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Tom's Take on Sports

 
Posts from April 2013


Tebow's final arrow?
     Has the final arrow come from the arm of Tim Tebow?  Has Tebow Time finally reached 15:00?  If it has come to an end, this 15 minutes of fame was well spent. 
      Tim Tebow came out of Florida with a Heisman trophy, a well-deserved reputation for leadership, and a LOT of doubters.  If Tebow's NFL career is over, he still has 2011 to hang his hat on.  You remmber 2011?  The year the Denver Broncos reversed a 1-6 start to make the playoffs-- and win a dramatic overtime victory, thanks to a Tebow TD pass.  Remember Tebowing?  2011 seems a long time ago...
      I said when it happened the move of Tebow to the New York Jets was trouble.  A lot of people agreed-- and were proven right that he should have went back to Jacksonville, to his hometown Jaguars.  But that is water under the bridge now; as far as a QB is concerned, he is poison to all the general managers in the league.  The consensus?  His talent is not worth the Tebow circus.
      Or is it?  Many-- including ESPN's Colin Cowherd-- are pusing a move to the CFL for Tebow.  I agree.  He is not fish and he is not fowl-- he is a different breed of QB.  I agree with Cowherd on this one... he needs to swallow his pride, go to the CFL  for a bit, and refine his skills.  If he can do that, and thrive there, he could be an in-demand QB again.  It has happened before-- remember Doug Flutie?  Warren Moon?  Even Kurt Warner honed his skills in the Arena League before making it big.  If Tebow can swallow his ego-- and just like almost all 23 year-olds, it is pretty large-- and do some time in the CFL, it may be Tebow Time again in the NFL-- but with an older, wiser, more mature Tim Tebow.  It just makes sense.
 
                                               That's my take.... I'm Tom Lee.
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A solid movie whose time has come
     I got a chance to see "42" over the weekend.  I know many of you probably saw it over the first two weeks, but I was a little slower than most to see the film. 
     "42" highlights the selection of Jackie Robinson by the Brooklyn Dodgers to break baseball's color barrier.  It reviews Robinson's move from player with the Negro Leagues' Kansas City Monarchs, to starting first baseman with the Dodgers.  It gives you just a taste of what Robinson was facing when he started his career with the Dodgers.
       First thought here-- a lot of the scenes in the movie concerning Robinson were covered first by one of my favorite documentaries-- Ken Burns' "Baseball."  However, for those who may have forgot that series, the film is a great vehicle to refresh your memory.  Second thought-- :"42" did a great job of capturing a lot of Robinson's struggles in his personal life.  Excellent job in that. 
        My positives from the movie... great job of portraying Rachel Robinson's support role in Jackie Robinson's life.  Other kudos to giving unsung writing hero Wendell Smith a lot of time.  Smith-- writing for the black-cultured newspaper the "Pittsburgh Courier"-- was among the very first writers to push for integration.  He is placed in a very positive light, and deservedly so. 
        My negatives?  The man who portrayed broadcaster Red Barber in the film was mediocre at best.  I am a play by play broadcaster, and I was appalled.  I'm sorry, but that is my honest opinion.  The man doing Barber seemed to be forced in his portrayal of the broadcasting legend.  Shouldn't that role have gone to a well-known broadcaster who could have studied Barber and done a better job?  Whoever did it should have learned at the feet of a man who worked with Barber-- and is still working today-- Vin Scully.
        Also, in the K.C. Monarchs scene at the gas station, I wish they would have cameoed Monarchs manager Buck O'Neil.  O'Neil became legendary-- thanks in large part to "Baseball"-- and it would have been a great last fitting tribute.  Plus, the original story of the gas station was told by O'Neil himself-- again in "Baseball"...
        Finally, I researched this... It was a gambling scandal, and not a sex scandal, that caused Leo Durocher's one year suspension.  He indeed was in an affair with married actress Laraine Day-- who he later married after her divorce-- but the rest of the comments were accurate. 

