Archive for May, 2005

The Danica Patrick Show

May 30, 2005

Here’s my column in Monday’s Star. Enjoy, and take time today to consider the reason for Memorial Day…

I’ve never been much of an Indy car fan. I don’t know if it’s the wimpy, mosquito-like whine of the engines or the lack of compelling personalities behind the wheel, but usually, IRL races fall somewhere behind curling and just ahead of synchronized swimming.
The Indianapolis 500 is a different story. A true sports fan is required to watch at least some of the world’s most famous auto race (sorry, Daytona). So what if you can’t pronounce any of the guys’ names, right?
So in the weeks leading up to the 89th running of the Indy 500, I started paying my annual two weeks of attention to the Indy Racing League.
As it turns out, a 23-year-old rookie, Danica Patrick, was planning on becoming the fourth woman to start a race at the Brickyard. And this wasn’t a token ride, given as a publicity stunt. This was a talented driver that qualified near the front in a good car with a good team behind it.
It is the greatest possible storyline at the greatest possible time for the IRL, an institution that nearly rivals the NHL for dysfunction.
Here’s a pretty woman trying to win the most important race on the circuit with the chance to grab the mainstream sports fan’s attention in the process.
Of course, such hype and build up tends to draw naysayers. Robby Gordon, a NASCAR regular and part-time racer at Indianapolis, said earlier this week that he wouldn’t race against Patrick, because, as a 100-pound woman, she had a lighter car — and an unfair advantage — over drivers that out-weigh her by as many as 100 pounds.
OK, the laws of Physics state that a lighter car could be faster and possibly be more fuel-efficient. Hmm, better on gas? Keep reading…
She may not have won Sunday, but she broke almost every other barrier along the way — including leading the first lap by a woman and recording a female’s best finish with her fourth-place effort.
She was still in front with six laps to go before a hard-charging Englishman, Dan Wheldon, became the first Brit to win at Indy in 40 years — another pretty good storyline.
Here’s the rub. Wheldon sped by Patrick in the final laps because, after pitting out of sequence, she was trying to save fuel. How’s that for irony? The car that’s supposedly better on gas than everyone else’s didn’t win because it was running on fumes at the finish line.
I don’t know if she has an unfair advantage. Yeah, she’s lighter, but racing as a woman in a male-dominated sport where no quarter is ever asked for, or given, surely nullifies whatever weight difference there might be.
I do, however, know this. Robby Gordon is not a very popular driver with his NASCAR brethren. He’s been known to drive recklessly, and he’s wrecked many more cars than he’s ever driven to victory lane. I guess what I’m asking is this: Isn’t it enough to be a malcontent in one series, without crossing over to another one?
There’s one more thing I know. I may never be an IRL fan, but I was cheering for Danica Patrick on Sunday.
And I doubt I was alone.



May 21, 2005

It must have been tough for the Burns seniors Thursday at T.C. Roberson.

Staring at a 9-0 deficit after two innings, it would have pretty easy to mail in the next three frames and take the bus back to Lawndale.

The elder Bulldogs were having none of that.

GWU signee Josh Drewery belted a pair of two-run homers and Chris Cook launched another into the afternoon sky as the Bulldogs turned a laugher into a fairly competitive game.

Not to beat a dead horse, but the fact that North Gaston and East Gaston made the 3A playoffs while Crest and Kings Mountain sat home is a sham.

The real shame is this: Say Kings Mountain got a three seed and a trip up the hill to play Roberson – instead of North Gaston – in round one. Then we would have had a matchup of Tyler Leach and Josh Trailkill on the mound. Both hit the low 90s on the radar gun, and both are regarded as bonafide major league prospects.

As it stands, Trailkill no-hit the Wildcats and Leach is waiting around for the June MLB Draft.

Way to go, NCHSAA.

Cleveland County Football Schedules

May 12, 2005

Here are the football schedules for the four area high schools:

Kings Mountain
Aug. 26 Hunter Huss
Sept. 2 South Point
Sept. 9 @Forestview
Sept. 16 @Crest
Sept. 23 @Central Cabarrus
Sept. 30 East Gaston
Oct. 7 Chase
Oct. 14 @Shelby
Oct. 21 @East Rutherford
Oct. 28 R-S Central
Nov. 4 Burns

Aug. 26 @Freedom
Sept. 2 Ashbrook
Sept. 9 @Crest
Sept. 16 Lincolnton
Sept. 23 @Brevard
Sept. 30 @North Mecklenburg
Oct. 7 @Burns
Oct. 14 Kings Mtn
Oct. 21 @RS Central
Oct. 28 Chase
Nov. 4 East Rutherford

Aug. 26 @Burns
Sept. 2 @Freedom
Sept. 9 Shelby
Sept. 16 Kings Mountain
Sept. 23 Ashbrook
Sept. 30 @Forestview
Oct. 7 Country Day
Oct. 14 North Gaston
Oct. 21 @Hunter Huss
Oct. 28 East Gaston
Nov. 4 @South Point

Aug. 26 Crest
Sept. 2 East Gaston
Sept. 9 @Ashbrook
Sept. 16 @South Point
Sept. 23 Forestview
Sept. 30 @McDowell
Oct. 7 Shelby
Oct. 14 R-S Central
Oct. 21 @Chase
Oct. 28 East Rutherford
Nov. 4 @Kings Mountain

Games that jump out:
Aug. 26 – Crest at Burns: We won’t have to wait long to find out which squad has filled its needs the best.

Sept. 9 – Shelby at Crest: It’s going to be a war.

Spet. 16 – Burns at South Point: The spread vs the red bone. Sounds like fun.

Sept. 23 – Shelby at Brevard: A trip up the mountain for a good 2A battle.

Oct. 7 – Shelby at Burns: This time, it’s a conference game.

Oct. 28 – R-S Central at Kings Mountain: The Mounties will be looking for payback in this one.

Nov. 4 – Crest at South Point, East Rutherford at Shelby and Burns at Kings Mountain: What a great closing week of the regular season.

It’s 33 minutes to post time…

May 7, 2005

And just enough time left for me to pick Afleet Alex (at 6 to 1 odds) as my Kentucky Derby favorite.

My seething hatred for George Steinbrenner won’t let me take Bellamy Road…