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Time for some `Dog Days' thoughts

POSTED July 10, 2016
BY Rick Wilson
Twitter: @scribewilson

            A few days in Baltimore to catch the Orioles, 4th of July at the Jersey shore and a few thoughts as we rapidly head into the dog days of summer.

            *Win Cheske was a big man with a big heart. At 6-foot-5, his size commanded a room but if the large frame caught your attention the way he coached demanded your respect. Long-time head softball coach at Wilby and assistant football coach at Kennedy, Cheske died last week at the age of 68 after suffering a stroke.

            It was all about the players with Cheske not the wins and losses. At Wilby if all you ever did was watch the scoreboard, it was excruciating at times. What you really needed to do was watch Cheske.

At one time the Wildcats lost 100 in a row. Cheske never blinked. He taught, he supported he urged. Numbers didn’t matter, the experience did. I covered the end of the streak. Nobody was happier than Cheske. Just because his players could experience the other side for once. But if the Wildcats hadn’t ended the streak the day it wouldn’t have mattered. He would have gone on teaching, consoling, pushing and caring.

Cheske was about people and the area sports scene is much lesser with his passing. There is an empty spot.

*Still say there is no better place to watch a game than Camden Yards. Ten rows off of third base, $70. Boog Powell was out selling his pork sandwiches on Eutaw Street, the place has charm and Orioles are decent. Five hours from here. Get on line, get some tickets and give it a go when your team is in. You won’t regret it.

*Hats off to the CIAC for its continuing efforts to level the playing field in boys basketball. In case you have been lost in sand in surf the last 10 days or so, new changes have come to the boys basketball tournament. Classes LL, L, M, S based on enrollment have been replaced on a one-year trial basis to Divisions I, II, III, IV.

Teams will no longer be based solely on enrollment and recent tournament runs. A committee of six will have the power to move teams where they deem they fit. About time. All the divisions have been picked for the upcoming season but the list will not be released until the plan receives approval from the athletic directors and then the CIAC Board of Control.

The issue has never been with the technical or vo-ag schools, also deemed `schools of choice.’ This is about the catholic, magnet and charter schools that recruit creating a very off-balance playing field.

I have always been a firm believer that those schools should never be in Class S and after that you can start the debate. This idea appears to have merit. Let’s see what happens.

*The Connecticut Charmers fast-pitch softball team has a pitching staff that includes two-time Connecticut Gatorade Player of the Year, Caroline Taber of Class L champion Fitch, Raeanne Geffert of Class M champion Seymour and Sarah Lawton of Class S champion Holy Cross. Does anybody ever get a hit against them?

*Along the same lines, I was reading some deserved glowing comments about the Princeton-bound Taber who is the whole package on and off the field just like Geffert. Which all brings me back to Danielle Liska.

When you talk about the best you had better include perfection. Liska (2006) was 50-0 for Seymour and pitched back-to-back perfect games in the Class M semifinals and championship in 2006. Yep, perfect games.  And let’s not forget the brilliant Rachel Fico of Masuk (26 perfect games, 47 no-hitters) maybe the state’s best ever. Oxford’s Ashley Guillette wasn’t too bad either.

*Up to Bethel Woods Saturday night to watch Steely Dan and Steve Winwood. Great concert and if you haven’t been to Bethel Woods (Woodstock – site of the original legendary festival) do yourself a favor and go. One of the best venues going. Affordable, pristine with a great 60s museum. Heck, wear a flower in your hair if it makes you feel groovy. Wide range of acts, too. Saw Journey, Doobie Brothers and Dave Mason a couple of weeks ago and it was outstanding.

*Kevin Durant can go where he wants and he did – to an already packed Golden State team.  His choice and he’s entitled to that but let’s not argue with the fact that he took the path of least resistance.  Talent and chemistry are too different things. It will be interesting to see how the chemistry part works out.

*Watching my son Jonathan play Connie Mack against Torrington recently and had a chance to talk to Torrington coach Bill Heintz for the first time in quite a few years. There has been no more familiar site on a summer baseball night that Heintz over the past 35 years.  That’s a lot of commitment to the players of Torrington and to the league which he has run for so many years.  Good to see you Bill.

*All hail Serna. Chrissy, Martina, Steffi, Billy Jean, Margaret Court – all have their place in tennis history. And now that is behind Serena Williams. The career speaks for itself. And she is still going.

*While we are at it, all hail David Ortiz. Love him or hate him, what he has done the first half of the baseball season is remarkable.

*Nobody was beaming more recently than Donnie Dennis who works the pro shop at Fairview Farms Golf Course in Harwinton when not exhibiting a pretty good golf game of his own. ESPN held an event at Fairview and one of the guests was Jim Kaat, former major league hurler for five teams and popular announcer. Kaat hung out with Donnie for a while in the pro shop, talked highly of San Franciso Giants manager Bruce Bochy and chatted for about a half hour. How much fun is that.  

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