INDYCOG is hosting a 24-mile bike ride this Saturday, and Mayor Ballard is going to come along to celebrate his birthday.
It's looking to be a perfect day for the ride, at a sunny 55 degrees.
An RSVP is mandatory because the hosts need a clear helmet-count for planning purposes, but you can sign up for free HERE.
The ride departs at 9 a.m. and riders are asked to meet at the City Market by 8:45 a.m. The ride will be 24 miles and take participants through the Pleasant Run greenway, the Monon, and the future route of the Capitol Ave. bike lanes.
When the ride concludes, an early-afternoon pick-me-up begins with a sneak peak of the Tomlinson Taproom, which opens officially on Nov. 24th at the City Market.
The mayor’s ride comes right on the heels of the announcement of the city’s 15-year plan to develop an additional 200 miles of bike-friendly roads around the city. For more information on Indy’s cycling movement, read Angela Hermann’s excellent feature in this week’s NUVO.
INDYCOG is one of the city’s foremost bike-advocacy groups. They host and promote a multitude of bicycle-themed events and groups, while also promoting bike safety, awareness and interest.
For more information on INDYCOG and their mission, visit www.INDYCOG.com.
If the best offense is good defense, Tamika Catchings would have been Sunday's leading scorer. And she was.
Before the game she was named the WNBA's Defensive Player of the Yeaer, and also received the Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award. She then went out and led the team in scoring and rebounding with 17 and 13... a Jack and master of all trades, it would seem.
Catching's defense was part of a record-setting first quarter for the Fever, in which they tied their own playoff record of only allowing 8 points in the first quarter.
With Catchings in rare form and a rejuvenated Katie Douglas, the Fever were able to out-rebound the Liberty and even the series at 1-1. The win is their first since Aug. 15; after ending the season with a three-game losing streak that cost them the top seed in the playoffs, they got pummelled in New York in last Thursday's series opener. But Wednesday's game leaves a great opportunity for Hoosier basketball to stick it to the city of New York in a meaningful game for the first time since Reggie retired.
The winner of Wednesday night's game at Madison Square Garden will go on to the Eastern Conference Finals to face the Atlanta Dream, who easily swept the Washington Mystics.
Bicycling magazine's "BikeTown USA" program will be on-hand at the Mass Ave Criterium Saturday morning with one simple mission: to give away 31 free bikes.
To win all you have to do is submit an entry here of 50 words or less describing how you or someone you know could benefit from a free bike. The editors of the magazine will then select 30 winning essays, and each author will win a Jamis Commuter 2.0 bike to keep.
They have extended the deadline, but it's best to enter as soon as possible. If you don't submit an essay, you can still win just by showing up to the Mass Ave Criterium, and registering at the BikeTown station. One winner will be drawn at random, and additional winners may be drawn if people are not there to claim their prize when the winners are announced at about 1:30 pm.
I can't tell you how angry I am that I can't enter this contest... it would probably reflect poorly upon both BikeTown and NUVO if I won. Sometimes it sucks to write for a paper with standards instead of Gannette. (burn!)
The Jamis Commuter 2.0 bicycles retail for up to $600, and I don't know how to describe them other than to say they are pretty sweet.
BikeTown has given away thousands of these bikes with terrific results. People have lost weight, become more engaged in their communities, improved family relationships, saved money on gas, and reduced carbon footprints.
Bicycling tracks participants’ progress for three months, with results featured in the magazine and on Bicycling.com. Previous stories have been astonishing — thousands of pounds have been lost, blood pressure and diabetes medications dropped, marriages saved, impromptu bike clubs started, and countless bike commuter miles logged to save money on gas and help the environment. In essence, thousands of people enjoy their lives more because they spend more time on a bike.
Ryan Knapp, Category 1 cyclist for Team Panther, was featured in this week's cover story. I could have filled the entire issue with all the interesting things he had to say in our interview; unfortunately space— like always— was at a premium. But here on the web, there's no such thing as a maximum word count.
Here is the complete (only slightly abridged) interview, in which he talks about the fiendish turns of the Mass Ave Criterium, crashing, the unwritten rules of the road and his personal mission to crush dreams.
It's a little lengthy, but whether you're new to cycling or have been racing as a Pro for thirty years, you will almost certainly find Knapp's inside perspective on life as a Cat 1 cyclist to be fascinating.