         All in all though, "42" was a solid movie.  It wasn't a home run-- but it didn't strike out either.  It was a solid double into the gap... and definitely worth your time to see.  2 1/2 stars out of four. 

                                                                   That's my take... I'm Tom Lee
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Why it's GOOD to be Geno Smith
     The most humiliating thing anywhere is to be last one picked for a team.  You remember that feeling when you were in school?  You felt lower than a pop can under a 500-pound anvil. 
      Enter Geno Smith.  Some considered Smith a possible high draft choice-- and indeed, he was in the "green room" awaiting his name to be called in the first round.  The only problem was, it was never called.  Smith left Radio City Music Hall hurt, disappointed, and a bit angry.    But-- an angry QB on Draft Night could lead to a fantastic QB on Game Day. 
       Remember, a few years ago, there was another quarterback who dropped down the pecking order-- to 25th in the first round, when he was expected to be a top 10 choice.  He sat in the green room hurt, disappointed, and VERY angry-- somewhat like Smith.  Whatever happened to that quarterback?  He has become a franchise signal caller for the Green Bay Packers, and replaced another legend in Brett Favre.  His name was Aaron Rodgers-- the pre-State Farm Aaron Rodgers. 
       Do you remember a quarterback who nobody wanted in tle late 1970's?  San Francisco took a chance in the third round on a young, blond quarterback out of Notre Dame.  He turned out to be Joe Montana-- and what kind of career did he have?  He even had a town named after him-- Joe, Montana (true story, look it up!)
       There was also a sixth round pick in recent years out of Michigan that tuned out pretty well for the New England Patriots.  His name was Tom Brady.  Last year, the debale was over Robert Griffin III or Andrew Luck.  Flying under the radar?  Seattle's Russell Wilson-- a late first round selection who may be as good as the others.  Finally, my Cincinnati Bengals waited to the second round in the 2011 draft, and got a good deal on the Red Rifle-- Andy Dalton.
        So, it is good to Geno Smith-- and Matt Barkley, for that matter.  Remember him?  Both will be taken in the second round-- and both will have no problem with motivation.  The teams taking them will have plenty of value-- and plenty of reason to feel they made good selections.


                                                              That's my take-- I'm Tom Lee.
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The Race into the Great White
     We love to talk about women in racing.  Janet Guthrie qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 in the late 1970's.  Legendary driver Shirley Muldowney in drag racing from the 1970's on.  Lyn Saint James-- arguably the best of the female open-wheel racers...and who can go any amout of time without mentioning Danica Patrick? 
      But where are the fastest-- and most competitive-- women anywhere?  Alaska.  The famous Iditarod sled-dog race from Anchorage to Nome took place earlier this spring; it is a race featuring men and women competing as equals.  In fact, for a time in the 1980's, two women made a major Iditiarod imprint in the show-- :Libby Butcher and Dee Dee Jonrowe.  Both women took Iditarod titles, and were formidable racers, for many, many years.  Even with their domination, no woman has won the race since 1990.
       I have been a fan of the Iditarod since my earliest days.  I remember watching highlights on the old sports montage shows-- like CBS Sports Spectacular, and ABC's Wide World of Sports.   There is something about competing against both your opponents, and the ultimate opponent-- early spring in Alaska-- that intrigued me.  Driving a dog sled in blizzard conditions at 2 a.m.... keeping your bearings and finding your markings-- and sometimes drifting off course... traveling through America's last frontier-- the interior of Alaska...and spending nine or ten days in subzero cold-- and all to be the first to pull into Nome.  And to do it all while taking care of your most valuable asset-- your dogs...
       It is the ultimate test of human endurance.  And it is one of the only sporting events in history where men and women compete equally-- no advantages, no special classes-- just you, the elements, and your dogs.  Ladies and gentlemen, start your dogs.  The iditarod-- the best cross-country test of endurance-- and gender equity.
                                                       That's my take... I'm Tom Lee.
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Where ego trumps common sense
     I was trying to figure out what to write about this morning.  Then I came across a column written by CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman.  His column this morning is about players who hit the professional lottery-- and STILL make absolutely foolish decisions about money.
     Oh money...how do I love thee?  Let me count the ways-- why stars keep spending their money foolishly...

