Sports From the Couch–Can IndyCar Be Fixed by jshowal2

By Jeff Showalter

Another Indianapolis 500 has come and gone and so with it, another IndyCar season has ended. Not many people can even tell you how many races there are on the Izod circuit, let alone what the next race is. I know back in the day it used to be the Milwaukee Mile race but I couldn’t tell you if it still is. I could google it but I really don’t care. I’m sure there are still some Indy fanatics out there that know the circuit by heart, but that number keeps dwindling. IndyCar is at death’s door and if Randy Bernard is incapable of getting the adrenaline shot to the heart the circuit needs, open wheel racing will never be more then a third or fourth tear competition and a place for people unable to succeed in Nascar or Formula 1 to work their craft.

Fixing open wheel racing is doable but I’m not sure Bernard is on the correct path to make it successful.  “Hollywooding” up the Indy 500 is nice, but those aren’t the people that pay the bills and making the biggest spectacle in racing about Ron Perlman or Jennifer Morrison (damn she is hot) and a gaggle of other stars isn’t a permanent fix. If you fix the racing, the stars will show up. The racing is what is important. Here are four tips to fixing the 500 and the Izod IndyCar circuit.  

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Danica Patrick Has Image Problem, or Is It an Opportunity? by kentsterling

by Kent Sterling

My sampling of race fans at yesterday’s race wasn’t scientific of even very broad, but where I spent the race – in the short-chute between turns three and four and in turn four – Danica is not well thought of by race fans in any demographic.

College girls, college guys, families, younger kids, middle-aged couples, and the elderly had nothing good to say about Danica.  The word most often uttered when her name was mentioned was “bitch”.  The second most used term was “bitch” preceded by an obscene qualifier beginning the letter “F”.

Danica Patrick is a really good driver who is good-looking, so people want to exploit herimage to enhance theirs.  Unfortunately, Danica’s personality is not conducive to meet and greets.  She’s all business, and has no interest in pressing flesh.  There is nothing wrong with that, but when the crowd expects a friendly face and they get stern bordering on bitter, people call you a bitch.

Helio Castroneves sets the bar for positive and accommodating behavior impossibly high.  I couldn’t match Helio’s natural zest for living for 15 minutes without my head exploding.  Danica couldn’t do it for 60-seconds.

She talks about being exhausted, and I’m not surprised.  Being friendly and talkative for people who aren’t wired that way is beyond tiring.  If a person functions best talking to one person at a time and prefers familiar people, spending ten-minute chunks of time with an anonymous member of the member, life can be hell.

I’ve never been in a limo with Danica as she does a half-dozen radio phoners, but I’m going to guess that she loathes that exercise.  There is no end to the dumbass questions hosts ask, and they all tend to be the same.  That’s why guests enjoyed coming on the Kravitz & Eddie show on The Fan.  Eddie did a great job of finding a question that interested the guests and made the interview a little bit different.  Kravitz always asked smart questions that didn’t pander.

Danica is way better with the media than she used to be.  There are smiles now that were never there in the past, but when her true personality is revealed during a moment of weakness – as she did after her disappointing qualifying run – people feel like they have seen into her soul in that glimpse of honesty.

People are who they are though, and if Danica is happiest sitting with her husband watching an old movie, that’s okay.  She’s in the wrong business, but that’s alright.  Guys who speak out and hold their teammates or competitors accountable are seen as assholes, but guys like assholes.  Davey Hamilton went nuts yesterday on Tomas Scheckter.  He called him an idiot more than once after Scheckter put Hamilton in a position where he wrecked during the first lap of yesterday’s race.  Guys like that.  Tell the truth.  Women who are assholes are bitches.

Neither men nor women like bitches.  For better or worse, every person I talked to yesterday thought of Danica is that very specific way.

That probably won’t hurt Danica until the looks begin to fade, and that’s a few years away.  When good looking women who are gruff and insolent turn normal looking, they wind up spending a lot of time alone at home watching “Hoarders”, or having an episode shot in their homes.

