Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Wedge is no idiot, trust me

Can we just take a sabbatical on the Eric Wedge bashing?
Every night I turn on the talk show on Sports Time Ohio, the hosts and callers are taking their turns at the Cleveland Indians' manager like he was a pinata.
Why didn't he bunt Jhonny Peralta?
Maybe because Wedge doesn't think he can bunt.
Why didn't he play Kenny Lofton?
How about because he's too old to play every day.
Why didn't he pinch-hit so-and-so?
Probably because it wasn't a favorable matchup based on history.
Or why didn't he stick longer with the starter? That's followed the next night by why did he stick with the starter?
I realize the Indians are far from perfect.
But consider they are hitting .268, which ranks seventh in the league. They are fifth in runs scored. The pitching ranks sixth in the league with a 4.38 ERA.
And, entering today, the Indians are in first place, 3.5 games ahead of the Tigers.
All I know is Wedge could manage my team any day.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Thunderboomies make a mess of opening night

What a mess.
The round of lightning and thunderstorms played havoc with the opening night of high school football Friday.
I was at Shawnee, where the game was delayed one hour and 28 minutes because of lightning. The game was finally called official with Columbus St. Francis DeSales knocking off Shawnee 20-0. There was 6:30 left in the third quarter when lightning and rain stopped the game again and it was declared official.
But here's the catch.
When the Ohio High School Athletic Association added another round of playoffs a few years back and pushed the opening day back another week, it opened the door for this.
Two games in August only invites 90-degree games and lightning delays.
If we want more teams in the playoffs and a longer playoff format, this is what we have to expect in August.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

ONU's Meadows returns to full speed

One number stood out to me during Ohio Northern's first week of football practice this week.
That was the time running back R.J. Meadows was timed in the 40 last Saturday. Meadows is more than back after being sidelined for the final four games last year with a knee injury. He underwent surgery for torn cartilage and a torn meniscus in his right knee on Oct. 23.
After plenty of rehab time and extensive work at a sports training facility in Cleveland, he's ready. His 4.44 time was faster than his previous best of 4.52.
The 6-foot junior Meadows ran for 724 yards last year. As a freshman, he ripped through Ohio Athletic Conference defenses for 936 yards and 20 touchdowns.
Meadows also has put on 15 pounds and now weighs 220.
At 220, with that kind of speed, a healthy Meadows could once again cause serious problems for OAC defenses.
ONU opens against Millikin at 1:30 p.m. Sept. 8 at ONU's Dial-Roberson Stadium.

Blue Jackets sign Peca

The Columbus Blue Jackets broke away from their offseason trend of signing no names and signed center Michael Peca.
He should provide a lift with his two-way ability. Peca is a two-time Selke winner as the league's top defensive forward.
How much offense he can bring to an offensive-challenged team remains to be seen.
Peca suffered a broken leg with the Maple Leafs last year and was limited to four goals and 11 assists in 35 games. He scored only nine goals in 71 games with Edmonton in 2005-06.
The Peca you might remember was a three-time 20-goal scorer with Buffalo.
The 33-year-old Peca is a bit different. He hasn't scored more than 13 goals in a season since he had 25 with the Islanders in 2001-02.
For the Blue Jackets, however, this signing can be considered an upgrade.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Mohr's journey begins

Elida's Brooks Mohr begins his baseball trek next month.
Mohr, a 27th-round draft pick of the Seattle Mariners, will head off to the instructional league at Peoria, Ariz., in a few weeks.
From there, he will be sent to either Peoria or Class A Everett (Wash.) next spring.
The 6-foot-3 right-hander has the physical talent. His delivery is smooth and effortless.
The ball explodes out of his hand, with his fastball hitting the radar gun between 89 and 92 mph.
It's the mental side of the game that Mohr, and young players like him, must learn.
It's adjusting to life thousands of miles from home. The bus rides are long, tedious and often well after midnight.
It's coping with not having your best stuff and how to win without it. Or having it, but learning when and where to throw it. And how to get ahead consistently in the count.
It doesn't happen overnight.
He can't let the doubters or critics get in his head.
The key will be his drive and passion for the game.
As long as he has that, he has a chance to make it.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Baseball wish list

I'm a baseball guy.
But here are a few tweaks I'd make to Major League Baseball if Proud to be Your Bud Selig ever asked my opinion.
Start every weekend World Series game at 1 p.m. Start the weekday World Series games at 7.
Eliminate the designated hitter.
Trim interleague play back to one three-game series against a team's geographical rival.
Impose a team salary cap and a minimum team salary.
Instruct umpires to call the strike zone the way it is written in the rule book. More strikes will translate into a faster game.
In the World Series, give the team with the best regular-season record the home-field advantage.
Make it mandatory for home team players to sign autographs after batting practice.
Have a $5 bleacher seat in every park. Also have a "family section."
Have one minor league type event (like the dizzy-bat race) each night.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Brennaman to return

Marty Brennaman will be back.
The Reds Hall of Fame broadcaster made it official when he signed a three-year extension with the Reds through 2010. His current contract was to expire after this year.
Brennaman's matter-of-fact, tell-it-like-it-is approach is unique.
He has never been a team cheerleader. Instead, he offers a candid approach to what he sees.
This year, as bad as the Reds have floundered, he has been quite critical of the Reds' bullpen. And rightly so. It's the worst in the league.
This year, broadcasters Jeff Brantley and Brennaman's son, Thom, have jumped in and have also been very critical of the Reds.
I've always liked Brennaman and admired his approach. If you don't like it, you don't have to listen.

Bonds' record is a joke

Barry Bonds cheated.
Pure and simple.
I'm convinced he used steroids to get bigger, stronger and to aid in his daily recovery time. You don't go from 180 pounds to 240 in a short amount of time like he did without some artificial help.
Check out his head. Check out his body. It's pretty obvious he was pumping something into his veins over the years.
Sure, he was a great player before the steroid era. But I believe what he did added at least 100 home runs to his career total.
Not only did it give him extra boost on each home run, it aided his bounce-back ability at his age. It also helped him better deal with all the travel.
What it didn't do is help his attitude. He is still a miserable human being.
Hit all the home runs you want. In my eyes, you are a cheater and your record is tainted.
The stigma of how he achieved his record will forever hang over him like a buzzard circling its prey.

Final memories of the 2007 Locos

I’ll remember a pitching staff that ranked first in the league (2.99 earned-run average) behind Matt Bischoff’s ability to throw strikes en route to a 5-0 record and league-leading 1.02 ERA.
I’ll remember a team batting average going from .220 just before the break to finishing at .263 behind B.J. Holloway (.371), Casey Ingle (.351) and Bryan Bonner (.347). Daniel Furuto hit .295 and led the team in home runs (five) and RBIs (18).
I’ll remember the Locos sweeping all three games from the New York Yankees of the GLCL, Columbus.
I’ll remember probably the best Locos’ infield defense ever.
The team stumbled at the end, going 1-2 in the playoffs, but when the team ERA was around 2.50 at the All-Star break, one figured the baseball pendulum would begin to swing the other way.
It all added up to a 26-12 Great Lakes Collegiate League regular-season championship.
More than anything else, I’ll remember this team played hard every day. Diving plays in the infield occurred on a nightly basis.
You can’t ask for anything more.