Week of October 18, 2019


How the 1989 Earthquake Made the Bay Area Safer

30 years ago this week, at 5:04pm, the Lome Prieta earthquake struck, just minutes before the start of the Game 3 of the World Series at Candlestick Park. 

In the stadium that day were an unusually large number of structural engineers: one of them had a buddy with a ticket hookup, and so a bunch of the engineers at Degenkolb Engineers were there, including in the upper deck as it shook and swayed hundreds of feet off the ground, as told by Evan Reis, one of those engineers:

“In my career, there have been a lot of earthquakes in the larger Bay Area, and that was certainly the most intense,” Reis said. “Being cantilevered out in the upper deck of the stadium — it amplified everything. If I had been on the ground, that would’ve been one thing. But we were leaning out and bouncing up and down. That was unique.”

The next day, the engineers at Degenkolb’s office were buzzing. What if the earthquake had lasted another 30 seconds? A minute? What if it had originated closer to the ballpark?

“Those upper decks could’ve easily collapsed,” Reis said. “If it had been a repeat of the 1906 earthquake, things would’ve been a whole lot different.”

Experiencing the earthquake, and seeing first hand the destruction it wrought, confirmed for the young engineer that he had chosen the right profession:

“I had only been working for one year when that happened,” Reis said. “It really showed me, ‘OK, what I’m going to be doing for the rest of my career is going to make an impact. I’m going to design buildings that don’t do this. Buildings that are going to be safe.’”

In 2016, Reis founded the U.S. Resiliency Council — a non-profit dedicated to establishing and implementing rating systems that evaluate a building’s performance through an earthquake, and how it can be improved. The USRC has since developed rating systems to evaluate building resistance against other natural disasters as well.

And Reis says that it all starts with Loma Prieta.

“You spend all this time studying earthquakes in school, but they’re fairly rare,” Reis said. “Engineers can go their entire careers designing for earthquakes and never actually ever experience one.

“To see what they can do, and have physically been in a stadium that could’ve collapsed because of an earthquake, cemented this idea that I can really make a difference doing what I’m doing. And that has not ever left.”

Jim Malley, another engineer in attendance on October 17, 1989, was asked years later to peer review another stadium being built – the Giants’ soon-to-be built Pacific Bell Park – now Oracle Park. Just a few years after it opened, a 5.3 earthquake struck during a game. The stadium was engineered so well the players didn’t even realize there had been an earthquake. 

What a cool story. And for a great oral history of that crazy World Series, check out this old oral history from Grantland, published back in 2013. -TOB

Source: Meet the 1989 Earthquake World Series Attendees Who are Making San Francisco Safer, 30 Years Later”, Alex Coffey, The Athletic (10/17/2019)


Imagine Being So Dumb You Criticize an Athlete for Missing a Game to Be With His Wife and Newborn Child

Yes, it’s the year 2019, and we are still living amongst cavemen who criticize dads who choose to be with their partner and newborn child instead instead of going to work. Sigh.

This time it was Nationals’ pitcher Daniel Hudson who faced criticism from some vile corners of society. Hudson’s wife went into labor, and so Hudson left the team and missed Game 1 to be with his wife and baby. One prominent critic was this dumbass:

Unfortunately, that dumbass is former Miami Marlins President David Samson. Somehow, 344 people saw that tweet and said to themselves, “Yes, I agree, and would like to publicly state my support.”

Luckily, though, most voices drowned out Hudson’s critics. My favorite was his teammate, Sean Dolittle:

Amen. -TOB


The Unlikeliest of NHL Scouts: Former Dodger GM Ned Colletti

 

“Ned Colletti might be the only person in professional sports history to have traded for Manny Ramirez and scouted the Columbus Blue Jackets‘ power play.” 

That’s one hell of an opening line from Greg Wyshynski.

Ned Colletti made a career as a baseball front office guy for over 30 years, the last of those years were as the General Manager of a little underachieving baseball team in LA (you’re absolutely right; I need to be more specific: the Dodgers). Colletti is now a hockey scout for the San Jose Sharks. 

You read that right.

