Atlantic Broadband customers who subscribe to the company's basic cable package received quite a scheduling change during the fourth quarter of the Steelers-Ravens game last week.
After Jeff Reed's field goal swelled the Steeler lead to seven points, the ensuing commercial break began with a Gunthy-Recker skin care commercial hosted by Jane Seymour of Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman fame.
My suspicions were aroused when I realized the same commercial was playing for five minutes straight. The dreaded late-night infomercial.
''They wouldn't do this to Steeler fans now, would they?'' I asked myself, having already invested three-plus hours of my Monday night in this game.
In a panic, I checked my entire limited channel selection, hoping that ABC had simply switched ESPN's coverage of the game from channel 4 to channel 12. No dice.
At 11:45 p.m., I called the company. A customer service rep told me they weren't sure why the game had been switched to an infomercial in the Altoona area because they had no problems in their Johnstown region. They assured me that they had someone ''working on it'' who would hopefully restore the game.
And so, I watched infomercials until 12:30 in the morning, hoping beyond hope that the game would go to overtime (of course, it did), and Atlantic Broadband would fix the problem (of course, it didn't).
Did you panic when the Ravens drove the length of the field to tie the game at the end of regulation? Not me. I was learning about how Gunthy-Recker's skin care products both exfoliate and moisturize the skin!
Were you furious when Baltimore won the overtime coin toss? Not me. I discovered that the Aqua Globe system is an attractive solution for automatic houseplant watering!
I bet you were elated when the Steelers pulled off a thrilling overtime victory on Jeff Reed's 46-yard field goal. While you were high-fiving your friends, the only slow motion instant replay I could see was the Shark Steam Mop cleaning a heavily soiled floor. The game never came back.
Atlantic Broadband hung its basic cable customers out to dry on this one. Luckily, my plants are now keeping moist with Aqua Globe's patented ''slow release" design.
However, I'll never watch an episode of Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman again.
Goodman column touching
I just wanted to compliment Kellie Goodman on her column of Shane Metzler last week. I have been to numerous Central football games in years past with my ex-wife and her family, and I was always impressed of Shane's enthusiasm, attitude and fighting spirit.
Kellie's article in telling Shane's story perfectly illustrated the character of Shane and how a lot of us can learn from him and his unrelenting enthusiasm.
Just knowing Shane's affiliation with the Central Dragons makes all of us hope Central goes very far in the playoffs.
Curve staff cares
I have attended many games in these 10 years of Altoona Curve baseball. I suffer with chronic hip and back pain from a childhood disease.
The Curve's support includes caring, compassionate people. I went to the last homestand - four games with Reading. Saturday night was the ball giveaway honoring the Curve's 10th anniversary. After standing in line (which I never minded) chronic pain turned excruciating. I could not stay.
Tom Carroll, who takes care of Section 120, George in Parking Level Two (I never knew his last name) and several other workers came to or expressed concern in my well being. I was offered rides on other occasions from the parking deck to the gate from George, and once inside Tom is always there to assist.
I thought their generosity should not go unmentioned, as well as the others who asked if I needed help. They know who they are.
It's nice to know, especially in today's world, that kindness is just another part of our hometown team.
Williamsburg coach off base
Williamsburg football has become the laughingstock of the local high school athletics arena.
There was a time when opponents played against Williamsburg, and they knew what they were getting into on Friday night. Opponents knew victory over the Blue Pirates meant facing those undersized, scrappy, tenacious and, mostly important, fierce competitive machines that made up a Blue Pirate player.
Victory over the Blue Pirates came at the expense of quite a few ice packs.
In recent years, the state of Blue Pirate football has been quickly sinking into the abyss. Head coach Dick Baronner headed into last week's homecoming game with Tussey Mountain with a dismal 3-33 record compiled over the last three-and-a-half seasons.
Baronner has had more than his share of questionable "are you kidding me?" coaching moves.
But last Friday night the program experienced a new low. Williamsburg led 14-13 after blocking a Tussey Mountain PAT. A 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty was assessed on the ensuing kickoff in favor of the Blue Pirates. The Pirates returned the kick to the 50 but fumbled on the play, and Tussey Mountain recovered.
Tussey then ran the next play from scrimmage off left tackle and consequently took the ball 49 yards to score what proved to be the winning touchdown.
Baronner was sure to hand out the blame for the loss, and he did so in a manner that should not be accepted by anyone. In Saturday's edition of the Mirror, Baronner publicly placed blame on his junior tailback saying, "that fumble was literally a 12-point turnaround," when in reality it was just a go-ahead score with most of the fourth quarter remaining.
Baronner goes on by calling this player out by name and despicably stating, "It's those kind of things that break the kids' heart and mine, too."
To place blame publicly for a loss on a kid is a cowardly mistake that should not be tolerated. Baronner failed to mention the two possessions following the fumble in which the Blue Pirates marched the ball inside the red zone. On both occasions he failed to orchestrate plays that allowed the Blue Pirates to post any points on the scoreboard. This is a common occurrence with Baronner.
The school district should be ashamed of his statements and demand he issue an apology to the player and his family. An apology should also be issued from the administration and school board.
All athletic personnel should be made aware that this is not an acceptable practice. There is a saying in sports that players win and coaches lose.
The Blue Pirate football program seems not to understand that statement and does not take responsibility for being outworked, outprepared and outcoached each and every week.
The most "heartbreaking" thing of all is a career record that I am too embarrassed as a Blue Pirate supporter to even mention again.
The only one who needs to be called out publicly for the Blue Pirate football demise is Dick Baronner and the powers that be who continue to let it happen.
Justin L. Becker