Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Top Ten Sports Moments in 2010

I'll admit, a list of my least favorite sports moments of the year might have been easier to write with 2010 starting off with an Oregon loss to THE Ohio State Buckeyes at the Rose Bowl, and The Giants winning the World Series, but sprinkled among those low points were some great sports moments. 

10.  Getting the chance to visit Wimbledon.

9.  The sound of Vuvuzelas and watching a World Cup match with thousands of soccer fans in Paris. 

8.  The Saints' on-side kick to start the half and Drew Brees holding his son under a shower of confetti after winning the Super Bowl.

7.  A televised Oregon football spring game that was a hint of the season to come. 

6.  Watching Zenyatta's 18th victory.

5.  As a chick who digs defense and pitching (not just the long ball), The Year of the Pitcher was great to watch.

4.  The way Armando Galarraga handled being robbed of a perfect game by Jim Joyce.

3.  The Jets on Hard Knocks and actually having a favorite NFL team.

2.  A crazy college football game in Nevada between Boise State and UNR.  Bummer for that kicker though.

1.  Oregon's 12-0 football season.  It's stressful being the fan of a contender.  Let's hope 2011 starts off better for the Ducks than 2010 did.

There were a few other big moments... that super long match at Wimbledon, Vick coming back at the Meadowlands, the Yankees losing to Texas, Cam Newton's smile... got any favorites?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

I Think It's Safe Now...

Oregon v. USC kickoff.
I'm superstitious.  Even though logically I know I have no impact on the final score of any game I'm not playing in, I can't help it.  I engage in bizarre behavior as a sports fan and I know many of you do too.

In 2002 D blamed a blown No-No on me because I uttered the word perfect.  When the Red Sox were coming back against the Yankees during the 2004 ALCS, I couldn't watch the games live or surely Boston would have lost (Red Sox Nation can thank me for not testing this one).

I guess it's like what Crash Davis said in Bull Durham, "a player on a streak has to respect the streak."  When I was playing high school sports, I had to put on my volleyball knees pads the same way and wear my lucky double socks for basketball games.  I shot free throws and served in volleyball and tennis only after bouncing the ball exactly three times.

So, this football season, I've been on a self-imposed gag order.  Even though I've posted about the Oregon Ducks twice this year, The Best Way to Watch a Duck Game in May and Return of the Quack in October, I had to stop because the Ducks kept winning and their rank kept rising.  It was too risky to post.  What if I posted and then they lost? I know how college football works.  It takes an incredible team and more than a little luck too to make it to the National Championship Game.  It takes perfection. I wasn't about to jinx it, so I wrote Superstition and Sports and the Ducks kept winning.   

Oregon victory formation!
I knew from 2001, when Nebraska made it to the title game in order to get worked by Miami while the #2 ranked Ducks rolled Colorado (a team that beat Nebraska) that with the BCS, anything can happen.  Can we get a college playoff please?  I know injuries can dash your BCS hopes as well from the 2007 Ducks season when Dennis Dixon went down, and the Ducks went down with him.  So most of this fall, I've sat back and enjoyed the ride.  I got to watch the Ducks finally come into the Coliseum and beat USC.  Thank goodness I was unable to watch that Cal game and then they took care of business again Arizona.

But winning The Civil War and clinching a spot in the National Championship Game was the last hurdle. I can finally speak again.  Thank you Chip Kelly, Darron Thomas, LaMichael James, Casey Matthews and Cliff Harris for perfection.

Go Ducks!!!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Are you pulling for Michael Vick or Tiger Woods?

These two athletes had big-time falls from grace.  One for his involvement in dog fighting, the other for a fight that revealed a very dark side.  After paying the consequences (Vick served  time while Tiger's wife served him divorce papers) both of these athletes are attempting to get their sports careers back on track.  Vick is gun slinging for the Eagles and the ticker reveals Tiger's mostly sub-par showings on the links.

Both have been vilified, but I am big on redemption.  Still, I can't help noticing that people hate Vick a whole lot more for treating dogs badly than people hate Tiger for treating women badly.  I'd like to see them both get back on track, but I'm pulling more for Vick.  Care to weigh in? 

Oh, and for your enjoyment, a quarterback controversy for one lucky head coach:

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Oh, Zenyatta...

