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Saturday, October 25, 2014
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Published: Friday, 4/19/2013

Courageous Americans will step up

BY DAVE HACKENBERG
BLADE SPORTS COLUMNIST

Idle thoughts, with a tip of the hat to Boston Bruins fans at the Gah-den Wednesday night for the most stirring National Anthem since Whitney:

Clint McCormick, the race director for the upcoming Medical Mutual Glass City Marathon, said it as well as anybody:

“You can’t live life in fear!”

Unlike a stadium or an arena that can be fairly well secured, a 26.2-mile marathon course is a different story, as we learned via another gutless attack Monday in Boston.

So we are taught again that we must be cautious, that we must not let down our guard.

But we cannot live in fear.

And we will not because we are stronger, smarter, and far more courageous than the idiots who perpetrate these crimes on our humanity.

■ That said, how can such a brave nation be represented by so many cowardly politicians?

■ We like Tricia Cullop as much as anybody, which is saying a lot here in Toledo. She is a fantastic basketball coach and just maybe a better person. With the door open for an interview at Ohio State, she would have been foolish not to step through it. Forget the contract extension she just signed at UT; most coaches would and do.

But I was surprised to learn that her contract, which runs through the 2021-22 season and makes her the earnings leader among MAC women’s basketball coaches with a reported $250,000 base to start with, includes no buy-out clause.

Kevin McGuff, who got the OSU job, signed an extension at Washington just three weeks ago that leaves him on the hook for $1.75 million to leave the Huskies.

Cullop’s deal at UT is about as one-sided as they come. It’s a contract written on toilet paper in regard to the school’s financial interests. She’s good, but…

■ Congrats to:

Kim Knuth Klaer, former UT women’s basketball star who is the leading scorer in MAC history. She is to be inducted into the league’s Hall of Fame on May 30.

Barb Smith, former Perrysburg High and Ohio State standout, who has been named head women’s basketball coach at Illinois State University.

And, especially, to Jerry Sigler, who announced yesterday he is retiring after 37 seasons and 675 wins as girls’ basketball coach at Sylvania Northview. He departs as the third-winningest coach in Ohio girls’ hoops history and sent 21 players on to the college ranks. Few if any have done it better for longer than my pal “Seegs.”

■ Blaming bad luck is often the whine of losing teams, but the Toledo Walleye get a pass after dropping the sixth and last game of their ECHL playoff series to Cincinnati. The Cyclones’ goal that tied the score with 5.1 seconds left in regulation, and crushed the Walleye spirits, was a carbon copy of one of Cincy’s earlier goals and both were eeeeeeeeabsolute behind-the-net flukes.

■ Tuesday wasn’t a good night for a couple “sports fans” in Toledo. Not only did an Indianapolis player jump the railing to defend a teammate who was being abused by a fan at the Hens’ game, a spectator at the Walleye game had to be peeled off the glass by security while taunting Cincinnati players during their on-ice celebration after an overtime goal. You think these bozos might have been overserved by concessionaires?

■ Byron Scott’s dismissal Thursday by the Cavaliers should not have surprised even Scott. His head coaching record was 64-166 in three seasons in Cleveland and, injuries aside, the Cavs were a dreadful defensive team. It’s the only way to explain losing four games this season in which the Cavs once held leads of at least 20 points.

■ Jim Leyland likes to talk about trusting history. Hens’ manager Phil Nevin has an even folksier way of putting it.

“I can look at baseball cards and tell you what most of these guys will be hitting when all is said and done,” he said recently.

He’d best hope so. Entering last night’s game against Columbus, Toledo was 3-11 with a .207 team batting average, the worst in the International League, and only four regulars who were hitting better than the team average.

■ Only insomniacs and die-hard fans were still up for the final play of the Mariners-Tigers game Wednesday night/Thursday morning, which means many missed the home-plate collision that cemented Detroit’s 2-1 win in the bottom of the 14th inning.

It was 6-4, 220-pound (conservatively) Justin Smoak, trying to score from first on a double down the line in right, against 5-9, 238-pound (conservatively) Brayan Pena, the Tigers’ catcher. Right-fielder Torii Hunter threw to Prince Fielder, who fired to Pena, who was down, maybe nearly out, and wondering if anybody got the license number of that truck, but held onto the ball for the final out.

It wasn’t a bad night for the backup catcher. He caught all 14 innings, drove home the winning run, and survived a big-time collision to clinch it.

Contact Blade sports columnist Dave Hackenberg at: dhack@theblade.com or 419-724-6398.



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