Dorian Hargrove 8:30 p.m., Dec. 12
I love sports. Watching them, mostly (Padres, Giants, Red Sox, Galaxy, Xolos, Chivas, Sounders, U.S. men’s soccer, MLS, EPL, Serie A, La Liga, Liga MX, MLB, NFL, NBA, tennis, NHL, and billiards, which is too a sport, so shut up). And ever since I moved to Mt. Soledad and had to succumb to bolting a satellite dish to my house — no Cox cable up here, and the Time-Warner bigwigs have got their craniums in their aniums — I have been in seventh heaven, pretty literally, given that satellites are way up there in the stratosph…space.
Anyway, there are days, sometimes a string of them, when the (sports) stars align over my little dish and I get hours of stacked synchronicity gameswise and sports-movieswise. For instance, last week I had six days of BoSox (v. Yankees then Rangers); b-ball playoffs (no way finals are going to be anywhere near as interesting as that Pacers v. Heat series, but more on that in a minute); U.S. men soccer friendlies v. Belgium (embarrassing loss, 4-2) and v. Germany (redemption win, 4-3, but a real nail-biter in the final five minutes; more on them in a minute, as well); Galaxy games; World Cup–qualifying matches; and baseball-baseball-baseball. And when there wasn’t a game to watch, there was The Blind Side, there was The Natural, and there was Sandlot, a favorite here in the Monk house.
So, there I was, slung in the tricked-out recliner of my mind, reveling in my sports-stars-aligning synchronicity, and I thought, I wonder if there’s any chicken left…? So you see where I’m going with this? That’s right, I’m now a sports blogger. Because I’m not just a lazy watcher of things, I’m an amazingly lazy watcher of things, and I want you to be, too. Also, the only way I can justify the exorbitant package on my dish is to make it look like I’m working.
Here’s my statement of purpose: Whenever I see the sports stars aligning, like this coming weekend, and I can pry my tablet away from whoever has absconded with it, I will lay them out and break them down for you (the games, not the absconder), just like those guys on sports-talk radio do, only without the interviews.
Lengthy digression: Since I brought up sports-talk radio, let me just say that my blog, “Sports Brahs,” until I come up with a better name, should be taken in conjunction with sports-talk radio, the cornerstone of any sports fan’s intellectual diet. My go-to guys are all on the “Mighty 1090”: Jim Rome, for the national scope and his clipped personality, which makes me feel whole by comparison; Darren Smith, for the local angles and because his spittle-riddled stream-of-consciousness blathering and repartee with his producer, Marty Caswell, is like music to my ears; and Scott & BR, because I want to be listening when Billy Ray finally reaches across the table and strangles Scott Kaplin to death. I was recently away for a week, and when I returned I heard Billy Ray on with “Coach” John Kentera — couple of mooks you can’t help but love — but I was so bothered that I missed the strangling that I made an immediate U-turn home to Google “Billy Ray+ kills + Kaplin.” Nothing. Kaplin was just on leave. He’s back, and I guess I just have to admit that I love to hate the guy. He’s a good sports guy and gives good interview, but he’s just so schticky about it. I’m sure Kaplin would love to hate me, too, if he knew me.
Back to my statement of purpose: so, the stars-aligning-games thing; local sports events worth the price of admission; radio-sports stuff; TV-sports stuff; sports blogs around town that you should probably be reading instead of mine; sports food; cool man-cave ideas; tailgating reports; what to do with the kids when the stars align for more than a day or two (that’ll be a tricky one to write); sports movies; cool sports names and nicknames; getting an MLS team in San Diego (Stone Brewery, I’m looking at you — The Arrogant Bastards — call me!); representing your team without making a fool of yourself — huge! There’s tons of super-important stuff, really, so let’s jump right into this weekend’s synchronous sports-TV breakdown...
