Kids and baseball are top priorities for Beast officials

The Ohio Valley boasts a lot of traditions.

The Edgar Martin Classic is certainly one of them.

Better known as the ”Beast of the East,” the annual event is a baseball fans’ dream. Four days of the ”National Pastime” at 31 fields up and down the river.

The brainchild of Bo McConnaughy and B.A. Crawford, the Beast has become a template nationally on how to run a youth baseball tournament.

Simply put, McConnaughy and Crawford set the standard.

Folks have come from far and wide to see how it’s done, and Bo and B.A. have delivered.

Now, they’re passing on their knowledge to a new generation.

More than once, McConnaughy, West Liberty’s former baseball coach, and Crawford, a retired Wheeling businessman, have stated their intentions to get younger people involved in tournament operations.

But that doesn’t mean they’re getting out of the Beast business. Not at all.

The duo is simply cutting back on their involvement.

To be honest, Bo and B.A. deserve a bit of a break. What they’ve done for the youth and the communities of the area is unmeasurable.

The Beast, which begins Thursday and is now in it’s 26th year, has been a boon to the local economy and, because the folks who run the fields reap some of the proceeds, numerous organizations have benefited.

It all adds up to win-win for everyone involved.

A New Beginning

Today, the Big 10 becomes 14 members strong.

Maryland and Rutgers officially join the ranks of the conference, bringing an end to another round of conference shuffling.

The additions give the conference a stronger footprint on the East Coast, including the major media markets of New York City/New Jersey and Washington D.C./Baltimore.

That means more money, which, in the end, is the goal of all this conference realignment.

The Big 10 isn’t the only conference undergoing a facelift today. The ACC welcomes Louisville. All told, 12 football programs in the NCAA bowl’s subdivision will have new addresses.

You’ve Got to be ‘Kidd’ing?

A pair of second-round picks? Is that all Jason Kidd is worth?

Perhaps.

He’s not a proven coaching commodity, having only been a head coach for one year for the Nets after completing a stellar 19-year playing career with four teams.

So when it came out Saturday night that Kidd, the former all-star guard, wanted out of Brooklyn so he could take complete control of the operations of the Milwaukee Bucks, many thought it reeked of arrogance.

How could a guy who’s done so little demand so much?

Kidd was reportedly irked that a pair of other first-time coaches – Steve Kerr (Golden State) and Derek Fisher (New York) – received substantially more money in the their first contract than he did.

He also reportedly went to Nets general manager Billy King, who didn’t have a hand in his hiring, and asked for more control in player matters. He didn’t get it.

Apparently, new Bucks owner Marc Lasry, who is close to Kidd, is willing to give Kidd the keys to his team.

The Bucks are a franchise that has been stuck in purgatory for much of the past 25 years, sans an appearance in the Eastern Conference Finals in 2001 under George Karl.

Coaches are supposed to earn their keep and work their way up. Kidd didn’t feel it necessary to hold to the deal he originally agreed to in Brooklyn and now leaves the Nets looking for a head coach as the team prepares to begin summer league play.

One wonders how Jabari Parker feels about the move. Parker, the No. 2 pick in last Thursday’s NBA draft, had to be blindsided by the developments.

Better yet, how does Larry Drew feel? He’s out of a job today, fired after one season.

Speaking of Summer League…

For the first time in a long time – seven years to be exact – the NBA draft came and went last week without an Ohio State Buckeye hearing their named called.

That doesn’t mean Coach Thad Matta won’t have a shot at having a few rookies playing in the league next season.

Aaron Craft and LaQuinton Ross will both be playing in the NBA Summer League, which starts play this weekend in Orlando. Games will be played in Orlando on Saturday through July 11 and in Las Vegas from July 11-21.

Craft, the Big 10 Defensive Player of the Year, will play for Philadelphia in Orlando and Golden State in Las Vegas. Ross will suit up for the Lakers in Vegas.

A Lucky Man

While you’re enjoying hot dogs and burgers Friday, and celebrating the nation’s 238th birthday with family and friends, take a minute to reflect on another moment that is pure Americana.

July 4 marks the 75th anniversary of Lou Gehrig’s famous retirement speech on the grounds of the old Yankee Stadium in the Bronx.

That day, ”The Iron Horse” gave a tearful farewell before nearly 60,000 somber fans and delivered what many believe to be one of the greatest and most moving speeches ever written.

”I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the Earth.”

The line, uttered near the beginning of Gehrig’s poignant prose, is one of the most-famous phrases mouthed in human history.

It capsulized a man, who, in the remaining two years of life before dying from ALS, or what came to be known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, showed dignity, courage and compassion in the face of death.

Thorp can be reached at rthorp@timesleaderonline.com