basketball


Saturday was a beautiful weather day in Indianapolis, where I am for a Society of Professional Journalists conference. After the conference ended at 5 p.m., I was pleasantly surprised to learn it was 63 degrees in downtown Indy. I read for awhile in University Park (I’m reading The 27s, which examines the rock & roll myth of death at age 27) before spending a couple hours exploring downtown Indianapolis by foot.

There are a lot of great sites to see in downtown Indianapolis (as evidenced by the 125 or so digital photos I took during my walk). I was most impressed by the American Legion Mall, where there are several war memorials surrounded by attractive federal buildings. Near the mall are University Park and the ornate Scottish Rite Cathedral.

Also worth seeing is the Indiana State House and the Indiana Repertory Theater, which are located near each other. If you like sports, you can walk just a few blocks south to see Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts. A few blocks from there is Victory Field, home of the Indianapolis Indians, the Triple-A affiliate of MLB’s Pittsburgh Pirates. You can complete the Indianapolis sports tour by visiting Conseco Fieldhouse, home of the NBA’s Indianapolis Pacers, and the famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway, home of the Indianapolis 500 and other races.

The 100-year-old Murat Shrine Theater is another ornate building worth seeing. It is located across the street from the Athenaeum, where the SPJ conference was held.

One site I won’t get to visit during this weekend trip is the President Benjamin Harrison Home because it closes at 3:30 p.m. on Saturdays and is open on Sundays only in June and July. But I’m sure it is worth your time to visit if you are interested in history and/or politics.

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When the World Baseball Classic — baseball’s version of soccer’s World Cup — debuted in 2006, I wasn’t too excited about it. It didn’t bother me when Team USA got knocked out of the tournament in the second round — spring training was under way and the regular season would be starting soon enough.

That isn’t the case this year. I think I had a change of heart about the WBC after seeing how proud the Japanese players were after their team won the inaugural tournament. I want Team USA to win it all this time.

I’ve really been into the games, especially when Team USA plays. I was bummed when Puerto Rico beat my country 11-1 Saturday. I didn’t feel bad when the feel-good Netherlands team lost to Team USA. And I was elated when I read that Team USA exacted vengeance on Puerto Rico with a 6-5 comeback victory Tuesday.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t watch Team USA’s exciting three-run, ninth-inning rally to beat Puerto Rico because the game was televised on the new MLB Network, which nobody I know gets. Dish Network delivers 145 channels to my television, but MLB Network isn’t one of them. And since ESPN was busy broadcasting college basketball games instead, many of us interested in watching the WBC elimination game were out of luck.

I’m sure I’m not the only person outraged by this. I hope sports commentators write columns about this and complain about it on television and radio talk shows the way they did when the NFL aired some football games exclusively on its network. That is probably my only hope for this not happening again. Unfortunately, I fear the mainstream sports media cares infinitely more about football than baseball.

Thanks for depriving people of watching the most exciting WBC game so far, ESPN and Major League Baseball. You shot yourselves in the foot again.

Life sometimes has a funny way of reminding us that it isn’t all fun and games – even for those who have fun playing games for a living.

The Chicago Bulls certainly experienced a whirlwind of emotions Thursday. In the afternoon, the team met with President Barack Obama – a big Bulls fan – at the White House. They presented the president with a Bulls “Obama 44” jersey. Surely the team thought it was cool to meet the president even though they didn’t have to win a championship to do so.

Later the team learned two of its legends died. First Norm “Stormin’ Norman” Van Lier, 61, an All-Star player and broadcaster for the team, was found dead in his apartment. Then, hours later, Johnny “Red” Kerr, 76, died at his home after a long battle with prostate cancer. Kerr was the first Bulls coach and was a television and radio analyst for the team for 33 years.

It surely will be an emotional game for the Bulls when they play against the Washington Wizards tonight.