Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Loss of Plain Dealer high school writers is saddening

I am saddened by the news of Wednesday's layoffs at The Plain Dealer.
A handful of employees at the paper agreed to voluntary layoffs and severance packages. Others had to wait by the phone Wednesday at 10 a.m. to hear their fate.
Among the layoffs were a handful of high school sports reporters who weren't just colleagues, but friends.
The PD reporters helped me immensely in my 19-year career at The Morning Journal in Lorain and The News-Herald in Willoughby.
It was a pleasure to cover sporting events with them in the rain, snow, mud and heat. They knew their beats so well and their extensive years of experience taught me how to better cover my beats.
When I took over the girls basketball beat at The News-Herald, I didn't know a single coach or player in the area. Bob Fortuna, who had been covering the beat for several years, helped guide me through my first year. He introduced me to players, coaches and gave me story ideas on area teams.
When I had a question about something, I didn't hesitate to call him.
When it was time to assemble the area all-district teams, Fortuna took the time to put together countless pages of invaluable notes.
I could not have gotten through my first all-district meeting without him.
He's an all-around good guy, just like the rest of the high school staff.
At the beginning of my career, I covered a boxing match with Joe Maxse at Grays Armory in Cleveland. It was my first boxing match, and I wore a white shirt. It wasn't a smart move to wear a white shirt when you are sitting right next to the ring.
Maxse, who is the best boxing writer I've ever read, told me to never wear a white shirt again when covering a boxing match.
We still laugh about it.
Last year when I went to cover the girls state golf tournament in Columbus, Tim Rogers took the time to walk the course with me so I could get a feel for how to cover the event. He knew everyone on the course and didn't hesitate to help me throughout the day.
Mike Peticca and I bonded at state track meets. The former Indians beat writer has some amazing stories. Every year at the state track meet, I looked forward to catching up with him as we sat in the sweltering heat in the middle of the track at Columbus. It helped me get through the long, grueling days.
Honestly, it won't be the same without them on their respective beats when the high school season starts this year. They cared so much. It was evident in the way they dealt with coaches, players and the style in which they wrote their stories.
After covering an event with one of them, I always looked forward to reading their stories the following day and comparing them to mine.
Did we use the same quotes?
What was their angle to the story?
What type of catchy lead did they come up with?
I appreciated them when they were with The Plain Dealer, and I appreciate their help even more now that they are gone.
It just won't be the same without them.

-Theresa Neuhoff Audia


Sunday, July 28, 2013

Paying homage to Hall class

While it's unlikely baseball fans were flocking in droves Sunday to this year's Baseball Hall of Fame induction, there was a class honored. Deacon White, Hank O'Day and Jacob Ruppert are newly minted in Cooperstown.

They certainly won't have the name power a class of, say, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and the like would have had if PEDs weren't in the discussion, but here they are nonetheless.

This year's inductees took varying paths to the Hall.

White was a 19th century player for nine different teams during a 20-year professional career, primarily as a third baseman and catcher. He led his league in RBI three times, including a career-high 77 in 1873 and 49 in 59 games in 1877, both for the Boston Red Stockings.  He was a .312 hitter in his career, which began as a member of the old Cleveland Forest Citys in the National Association in 1871 and 1872. White, who passed away in 1939 at age 91, made his largest salary in baseball during his final campaign in 1891 for the Pittsburgh Alleghenys - $3,500 base and a $1,500 bonus for accepting a trade.

The lives of Hank O'Day and Jacob Ruppert are well chronicled by SABR at the links provided.

Ruppert's biggest claim to fame today is being owner of the Yankees and sending $100,000 cash along with a $300,000 personal loan to the owner of the Red Sox ... in exchange for Babe Ruth.

That worked out pretty well.

So it's not the most glamorous Hall of Fame class in history, but for better or for worse all three men are part of the fabric of the national pastime.

- Chris Lillstrung | @CLillstrungNH

Saturday, July 27, 2013

My favorite sports numbers

The best part of the history of sports is certain numbers tell the story.

Say 61 or 714, and most baseball fans know exactly what you're talking about.

I'm a stat guy. Here are some of my favorites:

215: The record number of single-season points set by the Oilers' Wayne Gretzky in 1985-86. It won't be broken in my lifetime.

2,105: The Rams' Eric Dickerson single-season rushing yards total in 1984, which was nearly broken by the Vikings' Adrian Peterson last season.

