Sunday, July 22, 2012

Penn State

I'm glad I took this picture during our visit in 2009. I knew of a statue but never took the time to visit it on any of our previous trips to State College. It is located on the east side of Beaver Stadium, away from the press box, but facing Mt. Nittany. was.

It was brought down today and as a State College Facebook friend said, "It is done. Media please go away and let us heal."

By the time anyone reads this the verdict will be delivered by the NCAA on what sanctions will occur the Penn State Football program. I for one have a difficulty understanding  how this is an NCAA issue. I guess this is something that they need to rule upon, but to me this is an issue that is to be tried in the State and Federal Courts of Law.

But it involves one of their member institutions and there is a need by the public and media that they need to act upon it.

Ok, again, by the time anyone reads this the actions will be imposed. There has been rumors of fines, bowl bans and scholarship reduction. Not sure how this reflects the crimes committed, but whatever. However I'll add one sanction that I haven't seen brought up. Impose a ban of games played in Beaver Stadium. Yes, make the Nittany Lions play every game on the road.

Does it justify? No, but it punishes those students who marched on campus the night Joe Paterno was fired. It punishes the fans who continue to be in denial that their legendary coach could not be a part of this. And by playing any game on the road, there cannot be over 100,000 people cheering on a team - albeit with a much different staff - that is using JoePa's memory as a rallying point.

How interesting would it be for the Nittany Lions to play at Ohio to start the season? Watch them play at Navy, in front of servicemen who know how to be true leaders. And the Penn Staters can fill Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, the closest road game, and help contribute to the athletic budget of nearby Temple.

Football has been a culture that has built State College. This culture contributed to keeping the Sandusky case quiet for over 20 years. Not having a home game for a year (maybe two) would financially devastate the local area. Is it fair? Fair left State College a long time ago.

Watch Lists

Aren't "Watch Lists" great? It tells the public which football players are getting a look at eventual end of the year honors. I think it would mean more if the "watch lists" were released in the middle of the season as opposed to over a month before the season begins. But I guess its a way to sell magazines or attract readers to a web site.

So I announce the watch list for "Big Ten Video Coordinator of the Year." They include, but not limited to:
  • Matthew Engelbert, Iowa
  • Phil Bromley, Michigan
  • Tom Shepherd and Matt Harper, Michigan State
  • Matt Schilling, Minnesota
  • Mike Nobler, Nebraska
  • Ken Kowalski, Northwestern
  • George Anasis, Illinois
  • Joel Baron, Indiana
  • Mark Quisenberry, Ohio State
  • Jevin Stone, Penn State
  • Ryan Dale and John Sells, Purdue
  • Rob Porteus, Wisconsin
  • Jay Reid, Big Ten Office

Hawk's View

While on vacation in Wisconsin it was tough to resist playing an 18 hole, par 3 golf course with my son at Hawk's View. He has been getting into the game more and more this summer and is anxious to play different golf courses. On a day where temperatures may rise above 100 degrees it was important to get out as early as possible and this family-style course was perfect for us. Hawk's View has two courses actually, and we played Barn Hollow while the more serious player would play Coco Crossings.

When rain has been a rare commodity this summer, the staff at this Lake Geneva area club have worked hard to keep it in the fine condition it was in. Fairways were green, tee boxes were full of grass and the rough was akin to fairways of other courses' fairways who have been subjected to the sun and dry Midwestern Summer days. Many would think the par 3 course would be easier, especially if it was set up for families, but this was not the case. Distances could reach up to 200 yards and water and sand made for a challenge.
One part of the game my son looks forward to is if the golf carts have GPS units or not. Not that the distance registered makes a difference to which club he uses, he finds the technology cool. And these carts had some of the nicer units I have seen. Each hole had an overhead view show up with distances pointing out near, far and center of the green.
This covered bridge is the entrance to Hawk's View.

This will be one of the nicer courses my son and I will play together for a while. I'm anxious to try it again with him, on a day where temperatures don't reach triple digits.

