Monday, July 28, 2008

Worst ... race ... ever.

Maybe it wasn't as bad as my headline would suggest, but as far as big time races go, Sunday's Allstate 400 at the Brickyard had to be high on the list. Due to the tire issues I wrote about for The News Sentinel for Sunday Online NASCAR mandated competition yellows every 11 laps during the 160 lap race at Indy. As you might surmise, it was a long day. The fact that fans booed everytime the yellow flag waved proved even the die hards were less than enthused.

It made my job a little easier, if that can be said about anything at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I had time to move around more, change equipment a couple of times and actually make a restroom break. The sound of SpongeBob Squarepants saying "Aaaamazinggg" comes to mind. Sorry, I have little ones, and we have shows we watch.

Anyway, I didn't make all the pictures I wanted. I just don't have the access I need at that track, but after talking to one of the gentlemen who works at IMS Photo, I've got a better idea how to change that for next year. The funny thing is when I go to Chicago or Michigan, those folks do everything in their power to get me what I need. I don't get everything. There is a pecking order, and the Sentinel isn't at the top of it, but they give me enough access to get what I need.

Wait, if future Brickyard races are going to be like Sunday's, I may not want more access. Check out Up To Speed for more of my commentary on the Debacle at the Brickyard.

Keep in mind that these are my opinions and are not those of the newspaper that employs me.

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Sunday, July 27, 2008

Saturday at the track. I think it's just the end of July.

OK. I don't know what's worse - my bad reference to the song by Chicago or the fact that I've had it going through my head for about an hour now. But that's what you get when I'm sitting in the lobby of a Fairfield Inn at 2 a.m. finishing up my Saturday track coverage with only four hours of sleep. I have to get up in another four hours to head back to the track for the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard. Unfortunately for me, I bring it on myself.

Friday night I stayed up too long trying to find a hotel room for tonight and surfing the wide world of web. But here I am in Indy, my home away from home. I actually do wish I could live here, but for now, my place is in the Fort. I'm not complaining about today either. My wife who was visiting her mother not far from Indy decided to pop over with our baby to meet me for dinner after I left the track. We hung out, and the little guy got me laughing to tears. I had a great time. So I pay for those times with late-night work sessions (thank goodness for late deadlines on Saturday). I wouldn't trade it.

Anyone brave enough to read what I wrote about Saturday's happenings at the track can be find my story on The News-Sentinel's SportSunday online edition very shortly. Accompanying photos are posted on my Up To Speed blog.

After Sunday's race, I have one more left in my season, and then it's football, girls volleyball, more football and then even more football. Oh, did I mention football. I'll be covering all of the Colts' home games this year and a few road games. Anyone out there thinking my photos of these events would look great in your publications? We should talk.

Need convincing? Check here, here and here ... oh and HERE.

Look for my new website coming soon to an LCD screen near you. Details to come.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Ballpark construction update

Today was about as nice a summer day as one could hope for at the end of July. Temperatures hovered in the low to mid 80's with negligible humidity. It was a great day to take a tour of the new downtown baseball stadium that is under construction as part of the $125-$160 million Harrison Square project. I think I can safely say that stadium is going to be nice.

I know there is/was a good deal of turmoil surrounding the approval of the new ballpark. I questioned the need to spend the taxpayer money, considering we have a fully functional stadium that is only 15 years old. Despite my feelings on the financials of the project, the fact is the stadium is going up. I'm a baseball fan first, and I'm starting to get excited about shooting in this new park.

Right now people huff and puff about the project, but when they watch a game in the new park I think attitudes will change. The other big complaint for the downtown location was parking. The people who use that as their excuse must have never gone to Wrigley Field to watch the Cubs. good luck finding a spot in the same area code as Wrigley. People here in the Fort need to get accustomed to the fact that they can't expect to always park across the street from where they want to go. Besides, there will be plenty of parking.

Hey, didn't someone rank the Fort as one of the fattest cities in America due to the ratio of the number of buffet restaurants to the census population totals? Maybe walking a couple of extra blocks to the games will do some good. I know I could use the exercise.

Anyway, the stadium is taking shape. Many of the concrete risers that will hold the seats are poured and soon the radius section behind home plate will be poured. Speaking of that, Wizards fans can expect to see some great new views of the game being right down at field level instead of sitting 10 feet up from the field. Either next week or the week following, crew are scheduled to start the final field excavations to prepare for the installation of the new sod in mid-September. Excavators will remove five feet of earth to install the drainage system and build up the layers of stone, gravel and sand that will support the playing surface.

