Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Stop Doing the Fucking Wave

Please, please stop doing the wave.. at least as frequently as I've seen it being done recently.  The last three baseball games I've attended, I've seen the wave (twice when the home team was losing), but none were more infuriating than this evening at the Padres vs Giants at AT&T Park.

It's late August, the Giants are (somehow) a game out of first place despite a litany of injuries, a rotating starting lineup comprised of more .230 averages than most AA farm clubs and more injuries.  It's the sixth inning and the Giants are down 5-2 against a division rival that is ten games under .500 and beatable.  Tres beatable.  I'm sitting in the third deck, slightly inside inside third base, when I hear a familiar "whoooOOOAAAHHhhhh" and see a bunch of fans between the bleachers and the left field foul pole trying to start the wave.

I'm not even drinking but I feel the urge to stand up and turn around (I'm in the second row) to say, "Please, nobody do the wave.  Don't let this happen, don't do the wave.  We're losing.  Pay attention to the game.  There is no reason to do the wave right now."  Or something like that.  My friends look at me in disbelief.  "Why?" their eyes seem to say.  "Because we're fucking losing!!"  "Because Krazy George Henderson was an attention whore and the wave is outdated."  Start a "Let's Go, Giants" chant or call the pitcher a bum or quote Bull Durham, but don't do the wave.  In a stadium where breaks between innings are already filled with moronic shenanigans designed to distract the crowd (from I dunno, maybe actually talking about baseball with the people around them?) such as the Jersey Shore-inspired "Fist Pump Cam" and a bunch of beat-driven, techno montages on the scoreboard, the last thing we need is the wave.

Listen, I get it.  One, the wave is fun and it looks cool, especially on psychedelics.  Two, not everybody takes baseball as seriously as I do, but hear me out.

The wave is fun, sure.  Kids should be allowed to do the wave... they dig it the most, babe.  Seniors should be able to do the wave because once you hit 65 you should be able to do whatever the fuck you want... you've earned it.  But if you're between the age of 18 and 64, don't do the wave.  Exception: you're winning 10-0 in the eighth or you're up by 5 touchdowns against Eastern Bumfuck State.  When you're 20 games back of first and it's before the All-Star break, at that point who cares?  God bless you, good sir, for even being at the ballpark.  Get shitty.  But when every loss decreases your chances of making the playoffs and defending your World Series championship, watch the fucking game.

So yeah, not everyone loves baseball the way I do, but a sure helluva lot of them at the game tonight do.  It was the 62nd consecutive sell-out of 41,288 (or something like that).  In this city every other person you see has a Giants hat, a Fear the Beard or Let Timmy Smoke shirt.  This city has been breathing, eating and shitting baseball for the last 18 months and the people at the game love the Giants and are tortured when they lose.

Eventually the wave was thwarted, thank god.  Then in the eighth the Giants tie it up.  The atmosphere in the crowd is electric and the excitement is palpable.  I'll skip the part where we give up two in the ninth and then go 1-2-3 in the bottom half to end a disappointing and short-lived comeback, but regardless, was anyone concerned with starting the wave during the eighth?  No.  They were watching (and immensely enjoying) the game.  So does that mean in the sixth, we'd given up all hope of scoring three to tie it up?  Understandable considering this is a team where Timmy Franchise goes seven full with ten Ks and loses a 1-0 decision.  But why the hell and how do you start a wave?

I've never started one.  Sure, I've participated in one, but not when "it's a game."  Even if we're down a dozen runs, I'm going to watch the game.  And I'm sure as shit not going to boo Aaron Rowand for popping out with one down and a man on third.  What, you think he was trying to pop out?  Sorry, old man behind me I told not to boo three-time World Series champ, Aaron Rowand.  I've also never played professional baseball and I don't know what they think about the wave...but getting booed then seeing your fans more interested in entertaining themselves then making noise or getting in the opponent's head.. gotta fuckin' suck if you ask me.

Don't do the wave, please.

Monday, August 8, 2011

"Are We Knocking?"

