In light of the bizarre arrest and the now court-ordered mental evaluation of Maurice Clarett, our buddy, Mahoning Valley HitMen owner Jim Terry, is back in the news again, and seems to be in deeper trouble than ever. His marquee player is locked up, and is almost as much a lock to serve time. To add insult to injury, the Thunderplex has decided his team won’t play there after all, with GM Dave Anderson asserting the league will never get off the ground. On top of that, Warren JFK has pulled out as a venue for his player tryout in September.
Then, let’s look at that “other” franchise, the Mahoning Valley Thunder. They haven’t announced any players, but if anything, they need a quarterback, not a running back. They’ve announced a GM. They’ve hired Michael Hold as head coach, a guy who has been involved with arena football since its inception in 1987. He has his ups and downs- he’s lost more than he’s won as a coach- but he is clearly experienced with the style of play, and for a new franchise, it’ll be good to have someone who knows how the game works and to introduce it to the Youngstown area.
If there’s one thing I can be good at, its obscure analogies, although not completely in the style of Dennis Miller, and I would very much enjoy comparing these two football franchises to the movie industry. See, I think of the Thunder as the established, big-money studio, like 20th Century Fox or MGM. The people who run these establishments are on solid financial footing, they strike deals (and ones on paper) with the facilities they wish to use, and they do business in a very professional matter. The HitMen, on the other hand, can compare to The Asylum. Now, unless you watch The Today Show every day, like I don’t, you probably haven’t heard of them. But I did catch it the day they profiled The Asylum, and here’s a sampling of some of the direct-to-video fare they’ve put out:
- H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds
- King of the Lost World
- When a Killer Calls
- The Da Vinci Treasure
- 666: The Child
- Pirates of
- Snakes on a Train
These films have been filmed and released to coincide with the releases of the Tom Cruise version of War of the Worlds, Peter Jackson’s King Kong, When a Stranger Calls, The Da Vinci Code, the re-make of The Omen, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, and the soon to be released Snakes on a Plane, respectively. I have actually rented When a Killer Calls, and aside from becoming a near-Snuff film during the last half hour, is completely identical in story to its big-screen counterpart.
But I digress. With that analogy, the HitMen are, for lack of a better word, a knock-off. They were announced shortly after we heard about the Thunder, they say they’re offering their own take on what is essentially the same product, and they’re (trying to) pulling it off on a shoe-string budget, only a fraction of the original product’s.
I‘m not going to hate Jim Terry. I say that because if that correlation proved anything, all he’s doing is trying to do business, and I won’t hate anybody for doing work. But before you start saying this blog is a Terry sympathizer, let me say I whole-heartedly disagree with his business tactics. I believe there should be certain etiquette in conducting business, and Jim Terry has ignored that etiquette, opting to publicize himself and his team like it’s a circus.
I was turned on to the AFL about five years ago, and I still watch, so I’ve seen its rise in popularity, its rise in respectability, and having been to a few games myself, I have a bit of an idea of how the big teams are run. The games are wild: its fast-paced, people are constantly entertained, it’s a true carnival. But during the rest of the week, it is anything but: coaches are doing radio shows to talk about the team like any other league; the front office is very uniform, getting work done in a way as professional as any other big time team. And I think that’s what we want to see with sports teams, or entertainment ventures in general: you expect to be entertained by what you see on the field, not by what you hear about what they’re doing off of it.
And I think the Mahoning Valley Thunder is the team that will offer such. From them, the only stories we’ve heard have been about hiring’s: a GM, a head coach, a dance team coordinator, as well as a lease agreement. From the HitMen, just about everything we’ve heard about them is either deals falling through or deals that have been agreed to in principle, but are only verbal and thus haven’t been finalized. Compare that to the Thunder, where the papers have been signed and are ready to go. The HitMen, on the other hand, have nowhere to play, nowhere to try out, and while they have a phone number, they say nothing about an actual office.
Beside the fact that the Thunder has announced deals that are actually set in stone, I’m more likely to buy tickets for their games because of the environment. It’s downtown Youngstown, with a brand-new arena with all the amenities, free parking, and a great selection of places to go eat and drink, and all within walking distance to the game. The HitMen, if they can find a place to play (so far, the only places left we’ve been able to think of are Valley Sports in Struthers, and the Golf Dome in Girard. The chances of either place striking a deal seem questionable), will be out of the way, with very few places to go to nearby. And while we’re speaking of venues, it’s all the more disheartening to find the “tickets” section is yet another blank page on www.mvhitmen.com.
In conclusion, pretty much everyone sooner or later thought Jim Terry was going to fall flat on his face, and as of late, it seems everyone thought right. With no venue, the player he’s been parading around sure to go to jail, no place for his announced player tryout, and dwindling options as to what to do next, it’ll all be rather interesting to say the least to see what he’ll do next with the EIFL season fast approaching.
For the record, New YTOWN formally endorses the Mahoning Valley Thunder, because the site believes it’s safer and much more enjoyable to be swimming in their relatively calm waters.
Editor’s Note: Sorry about the weird fonts. WordPress just does it all on its own. I hate it too.