Inline hockey chills at Bladium

FRI 5/23

The debate between inline and ice hockey enthusiasts is akin to the perpetual "less filling, tastes great" argument. Even former NHL players have gone on record saying that playing hockey in any form improves individual skills. The gear is the same, except of course for the skates, and an inline puck is lighter and has more holes or "runners," which look like lights on a tiny alien spacecraft. Playing in an inline hockey league -- with four players plus goalie instead of five plus goalie on ice -- will run you less money, since ice maintenance costs are not a factor. However, at the two-year-old Bladium Sports Club in Alameda, there's a league or tournament almost any day of the week, so your overall savings might not be much. With two full-size inline rinks, a pro shop that rents equipment, and an array of beginners' clinics, the Bladium is a great place to start your (or your kid's) roller hockey career. Home to two all-women's tournament teams -- the Bladium Bandicoots and the new Bladium Bombshells -- the rink holds a free women's practice with coach on Friday nights from 6:30-8pm. Wednesdays at 6 p.m. is a free one-hour beginners' clinic, or call to join the next ten-week adult beginners' class: 510-814-4999, Annika Dukes

TUE 5/27

Snake Kill

No time for Giants to diet

It's an inescapable bit of baseball logic: You should endeavor to play the good teams even and then whale the tar out of the bad teams. The Arizona Diamondbacks are not exactly a bad team -- yet -- but they're pretty banged-up, especially in their once-proud pitching staff. And Mark Grace and Matt Williams aren't getting any younger. Next Tuesday is an opportune time for the Giants to fatten their winning margin, as the D'backs limp into Pac Bell Park for a quickie two-game series. They're followed by the Rockies, and then by a pair of bewildered American League teams -- a would-be contender and a whipping boy -- who may eventually be overjoyed to escape inter-league play: the Minnesota Twins and the Detroit Tigers. Come watch the Giants feast. 510-762-2277 or -- Kelly Vance


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