How does a baseball lifer simply switch sports in what he calls his “back nine” of life? It’s not all that surprising when you consider Colletti’s full journey. He grew up a rink rat in Chicago, became a sportswriter covering the Flyers, and then – when two newspapers folded in Philly – he turned to media relations for the Cubs. From there, you can fill in the blanks to GM of the Dodgers, but you also see that Colletti was a hockey guy before he was a basell guy.  

When in LA, Colletti met the coaches and front office for the Kings and Ducks. Aside from being neighbors, Colletti and the hockey guys were able to connect in a way that was impossible within their respective sports. 

As Colletti puts it: 

I couldn’t call another baseball GM. We were competing against each other. It would have been like, ‘Hey, I have a managerial problem.’ ‘Well, good for you! I hope it never ends!'”

That’s all fine, but it sure doesn’t seem to add up to Colletti scouting prospective NHL players. It’s one thing to commiserate and learn from hockey executives, but it’s entirely another to assess talent in a different sport.

Colletti would tell you it’s not all that different. While a fascinating notion, I still find it hard to believe. With that in mind, here are Colletti’s pillars to evaluating whether or not talent is ready, be it the NHL or MLB: 

  • Can I trust a player?
  • What’s inside the jersey?
  • Money can corrupt
  • There’s a reason bad signings happen
  • Analytics as a validation  

I love the idea of Colletti being down to try something new in the twilight of his career, and I love that a hockey guy gave it a shot. – PAL 

Source: Ned Colletti’s baseball lessons for NHL scouting”, Greg Wyshynski, ESPN (10/16/2019)


Professional Golfer Scores 127 in Senior LPGA Round

I’ve had my share of dreadful, never-ending rounds of golf in my time – especially at Como – but I don’t think I’ve ever logged a 127 over 18 holes. That happened this week. In a professional tournament. Get this: the same professional golfer tallied a 90 in the very next round of a LPGA event. 

Not a flat shot on that gd Como course.

Lee Ann Walker, who last played a LPGA event in 2008, entered a Senior LPGA event in French Lick, Indiana most because she wanted to visit some friends, which says something about the exclusivity of the Senior LPGA (just sayin’). In the time she’s been away from the game, there’s been some rule changes, especially around what is and isn’t OK when putting. More specifically, one rule states that “Caddies no longer can stand behind players as they prepare to hit a shot unless players back away after the caddie is no longer behind them.”

Walker didn’t get the memo until mostly through her second round. Set aside the fact that her two playing partners on day one are kind of suspect for not telling her, this oversight cost her 58 friggin’ strokes!

Each violation was good for two penalty strokes, and as the AP’s Doug Fergusoon points out, it’s incredible that Walker could remember each violation, which tallied up to 21 occurrences in round one and eight in round two. 29 x 2 strokes = 58. 

For her part, Walker didn’t seem to lose much sleep over it. “I’m glad I went. I got to see a lot of great friends, it was a great golf course, great event. Everything was great except for my penalties.”

Also, a Bleacher Seat Brewing beer to any of our readers who’ve attended a Senior LPGA event. – PAL 

Source: Pro Golfer Lee Ann Walker Has 58 Penalty strokes Added to Score After Rules Mess-up”, Doug Ferguson, Star Tribune (10/17/2019)

TOB: I saw this story on the ESPN ticker the other night and couldn’t stop laughing. I’m glad she has a good sense of humor about it.


When a Record is Not a Record
Last weekend, a human being ran the first ever sub-2 hour marathon. Specifically, Eliud Kipchoge finished a 26.2 mile run in 1:59:20. An incredible human achievement. But Kipchoge’s run will not be considered an official record. Why? Because it didn’t occur in an official marathon race. In fact, the event was termed an “exhibition marathon”:

The planning that went into the event was a fantasy of perfectionism. The organizers scouted out a six-mile circuit along the Danube River that was flat, straight, and close to sea level. Parts of the road were marked with the fastest possible route, and a car guided the runners by projecting its own disco-like laser in front of them to show the correct pace. The pacesetters, a murderers’ row of Olympians and other distance stars, ran seven-at-a-time in a wind-blocking formation devised by an expert of aerodynamics. (Imagine the Mighty Ducks’ “flying V,” but reversed.)

