July 2012

Steve Smith: The Amazing Race

Indians third base coach Steve Smith and his daughter Alli participated in Season 16 of The Amazing Race. Smith sat down with TribeVibe and reflected on his reality television experience, suggesting that fans watch Episode 7 of Season 16 for an idea of their journey.

TribeVibe: For fans that do not follow The Amazing Race, describe what it is.
Steve Smith: You have two people on each team—could be friends, could be husband and wife, could be father and daughter. My daughter and I went. They give you clues, you go from one place to another, they give you tickets to get there. It takes a month, and after five continents, you get to go back home.

TV: How did you decide to do this?
SS: I was out of baseball that year. My daughter graduated from Pepperdine, so she was home and watched the show. Basically, my son has always been able to come in here, in the locker room, and hang out with me, and she has not been able to do that. She has always wanted a story with me. She asked me, and I [said], ‘Reality? No.’ I watched  the show, and I felt like, ‘It’s a good show. I’m not going to be eating bugs or doing anything crazy.’ My daughter asked me, and I figured they were not going to pick us; they had 20,000 people apply. Next thing I know, I was on my way to Chile.

TV: What countries did you go to?
SS: We started off in Chile, went to Argentina, and the third episode to Germany, France, an island off of Indian Ocean, Malaysia, Singapore, China.

TV: What was the hardest road block for you?
SS: We were probably the best at the physical part of it like riding a bike. Probably finding things was the hardest part; figuring out a clue in a foreign country, where you don’t speak their language. If you ask the wrong person or get the wrong cab driver, that will usually get you eliminated. We had to go across this big line, this big canyon way up in the air, and one person couldn’t do that, so we zip-lined. I had to dive in and get a bottle and figure out a puzzle. They reenacted a Germany World War I scene in France that was pretty cool; we had to crawl underneath the wires.

TV: What is your impression of reality television now?
SS: Reality people kind of like are really emotional and stuff like that. [For us], it was never about the money, and that’s why people are so emotional. Everyone’s watching, and 24/7, they have a camera on you. Your personality, your true things are going to come out. I was proud, especially of my daughter, because she never lost it. We had a fun time. We weren’t good reality people because we laughed too much. We were always saying jokes and just having fun. We get a lot of people who watched it saying how normal we were and how fun it looked.

TV: Was there ever a point in which you wondered how much longer you could continue?
SS: No. Baseball kind of prepares you in the minor leagues. You used to travel and get on a bus and go from Amarillo, Texas, to Jackson, Mississippi, and stuff like that. Each day you woke up, you knew you were going to different countries and doing different activities. They were paying you to go all around the world and see all these different countries.

TV: How far did you end up going?
SS: We got fifth [place]. We were in all but three episodes. We got eight episodes. That was our fear — being the first ones out. We laughed because my daughter gets lost in her own city. She’s not very good at maps and all that, so that’s what we joked. There are a lot of things that I don’t know anything about. I’m a jock. We crashed a car — a BMW — and we had to fix it. My wife gave me duct tape, and if it weren’t for my wife packing the duct tape, we would have been eliminated. We went to the wrong house one time. There was a lot of funny stuff that probably a lot of [Indians players] do not know about because they’d be [giving me a hard time].

TV: Are you and Alli closer after that experience?
SS: We were always close, so it just gave us great stories. We’ve always been real tight.

TV: Does that experience bring out your personality?
SS: We’ve all played sports; we’ve all played baseball, basketball, hockey. The injury part and being scared, I call it adrenaline; it’s not being scared. I’m on TV, like I’m going to be scared to walk across a wire or something? [No way.] I think the sports give you adrenaline that you always have, that you’re used to. I always tell kids, ‘Everyone gets nervous, so don’t think that’s bad. The more nervous you are, probably the more important the event is you’re trying to do. Whether it’s the Spelling Bee or being out on the field, I call it more adrenaline instead of nerves. That’s what you had each day and woke up and read a clue… ‘Here we go.’

-Megan Golden, TribeVibe contributor

2012 Cleveland Indians Youth Camp

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Young baseball players and Indians fans took the field for the 2012 Indians Youth Camp at Notre Dame Cathedral Latin School in Chardon, Ohio, on Thursday.

