Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Rerunning the 3,200 race at Ravenna was a smart move

For the first time in my 17-year career on Tuesday, I witnessed a track event being rerun at the Division II Ravenna Regional.
Everything was in place for the 3,200 girls race which was being rerun due to an official's error on Saturday. There was even a water station for the girls if they wanted a drink during the race.
OHSAA administrator Dale Gabor was there to oversee the race. He was not only passing out water, but also helping girls off the track at the conclusion of the race.
Everyone involved helped put a bad mistake in the past.
What was left was a pure race for 14 girls to run in scorching 90 degree heat in the middle of the day.
I was impressed that 14 girls showed up for the race. No matter what their qualifying times were, they believed they had a shot at one of the four spots that were up for grabs. They chased their dream of going to the state meet in an empty stadium on a hot day.
Lake Catholic coach Erik Schroeder was there with his sophomore runner Amy Dalpiaz. On Saturday, Dalpiaz was running in the lead pack when the gun sounded too early. She finished what she thought was an eight-lap race in seven laps. When she collapsed on the ground near the finish line, she heard people yelling for her to get up and continue the race. But she figured if she got back on the track she would be disqualified.
In the days leading up to the second race, Schroeder tried to keep Dalpiaz calm. He told her to focus on the race and leave the rest to him. She listened to his advice and placed fourth to qualify for state.
"After all that controversy on Saturday, it was tough to come back from that mentally," Dalpiaz said. "It was also hard to focus in the 90 degree heat. But in life you have to do what you have to do. It felt awesome to qualify today."
Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin senior Erin Vanek also qualified. She finished third on her 18th birthday.
She was planning on spending the day at Cedar Point with her teammates, but instead she traveled to Ravenna for the third time in less than a week.
"I feel like over the years I’ve built up this mental strength that helped me to bounce back from what happened on Saturday," Vanek said. "I also have good teammates. They are the best, and I couldn't ask for any more."

-Theresa Neuhoff Audia

OSU's Senior Day could be entertaining

November 19 should be an interesting day in Ohio Stadium.

Not just because the Ohio State football team will be hosting its final home game of the season against Penn State, but perhaps more so because of what is going to go on prior to kickoff.

Senior Day.

Normal Senior Day festivities include seniors being announced one by one and jogging across the turf one last time to thunderous applause from the 105,000-some fans that cram into the Horseshoe. Players wave to the crowd, hug the coach, shake hands or hug their parents (who are on the field for the ceremony) and again get a deafening ovation from the Buckeye Nation.

Imagine this year's Senior Day festivities - the part when Terrelle Pryor, Dan Herron, Mike Adams and DeVier Posey trot across the turf.

That ought to be some reception, no?

Especially that of Pryor.

Not only are those four players, along with junior defensive end Solomon Thomas, going to miss the first five games of the season via NCAA suspension for selling memorabilia in exchange for tattoos, but they are also members of a quintet that started a storm so intense that Coach Jim Tressel resigned from his 10-year position on Monday.

Oh yeah, Pryor, Herron, Posey and Adams should be REAL popular on Senior Day.

To be honest, the Tattoo Five didn't cost Tressel his job. Lying and attempting to hide things from the NCAA is why Tressel is jobless right now.

But Ohio State fans - some of the toughest, if not the most unforgiving around - won't see the difference.

Which means Pryor, Herron, Posey and Adams shouldn't expect a hero's welcome on November 19. If they're lucky, they'll hear crickets. More than likely, they'll hear booing.

In light of the recent investigation into Pryor and the cars he has driven at Ohio State, Pryor might end up making himself eligible for July's NFL supplemental draft.

ESPN published a report on Tuesday that outlined a player's eligibility for the supplemental draft. Part if it read, "A player must petition the NFL for special eligibility to enter the supplemental draft, and that petition always relies on a player's circumstance having changed since he could have declared for the NFL Draft. A player might be declared academically ineligible, or get kicked off his team for some reason or engage in an activity that causes him to lose his NCAA eligibility."

Pryor might fit into that category if the current investigation reveals some wrong-doing on his part.

The same can't be said for Herron, Posey and Adams. They don't seem to be in any danger of being academically ineligible, being kicked off the team or engaging in any activitiy to make them lose their eligibility to make them supplemental draft eligible.

Which means, after their five-game suspensions to start the season, they will be eligible for the final seven regular-season games of the season.

Including November 19. Senior Day vs. Penn State.

How they are received by the Ohio State fans that day should be interesting.

Don't expect record applause.

- John Kampf

A Memorial Day to remember

You wake up thinking about a cookout and wind up spending the next 15 hours working on The Vest.

Make sense? Probably not.

But in this business, anything is literally possible. That point was driven home on Monday.

I spent my Memorial Day - originally scheduled as a day off to enjoy family and friends and heavily seared meat of any kind - tracking down local reaction to the resignation of Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel.

Complain? Sure, I could, but after 12 years, I understand it comes with the territory. It is the job. The career of a sports writer doesn't get off days. It is what it is. Kind of like being a doctor. Always on call. Sports doesn't take holidays. Breaking news doesn't care about burnt hot dogs or cole slaw.

I got what I needed to get done and my Memorial Day was interesting to say the least.

Hope you enjoyed your Memorial Day. It certainly wasn't a holiday for me or my colleagues in the sports department.

No sense in complaining, nobody would listen if I did.

And there are worst things I could think of, that is for sure.

- Bill Tilton

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sprint canoe racing?

Saturday night, I was sitting in front of the computer at home and was curious to see what was on ESPN3.com. Such experiments before have been interesting, some have put me to sleep.

This time, the one live option available was the 2011 Canoe World Championships.

