Written by Jessica Mendoza
Photos by Gavin McIntyre
As you walk down the streets in the Marina district, every corner you turn is bursting with restaurants showcasing the finest meals and small boutique shops that carry the cutest clothes. The Marina is the perfect place where twenty and thirty-somethings can unwind from their busy lives to enjoy a cocktail at a sleek lounge. But what people may not realize is that the Marina district is also home to the San Fran Skeeball League.
Yes, a skeeball league.
The San Fran Skeeball League take place at Bar None, located on Union Street. The inside of the bar is like a frat boy’s fantasy home. There is foosball, pool, boxing games, beer pong tables, television and of course, a skeeball machine.
On February 6, 2014, “San Fran Skeeball League” held the first game of the skeeball season. The league coordinated by Ty Hyland and Sean Pratt, has become one the newest attractions in the Marina district where people can drink cheap beers, engage in casual conversation, and play skeeball all at once.
Teams sport names like Ball Don’t Kill My Vibe, ASTRO Balls, SKEENUTZ and The Big LaBallSkees
“Its super fun” says Amanda Hoffman of The Big LaBallSkees, “It’s competitive, but we’re here to have a good time.”
The mastermind behind the Skeeball League, Giovanni Marcantoni, wanted to create something competitive and fun for people to enjoy.
“We wanted to create a sociable environment to distract people from their problems,” says Marcantoni. Before he created the Skeeball League, Marcantoni and his friends established a bocce ball league in Baltimore. Marcantoni and his friends played bocce outside in the grass, but weather conditions sometimes put a damper on the bocce game forcing them to cancel.
“It was too cold outside,” says Marcantoni about playing bocce. People were also getting hurt and injured during the game. The bocce league’s problems inspired Marcantoni to create a league that is indoors in a bar where people can drink and play games without traveling anywhere else. Marcantoni branched the skeeball league into different cities on the East coast. He has expanded the league to Manhattan, Philadelphia, Brooklyn, and Charleston.
After a successful run on the East coast, Marcantoni decided to move the league West. Marcantoni added cities Denver, Seattle, and San Francisco—the newest city in the league.
Pratt explored the city to find the perfect bar to hold the skeeball games. The problem in their search was no bar already housed a skeeball machine. That was until they came across the Marina and found Bar None. It was perfect bar, already carrying gaming machines and already with the perfect laid-back atmosphere.
“They help us out by allowing us to have the Skeeball League,” says Pratt, “We help them bring more people to the bar.”
As they finally settled on a location, it was time to spread the news about the new league in the city. They created their website sanfranskee.com where people can register and create a team.
“It’s a good rational mix of people,” says Justin Beann, a league member of team The Artist Formerly Known As Free Ball.
“Anyone can join and play,” Pratt said. “You don’t have to be perfect.”
So how do you join the San Fran Skeeball League? Anyone can register on the website. Each team has to have a captain and a group between six-to-twelve members with each person paying a fifty dollar entrance fee.
“We don’t turn people away,” says Meg Nash, another member. “We want people to come here and make lasting friendships.”
Of course, whoever signs up to play in the league has to come up with a name for their team. People put “Skee” in their teams names. Like the guys from A. SKEE Slater who of course name their team from the popular “Saved By The Bell” television series. Other teams give themselves more progressive names like R.W.A which stands for Rollers with Attitude. Each member has names like Skeeyonce Rolls, MsSkeeElliot, Run DMSkee, Big Skeeballs and Andre Skeethousand.
“We wanted to have names to intimidate other teams,” says Skeeyonce Rolls about her teams choosing their alter-ego identities.
Not only does Hyland and Pratt host the tournament but they join in the game. When David Miller was the only member from his team that showed up, Hyland and few others jumped in and played with him.
The Skeeball League is far beyond different than other tournaments. The league is created for people to come together and have the time of their lives.
“Most of these folks just come here and have a good time.” says Hyland.
The name Barry Bonds immediately evokes memories of steroids and legal indiscretions. He’s known as the man who took the home-run king title away from Hank Aaron while parading around as the villain of baseball.
But let’s forget all of Barry Bonds’ woes. Move on. But it seems a lot easier writing in words than to actual move on from the scrutiny like Bonds experience towards the end of his career. But it must be harder to make come back from being under surveillance from the media. Bonds was back in the spotlight this year and it wasn’t about his legal issues or whether he should be in the Hall of Fame. In March, Bonds went to Spring Training and offering a week as hitting instructor for the Giants. Bonds back in the orange and black.