Dateline...I dunno*, I'm gonna go with October 16, 2010, San Francisco, CA.  The Phoenix (great bar: good food made cheaper with happy hour prices between 4-7 and the most TVs you can find anywhere in the Mission, with friendly ::wink:: waitresses more than happy to put on your out-of-town games).
*Here's the debate.  Part of me wants to think this might have been the Oregon game a month later (or one of numerous games we viewed there last season) when we actually went up 7-0 in the first quarter, before...well yuck), but I don't think it was.  Honestly, it could've been, but the whole 2010 season of Cal Bears football was such a blur (except for the first two games when we outscored our opponents 104-10!!), often coupled with Giants playoffs games that started within a half hour after a disappointing Cal defeat (so we kept drinking..duh).  I really don't remember.  I do remember many lofty Saturday bar tabs and a quote that will live in infamy; (correct use of a semi-colon, not so sure) "Are we knocking?"

I'm convinced this occurred during the latter stages of a blowout loss where we trailed 42-0 at half to U$C, a team we'd been heart-achingly seeking to beat since our triple-overtime upset victory that kept the University of South Central / Spoiled Children / Shitty Condoms (actually, if you do have to use condoms, I recommend Trojans.. but the acronym is just too good to ignore) from playing for the BCS Championship that year.  Muahahaha, being ranked #1 in the AP polls, but not the BCS, doesn't mean shit if you don't have a cute, crystal football to display in your halls.  How's that 2004 National Championship working for you?  (God I hate that school)

But back to the quote.  I do remember a game at one point during the season where I looked at my dear friend, Julia (devoted Cal Alum who once kicked a field goal through the uprights at Memorial Stadium at a camp for lady Cal football supporters, and upon asking Tedford if she made the team was responded to with a grin implying 'I don't think so.'  Oh but fuck you, Giorgio Tavecchio, she could make a 29-yard field goal, even under pressure) while the Bears were in the red zone and one of said, "we're knockin'."

Seriously, at this point I apologize for all the parentheses, but it's just how I operate.

Looking through the box scores of the '10 games, I can't pinpoint exactly when this happened.  Like I said, the Giants were in the playoffs, we drank a lot of Anchor Steam and Jameson, and honestly I can't nail down exactly when this happened.  I just remember a time when we were getting severely blown out (this is why I'm fairly certain it was U$C) when she had lost all focus on the game at all and she turned to me and said, "are we knocking?"  ..down 42-0 most likely.

"No.  No, we're not," I replied.  Somehow we erupted in laughter.  Despite the agonizing sense of defeat we'd felt from another Cal season chocked up to [insert grievance here], it was funny.  I'm pretty sure shortly thereafter, we witnessed a Longshore-esque, late-game interception.  If it was in fact the U$C game, hey despite whatever let us to fall behind six touchdowns, we beat 'em in the second half.  Almost shut 'em the fuck out.  Down 42-0 going into the locker room, we only gave up two field goals and managed to scrounge a touchdown in each of the next two quarters; L 48-14.  How's that for a silver lining!?

Regardless of when it occurred, the phrase became a manta for the rest of the season and for any sporting event we've since experienced together:
1st an 10 in ANY opponent's territory (regardless of the score): "Are we knocking?"
Man on third, one out, anyone with a pulse at bat: "Are we knocking?"
Halloween at a house with the lights off: "Are we..." -wait, no nevermind...

Aww fuck.  2010 represented a low point in Cal football as long as I've been a part of it.  In 2001 I was a freshman and was more concerned with free booze at frats [that I never considered joining] than with the poor sons of bitches that played on the Cal football team (some of which actually had pretty stellar careers once the Holmoecaust was over).

In 2002 though, a year removed from the doldrums of suburban, high-school life, I'd found a niche in Berkeley.  An avid sports fan, I could definitely get behind a team that might scrape out a win here or there...still, little did I know the impact that college football would have on me in the years to come.  My sophomore year at the best public university in the nation was fortuitous.  I must give credit to the ASUC Student Store I tripped over my dick and fell into that offered me the opportunity to drive the merchandise truck (up a precociously-situated road known as Stadium Rim Way, in reverse, to an entrance on the north side of the stadium) and gave me passes to every game that season (*Note: I quit the job at ASUC mid-season and may or may not have kept the tickets to the remaining games, including the Big Game, in which Joe Igber, whom I once met in a class in Wurster Hall and told me "the NFL wasn't for [him], rushed for 226 yards and, along with noted Tara Reid-banger, Kyle Boller, led Cal to a decisive victory over Stanfurd for the first time in SEVEN years...CAL FOOTBALL YEAH!).

However, it was the first Cal game I ever attended, a 77-22 blowout of Baylor, that sparked my everlasting love of the program.  Two weeks later, a convincing victory over then-ranked #15 Michigan St (our first win over a ranked team on the road in like, I dunno, a hundred years) which began at 9:00 am local time, driven by coffee and bongloads, highlighted among other '02 games here, decisively sealed my fate as a Cal football fan for life.