Oh, why not?

I tuned in just in time for the women's 200-meter K2 final (whatever that means).

It was kind of interesting. If you had Poland in your K2 fantasy pool - congratulations, you are a winner.

A few observations: First, the boats look like telephone poles struck down by lightning - how do people fit in those?

Second, those marketing gurus in canoeing actually put advertisements on the paddles. If it's a sprint race, how will you know about the ad during the race? That would be like a sports drink company putting a small logo on Usain Bolt's uniform and expecting the world to see it during a 100-meter dash.

Third, those canoeists (credit that verbage to the broadcast - certainly not my vast boating expertise) are ridiculously strong. It looks like they're wielding nunchucks.

Here's an example of sprint canoeing, for what it's worth:

Admittedly, watching canoeing at a late hour on a Saturday night isn't going to make me get my own canoe and go out on Lake Erie (that would make for some great entertainment as I float over the international boundary into Canadian waters).

But for a few minutes, it was interesting. Who knew?

- Chris Lillstrung

Friday, May 27, 2011

London Fletcher preparing for worst

St. Joseph and John Carroll graduate London Fletcher relayed a message NFL fans probably don't want to hear.

The Washington Redskins linebacker and the rest of the NFL Players Association won't budge as they continue to be locked out by NFL owners. So much so Fletcher and the rest of the players are willing to sacrifice the entire 2011 season.

“Absolutely. It’s not just about me,” Fletcher told the Washington Post about missing the entire season. “It’s about the players who’ve played before me and the players who will come after me. It’s really about making sure and assuring that if my son wants to come play football in the National Football League later on in life that I’ve done all I can to make it and his life and experience in the NFL the best ... that it possibly can be. And then make sure that we do as much as we can for the players who’ve come before us, who’ve played the game before us, whose shoulders we stand on. If it means that we have to sit out a year — obviously that’s not what we want to do."

“This is not a strike that we’re imposing. They’ve imposed a lockout on us. You have to ask the owners are they prepared to have it where we don’t have a season. Are they prepared to give up this great game and deprive the fans of this sport for a full year? It’s not about us as players. We’re ready to play. We’re ready to play under the conditions that we’ve played under in the past. Or just let us go play football and they’ll figure that part out later.”

- Mark Podolski

Lake, Mentor football teams in tight race

A look at schools that have the most football wins over the past 10 years shows that, to no surprise, Mentor and Lake Catholic are Nos. 1 and 2.

Both schools have multiple deep playoff runs to bolster their victory totals from 2001-10. A look at the top five area schools in the past decade:

1. Lake Catholic - 89
2. Mentor - 88
3. Chagrin Falls - 84
4. Perry - 78
5. South, West Geauga - 75

- Howard Primer


Cole Krizancic: Senior project blog

For the last two weeks at Mentor High, students have the opportunity to shadow someone who works in a particular field that they are interested in. I chose to shadow Bill Tilton, partly because I'm very interested in sports and also because I'm familiar with Bill after he's covered my games for the past four years. Last Monday I began shadowing Bill along with another student from school and began learning what it's like to be a sports writer for a popular newspaper. One thing I learned very quickly is that the job can be very unpredictable, especially during baseball season. The first day was spent in the office due to a couple rained out games that we were supposed to be covering. Then the very next day, we covered a game at Hawken right after we had a horse racing interview in Willoughby. It was delayed for an hour because of rain and lightening and then ended in a tie three hours later because it got too dark. Over four hours spent at the game to see a tie! The rest of the week ran smoothly with no more rain. We covered the district tournament at Euclid High School and got to see some real good games. Bill did most most of the work while I either kept score in the book or helped him out with anything he needed.
I started off my second week of senior project attending Bill's Monday talk show "Chalk Talk" at Hooley House in Mentor. There wasn't much for me to do but I got a front row seat of how everything was set up and how the show was ran. With no games Tuesday, we both had the day off. Then once again, the rain started up again. Both the Wednesday and Thursday game we were supposed to cover were rained out. As long as the rain doesn't continue Friday, we will be heading to Hudson to see Lake Catholic play their regional semi-final game. This will be my last day of senior project and I'd say I'm very happy I chose to do it with Bill Tilton and the News Herald. I learned quite a few things about the life of a sports writer and it was a great experience.

- Cole Krizancic

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Robert Smith chimes in on OSU scandal

Euclid graduate, former Ohio State running back and now ESPN college football analyst Robert Smith has strong comments about the Jim Tressel scandal amid comments from Ray Small in OSU's student newspaper, The Lantern.

Small told the newspaper, "Everybody does it," as in receiving improper benefits as a Buckeye football player from 2006 to 2010. Small said he sold items such as his Big Ten championship ring for money and received "deals" from a Columbus auto dealer.

On ESPN's College Football Live on Thursday, former Buckeye Malcolm Jenkins came to the defense of Tressel, saying, "Not everyboy does it," as in taking improper benefits, and said it's impossible for Tressel to know what every player within the program is doing.

Smith then chimed in on ESPN, and from his view point, the future of Tressel does not look promising.

"I'm not sure if (Thursday) is the turning point, but the turn has happened," said Smith.

Then, speaking what he feels is the sentiment among Buckeye Nation, Smith added, "I think denial kind of goes to the wayside, and acceptance sets in. That's what Buckeyes fans are facing now."

Smith's issues with the OSU controversy isn't players selling trinkets. It's the leader of the football program using incredibly poor judgement.

"What's the worst for me and what Buckeyes fans see in general is that Coach Tressel had such specific information and he sat on it, and then lied to the NCAA about it. That's the most difficult thing about this to accept and the most significant."

