Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Playing a Bit of Catch-Up

Since the Mode show last week, things have been a blur since we got back, as once girl and I returned, we had plenty to do before heading to Spokane to hang with my family for the weekend. I try to get up there every once in a while to see my aunt and uncle, and my dad will usually come up as well. There is a classic car show during mid-August, and since my uncle and dad are huge car guys, it's a great time to meet up with them, spend some quality time as a family, and appreciate some really nice classic cars.
The only regret for the weekend was the fact my sister and her husband had to cancel coming up at the last minute due to some health related concerns. I do understand why they couldn't come, but at the same time, it is disappointing not to have everyone there. That didn't change the trip being a load of fun, though, as we ate lots of food, drank a bit, I played a bit of soccer to prepare for the upcoming TAFC season we watched some Timbers, and caught up on some movies. It was exactly the weekend that I wanted, pretty low key, but great to see people I don't get to see much. I hadn't seen them since my wedding, so it was great to play catchup.
I also got to run around Spokane and check out some old haunts of mine, around Gonzaga U and the downtown part of Spokane, and things have changed quite a bit since my days of attending college up there. The athletic facilities have completely changed the complexion of the campus, and it's impressive to see what they've been able to do for a relatively small college in the Northwest. I have a lot of great memories around there, and while I didn't get to see everyone up there as I wanted, it was still worth it. Plus, the classic car show on Saturday was impressive, as there was more cars than in previous years, and it's amazing to see how much effort people put into making these look so good. It's also great to have something that my dad loves and I can relate to, because my passion of soccer is something that admittedly a lot of folks don't understand as much.
We also got to watch the Timbers - Rochester game on Saturday night, and for one game to match with some novice fans, it was an impressive show to watch. The Timbers won for the first time ever in Rochester, and really played well in netting 4 goals in a rather impressive show of skill. My dad was very impressed, and we enjoyed some barbeque while the second half was going on. I think he was happy to see something that I love quite a bit up close, and we could teach him a few things about the team, league, and other things. Can't beat good sports with good food, and the Timbers get number 22 in their unbeaten streak. Plus, we got the picture up on the big screen from girl's laptop, which I was impressed that we remembered how to do it.
While all of this was going on, there was plenty of things happening in the world of sports. I've been concerned about the long term health of the United Soccer League, and apparently I'm not the only one. The league is for sale, as Umbro has put their share up for bids, after their parent company, Nike, wasn't interested in owning a sports league. MLS has at least kicked the tires a bit, and why not? Seattle and Toronto were former USL First Division cities that had moderate success at the gate, while Miami joined the USL after their MLS team folded, and Tampa joins USL in 2010 after their MLS team was also contracted. Salt Lake did have a lower division USL team, and San Francisco had a USL First Division team before they folded once San Jose returned to MLS. The leagues intersect quite a bit, and it would make sense to set up a relationship between the leagues, be it a major - minor league affiliation setup like baseball or more of a higher - lower level allowing players to progress within the system.
Grass should be the surface at the new PGE Park, according to the Oregon Economics Blog. I've played on both surfaces myself, and they are a vast difference in how they react. Turf has a bit more bounce, and it's more forgiving with touch passes for players like myself with a questionable touch, but players hate to slide on it. Grass is definitely softer and easier to slide on, but it does make stadium sharing and teams that play slightly different sports a tougher thing to deal with. But it is easier to have a touch on grass, although weather wise, grass certainly has more issues with the elements, like strong rain or snow, unlike turf. I think this is an important decision to make, but let's be honest, Oregon is the turf capital of the world. If we can't make natural grass work here, we're just not trying hard enough.
And finally, the big push to bring triple AAA baseball to Beaverton is picking up a lot of speed. They've created a web site for the effort, talking about the plan and the way that baseball can come there. It's good to see a lot of groups, like little league baseball, the Oregon Sports Authority, and others step up and provide support to the baseball effort, something that had been lacking with previous efforts to keep the team in Portland proper. The Oregon Sports Authority has been involved with initial efforts to bring MLB to Portland, and were involved with the MLS efforts, and so to see them throw their hand into the plan is a good sign. They had a rally in Beaverton today, and OSA's chief executive, Drew Mahalic, wrote an editorial today saying Beaverton was the right choice for the Beavers for their future. As much as I love having baseball in Portland, I believe that this is the next best thing, keeping the team local and in a location that is easy to get to for those of us that don't live out that way.
I can't believe a city this big couldn't figure out a way to keep the baseball team in town, but the power brokers in town have really pushed baseball off their radar, and after the change of plans to remove the Memorial Coliseum from the baseball plan, all momentum to keep the Beavers in town was lost. I didn't think Lents was a bad second choice, but the residents felt different, and they balked at the financial plan, which quite frankly, I don't blame them too much. Granted, I don't think most of them truly understood what baseball could have done for the area, and they are probably still going to be waiting for years to see what they will end up using their urban renewal dollars on. But for a city this large, it's frustrating to see Portland roll over and just let this happen without a fight. Then again, the city that works only works if you can get the powers that be working for you, and that wasn't going to happen anytime soon. I hope that this plan works in Beaverton, because the city and this region deserve professional baseball to remain.
Our summer finishes with a nice vacation, as girl and I will be heading to Vegas on Thursday for our last summer hurrah. It will be nice to get some sun, take in a show or two, spend some time by the pool, and just relax from the summer. I'll have to remember to bet red to get ahead, or is it black, that won't set you back?

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