The camp is being run by Ace Baseball, the youth program provider for the Cleveland Indians. Camp instructors teach the fundamentals of throwing, hitting, fielding, and base-running, emphasizing the importance of learning at a young age.

“Our main goal is to create a baseball experience where they can have some fun but learn some fundamentals,” Ace owner Neal Packanik said. “Every day when we come out to our camp, we try to get them moving, see their athletic ability with some dynamic stretching, and we break them into different stations.”

Packanik said they use words like “hamburger” to teach the young kids how to stay in front of groundballs and keep their glove on the ground.

“With the younger age groups, obviously we want to make sure we are giving them smaller chunks of information, keeping them moving, [keeping] their interest,” he said. “We are having some fun, teaching them things they can apply to their skill level.”

Camp participant Ben Richardson, a freshman at NDCL, said he is improving his fielding at camp.

“This year, they’re teaching us how to throw on the run and make athletic plays in the infield. Learning the mechanics of throwing should help out our game,” Richardson said. “I love baseball, and I love to get better at baseball.”

It is not too late to sign up for upcoming summer camps. Remaining locations for 2012 camps include Strongsville, Mayfield Heights, Sandusky, and Streetsboro. Fans can register for 2012 Indians Youth Camps on Indians.com.

“It’s a great opportunity for them to come out, be active. There’s still time for them to learn, to improve, and take things with them,” Packanik said. “This is a great way to keep your young son or daughter active with a few weeks of summer left and continue your passion for the Indians.”

-Megan Golden, TribeVibe contributor

Andrew Maskey: Perfecting the Outfield Grass

Indians grounds crew member Andrew Maskey is working at Progressive Field for his sixth season. A graduate of North Olmstead High School and Bowling Green State University, Maskey recently sat down and chatted with TribeVibe.

TribeVibe: Describe a typical work day.
Andrew Maskey: Well, we get here at about 8:20, 8:30. We come out on the field. At about 9:00, I cut the outfield. One of the other guys cuts the infield and behind home. We clean up the dirt paths, the baselines, water the infield, water the grass, and set up for [batting practice].

TV: Why do you love your job?
AM: I love cutting the outfield. It’s relaxing, and it’s something to look for on TV.

TV: What are your duties during games?
AM: There are two crews; there is day-time crew and game-time crew. The game-time crew comes in, and there are two guys in each camera pit, and they switch out bases and clean up by the baselines. We have four guys that run out and drag the field in between [innings], every three innings.

TV: What is the trick to keeping the outfield in top shape?
AM: Just concentration; just doing the same thing every day, the same pattern. Coming in ready. I have an ipod on. I like to listen to music while I’m doing it.

TV: Have you had any memorable interaction with a player over the years?
AM: I talked with [former Indians pitcher] CC Sabathia before we traded him. That was pretty cool. Meeting other teams’ players [is] cool because you don’t see them all the time. Justin Masterson is a cool guy. He always comes out and jokes with us. He gave us all a couple hoodies that we don’t get.

TV: Do you have a favorite player on the Indians?
AM: I like them all. I like Justin [Masterson] because I like how he carries himself, and he’s a very nice guy. He tries every day.

TV: Do you have a favorite game that stands out?
AM: A favorite series. I like working the Fourth of July because it’s always packed.

TV: Is this the dream job?
AM: Yes, this is what I want to do. I majored in turf management. I want to run a baseball field one day. I love doing it. I take pride in my work, and everyone else here does, too.

-Megan Golden, TribeVibe contributor

Get to Know Katie Witham

SportsTime Ohio on-field reporter Katie Witham, a native of Alliance, OH, has an older brother and a younger sister. Witham recently took a break from her own reporting and sat down for an interview with TribeVibe.

TribeVibe: Are you married? Do you have a family?
Katie Witham: I got married last September 3, Labor Day weekend. I was back to work on Monday, right here. My husband, Richie, works with Nationwide Financial and is kind of all over. We’ve been together for 10 years.

TV: How did you meet?
KW: We were college sweethearts. We both played soccer in college [at] Capital University.

