Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Track Time - Christmas in May

"I think of Indianapolis every day of the year, every hour of the day, and when I sleep, too. Everything I ever wanted in my life, I found inside the walls of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway." -Eddie Sachs

For those of you who don't know who Eddie Sachs was, he drove at Indy in the late 50's - early 60's. He perished in a fiery crash with rookie Dave McDonald in 1964 coming out of turn four. Eddie never won the greatest race in the world, but he truly embodied the spirit of Indy with his enthusiasm, his sense of humor, his dedication, and his pure love of the place.

When he won for the first time in 1992, Al Unser, Jr. simply stated, "you just don't know what Indy means." Tony George, former CEO of IMS, was quoted as saying, "its spirit touches all who enter."

It is that spirit, along with all the memories of races, family, and friends, that make it such a special place for me too. The race is the greatest single sporting event in existence. But the Indianapolis Motor Speedway itself is a temple. A shiver truly runs up my spine every time I walk into the place, see the Pagoda, the Pits, Gasoline Alley.

This week I plan to spend a few days there, taking in practice and qualifications. I'll walk around a lot. I'll sit and watch the cars a lot. I'll enjoy some beverages. And I'll think about all the great memories I have collected since I first walked into the place as a kid.

It's May! Time to get race ready!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The '08-'09 Indiana Hoosiers

For those of you who have never graced the basketball shrine that is Assembly Hall on the campus of Indiana University in Bloomington, IN... you still have undoubtedly seen on TV, or in photos, the National Championship banners that sway gently in the breeze at one end of McCracken Court. Yes, there are five of them... one each for 194o, 1953, 1976, 1981, and 1987.

But there are lesser known banners that sway at the opposite end of Assembly Hall too. These banners honor the 1975 Hoosier team that was undefeated in the regular season, all of the Big Ten Championship teams, and some other notable teams and players in IU's illustrious history. It is among these banners that I believe another should be raised for the 2008-2009 Indiana Hoosiers. That's right... the (currently) 6-23 Hoosiers.

The season is mercifully drawing to a close, and this year's team has endured more lopsided losses, more inept play, more turnovers, more mental mistakes... you name it... than any other IU team in history. Having said that, they are a band of brothers consisting of walk-ons, freshmen, and transfers... who in essence, under the leadership of Coach Tom Crean, sifted through the rubble left by Kelvin Sampson, dusted off the once proud program, propped it up, and started over. MAYBE 4 or 5 of the current players will see meaningful playing time next year, when the new hearlded recruiting class arrives. But most of them won't. They are simply living the dream of wearing an IU uniform while they can, and doing their part to rebuild the program that Sampson ruined.

But make no mistake... this team played its guts out, whether they were two points behind or 20. And they improved as the season wore on, playing most teams, including the likes of Michigan State and Purdue, very close. And as I stated in a previous blog, they and their coach played with class and dignity. The words "help is on the way" were never heard. They played the hand they were dealt. Indiana Basketball has begun to regain its dignity, respect, and high standards.

This team will not go down in history as the most talented or successful, but it most certainly will go down as one of the most beloved. So give 'em a banner.

Thanks for listening. Have a "sporting" day!

Monday, December 29, 2008

On the AFC Playoffs, and IU Basketball

I suppose this makes perfect sense to those in the NFL who make the rules, but still...

The Indianapolis Colts are the #5 seed in the upcoming AFC Playoffs, despite having the second best record in the conference at 12-4. The #1 seed goes to the Tennessee Titans, who have the best record at 13-3, but who the Colts defeated yesterday (ok, it was their second string against ours, but stay with me here). Next are the Pittsburgh Steelers, who the Colts defeated in Pittsburgh. Third seed are the Miami Dolphins, who the Colts did not play this season. However, they are only 11-5. 4th seed, and the Colts' opponent next week, are the San Diego Chargers... with a stellar record of 8-8, and who the Colts defeated in San Diego. The 6th seed are the Baltimore Ravens, who yes... the Colts defeated soundly.