She ran hard to the end, but Zenyatta couldn't outnose Blame.  I'm glad I was there to see her win number 18 at Del Mar and thanks, Zenyatta, for a great run.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Friday, October 15, 2010

ESPN's 30 for 30 Series: Required Watching

I know there's a whole lot of sports to watch right now with the MLB LCS, along with college and NFL football, but if you are a sports fan and you haven't started recording ESPN's documentary series 30 for 30, you should.  I arrived a little late to the show and still have a few to catch up on, but here are my favorites so far.

Run Ricky Run A thoughtful look at the complexities of Ricky Williams.

June 17, 1994  I'm sure this date rings a bell.  The Knicks were playing the Rockets in the NBA Finals, the US was hosting the FIFA World Cup, and Arnold Palmer was ending his career, but none of us could turn away from OJ Simpson's white Bronco. This film has the footage to prove it. 

The Two Escobars  This is the film I imagine Entourage's fictional Medellin could have been.  It illuminates the lives and deaths of Columbian soccer player Andres Escobar, and the drug lord Pablo Escobar.

Guru of Go  LMU, Paul Westhead, Hank Gathers, Bo Kimble, and a left-handed free-throw that still brings tears to my eyes. 

Four Days in October  Remember when the Red Sox were a team of playful, lovable idiots, cursed for 80-some years?  Remember when you felt for Red Sox and sympathized with their bad luck before they became almost as annoying as Yankees fans? Here are the four unbelievable days that changed Red Sox Nation forever.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Return of the Quack

Ah, college football, how I've missed you and Oregon, you have not disappointed.  Thanks for starting this year off with a win instead of a loss, a punch and a suspension.  Thanks for taking care of nonsense like that during the off season.  Thanks for finding a QB to run the spread, and for a tough defense that can make open-field tackles and pressure opposing QBs.  Thanks for beating New Mexico, Tennessee, PSU, ASU and Stanford.  And thanks to Supwitchugirl for the new track.  I ♥ my Ducks!  Now, NCAA, can we PLEASE get a playoff?  Who wouldn't love to see the winner of Ohio State/Boise State play the winner of Alabama/Oregon?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Wait 'Til Next Year

Even though the Dodgers haven't won or played in a world series since I've lived in LA, I'm realizing how spoiled I've been over the past few years.  We've been to the stadium a couple of times this past month and D still has tickets to a couple of games this September.  We'll go, enjoy Chavez Ravine, eat some Dodger dogs and peanuts, but we know what we've known since the start of August-- it's over.

There will be no Steve Finley play-off clinching grand-slam like in 2004, no magical September evening with back-to-back-to-back-to-back homeruns topped by a Nomar walk-off like in 2006.  No win streak is coming from Manny being Manny (at least not in LA) and Andre Ethier's late inning heroics will be unable to salvage this season.

So this Dodger fan, like so many generations of Brooklyn and Los Angeles fans before me, will be heading for the ballpark knowing once again we'll have to wait 'til next year.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Top 10 Things Women Should REALLY Know Before The NFL Season

I've written about how I'm a big sports fan, but I haven't focused on the I'm female part. This week, however, TouchByAM's tweets (Alyssa Milano's women's sports apparel line) led me to several women-centered NFL blogs. I follow the NFL, but am not a fanatic and even though these blogs are by real female fans, I found them quite offensive. If you want to check them out to form your own opinions, feel free.

I've put together my own list of 10 things women, or casual football fans of any gender, should know going into this NFL season if you want to increase your knowledge of the game and enjoy this season in a different way. If you are happy looking cute in your personalized team jersey and making ditsy comments about how hot the players are, you can find that stuff on other blogs.

1. If you don't know a player, don't pretend you do. Not knowing the starting quarterbacks for every team is not a big deal. Just pay attention and do some research about players who stand out to you. Find out where he's played and where he played college. Remember his number and as you build knowledge you can decide if you like him or not, if he's having a good season or not, and if you are a fan or not.

2. If you don't understand a rule, ask. There are lots of weird rules and it's okay to ask what's going on. It also makes the people who know the rule feel real smart explaining it to you. Then, listen and try not to ask the same question again.

