Category: sports

Heartache

Heartache

The San Francisco Giants, my all-time favorite baseball team, said that they were going to have the trophy at their new Triple A franchise today, and that they would bring all three trophies. Having missed the stop on both the 2010 and 2012 trophies, I figured I’d go down to Raley Field and see them all.

After three hours in line (arriving when the gates opened, and looping around three sides of Raley Field), my sister and I had almost arrived at the gate when they closed them. Sure, I got a voucher for some Rivercats game. But it wasn’t really what I wanted. I mean, sure the Rivercats are going to be the Triple A franchise for the Giants starting this season, and I was probably going to go out to a few games.

But a Rivercats game is not the world series trophies for a team I have been following since I was a kid.

So I feel pretty miserable and awful right now — especially considering it’s pretty amazing the Giants had won *three*. To have to wait for #4 — a trophy that may not come for 50 years, as it took 52 years and three tries for the Giants to win their first in San Francisco — is a huge slap in the face that a Rivercats voucher isn’t quite enough to make up for.

And the fact that this event was the *only* event in the entire Sacramento Metro Area…yeah.

The Giants should have made this a longer event on a weekend. It would have been an awesome way to welcome their new Triple A franchise into the fold, and it could have been a festive day. It would have been good for both the Giants and the Rivercats. Instead, I’m left with a sour taste for both my favorite baseball franchise, and their Triple A team.

This wasn’t the way to do it, guys.

This blog isn’t exactly a big blog on the Internet, and I really don’t expect either the Giants or the Rivercats to say anything about this clusterfsck. But it hurts, in its way.

My sunset over Raley Field (the picture that accompanies this blog) feels oddly appropriate. It got retweeted by the Rivercats. At the time, I was so excited, but I thought I’d see the trophy at that point, too. So much for that.

My newest acquisition

My newest acquisition

This piece of wood is the edge of a bleacher seat from California Memorial Stadium, home of my beloved California Golden Bears. In the process of renovating and modernizing the facility, which was originally built in 1923 on top of a major earthquake fault, they tore out the wooden bleachers.  I’ve not had a chance to get back to Memorial since the renovation and retrofit, but I’m told it was done well. 

Turns out, though, that those wooden bleachers date back to the original opening of the stadium.  Wow!

The Wooden Duck, a company in Berkeley that specializes in making furniture out of reclaimed wood, managed to get its hands on the old bleachers and, from there, offer pieces for sale. They’ve done some gorgeous work, which you should check out.

My thanks in particular to TwistNHook, the proprietor and head honcho of the zany crew over at the California Golden Blogs, the best Cal sports blog on the entire Internet, including the North Korean parts. ;) He procured the bleacher piece for me, and I owe him.

I eventually plan to get a nice photograph or lithograph of Cal Memorial and frame this block with that. It will go nicely with my 1959 Rose Bowl pennant/program/ticket and my copy of the Daily Californian dated Monday, November 22, 1982 in my tiny museum of Cal memorabilia. :)

But that is my cool thing.

WORLD CHAMPIONS

WORLD CHAMPIONS

I am a Giants fan because my grandfather is a Giants fan. He took me to my first game, in 1988, and I became hooked on the game after that. I avidly followed my Giants when I had the chance and was thrilled when they won the 1989 pennant thanks to my hero, Will Clark, and then wriggled in agony as an earthquake and the dynamo that was the late eighties A’s crushed them in four games.

But I still rooted for them, even when they were the lowly underdogs until 1994, the year of the strike and the year it all fell apart. When Matt Williams’ assualt on the record book was wiped off before it had a chance to happen, I quit baseball. I put my old cards up and I vowed to find other interests.

But I could never leave the game behind entirely, and the 1998 chase attracted some attention. But it was the opening of the new stadium in 2000 that got me interested in the Giants again. That and my grandfather was no quitter — he followed the Giants through the bad times. So by the time 2002 rolled around, I was back in the fold. I was in the stands for Benito Santiago’s game winning homer in Game 4 of the NLCS. And it looked like it was the year.

But Dusty Baker couldn’t manage pitchers to save his life, and the fairytale ending crumbled in, of all places, the home of Disneyland. And then 2003 and defeat at the hands of the Marlins, and then things got bad.

Oh, I’d poke in occasionally to see how the team was doing, but the answer was always not well. But slowly, we started assembing some good pitching. Some strange kid with a funky delivery won the Cy Young Award for us. And then he did it again. And the pitching got really good — enough to suport a team that wasn’t all that hot offensively.

