Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Youngstown in the New York Times

The following link takes you to an article in the Dec. 10th NY Times, entitled "Creative Shrinkage." The story discusses Youngstown's attempts to purposely downsize in order to survive and reinvent itself. Thanks to Adam for the link:

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Another Football Season in the Books

The Penguins, Cardinals, Irish, Falcons, Cowboys, Eagles, Raiders, Spartans, and a slew of other creatures have all packed it in for the year.

With Youngstown State's loss tonight in the I-AA Semifinals, another season of Youngstown-area football has come to a close. All in all, it was a successful year. This was undoubtedly YSU's best season since the Tressel Era, and, as always, several local high school teams went deep into the playoffs. Cardinal Mooney brought home yet another state title, and Warren JFK nearly did the same, falling short in the title game. South Range put together a strong playoff run as well, until they met up with JFK in the later rounds.

This was also the final football season for both Wilson and the Rayen School. Next year, with the opening of the new East High, the Redmen and Tiger football teams will both cease to exist. Rayen memorialized their final season by holding their last homecoming game at the old Rayen Stadium, rather than at their usual home venue, YSU's Stambaugh Stadium. (Somewhat ironically, Rayen Stadium, which hasn't been used for high school ball in years, was the longtime home of the YSU Penguin program, before Stambaugh was built in the early '80s.) The demise of these two programs really symbolizes the end of the old days of football glory in the Youngstown city school system. When Rayen closes its doors for the final time, the remaining half of the old Rayen-South rivalry will be gone. There are lots of people around town who still remember the old Rayen-South games, which usually took place on Thanksgiving Day and pitted some of the area's top players against each other in an extremely well-attended and well-publicized gridiron battle.

Of course, there still exists a strong rivalry within the city limits. I'm referring, of course, to the annual Ursuline-Mooney game, Youngstown's Holy War. Although the games have been somewhat uninteresting over the last couple of years, its still an important game that draws a strong crowd- and one that will likely swing back and forth from north to south for as long as the two schools stay open. And, with the opening of the new East High, a new rivalry will likely develop between the two public schools, both strengthened in talent from the absorption of Rayen and Wilson athletes.

Ultimately, it's only football, and few people outside of the Mahoning Valley truly care about what happens on the fields in and around the city. But, for many residents of the city, Friday nights are very important. School pride, civic pride, and bragging rights for the year are on the line week in and week out until the final games of the state playoffs and the YSU season. Few finish on a happy note. But, as with sports everywhere, there's always next year.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Mo' on Mo Clarett

According to a couple of sources, Maurice Clarett has signed with the Mahoning Valley HitMen of the semi-fictitious EIFL, the new indoor football league mentioned previously on this site. Clarett is the second of two players to sign with the team who, at this stage, has only two opponents in its league. The last time I mentioned the HitMen, they were struggling to put a deal together with the Ice Zone in Boardman. Things have apparently fallen through since then, and the team has instead inked a deal with the Thunderdome in Vienna (on State Route 193). I've never been to the 'Dome in question, but I've driven by it- I'm not sure it's ready for a Little League home run derby, let alone indoor football.

But the larger story is, of course, how fall Clarett has truly fallen. From the star running back and Heisman candidate for the national champion Buckeyes to a role player on a team that may or may not ever take the field at a local community rec plex in semi-rural Trumbull County, he's certainly gone down hard. There's a well-known saying about being kind to those you meet on the way up, as you will likely meet them again on the way down. Had Clarett followed that advice, he would probably be in a much better position right now- everyone makes a mistake or two, and some even make big mistakes. That's one of the great things about America, or so they say- almost anyone can get a second chance, if they play their cards right and learn from their mistakes. But with his reputation and his attitude, hardly anyone is willing to give Clarett another shot.