NUVO: What separates the Mass Ave Criterium from other crits?
Knapp: [Mass Ave] is roughly a triangle, and that’s very different. Those corners over 90 can be a little tougher to race on just because people have trouble with them—you seem to get a few more crashes because people aren’t used to it. And you get people who maybe aren’t as experienced or haven’t seen these corners before. As far as pavement goes—we race on pretty bad pavement in some of these races—so we’re pretty used to manhole covers.
NUVO: How does that affect the strategy of the race?
Knapp: Getting out in front can be really important, depending on the course—and in one like this with over-90-degree angles the field splits up, because you get this accordion affect—the people in the back have to slow way-way down, down to like 10 mph, and then explode up to 25-30, while the guys in front only slowed down to like 18. So if you’re in the back it’s way more work to sprint up to speed then slow down—over and over. If you’re up front you can see what’s happening—if anyone attacks or tries to get away from the field you can be right there and actually do something about it. If you’re in the back you’re pretty much just stuck there. If you’re lucky you can see what’s going on, but you won’t be able to do anything about it. You need to be at the front early to participate, rather than just look at it and watch it happen.
There are some courses where it doesn’t slow down as much—if the roads are wide—they’re like NASCAR races—you hardly have to hit the brakes you’re just flying around the turns. Our meeting before the race we’ll talk about how if you’re stuck at the back you’re not going to be able to participate, so we want to make sure we’re at the front so that we can keep an eye on everything.
NUVO: [Walking along the race course, at the intersection of Mass Ave and Michigan, outside the fire station] This turn looks like it could be problematic; what’s the strategy on such a difficult turn like this?
Knapp: It’s definitely quite the angle. Hopefully it’s going to be single file. What you would ideally do is be really close the curb, and then slide it really far out to the far curb—but you can see here there’s a ridge in the middle of the road—when you’re on the edge of your tire’s grip in the first place that little ridge can be the difference between going through it as fast as possible and going through it on your rear.
NUVO: How do you cope with that fear of crashing?
Knapp: The more races you do the more quickly you get over it—there are some people who have been racing for a long time and still aren’t comfortable with it. But I feel comfortable at the end of a race with like 150 guys in close quarters. You’ll get to a point where you just stick your fingers out from the handle bar and they go right into the hip of a guy who’s leaning into you.
You just have to get comfortable to a point where you know that most of the people you can trust to not do anything out of the ordinary—and you also talk. Like if you know you’re in a susceptible place—so that they don’t close the line you had planned on going. The more you realize that crashing is part of the gig, the quicker you’re going to get over it. But bad crashes happen, and they definitely can set people back a long way.
NUVO: It sounds like baseball in that way, where a guy can take one bean ball to the head, then be afraid to dig in at the plate for the rest of his career.
Knapp: One of my good friends last year on a group ride was on a sprint—he wasn’t even racing. And his chain slipped when he was under full load and sent him flying off the bike; the guy behind him hit him with a chain ring, and it ripped from the corner of his mouth up to his eye—a huge gash and it scarred him really badly. It messed with his mind, and it was the final straw—he just mentally didn’t have it any more in close quarters—he would just pull out of the race.
NUVO: What’s the worst crash you’ve ever been in?
Knapp: I’ve been lucky. I’ve broken my collar bone…I’ve had a couple of really bad crashes in a row where I just had really nasty road rash; road rash sucks. After something like that you want to give yourself a little more [room], but you’re probably going to be more likely to crash if you’re thinking about it—worrying about how much space you have around you.
NUVO: Does this race play into the strengths of anyone in particular on your team?
Knapp: We have one guy who’s a pretty good sprinter—I sprint every once in a while. I’m one of a few that could potentially be sprinting at the end of the race—Chris Uberti’s had a really good year and he’ll definitely be an option.
NUVO: Who is the best competition?
Knapp: Aaaron Hubbel from the NUVO team is one—but he’s not really boasting as much on his results; I think he’s trying to mentor one of their younger guys, Eric Young. He’s kind of an up-and-comer, he was a good Little-Fiver at IU, and he’s got a good sprint. I think they’re kind of trying to bring him around. Texas Roadhouse is another pretty good regional team—John Grant is who won the race last year, and he’s definitely one to watch out for.
