Sunday, October 3, 2010

20 Minutes with Martina

I had a chance to talk with Martina Navratilova for 20 minutes the other day to plug an upcoming charity fundraiser starring Martina and Gigi Fernandez. I called her in Paris and at first I thought oops--maybe I caught her on a bad day.

“You’re late,” she said.

(I was exactly one minute late—I forgot to dial the international code. So, I did what I always do—diffuse an awkward moment with some humor)

“I write for a publication called The Marina Times in San Francisco, and my editor told me that if I can get a good interview with you, maybe they can change the name to The Martina Times.”

(She laughed. Whew, I thought)

Q: It seems like you do a ton of fundraising for PETA and so many other organizations. Is it almost like a full-time job?
A: Yes, it could be if I said yes to everything. The key is to say no sometimes because there is only one me and you can only do so much and then I have to pay the rent. I have to pick my spots, so I stick with things that I believe in and work with causes I want to be involved in and that make sense to me.

Q: We recently watched Unmatched, the ESPN 30 30 documentary about your lifelong friendship and rivalry with Chris Evert and it’s a wonderful documentary. Can you think of a rivalry in professional sports that is anything even close to the one that existed for so many years between you and Chrissy?
I can’t think of one. Writers have mentioned Ali and Frazier, but they only fought against each other three times total? Ted Williams and DiMaggio, but they never really faced each other. Palmer and Nicklaus in golf, for instance? I can’t think of one close to what we went through, because we were #1 and #2 in the world and then we would switch, so there isn’t anything else like that, I think.

Q: You had a trainer for a while who told you not to be so chummy with Evert, because she was the enemy, correct?
Yes, Nancy Lieberman was my trainer for a while and she was so competitive that she told me, “Chrissy has something you want and you just can’t be hanging out with her and being all buddy buddy.” And she was wrong about that, but in the end I learned that I did play differently against friends; I was nicer. It was like I didn’t mind losing against my friends. It was telling myself, “Hey, it was Chris who beat me—it’s not that bad.” I needed to get that killer instinct, but I think that Nancy Lieberman took it too far and Chrissy and I were able to find a nice balance eventually. Chris herself had a hard time being close to me, and she had to stop playing doubles with me, because once I started beating her, she didn’t want to hang out with me either. First it came from her and then I started backing off as well. Then we became closer after we quit playing, because then we weren’t competing against each other. Even in the heart of competition, we never lost the empathy and respect that we had for each other.

Q: You were on the reality show, I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Outta Here and you lost to somebody named Joe Swash?
Well, I didn’t actually lose. I finished second out of 12 people. There are so many so-called celebrities out there due now to these reality shows. It’s kind of bizarre. Look at this flight attendant who slid out of a plane, now he’s getting his own show. Today, you can be famous just for being famous. It’s called “instant celebrity”. I get calls all the time to be on reality shows, but I haven’t found one I want to do. Dancing with the Stars has been recruiting me, but I can’t do those high heels and I just don’t see myself dressed up like that. It’s just not me. The Apprentice would be fun, but they offered me such little money to be on it. I don’t need to be on TV that bad.

Q: I also read somewhere that you’re a pescatarian, which means you only eat fish for your animal protein?
A: I also eat some meat now, but only very little. I was a total vegetarian for seven years and then I discovered that my body was screaming for animal protein, so I started eating meat, but only as little as possible. Your body chemistry changes as you get older and I want to get back to the point of not eating meat again, but not right now I eat primarily fish. I won’t eat lobster because I’ve seen them alive in the water, and I don’t want to kill them. They have to live so long to get to a decent size and I just feel guilty about it.

Q: Speaking of lobster, you played for the Boston Lobsters, a Women TeamTennis Association team in the ‘70s. Why hasn’t team tennis be a success in this country?
A: Well, I think because people still see tennis as an individual sport. I loved playing on a team and I thought it was good for the spectators to see so many different top players in 1.5 hours. You don’t get to witness that in a standard tournament format. Then, the fans get to see the same players playing week after week, so they build a bond with the members of their team. In a tournament, after two days three quarters of the field is gone, and if you didn’t get tickets to the finals, you’re out of luck. I don’t really know why team tennis hasn’t taken, other than maybe people don’t see tennis as a team sport. I do remember that the money wasn’t that great. I made $60,000 for the season for 40 matches. We were grossly underpaid. Players get more for first round doubles today!

Q: I know you’ve been on The Howard Stern radio show more than once and you’re a good friend with Robin Quivers. Have you gotten heat from your management or from the public for being on that show?
A: Not really. Robin is a friend of mine and I have a standing offer to be on the show. Howard is very respectful of me on the show. He’s very bright and says exactly what he feels. I wasn’t worried, because I knew I could hold my own with him. I respect the man and in many ways, we agree politically.

Q: I read somewhere that a tennis writer chose you as the #2 best tennis women’s player of all time behind Steffi Graff. I found that surprising. Don’t people pretty much consider you as the greatest female tennis player of all time?
Most do, but it will always be debated, just like the debate on the men’s side. Not everyone will love me and that’s just fine. I’m not all concerned about how writers or anyone else sees my career, because I’m happy to have made a living playing the game I love, and that’s enough for me. Awards and recognition are nice, but really in the end, it all about how you acted and what you achieved.

Q: What is your favorite Czech food?
Anything with mushrooms in them is my favorite, especially truffles. White truffles are coming into season right now and I love them.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Maury Wills Stole the League in the 1960's

Maury Wills was a switch-hitting batter, slick fielding shortstop, base stealing phenomenon who played prominently with the Los Angeles Dodgers(1959–66, 1969–72) and also with the Pittsburgh Pirates (1967–68) and Montreal Expos (1969). He was an essential component of the Dodgers' championship teams in the mid-1960s, and deserves much credit for reviving the stolen base as part of baseball strategy. In a 14-season career, Wills batted .281 with 20 home runs, 458 runs batted in, 2,134 hits, 1,067 runs, 177 doubles, 71 triples, and 586 stolen bases in 1942 games. He is a seven-time all-star and in 1962. As of 2009, Wills is a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers organization serving as a representative of the Dodgers Legend Bureau.

One player changed his life: “My high school was full of great runners; really fast guys who were much faster than me. They stuck me in the middle of their four-man relays, but I wasn’t fast enough to anchor. I played every sport, but baseball was always my favorite. Then one day everything changed when a professional baseball player showed up on our playground and he was from the Washington Senators. We didn’t know anything about the Washington Senators. No word ever got in or out of the projects back in those days. But this man had a nice uniform on, color coordinated with the piping down the sides of his pants; his shoes were clean and were shined up real nice; he had belt loops and he was well-groomed with clear eyes and he was white. How he made it to our neighborhood I’ll never know. And we were like—wow, before this we used to idolize the guys in our neighborhood who played on the weekends, they called them semi-pros. They all had mismatched uniforms on. Argyle socks under their stirrups. And they all had a half pint of whiskey in their back pockets and they looked like they hadn’t slept all week. They were our heroes and we wanted to grow up to be just like them. We figured if we grew up and played on their team, we would be successful. They were hard-working men, many who didn’t have jobs and surely weren’t looking around for a job, guys who just played Negro-league style baseball on the weekends. That’s where I learned to play Negro league style, which involved a lot of running. It’s what they call ‘small ball’ today, but I call it baseball. And then all of a sudden, here comes this white professional baseball player and his name is Jerry Priddy, you can Google him and he died years later and I doubt he even knew how much he impacted my life as a kid. Years later as a Los Angeles Dodger, they used to ask us to go out into the community to talk to kids and some of my fellow players didn’t want to go. But, I always went and I’ll always go if people ask, because I am indebted to Jerry Priddy for what he did for me when he singled me out on that playground many years ago. Players would show up at these community events and then just stay for the agreed-upon minimum 20 minutes, but I was always thinking, Jerry Priddy didn’t leave after 20 minutes, he hung out with us for at least two hours. So, I would always stick around and usually I was the last player there.”

