Albany Dodgeball and Hometown Dodgeball -- smashed the record by playing for 31 hours, 11 minutes and 13 seconds.

Sebastien's posted a photoset from the finish. And Joe has a set from the 16-hour mark, including some stats (deodorant applications: 2).

photo: Sebastien B

It's a pin-striped state

yankees logoA Marist Poll out this week reports that of New York State respondents who said they follow baseball, 58 percent were Yankees fans. Just 28 percent said they cheer for the Mets.

The poll reports that 61 percent of respondents said they follow baseball -- though only 28 percent said they followed it a "good" or "great" amount.

The Yankees play the Red Sox Sunday in the first game of the MLB season. The other teams get started on Monday.

Purdue 72 Siena 64

siena_sports_logo.jpgSiena made a good effort against Purdue, but the Boilermakers were just too tough.

The Saints led at halftime 32-29. Then the Boilermakers seriously clamped down on defense to start the second half, which helped them go on a 13-0 run. It looked like Siena was wilting, but the Saints pulled it together in the last five minutes to go on a 12-0 run.

It just wasn't enough. Purdue hit its foul shots down the stretch and Siena ran out of time.

Edwin Ubiles led Siena with 18. Ronald Moore had 14 (3 assists, 4 turnovers), Alex Franklin had 10 (all in the first half). Clarence Jackson, a game-time decision because of a bad ankle, did not play. Box score.

It was still a great season for Siena. The Saints were 27-7 overall and they dominated the MAAC with a 17-1 record.

Siena vs. Purdue fast break

siena vs purdue

Woof! Steam!

Siena takes on Purdue in the first round of the NCAA tournament Friday afternoon (it's a 2:30 pm scheduled tip off).

Siena is a #13 seed and Purdue a #4, so it might seem that Boilermakers have this in hand. But the #1 and #2 seeds probably aside, no team in safe in the NCAA tournament. Example: #13 seed Murray State knocked off #4 seed Vanderbilt on Thursday in the West bracket.

So, what are the Saints' chances? Let's break it down...

(there's more)

It's Siena vs. Purdue

siena_sports_logo.jpgUpdate: Here's a breakdown of the matchup -- by stats, experts, the masses and Vegas

The NCAA basketball tournament brackets were released Sunday evening -- and Siena is headed west. Way west.

The Saints got the #13 seed in the South bracket (they were a #9 seed last year). They'll face #4 seed Purdue on Friday in Spokane, Washington.

Purdue is 27-5 this season -- and shared the regular season title in the Big Ten. The Boilermakers had been in the running for a top seed until Robbie Hummel, probably their best player, hurt his knee at the end of February. (He's out for the season.) They haven't looked so great since.

What about Syracuse? The Orange got the #1 seed in the West bracket. They'll face #16 seed Vermont on Friday in Buffalo. Yep, Vermont. Payback is in order.

Siena plays for NCAA spot tonight

ronald moore

Ronald Moore and the Saints are playing their third-straight NCAA tournament spot.

The whole season for the Siena's men's basketball team has been pointing to tonight's MAAC tournament championship game. With a win, the Saints are headed to the NCAA tournament.

This year's team is one of the best ever at Siena. It features the conference player of the year (Alex Franklin), along with two other first-teamers (Ronald Moore and Ryan Rossiter), a second-teamer (Edwin Ubiles) and a third-teamer (Clarence Jackson). The Saints only lost one game during conference play. Moore continues to lead Division 1 in assists/game. And the Saints have won 37 straight games at the TU Center.

Siena faces Fairfield, the MAAC tournament's #2 seed, tonight. The Saints have already beaten the Stags twice -- 81-73 at Fairfield and 69-67 at the TU Center in early February.

The game starts at 7 pm. It's on ESPN2.

photo: MAAC Sports

Dodgeball tournament at the Wash Ave Armory

albany dodgeball

This could be fun: ASAP and the ASAP Daisies are sponsoring a day-long dodgeball tournament at the Washington Ave Armory on March 6 (ASAP already sponsors a weekly dodgeball game there on Thursday nights). From the details posted on the Albany Dodgeball site:

There is no limit on teams entered, however each rush must consist of 8 players, and must be mixed sex. Team size not to exceed 10. NDL center line rules, pinching allowed, all 8.5" balls. Completely reffed, completely awesome.
All teams will play for roughly similar amounts of time and there will be no eliminations until the final bracket. So expect to play lots.

