Monday, December 14, 2009

Slap Hitter: The Mediocrity of Cal Sports

By Kibby Kleiman
Mon, Dec 14, 2009 at 5:23 PM

Having graduated a Golden Bear during one of the many lulls in Cal sports history, I now wonder whether it is less fun now than it was back in the day. At least then, we were always surprised in something good happened and usually content to laugh at the beatings taken in football, basketball and any other sport that required paid admission. Watching from the alumni perch, it appears that Cal now perpetually underachieves. Seems that we're always nationally ranked, and then work our way down. I offer as exhibit A, Cal Football prepared to square off in the Poinsettia Bowl, exhbit B, Cal Men's Basketball, losers of both games they played against decent opponents in November, and exhbit B2, Cal Women's Basketball, who caved at home to San Jose State. Cal sports: Feel the Letdown!

There is not much joy in falling short, where as not measuring up to begin with does carry with it some small charm. Cal didn't do much as underdogs either, but that fit the Golden Bear's like Oski's little hat. But when Cal strides the preseason polls like a colossus, or at least a school supposedly competitive with USC, it fits more like Oski and geothermal energy.

Listening to Cal sports is an exercise in agony. The announcers always sound as if something bad is just around the corner, and that nothing good will last. The fact that they're usually correct is no solace. I wish I could work up the disgust they regularly exhibit at Cal spectating that I could for trying to park at Cal. There are no spaces, there are never going to be any spaces and if there are, I will soon be ticketed. Right now, Cal sports are in hiatus, which is one of the less disappointing places they will visit this season.

Being the Little Engine that Couldn't seemed to bring more pleasure to the Berkeley crowd than being the Bear whose porridge keeps getting stolen. The overall reaction to Cal sports seems to be perpetually waiting for the other shoe to drop, and then getting hit with yet another shoe. So, if a minor prize in a minor Bowl game provides minor relief, then Go Bears! But kinda-sorta is the direction we're stuck in, and it doesn't feel any better to this Cal fan than lying low in the weeds (for decades at a time). No need to scrap the high-profile coaches and the blue-chip recruits, just make room on the bench for they guys and gals who rode the bench in high school and still managed to play at Cal. That's what got us on our feet back when, and might get those feet walking back to buy a ticket or two to see the Bears.

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