Friday, September 11, 2009

New York, New York

After arriving in New York on Aug. 9 to start a job as a Player Participation Auditor for the National Football League, I feel more and more comfortable with the Big Apple.

Here are some random observations that I have made in the last 33 days:

1. "The city that never sleeps" is a pretty accurate description of New York. There are so many places that stay open 24 hours. You can hear car horns blowing at 3 a.m. just as likely as you would at 5 p.m. I personally have been staying up later and later while still waking up at 7 a.m., but somehow I do not feel any more tired than usual.

2. I was told that I would get trampled if I did not pick up my walking pace in New York. This is also fairly accurate. When I was back in Cincinnati, I walked like I had all the time in the world. Now that I have been in the NYC for a while, I notice my strides are longer and quicker and that I get impatient with people who are walking slow right in front of me.

3. If New York could legally charge money for oxygen, it no doubt would. Everything is expensive here. It is a challenge to go a day without spending more than $20. About the only sure-fire way you can is to stay at home and not leave the house for any reason.

4. Apparently the normal pattern for sports-team allegiance is Yankees-Giants and Mets-Jets. I first thought Mets-Jets was because the names rhymed so the chants are easy to remember - "M-E-T-S Mets! Mets! Mets!" - sounds pretty good to me. But the reasoning explained to me was because the Mets and Jets both were started around the same time in the '60s, while the Yankees and Giants were the senior New York pro teams. Funny thing about this combo is that one of my co-workers is a Yankees-Jets fan and most of the people at work view him as a freak because of it.

5. College sports are not as big of a deal here as they are in other parts of the country. I wonder why this is? Could it be that the only BCS school approximate to New York is Rutgers (whom my Cincinnati Bearcats embarrassed 47-15 on national TV this past Labor Day) and the major college basketball team, St. John's, has been in year No. 1 of a five-year rebuilding plan for the past decade? It could simply be the professional teams, most notably the Yankees and Giants, have garnered so much attention lately with their success that college athletics in New York seems like what college sports is technically supposed to be - amateur hour.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Time for Interleague Play to Go

Now that Interleague Play ’09 concluded Sunday, can we please put it behind us and get rid of it altogether?

IP has without a doubt lost its luster.

Interleague Play was a cute little gimmick designed to spark fan interest after the ’94 baseball strike. And it was highly effective. IP, in addition to the softball scores provided by the steroid era, put butts back into ballpark seats. People wanted to see new and exciting matchups: Mets-Yankees; Cubs-White Sox; Braves-Red Sox; Reds-Indians; Astros-Rangers. The idea was to create new rivalries. Logic said these rivalries would prevail; however, logic was wrong.

These synthetic “rivalries” have not really taken off. The main problem is because the games have very little significance. They obviously affect teams’ overall schedule, but they are played in the first few months of the season. If MLB wanted to add some spice to IP, they should schedule some of the rivalry series in Sept., that way each game carries a lot more weight.

MLB has instead marketed interleague series by giving them a catchy name and a shiny trophy. For instance, the Reds and Indians now play for the Ohio Lottery Ohio Cup. The Rangers and Astros battle for the prestigious Silver Boot Trophy.

In terms of popularity and attendance, baseball is back. IP may have been a factor in this, but now that MLB is stable, it should abandon it. Here are the reasons why:

First off, IP creates an unbalanced schedule, with rotations set by division and “natural rivalries.” This is extremely advantageous for teams scheduled to play weaker interleague opponents and whose natural rival stinks. Take the St. Louis Cardinals for example. Their “natural rival” is the Kansas City Royals. This means they get to play one of the traditionally worst teams in MLB home-and-home every season while the Chicago Cubs have to play the White Sox twice per year. This makes a huge difference in the standings at season’s end and erases any type of parity.

Second, some of the interleague matchups are just plain horrendous. Who in the world is interested in the Rockies playing the Tigers? Or the Reds playing the Royals? How about the Rays vs. Padres? It may have been really cool to watch a team who previously never visited your hometown team, but that coolness has definitely worn off. There is almost no excitement for fans when they are indifferent towards an opponent.

Third, playing these teams really takes away the nostalgia of the World Series. Before interleague play, there was a deep sense of pride between the National and American leagues. It was pennant winner vs. pennant winner. The two teams fortunate enough to make it to the World Series were fully representing their leagues and wanted to prove which league was better. Now that interleague Play is in effect, the idea of the two leagues competing against each other has vanished. The feeling now is simply Team A vs. Team B.

Fourth, IP has taken away the emotion from the intraleague rivalries. There was once a time when fans knew every player on every opposing team and were familiar with who they were rooting against because the opposing team visited more frequently. The more familiar you are with an opponent, the easier it is to dislike and cheer against them. This is how solid rivalries are created. (Think Dodgers vs. Reds back in the 1970s.)

Now that MLB is back on the map and has a steady streamline of attendance and revenue, it is time to disband Interleague Play. League and divisional rivalries will grow, as will parity.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Crowd Sourcing: How has the economy impacted your family?

I recently asked UC journalism students their thoughts and opinions about dealing with the economy and how it has affected their families.