TV: What was it like playing soccer in college?
KW: It’s funny. I actually had the opportunity to play softball in school, and instead, I ended up going to Capital and playing soccer. I could have gone to [Kent State University] or Wright State to play softball. I was going to go as an outfielder.

I went to Capital, played soccer there. Our head coach was the coach of both the men’s and women’s teams. Our practices were ending when the other ones were beginning. That’s why I ended up meeting Richie on the field there. We dated all through school. Playing soccer there was fun. I was a defender. We had a really good team. We won the OAC my junior year and went into the tournament. We did a lot of growing up.

TV: What was your major at Capital?
KW: I double-majored in radio, television broadcasting and film and communications. I wanted to be a news anchor. Growing up, my mom had me involved in everything. I did sports, I did dance, and I did singing lessons. I grew up with Stefani Schaefer, and when she started working in the broadcasting industry, I was like, ‘That’s what I wanted to do.’ I knew my major and everything as a freshman. Everyone thought I was crazy [for knowing my major]. I interned in news a little bit, and the news business is very serious, kind of negative. I thought, ‘I can’t do this on a day-to-day basis.’

I was thinking of changing my major, when my head coach was like, ‘You should come out and intern with us at the Columbus Crew.’ My head coach at the time was also the play-by-play voice ever since they started in 1996. He got me in with an internship there, I ended up meeting our producer for the game, who decided to have me do halftime stuff as the intern. It just kind of developed into doing sideline stuff, in-game stuff. I was hooked. I didn’t realize at the time that I could go into broadcasting to do sports stuff. It wasn’t really popular yet. I was lucky; I kind of fell into it.

TV: How did you end up with SportsTime Ohio?
KW: I’m just a freelancer, in general, so I kind of work with everybody. I started working with STO back in 2008, doing high school football state championships and basketball state championships. Last year, I got a phone call — not too long before the season started — and they said, ‘Hey, did you want to do Indians games by chance?’ Last year was my first year. I couldn’t pass up that opportunity.

TV: Is baseball your favorite sport to watch?
KW: It definitely is now. I have to say that I am a soccer nut because I was just playing it in college and being around it. I worked with the Columbus Crew for seven years. I was eat, sleep, live soccer. I came to the Jake back in the day with my dad so many times. My older brother played baseball for a year at Wright State. I grew up around baseball, and I do love it very much. The last year and a half, it’s become my favorite.

TV: What is the best part of your job?
KW: The best part of my job is getting paid to come watch baseball games. Honestly, you can’t beat that. To call this work is hard to do. I’m fortunate because everyone that works at STO, they work incredibly hard, they put out a great product, yet they still know how to have fun and be lighthearted and not take things too seriously. It’s an amazing atmosphere.

Then — you know — being with this club, they’ve got a pretty good group of guys, and it’s been hard to call it work.

TV: Who is your favorite Indians player?
KW: I would have to say my favorite on the team since he’s come up is Jason Kipnis. He’s got the whole package. He’s an athletic guy, who will lay it out on the field, give you everything day in, day out. He does it at the plate, on the field. In the clubhouse, he’s got that personality that gravitates people towards him. He has that side where, if he had to be a leader and maybe lay into a couple of guys, he can do that, too. He’s my favorite because he’s fun to interview, fun to be around, and he’s fun to watch on the field, too.

TV: Do you have a most intimidating moment over the years?
KW: My first interview that I ever did. I was working for the Columbus Sports Network down in Columbus. My first actual interview, one-on-one, was with Arnold Schwarzenegger. I remember them going, ‘Don’t screw up, Witham. Don’t screw up.’ He was my first-ever interview. He was great. He was so down to earth, so nice. I was shocked at how short he was. That was crazy intimidating. That was probably the most nerve-wracking because it was my first and it was him. I remember watching him in The Terminator with my dad when I was younger.

TV: How much do you research prior to interviews?
KW: I do all the research by myself. Sometimes, if there’s a specific thing that happened in the game that our producers and our directors want to show the video of, they will tell me, ‘Hey, make sure at some point you get this question in. They want to hear about the diving stop that Jack Hannahan made.’ I write everything myself. I will take notes during the game of key moments and what I hear [Matt Underwood] and [Rick Manning] talking about. As far as prep work and everything, I make sure to do my homework before I come in. Just going over the previous day’s game, if there were any main storylines that came out, and just talking with guys like Jason Stanford and seeing what they’ve seen.

