‘keep driving’

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like the tide in the ocean, the emotions come and go.

it’s next to impossible to prepare for the waves. 

unlike those made of water, these waves, you see, they’re transparent. silent, too, lurking in the shadows or around the corner ready to strike when you’re not.

these waves, full of force, they hit like a kick to the chest, enough force to drop you to your knees and leave you gasping for air.

nothing helps to numb the pain, even the comfort of those riding the same waves.

soon after, smiles and laughter bring a reprieve, even if just momentarily.

because those waves, forever playing a never-ending game of hide-and-seek, will be back. 

it’s inevitable. 

the key, so far at least, is to just ride the wave. 

take them in, get soaked, dry off and get ready for the next one. 

more are on the way.

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Column: Line Drives — Priority change is taking me home

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[This is my column in the Nov. 24 issue of The Commercial Review.]

Priorities tend to change over time.

We may want to make the varsity team. Then we want to crack the starting lineup. Hit a home run. Score a touchdown.

We want to get a good education, start a rewarding career and buy a brand new vehicle.

Priorities differ from one person to another. They may also evolve more rapidly for some people than others.

For four years, this career was my top priority. I wouldn’t bat an eye at a 15-plus-hour workday of covering a wrestling tournament in the morning and then a basketball game — whether in Jay County or on the road somewhere else — later that night.

I jumped at the opportunity to spend a night in Indianapolis on the eve of the Indy 500 after covering a baseball game that same day. After a late night, I’d wake up early the following day to spend hours in the blistering heat covering The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

I wouldn’t think twice about an opportunity to go to Frankfort, Kentucky, as the Jay County High School boys basketball team played in the Kentucky-Indiana Challenge Cup.

Driving from Portland to Bloomington on a Friday night, then Bloomington to Columbus, Ohio, the next morning only to go back to Bloomington the same day?

Bring it on.

There was a time when all those scenarios, including working 50- or 60-hour weeks, were my top priority. I loved every second of it. I also had nothing else to do.

But once Chrissy and I started dating, my priorities changed. Quickly. 

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Column: Line Drives — Keep up support for Jay football

[This is my column in the Sept. 23 issue of The Commercial Review.]

It hasn’t been difficult to notice the buzz around the Jay County High School football team this season.

Exhibit No. 1: the stands at Harold E. Schutz Memorial Stadium in each of the Patriots’ three home games.

Exhibit No. 2: comments from Patriot players as well as the team’s coach, Indiana Football Hall of Fame inductee Grant Zgunda.

Exhibit No. 3: Bluffton coach Brent Kunkel’s assessment of the crowd during his team’s 40-27 loss to Jay County on Friday.

It’s helped that Jay County has had special events for each of the team’s three home games: honoring the Jay County Pee Wee Football league on Aug. 20 — the first football game without attendance restrictions since the start of the coronavirus pandemic; the JCHS cheerleading squad inviting participants from its clinic to cheer alongside them Sept. 10; and a 35-year reunion for the class of 1986 at the homecoming game on Friday.

Nevertheless, the bleachers were packed. Fans were nearly elbow-to-elbow standing along the fence in front of and beside the stands as well.

It was a sight not often seen around the football program.

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Column: Line Drives — Recent scores disrespect game and opponents

[This is my column in the April 22 issue of The Commercial Review.]

32-3. 22-0. 25-0. 21-0. 26-4.

When I saw the first, I was appalled. But I shook it off as an anomaly.

It won’t happen again, I thought to myself.

But then it kept occurring; a few times by local teams.

Winning by more than 15 or more is suitable for football; it equates to a couple touchdowns and then some.

Such a margin of victory is acceptable in basketball.

But those scores listed at the beginning of this column are not from football games. They’re not from basketball.

Those are final scores of baseball and softball games played this season.

And all they do is prove one thing: the blatant disrespect for the sport, and most importantly, disrespect for the opponent.

On April 3, the Shawnee Indians baseball team from Lima, Ohio, beat Lima Senior 12-0 in the first game of a doubleheader.

No big deal. Lima Senior could have been slightly overmatched, struggled offensively and perhaps made a couple errors. It happens. After all, it’s prep sports we’re talking about. These teenagers aren’t perfect.

But what happened next exemplified the disrespect. Shawnee scored 16 runs in the first inning of the second game. It added eight more in the second, then a half dozen in the third.

Do the math.

But Shawnee continued to pile on, scoring twice more in the fourth inning to win 32-3.

Yes. 32-3. In baseball.

When I saw the score reported on Twitter, I commented with a phrase I used earlier: “The blatant disrespect …”

Because it was.

There’s no reason a team should win a baseball or softball game by 28 runs. According to the GameChanger program, a popular stat-keeping app for baseball, softball and basketball games, Lima Senior committed eight errors.

What should Shawnee have done on those errors? For one, not taken extra bases, especially after the game was clearly in hand. Just because the opponent commits an error, doesn’t mean a “free” base should be taken.

Stats also show Shawnee recorded 25 hits. Why is a team still swinging away when leading 16-0 after the first inning? 

I’ll probably never get an explanation.

My comment got a couple replies, however. A Shawnee senior replied with an arrogant, “lol.”

Another person said, “As a former Shawnee baseball player this is embarrassing. And then the … kid thinks it’s funny. Disgusting.”

Agreed.

Leading by 16 after one inning, there are plenty of things to do. Start bunting. If teams want to make deep tournament runs, there will likely be situations in which it will need to bunt in a pressure situation.

