Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Chicago Cubs experience...

Previous to this past weekend, the last time I attended a Chicago Cubs game at Wrigley Field was 1996.  Back then I was in town for their series with the Cincinnati Reds and I went to both Friday & Saturday's games with my wife and three other friends.  That weekend I had two different experiences because on Friday we were seated in the grandstands and on Saturday our view was from the bleachers.  Two completely different perspectives.  The folks in the grandstands seemed more interested in the game, while the people in the bleachers were more interested in the party.  I'll never forget looking at my bleachers ticket and finding the row and seat number where we were suppose to sit.  When I told a lady she was in my seat, she smiled and said just to sit anywhere and have fun.  Fun we had!  We made friends with complete strangers, joined them in cheering on Sammy Sosa everytime he ran out to centerfield, and then turned around after each inning and partied with the Cubs fans.  I went home that weekend saying the Chicago Cubs are the most fun team in America.

It took me 15 years to return.  This past weekend I was in town for a bachelor party with 20 other guys and part of our weekend was attending the Cubs Saturday afternoon game against the St. Louis Cardinals, their biggest rival.  This time our seats would be from a rooftop deck in right field.  Before the game I remembered my trip in 1996 and wondered if I would still enjoy the Cubs experience, especially from a rooftop deck where I would be so far away from the action.  I wasn't disappointed and would like to note that this game was better than my first two put together!  Any baseball fan or non-fan could enjoy one of these rooftops.  Not only can you watch the game from a rooftop stadium seat in the Chicago sunshine, you can also watch the action through a huge window from an air conditioned lounge on the second floor.  Here are some other benefits: all you can eat food, all you can drink beverages, TV's with live broadcasts everywhere, radio broadcast throughout the building, and the friendliest bunch of strangers you'll ever meet.  I'm going to guess that 33% of the fans on the rooftop that day were Cubs fans and the other 67% were Cards fans, Reds fans, Brewers fans, Yankees fans, etc.  Some were there to watch the game, but it seemed like most were there for the party.  Moral of the story: The Chicago Cubs are the most fun team in America.    

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Catching up with Ft. Loramie alum Jared Hoying...

Fish Report recently caught up with 2007 Ft. Loramie alum and professional baseball player Jared Hoying! After helping the Redskins win the 2007 state baseball championship, Jared played college baseball for the next three years at the University of Toledo. In June of 2010 he was drafted in the 10th round of the Major League Baseball Draft by the Texas Rangers. Jared played rookie ball in Spokane, Washington and ended the season being named the Northwest League MVP! He started the 2011 season playing for the Rangers Class A team in Myrtle Beach, SC. Fish Report got a chance to ask Jared a few questions and here's what he had to say:

F.R. Thanks for talking with us Jared! So give us a report, how has the season been going for you and the Pelicans?
J.H. Hey Fish Report not a problem at all, this actually gives me something to do in my hotel room in Frederick, Maryland. The season is going good I have had some ups and downs throughout, but I am learning a heck of a lot. I injured my shoulder the first game of the season stealing second and that kind of got me off track with my throwing and swing. Fortunately I started off good this second half and am feeling 100% again, so I just hope to build off that and keep learning and getting better!

F.R. Myrtle Beach sounds like a popular destination for family and friends. Has anyone come down from home to watch you play?
J.H. There have actually been quite a few people from Ft. Loramie that have come down and watched a few games. It just works out good because Myrtle Beach is already a popular place to be and it just so happens that I am playing ball down here too. I usually get the home town folks some tickets and get to talk a little bit after the games to catch up on whats all happening at home. After being around the same guys all day, every day it's nice to see some familiar faces in the crowd.

