Category Archives: Sports

Someplace Special – September 30th

Anaheim, California

In the decades when it was primarily known as the sole location of the original Disneyland (let’s be real, it’s still pretty much known for that) it was called “The Happiest Place On Earth.” I’ve been to Disneyland a few times over the years but it’s really not my sort of entertainment – this place, also in Anaheim, does it for me.

I became an Angels fan when I moved to California in 1974 to go to school at UC Irvine. Coincidentally, this panorama was taken three years ago when they had a “UCI Night” and gave out Angels/UCI hats. (You can see someone wearing on on the right side of the picture.) I went with my daughter, who is also a UCI alum. (“Zot! Zot! Zot!”)

We have a lot of family memories at Anaheim Stadium, from times I went there when the team was terrible (before the kids were born) to the times we went there for the MLB All-Star Game. We’ve seen playoff games there, we’ve gone to many a home opener, I’ve gone on dates there, I’ve taken infants only a month old there.

Today was the last game of the regular season and that closes out the 2018 campaign for the Angels. For the third year in a row we have a losing season and have missed the playoffs, and it’s been nine years since we’ve won a playoff game and sixteen years since our one and only World Series championship.

The other thing that happened this year is that we didn’t make it to a single game. I can’t verify it, but that may very well be the first time in the 44 years that I’ve lived out there that I didn’t get to an Angels game. In fact, I didn’t get to any games at all this year for the Angels, Dodgers, or anyone else.

That right there may symbolize my 2018 in a single fact as much as anything.

But, as with the Boys of Summer, spring will arrive and hope will truly spring eternal. There’s always next year…

 

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NFL Kickoff 2018

I do have a fondness for many different sports and my pro sports loyalties tend to vary. My NFL passions stretch all the way back to my childhood in Kansas City – I’m a huge Chiefs fan.

It turns out that this year in Week One of the NFL season my beloved Chiefs are playing the San Diego Los Angeles Chargers, so it’s not that hard to get tickets. So we did.

The Chargers’ current home field and situation is odd. It’s their second year in Los Angeles after abandoning leaving San Diego and their new stadium in Los Angeles (which is actually the Rams’ stadium but the Chargers will be sharing it) won’t be built until 2020 – maybe. So while the Rams abandoned St. Louis and are playing in the LA Coliseum for a few years (a historic site which has hosted two Olympics, countless USC football games, and seats 93,607) the Chargers are in a much newer and much smaller stadium (only seats 27,000 max, but has a half dozen sections tarped off with ad banners because they weren’t even close to selling out the place) designed for LA Galaxy soccer matches.

It was a nice day for a game – upper 80’s but with a breeze and we were in the shade for most of the game (stupid spinning planet!).

You notice several things at a live game, first of which is that when television is in a commercial break everyone stands around for about three minutes and fans who are unused to going to live games are wondering why nothing’s happening.

You also miss all of those graphics that you see on television, like the yellow line that’s superimposed on the image to show where the first down marker is. You have to do it old school and actually look at the yard markers that the sideline officials move around! How…archaic!!

The simple fact is that the Chargers aren’t drawing many Chargers fans. This shouldn’t be shocking, seeing as how a great many of the San Diego fans (who had been loyal for decades) are neither happy nor forgiving  about the team’s departure, and LA fans don’t consider the Chargers to be their team at all. Football fans in LA are starting to re-attach themselves to the Rams (who moved from here to St. Louis in 1995 before moving back in 2016) except for those who are still Raiders fans (a very non-trivial number of fans BTW).

Despite all of the pissing and moaning about how the great city of Los Angeles should have two NFL teams after going decades without having any, the Chargers are not that second team right now. They might never be. Looking at the end zone during the game you can see almost half of the fans wearing Chiefs’ red, not Chargers’ blue.

That got much worse late in the game when a couple of Chargers turnovers gave the Chiefs a big lead. The Chargers fans for the most part bailed early, leaving the remaining crowd about 90% or more dressed in red and cheering for the Chiefs.

Listening to some of the Chargers fans and season seat holders seated around us (our immediate area was at least 50% dressed in red) it sounds like this is normal for EVERY Chargers home game. In two weeks when they play the 49ers, all of the seats occupied today by Chiefs fans will be filled with 49ers fans. Then Raiders fans. Then Titans fans. Then Cardinals fans…

Again my “MBA brain” went to looking at this as a case study in marketing. It’s one of those “what NOT to do” scenarios.

But we had fun and we’re off to a 1-0 start! We have tickets to a game much later in the season on the road (a story for later) – I suspect I’ll be looking back fondly on the weather today. It won’t be anywhere that warm (or dry, most likely) for that game.

 

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Curling

I can’t believe that I’m up at nearly midnight watching live Olympic curling.

I’ve learned enough of the rules to be dangerous and I know enough (I think; I probably don’t) to recognize a really good shot.

Strategy? Yeah, let’s not go crazy here.

When I was a kid I never imagined myself as a a rebel or a wild & crazy guy – I was never going to be Peter Fonda in “Easy Rider.” At the other extreme, I never saw myself watching guys slide forty-seven pound rocks a hundred and fifty feet down the ice to bump the other guys’ rocks off of the button and out of the house.

On the other hand, after the two weeks (or two months, or eight) that I’ve had, sitting on my ass for a couple of hours and doing nothing more mentally complex than watching guys slide forty-seven pound rocks a hundred and fifty feet down the ice to bump the other guys’ rocks off of the button and out of the house is wonderful.

