Monday, March 31, 2008


Ottawa is big enough to take this lying down.

It's rich to read that spending five months in a world capital with a population of close to a million people amounted to being in "exile." That was the word the the Allentown, Pa., paper used on Friday to describe the experience the Lynx-cum-Lehigh Valley IronPigs players had last season.

"The players, especially those who suffered through the year's ''exile'' to Ottawa after the Phillies cut their ties with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, are eager to experience the environment they've been told to expect at Coca-Cola Park, where they anticipate playing before nightly crowds of 7,000 or 8,000 rather than 700 or 800.

" 'Try seven or eight,' quipped catcher Jason Jaramillo when talking about the size of last year's crowds in Ottawa." -- Allentown Morning Call
Exile. Exile?! Back in the day, if an out-of-town daily talked about your city this way, whoosh, off came the gloves and it would be raining right hands, like Scotty Thornton and Chris Neil in the Bruins-Sens game today. Vengeance was expected, even at the risk of looking like Hicksville, not unlike when the Ottawa media who were in Anaheim for the Stanley Cup final last season went to Disneyland so they could -- call Ripley's! -- report back that many people in Southern California don't care much for hockey. (Thing is, some people in SoCal do like hockey, which probably would have made for a better read.)

That was then. You can split hairs over wording -- stay, stint, sojourn, whistle-stop -- but it ends there. Reading "exile" and the quotes from the players rubs a bit of salt in the wound for the baseball diehards, but not much. It's Allentown's moment, let 'em have it, they were good sports about that Billy Joel using their pain for his art once upon a time.

We can take heart in knowing that we have another team now, the Ottawa Rapids. It's for real come May 22, 2008, which can't quite be said yet about CFL Team Version 3.0. There's a chance for everyone who was culpable in the Lynx's long goodbye -- the city, the corporate crowd and the fair-weathers who should realize that no one past age 20 should ever sign an e-mail, "Go Sens Go" -- to make it right with minor-league baseball the second time around.

There's too much going on in this city, like the Senators starting the Stanley Cup playoffs and the Tulip Festival being just weeks away. It's neither here nor there that the Tulip Festival has a better chance of being kick-ass this spring, while the NHL team will be doing the wilting. (Bruins 4, Sens 0, today, everyone see?)

In other words, nice try, Allentown. You have a baseball team, but paraphrasing the great Earl McRae, Ottawa will always have the cattle castle at Lansdowne Park.


(There are plenty of familiar names on that Lehigh Valley roster, and all the best to them in the IL Northeast Division.)

'Pigs are packing to head home (Jeff Schuler, Allentown Morning Call)


Anonymous said...

This almost warrants some of us organizing a caravan to Billy Joel's town this summer and compare notes.

As for the Sens-Bruins tilt, here's what I observed after the first 20.

What a pleasant change to watch a Sens game and hear how the other half lives. In between periods of a game in which Chris "Cheap Shot Artist" Neil got his due (not over yet) and I'm still incredulous to have heard NESN's Rob Simpson tell us how the Emery Saga was bordering on a Cuckoo's Nest, how there was miscommnication between McAmmond and a D, how they picked the wrong guy in the Chara-Redden roll of the dice and how Neil should have gotten 4 minutes for the shot which was essentilayy the same he administered to Drury last year.

Frankly, I'm scandalized to hear such candid truth. I sure hope Roy " The Mighty SOPO" Mlakar picks up the phone to the NESN folks and stops this nonsense.


jayme said...

What i find odd is the iron pigs new home is not really a sports town.THey have lost 2 semi pro basketball 2 minor pro hockey teams due to a lack of fan support.Aslo allientown is a red neck town so to speak very little going on.In ottawa you have sports/cutlure and the list goes on.Yes i have been to allientown to but it nicely there is more to do in north bay.

Pete Toms said...

jayme, bang on.

Sure there is a honeymoon affect in Allentown with the new ballpark. Bright and shiny gets the attention of some folks.

Remember this is Allentown's second go round with indy ball. They were an indy league town from 97 - 03. Let's look in 4 years or so when the novelty of "Coca Cola" stadium wears off.

Anonymous said...

I don't know, it kind of was exile for these guys. They came out of a stable and well-supported AAA town of Scranton-WB up to a town who didn't support the team, hell, there wasn't even radio coverage (let alone anything in the paper). They knew it was only for one season and then move again. It was exile. Time for us Canadians to quit whining and making excuses and just buy the damn tickets and compete, like we used to....


jayme said...

I sort of agree but not 100%.

1)There have some compare allientown to ottawa.How do you compare a city of 1.million to a city of 110,000.They amount of stuff to do in ottawa well there is just to much to do.From all the sports to museums to nac and so on.In allientown there is very little to do they have 1 sports team 2 museums and at last count 4 night clubs.If they can't support one team there is something very wrong there.This is not a kock aginst allientown its just the facts a very small town.

2)The ottawa sun did run a good amount of stuff on the lynx now and then.