sports


I watched about 90 minutes of this Olympics. Some men’s diving. Some women’s beach volleyball. A few qualifying heats on the track. Some of the women’s marathon. It made me sad to be so apathetic, but it can all be summed up when I turned on the TV this past Sunday thinking I might watch the men’s basketball final — even though I knew the US beat Spain 107-100 because it was long over and already in the news.

Instead of the game I got Al Michaels, Doc Rivers and whoever is the headcoach of the Philadelphia ’76ers previewing the “upcoming” game and talking about how Spain either needs to hold team USA to 80 points or find a way to score more than 115, otherwise it was going to be a blowout. 107-100 was obviously not a blowout, but at that point the game was still 90 minutes away from airing. I changed the channel. Watched the last few minutes of the already-seen last-season finale of “Hell on Wheels.”

I know NBC struck ratings gold with its tape-delayed, condensed, US-centric version of what happened over those 16 days in London, and that makes me sad. Because it validates their methodology of serving up the glorious games as reheated leftovers. And the irony is that TV seems to be succeeding with a model that’s been killing print media, which struggles to make their products worth picking up and reading the day after. But that lack of immediacy that’s slaughtered so many newspapers and magazines is now working for broadcasting.

Perhaps my hindsight is rose-colored, but I remember when the Olympic events were aired when they happened — not exclusively, but substantially. Back then it seemed given that few shows on a network’s schedule were so sacred as this fortnight every four years and preemption was the rule, not the exception. I’m not sure when it changed. Maybe it began in 1988 in Seoul. Maybe 1992 in Barcelona. I can distinctly remember it in Atlanta in 1996, much to my incredulity. And it’s just gotten worse since.

NBC’s success at failure can only mean this is how it’s  going to be from now on. In 2016 I’ll be able to count on turning on the TV and see a packaged version of an Olympic event in Rio that’s already yesterday’s news.

Count me out.

Count me out.

I hadn’t yet been to a Dodger game this year, and frankly might not have made it out to see one this season had the good folks at Mr. Pink Ginseng Drink not invited me and Susan to their media event this evening– which just so happened to also be Kirk Gibson Bobblehead  (with Fist Pump Action!) Night.

We got a VIP tour of the place — including a visit onto the hallowed field during batting practice — before adjourning to a suite to enjoy the game. Sure, it didn’t end well… the Arizona Diamondbacks ended up winning 8-2. But whether the Dodgers are victorious or not, a summer’s late afternoon and evening at Dodger Stadium will always be one of my favorite places in Los Angeles and on the planet. Thanks, Mr. Pink!

Last year the Amgen Tour of California ignored Los Angeles, and the year before I had to go downtown to watch a bit of the time trial stage, but this year the Amgen tour’s course designers did me a nice favor in sending the final stage cyclists along Sunset Boulevard — literally a half-block from my Silver Lake front door. So at 10:20a.m., about ten minutes before they were scheduled to roll through on their way downtown, I set up my cam on a tripod with a backdrop of some appropriately complementary street art, and they literally WHOOSHED by only a few feet from my lens.

Man am I late to this funeral. My go-to driving range known as Majestic Golf Land on Melrose in East Hollywood is gone. Has been for more than 17 months apparently.

Hint: Not knowing about it for THAT long gives you a huge clue as to how little I’ve been golfing of late.

But I did pull my dust-covered and cobwebby clubs out of the basement a couple Fridays ago to go play a round at the Arroyo Seco Golf Course in South Pasadena with my friend Dave Bullock, and afterward when I didn’t throw the clubs immediately back into the basement in disgust I thought I might maybe just visit the nearby Majestic to go all hacktastic on a bucket’s full of dimpled devils.

Then, whilst biking home up Heliotrope Tuesday from Melrose, I glanced over my shoulder in direction of the range and found the protective netting was gone. Could they be remodeling? Or could the place have gone under?

Leave it to my friend Elson, to clue me in via this post in January 2011 at his Elsongeles blog:

Like many in the community, including LACC administration themselves, I had long anticipated the end of the 10-year lease, and the day had finally come, with the closure of the business towards the end of 2010.

