Indianapolis Indians – Sports Done Right by dustinlytle

By Dustin Lytle

The Indianapolis Indians have been around for over 100 years. There is a great amount of tradition in the franchise. Since I was a kid, I can remember going to baseball games at Bush Stadium and Victory Field.  When I get the chance, I try and get to the ball park and get away from the stresses of daily life.

In a time where other local teams are struggling financially, the Indianapolis Indians have been recording profits every year for the last 28 years. The management of the Indians is in touch with the citizens of Indianapolis, and sees them as friends as opposed to money in their pockets like many franchises do. The Pacers and Colts can learn a lot of lessons from the Indians about how to operate a successful sports franchise in Indianapolis.

The Indians over the recent years have been the AAA affiliate of the Expos, Reds, Brewers and Pirates. The franchise in the last two to three years has seen a slew of players fly through the AAA ranks on their way to the majors (A. McCutcheon, D. McCutcheon, Brad Lincoln, Nyjer Morgan, Evan Meek and Steve Pearce among others).

Despite the ever-changing roster due to Pittsburgh’s inability to keep its talent, attendance numbers have been solid at Victory Field.  The reason is not that Indianapolis is die-hard for baseball and especially not the Pirates (Try to name two people you that are Pirates fans – exactly). It isn’t that the Indians have been good recently, as they have been terrible the past few years. The reason is that people have a great, affordable time at Victory Field.

Tickets are $9 for lawn and $14 for box seats and parking is only $5. Children in the Knot Hole Club get free tickets to every game. On Monday and Thursday, getting food is inexpensive. A family of four on a Monday night can spend under $30 for a night out downtown. Not only is it cheap, it is fun too.

The lawn is relaxed where you can bring your own drinks in a cooler and move around whenever.  The centerfield games are fun for kids, and there are plenty of contests between innings.  For the adults, there are many different beers to choose from, including Guinness, Harp’s, Corona, Blue Moon and two different types from Oaken Barrel (An amazing Southside Brewery-Restaurant).

Now that I sound like a spokesman for the Indians, I will explain why. I have no affiliation with the team, other than being a fan. My love for the team and what they do comes from the attitude the organization brings to the game. Being an hour and 45 minutes or more from the nearest MLB ballpark, the Indianapolis Indians are the only baseball team I get to watch on a regular basis. I have been to the ballpark countless times and have never had a bad experience. There is a positive attitude around Victory Field and I believe it comes from the top.

Max Schumacher is the President and Chairman of the Board. He has been the President for the last 41 years. Mr. Schumacher started as the ticket manager in 1957 and made his way up through the ranks. For young graduates everywhere it is an inspirational story. It is hard not to support an organization whose leader works hard, knows how to relate to fans and is content in the heart of Indianapolis.

Having the best non-spring training minor league ballpark in the country definitely helps bring people to the park. However, Max and the rest of the Indianapolis Indians’ connection with the community and fans is the reason why people keep coming back, and is the reason why the Indianapolis Indians have been an integral part of this community for over 100 years. The affordable prices, great atmosphere and local tradition are all products of management’s connection with the common citizen in Indianapolis. Maybe the Pacers and other sports franchises should take notice of how things are done at the corner of West and Maryland.


Carmel Assault Update – Kitzinger’s Admission to DePauw Being Investigated by kentsterling

by Kent Sterling

Almost every time I write about how the process needs to be allowed to work before declaring open season on the four seniors who allegedly assaulted younger teammates in the locker and on the school bus, I regret it.  That doesn’t keep me from feeling that DePauw is acting prematurely in determining whether recent Carmel graduate Robert Kitzinger should have his admission rescinded.

While it’s certainly up to DePauw or any other school to determine the construct of its student body, this recent decision to re-open the question of whether Kitzinger is allowed to attend the Greencastle school is clearly in response to outcry from well-meaning parents and alums who are correctly frustrated with the prosecution of these four former students. Continue reading

LeBron James Free Agency – Latest Odds on Where He’s Headed by kentsterling

by Kent Sterling

The free agency period for the NBA starts at Midnight.  Teams will be at the James door at 12:01 a.m. making their pitch to the King.  Miami, Chicago, New Jersey, New York, and his current team – the Cleveland Cavs – will wait in an orderly line to beg LeBron to be the lucky winner of the contest to spend from $15-$20 million per year for his skills.

To date, James has won exactly zero championships, and that is the rap on this 25-year-old athletic freak.  That Michael Jordan won his first championship after turning 28 is lost on ill-informed blowhards like Skip Bayless who said this morning on ESPN that he doesn’t have a lot of respect for LeBron’s game.  I’m sure LeBron will lose sleep over that assessment.

Anyway, LeBron is going to play for one of the five teams listed above.  Which will he choose?  A cogent analysis of each city and franchise is below accompanied by odds for that team.