       1.  Simple street cred.  I don't care if you are from the most impoverished part of a major city, or a farm boy from a dot on the map in the middle of nowhere-- one rule remains... if you got it, flaunt it!! Especially if you are 19, 20, 21 years of age.   You got to show your homeboys-- either in the city or back on the back forty-- you are DA MAN!!!

        2.  The Age of Invincibility.  I am 46 now, but I remember when I was 20.  I felt I could do anything-- and that is when I was flat broke.  Add a win of the professional lottery to that... just imagine the mindset... "I am SUPERMAN!! I am BULLETPROOF!! I got WHATEVER I want-- booze, chicks, drugs, cars, homes, security for me and my friends..."  quite a heady brew for a 20 year-old who is great at sports, but maybe not good at life.  Mix the two, and you have a perfect recipe for professional player arrests and various outlandish acts-- all reported nationwide in a matter of minutes...
         3.  Lack of mentoring.  These guys hear the rookie orientations... they know the stories of Vince Young-- broke after spending over 29 million dollars.  Entertainer MC Hammer-- just now recovering after blowing over 33 million dollars.  The examples of pros past-- who made nowhere near that amount, and are in some cases destitute.  The warning signs are there... but players won't listen-- unless they have a trusted financial expert deal with their money-- then there will be some light at the end of their playing careers.

     Now that is not to say some haven't spent-- and invested wisely.  Many have-- and will reap the rewards for the rest of their life.  However, to do it, they have to overcome their 20 year-old ego that says they are IT!  Those who avoid that trap, and live wisely-- have a great future ahead of them.  The professional lottery changed their lives-- it is up to them whether it is for better or worse.
                                                          That's my take... I'm Tom Lee.
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Pacers' pace enough to get a good start
     The Indiana Pacers dominated Atlanta to win Game 1 of their 3-6 Eastern Conference matchup Sunday afternoon at Bankers' Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.  The game got the "slot of death," comparative to other, sexier games.  It was broadcast at 1 pm Sunday on TNT. 
      All I have heard from this series is "lack of star power.  Only watch if you want a cure for amnesia."  And to be sure, this first round series lacks a LeBron, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul or Blake Griffin.  What it has in Indiana is a team that plays tough, smart defense and a group of starters who can get it done.  They also have possibly the most underrated coach in the NBA today, Frank Vogel. 
      As I remember in the recesses of my memory, in the early 2000's, the Pacers and New York Knicks played four games that " tapes of the games should be destroyed for the good of basketball."  That was just before Reggie Miller torched Madison Square Garden for 25 in the fourth quarter, and became a legend.  Now, I'm not saying that Paul George or David West will do the same thing-- what I am saying is don't judge a Series by its cover... or its expert predictions.  Indiana may be winning ugly, without a Chris Paul or Tim Duncan or Ricky Rubio-- but it IS winning.  Grit-- not glitz-- will take this team where it will go.  Indiana is a blue collar state; this group of overachieving Pacers fits the state perfectly.  Whether or not the national pundits like it doesn't matter.  These Pacers are setting their own pace-- and slow as it may be... it seems to be working...
                                                               That's my take... I'm Tom Lee.    
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Boston Strong
     Boston Strong.  It is amazing how many people hace come together so quickly, from so many areas, to show solidarity with Boston.  Former New York Governor Mario Cuomo was spot-on when he said 18 years ago in the original production of Ken Burns' brilliant documentary "Baseball"... "Community...we are still not good at it-- except in times of crisis, and then we are magnificent at it."  That was well-spoken.  Before Monday's events, we thought of Boston as either a bunch of stuck-up strange-talking Brahmins, or a group of boorish, strange-talking longshoremen.  A couple of bombs changed that perception.  Now when we think Boston, we think "Boston Srong." 
     What is Boston Strong?  It is 17-thousand people singing the National Anthem with passion at a Boston Bruins game-- acapella and totally spontaneous.  It is volunteers doing the right thing-- taking whatever resources they had close and helping victims of the Boston Marathon bombings.  It is light blue and gold ribbons to remember the dead and injured.  And, it is people from across the country forgetting their Boston prejudice, and helping a brother city in need.  That's Boston Strong.
       