- Mark Podolski

Jake Leber: Senior Project Blog

My name is Jake Leber, and I'm a senior at Mentor High School who is looking forward to graduation on June 4th! I have always held an interest in journalism, which is why I decided to shadow Bill Tilton here at The News-Herald for my senior project. Not surprisingly, I met Bill through high school sports, as I was the announcer of the Mentor High School football home games for the Mentor TV channel. Bill and I were lucky enough to be able to watch the games from inside the cozy press box on those cold fall nights, and therefore I got to talk to him often. I knew shadowing Bill would be a perfect fit, because his job consists of two of my main interests, sports and journalism. I started last week, fresh off my last day of school.
So far, the weather has severely deterred the extent of coverage for Bill, because high school baseball can not take place when its pouring torrential rain almost every day (I'm going to college at the University of Georgia. Needless to say, escaping the weather was one of my major reasons for heading to the South.) However, we have been able to attend some games, and I've also been able to observe what its like to be a newspaper journalist. An immediate thing I noticed is how different a journalist's schedule is compared to most professions. Instead of a 9 to 5 desk job, reporters are constantly on the move and very rarely at their desks. I'm the type of guy that always likes to have something to do, so already I can tell that this profession might suit me well. Bill almost works 2nd shift, mostly because high school sports do not start until the afternoon anyways. This is another part of the job that pleases me, because I'm a night owl, and any job that starts in the afternoon and allows me to sleep past 10 sounds good to me. The major appeal of reporting to me is the ability to be creative. During high school, I would much rather write an English paper than solve a calculus equation because you get to follow your own rules when working, not somebody else's. There is no equation on how to write a story. Journalism has really appealed to me so far because of the constant movement, later schedules, and creative freedom it brings.
We did eventually get to cover a few games last week, with the first being an absolute weather disaster. On Wednesday, May 18th, we trekked out to Hawken School to see a playoff matchup between Hawken and Chagrin Falls (strangely enough....Hawken was the away team on their own field. Who knew?) Hawken's field is Astroturf, so they decided to play the game, even in the pouring rain. Luckily, we had a tent to stand under. Not sit, stand. The bleachers were completely soaked, so we were forced to stand in the mud for the entire game. After a 30 minute rain delay and extra innings, the game was postponed due to darkness. What a perfect ending. I don't want to sound like a Negative Ned, but the first game showed me some of the negative sides of being a journalist. When you're in this field, things are constantly changing, which means you often have to adjust. If I become a reporter, I'm going to have to get better at adapting to changing situations.
Thankfully, there was bright sunshine and blue skies for Thursday's games down in Euclid. The Division IV match-ups included Fairport v. Maplewood and Ledgemont v. Cuyahoga Heights. I spent most of the time keeping score and watching for interesting trends or oddities throughout the game that could be included into the final story. Overall, everything went much, much better than Wednesday. If anything, these first two days showed me how back-and-forth a journalist's job can be. But, for me, variety is the spice of life, and back-and-forth is much better than monotony. Every day I shadow Bill, I become more and more convinced that journalism is the right field for me.
I'm now into week two of senior project, but the weather hasn't been cooperating. All of the games have been rained out this week, but I've still found things to do with Bill. Like this blog, for instance! I look forward to the last week of senior project, and, hopefully, the baseball games that I will be covering.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Hines Ward is a deserving champion

I'll admit it. I watched the Dancing with the Stars finale on Tuesday night.
For whatever reason, I just got hooked.
I did not watch the entire season, just a few shows here and there.
When it came down to the final three, I thought Kirstie Alley or Chelsea Kane were going to win. I didn't think it was going to be Ward.
In the end, I'm glad he won.
He deserved it.
It looked like he was so focused throughout the competition and really took it seriously. I couldn't believe the goofy costume he wore in one of his final skits in which he and his partner dressed up like they were in a marching band. But he pulled it off.
In another of his final performances, he dedicated the dance to his mother who was in the crowd. I thought that was very sweet.
It surprised me that this big, tough, Pittsburgh Steelers football player allowed himself to be so vulnerable in this competition. He was just himself and I think that's why he won.
It seemed as if he truly cared about his partner and the overall competition.
The terrible towel holders have a reason to be proud.
Ward is a deserving champion.

-Theresa Neuhoff Audia

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Ray Lewis needs a reality check

Ray Lewis is one heck of a linebacker.

He's not much of a publicist for the National Football League, though, and if anything, he doesn't think much of his league's fan base.

In an ESPN interview last week, Lewis warned of the possible ramifications if the current lockout wipes out this fall's NFL season.

"Do this research if we don't have a season -- watch how much evil, which we call crime, watch how much crime picks up, if you take away our game," Lewis said.

"There's too many people that live through us, people live through us. Yeah, walk in the streets, the way I walk the streets, and I'm not talking about the people you see all the time."

I didn't know the keeper of peace in the United States was the NFL, and that if it is taken away, all pandemonium breaks loose.

Lewis said, "Do this research." It's got to be tough compare crime rates with and without NFL games behind held. But if crime rates in fact are higher when games aren't being held, is it a reasonable correlation to be able to factually say, "If there are no NFL games, crime rates pick up."

The statement doesn't say much about the NFL fan base if Lewis is right. Basically what he is alleging is NFL fans are so shallow that if games are not played and the season is wiped out, the only reasonable thing for those fans to do is to steal, rob, pillage and plunder.

Oh yeah?

If Lewis is trying to force the owners to settle this contract dispute, he needs to find another way to do it. This idea of his is pure lunacy.

Lewis does have a point. If the NFL season is wiped out or abbreviated because of this lockout, the league's fans are going to have to find something else to do with their time on Sunday afternoon.

