Thursday, March 31, 2016

Everyone Loves A Winner

Last night I attended the Sacramento River Cats and San Francisco Giants game at Raley Field in Sacramento. It was considered a historic game because it was the first time the Giants played in Sacramento.
Raley Field holds about 14,000. I think there was more than 14,000 in the place.
Walking through the concourse was like walking through a maze. Constant changing of direction as to avoid bumping into someone.
The lines for food and beer were ridiculously long. I haven't seen a crowd this big since the first year the River Cats came to town. Needless to say, I didn't eat or drink anything.
I've been to Raley Field when Major League teams came to play, and the crowds were manageable. Everyone was comfortable and has plenty of space.
Yesterday was a disaster. It turned into an AT&T Bandwagon Fan party. No one sat down to watch the game. It was everyone up and down, standing in the aisles, blocking the view.
It got me to thinking about how different crowds can be when your winning.
When a team is losing, the park is half empty and very quiet. Tickets can be had dirt cheap.
But when a team is winning, look out for your wallet! Everything goes up in price. Food, tickets, parking, souvenirs and beer! It's good old supply and demand.
Let me give you an example.
I was a partial season ticket holder for the Golden State Warriors in 2001-2. The Warriors were AWFUL!! No one came to the games. I used to sit in the lower bowl of Oracle Arena a few rows from the basket for $30. You can't park there now for $30. No one wore Warriors gear. No one watched on TV or listened on the radio. Basically, no one cared. Dubs Nation in 2001-2? Didn't exist.
Now EVERYONE is a "Dubs" fan. Some claim to be life long fans! Really?
It's great they're winning, but the bandwagon fans came out of nowhere and drove the prices up!
Kinda like the Giants fans. At Candlestick Park, the crowd was blue collar. It was a great crowd. They loved their boys in orange and black. They would support the team win or lose.
Then AT&T Park opened. The blue collar crowd got priced out. Now it's the downtown crowd who have money to spend. What better way to end the work day than going to a party at the Giants game. And it is a party. Girls everywhere dressed "cute" in their Giants gear. It's cool to be a Giants fan all of a sudden. It's a status symbol to have Giants tickets.
It's out of control at AT&T Park.
I posted something on Facebook about how crazy the night at Raley Field was.
A friend of mine said something so perfect. She said, "I have a friend who's a diehard Giants fan. He wishes they would start losing so the bandwagon fans would go away."
Bandwagon fans love a winner.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Who Takes Their Kid To Work Everyday?

Adam LaRoche retired suddenly the other day. He said it was a family issue.
Was there a close family member with an illness? Was he sick?
The reason? He couldn't bring his 14 year old son to the club everyday.
It's been a long standing tradition to have your kids in the clubhouse on occasion.
LaRoche felt everyday was ample enough.
Now, I worked in a baseball clubhouse. It's kind of a frat house. It's a private sanctuary for players to relax and unwind. Everything a player can ever need is in the clubhouse. Food, sleep area, TV, ping pong table, ice cream parlor. I mean each clubhouse is different with the amenities, but you get my point.
There's a sign in every clubhouse that says, "What you see here, what you hear here, what you say here, let it stay here."
Jim Bouton wrote a book about life inside a Major League clubhouse and was practically blackballed from baseball.
It's a place where boys will be boys. Lots of immature behavior goes on in there.
Tim McCarver once mentioned guys walking naked up to the spread table and someone's privates rubbing up against the food. "Cock in the clamdip" or "Charlie running up against the coldcuts".
So saying all this, the Major League clubhouse isn't a place for a 14 year old boy to be at EVERYDAY!
It's great LaRoche wants to spend time with his son, but there are limits. White Sox president Ken Williams told LaRoche to dial it back a bit. He even went on to say half the time was too much.
So LaRoche retired and is now walking away from  $13 million.
Now there's a war of words going on. White Sox manager Robin Ventura has to right the ship. It's not even his problem.
The clubhouse is in chaos. Normally a prima donna can destroy a clubhouse.
The clubhouse was destroyed by a 14 year old boys access to the clubhouse. Funny thing is, he's the most mature person in this situation.