Then we drafted this kid out of Florida State. Kid had a hilarious name and a baby face, but there were rumors that he could flat out play. That he was a pretty damned good catcher. And catchers have to be the smart guys.

Add in guys who were looking for their last chance, and guys who were just in it for one more go ’round, mix them all together and you have this team. Came out of nowhere — rode an excellent September into a winner takes the division game at home on the last day of the season. Took that. Killed Atlanta in the first round of the playoffs. Drew the Phillies in the second round, last year’s NL champs, two years removed from a Series win.

Nobody gave us a chance. We won it in six, taking two games in Philly, including Brian Wilson’s beautiful caught looking strikeout on Ryan Howard to win us the pennant.

So our world series opponent was another AL West team, this time the Rangers. And after we won the first two games with 20 runs between them, it started to feel like this might just be the year. As the series shifted to Texas, the old familiar hope started rising.

And then Texas won game 3. Maybe not.

But no, just as all hope looked lost, a 21 year old kid pitched a gem of a world series game, shutting out the Rangers. One more to go, and that freaky kid with the weird pitching motion who’d won himself a Cy Young award or two got the start. And he pitched eight masterful innings, ten strikeouts, and they only go one run, on a fluke homer. One of three hits he would give up.

Then they sent in the Beard to win it all, just as they had in Philly. And sure enough, the last inning, it went strikeout, ground out, strikeout, and the Giants had won. The bunch of misfits and freaks had scored a victory over everybody.

It’s the first world series victory in San Francisco, the first world series victory for the Giants since 1954, and I got to see it. Even better, my grandfather got to see it, and that’s even more important to me. Baseball’s awesome, but if it wasn’t for Grandpa, I’d not bleed black and orange, so I’m glad they won it for him.

The 2010 World Champion San Francisco Giants. Feels pretty damn good, I’d say.

Here’s to Tim Lincecum, the freak, whose masterful pitching won us two games in the Series. Here’s to Madison Bumgarner, the kid from North Carolina, whom I wish I had *half* the composure he had when I was 21. Here’s to Buster Posey, the catcher with the funny name, who is quickly becoming my favorite Giant. Here’s to Matt Cain, another excellent pitcher. Here’s to Brian Wilson, whose beard must have scared all those batters. Here’s to Edgar Renteria, the old man who found a way to bring it home. Here’s to Cody Ross, the man nobody wanted. Here’s to Aubrey Huff, and the shot to give MadBum the lead in his hometown. And here’s to the rest of the Giants who made this season so special for me.

Here’s to the Black and Orange. Go Giants. WORLD CHAMPIONS.

most awesome birthday weekend ever

most awesome birthday weekend ever

So yeah, this weekend went really well. If I had to ring in the start of another lap around the sun, this is about the way I want to do it. Bear with me, for long kat is long.

It started at work Friday, where there was cake. We do this for birthdays at work recently, but one of my co-workers made sure there was cake for me. It was supremely good cake, too.

Saturday started out a bit meh, as I had to go do schoolwork in the morning, but once I was done with that, I headed out to Folsom, stopping along the way to treat myself to In-and-Out for a hamburger as my celebratory birthday weekend. Yum.

Then, at Folsom, we had a party. It was supposedly for those not going to SF the following night to have fun, but they decided to let me come and celebrate my birthday. One of our Wrimos even baked me a cake. This was sweet.

And then to top it off, Saturday was also the 112th Big Game, which I was fairly certain Stanford was going to win. But my Bears somehow came out of nowhere, had the score close at halftime, and then proceeded to first pull away, and then let Stanford back into it before sealing the deal with an interception. It was Cal Cardiac Football at its finest, and so I got a nice surprise gift — an Axe. It was pretty funny because I was so not writing at the party, but listening to my game, and towards the end, the feed started cutting in and out, which made it hard to follow. The feed cut out just as Toby Gerhart tried to win the game for Stanford, and didn’t come back up until I heard the word “INTERCEPTION!” in my headphones and was trying to figure out what had just happened and whether that meant my Bears had won the game.

