May. 3rd, 2007 10:50 pm
gordonzola: (Default)
I just watched the Warriors destroy the Mavericks in a sports bar filled with cops (specifically, the SFPD Anti-Gang Task Force) in the biggest NBA play-off upset ever AND IT WAS AWESOME!

Though I don't know if I could have survived if [ profile] messtiza and Joe Bunny weren't there. [ profile] ctrhotpink called to scream into my voicemail so it was just like she was there too. Whoo-hoo!
gordonzola: (Default)
I pretty much make 2-5 sports-based posts a year. Today is one of those unlucky days for most of you. Baseball season starts tommorrow* and I've thought way too much about something and come to a decision.

I can't wait until Barry Bonds hits 756 and breaks the homerun record. Why? Don't the steroid allegations bother me? Won't it tarnish baseball?

I actually have answers for all those questions. But really, it comes down to this: I don't buy the baseball as metaphor crap. In this free-agency era, where it's hard to feel loyalty to the local team, Bonds, and thus the Giants, will inspire hate by their very presence. This will only increase as Bonds closes in on the record. There will be death threats and hand-wringing. Bottles thrown from the stands and racial slurs. People chanting "ster-oids" and Congress being urged to "do something". All the haters have left me no choice.

Go Giants! Go Bonds!

I just hope 755 and 756 are at home against the Dodgers.

* Some might say different. But as far as I'm concerned, the season doesn't begin until the Giants play. Then again, the Dodgers already lost so that might count.
**like most of you never used illegal drugs! ha!
gordonzola: (Default)
Another reason I love my co-workers:

barryhometown hero
Two of the people holding the "Barry: Hometown Hero" sign are co-op members. In fact, the butcher paper for the banner came from our produce department. Go Giants!
gordonzola: (Default)
What's everyone doing for the Superbowl anyway?

You know, running with the politicos, the queers, and the feminists, it's easy to come off as all butch. I mean, I am familiar with guns, I'm big-ish, I am meanly sarcastic, and I follow professional sports. My friends find that amusing and sometimes ask me to speak on behalf of all "normal" white guys.

Usually I watch the Super Bowl at my tough-ass co-worker's house. The one who used to drum for the almost-famous all woman punk/metal band. She would cook meat on the grill and make chili. She couldn't host this year so I'm just watching it with another male friend. We just checked in about food. I made cookies. He's making quiche. This is why I may not be the best spokesperson for my people.

Oh yeah, and the next participatory photo post will be people in political message t-shirts. Don't post them yet. Just get ready.
gordonzola: (Default)
There's something that almost every ballpark does these days between innings of a baseball game. To keep people amused as they break for commercials, they put up a "race" on the scoreboard. Originally, this was called "dot racing" and was pretty simple, just three different colored dots racing around a "track" with fans cajoled into picking a color to cheer for.

It’s this weird new tradition, almost self-mocking. Fans get really into it, yelled and screaming for "blue" over "green" or whatever and then everyone kind of laughs about it. It comes close to an acknowledgement that being a fan is, in the end, a pretty meaningless thing but pretty fun anyway.

I know many will refuse to accept this evidence that sports fans can have self-awareness. So be it.

Scoreboard operators have tried to give things more of a local flair in recent years. In Milwaukee for instance, they dress people up in different sausage (bratwurst vs. Polish sausage etc.) costumes and have them actually race around the infield. The Giants had speedboats which always struck me as kind of unimaginative.

But no more. Last night they had cable cars, each designated a number of a famous Giants player. So far, not much beyond what you’d expect right? Anyways, people chose cable cars to root for and the race was on. They sped through the city passing many local landmarks in a blur. Then, as they approached the ballpark finish line they headed through downtown moving at a scary pace.

But wait! What’s going on? Yes, it’s Critical Mass! All three cable cars are stopped dead in their tracks. After a comparatively long time, considering how quickly they drove through the rest of the city, they finally extricate themselves and finish the race. For those of you cheering at your computer terminals, the Willie Mays car won when the Barry Bonds and Willie McCovey cars fell into the bay, the Lefty O’Doul drawbridge having been suddenly and inexplicably raised.

[ profile] de_gustibus said afterwards that he was holding his breath thinking the person at the scoreboard controls was going to have the cable cars run over the Critical bikers while the crowd cheered. But no, it was weirdly respectful.

By the way, since we’re talking about The Giants, there are at least three more singles nights near the middle of every month. Who wants to go?
gordonzola: (Forty Fuckin' Niners!)
I went to the Giants game on Tuesday night. I had no idea that it was singles night.

