Monthly Archives: January 2011

The Laundry Quandry

Laundry is a constant process when you have two little boys. There are days when the buzz of the dryer is the metronome by which my day is measured.

Gather. Sort. Wash. Dry. Fold. Wash. Dry. Fold. Wash. Dry. Fold. So on and so forth.

It’s almost enough to drive you nuts, or keep you endlessly busy — I’m not sure which.

It isn’t the loading or shifting from wash to dry that gets me. It’s the folding and putting away. So tedious, yet so necessary. It’s sort of like encasing valuables just to pull them out less than a week later. Actually, it’s exactly like that. Clothes are valuable. If they weren’t, would we take such care to clean them, over and over and over?

To me, the most deflating thought is that there is no finish line. No trophy for a job well done unless you like more piles of dirty clothing. And it isn’t so much a trophy, as it is the entry fee in the next tournament because there really is no laundry end-game. There will never be a laundry championship because the laundry regular season NEVER ends.

It’s just a self-perpetuating cycle.

Gather. Sort. Wash. Dry. Fold. Wash. Dry. Fold. Wash. Dry. Fold. Put away (sometimes properly). 

It never ends. It’s my laundry quandry.

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Letter To Tony Reagins

Mr. Tony Reagins —

Is this supposed to be the move that satiates Los Angeles Angels fans?

Your boss, Arte Moreno, has the money. You, Tony Reagins, need to be using it. But not on questionable acquisitions.

Was trading fan-favorite Mike Napoli for an aging (perhaps eroding) All-Star like Vernon Wells your best possible move?

Absolutely not. You could have brought back Vladimir Guerrero for a farewell tour, and at far less, but it was decided that taking on Wells’ monster contract was better than getting Vladdy to sign at a few million for just one season.

And now the team is cluttered with centerfielders, old and new. Wells will probably move to a corner. Torii Hunter already has. Does that mean that touted minor-leaguer Mike Trout gets his chance, or maybe speedster Peter Bourjos? That’s pretty awkward.

And while I’m at awkward… when will the team ever develop a third baseman worth two bits? I’m exhausted by Brandon Wood. Maicer Izturis and/or Alberto Callaspo do not qualify as a strength at the hot corner.

Also, Scott Kazmir is a dog. He gets one more season from me. If I don’t see legitimate improvement by May, I’ll refuse to watch or attend any game in which he starts. And don’t bother moving him to the bullpen. Give him his outright release.

This team is blessed with a stout manager who could be a hall-of-fame manager if the people putting his team together could figure out some things rather than just spending cash and making moves all willy-nilly.

You’re the General Manager, Mr. Reagins. I hope you’ll see that some of these issues can be resolved.

Thanks $84 million,
Obviously Stuck With Vernon Wells Now

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U.S. Referee Connection!

Referees from all over Southern California, and the world, unite!

Francisco Davila, founder of U.S. Referee Connection, wants soccer referees of all ability levels to know that he is in their corner, or touchline, or 18-yard box.

He created a website, USRefereeConnection.com, after spending long nights considering how he could help referees get better in realtime, rather than just taking classes in FIFA’s Laws booklet. (Although that’s important, too.)

“It’s a referee community,” said Davila, a United States Soccer Federation referee. “We want this community to grow up. (USRefereeConnection.com) has many members, and more referee friends join us from outside the U.S. now. We’ve had people visit out site from Japan, Greece, Ireland, Central America and South America. We expect to just grow more and more.”

Davila’s non-profit gathered 59 referees (not 60?) and attended the international friendly between the United States and Chile at the Home Depot Center in Carson on Saturday night, Jan. 22, 2010.

He purchased tickets for this inaugural event and even arrainged a dinner with the match referees at a local eatery. He said he’s doing this — not because he loves soccer — but because he loves being a soccer referee.

“I love being a referee. I like to make new friends. I thought this event would be one way to bring referees together. Get to know each other. Have more friends, and enjoy the game together. Friendship, and appreciation for what we do,” Davila said.