(We hope the part about pinching is dodgeball jargon.)

The entry fee is $250 per team. Teams that register before February 26 get t-shirts, medals and tickets for the Lark Street "pup crawl" that the Daisies are holding later that day (it's a pub crawl that benefits the Homeward Bound dog rescue). The top three teams get trophies and there will also be individual awards.

photo: Sebastien B

An ode to Siena's maestro

ronald moore

"Undersized" -- but he's a big-time player.

Siena point guard Ronald Moore got some well-deserved national attention yesterday in a NYT profile. The piece has some interesting bits -- about how Siena was able to land Moore; and what he said to Rick Pitino during last year's second round game in the NCAA tournament.

Moore is a remarkable player in that he may very well be the MVP of this year's excellent Saints team -- and yet he's only their fifth leading scorer. But he contributes in other ways. Moore leads the nation in assists per game -- he also controls the tempo of the game and keeps teams from pressuring the Saints.

As Ed pointed out recently, Siena is having a great season -- even by the standards of the last few years. It has a 14 game win streak going, most recently an 88-68 victory over Iona -- the second-place team in the MAAC. The Saints continue to get votes in the AP Top 25 poll. And they'll take on #18 Butler in the showcase "Bracket Buster" game on ESPN later this month.

Siena faces Fairfield tonight at the TU Center at 7 pm. The game will also be on MSG (ch 73).

[Thanks, Rob!]

photo: MAAC Sports

MMA legalization smacked in poll

Thumbnail image for ufc.jpgA Marist poll out late last week reports that 68 percent of the registered voters it surveyed were against legalizing ultimate fighting in New York State. Twenty-nine percent were in favor.

That split held more-or-less true across the political ideology, geographic region and income (Republicans and upstaters favored legalization a little bit more). The split was more even when sorted by age: 50/50 for 18-29 and 54/43 against for 30-44.

David Paterson's proposed budget includes a measure that would legalize ultimate fighting (or mixed martial arts, as it's also known) -- though the plan projects the revenue generated to be modest.

Here's the wording of the Marist poll question, which describes the sport. Kevin Marshall, an MMA fan, says the question was "a wildly misleading choice of words."

By the way: A promoter of the cage fight at Washington Ave Armory Friday night said the event was a step toward ultimate fighting. The fight had originally been scheduled for the SEFCU Arena -- but UAlbany canceled after there were concerns it was an illegal MMA event. [Daily Gazette $] [@albstudentpress]

photo: Flickr user Lee Brimelow

Sports leagues for adults?

volleyball setAsks Andrew via email:

I went to school at RPI and while there I was I was active in intramural sports. I graduated last year and since then have been working in CT. Due to the way my job works I can move every 6 months and now I am coming back up to the Albany and I am trying to find adult sports leagues that I could join.
I am particularly interested in volleyball and not necessarily in super competitive leagues, but I am really interested in any adult sports that I could look into. I plan on looking in the YMCA when I get up there but was curious if anyone on the site had some recommendations on adult sports since a google search hasn't show much?

There have to be leagues out there. Anyone know of any? Share, please!

See 'ya, Rowdy?

river rats logoIt looks like the Albany River Rats may be headed to North Carolina. Incidentally, it's not because they've retired from working for the state and they just can't take the winters any more.

The Charlotte News and Observer reported today that the Rats have been sold and will move to Charlotte (the team is an affiliate of the NHL's Carolina Hurricanes). The team's president told the TU that owner Walter Robb is "looking at number of different options in terms of affiliations and future of the franchise."

The Rats have averaged 3,483 fans at their 25 homes games this season at the TU Center. That's fifth worst in the AHL.

Old school

This looks like fun: the RPI hockey team practiced outside yesterday on the frozen pond in Cohoes' Van Schaick Park.

The Engineers are at #13 Union this Saturday at 7 pm.

