Blog Archives

Would The WNBA Work In Columbus?

Let’s get the obvious out of the way.  The NBA will never come to Columbus.  The Cavs would probably have something to say about that (and to a lesser extent, the Pacers).  So why not go for the next best thing, the WNBA?  The Cavs should be receptive to that and probably would help in running a prospective franchise here.

Now before you double over in laughter, hear me out.  Columbus has a history when it comes to Professional Women’s Basketball.  The Columbus Quest of the ABL played here in Columbus from 1996-1998.  The Quest was the league’s most successful franchise & won two championships.  Over 6,000 showed up for the team’s deciding game in the 1998 ABL Championship.

The Ohio State Women’s Basketball Team also has a history of success, turning out great players like Katie Smith (who also played for the Quest) and currently, Kelsey Mitchell.
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Let’s be honest.  Columbus has a very diverse population and an audience looking for more than just Ohio State Football these days.  I think the WNBA could carve out a fan base here. Plus, Nationwide Arena could use another tenant to fill in open dates outside of Blue Jackets hockey.

What do you think?  Could Columbus support a WNBA team?

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The Columbus Clippers Playoff Run Was Fun & Kind Of Sad At The Same Time

Our Columbus Clippers capped off a great 2015 International League Season with a Western Division Title and a berth in the Governor’s Cup Playoffs.  Now while the Clippers drew very well during the regular season, drawing over 620,000 through the gates for a 7th straight year, the playoffs are a different story.  I have been following the Clippers since their birth in 1977 and have seen it before.  Great crowds during the regular season only to play before empty seats during the playoffs..
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Why does this happen?  There are a few theories.  One being that when the playoffs hit, Buckeyes Football Season has begun and fans are spending money and focus on that.  The other is it just seems to be that Clippers Season Ticket Holders, for whatever reason, just don’t show up for the playoffs.  Not even the lure of Dime-A-Dogs, half price chicken wings, cheap ribs, soda & beer could get more than 3,000 fans for the first two Clippers playoff games.

So GM Ken Schnake and the front office conjured up a genius move.  Why not keep the food specials but let everyone in for free?  Yes, that is right, FREE.  Not only let them in for free but even allow fans to call in to reserve tickets for pick up later!  All of a sudden Huntington Park went from being cold and quiet to rocking and rolling.  Crowds in excess of 11,000 showed up for Game 5 of the semifinals and Games 1 & 2 of the Governor’s Cup Finals.
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Not only was “The Hunt” was rocking and rolling but the fans were treated to three straight games of comebacks and exciting baseball.  It all culminated with a spectacular catch by CF Tyler Holt to win Game 2 and put the Clippers on the brink of a championship.

It was a brilliant move by the Clippers front office.  Not only did you bring in Clippers and baseball fans, but also brought in those who may never chose to go to a baseball game if it weren’t for free.  Those people may become “fans” for the future.
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But I can’t help but feel a little sad.  A little sad that it took free tickets and heavily discounted food specials to get people in the doors for playoff baseball.  I am a huge baseball and Clippers fan.  I would like to think that Columbus had enough baseball fans to get good crowds just for the fact that it was playoff baseball.  But it is what it is.  The free ticket promotion worked, brought in huge crowds and even got a lot of bonus media attention for our “Hometown Heroes”.  Hats off to them.

What’s The Deal Between Ohio State & UC Fans?

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I am a Columbus, Ohio resident & native and have many friends in and around the Cincinnati area.  When it comes to the Reds and Bengals we are united…but when the topic shifts to The Ohio State University and University of Cincinnati things change drastically.  The topic has reared its head again as the Buckeyes and Bearcats will renew ‘hostilities’ (?) in football this season on September 27th at Ohio Stadium.  Why is there such a rift between the schools and their fan bases?  Is it because Buckeye fans are too arrogant? Do Bearcat fans have an ‘inferiority complex’?  Is it because Ohio State is the ‘state school’ and UC is the ‘little brother’?  Is it because the ‘Men of Scarlet & Gray’ play in the superior Big Ten Conference while the ‘Men of the Queen City’ play in…..remind me, what conference do they play in again?  Is it because the Buckeyes (even with the latest controversy) have The Best Damn Band In The Land while the Bearcats…..does UC have a band?