It may sound pollyannish but Davila is sincere. He’s a soccer referee in as many as four levels, from AYSO to high school, club and adult league. He knows the game and why it needs referees. His interest is in creating quality referees.

And I’m on board. I aspire to be at least at USSF referee and have taken steps toward attaining that goal. Anything I can learn from more experienced referees is of interest to me. It has to be.

Seriously, why wouldn’t I be a part of something like this?

I met another referee, Denny Liles, on Saturday night. He’s the Referee Adminstrator for a local AYSO region and a relatively new friend of Davila’s. Turns out, they’re both soccer referees whose children play in the same AYSO region. Who would’ve thought they’d be fast friends?

“Francisco’s a friend of mine. I support him whole-heartedly in what he’s doing,” said Liles. “I think (U.S. Referee Connection) can be very beneficial. There’s a lot of us out there doing youth level, doing recreational level. You know, we’ll never get to FIFA level, but it’s good to get together to talk and share experience and make us all better.”

In short, Davila has created a group that is dedicated to improving soccer referees of all levels by attending, in convert, top-flight North American soccer matches and speaking to the match referees (when it can be coordinated) afterward. 

It’s genius. And like no other opportunity on (perhaps) Planet Earth.

Referees from all over Southern California, and the world, unite!

My future referee *fingers crossed* looks on as the United States Men's National Soccer Team played to level terms, 1-1, vs. Chile on Saturday night at the HDC.

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Looking At Tonight’s Match

This will be the first time I’ve ever watched the United States Men’s National Soccer Team live, and I’m reading anything and everything ahead of tonight’s match vs. Chile at the Home Depot Center.

There’s this one from Noah Davis at mlssoccer.com, is more of a contemporary preview. Davis is forthright when he writes, “This is a match about both countries’ youth movements.” He summarizes both the U.S. and Chile, projects starting XIs for both sides and the picks a winner.

This one from Matthew Doyle, also at mlssoccer.com, praises Bradley for “an admirable willingness to try different tactics, formations and talent in an effort to create a winning blend.” Doyle’s column go on to detail many of the new faces to this team, none of which were at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

ESPN.com’s Jeff Carisle writes more of a tradition preview here, and tries “to read the tea leaves and divine which players will make the jump into the full team.” He projects as many as five roster spots are up for grabs heading into next summer’s Gold Cup.

Sport Illustrated’s Steve Davis gives the match a back-handed compliment here, where he is very clear in describing the match as one played by “domestically based hopefuls from the fringe of the first-team pool.” After all, Davis writes, “this camp and these matches are easy to overlook.” Bleh. Almost not worth the time.

There’s an excellent slide show at bleacherreport.com, co-written by Matt Bick and Sean Monaghan. It’s sort of a running conversation. It’s halfway interesting.

Finally, the most complete preview of the match can be found at goal.com. Thorough and balanced, it includes statistics and a poll.

So yeah. I’m well read ahead of tonight’s match. You should be too, then look for me waiving from the nosebleeds (7 p.m. PST, Telefutura, ESPN3.com).

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Taking The Palm Springs Tram

I’ve never had an explicit fear of heights, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t something truly terrifying about being suspended — from high-tension cables — thousands of feet above the ground.

Anyway, we went to Palm Springs on Monday to take the tram from the foothills of Mt. San Jacinto to nearly its summit. And it only took about seven minutes of relative hell.

Riding up the tram to the first tower was no big deal, amateur theme park fare. Heading to the second, third and fourth towers, though, were like nothing I’ve ever experienced outside of an airplane.