[via CapNews9]

Curling in the Capital Region


Sweep! Sweep! Sweep!

By Jessica Pasko

The Winter Olympics are coming, and you know what that means. It's curling season! You know brooms and ice and -- well, actually, that's about all I knew about curling. And while Stephen Colbert's curling attempts looked amusing, I figured that probably wasn't the best representation.

So I checked in with the Albany Curling Club for a closer look.

Yes. Albany has a curling club.

(there's more)

Siena vs. UAlbany this weekend

edwin_ubiles.jpgThe Siena/UAlbany basketball game is this Saturday. It's probably the biggest sporting event of the year in the Capital Region, aside from the Travers. Pete Iorizzo reports that a bunch of tickets have already been sold -- and the total could top 14,000.

Both teams are coming off losses in the south. Siena fell 74-61 to Georgia Tech in Atlanta this past Wednesday. UAlbany lost at Florida Atlantic 81-65.

Siena, which has been a favorite of hoops pundits this year, would seem to have the clear the advantage in this game. But the Saints might not have Edwin Ubilies (that's him on the right) in the lineup -- he's one of their best players.

Tip-off time for the men's game is 7:30 pm at the TU Center. Robert Lee and Tom Huerter will have the call on Talk 1300.

Also: Pearl Street will be closed from 3-10 pm from Beaver St to Hudson for the game (that's the block right in front of the TU Center).

Siena tips off tonight

siena_sports_logo.jpgThe Siena men's basketball team opens its regular season tonight on the road at Tennessee State (in Nashville).

This could be a big year for the Saints. They return four starters from last year's team, which reached the second round of the NCAA tournament (for the second straight year). They were the #1 team in the MAAC pre-season poll, with two players on the conference first team. And the Saints have been so good over the last few years that "major" schools are now reluctant to play them.

You can catch the play-by-play of tonight's game on Talk 1300 at 7 pm, pre-game at 6 pm. (The TU had a Q&A today with Robert Lee, the Saints play-by-play announcer.) And the Recovery Room in Troy will be showing a live video feed from the game.

Can the Great Danes be dolphin-like?

ualbany logo purpleThe UAlbany men's basketball team tips off its regular season tonight against Syracuse at the Carrier Dome. The game will be on ESPNU at 9 pm (that's channel 606 on Time Warner digital).

Obviously, this a is a big game for the Great Danes -- it's not every day they play a high-profile team like the Orange. But it could also be a big game for SU. Coach Jim Boeheim has 799 wins in coaching career. Could UAlbany be #800?

It might seem like a done deal. Syracuse is ranked in/near the Top 25. But the Orange lost a bunch of good players from last year's team -- including point guard Jonny Flynn, who was picked #6 overall in this year's NBA draft. And Syracuse just lost an exhibition game to the mighty Dolphins of Division II LeMoyne. So you never know.

Update: Or sometimes you do. The Orange ran away with it, 75-43.

By the way: The Siena men's hoops team opens its season at Tennessee State Friday night.

Ask AOA: best bars to watch sports

hockey night in canadaE.J. emails:

My Canadian friend and I are interested in watching the season opener Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Montreal Canadiens game Thursday night, but we can't figure out what sports bars actually show hockey in the Albany area. Before I go ahead and call every sports bar in Albany is there anyone who knows of a hockey-friendly bar in the area?

We hope someone has ideas for E.J.'s hockey question -- but we're also going to widen this one a bit and ask about the best bars/restaurants to catch a game.

A suggestion to start: While we're not exactly a fan of the food, the Recovery Room in Albany has an absurd number of TVs.

It's up... and good!

Check it out: a guy named Ed Larkin kicked a 50-yard field goal at halftime of the Union football game this past weekend -- and won a two year lease on a BMW:

Larkin is apparently a former Union linebacker who graduated in 2005.

And, oh right, the game -- Union, which plays in Division III, beat #8 Ithaca 24-21. The Dutchmen are now ranked #22 in D3.

(Thanks, G!)