Miller Park

I enjoy the summer as it allows me time to visit different major league parks. Wrigley is a favorite since I am a Cubs fan. And a trip to St. Louis and Busch Stadium is always a good experience. Over the last few years I've also attended games in Kansas City, Denver, Philadelphia, Washington D.C. and Minneapolis. And within those same years I've seen the Brewers play in Miller Park. This past week we went back to Milwaukee to see the Brewers play the Cardinals. Outdoor baseball is always a good thing, but when traveling to see a game, it is always a good thing to be guaranteed a game to be played. And in driving to the ballpark, storm clouds neared as the wind picked up, but once inside the stadium those winds could not be felt and the skies began to clear. The roof was open - although it began to close for a little while a half hour prior to first pitch - for a warm night of National League baseball.
 As the Brewers, Milwaukee hasn't had a great deal of success (although they've seen their team in the World Series while most Cubs fans haven't). Names like Molitor and Yount are some of their Hall of Famers and above is Robin Yount (CF and SS) enshrined outside the home field entrance.
 Many of my age group know Bob Uecker for his Miller Lite commercials or his starring role in ABC's Mr. Belvedere, but older fans know him as a major league catcher. And those in Wisconsin know him best as the play by play voice of their favorite team. His home run call, "Get Up, Get Up, Get Outta Here - GONE!" is attached to the Brewer Mascot's home run slide. Whenever a Brewer hits a home run, Bernie Brewer slides down onto a porch waving a Milwaukee flag as Uecker's home run call lights up. The slide is a take from the older County Stadium tradition of Bernie Brewer sliding down from his chalet into a giant mug of beer. Honestly, I miss the mug and would be a little afraid of sliding too recklessly down this slide.
 A favorite tradition for young and old is the Sausage Race presented by Klement's. Bratwurst, Hot Dog, Italian Sausage, Polish Sausage and Chorizo race on the field from left field, behind home plate and finish in right field foul territory. It appears to be a competitive race among those who don the outfits and Italian won the night we were there.
 Not necessarily one of my favorite ballparks, but as I mentioned earlier, when traveling from a distance we are guaranteed to see a ballgame. I think the lighting could be better as watching it on tv and in person there is a yellow tint. I'm not sure about a character to the park either, but there aren't many bad seats and parking and accessibility has to be among the best in the nation. And all the workers we encountered couldn't have been more accommodating. We were welcomed to Miller Park by many, and told that our newest child would receive a commemorative paper for framing of his first major league game.
StubHub was a winner for us on the night. With a 2 1/2 week old and warm temperatures we found a great deal on the ticket reseller web site. Infield Club Seats were available for $25 a piece. With temperatures in the 90s and humidity levels nearing a similar number the club seats were good for my wife and son to cool down while still being able to watch the game on nearby monitors. The bar area was always occupied by Brewer and Cardinal fans, and the area opened up to the suite holders, too.
And the above is for those who haven't seen the Sausage Race.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

George Wine

George Wine with UI Sports Information Staff Fall '11
Sitting in a Pizza Hut on First Avenue in Cedar Rapids as a high school student the question was asked by my sister, "So what are you going to do when you grow up?" Of course I've had a love of sports up to that time in my life, and at that time I was a big fan of the Green Bay Packers as well as Iowa Hawkeyes. Anything from that point forward had to do something with either one of those teams, or sports in general. I'm not sure what else would make me happy.

But as a high school student I thought anything was possible. And I knew that sister was expecting an answer quicker than the thought process I've just described. My knee-jerk answer was, "I want to be George Wine." George was the University of Iowa Sports Information Director at the time, and to me had the ideal job of anyone. He was on the scene for all of the great Hawkeye sports moments of the day. He was around famous Hawkeye coaches and athletes. On a weekly basis he was the main contact for all radio and television networks and dealt with their talent and those who were beat reporters from around the state of Iowa.

How could I not want to be like George Wine. This job had my interest of sports, the Hawkeyes and the media. This would be right up my alley.

I didn't end of being George Wine, but my life's path led to know George and have a job that met many of these same criteria.

Today we honored George's life as he passed away from a heart attack early in the morning of July 5th.

I got to know George when I started working for the Hawkeyes in 1989. I didn't know him well, but he knew who I was and treated me with the respect of those he had known for his entire career. Whether it was around the Hawkeye athletic buildings or traveling with the team he would engage me in conversation with the others around. Around him I was a member of Hawkeye family.

In college I took Sports and the Media, a class that George made a guest appearance. In the early 90s sports and the media were continuing to evolve and the question arose of whether the job of the Sports Information Director was to provide information to the media or promote student-athletes for individual honors. I remember George wasn't comfortable over promoting, although that was part of his job, but provide honest information to the media and allowing them to make their own decision.

An overflow crowed jammed into a downtown Iowa City church to listen to friends and family relive George stories. There were some tears, but many laughs - they way it should be. And the way George would want it to be.