Danica is who she is.  I like her.  She has a huge responsibility to her family, team, and series.  She is coping the best she can with all the demands, and being thrilled about that clearly does not conform with how she is built.  It would be interesting to see how the series might grow if she embraced her inner pain in the ass, and became the series villain.  There is already a hero in Helio who whose near psychotic consistent happiness is impossible to match.

The only other starring role is as the villain.  Why is the WWE so damn successful?  They embrace the idea of villainy.  IndyCar needs a black-hat clad asshole, and as Danica is already viewed by my sample of 27 race fans as an lightning rod for their rage, she should saddle up and ride that horse.



Indy 500 – Greatest Spectacle in Race Fans by kentsterling

by Kent Sterling

Another Indy 500, another reminder that many of the people at the race are drunken tools, and that the boobs who funnel traffic out of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway are morons – not the police who wave people around, but the knuckleheads who plan the routes.

The was the hottest Indy 500 in the history of the event, with temperatures hitting 95 degrees.  There was a breeze though, and if I had been asked, I would have guessed that it was 86 or 87.  No one asked me, so now that I went through it, it felt like a sauna and can’t believe I survived.

What so many people who don’t go to the race don’t understand is that the Indy 500 is really a Memorial Day celebration, with a series of honors for those who have died defending America, and the whole thing has a solemn overtone that is quite appropriate and moving.  It’s hard to misinterpret the playing of “Taps” and the patriotic music, flyover, and parade of cars filled with members of the military, but I’m not sure that many of the people in the stands get it.  That’s cool though.  I totally missed the point until my son reached the age that he could serve.  Then it occurred to me that I owe all the troops who volunteer so my son can pursue his dreams in college.

The race is always amazing.  Again and again, the plot changes.  Today, Dario Franchitti had the best car by far, but it was impossible to tell whether he would have enough fuel to get home, and Tony Kanaan lurked.  Could Helio make his last pit stop last 45 laps?  When was the last time Justin Wilson pitted.  How the hell did Alex Lloyd get to the front?  I didn’t even know he was in the field.

The question about Franchitti’s fuel was rendered moot by the wreck coming out of turn four that broke Mike Conway’s leg.  And just how in the world did that wreck only break a leg? The car was completely destroyed as it flipped and careened along the catch fence.  Those must be the safest damn cars in the world.  Dan Wheldon laid back hoping he would run dry, but no such luck.

When the race ends, people stream out of the Speedway like it’s burning.  By the time Franchitti and the uber annoying Ashley Judd hopped in the convertible to take a victory lap, and grandstands were nearly empty.  Judd might be the most annoying female sports fan in history.  They way she cavorts about the pit area at the IMS and in Rupp Arena, you would think that she has some role on either the Target/Chip Ganassi Racing Team or with Kentucky Basketball.  I thought of throwing a sandwich at her as the convertible passed, but my wife worked hard making those sandwiches, and it deserved a better fate than to disintegrate against her signature giant hat.

I’ve done the race in every turn and in experienced it as a boob in the infield, a race fan in turn four, and a radio guy in turn one.  I have been with a group in a giant van driving past

Mike Conway's car, or what was left of it was hauled into the infield in two piece. By the grace of God, Conway stayed in one piece.

shrieking yellow shirts, running to and from Mike’s Bar on 16th Street, and with a small grill in the North 40.  The past two years have been with absolute pros with big hearts at the corner of Camp and Brew on Georgetown, just north of 25th Street.  They have four or five RVs, couches, and the best part is that they do it all for charity.  Okay, the best part is that they are nice enough to include me in their fun and air-conditioning, but they raise money for Brian’s Wish which is dedicated to finding a cure for ALS.  They have a webcam running throughout the weekend, and are truly very welcoming people.  Did I mention the air conditioning today?