Who's afraid of the Saints?

edwin_ubiles.jpgSiena's men's basketball team has gotten so good that big-time schools are now afraid to play them. From ESPN's Andy Katz:

Saints coach Fran McCaffery has won two straight NCAA first-round games against Vanderbilt and Ohio State. So, of course, he would have no problem securing more big-time nonconference games, right? Wrong. Even though the Saints are exactly the team a "big six" conference foe should play, they struggled throughout the offseason to get games. But the Saints return leading scorer Edwin Ubiles and sharpshooter Ronald Moore and that's enough to scare most opponents away from scheduling them.

In the weird calculus of college basketball, a loss or close win against a good "mid-major" team such as Siena is somehow much worse than absolutely dominating a cream puff. So it goes. The Saints will have just have to save their giant killing for March.

By the way: Katz has Siena in his pre-season Top 25 at #20.

Siena opens its season November 13 on the road at Tennessee State (see the part about big-name schools above).

[via @peteiorizzo and @SienaSaintsBlog]

photo: Siena

Slamming the state budget gap

ufc.jpgWith New York State facing another midyear budget gap, Jimmy Vielkind reports that a Bronx assemblyman is floating the idea that mixed martial arts bouts could generate new tax revenue for the state.

MMA is currently banned in New York, but there have been recent efforts to legalize it. One of the biggest opponents of allowing the bouts is Colonie assemblyman Bob Reilly -- which hasn't made him popular with the octagon crowd.

photo: Flickr user Lee Brimelow

At the Freihofer's finish

Freihofers finish 2009

Teyba Erkesso, this year's winner, as she approaches the finish line.

Sebastien has posted a photoset from this past weekend's Freihofer's Run for Women (slideshow). The set includes a bunch of great expressions from the finish line.

Ethiopia's Teyba Erkesso won this year's 5k with a time of 15:27. More than 4,000 people started this year's race.

photo: Sebastien B

Albany Ultimate

albany ultimate

It could be a fun way to stretch yourself.

Here's something that might be fun to do this summer: the Albany Ultimate Frisbee Association is holding sign-ups for its summer leagues. From Peter, who's a member:

The league is always looking to build its ranks and this year to further that goal a recreational league has been formed as an outlet for new players to get into the sport and not be overwhelmed by higher level players.

The Albany area ultimate scene is very vibrant with a strong core of college and older players. The scene includes GE employees and curators at the State Museum. Players come from Saratoga and as far south as Columbia and Greene counties.

The summer league games are held in Collins Circle on the UAlbany uptown campus. The season starts the first week of June. It's $30 to join a league.

Earlier on AOA:
+ Ask AOA: pick-up soccer

photo: Vijay Paruchuru

The impromptu roller derby name contest

hellions logoWe held an impromptu competition on Twitter Friday afternoon to see who could come up with the best roller derby name.* The winner got two tickets to this past weekend's Hellions of Troy bout, which the Hellions won 165-143.

There were a lot of great entries...

(there's more)

Officials expect statewide spread of swine flu, Murphy to be sworn in, Vick offer "a big mistake," paid parking proposal for Saratoga, ice cream truck pulls crazy U-ee

State health commissioner Richard Daines says he expects swine flu to eventually spread to every part of the state -- and DoH is already testing suspected cases in a handful of upstate counties. There have been 45 confirmed cases in New York State so far -- all of them in NYC. Said David Paterson yesterday: "This not time for alarm, but it's time to be alert." [WXXI] [TU]

State budget director Laura Anglin says this year's budget is on track to stay even -- if the planned state worker job cuts go through. The next few years aren't looking good, though. [NYS DoB] [TU] [NYT]

About 8,700 state worker job cuts, the Division of the Budget says it's still reviewing plans submitted by various agencies. [TU]

Scott Murphy is scheduled to be sworn in today at the US Capitol. [Daily Gazette]

The Albany Firebirds say the team's contract offer to Michael Vick was a marketing ploy -- and, in the words of the team's owner, "a big mistake."

(there's more)

Firebirds throw a bomb

vick dog chew

Luckily for the Firebirds, dogs don't buy season tickets.

Updated Wednesday morning

The Firebirds owner says the offer was "a big mistake."

