Zies’ Pieces

Kyle Zies


A weekly addition of news and notes across the sports world, all in the humble eye of Kyle Zies.

World Series

Holy guacamole! Sweet mother of Elton John! Geez Louise!  Whatever your reaction was to game one of the MLB World Series was, everyone drew the same conclusion. Fasten your seatbelts, this is going to be a wild ride.

On the first pitch of the series, Alcides Escobar smashed a fly ball that was misplayed off the wall by Yoenis Cespedes and resulted in an inside the park home run. Eric Hosmer got sweet redemption after misplaying a ground ball in the 8th inning, resulting in a Mets’ lead, as he drove in the scoring run in the 14th inning to give the Royals the 1-0 series lead. Following a game two Johnny Cueto led Royals win, we saw the jaw dropping pitching duel.

If every game of this series looks like the first two or is anywhere close to it, nobody will ever be able to say that baseball is boring.

NBA Tip-Off

Just when you thought Sports Center didn’t have enough to talk about, here comes King LeBron and the NBA. And Kobe. And KD. And whoever else received a horrible nickname over the off season. The Golden State Warriors and Stephen Curry look to defend their title as the Cleveland Cavaliers have locked and reloaded for a championship run. The way these rosters shape up on paper, it would not surprise me, nor other ‘experts’, to see a Dubs’ and Cavs’ rematch in June. With a healthy Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving, the Cavs look like a team with no excuses to not bring home the Championship to Cleveland.

Womens’ Basketball

In a new era of Granville’s Womens’ Basketball, Eric Steele replaces departed head coach Sue Borchers in attempt to bring prominence to the program.

“We are very excited to have a new coach,” senior Journy Link said. “We like his new coaching style and are excited to see what the season brings.”

The Lady Aces will be young this year as a lot of new freshman join the program in the dawn of a new era.

“We will be a very fast team and more on the young side,” Link continued.

Could this be the year that the stars align for the program? That answer is up to Steele and the young, fast and dangerous Aces.

State of the Indians

In a city that hasn’t seen a championship since 1964 (The old Cleveland Browns took home the NFL Championship trophy), the Cleveland Indians look to be heading in the correct Cleveland direction. Down.

With playoff expectations this season, manager Terry Francona and Co. plummeted out of the playoff race and was left being sellers instead of buyers at the trade deadline. The Tribe were forced to deal hometown hero Nick Swisher to Atlanta in their first step to rejuvenating the team. Pitcher Corey Kluber didn’t live up to expectations that he set after a fantastic finish to the 2014 season. Jason Kipnis wasn’t able to be a hero but made progress in the batter’s box boosting to a .303 batting average.

Cleveland will most likely sit back and let things play out for one more season and then look for another blow-up in the city of forever rebuilding.

NFL Notebook

We may see some interesting job openings at the conclusion of this NFL season as many Super Bowl caliber teams (or at least thought to be competitive teams) are leaving their fans with palms to their foreheads. A few openings may be of surprise.

Chuck Pagano and the Indianapolis Colts sit at 3-4, however atop the pathetic AFC South division, and resemble a 1990’s Jeff George led team, rather than any Andrew Luck led team. Pagano will most likely be looking for work in January as this team is overwhelmingly underperforming.

On a similar note of underperformance, Chip Kelly and the Eagles’ are struggling to stay competitive in a painfully bad NFC East. Chip Kelly, supposedly an offensive genius, has done nothing to rekindle the fire that was once there for Sam Bradford. Sean Payton, Super Bowl XLIV champion, may find himself unemployed after this season.

The Saints are no longer a high flying offense and our spiraling south into a ‘circle win’ team.

Bill O’Brien left Penn State to take the Houston Texans a step further and make some playoff noise. However, they have taken about four steps in reverse and look worse than they did as an expansion team in 2002.

Last, and certainly least, Jim Caldwell was given a talented roster in Motor City and has managed to give them a 1-6 record.

All Cleveland fans now release their held breath as their coach is safe for once in franchise history. For now.