Let’s remember Bonds hasn’t been in a Giants uniform and hasn’t played baseball in years. So the question is why now? Maybe it’s to reconcile with Bonds after letting him go after he broke the home-run record. The answer is Bonds loves the game. Baseball is his first love. It’s only the lasting longest relationship that Bonds have ever been in. However, it’s another way to erase the past and start over again with a new generation of players.
“He is trying to rehabilitate his image” says Henry Schulman, a SF Chronicle sports writer.
Bonds asked the Giants to come back to Spring Training, but the Giants had to think about bringing back the former face of the franchise back into the game.
“ The Giants’ brass thought about his request to come to spring training and decided they couldn’t really keep him away while they invite all their other greats from the past to come.” say Schulman about the Giants decision to bring Bonds back.
The Giants brought Bonds as a special hitting instructor for the players for one week. It must have been a sign from the baseball Gods that the Giants were getting the help they need for their offensive.
Let’s face it: the Giants could use all the help they can get when it comes to scoring, by not leaving any stranded on the bases. When Bonds arrived to Scottsdale, Arizona where the Giants Spring training is located, the media circles was there as well.
The more important question is how where the players were going to react with Bonds or how was Bonds was going to interact with the players?
According to Jim Moorehead, San Francisco Giants Head Senior Director of Media Relations. seem to be nervous on the players were going to react when they get on the field.
“He was kind of nervous how he is perspective from the players.” says Moorehead.
The Giants welcome Bonds with open arms and some were star struck by Bonds presence. According to Moorehead, right outfielder Hunter Pence had a poster of Bonds from his childhood.
It seem no one cared about the whole “steroids issue” which has plagued over Bonds. They treated him like a rock star who wanted to learn from one of the greatest hitters in the game.
Every player went to Bonds and seek for his advice on their hitting techniques.
“He sat down with all the hitters behind closed doors for forty-five minutes” said Moorehead about Bonds and his relationship with the players. Bonds worked with all of the players.
Bonds talked to the players about their hitting techniques including shortstop Brandon Crawford.
“Crawford talk about keeping his shoulders in.” says Moorehead about Crawford when it is his turn to bat. “Look at his numbers against left-handers pitchers.”
According to ESPN.com, Crawford’s stats has gone up when it comes to hitting against left handers. Crawford is averaging .400 compare to last year when he was at .199 average. That is a huge difference. After Bonds one-week training ended, there is no doubt he made an impact on the players. Giants fans have seen a difference in the offensive and notice Bonds influence over the Giants.
Antonio Solano, an art major at SF State and long-time Giants fan couldn’t be any happier to have Bonds back as a hitting instructor.
“They can definitely use someone like him and his skills to help with the offensive.” says Solano.
Solano goes on and says “You see players like Crawford and Belt are getting balls into plays instead of popping up. You can tell Bonds made impact in their hitting.”
But let’s pretend for a moment and the Giants did decide to bring Bonds as a hitting instructor. Great news to Giants fans like Solano and it is not because it will help the offensive. The reason is fans will love to see Bonds back in the black and orange uniform. But the whole “steroid issue” will resurface again. People will question either or not he did take steroids.
“I grew up watching Bonds as a kid and I remember the player who was before this whole steroids.” Solano goes on “People do not know anything about how he was as a hitter and they were not paying attention until he was breaking the record.”
Is it fair to justify Bonds as the poster child for steroids man who broke the home-run record instead of the man, the baseball player who never was afraid to hit anything.
No matter what Bonds will be that idol as one of the greatest hitters of all time. Maybe it is a good idea to bring Bonds back so the public outside of the Giants fan base and they can see Bonds before the steroids.
If it can work for McGwire, the hitting coach for the Dodgers and steroids user, why not bring Bonds back?
It’s time to move on…now.
Now that baseball season is just around the corner, Giants fans are preparing themselves for another exciting season by sporting their Giants gear and rushing the ticket booths for the best seats possible.
On February 1, 2014, AT&T Park swarmed with attendees of the twenty-first annual Giants FanFest to the point that the entrance to the fields was clogged for a long period of time. Fans spent over an hour in autograph lines just to meet their favorite player.
Where do all the Giants fans come from?
The Giants are coming off a horrific season. They finished the year nineteenth in the league and could not defend their previous title as World Champions. As a Giants fan, it was heartbreaking.