Although there has been a lot written about Clarett since the fall of 2002, not much has been made of the link between him and that other local sports legend, LeBron James. At one point, the two were at least acquaintances, and possibly friends (and maybe they still are, who knows). But where LeBron did almost everything right, Clarett did almost everything wrong. It's almost a fable or a fairy tale- two young men from similar backgrounds, blessed with similar talents and abilities, both choosing different paths. Much is made in the media about how our society is too soft on athletes and celebrities, how we forgive them too easily, and foster an environment where they are able to repeatedly make the kind of mistakes that would cause a normal person to be ostracized, lose their job, or even end up in jail for a long period of time. We slap them on the wrist, make excuses for them, and let them take the field once more. But in Clarett's case, no one is willing to do that any more. He's run out of chances. he's the cautionary tale. He needs only to look at LeBron to see what could have been- the fame, the money, and the respect. No one wears the OSU #13 jerseys anymore, but there are enough Cleveland #23 jerseys out there to dress a small nation.

Maybe it's not too late for him to turn things around, at least at the personal level. I sincerely doubt he'll ever see a professional football field again, but at least he has the chance to put his life back together and live like an ordinary person (which itself must be painful for such an extraordinary athlete). But until then, he's just another iconic symbol of Youngstown.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Tim Ryan and the War on Terror

The above link takes you to the results of a recent vote on a House resolution "declaring that the United States will prevail in the Global War on Terror, [and] the struggle to protect freedom from the terrorist adversary."

Our own Tim Ryan voted "Nay" on this resolution.

Does this mean that Mr. Ryan does not believe that the US will win the "War on Terror," that we will be defeated somehow by the terrorists?

Probably not.

First off, it's not quite clear how one can realistically declare victory in a war against terrorism. There will always be terrorists- always have been, always will be. We can prevent certain things from happening, foil specific terrorist plots, and keep known terrorist organizations under surveillance. But we can't "end" terror. Ryan and the 152 like-minded Congressmen who voted "nay" may be merely trying to state the obvious.

Also, this resolution is a pointless waste of time and effort. A "Nay" vote may reflect this line of thought. There are far more pressing issues to deal with - and resolutions are not meant to be opinion polls. "Will the Indians win the World Series?" is not an appropriate matter for Congressional debate. (The answer is "Nay," by the way.)

Finally, judging by the distribution of votes by party, it's likely that this was a bill introduced by the Republicans as a propaganda piece, a "the Democrats don't believe in America"-type thing. Those who voted against it may have done so as a dismissive gesture, choosing not to play along with the whole "ignorant patriotism/divine right" mentality of many current Republicans.

No matter what the reasoning was behind Mr. Ryan's vote, I guess it's good to see that he's not just blindly playing along.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Party on the Plaza

Party on the Plaza returns this Friday night at the downtown Buffalo Wild Wings, and will likely take place every other Friday for the duration of the summer, as it usually does. It's still going strong- there's always a good crowd down there, weather permitting- so the novelty has yet to really wear off.

The downtown Buffalo Wild Wings (which most still refer to as "B-Dubs") is actually a pretty good spot year round. Some nights, it's packed, and other nights, it's dead, but its almost always a good time. There's always some interesting local color there (despite the fact that it's a chain), and it's probably one of the best places in town to catch the ballgame, with it's multiple projection screen TVs and its full bar-food menu. The prices are a little on the high side compared to other places in town (and they seem to have been climbing slightly in the last couple of years), but they're still "Youngstown" prices.

The bar's best asset, though, is its location- central, easy to get to, plenty of parking, and it also offers you the opportunity to hop to and from some of the other bars downtown. The usual itinerary is to start the night at B-Dubs and then, after midnight, head over to the Downtown Draught House, the real king of the downtown bars. More on that another time.

Buffalo Wild Wings
50 Federal Plaza
Youngstown, OH 44503

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Scrappers Gear Up for '06

The Mahoning Valley Scrappers have announced their promotional schedule for this upcoming season. Highlights include Napoleon Dynamite Night (featuring an appearance by Efren Ramirez, aka "Pedro"), Pittsburgh Pirates Night, Cleveland Indians night, and various community nights for many of the cities and townships throughout the Youngstown area. More information is available at the team's website,

Monday, June 05, 2006

SteelHounds and AHL Affiliation

A few months ago, the Cleveland Barons of the American Hockey League announced that they were leaving Cleveland for Worcester, MA, where they would take the name of their parent club and become the Worcester Sharks. At the time, I was concerned about how the move might affect the Steelhounds, who are technically the Barons' CHL affiliate. In my opinion, at least, having a higher-level affiliate gives the team some stability, as the larger, wealthier parent club has a vested interest in the success of its lower-level affiliate.

