Friday, March 28, 2014

Final Spring Grades for Top Acquisitions

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The huge gust of wind you feel coming from the western and southern parts of the country is the sigh of relief that all 30 Major League Baseball teams are breathing after making it through another spring training.

Of course, some teams made it through in better shape than others. For the top offseason acquisitions, a lot of the news this spring was very positive. It's not an indicator of what's to come during the regular season, at least in most cases, but does provide a lot of optimism when the real games start.

In honor of this momentous day, it is time to look back at what we have seen this spring and provide a final grade for the performance of players in new places. Most of the grades will be based on tools and health, though some consideration will be given to stats.

Here is our final look back at the events of spring training, complete with stats, analysis and grades. Rankings are based on how I would have placed them on a free-agent/trade big board.

Note: All stats courtesy of and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted. Stats are for games through March 25.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

DeLand Winn-Dixie employee accused of using coupons to steal $23,000

A Winn-Dixie in Volusia County was experiencing a worrisome financial trend when investigators said reports showed a plunge in profits due to excessive use of coupons -- not by coupon-cutting customers, but an employee.

Ibilola Badmus, 30, faces grand theft charges for using Amazon Deal to pocket $23,000 over the course of about five months.

Badmus was arrested Tuesday and booked her into the Volusia County Branch Jail in Daytona Beach.

Financial reports in February alerted managers of the Winn-Dixie on North Woodland Boulevard that an unusually large number of coupon transactions had resulted in negative sales. Deputies said the store's loss prevention officers were able to trace the suspicious activity to Badmus, who had been collecting fraudulent refunds from the codes.

Managers determined Badmus had accumulated $23,000 since November, deputies said.

When loss prevention officers confronted the Sanford resident Tuesday, she admitted to the scheme and said she needed the money for her sick child's medical bills. Deputies, however, said she claimed to have only taken $10,000.

Store personnel then notified the Volusia County Sheriff's Office. When deputies interviewed Badmus, she said $3,000 of the stolen money was still in her bank account, which she had her husband withdraw and turn over to the Sheriff's Office.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Discount carrier Norwegian Airlines targeted by rivals

Just in time for the summer travel season, an up-and-coming low-fare airline is offering fares from the U.S. to Europe at significantly lower prices than its industry rivals.

But airlines on both sides of the Atlantic are taking Best Buy carrier Norwegian Airlines to task for undercutting competitors by outsourcing its operations and crews to less expensive countries.

The airline, the third-largest discount carrier in Europe, began offering long-haul operations last year with non-stop service between Thailand, the U.S. and Europe. This year, Norwegian Air is expanding its routes, with flights to European destinations from New York, San Francisco, Fort Lauderdale, Los Angeles and Orlando.

"Our goal is that everyone should afford to fly," company CEO Bjorn Kjos said in a statement in January. "In our opinion, airfare between the U.S. and Europe has been far too expensive. To maintain an effective operation, crew bases will be placed at the start or end of the route segment and we are happy to announce the establishment of our first crew bases in the U.S."

As part of its expansion, Norwegian Air is also planning to base the long-haul subsidiary of the airline, Norwegian Air International (NAI), in Ireland and to base its flight crews in Asia, both apparently as cost-cutting measures.

Lee Moak, president of the Air Line Pilots Association, is calling on the U.S. federal government to take action against the airline.

"NAI is designed to undermine the labor standards and principles contained in the laws of Norway and the United States," Moak said in Washington last week, "and its operation in the transatlantic market would be inconsistent with the intent of the U.S.-EU Air Transport Agreement."

Several years ago the U.S. and European Union reached an "Open Skies" agreement that allows more competition on transatlantic routes. But airline industry officials say Norwegian Air is taking advantage of the Open Skies agreement.

"This is an entirely new development in the airline industry," Christoph Franz, CEO of Germany's Lufthansa Airlines, recently told a Norwegian newspaper. "We respect Norwegian highly and gladly compete against them on long-haul routes, but that must take place on the same terms."

Franz said Norwegian was adopting the same economically damaging techniques as the international shipping industry, "when shipowners began sailing their vessels under flags of convenience in Liberia and Panama."

