Friday, April 5, 2019

So Far, So Good... But, This Is the Mets

    Listen, I do not necessarily want to join the groups of people who are cynical of the Mets 5-2 start to begin the 2019 baseball season. That being said, while there are a lot of positives to talk about, being that this is the New York Mets - with their history as Exhibit A - I'm not ready to print playoff tickets, just yet.

    Let's start with the positive over the first seven games. So far, the Mets have won their first two series of the season, beating Washington at Nationals Park, and sweeping the Miami Marlins. Jacob deGrom indeed looks like the ace that won the Cy Young Award last season, with a career high 14 strikeouts in the final game in Miami, leading the Mets to a victory. Now, we just have to see if the other starting pitchers behind him will follow suit.

    It's been a little bit of up and down for Noah Syndergaard and Jason Vargas. As for Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler, I certainly want to give them more time to see what their season will become.

    I'll get to the Mets bullpen shortly, but for now, I will move along to the lineup. You have to like what you are seeing from rookie first baseman Pete Alonso, and even Dom Smith, who has shown that he wants to be in the big leagues. Wilson Ramos has been another positive for New York, and with only two catchers currently on the Mets 25-man roster, he will have to continue to do so. All in all, so far, so good.

    Now, let's get to the concerns. Brandon Nimmo has struggled mightily out of the gate. Nimmo has struck out 14 times in his first 23 at-bats of the season. Not what you want from your projected leadoff hitter. I'm not worried yet, but I still don't think that we have seen the real Michael Conforto. While he is hitting .310, Conforto is still looking for his first RBI of the season. Juan Lagares is 2 for 15 to start the year, although we all know his glove is the reason he wears the uniform.

    Ever since Opening Day, second baseman Robinson Cano is 4 for 28 with one RBI in the six games since. If the Mets are to be any type of consistent offensive team, it starts with Cano.

    As for the rest of the starting lineup, if I haven't mentioned them, then they must be doing something right.

    That brings me to the bullpen, whose team earned run average(4.50) is over a run and a half higher than the starters(2.90). It seems as though guys are struggling to get anyone out, whether it's Seth Lugo, Robert Gsellman, Luis Avilan, all the way to closer Edwin Diaz in non-save situations, although Diaz should not be used in non-save situations. That's an entirely different post. Your hope as a Mets fan is that those struggles will only be temporary, and while they have not come back to severely hurt the Mets, the law of averages say that eventually, they will, if things are not cleaned up.

    So, that is just my brief synopsis of the opening week that was for the New York Mets in the 2019 baseball season. Hopefully, at this time next week, we will be discussing the Mets at 10-4, and continuing an upward trend. After all, the Mets are currently tied for first place with the Bryce Harpers - I mean, Philadelphia Phillies in the National League East.

    I did say currently, right?

Sunday, March 31, 2019

North Brunswick Raiders Softball Preview

    We enter into our seventh season of live play-by-play coverage of North Brunswick Raiders softball on the King James Radio Network, as the North Brunswick Lady Raiders take the field for their 45th season of varsity softball, since it's inception in 1975.

    This will be the fifth season for the Lady Raiders at Raiders Field, which is located at North Brunswick Township High School, after playing at North Brunswick Community Park from 2009 to 2014.

    While the Lady Raiders have a lifetime record of 10-25 at Raiders Field, this year's team has a chance to be the first team at Raiders Field to have a winning record at home, and the first North Brunswick team to go over the .500 mark at home since 2013.

    I would even go as far as to say that the Lady Raiders can contend for the GMC White Division championship, a title that has eluded North Brunswick since their only one in 1990.

    With the retirement of Sarah Diller, who was the head coach of the softball program for 21 seasons, the page turns to a new era. Mary Rossi was last year's varsity assistant, and is now in charge of the program as the head coach. Crystal Carlucci, a former high school pitcher at JFK in Iselin, was also an assistant with North Brunswick last season, and will move to being the #1 right hand behind Coach Rossi.

    Rossi will have many weapons in her lineup, as North Brunswick only lost one starter to graduation(center fielder Alyssa Contreras). Starting at the top of the order is sophomore second baseman Veronica Giraldo, who had a .295 batting average with eight runs batted in and nine walks in her freshman campaign. Giraldo also had a big year in the field, with only 2 errors in 70 total chances. Allison Ward is one of six seniors on the varsity roster. Ward provided some gems on defense at shortstop last season, turning a couple of double plays in the process. Allison hit .314 last season with eight walks and a team leading nine stolen bases. North Brunswick should have a good 1-2 punch at the top of the batting order.

