Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Benoit Mapango's small gesture had a big meaning

Gilmour junior Benoit Mapango's name won't be in the state track program this week in Columbus.
He didn't qualify for the finals of the Division III long jump.
Even though it was announced over the loud speakers at the Navarre Regional that Mapango finished third. He was awarded a medal in front of a crowd of hundreds of people in the middle of the track at Navarre.
But he quickly handed it over to the third place finisher.
Mapango really finished ninth with a jump of 19 feet, six inches.
He could have taken the third place medal and walked away without saying anything. But he did the right thing and handed it over to Rondel Armour of Youngstown Ursuline who took third with a jump of 20-7 1/4.
The small gesture made a big statement.
It didn't go unnoticed in the press box.
When I received the incorrect results, I was surprised to see Mapango finished third and I began to panic because I did not interview him. I try to interview all of the state qualifiers at regionals and it's a job just trying to track them down in a big crowd.
But the results were quickly corrected thanks to Mapango.
I heard about it during a walkie-talkie conversation in the press box. The woman passing out the medals explained the situation and it was corrected.
I give Mapango credit because it couldn't have been easy to do what he did.
He may not be going to state, but Mapango is already a champion in my eyes.
His act of sportsmanship was priceless.

-Theresa Neuhoff Audia

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Buckeyes have bounced back just fine

Senior tight end Jake Stoneburner leaned back in a chair at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center and took a deep breath.

It's almost as if he couldn't believe time had passed so quickly.

But the reality was there when he was asked about the one-year anniversary of Coach Jim Tressel leaving the Ohio State football program.

Wednesday morning marks the official one-year anniversary of Tressel exiting as coach of the Buckeyes after a successful 10-year run.

"Coach Tress was a great guy," Stoneburner said. "Everyone loved him, so to see him get fired or resign, it was tough. It's kind of crazy how it came around to everything working out. I didn't expect it to be like this, but I'm definitely happy about it."

Losing a legendary coach like Tressel was supposed to send the football program reeling. If not his departure alone, then for sure the scuttle surrounding the memorabilia-for-tattoos scandal would have rocked the program to its foundation, right?

"It's pretty crazy," Stoneburner said. "It's almost like it didn't happen."

After a 6-7 season under interim coach Luke Fickell, a season full of suspensions and a postseason ban for 2012, Ohio State has bounced back rather nicely.

With Urban Meyer bringing his high-intensity program to Columbus, and high-profile recruits from across the nation flocking to join the Buckeyes, it's safe to say there is life to Buckeye football after Jim Tressel.
Keep in mind, too, there was no mass exodus of players via transfer, either.

"For losing one of the greatest coaches at Ohio State ever just a year ago, to be where we're at now, we're pretty fortunate," Stoneburner said.

No worse for the wear, it's safe to say.

If nothing else, the focus is back on the field. Expectations are through the roof.

How much?

Consider Ohio State is coming off a 6-7 season and has an almost entirely new coaching staff this season. Yet, the Buckeyes were named preseason No. 6 by Athlon Sports on Wednesday.

One spot out of the top five.

One slot ahead of archrival Michigan.

Ahead of a handful of teams on their 2013 schedule, No. 14 Nebraska, No. 17 Wisconsin, No. 18 Michigan State and a group of teams just out of the top 25.

What does it mean?

Not much, besides what we already knew - that expectations are high.

They are also attainable.

Defensive lineman Jonathan Hankins flat-out said that the goal is to win'em all this season.

"I feel if we lose a game, it will kind of be devastating," Big Hank said. "But my goal is for us to win every game because I feel we have the potential.”

Athlon Sports agrees. And while the magazine's rankings won't put any points on the board or make a crucial stop on fourth-and-inches, it screams of one thing...

That Ohio State hasn't disappeared from the map of national prominence at all on this one-year anniversary of the darkest day in program history.

In fact, a case could be made it might have emerged from it better than it went in.

Whoda thunk it?

John Kampf

The 2012 Belmont Stakes preview

I'll Have Another.

Will you?

There's a chance something could happen in two weeks that hasn't happened since 1978. Do you have any idea how long that is?

Since 1978, we have had Facebook, Twitter and Google introduced. "The West Wing" has come and gone, so has "Seinfeld." Disco was hot, so was grunge rock, now it is all about Gym Class Heroes and Maroon 5. American Idols fight Dancing With the Stars.

