Monday, December 8, 2014

Remembering Fanstand

Before there was the internet, before Fanatics.com, before league sanctioned shops online, there were actual sports stores. The best in the Sacramento area was a place at Birdcage Walk shopping center called Fanstand. I was oblivious to its existence until I went to Jr high school. 
A friend always had the best gear. He was a diehard Kansas City Royals and Cincinnati Bengals fan. I knew he didn't buy his gear in Woodland. I asked him where he bought his stuff. He then told me about this magical place called Fanstand. So after begging and pleading my mom to take me, I made my first visit probably in early 1985. 
It was heaven on earth to me! The store was filled literally to the walls with pennants, Starter jackets, Roman Pro baseball hats, T shirts from every sports league, Sports Specialties NFL hats. Also baseball and football cards, game programs, pins, buttons, patches, EVERYTHING!
I could have spent hours (and a lot of my moms money) in that place. Everytime we went to Sacramento for a shopping trip, I would ask to go to Fanstand. 
Then in 1987, Woodland opened County Fair Mall. An actual mall in my hometown! And it had a sports store. I don't remember the name. The trips to Fanstand eventually ended all because I could ride my bike to the mall and browse the sports store. 
Then the over growth of sports stores just got out of control. They popped up everywhere! Woodland eventually had two or three. They would close down just as quickly as they opened. Then the prices just went up and up. It got to the point when I got frugal with my money and how to spend it. 
I remember one day in the late 80's going to Birdcage Walk on a family shopping trip. My mom and sister would go do their shopping, and I would go to Fanstand. I walked to wear it was at. It was a art shop/Insence store. Fanstand's lease was up and couldn't afford the rent. Fanstand was no more.
I haven't thought of the place in years. I somehow came across an old advertisement from them and the memories just came flooding back. I would love to go back in time and spend a whole day there. But I can't. 
There are sports stores now, but it's not the same. I was at one at the Fairfield mall and it was so ghetto. Rap music was blaring loud about a guy telling a woman he's so good in bed he would make the girl think he invented sex. (Those who brag the most can't back it up!)
Not a comfortable atmosphere. It was mostly aimed at the hip hop crowd. 
It's a different world now. I can shop for sports stuff at the push of a button. It's just not the same. 
To whoever owned Fanstand, thank you for a wonderful place for a teenage boy and the memories you gave me. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Sacramento Proud

Last night I attended the Sacramento Kings and New Orleans Pelicans game last night. It was a decent crowd for a Tuesday night. 
During the game I saw the birth of an up and coming superstar in the league. Young Anthony Davis is  quietly becoming a scoring force. He's in the top five in scoring and as a team, the Pelicans are in the top five in scoring. The Pelicans are going to be a playoff team. 
As for the Kings, they started of hot. Now they have cooled off after blowing big leads and losing to Memphis and Dallas. I'm talking huge leads. They beat the defending champion Spurs on Saturday. 
But they are a work in progress. They need to work on their offensive rebounding and free throw shooting. (Listen to me, Mr. Hoops Expert!) 
I think the Kings can be a bubble team for the playoffs. But it's a young season and anything can happen. 
Next time your at a a Kings game, you can find me at the Skyline Lounge!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The NB80's And The Demise Of The NBA

Hello again! Last time I spoke of how I fell in love with basketball. Today I will discuss how I grew to hate basketball.
After the glorious 80's ended, the 90's came about. To me the 90's were a harsh, depressing, dark and in your face kind of decade. I remember just feeling this endless tension in the air. Change was coming about, and it wasn't going to be good.
I have a theory as to why basketball came to change. I blame a few entities......ESPN's Sports Center, Gatorade, the NBA on NBC, Michael Jordan, Allen Iverson, Kobe Bryant and the Michigan Fab Five.
At first I blame the Fab Five because of how they brought the baggy shorts to basketball. I always liked the short shorts. It was a conservative and classic look. Then the baggy shorts caught on elsewhere and eventually caught on to the NBA.
Next Gatorade. The "Be Like Mike" ad campaign singled out Michael Jordan. Jordan was EVERYWHERE in the 90's. Books, magazines, TV shows, movies, posters, shoes, underwear ads, hotdog commercials. It was as if Michael Jordan was the ONLY player in the NBA.
The NBA was a TEAM game in the 80's. It became a ME game in the 90's. And no one personified the ME game then Allen Iverson and Kobe Bryant. They were selfish ballhogs, Kobe still is as a matter of fact. Allen Iverson felt like he was so good, he didn't need to practice. Can you imagine for the rest of his life, the "we're talking about practice" sound bite is all he'll be known for. I saw him play in person once. He could flat out play. But he was selfish with the ball.
As for Kobe, I grew up a Lakers fan. I loved the Showtime Lakers. They we're the definition of team. Then eventually Showtime ended. The last two letters in Showtime is ME, Kobe's favorite word.
I never liked his selfish style of play. During the Shaq/Kobe soap opera, I sided with Shaq. Say what you will about Shaq. Some see him as I see Kobe. But Shaq was the only reason I remained a Lakers fan. After Shaq left, it was Kobe's team. Well, it was Kobe and the other Lakers. I have hated the Lakers since.
Next up, the NBA on NBC. When the NBA was growing and prospering in the 80's, CBS did a phenomenal job of showcasing the entire league. But once NBC got the NBA contract, it was if the only teams in the league were the Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks and Houston Rockets. It became a Jordan love fest. It became so boring. Then you add that nutjob Ahmad Rashad talking about hanging with Jordan (Jim Rome would joke Rashad was Jordan's bitch) and it was pathetic. So I stopped watching.
Finally it leaves me with ESPN's SportsCenter. Of course it was endless Jordan. But what bothered me was how ESPN featured dunks. It got so bad, it was all you would see during basketball highlights. So the 10 second dunk highlights changed the way the game was played. Forget passing and getting assists, it was Dunk City.
Now the tail end of the selfish style of play is fading away. Kobe is the last remnant of those days. I just never cared for the hip hop, street ball style of play. It was more of an east coast thing.
Now when I watch, I see passing, I see jump shots, I see team play. I see a beautiful game now.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