While this blog is devoted to serving the lifelong, the casual and the burgeoning Cal fan in pursuit of the one thing that has eluded us since before most (if not all) of its potential readers were born... (I shouldn't need to mention it but it rhymes with Toes Coal Ashmearance...) I won't deny that my love of sports goes beoynd that of collegiate competition.  Not only will this blog be devoted to Cal football (undoubtedly it will have plenty to report on the operatic saga that is Cal football) and its numerous other successful athletic programs, but also that to the teams that I cherish and love;  the Chicago White Sox, Chicago Bears, San Francisco Giants and occasionally the San Jose Sharks (how bout a Stanley Cup eh?).

I won't lie.. basketball will not be covered very much, if at all, here, save the occasional Apostrophes Are Your Friend segment that will highlight quotes and tweets and blah blah blah that athletes seem to continuously use to butcher the English language.  This little highlight of the blog won't be limited to basketball players but I have an inkling that they might be among the front-runners for the worst grammar in professional sports, with the NFL not even a full length behind.  In all seriousness though, the NBA today does little for me.  The NBA used to be great, when the regular season mattered.  When men were men and shorts were short (credit Steven Leibof for that one).  Seriously, HALF of the league makes the playoffs.

Baseball is still and will always be the national pastime (and as an American I cherish the game more than anything else that is American except for the freedom this country has provided me and the ideals for which it stands).  While the NFL is the cock of the walk and may in fact provide a better product in regards to excitement, marketability and shit-talking (not to mention the joys of fantasy football), I'll take 162 games over sixteen any day.  Baseball, I assure you, will be adequately covered in this blog.  Um, it's the best.

However, all that being said, college football, despite all of its shortcomings (we'll get into this in future posts) is the purest (ahem..again, despite its shortcomings- see: U$C... fucks) of sports because of the tradition and pride it intrinsically embodies.  I know more Cal fans personally than any number of fans of any particular team that I follow.  While I'm sure I could walk through any district in San Francisco and find hundreds of Giants fans with whom I could spark up delightful banter, I can't share with them memories of the 2010 World Series on the same level as with a Cal fan who was at the 2004 loss to U$C, watched the 2007 victory in Oregon, the Big Game in 2002 or a number of other games.  I wasn't even alive when "The Play" occurred but I've seen it more times than any Giants fan has Barry Bonds' 756th home run.  Fact!  I guess it comes down to the fact that I appreciate an ill-timed but sincere "are we knocking?" over a 2010 World Series hat-toting fan who couldn't name the 2007 Giants starting lineup.  I love professional sports but they have a tendency to blur into obscurity.  I can tell you the World Series winners back to before I was born but that's because I love baseball more than the average Bear (pun intended).  On the other hand, even the most casual college football fan can recall obscure events from a game a decade ago because there can be something so special about the experience that it invokes feelings and memories that remain concrete over the years, that you can always reach back to and think, that was special, that meant something.

There's just an incomparable camaraderie you experience when you share a moment that is rooted in an institution instead of a corporation, which at its root is what professional sports are and have always been.  Yes, of course NCAA football and basketball are just as must a tool of capitalism.  I'm not going to try to drop some liberal, Berkeley knowledge on you, but do you think Cal National Champions in crew, gymnastics or swimming have many hopes of cashing in once their time at Cal is over?  Very few.  Collegiate sports are more about the opportunities, both socially and academically as well as the pride that your performance instills within the student body, that one experiences within the institution.

In my opinion, nothing compares to what one experiences when 70,000 people are on their feet, cheering a team full of people they've never met, their emotions and (for at least the rest of a Saturday in Fall) psyches hinging on the outcome just a game.  It's a beautiful thing.

They call sports the man's soap opera but it's much different.  Sometimes the show gets canceled.  Yeah, you get to meet new characters.  But nothing's scripted, outcomes aren't always predictable and sometimes you see something you never imagined possible.

This blog is devoted to highlighting a lot of those great moments we've yet see...and hopefully lambasting more of the less admirable ones.  Life is short, make fun of it.  Sports are a way of passing the time but also something we take way too seriously.  We have the right to, after all, and I believe it's good to make light out of the worst in life and put faith in something you have no control over to help pass the time.. sports are a way of detracting from the serious mind-fuck that is life.  Let's cherish that.