What we haven't had over the last 34 years is a horse good enough and lucky enough to win 3 races in 5 weeks.

I'll Have Another has a chance - a good chance - to win the Triple Crown. Just like Big Brown or Smarty Jones and War Emblem had a chance. This is big for the horse and for the sport.

June 9 is a big day in sports, not just thoroughbred racing.

I'll Have Another.

It's been 34 years, maybe it's time we all have another. Another Triple Crown winner would be just fine with me.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Offensive energy stands out for U.S.

International friendly or not, it was entertaining to watch the United States dominate a solid Scotland side, 5-1, on Saturday night in Jacksonville.

Here are a few thoughts on the match:

-- The energy and smooth flow into the attack was as good as I've seen from the U.S. in years. It seemed like for stretches during Bob Bradley's reign as coach, the team settled into a bunker mentality - let the defensive-third work carry the day and rely on set pieces and the occasional counterattack. But under Jurgen Klinsmann, the approach is clearly different. Yes, there is still a strength in defense, especially as long as Tim Howard is in goal, but the attacking energy and quick combination work is really a nice thing to see. We'll never be Brazil, but Saturday was a nice indication of hopefully what we can do going forward.

-- I've always felt Landon Donovan's best role on the national team was as an attacking midfielder - not constricted by the possessive needs of midfield and not entirely reliant on the service of others as a striker. In this role, regardless if it's left, central or right, it allows Donovan's creativity to really be on display. He is such a natural playmaker for himself and for others, and it showed once again Saturday with a hat trick. Donovan is as good an offensive talent as we've ever had in the U.S. starting 11.

-- It's also nice to see some new faces working their way into the lineup in advance of the 2014 World Cup. The U.S. is in a transition period - by 2014, Donovan will be 32 and Clint Dempsey will be 31, and it will probably be the last big international tournament for reliable defenders Carlos Bocanegra and Steve Cherundolo. Klinsmann is working new players into the system, some from MLS, some playing abroad. It is refreshing to see, say, a Fabian Johnson or a Terrence Boyd getting a callup and valuable minutes on the pitch in the process.

- Chris Lillstrung

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Rocky III at 30 ... as good (and cheesy) as ever

If my son ever asks me about the era I grew up in, I will simply say, "Let's go watch Rocky III."

The 80s were cheesy, but it was my decade. "Rocky III" defines the 80s, good and bad. The film celebrates its 30th anniversary on Monday, and it's just as good as it was when I was 12.

When it was released on May 28, 1982, the film clearly distanced itself from the gritty, tough streets of Philadelphia, were Rocky Balboa just tried to survive. In III, The Italian Stallion is heavyweight champ, living the good life. Stallone said the film mirrored his life as an actor coping with celebrity, money and success.

Let's not kid ourselves. The third movie in the Rocky franchise mirrored the 80s as well. It was a decade of excess, bigger being better and vanity. "Rocky III" has all that covered and more. Let's review:

-Stallone looks like a different person from the first two films. He's in tremendous shape (reports say his body fat percentage was 3), and appears to have had "work" done to his face. As heavyweight champ, Rocky is now an articulate pitch man for all the high-end companies (American Express, DeLorean, Nikon, GQ, there's even a Rocky Punch candy bar). It also means he's getting soft and losing his edge ... or the eye of the tiger, which everyone knows about.

-It's arguable Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger" is one of the 80s' most recognizable songs, if not the most recognizable. Many fans love it, but a lot loathe it. Either way, it's as unforgettable as it gets for the 80s. (A somewhat related note: Stallone tried but failed to get the rights for Queen's hit song "Another One Bites The Dust" for the intro to the film).

-Speaking of the film's intro, what a spectacle. No film franchise had the market cornered on montages, and the opening montage may have been the best ever. It starts with fireworks, and is carried by superhuman Rocky knockouts, commercials ... you name it. If you're not fired up after the movie's few minutes, you either despise Rocky films or don't have a pulse. On an 80s over-the-top scale, that montage ranks as an 11, and that's being conservative. 

-There's also the old reliables Adrian, Paulie, Mickey and the Master of Disaster Apollo Creed, but there's no doubt two characters clearly define this 80s flick ...

