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Parnell doesn't get mulligan

May 25, 2008
The Altoona Mirror
Considering the effort Altoona Curve general manager Todd Parnell has put into making the franchise a success — which in turn translates into a superior entertainment product and dollars for Blair County and central Pennsylvania — it would be easy to say he deserves a free pass for his chiding remarks towards residents of our region for not showing up in greater numbers for a game on an unseasonably mild night a few weeks ago.

But the fact is, he doesn’t deserve a mulligan — not for insensitive and short-sighted comments that more than anything demonstrate how out of touch he may actually be with his fan base. Parnell said the attendance of 3,729 for his team’s game at Blair County Ballpark on May 2 was like a “punch in the gut,” while condescendingly expressing his disappointment because “we can all do better.”

First, a paid audience of more than 3,700 people is, according to Cory Giger’s article, actually just below the pace from a similar time frame a year ago. That’s not a punch in the gut. A punch in the gut is a gallon of skim milk that costs nearly $4, or $1 less than the Curve’s least expensive ticket. A punch in the gut is a 10-gallon tank of gasoline that costs in the neighborhood of $40 — the same amount it would cost for a family of five to watch one of the Curve’s games on the terrace.

Second, it’s not disappointing when you’re averaging more than 4,000 fans per game, or more than 200 more fans than you were averaging a year ago.

It’s disappointing when you’re a parent who has to tell your child that there are simple things you can no longer afford and sacrifices you will have to make because a dollar no longer buys what it used to. It’s disappointing when a month’s worth of fuel for your car now adds up to a week’s worth of groceries or a month’s rent.

Parnell, dry your eyes. There’s no crying in baseball.

The night Parnell had his heart broken by central Pennsylvania, he said the Curve were “all in,” and that they needed a similar commitment from fans. While popularity and interest will have peaks and valleys, the game and those who love it aren’t going anywhere.

If we are really all in, if we can all do better, how about the Curve making it easier? How about lowering the cost of some of those concession stand items? How about buy-one, get-one-free on Curve apparel in the souvenir store? How about enticing us to the yard with a team that’s not in last place?

That way, we can all get through these tough times and continue to support our team. We are all in this together, right?

Kerry Naylor


Specter out of his arena

I’ve been watching the latest developments on the Patriots cheating scandal. I have just one question:

Why is Arlen Specter involved? He has nothing more to do with the NFL than I do.

Apparently, there is some evidence of filming of the Steelers by the Patriots staff. Why wasn’t Specter so adamant in the situation where the Patriots spied on the Rams or Jets? The moment ‘‘spygate’’ started, every team who had played the Patriots since Bill Belicheck took over suspected the Patriots of having cheated.

The Steelers were at the forefront of the accusations. The Patriots and Belicheck should not be excused for their wrongdoing, and the commissioner has addressed the issue to the best of his ability.

Specter claiming to not be satisfied with the outcome simply sounds like another disgruntled Steeler fan being upset with being “taken.” When my team, the Oakland Raiders, was ‘‘taken’’ on several questionable calls during vital games over the years, like the “tuck rule,” and the “Immaculate Reception,” all I could do was accept it.

When a few questionable calls helped the Steelers win Super Bowl XL, the Seahawks and their fans had to accept it. History will not be re-written no matter what Specter would like.

Like any other fan who has fallen victim to any act as described above, he just has to deal with the decisions and move on.

Jeff Ward


A tribute to Catholic pillar

Father Vincent Spinos died Sunday, May 12.

In 1952, while stationed at Mt. Carmel Parish, Father Vincent laid the groundwork for a football program in the Catholic grade schools of Altoona. Father Vincent most certainly had help in starting this program, but he was the driving force.

All players would be in full uniform. Weight rules were established. Games were played at Columbia Park, Fairview, Maple Avenue and Prospect. Seven city schools fielded teams as well as Hollidaysburg Catholic and St. Patricks of Newry.

Winners of the Altoona and Johnstown leagues played for the Diocesan championship at the end of the regular season. Fifty-six years later, the Altoona Parochial League football program is still in operation.

Rest in peace, Father Vincent. You deserve it for a job well done.

John Conlon


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