The Barons have been and still are listed as the Steelhounds' AHL affiliate. However, clicking on the link to their website no longer brings you to the teams' home page- it no longer exists. All that's left are the remnants of the online store, carrying deeply-discounted surplus Barons t-shirts and jerseys.

A team in Worcester, MA likely has little interest in a fledgling team in a suspect hockey market in the far-distant land of Youngstown, Ohio. The Steelhounds could then find themselves without an AHL parent club, which would be a problem.

Good news, though- according to several sources, including, a group headed by Dan Gilbert (the owner of the Cavs and Quicken Loans Arena) has purchased the AHL's currently inactive Utah Grizzlies, and will move the franchise to Cleveland for the '07-'08 season. I imagine there's a good chance that the Steelhounds will switch their affiliation to the new Cleveland franchise, maintaining their relationship with the American Hockey League and once again having a parent club within a short distance from the Chevy Center.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

The Traf in the News Again

There are a few special figures in the Youngstown community who simply won't go away, no matter how hard we may try to forget about them. Maurice Clarett and George McKelvey are certainly part of this "elite" group. Of course, the leader of this group would have to be everyone's favorite ex-congressman, Jim Traficant.

You may remember, a few months back, that ol' Traf got himself into the news when some of his paintings, mostly depicting serene farm scenes, went up for sale online. Now, according to WKYC (Channel 3) in Cleveland, these same paintings will be part of a special show in a gallery down in East Liverpool. They'll be sold of at the end of the show's run, and the proceeds will apparently go toward keeping the fledgling gallery open.

Art, of course, can be highly subjective, a fact that has given rise to the well-worn statement that "a 5-year old could paint that," etc. Some of the most highly-praised works in the world have received that very criticism. However, in Traficant's case, the expression couldn't be more true. The paintings are pretty terrible. Therefore, one can assume that the only reason these paintings are receiving any attention at all is because of who created them. I can't blame the gallery for putting on the show. I'm sure they have to do whatever it takes to survive, especially in the cultural hotbed that is East Liverpool. But it's a shame that the Traf continues to elicit this kind of attention.

I remember, a few years ago, being interviewed by one of the Cleveland stations (I think it was WKYC, but I'm not sure) about Traficant. I was home for the summer, working downtown, and they caught up with me as I was taking a walk through downtown Youngstown on my lunch break. The election was gearing up, the first one since Traficant had been put behind bars. The reporter asked me if I thought he might get any votes. I said I thought he'd have a good chance of winning.

No single political figure has captivated the Youngstown area as much as Jim Traficant has over the last few decades. And, it seems, he's not planning on stopping anytime soon.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

ESPN Youngstown

So I get back to apartment and flip on the TV just in time to catch a story on Maurice Clarett on SportsCenter. The story included footage, courtesy of WKBN, of the aftermath of the car crash that Mo was recently involved in. They even included a shot of the Midlothian and Erie street signs. A few shots of an unnamed YPD officer were also included in the footage.

The story then moved to an interview with Harding coach Thom McDaniels, the camera framing him nicely against the background of Mollenkopf Stadium.

ESPN, for once, declined to include the seemingly obligatory reference to "growing up on the mean streets" that usually comes with any national story involving anyone who grew up in the Youngstown area. Even so, there it was, the City of Youngstown, on ESPN.

Maurice, meanwhile, is pretty much toast. Then again, there may be a spot for him on the HitMen roster come next winter.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Thunder Update

There's an article up on the af2 website, finally, about the Thunder. The picture's not the best quality, but from what I can see, the logo looks pretty terrible. The link: http://

More on Local Indoor Football

First off, the af2 press conference apparently did take place today, where the new team was announced. As the rumors had intimated, the new team will be the Mahoning Valley Thunder. In typical fashion, none of the news outlets in Youngstown have put anything of substance on their websites yet regarding the press conference (even though they've been gearing the public up for the team for weeks now). The most information I could find up to now comes from an apparenly semi-literate poster on the af2 message boards who was at the press conference and describes the logo as having a Thor-like character, with hammer raised, combined with the team's initials. Hopefully, there will be some more news on this soon. The af2 website, oddly enough, makes no mention of any expansion whatsoever.

