sports

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Satchel Paige and San Rafael’s Albert Park

Posted By on Thu, May 29, 2014 at 12:05 PM

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In 1948, Hall of Fame pitcher Satchel Paige was the oldest rookie to play in Major League baseball when he signed with the Cleveland Indians at 42, one year after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier to become the league’s first black player. Paige had been a wildly successful pitcher in the Negro Leagues before that, and went 6-1 in his rookie year as a starter and reliever. When the Indians’ owner sold the team in 1949, Paige lost his roster spot despite posting a 3.04 ERA that season. He returned to “barnstorming,” playing on independent league teams traveling by bus to small towns before returning to Major League Baseball in 1951. In that brief time, he may have played at San Rafael’s Albert Park.

Clowns souvenir program from the 1960s
  • Clowns souvenir program from the 1960s

“At Albert Park, they would bring in All-Star teams from the major leagues,” says Mike Shapiro, co-owner and general manager of the San Rafael Pacifics independent baseball team. “We found an old program... for the Indianapolis Clowns, featuring their pitcher Satchel Paige.”

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Monday, July 1, 2013

Petaluma's Newest National Champs

Posted By on Mon, Jul 1, 2013 at 10:56 AM

Freddie Myles, center, with his 2013 youth weighlifting teams at the national championships in Missouri
  • Freddie Myles, center, with his 2013 youth weighlifting teams at the national championships in Missouri

As the Bohemian reported this year, Olympic weightlifting isn’t just for musclehead gym rats anymore. To further this point, Freddie Myles of Myles Ahead Weightlifting in Petaluma emailed us with some news: his girls team won the Youth Weightlifting National Championship, held this weekend in Missouri, and two of them took home individual titles.

Chloe Tacata, 13, of Rohnert Park and Julia McKairnes, 12, of Santa Rosa are now national champions. They each threw more weight over their heads than anyone in their weight class, and three others on the team finished a close second in their weight class. The boys’ team did well, too, and everyone placed in the competition. About 400 lifters competed, which Myles says is more than the past couple years. What’s more, his team, the only one from California, bested some stiff competition. “Two of the teams we beat are two powerhouses in the country,” he says, referring to teams from Georgia and Missouri. Seems like baseball isn't the only sport in Petaluma where kids are kicking butt.

And since they were just outside Kansas City, Myles says he made sure to grab some great barbecue. “There was one place with a lot of trophies from barbecue competitions all over the place,” he says. “It was really good.”

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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Same Track, New Name

Posted By on Thu, Jan 24, 2013 at 11:19 AM

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Erasing the worrisome burden of what to call that place near Sonoma where the really fast cars try finish a certain amount of laps before everyone else, it was announced today the place will officially be called Sonoma Raceway.

Seems obvious, right? But that's the case with all good names, like Rollerblades and Band-Aids, which are trademarked names of in-line skates and adhesive strips, respectively. No longer will journalists struggle to find consensus on what to call that paved curvy track thingy in Sonoma. No more shall we see Raceway at Sonoma, the Sonoma Racetrack or my personal favorite, the Former Infineon Raceway.

But don't try visiting www.sonomaraceway.com, because that's obviously not the correct website for the one-lane, twisty infinite road that hosts NASCAR, NHRA and other major motorsports events. The correct site is www.racesonoma.com. Because anything else would ruin the genius of the new name.

After losing sponsorship from Infineon, it would be nice to think the 300:1-scale slot car race track in Sonoma defied convention and went with a name proudly boasting its location; after all, the Wine County is world renowned. But, much like Candlestick Park, which simply couldn't find someone willing to pay millions of dollars for TV announcers just to say the company name a few dozen times per year, it's more likely a sluggish economy and hesitant accountants contributed to the new name.

Was a local discount considered? What about Mondavi Raceway? Trione Track? Coppola Causeway? (OK, that's Napa County and Causeway is a weird thing to be racing on, so nix that). How about Guy Fieri's Donkey Sauce Full Throttle Raceway at 100 Percent Grass-Fed Meyer Ranch? That one sounds like a winner to me, I'll take two.

