• Halfpint Helmets | Miniature Collectibles

    Summer is not far away now but when spring is in the air, baseballs are too. With this in mind I thought I would share with you a company with a pretty cool product that you can't find anywhere else. Halfpint Helmets is a company based in Northwest Indiana that produces customizable miniature replica helmets. These helmets come in both baseball style or football style. You can pick the colors you want, including a facemask and a helmet strap, and even import your own custom logo to be put on the side of the helmet. The helmets do come in two different size variations, 5" and 3 1/2", and display cases are available as well. And these helmets are of good quality too. The chin straps are made of quality flexible plastic. The helmets are lined with foam just like the real thing. Even the facemasks are made of wire metal.

    These little helmets are great memorabilia for any team. Why not give these out to the little league team instead of trophies this year? These little helmets are something unique that the kids will never forget. They are also great door prizes for team events, or they could be sold for fundraisers. The truth is I think this product has some real potential and that people are going to eat this up once they see it for the first time. This is a product that no one else has. Immortalize your loved ones years on the baseball/football team by getting one of these little helmets. They would  also make a great gift for those diehard fans of the local High School teams in our region. Buying a real helmet would cost a lot of money, but these little helmets are an affordable gift that's still really cool.

    Check out Halfpint Helmets to see what I'm blabbing about. Seriously, this is something I wish I had gotten when I was in high school or tee ball. I had tons of the same trophies every year that have all been thrown away now, but these memorable helmets are something unique that I would have kept around. Go check it out.

  • Halfway through 2016, what's come to pass?

    July is finally here and with it came the halfway point for 2016. I know, it went by fast, right?

    A lot has happened these past six months, for sure. But what has been happening around the Region? And more importantly, halfway through, are my predictions for what would happen this year coming true, or do I look like fool?

    Let’s take a look:

    • Obviously, the results of the state’s Governor and Senate races remain to be seen. Until Indiana makes its decision, these goes down as a no-decisions.
    • The Dunes pavilion banquet hall looks like it’s going to get its liquor license. Point for me.
    • Barely a peep so far this year on that South Shore expansion. But I was right about seeing bikes on the train. Two points.
    • The USW and ArcelorMittal agreed on a new three-year contract. That’s a welcome bit of good news for the local steel industry, especially amidst the reports of closures and layoffs that seemed frequent for a little while there. I’m not sure this will put an end to market uncertainty in the face of globalization, but I’ll happily surrender a point here with this outcome.
    • Is Illinois still dysfunctional? Consider the saga of the George Lucas Museum that wasn’t: The city wanted it. The state wanted it. Communities in need of jobs wanted it. Star Wars lovers from Portage to Milwaukee to Peoria wanted it. The only ones who didn’t want it were a handful of people dedicated to the preservation of the city’s parks, even though the park land in question was actually a parking lot. And in the end, they won, scaring Lucas off and killing the project. Obviously, this is small potatoes compared the state’s other problems, but  I'm focusing on it because dysfunction that’s comical is in rather short supply, and i'm trying to do something light and fun here. I’m taking the point on this one.
    • The World Series is still months away, but the Chicago Cubs are looking tough. When people talk about them having a chance, they’re serious, not saying that with an eye roll or a caveat about curses. Coincidentally, this season has corresponded with the U.K. voting to leave the European Union, which some alarmists are saying is the first step toward the splintering of Europe and other disastrous worldwide repercussions. So unless the Cubs fall into a post-All-Star Game swoon, maybe it isn’t too late to start preparing for the apocalypse…

    So, thus far, my predictions stand at three correct, one incorrect, and three to be determined. Not bad…

  • NFL in NWI? Dream on!

    State Representative Earl Harris of East Chicago spoke during the NFL season of placing a team right here in Northwest Indiana. Imagine: one day years from now, around this time of year, the Region might be hosting the Super Bowl…

    Yeah, I don’t have to elaborate on how farfetched this idea is. But I’m going to anyway.

    An NFL team would need a pricey, state-of-the-art stadium. The Colts’ Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis cost over $700 million, and that was actually on the cheaper end of things. Stadiums built since its opening in 2008 have soared past $1 billion, and in most cases, the cities or counties had to pay a good chunk of it.

    It’s been so hard to get towns to raise funds for expansion of the South Shore that the project seems as if it’s decades from ever happening. But who knows? Maybe citizens and communities will be more willing to fund a new complex that many of them won’t be able to afford to attend.

    Even if they are, there’s also the question of where such a stadium would be located. We wouldn’t have to just make room for the stadium itself, either; the state of the Region’s public transit would make driving the default mode of transportation to games. This would require many acres of parking lots, or at the very least a number of parking garages. For reference, the Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium complex, including parking, spreads across 150 acres.

    Then there’s the task of building a fan base. Northwest Indiana has historically been Bears territory and also has healthy contingents of Colts and Packers fans. In addition to competing with those teams, the structure of the NFL’s TV contract (where the whole league negotiates with the major networks, rather than each franchise seeking their own TV deals) would put the Region team at a disadvantage. All our “local” network affiliates are, in fact, Chicago stations. And while they might conceivably show Northwest Indiana’s team as their second game each Sunday, they’re always going to give the Bears precedence.

    Believe it or not, an NFL team in the Region is not entirely unprecedented. The Hammond Pros played seven seasons in the 1920s. But back then, television didn’t exist, and the NFL was a nascent organization of small-town teams playing in tiny stadiums in front of handfuls of fans for little profit. The Pros were also only based in Hammond, playing all their games on the road as a travelling team.

    In that NFL, the Region was capable of housing a team. Now, it’d be like trying to drive a golf cart in the Indy 500.

  • The Pride of Purdue Northwest

    Remember that survey to select a new mascot for when the Purdue Calumet and Purdue North Central athletic programs combine next fall? Well, the name has been announced: the Purdue Northwest Pride.

    Yes, Pride. If, like me, you’re wondering how that will be depicted in logos and on merchandise, apparently they plan to adopt a lion design as soon as the merger of the two universities gets final approval.

    I’ve stated before that I’m not the biggest fan of singular team names such as this. And since they’re going with a lion logo, why not just call themselves “the Lions”? It sounds cooler, frankly, to be named after a majestic and fearsome animal than an intangible. Then “pride” would be a more obvious choice for the fan club or the student section at their games.

    Then again, considering that the most high-profile team named “the Lions” isn’t exactly synonymous with success, I can understand why they’d want to avoid that moniker.

    Anyway, the name is just the beginning of things. There’s been talk of the Pride joining NCAA Division II, although since neither PNC nor Purdue Cal fields a football team, that’s uncertain. There also has been no announcement yet as to where the Pride will play. So, I suspect this will still be playing out after the universities merge next fall.

    There’s also still this final season to play for the Panthers and Peregrines. And as a graduate of Purdue Cal who worked in the sports section for the campus paper, I must say it feels rather odd that the school I attended (in name, at least) and the teams I frequently covered will soon no longer exist. Until now, the only people I know who could say that were at least middle-aged.

    Even though I’m still in my 20s and only a few years removed from college, I can’t help but feel a little old.