Also, it appears that my earlier announcement of the demise of the Mahoning Valley HitMen was a little premature. Their website has actually been updated, with logos, uniforms, and even sponsors, and it looks like it's still a go. According to Warren's Tribune Chronicle, the team's owner has decided to press on, despite early setbacks in negotiations with the Ice Zone.

It's still up for debate whether or not Youngstown can support one indoor team, let alone two. I think that the af2 team, as I've stated previously, has by far the better chance of survival. What's particularly unusual is that the HitMen club is meant to be the first team in a brand new league- so it's got that added pressure on top of it, as well. No word yet on where those other teams will be from.

af2 Press Conference

There will be a press conference this afternoon to announce the new Arena Football 2 team coming to the Chevy Centre. The word is that they'll be named the "Mahoning Valley Thunder." Sources say they've already signed some players and coaches.

More to come...

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The Rise and Fall of the Mahoning Valley HitMen

So, it seems, the history of the Mahoning Valley HitMen is over before it ever really started. Apparently, the HitMen would have been an indoor football team- although it was never really clear what league they were going to be a part of. Their website,, is pretty much devoid of any valuable information, and neither the AIFL nor the NIFL make any mention of them on their websites. I couldn't even find anything on the Vindicator website about them or the press conference that apparently took place this afternoon. They were supposed to play at Boardman's Ice Zone, I do know that- but that's about it.

According to my source, though, the HitMen aren't going to be playing at the Ice Zone- or anywhere else for that matter. The owner has pulled the plug, citing scheduling conflicts with the Ice Zone and the looming shadow of another team that's supposedly on its way to Y-town, from the more established and credible Arena Football 2 (af2) league.

All in all, this is probably a good thing. Outside of the fact that "HitMen" is an incredibly lame nickname (and a recycled one, too- the NY/NJ Hitmen were part of the XFL), the franchise was obviously doomed from the start, and it's better that it died a quick death rather than a long and painful one, which could have killed the city's prospects for more reputable sports ventures in the future. It's much better for a place like Youngstown to field a team that has some pretty stable backing, financially and otherwise, so it can survive long enough to really take hold in the community. The SteelHounds fit that mold. Hockey downtown was never going to be an overnight success, especially when the hockey season starts during the height of the high school football season. But because it had the strength of the CHL to fall back on, the SteelHounds team was able to survive long enough to get over that initial hump and finish the season strong. The process is far from over, of course, but the right things are in place to keep the franchise on the right track.

No word yet on the rumored af2 franchise. Hopefully, we'll hear more soon. Any leads would be appreciated. You can post them below in the comments section.


I just wanted to apologize to everyone who has commented on the entries thus far for not responding. Being new to Blogspot, I had mistakenly assumed that the site would automatically notify me by e-mail when comments were made (like LiveJournal, for example). As a result, I didn't know anyone had commented until today, when I happened to look through the site.

Thank you for your input, though. I'll try to get back to you from now on.

And go visit ShoutYoungstown.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

More on Downtown Revitalization

According to YoungstownPride, the Paramount Theatre may have been purchased by a company in Illinois, who plans to restore and eventually reopen the venue. This is the latest development in the long history of a legendary structure in downtown Youngstown. Rumors have been floating around for a while about the Paramount, with as many hinting at it being demolished as it being restored. This news, if true, is exciting for a number of reasons.

Any development downtown is essentially positive, as it brings people, money, and safety downtown. New development, like the new courthouse and the Chevy Center, brings a sense of new life and new energy. However, the restoration of an old landmark downtown is perhaps even better. Not only does it bring many of the same benefits as new development, but it also establishes a link to the city's past and, in figurative terms, wipes away some of the tarnish on the city's reputation.