But I’d say it’s going to be a crapshoot between someone from our team and probably one guy from Texas Roadhouse, one guy from Kenda, one guy from NUVO. It’ll probably have all those components, and sort out from there.
NUVO: You’ve called a couple of other cyclists douche bags on your blog. Has that ever come up in a race?
Knapp: Luckily my blog’s not too much of a public forum. I’ve called out a few riders that have stumbled onto it or been told what I’ve written about them. I’m not trying to cause trouble, but there have been a few instances where people have done stupid stuff and I felt like venting about it—and it’s my blog so I can write whatever I want. We’ve been doing a lot of pro races…and the pros like to make it a huge divide and treat anyone who’s not in a jersey of a professional team—they like to treat you like shit.
They have a sense of entitlement where they feel like they can push you around for no reason. I understand at the end of the race, if you’re riding like an idiot as an amateur and getting in their way—that’s their job. But at the same time we’re trying to get the same money they’re trying to get. We have just as much right to be up there, so if I dragged myself up there using my own legs, I have equal right to that space. I hate it when pros—and some stupid amateurs do it too—who will do stupid things like push you around.
Earlier this month NUVO was invited to go for a dip with the junior National Synchronized Swimming team, to participate in the Synch or Swim Challenge. I synched.
The invitation came as part of a promotion for the World Championships, which will be held at the IUPUI Natatorium Aug. 11 — 15.
I was able to coax Eva Pilgrim from Fox 59 News out to the pool as well; failure is always more fun with two. As you can see in the video, this stuff is pretty hard.
The girls showed us a couple of basic moves; the first was an out-to-in cycling motion with my legs, while being positioned like I was sitting in a chair. When done correctly, it’s a much smoother method of treading water which enables a full range of motion with the upper body. When done incorrectly, as seen in the video, you get a tummy full of chlorine.
The second move was a lot of fun, and I was actually able to do a respectable job for an out-of-shape first-timer. Utilizing the first move while underwater, you make a “wax-on-wax-off” horizontal motion with your arms, and then spring up out of the water, as if you had something to lift off of. It’s a pretty awesome feeling to get a little height out of the pool without having been able to push off from anything. They had me add in a little up-and-down choreographed motion with the arms after the move, which left me looking more like I was being attacked by an alligator than dancing.
The third move was the one that put me over the edge, and left me truly exhausted and gasping for air. After attempting the third move, just breathing and treading water was a laborious challenge. It works like this: you tread water on your back, then fold up at the waist and touch your toes. Obviously at this point, you sink—which for someone like me, especially when you’re already gasping for air—is impossible to maintain smoothly. Ideally, your legs stand straight out of the water, as if you’re doing a handstand, with nothing to hold yourself up on.
It is mind boggling that these teenage girls are able to have that kind of total body strength and balance.
By the time we were asked to get into formation and put it all together into a routine—as you can see—I was wasted. I mostly just treaded water and got in the way. If they ever need someone to do that on their team, I’m the man for the job. If you watch the girl next to me during the routine, she just gives up because she kept bumping into me and was laughing too hard to finish.
I’ve suffered many athletic shortcomings in my life, but this is by far the most epic.
But that’s not even the worst of it. After the cameras were off I challenged the girls to a cannonball contest, AND LOST! Pool FAIL to the extreme. But at least I got to keep my official Team USA swim cap, and those sweet goggles.
I had a blast with the team, and they were extremely gracious, bright young ladies. I’d like to thank all of them for having us out to interrupt their morning practice, and having a go at the fools’ errand of teaching me the basics of their craft. It was a once in a lifetime experience, and all of us at NUVO wish them the best of luck this weekend.
And a special thanks to Lauren Nicholson, who was a great sport fielding my ridiculous questions.
For more information on synchronized swimming and this weekend’s events, click here or visit www.usasynchro.org.
Video shot and edited by Ryan McCracken
Great news for bicyclists and for green transportation in the city. The State Fair is offering free and secure bicycle parking, along with a ticket discount.
Per the city's announcement:
It’s the only free parking at the fair. Cyclists also receive $1 off of State Fair admission by parking at Pedal & Park. [...]
Volunteers will monitor the free bike parking corral at its traditional State Fair location at the Indy Parks and Recreation 38th Street Depot, near the entrance to the Monon Trail. The corral will be open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day of the fair.
