Tuesday, April 10, 2007

What Price Free Hat?

Trip Recap #3 - March 3rd, Richmond VA. Woke up quick, at about noon. Headed to a fast-food restaurant Pun City had seen the night before, a place called "Bullets." Solid, this blog will get a review of that up shortly. Virginia Commonwealth was taking on Georgia State after GSU's miraculous win the day before.

Above: Richmond Coliseum's unique roof supports.

VCU cruised, and given this blog's scoring rule, the game was over when VCU led by 11 with 10:37 remaining.

The next game featured Drexel versus Northeastern. This game was interesting on several fronts. First, this blog had gotten tickets from Drexel's ticket office, so it was the first game which this blog's section had a sizeable contingent on hand. As one of the guys sitting behind this blog said, after having sat through 5 games which he had only a minor interest in, "Finally, a game I care about!"

This blog cared about the same as the previous 5 incidentally.

This blog had noticed the guys sitting behind it were pretty talkative, somewhat annoying previously. This blog was also aware it was sitting in the Drexel seating section, but all of the pieces hadn't quite come together until this game, when this blog realized......

Pun City was surrounded by a bunch of Philadelphia sports fans. This blog is going to say that the fans hadn't met their over-the-top billing yet, and Drexel University isn't the most common team one thinks of when it thinks of Philadelphia sports. But sure enough, mixed in among the Drexel apparel around this blog's section was a healthy amount of Phillies hats, Eagles jerseys, and general affinity for cheesesteaks.

This blog's first thought: "Aw crap, Philly fans." However, after further review, this blog is stunned to proclaim: Philly fans are awesome. Very hilarious at times, a bit extreme other times, but generally knowledgeable and fun to be around during a game. Some highlights:

-Drexel's student section employs what this blog would call a "hypercount," where they start with the actual remaining shot-clock time, but just count it down at about 3 times the actual pace. This worked extremely well, getting Northeastern to force up early shots on at least 4 occasions. Nice work on that.

-This blog guesses that Northeastern's student section is fairly well-known around the conference for making giant roll-out signs that they show the other team's fans, then rip up. Drexel came prepared for this, which was very funny. Northeastern's main sign was "Chaz Drinks Zima," referring to Drexel's Chaz Crawford and, well, Zima. Drexel's students countered with "Screw Clam Chowder - Gimme A Cheesesteak," and "Northeastern = Wicked Awful." Given that Northeastern is based in Massachusetts, this was good stuff.
Above: Northeastern's Student Section

-The PA announcer at Richmond Coliseum, for whatever reason, chooses to use the expression "spells" for every substitution. As in, "Frank Elegar spells Chaz Crawford." As almost every sports fan realizes, when a starter re-enters for a backup, he's not exactly there to "spell" him. This didn't phase the PA announcer, who used it every single time. This blog had picked up on how annoying this was, but hadn't quite nailed down the best way to mock the situation, until...

-This blog was supplied with several great lines from one row behind on this very situation:
PA: "Tremayne Hawthorne spells Dominick Mejia." One Row Back: "With an H instead of a J"
PA: "Bobby Jordan spells Bashir Mason." One Row Back: "Good, 'cause I can't fuckin' spell that."

-DU fans also were decrying the media for failing to name Frank Elegar first-team All-CAA, which was a fair argument since the first team featured 4 guards, one forward, and no centers. Presumably if 2 forwards or 1 center had been on the team, as with most standard teams, Elegar would have been the big man selected.

-One somewhat annoying part of the DU fans was their accent, which was most pronounced when shouting star player Dominic Mejia's nickname, coming out (roughly) as "Dawhm!" A small price to pay however, Philadelphia fans' knowledge and humor were a great combo while watching the games.

After Drexel dismantled Northeastern, most of Drexel's fans cleared out of this blog's section. This was cool, but the usher in this site's section repeatedly checked Pun City's ticket when returning to the seat. This was ridiculous in that: a) This blog made a point to make eye contact with the usher each time this blog left the section, at times less than 2 minutes before returning to a ticket check, and b) There were only about 9 fans left in this blog's section, so it wasn't like it was tough to remember. This analysis doesn't even include the "Who cares if someone's in these empty seats?!!" factor. This blog chalks it up to a bad individual usher, Pun City didn't have any problems the other 3 days with different ushers.

Towson didn't have a large number of fans show up to the 3rd game, but it was cool when student fans from both Virginia Commonwealth and George Mason flooded into the Towson section and started wildly cheering for the Tigers. Unfortunately this was not quite enough and Old Dominion took them out 58-55.

Before the last game of the evening, this blog had a weird encounter that might cause it to use a little more caution the next time it starts hunting down freebies.

Here goes: This blog had noticed the Army table was handing out bags, but you couldn't get a free hat from them, it seemed as though those were reserved for student sections, where they would get on TV more. At any rate, this blog sees one of the recruiters walking with about 6 hats in his hand. This blog figures he's going to throw them out at some point and starts following him. He ends up not throwing them out, but instead giving them to some of the ticket takers to hand to students later. The ticket taker, in turn, sets the hats on a ticket window. This blog was looking to see where exactly they ended up, and also if this blog could snag one.

In order to see the front of a ticket window from inside the Richmond Coliseum, one has to position themself fairly close to an exit. This blog assures you that one can easily do so without actually leaving the building. So that's what this blog did. And, sure enough, the hats were just sitting there, no one handing them out. But to get one, you'd need to exit and re-enter. This blog wasn't about to do that, free hat or not, so it just headed back into the concourse and walked around for a while. After a short walk, this blog returned to the same spot to see if they were now handing out the hats. No dice, they were still on the ticket counter.

However, this time, Pun City hears someone say, "Hey buddy, stop!" This blog's got nothing to hide, so it stops, heads back toward the voice. It's an usher, positioned on the hat side of a fence (far side from Pun City). He asks to see my ticket, so I dig it out, show it to him. This blog thinks he was trying to catch this blog sneaking into the game from the nearby exit. Then he asks if the ticket's been scanned in. Well, yeah, obviously. His next comment was a little unnerving: "Since I saw you leave, technically I can't let you back in...." This blog is immediately thinking "What!?? Pun City hasn't come within 3 feet of the exit!! You cannot be serious!!"

A bunch of options are running through this blog's head. This usher is on the other side of a fence, so there's always the flight response, which would certainly work in the short term, but there's a good shot that this blog eventually gets caught and/or has to watch a good portion of the late game from the upper deck in hiding or something. This also would bring on the chance of getting thrown out of the next 2 days' games, not an option. So this blog says:

"But (Pun City) didn't leave. (Pun City) never stepped outside the building." This blog figures that it's theoretically possible this blog had stepped into some kind of "DMZ" that counted as leaving the building when you haven't physically left, so it's not going to completely blow up on the guy just yet. At this point the usher, who clearly hadn't seen this blog leave, also probably not wanting to have to scale a fence if this blog decided to bail, "let" Pun City off with a warning, saying something to the effect of "Well I'll let you go."
Above: George Mason's Student Section
So it became clear that Pun City hadn't been in a DMZ and the usher was probably just trying to flex a little. At any rate, no harm, no foul, and this blog was able to see George Mason take down Hofstra for their 2nd win of the tournament in the nightcap. A bonus was George Mason's band director, who looks like George Jefferson's pimp brother. Very entertaining. Just like Pun City's night, for better or worse.

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