And then there was Sunday. Oh god, what can I say about Sunday? Besides the fact that San Francisco is probably my most favorite city on the planet and I love any chance I get to visit, the Night of Writing Dangerously was way more fun than I was expecting. It started simply:

It’s about 5:40 in the evening. The scene, a round table in a ballroom high above California Street in San Francisco. Seated there are seven people from Sacramento: myself, Richard, his wife Jennifer, Jenny, Candace, Temperance, and Stephanie. There’s some idle chitchatting about where people are and stuff like that. In front of the room, the bell is introduced — you come ring the bell when you’ve become a winner at NaNoWriMo (that is, hit the 50k mark). And that’s when the following happened:

Temperance: “So, Kat, you going to hit 50k tonight?”
me: “You’re kidding, right? I’m nowhere close.”
Temperance: “You’re in the forties, no?”
me: “Well, yeah, a bit over 43k.”
Temperance: “There you go. You can hit 50k tonight.”
me: “I’m not so sure about this idea.”
Temperance: “Look, how many words do you have?”
me: “About forty-three five.”
Temperance: “That’s about 6500 words. We’ll not count this hour. But six — we’ll not count seven — eight, nine, ten. That’s four hours. You only have to write about 1500 words an hour.”
Rest of table: “Yeah, c’mon, Kat, you can do it.”
me: “Okay, fine, you all. I’ll try.”
me (thought): This is going to be impossible and I’m going to fail and feel rotten at the end of it. Ah well, nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Table: *cheering*

So I spend most of the evening sitting and writing frantically, although there were several breaks to take advantage of the candy pile and the hosted bar (too bad I don’t drink, but there was plenty of ginger ale and soda) and eat something resembling dinner. Oh yeah, and there were the most crazy donuts I’ve ever had with toppings like Cocoa Puffs and Nilla Wafers and Oreo cookies and Butterfingers and …the list goes on and on. Also, I went and took my author photo.

But most of the time I was writing. It was a write-a-thon after all. And after frantically typing all evening, writing a grand total of 6,481 words — a personal NaNo daily best — this happened.

Later that evening, about 10:15 PM:
Jason (peering over my shoulder): “So did you make it?”
me: “Give me a second, I just put it in the wordcounter.”
NaNo website: *loading*
Everybody: *waits*
NaNo website: katster has 50,182 words.
me: “Wait, what, I made it? I made it!”
Table (and Jason): “Go ring that bell!”
me: “Give me a second to recover and bask in my glory.”
*moment*
me: “Alright, now I’m going to go find Sarah [the coordinator of this glorious event] and let her know that I made it before I ring the bell so she doesn’t have to come frantically running.” [Backstory: People had been ringing the bell all evening, leaving poor Sarah frantically running to the stage. I felt bad, so I wanted to make sure she didn’t have to run.]
*By sheer random coincidence, Sarah walks by at just that moment*
me: “Hey Sarah! Just to warn you, I hit 50k!”

…and so I nicely followed Sarah to the podium where I grasped that bell and rung it just about as hard as anybody had that evening.

And the rest of the night I wore a crown on top of my Cal hat and a manic grin. Kinda like this:

me, after it’s all said and done. Photo by my friend Richard

All in all, the best birthday weekend ever. Thanks to everybody who helped me make it to the Night of Writing Dangerously — cards should go out next week.

And no, I don’t know how I’m going to top this next year.

another year, another rotation around the sun…

another year, another rotation around the sun…

Today will be the 112th replaying of the Big Game. I’m hoping for an Axe for my birthday, but Cal has a 4-7-1 record against Stanford on November 21, and Stanford’s won the last three on that day. Also, Stanford’s in the Rose Bowl hunt, and all Cal can do is play spoiler. I can only hope it’s enough.

The last time I wanted an Axe for my birthday, Stanford won 10-3 when I was sure Cal would win that game. I’ve cried at very few football games, but I distinctly remember crying at that one. I’m attempting to temper my expectations this time — Stanford will probably win, but that won’t stop me from rooting for my Bears and hoping for the upset.

Anyway, for those of you who made it through my Big Game neepery, today is indeed the completion of my thirty-first rotation around the sun. In the common parlance, we call this a “birthday” and this year, it shall be prime. (Remember, we number completions when they’ve finished!)

There was cake at the office yesterday, there will be cake at a party tonight, and then Sunday is the Night of Writing Dangerously, which is what I wanted to do for my birthday when I realized Big Game was out.

And if I’ve worked it out right, this will post at precisely the time I was born.

Have an excellent day, everybody.

photo by Jessica N. Diamond on flickr

Go Bears!

Go Bears!

The Bears last week against Arizona. Photo credit Monica’s Dad on flickr // CC BY 2.0

There was a point in time where Tedford seriously considered bolting for another job. Those opportunities came early during the Tedford era, fresh off of Cal’s most impressive season to date in 2004. However, one of the main reasons why a lot of Old and Young Blues alike have an adoring respect for Tedford has been because of the coach’s loyalty to the program and his desire to not only win, but win at Cal.

