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Play ball! 614NOW’s preview of Indians and Reds opening day

Philip Emilio Palma

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Opening Day should be a national holiday…Seriously. People take off work, and kids cut school just to attend Opening Day. It’s that special. I prefer it to Christmas, Thanksgiving, and virtually any other holiday there is.

However, because we are halfway between Cleveland and Cincinnati, and the Cap City is more focused on the OSU Spring Game, the Blue Jackets, and the Crew, baseball gets overshadowed. This frustrates me. Especially, because the Columbus Clippers (who are the Triple-A affiliate for the Cleveland Indians), are one of the premier teams in the International League (not to mention an outing at Huntington Park is one of the best (and affordable) ways to spend a warm late spring or summer evening downtown).

Aside from that, it’s an easy drive up 71 North to the Jake (you most likely know it as Progressive Field, but it will always be the Jake to me) and equally as easy to bomb down 71, and Head to the Great American Ballpark. I’m sure someone else is covering the Spring Game etc., and that’s cool…that’s cool – but it’s not baseball.

Ohio has a rich history of baseball, from Branch Rickey, who was a catcher at Ohio Wesleyan decades before he would be essential to breaking baseball’s color barrier in 1947, with the great Jackie Robinson; to the Cincinnati Reds being one of the original teams of the National League (they’ve been in the NL since its inception in 1890). For those of you that love baseball as much as I do, here is my outlook for the Tribe and the Reds, this year:

The Cleveland Indians: 2018 AL Central Champs

Yet again, The Tribe has one of the deepest and most potent starting rotations in all of baseball, including Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, Carlos Carrasco, Mike Clevinger, and Shane Bieber. Terry Francona, the Tribe’s skipper, will be laser-focused on returning to the Fall Classic, and along the way, should easily capture the team’s fourth straight division title.

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However, despite their stellar rotation and offensive firepower of their two MVP candidates Francisco Lindor (who will miss opening day due to an injury), and Jose Ramirez atop their lineup, The Indians’ fate might be the same as last season. Cruise through the regular season, and then hit a wall in the playoffs, where they will most likely have to deal with perennial postseason juggernauts the New York Yankees, the defending champion Boston Red Sox, as well as 2017 champs, the Houston Astros.

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Seeing the Cavs finally win a title, and damn-near winning one in 2016, themselves, the Tribe is chomping at the bit for that World Series title the City of Cleveland has been clamoring for since 1948. However, because their formidable pitching staff tends to crumble when it matters most (the postseason) Tribe fans might want to hold off on that ticker tape parade…at least for this season.

The Tribe opens their season against the Minnesota Twins, at Target Field, in Minneapolis. Corey Kluber takes the hill for the Tribe. First pitch is scheduled for 4:10 p.m. ET/3:10 p.m. CT on Thursday. The game will be televised on both Fox Sports North and SportsTime Ohio, along with MLB.TV, and there will be radio broadcasts on the Treasure Island Baseball Network and the Cleveland Indians Radio Network.

The Cincinnati Reds: Finished dead last in the NL Central in 2018

When the Reds and Pirates square off for Opening Day at Great American Ball Park, both teams will be looking to establish their legitimacy in the National League Central division race, which is a herculean effort considering they share the division with perennial playoff favorites in The Brewers, Cubs and Cardinals. However, the Reds believe they belong in that conversation, and for the first time in a long time, they’re not wrong.

The Reds had an incredibly productive offseason, acquiring Matt Kemp from the Dodgers, and, in my opinion, the most exciting player in all of baseball, Yasiel Puig.

The Reds also have new blood in the dugout/clubhouse, in the person of first-time Major League manager David Bell and a virtually brand-new coaching staff. The Reds also made key moves in their pitching rotation, which coupled with their huge outfield acquisitions, has fans fired up. The additions of Puig and Kemp should add much-needed firepower to a lineup that lacked the big bats. Puig will be especially exciting to watch, because unlike his platoon work he did in Los Angeles, Puig will be the everyday right fielder for the Reds.

Adding the bats of Puig and Kemp to a lineup which already has the team’s best on-base threat in all-around class-act, leader, and future Hall of Famer, Joey Votto, should set off all of the fireworks at Great American Ballpark this season.