I know, I know UC fans that your basketball team beat Ohio State for a national championship in the stone ages but for the most part, Ohio State is completely superior and dominant when it comes to collegiate athletics.  I also have heard UC fans cry about how the Buckeye Athletic Department is ‘ducking’ or ‘avoiding’ University of Cincinnati when it comes to playing football or basketball.  Well, it serves no purpose for the Buckeyes to play the Bearcats at the inadequate Nippert Stadium or Fifth Third Arena.  Programs are trying to make money and for Ohio State to play UC in those facilities is a losing proposition.

Urban Meyer has also made it know he wants to “own Cincinnati recruiting wise” and this is inevitable.  Like a good friend of mine (Charles Damron) says, “The University of Cincinnati is fourth in its own city when it comes to College Football.  Ohio State, Notre Dame and Michigan rank higher than UC.”  Is he wrong?  I say no.  The funniest thing to come out of the anger and frustration of UC fan being jealous of OSU fan is that I have been able to get a Bearcats fan to bet me on the upcoming football match-up.  No points, straight up!  This will be like taking candy from a baby.  I have even offered to ‘twerk’ on Cincinnati’s Fountain Square if the Buckeyes were to lose.  This is how certain I am that UC has NO chance.

Being that I have many friends who are from the Queen City, it would be nice if we could ‘bury the hatchet’ and get along when it comes to College Football & Basketball.  If we could join hands and sing “Kumbaya”….HA HA HA…..WHO AM I KIDDING?  I HAVE NO DESIRE TO DO SUCH A THING!  In fact, here is my message from one fan of THE Ohio State University to UC fans….

Columbus Sports Best “Top 10” Moments

In Honor of “Top 10 Tuesdays” on The BIG Show with Matt Finkes, here are our Columbus Sports Best “Top 10” Moments!
We are going to ‘count it down’ from 10 to 1!

10) COLUMBUS CREW WINS THE 2008 MLS CHAMPIONSHIP 
crewchamps Led by Head Coach Sigi Schmid, the Columbus Crew had a 17-7-6 record and defeated the Chicago Fire & Kansas City Wizards in the MLS Playoffs to advance to the 2008 MLS Cup.   Alejandro Moreno, Chad Marshall and Frankie Hejduk scored goals, all of which were assisted by Guillermo Barros Schelotto to lead Columbus to a 3-1 victory over the New York Red Bulls for the MLS Championship. Schelotto was named MVP of the final, matching his MVP award for the regular season.

9) BASEBALL RETURNS TO COLUMBUS
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Minor League Baseball had been a staple of the Columbus sports scene with teams such as the Redbirds, Senators, Giants and Jets producing Major League all-stars and Hall of Famers like Richie Hebner, Al Oliver, Doc Ellis, Enos Slaughter, Branch Rickey, Mordecai Brown, Joe Tinker & Dazzy Vance.  Sadly, in 1971 after declining attendance and a stadium that was falling into disrepair, baseball left Columbus and headed to Charleston, West Virginia.  In 1977, baseball returned to the Capital City after a groundswell of support from civic leaders and sports fans.  Jets Stadium was refurbished on W. Mound St to become, at that time, the jewel of minor league baseball, Franklin County Stadium, which would eventually be renamed Cooper Stadium in honor of Harold Cooper, the Franklin County Commissioner who led the charge to bring baseball back.  The new team was named the Clippers, who still play to huge crowds at beautiful Huntington Park in Downtown Columbus. 

8) COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS MAKE THE STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS
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The Columbus Blue Jackets came into being in 2000 and while that was a great event in Columbus sports history, we decided that the CBJ first entry into the Stanley Cup Playoffs was worthy of a spot.  While fans were still supportive of the Jackets they were starting to become disgruntled as the team headed into a new decade.  Led by rookie goaltender Steve Mason and Captain Rick Nash, the Blue Jackets finally got the fans enthused as they finished the 2008-09 NHL Season with a 41-31-10 record and a seventh seed berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.  Unfortunately, the Jackets started the Western Conference playoffs versus the defending champion Red Wings and Detroit provided a rude awakening, sweeping Columbus 4 games to 0.  Even with the sad result in the series, it was a milestone in the franchise’s history.