Monday, March 14, 2016

One Quick Week

I came home from my fourth annual Spring Training trip to Arizona on Saturday.
This year was unlike any other year as it was so fast paced, as compared to the last three years.
My friend had his sister and brother in law come out for the first two days,  then his girlfriend joined us the last three days.
It was a lot of fun, but from the time we woke up, to the time we went to sleep, there wasn't a dull moment.
We needed to see two stadiums and then we would have seen all the Phoenix area stadiums.
First, we visited Sloan Park, home of the Chicago Cubs. It was in my opinion the best park in Spring Training.
I really enjoyed the layout of the park and the enthusiasm of the Chicagolander's rooting for the Cubs.
They are a passionate group, and they were grateful for the Arizona sun.
Kyle Schwarber and Kris Bryant played and put on a hitting display.
We went early in March, and if you go too early in the season, the minor leaguers play more often than they do later in the month. So about after the sixth inning, the big leaguers get taken out of the game and replaced with kids who'll be riding buses all summer long.
Don't ask me who won that game. I didn't keep score.
I didn't because everything went by so fast. The days were long, but fast.
Later that day, we went to Scottsdale Stadium to see the Reds and Giants.
The place was a sardine can. Scottsdale Stadium is one of the older parks now, and it shows. The corridors are narrow and the seating area is cramped.
It was one big party area. AT&T Park South. I think people were there to party than they were to watch the game.
I'm betting in a few years the Giants ask for a new facility. They desperately need one!
The rest of the week went fast.
We saw Oakland play the Dodgers at the newly remodeled Hohokam Park.
I sat next to Brewers team president Doug Melvin at the game. Looked like he was scouting the Dodgers. (More on that in another post).
The last day we saw the Giants and the Mariners at Scottsdale. The Arizona heat was hitting us. We were tired and it was a long trip.
After the last out I thought to myself, "Hurry up March 2017!"

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Big Egos

I've been doing a lot of reading lately about athletes with big egos. It's not that I want to. I have to. The subject is everywhere.
I was at my local big chain bookstore last week gathering reading material for my trip to Arizona. I was in the magazine section when I came across a quote in bold print from Bubba Watson which said, "I have a big ego and no one impresses me!"
I re-read the quote a few times. Then I got to thinking, "Why does he have to say that?" He's one of the best golfers in the world. He has it all. Why not be more supportive of your fellow golfers?
Because being nice doesn't generate two things he craves, controversy and attention.
I went on to read an article about him on Deadspin which proclaims him to be the most hated player on the PGA Tour. This was a survey from his fellow peers, not the fans. The fans don't think to highly of him either.
It went on to explain how bold and brash he is. He played golf at the University of Georgia, ( I'm surprised he was smart enough to get admitted there), and he played along guys who are now on the tour. It's believed that playing college golf would forge lifelong friendships. His fellow Bulldog alumns at first would walk up to him to start a conversation. Let's say he wasn't happy to go down memory lane and talk about the good old days in college. He can be cold and distant too.
There were a lot of stories basically implying he's not a nice man.
Again, why be that way?
I've written before about my dislike for Cam Newton. I can't stand his brash and arrogant manner. When he wins, he's all smiles and in your face. When he loses, he sulks and whines. He did so after the Super Bowl. He walked off after his press conference after giving one word answers about the loss. This is the face of the franchise who also is a spokesperson for major food companies.
He then could have made up for it a few days later during another interview. He made a comment about being a happy loser. He went on to say, "If you show me a guy who's happy to be a loser, I'll show you a loser." It just made things worse.
Big Egos fuel sports though. There was a great quote by the soccer great Georgio Chingala in the documentary "Once In A Lifetime" that goes, "You need a big ego in sports in order to survive." Which is true.
In the skateboarding movie, "Dogtown and Z-Boys", an older skateboarder was quoted as saying, "If you have a big ego, you better back it up." Which is also true.
My question is, if you're the best, why be so brash about it? Sports is about sportsmanship and one should be humble. But Madison Avenue builds up these athletes that are anything but being a good sportsman. Isn't that sending the wrong signal? (Especially to the kids. But like Goose Gossage said yesterday, there are kids being little turds because of these unsportsmanlike athletes.)
Serena Williams is another brash athlete that's bold win she wins, but sulks and speaks in a monotone voice when she loses.
As I said, big egos fuel sports. Time to look for a different kind of fuel.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

On The Road Again

I'm in the passenger seat on the way to Spring Training.
First stop is Las Vegas. It helps break up the drive.
We're scheduled to see six games this year. One of which I'm excited about.
Going to see the Cubs at Sloan Park in Mesa. It's the largest spring training park in baseball at a capacity over 15,000. Amazing that they sell out every game.
We're also going to Hohokam Park, home of the A's, which is also in Mesa.
It looks to be a great week in the Valley of the Sun!