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By Matt McCoy
WTVN's Joel Riley visited with Bobby Rahal. To listen to Rahal talk about his son Graham and Sunday's Indianapolis 500 click HERE:
As a kid who grew up in Indiana, the Indy 500 was a can't miss event. Through time, it's lost some of that boyhood luster but it's still one of my favorite sporting events. The singing of Back Home Again in Indiana, the release of the balloons, the 'Gentelmen, start your engines' announcement, and the roar of the engines give me chills.
I'll be watching Sunday, rooting for Graham Rahal again. I met him as a high schooler, when he was part of former WTVN colleague Larry Larson's Stand and Deliver program, when top high school athletes from all sports, would speak to grade and middle schoolers about the importance of athletics. He was an impressive kid then, both in racing and off the track and he obviously still is.
This year, he'll start 26th, but his father, team owner and 1986 Indy 500 champ Bobby Rahal believes Graham will be competitive.
"You really want drivers like Graham in your car," Bobby Rahal told WTVN's Joel Riley. "He may not be the fastest guy but I liken him to Al Unser Jr. because Al Jr. was a guy who was a reasonable qualifier but he was one of the best if not the best racer and Graham reminds me a lot of Al Jr. in that regard."
Graham will start in the middle of row nine, with a qualifying speed of 225.007 mph. He struggled with his Honda engine last weekend and didn't get into the field until Sunday.
"It's a long race and you really just want to put yourself in the position where you can adjust the car, make changes during the pitstops or make some small changes inside the driver cockpit to get the car better," Bobby Rahal said. "It's all about getting to the last 10 percent or 15 percent of the race, in the hunt."
Graham Rahal is the local product, having grown up in New Albany, but if you're looking for another driver to root for, James Jakes is part of Bobby Rahal's team. He will start in the middle or row seven, clocking 225.809 in qualifying.
Another Reason to Root For the Pacers
The Indiana Pacers let a potential win get away in game one of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals. LeBron James lay-up as time expired lifted Miami to a 103-102 overtime win. Pacers coach Frank Vogel has been the subject of criticism since because he did not have rim protecting big man Roy Hibbert in the game.
It probably was an error, but I feel bad for Vogel because, number one, he's an excellent coach and number two, it's hard for me to criticize someone who's been on David Letterman's Stupid Human Tricks.
Back in 1986, Vogel appeared on Letterman and spun a basketball on a toothbrush, while brushing his teeth. What's more impressive---he can still do it today. So..if you're rooting for the Pacers because you don't want LeBron to get another ring, here's another reason to pull for Indy...their coach can do a goofy stunt. Below are videos of his Letterman appearance and of Vogel repeating the toothbrush trick at a recent Pacers fan event.
By Matt McCoy
Buckeye basketball fans remember what it was like...so do fans of Indiana high school basketball...maybe the NBA will see it too. Mike Conley and Greg Oden, on the court together.
Given the injury riddled career of Oden and the multiple surgeries on both knees, it's questionable whether a reunion of the two would produce the same success, but here's hoping it happens.
Oden has been attending classes at Ohio State for the last year, getting in shape and is preparing to attempt a comeback. There have been pubished reports that the Cavs are interested in giving Oden a shot, but Conley is hoping the number one pick in the 2007 NBA draft lands along side him--with the Memphis Grizzlies.
"I'd love for Memphis to reach out to him," Conley said on the Dan Patrick Show Wednesday on our sister station, AM 1230 Fox Sports Radio. "I think that would be a good fit for him, just being somewhere where people would embrace him...being around myself, you already have that relationship. Hopefully that will work out somehow and we can get him here."
Conley, a star for Memphis in thier run to the NBA's Western Conference Finals, said he still talks regularily with Oden. In fact Oden visited Conley last month during the Grizzlies first round series with the L.A. Clippers.
"He looked good and he felt good and said that he's really excited about this next year," Conley said. "I think a lot of people write him off because of his injuries but he's still young. He's barely 25...so you never know."
I only had the opportunity to cover the two for that one national runner-up season at Ohio State but they remain two of my favorite. Not only were they spectacular on the court but they carried themselves exceptionally off the court. The injuries to Oden have been tough to see. Whether it's Memphis, Cleveland or somewhere else, here's hoping he makes it back.
Conley also talked with Patrick about the NBA playoffs and the Grizzlies 0-2 hole against San Antonio. You can check out the interview below.
Feud Turns Ugly
When Sergio Garcia complained about Tiger Woods golf etiquette at The Players Championship and the two then exchanged barbs it seemed petty, but it was entertaining. Time now for both of them to shut up...especially Sergio.
Garcia, attempting to be funny, stepped over a line you don't want to cross. When he was jokingly asked at the European Tour Awards, whether he and Woods would meet for dinner at next month's U.S. Open to mend fences, Garcia said, "We'll have him around every night. We will serve fried chicken."
The racial overtones of the remark brought back memories of Fuzzy Zoeller at the 1997 Masters. Garcia apologized later Tuesday night but made a more public apology Wednesday.
Woods, via Twitter, called the remark "inappropriate" but also said "I'm confident that there is real regret that the remark was made. The Players ended nearly two weeks ago and it's long past time to move on and talk about golf."