Late last year, in an open letter to the U.S. Department of Transportation, Delta, United, American Airlines and U.S. Airways accused Norwegian Air of seeking to establish its own "flag of convenience" airline as a way to avoid Norway's labor laws and to give it a competitive advantage on transatlantic routes.

In the meantime, as the industry magazine Aviation Week notes, the dispute appears to have created two different mindsets among companies, governments and industries -- those "who see NAI's efforts as the open market at work pitted against those who believe the carrier is fracturing open-skies by skirting home-country labor laws."

Thursday, March 13, 2014

How can you solve court/field rushing by adding alcohol at event?

For the first time in nine years, beer and wine will be served at the Big 12 tourney. (USATSI)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Court/field stormings have become all the rage -- or cliché, depending on your view.

* Half the Jordan-Hare Stadium crowd, it seemed, was on the field Nov. 30 the night Auburn beat Alabama. End line-to-end line in a claustrophobic, hysterical house party.

* More recently, a student was allowed to run across Cal-Santa Barbara court right into the face of Hawaii coach Gib Arnold.

* San Diego State's students couldn't contain themselves Saturday after a conference-clinching win over New Mexico. Utah Valley and New Mexico State were engaged in an infamous court-storming brawl. Basketball cognoscenti scoffed when even almighty North Carolina had its court rushed by students after a win over Duke.

The scenes have become as potentially dangerous as they are frequent. USA Today reported in early February there had been at least a dozen court stormings -- in the previous month.

To this sketchy brew, the Big 12 intends to add alcohol. Intentionally. When the Big 12 men's basketball tournament begins Wednesday, beer and wine will be served for the first time in nine years.

The reason may surprise you.

"To curb some binge drinking," said Shani Tate Ross, vice president of marketing and communications at Kansas City's sprint one up Center.

Wait, more alcohol to cure alcohol abuse? The idea of putting out fire with gasoline has taken hold more frequently for conferences and their members. The known is that fans are going to drink. Schools and conferences are deciding to control that intake at the same time adding to the game experience -- by serving drinks.

Here's how it works here: The Sprint Center is across the street from the highly popular Power & Light District, a restaurant and bar area. Fans have found they can chug 'em up until the last minute, cross the street and quickly be in their seats.

The problem is there are too many fans with the same groupthink, creating a bottleneck at the arena's front entrance.

"All you have to do is look at the crowd five minutes before tipoffs," West Virginia AD Oliver Luck said. "The stadium looks half empty. Two minutes into the game it fills up."

The pressure release on that perceived binge drinking, then, is to make alcohol more readily available in a controlled environment. I asked Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby about that analogy -- putting out fire with gasoline.

"You could make that argument," he said.

Court stormings are almost non-existent this time of year. But the issue goes beyond conference tournaments and March Madness. Conferences, schools and commissioners are in competition for that entertainment dollar. That competition means the "amenities" must match professional sports experience -- and in this case the joints across the street.

"I'm a big believer," said Luck who advanced a unique alcohol policy at Mountaineer Field, "in allowing adults to have a choice."

Alcohol is now available at 17 percent, (at least 21 overall) of the 125 FBS football venues according to an informal sampling by That's up if only you consider there are more teams in FBS. Alcohol can be had at Gillette Stadium, home of the Patriots and UMass, beginning its third year in FBS. The same goes for the Alamodome, home of Texas-San Antonio.

But who knew that five of the 13 MAC schools serve beer at football games? Or that in the venerable Big Ten, Minnesota also serves alcohol at TCF Bank Stadium?

"We want to make this an enjoyable experience," said Chris Werle, Minnesota senior associate athletic director for strategic communications.

"I think every athletic department struggles with it one way or the other. But you don't want them to be reckless."

Forget court storming, what about the message being sent on college campuses?

Binge drinking is a problem especially on campuses. Some sort of line was crossed when Marcus Smart went into the stands last month at Texas Tech. Imagine if fans were liquored up when that happened.

"We've had conversations with our ADs about the Marcus Smart incident and where the responsibility lies," Bowlsby said. "It's not solely Marcus Smart. The fan had a role in it."

What to do about those fans -- when they decided to take over the premises -- remains a mystery. The SEC assesses a fine to schools for court/field storming. ($5,000 for first offense, $25,000 for second, $50,000 for third). In the case of Auburn, it's a fine the school was glad to pay for perhaps the biggest day in its football history.