3. Watch the game. If you don't really like watching football, then guess what, you aren't really a football fan and that's okay. Many people don't like football and you can take a nap, read a book or work on that screenplay while football fans watch games all weekend long. But just by watching the game, listening and really paying attention, you'll increase your football knowledge quickly. If you have time, watch Sportscenter, NFL Countdown, NFL Primetime, the NFL Network's Rewind and HBO's Hard Knocks.

4. Learn basic football vocabulary: kick-off, return, special teams, defense, offense, first down, line of scrimmage, off-sides, false start, encroachment, pass interference, completion, sack, running game, passing game, pass rush, tackle, straight arm, punt, touchdown, field goal, extra-point, two-minute warning.

5. Learn the basic positions: offense: quarterback, center, offensive linemen, receiver, running back, tight end. defense: defense linemen, linebackers, corner backs, safety.

6. Watch the college game. You might not want to give up both your Saturday and Sunday to football this fall, but future NFL players are playing on Saturdays and this will increase your understanding of the game and its players. Following NCAA football will also help you understand the playing history of current NFL players.

7. Play Fantasy football for at least one season. You'll learn about stats and become familiar with a wide range of players from various teams.

8. Buy into the story of the game. There is a natural plot line in any game and color commentators will try to identify this for you and play it up throughout the game. If you aren't interested in the plot the commentators are pitching, find a player in the game who can be your protagonist and figure out why you want him to win. Then you'll have your own game-story to talk about after the game.

9. Don't make comments about how cute or hot a player is until you've established basic background knowledge of the game. If you do develop a crush on a player, learn about him, what position he plays, the teams he's played for, where he went to college. It's not enough to just notice how nice his arms are or how good his butt looks in his uniform. You also might want to learn about his off-the-field life (is he single? a playboy? a partier? a politician) but proceed with caution. Knowing this information can deepen or ruin your relationship with this player.

10. Talk smack with caution. If you don't already have favorite players and teams, you will soon. The more you know, the more emotional you're likely to become during games. Be careful what you say and make sure you can back up your smack or be prepared to get smacked down.

Preseason is already underway, so I hope you're ready for some football!!!

Sunday, August 15, 2010


I've never followed horse racing or spent time at the track. Even though Hollywood Park sits a few miles from home I've never been. The one time I went to Santa Anita I only caught the end of one race because we were there with friends to see Super Diamond (a Neil Diamond cover band). And I didn't have any plans to go to the races until a few weeks ago when my mom asked if I'd heard of Zenyatta.

I'd seen this horse on a Dodger billboard (apparently, this is her town) but I didn't know she'd won all 17 of her races or that she dances her way to the starting gate. After watching clips of this amazing horse who loves to run from the back of the pack and set up dramatic come-from-behind victories, I knew I had to get down to see her at Del Mar. The drive took almost 4 hours but it was well worth it to see that big-booty horse rumble down the stretch and secure win number 18.

If you haven't heard of her yet, ladies and gentleman, this is Zenyatta!

Her first 14 wins...

Friday, July 23, 2010

The 2010 FIFA World Cup

Vuvuzelas! Hot soccer players! Unbelievable passes, saves and goals! It is a beautiful game!
Even with all those bad calls.

I didn't recognize the soccer's beauty until I had the chance to see the creators of the beautiful game in action. When D and I traveled to Brazil to visit our good friends Darlene and Tarso in 2006, we watched the city finals at Maracana between Botafogo and Madureira. Talk about an incredible soccer experience. Even though the teams would be the US equivalent to minor league baseball, throngs of chanting fanatics clogged the streets and horses herded us into the stadium. Once inside, fireworks exploded from the crowd and chants of Botafogo echoed from our section. I was sold on soccer.

The 2006 World Cup? I can't even remember who won or where it was played. All I remember is watching Zinedine Zidane's headbutt. Maybe this year's World Cup will fade away too, but I truly enjoyed getting caught up in the vuvuzelas buzz.

First, I trotted alongside the US Soccer Team bandwagon for a couple of games. I guess getting up at 6:00 am and heading to a bar to watch a soccer match will make me do crazy things. I had lost all hope and then that Landon Donovan, he finished! Finally! At least we advanced out of pool play. But I am afraid I'm still an American doubter, as unpatriotic as that is. I just don't think the US men's soccer team will ever get really good until we win big internationally and I just don't think we will ever be good enough to do that. Who knows, maybe someday we'll get lucky. Again.