7) JACK NICKLAUS WINS HIS 6TH MASTERS TITLE
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The “Golden Bear” is Columbus Sports Royalty and on August 13, 1986 we saw why.  At the age of 46, Jack captured his 6th Green Jacket and became the oldest golfer to win at Augusta and second oldest to win a major.  Nicklaus won the tournament by one shot over Tom Kite and Greg Norman.  He shot 30 on the Back 9 the final Sunday and had to withstand challenges from Seve Ballesteros, Kite, Norman and Nick Price to pull off the feat.  Jack still holds the record of 18 major championships and brought PGA golf to Columbus with the “fifth major”, The Memorial Tournament.  

6) ARCHIE GRIFFIN WINS HIS 2ND HEISMAN TROPHY
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 Archie Griffin is the greatest player in Ohio State Football History and on December 2nd, 1975 that was proven as fact when Archie won his second Heisman Trophy.  During his senior season, Griffin extended a stretch of 100-plus-yard games to 31 (during which the Buckeyes went 29-1-1) and amassed an NCAA record-breaking 5,177 career rushing yards.  Unfortunately, Archie’s success as a collegian did not pan out in the NFL but he is still a wonderful ambassador for Buckeye Nation as the President & CEO of the Ohio State Alumni Association.  Former Ohio State Football Coach Woody Hayes said of Archie,  “He’s a better young man than he is a football player, and he’s the best football player I’ve ever seen.”  Nothing else needs to be said after that.

5) OHIO STATE FOOTBALL WINS THE 2002 BCS CHAMPIONSHIP
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Coming off a 7-5 season the year before including a victory over Michigan under first-year coach Jim Tressel there was optimism for the Buckeyes but a National Championship?  The Buckeyes ended up undefeated for the 2002 season but it wasn’t without some nail biters.  Ohio State survived scares versus Cincinnati, Northwestern, Wisconsin, Penn State, Purdue and Illinois heading into “The Game” against Michigan.  The Wolverines came in with a 9-2 record looking to upset the undefeated Bucks.  Once again, it was a nail biter as it took a Maurice Hall option pitch from Craig Krenzel into the endzone from two yards out with 4:55 left to win it 14-9.  The Buckeyes headed into the BCS National Championship Game against the Number One ranked and heavily favored Miami Hurricanes.  The Championship Game was a classic that headed into not just one but two overtimes.

In the first overtime, the Canes scored a TD on a 7-yard pass to Kellen Winslow. Ohio State had no choice but to play for another overtime, with Krenzel completing a fourth and 14 pass to Michael Jenkins, giving Ohio State new life. On fourth and 3, after an initial signal of defensive holding, a pass interference penalty was called by official Terry Porter on Miami DB Glenn Sharpe. However the penalty was flagged after the play was completed and while Miami was celebrating an apparent victory, causing the call to become controversial.  With a first-and-goal at the two, Krenzel scored three plays later on a one-yard touchdown run, sending the game into another overtime.

The Buckeyes took the field again on offense, moving down the field quickly and capping the drive with a 5-yard touchdown run by Maurice Clarett. Miami began its second overtime possession with no options except to score a touchdown. Backup quarterback Derek Crudup, who came in for a play after Dorsey was shaken up, converted a fourth down pass to Winslow, which was followed by facemask and pass interference penalties against Ohio State that now gave Miami an identical first-and-goal situation at the two-yard line. The Hurricanes were stuffed on the first three plays, and pressure forced a desperation throw by Dorsey that fell incomplete in the end zone, ending the game with Ohio State as the 2002 Champions.

4) OHIO STATE BASKETBALL WINS THE 1960 NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP
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For all of it’s rich basketball history, Ohio State has only won one NCAA Basketball Championship, which came in 1960.  The 1959-60 Buckeyes lost only one game during the Big 10 season, to Indiana and steamrolled in the NCAA Tournament beating Western Kentucky, Georgia Tech and NYU dominantly.  The NCAA Title game wasn’t much different as the Bucks demolished California 75-55.  The team featured two Hall of Famers in John Havlicek and Jerry Lucas, six players drafted by NBA teams and the volatile Bobby Knight who is a legend when it comes to NCAA Basketball Coaches.  Led by Lucas’ 26.3 points per game, Ohio State outscored it’s opponents by an average of more than 20 points.  The team averaged 90.4 points per game; a school record & 20 points higher than the NCAA average that season.