Inspired by Jackie Robinson: “In 1947, I started hearing a lot of talk in the projects about a man named Jackie Robinson playing for a team called the Dodgers. Oh, who is Jackie Robinson? Where’s Brooklyn? I started asking. They told me it’s in New York and I asked where’s that? So, I walked away and said to myself, I’m going to play for the Dodgers one day. That’s when I thought that I could be a major league player.”

His MVP year: “I won the MVP in 1962 and Willie Mays keeps reminding me that he should have won the MVP that year. This is 2010, and he’s still telling me about it. I told him Willie get over it, man. I always got the Dodgers that one run we needed and especially that season.”

The Brooklyn Dodger vets: “Those early years of the Los Angeles Dodgers featured guys like Duke Snider, Carl Furillo and Gil Hodges, but by that time they were even more distant and intolerant of the wave of younger players coming in. They were a whole different breed of cat coming from Brooklyn. Different players from different eras have varied approaches to the game, but these guys were not what you’d call warm and fuzzy. I’m not saying they weren’t good people, but they sure couldn’t be categorized as nice people, you know? They were grumpy and standoffish in many ways. They wouldn’t help you or hang out with you. On that team you were on your own—you either made it on your own or failed on your own on that team. I have a good friend from that period—his name is Don Newcombe—and he’s still grumpy to this day. Gilliam was aloof, but a little nicer than the other ones.”

Alston & Koufax: “Walt Alston was a gentleman and very dependable, but he was a no-nonsense guy, but he didn’t say many words and I can’t remember really seeing him smile or laugh much. He was all-business, just like many of his veteran players. A good friendship developed over the years between me and Sandy Koufax. When he had arm trouble, he would stay after the games to ice down his arm, and I’d be there too icing down my legs. So, we spent a lot of time together all alone in the clubhouse, just he and I Sometimes we’d have to find a security guard to let us out of the stadium, because it was all locked up. So, that’s how we became friends and developed a lot of trust. To this day, I have Sandy’s cell phone number and I don’t think many people have it, because he’s a very private individual.”

One game that changed his life: “For a long time, I was batting eighth for the Dodgers. Batting ahead of the pitcher is not a great spot to be in to use your speed and my base running and base stealing abilities. And my bat wasn’t anything to write home about, I had to be a disciplined fielder and things like that to impress them and stay in the lineup. Pee Wee Reese used to take me out at least five days a week to work with me on my fielding—hard, hard, hard. So, then in early July that season (1960) we went to Spokane Washington for the Dodgers on an off day to play their AAA team there. I had played for that team the year before and I maintained my family there, so a big crowd came to the game. I was in the clubhouse getting ready when Alston came back and said, ‘This is a big crowd and I think they came to see you. Why don’t you lead off?’ I was in shock. And he said ‘yeah’. And then as he was leaving the clubhouse, Alston turned back around—now mark this moment because it changed my life—and he said, ‘And don’t wait for the steal sign, if you wanna go, then just go!’ I went out there and got something like four hits, stole about three bases, I was running from first to third on ground balls through the infield and my teammates were telling me, ‘Slow down because you’ll hurt yourself. It’s just an exhibition game’ and I told them, not for me. I had a great day and we went on to Cincinnati from there. We were in the locker room getting ready when Alston walked over to my locker and said, ‘Why don’t you just stay in that leadoff spot? And don’t wait for steal signs either.’ Man, I had a great season after that. I was in the top ten in hitting and stole 50 bases, beating the Dodger team’s record, formerly held by Jackie Robinson.”

Why the Dodgers traded him to Pittsburgh: “Because I jumped the tour in Japan without the team’s permission. We went to Japan after we lost the 1966 World Series. I got hosed on that too. It was supposed to be a voluntary trip, and my leg was all banged up—I busted the cartilage in my right knee earlier that season, getting caught up in a run down in New York playing against the Mets. Koufax and Drysdale said they couldn’t go on the trip because they said they had previous business commitments. But back then, players didn’t have any business commitments, they just didn’t want to go and the team wouldn’t force them. And I showed them how messed up my leg was and they still made me go. But they said I wouldn’t have to play, just sign autographs. I said okay and when I got there they started playing me. Pretty soon, the leg started hurting more and more. I asked for permission to go home and they said no. So, I got my own ticket and went home. The late Walter O’Malley didn’t like it and he got rid me of me—they traded me to the Pirates. I cried for a week when I heard about it.”

Monday, September 6, 2010

Me and Tony Malinosky

He's the oldest living MLB baseball player on the planet and it was a pleasure meeting and interviewing the 100-year old Tony Malinosky. He played only one season for the Brooklyn Dodgers, but he fought in the Battle of the Bulge and one of his college buddies was Richard Nixon. He's lived an amazing life and next month he'll turn 101!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Last week was HUGE for my pursuit of interviewing the oldest living baseball players for my upcoming book, Chasing Greats (June 2011, McFarland Publishing). My goal is to interview the players who can still be interviewed, and cross off my list of the ones who can't be interviewed for whatever reason.
So, here's what happened last week:
First, I contacted Ray Hathaway (#21 on the list) and interviewed him on the phone.

On Sunday, I drove 12 hours to and from Oxnard to interview the oldest living player, Tony Malinosky.

Later that day, I traveled to Ventura to locate Don Lang (#9). I was able to contact Don's wife and she explained that he cannot speak or recognize anyone. So, unfortunately, no interview there.

And finally, I had to take Eddie Joost (#16) off my list. He told me in very simple terms that he doesn't want to be bothered by any writers. Oh well.
So, four off my list--I'm making good progress!
Top: Don Lang
Next: Tony Malinosky
Bottom: Ray Hathaway

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Should Gil Hodges Be in the Hall of Fame?