Tonight, at 6 p.m. on ABC, you got game one of the NBA finals, which features LeBron James and the Miami Heat against Kawhi Leonard and the San Antonio Spurs. There are bigger names on the Spurs, but Leonard went to SDSU, played under the estimable Steve Fisher, and helped in his time here to put Aztec basketball on the national map. Thanks, Kawhi, and watch James’s shoulders. The second they drop, get deep and get up in a hurry. I say Spurs in six. Not because they’re better, but because Miami got punched in the face by Indiana in the semis. Like, we-need-an-off-season-to-recover punched in the face. Game 2 is Sunday night. Go here for the complete series TV schedule: nba.com/playoffs.
Also tonight, at 5:40 on Fox Sports San Diego, the Padres kick off a four-game series in Colorado to wrap a road trip that will bring them home to face my pick to win the 2013 World Series, the Atlanta Braves. Bad stretch coming for our Pads, who just lost two out of three to a woeful Dodgers team, BUT they beat the best pitcher in baseball, Clayton Kershaw, and the other two games could have gone either way in late innings. Still, this road trip’s starting out rough and is only going to get rougher in Coors Field — at altitude — against the wrecking-crew-of-two, Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez, the most deadly one-two punch in the bigs right now. The two of them just beat a good Reds team by a score of 12-4, and pretty much by themselves — Cargo with three homers and Tulo going five for five with two homers. Cargo’s got 17 on the year, Tulo 15, making them second and third on the MLB leaders board behind Domonic “Who Woke This Guy Up?” Brown of the Phils. They will face Cashner on Thursday, Volquez on Friday, Stults on Saturday, and Richard on Sunday. The Pads have been fun to watch this year, with Cabrera and Gyorko coming into their own and wowing the league up the middle, the pitching staff’s keeping them in every game, big-man Banks is ju-u-u-st starting to come on, but — can I/should I say it? — where’s Headley? Expectations too high? Not his time yet? This more contract constipation, Chase?
Friday night at 6:20 on beIN Sport, which most good soccer bars carry, the U.S. men’s national soccer team (USMNT), led by strikers Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore under coach Jürgen Klinsmann, will face a very good Jamaican national team in Kingston. In the middle of their group (the North America-Central America-Caribbean cluster of six) with 4 points right now, a U.S. loss to Jamaica drops them out of contention for a World Cup spot and the U.S. will probably need help to move forward. A win, and their destiny is in their own hands, er, feet. This is must-see TV, soccer fan. Next Tuesday, June 11, USMNT plays Panama on ESPN at 6:30 p.m., and on Tuesday, June 18, USMNT plays Honduras on ESPN at 7 p.m. Those are both World Cup qualifiers, and they are both on U.S. soil. I don’t see the team missing 2014 in Brazil, but my vision in the Klinsmann era has been blurry. Happily so, so far, watching them beat Italy, watching them beat Mexico (in Mexico!), and last week watching them beat Germany.
More soccer: Neither of the USMNT’s speedy wingers, Landon Donovan nor Robbie Rogers, is currently with the squad. Donovan “retired” because he doesn’t like soccer; Rogers “retired” because he doesn’t like girls. Klinsmann canned them both because he doesn’t like drama. As soon as they get over themselves (both are now “unretired” and playing for the Los Angeles Galaxy) and start unilaterally dominating the MLS, as they should, I’m sure Jürgy will call them up and say something like, “Boys, boys, leave those poor MLS teams alone and come up here to the world pitch. Your country needs you.” He will do it in that wicked-awesome German accent that says, in undertone, “Don’t let me down or I will crush you.” You can watch Donovan and Rogers and the rest of the Galaxions (except for centerback Omar Gonzalez, who is with the USMNT these days) play conference rivals Real Salt Lake Saturday night at 6:30 on Fox Soccer.
As I’m sure you’ve noticed, a lot of these games happen simultaneously. I’m more of a flipper-and-recorder, as opposed to your screen-within-a-screen guy or, like my neighbor, Jessie Withatowtruck (not his real name), a two-TVs-on-at-once guy. I’m also deadly serious about my sports-watching cuisine, a post I will save for a slow week, ’cuz you bet your ass there’s baseball food as opposed to soccer food as opposed to football food as opposed to basketball food. And if you don’t believe that, I don’t want you eating while you read my blog.
Until next time, sports brahs, keep the clicker close and the beer ’fridge full!