100: Points scored by the 76ers' Wilt Chamberlain on March 2, 1962, in Hershey, Pa., of all places. One of my favorite sports numbers because it happened on my birthday. No, I wasn't born in 1962.

.406: The Red Sox's Ted Williams batting average in 1941. He's the last player to hit .400 in a season.

59: David Duval's final round score at the 1999 Bob Hope Chrysler Classic. He's the last PGA player to shoot a 59. Duval eagled No. 18 to secure his round of -13.

- Mark Podolski | @mpodo

Cleveland Metroparks' Acacia Reservation: A good walk, unspoiled

I drove past Acacia Country Club many times over the years while thinking, "There's a place I'll never be." The bright colors and perfect greens looked like a mirage while heading down Richmond Road.

That's not the case anymore. The property, at the corner of Richmond and Cedar roads, is now part of the Cleveland Metroparks, and I checked out the trails this week.

Walking past the former holes was almost jarring as the park grows out of its golf past. It looks like a country club that went out of business, or in this case purchased and turned over to the Metroparks.

The old fairways aren't mowed like they would be for golf. Grass is growing through what used to be bunkers. The tee boxes are starting to blend in with the grass around them.

But there's still enough resemblance to a golf course that I wouldn't have been surprised if a crusty old ranger pulled his cart up to some kids playing on an old green and snarled, "Get off my lawn!"

That won't be happening because golf is prohibited in the deed. So are ball fields, among other things including hunting.

While those restrictions will prevent Acacia from having the amenities other Cleveland Metroparks reservations feature, it will be a good place to spend an afternoon going for a walk or a run.

I think it could be a venue for a 5K race. Runners could park across the street at Beachwood Place and walk across Cedar Road at George Zeiger Drive. You wouldn't have to block off any streets to have a nice 5K course, either.

For joggers, the path marked off on the sign at the front of the park is 1.7 miles. It follows part of the old cart path and has some dips and rises, but no big hills. On the run I took this week, there was some standing water in a few spots from the rain a day before. But nothing too bad. There are other areas of the cart path not part of the 1.7 miles, so there's plenty to explore.

If you want hills, a path in the southwest corner is for you. It starts just west of the clubhouse and takes you toward Richmond Road and back. The hills aren't long, but they are so steep that I wondered how golf carts made it up and down without tipping over.

A peek inside the clubhouse revealed it is just as luxurious as you would expect. It's available for events like weddings and such. A sign on the door had the Lyndhurst jazzercise class schedule.

During my lunchtime visit, there were only about a dozen cars in the parking lot, even though the weather was perfect. That's in part because Acacia has only been as a park for a few months, so word hasn't spread.

But it's also because aside from the cart paths, there's not a whole lot to do. If you want to have a picnic, bring a blanket, because there are only a few benches throughout the park. There are no grills or playground equipment.

Perhaps that's for the better. Acacia is in the middle of a high-traffic area. Having a place where you only have to go a short distance to get away from it all isn't a bad idea.

- Howard Primer

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Next round of ESPN 30 for 30 films announced

ESPN on Wednesday announced its fall lineup of 30 for 30 films. Here's a look at the next six in the award-winning series, according to a news release:

-- Oct. 1: "Hawaiian: The Legend of Eddie Aikau." A look at the life of legendary Hawaiian big-wave surfer Eddie Aikau

-- Oct. 8: "Free Spirts." On the Spirits of St. Louis basketball team.

-- Oct. 15: "No Mas." The two showdowns between Sugar Ray Leonard and Roberto Duran.

-- Oct. 22: "Big Shot." The New York Islanders and John Spano.

-- Oct. 29: "This is What They Want." Jimmy Connors at the 1991 U.S. Open.

-- Nov. 5: "Tonya and Nancy." Tonya Harding, Nancy Kerrigan and the 1994 Winter Olympics.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

3rd annual Hooley House/News-Herald High School Football Hot Dog Eating Contest

High school football fans are hungry for the start of the season.

The players are equally hungry — but until two-a-days start in August, there is plenty to satisfy their appetite Monday night at Hooley House.

The third annual Hooley House/News-Herald High School Football Hot Dog Eating Contest takes place at 7 p.m. Monday at Hooley House as a part of a special “Varsity Chalk Talk.” Each two-person team will have 3 minutes to eat as many hot dogs as they can.