But once the US was out, (that Ghana team sure made us look slow and lumbering) and I arrived in Paris, I saw the game the way much of the world does. Seriously, it doesn't get much more beautiful than this Paris viewing venue at the Trocadero in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower. Oh, and then there's the Spanish team.

It is a beautiful game. See you in Rio in 2014!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Wimbledon 2010

My first memory of the All England Club was in 1980. I was six and the whole family was watching Bjorn Borg v. John McEnroe in the tv room. I was enthralled and cheered one point quite loudly until the chair umpire insisted, "Quiet, please." I settled down, embarrassed, because I was the gauche American in the midst of this proper English's championship.

The 2010 Championships at Wimbledon saw tennis' longest match, Her Majesty, the Queen's first visit since 1977, and singles titles won by Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal.

On day 10 of the tournament, I had the opportunity to visit and as I made my way on the tube I hoped I'd be able to get in. Wimbledon has a queue that some sit in for days in order to get tickets to a match, or a grounds ticket to access the outer courts and Henman Hill. But on a day when the ladies semis were to be played on Centre Court, there was no one in the queue and I was able to walk right in and buy a Court 1 ticket.

There I was, at Wimbledon, with it's grass courts and wooden net standards, chalk lines and all-white dress code. I walked past Court 18 where the marathon match had just been played. I toured Henman Hill and sampled the strawberries and cream everyone ate and the Pimms everyone sipped.

On Court 8 I caught a young American in her girl's singles match. Sloane Stephens was late and I was able to take in just how many people crowd a court at Wimbledon: 6 ball boys/girls, 7 line judges and one chair umpire. Plus, on the outer courts, the scoreboards are turned by hand, so two scoreboard keepers, one on each end of the court. Stephens hit hard, exhibited a bit of a temper and had several opportunities to win but ended up losing in three sets to Kristyna Pliskova 4-6, 6-1, 9-7.

I spent the rest of my day watching a 5 set men's doubles match (Melzer/Petzschner defeated Moodie/Norman 7-6(3) 6-3 3-6 5-7 6-3) and then strolled across the grounds, catching scores from Centre Court, and snippets of junior's matches. Throughout the day, either in the stands at Court 1 or standing alongside one of the outer courts, and the chair umpires demanded just as they had thirty years ago, "Quiet please."

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

"I believe in the Church of Baseball." ~Annie Savoy

I don't usually go to the ballpark alone but with D busy at work I wasn't about to let tickets to a day game (with seats in the shade) go to waste.

As I walked toward the stadium by myself on a perfect LA day, I felt a little like Susan Sarandon's character, Annie Savoy, from Bull Durham.

It was a Sunday afternoon and a parking attendant asked how I was doing. "Couldn't be better," I told him. "It's a beautiful day for a ballgame."

Because even if there weren't the same number of stitches in a baseball as there are beads in the Catholic rosary, I'd still believe that "the only church that truly feeds the soul, day in, day out, is the Church of Baseball." Amen.

I met friends for the game and got to experience their 10-month-old son's first Dodger game. The baby napped through Furcal's homer and Loney's 2 RBI single in the fifth, but he woke up to see the Dodger's leave them on the field in the tenth and he never shed a tear. I love LA!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Top Five Memorable Moments at Dodger Stadium

D and I have seen a lot of amazing games. Many of these moments happened on the road. In 2002, on our honeymoon tour, we watched Dodger pitcher Odalis Perez throw 6 1/3 perfect innings in New York against the Mets. In Milwaukee, we saw a walk-off hit from young Prince Fielder. But we've witnessed some remarkable baseball moments in our home ballpark. Here are my top five.

5. Chan Ho Park giving up two grand slam home runs in the same inning to Fernando Tatis. Not a proud one, but I still remember sitting in the stands saying, "Two grand slams in one inning, that has to be some kind of record."

4. The end of Eric Gagne's consecutive saves streak. I was there with D and my sister and niece who were in town from Oregon. Dodgers ended up winning but as we left the ballpark I had a hard time explaining to my niece why D and I were so sad.

