Thursday, October 02, 2014

FIELD OF DREAMS








Who said,  “It’s so beautiful here.  It’s like a dream.  Can I ask you something?  Is this heaven?”

You’re right:  It was the ghost of Ray Kinsella talking to his son, John, as they walked on a baseball field which had been carved from an Iowa cornfield in the tear jerker, “Field of Dreams.”

As perfect as the scene was, John gives a slightly incorrect answer. “No.  This is Iowa.”

The correct answer is, “No.  This is Cal.”  At least it was last Saturday.

Yes.  Heaven is Cal on a fall Saturday afternoon for a 1:00 kickoff.  (Hell is “Berkeley”—but I digress).

Son John then asks his angelic father, “Is there a heaven?” 

Dad replies, “Oh yeah.  It’s where dreams come true.”

Dreams came true Saturday afternoon in Strawberry Canyon against the Colorado Buffalos.

And anyone who tells you that a 59-56 win is just as fun at one am after a 7:30pm kickoff ought to attend more 12 step meetings.

For it’s not just the final score that defines a Cal Saturday.  If it were about points scored—then it’s just about football. There’d be no need to go through the pre-game routines that transform this from a simple game played on a gridiron, to a tribal rite with all the attendant ceremonies and rituals which make a scared rite both sacred, and right.

Professor Alan Dundees could explain it better than moi, but you know what I’m talking about even (if like Potter Stewart said about pornography) you can’t define it but know it when you see it.

Keats said it best, “Beauty is truth, truth beauty/that is all you know on earth and all ye need to know.” 

Call it beauty.  Call it truth.  Saturday was the real McCoy no matter how you slice it.

Couldn’t be happier for the kids. 

Couldn’t be happier for us.  We  come for the sun—the fun—the band (when they let them play) and the “vibe” that surrounds college football.  It’s unlike any other sporting event. 

The particular game is always secondary to the daylong experience.  We may drop by dorms, apartments, fraternities or sororities to drink stale beer and relive the days of yore.

The three “P’s”, prevarications, prognostications, and pontifications—are found in abundance).  It’s what we live for.

It’s such a thrill to know more than any coach ever thought of knowing.

Games past are replayed and “wouldda, couldda, shouldda’s are brought back up ad naseum.  Hey.  It’s how we roll.

Personally, we sit high atop section D with an amazing view of the Golden Gate and the Bay Area spread out before us.  On occasion we glance back at the game.

We are Luddites, sitting with Lair-ites—young Cal Alumni with their kids and babes in arms.

Like we did once, they bring those youngsters here weekly (unless it’s a 7pm kick off) and soak up the family atmosphere as they did with their mom’s and dad’s back in the day.

It is a tradition that just feels right.  (It is of interest that young Geoff Goff’s parents used to bring him to Cal on Saturday’s and, co-incidentally, sat in section D (or DD?) as well.

Family is what makes us LOYAL Golden Bears.  We share a bond.  And if only one thing comes out of the Academic Task Force’s Report to the Chancellor, let us hope that it makes kick off times student-and-alumni-friendly—and that they return to the 12:30 or 1pm kickoffs on Saturday afternoons—no matter what the cost regarding the Pac 12 TV contract.

Speaking of the Chancellor’s Report, a tall good lookin’ guy wrote about 10 days ago that it would be released last Friday—which it was.  “Anonymous” had written on the blog earlier (and I quote), “As usual, this blog is riddled with errors. The task force report isn’t even finished yet.”

Why my wife bothers to write in I’ll never know.

The report is worth reading.  Mostly it’s about raising standards for entrance and making the programs more student centric—and switching the emphasis from athlete, to student--all good things.  Though it seems innocuous, the most meaningful switch was that the Athletic director would report directly to the Chancellor and not to the Vice Chancellor of Administration and Finance, John Wilton.   Wilton is a rock star and extremely smart.  Make no mistake.  He’s been saving our bacon from an administration, which has been cooking it in extremis.

What this means is unclear, but it could mean that when a decision is brought forth (like playing Big Game in Levi Stadium because it generates more revenue) that the AD will do what’s best for the students and not necessarily what’s best for the bottom line.

This is both good and bad.  Who wouldn’t want to do what benefits students and athletes first?  We could all agree that that is the way a program should be run, until the real world interrupts and reminds us that women’s sports and “minor sports” all rely on Football and basketball to pay the bills. 

What might ideally be best might not be practical in the fiscal world we are forced to operate in.  Time will tell, but I for one salute the direction the Chancellor is taking.

THE REVENGE OF PENN STATE’S ATHLETIC DIRECTOR

Speaking of the plan to play our home Big Game in the 49er’s Stadium down in Santa Clara (which was mercifully stopped thanks to all the e-mails you sent to the Athletic Director and Chancellor), have you heard about the seating arrangements for the Oregon game which is being played down there Friday night Oct. 24th?

It works like this.  The University Club and Stadium folks are taking care of.   They will be in the “Sky Boxes” sections 236 to 242 (see stadium map) and have access to food and booze (it is unclear whether they will be paying or not, but one can guess).

However, the 49ers have retained all the other tickets for their season ticket holders, except seats “outside the 20’s” which have been reserved for Cal ESP holders.

This fellow’s comment on BearInsider sums it up perfectly:

You can add me to the list of unhappy ESP seat holders. My ESP seats in Memorial are on the 45 yard line, row 22. The tickets I received for the Oregon game at Levi's Stadiuim are in section C141, row 18; it looks like those seats are on the 20 yard line. No information was sent about access to any of the clubs at the stadium.

Not sure where the students will be, exactly, but you can bet that they won't be on the 50 like at Cal. And tickets that aren’t purchased by 49er fans can be purchased by Duck fans or Bear fans who are not ESP holders. (OK.  ESP holders can “upgrade” and sit inside the 20’s if they care to pay for it).

If you are wondering if that means there will be a huge sea of green and yellow on the 50 yard line—well, I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.  So much for home field advantage.

As this started over a year ago, One wonders why Sandy didn’t say to the Niners, “OK, you have 6 months to sell your season ticket holders whatever tickets they want.  After that, we get to give the unsold ones to our ESP folks.”  Or even sell them for a slight upgrade.

Anyway, the distain for the good people who have contributed to the stadium goes on and on.  Do you realize this would have happened had we played Big Game down there?

You, who thought you had tics on the 40 or 50 would be sitting down inside the 20 as though you were at SC? 

As my friend says,  “Cal never knows how to say ‘thank you’.”

Anyway, this week it’s up to visit the aged Bar Flies, formally known as the WSU Cougars.  The Cougs are only favored by 3—essentially the “Home field” advantage.

The Palouse is rarely kind to us—and Leach is Dykes mentor.  One thing we know is that there will be a lot of plays—and that Hal Mumme (Google him) will be watching.

Hope their major donors don’t find themselves shivering in the end zone.

Go Bears,
Jeffrey Earl Warren ‘70