South Carolina president Harris Pastides was among those celebrating with students when the Gamecocks beat Kentucky in basketball earlier this month.

"Once I realized I was paying [the fine] anyway, I ran down ...," Pastides was quoted as saying. "I enjoyed every dollar."

Fine example, not much different than the one set by Ohio State ushers a few years ago. They were helping fans out of the stands after a football win over Michigan.

This week here alcohol sales will be cut off with 12 minutes to go in the last game of the day at the Sprint Center. The venue has a designated driver program. That mirrors similar limits across pro and college sports.

"You can make a case that it's much more controlled ...," Bowlsby added. "I don't see us beginning to sell margaritas at cross country championships."

However, the Big 12 did sell exactly that last week -- sell margaritas -- at the women's basketball championship in Oklahoma City. The women played at the city-owned Chesapeake Energy Center, home of the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Texas started a pilot program selling beer at softball, baseball and basketball. Alcohol will not be sold at the spring football game. A decision to proceed -- possibly to football sales in the fall -- will be made at the end of spring sports.

Texas is among four schools in the UT system currently serving alcohol at various events. At least seven Division I schools in the state make alcohol available to the public.

"We talk about it constantly," outgoing AD DeLoss Dodds told the Daily Texan. "There's something about it that doesn't quite feel right, but there's people telling me that it might be safer to serve it than not serve it."

Luck spearheaded a move three years ago to begin selling beer on campus at Mountaineer Field. The rationale, strange as it sounds, made sense. Fans were actually drinking less because they couldn't leave at halftime, hit the tailgate, and get back in the stadium.

Security officials had a name for it, Code V -- Code Vomit, that point in the first and third quarters when fans would feel the effects of binge drinking at the tailgate.

"Fans were running out at halftime and chugging hard liquor," Luck said. "The public safety people in Morgantown wanted us to change."

Luck's plan has worked so well that a state senate judiciary committee recently approved wine sales at Mountaineer Field.

"We already have beer sales in place, adding wine to that list wasn't that difficult for me," Senator Bob Beach told

To some, there is no other choice. It's either enhance the fan experience or lose the fans. That Barcalounger looks more tempting when HD TV and household booze are involved.

Sure, revenue is a factor in a cash-strapped economy. But in the case of the Sprint/Big 12 alliance, the split will be negligible in the two-year pilot program. Minnesota makes about $200,000 per year, Werle said.

Minnesota officials noted there was no negligible change in student conduct or impact on nearby neighborhoods.

Several conference tournaments sell alcohol because -- like Sprint -- they are played in city-owned arenas. However, the Big 12 hasn't allowed alcohol since 2005 at old Kemper Arena.

The NCAA does not allow alcohol, or even alcohol advertising, inside its tournament venues.

"Every conference makes its own decision," Tate Ross said. "What we find at our events is our fans are of an advanced age."

That's another way of saying the key demographic at these conference tournaments skews older -- a group that, in theory, can handle its booze better. Sprint is among the biggest indoor venues in the country without a pro tenant. But it has plenty of experience serving alcohol to fans hosting concerts, NHL and NBA exhibition games as well as the in-season College Basketball Experience hoops tournament.

"Places where the courts are being stormed are on campus are mostly students," Bowlsby said. "They're typically not selling alcohol there."

That was the case Saturday night at Viejas Arena. San Diego State added extra security anticipating a possible court storming. New Mexico players were able to get off the court safely while students merrily celebrated a Mountain West title.

Fifteen-hundred miles to the east this week, Bowlsby is considering fan conduct as a whole.

"I don't think there's any question decorum has been diminished, standards have been going downward," he said. "We're there to manage the conduct of the event."

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Cardinals, 3B Carpenter agree to $52M, 6-year deal

JUPITER, Fla. - (AP) -- Matt Carpenter called agreeing to a new $52 million, six-year Deal News with St. Louis a no-brainer. The Cardinals are hoping their third baseman sticks even longer than that.

"He's the type of player you'd like to think could finish his career as a Cardinal," St. Louis chairman and CEO Bill DeWitt said Saturday.

St. Louis began contract talks with Carpenter in August. Both sides characterized the negotiations smooth.

