Monday, June 28, 2010

It was a scorcher at "The Wagon"

Every stadium, arena, field, etc. etc. worth its weight in...well...anything, needs it's very own nickname. University of New Mexico has "The Pit"...Urban Meyer and Company have "The Swamp", LSU has "Death Valley" on and so forth.  With this in mind, those of us in Press Row at this past Sunday's FC Gold Pride vs. Sky Blue FC match (ok...ok... maybe it was just myself and Giovanni Albanese Jr. from decided the appropriate nickname for the FC Gold Pride's Pioneer Stadium would be...drum roll please..."The Wagon"!  Get it...Pioneers....coming over in Wagons...well, it seemed like a good idea at the time!

Ok, onto the important stuff...the Gold Pride suffered their first home defeat, 2-0 to Sky Blue FC (from New York/New Jersey, and they had on orange uniforms...yep, even the Spot was a bit confused!) in what was a lethargic (and HOT!) first half.  Lucky for those of  us in the  nice Air Conditioned Press Box...and those sticking through the heat in the stands, things picked up in the 2nd half to create an up and down game that kept things lively.  Here are the match's post game interviews...and no Spot fans...there were no interviews in Portuguese this time! (a big shout out to Giovanni who is a fellow contributor in the Q&A sessions...and also owes me a picture of those Dunkin' Donuts hasbrowns he keeps raving about!):

Sky Blue FC Coach Pauliina Miettinen

FC Gold Pride Coach Albertin Montoya

Sky Blue FC Goalkeeper (and member of the English Women's National Team) Karen Bardsley

Sky Blue FC's Christine Rampone

FC Gold Pride's Rachel Buehler

One final note....Sky Blue's Karen Bardsley has both the Notorious B.I.G AND Al Green in her IPod...tell the Spot that isn't as close to perfection as you can get!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Where will YOU be watching?....

It's almost here Spot fans...time for Team USA to take on the Black Stars of Ghana in the World Cup's version of the "Sweet 16" (game is a on 1 day at a time! ....still need an idea for where to watch the game with your fellow Americans (and soccer lovers in general?)....well, here are a few suggestions...much thanks to "Go USA Bid", the official website of the U.S. bid to bring the World Cup back to the United States...for providing the locations...

Stockton- 856 Restaurant and Lounge, 856 w. Ben Holt in the Lincoln Shopping Center, corner of Ben Holt and Pacific.  This watch party is being put on by the California Cougars of the PASL and the Stockton Stars FC.  Not only do you get to watch the game with a great group of Stocktonians...but there are games, prizes...and yes, even a bounce house!...enough said!  Doors open at 10:30am

Modesto- Uno Chicago Grill, 1533 Oakdale Rd., Modesto  CA...Party starts at 11am...15 LCD TVs and $2 dollar beers on tap...$2 bucks huh?...better hope things don't get TOO rowdy!!

Modesto- P Wexford's Pub, 3313 McHenry, Modesto  CA...Kudos to P Wexford's for being open early for the U.S./Algeria match...looking to get a great crowd like the last ones I just mentioned!

Well there ya go Spot fans!  If ya need to get out...there are some of your choices....or you can just enjoy the game in the comfort of your own home...either way, lets be sure to cheer on our boys!! as Larry the Cable guy would say..."get're done!! Team USA!!!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Why Soccer Represents America...

Well Spot fans...we know two things, a) unless you live under a rock, you know that the U.S. Men's National Team pulled off a dramatic, with a Capital D, win, today to advance to the round of 16 in the World Cup, where they'll play Ghana on Saturday (11am our time) and b) the Spot loves his soccer.  Yes, it's a great day to be both an American AND a soccer fan...but then again, every day is a great day to be an American and a fan of the footy...why?  Because soccer represents all that America is about...

You can see it in our Men's National Team...11 men on the field, from different parts of the country all with different backgrounds.  You have today's hero, Landon Donovan, from the Suburbs of sun splashed Southern California.  Goal Keeper Tim Howard, arguably one of the best Goalies in the world, a Jersey guy who has turned his Tourette's Syndrome from a handicap to an advantage...and you have Head Coach Bob Bradley...Princeton educated, but with a tough as nails, blue collar attitude and work ethic that has embodied America ever since Horace Greeley went west and Davey Crockett manned the Alamo.