I recently wrote about Lefty O’Doul, a San Francisco baseball legend who deserves be in the Hall of Fame, I believe. Another player/manager who should be in the HOF is the late Gil Hodges. His statistics and contributions to the game as a manager and as a role model make him more than merely a candidate. The Marina has a connection to Hodges, because Gil Hodges III, Gil’s grandson, is well-known in the neighborhood as a co-owner of Liverpool Lil’s. Gilbert Hodges played first base primarily for the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers. He was the major leagues' outstanding first baseman in the 1950s, with teammate Duke Snider being the only player to have more home runs or runs batted in during the decade. For a time, his 370 career home runs were a National League (NL) record for right-handed hitters, and briefly ranked tenth in major league history; he held the NL record for career grand slams from 1957 to 1974. Hodges anchored the Dodgers’ infield on six pennant winners, and remains one of the most beloved and admired players in team history. As a sterling defensive player, he won the first three Gold Glove Awards ever awarded and led the NL in double plays four times and in putouts, assists and fielding percentage three times each. He ranked second in NL history with 1,281 assists and 1,614 double plays when his career ended, and was also among the league's career leaders in games (6th, 1,908) and total chances (10th, 16,751) at first base. He managed the New York Mets to the 1969 World Series title, one of the greatest upsets in Series history, before his untimely death in 1972. If you compare Hodges to Tony Perez, the Cincinnati Reds’ 1B who is in the HOF, you can plainly see that Hodges deserved to be there. It’s a complete disgrace that this incredible man and player and manager isn’t in the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY.
Random Thoughts
I went to NYC in August on vacation and I got to see both of the new baseball stadiums. I was talking to several fans and they all said the same thing: “The seats in these new ballparks are way too expensive.” Now NY Giants football fans are bailing on their season tickets, because the prices at the new Meadowlands are out-of-control, even at Big Apple levels. Are these new fancy stadiums pricing the common man right out of the running for seats? It sounds like it and it’s a shame. Pretty soon, corporations will be the only ones who can afford season tickets, $10 beers and $9 hot dogs! The Bay Area can now claim that we have the most successful horse racing jockey in the world right here. If you don’t know him, his name is Russell Baze, who recently celebrated his 11,000th race at the Sonoma County Fair this summer. When I played the horses many years ago, I made a lot of money betting on horses with Baze atop. When he was riding Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer’s horses for many years primarily at Bay Meadows and Golden Gate Fields, Baze was as close to being a sure thing as any jockey in the sport.
Will the Lions Roar Again in 2011?
Galileo Academy’s Head Football Coach Mark Huynh is excited about his team this year after the Lions surprised the rest of the Academic League by capturing the title last season (9-3 overall and 6-1 in league). After a talented group of seniors who graduated in June, this team is a very young, but enthusiastic unit, led by Sr. RB Quincy Nelson (“He’s smart, pretty quick and sneaky fast,” Huynh said.); Sr. QB Jonathan Lu (“He got a lot of snaps last year, so we’re excited to see how he’ll do as out #1 guy.”); Sr. Cornerback Waynelle Buckner (“He should make some big plays this year.”); Jr. Center Michael Brzozek, Sr. Cornerback William Kay (“Strong, quick and a hard worker.”); Sr. Middle Linebacker Max Malloy (“He’s a hard hitter and a tough kid.”) and Jr. Nose Tackle Marc Pineda (“He can clog up the middle, which is key to our defense.) Coach Huynh will be running a triple option offense, featuring one fullback and two slot backs, he explained. What teams will be the ones to beat in the Academic League this season? “Washington will be talented and deep and Lowell should be very competitive,” Huynh said. “We don’t know much about Lincoln this year, but I’ve heard they’re a very young, athletic group, so it should be an interesting league this season.” Galileo’s first home game will be against Moreau Catholic on September 18th. Let’s get out there and support the Marina’s only high school football program.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

I got my book deal...

I am so thrilled! After more than 12 rejections, I finally landed a book deal with McFarland Publishing! I am as giddy as a little girl. The book is tentatively called Chasing Greats, a collection of my interviews with the oldest living MLB players! Stay tuned. It should hit the bookstores by June 2011.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Yo, Meathead!

So New York’s basketball nightmare continues.…

Even though Knicks fans have been waiting for two yearstwo years—for this day, I don’t know if I ever really believed that LeBron James would come to New York. But it would have been okay if he had stayed in Cleveland or even gone to Chicago. I could’ve handled him going to the Nets more easily than what actually happened.

Anything but this.

As I’m sure you must know by now, LeBron is going to be joining Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh on the Miami Heat. Once upon a time, when the Knicks mattered, the Heat were the Knicks’ biggest rivals. When Pat “the Rat” Riley bailed out on New York and set up residence in South Florida, every match between the teams became a grudge match, and the rivalry was vicious and harsh.

Now, the Knicks have been awful for a decade, but I still hope every year that the Heat fail. Call it a case of sour grapes, but I hope that Wade, Bosh, and James never meld—that each one of them wants to be the Man, and they constantly get in each others’ way. I hope they never win a championship, and I hope James regrets for the rest of his life that he signed with Miami. If I wasn’t such a nice guy, I might hope for a dislocated shoulder somewhere along the line, too.

Never mind that the Knicks actually sent Isiah Thomas to try some last-minute recruiting on LeBron. Isiah? The same guy who did more to ruin the Knicks’ franchise than anyone else besides owner James Dolan? Don’t make me laugh!

Yes, Amare Stoudemire is a nice consolation prize. In my dreams, the Knicks get a couple more complementary players over the next year or two and finally find their way to relevance again. In my fantasies, they meet Miami in the Eastern Conference Finals, just like the good ol’ days, and knock them into oblivion on their way to their first championship since 1973.

I am also consoled by the fact that James came off as such an arrogant, selfish guy in the last week. Who needs a guy like that on your team? He thinks the world revolves around him, and woe betide King James when he realizes that he’s in D. Wade’s house and must play second banana to him.

Sour grapes again? Perhaps. I always use sour grapes to make my whine.

Go New York.

Down with Miami.

Down with LeBron.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Ed's Sports Corner for July

I always enjoy hearing great success stories about local people who’ve made it. Jesse Ortiz is a good example—a Galileo High School and University of San Francisco graduate who’s made it big in the sport of golf as one of the world’s premier golf club designers in the world. Ortiz began his club designing career as a teenager in 1968 with guidance from his father Lou, founder of Orlimar Golf. Together, Jesse and Lou hand-crafted golf clubs for many of golf’s greatest, from Ken Venturi to Johnnie Miller. The Ortiz’ became personal craftsmen for Northern California’s finest golf professionals. While at Orlimar, he designed and developed many successful products introduced by the company, including the TriMetal™ fairway metal line, widely considered to be among the most lucrative and innovative ever introduced. It was consistently ranked among the top fairway metals by professional PGA Tour and senior PGA Tour players in Darrell Surveys. Before leaving Orlimar, Jesse introduced the critically acclaimed TriMetal™ HipTi Driver, which featured not only the thinnest conforming face in golf, but also the strongest and most rigid. Jesse’s metal wood innovations propelled sales from $1.5 million to $100 million in the late 1990s. Since 1998, over 700 PGA professional players have used Ortiz clubs in tournament play. During this period, Ortiz’s name has become synonymous with high-quality woods and fairway metals design. In 2004, the Jesse Ortiz Design Studio partnered with the upstart Bobby Jones Golf Company, and resounding success has followed. Driven by the commercial and critical triumph of the Bobby Jones Hybrid by Jesse Ortiz, the Bobby Jones Players Series by Jesse Ortiz continues to benefit from heavy media acclaim and increasing sales. In 2008 after nearly four years in the workshop, Jesse launched a revolutionary new 460cc driver and a collection of technology-shaping wedges for Bobby Jones Golf. In 1999, Jesse received the International Network of Golf Business Achievement Award and was recognized as the Entrepreneur of the Year for Northern California by Ernst & Young.

Gus Triandos was around a lot of baseball history...

Gus Triandos was a very decent catcher during the 50’s and 60’s. He hit 167 career homers, and although he was not fleet of foot (he stole one base and holds the record for most consecutive games played without being thrown out: 1,206), Triandos had a great arm and was known as one of the top-fielding backstops in the league throughout his years with five major league teams. He now lives in San Jose, California and runs a postal company. He was wearing a neck brace the morning I met him, the result of a recent car accident. Gus was a part of a lot of baseball history. A 2-time all-star, he caught Jim Bunning’s perfect game in 1964, used the big oversized mitt to catch knuckleballer Hoyt Wilhelm during his no-hitter in 1958 and was the opposing catcher when Ted Williams hit a home run in his final plate appearance in 1960.

