Chuq Von Rospach is a Silicon Valley veteran doing Technical Community Management and amateur photographer with a strong interest in birds, wildlife and landscapes. My goal is to explore the Western states and working to tell you the stories of the special places I've found. You can find out more on the About Page.
New: For Your Consideration
I'm thrilled to announce that I've launched a project I've been working on for the last couple of months. For Your Consideration is my attempt to re-think how we interact with information on the Internet.
My goal of For Your Consideration is to slow down, focus on good and interesting things, give them context. It is one posting per day, seven days a week.
Find out more in the FYC Manifesto. Help me get the word out. Tell your friends about it. Encourage people to try it and follow FYC. When you see interesting content on FYC, share it with your friends.
The Gear Bag
You’ll want this
More to Explore
While you're here, check out more of my work. Here are some of my most popular articles:
- Some Thoughts on Lightroom Keywords
- More than you want to know about backups (the 2013 edition)
- Should you consider upgrading your home network to a NAS?
- How not to be a doofus with a camera
- Getting started in bird photography: Choose Your Weapons
- Getting going in Photography on the Cheap
Free to download Wallpapers
New on the Blog
Search This Site
Category Archives: Sports
using tissue from retired NFL athletes culled posthumously, the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy (CSTE) is shedding light on what concussions look like in the brain. The findings are stunning. Far from innocuous, invisible injuries, concussions confer tremendous brain damage. That damage has a name: chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
CTE has thus far been found in the brains of five out of five former NFL players. On Tuesday afternoon, researchers at the CSTE will release study results from the sixth NFL player exhibiting the same kind of damage.
CNN American Morning
Watch more on concussions and the brain Wednesday
6 a.m. – 9 a.m.
CNN American Morning Â»
“What’s been surprising is that it’s so extensive,” said Dr. Ann McKee, a neuropathologist at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Bedford, Massachusetts, and co-director of the CSTE. “It’s throughout the brain, not just on the superficial aspects of the brain, but it’s deep inside.”
CSTE studies reveal brown tangles flecked throughout the brain tissue of former NFL players who died young — some as early as their 30s or 40s.
McKee, who also studies Alzheimer’s disease, says the tangles closely resemble what might be found in the brain of an 80-year-old with dementia.
“I knew what traumatic brain disease looked like in the very end stages, in the most severe cases,” said McKee. “To see the kind of changes we’re seeing in 45-year-olds is basically unheard of.”
Okay, we’re getting proof this is pretty serious crap. Can we PLEASE get beyond the “heh heh, bell rung. shake it off and get out there” mentality and do something? Bluntly, if there’s an argument against fighting in hockey, THIS is it. As I’ve said before, I really want to see the league get serious about attacks to the head — but it’s hard to rationalize that position with fighting in the league. You can’t hit someone in the head, unless you take your gloves off first?
At the same time, it has to be done in a way that preserves the physicality of the sport. And the tradeoffs there are tough ones, it’s not as simple as outlawing hits to the head or trying to do away with fighting.
But because it’s tough doesn’t imply it shouldn’t be tackled. Just that the answers aren’t as simple as many fans and media types want to portray it to be.
Magowan said on Friday, in announcing his retirement, that he wanted to spend more time with his grandchildren.
We interrupt the hockey talk for a minute to thank Peter Magowan for everything he’s done for the Bay Area Sports fan.
It’s easy to forget, or choose not to remember, just what his contribution to the Bay Area is. Before Magowan stepped in, we were staring at 100 loss seasons by a team playing in Candlestick park (a place that made the Cow Palace look attractive, and still does), at least until that team moved to Tampa.
Remember when the Tampa Bay Giants was a done deal? No, most of you probably don’t.
Magowan was a key player in stopping that. Magowan brought us Barry Bonds, back when Barry Bonds was merely a stupendous baseball player. He found a way to get a new ballpark built, and a gorgeous one, despite a lack of cooperation from the city, continuing hassles by the NIMBYs, and without public funding.