After the race, we sit on the couches in front of the RVs to watch the drunken idiots bounce all over each other.  Going too far seems to be an Indy 500 tradition every bit as hallowed as the delicious swig of hormone enriched white fluid that looks conspicuously like the kind of milk cows used to give.  There are angry drunks, happy drunks, drunk drunks, wobbly drunks, and drunks easily talked into showing men part of their bodies best left covered.  Here a good tip as to whether you should show men your breasts.  Look at them, and answer these two questions – are my breasts round, and are my nipples close to the middle?  If the answer is no, keep them encased in whatever outerwear you chose as your race attire.  For most of the women I saw, that’s a halter top, and the answer to the two questions are no and no.

The guys are all morons.  The only positive result for the end of the day is not being herded
into a police wagon for a trip to the Marion County jail.

For me, the day was great.  Taking my son to the Indianapolis 500 is a treat that was long overdue.  We had a great time, and his correct decision not to drink to excess was reinforced in spades.  Cars went fast.  People fell down.  And big girls stuck their cameras into their bikini tops.  If cameras could scream…



Indianapolis 500 – the Greatest Spectacle in Racing Is Today by kentsterling

by Kent Sterling

In every other city in America, this is a day for families to picnic, go to the zoo, or play basketball at the Bob Gibbon Classic in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina.  In Indianapolis, this is the day to pack up the car or van with water, sandwiches, and various adult beverages for the most attended single-day sporting event in the world.

During the coverage of the 1981 Indy 500 on ESPN Classic yesterday, Jim McKay announced that the attendance was estimated at 420,000.  That kind of crowd is no longer possible because of the four holes of the Brickyard Crossing Golf Course that are in the infield of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  They try to keep people off the pristine greens and fairways of what is the nicest public track in Indianapolis, and the snake pit in Turn One has been replaced by bleachers.

This is my first Indy 500 not being responsible for the race morning broadcast and the coverage of the race from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network.  It was always very nerve-wracking to wait for lap 101 when the race becomes official.  Until then, there is a chance that rain with push the Indy 500 to Monday and maybe even Tuesday, like it did in 1997.  That year, I learned what misery is.  Moving all the programming, and making sure the spots were rescheduled was a rotten way to spend two days.

Now, the Indy 500 is simply a way to spend a fun Sunday with my son.  This is the first year I’ve taken Ryan, and finally get to cross that off my bucket list.  Every year until now, Julie and I went with people from Emmis.  This year, Ryan is home from school for the Memorial Day Weekend, so we’ll roll out to 16th and Georgetown to watch the cars go fast and try to keep track of who’s doing what.

Because of the shape of the chassis on the Indy Cars, it can be tough to tell some of the cars from one another.  I’m especially worried about the ability of those who drink 18 beers before the race to separate one car from another.  NASCAR makes it easy as the cars are little more that 180 mile an hour billboards.  At 230 mph, with a much smaller area for the display of colors and numbers, it can be a challenge.

If the national buzz is significantly diminished from what it was when Foyt, Bobby and Al Unser, Johnny Rutherford, Gordon Johncock, Mario Andretti and Rick Mears turned left 800 times on the way to winning more than half of the Indy 500s during the 30 years between 1961-1991, in Indy, this is race day.

The Gordon Pipers, Purdue Band, Florence Henderson, and Jim Nabors are a huge part of the tradition, which seems insane to people from outside the area.  Nabors hasn’t been a celebrity anywhere else for 40 years, and Carol Brady’s flip-flopped in the mid-1970s, but at the Indy 500, they are adored and cheered.

Danica will start near the rear of the field, as men think of about the rear of her field.

As for the race, the number of people who cheer for their favorite driver is significantly less than in NASCAR.  People here generally like and respect all the drivers.  The women will have four to cheer today, although none have a legitimate chance to contend.  They are a lot of people who appreciate Helio Castroneves’s skill and enthusiasm, and others who will cheer for anyone named Andretti – they have Marco and John to applaud.