Eleven area teams confirmed to participate: Mentor, Euclid, Riverside, Mayfield, Gilmour, Lake Catholic, Chagrin Falls, Chardon, Beachwood, Kirtland and Madison.

Representatives include the following: Kirtland, Mike Cymbal and Cannon Schroeder; Chardon, Kevin Shuppe and Max Menko; Chagrin Falls, Alex Goebel and Daniel Herbener; Madison, Brandon Burkholder and Kurt Smith; Mentor, Brandon Ray and Matt Zolcak.

The remainder of the entrants will be announced tonight prior to the start of the contest live at Hooley House, 7861 Reynolds Road, Mentor. Food and beverage specials will be available. All coaches, players, parents and fans are welcome to attend.

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Friday, July 19, 2013

Johnnycake Jog: Best times

(Through 2012)
Time Year Runner

23:25.0 2005 *Mathew Chesang, 24, Bowling Green
23:26 1990 *John Scherer, 23, Ann Arbor, Mich.
23:27 1993 *John Scherer, 26, Ann Arbor, Mich.
23:32.8 2006 *Emmanuel Korir, 25, Grand Rapids, Mich.
23:33.3 2006 Pius Korir, 23, Grand Rapids, Mich.
23:34.0 2005 Mike Korir, 30, Columbus
23:35.6 1982 *Ted Rupe, 27, Cortland
23:41 1989 *Ted Rupe, 34, Cortland
23:43.9 2011 *Julius Kiptoo, 33, Roaming Shores
23:44.2 1983 *Glen “Sonny” Wilburn, Lorain
26:19.0 2012 *Jessica Odorcic, 31, Madison
26:31.5 1992 *Mindy Schmidt, 23, Ann Arbor, Mich.
26:43.0 2012 Mulu Seboka, 27, Hebron, Ky.
26:56.0 1997 *Olga Yegorova, 25, Tampa, Fla.
27:03.1 1997 Terri Lemke, 25, Loudonville
27:10.9 2007 *Lyndsi Benedict, 26, Gallipolis
27:12.8 1991 *Mindy Schmidt, 22, Ann Arbor, Mich.
27:17.7 1992 Ann Henderson, 31, Lewisville, Colo.
27:17.7 2007 Erin Nehus, 26, Gallipolis
27:19.4 2006 *x-Jessica Kuhr, 25, Kirtland
* — won race; x — Kuhr is Odorcic’s maiden name

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Indians' second-half schedule easy ... on paper

Mr. T famously called The Itallion Stallion a 'paper champion' in "Rocky III."

What does that have to do with the Indians? Not a lot, other than the team's second-half schedule is setting up favorably, on paper. That doesn't mean a lot, but given his choice, I'm sure Manager Terry Francona would rather play bad teams down the stretch than good teams.

The Indians are 51-44, a game-and-a-half back of first-place Detroit in the AL Central. Here's a look at their second-half opponents with opponents' record and winning percentage in parenthesis:

July 19-21: at Minnesota (39-53, .424)

July 22-24: at Seattle (43-52, .453)

July 26-28: Texas (54-41, .568)

July 29-Aug. 1: Chicago White Sox (37-55, .402)

Aug. 2-4: at Miami (35-58, .376)

Aug. 5-8: Detroit (52-42, .553)

Aug. 9-11: L.A. Angels (44-49, .473)

Aug. 12-14: at Minnesota (39-53, .424)

Aug. 16-18: at Oakland (56-39, .589)

Aug. 19-21: at L.A. Angels (44-49, .473)

Aug. 23-25: Minnesota (39-53, .424)

Aug. 27-29: at Atlanta 54-41, .568)

Aug. 30-Sept. 1: at Detroit (52-42, .553)

Sept. 2-4: Baltimore (53-43, .552)

Sept. 6-8: at New York Mets (41-50, .451)

Sept. 9-11: Kansas City (43-49, .467)

Sept. 12-15: at Chicago White Sox (37-55, .402)

Sept. 16-18: at Kansas City (43-49, .467)

Sept. 19-22: Houston (33-61, .351)

Sept. 24-25: at Chicago White Sox (37-55, .402)

Sept. 26-29: at Minnesota (39-53, .424)

- Mark Podolski | @mpodo

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Get out and enjoy the sunshine