3) JESSE OWENS WINS 4 GOLD MEDALS IN THE 1936 OLYMPICS
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 Jesse Owens was born in 1913 in Oakville, Alabama but his family headed to Cleveland for a shot at a better opportunity in life.  Jesse came to national attention as a student of East Technical High School in Cleveland when he equaled the world record of 9.4 seconds in the 100-yard dash and long-jumped 24 feet 9 12 inches at the 1933 National High School Championship.  Jesse then attended Ohio State where he won a record eight individual NCAA championships, four each in 1935 and 1936.  Owens’s greatest achievement came in a span of 45 minutes on May 25, 1935, during the Big 10 meet at Michigan, where he set three world records and tied a fourth. He equaled the world record for the 100 yard dash; and set world records in the long jump (26 ft 8 14 in, a world record that would last 25 years); 220-yard sprint (20.3 seconds); and 220-yard low hurdles (22.6 seconds, becoming the first to break 23 seconds).

In 1936 Owens competed in the Berlin Olympics which Adolf Hitler wanted to use as a platform to show a resurgent Nazi Germany.  Owens foiled those plans, winning the 100 meter sprint with a time of 10.3 seconds, the long jump with a leap of 26 ft 5 in, the 200 meter sprint with a time of 20.7 seconds and being a part of the 4 x 100 sprint relay team that won with a time of 39.8 seconds, a world record in the event at that time.  Sadly Owens still suffered persecution despite these feats.  He had to eat at “blacks only” restaurants and stay at “blacks only” hotels as an athlete at Ohio State.  He did not receive a scholarship as well, having to work part-time jobs to pay for school.  Even after his performance at the 1936 Olympics, Owens did not receive honors from President Dwight D. Eisenhower or his successor, Harry S. Truman.  However, time has changed that and Owens is now recognized as a legend.

2) BUCKEYES WIN THE 1968 NCAA FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP
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The 1968 Ohio State Football team is considered one of the greatest teams of all time.  With 11 All Americans and six first-round NFL draft picks, it is hard to argue that.  QB Rex Kern, RBs Jim Otis and John Brockington led a solid offense & NT Jim Stillwagon, SS Jack Tatum and CB Tim Anderson led a fierce defense.  Of course, Head Coach Woody Hayes molded all of these stars into a cohesive unit.  This also was the first team to receive Buckeye Leaves stickers for their helmets to reward good plays by athletes.  While many viewed Woody’s teams as “3 Yards & A Cloud of Dust”, the offense averaged 440 yards per game.  The breakout game for the Buckeyes was against #1 Purdue.  The Boilermakers had defeated the Buckeyes 41-6 the season before and came into the game with All-American QB Mike Phipps and RB Leroy Keyes, a Heisman Trophy candidate.  The Boilers averaged 40 points per game.  The Buckeyes defense shut them down as they beat Purdue 13-0. 

The undefeated Buckeyes crushed Michigan 50-14 and headed into the Rose Bowl versus #2 USC and RB OJ Simpson.  The Trojans went up 10-0 early as OJ cut through the Buckeyes defense on an 80-yard TD run but Ohio State responded by going 69 yards in 13 plays capped off on a 1-yard run by Otis, and Jim Roman added a 25-yard field goal with just three seconds left that tied the game at 10-all at halftime. Ohio State took the lead for good in the 3rd quarter when Roman added another FG and Kern tossed two TD passes in the fourth quarter as OSU defeated USC 27-16 to eventually claim the national championship.  Kern was named the Rose Bowl’s Most Valuable Player after completing 9-of-15 passes for 101 yards and two TDs.

1) BUSTER DOUGLAS KNOCKS MIKE TYSON OUT AND BECOMES HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION OF THE WORLD
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 James “Buster” Douglas was born right here in Columbus, Ohio and grew up in the Linden neighborhood.  He attended Linden-McKinley High School and even led Linden-McKinley to an AAA Ohio Basketball Championship in 1977.  He played basketball for some community and small colleges but returned to Columbus to focus on boxing.  Douglas eventually connected with trainer John Johnson.  Douglas began his pro career on May 31, 1981 and had an okay if not spectacular career until the night of February 11, 1990 in Tokyo.