-Mr. T and Hulk Hogan. T plays the baddest villain ever in a sports movie (name me another if you don't agree) in Clubber Lang, the up-and-coming contender who knocks Rocky's block off early in the film. What makes the Lang character so 80s is his smack-talking, over-the-top persona, mohawk and over-sized feather earrings. Clubber is the man. A man of the 80s. But there is someone perhaps bigger than Stallone or Mr. T.

-That someone is the Hulkster, as in Hulk Hogan, who plays the hilarious pro wrestler Thunderlips. Rocky agrees to wrestle Thunderlips (who refers to himself as "The Ultimate Object of Desire") for charity. Their match is beyond ridiculous (Thunderlips punches out cops, Rocky - all 180 pounds of him - body slams him)  and make no sense to the plot of the film but it doesn't matter. It was the 80s after all, right?

- Mark Podolski | @mpodo

Friday, May 25, 2012

It's going to be a quick summer

If you work in the field of high school sports, enjoy every day of summer vacation. Fall will be here sooner than you think -- or so it seems.

The first football games of the 2012 season kick off on Aug. 23. We'll have two weeks in the books before September, the first time that's happened since 2008.

Tennis and golf start on Aug. 10, which isn't unusual. Soccer begins on Aug. 18 and cross country on Aug. 20, and that seems like it should be unusual, even though it's just how the calendar fell this year.

Mathematically, it evens out because state championship weekend for baseball, softball and track and field for this school year is June 1-2, weather permitting. That's about as early as it can be.

Just don't mention that when football practice begins on July 30 and people are asking where the summer went.

How about moving leap day from February to June in 2016?

- Howard Primer

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Senior Bowl less than a month away

In past high school seasons, the summer used to be a time for The News-Herald sports department to take a break.

That's no longer the case. With the addition of the second annual News-Herald Senior Bowl, there's no time to rest, and that's fine by me. As sports editor of The News-Herald, these days provide much down time when it comes to high school sports.

In the week leading up to the all-star football game, we'll have video, photos and stories previewing the contest, which will be played June 22 at Mentor's Jerome T. Osbourne Stadium. If you couldn't make it last year because of a graduation party, we've switched the game from a Saturday to a Friday, so mark your calendar.

Also, Bill Tilton will be hosting a kickoff show for the N-H Senior bowl on Monday, June 11 at Hooley House. The show begins at 7 p.m. Coaches, players and anyone else associated with the game are invited to attend.

When the Senior Bowl is over, it won't be long - July 30 to be exact - before area high school football teams begin practice for the 2012 season.

That doesn't give us much time for a breather, but that's the way we like at The News-Herald sports department.

- Mark Podolski | @mpodo

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Cleveland marathon was highly inspiring

On Sunday, I covered the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon.
It was an exciting event with thousands of people downtown.
Many competed in the marathon despite the heat.
It was exciting to see so many people doing their best to complete the race. There were experienced elite athletes and more amateurs who looked like they were about to drop out of the race at any time, but they pushed on.
There's something about seeing thousands of people pursuing the same goal of crossing that finish line.
It was amazing to watch.
Actually, it inspired me quite a bit.
Yesterday, I took my bike out and went on the longest ride of the season. I went 24 miles round trip from Euclid to the pier behind the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I know part of the reason I went so far because of the experience on Sunday.
It motivated me to push myself that much harder.
I hope this feeling lasts all summer long and beyond.
Maybe I'll even run a marathon someday. For now, I'll stick to mini marathons on my bike.

-Theresa Neuhoff Audia

Monday, May 21, 2012

Triple Crown a surprising development

I'll Have Another.

After seeing this horse win the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, I will certainly drink whatever Kool-Aid is being served for the Belmont.

I've seen enough, and, YES, I'll Have Another.

I admit I didn't like the Santa Anita Derby winner heading into the Triple Crown season, and I have never been a big believer in the horses based in California. But this colt is different. Count me in.

The sport needs the buzz, so I love it. I'll Have Another wasn't on anyone's lips as a Triple Crown contender, but the past two weeks should have changed all that.

I'll Have Another? Sure. Especially if the Belmont is a replay of the last two stretch drives by this talented horse who kind of came out of nowhere.

Give me another stretch duel and another victory and  I think me and all horse racing fans - and hopefully sports fans in general - will be ready to raise our glasses!