Updated at 1:55 pm

The Albany Firebirds -- yep, the once and now-again minor league arena football team -- have announced that they're offering Michael Vick a contract. If you don't follow sports, Michael Vick is the former NFL quarterback who went to prison after he pleaded guilty to being involved with dog fighting.

So, um, he has baggage. But everyone deserves a second chance, right? Especially if you're 0-5. From the Firebirds press release (emphasis added):

"At the start of the season we'd made the decision as an organization not to pursue Michael," said General Manager Garen Szablewski. "However, in light of the team's recent struggles, we were forced to re-examine the issue. After days of heated debate within the front office, we put together an offer that made everyone comfortable with the idea of singing [sic] him."

The Firebirds are trying to cover themselves by including a clause in the contract that requires Vick to give $100,000 to the Mohawk and Hudson River Humane Society.

(there's more)

Hellions of Troy to throw down in Frear Park

hellions logoThe Hellions of Troy roller derby league announced today that they'll be derbying in Frear Park hockey facility in Troy this summer.

The Hellions' first bout will be a "Who's Your Momma?" matchup against The Utica Roller Girls May 9. The full season schedule is after the jump.

(there's more)

CDTA hearts the Saints


Next stop, sweet sixteen?

Even the folks at CDTA have Siena on the brain this weekend. We snapped this shot of the number 4 bus, but after driving around, it looks like all the CDTA buses are giving a shout out to the Saints.

Is that what helped them pull out their overtime victory on Friday night? Probably not. But hey--couldn't hurt.

Tip off time for today's game is 5:20.

Go Saints!

What are Siena's chances?

siena vs osu


Siena plays the Ohio State in the first round of the NCAA basketball tournament Friday night (around 9:40 pm, though probably later).

The Buckeyes and the Saints are seeded #8 and #9 respectively in their bracket. Theoretically, 8/9 games are the most evenly matched games of the first round.

So what are Siena's chances of winning? It depends on how you look at it.

(there's more)

Siena's number is 9

ronald moore

Ronald Moore and the Saints are headed to Ohio.

Siena's men's basketball team got a #9 seed in the NCAA tournament. The Saints will play #8 seed Ohio State in Dayton, Ohio on Friday.

That #9 seed is a remarkably high seeding for a team from Siena's conference -- and it's the highest seed the team has gotten in its five trips to the tournament. But in a weird way, it's a tough draw for the Saints. If they're able to beat OSU (which is very possible), they'll almost certainly face #1 seed Louisville in the second round. Not only is Louiville a one seed, it's also the highest seeded team in the whole tournament.

The Saints are scheduled to tip off their first round game around 9:40 Friday night.

photo: MAAC Sports

Siena thisclose to the NCAA tournament

ronald moore

Siena point guard Ronald Moore

The Siena men's basketball team is playing for a spot in the NCAA tournament tonight in the MAAC final at the TU Center. The Saints, who won the regular season MAAC title, take on Niagara, which was the regular season runner up.

If you want to see some genuinely happy people, watch the game tonight on ESPN2 (it starts at 9 pm). For "mid-major" schools such as Siena, winning the conference tournament and going to the NCAA tournament is like winning the Super Bowl.

Siena's had a great season and it's the favorite tonight. Here are a few subplots for tonight's game:

(there's more)

Look out for the Saints

edwin_ubiles.jpgSports Illustrated's Seth Davis on Siena's basketball team:

Siena may have fallen off the radar after the Saints lost all three of their games at the Old Spice Classic in Orlando in November, but now they have won 12 of their last 13, they're undefeated in the MAAC and they're ranked 20th in the RPI. No team will want to see its name pop up next to Siena's on Selection Sunday.

For the Saints to get a spot on Selection Sunday, they'll probably still have to win the MAAC tournament (even with that RPI ranking, an at-large bid will be hard to snag). It starts March 5 at the TU Center here in Albany.