To think there is research out there that suggests the fans are immediately going to turn to a life of crime to fill that time is idiotic.

- John Kampf

Monday, May 23, 2011

High school baseball polls meaningless

For the 11 years I have been at the NH, I have always thought the Top of the Crop - and the subsequent reactions it always generates, no matter the sport - was mostly ridiculous. It is amazing the anger of some players, coaches and fans because of where the name of their school is on a top 10 list. You would think we were the BCS and that the Crop rankings meant the difference between making the postseason or staying home.

We've been down that road before, but I bring it up now because someone recently asked me why we don't run in the paper of pay more attention to the OHSBCA coaches poll for baseball. Let's put it this way - any poll where not all schools are represented is not going to be highly publicized by me. Members vote for other members and non-members simply get excluded regardless of talent? Doesn't sound like a poll we want any part of.

This latest release of the poll also shows that the coaches association doesn't always get it right - neither does the media, so let's make that clear. Of the three baseball teams from the area heading to the sweet 16 this week, only Lake Catholic was ranked in the coaches poll and the Cougars were No. 8 in Division II despite a 20-5 record at the time.

South not ranked in D-I and Fairport not ranked in D-IV. Were there 10 better teams than the Rebels and Skippers in their respective divisions, more if you include the teams that also received votes?

I am the first one to tell coaches and parents and players not to put much stock into polls of any kind in any sport. What is important is what happens on the field, not in the newspaper.

The latest high school baseball polls should prove that strongly.

- Bill Tilton

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Hand timing vs. FAT

If you look through the weekend's high school track and field results, you may notice an odd notation when glancing at the Division II district results from Pymatuning Valley.

Lake Catholic senior Je'Rica Sanders won her fourth career 100-meter hurdles district title with a time of 14.0 seconds. That would break Hannah Cope's area record in the event if it was fully automatic timing - commonly known as FAT. But it was not, as the race was done with hand timing, i.e. someone at the finish line utilizing a stopwatch. Apparently there was an equipment malfunction during this event.

Because it was hand timing, the area record cannot be awarded. Why, you ask? Allow me to explain.

The human reaction time with a stopwatch, obviously, is not quite as accurate as a computer's ability to judge when an athlete crosses the finish line with FAT. Because of that, when hand times are taken into account, a conversion has to be placed on the performance. In shorter events (200 meters or less), track statisticians commonly use .24 seconds as the addition to a hand time to put it theoretically in line with what would have been a FAT time.

As a result, technically Sanders' time was 14.24 seconds, putting her close to Cope's 14.02 FAT time from 2006 but obviously not enough to surpass Cope.

It's a shame technology got in the way, but either way it was a good run Saturday and part of a big day for Sanders, who also won the 100, 300 hurdles and 200, as she eyes her third straight D-II state title in the 100 hurdles.

As I've written recently, I think Sanders has a 14-flat or sub-14 in her soon. She got the 14-flat part, but because of a computer error just not with FAT.

- Chris Lillstrung

Saturday, May 21, 2011


I'm a child of the 1980s, so naturally when the subject of professional wrestling is brought up, I can't help but think of the likes of Nature Boy Ric Flair and Rowdy Roddy Pipper.

Unfortunately, the death of Macho Man Randy Savage this week prompted a look back to one of the most enjoyable aspects of my youth: watching professional wrestling. More important, rooting and loving the bad boys of professional wrestling.

Naturally, my top 5 list of favorite wrestlers of the 80s only consists of heels, and for good reason. They talked the best smack, strutted better than the likes of Hulk Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior and, shall we say, never shied away from the good ole "foreign object."

Here's my list, with each wrestler ranked from 1 to 5 in four categories: Cool factor, bad-boy factor, skill set and a rant factor:

1. "Nature Boy" Ric Flair - Cool factor: 5 (styling and profiling); bad-boy factor: 5 (Two words: Four Horsemen); skill set: 4 (forget getting out of the figure-four hold); rant factor: 5 (Wooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!). Total: 19

2. "Rowdy" Roddy Piper - Cool factor: 3 (dude wore a kilt); bad-boy factor 5 (It was wise to never turn your back on Pipper in the Pit); skill set: 3 (sleeper hold kind of bland); rant factor: 5 (Two words: Pipper's Pit). Total: 16

2. Randy "Macho Man" Savage - Cool factor: 5 (Ohhhhh yeahhhhh!!!!!); bad-boy factor: 3 (He was always nice to Elizabeth); skill set: 5 (the flying elbow was a thing of beauty); rant factor: 3 (very good when he got rolling). Total: 16

4. Iron Shiek: Cool factor: 4 (He was a Shiek after all); bad-boy factor: 5 (Shiek was from Iran for crying out loud); skill set: 3 (the camel clutch was unbreakable until Hulk Hogan broke the hold to win the heavyweight belt from the Shiek in the late 1970s); rant factor 2 (tried his best for Gene Mean). Total: 14

5. King Kong Bundy: Cool factor: 2 (a singlet with that figure?); bad-boy factor: 5 (one of the baddest of the bad); skill set: 2 (get out of the way of the big slash!); rant factor: 2 (it was more like growling with the big guy). Total: 11

- Mark Podolski

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Friday, May 20, 2011

Area football regional assignments for 2011

With the announcement of enrollment figures for next year, several area football teams changed playoff regions. Here are those schools and their new regions:

Cardinal: Division IV, Region 13
Chagrin Falls: Division III, Region 9
Hawken: Division IV, Region 13
Lake Catholic: Division III, Region 9
Richmond Heights: Division VI, Region 21
VASJ: Division VI, Region 21

For those looking toward future playoff matchups, perennial state champion Youngstown Ursuline remained in Division V, Region 17. The Fighting Irish have won the last three Division V state titles and played in the last four. Also, perennial state powers Steubenville and Cardinal Mooney remained in Division III. They're both in Region 11.

