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Beware friendly bets, free pancakes

ERNEST HOOPER
Published May 26, 2004

Championship sports clashes have traditionally featured cheesy bets between the mayors of the respective cities, and Tampa and Calgary are no different.

Yet there was a degree of disappointment over the exchange between our Pam Iorio and Calgary's Dave Bronconnier: beer, sausage and chocolate from them; oranges, cigars and guava pastries from us.

In this case, what we need is more hostility, less civility; more frivolity, less formality.

So we have come up with a number of suggestions that would make the wager with Calgary, our newly found Western Canadian opponent, a little saucier.

Iorio could have promised a lifetime pass to Mons Venus (guava pasties instead of pastries?) I'm sure Joe Redner wouldn't mind. And while this may not follow proper protocol, Iorio could have made County Commissioner Ronda Storms part of the ante. Doesn't every city want a politician good at stirring things up? Come to think of it, Johnnie Byrd would be an even better wager.

Byrd and Storms, of course, might want to send Redner.

The good folks of Gibsonton could have put together a tailor-made sideshow for Calgary, and maybe we could have gotten back some barrel racers from the Calgary Stampede. We could wager a souped-up Sun City Center golf cart; they could wager a souped-up snowmobile. They could bet commemorative medals from the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics, and we could bet commemorative medals from the 2012 ... never mind.

How 'bout this? Iorio offers the hapless Devil Rays, and Bronconnier puts up the football-playing Calgary Stampeders, who went 5-13 last year. That's even.

We lose, we have to take a mad cow. They lose, they have to take a swarm of palmetto bugs. They could bet a chinook, we could bet a hurricane.

Wait, I got it. Iorio could put up a gallon of cafe con leche, six grouper sandwiches and a kettle of paella.

We could be nice.

* * *

AFTER ALL, THEY'RE being nice.

Allegedly.

I hate to be cynical, but we cannot forget the lesson of the Trojan horse. In an effort to underscore their supposed hospitality, Calgary officials are going to stage a free pancake luncheon at Lykes Gaslight Square Park today from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Two folks will win a trip to Calgary for Game 3, and Iorio will be made an honorary Calgarian.

What? Hey, we're used to dealing with psycho Philly people who would happily serve us up cheese steaks with moldy Limburger. This new brand of kindness is, well, foreign to us rabid Tampa Bay fans.

Perhaps this is truly genuine. Did I mention the pancakes were free? But I'm afraid the Lightning players will not be able to partake. We fans can endure any trickery, but the players are not allowed to eat or sleep with the enemy.

* * *

CALL ME CRAZY, but sometimes I feel like CSX is in cahoots with the Expressway Authority. Every time I attempt to save a $1.25 and weave my away across city streets, a train - make that a long, slow-moving train - halts traffic.

It's like they see my car bypass the on-ramp and place a telephone call.

I know, I'm crazy.

* * *

TUESDAY WAS THE 25th anniversary of the execution of John Spenkelink, the first inmate put to death in Florida since the reinstatement of the death penalty. Being a native of Tallahassee, I can recall that day in great detail.

Spenkelink had been convicted of a Tallahassee murder, and it was the governor and the Legislature that reinstated the death penalty. On the day of his execution, the temperature in Tallahassee dropped to 48 degrees. In May.

Call me crazy, but I checked with the National Weather Service and that day actually was the coldest May 25 in the 119 years the service has kept records. The next days were slightly more chilly: 41 degrees and 44 degrees.

Those are the facts. You be the judge.

That's all I'm saying.

- Ernest Hooper can be reached at 813 226-3406 or Hooper@sptimes.com

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