-Megan Golden, TribeVibe contributor

Indians Game Information, July 26

CLEVELAND INDIANS (49-49, 3rd, -4.0 G) vs. DETROIT TIGERS (53-45)
RHP Zach McAllister (4-2, 3.21) vs. RHP Justin Verlander (11-5, 2.42)
First Pitch: 7:05 p.m. (ET) at Progressive Field
TV: WKYC  Radio: WTAM, Indians Radio Network
Series Notes:

THE STANDINGS: The Indians lost to the Tigers 5-3 last night, falling 4.0 games behind Chicago and Detroit for first place in  the A.L. Central standings…Cleveland has been in 3rd place for 11 straight days after spending 56 consecutive days in either first or 2nd place (April 24-July 14)…of the 112 days of the Indians’ season, Cleveland has been in first place for 40 days, 2nd place for 46 days and 3rd place for 16 days…Cleveland held a season-high 4.0-game lead on May 17, but has gone 27-33 since…club has trailed by as many as 4.5 games.

POSITIVELY 4TH STREET: Following the conclusion of tonight’s series finale, the Indians will travel to Minneapolis to begin a 3-game set against the Twins…Cleveland holds a slight 3-2 edge in the 2012 season series, as the
Tribe swept a brief 2-game set at Target Field, while the Twins took 2 of 3 at Progressive Field…the Indians are 10-10 all-time at Target Field after going 89-109 all-time at the Metrodome.

THREE MARLENAS: Cleveland has plated exactly 3 runs in 4 consecutive games for just the 4th time in team history dating back to at least 1918 according to Baseball-Reference.com…the club record in that stretch is 6 straight games, while the other 3 streaks all lasted exactly 4 games.

15 Questions with Tony Sipp

Indians relief pitcher Tony Sipp has allowed just one run on three hits in his last 11 appearances (7.2 IP). Sipp recently sat down with TribeVibe and answered “15 Questions.”

TribeVibe: Did Santa leave the gifts under the tree wrapped or unwrapped?
Tony Sipp: Wrapped; I think everyone’s are wrapped.

TV: If the ice cream truck comes down the street, what do you buy?
TS: Either strawberry shortcake or the fire bomb.

TV: What is one perk of being on the Cleveland Indians as opposed to other teams?
TS: You can still go to Wal-Mart, and no one will recognize you.

TV: What is the last book you read?
TS: The last book I read? It’s been a minute. I read Obama’s book before he was President to see what I was getting myself into. That’s the last one. It’s been a while.

TV: Who is someone who you would like to meet in person?
TS: Lil Wayne or Rick Ross.

TV: What is your least favorite errand to run?
TS: I really hate grocery shopping.

TV: What was the last movie you saw?
TS: The Town.

TV: Why did you choose to wear number 49?
TS: My granddad died at 94 [years], so I just switched it.

TV: What sports did you play in high school?
TS: Football, basketball, baseball, and tennis.

TV: If you go to a restaurant for breakfast, what do you order?
TS: I’m usually an omelet guy — an omelet [and] pancakes.

TV: What is the best advice a teammate has ever given you?
TS: Sometimes less is more. [Indians pitching coach] Scott Radinsky [told me]. He’s actually not a teammate, just a coach.

TV: If you had to choose one of the following words to describe you, which would you choose: humorous, organized, or patient?
TS: Patient.

TV: Who has it easiest: oldest child, middle child, youngest child, or only child?
TS: Only child.

TV: What do you think of “the wave” that the fans do during the game?
TS: I don’t mind it. I think it’s pretty cool. If it’s your first game, it’s something different. You can interact with the crowd.

TV: What is your favorite board game?
TS: Monopoly.

-Megan Golden, TribeVibe contributor

Chris Perez: “Thumb to the Thigh, Reach for the Sky.”

Indians All-Star closer Chris Perez gave a one-on-one pitching lesson to Indians fan James Taylor, Jr. on Tuesday. Taylor won the lesson through an Indians auction, which brought him and his family to Progressive Field to visit with Perez prior to the Indians game against Detroit.