Together, along with their teammates, they represent our nation in a country many of us have never been a sport a lot of people unfortunately haven't discovered the beauty of yet...and they make us proud.  They have displayed that uniquely American never say die attitude as they battled adversity and  injustices.  They have fought one of the powers of world soccer to a stand still (Will the English National Team please report to the woodshed...thank you) nearly a year after they humbeled yet another world power (yes, thats you Spain).  Yes, even if you aren't a soccer fan, this is a team you should get behind and support.  Because they ARE America.  A diverse, hard working collection of young men who will do whatever it takes to get the job done, and won't fold like cheap lawn chairs at the first sign of rough seas (yes France, that was directed at you).

But soccer doesn't just represent the present of America, but also it's future.  I have the pleasure of seeing the FC Gold Pride of Women's Professional Soccer on a regular basis, and see the hundreds of young women, the future of our country, as they see their new heros in action.  Heros that are positive role models.  Women  that someone like my niece and godchild Makenzie can look up to and say "ya know what, she's cool, I wanna be just like her" and be comfortable in the fact that the role model she's talking about isn't strutting around half-naked on the latest episode of an MTV reality show, but is displaying grit, determination and smarts out on the playing field.  It's about the mother's of those same young girls who are there to see their hero's, having a hero of their own in 37 year old Tiffeny Millbret...a woman who can make every soccer mom in America look in the mirror and say "if she can get out there and do it, why can't I get out there, kick the ball around with my daughter or play catch with her...or start my own buisness....or do something spectacular" and provide their son's and daughter's a role model they don't have to turn on the TV to follow.  And finally it's about showing the young men and women of America the determination, desire and dedication of a Christine Rampone of they Sky Blue FC (who coincidentally play FC Gold Pride this Sunday at 3pm at CSU East Bay...ok ok...Hayward!)...who, as the Wall Street Journal Chronicled, last season made it through 3 head coaches, one ruptured cyst, and one lost liter of blood to lead her team to a championship...and give birth to a daughter.

Yes...Soccer is America...and it's days like this, and teams like these, that make me proud to love my country...and the game of soccer!

Until next time...

Sunday, June 20, 2010

FC Gold Pride Break in Their New Home with a Win (aka...our very first podcast...kinda!)

The Spot had the pleasure of being at Re-Grand Opening of Pioneer Stadium last night as the FC Gold Pride defeated the Boston Breakers 1-0 on the strength of a Kelley O'Hara Goal in the 37th minute.

While the Spot's take on the Gold Pride's new digs will be coming shortly...The Spot also had the pleasure of getting in on a couple of post game interviews (much thanks to the always hospitable FC Gold Pride Staff...and keep it up with the veggie pizza in the press rocked!) and so, without further adieu...the Spot finally adds a podcast (kinda sorta) to his blog! ya go!

Post-Game takes from:

FC Gold Pride Coach Albertin Montoya

Boston Breakers Coach Tony DiCicco

4-time FIFA World Player of the year Marta (sorry everyone, this interview is all in Portuguese!)
FC Gold Pride Forward Kelley O'Hara

Saturday, June 19, 2010

it's Father's Day Weekend...get out and do something with your pops!!

It's Father's Day Weekend Spot fans....and instead of getting into some long solliloquy that might put everyone to sleep (calling Bob Costas...calling Bob Costas) the Spot is just gonna cut to the chase and give you all some last minute options of what you can do with dad this here ya go!

Saturday June 19th- 7pm- Stockton Ports vs. Visalia Rawhide- Stockton Ballpark- Is your dad both a baseball fan AND an Oakland Raider fan? (Yes, the Spot has given his bi-monthly acknowledgement of the Raider Nation)  If so, then head out to the Stockton Ballpark as the Stockton Ports take on the Visalia Rawhide at 7pm.  The Raider connection you ask?  WR Todd Watkins will be at the ballpark signing autographs.  I'm pretty sure if you mention how happy you are that Jamarcus Russell is gone he just might give you an extra autograph out of sheer jubilation!!

Saturday June 19th- 7pm- FC Gold Pride vs. Boston Breakers- Pioneer Stadium- CSU East Bay- Hayward- Does dear old Dad have World Cup Fever?  Need to get in his evening fix of the footy?  Then head over Hayward as the first place FC Gold Pride of Women's Professional Soccer take on the Boston Breakers at 7pm.  You'll also get to see the Gold Pride break in their brand new permenant home at CSU East Bay (ok ok ok....Hayward St., there I said it...after being corrected on such last nite!).  The Spot's prediction....Marta nexts a hat trick...and Kelly O'Hara stays looking super hot while dropping the dime on two of Marta's three goals!

Looking for where to take the family for brunch of Father's Day?....Here are the Spot's picks for excellent eats on father's day....