More than anything else, today is about celebrating tradition and to enjoy the fellowship of friends.  There are a posse of new sheriffs in town who are messing with some of those traditions.  Izod is the presenting sponsor, and they have a significant stake in its success, so they wield some power in the presentation of the show biz of the day and month.  Jeff Belskus is the new CEO of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Randy Bernard is running the IndyCar Series.

The most immediate awe-inspiring aspect of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is theenormity of the place.  To look at the mass of humanity along the mile long grandstand between turns one and four is just incredible.  The bleachers in the “short” chute between turns three and four is longer than the length of Wrigley Field, and the following world landmarks could all fit simultaneously in the infield of the Speedway – Vatican City, the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club campus (Wimbledon), the Rose Bowl, the original Yankee Stadium, and the racetrack of Churchill Downs.  It is absolutely immense.

As for who will win today, never bet against Penske.  The odds are very good that either someone from Ganassi or Penske will see the checkers first this afternoon.  I’m going to guess Scott Dixon, but I’ll hope that Tony Kanaan can slice through the field from the 33rd spot in the field to contend.  I went through the buffet line at the fastest rookie lunch during his first run at Indy, and he laughed at something either Scott Johnston (a radio production fixture at Indy) or I said.  That’s how I found my wife (minus Scott Johnston’s inclusion), and that’s worked out so far, so I’ll continue rooting for one of the best open wheel drivers never to win the Indy 500.



Kentucky Basketball Eric Bledsoe – Eligibility in Question by kentsterling

by Kent Sterling

The New Times published an article yesterday that reveals an investigation into the eligibility of NBA bound Eric Bledsoe.  He was a poor high school student until he switched schools prior to his senior year, and three months rent was reportedly paid by the high school coach at Bledsoe’s new school.

For the entire article, click here.

Bledsoe will be a first round pick in next months NBA Draft.  He is lightning fast, and is going to make a lot of money playing basketball because he had a successful freshman year at UK.  Without finding a way to gain NCAA eligibility, Bledsoe would likely be a cautionary tale for kids taking school seriously.  Instead, his future is secure.

So who do you blame for the kid’s issues.  The high school coach who paid the rent to lure him into his district after the Mom told anyone who would listen the day before that Bledsoe was headed to California.  That same high school coach told a college coach that the school who signed Bledsoe would need to reimburse him for the $400 monthly rent he paid for the the Bledsoes.

The mom, according to the NY Times article, worked as a custodian and in an adult book store.  No shame in that.  A parent does what she has to do.  If that’s cleaning floors and selling porn to degenerates to put food on the table, that’s what you do.  If a coach says, “I’ll take care of the rent,” you say thanks.

Does blame exist for Maurice Ford, the high school coach who paid three or four month’s rent for the Bledsoe’s, according to the landlord?  No doubt he used Bledsoe for his talent and was rewarded with a trip to the state finals.

How about the often-accused, never convicted Kentucky coach John Calipari?  Bledsoe’s transcript was in order and the NCAA Clearinghouse signed off on Bledsoe’s application.  Ford demanded cash for the rent money he advanced to the Bledsoes, but that is easily handled without any overt complicity from Calipari or anyone else wearing a UK logo.

A kid gets to play in the NBA.  A mom gets out of the custodial/adult retail publishing industry.  A high school coach made it possible by reportedly pealing off some Benjamins to cover rent for a place in his district.  A college coach brings a kid to Lexington, and for the privilege someone reportedly reimburses the high school coach for the cake he slipped the landlord.  Now, the kid will get checks bigger than he has ever seen.

The percentage of NBA players who return to poverty within a couple of years after leaving the NBA is horrifying, so who knows whether Bledsoe will reap meaningful benefits from being the second best point guard in this draft after being the second best point guard on his Kentucky team.  There is no doubt though that a kid who, according to the NY Times, lived in squalor in Birmingham.

