Thursday, May 21, 2015

Watching A Threesome

Get your minds out of the gutter everyone, I was talking about a golf threesome!
Silverado Resort in Napa hosted one of the many US Open Local Qualifying across the country.
Ninety golfers competed for five spots in the Sectional Qualifying, which will take place next week.
Everyone is hoping for a spot at the US Open at Chambers Bay, just outside of Seattle, Washington.
I came to the course as the people who teed of on hole number 10 approach their back nine. At first it was pretty uneventful. It was like watching your friends play golf at the local muni.
I followed Jason Gilbert, Tom Johnson and Mark Nicoletti.
Who, your probably asking.
Jason Gilbert had personalized gear on, that's how I knew he was. Nice guy. We exchanged a few good words about the birdie he made on number 18. He spoke to me like a long lost friend.
Tom Johnson had his name on his bag. He's an assistant golf coach at UC Davis and he's from Arbuckle, near my hometown.
Mark Nicoletti was the "everyguy" of the threesome. He was chugging along and talking about his round with his caddie. He was also stuffing his face with a chili dog as fast as he could.
I watched for about two hours. It wasn't like watching a tournament. The "gallery", if you call two or three people standing around a gallery, consisted of friends or family of the players.
The winner of the sectional was Tom Johnson. It was funny because he was dressed like a hacker on Saturday morning. His game looked good though. He looked casual out there. It won't be casual for him next week.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Something Fishy Going On In Miami

The Miami Marlins led by meddling owner Jeffrey Loria made a very bizzare move this morning.
Last night they fired manager Mike Redmond (after signing a two year extension last fall) and today named their General Manager Dan Jennings as the new skipper.
What's bizzare about this is he's never played, coached or managed at the major league level. He briefly played in the minors.
Another bizzare thing is the Marlins have done this before back in 1996.
John Boles was named manager for the second half of the '96 season and did very well for himself, posting a winning record.
The following off season the Marlins rebuilt and went on a free agent shopping spree and brought in the highly respected Jim Leyland to manage the team in 1997. They won the World Series.
Before the team got they're World Series ring on Opening Day 1998, the Marlins went on a fire sale and stripped the team down to a very inexpensive roster.
Let's move along to 1999 and John Boles returns. Remember he had a winning record the second half of '96. You would think it brought him some credibility in the clubhouse. Things didn't fare so well in the couple years he was at the helm. Things got so bad a journeyman relief pitcher called him out to the press and said Boles knew nothing about the major leagues as he never played in the majors. He would eventually lose the clubhouse and eventually his job.
The relief pitcher calling out Boles reminds of a story I have heard many times about Lee May questioning a new manager the Cincinnati Reds hired for the 1970 season. This manager played one game in the majors. Mr. May walked up to his new manager and said, "What do you know about the major leagues? You're just a minor league mother-fucker!"
The new manager was Sparky Anderson and he did quite well for himself. He ended up in the Hall of Fame after winning over 2100 games and three World Series titles.
Which brings me back to Dan Jennings. He's respected in baseball circles for his scouting work and eventual rise to GM of the Marlins.
He lost his first game tonight. It's not going to be easy for him as he learns the day in and out routine of running a team. Every move he'll make will be under a microscope and second guessed.
Before the game Ichiro put a tie around his neck Jennings neck as a joke because he's only seen Jennings in a shirt and tie. Will the tie eventually become a noose around his neck?
One game down and hopefully many more to go for Dan Jennings. Will he be a Hall of Famer or just another minor league mother-f@&er?