Maybe on the ride back you can work off the deep-fried cookie dough and funnel cake!
On Friday, July 23 I came within .47 seconds of accomplishing #8 on my Life To-Do List.
What is #8? Accept a novelty oversized check for ANYTHING.
(Preferably while shaking hands with a celebrity of moderate to exceptional fame, smiling for flashing cameras.)
To give you some context of my life goals: #7 is to see someone run full-speed down the street in between two men who are carrying an absurdly large pane of glass. #9 is to see someone step on a rake and get hit in the face with the handle.
I was invited to represent NUVO as part of the “Sprint Cup Media Challenge,” which is a promotional event for the Brickyard 400, hosted by Miss Sprint Cup (Monica Palumbo). The winner was to receive a novelty oversized check for $1,000, made out to the charity of his or her choosing, and an interview with Ms. Palumbo.
The contest was a virtual NASCAR race amongst local “top media personalities” (their words, not mine!), which was broadcast on the big screens and over the P.A. system throughout the track, during Friday’s qualifiers. I was racing for Keep Indianapolis Beautiful.
I felt good about my chances; the likes of Rich Nye (WTHR13 Sports) and Eva Pilgrim (FOX 59 News) surely have way less free time than me, and while they might be more successful than me at their jobs, service to society and life in general—I was confident that I would be better at video games.
I even went downtown to practice last Sunday morning at the Circle Center Mall. And by “practice” I really mean that I played one racing game and then spent two hours playing ski-ball and Mortal Kombat with my fiancé.
So I was feeling good about my chances, especially after safely fighting my way through the intersection of Georgetown and 16th and settling in at the track. The media personalities and I were lined up in the “Sprint fan experience” area, where 7 or 8 fans wandered around haplessly.
Palumbo stood at the center of the pavilion, in front of the Sprint Cup trophy, calling the name of each media personality, along with a quick bio of their accomplishments and charity of choice. In one of the most bizarre experiences of my life, I was introduced to a crowd of no one. The other racers and I smiled uncertainly, enjoying the spectacle and awkwardness of being introduced to the scattered applause of only one another.
We were then led into the simulators, and separated into three heats. Rich Nye won the first heat handily, and a racing radio broadcaster won the second. I settled into the sixth seat for the third heat.
Palumbo did commentary on the entire race as it unfolded, and I tried to have fun with her and the cameras. I barked at other racers for tailgating, cheesed for the video cameras, and talked as much trash as I could think to, trying to make it fun to watch. None of the drivers picked up the cue from my trash-talk, and they leisurely went about their afternoon drive. But Palumbo went with it, and made fun of me for every wide turn and slick maneuver through traffic. She was very personable and funny, and did a great job of making us look less ridiculous.
I was able to stay on the track for my entire race—which seemed to be the defining characteristic of each winner—and placed first in the third and final heat leading up to the finals.
When choosing my virtual driver for the championship race, I stuck with the only recognizable name I saw on the roster: Kyle Busch. From what I know about NASCAR, Jimmy Johnson is the best, Dale Earnhardt Jr. hasn’t won in forever, and Tony Stewart is an asshole. I remember overhearing someone once describe Busch as a “reckless jackass,” so I went with him.
I started behind the pack, but made my way up to the lead by the end of the second lap. The front was a bad place to be; the game is centered around a strategy of drafting to fill up a meter, and then utilizing the ensuing “power boost," which sends the car flying past the rest.
I managed to hold on until about halfway through the fifth and final lap, when I was about to lap two computer-controlled cars, which collided in front of me and spun out. I “t-boned” the careening driver, and spun into the wall. Not surprisingly, Tony Stewart was the culprit. Even with my limited knowledge of NASCAR, I could have told you it would end this way.
There was roughly half of a lap left, and I dropped down to sixth.
I was able to quickly fill up my drafting meter, and went flying to the front, with the checkered flag in sight. I was rapidly pulling up on Rich Nye and Shane of 102.5 FM’s “Morning Brew,” and was within a split second of passing them both, when the three of us crossed the finish line—my front bumper even with their steering wheels.
Crushing. Absolutely crushing.
But I had a blast doing the race, and Shane’s winning charity was American Cancer Society. So my loss was for a good cause.