"It was not one of those where we were sitting there debating all of Matt's faults or his weaknesses, because there weren't any," St. Louis General Manager John Mozeliak said. "He's really a special person not only on the field but off the field."

The deal includes a team option for a seventh year in 2020 at $18.5 million. Should the St. Louis decline the option, they would pay Carpenter a $2 million buyout.

"For a baseball junkie like myself, I can't think of a better place to play than the city of St. Louis," Carpenter said. "Busch Stadium, I still pinch myself every time I make that drive to the field. Playing in front of these fans, the city of St. Louis, Cardinal baseball as a whole, it's just so much fun. It's such a privilege to put on this jersey. It's something I don't take lightly at all."

Carpenter's agent, Bryan Cahill, said the 28-year-old received a $1 million signing bonus and he'll make $1.5 million this season. The salary escalates each year, reaching $14.5 million in 2019.

Carpenter hit .318 while leading the National League in hits (199), doubles (55) and runs (126) last season and playing mostly second base. He is moving back to third this season, where he has played most of his professional career.

He earned his first All-Star selection in 2013 and finished fourth in MVP voting. A 13th round draft choice out of TCU in 2009, Carpenter's first full season in the majors was 2012.

Carpenter switched to second base during last spring training and started 128 games as a middle infielder in 2013. He also played 24 games at third.

Known in the clubhouse for his work ethic and daily preparation, it hasn't taken Carpenter long to take on a leadership role. He's made an impact not only on the younger Cardinals, but also on the veterans.

"They can't help but watch," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "OK, how did this guy get on the board all of the sudden? How's he in the MVP running? Where did this come from? They can't help but translate the work that's put in and the discipline."

He fought back emotion at Saturday's press conference.

"I realize what a responsibility this is for me," Carpenter said. "I'm really looking forward to living up to this and continuing being part of such a great organization."

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Discount stores flourish as recession habits persist

BERLIN/LONDON (Reuters) - Mid-market retailers face pressure to compete on both price and quality as they battle an expansion of On Sales chains that is powering ahead as recession-era shopping habits become entrenched in post-crisis Europe.

The enduring appeal of a bargain has been highlighted by the success of budget fashion chain Primark, and the imminent London listings of fast-growing discounter B&M and Poundland, Europe's largest single-price retailer.

"We're very good in austere times, but we're even better in good times," said Jim McCarthy, CEO of Poundland, which says nearly a quarter of its 4.5 million weekly customers now come from the more affluent part of the population.

No-frills grocers like Germany's Aldi ALDIEI.UL and Lidl LIDUK.UL, and Spanish chain Dia (DIDA.MC) are flourishing even as the consumer mood recovers in Europe, hurting the continent's top players like Tesco (TSCO.L) and Carrefour (CARR.PA).

Tesco, which has long sought to avoid a price war with the discounters in Britain, announced 200 million pounds of new price cuts on Tuesday, although analysts questioned whether that would stem a fall in market share.

Tesco's shares, which fell 4.3 percent by 1131 GMT as analysts downgraded the company after its strategy update, trade at 11 times forward earnings, a discount to Carrefour on 17 times, which started earlier to address its decline in France.

"Tesco is where Carrefour was in 2005, losing ground to distinct retailers, not addressing the problem," said Bernstein analyst Bruno Monteyne.

Dia, the world's third-largest discount grocer after privately-owned Aldi and Lidl, trades on 17.7 times forward earnings, while Primark-owner Associated British Foods (ABF.L) is on 27.9 times, compared with a fashion average of 17 times.


In France, discounters have been losing market share since 2009 as hypermarkets have axed prices, cutting them by an average of 1.4 percent in 2013, Nielsen data shows, while discounter prices rose by an average of 0.7 percent.

Discounters in France saw a slight net fall in selling space in 2013 for the first time in 15 years and data from Kantar Worldpanel showed their market share slipped to 12.2 percent from a 2009 peak of 14.9 percent.

In a sign the cut-throat trend is set to continue, four big European supermarket chains with combined turnover of about 88 billion euros (71 billion pounds) set up a purchasing alliance this month to drive down prices from suppliers.

"Consumers are feeling better in Europe, the economic forecasts are on the uptick, but unemployment is still really high," said Chris O'Leary, head of the international division of U.S. packaged foods group General Mills (GIS.N).

