Suns bring out council's true fireworks

December 06, 2005|by TIM ROWLAND


Memo to Hagerstown Suns General Manager Kurt Landes: Please request something else from the Hagerstown City Council. Just something. Anything. It's just so much fun to watch this council shear a pin over anything baseball-related that it would be a great disservice to the community not to do so.

Come on, Kurt, you are in the entertainment business. Don't you feel a certain sense of obligation here? To be honest, the council meetings had gotten a bit sluggish lately, and it took the good old American pastime to bring them back to form.

Sure, you could watch The Girls chatting away in their Pajama Party Caucus, or listen to Lew - who for soliloquies makes Hamlet sound like Marcel Marceau - self-agonize over point-source effluent discharge. But those acts had gotten a little thin. And true, the mayor is still cutting off Penny in midsentence, but he's not doing it with the same flair, in my view.


But introduce a round, white ball to this group and all bets are off.

To be fair, the council did the right thing in the end. They allowed the Suns to host 14 fireworks displays through the season, with a couple of modest restrictions. But watching them get there? Oh ... My ... God.

The Hagerstown Suns are the city's biggest tourist draw. They bring more people to the city than any other attraction in Hagerstown, other than District Court. So naturally, there is a tendency on the part of this council to throw every piece of office furniture it can in the Suns' way.

Suns' attendance has soared since Landes arrived on the scene. The team has earned national ink from its promotions. This year, it won the first-half championship. People who normally wouldn't set foot in the city on a bet are coming here and spending money. It's been a successful business - probably the city's most successful business in every sense of the word - over the past three years. Behind Landes is Mandalay, a Big Business that is prepared to pour investment money into the city if it can get just the slightest assurance that this council isn't crazier than a jailhouse rat.

Now let's go to a hypothetical city, one controlled by a fair dose of reason and logic. With a business such as the Suns in hand, its council members might be showing up on the team's doorstep saying, "Thanks, good show, how can we help?"

But not this bunch.

Let's be clear, the Suns are helping the city, even as the city does its best to make the team's life difficult.

Trump gets it, as do Metzner and Kristin. After that, it's DiMaggio bar the door.

If you're looking for logic, take your doubloons to another pirate. At a recent meeting, Penny Nigh sputtered indignantly about "a citizen" whose concerns about a South End development were not redressed. But fireworks supporters outnumbered opponents 11-1, and that didn't stop Penny from ignoring those "citizens."

As Metzner said, why do we bother to have public hearings in the first place, if we're going to ignore the public?

Nigh and Kelly Cromer are always referring to some shadowy person they have "heard from" who is opposed to everything (dude gets around, don't he?).

If it's that big a deal to them, then these "heard from" people ought to drag themselves down to City Hall and make themselves and their views known, as Suns supporters were more than proud to do last month.

And why vent so much poison toward something as American and wholesome as baseball, for crying out loud? In Hagerstown, apple pie had better watch its backside.

Yeah, I know, Hagerstown has much more serious things on its agenda. Gangs and all. Look, last gang I saw in Hagerstown was when Wal-Mart had a sale on stretch pants.

Although maybe it's the gangs that are "getting to" council members and telling them to make the Suns' life miserable. "Pssst. Ladies. Rub out the Suns or next time we're going to rearrange something besides your dining table flowers."

I have mixed feelings, because if there are gangs it would be the only organized thing in Hagerstown. I'm not saying we should honor the Crips at the next Chamber banquet, but it is kind of an accomplishment, when you think about it. And no, don't send me your Chamber award categories - Best Washington County Gang, Best Small Gang, Best Use of Technology by a Gang - I already thought about it and decided the concept wasn't good enough to make the cut.

But I am open to ideas for how the Suns could incorporate the council into its promotional entertainment schedule. After the game, we could sit them in the outfield and have them debate the merits of the high strike zone.

Fireworks wouldn't be as entertaining as that - although they would be quieter.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist.

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