Tuesday, June 20, 2006


A week-long celebration began Monday, marking ten years since Columbus hosted Olympic softball. Things truly are different now from 1996 - as there are no games, no advance notice of the event and hardly any crowd.

The softball celebration was timed to coincide with the "Higher Ground" softball clinic at South Commons. So I guess this clinic specializes in pitching....

The man in charge of the Higher Ground softball clinic says he's thrilled to be at the "venue" of the 1996 Olympics. Did anyone stop to tell him South Commons Softball Stadium was built AFTER those games - and the only softball in Golden Park nowadays occurs when AFLAC has a corporate outing?

Campers at the softball clinic came from far and wide. In fact, the ceremonial first pitch was made by a young woman from Italy. If she throws too low back home, some Italians might try to kick the ball downfield simply out of habit.

Current and former Columbus city officials said the softball competition in 1996 is still paying dividends for the city, because players still want to come here for clinics and events. If Fort Benning really wanted to cash in on this, they'd organize a tournament for S.O.A. Watch protesters on post in November. See if those peace-lovers will cross the line with softball bats....

The big softball events of the year at South Commons nowadays are the Georgia high school softball tournament every fall, and the Leadoff Classic for college teams every February. Lest you complain about the other ten months of the year, remember one thing - Atlanta Motor Speedway only has two NASCAR weekends a year, and people still seem to like it.

Despite the optimistic spin, the 1996 dream of making Columbus the "softball capital of the country" hasn't quite panned out. The Southeastern Conference softball tournament only showed up once. "Super-Ball" tournaments happened twice, but stopped. And I'm not sure the Georgia Pride professional team ever outdrew the basketball Riverdragons.

(And if all that's not enough, the International Olympic Committee has decided to drop softball as a sport! But that's OK - give Power Frisbee a few years, and we'll be ready to take its place....)

It's nice to remember the softball summer of 1996 - but a week-long celebration comes across to me more as a journey of nostalgia, than a springboard from present success toward the future. However, my opinion could change if a hot-looking star like Jennie Finch makes a guest appearance.

E-MAIL UPDATE: Now let's move the time machine into this decade -- as we have a surprising reply to a recent flashback about the 2002 mayor's race:

I was reading your blog the other day and found your "Laughline Flashback" [14 Jun] quite amusing.

I am the mother of the Poydasheff hit and run victim. So I would like to set the record straight. First, we did not send out any letters. I have no idea who did that. Second, no police officer called me. My daughter was well over 21 yrs old so there would not have been any reason for anyone to call me. Let me explain what happened. My daughter was parked near the River Club because she worked as a Manager of Computer Programmers at a large credit card processor located in that vicinity. She was gone to lunch when her car was hit. Several of her co-workers were looking out the window when they saw Mr. Poydasheff's car hit her car and leave the scene. They took his tag number and when she returned from lunch they gave it to her. She checked her car and it was damaged. She then called the police. They came, made a report and contacted Mr. Poydasheff. Sometime after that she was contacted by phone from a policewoman who was in Mr. Poydasheff's office. The policewoman asked her to withdraw her complaint. Mr. Poydasheff did pay for the damage to my daughter's car. I just wonder if the rest of us would have been treated the same way he was. I wonder if the rest of us would have escaped charges of "hit and run" if there were several witnesses. During my years of working for the Army there was an old _expression of "RHIP" (Rank Has It's Privileges). Is that what happened in this instance? Thanks for letting me set the record straight. Accident Victim's Mom

Thanks, Mom, for a message that's noteworthy for several reasons. For one thing, someone in the police department actually worked in Bob Poydasheff's behalf four years ago.

It's nice to see Bob Poydasheff paid for the damages to the - let me guess, TSYS?! - manager's car. Now if someone please will check, to see if the payment came from his campaign fund....

There obviously would have been a problem had Bob Poydasheff been arrested in 2002. Where would you keep him inside the Muscogee County Jail, until he posted bond? His stories about overseas trips could have irritated some inmates into doing something dangerous.

By the way, we need to follow up on an e-mail we posted about a week ago. Someone wrote us about Jim Wetherington appearing at a Columbus Council meeting - but a reporter who attends those meetings often tells me the mayoral challenger did NOT show up at all! Maybe someone waved a campaign poster back and forth before a CCG-TV camera, and confused people.

BLOG UPDATE: Back in the present, Peachtree Mall's management issued a statement Monday about the early Saturday night shutdown. It explained a mix of "Family Day in the Park" visitors and Father's Day shoppers made the mall too crowded. At last - an explanation for why some stores open at 6:00 a.m. on the day after Thanksgiving.

Columbus Police now say they're not really sure if the food court fighting at Peachtree Mall was started by people who went there after Family Day in the Park. I never realized that many young people would be scrambling to buy Subway gift cards for their dads.

Meanwhile, I heard one person complain Monday that "Family Day in the Park" is a misnomer - because star acts like "Three Six Mafia" really don't provide family entertainment. That person may have a point. But in 2006, is Davis Broadcasting really going to attract a crowd of 22,000 people to hear Bill Cosby give a lecture?

Now let's all get some large soft drinks, sit down and send some Instant Messages....

+ To the couple I saw pushing each other on the north side of Ninth Street, between Broadway and Front Avenue: Yes, I was prepared to intervene if the woman asked me to do so. But neither of you fell down like Shaquille O'Neal, so it obviously wasn't very serious.

+ To outgoing Miss Georgia Monica Pang: Are you kidding - you're really moving in a couple of months to Malaysia?! I really don't think you have to go that far away, to win the Miss Universe pageant.

+ To the Phenix City Central High School "problem solving" team: Congratulations on winning that world title in Colorado! Now maybe you can replace that other team of problem solvers. You know - WRBL's Jessica Clark, Mara Kelly and Dave Marshall.

+ To the Georgia baseball team: That had to be embarrassing Monday - getting kicked out of the College World Series by Oregon State. I thought they only played baseball in Oregon when the running track was being resurfaced.

(So Georgia and Georgia Tech went a combined 0-4 at the College World Series. They'll simply have to offer Columbus High School players more money to attend college.)

+ To the Atlanta Thrashers: What did you think about former teammate Frank Kaberle scoring a goal in Monday night's Stanley Cup win by Carolina? Do you agree with me, that someone in the Raleigh area will try to use the cup as a spittoon?

BIG PREDICTION: My choice was the first runner-up at Miss Georgia last year - and this year I'm choosing Miss Macon to win it all. And somehow, I predict you'll never see any of those contestants on "How to Get the Guy."

(And after looking over the contestants, I nominate Miss Altamaha for a special award -- winning the Cheryl Renee look-alike contest.)

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