Archive for the ‘sports’ Category

Bullseyes

Monday, June 6th, 2011

There’s no way I can prove to you that I didn’t just walk up to the board and place these darts where you see them. Nor is there any way or anyone to corroborate that I did indeed land those three bullseyes in consecutive throws: one double and two singles. But I wouldn’t be writing about it if I didn’t.

Because I did just that: one, two, three.

I had walked out the back door with darts in hand initially intent on throwing a few rounds. Then I saw the latest batch of scattered unripened figs that had fallen or been half-eaten and squirrel-flung to the patio and stepped to the line distracted by the mess. With three decidedly casual overhand tosses that had entirely no regard for proper or disciplined throwing form, coupled to a mental focus less on the board and more on picking up the grounded fruit, I landed the bullseyes three in a row. Single, double, single.

Then I forgot all about the figs and realized gape-mouthed and substantially giddy how easy it can be to do something you’ve long thought near impossible when you mentally get out of your own way.. and how hard it can be to mentally get out of your own way.

Then I picked up the figs.

And Now A Few Words About Bama’s Victory Over Arkansas Yesterday

Sunday, September 26th, 2010

I watched the first two quarters increasingly anxious. The Razorbacks took a 20-7 lead into halftime and it seemed the momentum was aaaaaall theirs — especially when the Tide began the third quarter with a punt following its first possession.

But something happened, and I don’t know what exactly. Bama’s defense, something of a sieve the first 30 minutes just about absolutely stifled Arkansas in the second half. It also helped that QB McElroy, who threw two interceptions in the second quarter (including one in the end zone), didn’t throw any more.

In the end, Bama won 24-20. And while I’m prepared for local sportswriter Chris “Doof” Dufresne to ramp up his deathless disrespect against my favorite team and it’s No. 1 ranking over that narrow margin of victory (last week he hated on them for winning too big), fuck him. You come to expect nothing more from such mono-dimensional haters, who won’t see much less even acknowledge that such a remarkable come-from-behind roll over its first true test of the season on the road against a very good 10th-ranked Arkansas team, might just be the catalyst that powers them onward to another undefeated season and shot at repeating as national champions.

Sure, it’s early yet and there’s a lot of football left to play and win. But yesterday Alabama showed me something with a hard-fought success that is bigger and more telling than any blowout. On both sides of the half they respectively fell apart and came together, and on both sides of the ball after the break they regrouped and ¬†demonstrated cohesive patience, poise, and resolve — and all so very quietly and methodically as to leave me surprised at the final outcome and no doubt every Arkansas fan in shock and ready to file a police report over the Tide’s theft of victory from their beloved Hogs.

Roll Tide!

Finding Home

Sunday, June 20th, 2010

An offshoot/evolution of my Watts Happening rides has been my discovery/inclusion of the location of Wrigley Field and the history of the city’s true native baseball team: The Los Angeles Angels. I’ve become so enchanted with the club from an historical perspective as one of the most successful Pacific Coast League (PCL) franchises (who also played their first major league season there; followed by the next four at Dodger Stadium before moving permanently to Orange County) that I’ve gone a little crazy (don’t judge) over at Ebbets Field Flannels buying replica uniform memorabilia (a Wrigley Field groundskeeper jacket, a 1957¬† “Los Angeles Baseball Club” tee, and a 1935 home jersey. On top of that I joined the Pacific Coast League Historical Society — and most importantly have switched from a dismissive disdain to an entire embrace of the team’s seriously scoffed-at official name that owner Arte Moreno changed a few years back: The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

Many angelenos — myself included — openly mocked the new title as nothing but a marketing ploy to capture the L.A. audience — and I have no doubt that was part of it. The city of Anaheim even sued to block the switch, unsuccessfully and understandably. But now I also recognize that in my native city whose history is one overly populated with examples of a wanton disregard and destruction of its history, Moreno has boldly anchored a line to our past and rightfully secured the team to the place where it played its first games some 107 years ago.

