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.”