Buster was coming off an unanimous decision win over Oliver McCall that gave him a shot at the undisputed heavyweight crown held by “Iron” Mike Tyson.  We all know what Mike Tyson was about.  Knocking out chumps in record time and leaving us wondering why we bought another Tyson pay-per-view.  It was widely recognized that Buster would be another one of those ‘chumps’.  Buster’s mother, Lula Pearl, had died nearly one month before the bout.  Buster surprised everyone early in the fight by dominating Tyson from the ‘get-go’.  Douglas’ 12-inch reach advantage was being used to perfection.  He hit “Iron” Mike at will with jabs and avoided Tyson’s punches.  Tyson looked slow and out of shape for the bout and by the fifth round, Tyson’s left eye was swelling shut due to Buster’s many right hands.  In the eighth round though, Tyson landed an uppercut that knocked Douglas down but Buster was able to get back up by a nine count.  Mike came out aggressive in the ninth looking for the big punch that would knock Buster out.  Both exchanged strong blows but survived for the tenth round.

Douglas dominated the tenth from the outset. While setting Tyson up with his jab Douglas scored a huge uppercut, followed by a rapid combination, and knocked Tyson down for the first time in his career, making boxing history. Tyson struggled to his knees and picked up his mouthpiece lying on the mat next to him. He awkwardly attempted to place it back into his mouth. The image of Tyson with the mouthpiece hanging crookedly from his lips would become an enduring image from the fight. He was unable to beat the referee’s count, and Douglas was the new heavyweight champion of the world.

Now a personal note; you may wonder why I chose this as #1 for the list.  It was a night I will never forget as a Columbus sports fan.  I was out and about with a good buddy of mine and we ended up at the Bier Stube on the OSU campus. Quite honestly, the fight was on as something in the background.  But as the fight continued a ‘buzz’ (non-alcoholic) began to envelope the bar, people stopped talking & drinking and started to watch intently.  People who didn’t know each other became close friends hugging and cheering every time Buster landed a big punch.  When Buster finally put “Iron” Mike down the place erupted in mass hysteria.  The next morning you could tell the City of Columbus was on “Cloud Nine” and proud of it’s new found “Hometown Hero”.

 

 

Is #CBus “Reds Country” or “Tribe Territory”?

reds-indians  First of all, let’s state the obvious…Columbus, Ohio is NOT a baseball town.  Being a resident of CBus and a HUGE baseball fan, it pains me to type that…but it’s true.  The average fan in Columbus cares more about a five-star recruit that has just committed to Ohio State than either the Reds or Indians.  Not criticizing it, but it is what it is.  That being said, when it does come to baseball season, which of the two Ohio MLB teams does CBus favor?

Columbus definitely is included in the region known as “Reds Country”.  Now this may have been more prevalent in the 1970s during the Redlegs’ ‘hey day’ as they dominated the National League and quite frankly, baseball itself.  But still Cincy’s foothold is strong as thousands make the trek each season to Great American Ball Park.  Plus, Cincy media has a presence in Columbus.  The Reds’ flagship radio station, 700 WLW, can be heard quite clearly in Columbus, so personalities such as Marty Brennaman can be heard in one’s car talking Reds.  Plus, we can’t forget one Jim Day of Fox Sports Ohio, who is from Westerville, a suburb of the Capital City.   Columbus also is one of the major stops on the Reds Winter Caravan as huge crowds show up to see and talk to players, broadcasters, managers, coaches and front office personnel of their favorite team.

However, a case can definitely be made for the Indians; though I didn’t notice it until the Tribe’s winning run during the 1990s.  I will admit though when scanning the dial, reading the newspaper or watching the nightly CBus sportscasts, they seem to lean towards the Tribe.  Why?  Maybe they figure since Cincy media seems to have a foothold in Columbus, they need to ‘even it out’ somehow.  Plus, Indians fans can point to the very fact that the Tribe’s AAA affiliate resides right here in Columbus at Huntington Park.  However, whenever the Reds’ AAA affiliate visits for a series, fans of the Redlegs turn out in droves.  I also noticed the Indians did not send their Winter Caravan to Columbus this year.

