Wednesday, February 10, 2010

10 FEB 10: Ice as in Nice as in Vice

When I saw it on the schedule, something didn't seem quite right. The Columbus Cottonmouths were playing hockey at 10:30 in the morning?! On purpose?! I went to the last morning match at the Civic Center [1 Apr 04] -- because it was free, lasted one period and the ice-making machinery broke down the night before.

What happened at the Civic Center Tuesday was no mistake. The Cottonmouths met Mississippi in a mid-morning matinee, and about 5,000 school children had tickets to attend. WLTZ sports reporter Jeremy Babin said they were "playing hooky" -- but the youngsters probably would claim they really were playing hockey.

Clearly this was a special promotion by the Cottonmouths - but it still was a bit unusual. Weekday afternoon games are common in baseball, but never happen in major league hockey unless it's a holiday. Baseball games usually have sunshine, fresh air and a leisurely atmosphere for doing business. Hockey before noon is like racing to be first into a cold shower.

Dozens of school buses delivered grade-schoolers to the Civic Center - but it wasn't clear to me how these children were selected to get tickets. The Ledger-Enquirer's web site said the students displayed "good conduct." So they were rewarded with a Cottonmouths hockey game?! What's planned next winter - a mixed martial arts card?

Sure enough - less than nine minutes into the first period, Mississippi and Columbus players started fighting all over the ice. Ten players received penalties. Seven received game misconducts. And the students' chaperones realized they had a LOT of explaining to do on the ride back to school.

(The Ledger-Enquirer story used a term I've never heard in hockey before -- a "line brawl." I thought that happened when a line dancer at a country music nightclub bumped your girlfriend.)

The thousands of "good conduct" students wound up seeing one more fight in the second period, and enough penalties to total 162 minutes. This could be enough for Greg Countryman to keep his Junior Marshals doing basketball drills until the end of April.

The mid-morning matinee had at least one special treat with students in mind. WRBL's highlights showed a fire truck on the ice between periods -- when the firefighters really needed to be in the dressing rooms, using their hoses to cool down emotions.

(Then again, maybe the fire truck served an educational purpose - to show what crews do if the Zamboni engine overheats again.)

Cottonmouths Coach Jerome Bechard said the 5,000 cheering students made the Civic Center especially loud. And I'm sure it was especially challenging for the players -- yelling insults at each other at the tops of their lungs.

All the students made Tuesday's official Civic Center attendance 6,286. I assume this game was NOT also marketed as a "business-fan's special." It's probably very hard to conduct business when grown-ups are fighting below you and sixth-graders are screaming loudly above you at the same time.

Oh yes, they played a hockey game - and Columbus scored a power play goal in overtime to win 4-3. But am I the only person who thinks something was wrong with this picture? Sending "good conduct" students to watch "Boom Boom" Bechard's Cottonmouths is a bit like having an Overeaters Anonymous meeting at Golden Corral.

The Cottonmouths apparently didn't even let children skate on the ice after the game. That would have helped promote Tuesday's launch of an anti-obesity campaign by first lady Michelle Obama. But then, conservatives probably suspect "Let's Move" is a ploy to recruit youngsters into the "MoveOn" political action committee.

A couple of guesses come to mind, as to why "good conduct" students went to the Cottonmouths game Tuesday. Perhaps it's because Disney on Ice won't be at the Civic Center until mid-May - practically at the end of the school year. Or perhaps the cast of "A Chorus Line" said performers only do Broadway matinees on Wednesdays.

By the way: a review of our blog entry from 2004 revealed amazing similarities between that mini-game and Tuesday's Cottonmouths contest. In both cases, the visiting team was Mississippi. In both cases, the final score was 4-3 in overtime. And in both cases, fans could have stopped for lunch at Minnie's restaurant on the way home.

-> Our effort to "spread the word" at the poker table has some opposition. See what we mean at our other blog, "On the Flop!" <-

E-MAIL UPDATE: One of Tuesday's "Best Bets" brought a reply which topped ours....

A better bet is Chevron @ Summerville Rd. and Stadium Dr. in Phenix City.

$2.45.9 for regular. That was the price through Monday.


That'll teach me to drive around a little more -- which of course would burn away that two-cent a gallon price advantage.

But you can't get to the gas station if your car won't start....

Get ready Columbus,we are being invaded by rodents who love car wires..I just had my car towed and rewired because some squirrel likes to eat up the wires..Hope he choked..Repair service said in Columbus it happens all the time..He suggested a can with holes and mothballs under the car when I park.One web site said certain car makers are using a soy based plastic like product to coat the wires rather than expensive rubber.. On the internet put in "rodents eat car wires" and look at the hundreds of web site..One suggested fox urine sprinkled in the parking place..

This e-mail left me shocked -- SHOCKED! I've had e-mail for nearly 15 years, and never have received a message about fox urine. Well, unless it was mentioned in one of those spam messages about cut-rate Viagra....

Hungry squirrels can damage more than cars. When CNN had its headquarters near Georgia Tech in midtown Atlanta, I heard stories of squirrels knocking out network computer systems. A few bites could mean a few lost megabytes.

We'll give a local spokesperson 24 more hours to reply to another e-mail we've received. Until then, you'll have to settle for these other Tuesday topics:

+ Mayor Jim Wetherington told Columbus Council 95 new police officers are now hired - only five away from the promised 100. But think about this a minute. Would the mayor really want to admit all 100 are on duty? Shouldn't five be reserved for special undercover operations?

+ Columbus Council approved three members of the city Crime Prevention Commission. Two positions were filled based on State Senate district lines -- when you'd think Macon Road would be simple enough.

(While that commission now is filled, the meeting agenda shows five positions on the city Taxicab Commission currently are vacant. I think the bad economy is to blame for this - as too many candidates can't afford a cab ride across town to check the quality of service.)

+ WTVM reported Harris County Sheriff Mike Jolley has rented a double-wide mobile home in Pine Mountain, to stop criminal activity there. There's an idea for our new Columbus Crime Prevention Director to try - renting the Carousel Lounge for several months.

+ Dick McMichael's blog revealed the Space Science Center will receive 17 million dollars' worth of artifacts, once NASA ends the space shuttle program. One of the items will be a shuttle tire - which had better be placed in a spot where guys can kick it.

+ The Atlanta Hawks mashed Memphis 108-94. This game taught me something new about pro basketball - fouls are NOT supposed to be called when one second is left on the shot clock. I mean, Hawks broadcaster Steve Holman kept harping on it....

+ Instant Message to River Road Elementary School: I thought your sign was wrong. I thought "Winter Break" occurred in late December, not this Thursday and Friday. But after seeing the Friday forecast, you may be smarter than the TV meteorologists.

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