Altoona Curve: 2010 Eastern League champions! Has a nice ring to it, doesn't it?
For about 4,000 diehard fans of the Curve Nation, it does. Unfortunately, over the past couple of years, our fame as the "best fans in baseball" has taken a hit because of dwindling attendance, but that doesn't take away the fact that the Curve are the champs this year.
I guess, to my surprise, we have more fans like "jimdandy" than true baseball and/or Curve fans.
He wrote in Sunday's web dialog that "it doesn't excite me one bit, considering none of the players are local."
He adds, "I don't see where fans get so excited about winning and losing," and "there's not much local pride about winning a championship when the coaches and players change almost every year."
I would hazard a guess that "jimdandy" doesn't attend many Curve games, and that he knows very little, if anything, about Altoona Curve history.
The Curve's initial season was 1999, and it has taken them 11 years to win the Eastern League. During this span, there have been two or three (depending on how you look at it) changes in ownership, five managers, (which means they don't change every year), 18 coaches and trainers, and approximately 620 players who have all contributed to Curve baseball in one way or another. And 170 or so have, or are, playing in the "big show."
Over these 11 years, there have been many fans who have opened their homes to one or more players each year, and treated them like family, and in more than a few instances, they became family and continue their relationships today.
These host families have met the parents, wives and girlfriends of the players, and have visited the players and their families in the offseason - long after they have left Altoona.
In my case, one of my cousins married a young man who played on the original Curve team in 1999. The father of one of the Curve players, who is now pitching in the majors, sends me periodic reports on his son, and the mother of a former Curve player still belongs to the Altoona Curve Booster Club - although she lives in Hawaii. She and I communicate almost daily via the Internet.
There have been players who stayed in Altoona over the winter because they liked it here. One of the early Curve pitchers owns a business here. I have gotten to know more than a few players over the years, on a more personal level than just fan and player, and I value their friendship.
I know this is the case with more than a few fans.
Perhaps those who can't see any local pride in the Curve winning the EL championship should stop looking in the mirror and realize there are thousands of fans who do care about winning and losing. Many of us feel nothing but extreme pride, enjoyment and satisfaction but also appreciation and happiness for this 2010 Curve team.
For 11 years, we have had great youngsters coming through Altoona and playing for our Altoona Curve. But I think overall, taking everything into consideration, this year's team was the epitome of a group of guys who knew each other, actually cared for each other, knew how to play the game, and most of all, knew how to win.
Add to this their outstanding rapport and openness and respect for the fans, and their willingness to give of their time for different charities, and it's quite obvious why, to those who witnessed it all, the Altoona Curve of 2010 deserve our pride and respect.
Curve gesture appreciated
With the Altoona Curve ending with such a terrific year, I would like to express my gratitude to the organization for their outstanding act of kindness shown this past season.
My father, Robert Murray, has been an usher with the Altoona Curve for many years. In March, my mother became seriously ill and had many complications throughout the summer which required my father to report off for some of the games.
The organization was very understanding when he would need to call off, and most of these calls were the same day as games.
Towards the end of the season, the Curve hosted an employee picnic. Fortunately things were going well with my mother, and my father was able to attend the picnic. One of the activities was a 50/50 drawing that was done that day.
When the drawing was over, the Curve graciously donated their part of the drawing back to my father and to another employee. The story doesn't end there. Upon returning to the next scheduled game, my father was presented with the other half of the 50/50. Unfortunately, I have no idea who the person is that won the drawing but my thanks goes out the them also.
This is just another example of how the Curve gives back to the community and truly appreciates our support. I know my father is looking forward to next season.
Paterno philosophy wearing thin
I thought Cory Giger's column in Monday's paper about the red-zone woes of Penn State was spot on.
One of the drawbacks to having two quarterbacks play equally in any game is that "they don't get into a rhythm." With so many fingers in the offensive-playcalling pie, it's no wonder that we flounder. No single coach can get into a rhythm.
Can you imagine Tom Bradley calling plays by committee? Never in a million years. So why are there three coaches calling offensive plays? How can we ever get into an offensive rhythm in the red zone, where I'll bet there's the most discussion and debate?
On Rob Bolden's pass to Graham Zug in the end zone that went way over Zug's head, I thought that had Bolden thrown it short, it would have been an easy touchdown. I suspect that the coaches have told Bolden to throw it high whenever there's any doubt. But that can't be helping his confidence, either.
Speaking of playing two quarterbacks, I completely agree with Giger's observation about Newsome in wildcat situations. I know Newsome doesn't pass as well as Bolden, but can you imagine a rollout option with Newsome? The opposing defense would always be expecting a run.
Give Al Golden credit. His team played hard, and they played to win. If they don't lose Pierce and they recover Bolden's fumble on the blindside hit, PSU probably loses. Given the way Temple played, I bet the Temple coaching staff would have had more points on the board had they been coaching Penn State.
I've been a fan since 1960, but, at 63, Joe's conservative approach has taken its toll on me. There's a big difference between playing to win and playing not to lose. I almost started rooting for Temple at the end. They deserved to win. We didn't.
It might sound absurd from a lifetime PSU fan, but I've just about had enough of playing not to lose. It's just not a very sound life philosophy.