Really. I swear. But when I found out, it did kinda explain the weirdness. I thought maybe I just hadn’t in this section of the bleachers before and it was always this drunk and flirtatious. Hell, maybe it is.

But there was an air of last call at the nightclub that I had never seen at a sporting event. Behind me sat a crowd of 6 or 7 sorority girls. One was yelling "Yeeeeeeah-yeah." Every 5 minutes until it became the night’s cheer, taken up by everyone within hearing distance whenever the Giants did something good, which wasn't very often. This made her up the ante. Her favorite cheer for the late innings became "Go Giants! . . . Fuck you Padres!" delivered in a drunken slur. When it was quiet, she liked talking to the Padres centerfielder. "Hey Payton, you’re a bitch!" When he didn’t respond, she lead her friends in a "Show us your tits!" chant.

One of her friends kept saying to the group of guys to my left while leaning into them, "I don’t know why guys don’t like me. Why wouldn’t guys like me?" The guys said they didn’t know. Personally, I suspect it’s the alcoholism. Some guy in a full-on suit seemed to have an opinion because he moved over from a couple of rows away to discuss the issue with her.

When someone caught a baseball the group had him take their picture licking it. Insert any "ball-licking" jokes you can come up with here because someone in the vicinity said it. If he "Girls Gone Wild" people had gotten through the gate, the DVD would be available soon.

Some Cal Swimming Team members sat in front of me. Their ringleader had a wispy, wanna-be tough guy beard. He smeared ketchup on his friend’s back when he wasn’t looking. He kept talking to a woman on his right. She went for a hot dog and never came back. He threw food wrappers at women he thought were cute. The guys next to me decided they didn’t like him. He didn’t notice the first few objects that hit him but when he did, he wanted to fight. He started yelling at someone uninvolved who insisted he hadn’t throw the granola bar wrapper. Then he noticed that their were five big teamster guys munching granola bars and staring at him. "Oh,. . . it’s cool. Right on." He sat down and shut up for awhile.

Two working class girls sat to my right. They were wearing work boots and Carharts with their Giants gear and their clothes were worn, not trendy. Also the one closest to me kept saying something incomprehensible about her day of work and her journeyman something or other. Oh yeah, they were drunk too. She went off to go to the bathroom and her friend remained. I kept seeing her staring at me strangely as if she expected me to say something. Eventually she went off to find her friend who hadn’t returned. Nothing was making any sense in the baseball-watching etiquette I had been taught as a child and I’ve been going to Giants games since I was a little kid.

Then suddenly it did. On the scoreboard behind me they announced that the San Francisco Giants Singles Night Dating Game was starting. A woman dressed in an outfit that would not keep her warm in a misty San Francisco night at the ballpark was going to choose a date from three men chosen by Giants officials on their way into the game. I don’t remember what the male contestants said but she chose the one that looked like Gavin Newsom. "He’s going to be traveling to Brazil, my native country, and I’d love to teach him Portuguese." Not Gavin looked embarrassed. Then came the twist. He could accept the all-expenses paid date, OR a free Playstation 2.

He took the Playstation. The woman was visibly pissed.* The Giants kept giving up runs and hitting into double plays.** I went home thinking that this was the weirdest thing I’d seen at a Giants game since Domestic Violence Awareness Day when a horde of women walked, waving, from centerfield to home plate as the ballpark announcer said, "Let’s give a big hand to the survivors of Domestic Violence in San Francisco!" ***

* Looking through the 4/21 Missed Connections will verify this all to be true. Just search for PS 2.
**Except for Barry Bonds who is truly the most amazing hitter ever. He only saw one strike all night and he hit it into the water.
***OK, she might have said "give a big welcome" instead of "give a big hand" but isn’t the story funnier this way? The rest is totally true.

Epilogue I was about to post this when I saw this ad placed in the Missed Connections: Did you go to Singles Night at SBC/Giants? How was it? Anyone got a report (other than the Playstation - hot chick story)? More guys than girls? More girls than guys? Did people really mingle? I picture this guy alone in front of the computer hoping, just hoping, that he hadn't just made the biggest mistake of his life by staying home in front of his computer porn instead of heading to Pac Bell. Even if he doesn't really like baseball
gordonzola: (Default)
I went to the Oakland Coliseum for the Warriors game last night. I hadn’t realized how long it had been since I’d been there. As I sat in the half empty arena watching the Warriors actually win, I tried to figure it out.

It wasn’t the last time my dad took me to see the California Golden Seals, the NHL team that moved to Cleveland, merged with Minnesota then moved somewhere else. I always loved going to hockey games but I liked the Ice Capades too, so I think it was mostly the skating I liked. I never really did understand the rules.* I was a little too Californian. It was obvious to me even at 8 or whatever that everyone in attendance grew up on the East Coast or Midwest. Ice is a foreign concept to me still.

