Flyers vs Rangers | Clement vs Stemkowski | Ep 33

Flyers vs Rangers | The cities are only 97 miles apart by car and they are joined at the hip by a fisted hockey glove.

The New York Rangers are one of the Original Six teams in the NHL. The Philadelphia Flyers are an expansion team. The Flyers were about to become the first expansion team to defeat an Original Six team in the playoffs.

1974 was the first time these teams met in the Stanley Cup playoffs. In the semifinals, they would go to a Game 7 before the Flyers could take the next step towards the Cup. It was a physically bruising series.

The Rangers were the veteran team used to winning in the early and mid-70’s. The Flyers were the Broad Street Bullies making their move towards recognition. Intimidation was a built-in mindset for this team on the rise.

Flyers vs Rangers | The Players

Bill Clement

Bill Clement wore the Flyers uniform for a team that he says had made a commitment not to be intimidated by anyone. He would have his name engraved on Lord Stanley’s Cup for the first of two times in this 1974 season.

Pete Stemkowski

Pete Stemkowski was in his fourth year of seven that he would play for the Rangers. A 14-year NHL veteran, he remembers well this 1974 playoff engagement with the Flyers and will explain the regrets he still has about the series.

Both Clement and Stemkowski will take you to the ice for the story of these teams in a playoff series that Stemkowski maintains was one of the best in NHL history.

They will tell you about the fight between Dave “The Hammer” Schultz and Ranger Dale Rolfe – a fight that Flyer coach Fred Shero said was the turning point in Game 7 won 4-3 by the Flyers.

Was it a planned strategic fight? Why did no Ranger come to the aid of Rolfe who was taking a beating from Schultz? Where were the Ranger enforcers? Were the Rangers really intimidated by these Broad Street Bullies?

Here are the stories, and what stories they are, of an NHL rivalry that’s as good as it gets – the Rangers and the Flyers – told by two men who wore the sweaters in this 1974 season.

Lace those skates and let’s get to the ice.

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Super Bowl TV | Gaudelli vs Zyontz | Ep 32

Super Bowl Producers | Imagine what it would be like to sit in the chair of the producer for a Super Bowl game, responsible for arguably the number one sports broadcast in the world. What is the night like leading up to the game? Do you sleep? Do you have superstitions? What is the moment like when the kickoff is one minute away?

Super Bowl Producers

Fred Gaudelli and Richie Zyontz have lived those moments, and are scheduled to live them again.

Fred Gaudelli

On this podcast you will hear them discuss with one another the answers to those questions, the lessons learned in Zyontz’s 40 years producing network sports and Gaudelli’s 31 years producing NFL prime time games, including 15 years of Sunday Night Football.

Richie Zyontz

John Madden

Both producers have learned by watching the other work and both have had the sheer joy and benefit of working closely with John Madden. The Madden stories are priceless and filled with respect and love.

John Madden

Listen to the wondrous moment Madden learned he had been elected to the NFL Hall of Fame and how that was shared in a most unusual setting.

These are men who have reached the pinnacle of success in producing television sports. Their rivalry is a shared respect for bringing to audiences the highest quality broadcast of the most watched event in sports.

Direct from the source, this is the television Super Bowl story from the men who sit center stage.

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RE-AIR: Coaches | Raftery vs Carlesimo | Ep 13

If you derive a headache from constantly smiling widely or laughing uncontrollably, you better have a bottle of aspirin at hand for this matchup of coaches.

Bill Raftery and P.J. Carlesimo have run the gamut of basketball coaching and broadcasting, from college to the NBA, from regional networks to the Final Four.

They were direct coaching rivals from 1976 to 1981 when Carlesimo was the head coach at Wagner College and Raftery was the same at Seton Hall. There were some wild games between the schools, including a New Year’s Eve game that went to double OT, and boy, do these two ever give you some memories about that game.

The Coaches

Raftery coached college ball from 1963 to 1981 and then went on to become one of the most popular TV commentators in a college basketball HOF career covering the last 33 years. His infectious laugh and sense of humor shine through in that job and it shines brightly in this podcast.

P.J. Carlesimo

Carlesimo began his coaching career in 1971, most notably putting Seton Hall on the basketball map between 1982-1994, arriving just one year at the Hall after Raftery left.

P.J. went on to head coach in the NBA with the Trail BlazersWarriors, and SuperSonics/Thunder.

