Howard Herman | Designated Hitter: What might a spring with no Western Massachusetts tournaments look like?

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Random thoughts while the coffee perks and the bagels — oh wait, we ran out of bagels.

Monday could be a big day for high schools, their athletes and coaches. The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association's Board of Directors will hold a conference call and could make a decision on the spring season.

Governor Charlie Baker declared last week that schools in Massachusetts will remain closed until May 4.

The MIAA's Tournament Management Committee, of which Wahconah athletic director Jared Shannon and Wahconah principal Aaron Robb are members, has recommended to the Board of Directors that if the high school season begins after April 27, there should be no sectional and/or state tournaments.

Mind you, this is only — as of Sunday — a recommendation. It is still possible that the MIAA board decides to press ahead with postseason tournaments if school resumes in any fashion and regular-season games are scheduled.

Now, I have no idea if the regular season will start in May, or if it will start at all. While the TMC has recommended no tournaments be played after a certain date, I can only imagine that there will be a lot of pressure from outside that would want tournaments to be played.

Let us say there will be no postseason tournaments sponsored by the MIAA. What to do?

I got into that discussion with Mount Greylock baseball coach Steve Messina on Friday. I had called Messina to pick his brain for a story that ran in Saturday's Eagle.

I asked if the baseball coaches, and by extension the other spring sports coaches, could sit down at some point and run a county-wide tournament to crown a champion.

Say it's a 12-game regular season, and it could be a single-elimination or a double-elimination tournament with winners and runner-up brackets. One could crown a champion and a winner of the consolation division. Or however the various coaches choose to set up these tournaments.

"I think we can do that. It would certainly be okay for us to do that. We would be under the 20-game max [for the schedule]. I think anything's wide open right now," he said. "Anything we think about doing, we can explore and probably do. Because of the unusualness of the setting here, I think we'd be able to do a lot more things like it. That would be a fun thing. That would be a great thing.

"I think everyone would enjoy that."

Now, I don't know how you seed a tournament with such traditional powers as Taconic, Wahconah and Pittsfield, playing smaller division teams like Mount Everett, McCann Tech or Lee in a bracketed tournament. Those determinations could be for people smarter than I.

If we have games this spring and we can't crown Western Massachusetts champions, this could be one positive option.

Whatever happens, Messina said even a truncated spring sports season could help build for next year.

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"I don't know how many games we're going to play. If we're playing 10 games, that's half the opportunity gone right there. It's tricky," said Messina. "I know we're all going to try to do the best we can to make sure the kids have a good experience, because we're going to be back next year. The kids will be back playing baseball next year, and we don't want them to lose the excitement of that.

"We want to make sure they're ready to go for another year."


At the end of the Batman movie "The Dark Knight," the man who would become Commissioner Gordon said this after Batman took responsibility for crimes that were committed by Harvey "Two-Face" Dent.

"Because he's the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now. So we'll hunt him. Because he can take it. Because he's not our hero. He's a silent guardian, a watchful protector. A dark knight."

Part of that statement could be said about a former Williams College basketball player.

J-L Cauvin was a reserve at Williams, playing for Harry Sheehy, and right now he is the hero Gotham deserves, because he will make you laugh.

Cauvin has gone viral with his impressions of President Trump. When I say viral, one of my grade school friends who lives in Northwest Arkansas has been posting impressions by Cauvin on his social media. Now, it's one thing if a Williams alum or someone in metropolitan New York does it. But when he is discovered by Lee Paull in Arkansas, there's something going on.

J-L and I correspond on Twitter frequently. Once I asked him if he was coming to Williamstown to participate in the annual varsity-alumni basketball game which serves as a preseason game for coach Kevin App's Ephs.

He said that he never got off the bench when he played here, so why, as a 40-year old, would he subject himself to the same thing?

Cauvin is part of a pretty good Williams hoop legacy. He was a freshman on the 1998 team that finished third in the NCAA Division III tournament. Those Ephs lost in the national semifinals to Wisconsin-Platteville, coached then by Bo Ryan, who came to national prominence with his success in the Big Ten at Wisconsin. Cauvin also was a member of the 2000 Williams team that lost in the first round to Springfield in 2000.

That legacy includes off the court, as one of Cauvin's teammates, Manny Benjamin, works at the United Nations in New York.

Cauvin went to law school after leaving Williams, was an assistant district attorney in New York and still works as an attorney when he's not making folks laugh.

"It's crazy. Sixteen years as a stand-up, and all it took was a global pandemic for me to finally break through," Cauvin, who recorded an album as Trump in 2017, said in an interview with NJ Advance Media.

If you are so inclined, he's got his own website,, and can be found on Twitter at @JLcauvin.

Howard Herman can be reached at, at @howardherman on Twitter or 413-496-6253.


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