By Scott Michaux
© 2005 The Augusta Chronicle
AUGUSTA, Ga. – Fantasy leagues exist on the notion that deep inside every one of us, we believe we could do a better job of running a sports franchise than the people actually in charge.
For most of us – particularly sports writers – this is good enough. It sates our taste for ownership and wiles away the few idle hours when we’re not telling the real sports executives what they’re doing wrong in newsprint.
For a few others, fantasy isn’t enough.
Rob Mueller is one of those others.
“Took it to the next level,” Mueller said the day before he assumed the managerial reins of the Augusta Lynx hockey franchise he spent years covering as a journalist.
Yes, an honest-to-goodness Augusta Chronicle sports writer is now pulling some of the strings at one of the town’s highest-profile minor-league franchises. The relationship is already paying dividends, with the puck dropping 30 minutes earlier every home game relieving some of the deadline burden.
“Maybe I’m a trend-setter,” Mueller said after taking over from Paul Gamsby.
The club’s fifth GM certainly knows more about the Lynx than anyone else in Augusta. Mueller covered them from the beginning, when the ECHL club moved here from Raleigh, N.C. He covered them so thoroughly that the paper routinely received phone calls from fans of other sports and programs begging for a fraction of the space devoted to a niche team.
Don’t think he didn’t get his share of phone calls and e-mails from a passionate fan base suggesting if Mueller thought he knew so much about hockey, he should try to run the team.
“People have said that to me, in a nice way,” Mueller said diplomatically. “They’d say I should go work for them because I seemed to know what’s going on. It was always very positive. I’ve always had a good relationship with readers and fans.”