Have you been complaining about the heat?
Well, take a look at the picture above.
It could be worse.
It could be the middle of winter.
You could be stuck in traffic on an ice-covered street next to a snow plow.
You could be in your driveway shoveling snow.
You could be bundling up to take your morning jog.
O.K., I think you get my point.
To me, summer is the best time of the year.
This morning when I was watching the news on T.V., the meterologist suggested people stay inside in the air condition to avoid the heat.
Aren't we stuck inside all winter long?
Why would you want to be stuck inside on a nice sunny day?
I understand you have to take precautions, especially if you are a young child or elderly. But if you use common sense, you can really enjoy the day.
Get out and garden.
Get out and wash your car.
Get out and take a swim at your local public pool.
There's a lot to do on a day like this.
Enjoy it because before you know it, it will be December.

-Theresa Neuhoff Audia

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Minor-league geography

With 160 franchises across Minor League Baseball, it's probably not difficult for most of the country to find a game nearby. Some areas are more plentiful than others.

Having always been interested in geography, I thought it would be fun to see how the farm system broke down in that regard. Here are the results:

There are seven states that don't feature a single team under the Minor League Baseball umbrella: Alaska, Hawaii, Kansas, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.

The states with the most Minor League Baseball teams - excluding independent leagues and the Arizona Fall League - are: Florida 14, California 12, New York 11, Tennessee 9, North Carolina 8, Pennsylvania 8, Virginia 8, Ohio 6, Iowa 5, Maryland 5, Texas 5, Alabama 4, Georgia 4, Montana 4, South Carolina 4 and Washington 4.

Montana is interesting, considering it's the 44th largest state but nonetheless boasts four franchises: Billings Mustangs, Great Falls Voyagers, Helena Brewers and Missoula Osprey - all short-season rookie-league affiliates in the Pioneer League.

Probably no one has ever wondered about such things, but now you can impress your friends at your next party with this random information.

- Chris Lillstrung | @CLillstrungNH

Friday, July 12, 2013

Area football teams with the most victories, past 10 years

Here's a look at the area high school football teams with the most victories in the past 10 seasons, as compiled by News-Herald Sports staffer Jim Finlayson:

1. Mentor 93
2. Chagrin Falls 91
3. Kirtland 91
4. Lake Catholic 90
5. South 76
6. Mayfield 74
7. West Geauga 70
8. Perry 69
9. Chardon 64
10. Madison 64

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Lake Catholic should allow Detering to receive her diploma with her class

Lake Catholic senior Abby Detering has made a tough decision.
The University of Florida volleyball recruit decided to graduate early from high school.
She will graduate after fall semester and leave for Florida after Christmas break.
She plans to arrive in Florida in January so she can meet her coaches and start training with her team.
There is a good chance the standout setter can start as a freshman, that is why she wants to get a head start.
While Detering is excited about her decision, she is upset over a decision Lake Catholic has made.
Because she is graduating early, Detering has been told by Lake Catholic officials she can not walk with her class to receive her diploma next spring.
My question is, why punish Detering because she wants to graduate early?
What difference does it make if an exception is made to allow Detering to receive her diploma with her classmates?
She has brought so much positive publicity to the school through her volleyball skills. She has earned a Division I scholarship and is a positive role model in the school.
She deserves to receive her diploma with her class.
I went to Lorain Catholic High School and I am very aware of the strict standards private schools hold their student athletes to. Very little is tolerated and that is one reason why parents send their children to schools that have such high standards.
Detering has met those standards.
She is a talented teenager who has a big future ahead of her.
Why not allow her to leave Lake Catholic with a positive memory of graduating with her class?
Why does she have to leave with a bad memory of not being able to join her friends for one of the most important moments of their lives?
I would like to ask Lake Catholic to reconsider its decision.
It's the right thing to do.

-Theresa Neuhoff Audia

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Sunday, July 7, 2013

Britain reacts to Andy Murray's win

Great Britain can finally rejoice.

For the first time since 1936, a British player won the men's singles title at Wimbledon, with Andy Murray breaking through Sunday to defeat Novak Djokovic.

Whether you're into tennis or not, the storyline every year of Murray trying to end that streak is fairly recognizable to many mainstream sports fans. The pressure under which he plays every year at Wimbledon is staggering.

Thankfully for Murray, that big weight has been lifted off his shoulders.

Here is a look at how the British media covered the momentous occasion:


Sky Sports

Daily Mail


Twitter is having a fun time with it as well.