Sunday, May 20, 2012

Talking women's pro leagues

Quietly this past week Women's Professional Soccer, the latest attempt at a viable pro women's soccer league in the United States, disbanded - sending its five remaining teams in a variety of directions.

The WNBA kicked off another season Sunday with defending champion Minnesota taking on Phoenix.

College softball is on the road to the Women's College World Series with its usual array of games across the ESPN brand.

Yet here's the problem: Did you know any of that? Unfortunately, the answer is likely no.

People have taken on this subject for years, in some cases very eloquently and with plenty of insight - Why can't women's sports really catch on more viably with the American sports public?

That's a question with a lot of layers to it, but any way you slice it, it's a shame.

However - and again unfortunately - the women's pro leagues just can't seem to really take root.

Women's soccer, since the popularity of the 1999 Women's World Cup staged in the U.S. and won by the host country, has had multiple attempts to field pro leagues similar to its European counterparts but with not nearly as much success and staying power.

In the WNBA, it's a fact attendance is not very good and TV ratings, if reports are accurate that ESPN2 broadcasts averaged 270,000 viewers last season, that's not good either.

And as far as softball, you would think these athletes would have a chance to move on to bigger and better things professionally. Yet people seem to be barely aware there's even a league, National Pro Fastpitch.

The biggest thing is, somehow, these leagues need to find a way to establish more of an identity and more of an interest with the casual sports fan. Forget the people who go to the extremes and spew ignorance about subjects having nothing to do with sports when it comes to women's pro leagues, because those people will never come around.

It's all about identity. How to do it, though - well, obviously there's work to be done.

But one thing is certain: If you have children who happen to be athletes, and your sons dream of competing on the biggest stages for the biggest championships, your daughters should be able to have the same aspirations. Here's to hoping it happens sooner rather than later.

- Chris Lillstrung

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Dude (aka Chris Perez), lighten up

Memo to Indians closer Chris Perez:

You're a major-league closer. Closers get booed. Pro athletes get booed.

That being said, you have every right to be upset when fans boo.

What you don't have the right to do is question why fans aren't coming out to watch you and the Indians play baseball at Progressive Field this season.

Understand your pay scale is far removed from the normal person in Northeast Ohio. How they want to spend their entertainment dollar is up to them. So worry about closing out games for the Indians, and less about attendance for home games.

Oh, and one last thing. For someone who apparently is bothered by fans booing, good luck the rest of the homestand after your comments following Saturday's win over the Marlins. The boo birds could be back in a hurry.

- Mark Podolski | @mpodo

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Browns lucky to have Hughes after Taylor injury

So, you didn't like when the Browns drafted defensive tackle John Hughes in the third round of the recent NFL Draft?

I bet you're glad they did NOW.

When the Browns drafted a guy who, for all intents and purposes at the time was a rotational player, eyes rolled across northeastern Ohio. 

"Why are we drafting someone who isn't going to start for us?" Browns fans asked in frustration.

Guess what?

That guy - Hughes - is probably a starter now.

With the recent injury to last year's No. 1 pick, Phil Taylor, the Browns all of a sudden are short on interior defensive linemen. Oh no, wait. They're not. They have this Hughes guy from the University of Cincinnati.

OK, OK, Hughes hasn't played a down in the NFL yet. To assume he is going to play anywhere near how Taylor played last year is a stretch, because we simply don't know that yet.

And to give the Browns too much credit here is amiss, too. When they drafted Hughes to join a rotation along with starters Ahtyba Rubin and Taylor, they didn't KNOW Taylor was going to tear a pectoral muscle and miss the entire year.

But one thing is for certain - you can never have enough big dudes in the middle of a defensive line who can plug up a run game. Thanks to the Browns drafting Hughes, they have a backup plan.

Hughes might not be a star, but he's young, hungry and productive.

It beats the Browns NOT drafting a defensive lineman, wishing they had and plugging that hole with some overpriced NFL retread who won't pan out.

At least Hughes has an upside. The Browns just need him to reach that upside faster than they originally anticipated.

-- John Kampf

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Now that's how to finish a season

Usually, the drama on the final day of the English Premier League season occurs at the bottom of the table, as teams fight to survive relegation.

That drama also played out at the top of the table Sunday, as Manchester City raised a top-flight league title for the first time since 1968 with a 3-2 victory over QPR, getting goals in stoppage time from Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero. Bolton was relegated for the first time in a decade with a 2-2 draw at Stoke, sealing its fate in the Championship next season alongside Blackburn and Wolves.