Someone smarter than the people in charge at the high school associations, NCAA, and NBA needs to invest some serious brainpower in determining what’s best for the kids.  On the list of priorities, the welfare of the kids doesn’t seem to be a priority for anyone.  The New York Times found the information about Eric Bledsoe moving from a near lost cause because of academics to NBA first round draft pick so intriguing that they sent a reporter to Birmingham, Alabama, to unearth some dirt.

Honestly, who cares if kids bounce from high school to high school because of athletics?  Who does that harm?  No one wants a bidding war for high school athletes, but why is it my business or anyone else’s where a kid goes to high school?

In 2008, NCAA President Myles Brand made $1.72 million is salary and benefits.  Meanwhile, the basketball players like Bledsoe who do the work get squadoosh other than a free education that is meaningless to many of them.

It’s time for basketball to create a place where kids 16-18 can go to make some money playing basketball.  The NCAA does nothing for a kid like Bledsoe.  There is no point for that kid to spend a year in high school breaking rules or benefitting from others who break the rules.  Bledsoe, John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, and Daniel Orton gained no NCAA approved benefit from spending nine months in Lexington.

The NCAA just signed an obscene $10.8-billion extension to its college basketball agreement with CBS.  That agreement requires players to play for nothing.  The answer isn’t paying the players to toil for the NCAA and their university.  The answer is to allow the kids who need money more than an education to go do that.  Let kids like the four freshmen at UK to go to the NBDL.  Teach them about money.  Try to end the cycle that leads to NBA players to incredible wealth and back to poverty.  Lead them away from Bentleys and toward smart investments.  Make the NBDL something more than a repository for basketball players dreaming of signing a ten-day NBA contract, and toward a product that will sell tickets and give kids some cash before being drafted into the NBA.

This system is weighted so heavily toward the rewarding of corruption that there is no other way to succeed.  It’s time for grown-ups to put on their big boy pants and do what’s right for the kids so they don’t start their careers complicit in corruption.  If Mark Emmert is going to justify his enormous salary as the new head of the NCAA, he needs to show up wearing his big boy pants and make meaningful changes to reset the system that fails kids on a daily basis.



Indiana Hoosiers Basketball Update by The Truth

by Kyle Miller

Indiana University received news yesterday that Westfield center, Jeff Howard, has decided to continue his basketball career as a preferred walk-on for the Hoosiers. As a senior in high school, Howard was named the All-North Player of the Year. The Indiana faithful from the Scout.com message boards seem to be fairly excited about this walk-on—don’t misinterpret, I am too—but don’t expect Howard to have a huge impact.

6’8”, 220 pounds is certainly the body type the Hoosiers are lacking. Without having seen him play I can’t speak factually, but I would imagine he’s a poor man’s Capobianco without the shooting range. They averaged roughly the same points and rebounds as seniors in high school, but Capobianco was rated as the 33rd best power forward in his class. Howard is obviously not ranked. It worries me a bit that he played in the Hoosier Crossroad Conference in Indiana, but then again he did enforce his will on the conference. Overall, his impact will be felt greatest in practice as he will be another big body to bang with Capobianco, Michel, Bawa, and Pritchard (assuming they all stay).

Last week Indiana ranked 11th nationally in attendance with an average of 15,296 fans filling Assembly Hall for home games. The ten schools ahead of Indiana in sequential order were: Kentucky, Syracuse, Louisville, Tennessee, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Maryland, Memphis, Kansas and Marquette. We finished ahead of Illinois and Michigan State, notably. Despite the basketball program’s recent adversity, Indiana raised five spots in average attendance from last year and over the past 39 years—let me repeat, 39 years—IU has been in the top 16.