Regardless of how they're phrased, they all add up to the same finality - the streak is over.

No matter where it is or how long it takes, streaks in sports do end at some point, and in this case, with a thrilling conclusion.

- Chris Lillstrung | @CLillstrungNH

Saturday, July 6, 2013

'The Sandlot' screening July 12 at Classic Park

If you love the film "The Sandlot," then you likely love baseball. Even if you dont, "The Sandlot" is still fun.

It's a coming-of-age movie about a group of children who spend a wacky summer playing ball, chasing girls and battling an over-the-top monstrous dog. It's a ton of fun, and the film, celebrating its 20th anniversary, is coming to Classic Park for a July 12 screening.

Director David Mickey Evans came up with the idea of creating the cross-country tour to screen the film at major- and minor-league ballparks. Evans said the response has been overwhelming.

Evans was awesome during an interview last week, so look for that story in print and at this week in advance for Friday's event.

For tickets and information, contact the Captains at 440-954-9467.

- Mark Podolski | @mpodo

Friday, July 5, 2013

#50for50: Help us pick the 50 greatest area high school football teams in the last 50 years

The June 21 News-Herald Senior Bowl officially closed the book on the 2012 area high school football season, but the sport is always on our minds here at The N-H sports department.

Summer camps open in about a month and the regular season is less than two months away. In the meantime, we're here to provide a football fix.

This summer, we'll unveil the 50 greatest area high school football teams in the last 50 years. We're calling it "50 for 50." It won't be easy, and we're sure it will spark great debate, but we think we're up for it.

We hope this project creates fun debate, as our rankings won't satisfy every fan, but remember, this is for fun.

Why are we doing this? It's because we know most of you — the readers — love area high school football, and this area has a rich, proud tradition.

As we begin preparations to complete our 50 for 50, here's our one rule: If an area team advanced as far as the state final four in its respective playoff, it automatically will appear on our 50 for 50 list. Where those teams rank has yet to be decided. The only guarantee for a team with that credential is a spot on our 50 for 50.

Since 1972 (the first year the Ohio High School Athletic Association adopted a playoff format), 38 area schools have advanced to a final four. Many went on to play in a state championship game, and six have won it all.

Those include 1989 St. Joseph, 1991, 1992 and 2001 Lake Catholic, 1994 Chardon and 2011 Kirtland.

With 38 automatic qualifiers for our 50 for 50, just 12 at-large spots remain. Teams from the pre-playoff era will also be considered. Since we're talking about the last 50 years, the era from 1963 to 1971 will researched heavily by the staff.

We're also looking for help from you. Our records date to the 1985 season, so we're in the process of gathering more data from ‘63 to ‘84. If there's a team worthy of our 50 for 50 from ‘63 to ‘85, let us know by contacting Sports Editor Mark Podolski at 440-951-0000, ext. 680, or email at

Also, look for an upcoming ballot in our sports section, as we plan to include a readers' 50 for 50 list with the project, set for release in late July or early August.


Teams with the most N-H Players of the Week in 2012-13

Let’s look at the area prep sports teams with the most News-Herald Players of the Week in 2012-13.

Honorees were based only on those nominated by teams from area schools, and some sports’ seasons are longer than others, which means more opportunities.


Three: Mentor football, Cardinal football, West Geauga football, Gilmour girls cross country

Two: NDCL girls golf, Fairport football, NDCL tennis, Riverside volleyball, Euclid football, Hawken football, Mentor girls golf, Lake Catholic football, Kenston girls cross country, NDCL football, Gilmour volleyball, University football, Perry football, South football, Perry football, Mayfield football

One: 26 tied


NDCL bowling

Four: Kirtland girls basketball, Mentor boys basketball

Three: Fairport bowling, North girls basketball, South bowling, VASJ boys basketball

Two: Fairport boys basketball, Chagrin Falls boys basketball, Cornerstone Christian boys basketball, Mayfield girls basketball, West Geauga wrestling, Fairport girls basketball, Gilmour boys basketball, Madison boys basketball

One: 32 tied


Three: Mentor boys track and field

Two: NDCL softball, Gilmour baseball, Perry tennis, Lake Catholic girls track and field, Mayfield baseball, Perry girls track and field, Harvey baseball, Chagrin Falls baseball

One: 20 tied

- Howard Primer