- Howard Primer

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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Eddie! Eddie! Eddie!

I remember covering the 1995 Ohio State football team, and it seemed every home game there were continous chants of "Eddie! Eddie! Eddie!" blasting inside Ohio Stadium.

That season culminated with a home game against Illinois in which Eddie George rushed for an Ohio State record 314 yards against a solid Fighting Illini defense. That performance essentially clinched the Heisman Trophy for George.

Four years earlier, ironically against Illinois, I covered one of George's first games as a Buckeye. Afterward, I never thought we would ever hear of George again following OSU's crushing 18-16 loss to the Illini at Ohio Stadium. George, a freshman, fumbled twice inside the opponent's 5-yard line. One fumble was returned 96 yards for a touchdown. The other occurred at the 1 with the Buckeyes' leading by two in the fourth quarter. Illinois then drove 99 yards for the winning score.

George was banished to the bench for the next two seasons. Finally, as a junior, he was given a shot to start for Coach John Cooper, and responded with 1,442 yards and 12 touchdowns. Then, of course, he earned his spot in the College Football Hall of Fame this week with a season for the ages, rushing for 1,927 yards and 24 touchdowns and winning the '95 Heisman.

I also covered the much-anticipated Notre Dame at Ohio State game in 1995. In that game, George really made a name for himself and created serious Heisman buzz for himself with 207 rushing yards in a 45-26 win.

Not bad for a kid from Philadelphis whose only scholarship offer out of high school was from Lehigh. Instead, he spent a fifth year at Fork Union Military Academy before the likes of OSU and Penn State begin eyeing George.

George's story of redemption is why college football is so fascinating. It was heartbreak to Heisman.

Rarely, do we see such a story in sports, but when we do, they become so much more interesting.

Check out the clip of George's famous run against Illinois in 1995.

- Mark Podolski

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Nick Gilbert was a big hit

How cute was Dan Gilbert's son Nick at the draft lottery on Tuesday night?
Is Dan Gilbert a genius or what?
He sent his 14-year-old son to represent the Cavaliers in New Jersey and he brought home a winner.
It was such a good feeling to hear the Cavs got the No. 1 pick and it made it that much more special when Nick pumped his fist in celebration.
Cavaliers fans have been through enough with LeBron leaving and now it's time to focus on the future.
Cavs fans can dream about what it will be like to have Duke's Kyrie Irving at point guard. On top of that, they have the No. 4 pick.
So here's to putting the hurt feelings in the past and moving forward.
Cavs fans may never recover fully from the pain left from LeBron's departure, but this will help.
Luckily, Gilbert is an owner who cares. He has a big heart and a big wallet - what a great combination.
Unlike last season, this upcoming season will be one to remember.
It's as promising as a 14-year-old teenage boy going into the draft lottery hoping for a No. 1 overall pick.

-Theresa Neuhoff Audia

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Mistakes can be made picking No. 2

If I've learned anything early in this fantasy baseball season, it is this: Don't put all your eggs in one basket.

A simple cliche, no? As often as it is uttered, you'd think I would have learned something.

Au contraire.

As a member of four fantasy baseball leagues - yeah, I know, I have a problem - I was fortunate enough to hit the proverbial jackpot in the draft lottery by being picked to select second in three of the four leagues.

Imagine that stroke of luck. Picking second in three of the four leagues I was entered.

And I blew it.

Thank you very much Hanley Ramirez.

Actually, it's not Ramirez's fault he stinks this year. It's not his fault the Florida shortstop and his nauseating .204 batting average are slaughtering my team.

It's my fault.

Because I picked him No. 2 overall in ALL THREE leagues.

Ouch... Ouch... Ouch.

As expected, Albert Pujols went No. 1 in all three of those leagues. Heck, I would have done backflips if Phat Albert would have fallen to me at No. 2 in any of those leagues, and if he had, we wouldn't be having this conversation right now.

Instead, I told HanRam three times. And am paying a three-fold price for it.

If I learned something, it is this: Spread things around a little. Go for some variety.

Instead of taking Hanley in all three, I probably should have taken Cincinnati first baseman Joey Votto or Colorado shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. Then maybe I would be reaping the benefits of a better season than I am having.

Instead, the three leagues in which I picked second have given me records of 3-3, 3-3 and 2-4. To be honest, as bad as my first-round selection is doing, I should be happy to be mired in mediocrity.

I'm hoping Hanley rebounds and produces like he has every other year when he has played like a god and kicked the heck out of me every time I faced him.

If he doesn't, goes through a career worst season and my team blows up because of it, it won't be his fault. It will be mine.

Because I'm the guy who foolishly picked him three times.

- John Kampf

Monday, May 16, 2011

Preakness being overlooked somehow

The Kentucky Derby is horse racing's version of the Super Bowl, that's very clear.

But the Preakness Stakes shouldn't be the sports version of some preseason game between Jacksonville and Arizona.

For good fans of thoroughbred racing, the third Saturday in May might not have the same allure as the Run for the Roses, but the Preakness deserves a little more buzz. Especially this year when you think about the horses going to Baltimore, including THE horse to beat in Derby winner Animal Kingdom.

A full field of 14 is expected at Pimlico on May 21 for the Preakness, headlined by favorite Animal Kingdom, who impressed everyone with his big score in the Kentucky Derby on May 7. There are some quality horses in the field, including other Derby runners like Nehro, Mucho Macho Man, Dialed In and Shackleford, but Animal Kingdom has a lot going for him and could get to the Belmont in June with a shot at the Triple Crown.

