Saturday, December 18, 2010

Kankakee County Soldiers vs. Gary Splash, December 15, 2010

When I saw former Gary Steelheads Ryan Edwards and Kenyon Gamble in their pre-game warm-ups for the Soldiers, I assumed it was going to be a long night for the Splash. I was wrong (by the way, the South Shore Splash is now simply the GARY Splash). The Splash beat the snot out of the Soldiers, 105-91. I forgot Kenyon Gamble is tall, but is not a dominating player.

...but that's not what I want to rant about. My designated driver (not that I need a designated driver because it's not like I drink beer or something wink, wink) dropped me off at the Genesis Center early. There was a middle school basketball game going on before the Splash game. Apparently, this was a Splash sponsored event because there were Splash players checking tickets at the door and Splash players refereeing the game. What disappoints me is that BOTH middle school teams immediately got on their buses and left after their game. They didn't stay for the Splash vs. Soldiers game. If the Splash was allowing those schools to use that nice Genesis Center basketball court and arena while the Splash was footing the bill, then the schools could have been courteous enough to stick around. It doesn't matter that it was a school night. Those kids weren't going to go home and study anyway. I don't recall seeing a single bookbag on a kid as they left the building. However, I do recall seeing every kid carrying their game shoes in orange boxes because of the school's Nike contract. Mind you, this is the same school that is a billy goat's hair away from being shut down by the state because of poor academic progress. Maybe the kids could learn something if they broke from their routines of hopelessness and despair...but the adults are going to have to change THEIR attitudes. The kids can't do it alone. The adults could have said, "Have the buses pick us up at 9:30 instead of 6:00pm. We're staying for the game".

The schools won't work closely with local businesses (and this has been a problem since forever), but they'll bend over backward for ESPN."

According to Rachel Margolis of ESPN, the network's first broadcast of a high school game occurred in December of 2002. The big-name player in that game was LeBron James, who played at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron, Ohio. That game was on ESPN2.

ESPN began a regular series of prep games in 2003, when three games were shown. In 2005, with ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU now in the mix, eight games were shown nationally a year.

By the way, Gary Lew Wallace Junior/High School is the other beforementioned school that bolted before the Splash game. The nationally broadcasted ESPN game involves the varsity high school team and I'll promise you no one will hesitate to stick around for ESPN on THIS school night.

Mind you, students at Gary Lew Wallace have some of the lowest test scores in the state. Also mind you, this national game is just for bragging rights. ESPN isn't going to do anything for Gary. A local business like the Splash (or Railcats baseball team, for that matter) CAN do something for Gary.

End of rant.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Gary's New Basketball Team: The Southshore Splash

My daughter called me from the Gary Genesis Center while I was doing homework for yet another college course I was taking. She asked me if I had my season tickets for the new basketball team yet. I asked, what basketball team? She went on to explain that she was at the Genesis Center covering the announcement of Gary's new fall/winter team for her television station. She also said the new team logo looked great and the presentation seemed professional.

I then asked, what league? That is very important because of the [i]joke[/i] minor league basketball leagues around. The IBL, she answered. Cool, the International Basketball League (IBL) is probably the only good minor league outside of the NBADL. I mean, this demonstrates how out of touch I am these days because I knew nothing...probably because I have been spending so much time bicycling around Chicago's beautiful lakefront instead of attending to more important matters. Thank goodness for a mild fall. I was sure to tell my daughter good looking out for me. She earned the cost of her tuition today...well, not really. She still needs to landscape my new yard or something when I move. Anything. Build me a stone patio maybe.

Yes, I can do season tickets on such short notice. The season starts only 1 1/2 months after this announcement. I have been looking for something to do this winter since the home team AAHL Chi-Town Shooters hockey franchise folded.

Friday, September 3, 2010

This unwritten baseball rule will not catch on

Through my associations, I know a lot of unwritten rules exist in professional baseball--like thou shall not dance to your theme music before entering the batter's box. Infractions of rules like this one will get a batter drilled in the back by a fastball, then the manager or coach that ordered the hit may later remind that same downed batter they still want him to speak at their youth camp during the off-season. The unwritten rules trump friendships.

Last night during the Railcats last regular season home game, I learned a new unwritten baseball rule. Maybe this is only a minor league/independent league rule, but I DO NOT think it is going to catch on.,bbm-railcats-0903.article

...With two outs in that inning, things escalated. On the first pitch after Schaumburg manager Mike Busch made a mound visit to Aaron Guinn, the right-hander hit John Parham. And on the next pitch, Guinn hit Adam Klein. A furious Tagert hopped out of the dugout, with Busch appearing to tell him to go back. Guerrero had to restrain Tagert, as the dugouts emptied again after Tuesday's drama over a home-plate collision, before order was restored with no ejections.

Tagert said the Flyers were upset about comments fans in the stands were making during at-bats.

The comments fans made during at-bats upset the Schaumburg Flyers?!? That is why I do not think this unwritten rule will gain popularity. How does a manager control the comments of the fans?!? Manager Mike Busch told Manager Greg Tagert to control those M----- F-----'s. That is why he ordered the Gary Railcats players hit, he went on to say (I sit in the front row, so I hear it all at the ballpark). Of course, Greg Tagert threw his hands up and said What do you want ME to do about the fans??? They're going to say stuff. It got funnier after things calmed down, well maybe not for John Parham. Another fan, who sits next to the visiting dugout every game kept yelling They better not hit you (Parham) again or I'm running out on the field. You guessed it. It was all about rude fans. The next time at bat Parham got drilled in the back a second time to spite this noisy fan. You also guessed it, the fan hugged his seat and did not make the slighted move toward the field. Instead, the fan yelled Well, if it happens again I'm there for you Parham.