From 1903 through 1925, the team played at the long-gone 15,000-seat Washington Park, at Hill and 8th Streets in downtown Los Angeles. Owner William Wrigley then built Wrigley Field as their home beginning in 1925 and it stood until 1966 (some accounts have it torn down in 1968). On three occasions of my Watts Happening rides I’ve visited the location, each time having discovered and shared a bit more info with the people accompanying me. My most recent one, this past May, spoke of the facts that among the many Angel greats along with those throughout the PCL two of the Greatest To Ever Play The Game — Joe DiMaggio then of the San Francisco Seals and Ted Williams of the San Diego Padres — no doubt played at Wrigley Field; DiMaggio in 1933 (the year of his PCL-record 61-game hitting streak), and Williams in his sophomore season with the club 1937, his hitting helped his team to the pennant that year.

So what? Well, if you’re asking that I can’t blame you. It was a long time ago in a place that no longer exists, in a sport you may not be as interested in as I am. But consider the legendary stature of those two, and perhaps you can realize the impact this local angle has on me. For me, it was something akin to discovering something previously thought impossible, like Michelangelo having painted in London.¬† See, DiMaggio’s and Williams’ amazing careers were forged far away from here, in New York and Boston. From a baseball fan’s perspective that was the other side of the world really what with the closest Major League Baseball team at that time being in St. Louis. So to suddenly learn they specifically took to our Wrigley Field — that they caught and threw and swung and ran its base paths, that they spat and swore and stole and slid — brings these mythological figures not down to earth, but down to my corner of it. These are two of baseballs most glorious gods and they played here. They. Played. Here.

Or rather, they played at what once was here.

Can you imagine having been at one of those games and bearing witness to what was to become such future greatness? Damn. Pardon the digression, but the closest I’ve ever come to doing that was in the early 1990s at the Forum in Inglewood for a tennis match. Before the main event started, two little girls no taller than the net took to the court to play a few games. I’ve long since forgotten the names of the established pro players we’d come to see exhibit their skills, but I’ll never forget the names of those unknowns who wowed the crowd: Venus and Serena Williams.

Anyone still alive who can say they saw “Joltin’ Joe” or “Teddy Ballgame” when… well, that’s almost as ephemeral a thing as the place where they were seen. After the Angels debut major league season ended in 1961, stately Wrigley Field under its signature 12-story clocktower never hosted another baseball game, and five years later in disrepair was demolished.

It’s some consolation at least that the block upon which the stadium once stood now serves the community rather than the for-profit needs of some subdividing residential developer. But it’s sadly typical that what was built there was done with little consideration for what once was and as far as I know there’s nothing to memorialize the ballpark that served a larger community so ably for so long. No sign. No marker. No commemorative plaque sits where once sat home plate to which DiMaggio and Williams and so many others strode.

And that got me thinking: Where might that base be in relation to the place today?

Looking at the satellite image of the block in Google Maps (bordered by 41st and 42nd places to the north and south, and San Pedro and Avalon to the west and east), then comparing it to images I’d found of the ballpark, the location of home plate looked to be beneath a building that’s part of a community mental health center complex standing centrally located.

I then did some entirely unscientific pinpointing on the Google Maps image using neighboring buildings as rough coordinates and at first I was heartened that the intersecting lines (seen in the upper left of image below) seemed to place the base just north of one of the building’s walls.

To verify that I remembered the awesome Historic Aerials website and sure enough I found an image of the block from 1948 (pictured at left).¬† But then when compared to an image on the site from 2005, indeed and sadly, home plate is underneath the structure south of my original intersection, practically equidistant between the building’s north and south facades. Darn it.

There is good news though. Drawing a diagonal line 60 feet and six inches to the north and east of home plate, shows that one can still stand outdoors where Wrigley Field’s pitcher’s mound once stood, albeit now it’s under however much parking lot pavement. Better that than a building.

You can bet on my next Watts Happening Ride, that’s where we’ll be.

A Bicycle Built For (Mach) Two

Sunday, May 23rd, 2010

After riding from Silver Lake to Seal Beach and back to downtown, before pedaling the last five miles home, I was able to catch the last remaining competitors in the Tour of California Time Trials taking place on a course stretching between Bunker Hill and the Memorial Coliseum.