Nobody is expecting the same buzz that led to 160,000 people showing up at Churchill a week or so ago, but don't forget this race is huge as well.

I'm excited with five days left until the Preakness, but that shouldn't surprise the people that know me well.

I just hope other horse racing fans - and general sports fans - give this second jewel of the Triple Crown more than just a passing glance.

- Bill Tilton/BTilton@News-Herald.com

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Tribe recall, circa 1993

Here's a random date in Indians history: May 12, 1993.

On that Wednesday night at the old Stadium, a 13-year-old kid from Painesville sat in Section 22 upper reserve, Row E, Seat 14 as the 12-20 Indians took on the Royals.

Now 18 years later, still with a ticket stub to prove it, a certain 31-year-old sports writer racked his brain to try to remember anything about that game. Not much luck there - other than it was a fast game with great weather. But it's 2011, so there's always baseball-reference.com for better detail.

How about these for starting lineups that day? Fellow 90s kids will appreciate this:

Royals: C Brent Mayne, 1B Wally Joyner, 2B Jose Lind, SS Greg Gagne, 3B Phil Hiatt, LF Chris Gwynn, CF Brian McRae, RF Felix Jose, DH George Brett, SP Mark Gardner

Indians: C Junior Ortiz, 1B Paul Sorrento, 2B Carlos Baerga, SS Felix Fermin, 3B Jeff Treadway, LF Albert Belle, CF Kenny Lofton, RF Wayne Kirby, DH Carlos Martinez, SP Jose Mesa

Phil Hiatt? Felix Jose? Jeff Treadway? Jose Mesa as a starter?!? Believe it.

I'm happy to report the Indians, clearly inspired by the young man in Section 22 upper reserve, Row E, Seat 14, won that game, 6-2, in a tidy 2:20. The Tribe scored five runs in the second, the big hit being a two-out, two-run single by Baerga to plate Ortiz and Lofton. Mesa tossed a complete-game 10-hitter (10-hitter?) with four strikeouts.

Apparently, I was one of 12,081 there that night, and it's probably fair to say that number doesn't grow exponentially today like the crowd for Len Barker's perfect game. But it's a good Tribe memory (albeit a foggy one), and I'll take it.

- Chris Lillstrung

Friday, May 13, 2011

Mentor overtaken as biggest school in Northeast Ohio

Mentor lost its crown as the biggest high school in Northeast Ohio, based on enrollment figures released this week by the Ohio High School Athletic Association. With the consolidation of Southview and Admiral King, Lorain High is the most-populated school in Greater Cleveland.

Here’s a look at the biggest schools in the region. The OHSAA’s figures are based on students in grades 9, 10 and 11 in October 2010. These are not part of the proposed “athletic count.”

Lorain: 2,018
Mentor: 2,009
Brunswick: 1,857
Strongsville: 1,833
Elyria: 1,731
Medina: 1,731
Euclid: 1,571
John Marshall: 1,519
Cleveland Heights: 1,461
Shaker Heights: 1,357
Solon: 1,334

Of note, St. Ignatius’ number is 1,121. Lorain is the only other NE Ohio school with more than 1,000 boys (1,002). Also, Glenville has 506 boys. The cutoff for Division I in football is 494, meaning the Tarblooders were 13 boys away from being in Division II.

Statewide, Lorain and Mentor rank sixth and seventh. Here’s a look at the most-populated schools in Ohio:

Mason: 2,396
Fairfield: 2,366
Lakota West: 2,132
Centerville: 2,112
Lakota East: 2,069
Lorain: 2,018
Mentor: 2,009
Cincinnati Oak Hills: 1,969
Hamilton: 1,963

Among boys enrollments, Cincinnati St. Xavier (1,164) is third and St. Ignatius (1,121) is fourth.

- Howard Primer

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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

My ideal press box

I'm sitting in a beautiful room overlooking the track at GaREAT in Geneva.
On this bright sunny day, I'm here to cover the Premier Athletic Conference meet.
The only problem is I have no results.
That means I'm going to have to wait until the end of the meet to type in all of my results which is frustrating.
My ideal press box would be the room I'm in right now. Only there would be results handy after every event. There would also be a cooler in the room filled with ice cold water and Diet Coke. Midway through the meet, a light meal would be served complete with fresh fruit.
Everyone in the press box would be friendly. No one would be in a bad mood. From the beginning of the meet until the end, there would be lively conversation that would make the meet that much more entertaining.
This is never going to happen I know.
So for now I'll settle for a beautiful room with no results.
I guess I'll have to take what I can get.

-Theresa Neuhoff Audia

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Who is No. 1? We'll find out Thursday

The great debate has raged on for a number of weeks now. Who is the real No. 1 team in the News-Herald's softball top of the crop?

We will find out on Thursday when - in a recently scheduled event - current No. 1 NDCL travels to current No. 2 South for a non-conference game at 4:30 p.m.

A tip of the cap goes to both parties here, NDCL coach Jack McParland and his school's AD Frank Platzar, as well as South coach Erin Dodson and AD Steve Nedlik. This game didn't NEED to be played. Because of early season rainouts, both NDCL and South have a slew of league games yet to play, not to mention a tournament schedule that begins this week with sectionals.

If either or both schools said, "We just can't fit it into our schedule," then no one would have blamed them.

But they decided to play the game virtually on a whim.

And what a game it will be.

NDCL pitcher Jill Hetki vs. South counterpart Nicole Motuza.

South's high scoring, quick offense against the slugging offense of NDCL.