Kipchoge himself came equipped with an updated, still-unreleased version of Nike’s controversial Vaporfly shoes, which, research appears to confirm, lower marathoners’ times. He had unfettered access to his favorite carbohydrate-rich drink, courtesy of a cyclist who rode alongside the group. And the event’s start time was scheduled within an eight-day window to ensure the best possible weather. The whole thing was as close as you can get to a mobile marathon spa treatment—if going to a spa were paired with the worst discomfort of your life.

First, excellent Mighty Ducks reference. Second…huh. Hm. I get why this doesn’t count as a “record” in the official sense; everyone racing in official marathons after this should not be required to chase this time. Yes, it’s apples and oranges, but to bite a line by my old hoops buddy, you can compare them – they’re both fruit. 

So when I read within this article sports scientist Yannis Pitsiladis called the achievement “meaningless”, I just want to rage. MEANINGLESS? Because it didn’t follow a set of arbitrary rules the sports has agreed upon for competitions? MEANINGLESS? No, man. Hell, no. Did Kipchoge still run 26.2 miles? Did he do that in under 2 hours? Did he ride a motor scooter? No? Ok, then there’s meaning to this – it’s an incredible achievement and it should absolutely be celebrated. What’s more, it gives all elite marathoners the knowledge that the 2-hour barrier is not a barrier at all. I’m guessing someone will break 2 hours, in competition, sooner rather than later. -TOB

Source: The Greatest, Fakest World Record”, Paul Bisceglio, The Atlantic (10/13/2019)

PAL: 100%. Record? No one would argue that. But to say it’s meaningless sure sounds like a troll to me. 01:59:59 is no longer an abstraction, and not quite a reality, but Kipchoge moved it from a mythical concept and into the real world. He was a runner crossing a finish line with 01 still on the clock above him. It matters as much as the first “real” sub-2:00 marathon, because it has given a generation or two of runners a reason and face to believe it’s possible. 

Also – maybe TOB and I should film each other running 13.1 MPH on the treadmill and see how long we can last. 30 seconds? What’s the over-under? 


Elite Pro Athletes Are Complete Lunatics

Carli Lloyd is a very good soccer player. Was and is one of the best in the world. In the 2015 World Cup Final, she scored a hat trick as the U.S. took the title in a laugher over Japan. 

Before this year, she was a big part of the U.S. achieving that World Cup victory, another second-place finish, and two Olympic gold medals. She’s 37 years old now, though, which ahem is young, of course, but a little on the not-so-young side for a professional athlete. At this past summer’s World Cup, Lloyd played in every single game and scored three goals in helping the U.S. win the tournament, but she did so as the team’s first sub off the bench. You might think, “Wow incredible, she’s 37 and still able to perform at such a high level and help her team win the World Cup! She must be thrilled!” You’d be wrong. Here’s Lloyd in a recent interview:

There’s no denying it. I deserved to be on that field that whole World Cup, but I wasn’t. And I think I’ve grown as a person, as a player. It sucked. It absolutely sucked.

It was absolutely the worst time of my life. It affected my relationship with my husband, with friends. It really was rock bottom of my entire career.

Remember: she played in every game. She scored 3 goals. But she didn’t start every game; she didn’t play every single minute, so it was the worst time of her life. That’s crazy, and also suggests an extremely privileged and charmed life. It’s sorta funny, but not all that endearing I can’t imagine her teammates, especially the one who started in front of her, appreciated those comments very much. But, if you’re going to be an elite athlete, you usually have to be a selfish ahole. -TOB

Source: Carli Lloyd On Playing Every Single Match And Winning The World Cup: ‘It Sucked,’Luis Paez-Pumar, Deadspin (10/15/2019)

PAL: Telling note from the article: Lloyd was cut from the U-21 National team. If you don’t think that slight has driven her for the past 16 years, then I direct you to every professional athlete who remember every single player that was drafted ahead of them. Lloyd is the best kind of player – the one who still thinks they have something to prove after proving everything. That can be a grating person to be around, but that attitude cranks up the competition within a team and fuels the idea that everyone needs to earn their time and spot because someone is gunning for her minutes. 


Videos of the Week


Tweets of the Week


Song of the Week: John Prine & Iris Dement – (We’re Not) The Jet Set


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Next Cove, please, Julius!

-Tom Wambsgans

 

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