And now he’s going to retire, leaving the next cycle of the Giants to others. Unfortunately, most of the media seems too be forgetting what he’s done in favor of whacking him for his mistakes, and while I’m not minimizing those, it seems to me if anyone deserved a day where people just said “hey, thanks”, Magowan did.
So hey, Peter?
Thanks. Enjoy not having to deal with the local media any more. Enjoy your grandkids. you deserved it. And some of us recognize what you’ve done, and appreciate it more than you might think.
(p.s: to Anne, and Mark, and Ray, and Tim: when your time comes and your last columns are written and your cohorts take you off to lunch to say goodbye, I hope they all stand up and call out a toast in your honor, and then spend the rest of the afternoon making fun of all of the stupid columns you’ve written over the years, rather than reflecting on all of the good ones you’ve done. It’s only fair and balanced, ya know?
It’s not about ignoring the mistakes, it’s about putting it perspective. that all could have waited for a second column a little later, you know? But heck, that’s just not how things are done, right?)
If you were expecting emotion and sentiment think again. If you were expecting a Tony Gwynn-like farewell or a Cal Ripken-like embrace, sorry to disappoint.
The announcement came in typically, weirdly Bondsian fashion. Bonds was informed of the team decision by Peter Magowan during Thursday night’s game. Always the mercenary, he posted the news on his personal Web site Friday.
Within minutes of the posting, the scrambling Giants called a Friday-at-rush-hour press conference.
In the interview room there were three seats and three bottles of water and two participants: Peter Magowan and Brian Sabean. Bonds was not there for what should have been a sentimental moment but ended up being a clinical discussion of the surgical removal of No. 25.
And so ends the Bonds era, as it probably should. Not with a “final tour” and celebration, not with a stadium full of fans cheering one of the best players in baseball into the sunset, but with a press release and a press conference where the guest of honor(?) simply didn’t show, leaving his bosses to tap dance and try to spin Barry in as positive a light as they can — and finding it tough to do.
Is anyone really surprised? Because as good as Barry has been, and I’ll be the first to acknowledge it, he’s been a constant PR nightmare for the Giants and league, because he’s always believed that he deserves every accolade, and refused under any circumstance to reach out back to fans, to teammates, to the team or the league.
The top superstars have known they need to at least put on a show of reaching out to the fans — think Cal Ripken when he was more or less bodily assumed into heaven — but Barry? if jesus returned to earth to get his autograph, Barry would have him go though his agent. For the fans to want to connect to a player, the player has to at least put on the act that they don’t deserve all of the fanfare. Barry has always acted as if it was never enough; more than enough to put off many fans.
And so again, this leavetaking from the Giants won’t be a proper send off for Barry; he deserves more, he’s earned more — and yet we have to remember he orchestrated this. Something about Barry always seems to end up setting things up so he can walk away feeling bitter and disappointed about how it all ended.
And somewhere, deep inside, that seems to be how he wants it to be. He had everything going for him, steroids notwithstanding, to be the kind of player and person that owned the team and town and fans. Instead, we have this.
And if there are two things I would have guaranteed about this situation, it’s that (a) it was going to go down something like this, and (b) Barry will find a way to blame everyone else for it because we, his fans (and owners and teammates) don’t show him the proper respect, teh respect he earned.
Problem is, he only earned part of the respect he was due: the part on the field. His play is unquestionable. But he chose not to get involved with earning respect from others as a person, only as a player, and so he left a huge part of his legacy missing. He never seems to have figured out that the truly great players are both players AND people — just ask Tony Gwynn.
As someone who would fall into the “love watching him hit the ball, no asterisk (unless you put asterisks on a lot more entries), he is a scapegoat for a larger problem allowing other better-loved players to skate around the problem (but he earned that by being distant, whiny and pissy — but while I’d watch him play, I wouldn’t invite him to dinner” category of Bonds fan, I’m goin to miss watching him play, but not the rest of the mini-drama that comes along with Barry. That mini-drama that is always surrounding him, and never his fault.
And so it ends, not with a bang, but with a whine.