Arrest in 40-year-old murder case, AMD hopes for June start on fab construction, subpoena debated for "ghost tickets" scandal, buzzer sounds early on Patroons' season

State police have arrested a man for an alleged murder from 40 years ago. Investigators say Nelson Costello murdered David Bacon over a woman. Costello, who most recently has been living in Arizona, was a part-time cop in the Town of Waterford in 1969. Bacon's disappearance had been deemed a missing persons case four decades ago. Officials haven't said what led them to treat the case as a murder, but they say they will probably release details later this week. [Daily Gazette] [TU] [Troy Record]

The state's political leaders are lining up to push for a high-speed rail line connecting cities along the old Erie Canal. [TU]

Former Schenectady police chief Greg Kaczmarek was sentenced to two years in prison yesterday for his involvement with a drug ring. Kaczmarek's wife, Lisa, was also sentenced yesterday -- she got six months. That sentence has drawn criticism for being too light, but Judge Karen Drago told Lisa Kaczmarek, "your culpability with respect to getting illegal drugs on the street was far less than your co-defendants." The busting of the organization has led to convictions for 24 people. [TU] [Daily Gazette] [TU]

AMD says it wants to start clearing the land for the Luther Forest chip fab in March and start construction in June. But first its board has to approve the spin-off of the company that will actually own the fab. [TU] [Daily Gazette]

(there's more)

Jamming since the beginning

Roller_derby.jpgThere was a piece in NYT Mag this past weekend about the resurgence of roller derby. It includes backstory on the sport's colorful revival in Austin, Texas earlier this decade. Any of this sound familiar?

Soon after, most of the rank and file, bristling at the undemocratic tendencies of the self-appointed leaders, left to start their own league in which each skater would have a say. The new skater-owned organization became the model for women-only amateur leagues across the country, and in 2004 the Women's Flat Track Derby Association was founded with the motto "By the Skaters, for the Skaters."

As new leagues formed, bawdy hijinks were emphasized -- "pillow fights in the penalty box and fake fighting," according to Dakota Prosch (Kola Loka), who skates for the Windy City Rollers. "That's what got butts in the seats," says Colleen Bell (Crackerjack), the president of W.F.T.D.A. But the skaters quickly discovered that they were more interested in competition than in theater, and that the game itself drew fans. "I remember a bout in 2005 with live music, where for the first time fans left when the concert started and not the other way around," says Emily Langmade (Fisti Cuffs) of the Gotham Girls.

The local Hellions of Troy, who formed last year after a dispute with the Albany All Stars over some of these same issues (they've since found peace), are working toward becoming members of the WFTDA.

The Hellions are back in action February 15 at the Fun Spot in Queensbury. And on February 21, the Empire Skate Troopers take on the Montreal Roller Derby at the Washington Ave Armory in Albany.

photo: Sebastien B

Cops crack down on another Albany HS brawl, NYRA bankruptcy ending, airport asks if you're experienced, Alive at Five alcohol ban proposed, something stinks at Yaddo

There was another throwdown among Albany High School students yesterday along Quail Street. The cops were waiting this time -- with pepper spray, batons and horses. It looked like a crazy scene. (AOA's gotten email from witnesses that this is the third time this week these fights have erupted.) So what's going on? "It's a little bit of everything," one teen told the TU. [CBS6] [CBS6] [TU]

It looks like NYRA will emerge from bankruptcy today. New York State will be giving the racing org $105 million in return for the deeds to the Saratoga, Belmont and Aqueduct tracks. [Saratogian] [TU]

There's a new color-coded security line set-up at the airport, with separate lanes for families, "casual" travelers and "expert" travelers. The sorting is supposed to help move people through the security line faster. [Daily Gazette] [TU]

Remember that big steroids investigation being prosecuted by David Soares and Albany County prosecutors? Seventeen people have pled guilty in that investigation, but yesterday a judge tossed the indictments of five people at the center of the drug ring. [TU]

(there's more)

Bark in the Park


Otto, AOA's office dog, touring the Joe earlier this summer.

The ValleyCats' season is almost over, but not before it goes to the dogs (ouch). This Saturday's game against the Vermont Lake Monsters is the annual Bark in the Park night, which means dogs are welcome at the game.

After a summer of playing fetch, your dog might like the opportunity to sit back and watch humans chase the ball for a change. (And a hot dog probably wouldn't be turned down, either.)

First pitch is 7 pm.

Andrew Catalon knows more about team handball than you do

Andrew Catalon

Andrew's gotta be one of the nicest guys in TV.