The perfect game he caught: “Bunning was on his game that day and everything just fell into place. A perfect game is so rare, because it’s never completely in the pitcher’s hands. An error can mess it up and I’ve seen it happen more than once. In the ninth inning, Jim Bunning called his catcher, Gus Triandos, to the mound. What did they talk about? Triandos stated after the game, "He said I should tell him a joke, just to get a breather. I couldn't think of anything. I just laughed at him."

High school: “My senior year, we had 11 guys sign professional contracts. Mission High was the baseball school, Polytechnic was the football school and Lowell was the basketball school in San Francisco at that time. The only one who really made it for any time in the majors was me.”

The 1957 all-star game: “That *$#@ Stengel didn’t even put me in that game. That Stengel really hated my guts. And then the next year it was in Baltimore. That’s when they let the players pick the all-stars for the first time. And I got in because I was elected by the players. And Casey still didn’t want to play me, but he had no choice.”

Players he liked/disliked: “I never got to where I disliked a guy. There were a couple I ended up disliking, but shit, life’s too short. I stayed away from them. You see them now, and you never get a chance to talk. Maybe for a minute at some dinner or event or something. But, there were very few people -- players and managers -- that after it was all over, I disliked…Stengel was one of them. I wasn’t his type of ball player. You know, I couldn’t run. I couldn’t hit to the opposite field. And for some reason he just didn’t like me and it was patently obvious. The greatest thing that ever happened to me was him disliking me. He also made the right pick. He decided that he liked Elston Howard better than me. And that was a helluva pick.”

Umpires: “You almost have to be an ass---- to be an umpire. You have to take so much shit. You start the season out real good friends with them by the end of the season guys were salivating, hell, saying they hated each other’s guts. The only reason the umps liked me is I didn’t show ‘em up, and I never argued with them. Stayed off them so that the fans wouldn’t get on them.”

Players today: “The way things are now, the kind of money these guys are making, it’s messed everything up. In our era, there was more integrity and more love for the game. Look at these fucking guys, they buy 2-3 million dollar homes; some of them have six or seven kids with five different women? It’s crazy.”

HOFer’s: “Any Hall of Famer who thinks he’s so wonderful because he did all these great things in baseball is full of crap. He was able to do it because he was blessed by God with natural ability. He didn’t necessarily have to work that hard to be a star. I’ve seen .220 hitters work a lot harder than a lot of Hall of Famers. There were some good ones, but there are also a lot of bad guys who are Hall of Famers. That’s why I never really idolized Hall of Famers, because I thought they were blessed.”

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Yo, Meathead!

Can anybody explain the Mets’ home vs. away record this year?

Last year was the Mets’ first year in cavernous Citi Field, and there were adjustments to be made, no doubt. By the end of their injury-plagued 2009, they had gone 41–40 at home, and the ballpark’s dimensions were accused of robbing certain Mets, i.e., David Wright, of their power. Wright only hit 10 home runs last year. Mets fans were afraid that Citi Field was too much of a pitcher’s park, and that homers would be a rarity at home.

Now look at this year! The Mets, as of this writing, are 22–9 at home. That includes a current eight in a row, 18 of 22, and an earlier 10-game homestand in which the Amazin’s won all but one. As a side note, Wright already has 10 total home runs.

The home numbers become more glaring when you see that the Mets are 8–18 away. So not only are they playing great ball at home, they’re so much more comfortable at Citi Field now that they have trouble winning anywhere else!

Consider: On April 30, the Mets convincingly won the first game of three in Philadelphia, 9–1, in a series they were using as a measuring stick for their progress. Who better to measure themselves against than their division rivals, who also happen to be the reigning NL champs? But the Mets went on to lose the next two in embarrassing fashion, 10–0 and 11–5, and the fans thought the Mets were showing no improvement whatsoever from last year’s joke of a campaign. Fast-forward to May 25–27. In a three-game series, now at Citi Field, not only did the Mets sweep three from the Phils, but Philadelphia did not score a single run in the series. That’s right, the NL champs were shut out for three straight by the same team.

In another example of ineptitude, starting May 13, the Mets were swept in four at Florida, a team notorious for sticking it to the Mets whenever they’ve had the chance over the last few years. But this past weekend, New York hosted the Marlins at Citi Field, and can you guess what happened? Correct! The Mets swept the three games, and while they weren’t able to do anything as dramatic as shutting the Fish out for the series, they did come back from a 5–0 deficit in the sixth inning to take the final game 7–6.

Oh, and by the way, did I mention that they have an eight-game home winning streak going? (I know I did.) To go along with a nine-game home winning streak earlier this year?

I’ve heard of home-field advantage, but this is getting ridiculous, especially since it seemed as if the Mets were destined to feel forever lukewarm, at best, about their new digs. And let’s not kid ourselves—any team that has postseason aspirations, and especially championship aspirations, has to be able to win on the road, as well as at home. So what are the Mets to do about playing away for the rest of the season? And are there any theories as to why the Amazin’s seem to be just SO much better at home in 2010? Who’s got something to say about this?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Ed's Sports Corner for May

Weigh in on the corner. Ed's Sports Corner!

They called him “Coach”
A San Francisco football coaching legend, Vince Tringali, died on March 31. He was 81. Tringali grew up in North Beach and played nose guard on the fabled "glory team" of USF (1951-52), on a defensive line that included the likes of Gino Marchetti, Dick Stanfel, and Bob St. Clair, all of whom went on to become stars in the NFL. The ’51 USF team went undefeated, but wasn’t invited to play in any bowls, because the team refused to leave two black teammates (including Ollie Matson) at home. They’re known forever as the “unbeaten, untied and uninvited” team and could be considered the greatest college team in the history of the Bay Area. After his playing years, Tringali coached the varsity football team at Saint Ignatius College Preparatory in the ‘60s. Under his leadership, the Wildcats won 19 straight games in 1962 and 1963 and earned a first-place national ranking. At S.I., he coached Gil Haskell and Bill Laveroni, who are now on the coaching staff of the Seattle Seahawks, and Dan Fouts, who played quarterback for the Chargers and earned entry into the NFL Hall of Fame. He also convinced former S.I. basketball player Igor Olshansky to switch to football and he now plays for the Dallas Cowboys. In 2006, NFL Films aired a special on Tringali. Tringali’s influence on athletes and coaches extended beyond St. Ignatius and he will be greatly missed.
The Art of Collegiate Sports
In its pursuit of offering its students a full-blown college experience, the Academy of Art University has rather quickly developed an impressive sports program offering eight sports, including men’s and women’s soccer; men and women’s basketball; women’s basketball, baseball, softball, men and women’s cross country, men and women’s golf and track and field. Athletic Director Jamie Williams, the former 49er tight end who now recruits volleyball and soccer players instead of catching passes from Joe Montana, is very excited about the AAU’s ever-growing Div. II sports program as it builds over its second full year in existence.
“Our motto is ‘Be Artist. Be Athlete.’” Williams said. “I’m always telling our staff and coaches that this program is a canvas for our efforts. Our immediate goal is to be competitive and establish ourselves as a Division II contender. Maybe someday we can be the first arts school to be Division I. I love watching an artist hitting a deep home run or kicking a game-winning goal.”
I’ll be taking a look at this burgeoning program next season and interviewing several of their top artists/athletes. The AAU program plays games throughout the city, so it’s a great opportunity to see Div. II schools in competition right in our backyard.
Giants Opening Day
I’ve been writing sports for at least 30 years in one capacity or another, but Giants Opening Day was my first opportunity to watch the game from the press box and I have several observations. First, cub reporters (like me at age 51) don’t get too much love in the press box. By the time I got in there, all of the seats were long gone and no one was relinquishing their spots for obvious reasons. “Where can I sit?” I asked one of the security people at the door and she told me while laughing, “You must be new.” So, I stood and learned the ropes. The scene reminded me of my pledge days in my fraternity. Most of the other reporters looked justifiably busy and had no time for a newbie, but I must say, however, that some of the bigger names were really nice to me. I ran into Jon Miller (one of the greatest sports broadcasters that have ever lived, right up there with Vin Scully, Bill King and Red Barber, in my opinion) and he actually took some time to talk to me briefly. Duane Kuiper was also a pleasure to meet. Secondly, I pulled a major snafu when I cheered for the Giants from the press box. I got nasty looks from several of the veteran reporters and one of them even reminded me that you don’t cheer in the press box. It’s taboo. The highlight of the day, in addition to a big win for the Orange & Black, was when Jerry Rice threw out the opening pitch to Steve Young. The Giants have a great chance to win the NL West this year, because they have what most teams lack—superior pitching.
Ask a Bartender
This month, I polled my bartenders to find out who will be in the NBA Finals this year and which team will take it all:
Paul McManus, Bus Stop: “Of course, I’m rooting for my Celtics, but not one team is standing out right now. The Lakers, Denver Nuggets, San Antonio and even Cleveland have issues. Watch out for the Atlanta Hawks. They’re a very good team and they could surprise.”
Kevin Corrigan, Blue Light: “I’m taking the Lakers vs. the Cavaliers and Cleveland will win in seven. It will be the coronation of King LeBron.”
Gil Hodges III, Liverpool Lil’s: “I like the Phoenix Suns to win the NBA Championship. They’re peaking at the right time and I really like the team’s chemistry. It might be a long shot, but I like the Suns.”
Kevin Young, Perry’s: “I’m going with the Miami Heat over the Denver Nuggets in the Finals. I’m tired of seeing the Lakers and we need some new blood!”