As we stepped out of the trailer and back into the 95 degree heat, I enviously watched Palumbo present Shane the novelty oversized check and do her interview over the speakers of the track. I was disheartened. I had a bunch of good jokes lined up about practicing in my 1994 Geo Metro and accusing the other drivers of abusing methamphetamines. I was going to challenge Tony Stewart to a foot race.
But Shane won the day. We all posed for some pictures, made some small talk, and went our separate ways.
#8 will have to wait until next year. In the meantime, I’ll have to keep working for #6, which is to be the guy in a burger commercial who takes a bite and is both surprised and intrigued by how good it is, like he’s listening to an old man tell an interesting story he’s heard before.
However, I’m skeptical as to how truly exciting it can be to watch an MMA fight from any view further away than $300 will accommodate. When the fights go to the ground, it seems to me that the people with $100 seats in the 20th row will have an insufferable view, never mind the penny knaves in the balcony.
Not that I have any decision-making to do; the fight is September 25, and begins right around the time I will be cutting the cake at my wedding reception, down the street.
But I fully expect the region to go crazy for this. The UFC has built its home in the Pacific Time Zone; setting up camp in Las Vegas and only occasionally venturing east. Indianapolis has developed a moderate reputation in the sport, with the rise of Chris Lytle, and the infamously cheap antics of Matt Mitrione on season 10 of “The Ultimate Fighter.” Former WEC champ Miguel Torres fights out of East Chicago, and many more mid-level fighters train in Kentucky and Ohio. I’m sure that Dana White and his cohorts are fully aware of the explosion of the sports’ popularity amongst the region’s working class, and as it is for any sporting event in need of a neutral site—Indianapolis is the natural choice for a million reasons.
Here’s the card (from MMAjunkie.com):
• Frank Mir vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
• Ryan Bader vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira
• Chris Lytle vs. Matt Serra
• Evan Dunham vs. Sean Sherk*
• Melvin Guillard vs. Jeremy Stephens*
• C.B. Dollaway vs. Joe Doerksen*
• Joey Beltran vs. Matt Mitrione*
• T.J. Grant vs. Julio Paulino*
• Steve Lopez vs. Waylon Lowe*
• Pat Audinwood vs. Aaron Riley*
• Mark Hunt vs. Sean McCorkle*
* - Not officially announced
The card is decent, even though there will be no titles to be won or lost. Frank Mir and Big Nog have the main-event slot, and of course Lytle is featured as the hometown hero against Matt Serra. I became a big Frank Mir fan after he tapped out Brock Lesnar, and he became one of my favorite fighters because of his color-commentary for the WEC, which I found to be engaging, informative and refreshingly honest. But I became slightly less enthusiastic after stumbling across this misogynistic video on YouTube, in which he expresses some silly opinions on gun control—for example “Everyone, especially women should carry a firearm.”
If I made a list of 100 people I know, there might be three that I would trust to carry a firearm on them at all times. And those three people would never use it. But I later realized that was an unfair (if not slightly high-handed) expectation for my favorite heavyweight; if I weeded out my favorite fighters according to their philosophical opinions on politics and life, I would quickly run out of interest in the sport.
Aside from Lytle’s bout with Serra, I’ll also be interested to see how Matt Mitrione does; he’s 2-0 in the UFC, but both victories came against winless opponents. The former Purdue football player faked a brain injury on “TUF,” so he said, to gain a strategic advantage for his next fight. He then nearly poked his opponent’s eye out, leaving him unable to fight. He is the MMA version of Ric Flair—or a meat-headed Andy Kauffman.
Tickets go on sale Saturday morning, July 24. For more information go to www.ufc.com.
A month or so ago I was invited to the Fox 59 studios to debate local political blogger and attorney Chris Worden in regard to the Pacers bailout. I was in favor of it—under the precondition that the Capital Improvement Board and Mayor Ballard take a firm stand against the Simons, and negotiate the terms of the loan in such a way that a temporary investment turns a long-term profit.
I was not in favor of a bailout which gave Herbert Simon, who is worth 1.1 billion (Forbes), an interest-free loan of $30 million and an additional $3 million of walkin'-around money.
While the editors at Fox studios did a brilliant job of editing out my 13 minutes worth of “um’s,” “ah’s,” and general discomfort, they also chopped out my more aggressive comments in regard to Mayor Ballard. I called him a coward after spewing off a series of profane insults about his mother.