New York Knicks – 16-1

Donnie Walsh might try to steal LeBron with an 11th hour overture, but there are two factors weighing against the Big Apple.  The first is that the sports landscape is damn crowded.  New York is a town that belongs to the Yankees, and the stars for the Yankees are lined up for a lot of the attention and resulting money LeBron craves.   A-Rod, Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, and Andy Petite.  The Giants have Eli, and had burgeoning media whore Michael Strahan.  The Mets and Jets have lesser known guys.  The platform for the subway to marketing wealth can get a little messy.

The second issue is Eddy Curry, who eats more than $11-million in cap room while delivering nothing resembling what might contribute to a championship in return.  Maybe Walsh can deal Curry’s contract that expires next year, just as the Bulls dumped Kirk Heinrich $9-million ticket to the Wizards.  If that happens, the Knicks will have cleared all but $7-million, and they can sign a boatload of guys to surround LeBron.

The odds against the Knicks will drop to 8-1 if Curry is dealt.

Cleveland – 10-1

I think the Cavs are toast in this deal.  Building around LeBron hasn’t been successful in seven years, so why would they be better at it today.  Even without LeBron’s money, the Cavs are at $51-million, and theat team will be what it is.  No Bosh.  No Dirk.  No Paul.  No Joe.

If LeBron wants to shape a career where he’s considered the best of something, being the best in Cleveland is already securely in his pocket.  Bringing a championship to Cleveland might be nice for Cavs fans, but as a measuring stick for all-time great status no one cares about who did what in Cleveland.  How much endorsement and broadcasting loot did Jim Brown miss out on because he spent his whole career in Cleveland.

LeBron has never played anywhere else, so there may be an affinity that overrides more logical concerns.  People who say that LeBron won’t leave the $3-million difference between the max money amounts he can get from the Cavs vs. everywhere else are morons.  He’ll be able to multiply that by ten (minimum) by signing with a team in a major market.

New Jersey – 6-1

This is an intriguing longshot.  The money the Nets have against the cap is invested in young and outstanding talent.  Devin Harris and Brook Lopez are nice complimentary players.  Third overall pick Derrick Favors will be a fine power forward for years.

And after LeBron is signed, the Nets still have room for another almost max guy plus a couple of others who will round out the roster.  Mikhail Prokhorov is the new owner of the Nets, and he’s worth over $17-billion.  If LeBron wants to be rich – really rich, not hmm…maybe I’ll drive the Bentley today rich, but making more money than the average American every hour on simple interest from a saving account, seat at the big boy table, creating an endowment large enough to bail out the U.S. Postal Service wealth – having unfettered access to a brain like Prokhorov is a great place to start.

The base salary will be nothing more that a starting point for the Nets or any of these teams who will need to bring a very creative package to LeBron to be taken seriously.  The Nets are in a great spot to make such an offer. Guys with $17-billion are generally used to getting whatever they want.

I’m talking myself into lowering these odds.

Miami – 4-1

Miami only has a chance in this derby because the NBA opens its season from October through April (June if the Heat make the finals).  Anyone who has spent a moment in Miami during the summer are unlikely to return.  As miserable as the winter can be in the north, the summers in Miami are worse.  Every moment spent outside of air conditioning is spent swimming in a lather of your own sweat.  People who live in Miami can’t say enough terrible things about it.  They look at people who visit like they’re insane.

People talk about the beautiful white beaches on South Beach as a lure for LeBron.  You know who goes to the beach in Florida?  Tourists.

Miami is rumored to be a front runner as LeBron weighs the value of playing with Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade as a dream team for Pat Riley, who would almost undoubtedly choose to coach that group himself.  Not sure if a guy who nicknamed himself King James when in high school would be willing to admit he needs a coterie of others to help him succeed.  A supporting cast is one thing – a pair of near equals is another.

Chicago – 5-2

The Bulls are the morning line favorite.  While I don’t believe some crazy study to estimates LeBron’s long-term value to the City of Chicago at $2.5-billion.  That is a lot of money for a guy who plays basketball on the west side of Chicago in front of 23,000 fans 50 times a year, even if he plays in Chicago for a decade.

The huge positive in Chicago is the current sports hero to population ratio – which currently stands at zero because there is no current hero in Chicago.  None of the current Cubs, Sox, Bears, or Bulls are going to be enshrined in their sports respective hall of fame.  The Hawks are Stanley Cup Champs, but that is a collective.  LeBron would walk into Cook County as the undisputed king.

Doubters say he would be satisfied being thought of as the second best player in franchise history.  Kobe came to LA following in the footsteps of Magic, Kareem, Elgin, Jerry, and Wilt.  Does that hurt Kobe?  The Bulls haven’t retired so many numbers, they will run out if LeBron’s #6 hangs from the rafters.  Did Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Lou Gehrig, Reggie Jackson, Derek Jeter, and A-Rod all think the Yankees were a bad choice because of Babe Ruth?  LeBron will have a chance to elevate the Bulls to a Lakers/Celtics realm.

