A Sporting Life
Thursday, October 19, 2006
ATHLETIC MEMORIES… You know, today I’m in the mood to write about sports. It’s October, which means a number of wonderful things if you’re a sports fan—and let’s face it, if you’re not a sports fan, there are programs for people like you. The baseball playoffs and World Series are here: At press time, the A’s went down 0-4 games to the Tigers, who look invincible (sorry, SCOTT BROWN); the Mets and Cardinals remind me of the old days, when I rooted for the Cards against my sister, an interminable Mets fan.
Also, pro and college football are swinging into high gear, which means the crisp fall weather is here, to be followed by those beautifully gray, bone-chilling days of winter when real sports wackos spend hours outdoors in sub-freezing temperatures engaging in tribal, ethnocentric allegiance rituals. Hockey is up and running…err, skating (hey, some people care) and Oct. 15 is a most significant date because that’s when the colleges are officially allowed to begin basketball practice.
High school sports are making Friday nights important all across America; auto racing is, well—racing; pro hoops is starting its exhibition season. Only golf is kind of goofy around now, but who cares, we can go out and play that. Life is beautiful.
Most of the first half of my life was devoted to sports. I remember coming in from long days of playing multiple sports, and I’d be so overjoyed with life and my own amazing skills as an athlete. I’d go running in to my mother exclaiming: “Ma, you should have seen me, I’m a pro,” to which she’d respond: “Yeah, you’re a pro—a provolone. Now go do your homework.” That’s the way we motivated each other back in the Bronx.
Still, I was convinced that I would grow up to become a professional athlete. Football was my first love—I wanted to be a middle linebacker. I was good at baseball, but found it a little boring. Too much time standing around, plus you couldn’t really hit anybody. Then I discovered basketball and my life changed. The thrill of constant motion, banging, leaping, all the exertion required, fit an energy force like mine. Too bad I never grew the extra 10 to 12 inches in height I could have used to really take it all the way; I’d have been a hell of a power forward.
But the game took me places, as a coach, then in publishing. I formulated my understanding of this writing game while publishing a magazine called Eastern Basketball, which had become the publication for info about the college basketball scene in the Northeast. I remember going to Bristol, Connecticut about two years after ESPN had started, trying to get in as a color man on college basketball broadcasts. I got rejected (after a number of persistent attempts) for having no broadcasting experience. In retrospect, I should have just gotten in the door doing anything, then worked my way up.
Life’s currents moved me around, its eroding forces shaping my reality, and before long I found myself working in restaurants. An eon later, I was able to combine the experiences there with the ones gleaned during all-nighters getting out the magazine into this cool writing thing here—you just never know. But occasionally, especially during the fall, my old athletic genes tingle and I dream about what might have been, had the folks at ESPN given me a shot.
OUTSIDE IN… OK, enough rambling through the recesses of my grey matter; here’s what’s happening, as far as my information goes.
I don’t think they’ll be serving gumbo (although with the Hullaballoo gang, you never know) at Paraiso Vineyards for its second annual fundraiser to benefit CASA of Monterey County. Now you’ve been reading here about CASA—about how they help abused, neglected and abandoned kids stay out of the Juvenile Dependency system; plus you know how wonderful the SMITH FAMILY of Paraiso Vineyards is and how hospitable they are, plus you know how beautiful it is there at the winery; plus you know there’ll be performers, dancing and the Hullaballoo Gang. Now you know it’s on Oct. 21 at 6:30pm and the number to call is 678-0300 or paraisovineyards.com…
I stopped in to Mélange in PG the other night, one stop along a grazing trail that had included Cantinetta Luca in Carmel, Pelican Tavern in The American Tin Cannery and I think one other place…but anyway, I found out that Mélange has a reverse osmosis system (I could use one of those in my brain) that filters all the water they use for all cooking and drinking. I applaud Chef/owner DAVID FRAPPIEA and his partner CRAIG LING for their commitment to quality.
Check out Roy’s Winter Festival, taking place on Nov. 2 and 3 at, well, Roy’s, silly, at Spanish Bay. Celebrate the holidays (arrghh, they’re here already) family style at a shared table as ROY YAMAGUCHI and YOICHI SAITO rock your world with goodies and bring in the “Spirit of Ohana.” Call 647-7500 and get your fix.
Get in on the Culinary Classique d’Elegance at Spanish Bay on Nov. 5. BERT CUTINO’s amazing yearly fundraiser for Meals on Wheels combines 18 chefs with table designers, so each table gets a different menu from the main ingredients chosen by Cutino. Call 375-4454 to get tickets…I’ll give you more on this next week, meanwhile—play ball.