Is it too early to begin constructing possible starting lineups for next season already? I don’t believe so, so here’s my early prediction:

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Carmel Assault Update – Jim Voyles Blasts the Media by kentsterling

by Kent Sterling

You can always making money betting on lawyers to say the self-serving and nutty thing.  Accepting responsibility for the actions of clients is not part of any law school’s curriculum, so no one can blame Voyles for attacking the media in the statement released today, but it’s particularly galling to read that the accusations led to the charges, and not the actions of the four seniors on the bus and in the locker room.

For those new to the story, four senior basketball players have been charged with misdemeanor battery and/or criminal recklessness for their roles in three incidents – two in a locker room at Carmel High School, and another on a bus carrying the younger members of the Carmel basketball program.

The evidence includes supposedly inconsistent testimony from the victims and witnesses.  The family of one of the victims has filed a preliminary tort claim announcing their intention to file a $2.25 million lawsuit against Carmel-Clay Schools.  There is also a videotape of the incident on the bus, but that is said to be dark and grainy.

In the wake of the charges, four coaches, including head coach Mark Galloway have lost their positions with the team.

There was a videotape released last week following the arrest and processing of the four seniors that showed two of them goofing around in holding.  They were separated as a result.  The only accused senior who didn’t act up was Oscar Falodun, who in the video was shown seated with his head down.  This was seen as the kids showing a lack of respect for the victims and law enforcement in general.  I’ve been told since that the reason for the sheriff department’s discontent was that the kids shown in the video were making fun of one of the victims.

The attack, according to the statement from the attorney of one of the victims (made while in the presence of the parents of the victim), consisted of the victim being confined by being held down, having clothes removed, and being anally violated.  A witnesses has said that the violation was with a cell phone.

Here is the statement from Jim Voyles office:

As many of you are well aware, it is not our customary approach to discuss our pending

Jimmy Voyles with former Pacer Stephen Jackson

cases with the media. However, in this particular case, there have been so many unfounded rumors that we feel it is important to answer at least some of these baseless statements. First and foremost, our client and his family have been devastated by the accusations which have led to the charges being filed by the grand jury last week. Anyone who knows this family can attest to the extremely difficult times this family, as well as all of the families of all of the boys involved in this entire matter, have been through for the past 4 months. To suggest otherwise is simply a distortion of the situation.

Especially in these times of instant information and a media racing to “break a story,” it is essential to keep in mind that all of our citizens have a Constitutional right to defend themselves against all criminal charges. This is done through the presentation of evidence, not rumors, and it is done in a courtroom, not through a sensationalistic media. We look forward to our opportunity to provide that evidence in the proper forum.

We certainly respect the grand jury system here in Indiana and the time and energy spent by this particular grand jury in their attempt to find supportable charges. This grand jury, like all grand juries, did not hear one word of defense evidence nor did it hear one witness cross- examined. Against this backdrop, six Hamilton County citizens found no basis to charge any of the young men with any crimes of a sexual nature. We caution all of those individuals who are condemning the process which led to the charges filed to understand that the process is intended to reflect the credible evidence which supports the charges filed. After that point is reached, every individual accused of a crime, especially 18 year olds with no disciplinary or criminal records of any kind, have the right to defend themselves in a court of law. We plan to help our client exercise that right in this case.

There are some cities where the media is sensationalistic.  The local news operations have more in common with TMZ than the traditional image of mass journalism.  Indianapolis is crazy soft and more respectful than almost any market’s media aggression.  Voyles would say thank you if he was evaluating the coverage impartially.

The media has done nothing to declare guilty the accused former high school basketball players.  The lawyer for the accused has made the only meaningful statement implying guilt.

This entire four-month period of misery for everyone – even those not directly involved could have been avoided with some admissions or responsibility and expressions of regret.  Honesty doesn’t pay the lawyers, but it does assuage the anger of the community who see this entire affair as a disgrace for the school and city – not necessarily because of the attacks, but the incessant efforts by the police, prosecutor, and school officials to quiet the din of outrage by patting themselves on the back for their response.

Calling Jim Voyles when in big trouble is a very good idea.  He’s the best.  But his vitriol toward the press is misplaced.