Sunday, September 27, 2009

27 SEP 09: The Rain, the Ballpark and Other Things

With thanks to The Cowsills (and showing my age), we begin with the rain. It fell heavily at times on Columbus Saturday night - but as I told a woman at my dinner stop, "Better us than Atlanta right now." Parts of Atlanta have been too busy blow-drying carpets to dry out the ground for another storm.

The rain apparently canceled the final night of an unusual theatre production in Columbus. Shakespeare's play "The Tempest" was staged outside Bludau's restaurant on Broadway. Hopefully the managers had a backup plan - and invited the audience inside to play Othello.

It was steamy before the rain came -- and I hope Kurt Schmitz is right when he calls this weekend "the last gasp of summer." Friday's high in Columbus was 90 degrees F. I wimped out, turning on my home air conditioner for the first time in weeks. Well, I thought I wimped out - but then several men at church told me they never turned theirs off for fall.

A Saturday morning stroll in the Historic District found much of the Riverwalk still covered by flood water. But there was one dry spot below the old amphitheatre at Sixth Street. It wasn't much, though - as the only running people could have done was a back-and-forth on-the-whistle basketball drill.

The flood level at Golden Park did NOT change from Thursday morning to Friday afternoon -- still barely up the stairway. A man asked online if I had seen any "Mud Cats." I assured him the baseball stadium was empty....

This brings us to the ballparks. For the second Saturday night in a row, lightning delayed the start of Auburn's football game. And here's the sad thing -- Bobby Lowder can't afford to make big donations anymore, to install a retractable roof over Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Auburn bounced Ball State with ease 54-30. WRBL noted Ball State was paid $850,000 to come south for this game - so it would have been downright selfish for the Cardinals to take home a win as well.

Ball State actually jumped out to a 7-0 lead - but then Auburn scored 30 points in a row. So much for Ball State's team getting invited to New York, to join alumnus David Letterman....

Auburn quarterback Chris Todd threw for five touchdowns for the second game in a row. That hasn't happened at Auburn since the 1940's - and if Auburn's best-known modern quarterback is any indication, Jason Campbell is never going to do that in the N.F.L.

During the first quarter, Tommy Trott took a touchdown toss from Todd. Any Auburn fan who could say that four times fast obviously did NOT drink beer during the game.

But not every throw by Chris Todd was perfect on a rainy night. Auburn radio analyst Stan White said one incomplete pass was "thrown wet.... maybe with no laces." Why aren't football shoes made to attach with Velcro, anyway?

Auburn fans were left with a post-game cliffhanger, as quarterback-turned-receiver Kodi Burns left early with what the coaches said only was a "leg injury." If an Auburn lineman was described this way, it could refer to eating too much chicken at the training table.

Auburn football fans may have reason for some big dreaming now. The Tigers are 4-0, the next two road games at Tennessee and Arkansas seem winnable -- and Coach Gene Chizik's old school has won more games in September than he did all last year.

Up the highway and down the FM dial, Georgia had a much tougher challenge Saturday night. The Bulldogs edged Arizona State 20-17 on a last-second field goal. But what does it say when a starting wide receiver has to block a kick, to keep Georgia from falling behind?

Blair Walsh kicked the winning field goal for Georgia, then was mobbed by teammates in what Bulldog broadcaster Scott Howard called a "dog pile." After 60 minutes of football, it probably smelled about as ugly as that more commonly-known "dog pile."

(Scott Howard accidentally declared the "last play of the ball game" at the end of the first quarter. If he hosted the Sunday highlights show on television, I might understand that - but he doesn't.)

The Georgia broadcasters found an unusual statistic about a Bulldog fullback. Fred Munzenmeier had rushed three times this season for three touchdowns - but he failed to score three times against Arizona State. So Munzenmeier hasn't quite eclipsed the legacy of Larry Munson yet.

All the other major college football teams in the area won Saturday. Georgia Tech knocked off North Carolina 24-7, and held the losers to only 17 rushing yards. Is this really a surprise? When your nickname is Tar Heels, you're more likely to get stuck when you're running.

Now we're ready for those "other things" -- and there's plenty to review this weekend:

+ Muscogee County Judge Doug Pullen disqualified Stacey Jackson from being Michael Registe's attorney. Jackson should look on the bright side - now he can take over for that woman who's bringing soldiers to federal court over President Obama's birthplace.

+ WLTZ reported all the judges in the Chattahoochee Circuit will work one day a month without pay. Isn't this inspiring? Now defense attorneys will have no excuse to avoid the indigent defendant program.

+ The city of Columbus held its annual auction of surplus property. It was held next door to Riverdale Cemetery -- but for some reason, the city decided NOT to bury old cars there to develop an east-coast version of the Cadillac Ranch.

+ Russell County commissioners approved a fiscal 2010 budget, giving most employees a three-percent raise. Tillman Pugh voted against it, explaining the county was spending potential savings. I assume Pugh never lets his wife shop at the mall....

+ The Lowe's store on Veterans Parkway held its first "Safety Saturday" for young people. WXTX "News at Ten" showed public safety workers there from as far away as Ellaville -- so apparently the "safety" had nothing to do with playing football.

+ An ABC News investigation found a "leadership political action committee" set up by Senator Saxby Chambliss spent $204,000 on candidates the past two years - while spending $225,000 on golf outings. It could be worse, I suppose. Chambliss could call it his idea of "going green."

+ The Columbus Times listed this year's nominees for the Liberty Theatre's "Libby Awards." One finalist for Best Actor is TV reporter Chauncy Glover -- so next time he sticks his hand in his pocket during a newscast, it may simply reflect good directing.

+ Instant Message to WTVM meteorologist Derek Kinkade: Did I hear you correctly Friday evening? Did you declare bowling the "sport of champions?" I doubt most sports fans could name the most recent U.S. Open bowling champion - and you'd think someone from Texas would promote the game by wearing a cowboy hat or something.

SCHEDULED FOR MONDAY (with an early post time): An unexpected change of command....

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