Perez and Taylor started with long toss in centerfield as the two warmed up their arms. Perez taught him a game in which throws to the other’s chest are worth one point, and throws to the other’s face are worth two points.

After moving into the Indians bullpen, Perez offered Taylor advice on his two-seam fastball. Perez emphasized that even if you make a mistake with your fastball against one hitter, you can still throw it against the next guy. He said all pitches revolve around the fastball.

Perez walked Taylor through his mechanics and eventually taught him how to throw a curveball. Perez gave Taylor an easy way to remember how to throw the curveball. He said, “Thumb to the thigh, reach for the sky.”

With time and practice, Perez said, Taylor has a good chance at perfecting his curveball.

-Megan Golden, TribeVibe contributor

Indians Game Information, July 25

CLEVELAND INDIANS (49-48, 3rd, -3.0 G) vs. DETROIT TIGERS (52-45)
RHP Derek Lowe (8-8, 5.04) vs. RHP Max Scherzer (9-5, 4.61)
First Pitch: 7:05 p.m. (ET) at Progressive Field
TV: WKYC  Radio: WTAM, Indians Radio Network
Series Notes:

RECORD KEEPING: Cleveland has the 9th-best winning pct. in the A.L. at 49-48, T16th in majors…after a 1-4 start to 2012, the Indians have gone 48-44 (.522) over their last 92 games beginning April 13, which is T7th-best winning pct. in the A.L. in that span and T12th-best in the majors.

SERIES STUFF: Cleveland has gone 14-14-3 in 31 series overall in 2012 (6-8-2 at home; 8-6-2 on the road), losing 9 of the last 16 series (5-9-2)…the Indians are winless over their last 4 series a (0-2-2) following consecutive series wins, although the Indians are 2-1-1 over the last 4 series at Progressive Field…the Tribe has executed 4 series sweeps this season, while being swept by an opponent 4 times.

YOUR OLD MOTOWN RECORDS: The Indians improved to 6-1 against Detroit in 2012 with last night’s win, this after entering the season on the heels of a 10-game losing streak against their A.L. Central division rivals…Cleveland is 95-54 all-time against Detroit in games played at Progressive Field (4-0 in 2012), winning 17 of the last 21 meetings on the shores of Lake Erie…5 of those 6 wins have been by a one- or two-run margin, while VINNIE PESTANO (1 win, 5 holds) & CHRIS PEREZ (6 saves) have appeared in all 6 victories…in 7 games against Detroit this season, the Indians
bullpen is 2-0 with a 1.35 ERA (3 ER/20.0 IP), 6 saves and a .147 (10-68) opponents’ average (15 strikeouts, 6 walks).

Indians Game Information, July 24

CLEVELAND INDIANS (48-48, 3rd, -4.0 G) vs. DETROIT TIGERS (52-44)
RHP Ubaldo Jimenez (8-9, 5.24) vs. RHP Doug Fister (4-6, 4.04)
First Pitch: 7:05 p.m. (ET) at Progressive Field
TV: STO  Radio: WTAM, Indians Radio Network
Series Notes:
CELEBRITY  BOWLING  CHARITY  FUNDRAISER:  Cleveland  Indians Manager  MANNY  ACTA,  his  ImpACTA  Kids  Foundation,  and  Cleveland Indians Charities announced yesterday that the 2nd Annual “Manny Acta’s Celebrity Bowling Fundraiser” will be held from 5-9pm on Thursday, Aug. 23rd at the Corner Alley on East 4th Street in Downtown Cleveland…interested fans and corporate sponsors can visit www.impAcatkids.org for ad-information on the limited number of tickets available, as those in attendance will have the opportunity to interact and bowl with members of the Cleveland Indians and New York Yankees ahead of their weekend series at Progressive Field…proceeds will be used to provide scholarship opportunities to Cleveland area kids, build homes in the Dominican Republic, and help other needy children in both Cleveland and the Dominican Republic.