Monday, May 11, 2015

The Arrogant Brilliance Of Bill Simmons

The man responsible for me becoming a blogger, the man who inspired me to be a journalist again was fired by ESPN late last week.
Bill Simmons, he of Boston Digital City on AOL, Page 2 on ESPN, Grantland, 30 for 30 film series and also his famous Sports Guy ramblings will no longer have his voice heard on the ESPN platforms. From what I've read, it looks like it's been a parting that was eventually going to happen. ESPN just pulled the trigger faster.
I started reading Mr. Simmons work way back in 2001. He had a very funny article about comparing a movie to a certain sports event that I don't remember, but he was just so funny. It was as if he was thinking about things that I thought about. He would make random 80's references that would make me laugh out loud. (This was before texting, LOL didn't exist yet)
He spoke of sports in the 80's as if he was a good friend sitting on my couch in Woodland and we were watching the game together.
I mean he reminisces of the NBA on CBS. He went on a long rant about the theme song. Who writes about the theme song to a sports show?
I was hooked on his stories about NFL pregame shows, baseball games from years past, his love and hate of NHL hockey. He wrote about the Greatest Sports Movies of All Time that had me checking the computer every other day to see if he added to the list.
He just had a very clever way talking about sports.
As someone said on Deadspin, he seemed like the kinda guy you could sit and have a beer with and talk sports. He seemed like one of us.
His first few years at ESPN, he was one of us. Then Hollywood came calling.
He left the east coast so he could be a writer on The Jimmy Kimmel Show.
He wrote of things that happened backstage, in writers meetings and of things that happened on air.
I loved reading about him adjusting to life in LA. You could tell by his writing he missed his friends (House, J-Bug and a few others he's written about over the years) and his father. His father seemed like a adviser/best friend to Mr. Simmons. His father seemed very influential in his life. According to his book, The Book of Basketball, Mr. Simmons sports journey started in 1974 when his father bought two season tickets to the Boston Celtics. I couldn't imagine being a five year old and going to the old Garden and watching a historic basketball team. Little did  five year old Billy Simmons know that eventually he would live a life most of us can only dream about.

He would attend historic Celtics games that would one day give him a treasure chest of future blog post about the great 80's Celtics teams. He would go on to call Larry Bird the "Basketball Jesus". It's clear in his posts Simmons worships Larry Bird. I found this interesting because as a teenager living on the west coast, I loved Magic Johnson and hated the Celtics. Simmons brought back great memories of the old Lakers/Celtics rivalry. I however agree with him in one aspect as I didn't care for Kareem Abdul Jabbar either. Just never liked how Kareem carried himself. 

Anyways, on to Holy Cross for college. He wrote amazing posts about his days in the dorms doing things most carefree college kids do. As I have written before, I didn't have the traditional college experience, so reading his articles gave me a glimps if what dorm life was like. (I had cousins tell me dorm stories, but Simmons' stories were more detailed and mentioned certain unmentionables).

Eventually he would go on to graduate and discover the power of the World Wide Web. He mentions writing for AOL Digital City Boston. I remember the Digital City format, but I can't recall reading Simmons' work as he wasn't a "name" yet. 

It was a column that bashed ESPN's ESPY's awards show that eventually got him a job with The World Wide Leader. Which when I along with the rest of the world discovered him. 

He became an internet sensation. He would go on to become a name at ESPN.com. I remember him having a small section of ESPN's Page 2. He became so widely read he got his own page......The Sports Guy. 

In time the blog led to a book about the 2004 Boston Red Sox winning the World Series. "Now I Can Die In Peace" was a very long book about his love of the Red Sox. Actually it was rehashes of blog posts with clever footnotes at the bottom of each page. His footnotes were funnier than the book itself. I read it once as it was too much to absorb.

Moving forward he took a leave of absence from his Sports a Guy page to finish his second book. The Book of Basketball. This when I noticed he started to change.

When the book came out, he did the usual book tour to hype the book. He had a stop in SanFrancisco. I remember wanting to go to the bookstore to meet him, but a scheduling conflict prevented me from doing so. I read in the newspaper that the line to meet Simmons was very long and  he didn't meet everyone as time ran out. He was no longer one of us. He was a celebrity.

He eventually cut back on his blog post. His style of writing changed. His posts weren't so funny. 

He started to be more arrogant. It felt like he had a sense of entitlement. 

Then came what some feel was his own vanity project, Grantland. It was created by ESPN for him, it wasn't his own creation. I think it's okay, it's nothing special. Ill glance at it occasionally. It's more of the same drivel from Sports Guy page.........Mail bag, Vegas trips, gambling, his friends, his wife and kids. 

A lot of his fans thought he would be great on TV. He was on the panel for NBA on ESPN but I never saw him. I heard mixed reviews. He hosts a monthly show called The Grantland Basketball Hour. It's very entertaining and I feel it should have been a weekly show. But critics called it awful.