No, it was when I went to see WWF wrestling sometime in high school. It was a Hulk Hogan/Rowdy Roddy Piper extravaganza** and an excuse to get drunk. We snuck in a whole case of Meister Brau in our homemade "Rowdy Roddy Beats His Mommy!" sign with its secret compartment. You couldn’t do that in today’s post 9/11 security environment. One of my co-workers got turned away at the door of the Coliseum because she had a backpack and she didn’t wanna risk stashing it somewhere outside.

It was fun to see our store's name up in lights on the Coliseum scoreboard, I must admit.

*This is not a request to be taught the rules.
**in case you were worried, the Hulkster successfully defended his crown.
gordonzola: (Default)
I have only one thing to say about the Super Bowl. Panthers vs. Patriots sounds very 1969 to me and the choice seems clear. Off the pigs!
gordonzola: (Default)
My favorite thing about pro sports is when athletes claim they are misquoted in their autobiographies. The latest example is here but it is by no means the first sports "autobiography" to offend the author by taking things "out of context". What is interesting here is that it is so accepted that sports figures don't write their own books, that the news writer doesn't even attempt the obvious irony angle.

I just did some more research and found what I think is the original autobiographical misquote. It's behind the cut along with some other examples. Read more... )

Go Giants!

Oct. 27th, 2002 08:29 am
gordonzola: (Default)
I know most of you skip my sports entries so if that describes you, you can bail now.

I went to a bar alone to watch the World Series game last night. Actually, because I worked until 8:30 I only saw the last inning and the only reason I went to a bar was because if I walked home I would have missed the end. It’s the first time I’ve ever watched a sporting event in a bar and it was fairly bizarre.

First context: The Giants have never won the championship since they moved to SF. Generations of SF baseball fans have been heartbroken by The Giants. The bar I went to wasn’t a "sports bar" but a neighborhood bar, one of the few left that has a very mixed old-timer/new hipster clientele. The old guys (and a few women), rightfully took over the whole bar. They all wore Giants hats and poured their Miller High Lifes into small glasses to drink them. Everyone else gathered at the pool table, gambling machine, and small table area. I walked in just in time to see the Giants lose the lead for good.

I didn’t realize that people actually chanted encouragement at TV screens during these events. I mean, I expected cheers for things that happened. If Bonds hits a home run, for instance, I knew everyone would stand and yell. But I didn’t expect that as the Giants went down in order in the top of the ninth, that people would start chanting, "Let’s go Giants! Let’s go!(clap clap)" in order to encourage the home team.*

I know it’s really just a way for people to release their stress over the game. Better, but probably not as satisfying, as pounding on the one Angels fan in the bar. The bartender had planned ahead and made sure one TV was visible from the street so a number of patrons could chain smoke without violating the state no smoking ordinance.

The game ended. The Giants lost. The Angels fan disappeared very quickly while the younger, hipster-ish types filed out slowly. The old-timers sat at the bar. Not moving, not talking, not drinking, they just looked down into their beers. They looked near tears so I left too. Even though I’m a Giants fan, that near tears look can turn into a who-can-I-beat-up look fairly quickly. Besides, I was depressed too and wanted to be alone.

*Before you mock, I would submit that this is no more silly in terms of cause and effect than chanting, say, "Hey hey / Ho ho / The oil war has got to go!" in the middle of Market St.
gordonzola: (Default)
I thought about mentioning this in my other journal , but it seems more general interest rather than a Chron-specific criticism.

Beautiful contradictory articles in the sports section today. Some old white guy praising the re-issue of the "Chip Hilton" series of sports books for 8-13 year olds. For those of you who haven’t read them, which I assume is ALL of you, the basic theme is that Chip Hilton, a god-fearing, authority-obeying, good-student-who-attends-class, star jock is confronted with some kind of adversity, (team-mates who cheat on tests, Crosstown High’s unfair advantage in recruiting, girls who would distract from THE TEAM or THE GAME, etc.) and through hard work and the coaching of appropriate authority figures, Chip and team emerge victorious in the end. I guess they modernized the "jargon" (I read them too long ago to know if that is metaphor for racial slurs) as an example for today’s youth.* In these books, coaches, teachers, parents, and the clergy never fail to give the right advice.

Then a couple of pages later we see the example of a real coach. Cal Women’s Basketball coach was fired for firing an assistant who became pregnant. She denied she told the assistant to get an abortion or be terminated herself. This alone might not have been the end for Coach Stanley, but it seems the University had already had to pay off on a lawsuit in 1997 where it cost them $20,000 because she called a student a "black bastard". Stanley denied this and claimed she hadn’t said that at all. Her defense? She says she told the student, "I will kick your black ass, you bastard."