Since I am a Reds fan, I am going to be biased and say “Hell Yes, Columbus is Reds Country!!!”
But more importantly, what do YOU think???  Is Columbus, Ohio “Reds Country” or “Tribe Territory”?

The Memorial Tournament “Curse of Chief Leatherlips”

Leatherlips The Memorial Tournament has ‘teed off’ again for another year in Central Ohio and once again, the hope is that the “Curse of Chief Leatherlips” will be avoided.  Not familiar with the Chief?  A monument to him stands on Riverside Drive, about three miles north of the Scioto River Bridge at State Route 161.  Chief Leatherlips was executed in 1810 by members of his own Wyandot tribe not far from the Muirfield Village golf course site.  Legend has it that the ghost of Leatherlips brings the rain because the traffic and crowds of the tournament disturb him.

Measures have been taken to break the curse.  Take for instance this Associated Press story from 1997:

Rain is a common curse at The Memorial.  The 1990 tournament was shortened to 54 holes with Greg Norman declared the winner.  Though there is no evidence it is true, local lore has it that the golf course was built on an Indian burial ground.  In 1993, when The Memorial was delayed by rain for the fourth straight year and 11 of 18 years overall,  Jack Nicklaus’ wife Barbara decided to do something about it.

Arnold Palmer’s wife, Winnie, suggested that if Muirfield Village was built over an old cemetery that a glass of gin left at the burial site of Chief Leatherlips- it rests in the trees beyond the practice fairway -might mollify any angry spirits.  So late Thursday night during the 1993 tournament and again during a Friday afternoon suspension, Barbara Nicklaus made trips to the nearby cemetery and monument to Leatherlips.  Both times she left a glass with gin in it.  Jack even drove her Thursday night, albeit reluctantly.

“I had nothing to do with it, absolutely nothing,” Jack said at the time in mock disbelief.  “She just said, ‘Maybe I will give them a little gift this year and maybe next year it’ll be something really nice.’ ”

Not even that worked.  Apparently being the most successful golfer ever carries clout with the USGA & PGA, but not with the weather.
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Let’s hope the Old Chief takes pity on us this year.
Remember, YOU can get FULL Memorial Tournament Coverage ALL WEEK LONG with The BIG Show with Matt Finkes & 95.5 The Game!
Matt Kuchar

Could We See These Athletes at “Rock on the Range”?

In honor of the annual rock fest at Columbus Crew Stadium, we present the Top 25 Athletes turned Musicians thanks to our friends at http://www.TotalProSports.com.  Could we see them at “Rock on the Range” someday?
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See the list of Top 25 Athletes turned Musicians HERE!

 

Fat Man at “Arnold Fitness”

I have lived in Columbus since birth and for all of my 48 years (yes Sabie, I am THAT old) of life, I had never had the privilege of attending an Arnold Classic, Arnold Challenge, Arnold Fitness Event or whatever the hell they call it these days.  Thanks to a facebook friend, that changed.  I will admit some trepidation about heading down to the “Arnold”.  I am horribly out of shape and feared I would stand out like Roseanne Barr at the Playboy Mansion.  Those fears were unfounded.  Never at one time did I feel out of place.  It was a very ‘cool hang’; all attendees, athletes and exhibitors seemed genuinely happy to be there.
arnold First of all, the event is so packed with people you have no chance of sticking out.  Vendors of  all types of bodybuilding and fitness products fill every square inch of the Columbus Convention Center.  It is a trade show on steroids….oops, wrong choice of words.  It all isn’t centered around bodybuilding either.  Sports and fitness activities of all sorts are on display.  From painting (yes, art work) to fencing to rope jumping to even table tennis.
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Of course, there are ‘celebrity appearances’ throughout the weekend to get fans excited.  And of course, I couldn’t resist,
Olympic Gold Medalist Kurt Angle & World Famous Bodybuilder Andy Haman were on hand.  I did a ‘before & after’ photo with Andy….
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The emphasis though is on fitness….and there are lots of attractive, physically fit people on hand.  I did some ‘research’ with these two very physically fit specimens….(ok, I creepily asked for a picture and then got nervous being around such attractive women….)
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I also was asked to ‘compete’ at the Arnold Fitness Classic….as you can see, my ‘posing and form’ won much applause and many medals….
sorry ladies, if I took my shirt off, you couldn’t handle it.  Arnold was so impressed, I was asked to ‘pose’ with him….