       
        We had a similar situation concerning New York City in 2001.  Until 9/11, many HATED the NYC.-- or at least thought they did.  Four planes, two downed towers, and one country standing strong changed all that.  Ironically, even Boston-- New York's biggest sporting rival-- lent its support to the Apple in the days following the 2001 terrorist attack.  And to their ever-deserving credit, New York returned the favor to its counterpart throughout the last week.  That's Boston Strong.
         Finally, the emergency responders-- who providentially were already in place for the Boston Marathon-- waded right into danger as others fled the scene.  The police, fire crews, and emergency crews doing their job.  Or, as Alan Jackson deftly put it in his 9/11 tribute song "Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning"-- the emergency workers "just doing what they do."  That's Boston Strong.
          This column is for all those who have persevered this week-- from Indiana's First City to one of America's first cities.  Puritan leader John Winthrop helped found Boston in the 1600's-- and it is good to see his work-ethic continues to this day.  For nearly 400 years... That's Boston Strong.

                                                              That's my take... I'm Tom Lee.    
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More of my childhood gone...
     The first time I heard the line "A piece of my childhood is gone" was with the death of New York Yankees' legend Mickey Mantle.  Mantle has been gone for a long time now, but it seems almost monthly, the heroes of my childhood are passing on.
      I was too young to remember Mantle, but a piece of MY childhood died yesterday, with the passing of Pat Summerall.  Summerall died in Dallas yesterday at the age of 82.  His voice was the soundtrack of the great NFL games of my youth-- through the 1970's with Tom Brookshier, and through the 1980's, 90's and into the 2000's with John Madden.  Not many remember Summerall took the Number 1 spot on the NFL on CBS from another legendary announcer-- Ray Scott.
        Summerall knew football because he played it.  He was a kicker for the New York Giants during the 1950's, where he performed with another player-turned-broadcasting legend-- Frank Gifford.  Summerall left the field for the broadcast booth in 1961, and becaome a play by play man in 1973. 
       Some people are just tied to a sport-- even though they do others as well.  Summerall was the voice of the Masters for many years-- remember his call of Jack Nicklaus' improbable sixth green jacket in 1986?  In fact, it seemed appropriate that he died two days after this year's Masters wrapped up.   He also covered McEnroe and Connors and Edberg and Becker-- and other tennis stars of the 1980's-- at the U-S Open in New York City.
        Interestingly, Summerall started as an analyst, but moved to the play bp play chair because he sounded too much like his play by play man-- a guy named Jack Buck...maybe you heard of him.  Just like Buck, he did several sports-- but like Buck, he will be known for one.  Summerall was to football what Buck was to baseball.  It's that simple. 
         One more thing about Summerall-- he was THE expert of minimalism.  He said just enough to let you know what was going on, and made his analyist the star.  That is why his pairing with the bombastic, brilliant, and sometimes belligerent John Madden worked so well on CBS and Fox for 21 years.  
           We may not have the presence of Pat Summerall anymore, but we do have the voice.  Rest in piece, Pat Summerall.  You will be missed-- and remembered as long as men don pads and throw passes in the NFL.

