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Tuesday, Dec. 23, 2014: Cardozo coach Naclerio wins 700th game

   Leading off today: Ron Naclerio became the second coach in PSAL history to amass 700 boys basketball victories, reaching the milestone Monday as Cardozo topped Queens rival HS of Construction 73-61.

   Naclerio, fourth on the all-time state wins list, joins retired Campus Magnet coach Chuck Granby at the 700 level in the PSAL. Jack Curran of Archbishop Molloy set the record of 972 in 2013.

   "It's a blessing. It's a great feeling to get him his 700th win," Cardozo senior Elijah McNeely told The Daily News. "He told us not to worry about the 700th win, just to worry about the game and beating a tough team. He didn't care about how much we won it by, he just wanted us to win."

   Cardozo's season will resume after the holidays.

   "I'm already worried about the next game in January, but I think at some moment over the holiday I'll enjoy it," Naclerio said. "It would've been a long Christmas if we lost tonight."

   Moving forward: I mentioned in a blog nearly a year and a half ago that the day was coming, and now The Journal News has reported we're a step nearer to limits on contact at most New York high school football practices.

   With concussion concerns mounting, the New York State Public High School Athletic Association held discussions last week to start framing standards.

   NYSPHSAA Executive Director Robert Zayas, who serves on the National Council on Youth Sports Safety, indicated the threshold for contact may be set at 90 minutes or two practices per week. "I think it will be a push of our association," he told the paper.

   Section 1 football chairman Chuck Scarpulla supports limits and thinks many coaches have already pulled back from routines of days past.

   "Twenty years ago, you'd scrimmage every day," Scarpulla said. "(Now) good coaches understand you don't want to lose kids on the practice field."

   It's a tough climb: When we watch the highest level of pro sports on TV or at the stadium, it's easy to marvel at the talents of baseball, football, basketball and hockey players and maybe be a bit envious.

   Living in a community where the sports motto might as well be "Nothing says minor-league like Rochester," I see my share of prospects just one rung away from hitting the big time in pro baseball or hockey. Many will make it to the NHL or MLB, and others will top out without ever seeing a six-figure contract.

   I was reminded of just how tough the grind can be by a pair of updates in the Democrat and Chronicle 10 days apart about two outstanding players who cut their teeth in Section 5 and then jumped directly to minor-league baseball.

   This morning, the paper reported that the New York Yankees have left former Irondequoit star Cito Culver off their 40-man roster, which exposed him to the Rule V minor-league draft. If that sounds ominous, then it's even worse that none of the 29 other major-league clubs were willing to take a gamble on the 22-year-old shortstop.

   The Yankees' decision comes on the heels of future Hall of Famer Derek Jeter's retirement.

   "My goal and dream this whole time is to make it to the big leagues," Culver said. "I don't need extra motivation for that. I've always been self-motivated when it comes to that. The business side of baseball is out of a players' control, so I don't worry about that."

   No one's more keenly aware of the business side than Chris Bostick, who earlier this month was traded for the second time in a year. Bostick, a second baseman who starred in baseball at football at Aquinas, and right-handed pitcher Abel de los Santos were shipped to the Washington Nationals by the Texas Rangers, who acquired major-league pitcher Ross Detwiler.

   Bostick was part of a trade in December 2013 that sent major-league outfielder Craig Gentry and pitcher Josh Lindblom to the Oakland A's.

   "Everybody says that anytime you get traded for a big-leaguer, it's a good thing," said Bostick, 21.

   While Culver is still struggling in Class A, Bostick is likely to move up to Double-A ball. A trade or an injury elsewhere in the organizations could put him a phone call away from Triple-A, where the major-league dream becomes reachable.

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