Let's hope so. If you missed Sergio's mea culpa---here it is.
Celebrity Sports Gala Coming Up
I'm honored to again be the emcee for the annual "Celebrity Sports Gala" on Thursday June 20 at the Ohio State University Union. The featured guest this year is Ohio State director of athletics Gene Smith.
The Gala is a fundraiser for Recreation Unlimited and is always a special and emotional night. You'll soon be hearing more promos and conversation about the event on the air. If you're interested in joining us, click here for more information.
By Matt McCoy
Last month at the Memorial Tournament's "Legends Luncheon" Jack Nicklaus spoke with admiration about the play of 14-year old Guan Tianlang.
"He's a kid. It's just amazing to me," Nicklaus said when discussing Guan's 58th place finish at the Masters. At the time Nicklaus was asked if he would like to see the Asian Ametuer champion play at the Memorial. "I'd love to have him come here and play, but I'd rather see him finish up eighth grade too."
Well Nicklaus wish was granted...at least the first part. Guan has been granted a sponsor's exemption by the Memorial Tournament's Captain's Club. The teenage star from China will be part of the field of 120 that tees it up at the 38th Memorial one week from Thursday.
"It's a combination of a number of different things that the exemption committee looks at," Memorial Tournament Director Dan Sullivan told WTVN. "They hope with each allowance of an exemption they deliver a player who can come into the field and make a difference. Tianlang has obviously shown that he can compete."
Guan not only made the cut at the Masters, but also at the Zurich Classic in New Orleans. He missed the cut last weekend at the Byron Nelson.
"It's just amazing that he would be able to compete at this level and be somewhat consistant with it," Sullivan said. "He handles himself very well, he's a mature 14-year old. It's kind of a breath of fresh air within the game to see a young kid be able to play at the level he's playing."
To listen to Sullivan discuss Guan's Memorial exemption click HERE:
Can't Beet It
The Indians latest hero, catcher Yan Gomes, found some extra strength Monday when he launched two home runs, including the game winning three-run blast in a 10-8, 10 inning victory over Seattle.
So what gave Gomes the extra muscle to have such a big day? How about beet juice.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that the unusual drink was part of Gomes pregame diet.
"I drank a bottle of beet juice," Gomes told reporters when asked what he'd eaten before the game. "I guess I'll keep drinking that."
Maybe the entire Indians team has been drinking beet juice lately. The Tribe was 8-13 after losing game one of a double-header to Kansas City on April 28. They're 18-4 since then and have gone from last place to first, leading Detroit by 2 1/2 games in the American League Central entering a two-game home series with the Tigers.
By Matt McCoy
A group photo by The Christian Post of the Step Forward for Orphans March
I'm back to work after a powerful and moving experience at the Step Forward for Orphans March in Washington D.C. on Friday...a trip I had no idea I would make, until April 29.
That was the night the documentary Stuck came through Columbus as part of its nationwide tour. The movie exposed the broken system of international adoption and the affect it's having on families trying to adopt and on orphaned children who are living their young lives in institutions, rather than in families.
As I've blogged recently, it's a subject that hit home for my wife and I because our family was formed through international adoption. Our two children were both born in Guatemala, a country that closed adoptions to other nations on January 1, 2008.
Unfortnately, hundreds of families, who were in the process of adopting at that time, have been wrapped up in the red tape of two buereacracies since then. One of the more moving experiences at the March for me came when a woman, who started the adoption process for her daughter in 2006, gave my 10-year old daughter a hug and said "you're the same age as my daughter." In 2006, her daughter was three...Seven years later, she's still waiting to come home. I'd say that's a broken system.
Fox News commentator Laura Ingrham speaks following the March
Following the March, Fox TV news commentator Laura Ingraham, who has a daughter who was born in Guatemala and a son from Russia, spoke with emotion about the need to fix the system. Ingraham wore purple because as she said, 'this isn't a red state or blue state issue.' Ingrahm promised that fixing the system and helping families bring their children home will be her highest priority.
Me, with March organizer & Both Ends Burning founder Craig Juntunen
A week ago, WTVN's Joel Riley had Craig Juntunen on as a guest. Craig is the founder of Both Ends Burning, a non-profit organization with the goal of finding a solution to the failing international adoption system. He is also the excutive producer of "Stuck." It was an honor to meet him in Washington and to hear his passion for the issue. As Craig said, the March was not an end...just a beginning.
There is not only a need to bring the children 'stuck' in the middle adoptions home, but also to improve the system going forward. The number of children being adopted internationally to the United States is down 60 percent in the last six years and those numbers are getting worse. Those children are not being adopted in their own countries so consequently, the number of kids growing up in orphanages and without families is increasing. We can do better.
My wife brought my daughter with her to meet with the staffs of Senators Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown to ask for their support of new "Children and Families First" legislation, designed to improve the international adoption system.
If you are interested in helping, you can sign this petition, urging our lawmakers to step up to the plate and show they care.
I've received serveral e-mails and social media messages of support. I thank you for that and for allowing me to share this issue with you.
A look at our path to Capitol Hill Friday