                                               That's my take.... I'm Tom Lee. 
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The Basketball Capital of Indiana
Appropriately enough, Washington is the capital.  You know Washington is the U-S capital, but I am going to make a case for Washington, Indiana as Indiana's basketball capital-- at least for 2013.  Here are my points-- partisanship aside-- to naming Indiana's Washington as 2013's basketball capital...

1.  Cody Zeller became the third and final Zeller to declare for the NBA.  His two brothers-- Luke and Tyler-- have also enjoyed some time in the NBA.  Luke's road was the toughest; he played at Notre Dame, but got overshadowed by a guy named Tyler Hansbrough.  He did stick it out though, and eventually was rewarded with some NBA time with the Phoenix Suns. 
       Tyler Zeller headed to North Carolina.  He was one of two southern Indiana players in the last decade to play in Chapel Hill-- Scott May's son Sean helped lead North Carolina to a 2005 NCAA title, and Zeller was a prominent player on some great North Carolina teams later in the 2000's.  Tyler Zeller's move to Tobacco Road was an example of the depth of the dark days of Indiana basketball in the late 2000's-- a period that was turned around in part with the signing of... Cody Zeller.  Zeller aided the resurgence of Indiana basketball-- both as a brand and as a great basketball team.  The Hoosiers made the Sweet 16 each of Zeller's two years, before he declared yesterday for the NBA draft. 


2.  Steve Alford's move from New Mexico to UCLA.  Alford has ties to Washington-- his father, Sam Alford, is a Washington native who moved on to Franklin College, then to Monroe City and South Knox, before eventually moving to Martinsville and to legendary coaching status at New Castle.  Alford's move to UCLA is another full circle move; THE UCLA coach-- The Wizard of Westwood, John Wooden-- is a Martinsville native.   Allford's place at New Mexico will be taken by....

3.  Washington High School standout Craig Neal.  Neal was Alford's top assistant at New Mexico, and a key component of the Lobos' success.  Neal also learned at the feet of a coaching master-- Bobby Cremins-- while playing at Georgia Tech.

There's my case for Washington as the capital-- of Indiana basketball in 2013.  Not bad for a town of 12,000 people.... Best of luck to the Zellers, Steve Alford, and Craig Neal.  May you keep this area in the headlines for a long time to come.


                                               That's my take... I'm Tom Lee.
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Pacers prove stars are overrated
     The Indiana Pacers did something last night only one other team has ever done in the history of the NBA.  The Pacers trailed the Cleveland Cavaliers at Bankers' Life Fieldhouse by 21 points with nine minutes left.  What happened then?  The Pacers outscored the Cavs by 26 points in the last nine minutes to win the game by five.
      How rare was it?  The Pacer comeback was only the second time in NBA history a team made up a 20 point deficit in the fourth period.  The only other time was around ten years ago, with the L.A. Lakers came back from a similar deficit against the Dallas Mavericks.  
       Last night's comeback just cements something-- at their best, the Pacers are among the best teams in the NBA.  They are also among the least glamorous.  Outside of the Indianapolis metro area, can anyone name any of Indiana's top starters?  Danny Granger is the star-- but he isn't a household name.  David West, Roy Hibbert, et al?  Not exactly Kobe, LeBron, D-Wade, Steve Nash, Blake Griffin, or Chris Paul.  No, Indiana isn't a "sexy" team...but they are third in the Eastern Conference.  They also may be the Kryptonite to the Miami Heat's Supermen.  Coach Frank Vogel may be using mirrors, but he is doing the job with the Pacers.  They have the grit, defense, and first-line players to make a deep impact in the NBA playoffs.  
         However, this team is different than the 1990's-vintage Pacers who made several Eastern Conference Finals, and its lone NBA Finals appearance in 2000.  This team doesn't have Reggie Miller hitting 25 points in the final quarter to beat the Knicks-- and superfan Spike Lee.  It doesn't have that team's coat of glitz.  This team has grit instead of glitz-- which means it may not be pretty to watch on TNT or ESPN, but blue collar teams can still win in today's NBA.
          The Pacers... a great representative of Indiana's famous work ethic.  Remember this point about Indiana in the coming playoff... Their style may not be sexy, but winning always is.  
                                                          That's my take... I'm Tom Lee. 
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NCAA post-mortem
     Last night was the thrilling finish to this year's NCAA Tournament.  Louisville defeated Michigan in what was-- and is-- a widely-considered high-quality basketball game.  Both teams had double-digit leads; both teams had bench players play significant roles; and to cap it off, Luke Hancock-- Louisville's sixth man-- was named Final Four Most Outstanding Player.  There were stories, too-- Kevin Ware showing up after breaking his leg a week earlier in the Midwest Regional final... Luke Hancock's father battling a serious illness... the echoes of the Fab Five of Michigan-- and they became especially loud when Chris Webber showed up in Atlanta.  People forget the original Fab Five never won a title, despite being in two title games... and this edition also came up just a few points short. 

