Category Archives: Sports

Vamos al Mundial!

redteam.jpg My roommate hates sports, but for the last few weeks, she’s been walking around the apartment saying “Vamos al Mundial!” in a cheery voice. The Mexican in her and influence by her dad has her as excited as other f√∫tbol lovers.

Like hundreds of millions (most likely billions) of people around the world, my roommate and I have World Cup fever. However, I’m sure our enthusiasm pales in comparison with other f√∫tbol fans such as Alejandro (¬© Citizen 192‚Ñ¢). Alejandro has blocked off every morning for the next month in order to follow the matches. He’s keeping a running diary of each day of the game and writes after the opening ceremony:

It’s a wonderful day in sport. Today the world unites to indulge in a sport that goes beyond sports; seducing and romanticizing the spirit and imagination of people from all walks of earth. Today we can imagine that everything will be solved on the pitch. When the world becomes desperate for unity and a break from destruction, futbol allows for a mystical world to expose itself on the pitch; evenly matched by sport, without borders or boundaries, guns or bombs. Every four years the world makes this game, more than a game. Today the globe is united under one roof, one goal, one dream.

One sport: 119 nations down to 32 finalists: 64 matches: 30 days: One Champion.

I love this game.

I’ll be watching Mexico’s matches with friends or at home on Univisi√≥n, but LAist suggests several sports bars.

Official FIFA World Cup 2006 site
World Cup Kickoff: Match details, download calendar from the teams you’re interested in to your Outlook.
Flickr World Cup Impressions
Some other MetBlog cities that have caught the fever: Berlin, London, Washington DC, Atlanta, Vancouver, and New York City .

Photo by Atomic Shed

Welcome to the jungle

One of the things I love about where I live is that I’m really close to Dodger Stadium. I can see it from my living room window, and when they have fireworks shows I can sit in my window seat and watch from there, or go up to the roof and enjoy them from a higher vantage point. I also like that I can decide at the last minute that I want to go to a game, and even if it’s sold out, I can snap up some tickets on the Dodgers Ticket Exchange, print them, and be at the stadium in under 20 minutes.

Last night, my roommate and I decided to catch a game. After a huge fiasco in getting there, which involved heavy traffic on the Bishop Street entrance, my clutch going out halfway up the hill, a lost cellphone, and a nearly sold-out game leaving us very little in the way of parking options, we sat down during the top of the 5th and settled in to watch the game. I can’t say I was really thrilled about the double-fisted Baez-Saito 7th inning meltdown, during which the Phillies scored 5 runs without a single out, but there were a few great plays that made for an interesting game.

But the best part for me happened at the top of the 9th. There are few things better than the energy and awesomeness generated by a stadium full of fans completely freaking out and cheering and losing their minds screaming, and that’s what happened when Gagne returned last night for his first appearance on the mound after coming off the DL. The moment the first notes of “Welcome to the Jungle” came on, when he’d barely made two steps onto the field, the crowd went absolutely batshit insane. Everyone jumped to their feet and cheered for his entire walk to the mound. He was too late to save the Dodgers from their “lead? We don’t need no steeenking lead” fate, so he didn’t get to make his “OH YEAH!” victory face, but it’s moments like that, when the crowd’s energy explodes, that make going to games all the better.

Now let’s just hope he stays healthy enough to throw some more 95 mph pitches right down the middle. I want to see the Gagne victory face a whole lot this summer!

UFC 60…

2006_05_27_ufc_60.jpg

Last month, I wrote about UFC 59: Reality Checked at the Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim and how it was the first mixed martial arts (MMA) show in Southern California sanctioned by the California State Athletic Commission.

Tonight is UFC 60 at the Staples Center in Downtown L.A., headlined by Welterweight Champion Matt Hughes vs. Royce Gracie (the winner of the first UFC in 1993 and a member of the first family of fighting, as his father Helio Gracie is the founder of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu). To the best of my knowledge, it’s the first MMA show in the local Los Angeles area, and interestingly enough UFC apparently overestimated demand, as tickets were reportedly overpriced ($200.00-$1,000.00 on Ticketmaster) and the show is still not sold out.

Dave Meltzer provides his perspective on the main event:

If you care in the least about UFC, you’ve seen as much hype for this as any fight in history. It’s three rounds, which favors Hughes. Almost all the smart money is on Hughes, but one mistake and it can be over. Hughes wants to stand. Gracie has more reach, by far, but has never shown much standing. He’s also 39, and looked bad in his last outing. This is more a curiosity fight than what looks on paper to be a great fight. For a lot of reasons, I wish it was five rounds, because Hughes winning a decision, the most likely outcome, is going to make it feel anti-climactic. Truthfully, it would be quite surprising for this match to live nearly up to the hype, and nobody is buying the show for anything underneath.