In between the coaching stints, Carlesimo also joined the ranks of TV analysts with TNT, ESPN, and NBC.

The Rivalry

What was the relationship between these two as they coached against one another? Raftery will kick it off with one big smile, “I never liked P.J.,” and off we go!

There were the weekly press conferences in New York City and New Jersey that turned into Broadway productions with the likes of Jim ValvanoLou Carnesecca, and Tom Penders.

There were late-night feasts after games the likes of which may not exist today. There were antics and fireworks during the games that both coaches will regale you with.

Did priests really ref games? What about that picture of Raftery flying off the bench in midair parallel to the court? An endless needling by these two of one another continues here.

Joyful, insightful, unabashed, and unique are just some of the adjectives that describe what you will hear from two of basketball’s most delightful and knowledgeable individuals and coaches.

Prepare to smile.

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AFL | Flores vs Maguire | Ep 30

AFL | The friendship derived from a rivalry can be amazingly close and long lived. Such is the case with our two guests today. Their rivalry came in a league that no longer exists, but one that transformed professional football.

The American Football League (AFL) played for ten years beginning in 1960. The AFL competed so successfully with the NFL that it forced a merger in 1970.

AFL Players

Paul Maguire and Tom Flores are 2 of only 20 who played in the American Football League for its entire 10-year existence. Flores was a quarterback for the Bills and Raiders and is the 5th leading passer in AFL history.

Tom Flores

He went on to a highly successful coaching career in the NFL, leading the Raiders to two Super Bowl wins – 1980 and 1983.

Paul Maguire

Paul Maguire was a linebacker and punter for the Chargers and Bills in the AFL. He played in 6 of the 10 AFL Championship Games. Following his playing days, he became a nationally recognized network television broadcaster, a career that lasted 46 years.

Flores and Maguire met on the football field, but their friendship has taken them around the world.

Did they really meet at the bottom of a tackling pile-up? Did Flores maneuver his offense not around, but at Maguire?

Smile. This rivalry comes with a lot of stories embellished with laughter. Flores and Maguire were football rivals and their lifelong friendship only enhances those football memories. Fortunately for us, we get to listen in and share the joy derived from their passion for the game and the life that went beyond.

Celebrate rivalries. Celebrate friendship. Celebrate Paul Maguire and Tom Flores.

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RE-AIR: 1983 Sugar Bowl | PSU vs GA | Ep 17

1983 Sugar Bowl | Seasons in sports are played to lead up to a moment of finality – the World Series, NBA Finals, etc. College football is no different as teams play for a national championship game and a number 1 ranking to end a season.

In January of 1983, that moment was the Sugar Bowl.  Georgia came into the game ranked number 1 and Penn State number 2.  While not classified as a national championship game at the time, few doubted that the winner would claim that moniker.  

The Quarterbacks

Todd Blackledge

Todd Blackledge was the passing quarterback for a high-powered Penn State team that featured the running prowess of Curt Warner.  Penn State was a favorite in the game even though ranked number 2.  

Todd had a 31-5 mark for his career with the Nittany Lions and did not know when entering that game, that when the day was done, he would be the MVP of the Sugar Bowl.

Todd would go on to play in the NFL with KC and Pittsburgh and have a noted career as a television football analyst.

John Lastinger

At quarterback for Georgia was John Lastinger, who entered that day never having lost a game he started at quarterback from the time he was in high school. John was joined in the backfield by Herschel Walker who did the leg work.

John would go on in 1984 to win a Cotton Bowl game and scored the winning touchdown.  However, such was not to be John’s fate in 1983.

1983 Sugar Bowl 

Penn State won the game 27-23 and the national number 1 ranking that went with it. The game lived up to its pregame hype as you will hear Todd and John remember the day.

There was an opening Penn State drive that both agreed set the stage.

There was a penalty non-call in the game they each remember as critical. A little thing it was not, but rarely is it remembered except by those in the game.

Many in sports say it is far easier to lose by an overwhelming margin than a tight matchup. In the former, you forget the mistakes-they didn’t matter anyway. In the tight ones, you harken back and think “what if.” You will hear that here.

Two QBs in the Louisiana Superdome with a football world watching.

Here are their stories of that game.

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MLB Closers | Brantley & Shaw | Ep 29

MLB Closers | “A closer is often considered the best relief pitcher that a club has in its bullpen. Closers are most often deployed for the final inning of a game when a narrow lead — three runs or less — needs to be protected. Closers almost always excel against both right- and left-handed batters and are more often than not capable of striking out batters at high rates.” 