Oh, ok then.

I read almost all the Chip Hilton books as a kid and though the difference between the fictional and real life coaches above may not have been quite that far, it was an early lesson in not believing everything you read.


Hum Baby

Sep. 5th, 2002 05:06 pm
gordonzola: (Default)
Sportswriters can go on for days about the brilliance of barely literate, old-school managers. For years The Giants were managed by Roger Craig, an old Southern ball player who always had a chaw of tobacco in his mouth and a two-word catch phrase on his lips. "Hum Baby"

"Hum Baby" had no real definable, static meaning. It could be used in many situations.

Giants loss: "Well that was a real Hum Baby when they hit a homer in the ninth, I’ll tell you that,"

Giants win: "Well, we had a real Hum Baby going on there tonight. But we never gave up and, Hum Baby we won in the end."

Player injury: "You hate to see that happen, but he’s got a lot of Hum Baby in him. So we should see him playing again son."

When Willie Brown ran for Mayor against incumbent Frank Jordan, he wanted to make sure that he would be in first place after the primary voting. He recruited an conservative Asian-American businessman to run for mayor also, hoping to draw 5% of the vote away from Jordan from the right. Everyone knew that no one so conservative had a chance to win in San Francisco and his campaign tacitly acknowledged this by making his campaign slogan: "Ben Hom for Mayor: HOM BABY!".
gordonzola: (Default)
San Francisco sports fans get an undeserved bad rap in the sporting world sometimes. Even if there are more assholes with cell phones waving to the camera every year, there are some things SF sports fans have done that I’ve never seen anywhere else.:

--Mascot Killers: The SF Giants tried to introduce a mascot one year called the Crazy Crab (or Krazee Krab, I don’t really remember). This was when the fans were suffering in the cold and windy confines of Candlestick Park and The Giants were very close to last place. Every time the Crab made an appearance it was pelted with food and garbage until it fled back to the dugout. The Giants tried added police protection and threats but nothing could stop the garbage rain. Finally they finally admitted defeat and fired the mascot.

When The Giants moved to Pac Bell Park they carefully introduced Lou Seal, only allowing it to make appearances at first while surrounded by human shields of Special Olympics kids and local Little Leaguers.* Whatever member of management made that decision, it was the correct one. SF fans can be bloodthirsty, but even they wouldn’t open fire on kids. The momentum was lost and Lou Seal was accepted grudgingly, even if there’s an occasional shout of "Come over here and I’ll Crab you, Lou Shit!" from a drunken fan.

Instead the fans took their aggressions out on the Old Navy sign in the outfield. Developed as a pseudo-retro, aren’t-we-hip-and-knowing-and-urban replica of a ‘50s state of the art advertisement, it was called "Rusty the Mechanical Man". "Rusty", at a designated time, would leave his little metal house and slide across the right field wall, hinged arms and legs moving spastically. The crowd booed it so loudly that Old Navy asked The Giants to stop activating it, despite the fact that they paid for an entire year of advertising. Finally they brought it back but, heeding their own example with Lou Seal, pasted the heads of popular ballplayers and sympathetic community leaders over Rusty’s head so fans wouldn’t jeer.

"Attention Giants fans, playing Rusty the Mechanical Man tonight: Eve Do-gooder. Eve is a breast cancer survivor who has started a foundation for at risk youth to use recycled materials to build housing for their single parent families. Give her a big Old Navy welcome." While not a rousing success, it did stop the outright booing. However, the door to Rusty’s metal house hasn’t opened since that first year.

--They Know Football: Because SF was a pro-football town before it was a pro-baseball town the 49ers are still the City’s favorite. During one SF loss a few years ago, the fans started chanting "No more sweeps! No more sweeps!" after that particular running play failed time after time. I’ve heard fans chant to remove or put in a player, or boo in general, but I’ve never heard fans in any other city chant to get the coach to stop calling a particular play.

--Assholes and/or Faggots: After a particular Giant was traded he got quoted in the press as saying he was glad because SF fans were all "assholes or faggots". When he returned with his new team he was met by a crowd of drag queens who bought up all the seats by his dugout and heckled his every move. Sadly, no one who self-identified as an asshole held an organized protest.

*The most surreal thing I ever saw at a ball park was on "Domestic Violence Awareness Day" when Lou Seal ran by a line of women introduced as domestic violence survivors with his hand (flipper?) outstretched, high-fiving them as he went. I’m still not sure what the appropriate response is to that. The sold-out crowd was strangely quiet and murmury.


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