More after the jump.
Continue reading UFC 60…

Pelota a Mano

about to whack it

Last weekend on my photo tour of Downtown LA and the Alameda corridor I spotted a group of about 30 people in an abandoned lot surrounded by a chain link fence. I parked in the cul-de-sac next to the lot and adjacent to a factory and asked some kids hanging out in a van “Donde esta la entrada?”, to which the responded in English that I had to jump the fence. Luckily for me there was a big tire leaning against the fence and a pool ladder propped up against the other side. After hopping the fence I took some pictures of the people on the make shift ball court playing a game of handball or pelota a mano. This game goes back some 3000 years in Mexico and South America and is some times played with a basket as in the popular game jai alai. The players and spectators were very friendly and interested as to why I was taking photos of them. I told them my web page which one of their daughters translated to “Pagina de Internet”, they asked if I was La Migra, and I assured them that I wasn’t. You can see more of the photos here.

Babe in Brooklyn? Barry in Blue?

Couple of years ago, I posted a story here showing off a cool picture of Babe Ruth in a Brooklyn Dodgers uniform. He was a first base coach for the team in 1938, after his playing days were done.

Stainback, Hasset, Cuyler, and Ruth On Flickr just now, a poster uploaded another cool pic from that era, showing the Babe clowning around with outfielders Tuck Stainback, Buddy Hassett, and Kiki Cuyler.

Now, that brings up a pretty cool thing to ponder — what would life had been like for the Dodgers if the Babe had wound up playing in Brooklyn rather than the Bronx?

Asking the question right now is not strictly academic — after all, the infamous Barry Bonds might just reach Ruth’s 714 home run record later this weekend against the Dodgers, in San Francisco.

Which brings up another question — how might recent Dodger history have been different if Bonds had left the Pirates to become a Dodger, instead of a Giant? Might his *own* history been different here in LA?

And again, this is not entirely idle speculation. It almost happened.

the end is extremely fucking nigh

It’s not that big a deal that the Mighty Ducks of Disney are in round two of the playoffs, while the Los Angeles Kings of We Suck aren’t; any longtime Kings fan can tell you that the playoffs are like Elisha Cuthbert in The Girl Next Door: a whole lot of promise, some excruciating teasing, but no real delivery. I’m a Kings fan, and I’m okay with that.

But I just realized this very moment that not only are the Lakers out of the playoffs, but the fucking Clippers are in round two.

The Clippers.

If this isn’t a sign of the apocalypse, I don’t know what is. Stock up on duct tape and plastic, people.

Dodgers offering ten bucks off for upcoming home series

The Los Angeles Dodgers of Los Angeles really want to fill up the stadium when they return home next week for series against the Padres and Astros, so they’re offering a $10 discount for all “Field Level (regular price $30) and Infield Reserve (regular price $20) tickets for the May 3, 4, 10, and 11 games!”

The only catch is that you have to buy them online through TicketBastard. Enter “KRAGEN” next to “Promotions and Special Offers” after clicking the game you wish to attend, and bend over when you hit “submit.”

I’ve been a couple of times already this season, and the Infield Reserve tickets are a great value; twenty bucks for the second deck right behind home plate is awesome.

Body Count

Young kids nowadays probably don’t remember, but there used to be a big professional sports league in North America that played hockey. Now, it’ll be hard for you whippersnappers to imagine, but picture an activity combining the gracefulness of figure skating and the violence of football, with the added bonus of an occasional fistfight.

There was even a team here in Los Angeles, believe it or not, called the Kings. Good team, though they were mired in mediocrity for years. The closest they came to the championship was cut short by an illegal hockey stick (a piece of equipment mostly used to beat on opposing players if they got skating too fast), which should give you some idea of the collective team karma.

Things were bad enough for the Kings season to season, but then the team made the mistake of putting up a statue of Wayne Gretzky, an amazing former King who never played at the new arena they were dedicating. This karmic grenade resulted in years of collective injury, controversy, and malaise, not to mention the near-fatal embarassment of the Orange County team almost winning a championship. (Sound familiar?)

Fast-forward to today, when the Kings wrapped up the abysmal regular season by firing everybody on the Kings payroll who doesn’t wear a uniform. The bloodshed and screaming down at Staples Center has been awful to hear, with much gnashing of teeth, anointing with ash, and rending of limited-edition commemorative sackcloth jerseys. For once, the famously pessimistic denizens of letsgokings.com aren’t sounding all that out of whack. ;)

So wave goodbye to Luc Robitaille (which sounds like a line from a Canadian country song) and repeat the mantra — there’s always next season.

Except for those years when there isn’t.