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So, as you can see, even a morbidly obese man can have fun at the Arnold Fitness Classic.  I celebrated my day of fun with some ‘furry friends’.  The “Arnold” brings out all types…and looking at these final pictures, I really need to ‘get a life’.
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Columbus gets “Olympic Hockey Fever”

It was an amazing scene this past Saturday (2/15) as throngs of Columbus Hockey fans converged en masse on the Arena District packing the R Bar and Three Legged Mare to watch the USA vs. Russia Olympic Hockey game.  The lines to get into both places began forming around 5am to get a decent spot to watch the game.
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I had the privilege of making it into the R Bar to be part of the festivities.  The atmosphere was electric for such an early hour….and yes, the beer was flowing.  The Blue Jackets made it even more special by having emcee Mike Todd, fan favorites Jody Shelley and Fredrik Modin on hand along with some great prize giveaways.
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The R Bar was at capacity and beyond.  Those who were unable to make it in watched outside on large monitors from windows lining the patio while waiting for people to leave.  The game itself was amazing….a hard fought affair that honestly at times seemed as if Team Russia was going to take control of.  But Team USA kept fighting and when Fedor Tyutin’s late goal was disallowed, the energy in the room increased tenfold.  You could tell you were part of something special and those watching didn’t want it to end.  Of course, the issue of five Blue Jackets on the Russian team cropped up during the morning…but it didn’t matter, everyone in attendance was pulling for Team America (with the exception of two Russian hotties standing near me who cheered every time Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky made a save, which wasn’t all bad).  National Pride was at a fevered pitch as we were united for all of America, except Michigan, of course.
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Near the end of the game I spotted Dispatch sports columnist Bob Hunter standing a few people away.  I couldn’t help but remark, “I guess Columbus is a hockey town, huh?”  He laughed and expressed his amazement at how so many turned out so early on such a cold morning to watch Olympic Hockey.  I also kind of felt bad as Bob tried to take pictures of the crowd with his smartphone.  Bob is not the tallest person in the world.  I wanted to ask him if he would like to get up on my shoulders to take pictures.

So the game ended in a tie, the overtime was scoreless and of course most of you know how it ended….TJ Oshie of the St. Louis Blues in epic fashion with not one, not two, not three but four shootout goals.  After that what happened at the R Bar?  Let’s let the video do the talking……

So you still don’t think Columbus is a Hockey Town?  I have seen many sporting events in person, on tv and with gatherings like this.  Watching Buster Douglas knock out Mike Tyson almost 25 years ago at a campus bar will always be number one on my list of sports moments viewed…but what happened this past Saturday is a very close second.  Columbus Hockey Fans are truly amazing.

Columbus a ‘Hockey Town’??

With the recent run of success the Columbus Blue Jackets have had; a lot of finger pointing has been done at so-called ‘bandwagon jumpers’.  Is Columbus a ‘Hockey Town’ or is it just full of people wanting to ‘get in’ on the new, shiny, fun toy?  I am sure there are a lot of people who don’t know a cross check from a bad check.  But yes, I do believe Columbus is truly a ‘hockey town’.  There are many youth leagues in the city of Columbus now….and we even boast 5 Chiller facilities that host public skating and hockey for youth & adults.  Plus, Ohio State Men’s & Women’s Hockey has good support.  But more than anything that proved that Columbus is a Hockey Town was the great success of the Columbus Chill.  If not for the Chill, the Columbus Blue Jackets would not exist.
cchill From 1991-1999, the Columbus Chill packed them into the Coliseum at the State Fairgrounds.  Thanks to hilarious marketing by GM David Paitson and the Chill front office they were unparalleled when it came to minor league promotions.  They won over Columbus sports fans with wild fun and yes, some bare knuckled brawling.

This video captures in great detail the essence of the Chill and rebirth of Pro Hockey in Columbus—

Yes, the Blue Jackets have captured Columbus’ minds and hearts with their fantastic streak (which unfortunately ended on Saturday Night)….but none of this would be possible without a tip of the cap to the Columbus Chill.