So... of the other five seeds, the Colts have defeated all of them, except Miami, who they did not play. Rather frustrating for us Colts fans, but hey... it could be worse. We could be Patriots fans! 11-5 and outside looking in! How sweet is that?


Thanks to all of you for your wonderful notes of sympathy and condolences over the Indiana Hoosiers' recent home losses to powerhouses Northeastern and Lipscomb. It is going to be a long, painful Big Ten season for IU. However, you've got to admire their coach, Tom Crean, for his approach to this disasterous season. He's not complaining, but taking the high road, and coaching the heck out of this collection of freshmen, walk-ons, and transfers. Not once have I heard the words "help is on the way"... referring to the outstanding recruiting class coming next year. He's playing the hand he's been dealt, and he's doing it with class. Go Hoosiers!

Thanks for listening. Have a "sporting" day!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

A New Super Hero?

I have always been enamoured with Super Heroes. When I was a kid, I watched the old Superman TV shows religiously. You've probably seen them... the one's starring George Reeves as Superman (a.k.a. Clark Kent). They started out in black and white and eventually graduated to color. Lois Lane was kind of homely in the B/W episodes, but a real hottie in the color versions. My first childhood crush, perhaps? But I digress.

After those shows, I'd have my mom safety pin a towel to the back of my T-shirt, and off I'd fly into the neighborhood in search of "Truth, Justice, and the American Way." The scary thing was, I ran into several other dorks doing the same thing.

I followed other Super Heroes too, on TV as well as in comic books. The Flash, Green Lantern, Aquaman (I'd pretend to be him at the pool), Green Hornet, etc. And of course Batman and Robin. I thought they were all cool.

About six weeks ago, I had a defibrillator inserted in my chest to regulate my heartbeat in the event that it started doing irregular things. In fact, it's there to give me a jolt if it stops altogether. Not a big deal. It works if needed. It just sits there if not. But I got to thinking... could this qualify me as a Super Hero?

Think about it. No worries about heart palpitations the next time Peyton Manning is directing a game winning drive in the last two minutes. No problems with a breaking heart if/when the Cubs blow another lead, or lay another egg in the playoffs. No worries about my heart pounding before trying to get up and down from a green side bunker, or leaning over a five foot putt for par (on which I would likely get a couple of strokes anyway due to my handicap). No problems watching ANY Indiana basketball games this year. Yes... one could suggest that I am INVINCIBLE!! A Super Hero that can withstand any potential heart stopping situation! How cool is that?

Some would argue that I don't qualify as a Super Hero unless I can use my power for the greater good of mankind. Maybe so, but it takes a herculean effort to root for a team like the Cubs for a lifetime, or play the game of golf as badly as I do (in public no less). Doesn't that count for something?

Now... I just need to think of a cool name. I think I'm too old for a cape though.

Thanks for listening. Have a "sporting" day!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Yes, Another Blog... and a Random Thought on the IRL

Yes, I have now joined the ranks of the bloggers... but don't count on much insightful commentary. I don't even know how often I'll write anything. But I guess everyone needs their pedestel now and then, huh? Oh, and "thanks" to my daughter Elaine for setting this up for me.

I plan to write about sports "stuff"... the Cubs, the Indy Racing league, IU basketball, Pacers, Colts, golf, and whatever... and how it affects our lives. Or I may just decide to complain about how bad my golf swing is. In any case, read if you'd like. Ignore if you are so inclined.

One random thought I have now regarding the Indy Racing League and the Indy 500 itself... now is a great time for the IRL to step up its marketing and promotional efforts. NASCAR is tied very closely to the Big 3 automakers, and everyone knows what kind of trouble they're in. The IRL has but one engine manufacturer... Honda. And they seem to be in pretty good shape. The IRL also jumped on the "green" bandwagon long ago by going to pure ethanol for fuel (made from corn), while NASCAR continues to use gasoline. All these things should be emphasized in the IRL's marketing efforts. Now that unification is done, it's time to get aggressive in competing for the auto racing dollar.

Thanks for listening. Have a "sporting" day!