I'm Back...And In Love With Basketball

Hi everyone! Sorry for the long delay since I last wrote. Severe case of writers block.
Well I'm back and I got bitten by the love bug. I'm falling in love again with basketball. Again you say. Let's take a trip down memory lane.
In the fine year of 1984 it was announced that the fine city of Sacramento, California was going to be the new home for the Kansas City Kings. Sacramento was finally a major league city! The NBA was gonna put Sacramento on the map, and eventually it did.
So I read everything I could about the NBA and the Kansas City Kings. I read the Kings had Otis Thorpe,
Mark Olberding, Mark McNamara, Reggie Theus, LaSalle Thompson, and Eddie Johnson. The Sacramento Bee had daily updates about the team. They didn't win much then, but we finally had our own team to root for in 1985.
As my memory serves me, 1985 was a magical and special year in pop culture, movies, music and sports.
I remember my mom buying me a Sacramento Kings fan pack which consisted of a hat, T-shirt, pennant and button. Somewhere I have the pennant. But I was a ready for basketball!
I remember tickets being very hard to get, so I didn't go to any games the first season. I also remember being so excited driving past the temporary arena Arco Arena 1. It only sat 10,333 people. I also remember the current building slowly taking place. For some reason progress on the construction was very slow.
Anyway, I went to my first game in the 1986 season. I remember buying my first issue of Hoop, the official game program of the NBA! I loved those programs. I always had to buy one.
So many memories running through my mind. I remember Reggie Theus walking past me and a friend to get to his red Porsche, and watching him drive off into the Sacramento night. I remember standing outside the Dallas Mavericks team bus and getting autographs.
I can also remember rooting for the mighty Los Angeles Lakers. The Showtime Lakers.
Every Saturday would be the NBA game of the week on CBS. Seemed like Dick Stockton was always there. I loved the theme song to the CBS Game of the Week.
I remember the arenas and their cool names. The Salt Palace in Salt Lake City, The Hemisphere in San Antonio, The Summit in Houston, Market Square Arena in Indianapolis, Richfield Coliseum, home of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
And of course, The Great Western Forum in Inglewood, home of the Lakers. The names sounded so great, unlike the corporate names being bestowed on the newer buildings now.
Those first few years in Sacramento were very special to me in my teenage mind.
Next time I will write more about the Kings, the NBA in the 80's and the eventual demise of my love for the NBA.
Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Doing Some Homework

I just did local Napa TV tonight. It was a sports report for a cable access show. My plan was to spend a few days at the Oakland Raiders training camp. But a few obstacles got in my way.
#1-No press pass
#2-A big black fence surrounds the training facility.
#3-The team left town the day I showed up.
So with no press pass to get inside the training facility and no team in said training facility, I was screwed.
So I tried to make light of the situation. It didn't go well.
Long story short, I think the host of the show was pissed off at me for not really having anything to report.
I tried to make something out of nothing. Basically, I delivered nothing.
The PGA Tour returns to Napa in October. World number one Rory McIlroy is scheduled to appear. I just tweeted him. Doing some homework so I can have something to say in October.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Deconstructing A Game and Max Stassi

I went to the River Cats game tonight. A couple of posts ago I discussed scoring a game. It's something I do to keep me focused on the game.
I just finished reading a book called The Numbers Game. It was a great book. In a nutshell, it was about how baseball and statistics go hand in hand.
One part of the the book that caught my eye was something called Project Scoresheet. This was volunteers across the country who scored games and contributed their work to Bill James. I would have loved to have been a part of it had I known about it. I would have been a teenager, but I think that would have been fun to do.
Lately, I have deconstructed games I score. I just tally up ground outs, fly outs and strike outs. I find it interesting to see if a pitcher as an individual or a pitching staff as a whole are ground ball or flyball pitchers.
Then I breakdown the hitters. I do it just as you would find in the morning paper.
At the game I was watching Max Stassi. His father was my PE teacher in junior high school. Max has been a very productive minor leaguer. He had a cup of coffee with Houston last year.
Well, Stassi hit a towering bomb that cleared the clubhouse area of Raley Field. He really came around on the ball and hit it hard! One of the longest homeruns I ever saw at Raley Field. (Lance Niekro hit one so hard many years ago I don't think it landed yet!)
Back to Stassi. I noticed he's only hitting .239. He hits eighth in the line up. He eventually struck out three times. I looked up his stats after the game. He has 95 strikeouts (98 if tonights game is included). Why is he striking out so much? I always thought he was a hitter that hits for average. If the occasional homer happened, great. I don't follow him everyday, but it looks like he's trying to be a power hitter. He swung very hard in his last three at bats. Is he trying to hard to get back to Houston? Is he pressing? I know he'll figure it all out and hit for average again. The rosters expand in twelve days. Hope he gets a call up!

Friday, August 15, 2014

I'm Not A Raider Fan But.......

I made the decision to follow a local football team for the year to study the ups and downs of football on a weekly basis. I chose the Oakland Raiders because I can't stand the San Francisco Kaepernicks. Call me a hater, but I hate the 49ers.
My objective is to just that as an outsider and follow with my head, not my heart. This will be interesting.....