856- Lincoln Center- Stockton- Wanna get brunch in AND catch the day's World Cup games?  If so head over to 856 in Lincoln Center.  The food is great, the atmosphere is even better (Your's truly was there  last week for U.S./England) and your you're treating dad to a great time...where can you go wrong?!

AVE on the Mile- Miracle Mile (Pacific Ave.)- Stockton- Why hit the AVE for Father's Day brunch?  Two words...Bottomless Mimosas!...and I suggest trying the Creme Brule, it the best that the Spot's had yet (and I'm super picky when it comes to my Creme Brule!!)

Well Spot fans...enjoy your Father's Day...and until next time!....

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Pacific taking on one of the big boys of College Basketball....maybe....

Good afternoon Spot fans...looks like our Pacific Tigers are stiffening their non-conference hoops schedule...the Spot has it on good authority (ok, actually, an article from the Reno Gazette-Journal via our friends at that Pacific will be in this year's Pre-Season NIT.  They'll be playing in the UCLA bracket with the good money on Pacific playing Nevada in one game while UCLA plays Pepperdine in the other.  Chances are if Pacific can get past Nevada (and Nevada IS losing their best two players to the NBA and has an almost entirely new roster) that they'll be playing UCLA with the winner getting to go to the NIT Four Four in Madison Square Garden.  Could be an exciting time for Pacific Basketball this November...and not to leave the ladies out...word on the street has it that they'll have some pretty exciting news to officially announce soon also!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

We all fall toy soilders....

Well Spot fans...there only seems too be two things on people's minds this weekend in the world of sports: How England's goalkeeper can have hands of clay (or jelly, or any other unflattering adjective) and whats up with the big boys of college sports and conference realignment?  As for the's England, when DON"T they choke in the World Cup? (see Beckham, David)  As for the the second, well, to quote that one hit wonder from the 80's, Martika...."Step by step, heart to heart, left right left, we all fall toy soldiers"....and yes, the domino effect will be felt even here with our valley D-I schools.  How so you may ask the Spot? Well, let me explain....(and yes, you will be quizzed afterwards, so pay attention!)

Domino #1: Already happened...the Big 10 (+1) is now the Big 10 (+2) with the addition of Nebraska, and Pac-10 is now the Pac-11 with Colorado and the Mountain West Conference now has an even number at 10 by adding Boise St.

Domino #2: Will most likely happen this week...and it all hinges around the school everyone outside of Austin, Texas loves to hate, the Texas Longhorns.  Texas has three options:

  •  Accept the coming invite from the Pac-10 (err...11)...if this occurs, then Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State follow suit, giving the Pac-10 15 members.
  • Accept an expected invite from the SEC, in which case it would bring Oklahoma along with it to the SEC.
  • Stay where it is, keep the current 10 schools in the Big 12 together and keep it at a 10 team league.

As you'll notice, each of the three options leaves the Pac-10 needing one more team to even things out, bringing us closer to just how this all affects Pacific, Fresno State and UC without further adieu....

  • Domino #3: The Pac-10, needing another school to give it an even number, invites the University of Utah from the Mountain West, which puts the MWC back at 9 schools.  What the MWC does next depends on what, you guessed it, Texas does.... 

  • If Texas bolts to the Pac-10 and leaves Kansas, Kansas St. and Missouri Behind, the MWC could extend an invite to those three, giving it a 12 member league.
  •  If Texas stays in it's current conference, that leaves the MWC with the need to add one more school to make it 10 team league....and can we say HELLOOOOO FRESNO STATE.....

Domino #4: Fresno State bolts to the MWC.  If the MWC were to pick up just one more school from the WAC, the two obvious choices are Fresno State and the Univ. of Nevada.  In a battle between the two, Fresno State has the clear edge.  Football is driving realignment, and Fresno State's football pedigree brings more to the BCS table for the Mountain West than does Nevada's.  Plus, such a move allows the Mountain West to tap into a California TV market (lets face it, does anyone in San Diego pay attention to San Diego State?...NOOO...they're too busy either getting a tan or going over to party in tj....) which can only help with dollars and recruiting.  Plus the massive "Red Wave" fan army of Fresno can be mighty appealing to the local economies of Ft. Collins, San Diego, Las get the picture...all of which leads us to....

