I’d like to thank readers for their support of sports editor Andrew Stark as he continues battling cancer and its side effects.
Andrew went to the emergency room Nov. 30 after coughing up blood and returned home Dec. 12. Andrew is still building his strength, but he’s been emailing me with ideas to pursue in his absence, which will last several weeks.
A friend of the family, Jennifer Brown, started a fundraising page for Andrew on YouCaring.com dubbed, “Help Andrew Stark Beat Stage IV Tonsil Cancer.”
Brown set a $15,000 goal to help Andrew through his cancer treatment. More than 90 people have donated to the cause, raising nearly $11,000. I’m happy Andrew, wife Heather and their three children have a strong support system in the community.
From a sports section standpoint, we’ll be compiling Super Teams for fall sports and a 2017 year-in-review this month. We’ll reach out to freelance sports writers to help us get through January and February.
Former mayor proud of Sportsplex
MATTHEWS – Mayor Jim Taylor reflected on many accomplishments he and town commissioners achieved over his 18 years of elected service to Matthews during his last meeting on Dec. 11.
Taylor said the Sportsplex at Matthews, which opened earlier this year, will reap dividends for decades.
“To me, that’s the crowning jewel in the town of Matthews right now and for a long time,” Taylor said.
He described it as a $33 million project in the town’s backyard that is maintained and operated by the county, generating economic opportunities for the region.
That made me think of how important it is for the community to support things that happen over at the Sportsplex, like the Charlotte Independence. The professional soccer team is gearing up for its second season at the Sportsplex, set to begin in the spring.
The United Soccer League team hasn’t released a schedule yet, but they’re offering Jorge Herrera bobbleheads with season tickets.
NBA: Balls head to Lithuania
People are shaking their heads and wagging their fingers at LaVar Ball for taking his younger sons, LiAngelo and LaMelo Ball, out of college and high school to play pro basketball in Lithuania.
I’m not so quick to judge.
I believe LaVar Ball willed his oldest son, Lonzo Ball, to get drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers through a series of publicity-grabbing soundbites and headlines. The effort worked so well that Lonzo’s younger brothers are in the public spotlight too much.
Playing in a lesser-known Lithuanian league will help the younger Balls develop their skills away from the media microscope. The move could increase curiosity among NBA teams.
I wouldn’t recommend what the Balls are doing to any Charlotte-area athlete, but it could be a path for extremely famous prep players that want to escape scrutiny.
MLB: Baseball Hall of Fame
I’m not in the Baseball Writers Association of America, but here are the 10 players I’d pick from the ballot to go into the Baseball Hall of Fame: Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Vladimir Guerrero, Chipper Jones, Manny Ramirez, Curt Schilling, Gary Sheffield, Sammy Sosa, Jim Thome and Larry Walker.
A lot of people won’t agree with me based on principle. Bonds, Clemens and Sosa were the best players during the “steroid era.”
I believe we either acknowledge that Cooperstown is a “Hall of Fame” or merely a “Hall of Players We Respect.”