How often do you see a marching band highlighted on ESPN?
I’d say, approximately ... never.
But last week, the sports network posted a graphic that read: “Is the Ohio State marching band more exciting to watch than the Ohio State football team?”
It wasn’t a knock on Urban Meyer’s guys, who are now undefeated in nine games. It was, rather, an acknowledgement that this year’s OSU band has been kicking holy butt.
Just plug “Ohio State band” into YouTube and you’ll see what the fuss is about. Recent halftime performances have featured an outline of Michael Jackson moonwalking and a tribute to blockbuster Hollywood movies, including a Jurassic Park dinosaur gobbling up a Michigan football player.
An 11-minute tape of the MJ tribute has gotten 7.3 million views. The movie tribute has racked up 8.5 million.
Here’s something else cool: One of the key members of the band is a young lady from Green.
Senior Jackie Oplinger, a bass trombonist, has spent four years playing with the Best Damn Band in the Land. Last weekend, she served as the Michigan football player who was gobbled up and spit out by a T-Rex.
And two games later this season, she will be the one who exchanges a “high five” with the person who dots the “i” in Script Ohio.
Marching bandism doesn’t get much better than that.
Unfortunately for her, Jackie is the daughter of Beacon Journal Managing Editor Doug Oplinger, a pinheaded, pencil-necked geek who sits in an office with a big window doing things I can’t quite put my finger on.
Good thing his daughter fell far from the tree.
Words cannot describe how much I detest making our clocks “fall back” today.
Actually, words could describe it, but I’m not allowed to use those words here.
Give her an ‘F’
If I were running for a school board, I would proofread my campaign fliers at least five times and ask several other people to read them, too. After all, when you’re talking about education, your material should be the very model of literacy.
Well, Veronica Sims, an incumbent running for the Akron Board of Education, mailed out a flier in which she:
• Failed to include the apostrophes while touting her “bachelors” and “masters” degrees.
• Wrote about her desire to create “safe learning envirnoments [sic].”
• Capitalized “graduates” in the middle of a sentence.
• Said she was intent on “insuring that 3rd graders read at grade level” (rather than “ensuring”).
How could a school board candidate turn in that kind of homework?
Sims didn’t respond to an email asking that question, but I got a call from state Rep. Vernon Sykes, her campaign treasurer, who told me he was responsible for proofreading the flier but dropped the ball.
With friends like that ...
Bounce it back
Last week, I tried extremely hard to do two things:
1. Embrace the new name of the Akron Aeros.
2. Refrain from writing about the name change, because that would be just too darn easy.
Obviously, I have failed at my second objective. Perhaps just as obviously, I have failed at my first objective as well.
I really, really wanted to like the name Akron RubberDucks because I really, really like and respect the team’s owner, Ken Babby. Since buying the franchise a year ago, he has done absolutely everything right.
Although the experts say baseball teams that change their names often face an initial backlash that soon ebbs, the abuse that greeted this move was nearly unprecedented.
A columnist on the website Bloguin.com wrote, “The trend of changing minor league team names reached a new low on Tuesday ... .”
My email inbox was flooded by readers asking whether this was some sort of elaborate joke.
In separate polls, both WEWS (Channel 5) and WJW (Channel 8) showed an 81 percent disapproval rating in the hours after the announcement. Those figures improved slightly during the following few days, with “only” three out of four people hating the name.
The story was powerful enough to cross over from sports-talk radio to news-talk radio, where, for instance, Phil Ferguson of WNIR (100.1-FM) offered listeners a “twaffic update.” Virtually everyone with a WNIR microphone ridiculed the choice.
The new colors? Awesome. The new logos? Cool. The name? Just doesn’t work. Minor-league baseball should be fun, but not silly.
News-Herald columnist Jim Ingraham probably put it best: “Baseball teams should almost never be named after bath toys.”
I was never a fan of “Aeros,” which made little sense and also carried the taint of creepy former owner Mike Agganis. I was partial to Canal Rats, a nod to the Ohio & Erie Canal just beyond the ballpark’s left-field wall and a name that provided a gold mine for potential logos. Had they renamed the team “Canal Rats,” I would have purchased a T-shirt the same day.
The crowning blow: Our local baseball franchise succumbed to the same disease that gave us FirstEnergy — one word, two capitals — and FirstMerit — ditto. Hey, guys, buy a space!
Even Google disapproved. If you searched for “akron rubberducks” last week, Google’s response was: “Did you mean rubber ducks?”
No. Unfortunately, I didn’t.
The only upside is that, for once, everybody was talking about Akron’s baseball team. Let’s hope that translates into higher ticket sales.
If not, I have a great promotional idea for next year:
Change the name again.
Bob Dyer can be reached at 330-996-3580 or firstname.lastname@example.org.