Sunday, March 1, 2009
Dr. Hook and the Mitch Fritz Show
Upon visiting the Bridgeport Sound Tigers' website last week, I saw that Paul D'Amato, a/k/a Tim "Dr. Hook" McCracken of "Slap Shot" fame, was due to appear at that Saturday's Sound Tigers game to sign autographs. I quickly sent out an e-mail to The Mediocre One, as well as two lowercase mediocre ones (or, as they are also known, Rangers fans) to gauge interest in a trip to Bridgeport. I'd been itching to get to a Sound Tigers game, since I hadn't been yet this season, and this seemed like as good an occasion as any, even if it meant missing a dual-accordion concert in Brooklyn featuring an alumnus from the Official Palm Isle Alma Mater.
Not surprisingly, the Mediocre One was the only one to jump at the opportunity; I can only assume the Rangers fans were home baking muffins for their hero. So, after a brief flirtation with going to see Mr. D'Amato (along with Chris "Hanrahan" Murney and Andy "Tim Carr" Duncan) at the Coliseum on Thursday (which turned out to be a double-super-secret appearance not promoted or even really encouraged by the Islanders), we were off to Bridgeport to see Mitch Fritz's Sound Tigers take on the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in a battle for second place in the East.
The Mediocre One picked me up in Woodside, where I'd arrived from Philadelphia after a Friday night Jason Isbell concert, and we headed for I-95. The Mediocre One is easily a bigger "Slap Shot" fan than I (I'm a "Slap Shot 2" kind of guy...I keed), and he and the Reverend Zamboni (perhaps you remember him from the good old days here, before he abandoned us for the cold embrace of the Central New York winter and the love and adulation of his twice-monthly Puck Daddy fantasy-hockey column) are members of the legendary Ithaca College intramural floor hockey Charlestown Chiefs franchise. And, as a member of the team, the Mediocre One wanted to make sure he wouldn't be the only Chief to have a Dr. Hook autograph. That meant that he came fully prepared with not only DVDs but also a stack of Dr. Hook photos printed on his computer. Ten of them. We were hopeful that Mr. D'Amato wouldn't be charging a hefty fee for his signature.
We got to the Harbor Yard about a half-hour before gametime and found what seemed to be a sizable crowd getting ready to head into the arena. Still, because it's minor-league hockey, we were able to pick up center-ice seats, about twelve rows back, for $28 a pop. We could've gotten cheaper tickets, but I like to support the Sound Tigers as best as I can. And considering similar seats at the Coliseum are probably about three times as much (and, let's face it, the Isles are really the Sound Tigers varsity at this point), it was still a helluva deal.
We spotted the Dr. Hook table soon after entering and after scoping out the merch situation (signed 8X10s, pucks, and t-shirts were available for $10, $15, and $20, respectively, and there appeared to be no fee if you brought stuff to sign), we decided to head to our seats and come back later.
After the excitement of seeing Mitch Fritz in person subsided (never gets old) and the first period ended, we headed to the concourse to complete Operation McCracken. While the Mediocre One was in the can, I bought a Syracuse Bulldogs puck and got it signed, capping off the experience with this swell photo.
And then came the Mediocre One's turn, after he bought $20 of raffle tickets for the McCracken jersey, in a goodwill gesture for the monster autograph signing that was about to take place.
The Mediocre One opted for a split session, getting the DVDs signed first and letting the line die down before hitting him with the photos (all class, that kid, though I did give him some coaching based on my sadly vast autograph experiences). So, after talking with the guy in charge of the Slap Shot fan pages on MySpace and Facebook (nice guy...I forget his name; TMO has his business card) he headed back to the table when things subsided and hit him with the stack (not literally). Mr. D'Amato was awfully nice about it, happily signing and personalizing the photos as TMO made sure to get all his Chiefs (well, the important ones) covered.
And, since we were on a roll and had obtained 14 autographs from Mr. D'Amato, we kidnapped him and took him back to the Mediocre Estate, to watch "Slap Shot," partake in a couple of rounds of Scattergories, and play Super Mario Kart on the Wii.
OK, you got me. We didn't. But seriously, Paul D'Amato's a good (and patient) dude. Check out his website and buy a signed photo (or ten) if you're so inclined.
With all that taken care of, we could enjoy the game, which wound up being a pretty good one. It was hard not to just watch the awesomeness of Mitch Fritz the whole game (the man seems to be forever taking notes about whose ass he might have to kick later in the game), but the rest of the Tigers played well and had things well under control, until an incident with 6:16 left in the third. After a play stoppage, there was some jawing at the benches involving Fritz, and the next thing we knew Fritz was heading back to the locker room and the Penguins had five minutes of power play time. What the?
Because the PA announcer likes to not be too vocal when announcing penalties, I originally thought that Fritz got an unsportsmanlike, but I see today that he was called for the equally baffling butt-ending (prior to the play stoppage, I guess, since I didn't see him butt-ending anyone at the bench). Don't see that called every day. In fact, I'm not sure when the last time I saw a butt-ending call was, particularly with six minutes left in a one-goal game.
No matter. The Sound Tigers killed off the five minutes (only one shot on goal) and took the 3-2 victory and possession of second place. The two teams are playing again tonight, and I'm watching it as I write this on the free AHL Live preview. Nice.
And that wraps up another successful Palm Isle road trip. I hope to provide you another Sound Tigers report after I attend Jeff Tambellini Bobblehead Night later this month.