3. It was a warm September evening in 2001. I don't remember who the Dodgers played or if we won or lost. I do remember the American flag stretched across the outfield by members of the LAPD and LA Fire Department. Airspace remained closed so the sky was still as Vin Scully asked all gathered in Chavez Ravine to take a moment of silence. In the quiet of Dodger Stadium, we started healing.

2. One of Nomar's many walk-off hits, but it wasn't a homer, it was a little squib up the first-base line that stayed fair. Then he ran and put on a poncho to kick off Los Doyer's Cinco de Mayo celebration.

1. Four consecutive home runs in the bottom of the ninth and a Nomar walk-off in the bottom of the tenth to beat the Padres. It was fleece blanket night but most of the fair-weather LA crowd left with the Dodgers down four in the ninth. Those of us who stayed belted out "I Love LA" and gave high fives to strangers because we were there to see that game.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Best Way to Watch a Duck Game

It's been a tough off-season for the Ducks. After that Rose Bowl loss, (please, can Oregon show up to PLAY at the Rose Bowl?) the Jeremiah Masoli's suspension, and LaMichael James harassing his ex, I was feeling no bueno about los patos. So when I heard that ESPN was airing the Duck spring game, I wasn't even sure I wanted to watch, but I'm so glad I did. When the offense scored, awesome. Go Ducks! When the defense made a stop, yes! Way to go D! White prevailed over Green, and a qb controversy was made but more importantly, I saw that even without Masoli, we are going to be okay. I'm looking forward to football season already 'cause I love my Ducks!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Welcome to Dodger Stadium

There are so many great things about going to the ballpark and this past week I got to spend two consecutive nights in Chavez Ravine at Dodger Stadium. It's early is the season but the Dodgers are off to a rough start. They've lost every road series and head back to LA after dropping 2 of 3 to the Nationals and being swept by the Mets.

They're happy to be home and I'm happy to be driving to the Stadium for the first time this season. I sit with students, families and colleagues from the Emerson Sports Academy high above left field as the wind whips through the stadium. The Dodgers, however, continue to play like they're still on the road. The Pirates score 2 on a Matt Kemp error in the first and neither team scores for the rest of the night. All of those zeros lined up on the scoreboard depress me but for many of my middle school students, this is their first Dodger game and even though the home team loses 0-2, being there is enough.

The next night a friend hooks us up with field level seats just behind the dugout club. It's UCLA night at the stadium so I get to look over Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's shoulder at the Dodgers warming up in the on-deck circle. The wind dies down and before the sun sets the Dodgers score two and don't trail for the rest of the night.

I'm off to the Ravine for another game tonight and the great thing about baseball is that anything can happen. You never know what might happen on any given night, on any given pitch. It's what keeps me watching even when my team hovers below .500. You never know what you're going to see so you better pay attention or you just might miss something amazing.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

MLB Salutes Jackie Robinson

It helps that #42, Jackie Robinson, was a Dodger, but I'm pretty sure he'd top my favorite all-time ballplayer list (along with Roberto Clemente) because I'm a sucker for athletes who stand up for their beliefs both on and off the field.

Tonight Major League ballplayers will don #42 but some major league ballplayers epitomize Mr. Robinson more than others.

He won't be playing tonight, but I love how Carlos Delgado stood up for what he believed in by not standing for God Bless America at the start of the Iraq War.

Today I think the player who captures Jackie Robinson's spirit the most is James Loney. Not only is he a Dodger and an RBI alumni, but he continues to give back. He was granted the club's Roberto Clemente award for his community service project which brought young RBI players to Dodger Stadium.

Who is your modern-day Jackie Robinson?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Opening Day

D isn't worried about getting to bed on time tonight. He's sick and tomorrow he won't be able to show up to work. This seems to happen to him most opening days at Dodger Stadium. D gets sick every year around this time. Poor guy. Imagine the luck?

Me? Thanks. I feel fine. I'll be at work, dreaming of green outfield grass, the smell of Dodger Dogs and garlic fries and the dust of dry-roasted peanuts between my fingers as our boys take the field.

So, Dodger fans, have fun at the game and catch a foul ball for me.