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Yo, Meathead!

Okay, I just have to weigh in on “Big Ben” Roethlisberger’s suspension before I go away next week. I think it’s fine and dandy. The reason I feel compelled to put my two cents in is because of all these righteous idiots out there who think NFL commissioner Roger Goodell overstepped his bounds by suspending the Steelers quarterback when he was not charged with a crime by the law.

What else can I say but, “Duh!”

The NFL is a business, folks. Players sign contracts saying they will follow the rules set down by their team owners and the league. You don’t wanna follow the rules? You don’t have to work for the NFL.

It’s a privilege to work in a job where you can get paid millions of dollars for playing a game, and the NFL has the right to set the standards by which its employees are judged worthy of that privilege. Did Roethlisberger commit a crime? Not by the rules of the law (though public opinion might be a different story). Did he give alcohol to minors? Apparently, there’s no dispute about that. Did he act like an ass and a scumbag? Not much argument about that, either.

Does Goodell have the authority to suspend Roethlisberger for conduct detrimental to the NFL, its brand, and its image? Oh, yeah. If an employee for some big computer company went to a company party in a public place, got smashed, made a fool of himself, and spoke ill of his superiors where some of those superiors could hear, would the CEO have the right to suspend or fire that employee? In such a case, the company has the power to mete out whatever punishment it sees fit. Was a crime committed? Nope. But was the employee committing conduct detrimental to the company? Again, I say, “Duh!”

I saw one columnist actually write that Goodell would be unable to win the PR battle in terms of this situation. I disagree completely. Most people—sports fans and the public, in general—think that Roethlisberger deserves to be suspended. They don’t care whether a crime was technically committed. It seems to be enough to know the facts of the case. And the knowledge that Big Ben continues to do stupid things and put himself in dangerous situations only solidifies his guilt in the court of public opinion.

Whoever thinks Goodell is overreacting has no clue. He’s not working for the U.S. legal system. He’s the commissioner of the NFL!

Good for you, Roger!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Yo, Meathead!

It’s baseball season again! So without further ado, here are my notes from around the leagues.

In the AL East, Toronto is off to a great start, and the Red Sox are slow out of the gate—but where have we seen that before? With Baltimore awful, as always, does anyone really doubt that this division will once again be a two-team race between New York and Boston? The Rays are always worth considering, but I’d be a little surprised if they were there at the end with the other two perennial contenders. Of course, that’s the beauty of it being so early in the season—no one really knows what will happen in a month, let alone by October!

Along with their new stadium, Target Field, the Twins currently rule the Central, with Detroit only half a game behind. Not sure I really have a handle on this division, so I’ll reserve judgment for now. The most pleasant surprise here is that the Royals aren’t mired in last place yet. Even though they are a game under .500, Chicago and Cleveland are playing worse ball so far. Not that this division really means anything to me, but I’d be glad to see a successful Royals team for a change. In the last 20 years, Kansas City has had a winning record just three times, and none of those was good enough for better than a third-place finish. Never mind that the Cubs haven’t won it all since 1908—I’d say Royals fans and Pirates fans are the most long-suffering in baseball. At least the Cubs are competitive sometimes!

I am very excited to see the A’s in first place and the Angels in last place in the West! I don’t know if Oakland can hold this position all season, but the pitching looks solid at the moment. If it continues, expect the A’s to win a lot of games by scores of 3–1 or 4–1 and compete for the division. And though I don’t condone cocaine use by any stretch of the imagination, I like Ron Washington and wish him success with Texas (as long as the Rangers don’t beat the A’s much). I’d be glad to see the Rangers duke it out with the A’s for the top spot all year. I’d also be psyched to see the Angels languish in last—you think Vlad Guerrero’s move to Texas has anything to do with the Rangers’ and Angels’ reversal of fortunes? As for Seattle—I don’t see it. The best thing I can say about the Mariners right now is that they have Eric Byrnes—but hey, this is coming from an A’s fan!

Moving over to the Senior Circuit, I think there are fewer surprises here than in the AL. In the East, having the Phils on top is no shock, and while I can’t say my expectations were very high for my Mets, the reality punctures any fantasy balloon that might have existed even a little.

In the Central, as of today, St. Louis is the only team with a winning record, which may speak volumes about how competitive this division is going to be. Cinci is only 1.5 games back, at .500, but the rest go down from there. Didn’t really know much about this year’s Astros coming in, but to see them at 1–8 and already three games behind Pittsburgh (and Milwaukee and Chicago) means they’ll have to go on some sort of incredible run at some point if they want to be in the mix. Fortunately for them, that might not be so hard with so many games against the rest of the division!

I’m a little bit surprised at the Giants’ fast start in the West, but as long as they no longer employ Barry “Bighead” Bonds, I have nothing against them. Heck, the city of San Fran could use a winner these days! (Do the Sharks count?) I did think the Dodgers would do better, but I think they’ll recover and challenge for the West pennant again.

Questions? Comments? Arguments? Lemme hear what you’ve got to say!

SEASONINGS: I sure will be excited when Elin Nordgren divorces her scumbag cheating husband. (What’s his name again? Oh, yeah—Tiger Woods!) Then we can get this story off of the sports pages and focus on the sports themselves. Do I care about how Tiger’s image is affected? Do I care about how the game of golf is affected? Not in the least. I’m just sick of hearing about him.