The Bulls have a very nice supporting cast with Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, and enough cap room to drag Bosh along too.  This is the one team that would jump straight to championship favorites if James and Bosh came over, and they would own the city as long as they win.

The weather in the winter sucks, but if LeBron chooses to make Chicago home, there is no better place to live from May through October, and I’m sure whatever abode LeBron chooses will have heat.

We start the process of finding out how this will shake out tomorrow.  My money is on the Bulls, but don’t be surprised if the Nets get the deal done.  They will meet LeBron first, and all offers will be compared to Prokhorov’s.

ESPN’s NBA Free Agent Summit Roundtable by kentsterling

by Kent Sterling

There was an excellent show on ESPN last night at 7p with four reporters sitting at a table discussing the futures of the ever-increasing class of free agents.  The reporters, including PTI’s Tony Kornhiser and Michael Wilbon, Bill Simmons, and Dan Le Batard, discussed things among themselves, were witty and fun, continued talking even as the show went to break, had a dark background, and used typewriter sound effect coming out of a couple of the breaks.

Either the ESPN show was a lovely homage to the first TV sports show “The Sportswriters on TV” which aired in Chicago for 15 years, or ESPN stole the show’s format lock, stock, and barrel.  The Chicago show had crusty old cigar chomping Bill Gleason, affable and knowledgeable Bill Jauss, young thoughtful Rick Telander, and fight promoter Ben Bentley at the table talking about all things Chicago sports.

The Sportswriters on TV wasn’t incendiary or purposefully contentious.  It was four guys talking sports in a very articulate and intelligent way.  Twenty-five years later, the show is long gone – as are Bentley (2001) and Gleason (died early this year).  The show, as with most great ideas, started on the radio as a weekend offering on WGN, and migrated to TV.  The four, amid scattered newspapers, spent an hour talking sports.  We got to listen.

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Don’t Go Hatin’ on the Indianapolis Star Sports Section by kentsterling

by Kent Sterling

There was a piece in last week’s Sunday Star that extolled the virtues of Indianapolis as a hot bed of NBA ready basketball talent, and there was a glaring factual error in it that I thought reflected a bothersome level of laziness.  So in a post that I wrote, I pointed out the error and corrected it, and the Star has since corrected the mistake so no point in rehashing.

There are people who take the Star to task for putting out a lousy sports section filled with stuff that can be read elsewhere.  Yesterday, the Star reused a Chicago Tribune column from David Haugh on Carlos Zambrano that I had read in the Tribune earlier in the week.  It only has one columnist – Bob Kravitz.  Overall, as a source of sports insight, it just doesn’t rank very high on my list.

The Star’s sports effort has flaws, but I can tell you first hand how much harder it can be to reach a level of mediocrity than greatness given a steadily diminishing pool of resources.  In 1993 and 1994, I worked for a version of WIBC Radio about which none of us were too proud.  The ownership prior to Emmis had forced out news legends like Fred Heckman and Joe Pickett, and replaced them with a staff of people hired because of their affordability rather than professional abilities.

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Harry’s Daily Affirmation – Wednesday, June 30, 2010 by kentsterling
June 30, 2010, 8:29 am
Filed under: Harry on Sports | Tags: ,

Harry gives you something to believe in, and then rambles a bit about late actress Eve Arden.

Click on the arrow to listen:

Sports Digest – Wednesday, June 30, 2010 by kentsterling
June 30, 2010, 8:19 am
Filed under: Sports Digest

One day until the free agent market opens for LeBron, Bosh, and others:

Telander Series on Brain Injury – Concussions Couldn’t Stop Smeeton – Chicago Sun-Times (Telander)

Pacers – Deal with City Unlikely Before Deadline – Indy Star (Thomas)

Recruiting – (Video) Etherington’s Rankings of 2011 Class – Star (Neddenriep)

Isiah – Interview Throws Light on IU, LeBron, His Future – Star (Rabjohns)

Titus – Brownsburg’s Mark Titus Signs with Globetrotters – Star (Astleford)

NBA Free Agency – Morrissey Makes Pitch for LeBron – Sun-Times (Morrissey)

Big 12 – Tuberville Questions Big 12’s Endurance – ESPN

NBA Free Agency – Pierce Opts Out in Boston – ESPN (Stein)

Cubs – Psychiatrist Optimistic About Zambrano – Sun-Times

Cubs – Lilly’s Gem Leads Cubs – Chicago Tribune (Sullivan)

Cubs – More Changes for Bullpen – Sun-Times

Man Prepared to Give Life for This or Any Other Country – The Onion (Stalbank)