But really, no matter what it's called, I bet there's a bunch of people who will always call it Sears Point.

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Monday, February 6, 2012

How Long Had Alberto Contador Been Doping?

Posted By on Mon, Feb 6, 2012 at 9:48 AM

This morning's announcement that Alberto Contador has been stripped of his 2010 Tour de France title raises all kinds of questions, but the one most people are asking is: if the allegations are true, then how long had he been doping?

On hearing the news I immediately thought of this video, shot in 2009 and posted to YouTube, of Team Astana training for the Tour of California on Pine Flat Road outside of Geyserville. Pine Flat is the toughest, most aggressive road in Sonoma County, especially up at the top, where after 12 miles of unforgiving climbing the road gets very, very steep—that's where this video was filmed.

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Notice in the video how far ahead Contador is of everyone else—including teammates Levi Leipheimer and Lance Armstrong. Notice his easygoing smile. I've talked to cyclists about this video, and they liken Contador's ascent to an "escalator" or a "motorcycle." Watch:

Still not convinced? For an article about Sonoma County's toughest cycling roads, it was told to me that on a separate day of training, Team Astana started back up Pine Flat Road, went halfway up, changed their minds and turned around.

Like many, I used to be completely impressed by feats of physicality like this. I used to be proud to show people this video—Look! Contador killing it on Pine Flat, right in our backyard!

But after the test results and today's news, well, it's hard not to feel duped.

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Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Bondsless Baseball Back to Basics by the Bay

Posted By on Wed, Apr 9, 2008 at 4:00 AM

The Giants, post-Bonds: it’s like Candlestick again, they way it should be. People yelling “sit down, asshole!” to the guy standing in the way. Fans screaming on their feet when there’s two strikes on the opposing team. Total strangers arguing about the new guys in the infield. Old-timers in the stands yelling, “Bring back Candy Maldonado!” That kinda stuff.

Basically, people in San Francisco are watching baseball again.

They’re not buried in their laptops on the stadium’s free wi-fi, eating their bunless Atkins burgers and closing business deals on their phone. They’re not standing up to cheer every ninth batter and leaving if he doesn’t hit it out of the park. They’re not waiting in line at the Build-a-Bear store or to slide down the Coca-Cola slide. All those people are gone; the ones remaining are watching, attentively, one of the greatest sports in the world being played.

Even tonight, in just the second home game for the Giants, you could tell things are going back to basics at the once–paparazzi-prone ballpark. Sure, the smoking area has been banished even further away, and there’s now a dumbass “Fan Loft” that costs anywhere from $3,500 to $6,000 per game to rent, but for the most part a lot of the froo-froo element seems like it’s on its way out and passionate fans are on their way back in.

Take, for example, the Lincecum Girls at the game tonight: four of ‘em in sports bras and “T-I-M-!” drawn on their bellies in Section 127, going nuts every time Lincecum walked out to the mound or up to the plate. In the 7th inning stretch, they got up to go to the bathroom and found the womens’ line too long, so they strolled past the mens’ line, into the mens’ bathroom and crammed into a stall, taking turns peeing and leading the bewildered guys in a “Let’s Go Giants” chant.

Now that the home run donkey show is over and the unfortunate smugness of Bonds is out of the picture, more stuff like that can happen in San Francisco—it’s what we used to do best before we accepted an ill-fitting role of propriety. The old man I saw in the stands tonight, pulling from a brown-bag flask and scoring the game, is a perfect harbinger of the upcoming season: it’ll be dirtier and grittier, and people who don’t like baseball won’t have any reason to go to the ballpark.

I can’t say the Giants look too good this year, but I’m sure going to enjoy watching them a hell of a lot more these days. Bring on the Lincecum Girls. Bring on the brown bags and the yelling in the stands. Bring on the Dodgers fans. And hell, bring on the twin homers from Bengie Molina, who slammed a game-winning walk-off shot to right tonight and brought the 11th-inning faithful to a standing frenzy.

Bring on the baseball!

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