Frankly, as it should be. which is too bad, but it’s what Barry wanted. Why? maybe not even he knows. But he’d be a happier person if he figured it out, I think.
Congratulations to Barry Bonds — 756 is a historic moment.
Today is not a day for talking about the other aspects of this record. Today is a day for letting Barry enjoy what he’s accomplished. that other stuff has been talked about in the past, and will be decided by history, but today, it’s the act that matters.
No, he hasn’t always made himself the easiest person to like, but last night, when he was thanking the crowd and his teammates, you could see the walls he keeps around him come crumbling down; it’ll be interesting to see whether we get a different Barry in the future, now that this is behind him — or whether his detractors throw so enough stones that he simply walls off again. It’s not JUST Barry that is responsible for how he is, after all.
I’ll leave the asterisks to the future, and to those who don’t seem to have a problem describing the details of the bachelor party during the wedding reception — there’s a time and a place, and this ain’t it — I won’t ruin Barry’s party.
I did have one thought last night though — it sure would be fun to see Barry stick around and hit enough MORE home runs to make any talk of asterisks silly and irrelevant. It’d make certain pundits and writers apoplectic to see him do that, because it’d ruin a good rant on their part. I wonder how many that would be? 30? 50 more? 75?
And he could well do it; it might take moving to the AL and DHing, but gee, would that be so bad?
As kind of a follow up on the Sonics to San Jose thread….
First, a nice piece summarizing the current state of disorder up in Seattle, courtesy of the Seattle Metroblog. What it doesn’t get into is the economics of the PREVIOUS refurbishment of Key Arena, and how much of that isn’t yet paid off.
(I”m curious, though… there are San Francisco, Seattle, Portland and Vancouver metroblogs, but nothing for San Jose? shame. What, we’re too suburban for you? grin)
Our background in all of this. Laurie and I have been interested in sports business and finance for years; Laurie’s MBA thesis was a financial analysis of San Jose Muni and whether it made sense to upgrade it LAST time the city had to deal with that question (in 1993, back when Hammer was mayor); it helped the Giants convince the city to spend money on the stadium and keep the baby giants in town (and away from Chico). We were season ticket holders with the Baby Giants for years, until 70 summer nights a year became incompatible with the rest of our life (like work; the last season, I was the guy in the box seat with the laptop trying not to get beaned while finishing up reports). We’ve been season ticket holders with the Sharks since day 1, including lots of long, boring drives to the Cow Palace to watch bad hockey because, well, it was better than no hockey.
Later on, we lived the dream for a year, signing up as the web geeks for the San Francisco Spiders of the IHL the year they came, they played, and they went out in a blaze of, well, ennui. But we actually did get to be part of a pro (well, in theory) sports franchise for a bit and see life from the inside, and it was just as strange and funky as we expected — while we got to spend a year driving up to the Cow Palace to watch IHL hockey, but we also got to sit down with the management team and talk the business side of sports as well, especially NBA and arenas, since the president of the Spiders that year came from the Warriors…. (in the meantime, the Cow Palace went from “gee, it’s great we have hockey, no?” to “boy, is this a pit. but it’s OUR pit, dammit!” — can we just tear the poor thing down and put it out of our misery?)
My personal stance on public funding of sports buildings is guaranteed to piss off both sides of the fight: I believe there IS a legitimate purpose to public funding of public buildings, which tends to piss off folks like Andrew Zimbalist who like to create funding models that “prove” that public funding is a bad idea. At the same time, I also believe the public funding should be limited to the same kind of investment they would make in any business enterprise in the city: it has to foot out, and it has to pay itself back, and no, you can’t assign arbitrary values to intrinsics like “civic pride” and “public image”.