Domino #5: With Fresno State and Boise State gone, the WAC now needs to replace two football playing schools.  Sorry the Montana's and Northern Arizona's of the world, but you need more than 3 people in your TV market to make such a move.  The good money on who the WAC would go to for their two replacements would be on either UC-Davis, Sacramento State and Cal-Poly San Luis Obispo.  Of those three, UC-Davis would be the most obvious, as their inclusion gets the WAC into the Sacramento TV market and the athletic facilities at UC-Davis would be at the very least on par with those of other WAC Schools.  That leaves a choice between Sacramento State and Cal-Poly.  Now if I'm WAC commissioner Karl Benson, do you clog the Sacramento market with a school that while it has a pretty nice football stadium....has a high school quality basketball gym to play in, and gets very minimal fan support...or do you go with a school in Cal Poly that a) it's the Central Coast, who wouldn't want to take a trip out to the beach! b) has substantial more fan support than Sac State and c) would make you the only player in their TV market....yep...Cal Poly it is....and the conference realignment shuffle is complete (at least for those of us in California...) or is it?....

Domino #6:  Football may have started this realignment Armageddon, but Basketball will end it.  The West Coast Conference has established itself as one of the premier basketball conferences this side of the Mississippi, on par with the MWC for sure and even some years (like this past year) with the PAC-10 when it comes to berths to the Big Dance.  With the MWC poised to add perennial Final Four contenders Kansas and Kansas St. as well as NCAA tourney regular Missouri, the WCC will feel the need to keep up with the Joneses.  And just who would they add...well when looking for schools that fit their conference profile they need to look no further than California's Central Coast and our very own Central Valley.  One possible pick up would be the UCSB Gauchos...who would bring strength to the WCCSpanos Center on a nightly basis.  The WCC gets a very, very solid basketball program (5 post season appearances in the last 7 years) with access to the Sacramento TV market and with facilities that would actually rank ahead of most teams in the WCC (Spanos Center, Klein Family Field, Bill Simoni Softball Field...etc. etc.).  It's a perfect marriage...and one that Pacific has been wanting for a while now.  While the addition of Pacific and UCSB to the WCC wouldn't keep it on par with a MWC containing Kansas, Kansas St. and would help to keep it above the WACs, the Conference USAs and Missouri Valley Conferences of the world.

So there you have it...confused as I am?  You should be...because the Spot doesn't think even those who are driving the realignment bus know exactly what they're doing....and after all the dust settles it'll be anyone's guess as to what the college sports landscape will actually look

'Till next time...stay classy Central Valley!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

It's World Cup Time!...Think you can beat the Spot?

It's almost here people....thats right, the World Cup!  And since you're truly is the soccer fan that he is....the Spot figured it's time to throw down the gauntlet!  Thats right, join the Spot in his ESPN World Cup Bracket Pool and see if you can match his soccer an added bonus...first place overall wins a bag of fresh Starbucks who doesn't like that!....So join up and see if you can even come close to my picks...I dare ya'!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Big Night for Lodi's Elliiot Christian!!

As a former High School Basketball Coach, the Spot has a soft spot in his heart for teams teams he enjoyed coaching against way back when (ok the Spot just stopped the coaching gig after this past still get the picture!).  One of those teams he has a soft spot in his heart for happen to be Lodi's very own Jim Elliot Christian Eagles.  Always a class act both on and off the court (or, when playing at Elliot Christian, the carpet), the Spot always looked forward to seeing them on the schedule.

Well, last night happened to be a rather big night on the national radar for Elliot Christian.  Long known as a small school powerhouse when it comes to Softball (I've lost count of how many Section Title's they've won!) they have sent many a student-athlete on to continue their education...and playing careers, at four year colleges and universities.  One of those standout student-athletes, Kaila Schull, just happens to be the starting Catcher for the UCLA Bruins as they take on the University of Arizona Wildcats for the College World Series Championship.

Every championship needs a hero, and on Monday, Shull provided her share of championship heroics.  Helping UCLA to 6-5 extra innings victory over the Wildcats in game one of the Championship series, Shull came through big for her Bruins not once, but twice, on Monday Night.  Not only did she score the go ahead run for the Bruins in the 6th inning...after falling behind in the top of the 7th (and final regulation inning in College Softball), Shull then stroked a two out double with two outs in the bottom of the 7th to send the game to extra innings, and an eventual victory for her Bruins.  Shull's heroics not only helped make the game ESPN's game of the night, it earned Shull a highlight and shout out on every one's favorite...Sportscenter (DA-DA-DA...DA-DA-DA).

Congrats and good luck to Kaila Shull and her UCLA Bruins as they seek to close out their best of 3 series and win their 11th National Championship in Softball at 5pm on ESPN2.  With a win, who knows, maybe the whole town of Lodi will be doing the UCLA 8 Clap!