The Summer Olympics started today in China. And, of course, that means wall-to-wall TV coverage. One of the people behind the mic for some of the games will be Andrew Catalon, the weekend sports anchor at Channel 13 here in the Capital Region. We bounced a few questions his way last week.

How'd you get hooked up with this Olympics gig?

I did a curling show for NBC Sports in December. And they called me up a couple months ago and said, "Listen, we have an opportunity for you to do some Olympics stuff if you're interested." And I jumped at it -- it's a great opportunity.

(there's more)

David Tyree, Super Bowl hero and temporary A-Towner

David Tyree

For whatever reason, things just seem to stick to his head.

If you didn't see it, you've probably heard about David Tyree's catch during the last Super Bowl. It's the one where the ball looked like it just stuck to his helmet. Some people are calling it the best play in Super Bowl history -- and it's one of the reasons the Giants were able to beat the Patriots.

But the new season is about to start and that means it's back to work... in Albany. Tyree and the rest of the Giants are in town for a month to train for the upcoming season. He took a few minutes away from practice (lunch, actually) at U-Albany to talk with AOA about what it's like to be a temporary A-Towner...

Since the Super Bowl, do you go around introducing yourself as David Tyree, Super Bowl Hero?

No, no, I definitely don't. It's never been my character -- never will be. Sometimes I have a hard time -- as much as I love a free meal, sometimes I think I should use this thing more often but I have a hard time doing that.

(there's more)

The Buzz about Serena and Anna

nybuzz_logo.pngSerena Williams will be in town next Wednesday for a World Team Tennis match at the Washington Ave Armory, the new home of the NY Buzz (they had previously played in Schenectady's Central Park). And with a few breaks (tennis joke), Serena could very well be the new Wimbledon champ by next week.

The other big star on this year's Buzz schedule is Anna Kournikova. She'll be here July 22. Tickets aren't cheap for either match ($39, $49, $59). But if you're thinking you'd like to see both of them play, you might consider just buying a season pass to the Buzz. It's $99 for every game, which is only $20 less more than tickets to see the two stars.

Jerry Jennings bobblehead night

Jerry Jennings bobbleheadIt's "Albany Night" at the ValleyCats game tonight and the first 1,500 people through the turnstiles will get their very own Jerry Jennings bobblehead.

But before you go running to line up at The Joe, you must know that the verisimilitude* of the Jennings bobblehead has been called into question. Judging from the image we've seen, Bobblehead Jerry is perhaps a bit more trim than the real thing. And apparently his eyes are the wrong color.

When confronted about the differences by Capital News 9 (the video's not online), here's what ValleyCats assistant GM Vic Christopher said: "The man is larger than life. How do you capture a personality like Jerry Jennings in a 7-inch ceramic doll?"

Well, we're guessing you start by picking a shade of orange.

*yes, this is most likely the only time "verisimilitude" will ever be used on AOA

image: Tri-City ValleyCats

Bobble, bobble, bobble

When people from out of town ask us what the Capital Region's like, we sometimes have a little trouble. "Oh, you know, it's... well... the state's a big presence... and... umm... the summers are usually nice... " and so we continue mumbling. It's not that there aren't interesting things to mention. We just have a little trouble capturing the essence of the place in a sentence.

A quote in today's Daily Gazette might have given us just the line to use when people ask the next time. In a story about a ValleyCats promotion that involves bobbleheads of Jerry Jennings, Harry Tutunjian and Brian Stratton, the minor league baseball team's general manager noted how well a Joe Bruno bobblehead (insert your own joke here) night did two years ago. "Politicans do better than athletes around here," Rick Murphy told the Gazette.

And after we read that quote, we thought, "Yeah, that sounds about right."

Smackdown at the capitol


Coming to an arena near you?

Arm twisting is nothing new at the state capitol, but yesterday they brought in some real experts. Reps from the Ultimate Fighting Championship were in town to lobby state legislators to lift a ban on the sport. New York is currently the only state that bans the fights -- in large part it seems because George Pataki found them distasteful.

