SPORTS: On Indy and other sports as another May passes

Keywords Sports Business

Thoughts of this, that and the other:

So, just what would a retractable roof over the Indianapolis Motor Speedway cost?

I was surprised that Colts quarterback Peyton Manning spent so much time practicing the waving of the green flag (much to the amusement and delight of the crowd) prior to the start of the Indianapolis 500. I figured he already would have studied hours of film of Pat Vidan.

If you know who Pat Vidan is, well, you’re old. He was the starter at the 500 from 1962-’79.

Speaking of the start, I wish someone would have told Manning not to wave the green flag when it came time to do it for real. That was the most disjointed, discombobulated start I can remember. Instead of 11 rows of three, we had 33 rows of one.

Just as Manning was criticized for allegedly “not being able to win the big one,” Danica Patrick is getting the “can’t win any one” label. Unfairly, in my view. If the race had gone the full 500 miles, I had a sense that she would have been right there at the end, going for the lead.

Then, too, so would have pole-sitter Helio Castroneves, who made a great charge back after multiple difficulties at the beginning. And that would have been a good thing … I had him in the office pool.

Does anyone else find it ironic that after three weeks of practice, qualifying and preparation for million-dollar cars under the care of some of the finest mechanics and engineers to be had, there is always one or two that won’t start?

For those who suggest the 500 be moved to Monday so it doesn’t go up against NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600, if only it were that simple. I think the fans who pay their money to see a race deserve the virtual guarantee that racing on Sunday- with Monday as a rain date-provides.

With the 500 now over, go check out the Indianapolis Indians or the Indiana Fever. The Indians are leading their division in the International League. The Fever, as this is being written, are undefeated and looking every bit the part of championship contender.

Creighton University has qualified for the NCAA baseball tournament, which is not really news to me. What is news is that Creighton has a relief pitcher, Pat Venditte, who can throw right-handed and left-handed. And he’s darn good, with an 8-2 record and a 1.83 earned run average. Now that I want to see.

After a long dry spell, San Francisco’s Barry Bonds has resumed his inexorable march toward Henry Aaron’s alltime home run record. Now that I don’t want to see.

Speaking of steroids-or alleged steroid use, I should say-here’s something to cheer about: Following the lead of New Jersey, which enacted a similar law last year, the Texas Legislature has passed a bill mandating random steroid testing for all its public high school athletes. The state will pick up the $3 million annual tab. Athletes who refuse the test or who test positive could lose their eligibility. I’m sure lawsuits will follow, but I congratulate the lawmakers for trying to safeguard the health of those athletes while also trying to ensure a level playing field. I know the budget is tight, but I wish Indiana would do likewise. At the very least, I would hope that individual school systems are taking it upon themselves to test their athletes.

Rumor has it the NBA playoffs are going well. I refuse to watch until the Pistons have been eliminated, although it is gratifying to know that a couple of old ABA cities, San Antonio and Portland, were battling it out in the West.

So NBA meal tickets Greg Oden or Kevin Durant will end up in small-market Portland or mid-market Seattle, where most of their games will be played under the shroud of Pacific time. The NBA just doesn’t fix lotteries like it used to.

Out of the mouths of babes: Jermaine O’Neal may say he wants to stay with the Indiana Pacers, but his daughter, Asjia, told an elementary school classmate-the son of a co-worker of mine-that “Daddy says we’re moving to California.”

The Pacers are going to interview Los Angeles Lakers’ assistant Kurt Rambis. Here’s hoping he gets the job-on one condition: He has to wear those wild dark-rimmed glasses he wore in his playing days.

Now you just know-know-the Atlanta Hawks will take former Lawrence North star Michael Conley Jr. with the 11th pick in this month’s draft. Of course, that would be the 11th pick they acquired from the Pacers.

Ah, the agony.

Benner is associate director of communications for the Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association and a former sports columnist for The Indianapolis Star. His column appears weekly. To comment on this column, go to IBJ Forum at www.ibj.comor send e-mail to Benner also has a blog,

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