I do not care much for obnoxious fans either, but what can a person do? Heckling is a time-tradition part of baseball. This new unwritten rule does not have any legs. The offending pitcher and manager were tossed from the game, Parham probably wished they would have picked on someone else, and there are still plenty of talkative people in the stands that will never face an 88 mph fastball between the shoulder blades.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Brother, can you spare a dime? Part II

The Premier Basketball League (PBL). Also known as, The Strangest Minor League in the World is at it yet again. Apparently, newly appointed League President Andre Levingston needed some help (or supervision) so Anthony (Tony) Chase was appointed CEO and co-owner. Apparently, Tony Chase has as many problems paying bills as Andre Levingston. Apparently, only the Founder/co-owner Dr. Serverko Hrywnak has any real money.
Chase said he is behind in paying 25 percent of the Stallions' vendors but said he has the funds reserved to pay the Stallions' Horse Park bill, due Monday — about $3,000 for each of 10 games.

Chase said the team is leaving the Horse Park because the Stallions were going to have to spend an additional $13,000 to remove and later reinstall the basketball floor to accommodate another Horse Park event.

Let me get this straight. Someone signs a lease agreement with a horse park arena to play basketball then this same someone seems surprised when horse events are also held? Hmmmm. Chase also owned another under-performing minor league basketball team during the same period of time.
Tony Chase, the Lexington, Ky.-based owner of the American Basketball Association’s Music City Stars, issued a statement on the dismantling of the young franchise that read longer than the Stars’ season.

“We will spend the next few months determining what course, if any, will be taken in the future,” Chase began. “It is difficult at best to introduce a minor league sport into a community, much less attempting to do so following two attempts in the recent past.”

He went on to discuss how difficult it had been to get fans in the seats, adding that most of the attendance was the result of complimentary tickets.

Considering Mr. Chase's track record, he is a strange choice for CEO. However, this IS the strangest minor league in the world.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Using Your Head About Concussions

Concussions are nothing to take lightly. I suffered a mild concussion in August 2009 after I fell roller blading (and yes, I was wearing a helmet). Nothing like this has happened to me before and I would not wish it on my worst enemy. My speech and memory was affected for MONTHS afterward. I did not notice significant recovery until I returned to take college courses during Spring 2010 and was forced to concentrate. As of the writing of this blog, I still space out from time to time...which I do not think is normal. Well, it is not normal for me to space out as much.

RailCats using their noggins about closed-head injuries
By Hillary Smith Posted: Tuesday, August 17, 2010 10:00 pm

"After the first one, not only are you more susceptible, but they start to compound," said Townsend on Tuesday, in the clubhouse for the first time since he left Saturday's game against Lake County with nausea and dizziness.

"The more you get, the worse it gets, and that holds true. I didn't feel like I had hit my head that hard this last time. But the symptoms came back."

I did not feel I hit my head hard either. As a matter of fact, I did not think I hit my head at all until I later looked at the back of my helmet and noticed a grass stain. Maybe I did bump my head, I thought.

No nausea and no dizziness for me. I was fortunate. Tanner Townsend is a very good minor/independent league player (Gary Southshore Railcats), but if he has had multiple concussions (and he knows what I know) then it is probably time to hang-up the spikes. Permanent damage is too likely.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Bark in the Park

This was the first annual Bark in the Park promotion by the Gary Railcats Northern League team. It is a safe bet that I was the only guy to bring a little dog in a red dress to the ballpark. Coco is my daughter's doggy and she takes Coco everywhere. She wanted to bring Coco for a little fun at the ballpark herself. However my daughter had to work, so I was given the task of taking Coco for a ballgame.

Was I supposed to dress like my dog too? That lady has a black and white dog and she is wearing black and white shorts. Sorry, I stop at wearing a red dress.

Okay Coco. Just lay on my lap. The game is not that interesting anyway.

Minor league baseball, the rust belt, and the recession

Lake Michigan Shore magazine's July 2010 edition includes an article on three rust belt teams along the southern most shores of Lake Michigan: West Michigan Whitecaps, South Bend Silver Hawks, and Gary Southshore Railcats (the only independent league mentioned in detail).

The recession has put a squeeze play on America, but no place has been hit as hard as the Rust Belt. Unemployment in Michigan reached 14.3 percent in January, the highest in the country.

But minor league baseball continues to prosper in Michigan, notably with the Midwest League’s West Michigan Whitecaps outside of Grand Rapids. On the Indiana side, the South Bend Silver Hawks are branching out into the community, and the most remarkable upswing can be found with the Northern League’s Gary SouthShore RailCats—a team that is defying odds with its spiffy downtown ballpark.

Baseball can thrive during bad times.

There were some interesting statistics in the article. I always knew (even before the ballpark was built) the highest percentage of fans at Railcats games would come from places other than Gary. However, I didn't know Gary residents were as high as the third largest percentage of fans at US Steel Yard either. I figured Gary residents were far lower down the totem pole in that department. Don't know why I figured that since I'm a Gary resident and practically live at the ballpark and know other Gary people that camp-out there as well.

A few other interesting statistics, while I knew the Railcats attendance went up last year I didn't know that during the same year 81% of all minor league attendance went down. Railcats attendance seems a little down this year (2010) though. Maybe bad economic times have taken hold. I seem to remember larger crowds on Fireworks Fridays.