Assuming that the Paramount Theatre is used for plays, movies, and concerts, its restoration will add to downtown's growing cultural and artistic vibe. With the Chevy Center, Powers, and the Paramount as venues for performance (along with Cedar's, that perennial haven for artistic souls), downtown Youngstown will finally reclaim an identity for itself beyond that of an apocalyptic nightmare where only late-century Ursuline graduates dare tread.

As always, though, this is Youngstown we are talking about- a city whose motto should read, "Hope for the best- but expect the worst."

City as Suburb

Another entry from YoungstownPride mentions an article on Youngstown's possible future as a "bedroom community" for Cleveland and Pittsburgh. Location, of course, makes this a possibility (although it is a significant distance from either city when it comes to a daily commute). Having not read the article myself, I cannot comment on it directly. However, it would seem to me that a major hole in this argument would be the decline of the entire region in which Youngstown finds itself. Cleveland and Pittsburgh (along with nearby places like Buffalo, Wheeling, and Detroit) are all in an extended decline. The populations continue to shrink- I believe Columbus was the only city in Ohio to actually gain population last year- while jobs and businesses move out of the urban centers. The decay has spread outward from the cities and into once-renowned places such as Shaker Heights, East Cleveland, and, to a lesser extent, Euclid. Therefore, a growing "white-flight"-related migration to Youngstown seems fairly unlikely at this point. One of the main reasons people move to these "bedroom communities" is because they want to stay near the city, but not too close to the city. The problem, though, is that no one wants to really stay near the cities in question anymore. Especially for most young people in this region, it's down south and out west- not an hour from Mom and Dad's. In fact, it seems more likely that this type of thing would happen in a place like Gary, Indiana (as young people- many from the Youngstown area- continue to flock to Chicago) than it does for Youngstown.

Whether or not I'm correct about the paragraph above, one thing to remember is that the future of Youngstown is still inevitably tied to the future of the entire region (and most closely to that of Cleveland and Pittsburgh), a future which looks pretty bleak at this stage. Plus, the absolute disaster that is state government in Ohio only makes things worse for Cleveland and Youngstown. That being said, Youngstown still has the opportunity to carve out a niche as a unique place all its own. Whether or not that opportunity is taken is the question at hand.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Youngstown's Greatest Moment

Bruce Springsteen performing "Youngstown" at the Stambaugh Auditorium in '96:

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Hagan - A True Youngstown Democrat

From my friend Lauren (who is actually a New Yorker):

Ban Republican adoptions, not gay adoptions, lawmaker says

COLUMBUS, Ohio State Senator Robert Hagan says he has a better idea than barring gay couples from adopting children.The Democrat from Youngstown says he'd ban Republican adoptions.

In a tongue-in-cheek memo to his colleagues, Hagan spoofs a bill from House conservatives that would keep gays from becoming adoptive or foster parents in Ohio.

He counters that adopted children raised in Republican households have told him it's just plain boring most of the time. Hagan also writes that the kids are more at risk for developing -- as he puts it -- "an alarming lack of tolerance."

An aide says there's no comment from Republican Representative Ron Hood of Ashville, the sponsor of the gay-adoption ban.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Pro Football in the Real Steel City

"In 1922, a proposed Youngstown team -- to be run by Elgie Tobin -- was actually granted a National Football League franchise, but the project died in the planning stage."-from Vic Frolund's "The Story of the Patricians." You can read the whole article at: He basically throws the quoted section above in at the end- the article is about a professional football team that was once run on the southside by St. Patrick's Catholic Church from 1914 to 1919. I'm most intrigued by the thoraway line about the NFL franchise, though. Imagine what could have been.

"The Valley"

To most Americans, the phrase "the Valley" refers to that ultra-hip, uber-wealthy, and celebrity-ridden area of Southern California. But for Youngstowners, "the Valley" is shorthand for the Mahoning Valley, the massive "greater Youngstown" area.