These are the questions I asked them:

1. Have you or anyone in your family been laid off recently?

2. If so, how was your family coped with this?

3. As a college student, what are your plans for starting a career upon graduation during a time when many companies are down-sizing?

From what I gathered, everyone seems to be influenced by this one way or another.

“No one in my family has been laid off, but my dad's job has him in constant fear of being laid off. They make him work crazy hours, from 5:30pm-4:30am, and have him work every other week. His job is really stressing him out and he can't do anything about it because he wouldn't have a job otherwise. I feel like employers are using the recession as a way to use their employees incorrectly.”
Rose Diroll
4th year

“The recession has luckily not affected my family, because my parent's both work in the hospital, which seem to be fairing well.

I unfortunately have had a harder time getting financial aid because of the poor economy, which has forced me to drop down to part-time status, which has pushed my graduation date back from this June to next December. I've also had to work two jobs to make rent and pay for the classes I am taking now.

As far as jobs, I'm planning on going to graduate school for Spanish so that I can become a translator, since the job market for journalists seems poor right now.”
Rachel Rayburn
Senior journalism student.

“My father retired early in order to save another man's job. However, they were still laid off and the company is closing in Milford and moving to St Louis.”
Karen Shinkle

“My father was laid off from his job in October of 2008 and has yet to find a job. He is an architect who has lived in Cincinnati his entire life, and made a name for himself in this city's architectural community. He is more than qualified for positions he has applied for, with a bachelor's in environmental design from Miami University (OH) and a master's in architecture from the University of Illinois - Urbana Champagne. He has watched people get hired instead of him simply because they are younger, not because they have more experience or more talent. My father has designed multi-million dollar bio pharmaceutical labs and government testing facilities, and he can't find a job designing some of the simpler (yet still important) projects.

My mother, a private school teacher, has had to take a summer job teaching online courses for Butler Tech because if she doesn't, there will not be any income coming into our home over the summer. That's just not doable in my family.

Personally, this has GREATLY affected me. I have scholarship money, but there is still a considerably large amount of money that my parents give to UC every quarter for my education. Because I want to lessen their burden as much as possible, I have picked up extra hours at work (I'm a student worker in the Athletic Department) and begun paying for things that I did not have to worry about prior to my dad's predicament, such as car insurance and rent. These expenses that previously seemed small to me have become more real, and I've had to consider the value of a dollar much more seriously than I did previously. Starbucks doesn't happen for me; I can now make a $4.00 Maxwell House tub go a long way. I haven't been to the mall in months because it's a danger zone for those of us struggling in this economy. I recently joined Netflix because I'm a movie buff and I realized that it's cheaper than paying $4.00 each time I rent a movie at Blockbuster. I don't buy lunch on campus; I pack it. These little things add up and make a huge difference at the end of the week or month.”
Ginny Walters
Secondary English Education & Journalism

“I feel really unsure about what the future holds for journalists. I hope to find a job but the place where I currently intern is on a hiring freeze. Many places are firing people, few are hiring so it is very scary. I have a part time job now, and have wanted to quit so I can focus on my career, but cannot due to the economy. My family is definitely feeling the hit of the economy. My stepdad has been working less and less and the expenses are the same. Also our house is way too big for the number of people living there. My parents really want to sell it and downsize but the market is so poor right now that it would be hard to sell and actually get any money. So it leaves them in a bind because they have to stay in our house right now that just does not make sense economically. My family used to go out to eat a lot together and we rarely do that anymore.”

Rachel Plowden

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Cincinnati Reds Opening Day video blog for

Here are the links to two Cincinnati Reds Opening Day videos I produced for

The first video covered the Opening Day Parade.

The second video was a glance at the pregame festivities that took place on the field.

Comments are welcome!

Friday, April 3, 2009

You don't need to live in the same state as your favorite teams!

While watching the Siena vs. Ohio State NCAA tournament game March 20 at happy hour in Mt. Adams Pavilion, I came across a sports topic that absolutely needs to be addressed.

As the Buckeyes mounted a small lead over the Saints in the second half, there was a woman standing near me talking smack about OSU winning. I, as usual, had to talk back, defending Sienna as if they were my favorite team.

(I will be the first to admit I’m an anti-Ohio State fan. I root for any team the Buckeyes play, regardless of the sport.)

When I opposed said-women, she started yelling at me is if I was crazy for not loving Ohio State.

“What state are you in?” she repeatedly screamed toward me.

I, having been through this argument several hundred times previously, immediately lied to her and said “I’m from Kentucky,” just to see how’d she react. (I reside in Ohio.)

“Go back to where you came from,” she angrily responded.

Essentially, the gist of her argument was all Ohioans should root and cheer for Ohio State.

This is one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard.

If I wanted to take this ridiculous argument to another level, I could’ve asked her “What city are you in?” to imply she’s stupid for cheering for a college basketball team other than Xavier or UC
The geographical argument needs to stop!

People, we are not bound by maps when deciding which sports teams we pledge our allegiance to.