The governing bodies of the sport should be applauded for taking steps to ensure the race to the finish is played out in a sportsmanlike manner, because there have been a few instances in which it's been far from it.

There was an incident in the 1980s, and to be honest I've heard the story before and can't recall who was involved, but the generalities underline the point. It was the final day of group play - I believe in the Champions League - and two teams were playing a match that played to a 1-1 tie after the first half. At halftime, with a staggered match schedule, word came down of another match result, a final score which ensured both teams were guaranteed to advance to the next round if their match stayed a tie. So what did they do? They "played" the second half - by essentially putting on a passing clinic, one teammate to the other until everybody got a touch, and then the other team did the same. They actually did this for 45 minutes to ensure a 1-1 draw.

Now that's a farce. A true story unfortunately, but a farce.

In this digital age, the news of goals during matches played at the same time will still be fairly instantaneous obviously, so teams will always have a general idea of what they need to do.

But at least fans will be guaranteed of not watching kickball as opposed to an actual match.

- Chris Lillstrung

Friday, May 11, 2012

Indians have identity crisis with uniforms

The Indians won't soon be confused with the University of Oregon football team when it comes to uniforms, but they have plenty of variety.
They have blue hats and red hats. They have hats with Chief Wahoo and hats with the block C.
They have home jerseys with script Indians, and other home jerseys with block Indians.
They have road gray jerseys with block Cleveland, and they have blue jerseys with script Indians they wear at home and on the road.
They could go five straight games without wearing the same uniform combinations. For example, they could wear their weekend/holiday cream uniforms, with red hats, for a Sunday game at Progressive Field. They could wear their normal home whites on Monday, followed by their blue jerseys and white pants on Tuesday. Then they could hit the road and wear all gray on Wednesday, followed by blue jerseys and gray pants on Thursday.

The picture above shows the five combinations (left to right, Associated Press photos):
-- Travis Hafner in the regular home white uniform. The script Indians has been tinkered with over the years. This year, it's more simplistic without as much outlining.
-- Asdrubal Cabrera in the weekend/special event cream uniform. Mr. Blackwell might not approve of the red belt and black shoes.
-- Chris Perez in the blue jersey and white pants. They usually wear this combination for Tuesday home games.
-- Ubaldo Jimenez in the road grays.
-- Shin-Soo Choo in the blue jersey and gray pants.
Teams are usually identified by their style of play or by prominent players and managers/coaches, and not their uniforms. In the Indians' case, that's good. Otherwise, they would be hard to identify.

- Howard Primer

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Classic Masters moment you didn't see

An Ohio man who was arrested during the final round of this year's Masters tournament in Augusta, Ga., for a failed attempt to steal sand from a bunker had his case dismissed on Thursday.

The hilarity was in the court proceeding, though. Clayton Price Baker, a native of Ohio, was the culprit in the case. According to published reports, the 40-year-old slipped under ropes after the end of the tournament and attempted to fill his cup with sand from a bunker.

Security and sheriff's deputies chased Baker, apprehended him and charged him with disorderly conduct.

Richmond County sheriff's Captain Scott Gay said Baker was drinking heavily at the time of the incident. His attorney, Roger Claridge said the incident has caused Baker money and embarrassment. He lost his Masters badges (i.e. tickets) and the meter was running on his private jet he booked to fly home while he sat in jail.

"Let me make sure I understand this, he rode a jet to Augusta to collect dirt?," asked Judge Willaim D. Jennings III.

According to the Augusta Chronicle, Claridge said Baker came to see the Masters.

"So he came here to collect special dirt?," Jennings said. "Had he been successful in his attempt, what, pray tell, would he have done with it?"

Claridge said Baker collects dirt from ballparks and other sports venues he attends as a hobby. Jennings eventually dropped the charge, saying what Baker's endured already is punishment enough.

"You tell him I said, 'Dictum sapienti sat est," the judge said, using a Latin phrase that translates, "a word to the wise is enough."

"Tell him I also said good luck with his dirt," Jennings said.