     Some other NCAA Tournament musings...


--  This tournament needed Florida Gulf Coast.  You always need a fresh angle, and boy,. "Dunk City" was that in spades....
--  If history is a guide, Indiana fans should be happy Louisville won this year's national title.  Prior to last night, Louisville won two championships-- in 1980 and 1986.  Indiana won the national championship the year following BOTH Louisville titles.  Indiana also won a championship with the undefeated team in 1976-- and the year before, in 1975, Louisville was in the Final Four. 
--  IF indiana is to win a title next year, they have to bring a certain "X-factor" to the table.  This year's Hoosiers were loaded with talent-- but they lacked that something extra to push them over the top.  This is where Tom Crean needs to channel his inner Bob Knight... Louisville had that X-factor-- the toughness to find a way to win.  The Hoosiers had that in February, but lost it in March.  The loss to Minnesota... the loss at home to Ohio State... the loss (again) to Wisconsin... the near-loss to Temple...and the loss to Syracuse.  Talent wasn't the issue-- along with Louisville, Michigan, and maybe Ohio State, Indiana was the most talented team in the country.  The issue is toughness-- and it is exactly the reason Cody Zeller should stay at least one more year.  Does he have the talent?  Undoubtedly.  Now, he needs the toughness.... We saw it in flashes in 2012-2013, but it needs to be there consistently.  IF Zeller comes back... and IF Indiana can find the mental toughness to match its talent (Will Sheehey will be a big help in that department)... history COULD repeat itself in March of 2014.  Louisville won the title, meaning Indiana could be next...IF..........
                                                            That's my take...I'm Tom Lee.
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Why I love baseball
     I am Tom Lee and I love baseball.  Why do I love baseball?  Let me count the ways...
     I broadcast a game last night that saw North Knox dominate a good Loogootee team at Warrior Field for five innings.  The Warriors led 6-0 after five-- and cruising to a third victory.  But the Lions showed why they are among Indiana's most resilient teams in many sports by scoring 3 in the sixth, and 3 in the seventh-- capped by a Conner Wittmer home run to tie it in the top of the seventh.  But you have to give the other team their chance-- and North Knox showed it in the bottom of the seventh.  Tyler Sanders-- who hit a 3 run homer earlier-- hit a second homer off the scoreboard in left-center field, and won it for the Warriors.  High drama-- and great action from both teams on a cold early evening at North Knox.

      Indiana University has a baseball team.  I know that surprises some, but they do-- and it is playing stellar ball right now.  The Hoosiers-- the runts of the Big Ten baseball litter-- are moving to the head of the food chain.   They have had major leaguers come from IU-- I met one from the 1980's and early '90's, pitcher Barry Jones-- but rarely a team like this.  They are talking possible College World Series in Bloomington...and they have started the year at 22-3.  Not bad...