So why not work on that now, early in the season so when the situation later on calls for a bunt you’ll have experience executing the play?

What does teeing off on an inferior opponent and beating them by 28 accomplish? Besides padding stats, nothing.

On the softball diamond, it’s slightly easier to prevent such lopsided scores. For example, a baserunner could leave a base early (doing so is illegal and the runner who left early is automatically out).

Again, decline to advance bases on errors, passed balls or wild pitches.

A couple teams locally have been on the winning end of those ugly scores this season.

Fort Recovery’s softball team beat Delphos Jefferson by a combined score of 35-6 during a March 27 doubleheader. On April 6, the Indians scored 12 runs in one inning on their way to a 22-0 win over Fairlawn.

Just last week, April 13, Jay County’s softball team smacked a school-record eight home runs in a 21-0 thrashing of Eastbrook. The same day, Norwell softball trounced Concordia 20-3, with one Knight player recording 10 RBIs.

The South Adams baseball team recently embarrassed Randolph Southern (25-0) and Canterbury (26-4).

Then there’s the Eastern Hancock softball team. According to MaxPreps, the Royals’ 153 total runs leads the state. EHHS is 10-1 and has won 10 straight games after losing its season opener to New Palestine 4-3 on March 22.

The Royals have won games of 20-0, 17-0 and 18-0 twice. In each of those four victories, it took them just four innings to score those runs.

They’ve also won each of their last two games by 15-1 margins, and are averaging 2.3 runs per inning (153 runs in 66 innings played). Only three games have gone a full seven innings.

The IHSAA prides itself on its #FaceOfSportsmanship campaign.

Is winning by 15 runs on the diamond exemplifying the IHSAA’s sportsmanship model?

No. It’s far from it.

And it’s disgraceful.

Column: Line Drives — Loss left longing for more hoops

[This is my column in the Feb. 12 issue of The Commercial Review.]

Sports seasons come and go.

Most often during the dead of winter, I welcome the end of basketball season. It usually means the joys of spring are soon to come.

But just this once, I don’t want basketball season to end.

I long to watch the Patriot girls play another game this season.

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Column: Line Drives — Season’s hassles could be worse for prep athletes.

[This is my column in the Jan. 28 issue of The Commercial Review.]

Friday will be a momentous day.

It has nothing to do with the day of the week, or the date on the calendar.

But for the first time in two weeks — again — the Jay County High School boys basketball team gets to play.

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Column: Line Drives — Impact goes beyond record

[This is my column in the Dec. 17, 2020, issue of The Commercial Review.]

Wins and losses. They are the epitome of sports.

That’s true in life, as well.

Someone, or one team, wins the game. The other loses.

One candidate gets the job. The others, essentially, lose.

But as with sports, the ultimate judge of success is by whatever the record says.

Win every game? Excellent season. Lose ’em all? Ouch.

More often than not, though, more is learned from losses than the wins.

Again, though, success is measured by the number in the first column.

Tim Millspaugh didn’t have a whole lot of those. In eight seasons leading the Jay County High School football team, he only had 28, an average of 3.5 wins a year.

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Calling all runners!

As most, or at least some, of you already know, I had plans to run my first marathon this fall, the Detroit Free press/TCF Bank Marathon, on Sunday, Oct. 18 in Detroit.

But as every runner an attest, the coronavirus pandemic has caused us to alter our training and race schedules.

As a result, the 2020 DFP Marathon has gone virtual.

I will be running the race virtually, on the originally planned date of Sunday, Oct. 18, following the Grand Lake Marathon course which starts and ends at North Shore Park in Celina. (visuals and a time-lapse video of the course are below.) The route goes counter-clockwise around the lake: South on US 127, then east on Ohio 703 to Montezuma, south a tad, east on Guadalupe/Southand roads, north on Tri Township road, a small jut east on 114A, west on Feeder Road and through Grand Lake State Park in St. Marys. The route comes out of the park on 703, then heads west back toward Celina.

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Column: Line Drives — Photos, games will be revisited

[This is my column in the March 26 issue of The Commercial Review.]

It’s been more than two weeks since the sports world came to a screeching halt.

The NBA announced March 11 it was suspending its season. The NHL followed suit shortly thereafter. A day later the collegiate chips began to fall. Then it trickled down to the high school level as well.

Fifteen days later, many things have become clear — sports are a primary escape from the realities of life for most of us, and the games, especially the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, dominate the month of March for a large number of people.

Today would have been the first set of Sweet 16 games had COVID-19 not wreaked havoc upon the world.

Instead, we’re more than two weeks without sports, leaving us scrambling to find things to fill that void.

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Column: Line Drives — What’s next in terms of CR sports section?

[This is my column in the March 13 issue of The Commercial Review.]

It’s a peculiar time.

Sports have come to a screeching halt.

The NBA and NHL have “paused” the remainder of the season.

Major League Soccer has been suspended as well.

Both the MLB and Minor League Baseball announced the start to their respective schedules will be delayed.

On Thursday, the NCAA announced its marquee event, the March Madness men’s basketball tournament, as well as all other winter and spring championship tournaments, have been canceled for the 2019-20 season.

Also Thursday, the OHSAA ended its winter season. As of press time, the IHSAA boys basketball regional tournaments will go on with limited spectators Saturday and the gymnastics state finals Saturday at Worthen Arena at Ball State University will be contested with no fans in attendance.

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