HOW SWEET IT IS (TO BE GLOVED BY YOU): Cleveland has gone 6 consecutive days without being charged with an error, one shy of a season-high (7 games, April 21-28)…the Indians’ defense has been charged with just 7 errors over the last 27 games beginning June 23 for a .993 fielding %, which is 2nd-lowest of any team in the majors in that span behind Seattle (.997)…the Indians have played error-free baseball in 13 of the last 16 and all but 6 of those 27 contests overall; Cleveland’s .9868 team fielding% (48 E/3638 TC) is 3rd-best in the A.L. and 4th in the majors behind Seattle (.990), Chicago-AL (.989) and Cincinnati (.9870).

DETROIT  ON  DECK:  The  Indians  are  set  to  host  the  Detroit  Tigers  for 3 games at Progressive Field…Cleveland entered 2012 on the heels of a 10-game losing streak against Detroit, but have won 5 of 6 meetings this season against the Tabby Cats…4 of those 5 wins have been by a one- or two-run margin, while CHRIS PEREZ has saved all 5…the Tribe swept a 3-game series at Progressive Field against the Tigers May 22-24.

Ubaldo Jimenez: Transition to America, Part Two

Indians pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez carries a 5.24 ERA with 84 strikeouts in 19 games started with the Tribe this season. Jimenez recently caught up with TribeVibe and discussed his life in the Dominican Republic and his transition to the United States as a Major League Baseball player. Below is Part 2 of Jimenez’s interview with TribeVibe.

TV: Did you stay with a host family when you first came to America?
UJ: The first time I came to America, I went to Provo, Utah. When I got there, I was like, ‘Wow.’ There were so many blonde girls. That was the first time I saw so many blonde girls; only on TV had I seen it before. I was a little surprised. I was amazed.

I played for the Casper Rockies in Casper, Wyoming. I was really lucky because I had the opportunity to stay with a host family there. They were really good with me and my older teammate. We really had a good time there. I think the first time you come here, if you don’t have a host family, it’s really going to be hard for you. Latin players, we’re really close to our family. It’s not like here, where you get to be 18, and you move out. You live with your parents until you get married in Latin countries.

TV: Do you still live with your parents? How do you spend your time?
UJ: I still live with my parents. I live with them every year. When the season is over, I go home. We do everything [together]; that’s something that I love to do. I love to spend a lot of time with my family. We go to the beach, we do whatever we can together. We like to dance a lot. We really have a good time.

TV: You like to dance a lot?
UJ: The thing about the Dominican — I don’t think it’s only the Dominican, but [Latin America] — we have music in our blood. We love to dance, to have a good time, to spend time with family. In my country, during the weekends or during the week, you’re going to see people dancing everywhere. If you listen to one song, they just kind of stand up and dance. They don’t care about who’s looking, who’s watching. If you’re Dominican, you have to learn how to dance.

TV: Do you and your Spanish-speaking teammates help each other with your English?
UJ: That’s something that I did a lot in Colorado because I spent a lot of time there, so I saw a lot of guys coming up. Here, most of the guys have been here for a while, really. They know how to behave, how to talk. I think they can survive. Definitely, we try to help each other.

TV: Is it ever difficult for you to understand the media in interviews?
UJ: Not for me. I’m able to understand everything. Even before I came to the United States, I was able to hear everything, to understand it, and to write. I wasn’t as good at talking because I was used to being in the Dominican Republic. I studied a lot, but I was really good with my ears and my writing.

TV: Some fans might think Latin ballplayers should speak better English. What would you tell those fans?
UJ: I think they’re wrong. It’s really hard for people to come from another country, especially baseball players. Most of the guys from the Dominican Republic barely go to school. You come here because of baseball. It’s really hard for each one of us — even me, and I studied English. It’s not the same kind of English; once you get here, it’s totally different. For them, it’s even harder. Sometimes they go to restaurants, and they have to make signs to order their food, or they probably order the same thing every single day because they don’t know how to ask for something, how to order food. Sometimes they will be like, [moving his arms like a chicken], ‘Chicken wings.’ It’s funny, but it’s really sad. People don’t understand that it’s really hard. You have to concentrate a lot to play baseball. That’s enough for any person. Then, obviously, you have to learn how to speak English. You have to learn a different culture, how to behave in the United States. It’s totally different.

-Megan Golden, TribeVibe contributor