Saturday, June 19, 2010

Stewart-Haas Racing's Bobby Hutchens has his Father's Day priorities straight

Bobby Hutchens, director of competition for Stewart-Haas Racing, lost his wife to cancer last December and has decided to stay home in Winston-Salem with his two sons rather than join the racing team in California this weekend.

He is attending a father-son basketball camp at Wake Forest with his 12-year-old son. The other son just completed his freshman year at NC State.

To read more about this touching story, please click here.

Friday, June 18, 2010

World Cup odds and ends, and an odd end

Well, I waited all day for our soccer expert to post something here but, alas, you're stuck with me - someone who watches soccer only in support of the United States.

I even went to XL Soccer World in Raleigh to watch the U.S. match against Slovenia and I enjoyed the atmosphere. I might not know a lot about soccer but as soon as Slovenia scored first, I told the person next to me, "oh well, this is going to be another tie."

I admit that I thought it would be a 1-1 tie but it did end in a 2-2 tie, a scoring bonanza by World Cup soccer terms. And it should have been a 3-2 U.S. victory save for a referee who nullified the goal for no apparent reason. A Sporting News article posted at 11:15 p.m. says, "It's still unclear why (Referee Koman) Coulibaly disallowed Maurice Edu's 86th-minute strike, which could have given the U.S. a remarkable victory."

The official is likely to be barred from the rest of the World Cup, Yahoo Sports is reporting. Within the first 10 minutes of the game, my unknowledgeable self was spouting off about how that referee was terrible. Even I could tell. Unfortunately, it cost the U.S. team a victory. Of course the U.S. has got to stop getting behind early.

As for the events at XL Soccer World, I must say that the Cary-based Railhawks soccer team is really trying hard to promote itself. Dozens of kids in soccer camp and several of us big kids were treated to the Railhawks mascot and giveaways and an appearance by one of the key Railhawks players.

While I'm not really interested in the Railhawks, and I'm not real fond of the club's efforts to attract Spanish-speaking-only illegal aliens, I admire their enthusiasm and hard work. I wish them well in getting American citizens interested in their product. How the U.S. team does in the World Cup will undoubtedly affect the interest in the Railhawks and all soccer-related businesses in the area. And they know it.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Raleigh Sports Club getting some big name speakers

Those who like to talk about sports and support local sports teams have been joining the Raleigh Sports Club for years now - with the club having grown from a handful of people to more than 400 today. But perhaps the biggest selling point is the wide variety of well-known speakers.

The club, which has hosted notable sports figures such as baseball hall of famer Stan Musial and basketball analyst Dick Vitale, has already lined up NC State football coach Tom O'Brien, NC State basketball coach Sidney Lowe, new ECU basketball coach and former UNC star Jeff Lebo and Duke football coach David Cutcliffe for this fall.

The club is making a pitch for UNC coaches Roy Williams and Butch Davis too. But frankly some of the best insider information they hear comes from lesser known speakers who are experts in recruiting or are sportswriters or broadcasters. They are less guarded and don't have to worry about quotes inspiring opponents.

Lunch meetings are held at Highland United Methodist Church at 1901 Ridge Road in Raleigh. For more information, go to the Raleigh Sports Club Web site. Take a look at the big names that have spoken to the club over the years by clicking here.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Great chapter on the link between Bobby Frasor, Erin Andrews

Dan Wiederer of The Fayetteville Observer is one of the best young reporters on ACC basketball and just did a book, "Blue Streak," on UNC's championship season. There's a terrific excerpt from book about the "relationship" between Bobby Frasor and ESPN's Erin Andrews.

Here's the link from ACCSports.com.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

For an inexpensive Friday evening of sport, try racin'

An overlooked outlet for sports in Wake County is racin' on Friday nights at the Wake County Speedway. I have lived in the area for more than 20 years and threatened to go dozens of times - and finally did so last Friday night. And, I'm going back again.

I probably still would not have gone had my son not been a fan of Lighting McQueen - the animated movie car. I knew he'd love it. He did enjoy the racing (and the snow cone) but he was getting tired because the finals in each division didn't even start until his bedtime. So, we missed the wild finale race. Luckily, some newspapers still cover local racing and I got a good review of the evening from The Herald newspaper - click here to read it.

The atmosphere was true blue traditional America, complete with a prayer and the singing of the national anthem prior to the racing (plus, a family friendly area where there is no alcohol or profanity allowed). We sat in regular seating and weren't bothered - except for a whiff of tobacco smoke every now and then.

In a time of globalization dominance and politically correct celebrations of diversity of other cultures which have recently come to the area, it is nice to see a throwback night of good ole Southern culture racing at Wake County Speedway, now in its 48th consecutive year.

It's an inexpensive night of entertainment - especially if you take advantage of the buy-one-get-one-free coupon on the Wake County Speedway Web site. Military personnel get discounts, kids five and under are always free, and children 12 and under are free with a five-dollar-off coupon on the Web site. You can even bring in a small cooler, filled with food and drink. Try it out.

The next sporting event I've threatened to attend, but never have, is flat-track women's Roller Derby. When I get around to it, I'll let you know what I think of that.

Monday, June 14, 2010

ESPN misses the mark on Big 12

The big story in college sports in recent days has been expansion, and ESPN clearly missed on this one Monday. The WWL's Joe Schad reported that four schools, including Texas, were leaving for the Pac-10, which already had grabbed Colorado from the league.

"The departure of Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State to the Pac-10 is imminent, four sources within the Big 12 said Monday," ESPN reported.

"One source said commissioner Dan Beebe's last-minute plan to save the conference has 'zero' chance to succeed. Another source said it is 'very unlikely' to succeed."

Time for ESPN to get a new source, as Beebe had a better than zero chance after all. Later Monday, the Big 12 ... er, 10? ... announced that Texas and nine other schools were staying.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The goal is to score, right?

Capital Sports colleague Cliff Barnes touched on this in his comment about Brian Abernethy's blog entry, but it bears repeating. If the score in most World Cup matches remains at or near nil, so, too, will the interest of the everyday American sports fan. Doesn't matter who's playing if the final score is zilch-zilch.

It's different when the U.S. is playing, or, say, the Americans need Slovenia to tie the Brits (we might need to brush up on Slovenian dances later in group play). But when France and Uruguay tie, at zero, after 90-plus minutes, I'm seeking another can of Coke Zero or another segment of Colin Cowherd.

And I'm a soccer fan. I played as a kid, and I play now. But give me 6-5 in the Stanley Cup playoffs any day over nil-nil. And if I feel this way, imagine what a letdown all that scorelessness is for Andres Cantor.