Same goes for Ben Roethlisberger. Will the Steelers just suspend this moron already and get on with it? Personally, I think they should cut him and see how well he does on another team like the Rams! (Not that I would wish him on St. Louis coach Steve Spagnuolo or anything!)

Finally, I’ve disliked the Jets for a long time, but now I have no respect for them, either. Jets = Raiders East, and I’m not saying that in admiration! I’d love to see Rex Ryan fall on his face, but I doubt we’ll ever see him on the ground unless someone puts a cake there. Yuck!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Andy Finch is America's Next Great Curler

He's not from Minnesota or Vermont. He's San Francisco's Treat! Andy Finch could be the biggest thing to happen for curling since the legendary Rich Confit!

I located this endearing story by accident. Right here in San Francisco, there’s a third-grader named Andy Finch. People are calling him a curling phenomenon and a future star. He’s won six state and regional tournaments in his age group and he’s already training for the 2018 Winter Olympics. His parents Amy and Alan Finch are very proud of their son and more than happy to help Andy in his pursuit for gold and fame.

"Andy is a curler, plain and simple," Alan Finch said. "We let him try all the sports and it came down to either NASCAR or curling. Since he doesn't have his drivers license, and we didn't want to dumb him down, so NASCAR was dropped. He's embraced curling and it's been a great ride."

I sat down with Andy and his entourage recently. He’s got the star athlete thing down already. Talking about himself in the third person is one of those moves he’s embraced.

“Andy Finch is a great curler,” he said. “Andy will dominate the sport within five years.”

People are calling him the Tiger Woods of the sport.

“Tiger blew it and Andy Finch won’t fall into the same ditch,” he explained. “Besides, Andy Finch is way too young to hook up with night club hostesses, so that’s a good thing.”

The Finches have hired one of the world’s finest curling coaches to work with Andy. He’s a former French champion named Jacque Enyeau.

“He’s amazing, this little Andrew,” Enyeau said. “He grew up with a curling stone in his crib, he teethed on it, he lived with it and his parents diapered it. So he was born to curl.”

Saturday, March 20, 2010

A Sad State of Sports

More and more people are tired of living in California. Folks don’t want to live in a broke state full of high prices, foreclosures and layoffs. And sports fans in the formerly Golden State are also a disgruntled bunch, because the teams we’re watching are mostly terrible.

I should say first that the L.A. Lakers, the San Diego Chargers, the Anaheim Ducks, the San Jose Sharks and the S.F. Giants probably don’t belong in this discussion…for now. The Lakers are the reigning NBA Champs and could repeat this year. The team has an incredible track record and the organization has always been a class act. The Chargers are in the playoffs almost every year, although they’ve never won the Super Bowl. The Ducks are former NHL champs and feature a competitive squad each season. The Sharks are consistently at the top of the hockey standings every year. They have some marquee players and play in a great arena. But, they’re starting to establish a reputation for choking in the playoffs. The team has never even made it into the Stanley Finals, so that’s their immediate goal. If the Sharks fold in the first or second round of the playoffs yet again this year, you’ll start to hear more and more boos and see more empty seats. The Giants built an incredible stadium ten years ago (AT&T Park) and the team has gradually gotten better over the last several years. Of course, they’ve never won the World Series and the Barry Bonds steroids affair has tainted his records and the team. But, when compared to the other dysfunctional professional teams in California, this group looks respectable.

After that, the state’s pro sports scene is full of wannabes, once-wasses and never beens. First, both the S.D. Padres and the L.A. Dodgers are being destroyed by the Big “D”—divorce. Both team owners are going through nasty divorces and it’s affected the overall attitude and approach of both franchises. These teams won’t spend any significant cash on much-needed free agents, until their ex-wives and the judges involved figure out how much they’ll have left. It’s a sad situation when team owners can’t keep their marriages together, because in the end, the fans pay too.

The San Francisco 49ers used to be the very best with a plethora of Super Bowl victories featuring some of the finest players in the history of the game. But now, after their former owner getting busted for bribery, the new owners are more like cardboard cut-outs in suits rather than people who truly understand how to build and field a competitive football team. And don’t even mention Monster Park (formerly Candledick)—another ugly, smelly, poorly run facility. The stadium is painted in green and white. Oh wait a minute—that’s not white paint; it’s seagull poo!

The Oakland Raiders are probably the biggest disappointment of the bunch. They play in a sub-standard facility and they have a senile owner who can barely eat his fruit compote without having three Raiders cheerleaders standing by to clean up the 80% that doesn’t make it to his mouth. They are the joke of the NFL and no coach with any ability won’t put up with the idiocy that surrounds this team. This team will not win--until the owner dies.

The Sacramento Kings play in a warehouse and they’ve never done anything significant. They’re a forgettable squad and the only reason anyone who lives out there supports this team is because they aren’t any professional sports anywhere nearby.

And don’t mention the San Jose Earthquakes in the same breath with pro sports. Soccer will never draw in this state on a consistent basis. If you want to find the Earthquakes’ scores in your local newspaper, you’ll have to look way back on the last page, next to the high school and Div. II college sports scores. Name three players on the Earthquakes and then get a life.

Then, we have three other chronically poor teams that are bad for different reasons—the Warriors, the A’s and L.A. Clippers. The Golden State Warriors haven’t won a championship since I was in high school and I’m old. The team has gotten accustomed to living at the bottom of the NBA standings after a series of general managers who have made an unending series of bad decisions. The Clippers are in the same boat. They’re the Lakers annoying little sister. Mediocrity would be a huge jump up for either of these sad story organizations.

The A’s have a crappy stadium and they’re constantly crying that they don’t have enough money to field a decent team. Thanks to a very astute general manager, the team has used a methodology that helps them draft good players to stock their farm system. But, once these players make it to the majors, they realize where they’re playing, and they run for greener pastures as fast as they can; which means that the A’s have to re-stock their team once again. The A’s had a potentially nice deal building a new stadium down the street in Fremont, but they blew that and now they’re stuck in a stadium that would function better as a prison (just put a dome on it). It is surely one of the worst stadiums in any sport!

And one last thing--why isn't there an NFL team in the Los Angeles area? Why does the third or fourth largest TV market in the nation not field a pro football team? It was amusing for a couple years after the Rams fled to St. Louis, but not it's becoming "that thing"

So, that’s the state address of so-called “professional” sports in California right now. In most cases, I’d rather watch college or high school sports than this stuff. It sucks.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

This Great Game in Cuba

Well, my baseball Web site ( made it to Cuba on a trip by the Society of American Baseball Research ( to study baseball in this amazing country. The kid on the right is wearing a cap from, the History of Baseball Online. That child will grow into that hat and hopefully one day we'll see him in the major leagues!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Chasing Old Heroes

One of my great joys in life is interviewing retired baseball players. Last week, I added numbers 61 and 62 to my list. I am now locating players via the oldest living players list. Last week, I talked to Mike Sandlock (#11 on the oldest list). He is now 94. Mike played 195 games in his MLB career, with the Boston Braves, Brooklyn Dodgers and Pittsburgh Pirates. Then, I interviewed 92 year-old Virgil "Fire" Trucks (#26 on the list). Virgil played in 517 games as a pitcher, primarily for the Detroit Tigers, although he also played for the St. Louis Browns, New York Yankees and the Kansas City Athletics. Trucks pitched two no-hitters and a one-hitter in the same season.
Top photo: Virgil "Fire" Trucks today, living in Alabama.
Middle: Trucks with the Tigers after one of his no-hitters
Bottom pic: Mike Sandlock

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Lefty O'Doul: A San Francisco Legend!