Friday, June 4, 2010

It's baaaack....time for more of the Spot's odd's and ends!

Yes Spot fans...after a couple of weeks pondering amongst other things, the creation of the cosmos, just who exactly will score for the United States in this month's World Cup and just why do Republicans always shoot themselves in the foot...the Spot is back with another edition of it's Odd's and to quote everyone's favorite rapper-turned-sit com producer..."It was a good day..."

Since it is World Cup time, lets start things off with a little soccer news:

Things seem to be going well for everyone's favorite Women's Professional Soccer team the FC Gold Pride.  Currently in first place, they also picked up U.S. National Team Midfielder Shannon Boxx in the fire sale that was the St. Louis Athletica (seriously guys, couldn't you of just paid your bills!).  With their newly refurbished home at CSU East Bay (Hayward to be exact) set to open on the 19th of this month, things are definitely looking good in Pride land.  For those of you looking for a good chuckle...check out why the Pride think you should vote Tiffeny  Milbrett and Rachel Buehler to the WPS All-Star game...

Stockton's very own California Cougars of the PASL (i.e indoor soccer) are keeping busy this off season.  Their first Cougars Soccer Camp of the Summer starts June 14th in Manteca and they'll be having an off-season "friendly" (as they call them in soccer) this Saturday at 8pm vs. the Estadio Azteca All-Stars in Livermore at Cabernet Indoor Sports (admission is free to all).  The Cougars Boosters are also keeping busy, with a yard sale....yes you heard the Spot right....a yard sale, this weekend in Manteca to help them out with their 2010-11 season's to thinking that part of the proceeds should go to purchasing umm..."adult beverages" for the booster club pre-post-or during Cougar Games!

Congratulations to former Pacific Tigers Point Guard Amy Van Hollebeke, who was recently hired to become an Assistant Coach for the Tiger Women's Basketball Program.  Rumor also has it that she is a fan of Vanilla Lattes from Starbucks...not that the Spot would have any knowledge on that matter...

Speaking of the Pacific Tigers...congrats to Coach Ed Sprauge and his squad for a great season where they broke the 30-win mark.  And just how did they end up the season?  Why with your's truly throwing some serious heat! That's right, the spot got to throw out the first pitch at last Friday's Pacific/UCSB game in celebration of Pacific and Barnes & Noble (yes, the guys who pay me for my day job) teaming up to promote summer reading.  Although the Spot threw a strike that brushed the right outside corner, there is no truth to the rumor that I'll now be going on Scholarship.

Ready for more baseball Spot fans?...With the end of the school year comes the start of the Pacific West Baseball League.  Whats the Pacific West Baseball League?  It's summer baseball for college players across the United States, and yes, its the same kind of ball that immortalized in the movie "Summer Catch" starring...well, it has Jessica Beil in it and that's all that matters!  For those of us here in the Valley, we have three entries in this year's PWBL: the defending champion Atwater Aviators, the Fresno Cardinals and new to the league this year, Lodi's California Glory.  Catch a game, it's some great local ball in your own back yard!

The Spot's Weekend Picks:

Looking to get out and about?  The Spot has a couple of here ya go!

Saturday, June 5th-National Learn to Row Day- Stockton- University of the Pacific Main Gym- 9am to 1pm: Row, row, row your's National Learn to Row day, and the Pacific Rowing Program is sponsoring a rowing class (which your's truly will be at bright and early!) for all those interested in getting out on the Delta and getting your row on!  If interested, just show up, and for a $50 fee you get a 30 day membership in the Pacific Rowing Club, a nifty t-shirt and 4 hours of instruction on Saturday.

Saturday, June 5th- FC Gold Pride vs. Washington Freedom- Women's Professional Soccer- Castro Valley High School Stadium- 7pm: Yes, its a chance to see new FC Gold Pride acquisition and U.S. National Team member Shannon Boxx in action for the first time, but we all know the real reason why this pick is an instant winner...two words, one name...Kelley O'Hara...need the Spot say more?  Not really!

Saturday, June 5th @ 7pm and Sunday June 6th @ 4pm- Atwater Aviators vs. California Seals- PWBL- Memorial Stadium, Atwater: if you're in the area, catch the defending League Champs as they open the season in Atwater.  Coming back for the Aviators is League MVP David Rohm, who is rumored to be a possible high pick in this year's MLB draft.

That's all for now Spot fans...'till next time...stay classy Central Valley...