Stadiums around Licking County

Football Friday night would be nowhere near the triumphant, glorified and entertaining end of the week that it has become in Central Ohio without the help of school fields and stadiums. In the Licking County, a few stick out. Some good, some not so much.

The top dogs includes Newark and Newark Catholic’s White’s Field, the oldest stadium in the county. Nestled in downtown Newark, the brick stadium looked upon by the freeway, has hosted memorable games at all levels. With its latest addition of turf, White’s Field just got that much better.

Others near the top: Johnstown and their home stands that clear an entrance to the field for the players out of their locker room and Licking Valley and Hell’s Bells blaring from the background with their ruthless student section.

The next tier includes our beloved Granville and the beautiful entrance with fall leaves and the small town feel that it entails. Granville’s home stands could use an upgrade and the trip from the field to the locker room is a bit of a haul but, maybe I’m just being picky.

Watkins Memorial has nice turf field with golden endzones but doesn’t have any pizazz to knock them up to the next level.

Heath’s Swank Field has a beautiful set of home stands on the side of a hill that looks down upon their dead grass filled field. Those home stands tend to have a tough time being filled to capacity sometimes, taking away part of the Friday night atmosphere.

Utica has a nice setup tucked away behind their high school. Their only problem is that they stick their home stands looking into the falling sun. The 7 pm kickoffs have not been kind to the Utica faithful.

Licking Heights has a decently sized home stands, and brings a simple, yet powerful feel to Fridays.

Lastly, Lakewood, with a beautiful high school building, sit in between a corn field and a grass field, brought in some bleachers and called it a day. Maybe I’m too particular, but it’s hard to get hyped up knowing that the corn will the most enthusiastic fan that Friday.

At the end of the day, it is football, and who wouldn’t want to watch that?

Extended Piece: John Tortorella, NHL’s Favorite Villain

When the Columbus Blue Jackets exited the ice after a 4-0 dismantling at the hands of the New York Islanders, head coach Todd Richards was relieved of his duties (it was also his birthday). The Jackets sat at 0-7-0 embarking on a journey to make NHL history with most losses out of the gate. The next day, the hockey world woke up to something they never thought they would see again in their lives: Torts’ Time.

The former Tampa Bay Lightning, New York Rangers and Vancouver Canucks head coach John Tortorella, was brought out of hiding and named the newest head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets. Tortorella, or Torts, had led the Tampa Bay Lightning to a Stanley Cup victory in the 2003-2004 season and had drawn a career record of 444-371-37-78. He is also the winningest U.S. born coach in NHL history.

But that’s not what scared people. Torts is notorious for his bold and brash way of coaching, his spats with the media, his history of being unable to see eye to eye with players and his grimace smirk that reaches across his face. Torts is often considered a ruthless coach. A tyrant. A villain.

As the head coach of the Vancouver Canucks, Torts did the unthinkable by entering the dressing room of the opposing Calgary Flames in attempt to confront head coach, Bob Hartley. Torts explained that he believed Hartley purposefully sent out players with the intent to injure Canucks’ players. A scrum in sued and Torts was suspended by the NHL for 15 days without pay. In a management overhaul, Torts was fired after the conclusion of the season.

Fast forward five months, and Torts stands behind the Columbus Blue Jackets’ bench against the Minnesota Wild in Xcel Energy Center. Torts and the Jackets’ fell 3-2 that night, but something was different. The Jackets picked up their first win of the season days later against the Colorado Avalanche. The next game, a 3-1 win over the New Jersey Devils.

Wait a minute, I thought you said Torts was done? Old news? In the trash? Not so fast.

When being introduced as the new head coach of the Jackets in a press conference with general manager Jarmo Kekalainen, Torts said, “I need to do a better job of listening.” Another interesting note is the fact that he preached the word “patience,” something that Torts’ own mother has probably never heard him say. With a history of ruthless coaching, this was a new Torts that stood as the face of the Blue Jackets. Still competitive as ever, yet calmer and almost more mature about his position.

In the Finnish-accented words of Jarmo Kekalainen, Torts will bring the Jackets “a kick in the rear end,” something that hasn’t happened in Columbus in a while. Another thing Torts brings that hasn’t been seen in Columbus in a while: wins.