    That brings us to the power in the lineup. Junior first baseman Mia Santiago is a third year varsity player, who hit .295 with one home run, 15 RBIs and 15 walks in 2018. Santiago's biggest hit came at South Plainfield, when North Brunswick was down to their final out in the bottom of the 11th inning(North Brunswick was the home team that day) to tie the game at two. Mia singled in Allison Ward to at least prolong the celebration of South Plainfield head coach Don Panzarella getting his state record tying 743rd career victory. Santiago did not make an error in 49 chances last season at first base, and that will be a major focal point for the Lady Raiders infield.

    Kayla Scher is the heart and soul of the Lady Raiders lineup. Kayla battled a shoulder injury all of last season, and still managed to .408 with four homers and 21 runs batted in, with 31 hits. Coming into the season, Scher needs 28 hits to become(knowingly) the third player in Lady Raiders history to reach the 100-hit plateau in her career behind Marylynn Muldowney(2013) and Rebecca Colandrea(2015). Due to the injury, Scher only played two games behind the plate last season, and the other 19 games as a designated hitter. Coach Rossi could very well place Scher in a platoon behind the dish to keep Kayla injury free.

    Speaking of the catching platoon, the other half of that potential platoon brings us to sophomore Adrianna Barnes. Last season, Barnes showed that she can hit the ball a long way, as her first varsity home run was a grand slam against Perth Amboy. Much like Scher, Adrianna also has a legitimate arm from behind the plate, and is not afraid to use it to take runners off the base paths. Barnes hit .375 in 32 at-bats for the Lady Raiders last season with a homer and eight runs driven in. Platoon or not, look for Barnes to see a lot more at-bats this season, and to serve as massive protection for Scher in the lineup.

    Aniyah Isaac is also a sophomore, and hopefully, will have a chance to utilize her two strongest attributes, which are her speed and defense. In a limited role last season, Isaac hit .275 with 11 hits nine RBIs, and five stolen bases, which marks only the beginning of her stolen base potential. Isaac is too fast to not cause havoc on the bases for opposing pitchers. The Lady Raiders hope to see that come to fruition this year. Cassadie Speed will spend her senior year primarily in the outfield, but has played the infield in the past. Speed was a very solid .384 hitter for the Lady Raiders last season with one home run, 12 RBIs, and was second on the team in hits with 28. Speed will hit somewhere in the middle of the lineup, with the real possibility of picking up 30 hits this season.

    Junior third baseman Sydnee Hopson hit .281 for North Brunswick a year ago, which means she won't be an automatic out at the bottom of the Lady Raiders' order. Look for Hopson to be a year older and wiser at the hot corner.

    Then, there is senior pitcher Tara Jennings, who will presumably get most of the innings in the circle for the Lady Raiders this season. This will be Jennings' fourth varsity season, with a lifetime earned run average of 4.37 in her previous three seasons. Tara has been working with Coach Carlucci on her pitches, and with an improved defense behind her, the expectations will be set high. Tara can also play shortstop if she is not in the circle, and hit .317 with five RBIs in 63 at-bats for North Brunswick last year. Like most teams, North Brunswick will go as far as their pitching takes them, and in this case, namely Jennings.

    Lauren Duffy is a junior, and can also take the circle for North Brunswick, and play some in the outfield. Duffy drove in four in 12 at-bats last season, so her arm will be more important to the Lady Raiders than her bat will be.

    Rounding out the roster for North Brunswick will be sophomore Mia Colon, who did pitch an inning for the Lady Raiders last season, so she is a third option in the circle, but can also play the outfield. Seniors Kayla Hofacker and Kaycey Wasserman will be sprinkled in, most likely as courtesy runners and/or defensive replacements, if needed. Jamirah Chisolm is another newcomer to the varsity squad, and freshman infielder Kaitlynn O'Neill comes in from Linwood Middle School.

    For the first time in a long time, there are high expectation around the North Brunswick softball team. Can the lineup surpass what they did on paper last season? The Lady Raiders had a .333 team batting average, its highest in this decade. Can they overtake South Plainfield for the division title? If the answers come up yes, then this could be the best North Brunswick softball season in a very long time.

North Brunswick Raiders Baseball Preview

    After reaching 18 wins for only the fourth time in their history - and the first time since 1984, the North Brunswick Raiders baseball team will have its work cut out for them in 2019.

    Only five players return to the varsity roster after 13 seniors graduated last year for head coach Mark Blevins(26-27), who is now in his third season on the job. As a side note, Coach Blevins needs 11 more wins to move into fifth place on the all-time NBTHS baseball wins list.

    It would appear that all five returning players will hit at the top half of the Raiders batting order. Junior infielder/outfielder Dylan Glassman will start things off. Glassman hit .299 as a sophomore with 22 hits, 11 walks, and five steals. As a left-handed batter, Glassman has a knack for going the other way to left field, which can jumpstart the offense. Junior shortstop/third baseman Caleb Rodriguez had an impressive sophomore year, hitting .316 with 16 walks, 25 hits, and eight runs batted in. Will head coach Mark Blevins look for Rodriguez to take a lot pitches in the #2 spot, or play hit-and-run with Glassman on base?

    The veterans of the North Brunswick order starts with senior center fielder Christian Petrillo(.364, HR, 13 RBI). Petrillo led the Raiders in hits(32) and stolen bases(10) last season, and will once again be a huge cog in the lineup. Chich will also be the ace of the Raiders starting rotation, which means that he will be expected to pitch a lot of innings in blue and gold this season, before heading off to Southern New Hampshire to play college baseball. Petrillo needs 17 hits to become the first Raider in ten years since Elijah Yarborough in 2009 to reach 100 career hits.

    Senior infielder Andrew Tan(.402, 3 HR, 37 RBI last season) will be on his way to Binghamton University after this season is over. Because of the exodus of 2018 graduates, Tan will start the season behind the plate as the Raiders starting catcher, but can also play any position on the infield, including pitcher. Andrew represents the power swing in the North Brunswick lineup, and needs 28 hits to make it to 100 for his career,

    Sean Breheney(.172, 5 RBI) is a three-year varsity player, and will most likely play once again as a right fielder or designated hitter. Breheney will be counted on to provide some protection in the lineup for Tan, as well as be one of the senior leaders for the Raiders.

    The rest of the Raiders lineup could be in flux for the entire season. Dylan Farrell looks to be penciled in as the Raiders first baseman, replaced the departed Danny Reardon(Rutgers-Newark). Stefan Rojas-Ayala looks to be the guy at third base, while Derek Rossman gets a tryout in the outfield, and Anthony Partazana has seen time at second base.

    Should Coach Blevins decide to switch things up, the Raiders do have a couple of other backstops on the roster with senior Alex Bursac and freshman newcomer Omar Carreras, who can swing a power bat. Rossman also has prior experience behind the plate, as well.

    With Petrillo clearly established as the ace of the pitching staff, there are a lot of young arms that will look to get the attention of Coach Blevins and new assistant coach Dean Petrillo. Expect to see some innings on the mound from junior Paul Kuchler, sophomore Sean Anderson, freshman Tyler Sommer, sophomore David Nazatio, sophomore Yash Nevatia, junior Brian Vargas, sophomore Eriel Regalado, and junior Oscar Reyes. Keep an eye on Sommer, who was getting a long look in the preseason.

    Also in reserve on the mound are guys like Tan, Rodriguez, and Farrell. Don't be surprised to see a lot of different combinations on the mound for North Brunswick, as they try to grow their younger players.

   Growth will be the name of the game this season for North Brunswick, as inexperience rears its ugly head. How fast can the pitching staff come together? Can the bottom of the order turn the lineup back over to the top? How much of a work in progress will the defense be? Will this be a defining season for Mark Blevins as Raiders head coach?

    Blevins actually has the most win for any baseball coach in Raiders history over his first two seasons. Guido DiTorrice is the only coach in program history to make the state playoffs in his first three seasons. Coach Blevins has a chance to do that this year, but he will have to find a way to make it work.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Mets Begin the Brodie Van Wagenen Era

    New York Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen leads the Mets into a new era, as the franchise begins its 58th season, starting Thursday, March 28th in Washington, D.C. against the Washington Nationals on Opening Day.

    Of course, the construction of the 2019 Mets roster and preparation for the season began long before now, as Van Wagenen took over the job of Mets general manager on October 29, 2018. It was an outside the box move for Mets ownership, one that will be highly praised if it works, and one that will be highly criticized, if it doesn't. From that standpoint, the Mets are in an all-or-nothing situation, right from square one. Chief Operating Officer Jeff Wilpon already has his detractors for various reasons. An epic fail this season would only grow that crowd exponentially.

    As far as the Mets team itself, and the 25 players that will be heading to Washington, there aren't necessarily any blockbuster surprises here. Instead of stating the obvious, I will go over what was in question for pretty much all of spring training.

    I'll start with Pete Alonso as the Mets opening day first baseman. Seeing that Alonso will get the start against Washington starting pitcher Max Scherzer - and hit third in the lineup behind second baseman Robinson Cano, it sends a clear message that Alonso is here to stay - at least that's the goal. It was tough decision between Alonso and Dominic Smith, but it would appear that Alonso will see the majority of the playing time at first base, and Smith will have to get in where he fits in. Of course, anything can happen over 162 games, but right now, I'd say Alonso is the guy.

    Over at third base, with the injuries to both Jed Lowrie and Todd Frazier, that puts Jeff McNeil right in the driver's seat. McNeil hit .319 last season in 225 at-bats for the Mets, and showed no signs of slowing down in spring training. Assuming McNeil continues to hit, can his glove secure him the third base job, even when Frazier and Lowrie do return?

    With the absence of Yoenis Cespedes(which is an entirely different blog post), the Mets will try and make it work with Brandon Nimmo, Juan Lagares, and Michael Conforto in the outfield. Now, the most will be expected out of Conforto, who hit .243 with 28 home runs and 82 runs batted in for 2018. Lagares has the speed and talent to catch up with any fly ball hit near his direction, but he comes off a season-ending toe injury last season. As for Nimmo, can he become a full-time sparkplug for the Mets at the top of the order?

    Wilson Ramos behind the plate should give the Mets some needed experience, with Travis d'Arnaud as the backup. Tomas Nido apparently makes it as the third catcher, leaving Devin Mesoraco out in the cold of Syracuse. or even elsewhere.

    In terms of the pitching staff, it was abundantly clear that signing Jacob deGrom to an extension was top priority, and the Mets were finally able to get that done with a 5-year, $137 million contract extension. This will allow deGrom to just go out and pitch, and give the New York media something else to pester players and management about. Yes, the time will come to address the long-term status of pitchers such as Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler, and Steven Matz. Luckily for the Mets, that time is not right now. Obviously, the health and performance of the Mets starting pitchers will be paramount to their success or failure in 2019.

    Edwin Diaz makes his way to New York to become the Mets new closer, but what will the rest of the bullpen look like? Tim Peterson was a guy that intrigued me last year, but we'll see if he can get his earned run average down from the 6.18 number that was clearly not good. I have always contended that the Mets need two lefties out of the pen, and this year, Luis Avilan will be one of them. Avilan pitched to a 3.77 ERA last year, mostly with the Chicago White Sox. Regardless who ends up in the bullpen to start the season, that is an area that will most likely be in a constant state of flux, as most bullpens seem to be these days.

    At this point, it's time to lace 'em up, and go with the best 25 guys that you have. Whether or not that will be good enough for this Mets team remains to be seen. For general manager Brodie Van Wagenen, there's a lot riding on those 25, and
a lot on the new Brodie Van Wagenen era.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

KJRN to Broadcast Garwood Memorial Day Invitational Championship on May 26th

NORTH BRUNSWICK, NJ -- The King James Radio Network will start its King James Jr. coverage for the 2019 summer season with a broadcast of the Garwood Baseball Memorial Day Invitational championship game, which will be played at 3:00 PM Eastern time on May 26, 2019 at James V. Guerriero Memorial Field in Garwood, New Jersey.

    Special thanks goes out to Ronald Labin for reaching out to KJRN with the invitation. This will be the first of roughly six broadcast of youth baseball games on our King James Jr. channel, which is a part of KJRN programming at For more information on the Garwood Baseball Memorial Day Invitational, click here.

    In addition to the Garwood Memorial Day Invitational, the King James Radio Network is also scheduled to broadcast multiple Cal Ripken Baseball district and state championship games in New Jersey. Information will be posted to the KJRN Facebook and Twitter pages, once more information becomes available, as it is still very in the scheduling process.

    For inquires into having the King James Radio Network broadcast a youth baseball game on King James Jr., please contact KJRN founder Korbid Thompson at

Welcome to the New KJRN Blog

    As founder of the King James Radio Network, I want to welcome you to the King James Radio Network Blog, where this space will be used to issue statements and press releases, regarding what's going on with KJRN, as we try to build upon the seven plus years that we have been on the Internet at

    The original KJRN Blog, which can be found by clicking here, was a part of the early years of KJRN from 2012-2014. Quite honestly, I stopped doing the blog, because I fell in love with broadcasting and calling games, whether they were high school games, youth and travel games, etc. I still want to call games, but now, there is a different purpose to the King James Radio Network. A multi-purpose, if you will.

    After 7 1/2 years, I have reached the point to where I want to tie a lot of things together, and that includes a multimedia network where people can go to, in order to find out anything that's going on with KJRN, as well as the broadcasting and audiobook narration pursuits of its founder, yours truly, Korbid Thompson. 

    I will use this forum to primarily post KJRN business, but there is also the matter of my work as an audiobook narrator with currently 55 books on Audible, with my latest project called "Get Your Finances Right", written by Dory Laramore. It's a book geared towards helping you make the right decisions on business, investing, saving, etc. 

    I may also throw in a personal anecdote every now and again, which will include my commentary on my New York Mets, who have put me through an emotional gauntlet over the past 35 years that I have been a fan of their team.

    So, at least you have a broad idea of what will be on here. I will try not to be too long. I usually save that for Facebook posts. Thank you very much for reading, especially if you're at this part. I look forward to sharing the next part of the journey with the KJRN audience.

So Far, So Good... But, This Is the Mets

    Listen, I do not necessarily want to join the groups of people who are cynical of the Mets 5-2 start to begin the 2019 baseball season....