I sat down at Lefty O’Doul’s restaurant in San Francisco the other day, ordered an O’Doul’s and sat down to interview Tom O’Doul, Lefty’s cousin. Is that triple déjà vu or what?

This week would have been Lefty’s 113th birthday. So, hoist a brew in Lefty’s name, because somewhere up in heaven he’s hitting in the high .300’s and having a great time.

Benefits of a famous cousin: “I didn’t really know who Lefty O’Doul was until I started playing baseball in Little League. Until then, he was just my cousin. When I started playing ball, he started coming around more. One story I love to relate is that Lefty always came to my opening days when I was playing Little League. In 1954, opening day was approaching and my dad told me, “Cousin Frank’s coming to your opener.” And I thought, that’s cool. It was an opportunity for me to walk around and be proud for my cousin, a former major leaguer. So he shows up in a Cadillac with Joe DiMaggio. I’ll never forget the moment, because everyone’s mouth just dropped and stay opened. There was a buzz in the air. But, they were gone five minutes later. I lived off that moment for the next five years, at least.”

Why Lefty loved Japanese baseball so much: “Probably because the way they played the game. I think he liked the purity of it. He appreciated their dedication to the game. They’re very humble people; they’re very polite and I believe he respected that. He was a teacher and a great coach above all, and the Japanese were starved for coaching and knowledge about how to play the game. He actually brought Japanese coaches here to the United States to teach them. And they were extremely pleased to learn from the “Great American”. Lefty was the one who brought Babe Ruth to Japan. They were dying to see Babe and he brought them on his first tour there in 1934. He did three tours to Japan total—in ’31, ’34 and ’49. He’s influenced baseball in Japan in so many ways. In fact, the Tokyo Giants are named the Giants because of their connection with my cousin, who of course played with the NY Giants. In 2002, Lefty was chosen to be in the Japanese Baseball of Fame. He was elected by a special committee. I know Lefty would be so proud and happy to see all of the great Japanese players in the majors right now, like Ichiro and all the others. Lefty envisioned an international game. I hope people remember what Lefty did for that country and its baseball. I believe it ‘s his legacy.”

Lefty’s early days: “He never made it past the 7th grade and he would always push me to finish school, he said. ‘At least graduate from high school,’ he said. He had to drop out of school to go to work as a butcher. His father, his grandfather and his uncles were all butchers. If he hadn’t made it as a baseball player, he would have been a butcher his whole life. People could see right away that Lefty had baseball talent. He had the hand coordination, the great vision and the instincts you need to make it to be a good player. He could play any position he wanted to. In ’37, he was the MVP in the Pacific Coast League as a pitcher. They said he hurt his arm after that year for throwing too hard, but I believe he injured it lifting one too many beers. There was nothing he couldn’t do in the game.”

His relationships with other great players: “O’Doul got along with everyone, including Ty Cobb, which wasn’t easy from what I heard. He loved Babe Ruth and they spent a lot of time together. They both had that great sense of humor, so that’s probably why they got along so well. He was one of those guys who didn’t have a lot of enemies. He wasn’t enamored with most of the umpires and he had no problem telling them if he thought they blew a call. He got threw out of his share of games. But, back then they rode the umps a lot more than they do today.”

The world famous Lefty O’ Doul’s Bloody Mary: “It’s from an original O’Doul family recipe and they’ve served it there since day one. We’re a drinking family and we’ve always been a bunch of drinkers. The O’Doul’s drug of choice is alcohol. Lefty drank bourbon and water and beer. I remember sitting in our yard with my father and my uncle and he was drinking beer. But he liked his bourbon, I remember that. He drank Acme beer in the 1950’s. It was a San Francisco beer and he preferred it. My uncle loved being in bars and talking to people in bars, so opening his own restaurant/bar in his hometown was a logical progression. He loved being a restaurateur and he was very good at it.”

Saturday, February 20, 2010

What Tiger Didn't Say Yesterday

As we all know, the real important things that should have been said were never even approached. So, here I am writing between the lines.

Good morning, and thank you for joining me. Many of you in this room are my friends. Many of you in this room know me. Many of you have cheered for me or you've worked with me or you've supported me.

I stacked the room.

Now every one of you has good reason to be critical of me. I want to say to each of you, simply and directly, I am deeply sorry for my irresponsible and selfish behavior I engaged in.

I’m so sorry I got caught.

Elin and I have started the process of discussing the damage caused by my behavior.

Buying her an expensive yacht is the first part of that healing process.

As Elin pointed out to me, my real apology to her will not come in the form of words.

It will come written on a check .

I am also aware of the pain my behavior has caused to those of you in this room. I have let you down, and I have let down my fans. For many of you, especially my friends, my behavior has been a personal disappointment. To those of you who work for me, I have let you down personally and professionally. My behavior has caused considerable worry to my business partners.

If I could have done it differently, yes, I would have frequented massage parlors and avoided skanky nightclub hostesses.

To everyone involved in my foundation, including my staff, board of directors, sponsors, and most importantly, the young students we reach, our work is more important than ever. Thirteen years ago, my dad and I envisioned helping young people achieve their dreams through education. This work remains unchanged and will continue to grow. From the Learning Center students in Southern California to the Earl Woods scholars in Washington, D.C., millions of kids have changed their lives, and I am dedicated to making sure that continues.

I’m starting a class for kids teaching them how to pick up on strippers and another one called “Erotic Texting”.

For all that I have done, I am so sorry.

But, the fact that I’m amazingly rich makes it a little easier to deal with all this sorrow and regret.

I have a lot to atone for, but there is one issue I really want to discuss. Some people have speculated that Elin somehow hurt or attacked me on Thanksgiving night. It angers me that people would fabricate a story like that. Elin never hit me that night or any other night. There has never been an episode of domestic violence in our marriage, ever. Elin has shown enormous grace and poise throughout this ordeal. Elin deserves praise, not blame.

Elin deserves half and I’m scared.

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Presidio Golf Course is "Fore" the Environment