He said brands no longer saw discounters as "evil" and were selling more products there: "I don't anticipate a wholesale shift back. Those formats will continue to grow, similar to the way Wal-Mart grew, or the way dollar stores are growing."

Asda, Wal-Mart's (WMT.N) British arm, has pledged to spend more than 1 billion pounds on price cuts over the next five years and has abandoned vouchers to focus more on price, arguing that shoppers are tired of complex promotional deals.

Price competition also looks set to remain fierce in fashion as Primark encroaches further on the home territory of the world's largest fashion retailer, Spain's Inditex (ITX.MC), which is responding by reworking its lowest cost brand, Lefties.

Primark, which has already opened 39 stores in Spain and plans more, expects shoppers to remain loyal even as the unemployment-plagued economy starts to recover. It has seen like-for-sales there up over 10 percent so far this year.

"Primark welcomes an improving economy. We think we'll do well in it," John Bason, finance director of Primark owner Associated British Foods, told Reuters.


Primark's glitzy new stores are forcing rivals like H&M to invest in their own shops at the same time as cutting prices.

Aldi and Lidl have also cemented their appeal by investing in smarter stores and advertising and selling more branded and premium goods, with Aldi usurping Waitrose as Britain's "best supermarket", according to consumer group Which.

More than half of British consumers believe food sold in discount stores is of at least the same quality as that stocked in supermarkets, according to a survey by market researchers Canadean Custom Solutions.

"The image of discounters in the UK has been completely revamped. Middle and upper class consumers are going there because of their confidence in the product, not because they can't afford to go elsewhere," said Canadean's Michael Hughes.

German supermarkets, run down by decades of fierce price competition with discounters that have taken more than 40 percent of the market, have clawed back some ground in recent years by offering more quality products and upgrading stores.

But Britain's main supermarkets like Tesco and Asda have struggled to use premium quality as a differentiator from the discounters as upmarket players Waitrose JLP.UL and Marks & Spencer (MKS.L) have already cornered that part of the market.

Bernstein's Monteyne says Tesco's turnaround plan is doomed as long as it sticks to a mid-market strategy and does not try to dominate on either price or quality: "The problem if you have a 'one size fits all' model is you can't be good at anything."

Dutch grocer Ahold (AHLN.AS) has had more success by offering better fresh food and more deli products at its Stop&Shop and Giant chains in the United States, helping it keep growing despite the rapid expansion of Wal-Mart.

That echoes the strategy adopted by Hennes & Mauritz (HMb.ST), the world's second-biggest clothing retailer that has expanded limited-edition designer collections and moved into sportswear to defend shrinking profit margins as Primark expands.

A survey conducted by Societe Generale showed H&M has raised prices of its premium wares in the last two years, even as it continues to trim prices of basics.

(Additional reporting by Dominique Vidalon in Paris, Martinne Geller in Boca Raton and Philip Blenkinsop in Brussels; editing by Tom Pfeiffer)

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Pride & joy: Waverly Twp. man's Penn State football collection represents 40 years worth of memories

Like countless other Scranton area residents, Ken Gentilezza, M.D., lives for Penn State football. But it's fair to say the Waverly Twp. resident has taken his fandom to the next level.

He never misses a home game at Beaver Stadium and has attended dozens of away games and postseason bowls.

Every year, he and his wife, Susan, give a partial scholarship to a deserving member of the Nittany Lions.

When he became dissatisfied with the quality of the PSU clothing sold in State College's many stores, he simply started producing his own custom line through local wholesaler Kevin's.

And then there's the spacious finished basement of his home, a veritable shrine to Nittany Nation.

Just about every square inch of wall space in Dr. Gentilezza's man cave is dedicated to his four decades-long devotion to Penn State. He's never done an official count, but there's easily several hundred items, from signed helmets, jerseys and footballs to blown-up photos to a hand-written note by Penn State's former coach, the late Joe Paterno.

The leather couches he and guests sit on to watch Penn State away games are Nittany blue. So is his bar. Even the bathroom is decked out in full PSU-themed splendor.

Besides Mr. Paterno, many of Penn State's all-time greats make appearances throughout, including Scranton's own Mike Munchak, Eric Shrive and Matt McGloin. Former coach Bill O'Brien, who recently left the Lions to coach the NFL's Houston Texans, has a more modest bit of space dedicated to his brief yet effective tenure.

