Saturday, June 25, 2016

Blame me, Maui Curse for Warriors' NBA Finals defeat

If you are still looking for a scapegoat for the Golden State Warriors’ loss in Game Seven of the NBA Finals, I’m your man.
Blame me. Blame me and what I call the Maui Curse.
Forget the NBA Conspiracy Theory, the agonizing ineffectiveness of Harrison Barnes or the clouded and maddening mystery surrounding Steph Curry’s inconsistent play or his wife’s rants on Twitter.
Blame it on Maui.
Back in 2002 I was in Maui for Game Six and Game Seven of the World Series with the San Francisco Giants on the verge of winning their first world championship in 48 years. I would have been covering those games in Anaheim in October had I not scheduled a family vacation in June to celebrate my youngest son’s successful brain surgery.
So I was in Maui with Snorkel Bob’s instead of being part of Dusty’s Destiny when the Giants lost to the Angels in classic Boston Red Sox fashion before the Red Sox made it fashionable to win World Series in wake of the Curse of the Bambino.
That didn’t dawn on me until the Warriors lost to the Cavs in Game Seven on June 19 when I was in Maui and the curse was worse than I could have imagined.
First of all, it was Father’s Day and I couldn’t spend it with my children. My sons were at Duke’s – named after the LeBron of Hawaii, Duke Kahanamoku -- watching the game with other Warriors fans. I was watching the game from bed in our rented condo in Honua Kai. I was ill, dehydrated and nauseous, apparently suffering from heat stroke brought on the day before by spending too much pool time in the hot afternoon sun with mai tais at my side.
Still, I was confident the Warriors would finish the game strong. It had been a historic season and hence it was their destiny to end it as champions of the world.
I got out of bed, put on some clothes and shoes and was ready to go down to Duke’s to celebrate the Dubs win with my kids. Bad move. I must have awakened the legend of Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of fire, lightning, wind, volcanoes, and late-game rallies. From the moment I changed into my clothes, the Warriors, the highest scoring team in NBA history, didn’t score a single point in the final 4:39.
Dejected and defeated, I slipped back into bed and listened to LeBron’s post-game gloat, using the pronoun “I” a hundred more times than “We” when describing the Cavaliers’ historic comeback. You know what they say, you can’t spell KIng without a Capital “I”.
The only category LeBron didn’t lead the NBA Finals in was humility. That’s a real good team that is surrounding him again.
If that wasn’t sickening enough for me, the site of LeBron wearing a blue-and-gold Ultimate Warrior T-shirt back to Cleveland was puke worthy. I know this series was personal for King James, but don’t repeatedly tell everyone you are “true to the game” and boast about always “taking the high road” then pull off a low-blow stunt like that.
C’mon, LeBron?  You’re better than that. That’s what Court Jesters do, not KIngs.
Yes, I cursed him and I cursed the Maui Curse, which was engulfing me like the lines of thrill-seeking tourists in Lahaina and the streams of mindless joggers on the Kaanapali Beach Walk to Whaler’s Village.
I sought refuge and solitude to somehow rid myself of the Curse. I decided to drive my rental Jeep down the Road to Hana to the Seven Sacred Pools. My game plan was to pray to the Gods to remove the Maui Curse and hopefully replenish my luck.
I drove 43 miles through 617 curves, 56 one-lane bridges, and numerous examples of people parking illegally before descending upon the Seven Sacred Pools to discover that the Seven Sacred Pools are no more. They have been renamed Pools of Ohe’o (Pools of Ohio?) inside Haleakala National Park. As one local told us after we mistakenly passed them, “the Seven Sacred Pools no longer exist. The white man has taken them over.”
Again I cursed, but the Maui Curse followed me all the way on vacation. From breakfast at Castaway Café to dinner at Merriman’s in Kapalua. I could not escape it and United Airlines, proprietor of the Friendly Skies, did not help.
I arrived at the airport to go home at 10:30 a.m. on June 24. My flight, which was inbound from San Francisco, was delayed by 90 minutes. I was assured there would be a quick turnaround. We were told to get ready to board the plane at 2 p.m. but the crew was late. The crew arrived 20 minutes later but stayed on the plane and left after 10 minutes when it was discovered there was an equipment problem and a part was being located another island. We were assured we would be leaving in about a half an hour.
Two hours later we were told the part had to be flown in from the mainland and our flight was ultimately cancelled. United gave us tons of hollow apologizes and a $10 food voucher to spend in an airport that sells no dinner for less than $10.
I cursed like I have never cursed before. From Day One of vacation, Maui was not kind and welcoming of my best intensions and the Golden State Warriors’ best-laid plans.
Moral of story? Next time a Bay Area sports team is on the brink of winning a world championship while I am on vacation, I will be in Kauai.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Panda is a no-show at AT&T Park as Red Sox, Giants fans unite

When the Major League Baseball schedule came out this year, this was the night – June 7 – that Giants and Red Sox fans were to unite for a common cause at AT&T Park.
Just call it Kung Fu Pandafuss. Pablo Sandoval was going to the object of their ire.
Orange and black-clad home fans and red-and-blue fans of the enemy were going to stand together as one and – when Pablo was introduced – they were going to boo in unison. Giants fans were going to boo the Panda for leaving San Francisco and dissing the Giants on the way out and Red Sox fans were going to boo him for, well, not even getting close to producing Panda-like numbers in Boston where Sam Malone and the guys down at Cheers expect more beer for their buck. To them, Pablo is as trustworthy as Gary from Gary’s Olde Towne Tavern.
Of course, Pablo wasn’t here. He is in Florida rehabbing from season-ending right shoulder surgery. He was a no-show at AT&T Park. Of course, cynical Red Sox fans would say he’s been a no-show at Fenway Park ever since he signed a fat five-year, $95 million contract and got fatter.
In 129 career games with the Red Sox, Panda has only 36 extra base hits in 476 at bats. His Boston batting average is .242 – 52 points less than his career batting average with the Giants – and there are kids in the whack-a-mole gopher at the arcade who have a better slugging percentage (.361) than him with a bat in their hands.
The Red Sox look foolish for spending that much money for such little production and so many bellyaches. The Giants look foolish as well as they reportedly offered the Panda as much if not more to have him stay in San Francisco. The difference now is the Red Sox have buyer’s remorse worse than the students enrolled at Trump University.
Perhaps the Panda will come back healthy next season, lighter and more motivated to prove critics wrong. He’s owed roughly $57 million on his contract, but he’s not yet turned 30 and the Red Sox could always use him as a replacement at Designated Hitter for the retired David Ortiz.
Or Pablo could continue on the Panda Expressway and eat his way out of the game and into prime time as The Biggest Loser.
As it turns out, Red Sox and Giants fans weren’t in much of a booing mood tonight. The Bosox have been in or around first place for weeks and the Giants are so enamored with their team that when former much-hated L.A. Dodger manager Tommy Lasorda was introduced on the field prior to the game there was nary a peep.
In fact, the loudest cheers were for Big Papi. The Giants honored Ortiz before the game by giving him a San Francisco cable car bell. Had Pablo been back in the town, the Giants may have given him a cow bell.