More and more people show up to Giants games than ever before. According to ESPN’s Major League Baseball attendance status report, the Giants are in the top five for most sold-out games over the last three years.
After the Giants won their first World Series title (since moving to San Francisco) in 2010, everywhere you went, someone was wearing a Giants jacket or baseball cap.
The bigger the fan base for any sports team usually means more sold out games, giving the team more morale. Right?
Many people started watching the Giants play only when they were winning, especially after their World Series championship. However, long-time Giants fans are not very pleased with the many people jumping on the bandwagon.
Characteristics of bandwagon fans include only showing up to games when a team faces their rival, attending more games than usual when the team has a winning record, and not paying attention to the team during offseason and spring training.
“I can spot a band wagon fan by the way they dress such as going to a game with, or having on those foam fingers and wearing them during the game,” explains Marc Miranda Jr, a physical therapy major at San Francisco State.
Miranda and his parents are season ticket holders and have been attending games since the Giants played at Candlestick Park.
“Those casual fans might scoop up tickets to go to games, but then sit on their phones or talk non-stop to their neighbors or leave in the fourth inning if the home team isn’t winning,” Chelena Goldman, a sports writer for SFBay, says.
But what makes a true Giants fan? Are true fans required to have loved the Giants since birth? Do they have to attend every game throughout the season? Must they splurge on Giants gear?
Many die-hard Giants fans believe bandwagon fans are not in tune with the team at the same level as the most devoted. They think fans should watch the games both on and off the screen. Die-hard fans will watch the local sports channel for highlights and interviews and stick by the Giants during a winning or losing season.
I personally think a true baseball fan is someone who loves the game of baseball. Whether it be someone who has been a long-time fan born into a family of Giants fans like Miranda, or someone who has just jumped on the bandwagon. If you love the game, you’re a fan.
The destruction of Candlestick Park will mark the end of its more than fifty years as a professional sports forum. It will signal the end of professional football in San Francisco, a tradition of forty-two years that has spawned five Super Bowl champions.
San Francisco’s original waterfront stadium was once seen as a model of modern engineering. Opened on April 12, 1960 Candlestick Park has gradually drifted to the other end of the spectrum, now considered obsolete both as a sports venue and an aesthetically pleasing attraction. In early 2014, after the 49ers complete their season, their longtime home will be stuffed full of dynamite and quickly imploded into a pile of rubble, making way for the new Hunters Point Shipyard redevelopment project.
The 49ers future home, Levi’s Stadium, is currently being constructed in the South Bay city of Santa Clara, with building costs totaling about $1.2 billion. The 49ers will be the second team to leave Candlestick for new digs, the San Francisco Giants being the first with their departure to then Pacific Bell Park in 1999.
Despite complaints about the stadium’s swirling winds, lack of general aesthetic value and hilariously disgusting trough style urinals, Candlestick’s unique character has set it apart from its contemporaries. Character that will be sorely missed by those who have shared wonderful experiences within its decaying exterior.
“It’s very melancholy for me, I’m probably gonna tear up for that last game” says Cooper Reynolds, a former 49ers season ticket holder. “I’ve been a fan for as long as I can remember and I’ve never missed a game there. It’s a pain in the ass to get to, it’s run down and it’s old. But it has character and history and great moments that are second to none. That’s something you can’t build.”
For those who have followed the franchise over the years, there is nearly unanimous agreement that the legendary touchdown pass to Dwight Clark in the 1981 NFC Championship game is one of the quintessential events in the stadium’s history, and in the history of the 49er franchise.
With the Niners down six points in the game’s closing moments, a third-year quarterback named Joe Montana marched his team down the field eighty-three yards only to stall on the Dallas Cowboy’s six-yard line. On the next play, Montana rolled to his right under heavy pressure from three Cowboy defenders. Off his back foot, Montana floated the ball over the outstretched arms of six-foot nine-inch Dallas defensive end Ed “Too Tall” Jones, in what many assumed was an act of desperation. Miraculously, the fingertips of Montana’s rookie year roommate, a fully stretched wide receiver Dwight Clark, brought the pigskin back to Earth, and sent the 49ers to their first Super Bowl in franchise history.
In addition to becoming an iconic image, “The Catch” is seen as the beginning of the 49ers 1980s dynasty and the first in a series of memorable playoff games against the Cowboys.