Dr. Gentilezza views the collection, and Penn State football in general, as a full-blown hobby. He derives the same pleasure from it that other guys do from hunting or fishing.

"This," said Mrs. Gentilezza as she surveyed the fruits of her husband's labors on a recent afternoon, "is definitely his passion."

"It just gives me a great feeling," said Dr. Gentilezza, the managing partner at Northeastern Rehabilitation Associates, P.C.

Dr. Gentilezza, 55, first started decorating the basement around 1996, about four years after he and his wife built the house.

By then, he had been a Penn State diehard for over 20 years. It started, he said, when his father, the late Angelo Gentilezza, took him to a game at Beaver Stadium during the early 1970s. At the time, Heisman Trophy-winning running back John Cappelletti was the Lions' biggest star.

"We lost to Navy in the rain," said Dr. Gentilezza, a West Scranton native. "But it didn't dampen my spirits. I caught the bug."

He ended up getting his bachelor's degree in biology from Penn State, and continued to faithfully follow the Nittany Lions during his medical studies.

For one of his first dates with Mrs. Gentilezza, he took her to the 1985 Penn State-Notre Dame game at Beaver Stadium. They ended up having to wear garbage bags to protect them from the horrible weather.

"I said to myself, 'Who is this guy?'" Mrs. Gentilezza joked.

"Our first two years of being together, Penn State only had one loss. So, she had no real idea what I was like after a loss," Dr. Gentilezza said with a laugh.

Eventually, Mrs. Gentilezza was fully assimilated into Nittany Nation. The couple became season-ticket holders, and during the early 1990s they started attending bowl games, where interactions between fans and the team are more commonplace, resulting in greater autograph opportunities, Dr. Gentilezza said.

It was then that his collection began to grow, and grow, and grow some more.

Today, the setup has a museum-esque sophistication to it, curated into specific sections and themes. Dr. Gentilezza often takes older stuff down and replaces it with newer additions.

The oldest artifact is a 1933 Penn State pennant that sits in a glass display case that also includes a football from the 1994 Rose Bowl, in which Penn State clobbered the Oregon Ducks to put the capper on a perfect 12-0 season.

The oddest piece might be the helmet Dr. Gentilezza won as a door prize at a luncheon held before the 2005 Orange Bowl. Half of it is Nittany Lion white and navy, while the other half is the red and gold of the Florida State Seminoles.

The Lions triumphed in that game and were led to a 12-1 record that season by quarterback Michael Robinson, whose official Big 10 jersey hangs in a full-size wood locker Dr. Gentilezza installed next to the bar. It looks exactly like the real deal, right down to the shoulder pads Dr. Gentilezza put in it.

Other jerseys sit on the wall behind glass. They include the numbers of some of Penn State's finest linebackers, among them Paul Posluszny, Shane Conlan and Jack Ham, who went on to become one of the anchors of the Pittsburgh Steelers' four-time Super Bowl-winning defense.

All of those jerseys are white, with the exception of Mr. Ham's, who gets sole navy blue treatment "because he was fierce," Dr. Gentilezza said.

Some objects hold a special sentimental value for Dr. Gentilezza. His late mother, Carmella Gentilezza, collected bells, so there's a PSU bell on display in her honor. Situated near that is an old Citrus Bowl baseball cap Dr. Gentilezza's father started wearing a few years before getting to attend the actual bowl, a PSU win over the Tennessee Volunteers. A few months later, he passed away.

"That was a great trip. So that hat is a reminder of it," Dr. Gentilezza said.

A good deal of wall space is devoted to enlarged photos of iconic on-field moments, like the Sports Illustrated cover showing Penn State receiver Gregg Garrity after his last-minute catch against the Georgia Bulldogs in the 1982 Sugar Bowl, and Don Graham's jubilant pose following the Lions upset of the Miami Hurricanes in the 1986 Fiesta Bowl. Both wins earned Penn State the National Championship.

Dr. Gentilezza purchases the photos from newspapers, magazines and Internet dealers. Many were in frames at one time, but he recently started converting them into painting-like canvas wrap.

"The frames are good, but I think this has a nicer appearance," he said.