MLB Glossary

So you want to be a closer. We have two award-winning MLB closers today, and they say you better want the job or you’ll never excel at it.

How do you know who wants it? Jeff Brantley and Jeff Shaw have seen those who do and those who don’t – they’ll tell you the difference.

MLB Closers

Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Jeff Brantley celebrates following the final out of game three of the National League divisional playoff against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Friday night, Oct. 6, 1995, at Riverfront Stadium, in Cincinnati. The Reds won the game 10-1 to sweep the series. (AP Photo/Mark Lyons)

Brantley was the NL relief pitcher of the year in 1996 and Shaw took that crown in 1997.  Brantley was in the Majors for 14 seasons and Shaw for 12. They were both opponents and teammates during that stretch.  

7 Jul 1998: National League member Jeff Shaw #41 of the Los Angeles Dodgers starts his wind up during the All-Star Game at Coors Field in Denver, Colorado. The American League defeated the National League 13-8. Mandatory Credit: Brian Bahr /Allsport

Who did they learn from? How do you maneuver through the middle of a line-up, game on the line, and you need three outs? They’ll describe a unique universe they inhabit when they take to the mound in the 9th inning, a roaring crowd and a game with no room for error.

And all that time spent waiting – a couple of bullpen stories will be shared as well.

Jeff Shaw and Jeff Brantley take you into the world of the closer – then, now and tomorrow.

Enjoy.

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NHL Bargaining | McPhee & Scott | Ep 28

NHL Bargaining | GM and the player agent – relationships have redefined the business of sports and will be a major factor in the continuing evolution of the business.

George McPhee

George McPhee is the President of the Las Vegas Golden Knights. He has been a major force behind the amazing success of the new franchise that went to the Stanley Cup Finals in its first year. He was recognized as the NHL GM of the Year in 2018.

He had previously spent 17 highly successful years as GM of the Washington Capitals after an NHL playing career with the New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers.

McPhee has seen the contract negotiation matters from both sides.

Andy Scott is a player agent, certified by the NHL in 2008. He works within Octagon Sports, a global sports and entertainment agency, through the Scott Law Group which he helped create.

Scott represents, among others, Leon Draisaitl, Kaapo Kakko, Patrik Laine and Mikko Rantanen — all considered among the top players in the NHL.

He has traversed what he calls “a minefield of issues” in contract negations for NHL players during the pandemic.

NHL bargaining

Now you get to hear these two high profile NHL business representatives relate how management and player reps deal with one another and what makes the system work or sinks efforts to reach an agreement.

Should players be involved in the negotiations? Why does McPhee say this is a “hard business?” Hear about the late night phone calls from players to agents.

Open and frank – that describes what you are about to hear from these two highly influential men who construct NHL bargaining deals. This is about getting a deal done.

Enjoy.

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2003 ALCS | Boone vs Walker | Ep 27

2003 ALCS | You dream about it as a kid. Standing in the backyard, bat in hand. You take the swing that launches a ball out of the yard for a game winner. Not just any game winner, but a swing in a major league game in the playoffs of October against THE rival, in the deciding game, in extra innings.  

Aaron Boone and the swing of a lifetime

Aaron Boone, now manager of the Yankees, lived that dream in the 2003 American League Championship Series while playing for the Bronx Bombers.

Boston Red Sox Todd Walker hits a solo home run against the New York Yankees in the fourth inning of Game 4 of the American League Championship Series in Boston, October 13, 2003. REUTERS/Mike Segar JR/GAC

As he headed to second base in his home run celebration, he passed a longtime friend, Todd Walker, who was playing for the opposing Red Sox. Walker had a tremendous series against the Yankees, hitting .370 and leading the Sox in runs scored. Now that series was over and the Yankees were moving on to the World Series.

The 2003 ALCS

Pedro Martinez trows Don Zimmer to the ground during a bench clearing brawl.

This 2003 series was heated. There was Roger Clemens and Pedro Martinez. There was a lengthy bench-clearing brawl. There were managerial decision questions that will be argued about forever.
Here is the rivalry-the Red Sox and the Yankees-the 2003 ALCS. Here are two players in that series: Aaron Boone and Todd Walker. These are their stories from one of the most anticipated playoff series in baseball history. A series that lived up to all the hype.