There is nothing wrong rooting for hometown teams. It’s the norm and it makes sense because the hometown squad is the most accessible and easiest to follow, but that doesn’t mean it should be a requirement.

If I’m supposed to like Ohio State because I live in Ohio, doesn’t this also mean I’m also supposed to like the Cleveland Browns and Indians? Do I have to cheer for the Toledo Rockets and Akron Zips? Absolutely not.

Yes, I root for hometown teams – such as UC (I’m a Bearcat alum), the Reds and Bengals.

But, I also like University of Miami (Fla.) football, the Phoenix Suns of the NBA and the Detroit Red Wings of the NHL – none of these teams have anything to do with proximity.

Geography should not be the end-all factor when selecting your favorite sports teams.

If you only root for hometown teams, that’s your choice. Just don’t judge those who think outside the box.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

New Pete Rose argument?

So I was at a local sports bar with a couple of friends last night and Barry Bonds appeared on one of the big screens. We couldn't hear the audio from the television, so we had no idea what was being said.

But what ensued, was a conversation about how terrible it is for baseball to recognize Bonds as the all-time home run king. This led to an argument about which is worse: taking steroids (or performance enhancing drugs if you want to be up-tight about it) or gambling on the game, Ala Pete Rose?

Clearly, Major League Baseball feels gambling on baseball games is much worse than taking steroids. Rose's ban is still in effect, almost 20 years later. "Shoeless" Joe Jackson of the Chicago "Black Sox" scandal in 1919 is still banned from the Hall of Fame, as well. All this, while any MLB team is welcome to sign Bonds at their convenience (although this is highly unlikely given his age and the media circus that would follow).

While we were all debating this, I made an argument that none of my friends had heard before; which surprised me because I thought I was just repeating some old jargon.

I noted that the only evidence found of Rose's baseball gambling occurred while he was a manager. There was no evidence that showed he gambled while playing.

So the question I had for my friends was: Why can't he get elected into the Hall of Fame as a player?

Think about this. He wasn't going into the Hall as a manager. He was only caught gambling as a manager and never as a player.

I think the best solution to this whole debate would be to let him in the Hall of Fame as a player, but keep his lifetime ban intact. It's the only way MLB can rid themselves of their hypocrisy.

If MLB can invite Rose to the 1999 All-Star game in Boston for the All-Century Team and make money off him, then they can also give Rose his due as a player and let him in the Hall of Fame. You can't have one or the other. It's either none or both.

And speaking of none or both, this should also apply to gambling and steroids. MLB shouldn't allow admitted steroid users to continue to play if their going to give lifetime bans to men who gambled.

Steroid usage is not less of a crime than gambling, it's equal and should be treated as such.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Crowd Sourcing: Students reaction to class size

I had an assignment in one of my other journalism classes pertaining to class size at UC.

So I went out and asked journalism students at UC their thoughts on whether they like the student-to-faculty ratio or if they wished it was different.

Here are the three specific questions I asked:

1. Do you feel the class sizes are too big? Too small? Why? Why not?

2. Do you feel the class sizes impact your ability to learn? If so, how?

3. Does class size impact your ability to interact with instructors? Is feedback from instructors sufficient to your liking?

I got a wide range of opinions, but it seemed the general consensus was that students were satisfied with their class sizes.

Here are some of the responses that I received:

"I feel that class sizes in McMicken are just right because you still can interact with the Professor easily. I do not feel the class sizes impact my ability to learn, because I am a proactive student and, no matter how big my class is, I will make sure I communicate with my professor."
Danielle Boyle
Third Year, Journalism

"I don't think that the classes in McMicken are too big, actually I think they are a perfect size. I personally do not like big aud. size classes because I don't think the Professor is able to interact and communicate with the students as well. I've been in those big classes before and it seems that the teacher doesn't have the students participate as much and doesn't even ask questions. It's normally just a boring lecture where all I want to do is fall asleep."
Hope that helps,
Kelli Ives
Senior, Journalism

"I think depending on the classes they could stand to be anywhere between five to ten seats bigger. A medium-sized class - let's say about 20 people - has a lot more people giving input, and that's something anyone could learn from, especially if someone says something particularly ignorant or uninformed and the teacher corrects them. A larger class size doesn't usually affect my ability to talk to instructors. Sometimes I get a lousy teacher who picks out three or four people to pay attention to the whole quarter, and I'm almost never one of them."
Andrew Ritter
Third Year, Journalism

"I feel that my classes in McMicken have been the perfect size. Fairly small, ranging from 15 to 25 students, allows for great class discussion and one-on-one time with professors. I think the small class size is perfect for because I'm receiving individual attention from professors on my core subjects. It's great to get direct attention from a professor about something that will be utilized in my future career."
Alison Jaeger
Freshman UC '12

"I think as far as the journalism department goes, the faculty-to-student ratio is great. As a fifth-year senior, I know that a lot of the faculty know me by name and know what I'm doing as far as internships and classes. They all seem very involved in their student's progress and are very helpful when needed."
Ashley Monk
Senior, Journalism

For the most part, UC Journalism students don't have an issue with their class sizes and seem to be coping well with them.