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Random trickery for column

November 05, 2002|by BOB PARASILITI

I'm about to perform a magic trick.

Many consider sportswriters endless fountains of information - be it right or wrong - who are just able to unload reams of stories and facts, and can fill space before their backsides fit the form of their well-worn chairs.

There are times I seem to be put in that category. Ask my co-workers and some of my friends and they will tell you of some of these Urban Legends. It's up to you to tell if it's fact or fiction.

But there are times when we have column deadlines and really don't know what to say. The fountain is dry.

This is one of them.

So, for my magic trick, I'm about to fill this space with some random thoughts. Here are some tidbits that have been rolling around in my head. They aren't quite full columns - but they rank up there in the right or wrong information category.

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So, with a few magic words ... Abracadabra. Space to be filled. Please be receptive. To this half-baked swill.

Here we are, already at the end of the high school football season. Where did the time go?

But this is the beginning of rivalry week. Boonsboro-Smithsburg and North-South are the top choices among Washington County types.

For once, it would be nice to see some real interest in these games, though.

Over the course of the last few years, the fan base for most of high school sports has eroded. Besides parents and girlfriends (boyfriends), few seem to spend their Friday nights sitting in the stands, wrapped in a blanket and cheering for a high school team.

Football isn't the only sport which has been losing out in the process. There might have been more people waiting in line at Outback than there were at the North Hagerstown-Century playoff soccer match last Thursday. North's athletic department might have been able to buy two bags of Halloween candy with its profits from the gate.

The point is over the course of the 15 years that I've made Hagerstown my home, I've heard the old war stories of the huge crowds that would come to School Stadium for the annual North-South game. At times, it sounded like one of those old tales of 200 tickets being sold to an event, but 20,000 people saying they were there.

For once, just once, I'd like to be part of one of those "big" crowds showing a genuine outpouring of community spirit that can make everyone feel good about themselves and the teams playing at least for one day.

I won't hold my breath, though.

The University of Maryland football team is beginning to live a very charmed life.

The Terps have a chance to get back to where they started on Saturday against North Carolina State. The winner of that game will remain at least one game behind Florida State for the Atlantic Coast Conference lead.

After last weekend's rash of Top 25 upsets, Maryland has its foot inside, or just knocking on, the backdoor of the elite again, depending on which college poll you follow.

And while it's great to see, you have to sit back and think about how Maryland is doing it.

The Terps have to be thanking their lucky stars for Chris Downs, who came in and replaced injured all-American tailback Bruce Perry and has done it in spectacular fashion.

They have to be thankful that all-American linebacker E.J. Henderson didn't jump ship for an early start in the NFL.

And they have to feel blessed that quarterback Scott McBrien has turned from quick study to a competent performer.

All of it is a product of coach Ralph Friedgen's positive attitude and innovative system which allows players to find their strengths.

Still, a little luck goes a long way. First, all the upsets makes the voting world look at Maryland again. Then, if the Terps can knock off the Wolfpack, they are in the hunt again. And if N.C. State could turn around and knock off Florida State later ....

It could mean really big things for the Terps again, putting another trip to the Orange Bowl back in the picture for the time being.

Sometimes there seems to be a circle of limited expectations when it comes to this area.

This is one of those thoughts that will leave me open to the wrath of the naysayers, but why are so many areas excited about the prospects of building minor league baseball stadiums while this area will do everything in its power to stop one?

Over the course of the last three weeks Charleston, W.Va. was approved for a $12 million state grant for a new ballpark. Pennsylvania's state government has ponied up $10 million to Lancaster and $12 million to York to build parks in an effort to draw independent league teams into their area.

"This new stadium will be important because it will bring more people to York," Pennsylvania govenor Mark Schweiker said in a statement. "Anytime you bring visitors into your area, you create jobs."

Can that be true? Such novel thought.

Hagerstown has been riding a seesaw on the very same issue for 12 years now. Policticans are afraid to make a decision, yes or no. Local citizens are screaming about tax money and building something that would take care of one business.

One major problem in the whole scene is no one will take the time to look at this as more than just a baseball stadium. With a little thought and some foresight, it could easily become a outdoor community center.

The recent 9/11 festivities at Municipal Stadium was the first time I could remember the ballpark being used for something other than baseball. Whose fault is that? I don't think it's the Suns.

And just how do you force the issue to make sure that any park would be for more than just baseball - more than a playground for one business?

How about building a soundstage in centerfield to be used for concerts and high school graduations. It would be a start.

Well, that's it.

Presto. Chang-o.

The space is filled.

Bob Parasiliti is a staff writer for the Morning Herald. His column appears every other Tuesday.

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