The Brawl
Yankees tie it in the 8th
Aaron Boone walk off

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RE-AIR: Army vs Navy | NCAA Football | Ep 8

Army vs Navy – it is the “nation’s football game.”  At the end of each football season, there unfolds a pageantry that began in 1890..

The Oath

Each player took the same oath that brought him to this game.  Each has a mission far beyond football. When arriving at a military academy, each person takes one of these oaths:

United States Military Academy Oath of Allegiance (ARMY)

I, (Name), do solemnly swear that I will support the Constitution of the United States, and bear true allegiance to the National Government; that I will maintain and defend the sovereignty of the United States, paramount to any and all allegiance, sovereignty, or fealty I may owe to any State or Country whatsoever; and that I will at all times obey the legal orders of my superior officers, and the Uniform
Code of Military Justice.

United States Naval Academy Oath of Office (NAVY)

HAVING BEEN APPOINTED A MIDSHIPMAN IN THE UNITED STATES NAVY, DO YOU SOLEMNLY SWEAR (OR AFFIRM) THAT YOU WILL SUPPORT AND DEFEND THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES AGAINST ALL ENEMIES, FOREIGN AND DOMESTIC; THAT YOU WILL BEAR TRUE FAITH AND ALLEGIANCE TO THE SAME; THAT YOU TAKE THIS OBLIGATION FREELY, WITHOUT ANY MENTAL RESERVATION OR PURPOSE OF EVASION; AND THAT YOU WILL WELL AND FAITHFULLY DISCHARGE THE DUTIES OF THE OFFICE ON WHICH YOU ARE ABOUT TO ENTER, SO HELP YOU GOD.

Not exactly a common oath one must take to play football somewhere. 

For this game, those sworn to the same mission are rivals for one glorious late Fall afternoon.

The Army-Navy football game has been played annually since 1930.  It has involved players who went on to sports careers as well as military service:  Glenn DavisRoger StaubachPete DawkinsNapoleon McCallumDoc Blanchard, and so many more.

Army vs Navy – The Game

Keegan Wetzel played for Navy and in his senior year was selected as a 1st Team All Independent linebacker.  He played in the 2012 game that saw Navy beat Army for the 11thconsecutive time.

Across the line from him for that game was Army quarterback Trent Steelman.  Steelman is the only modern era Army QB to start every game in his four years at West Point.  He holds the Army career record for TDs and is second all-time in career yards.  

It was a game decided in the final minutes when Navy took the lead and held on as Army saw a final drive end on a turnover.

Steelman and Wetzel could not know this game would lead to a relationship that endures.

What was the intensity playing in those Army vs Navy games?  How did playing in those games shape the lives of the players involved?  What are the memories of Wetzel and Steelman about facing each other?

Listen to the depth of feeling from these two as they answer those questions and breathe individual life into the rigors and honor of playing football at the academies.  

Rivals? Army vs Navy and THE GAME, as good as it gets.  Enjoy.

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NHL | Robitaille vs Granato | Ep 31

NHL | Both were teammates and rivals of Wayne Gretzky. Both played on each coast. Both played with one of the Original Six in the NHL: the New York Rangers. Both helped grow the game of hockey in the west with the Los Angeles Kings.

The NHL Players

Luc Robitaille playing for the Kings

Luc Robitaille retired from the NHL as the highest scoring left wing in the league’s history. He was voted as one of the top hundred greatest players in the history of the NHL.

His name is on the Stanley Cup as a player with the Detroit Red Wings in 2002 and twice as a member of the Kings’ front office. He was voted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2009.

Luc is now the President of the Kings after having played in their jersey for 14 of his 19 years in the NHL.

Tony Granato as a Shark

Tony Granato was an all-rookie selection with the Rangers in 1989 when he set the Rangers’ rookie record for goals with 36. He played in the NHL from 1988-2001 with the Rangers, Kings and Sharks.

Tony went on to be an assistant coach with Pittsburgh, Detroit and Colorado before becoming the Avalanche head coach. He is now in his 5th season as head coach of the Wisconsin Badgers, the home of his college hockey career.

Luc and Tony have long known one another on ice sheets across North America as rivals, teammates and friends. Here they take you through their intertwined careers: five as teammates and nine as rivals. They also share their experiences playing for an Original Six team and describe hockey’s growth out west as led by #99, “The Great One”, Wayne Gretzky.

Let’s drop the puck!

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