Luis Castillo takes the hill for the Reds, when they face for the 29th straight year against the Pittsburgh Pirates, at the Great American Ballpark, in Cincinnati. First pitch is at 4:10 p.m. ET. The Reds’ broadcasts are on Fox Sports Ohio and WLW-AM while the Pirates’ broadcasts are on AT&T Sportsnet Pittsburgh and KDKA-FM. The game can also be seen live on MLB.TV.

Spring Training is over, folks. The 2019 season is here…Play Ball!

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What live sporting event will be coming to Nationwide this summer?

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Update: This article has been updated with specific match information.

Columbus will get its first taste of live sports since the pandemic closed down the country in March.

The Basketball Tournament, a 5-on-5 annual single-elimination competition, won’t be missing its chance at displaying high-stakes basketball this year. The 2019 Tournament champion Carmen’s Crew, a team consisting of Ohio State alumni, will get the opportunity to defend its title in its hometown. 

Although the tournament won’t consist of the usual 64-team format or have fans in attendance, TBT is still dedicated to bringing live sports to Nationwide Arena for all 23 tournament games. Games will also be broadcast live on the ESPN family of television networks.

In its seventh installment, TBT will go with a condensed 24-team bracket. The tournament hosted an open application process earlier this year between March 15 and June 15. The pot for the winner-take-all tournament will be over $1 million.

Here are when the specific rounds of the tournament will take place:

  • Round of 24: July 4-5
  • Round of 16: July 6-9
  • Quarterfinals: July 10-11
  • Semifinals: July 12
  • Final: July 14

Here are when the specific games will take place:

  • July 4 
  • 3 p.m. – #9 Big X vs. #24 Jackson TN Underdawgs (ESPN) 
  • 5 p.m. – #12 Team Brotherly Love vs. #21 Stillwater Stars (Oklahoma State alumni) (ESPN)
  • 8 p.m. – #16 House of ‘Paign (Illinois alumni) vs. #17 War Tampa (ESPN) 
  • 10 p.m. – #13 Team CP3 vs. #20 Mid-American Unity (ESPN)
  • July 5
  • 2 p.m. – #10 Team Jimmy V vs. #23 Herd That (Marshall alumni) (ESPN)
  • 4 p.m. – #11 Team Hines vs. #22 Sideline Cancer (ESPN)
  • 7 p.m. – #14 Heartfire vs. #19 Men of Mackey (Purdue alumni) (ESPN2)
  • 9 p.m. – #15 Armored Athlete vs. #18 Power of the Paw (Clemson alumni) (ESPN2)
  • July 6
  • 7 p.m. – #5 Eberlein Drive vs. Brotherly Love/Stillwater Stars (ESPN)
  • 9 p.m. – #4 Golden Eagles (Marquette alumni) vs. Team CP3/Mid-American Unity (ESPN)
  • July 7
  • 2 p.m. – #6 Team Challenge ALS vs. Team Hines/Sideline Cancer (ESPN)
  • 4 p.m. – #3 Boeheim’s Army (Syracuse alumni) vs. Heartfire/Men of Mackey (ESPN)
  • July 8
  • 2 p.m. – #8 Red Scare (Dayton alumni) vs. Big X/Jackson TN Underdawgs (ESPN)
  • 4 p.m. – #1 Carmen’s Crew (Ohio State alumni) vs. House of ‘Paign/War Tampa (ESPN)
  • July 9
  • 2 p.m. – #7 The Money Team (TMT) vs. Jimmy V/Herd That (ESPN)
  • 4 p.m. – #2 Overseas Elite vs. Armored Athlete/Power of the Paw (ESPN)
  • July 10
  • 2 p.m. – Quarterfinal #1 (ESPN)
  • 4 p.m. – Quarterfinal #2 (ESPN)
  • July 11
  • 2 p.m. – Quarterfinal #3 (ESPN)
  • 4 p.m. – Quarterfinal #4 (ESPN)
  • July 12
  • 4 p.m. – Semifinal #1 (ESPN)
  • 6 p.m. – Semifinal #2 (ESPN)
  • July 14
  • 7 p.m. – Championship Game (ESPN)

For more information, check out TBT’s website here.

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MLB gets go-ahead to play ball, but what about the Clippers?

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Let them play ball.

Well, not all of them.

Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds fans can rejoice, however. MLB voters, in a unanimous decision, voted to move forward with the 2020, according to a report from ESPN

The shortened season will run just 60 regular season games, compared to the usual 162. The playoffs will also be expanded to 10 teams.