The Presidio golf course is one of the Presidio’s greatest attractions, with amazing panoramic views and a rich history. But, now the world is honoring the course for being a leader in environmentally sensitive golf course management. By capturing the highly-regarded Turfgrass Excellence Award in the public category of the Golf Superintendents Association of Northern California, course superintendent Brian Nettz can say with confidence that the greens at the Presidio course are truly greener.
The Presidio was built in 1895, making it the second oldest in Northern California. But by using technologies perfected in 2010, the course is running a sustainable, green and clean operation. More than 60,000 rounds are played there every year, so maintaining the course is a huge undertaking. Keeping the course green, neatly trimmed and ideal for top-flight golfers is a 24/7 job, but Nettz and his 17-member crew are up for the task.
“This award shines brightly not only on the work of Brain Nettz and his crew,” said Jeff Deis, the Presidio Trust’s Chief Operating Officer, the organization that oversees the entire Presidio. “But it also showcases the Trust’s commitment to sustainability and reflects on the golf course as a whole, given its unique position in a National Park setting.”
By taking a preventative approach to pest control and focusing on natural alternatives to pesticides, the Presidio golf course has been able to cut its pesticide use in half within the last decade and now uses 70-85 percent less pesticide than the majority of private courses in San Francisco. With fewer insects, the only thing bugging your game at the Presidio golf course might be your handicap.
Instead of teeing up, the groundskeepers at the Presidio golf course “tea up” by spraying a “compost tea” instead of chemical pesticides on their greens. This solution is made by soaking compost in water to extract the nutrients from the compost. It’s just one of the methods the course is using to control disease while promoting overall turf health.
“We use seaweed and the compost tea in conjunction to fight insects that would otherwise destroy these greens, for example,” Nettz said. “Once we get the tea, we have to apply it to the grass within 24 hours or it will lose its effectiveness. It contains beneficial microbes and they eat the bad microbes existing on the course. We’ve been on the compost tea bandwagon for a while now, so we’ve really begun to see better and better results. It’s an accumulative process and the fact that we’ve stuck with it has really paid off.”
Nettz and his crew have also adopted “cultural control” techniques such as aerating and over –seeding fairways and increasing drainage to create conditions more favorable to turf and less favorable to weeds. Groundskeepers have changed the type of turf throughout sections of the course and trim tree branches to reduce shade on certain holes to control the invasive, worm-like nematode, which sounds more like a Star Wars-like alien created just down the road at George Lucas’ Industrial Light & Magic.
Nettz was surprised and pleased about the award. “We’ve been stressing sustainability and avoiding the use of toxic chemicals in every case,” he said. “We’re always balancing between providing our golfers with conditions they prefer, while being committed to developing non-invasive methods for maintaining the course and providing a safer working environment for our employees. ”
Do golfers who play the Presidio yell “Fore” in response to a greener approach to the game? “Several of our regular golfers and club members have congratulated us for the award,” Nettz said. “In the end, they want to be able to play a quality 18 holes and go home to their families, but I believe they respect the fact that we focus on doing the right thing for the environment and making it a priority.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The 1949 U.S. Goodwill Baseball Tour of Japan

“The 1949 U.S. Goodwill Baseball Tour of Japan” is currently a display at the Society of California Pioneers museum at 300 4th Street (at Folsom) in San Francisco. It runs through Spring. Call (415) 957-1849 for more information. If you’re a fan of baseball history, this is a must-see, featuring more than 250 items from this historical tour.

I enjoy studying about the long history of baseball in San Francisco. Next month, the City By the Bay will celebrate 150 years of baseball in the Bay Area.

Lefty O’Doul was a fascinating guy. He’s the second-greatest player from the area, old-timers say. (Joe D. is obviously #1). O’Doul loved Japan and spearheaded the 1949 U.S. Goodwill Baseball Tour of Japan in 1949. Even though we dropped the big bomb on their country, the Japanese were enthralled by American baseball and welcomed our San Francisco Seals players with open hands.

The 1949 U.S. Goodwill Baseball Tour of Japan was one of the first peacetime cultural exchanges of the post-war era between the two nations. It was the 1940’s equivalent of the famed “ping-pong” diplomacy practiced by the U.S. and mainland China in the 1970’s. The Tour captured the imagination of the Japanese public with a fervor unmatched by any other pre-war or post-war Baseball Tour of Japan. The publicity surrounding this Tour dwarfed all others – scores of graphic posters, hand colored and printed baseball cards, commemorative jewelry, kimonos, umbrellas, uniforms and tour jackets were produced and presented to each player upon arriving in Yokohama on October 12th. At tour’s end, each player was presented with a personalized fabric covered album containing large, high quality black and white photos of the players’ arrival, receptions, parades, team photos, and game action shots.

Upon the personal request of General Douglas MacArthur, the Tour was organized by Lefty O’Doul, a man beloved by Japanese baseball fans, who had toured Japan with various U.S. All-Star Teams as early as 1931. By 1949, O’Doul was manager of the San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League. In that era, the P.C.L. was not the Triple A minor league team that we know today, but a league containing many major league caliber players who preferred to play west of the Mississippi for more money than major league teams had offered them. It was only fitting that O’Doul bring the Seals to play the Japanese All-Star teams, for over the course of the eleven game Tour, they drew more than half a million spectators to the games played at Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka.

In the span of a month, O’Doul and the Seals had managed to restore some of the nation’s morale, break the post-war tension in Japanese-American relations, and lay a new foundation for friendship between the two countries. Emperor Hirohito was so grateful that he invited the Seals to the Imperial Palace to personally thank them for all they had done. General MacArthur was even more effusive in his praise, fervently claiming of O’Doul’s 1949 Tour, “This is the greatest piece of diplomacy ever.”

Compliments of Tim Evans,
Exhibitions & Education Coordinator

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Ed's Picks From the Street

Many sportswriters and/or prognosticators are skittish when they make their NFL postseason selections, but I'm ready to give you mine right now!

This year's playoffs features more parity than in any recent seasons. Will Wild Card teams like Green Bay and the Jets go deep in the brackets? Or will the leading teams (New Orleans & Indy) reach the Promised Land called the Super Bowl? Get your fantasy playoff rosters and your score squares ready, because here I go:

First Round:

Jets vs. Bengals: The Jets are hot and their defense is tough! Jets win!

Ravens vs. Pats: Baltimore is better and improving, but Brady and Moss will prevail. Pats!

Eagles vs. Cowboys: Dallas is ready and primed to make a run & Philly is slumping. Boyz!

Pack vs. Cards: Green Bay is playing a hot hand and Arizona has big holes on defense. Cheese!

Second Round:

Jets vs. Colts: The NY magic ends here. Manning and Addai will make everything right. Colts!

Pats vs. Chargers: San Diego will outscore New England and Belichick will whine. Chargers!

Cowboys vs. Vikings: This could be close, but Dallas will prevail with DEFENSE. Cowboys!

Pack vs. Saints: New Orleans is real, but the Pack is Back. Packers!

Championship Round:

Chargers vs. Colts: Decided by a field goal. (Final score: S.D.: 27-23) Chargers to the Bowl!

Green Bay vs. Cowboys: Decided by a TD. (Final score: 'Boyz: 31-24) Dallas Back on the Grassy Knoll!

Super Bowl:

Chargers vs. Cowboys: San Diego is better and deeper overall. It will be close until the 4th quarter when two crucial turnovers bury the Boyz. (Final: Chargers 30 Cowboys 20. Super Bowl MVP: Phil Rivers)

Yo, Meathead!

Even though I'm wary of giving picks, Big Ed and I are going to post them for this year's NFL playoffs, just for fun!

Here are my picks.

Wild Card Round:

Jets vs. Bengals: Much to my chagrin, Jets will win (sigh). Hey, I made a rhyme!

Ravens vs. Patriots: Even without Wes Welker, New England has enough to take this one, darn it. Pats will win.

Eagles vs. Cowboys: A deadly matchup for me. Dallas hasn't won a playoff game since 1996, and it will stay that way. Eagles will win.

Packers vs. Cardinals: Just like the last game of the season. Packers will win.

Divisional Round:

Jets vs. Colts: Don't make me laugh. Colts will win.

Patriots vs. Chargers: Bolts are too much for injured Pats. Chargers will win.

Eagles vs. Saints: Iggles find their midseason form. Eagles will win.

Packers vs. Vikings: A Favre postseason grudge match. Vikings will win.

Championship Round:

Chargers vs. Colts: Manning can't be stopped. Colts will win.

Eagles vs. Vikings: Vikes will choke, McNabb will shine. Eagles will win.

Super Bowl:

Eagles vs. Colts: Now it's the Eagles' turn to choke, as they so often do at this time of year. Final: Colts 27, Eagles 17. Super Bowl MVP: Who else? Peyton Manning.