Or I just challenged him to stick up for the city against the Simons and call their bluff, while managing to negotiate a deal that keeps the Pacers in town at a profit. I can’t really remember.
But today the terms of the agreement were released, and it seems that the CIB (and all of Indianapolis, as a result) is going to get a beat-down the likes of which not even the Pacers have seen in the last decade.
That is the last time I set aside my political partisanship and believe that the Mayor is going to act in the best interest of the city. I admit that I still have a lot to learn about local politics, but I convinced myself that since prudent spending was the entire foundation of Ballard’s rise from obscurity to office, he would be able to negotiate a reasonable bailout of the Simons.
Instead, the Simons pulled off a sheepish, gluttonous deal that not even J. Wellington Wimpy from “Popeye” could have haggled. Herb Simon will gladly pay Mayor Ballard Tuesday for 30 million hamburgers today, without collateral, interest or precondition.
But they might pay it back. If they have it. And it’s convenient. And they feel like it.
The arrangement is lopsided, to say the least; even IF the Pacers manage to become profitable, pay back the loan, and stick around for a few years. The terms are baffling: Indianapolis gives the Simons a $30 million loan without interest, and pays another $3 million for a new scoreboard and some carpet. In return, the Pacers might stick around two or three more years. And since there is a 90% probability of a lockout in the 2011 season, the city is in effect going to pay the Simons $33 million for 41 more home games. And then the world is ending the following year. Fiddlesticks.
No one wins, except for the Simons, who reserve the option of running away gaily from the Indianacolypse (why isn’t that the name of a death metal band yet?) with a big burlap sack full of our cash after a couple more mediocre seasons.
Even if the CIB, which just received its own bailout from the State in 2009, is in a position to be loaning that kind of money, the Pacers could still leave in another three years. If the settlement isn’t going to lock up the Pacers indefinitely, I would rather just get it over with and have them leave now, so that we could use that $30 million to bring in a winning franchise, or invest in the arts or the thousand other things that can bring revenue downtown.
In the debate with Worden, one of my arguments was that the NBA does not need to create a demand for basketball in Indiana, so that with even semi-competent leadership, the sport could easily become profitable to both owners and taxpayers alike. However, any incentive the Simons once had to show some competence has just been eliminated.
Mayor Ballard released a letter stating the importance of the agreement, but it lacks any practical information about the terms of the bailout, and does not address the most obvious questions. The Simons have somehow managed to skate through this whole situation without giving any real insight into why they’re losing money, what can be done to cut their budget to stop the bleeding, or what the $30 million is going to go toward, other than “operating costs.” Something stinks.
The letter cites that some $55 million dollars of income to the economy would be lost without the Pacers in town—but there are not any details given as to the source of this projection or what assumptions it makes.
It certainly doesn’t assume a new franchise, for which Indianapolis would certainly become the obvious top contender. A great empty stadium, an enthusiastic sports town and hundreds of thousands of angry basketball fans who would show up every night, if only to stick it to the Simons. It also doesn’t state if the study used for that projection assumes a season like 2010, where tickets could hardly be given away. It also may assume that all those basketball fans are just going to stay inside and mope over the Pacers team that no one has cared about for the last half decade.
The most suspect and irritating aspect of this entire negotiation has been the Simons slippery evasion of any and all comment or insight. If they are not to blame for their own profit loss and it truly is the city’s responsibility to pick up the tab, then we can deal with that. But it’s humiliating for our politicians to buckle at the knees and simply take them at their word that they need our money. At the very least, I expect the loan/bailout/bullying to be handled the same way the Simons—or any lending company— would with one of their lease agreements.
Show us the books, and ask nicely. Then we’ll see what we can do. With interest.
If not, you can try to find another city to lose in. It takes a place with a very special affinity for basketball to put up with the kind of embarrassment and failure the Simons have thrown at us. There are other NBA franchises that need Indianapolis a lot more than Indianapolis needs the Pacers.
The Pirates didn't have too much trouble cutting fat on their roster to make room for the hot-hitting prospect Pedro Alvarez. Their highest-paid player, Akinori Iwamura, had been hitting a painfully low .182 average, and has had more strikeouts than hits. Ouch.
