Andy Kirkaldy: Tigers enjoyed rare advantage; N.Y. over Boston

Time for a couple thoughts appropriate for the season. (Late winter? Early spring? March Madness?)
One of the arguments I have made to the Vermont Principals’ Association (fruitlessly) over the years in favor of having a smaller athletic Division I for Vermont High Schools is that about 10 or 12 of the big schools have not only an enrollment advantage over the smaller D-I schools, but better access to facilities and clubs.
Think of the Shelburne Field House in Chittenden County, or all of the AAU basketball teams and soccer clubs based in Vermont’s largest county, home to more than half the state’s largest high schools, plus another that recruits shamelessly.
Well, now we have found a sport in which one of the smallest D-I schools, Middlebury, actually enjoys a similar advantage: Nordic skiing.
The Tiger Nordic teams have gone back-to-back winning state titles, albeit in D-II. Their performances this year actually outpaced those of larger D-I schools such as Mount Mansfield and Champlain Valley.
Why? Rikert Nordic Center, now with Vermont’s best snowmaking capability, is a 20-minute drive from MUHS, and the Frost Mountain Nordic Ski Club is excelling at interesting young skiers in the sport and developing their abilities.
Well, what do you know? Facilities and clubs can help teams.
Of course, D-II Nordic runner-up U-32 was in no position to complain. The school’s girls’ basketball team made the short drive to the Barre Auditorium (for the third straight year) to get defeated by Mount Abe in Saturday’s semifinal even though the Raiders also reportedly (by the Barre Times-Argus) practiced in the Aud before the semifinal. Things that make you go hmmmm. Are you out there, VPA?
Barre and Montpelier basketball teams have always had an advantage at the Aud, just like Chittenden County hoop, lacrosse and field hockey teams always have the edge once they reach the final four at UVM’s court and fields.
Anyway, it was great to have the Tiger skiers win, and, on the side, I was happy to see my point reinforced.
Secondly, in a short couple weeks the Major League Baseball season will begin, as hard as it is to believe with another foot of snow falling in the third storm of the month. Our snowplow guy has no trouble affording his Molson Ale this winter.
It’s fashionable to pick the Yankees to romp in the AL East. Being a pillar of fashion (Merrells, jeans and hoodies? I’m in.) I have to agree.
Skeptics point to the Yankees’ starting rotation, but there are no real issues: Luis Severino emerged as an ace last year, Masahiro Tanaka settled in after a poor start, Sonny Gray is better than average, CC Sabathia has reinvented himself as a control pitcher, and Jordan Montgomery had good numbers as a rookie.
Tanaka’s elbow and Sabathia’s age are question marks, but compare that to the Red Sox with three starters projected to start the season on the disabled list — Drew Pomeranz, Eduardo Rodriguez and Steven Wright — and a fourth, David Price, with an elbow as uncertain as Tanaka’s.
Meanwhile, no one debates whether the Yankee bullpen is better than Boston’s. And even with the welcome addition of JD Martinez and expected bounce-backs from Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley and Xander Bogaerts it’s hard to see how the Sox will keep pace with a Yankee offense led by Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Gary Sanchez and featuring solid players at all nine positions.
Boston will play good defense, and if their pitchers do get healthy the Sox should contend for a wild card. And if Sale and Price are rested and healthy the Sox could make a postseason run.
But the Yankees are a better bet than the Sox.
Defending World Series champion Houston, however, remains the best bet of all. If anything, the Astros got better after adding Gerrit Cole to their rotation and having Justin Verlander for a full year. Yikes.

Share this story:

More News
News Uncategorized

Fresh Air Fund youths returning to county

The Fresh Air Fund, initiated in 1877 to give kids from New York City the opportunity to e … (read more)

Obituaries Uncategorized

Mark A. Nelson of Bristol

BRISTOL — A memorial service for Mark A. Nelson of Bristol will be held 1 p.m. on Saturday … (read more)

Sports Uncategorized

High school athletes ready for fall playoffs this week

See when your favorite high school team is competing in the fall sports playoffs.

Share this story: