SPORTS

Getting back on the water

Posted 7/29/21

The CJ Buckley Regatta made its return this week in East Greenwich Bay after being shelved in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was a welcomed return to what has become one of the biggest events in Rhode Island sailing over the past two decades. CJ

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SPORTS

Getting back on the water

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The CJ Buckley Regatta made its return this week in East Greenwich Bay after being shelved in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was a welcomed return to what has become one of the biggest events in Rhode Island sailing over the past two decades.

CJ Buckley was an avid sailor who loved competing and being out on the water. Two weeks before his 16th birthday, he was diagnosed with brain cancer and passed away after a 16-month battle.

In the following summer in 2003, CJ’s parents Carter and Lucy, as well as other friends and family in the local sailing community established the first ever memorial regatta in his honor. Other than 2020, the event has taken place each year and has grown a tremendous following.

The regatta serves as the Club 420 Association’s National Junior Team Race Championship and also raises funds for the CJ Buckley and Regatta Foundation, which also sponsors an annual scholarship for a selected local sailor among other things. This annual regatta is run entirely by volunteers, many of which have been involved since the first year.

This is my fourth summer in Rhode Island and my third time covering the event. I have always enjoyed being down in the bay, saying hello to Carter and Lucy, some of the familiar volunteers and watching the kids set sail. Luckily, we have been blessed with nice weather each year which has also made things pleasurable.

More than anything, though, it is always such a warm atmosphere being around people that care so much about an event and are so passionate about it. I know that any memorial event starts as a passion project, but this really is one of the kindest atmospheres that I have been around in my career.

Like many things in the past year or two, I didn’t realize how much I missed covering this event until I returned to the scene on Monday morning. It is always a fun thing to be a part of and take in.

This year’s regatta also kind of encapsulates what the entire thing is about: Making the most of a tough situation, adapting, and continuing to fight.

As you would expect, the pandemic has impacted the regatta in a few ways; the overall format as well as some of the out of water activities have been modified. But overall, there was still a large crowd of people from all over the world (literally), kids were on the water, and everyone was simply happy to be back at it while honoring CJ who was as big a sailing fan as any.

I am thrilled to see everyone involved, especially Carter and Lucy, be able to return to action and put on this event that means so much to so many. Summer is starting to feel more like summer again.

Our Little League teams that remain had a somewhat mixed bag this past week in the state tournaments. Warwick Continental teams are in the hunt but have been knocked into the losers brackets, same with Cranston East and one of our Cranston Western teams, while another is continuing to dominate through the next leg of the race.

This is why I love Little League, well, one of the reasons why I love it.

Our teams for the most part cruised to district championships the past few weeks. The ones that took home titles were largely untested and rolled.

Now, every district champion throughout the state is top-notch and has a chance at a state title. This is really where we separate the good teams from the great ones.

I love double elimination tournaments. Between single elimination, double elimination, and series play, I think double is the way to go.

The obvious reason why I am not a fan of single elimination is because a team can have one off day and get bounced. Some sports, like football for example, are a little more consistent. I feel that single elimination is the way to go, even if we weren’t taking into account the physical toll of it being a full contact sport.

Baseball on the other hand is super volatile. One bad inning, one bad pitch, one big hit can do a team in which makes single elimination a tough format to work through.

In terms of series, I am also not a big fan because I find it to be incredibly dull … well, at times.

I like seeing as many teams square off against one another as possible. If two teams eventually meet up again for a rematch, so be it, and in fact, I think that makes a more dramatic storyline anyway.

Team A loses to Team B. Team B continues to roll while Team A goes on to dust itself off, win a few games and earn a chance to avenge the loss. Much more compelling than if they just jumped right back into a rematch the next day.

So, this is my long, roundabout way of saying that the Little League tournaments are doing it right and continue to be one of the better playoffs to cover each year. We’ll see how these remaining teams make out the rest of the week. It’s a shame that only the 12’s will get an opportunity to compete at the regional level thanks to this incredibly frustrating pandemic, but hey, something is better than nothing right?

Last thing I want to touch on is the Red Sox. Boy, was I wrong about them heading into the season.

In spring training, I mocked the Red Sox on the record. Their lineup had a few stars but also a few scrubs, the pitching rotation was a joke, and the bullpen was non-existent. I said they’d be lucky to be .500.

Now, as we approach the trade deadline, they are a first-place team that is a near-lock to reach the postseason. They had a fantastic come from behind win over New York and also have ace Chris Sale on the verge of returning from Tommy John surgery.

I still am skeptical of the overall pitching as well as some of the back end talent in the lineup. One thing is for sure, though: This team has heart and a winning mentality. The playoffs will be the real test, and I still do not like their odds, but they continue to prove me wrong and it’s impossible to not be impressed.

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