For instance, I think that San Francisco absolutely screwed the Giants — and I wish the Giants had walked down to San Jose instead of finding a way to make it work; on the other hand, Pac Bell Park is an absolute gem, but the financial deal stapled to it sucks, especially compared to the $100 million dollar bonds worth of extortion the 49ers pulled out of San Francisco, but fortunately, that deal is dead and those bonds will never happen. I think the deal between San Jose and the Sharks is generally fair to both sides and been beneficial to everyone. it’s a great example of something that works for everyone, but doesn’t make anyone completely happy (which is a feature, IMHO). I’ve talked to Greg Jamison about it a couple of times, and he clearly feels the city ought to be investing some more money into capital improvements in the building, and I’ve talked to people on the city side who think the Sharks (okay, okay, Silicon Valley Sports and Entertainment; the sharks are a separate company, but down that road lies madness) ought to be returning more to the general fund. I think the balance of power here is fairly even, so I like it.
I’ve been watching Lew Wolff handle the A’s situation since he took over the team with great interest. His proposed deal with fremont is a great example of innovative financing that should work for all parties (the only downside: it’s not closely tied to BART, but that can be solved with a bus bridge at reasonable cost). Compare that to the fiasco that is the Raiders, and what Oakland did to the A’s in their lust to bring the Raiders back.
I’ve long in favor of using PSLs for financing, as long as you don’t get greedy and screw them up like the Raiders and Oakland did, because in reality, they’re use taxes on the people most likely to actually use the building; at the same time, these buildings get used for a lot more than just the team’s games, and to that degree, these things are civic resources. Asking the season ticket holders to fund the use of the building by the circus or the monster trucks is just as unfair as asking the city to pay the tab for the season ticket holders…. Where the rational compromise in the middle is, that’s the rub, and these situations have been so politicized that there are rarely any openings for rational compromise any more (another reason to cheer on Wolff in Fremont; he’s finding a way) — and this polarization is directly the result of overly demanding and greedy owners who’ve demanded not fair deals, but patronage deals — and two of the worst of this are the people up in Seattle, and our friends over in Oakland. Although, in reality, the city is as much to blame as Davis is, beacuse they basically opened up the kimono and started throwing goodies at Davis, but someone needed to see how irrational and guaranteed to fail the deal being set up was; nobody did, they’re going to be paying for that for years, or decades. AND lose the A’s as a side effect.
I”m basically that strange geek who, instead of wanting to grow up to be Harmon Killebrew, I grew up wanting to be Buzzie Bavasi. That, of course, never happened (but I did get to meet Bob Bavasi a few times when he was running the Everett Aquasox and we were roadtripping up there in the summers….). I keep hoping that when laurie and I move north in a few years I’ll be able to get a job as an usher for the ‘Sox, just because I think that’d be fun…
Welcome back, Tom — it’s damn good to see you again!
And this, in essence, is the attraction of curling. If folks stop snickering about the sport and pay attention, you start to see the complexity and technique involved. It’s a game that can be played by 45 year old fat guys with a beer (happily), but to play it well isn’t easy. In that way, it’s somewhat like billiards or bowling, except that the ice is never (ever) the same, and you’re constantly trying to adjust to changing conditions, and in bowling or billiards, if you understand the shot and have practiced enough, you’ll make the shot. So in many ways, curling’s tougher than both — but it’s still a sport you can play well into middle age (and beyond) if you want, and it’s a sport you can play socially. So there are many aspects to attraction. I don’t expect curling rinks to sprout up in southern states, but I do hope to see the interest and growth continue down in the states — it has a definite place in the recreational sports universe, if people pay attention.
To be honest, the curling in the olympics wasn’t that interesting to me, because substandard ice led to sub-standard curling. But they did the best they could, and the bronze medal in the men can only help visibility.
I was having this discussion at work this week, and someone said they felt it didn’t deserve to be in the olympics because there’s no endurance aspect to it. Not all sports are endurance tests or attacks on your VO2Max — if you look at things like baseball, it’s more skill and timing, or archery is technique and the ability to manage stress. So is target shooting. Yachting and many of the sailing sports are the ability to judge and manage the elements as much as anything — none of them really require a 6 minute mile, much less a four minute one.