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No Context For You – November 19th

Regards pretty much nothing, after my beloved Angels missed the playoffs for the third season in a row, I was pleased to see my beloved Kings start off hot and have the best record in the NHL after a month or so, and my beloved Chiefs were the last undefeated team in the NFL when they were 5-0.

The Kings have now lost five of six and the Chiefs have now lost 4 of 5 and I just want to know…

…when do pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training in Arizona?

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Congratulations, Astros

It’s a little bit complicated, but I’m not unhappy to see that the Houston Astros won the World Series tonight.

My first choice, of course, would be that my beloved Angels would win their second World Series championship. With that not happening, my second choice would be my beloved Cubbies, but they didn’t make it very far into the playoffs this year.

It’s tough for me to root for the Dodgers since I’m a huge fan of their crosstown rivals, but I don’t hate the Dodgers. I’m just not a big fan of theirs.

It’s tough for me to root for the Astros since I’m a huge fan of a rival team in the same division. I’m just not a big fan of theirs.

But it was a very entertaining Series, which I enjoyed a lot.

My Twitter feed was oddly schizophrenic – many of the folks I follow are from JPL and folks I’ve met at local NASA Socials (huge Dodger fans) and many of the folks I follow are astronauts and NASA Social folks from Houston (huge Astros fans). One way or the other, a third or so of my Twitter feed was going to be overjoyed and a third was going to be devastated.

But the Astros hadn’t ever won a World Series before, while the Dodgers had won a handful over the years (although nothing since 1988).

The city of Houston had a huge tribulation with Hurricane Harvey this year, where the Astros were a source of pride and encouragement for the citizens of the area.

And there are a couple of Astros players that I really like. In particular, Jose Altuve would be one of my personal favorite players if he wasn’t on a rival team and consistently playing a huge part in keeping us in the losing column and out of the playoffs.

So I would have been fine if the Dodgers won, but I’m just a hair more fine with the Astros winning. It’s sort of a 51 vs 49 thing.

Now that that’s all settled – when do pitchers and catchers report to Tempe Diablo?

Next year!

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Sunday Football

In the fall in the United States on Sundays, there’s a thing called the National Football League. In this part of the world, the team formerly known as the San Diego Chargers have now moved to Los Angeles. My childhood loyalties are to the Kansas City Chiefs, a fierce rival of the Chargers.

The Chargers are in an unenviable position where the people of San Diego hate them for leaving and the people of Los Angeles couldn’t care less about them. They don’t have a home stadium here – their eventual home will be shared with another team (the transplanted Los Angeles Rams, who used to be the St Louis Rams, after previously being the Los Angeles Rams) and for the moment the Chargers are playing in Stubhub Center on the college campus of Cal State Dominguez Hills.

Stubhub Center is lovely and new and no doubt a high end soccer stadium by US standards. By NFL standards, it’s not even a decent minor league stadium. It seats 36,000 max, while almost all other NFL stadiums start in the 60,000+ range and from there get really BIG.

We got there about two hours before game time, were surprised that we could get into the stadium that early, so we sat in the shade and chilled. It was lovely.

The other thing about being a transplant team is that you don’t have a legion of loyal fans. Look at any other NFL stadium, you’ll see a sea of fans wearing the home team colors, jerseys, and paraphernalia. The Chiefs wear red, the Chargers powder blue – see what the crowd looked like during the game?

The game itself was exciting as the Chiefs took off to an early 14-0 lead after several HUGE Chargers mistakes.

The Chargers made a game of it, but the Chiefs pulled away at the end, despite playing a bit sloppy and making way too many penalties.

With a late touchdown to put it away, my beloved Chiefs won 24-10. We’re now 3-0 on the season, the final undefeated team in the American Conference.

Many thanks to my son for the surprise visit from overseas and the tickets, and to my daughter’s boyfriend (a Chargers fan) for putting up with us all.

Oh, by the way, I probably won’t be speaking much tomorrow. Or maybe Tuesday. I did a lot of screaming today…

 

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Tonight We Revel In The Inconsequential 

Given all of the world-class Sturm und Drang we’re being buried under these days – hurricanes, earthquakes, politics, threat of nuclear Armageddon, the new television season – tonight was a night to celebrate one of the simple pleasures, the start of the NFL season.

For those who have been around, it’s not a secret that I’m a lifelong KC Chiefs fan. Tonight we had the opening game of the season against the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, on the road in Massachusetts. None of the “pundits” gave us a chance.

As a fan, one of the joys of being back in KC for the eclipse two weeks ago was being able to stock up on gear. I’m not sure it’s kosher to go full football fan on them at the office so the more garish and outlandish paraphernalia was left at home, but I did manage to sneak in a new (and wonderfully garish) pair of Chiefs socks.

Down in the garage, I had Hissy fitted out with her new flag – I was of course dressed in red and gold for the day.

We’ll see how long the flag lasts before some subhuman Raiders fan (like there are any other kinds!) tears it off and desecrates it.

It was a full and busy day at the office so despite my best intentions, I didn’t make it home until halftime. But for the record, we kicked their asses, 42-27.

I know that it’s “just sports,” in the big scheme of things it’s just a game, we could in theory go 1-15 on the season (but now we can still go 16-0 also!), and years from now it won’t matter a millionth as much as what’s going on with the hurricanes, earthquakes, politics, or whatever.

On the other hand, these days you have to take your cheap thrills where you can find them. It was a great night to be a Chiefs fan.

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