F.R. Speaking of back home, can you give us a quick update on your brother Justin? How did his first season of college ball go at Capital University and do you two stay in touch much?
J.H. Justin had a very successful season at Capital and it was fun to keep track of him while I was on the road. For only being a freshman he became their number 1 starter for most of the year. Not being heavily recruited out of high school it was fun to see him grow and mature as a ball player. We still stay in touch and usually talk a few times a week and text a bunch to see how our baseball games are going. But he has a girlfriend now so I think his time on the phone went to someone else! Haha he will get me for that one later! It's nice that he is still around home a bit so he can scout for deer and set out our trail cameras and deer stands for hunting season since I'm not around to do it.

F.R. You and Justin combined to appear in three state tournaments for Ft. Loramie and win two championships. How does that 2007 title rank for you after all your college and professional experience?
J.H. To this day that is still my favorite moment while playing baseball. Having played baseball with the same friends since little league and growing up with each other it was an amazing feeling to go out on top with those guys. Thoses memories will never be forgotten! To this day whenever I see some of the guys from Minster I always have to remind them about the regional semi-final game back in 2007! Cities change and teammates change, but there is nothing like winning with your friends that you have been with since t-ball.

F.R. That's pretty special stuff Jared. Fish Report watched some Ft. Loramie 10-year old baseball players win the Raider Classic tournament in Russia earlier this summer. What kind of stuff can 10-years old kids work on to become better players?
J.H. Good day for the Loramie boys, congratulations to those guys! The only advice I have is to keep playing ball and have fun while playing it! Because if it's not fun, baseball is a tough tough game to play because your gonna fail 70% of the time! Grab dad off the couch and just play catch and have him throw balls to you in the backyard, or grab a group of friends and play wiffle ball or a pick up game at the park. Baseball is a game of repetition so just keep playing hard and have fun!

Great advice Jared! Thanks for talking with Fish Report good luck the rest of the season!

Friday, August 5, 2011

So Long Scioto Downs...

Yesterday the news broke that the OHSAA Board of Directors voted 9-0 to change the site of this year's high school state cross country meet from Scioto Downs to National Trail Raceway, which is 15 miles east of Columbus. The move was the result of electronic slot machines now being allowed at the track and OHSAA not wanting to have its state championship meet at a facility where gambling will be taking place.  After 26 years of hosting the state meet, I couldn't help but feel a little sad about the end of an era.  Here are a few of my favorite memories...

I attended the very first state championship meet at Scioto Downs in 1985 and was able to witness the Ft. Loramie girls team bring home the Class A runner-up trophy.  That race popularized girls cross country in Ft. Loramie and runners like Kim Schmiesing, sisters Shawn & Heather Hoelscher, Denise Barga, Stacie Hoehne, and Connie Berning were the first of a very long line of area athletes to run on the Scioto Downs course.  The following season the Minster girls were runner-up and during the 26 year span the Wildcats were either champions or runner-up an amazing 13 times.  One particular Minster star, Sunni Olding, won the D-III individual title in 2000, 2002, and 2003.  Another great memory for me is from the 2007 meet when the Versailles girls came in as underdogs, qualifying fourth at the regional meet behind Minster, Ft. Loramie, and powerful Seneca East.  Sisters Mary & Margaret Prakel, Taylor Huffman, Katie Mestemaker, Kristen Schulte, Mindy Henry, and Valerie Barga shocked Ohio and won the championship by one point over Gilmour Academy.  Lastly, my favorite personal memory was in 2010 watching our Russia Raiders, both the boys and girls team, compete together.  I didn't know it at the time, but Russia was just one of only three schools to have both their boys and girls run the last state meet at Scioto Downs, which is kind of cool.

The new course at National Trail Raceway is suppose to be fan friendly, something critics of Scioto Downs say the old course lacked.  Apparently the new venue will let fans in some areas of the stands see everything but a 600 meter section of the race.  Last year's state meet drew 12,000 fans, making it the largest high school or college cross country meet in the nation.  Hopefully the new place can keep those numbers up.  Finally, I'd like to note that one of the best things I've always heard runners share about Scioto Downs was their memory of the roar of the crowd from the grandstands (click on picture above).  I hope that's something that's not lost this year.  I'll miss the old course, probably the history more than anything.  So long Scioto Downs.

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