- Mark Podolski | @mpodo

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Cyclists have the same rights as motorists

In a recent debate in the newsroom with my colleagues, we talked about the rights bicyclists have when it comes to sharing the road with motorists.
Since I am a biker, I objected when I heard cyclists should use the sidewalk and also when I heard we should ride against the traffic.
Both are unsafe myths.
According to, cyclists and motorists share the same rules. Riding on the left hand side of the road is illegal. Riding on the sidewalk is not only dangerous, it isn't practical. Have you ever tried to ride more than a few miles on the sidewalk?. It's not possible.
Another argument my colleagues made was cyclists should ride closer to the curb. But this isn't always feasible. If you ride too close to the curb, you don't leave yourself enough room and cars often come dangerously close. If you leave enough room between you and the curb, drivers are forced to go around. It gives you a buffer in case something goes wrong.
Other interesting facts I learned from include:
* The rule for making turns is the same for cyclists and motorists - merge to the appropriate position and turn either right or left.
* About 30 percent of serious cycling deaths occur at night when only four percent of cycling is done.
* You are three times as likely to be involved in a crash if you ride on the left-hand side of the street.
Since bike season is in full swing, please share the roads.
There's nothing worse than cycling on the side of the road and having a car almost sideswipe you to get around you.
We are both trying to get to a destination.
We both have the right to arrive safely.

-Theresa Neuhoff Audia

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

MLB's suspension policy a joke

Cole Hamels deserves more than five games.

After the Phillies' left-hander openly admitted he hit Washington rookie Bryce Harper with a pitch over the weekend, Hamels was suspended for five games.

No one knows Hamels' reaction when he heard the news, but the safe bet is it involved a chuckle.

Why? Because Hamels, as well as any other pitcher who is suspended for five games, knows the suspension policies of Major League Baseball are a joke, and they are easy to work around.

When MLB suspends a pitcher for five games, in essence, it is only a one-game suspension because pitchers only pitch once every five days. It's a much stiffer penalty for a hitter who is suspended for five games because they actually MISS five games in which THEY WOULD HAVE PLAYED.

Pitchers get off easier. Not only is a five-game suspension in reality only a one-game suspension, but because of the MLB's appeal policies, pitchers often don't even miss a start. They might push a start back a day or two, but they rarely actually miss a start.

A player can postpone his suspension by announcing his intention to appeal the suspension. By doing so, he can dictate WHEN his suspension begins. Pitchers often announce their intention to appeal, make their next start (prior to a scheduled appeal hearing), then drop their appeal and serve the suspension in a time frame that includes an off-day on the schedule - hence no missed start because the rotation is adjusted to accommodate the off-day.

In Hamels's case, he began serving his suspension Monday night. With Cliff Lee expected to come off the disabled list and start Wednesday, coupled with Thursday's day off, Hamels really won't miss a turn in the rotation.
Voila! Problem solved! (at least in Hamels' case).

That doesn't do much to deter a player from doing what Hamels did - admitting he intentionally hit a player.

''I was trying to hit him,'' the two-time All-Star lefty said Sunday night. ''I'm not going to deny it. I'm not trying to injure the guy. They're probably not going to like me for it, but I'm not going to say I wasn't trying to do it."

Because he admitted he was trying to hit Harper, Hamels deserves to miss a few starts. At least a 10-game suspension is apropos. Because it would ensure that he actually misses a start. Rather, a 12-game suspension, which virtually guarantees he misses TWO starts, is better.

As long as the current suspension policies are in place, there is nothing to deters a pitcher from doing what Hamels did. A deterrent isn't attainable until the policy hurts the player or the team in question, i.e. the Phillies.

Hamels won't miss a start for being a thug with a dangerous weapon - a baseball - in his hand.

It's time for MLB to adjust its suspension policy for pitchers to make it hurt, not to make it a punch-line to a joke.

- John Kampf

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Who also has NHL/MLB overlap?

In the last few days, there's been a bit of a controversy in local media as WKYC has had to explain to NHL fans why Game 4 of the Kings-Blues series Sunday had to be pre-empted for the Indians - the hockey fans' logic being the Indians already have a cable home in SportsTime Ohio and the game could be broadcast there instead.

Before I share my opinion on that, I thought it would be worthwhile to see which TV markets run into the same type of problem, in which their local station that shows selected MLB games is an NBC affiliate like WKYC and may be forced into the same position with the NHL obligation.