The borders of this Valley, of course, are ambiguous and hard to define. More or less, it includes the WYTV, WFMJ, and WKBN viewing areas. It's essentially the tri-county area that includes Mahoning, Trumbull, and kinda-sorta Columbiana counties. Sometimes, it also includes the area around Sharon, Pennsylvania, but only, it seems, on slow news nights or at Christmastime when Kraynak's puts up its annual display.

There definitely exist the need for a short, convenient name for Youngstown and its surrounding communities. Chicago has Chicagoland, Cleveland has Greater Cleveland, and Washington has the DC Metro and Beltway tags. The problem with this "Mahoning Valley" term, though, is that no one outside of the local media or the single-A baseball team in Niles uses it. It's never really caught on with the general public, despite the fact that it's been in use in the local media for as long as I can remember.

Part of the problem, for me at least, is that the phrase doesn't include the word "Youngstown" in it. This is probably an intentional thing, since a lot of people in the suburbs like to forget that the city actually exists. The school profile provided by Poland Seminary High School, for example, lists Poland as a place "equidistant between Cleveland and Pittsburgh." But not anywhere near the Yo, apparently. By using the term "Mahoning Valley" on the news and in the paper (which, of course, used to be called The Youngstown Vindicator, and is now simply The Vindicator- another issue for another time), the viewers and readers in the nicer areas around town can go about their day without having to think about the blight, the poverty, and the crime just a couple miles away. For those people actually living in Youngstown, it's problematic, since it ignores the city's relevance altogether and makes the citizens of Y-town proper feel unimportant and ignored. You can't have suburbs without a city- let's not forget that.

Another, less subjective reason that the term hasn't caught on is that people really feel all that much of a connection between the other communities in the area, beyond the ones that border their own. Understandably, people in Canfield don't really care about the Hubbard-Brookfield score, and people in Youngstown don't really identify with what happens out in West Branch. Despite their relative proximity, a lot of towns and cities around Youngstown are quite distinct from one another in culture, appearance, and economics. As a result, this idea of a unified Mahoning Valley feels forced.

And finally, in its most literal sense, the term "Mahoning Valley" just doesn't make a whole lot of sense when applied to such a large area. The Mahoning River, although originally the source of life and industry in town, isn't really all that relevant nowadays, especially to those living more than a few miles from the city. In fact, I imagine there are quite a few people in the Valley who couldn't tell you where the river is even located. And plus, it's hardly a massive waterway, and the actually "valley" around the river is not all that wide. It's basically Brier Hill to the near West Side, rather than New Castle to Salem.

Of course, it's still a convenient term, and a recognizable one, at least to people in and around the area that it includes. But beyond those boundaries, it's nonsense- no one has a clue where this "Mahoning Valley" might be located. You might, it seems, be able to guess that Chicagoland is near Chicago, and that Greater Cleveland is around Cleveland, even if you've never been there before. But the Mahoning Valley? That must be where they make those computer chips or shoot those dirty movies.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006


Welcome to Mighty Mahoning, your alternative source for all things Youngstown. Inspired in part by Joe Lowry's historical site,, and my own experiences growing up in Bomb City, this site will cover a number of different aspects of life in the Youngstown area. This is not a professional website- in fact, it's far from it. It's simply another source of information, however "unfair and unbalanced," about Youngstown and its surrounding areas.

I'm not exactly sure what all the site will include. I'm aiming to comment on news, sports, and historical material on the Youngstown area, and I'm also hoping to do the occasional spotlight on something uniquely Y-town- a restaurant, media outlet, a landmark, and so on. I'm hoping this becomes something, organically, that's interesting to more people than just me (although I realize that's not all that likely). But regardless, I'm anticipating that it will take shape and find direction over time. I'd rather not force it in one particular direction or another.

Anyway, a little bit about me- I was born in Youngstown in 1980, and grew up on the city's North Side, where my parents still live. I live in Cleveland at the moment, and may be moving again within the year, but for the time being, I still get down to Youngstown quite a bit. I guess I've got a good vantage point on the place right now- sort of on the outside looking in, but an insider through and through. Like many of us who have come from the area, I love the place and I hate it at the same time. And of course, it's an endless source of fascination.

I hope this works out, and I hope you- whoever "you" are, probably just me- enjoys this. More to come soon.