       Finally, the majors.  Washington D-C has not had a baseball world champion since 1924, and hasn't been in the World Series since 1933-- but many think this is the year the Nationals break that 80-year World Series appearance drought.  Stories like that fuel baseball hopes.  Other stories abound too-- the Cubs will probably continue their over 100-year championship drought, and the Reds and Cardinals will probably be fighting for a title.  That's just in this area.  It is a long season, where small differences over the months make a big impact on who gets into the playoffs.

        I love baseball-- high school, college, and MLB.  All I can say is... Play Ball y'all!!


                                                   That's my take... I'm Tom Lee.
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A tale of two 20 year-olds
It was the best of times for one, it was the worst of times for another.  This is a tale of two 20 year-olds....

      One is Washington Nationals franchise player Bryce Harper.  Harper plays professionally, is part of  a team in a 162-game season, and is making more money than his grandkids will ever spend.  Not bad for a kid not even at the legal drinking age. 
      The other is University of Lousiville basketball player Kevin Ware.  Ware is a college basketball player who broke his leg in U of L's victory to get them into the Final Four.  He is not making more money than his grandkids will ever spend-- in fact, he is not making any money off his talents at all yet... due to NCAA regulations against that sort of thing.
       This column is not about paying stpiends to college players.  The wisdom of that is being debated by others far wiser on the subject than I.  It is, however, a stark contrast between the 20 year-old Harper and the 20 year-old Ware.  Will Ware be better off with a college degree than Harper-- who went straight to pro ball?  Is this a trade-off athletes are willing to make?
        Let's take another example-- of a player who could have had millions by the time he turned 21.  His name is Shane Larkin-- the multi-talented guard for the University of Miami.   After a disppointing end to this season, Larkin decided to spurn the NBA for at least another year, and play for the 'Canes.  Now, Larkin has a mulligan here-- his dad is baseball Hall of Famer Barry Larkin.  However, he decided early to forego baseball-- even though he is obviously talented at it-- and follow the footsteps of his uncle Byron Larkin.  Larkin was an extremely talented point guard for Xavier University in Cincinnati.  Is he making the right move to give up millions right away for a chance to make them later? 
        It is the best of times, and the worst of times for two 20 year-olds.  Bryce Harper and Kevin Ware-- two athletes... one making millions, and one suffering as a college student with a broken leg.  Here's to hoping for long, productive lives for both young men-- and for Larkin.  They all have very bright futures ahead.

                                                                 That's my take... I'm Tom Lee.
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Opening Day in baseball
     This is Opening Day in baseball.  Another baseball season starts, as teams strive all through the spring and summer to bring glory, honor-- and a pennant-- to their long-suffering fans. 
      I am among a hearty breed of fan that originated over 140 years ago-- I am a fan of the Cincinnati Reds.  I come by it honestly-- I grew up just a bit over an hour away from the Queen City, in Connersville, Indiana.  I have a genuine love for both Cincinnati teams-- the Reds in baseball, and the Bengals in football (oh, please help me there!)  But I digress.
       In many places, Opening Day is a commencement-- a culmination of hopes and dreams.  In Cincinnati, it is even more than that-- it is an unofficial municipal holiday.  Fron the annual Findlay Market parade, to the famous players and Hall of Famers returning, to the first pitch of the season at Great American Ball Park-- Opening Day is special in Cincinnati.  This year, it will be even more special-- with the first interleague Opening Day in history.  The Cincinnati Reds will host the Los Angeles Angels in the season lid-lifter.  It seems appropriate for a couple of reasons-- the Reds were the originator or professional baseball, and both teams are expected to be good to excellent all year long.
        The late Commissioner of Baseball, Bart Giamatti, said it best-- Baseball is meant to break your heart.  It starts in the spring when everything is blooming, then dies away when the leaves are changing and falling off the trees.  And leaves you to face the fall alone."  Even so, enjoy the love affair while you have it!! Play Ball-- whether you are a Reds, Cardinals, Cubs, White Sox, or even the odd Indians fan (ahem, Doug Carroll)... and to one and all... Play Ball!! 
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