A little research shows the following MLB teams' home markets also have an NBC affiliate as their local station beyond the usual cable channel option: None. As it turns out, most MLB teams who have a local affiliate, a couple are CBS stations, but the majority are MyNetwork TV or The CW.

WKYC is apparently the only NBC station in the country stuck in this predicament.

In all likelihood, this is an issue that comes up occasionally crossing over other sports as well.

Probably the best thing to do is for the professional sports leagues - as tough as it may be for them to do - to somehow allow some leeway in these situations (an alternate channel, internet streaming availability, etc.).

I feel bad for the local affiliate to an extent here, because WKYC is in a no-win deal - they're going to get complaints from NHL fans if the Kings-Blues game is not shown, which for the most part it wasn't due to the Indians' afternoon game against the Rangers, or Indians fans who don't have cable would be up in arms because they're missing out on a chance to see the Tribe on free TV. WKYC has some leniency with pre-emption of national programming, but not in this instance.

You have to be more flexible for your audience. NFL fans lament how ridiculous, for example, it is for CBS or Fox to leave the last few minutes of an exciting 1 p.m. Sunday game - or not join it at all - because of "contractual obligations".

Perhaps doing what's best for the audience, and closing these loopholes in the first place, would be a good place to start. That doesn't help NHL fans in Northeast Ohio who were denied a Stanley Cup playoff game Sunday in its entirety on NBC, of course, but hopefully this serves as a lesson learned for all parties involved.

- Chris Lillstrung

Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Derby, and instant lottery tickets

I've never considered horse racing a sport. It's a bet, and it's as simple as that.

Without the ability to wager on horse races - most notably the Triple Crown variety - I'm 100 percent convinced they would eventually cease to exist.

As for where it belongs in a newspaper? Where else can we place horse racing then in the sports section? That was decided long before I entered the business.

And don't get me started about horses being athletes. Please.

That being said, I have become enamored with my once-a-year trek to the horse track to place a few bucks on the Kentucky Derby. It's like playing buying a instant lottery tickets, but instead of scratch-offs, watching the Derby is much more fun.

The best things about the Derby? It last a few minutes, you root for your horses, find out if you won or lost, either cash in or throw away your tickets, and move on. By the way, I wasn't a winner ... again.

Let the countdown to Derby Day 2013 begin.

- Mark Podolski | @mpodo

Friday, May 4, 2012

Rough go of it for Colt McCoy

In light of the events of the week in the NFL, it will be interesting to see how Colt McCoy’s career unfolds.

McCoy, the once and most likely no longer Browns quarterback, could live a long, healthy life and have a successful NFL career. But it isn’t trending that way.

On Dec. 8, McCoy received a vicious blow to the head from the Steelers’ James Harrison (Associated Press photo). He was allowed to re-enter because his concussion symptoms weren’t recognized right away, and he ended up sitting out the final three games of the season.

Now the Browns have drafted his presumed replacement, Brandon Weeden.

McCoy is a commodity, and if he isn’t needed anymore, he’ll be quickly forgotten. Such is life in the NFL.

-          - Howard Primer

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The news of Junior Seau's death is shocking

The news of Junior Seau's death shocked me today.
How could a 43-year-old man with three teenage children apparently kill himself?
Seau, who was regarded as one of the best linebackers to ever play in the NFL, died of a gunshot wound to the chest at his beachfront house Wednesday in Oceanside, California.
"Everyone at the Chargers is in complete shock and disbelief right now," the Chargers said in a statement. "We ask everyone to stop what they're doing and send their prayers to Junior and his family."
Seau, who had a 20-year career with the Chargers, Dolphins and Patriots, is the second retired NFL player to commit suicide in the past few months. In February 2011, former Chicago Bears star Dave Duerson shot himself in the chest. 
No matter what your life circumstances are, suicide is never the answer.
There is help.
There are answers.
The national suicide prevention hotline is 1-800-273-TALK.
According to the organization's website, suicide warning signs include:
  • Talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself
  • Looking for a way to kill oneself, such as searching online or buying a gun.
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live.
  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.
  • Talking about being a burden to others.
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs.
  • Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly.
  • Sleeping too little or too much.
  • Withdrawing or feeling isolated.
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.
  • Displaying extreme mood swings.
If you or anyone you know needs help, please call immediately.
Confidential help is available 24 hours a day.

-Theresa Neuhoff Audia