But the UFC people were ready this time with a bunch of killer rhetorical moves:

(there's more)

Housing market stable, pork off-limits, manhole cover mystery continues, dramas over water and hot dogs, warm weather beats Rats like a rented goalie

The median sale price for houses in the Capital Region rose in March compared to the same period last year. The number of sales was way down, though. [TU]

Even as the state goes looking through the couch cushions for extra cash, the money assigned to legislative member items -- you know, pork -- is still off limits. [TU]

National Grid still isn't sure what caused the manhole-cover-shooting underground explosion in Troy. [CapNews9]

A full-on political soap opera has emerged among Clifton Park Republicans over... the water board. [TU]

Speaking of melodrama... Saratoga Springs is watching one of it own. The center piece of this plot: hot dogs. [Saratogian]

The city of Schenectady says it can't afford a Big Brother, so one resident says he'll do it for free. [Daily Gazette]

Seniors riding scooters and their "accident-prone" behaviors have prompted Saratoga officials to get the word out about safer scootering. Among the tips: slow down, don't scooter while sleepy. [Daily Gazette]

In a face off with sunshine and warm weather, it seems the River Rats lose almost every time. [TU]

Siena vs. Vanderbilt fast break

Siena and Vanderbilt logos


Here are few details and tidbits to get you up to speed before the Saints' NCAA tournament game tonight.

(Tip time is scheduled for 7:10 pm. CBS6 will have the game on TV.)

(there's more)

Does Siena have a chance Friday against Vandy?

Edwin UbilesWell, it depends on whom you ask. Are you a wisdom-of-the-crowds kind of person, or do you put your trust in the experts? Because there's some disagreement about the Saints' chances.

(there's more)

MAAC Tournament fast break

This weekend at the TU Center, the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference -- that's Siena's conference -- is holding its tournament to decide who's headed to the NCAA basketball tournament. This is a huge event for mid-major teams like Siena because a spot in "The Dance" would be a career highlight for pretty much everyone involved with the team -- not to mention the publicity it earns for the school.

But, what? You haven't been following the MAAC regular season? Worry not. We'll get you in the game. So when you're co-worker says something like "How about Edwin Ubiles last night!" (that's Edwin to the right), you'll be able to grab the ball and take the conversation the other way. We got the scoop from our good friend Robert Lee, voice of the Siena Saints...

(there's more)

Freaking out at RPI: an interview with Puckman

RPI's Puckman

Doesn't he ever get sick of being slapped around?

Tomorrow is RPI's 31st annual Big Red Freakout. So on the eve of the institute's biggest hockey game of the year, AOA got an exclusive interview with the RPI mascot, Puckman.

(there's more)

Rules of etiquette for RPI hockey

It's not that RPI hockey fans are very intense about their sport, it's just that RPI hockey fans are VERY intense about their sport. Engineers fans have lots of important rules and traditions for spectators.

You don't necessarily NEED to know all of those rules and traditions to enjoy an RPI hockey game, but if you don't, you may find yourself looking around going, "WTF?" So here's a primer on how to fit in at tomorrow's Big Red Freakout, or any RPI hockey game:

- Wear red

-During the national anthem, yell out the word RED (you know, at the rockets red glare part).

- No matter who's playing , Clarkson still sucks.

- When the phone rings in the press box yell "Phone!"

- When the other team is introduced yell, "You suck!" after every player is announced, and "You suck too!" after the coach is announced.

- When the other team gets penalties: interrupt by screaming "Sucking" and "Sucks" after they announce the players name: "Number 23 John Doe [SUCKS!], has received a 2 minute penalty for [SUCKING!]"

- If anyone asks, "Clarkson still sucks!"

- After every RPI goal be sure to chant, "1, 2, 3, 4, ... , (N) we want more! Sieve, Sieve, Sieve!" where (N) is the new RPI score. (This is an engineering school, of course there's an equation involved.)

- And when there's one minute left be sure and yell: "One minute left, and Clarkson still sucks!"

The Scoop

For a decade All Over Albany was a place for interested and interesting people in New York's Capital Region. It was kind of like having a smart, savvy friend who could help you find out what's up. AOA stopped publishing at the end of 2018.

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