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Bits & Pieces

Published: December 31, 2001

KIM HARMON

    Bits & Pieces

    By Kim J. Harmon

    S

    ometimes I should just shut up and be thankful that things aren’t any worse. Like, when I walk into the Edward Bennett Rink in West Haven or the Wonderland of Ice in Bridgeport and complain about how cold it is (way colder than outside) I should take a moment and recall what it was like 19 years ago.

    Yep, waaaaay back in 1983 I was a senior at the University of Connecticut and an Associate Editor on The Daily Campus newspaper. My beat during the winter was – among other things – the men’s hockey team.

    I realize now that facilities on the UConn campus in Storrs are much more modern now (does anyone remember watching a game inside the old Field House?), but during the 1983-84 season the hockey team played on an open-air rink.

    Sure, the rink had a roof but the rest of it was wide open and subject to the bitter cold of a December or January night. The press box (and I use that term in the loosest way possible) was a small trailer behind one of the goals and the only amenities (besides the window through which we could watch the game) were a space heater that worked perfectly (if all you were attempting to heat was the metal grate on the outside of the heater) and a phone link to the official scorer.

    Those were harsh times, my friends.

    After every period, I would attempt to get up off my metal folding chair (yeah – I sat on a metal folding chair in 10-degree cold) and stagger over to the changing rooms where I might find a cup of hot chocolate if there weren’t already so many people in there trying to stay alive (it took me a long time to work some feeling into my feet and get over there).

    The Daily Campus was about a half mile away from the rink and that was an awful tough half mile to walk after watching a hockey game, let me tell you. And thinking about all of that stuff now, I guess I should just admit that – even at the Wonderland of Ice – I’m a heck of a lot better off.

    + + +

    Speaking of hockey, I didn’t realize how much I missed it until I had a chance to watch the game South-West Conference Division II game between Masuk and Newtown last Thursday at the Wonderland of Ice in Bridgeport.

    Despite the 6-3 win by Masuk, it was a pretty good game of hockey. It was fast, there were plenty of good passes, and there were more than a few solid hits. It was pretty much everything hockey is supposed to be.

    Trouble is, I’m a little concerned about the precedent that has been set here in the 2001-02 season.

    I went to the season opener at the Edward Bennett Rink in West Haven and watched the Nighthawks get hammered, 11-0, by Amity Regional. A week later, the ‘Hawks crushed Fairfield, 7-2, but I wasn’t there to see it.

    Last week, I watched Masuk beat Newtown, 6-3, but a day later I missed a 2-1 Newtown overtime victory over Joel Barlow.

    I don’t like the way this is going.

    Soon, there will be talk of jinxes and what not.

    + + +

    I love how baseball is still so much in the news: The Texas Rangers wanted to sign free agent pitcher Chan Ho Park, but the only way they could do it is if they freed up money elsewhere. Shortstop Alex Rodriguez said, “They came to me and asked if I had any flexibility and I said I’m a gymnast if that’s what it takes to sign pitchers.” Wow, awfully magnanimous of a guy making $25 million a year, huh? . . . there is a question of where free agent slugger Juan Gonzalez will sign – with the New York Mets or with the Baltimore Orioles. The Mets are offering a $20 million, two-year deal while the Orioles are offering a three-year deal. With the Mets becoming a favorite to contend in the National League and the Orioles becoming a favorite to once again implode in the American League, this one thing will show every fan out there if it’s really about the money or not . . . Contraction, contraction, contraction. If Bud Selig and Major League Baseball really wanted to do it right, they would eliminate six teams and go back to two divisions in each league . . . Someone is definitely screwy if the owner of the Montreal Expos is moving on to become the owner of the Florida Marlins – trading one dying franchise for another . . . And speaking of that, Major League Baseball is willing to run the Expos in the interim. Great – it has done such a nice job of running its own business thus far, huh? . . . Let me get this straight – a guy sets a new home run record and is unquestionably the most dominant offensive player in the sport, but there is no market for him? Barry Bonds became a free agent after the 2001 season, but will be staying in San Francisco to chase Babe Ruth’s career home run record. Now, don’t let him tell you it’s because he loves the city or anything. It’s because no one was willing to cough up $20 million a year to an old guy who is a clubhouse cancer . . . Why should we even bother to play the season, anyway? Might as well just tell the New York Yankees and the New York Mets to get the World Series over with in April so we can go back to concentrating on something else.