Columbus has two professional sports franchises — the Columbus Crew Major League Soccer team, and the Columbus Blue Jackets, a National Hockey League franchise. (Some would argue that the real big-league team in town is the Ohio State Buckeyes.)
The Crew won the MLS Cup a few years ago, but the Blue Jackets have been a kind of Sad Sack team. The made the playoffs one year and quickly were eliminated. Other than that, their record has been abysmal. In most years, they have been virtually eliminated from the playoff hunt by the beginning of January, and the hardy souls who buy season tickets are begging their friends to use the ducats thereafter.
This year is different. The Jackets have a new coach, are playing a new style of hockey, and have started the season 13-6, including a stellar 7-1 record on the road. The team has a good corps of young players, including star scorer Rick Nash, and two good goalies in Mathieu Garon and Steve Mason. While the season is still young, there is hope in Columbus that the franchise may have turned the corner. The question for hockey fans is whether the CBJ could be one of the NHL’s better teams, capable of playing deep into the playoffs — something that would be good for Columbus and great for the franchise.
We may learn the answer soon enough to the question about how good the Blue Jackets really are. On Friday the perennial NHL power, the Detroit Red Wings, visit Nationwide Arena for a key divisional contest.
The "Map Room"
The Ohio Statehouse has lots of interesting features. One of my favorites is the “Map Room” in the basement. It shows the outline of the State and each of its counties, with each county constructed of a different kind of stone. I dare any Ohioan to visit the Map Room and resist standing squarely and proudly atop their home county!
It’s a very cool area, and I always find myself wondering: Why did they put this in the basement?
News stories are reporting that North Korea has fired dozens of artillery shells onto a South Korean island, killing one South Korean soldier, injuring other soldiers and civilians, and damaging houses. South Korea returned fire. Although the shelling has stopped for now, the two neighbors are on high alert, and the world is waiting to see if North Korea continues, or escalates, the situation.
Other countries in Asia have moved into the 21st century and focused on economic development and democratic reforms — but not North Korea. It remains mired in the 1940s, home to a throwback totalitarian regime complete with a “glorify the leader” personality cult and ludicrous propaganda. Its paranoid behavior on the world stage is consistently inexplicable. It spends its scant treasure on nuclear weapons programs and other military initiatives, and all the while its poor people are starving.
You have to sympathize with South Korea. Its neighbor is home to many suffering relatives of South Korean citizens. No doubt South Korea hopes that the people of North Korea will overthrow their repressive government, or that reform elements in the government will emerge that allow North Korea to move toward democracy and capitalism, like China before it. Such hopes have been dashed. North Korea’s leader acts out his whims, he appoints his son as a successor, the son acts out his whims, and the pattern continues. All the while South Korea waits, uneasy, its thoughts never straying too far from the unpredictable, hyper-aggressive country to the north.