I was entirely blown away by the amazing display of speed, including that of past champion Levi Leipheimer, who I was barely able to keep in frame as he whizzed past me into the turn from 1st Street north onto Main Street (click for the bigger picture):

UPDATED (5.24): For a sense of the speed involved, here’s a brief video clip of the cyclist who followed Levi. I changed street corners for more of a coming-at-ya vantage point:

Question: What Does It Look Like When You Timelapse A Marathon Coming Through Your Part Of Town?

Sunday, March 21st, 2010

Answer: A flash-flood.

If the Quicktime embed gives you trouble, here’s the YouTube link.

It’s Emblematic

Sunday, February 7th, 2010

It was during the Minnesota/New Orleans NFC championship game a couple weeks ago that I looked up at our livingroom’s built-in shelves and saw a long-standing decorative touch of Susan’s that made me realize not only who was going to win that game, but who was going to win the big one they’ll be playing in later today:

whodat

Geaux Saints!

High Tide!

Friday, January 8th, 2010

Well, no surprise: All the offerings to the Rose Bowl Fairy didn’t work and instead of magically being delivered tickets and watching Alabama battle Texas in person in Pasadena I was instead forced to listen to the first half of last night’s BCS Championship game at the Rose Bowl via the Sirius Satellite Radio app on my iPhone while biking home across town.

It was better than nothing, which I can’t say about the way Alabama started out.

I was leaving the office when Bama Coach Nick Saban inexplicably called for a 4th-and-long fake punt deep in their own territory that was entirely botched, and I was on Ballona Creek after Texas scored first blood only to have Bama’s kickoff receiving team somehow forget that you have to catch the ball when it’s booted to you.

Those first few miles I’m pretty sure I rode with my mouth hanging open and my eyes wide wondering who these imposters were and what had been done with the kickass football team that I so irrationally live and die for and defend against all haters and deniers, especially certain sportswriters at the institutionally anti-Bama biased Los Angeles Times such as Chris Dufresne — who spent the season chronically knocking and dismissing them. Even after Alabama so dominantly beat Florida for the SEC Championship Dufresne ridiculously cited Texas’ undefeated and historical record of 7-0-1 against Alabama as good reason why he thought the Longhorns would be triumphant. To him I say Ha! Ha. Haha. Hahahaha. HahahahahahaHAhaHA. And HA!

But back to me biking home in horror. In the midst of all my gaping apoplectica, Texas QB Colt McCoy sustained some sort of phantom arm injury that was enough to send him out of the game and I was forced into STFUing the chorus (one of whom will undoubtedly be Dufresne) who would no doubt qualify and excuse an Alabama victory by saying how there’s no way the Tide would have had a chance had McCoy not been so unceremoniously forced into early retirement.

“Yeah well, then Texas should think about building their programs around players who aren’t so easily bruised!”

I’m pretty sure I said that out loud somewhere in Culver City.

At the beginning of the second quarter when Heisman Trophy-winning Alabama Running Back Mark Ingram punched into the endzone to take the lead back from Texas, “Roooooolll Tiiiiiiiiiiiiide!” was another thing I said much louder (accompanied by some serious fist pumps) and much to the concern and confusion of the motorists and pedestrians in my immediate vicinity while stopped at the intersection of Venice and National.

I was equally if not more demonstrative as they just kept rolling to a score of 24-6 and in in the midst of halftime I arrived at home to then watch the rest of the game with the Alabama baseball cap that I’ve had since 1992– the last year my Tide won the national championship — firmly on my head (when I wasn’t waving it in the air).

Texas never said quit and came back to make it a game against a Tide that quit rolling and flattened out until finally rising back up to seal the victory.

And when the final seconds of the fourth quarter ticked away and game announcer Brent Musberger intoned “The Alabama Crimson Tide Are National Champions,” yeah… I got choked up.

And stayed up well past my bedtime reflecting on their perfect season.

UPDATE (3:43 p.m.): I brought my Bama hat to work today, carrying it attached to the outside of my backpack, and wearing it in the office. A coworker asked me if I’d have it on today if Alabama had lost.

“Without doubt,” I said. “Maybe not as proudly, but with equal reverence and greater determination.”