As he states, Elson was one of many East Hollywoodians who had completely understandable issues with the monstrous range, and in his post he sheds no tears in announcing its closure. Me? I’m a little bit more saddened by the news because it was close to home and state-of-the-art as golf ranges go, but the statute of limitations on crying over its demise expired six months ago, so I’ll have to man up and just head up to the old-school Griffith Park range if I want to get my swang on.

But in memory of Majestic Golf Land, I offer this following multi-angle slow-mo video clip, of me making one of my better drives there back in 2008:

As part of a media event at the new Navitat Canopy Adventures, I was excited to be among a group of bloggers who got to experience this amazing new facility in scenic Wrightwood, Calif. And as a person with a distinct aversion for leaving perfectly solid ground and/or structures to go flying through the air, I was also more than a little bit terrified.

In the above helmetcam clip, I ride the longest segment of the course, a quarter-mile long cable strung across a deep canyon between two massive pines that can get you moving at 50 mph-plus. It’s literally mindblowing flying above and through the forest, unlike anything I’ve ever experienced or participated in ever before in my life. As you’ll see at the end of my ride, a come up little bit short on the end thanks to some serious winds and so I had to hand-over-hand it the last few feet to the platform. But after being unhooked by our lead guide Joe, I capture our other guide Lexie coming across and in for a textbook perfect finish. What an AMAZING place. Navitat’s season opens March 31.

Overall there are 10 different ziplines, three rappels and skybridges so I’ll have more clips and stills to come but in the meanwhile, for more info on Navitat Canopy Adventures and how to go get some of your own, visit  http://www.navitat.com.

This is the odd perspective you get from my Silver Lake backyard when you jam an old low-res camera into the eye-piece of a 20X spotting scope (at right), duct tape them both together and point the contraption down at Sunset Boulevard and capture at a frame a second the river of humanity that surges through this spot just past the beginning of the seventh mile of the LA Marathon. First it starts as a trickle with the elite runners, then the street soon floods curb-to-curb before eventually easing back down to those diehard participants slowly bringing up the rear.

All in, it’s about two hours condensed down to about eight and a half minutes that to me gives off something of a vintage vibe, as if this was footage shot with a rudimentary camera in the 1920s and colorized.

UPDATE (3.19): For a less strange look, here’s some real-time video of the thundering herd as it passed me at the curb. After setting up the scopecam Susan and I walked the half-block to Sunset to support and cheer on my neighbor Dean who was running in the LA Marathon in support of and to raise awareness for the Wounded Warrior Project. When we got there, we found another neighbor, Ralph, who’d brought out his drum (as well as an excellent St. Patty’s Day-green dye job to his  goatee), so Susan went back and got my drum and together the two of us banged on them (with another neighbor occasionally accompanying on cowbell) as a parade of  thousands of marathoners entered the race’s seventh mile in Silver Lake.

Not counting my first 16/17 years when I didn’t have any reason to know any better, since then as a sports fan I’ve been taught this lesson too many times: Your heroes are expendable.

I learned it first and hardest when first baseman Steve Garvey was allowed to go to San Diego at the end of 1982. Eight baseball seasons of my childhood as a fan were literally anchored to the “Durable Dodgers” infield of Garvey, Davey Lopes, Bill Russell and Ron Cey. For me to ever consider that quartet unbreakable was unthinkable. Until, of course, it was broken up, first by trading Lopes to Oakland before the 1982 season.

A part of me still hasn’t forgiven, and all of me will never forget how unique it was to have been able to count on the same four players for so long. Something like that in this day and age of pro sports is about as unlikely thing to ever happen again.

The class on Harsh Reality was in session again yesterday in which I learned that Lakers great Derek Fisher was traded to Houston.

All I can do is shrug, though. And remember his character, his leadership and his clutch play best exemplified in what is no doubt in my mind the greatest and most improbable finish to a basketball game ever, during the 2004 playoffs against the San Antonio Spurs:

 

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