So it turns out that Saturday will be Coach Tedford’s 100th game. This is a nice article about the change Tedford’s made at Cal — not only in terms of making the football program a winner, but for his part in turning boys into men.

My undergraduate career at Cal was the football seasons from 1996 to 1999. In those four seasons, Cal went a depressing 18-27. We made it to one bowl my freshman year (which we lost to Navy), we never won the Big Game, and we were pretty much the conference doormat. We also cheated, and rightfully got slapped for it, but it’s not like we could even cheat right — the point of cheating is to win, no?

Anyway, the highlights, which were few, were beating Oklahoma twice (although those OK teams weren’t very good) and taking three of four from USC — but they weren’t very good at the time either. Then, it culminated in the disaster of 2001, where my beloved Bears went 1-10. Okay, I admit, by the end of it, I was idly rooting for a “perfect” season, but we managed a win in the last game of the season, a postponed-by-9/11 game with Rutgers in New Jersey. I still maintain that if we’d played Rutgers when scheduled, we’d have won that game and gained the confidence to take a couple over the course of the year, but I can’t prove it, and if it had worked out that way, then it might not have lead to something good.

The good, in this case, was the fact that we managed to convince the offensive coordinator from an Oregon Ducks team that really should have played in the National Championship that year to come to Cal and be our head coach — a dude named Jeff Tedford.

Tedford said that from the beginning, he wanted to change the football culture at Cal. And when, that first season, my first year as a grad student at Cal, I was in the stadium to watch Cal completely blow the Baylor Bears out of the water 70-22, and when the first Cal play from scrimmage went for a touchdown, I began to believe again. When we went 7-5 with the same players that had gone 1-10 the year before, and would have gone to a bowl if it wasn’t for the aforementioned cheating, things got a bit better. Of course, the greatest thing was finally seeing a Big Game victory — the first Big Game victory for Cal since I was a junior in high school.

Being a Cal fan’s a hard thing. My Bears are pretty much the Chicago Cubs of college football. The last time we went to a Rose Bowl was in 1959, and Cal fans start every year with the high hopes that this will be the year in which we go to the fabled promised land of Pasadena, California for New Year’s Day. And year after year, the hopes turn frail and bitter as the Bears inevitably find ways to lose games they shouldn’t, or have the unfortunate luck to get good just as USC is putting together a dynasty for the ages.

This season’s been a really disappointing one — we thought we finally had all the tools into place to beat USC and take the Rose Bowl. Well, USC won’t be going this year, but Cal isn’t in position to take advantage of it. About the best we can do is play spoiler to Stanford’s Rose Bowl dreams, and, well, that ain’t looking overly good. (Did you see what Stanford did to Oregon and USC? Wow!)

But get rid of Tedford? Are you kidding me? He’s 66-33 overall. That’s a pretty good winning percentage — and he’s done it at Cal, where the institutional support is always going to be somewhat lacking. Sure, we haven’t made it to the Rose Bowl yet, but on the other hand, I actually believe that we will go someday. And we’ll go with Tedford as our coach.

I mean, I finally actually got to touch the Axe, right? I gotta believe.

Rally members who graduated from Cal without seeing a Big Game win finally get to hold the Axe for the first time. Note the huge smile on my face — I’m the one in the blue and gold rugby and Cal hat

baseball and a status update

baseball and a status update

God, has it been nearly two weeks since I bothered to update my blog?

Ah, here, have a picture:

I took this at the Rivercats game last night. It’s the first time I’ve been out to Raley Field, and, while the Cats sucked rocks through a bendy straw last night, it was a perfect night for baseball, especially as the sun started to set. For those of you who don’t know, the Rivercats are the Triple-A affiliate of the Oakland A’s, and the stadium is just across the river from downtown Sacramento. (That gold bridge on the left? That’s the Tower Bridge, which crosses the Sacramento River, and is generally one of the two things used to as icons to identify Sacramento. The other is, of course, the State Capitol building.

Anyway, just letting folks know I live. I’ll have more to say later.

Put me in, Coach (redux)

Put me in, Coach (redux)

You might recall my post from the other day in which I wrote about the story of a home run nearly lost but for good sportsmanship by the other team.

Well, here’s the video ESPN put together. Warning: Have Kleenex ready.

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