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Good, bad and ugly around the sports world

August 15, 2011
Weirton Daily Times

GOOD: Samantha DiDomenico.

The Marshall junior and Brooke High School graduate won the West Virginia Women's Amateur Friday at Parkersburg Country Club. Her 10-under par total was good for a 1-shot victory.

Her Friday round of 4-under 70 included an eagle, two birdies and 15 pars - showing the old golf adage that par is your friend.

I have had the pleasure of knowing Samantha basically since I moved the family here from San Diego to be the head golf professional at Steubenville Country Club a little more than 10 years ago.

I gave her lessons and we played, talked and she lived golf.

I will take zero credit for her success because she has had many more lessons with golf professionals other than I and she has hit thousands of golf balls under the watchful eyes of others.

My job giving lessons to juniors was that they understood how to hit it (keeping the mechanics out of the golf swing), that they understood that getting better meant practice was mandatory, that they had respect for the game and the golf course, they they had fun at the game and that they hit the ball, for the most part, as hard as they could and as far as they could.

Samantha got that.

Although getting her to practice wedge shots was a bit tricky at times (I think she got her stubbornness from her father because I know how low key her mother and sister Hollywood are), my job, in the long haul, was to encourage.

Playing golf means there are going to be some really good days, really bad ones and non-descript ones.

The hard part about golf, like all sports, is to understand your expectations and limitations and put those to correct use - especially when you tee it up at No. 1.

Samantha has done that. She keeps getting better and she's a great person to have on your scramble team.

She was the first female in school history to be a medalist in a high school match and qualified for the state tournament.

She played 21 rounds in her freshman year at Marshall and, due to a wrist injury and eventual surgery, played 17 as a sophomore.

Samantha was a member of the Conference USA Commissioner's Honor Roll and received a Conference USA Academic Medal.

There are more good things coming from this young lady.


GOOD:?Po Peterson.

GOOD: No excuses from Pirates catcher Michael McKenry. Pittsburgh lost in Milwaukee Sunday for the 34th time in the last 36 games. Joel Hanrahan entered in the eighth inning and struck out Nyjer Morgan, but the ball bounced away from McKenry, Morgan was safe at first and Hanrahan was given a wild pitch.

Ryan Braun singled to score pinch runner Jerry Hairston Jr. to tie the game 1-1 and the Pirates eventually lost 2-1 in 10 innings.

McKenry took full responsibility for the wild pitch.

"You can make 1,000 excuses over and over again," he said. "I'm not going to do that. It's my fault. I block it a 100 out of 100 times usually. I didn't today. It is on me."

BAD: The NFL. Folks, that was bad football this past weekend. I know it can only go up, but what does that really mean?

Players are getting injured right and left, which shows how really important your strength and condititoning coach is within the organization.

Those games in the first round of exhibition games will show you very little about your team, regardless of what the head coach has said.

BAD: Carlos Zambrano. The Chicago Cubs pitcher was ejected from a game Friday, cleaned out his locker and went home.

He quit on his team and subsequently was placed on the disqualified list.

"This was the most stringent penalty we could enforce without a release," Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said. "There's not much worse than running out on your teammates in the middle of a ballgame."

"He's made his bed. Let him sleep in it," pitcher Ryan Dempster said. "It's not like it's something new."

"If he changes his attitude, he's more than welcome," said third baseman Aramis Ramirez. "He's got to think a little bit more. He's one man. It's not just one time. A lot of people have tried to help him. He won't let them."

If that's not a quintessential 4-year-old saying "I'm going to take my ball and go home," I don't know what is.

UGLY: The Buckeye Local School District's Board of Education for dumping Panthers baseball coach George Laase.

I undestand it was a 3-2 vote and not 5-0, but it was a decision not to renew his contract after the athletic committee recommended he be retained for another year.

Board members Chuck Haggerty and Don Moore are on the athletic committee that recommended Laase and on the board that rejected him.

How does that happen?

Moore and Naomi Kolkedy voted in favor of bringing Laase back, but Joe Zelek Sr., Chuck Haggerty and Alice Owens were against the motion.

"The majority of the board had differences on how the program was being run," said Zelek, the board of education president, in a story by the Times Leaders' Kim North last week.

I really don't understand that statement.

"The majority of the board had differences on how the program was being run."

That means the board knew exactly how the program was being run. They knew exactly how Laase treated the players, because they saw it with their own eyes. They knew exactly how Laase was truthful with the players, because they heard it with their own ears. They knew exactly how Laase ran practice, because they were there on multuple occasions. They knew exactly how Laase coached in games, because they attended games both home and away.

Yeah, right.

After all, if you are going to vote against someone and tell that person he no longer is good enough to coach the kids within the school district, you should get off your duffs, go watch practice, or talk to a whole bunch of people about the program.

After all, you can't take the word of kids who quit because they didn't want to hustle, or didn't want to perform the role that Laase told them they would have after a sit-down, face-to-face meeting.

How do you reprimand or axe someone without watching the person in action on more than one occasion?

After all, you can't take the word of some disgruntled adult, whose has sons, nephews or grandsons in the program because those same sons, nephews or grandsons will be out of the program at some point in time and that disgruntled adult will no longer watch games.

Remember, the same adults are disgruntled for nothing more than selfish reasons.

"We had posted the position in-house some time ago and the only person to apply was George," Superintendent Mark Miller said in the story. "The athletic committee recommended him for next year, but the board voted against it.

"I thought George did a good job. I was pleased with his work performance."

So, let's get this straight - the position was open and the ONLY applicant was Laase.

That means anyone and everyone could have applied for the job and did not.

So, the guy who bled for your program as a player and wanted to come back and coach the kids at his alma mater - the ONLY guy who applied for the job - was recommended and then axed - you dump and for whom?

So, the coaching carousel at Buckeye Local continues and for no good reason.

You guys dumped a coach who was 41-56 in four years and was slowly building a program that was respected in the baseball community.

It's not like he took over a program that had years and years of winning and turned it into a perennial loser.

Laase is a positive role model, a positive mentor.

He is really good at what he does.

"First of all, I loved coaching kids. That's what it is all about. Second, I love the game of baseball, and I always will," Laase said in the article. "And third, I was passionate about Buckeye Local.

"Coaching was not about the paycheck, it was being part of the long tradition of great baseball coaches at Buckeye Local. I still love the kids, whether they liked me or hated me. I'm heartbroken for them (the kids), not myself.

"I would like to thank Mr. Miller and the district for the opportunity."

Dear board members, specifically the three who wanted Laase out, if you do not hire someone who is far better than George Laase and takes the program forward, you have drastically failed in your efforts and this axing really looks like a personal vendetta and agenda.

If you find someone better who takes the program into years and years of winning, congratulations and I salute you.

I will say, though, that some other baseball program is going to get a really good baseball coach.

(Mathison, a Weirton resident, is the sports editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times and can be contacted at

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