Curling ratings went up this Olympics in the states, which I find encouraging — according to one report, CNBC saw ratings 700% higher than their NORMAL programming. Since this olympics didn’t have the “newness” of it being the surprise cinderella sport like it did last olympics, it indicates people were tuning in because they were curious and interested, not just because it was this new, weird thing. Here’s hoping we can keep moving it forward and make curling more visible in the states….
Having a ReplayTV meant that all of that sweet, sweet curling action was just waiting for me to get home from the hospital and plow through it. And I have to admit: up to now, my appreciation for the sport has been a bit of a goof. But after watching hours of it, I’ve realized that yes, it really is a sport, and that it’s a surprisingly interesting, strategic, and cerebral sport, at that.
update: Tom Benjamin talks about the same subject, defining sport in terms of ability to control muscle memory. An interesting concept that may well be on the right track….
The stadium was partially sunlit and filling up and people were
drinking beer and happy and George was singing “I”m just 23, I don’t mind
dyin’”, and George is himself a baseball aficionado and one-time semipro player,
and I was thinking of the wonderful sun- and dust-drenched opening
“Church of Baseball” scene from
Bull Durham, and the last
big chords faded just as we got to our seats, and well anyhow, Carl owes
George an apology.
Tim Bray goes to a minor league game, and wonderfully captures why minor league baseball is so damn much fun. I’ve always wanted to get to Nat Bailey stadium, never have.
He makes one minor mistake — the Northwest League is short season Rookie, not A-ball. A-ball is the next level up (California league and Midwest league, high-A and low-A respectively. No, it doesn’t make any more sense than USDA beef ratings, sometimes you just have to let art flow over you). Below SS-R is full-season Rookie, in the Pioneer League, and below that are the camp leagues in Arizona and Florida.
SS-R teams are primarily staffed by kids drafted out of college, so they’re older, but just learning how to play the pro game. They tend to be good prospects but rough. It also needs to be remembered that of the 20-some players on a team at that level, 2-3 will see the major leagues, and the rest are, basically being paid to play catch with the real prospects (and may, or may not, be given a chance to prove they’re also prospects — but if you aren’t annointed, you have to force them to pay attention).
I love the Northwest league — it’s in many ways my ideal for the essence of baseball — it’s very much community baseball, small, intimate, the players are skilled (not necessarily true over in the Pioneer league, which is the “if we can fix this flaw, we might have something” league), and the players haven’t grown the thick skin or the attitude that happens when they hit the majors (to some degree, out of necessity). My favorite parks up there are Everett and Eugene, although I always loved the funkiness of the no-longer-in-the-league Medford (the strangest park was the no-longer-in-the-league Bend, which was little more than an American Legion field with delusions of grandeur, and who’s outfield faced the back of a K-mart).
In my years wandering the minors, I’ve made it to about 22 parks so far (Laurie’s a few parks ahead of me…) — from Tucson to Edmonton.
It’s a little late now, since the San Jose Giants are in the playoffs (game 2 today at 5, san jose muni), but maybe next year, we should schedule a night at the park for local geeks and bloggers — and Tim, if you’re ever down in San Jose, tickets are on me…
Some days, I’ve found, you really can go home again.
Saturday, I went to a baseball game. Not just any game — a Giants game as San Jose muni (see, San Jose already has a baseball team, and it’s not the A’s). That may not seem like a major thing, but it was, for me. Laurie and I used to be season ticket holders at San Jose, where we’d hang out for upwards of 40-50 games a season. Minor league baseball is different, especially A-ball. 3500 is a huge crowd, and the parks are small and intimate. Our season tickets were row one, over the home dugout, which means maybe (maybe) 50 feet from the foul line. So in a very real way, you aren’t watching the game, you’re in it (and if you stop paying attention, it’ll remind you of that — we had any number of baseballs come visiting, and one bat. I didn’t keep the bat, but I should have. I just tossed it back and told him to start using pine tar). Being in that size crowd and that close, by the way, you KNOW they hear you (Ian Lamplugh, phone home. I’ve lost your email and I want to know if you’re still in Victoria, because I owe you dinner for making it to the bigs, guy…)
But as Laurie and I got busier in our lives with work and hockey and other things, going to the games started feeling more like a chore than a joy. And I became increasingly disillusioned with baseball in general as I watched the caretakers of the major leagues continue to screw it up. And then the baby Giants had a couple of awful seasons, and then a couple of people who worked on the team needed to get a real life and real jobs (getting married does that to you), and… we ended up one year not renewing, but planning on going to a few games a year.