Propelled upward at greater than 45 degrees at about 8 mph, the inertia made your body seem slow and heavy. This was neither good nor bad because I could not move very much. There must have been 60-70 passengers (including a group of teenage girls) in our carriage. Riding through the towers was no fun either, though it probably could have been — the tram would rock back and forth a great deal when it would reach each tower, as the cable was flattened through the tower’s scaffold — but each time we’d reach a tower the girls would shriek like the just saw a Jonas Bros., and all because the inertia in the cart would shift. Every time. Their heavy breathing made the cramped cart practically suffocating. I wanted to strangle them. I’m not a violent man… but I thought about it.

Ahhh.

From Palm Springs Mountain Tram Base Camp one cannot even see its Mountain Camp, but it’s there…. 8,127 feet above sea level. Tucked behind massive jagged, jutting rocks, Mountain Camp is but a gateway to a valley atop the mountain. And in mid-January, it’s a snowy meadow rife with sled-yielding tourists from seemingly every corner of the world.

We ventured down to the snow-y playground and threw some snowballs and made a miniature snowman. It was the highlight of what was a tenuous excursion.

The base camp is sort of like what I imagine an over-extended rural airport terminal as — maps in glass cases, taxidermied goats, disgruntled staff. There was one row of chairs against a four-foot partition around the room, and the people who sit alternate over and over with the people in line to enter the tarmac. It was a not-so-well oiled machine.

The mountain camp is not much different looking, but it sure was different smelling. The over-run toilets had backed up an overworked sewage system, which made the camp’s idyllic patio reek like a torment of human waste and decay. It was enough to keep me from eating any of the over-priced food in their restaurant or even consider a vending machine.

It was a fun experience but not one I’d want to make every day, or even every year. As a matter of fact… I’m good.

The best thing about the whole day was making this little guy. Then we threw snowballs at him until he was little more than a puddle. His life was very brief.

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Referee’ing A Pony Express

It was like the biggest guys were making up the rules as they went along. In that way, the match I refereed at the 30th annual AYSO Corona/Norco Pony Express tournament on Saturday resembled the Wild West.

Already up 3-1, the coaches of the Red Team (two very large men) argued that the Blue Team could not play a goalkeeper for more than two quarters — or one half — of any one match. The started using words like “forfeit” and “filing a complaint.”

I told them, in essence, “Slow down, pard’ner. We don’t want no trouble here.”

The two very large men insisted and so I went to talk to the coach of the Blue Team. Thinking about what I was going to say to him on the jog over, I settled on, “Dude, their talking forfeit if you don’t pull your keeper. What do you want to do?” (Not very Western-sounding, I know.)

He wasn’t ready for an argument on top of a whooping. He started to rattle off something about the injustice of it all but he eventually relented, pulled his keeper for a field player, and promptly allowed another goal.

The very large men had won. The Red Team had taken Tombstone, err the soccer match.

The Blue Team was bitter. Clearly outgunned (they lost 4-1), the coach had been insulted by having replace his keeper on the way to a being run out-of-town. He wanted to argue with me about it some more but I told him, “I’m here to officiate soccer matches, not enforce arbitrary tournament rules.”

Even I know that Wild West sheriffs don’t last very long.

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Getting Harbaugh

So it took $5 million a season over five seasons but they did it. The San Francisco Forty-Niners are ready to embark on a new mission, with a new coach.

Jim Harbaugh, Stanford football coach and Bay Area native, has agreed to become the head coach of the team, effective immediately. I love, LOVE, this for several reasons.

— Harbaugh is a quarterback guru. He’s coming to a team with just about everything in place but a competant, consistant quarterback. He’ll make the position his top priority.

— Harbaugh is a traditionalist. He likes his teams to run the football and play smash-mouth defense, and will hire the coaches to get it done. 

— Harbaugh is indifferent with the media. He could take’em or  leave’em, and would much rather the focus be on the player than himself.

It’s also not a far stretch to say Harbaugh is almost everything former coach Mike Singletary was not — offensive, direct and nonconfrontational. The team clearly wanted to go in a vastly different direction.

So it took $5 million a season over five seas0ns. The change alone will be worth every penny.

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