For now, the only date set in stone is the re-reporting to spring training, which will happen on July 1. The regular season has an unofficial start date of July 24.

As for our hometown Columbus Clippers, there is yet to be a verdict. According to a Columbus Dispatch report, though, the president of the triple-A International League put the odds of even an abbreviated Triple-A season at less than 20 percent.

In 2019, there were rumors that 42 minor league teams were on the chopping block heading into the 2020 season. Minor league owners said they wouldn’t let that happen without a fight. 

Things have drastically changed since. Minor league baseball brings a distinct character to towns and cities, sometimes often defining them. It would be a shame to see our beloved Clippers disappear, so here’s to hoping the minor league can rebound big in 2021, if they do in fact hold off on a 2020 season.

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Girls’ wrestling wants sanctioned by OHSAA

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Olentangy female wrestling coach says it’s only a matter of time

When she began wrestling at five years old, Grace Jones, 17, of London, Ohio, said there weren’t many distinctions between the male and female wrestlers; they were all just kids after all. But in high school, that’s changed for Jones.

“I have gotten a lot of backlash from other teams and other teammates because I am the only girl on my team,” said the London High School wrestler and 2019 State Champion.

Shown here is Grace Jones during a wrestling workout.

Jones is showing the world that not only are girls capable of wrestling, but they are part of the reason behind why wrestling has been identified as one of the fastest growing sports today. The Ohio High School Wrestling Coaches Association recognized that growth with its first-ever sponsored girls’ state meet, held in February. However, the meet was not sanctioned by the Ohio High School Athletic Association.

If a sport isn’t sanctioned at the state level, it limits the opportunities for competitive matches and, later on, college recruitment for scholarships becomes more difficult. Local girls’ wrestling coaches and advocates say that needs to change. This is why the SanctionOH movement through Wrestle Like A Girl was launched in June.

"Saturdays are for the Girls when it comes to wrestling and the current match schedule." 

“I think (sanctioning the sport) contributes to the bigger picture,” said Vanessa Oswalt, an assistant wrestling coach for Olentangy Orange High School and a full-time Ohio National Guard member. Oswalt is one of the primary advocates for SanctionOH. 

WATCH THE VIDEO by (614)’s John Thorne HERE

“Some (high) schools are working to provide training and competitive opportunities right now as (girls’ wrestling) grows. Some schools are wary to add it unless sanctioned,” she said. “Schools do not have separate funding for coaching of a girls’ team, which limits coaches’ ability to take girls to separate all-girl tournaments. If a girl is limited to only compete against boys, how is a women’s college team supposed to recruit?” 

Many colleges are adding women’s wrestling to their athletic programs, Oswalt said.

Shown here is Ohio wrestler Taryn Martin.

“If we don’t sanction them at the state level, that will tear down the college programs as well, and we want to get them into the college programs,” she said. “I have colleges almost every week contacting me and asking me if I have girls in these weight classes. There are so many opportunities with wrestling.”

SanctionOH’s efforts are supported by local and national organizations, including Ohio USA Wrestling, Wrestle Like a Girl, Ohio Wrestling Coaches Association, National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA), National High School Coaches Association, and the OH Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, according to its website.

Most importantly, there is a pipeline beyond college that exists for female wrestlers, making it another good reason to sanction the sport at the state level. For example, women’s freestyle wrestling has been part of the Olympic Games since 2004 and the World Championships since 1989. And this year, the NCAA will add women’s wrestling to their emerging sports status list, all according to the SanctionOH website.

Because of the sports’ growth locally and internationally, Oswalt said it’s only a matter of when, not if, girls’ wrestling will be sanctioned in Ohio.

Pictured here is Vanessa Oswalt, Olentangy wrestling coach and advocate for sanctioning girls' wrestling in Ohio.

“We have worked with the coaches’ association and Ohio Athletic Association to determine the criteria to decide if it can be sanctioned,” said Oswalt. The good news, she added, is that wrestling is a long-established sport, and there are already girls competing on teams.

“They (OAA) are open and listening to us. They have been amazing and have included more girls’ rules in the wrestling rules for Ohio. From my opinion, they see it and know it will be sanctioned.”

Jones said she’s grateful for all the support.

“The girls’ wrestling community here is really good,” she said. “Most girls don’t think they can do it. But it changes you. Before I started wrestling, I was a way different person than I am today. It’s challenged me and made me healthier.” 

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