The problem, of course, is that once you break a habit, it tends to break in a big way. And I was pretty burnt out on baseball in general, so we never did. For a few years, we just didn’t think about it. For the last three, we did — but somehow, it turned into August. And, you know? after a while, it’s like “it’s been so long, what will they think if we start showing up again? Or will they even remember or care?” — and that sort of inhibits you.
But this year, laurie and I had agreed, it was time to start going again. There’s no way we’d survive season tickets, but we can get in half a dozen games, plus we’re going to head up to Sacto and amybe down to Fresno for games. Just to start the habit again. My god, I’m even watching baseball on TV again, where in the past years, I watched if laurie turned it on. And I’ve been at that point in the current project where I hate my job, I havte having no life, I hate having no time to myself, I hate working evenings and six and seven day weeks, and I hate computers (this is, FWIW, actually fairly normal for me, and it usually passes as we get closer to GM, but it’s not a development cycle without a lost weekend to exhaustion and a crisis of faith. My boss is used to it, mostly. One of these days, I probably won’t get over it, and then I’ll know it’s time for a new gig).
And Saturday laurie headed up to Seattle again, and the Giants had an afternoon game, and while I had work to do, it was time for some time out. So I wandered on down and bought a ticket, then grabbed dinner at Turkey Mikes BBQ off the left field line, then wandered off and found a place to sit and watch the game. I saw a few of the old regulars — but it was a busy night, and I kept missing them in the crowds. It was a pretty good game — Giants win, combined 1 hitter with the hit coming in the 9th inning (would have been my second no-hitter; good news it was a legitimate, solid hit, and the two errors were also legit). And in the last couple of innings, I started wandering more, just taking in the feel, the character. I finally did run into a couple of my old friends from the earlier days, too, and had nice chats.
One of them saw me walk by, and got the big round eyes and smiled (and to be honest, it felt nice to be recognized like that), and we sat and chatted to the end of the game — his first question was “where’s your needlepoint?” (which is a whole ‘nother story, but I was famous for showing up and doing needlepoint during the slow times. It drove some players crazy to see me pull it out…). And his daughter is married, and his son, who last time I saw him had just hit puberty, lost his baby fat and gotten his teenager-attitude, is now on scholarship at a good baseball school as a pitcher.
And it was almost as if I’d missed a homestand, not the better part of a decade. And we talked about that — it was a weird feeling; for all of the things at the park that were different (the people, the players, the staff, etc) — it felt as if nothing had changed. Kind of a time warp.
That place was, as my friend so noted, “Cheers”. and it’s why it keeps drawing us back to it. Like a comfortable pair of shoes, being there just makes things better.
I was made to promise that I would return (this season!) and show up earlier to talk more. And bring Laurie. And I will.
And in some ways, it’s too bad. The park is showing its age a bit, and the city (who owns it) is primarily interested in going “big league” with the A’s, so investing in the old Muni park is not only not a priority, it’s not really an option. Yet most folks don’t know (or care) about what they have already, only that they don’t have the 40,000 seat sterile, impersonal cavern of a major league park (where you can pay double for your beer and 10X for your ticket for seats in the next county). Eventually, I guess, either the stadium will fall apart or the A’s will move in town, and either way, it’ll go away. But taht’s no excuse for not enjoying it for now.
And so, I hope, I will. As should you, if you love the sport. It is not, by any means the best baseball you’ll see on a technical basis — but minor league ball as an experience blows away anything you can get in the majors. And it’s full of really fun, neat people –
who’ll remember your name, if you give them the chance.
I’ll have an order of garlic bread, and later, a churros.. for old times sake. And blue, shake your head. Your eyes are stuck again.