Two of the area's best coaches in McParland and Dodson.

That South and NDCL decided to play a nonconference game in the middle of this busy stretch is win-win all the way around. For the players, they will get a stern tests against the best competition the area has to offer. For the fans, this should be an exciting afternoon of softball. And, selfishly speaking, for me - I get to cover the game.

Fans have been asking for this. In the past week, I've had fans from each school question me on the rankings. Said a South fan as I arrived for last week's game against North, "Oh, so you're coming to see the REAL number one team tonight, I see." Said one from NDCL, "How do you formulate the top of the crop? How do you know who is better, us or South?"

Up til this point, it's been a hunch.

Come Thursday, we'll know for sure.

- John Kampf

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mucho Macho Man's future uncertain

Mike Sivo and Laura Surovi-Sivo aren't sure where they or their talented 3-year old thoroughbred will be on May 21.
Most people thought the Preakness at Pimlico in Baltimore, Md., was a sure thing as far as the destination in two weeks, but an official decision has not been made.
Mucho Macho Man, the third-place finisher in Saturday's 137th running of the Kentucky Derby, is co-owned by Dream Team Stables Racing - a syndicate that the Sivos are part of and have a stake in the colt. Surovi-Sivo said on Monday night that Mucho Macho Man came out of the race with no significant injuries and was headed to Belmont Park in New York. However, a decision on whether he will ship to Pimlico for the second jewel of racing's Triple Crown will not be made until later this week.
The Sivos have been unbelievable with their time and information regarding this horse since I first met them the Saturday before the Kentucky Derby. With the access they have provided to me, in a way, I feel part of Mucho Macho Man's inner circle and don't mind at all rooting openly for him to continue the Triple Crown path and make it to the starting gate at the Preakness.
He will have quite a test at Baltimore if he chooses to run. Derby winner Animal Kingdom looks like a fresh horse continuing to improve and there are plenty of new shooters who did not run in Louisville waiting for the Preakness.
I'm in to the story and its local angle. Here is hoping Mucho Macho Man takes the next step.

- Bill Tilton/BTilton@News-Herald

Sunday, May 8, 2011

A handicapper I am not

So much for that career as a horse racing handicapper after my days at The News-Herald have passed.

Once a year, I try to put on that hat and put a bet - a minimum bet, but a bet nonetheless - on the Kentucky Derby. Granted it's only $2, but it's worth putting at least some effort into trying to get it right.

Let's be honest - I couldn't decipher the Daily Racing Form from a set of hieroglyphics from ancient Egypt, but whatever.

Anyway, Friday night I visited the Kentucky Derby website and reviewed the field. I narrowed down by some process of elimination that seemed sensible to six horses.

Being the conscientious handicapper (OK, total fraud) that I am, I watched video of each horse's last race. "It has to be like track or swimming," I said to myself. My thought process was if a horse stayed up front consistently and then showed a good kick - a track term for a burst of energy and speed toward the end of a race - that was the sign of a good horse.

Which led me to Midnight Interlude and Twinspired.

Now, take a look at this video of both horses. The first is Midnight Interlude's win in the Santa Anita Derby, and the second is Twinspired's runner-up finish in the Toyota Blue Grass.

My theory seems to make sense, right? Well, not quite.

Both horses finished in the bottom five of the 19-horse field at the Derby.

Who knows? Maybe next year I'll pick the next Secretariat, or maybe I'll pick a wooden horse on a ride at the circus.

Only time will tell if my $4 will be better spent on the next go-around.

- Chris Lillstrung


Friday, May 6, 2011

Kentucky Derby: Don't turn away

It's the most exciting two minutes in sports, as long as we remember what time it starts.

Every year, we put one of the newsroom TVs on the Kentucky Derby in time for the pre-race show. Unless you're a horse racing die-hard or a gaudy hat aficionado, there's nothing much to watch, though.

So if you get caught up in writing or reading a story, working on the website, laying out a page or taking a phone call, it's easy to lose track of how close post time is. With the races only lasting a couple minutes, you could miss one entirely during a trip to the bathroom.

I don't think we've ever missed the Kentucky Derby. But we did miss a Triple Crown race one time a few years ago. That means I missed two of the six minutes of horse racing I watch each year.

Unless no horse is going for the Triple Crown. Then it's four minutes.

- Howard Primer


Kentucky Derby blog #10

Uncle Mo came out of the Breeders Cup Juvenile as a champion poised to possibly contend for the Triple Crown.

Now, its not even a sure thing he is healthy - or more importantly - if he will start from post 18 for Saturday's Kentucky Derby.

According to DRF.com: "he had a spirited 1 1/2-mile gallop over a tight and fast Churchill Downs main track on Thursday morning, Uncle Mo’s status for the Derby remains in limbo and a decision on whether or not he runs could be made by Thursday night or Friday morning, according to his owner, Mike Repole.

Uncle Mo was to undergo another battery of tests on Thursday as three veterinarians – Dr. Doug Byars, Dr. Ken Reed, and Dr. Steve Allday – were to examine the colt. Repole said those vets in concert with trainer Todd Pletcher will ultimately make the final decision on whether Uncle Mo starts in the race.

The connections of Uncle Mo have been fighting the calendar trying to get Uncle Mo ready for the Derby four weeks after he suffered his first career defeat in the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct on April 9 and was subsequently diagnosed with a gastrointestinal infection. The infection needed to be treated with antibiotics and did impact the colt’s appetite for a little while. Though he has shown gradual improvement since shipping to Kentucky from New York on April 18, his connections are grappling with whether it’s enough to be ready to run 1 1/4 miles against 19 other 3-year-olds in the Derby.