Other photos show him, family members and friends at games and other team-related functions. In one, the Gentilezzas are partying with a shaggy, gray-haired USC fan before the 2008 Rose Bowl. The guy was none other than the father of Rivers Cuomo, frontman of the popular band Weezer.

Not long ago, Dr. Gentilezza converted daughter Olivia's old playroom into a pictorial documenting the 2012 season, when the Lions managed to post an impressive 8-4 record despite crippling NCAA sanctions in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal season 1. He has a picture with the signatures of every senior member of that team.

"That 2012 year was so special. I honestly believe those young men saved the program," he said. "It was probably my favorite year following Penn State football."

Of course, Mr. McGloin, now a quarterback with the NFL's Oakland Raiders, was a huge part of the team's success. Dr. Gentilezza has become close with him, as well as Mr. Shrive, an offensive lineman who just graduated from Penn State, and both of their families.

One of Dr. Gentilezza's favorite photos is a candid shot of Mr. McGloin and Mr. Shrive standing not far from each other in a throng of PSU players. Also in his possession is the first helmet the two ever signed.

"Matt didn't even have a number yet," said Dr. Gentilezza as Mr. McGloin's No. 11 jersey loomed a few feet away, part of another section dedicated to 2012. "Matt, really to me, you can say what you want about Bill O'Brien, but I think Matt made Bill O'Brien as much as Bill O'Brien made him."

Like Mr. McGloin, Mr. Paterno has his own dedicated section of the basement. Dr. Gentilezza had the chance to chat extensively with the coaching icon on a few occasions. During one such encounter, Mr. Paterno signed a football for Dr. Gentilezza.

"You can see I was a rookie back then, because I didn't know about white-paneled footballs," said Dr. Gentilezza with a laugh as he pointed at the brown regulation football etched with Mr. Paterno's scrawl.

Dr. Gentilezza's daughter also had a couple of successful encounters with Coach Paterno. At a luncheon before the 2002 Capital One Bowl, Olivia ran behind the dais and had Mr. Paterno sign her American Girl autograph book. Following a big PSU win at Northwestern during the '05 season, Mr. Paterno signed a hat for her as he walked to the team bus.

As Dr. Gentilezza walks through the basement, beaming from ear to ear while recounting the stories behind each piece, it's clear that the collection is as much a time capsule as it is a showpiece. All the great times he's had through the years because of Penn State football come rushing back in an instant.

"It's a lot of good memories," he said. "That's what it is. Memories."

Contact the writer:, @jmcauliffeTT on Twitter

Age: 55

Residence: A native of West Scranton, he now lives in Waverly Twp.

Family: Wife, Susan; daughter, Olivia

Professional: He is the managing partner at Northeastern Rehabilitation Associates, P.C. Also, he is the attending physician at the Allied-Moses Taylor Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit.

Objects of his affection: A longtime collector of Penn State football memorabilia, his massive collection decorates several rooms of his basement. It includes signed helmets, footballs and jerseys; enlarged photographs; a full-scale wood locker; newspaper and magazine clippings; pennants; hand-written letters, etc. Penn State players and coaches featured in the collection include Joe Paterno, Matt McGloin, Mike Munchak, Eric Shrive, Bill O'Brien, Curt Warner, Ki-Jana Carter, Shane Conlan, Michael Robinson, Jack Ham, Paul Posluszny, Tom Bradley and many others. Go online to see Dr. Ken Gentilezza's Penn State memorabilia collection.

One of the stand-out objects in Dr. Ken Gentilezza's Penn State memorabilia collection has to be the above hand-written letter the late Joe Paterno sent him in June 2009.

Mr. Paterno had visited the Scranton area a few weeks earlier. During that visit, Dr. Gentilezza not only had the chance to chauffeur the legendary coach but also had a good, long conversation with him.

In addition, Dr. Gentilezza gave Mr. Paterno several Penn State football sweatshirts and pullovers that he designs through local clothing wholesaler Kevin's.

Mr. Paterno happily accepted the gifts, and a few weeks later he sent Dr. Gentilezza this note, written on official Penn State football stationery, to inform him that he had worn one of the tops to the office that morning on account of the "cooler" weather.

"They are great," Mr. Paterno wrote, before adding, "I enjoyed my visit to Scranton - I always do - because of the great people of N.E. PA."