Alvarez was expected to be called up sometime this year— and rightfully so. He has twice as many home runs and RBI's as anyone else on the team (13/53), and also leads the team in doubles, triples, at-bats and runs. Considering the Pirates track record of roster movement with their prospects, I'm surprised it didn't happen sooner. They've given far worse players a chance in the majors far sooner (see: Charlie Morton, Brad Eldred, etc), though given Alvarez's price tag and potential, it makes sense to take things slow.
Especially because he also leads the team in a statistical categorywhich makes me wary of his preparedness; he has 68 strikeouts, meaning that he strikes-out 28% of his at-bats against minor league pitchers. Like Iwamura, he has one more strikeout than hits.
But it certainly seems to be that time of year. Strasburg, Santana and Stanton have all made their Major League debuts the last couple of weeks, and the Pirates desperately need something for fans to get excited about, with yet another league-worst record and financial decisions that seem to have been made by an out-of-work insomniac watching late night info-mercials.
In the last two years they've traded Nate McLouth, Nyjer Morgan, Jason Bay, Freddy Sanchez, Xavier Nady, and many more— all for a pen that fixes scratches on a car without a transmission. A couple weeks ago I sat and watched Charlie Morton— who came over as part of the McLouth trade— last almost two innings at Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati. He started the game with an ERA of about 8.50, and somehow managed to end it even worse.
Over the last 20 years the Pirates have developed a reputation similar to that of the village idiot in a fantasy baseball league— all the experienced managers just keep offering them ridiculous trades because they're easy to manipulate.
So here the Pirates are faced with a dilemma. They have the lowest payroll in all of MLB, and their highest paid player is the worst one on the team. Now they say that they want to trade him.
If they got Brandon Moss (still in Indy) and Andy LaRoche (riding the bench) for Jason Bay (All-Star), I can't imagine what brilliant scheme Neal Huntington has planned to unload Iwamura. Putting him on Craig's List would probably be more beneficial than any offers he's going to get from people who know how to do their jobs. So that leaves two options: trading him for a used iPod, or to the Cubs.
Last week I was asked to go to the Fox 59 Studio to shoot a 2-minute debate about whether or not the city should bailout the Pacers. Or rather, I was asked to fill in for the person they really wanted, but had to cancel because of a death in the family. Movin' on up...
The "Faceoff" segment airs tonight at 10 pm. It's a new bit they're trying out where they bring in two local (what's the word here...experts? no...) "interested parties" to debate a current event.
They asked NUVO to fill in at the last minute, and as Indy's most "available" sportswriter, I was happy to oblige. The studio is a big cheesy boxing ring, and there was no moderator or lead-in. It was pleasantly surprising that they thought of NUVO to participate (even if we were there second choice), and that they didn't have any pre-scripted talking points or a particular position they wanted me to take. However the "1-2-3 go!" approach without a moderator or even a chair left me feeling a little uneasy about what to do with my hands, how to start, when to stop, and what question to focus on. Two minutes wasn't nearly enough time to get comfortable and have any sort of off-script back and forth.
The opposition was local blogger Chris Wordon— an accomplished attorney and leftward-leaning political activist with far more education and political awareness than I'll ever have. I met him a couple minutes before we aired, and he showed up dressed to the nines, making me even more nervous than I already was. But much to the disappointment of tonight's audience— we are very like-minded in our political leanings and got along very well. He's ready my stuff and I've read his and the "debate"- if you will— was in reality more of a conversation amongst new buds.
And lucky for me. While I like to think I've developed a knack for defending the most defenseless of positions, I wouldn't stand a chance against Chris; which was all too apparent the second time we did the debate.
They shot the debate twice: which was strange for an off-script conversation. The first time we went six minutes, so they asked us to do it again. I felt like the first time through went a lot better than the second— Chris had a much better ability than me to learn from the first go-round, and the second time we went through he had answers for everything I said. We'll see which segment they use the most of....ideally a little of both to make me look a little less stupid.
By the way, you can read Chris's blog here —it's really great insightful stuff. It's the best regular all-local political analysis this side of Austin Considine. We have very similar ideology and goals for the city; the difference is that he goes about it with thorough research and insightful reporting, while I depend on sarcasm and mildly snooty observations.
I got to the studio about half an hour early, and had to sit in the waiting room watching Maury until Chris got there. No matter how bad I look on TV tonight, it's good to know that it will be nothing compared to those people.
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