Uncle Mo has breezed twice since arriving in Louisville, the last time being a five-furlong move in company with Stay Thirsty on Sunday morning. Since then, Uncle Mo walked the shed row one day and jogged twice before galloping 1 1/2 miles Thursday morning."

So what do handicappers do? If he starts, does that mean he is a sure thing?

Uncle Mo is a few lengths better than all the other 19 contenders in the race if he is healthy, but that is a HUGE "IF".

It is a risk that could pay off with a big reward.

The Daily Racing Form and DRF.com contributed to this report

- BTilton@News-Herald.com

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Not necessarily a blog

Nothing is particularly appealing to me this day - a Thursday - to write in a blog.

Rather, here are the top 10 sports items I will never, ever write in a blog. Riveting stuff, I know. Here we go:

10. Women's college basketball

9. The WNBA (seeing a trend here?)

8. UConn women's coach Geno Auriemma (There, I spelled his name right).

7. NASCAR (I did once, never again).

6. The women's final four

5. College water polo

4. Bassmaster Elite Series on ESPN2. (It's on Sunday at 8 a.m. I checked).

3. "The Fan" (So bad, it's laughable. That is saying a lot, considering Robert DeNiro stars in the film about a crazed baseball fanatic).


Euro soccer (I like the American team, that's about it, although I did lay a few bucks on the Netherlands to win the last men's World Cup, but it lost in the final. For that reason alone, it's No. 1).

1. "Rocky V" (The reason why Sylvester Stallone made "Rocky Balboa").

- Mark Podolski

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Two four-time Olympians were in Geneva on Thursday

There were two Olympic track and field athletes at SPIRE Institute on Thursday in Geneva.
The first was four-time Olympic gold medalist Michael Johnson. The other was four-time Olympic gold medalist Harrison Dillard of Richmond Heights.
Johnson was there to announce he would be opening the Michael Johnson Performance Training Center at SPIRE. Dillard was there to listen to Johnson give a motivational speech.
Johnson competed in three Olympics - Barcelona (1992), Athlata (1996) and Sydney (2000). Dillard competed in London in 1948.
What is remarkable is that Johnson is a six-time recipient of the Harrison Dillard Award which is named for the Hall of Fame sprinter/hurdler. The award is given annually to the outstanding male athlete in sprints and hurdles.
So on this day, Johnson and Dillard were side-by-side shaking hands in Geneva.
Who would have thought?
SPIRE Institute founders Ron and Tracy Clutter should be proud.
The Clutters are the founders of the non-profit GaREAT (Geneva Area Recreational Educational and Athletic Trust) and SPIRE Institute. They have brought a world-class facility to Geneva which is something everyone in the area should be proud of.
What is even more exciting is how this facility is going to grow over the years. How many more Olympic athletes are going to be associated with GaREAT? Time will only tell.
Right now, this is an exciting venture that is unfolding right before our eyes. Keep watching because the Clutters aren't finished just yet.

-Theresa Neuhoff Audia


Kentucky Derby blog #9

Wednesday is huge as far as handicapping the Kentucky Derby is concerned.

At sometime after 5 p.m., the post position draw will be held. At that point, we will know who got stuck on the rail and who got shipped outside to the auxiliary gate. Neither have proven great places to be for the Run for the Roses.

The workouts have been over sloppy tracks because of rainy weather in Louisville, but the reports are a clear day and a fast track for Saturday. So, what do you do?

If you don't know where a horse is breaking the gate from and you are trying to handicap a horse off a workout on a sloppy track in such a wide open race, well, good luck.

Wait until Wednesday night. A lot should be cleared up by then.

- BTilton@News-Herald.com

Monday, May 2, 2011

Kentucky Derby blog #8

Workouts galore at Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby, and we are no closer than we were a week ago to figuring this 20-horse field out for the upcoming Kentucky Derby.

Who is going to win the Run for the Roses? Nobody knows for sure, but it seems pretty apparent that the betting public should be big winners on Saturday.

Dialed In, Uncle Mo, Archarcharch, Nehro, Mucho Macho Man? Who is the favorite?

Lots of money to be made.

More will be known once the post positions are set, but the bottom line is this.

The good horses look good. So no matter who you like or don't like, the payouts on May 7 should be sweet.

Much, much more to come.

- Bill Tilton

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Sports talk, and a wedding reception

Even when it seems like the focus might shift, at least for a night, getting away from sports is never easy for me. Here's a case in point:

On Saturday, I stepped away from my usual Saturday News-Herald responsibilities - which this time of year means a high school track meet or page layout - and went to a wedding in Port Clinton. My wife Jenni's cousin Rich got married to his longtime girlfriend Reshae.

My first reminder of sports always lurking was when I admittedly brought it on myself, with a half-hour before the ceremony checking my cell phone to see who the Browns drafted and noticing in turn Ricky Stanzi getting selected by the Chiefs.

The second reminder came at the reception. The best man was giving his speech, of course trying to be funny, and mentioned, "I think we finally got Rich over Phil Taylor." Shall we say Rich, like me a die-hard Browns fan, was not a big fan of Taylor's selection. So 24 hours ago, I honestly couldn't have picked Taylor out of a crowd at the combine. But on this day, not only did I know who he was, but his name came up at a wedding reception.

Then finally, as we got ready to leave, my wife's uncle Earl shook my hand, leaned in and asked, "Chris, how's the Tribe doing?" As I checked my phone, he said, "I figured I'd ask the sports writer."

Sometimes, sports can be like crabgrass or a telemarketer - it doesn't go away.

I don't mind it, of course, but it's funny how and where it never ceases to be part of my life.

- Chris Lillstrung