Funny thing happened at G. Ray Hale Fieldhouse on Tuesday.
Serving at the pleasure of my editor, I went to cover West High’s last home game of the season. They were hosting the lady Lancers of Granger in basketball. I went to the game expecting a blowout. Granger handed West their lunch the first time they faced each other, 49-27. History tends to repeat itself in high school sports—the project winner tends to win.
It was senior night for the Panthers and Coach Ronnie Stubbs was sending his girls off in fine fashion. After being announced by the PA, the girl would join her parents and Coach Stubbs would say a few words about her. All of it was laudatory and you could hear in his voice the affection he had for his departing players. Succeeding the affair, the girls warmed up and got to the real business at hand—trying to beat their Region 2 rivals and make it to a play-in game for the state championship.
Per expectations, Granger took it to West. They led for the entire half and looked like they had come up with the right game plan to shut down West’s hot shot point guard, Maddy Murphy. Running through what my lede would be for my gamer, I went into halftime fully prepared to write how the Lancers have found the right pace to entire the state 5A tourney and how they would matchup with their next opponent.
Something happened in the West locker room at halftime. Coach Stubbs must have given a heck of a speech and the Panthers came out and began taking it to the Lancers. They spread the court better, stopped making poor passes and started hitting shots from beyond the 3-point arc. Chipping away at the lead, Murphy started playing out of her mind and single-handedly started putting West’s fate on her shoulders. An eight point lead was chiseled to three and in the final moments of the fourth quarter, the Panthers took over. The last three minutes were as exciting as any game I’ve seen all year and in the last seconds, Granger missed back-to-back free throws giving West the victory.
I am lucky to have a part-time job that pays me to witness glimpses of brilliance and Murphy and Company did not disappoint. It was the quickest gamer I’ve written throughout the winter season and maybe my best. I was very proud of the work I submitted and I hope it encapsulated the game as best as possible.
The funny thing that happened at the game took place during halftime. Not to be a snob, but I cannot stand any of the halftime entertainment. Young girls gyrating to pop songs I have heard in passing does nothing for me and this is a good thing. At 38, I should be more interested in the mothers in the stands than their daughters. Escaping the bass and drum noise, I do what any self-respecting sports writer should do—I went and got a hot dog.
Walking to the concession stand, I passed the police officers stationed at the entrance. These rough looking dudes with beer bellies holding up utility belts didn’t give me a second look but the school hired security guards did. One in particular gave me a look and I found myself staring back hard at him. He was a husky guy with long, greasy hair pulled back over his super-broad shoulders. He had the physique of a body builder and the brickyard square jaw of a guy much more comfortable in a weight room than a library. If I didn’t know any better, I would have sworn it was Kane of WWE fame. You’ll have to Google a picture of Kane and you would definitely get the idea the moment you saw it. He wasn’t menacing or anything but he definitely gave me a look and I found myself squirming to the hot dog stand.
A quick note about hot dogs—the best are Nathan’s and thank God West High has the self-respect to serve these beautiful tube steaks. Since only a heathen or a Republican would out ketchup on a dog, I slathered mine in mustard and made my way back to the gym for the second half. Sliding my Coke into my pocket, I had a mischievous thought as I made my way to my “office” in the bleachers—let’s snap a picture of Kane and post it on Instagram.
I knew I couldn’t get him to sit for a portrait, so I would have to be clandestine and snap a shot on the fly. I put my hot dog in the other pocket of my jacket, took the flash off my iPhone and started my attack. This job required finesse and if you know Ben Raskin, you know his middle name is Finesse (it’s my father’s mother’s maiden name). Kane was standing in the middle of the entrance talking with the police when I cocked my phone at my hip up towards his face. I slowly meandered by him and at the last moment, I hit the button.
Something went immediately wrong because instead of Kane not being any the wiser he immediately focused on me and yelled, “Hey!” Because my nickname is Kaptain Kool, I did what any calm, reserved prankster would do—I yelped.
He made a move towards me and I literally scampered up the bleachers back to my stuff. Oh Boy! If this guy really has a problem with me, I am certain as death and taxes that he could rip me to shreds. Instead of being a meathead, he let the matter drop but not before I had a mini-heart attack and wondered whether or not my press credentials were going to be confiscated. More than likely, the mini-heart attack was the work of the Nathan’s dog and not the potential of a WWE wrestler putting me in a figure-four.
Instagram is a nutty phenomenon. It is a chance for people to take pictures of their meals, feet at the beach and the pyramids of beer that had been consumed through the night. I like it because it is a chance to spy on what fold are doing and to share pictures of my dogs at Fairmont Park. Nonetheless, I am not very good at it and I think I am going to stick with Twitter.
If you’re not following me on Twitter, get on board @BennyRaskin. In 140 characters or less, you basically get mini-blogs on subjects ranging from hot dogs, sports, Fairmont Park and whatever silly thought that crosses my mind. With that said, Twitter was kind to me with West downing Granger. Nights like that are why I love covering sports and getting a chance to get some ink in the local rag.
Ben Raskin bartends at Keys On Main Wednesday through Saturday. Follow him on Twitter @BennyRaskin. Podcast coming, people. For the record, Rowdy Roddy Piper was/is/and will always be his favorite wrestler.