Getting A Case of Hockey Fever
May 5, 2014

This is prime time for a baseball fan. The season is underway, school is almost out, batting averages aren't quite going up and down a hundred points with each swing anymore, and the team with the best record in the game doesn't change everyday. The Dodgers, in particular, are fascinating. The bullpen is horrible, and the starters keep getting hurt, but Dee Gordon gets five hits. Yasiel Puig raises his average 60 points in about a week, but then crashes into a wall. The Brewers are good, the Cardinals are struggling. The Braves were hot, but now they've crashed. With all of this going on, why all of a sudden am I watching hockey?

I did see a couple of those outdoor games on TV during the regular season, but other than that, I hadn't watched any hockey at all. My boss is a big New York Rangers fan, so I was up to date on who was good and who wasn't. When the playoffs began, the Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks matched up in the first round. I'm a lifelong Kings fan (way before they got Wayne Gretzky, so that counts for a lot), but the Sharks have been good for a few years here, and I catch a few of their games here and there. I wasn't paying too much attention, but whichever team won that series, I would root for to win the Stanley Cup.

The Sharks had the better regular season record, and home ice advantage, and quickly took a 3-0 series lead. I saw a little bit of the first few games, but it seemed like every time I turned the game on, the Sharks scored, so I decided not to watch for a bit. The Kings rallied to tie the series 3-3, and then became just the fourth team in NHL history to win a series after being dowm 0-3. Did I watch that game seven? Yoooou betcha!

Not only did the Kings join hockey history with that win, they are now facing the Anaheim Ducks in the second round. This is the 20th season of big league hockey in Orange County, but the first time the Ducks and Kings have met in the post season. I may be a transplanted southern Californian, but I'm all in on this one. Game one was Saturday. I taped it, but watched the first two periods in a slight tape delay, and stayed up til 2am watching the third period and overtime. Kings won 3-2. Tonight, I watched the first period, but listen to periods two and three on the radio (because I was taping Jack Bauer's return to 24). Kings won 3-1.

It's not considered jumping on a bandwagon if you rooted for a team all your life, is it? I mean I had to ask my boss when the Kings got Marian Gaborik, but I still know guys like Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty, and Jonathan Quick. It's still baseball season, but I'll gladly take a time out for Kings hockey. Game three is Thursday night. Go Kings!

Other playoffs: I haven't watched one bounce of basketball, but they say the first round of the NBA playoffs this year is the best it's been in ages. There were five game sevens. By the way, Donald Sterling's Los Angeles Clippers (technically, but it's okay to root for them) defeated Oklahoma City tonight in Game One of the second round. Didn't see the game, just the score.

Water-logged: After 3˝ innings, tonight's Dodgers-Nationals game was delayed because of rain for over three hours, but resumed at 11:45pm Eastern Time. What a complete disservice to the fans to play this game. The last trains in the area had left 20 minutes earlier, and there was virtually no one in the ball park when the game resumed. If this was the final game of the series, it would be completely understandable to do everything possible to get the game in, but this was the first game of the series, and a Tuesday doubleheader would have made much more sense. It went quickly, though. The game ended around 1:20am. The rain delay (3:17) was actually longer than the game itself (2:59). The Nats won 4-0.

Pull up a chair, and have a beer: For decades, Dodger fans have been used to Vin Scully telling us how great Farmer John bacon, ham, sausage, wieners, and luncheon meats are (the eastern most in quality, and the western most in flavor). He also told us to go with the spirit, the Spirit of 76. We knew it. We liked it. In the last couple of years, he's done radio spots for Mercedes Benz. You know he got a free car out of the deal, but Mercedes is a classy car, and Scully is a classy guy, so what the heck. But now he's doing Budweiser ads. They are Dodger related, but it's weird. It's even a little disconcerting to have the most revered broadcaster of all time telling me to pop open a Bud.

Local Cron-nection: He didn't play for the Gold Sox, but it's still something Marysville can be proud of. In 2009, C.J. Cron played against the Gold Sox for the San Luis Obispo Blues. Saturday night, he started at first base for the Los Angeles Angels, and picked up three hits—the fourth Angel in history with a three-hit Major League debut, and the first since Kendrys Morales. Five Gold Sox have made it to the big leagues (chronologically Dallas Braden, Tommy Everidge, Anthony Bass, Curtis Partch, and Max Stassi), and Cron becomes the eighth opponent (alphabetically Doug Fister, Kevin Frandsen, Matt Garza, David Hernandez, Kris Negron, Bud Norris, and Josh Roenicke, plus Stanford baseball and football player Toby Gerhart, who is in the NFL). Cron was 6-for-15 (.400) in three games against the Gold Sox.

Yuba City, California Chrome: I thought I figured out the best way to watch the Kentucky Derby, and I did, except I missed one big story line. I taped the Derby and was out running errands. I came home, fast-forwarded to the singing of My Old Kentucky Home, watched that, moved forward to the horses being loaded into the gate, picked a horse (California Chrome because of the name), watched the race, California Chrome won, watched everyone go nuts, saw the on-horseback interview with the winning jockey, and that was it. Boom. Done. The storyline that I missed, though, was one of the co-owners of the horse, Perry Martin and his wife Denise, live in Yuba City. I might have sifted through more of the hours of pre-race coverage had I known.

View All Commentaries