UFC 59: Reality Check…

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Okay, so if BDSM isn’t your thing, how about watching guys beat the crap out of each other?

With the California State Athletic Commission‘s legalization of MMA (mixed martial arts) last December, UFC debuts in Southern California this Saturday with UFC 59: Reality Check at the Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim, headlined by Tito Ortiz (one of two coaches on The Ultimate Fighter 3) vs. Forrest Griffin (winner of the first season of The Ultimate Fighter) in the Light Heavyweight division as well as Heavyweight Champion Andrei Arlovski vs. Tim Sylvia.

MMA is currently experiencing a surge in popularity similar to professional wrestling in the late 1990s, and according to UFC President Dana White, “The hotbed of MMA has always been California.” Indeed, “[UFC 59] sold out the 18,000-seat Pond in Anaheim in two days before a single fight was announced — and that’s with the cheapest ticket at $50 and no seats in the lower bowl priced under $200. An independently promoted show [called Strikeforce] in San Jose headlined by Frank Shamrock vs. Cesar Gracie on March 10 [drew] more than 10,000 fans.” And “On May 27, [at UFC 60,] Brazilian jujitsu master Royce Gracie–whose family is a legend in the world of cage-fighting–will battle welterweight titleholder Matt Hughes at Staples Center.”

For both upcoming Southern California shows, it’s particularly newsworthy that Armando Garcia of the CSAC is looking into making the sport safer by banning the throwing of elbows while fighters are on the ground as well as changing the fighters’ gloves from the existing four ounces to eight ounces. While changing to heavier gloves will further protect their hands, it’ll make submissions more difficult to attempt and sustain, which will probably result in additional punches to the head, thus leading to more concussions and brain trauma than submissions (and MMA promoters have bragged to the press about their sport being safer than boxing). As of this writing, I don’t know if these stipulations have been mandated for Saturday, but if they are, they will have huge repercussions on MMA as a whole since the industry has been trying to establish unified rules for itself on a national level.

More after the jump.
Continue reading UFC 59: Reality Check…

The Emerald Diamond

Tonight at the Westside Pavilion Cinema at 7pm, there will be a screening of The Emerald Diamond, a documentary about the Irish national baseball team, which has an LA connection.

“The Irish National Team probably would not exist today without the help and support of fomer Dodgers owner Peter O’Malley,” says John Fitzgerald, director of “The Emerald Diamond.” “His role in the development of baseball in Ireland can’t be overemphasized.”

Baseball in Ireland began in the early 1990s, despite a lack of fields and equipment. Ireland’s National Baseball Team began play in 1996 at the European Baseball Championships. Peter O’Malley spearheaded the building of Ireland’s first true baseball fields in 1998 – a move that solidified baseball’s presence on the Emerald Isle.

I was struck in the trailer by one team member saying, “Growing up in California, you never think you’re going to end up in Dublin playing baseball.”

(via Jon Weisman)

Los Angeles Women’s Ultimate for Beginners

This week in particular, I’ve been reminiscing about playing Ultimate Frisbee back in Vancouver. My last two kickball games have been rained out, so I’m missing the team sports fix. And it took more than rain to keep us off the Ultimate field. I remember getting coated in sleet and mud playing up there. Now, I always insist, “the mud was half the fun!”, but really, I’ll admit it – Ultimate in sunshine is better than Ultimate in the half-snow that Vancouver got in November.

So I’m going to sign up for the L.A. Women’s Ultimate League, starting later this month in Northridge. Today is the LAST day to get registration postmarked, so I encourage all you girls to get over to the Los Angeles Ultimate site, and print/mail the form. It’s a “hat league”, so you don’t need to be on a team, and it’s open to everyone, no matter what your play level. Since I’ve barely touched a frisbee in the two years since I left BC, I’m going to need the refresher course – but I’m psyched about getting back on that field. Especially since I won’t come off it covered in mud.

Stealth Bombers Invading Downtown LA

Well actually they’re invading Elysian Park, and actually they’re not invading, just doing a fly-over to hype up the crowd at the season opener for the Dodgers. Last week this little gem snuck past my watchful eye on the newdowntown mailing list due to a bout of top posting, but luckily for me Sr. Garza caught it on his blog and in turn it popped up in my RSS reader:

Subject: BID ALERT

DOWNTOWN ALERT!!

March 28, 2006

To All Downtown Property Owners:

Our friends at Dodger Stadium have notified us that as part of Opening Day on Monday, April 3rd, a B2 Stealth Bomber will fly over Dodger Stadium as well as all of Downtown Los Angeles.

We wanted to notify you as you may wish to alert your tenants as some may find it alarming.

Thank you in advance for your attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

Carol E. Schatz

President & CEO, Downtown Center Business Improvement District