What finally got him on the hot seat was calling NFL Commisioner Roger Goodell a liar on one of his platforms. He then challenged ESPN to suspend him. So they did for three weeks. 

Eventually ESPN just decided to fire him. 

Now the talk is where will he go? Fox, NBC, CBS? For the time being there's a rumored Non Compete Clause which prevents him from doing anything until his contract is officially up in September.

Maybe this will allow him to regroup, focus and look back on his career. See where he went wrong and out of control.

All I know is I want the old Sports Guy back. Yep, I was one of his readers. 


Monday, April 20, 2015

This Is What First Place Looks Like

There were concerns about me entering a fantasy baseball league. Concerns about me not focusing on my lineup. I got kicked out of the league a few years ago for mis-managment.
This season I ponied up a $100 to join once again. Look at me now!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Another Hero Passes On

My earliest baseball memories are listening to KNBR and being introduced to Spring Training baseball by Lon Simmons. He would broadcast from Arizona at Scottsdale, Tucson, Mesa, or Tempe. The game sounded different. Like the crowd was more intimate in a smaller ballpark. The bat hitting the ball sounded more louder and crisp. The game sounded simple.
Sometimes Mr. Simmons would do a show from The Pink Pony in Scottsdale when the Pink Pony was the center of the baseball universe. He would interview players, executives, scouts, or anyone who was willing to talk baseball.
He would eventually do A's games to as I got older. Then as I got older, he went back to the Giants.
Great voice. I understand he was an even better man.
Mr. Simmons passed away on Sunday. Fitting he would pass away on Opening Day. His life would end as baseball would begin once again. He passed when baseball fans would be happy baseball is back. Yes we would be sad at his passing, but we could celebrate his life by celebrating baseball's return.
God bless you Lon Simmons.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Panther Pride

Today I went to watch the Sacramento City College Panthers play baseball.
I haven't been to a City College game since I was a student here many years ago.
I knew something was amiss when I easily found a parking space. I discovered it was spring break. As I strolled the grounds of Sac City, a ton of memories came back to me.
When I thought of college as a young lad, I envisioned going to a big school, living in a dorm, joining a fraternity, dating girls, going to athletic events and making life long friends. It didn't happen.
I went the JC route. I spent a few extra years here. I was here so long they should have named a building after me! I can joke about it now, but I will say I was embarrassed to go to JC back then. I had cousins go to big schools. I wrote on my men's style blog it was always a dream of mine to wear the sweatshirt of the college I attended. I wore a City College sweater one time, and some jackass gave me a hard time about it. "Your proud to wear a junior college sweatshirt?" I was so embarrassed I gave it away.
Anyways, I returned to my pathetic roots of higher learning.
I'm surprised the ballpark isn't named Weinstien Stadium, since it was Jerry Weinstien who built Sac City into a national JC power. It's called Union Stadium, named after the local unions that built the ballpark.
I took my seat behind home plate and enjoyed a game with kids on the field who weren't even born the last time I saw a game at City.
It was a pitchers duel until Sac City scored first, then continued to pound Diablo Valley College pitching. The Panthers won 4-1. It was a great day of baseball on very mild day in Sacramento. I'm now sitting at the Old Espresso Metro coffee shop where I used to hang out and drink mochas or Italian sodas and study (ie check out girls who ignored me!). It was a nice day to walk down memory lane. My attempt at college wasn't memorable, but it made me think I should have applied myself more. But back then I thought I knew it all and no one could tell me no different. Thank goodness your only young and dumb once!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Baseball At The Farm

As you all know, I've been a baseball fan for years. All of my life really. I live in an area that's saturated with baseball.
So why is it that I visited Sunken Diamond at Stanford for the first time last Saturday?
I must say it a gorgeous ballpark situated on campus. Everything about the place was perfect. The seats, the sightlines, the parking, everything. Well, everything except for the concession stand. The original name for hotdogs were Red Hots. The hotdogs at Stanford live up to the old  name of Red Hots. My hotdog was scorching hot! I was playing Hot Potato with it.
But other than that, Sunken Diamond was the perfect way to end my baseball vacation.