Friday, July 18, 2008


Yes, variety. It's what I love about my job. Last weekend, I spent the weekend in Chicago covering beach volleyball then moved on to the largest motorsports racing circuits around, NASCAR. I spent time amongst some of the most well-known folks in the country, acting if somehow I were actually important because my newspaper sends me to get pictures and stories of these events.

Unfortunately, the folks who make the "big time" don't really care if I'm there or not. As a matter of fact, they sometimes act as if they wish all media, other than TV, would just stay at the buffet table and leave them alone. Not so on last night's assignment, where I covered a routine Junior League all-star tournament game. I was welcomed by the coaches, who went out of their way to make sure I had line-ups and field access. I was welcomed by the teams of 13-14 year old kids who were playing the game they loved, most realizing their baseball playing days were nearing an end.

Although it's not the only local "small time" event I've covered in awhile, I had time to put things in perspective while covering that game last night. I remembered the days when I played in the junior and senior league all-star tournaments. I remembered the exact feelings I had when I had to pitch myself out of a jam with bases loaded. I knew of the excitement when a backup player hit a late three-run homer to tie the game up. I guess most of all, I felt like I was home. People were actually happy that someone was paying attention to the moments they'll remember in 15 years. You just don't get that covering the pro's.

Sunday, July 13, 2008 400

Just a quick update before I get on the road home. Kyle Busch won yet another race after passing Jimmie Johnson on a restart with two laps to go in Saturday's 400 at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill. Although Johnson looked to have the race won until a late caution came out, Busch dominated the race, leading 165 of 267 laps. Carl Edwards had a strong chance until a mechanical problem forced him to pit. To see more of my photos from the race, head over to my News-Sentinel racing photo blog: Up To Speed.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Friday Photos

AVP Pro Angie Akers

AVP Pro Holly McPeak

AVP Pro and Olympian Misty May-Treanor

AVP Pro and Olympian Kerri Walsh

NASCAR driver Kyle Busch sprays his drink after winning the Dollar General 300 Nationwide Series race on Friday, July 11, at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill.

Double Duty

Friday turned out to be a marathon day but, all things considered, a fairly decent one. I travelled to Chicago to cover be on hand for the NASCAR races this weekend, and I sprinkled in a touch of AVP beach volleyball for kicks.

AVP pro Angie Akers is originally from Fort Wayne and a Bishop Luers grad. I met her a couple of years ago in Los Angeles at a sports photography workshop, and it was there that I learned she was from here in town. So I talked to Blake Sebring, our resident volleyball guru, and he filled me in about her time in high school here. So when I learned she was going to play in the AVP Crocs tour Chicago Open the same weekend as the NASCAR 400 Sprint Cup race, I figured I'd pull double duty and try to cover both events.

While at the beach, I narrowly missed having my car towed. By that I mean I walked up to my car as the tow truck was pulling up to it and convinced the officer not to take it. That was only because there was another car next to mine, the last of the two cars not towed off, and he figured the truck could just take the other one. I parked where several AVP vehicles were directed - most of them are sitting in the impound today - but it didn't matter. So after finding another paid parking spot, I went back to the beach and shot a match with Olympic-bound players Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor. I have to say they make winning look easy.

Akers and her partner Holly McPeak won both of their matches on Friday, but lost to Walsh and May-Treanor (21-12, 21-12) in their match today. Akers' second match Friday finished up right around 4 p.m. which put me trying to get out of downtown in rush-hour traffic. Needless to say, it took me an hour and 45 minutes to travel 48 miles to Joliet. So I pulled up to the track right at the start of the Nationwide race and went right back to work.

Kyle Busch ran away with Friday night's race, the first night race at Chicagoland Speedway. He had built a 10-second lead and cruised the last 30 laps to finish four seconds ahead of Denny Hamlin.

Check for race coverage.

Very soon, it's back to the track for tonight's 400 Sprint Cup race.

As always, thanks for looking and, if you can handle my writing, taking the time to read my rants.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Athletes of the Year

In my previous post I showed our Coach(es) of the Year photo. So, I figured I'd drop in the boys and girls PrepSports Athletes of the Year pics this time for good measure. So, here they are:

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