“You probably have to go with the ‘81 Championship game”, says Reynolds when asked about the greatest moment in the stadium’s history. “Before that play, those guys on the field weren’t the Niners as we know them now. They’d never been to a Super Bowl. The play has actually become overrated, but it was their up and coming moment and is certainly remembered most.”
The Cowboys could’ve actually won the game just seconds later. When Dallas got the ball back with less than a minute to go, the Niners blew coverage and allowed all-pro wide receiver Drew Pearson to catch a pass over the middle with room to run. A game saving grab of Pearson’s collar by Niners defensive back Eric Wright bailed out the 49ers and squandered any attempt to soil the legacy of Dwight Clark’s now infamous touchdown catch.
“That play literally built the 49ers franchise. It was a monumental upset,” says Chace Bryson, 35, a season ticket holder who’s been to about seventy games at Candlestick.
The Catch might be the most iconic moment in the stadiums history, but certainly wasn’t the last time the 49ers would score a go-ahead touchdown at the end of an important playoff game.
The 2011 Divisional Playoff against the New Orleans Saints was the first postseason game to be hosted at Candlestick in nine years. In the final minute, the 49ers drove sixty-one yards to the New Orleans fourteen-yard line. With nine seconds left, quarterback Alex Smith capped off arguably the best performance of his career at Candlestick, by fearlessly firing a bullet to the back shoulder of well covered tight end Vernon Davis. Davis, who had suffered for five years on sub-par Niners teams, made the catch and held on for dear life, emerging from the pile with his first career playoff victory and tears of joy running down his face. The touchdown sent the 49ers to their first NFC Championship in fifteen years.
“I was sitting in the upper reserve, in the corner of the end zone facing the Jumbotron,” Bryson says. “Smith makes the throw to Davis. I can only describe the feeling as euphoric. I’ve never heard Candlestick so loud…it was epic. There were plenty of hugs and definitely some tears. As far as a stadium experience goes, it doesn’t get better than that.”
Ironically, a stadium that will be most remembered for legendary football moments, is the only current NFL stadium originally built for baseball. Though it seems like ancient history now, Candlestick was also the home of the world champion San Francisco Giants for nearly four decades. After the 49ers arrival in 1971, the attempt to convert the stadium into a multi-purpose facility wasn’t without its flaws, leading to many obscured sight lines and left entire sections of seats virtually unusable due to lack of visibility. San Francisco resident Bjorn Griepenburg has been to upwards of sixty games at Candlestick, the vast majority of those Giants games as a young boy with his father.
“The first time I saw it, it was the first time I ever went to a pro stadium and as a kid it was a spectacular sight,” says Griepenburg. “I remember I just couldn’t believe the size and the number of people.”
Griepenburg misses Candlestick as the Giants’ home because its lack of extracurricular stadium activities ensured that everyone who made the trek was there to support the team. He feels that the move to an expensive and polished new stadium alienated some longtime supporters, and that new technological distractions create an atmosphere and a fanbase that is no longer hanging on every play.
“My biggest complaint when they moved was they were moving to a park not built around baseball. It was all about the Coke slide and the giant mitt,” says Griepenburg referring to the Giants current home at AT&T Park. “Even as a kid I refused to ride that thing because I thought it was a stupid distraction. When they left Candlestick it wasn’t the same diehards. Now it’s a wine and sushi crowd on their cell phones networking.”
Many have complained for years about Candlestick’s obsolete facilities, cramped hallways, lack of women’s restrooms, its “middle-of-nowhere” location, and lack of state-of-the-art technology (have you seen the “Jumbotron”?). However, that doesn’t stop longtime visitors from feeling more bitter than sweet about the execution of a football cathedral.
“I’ll remember it as a place of happiness, great memories, even in the bad years,” says Bryson. “Something about football is it’s okay to have a cramped stadium. There’s some charm in having the leagues most outdated stadium. It’s part of a collective experience where you suffer along with the players. Fans go for the experience, to pack in with your buddies and everybody is pulling in the same direction. The new stadium feels a little too much like corporate NFL.”
After the 49ers were unable agree with the city of San Francisco on a deal for a new park within the city limits, the move to an alternate location became inevitable. The new venue in Santa Clara will be the most technologically advanced stadium in NFL history, with an unprecedented Wi-Fi network that will allegedly support access from every fan simultaneously and downloadable apps that tell you which beer line is the shortest. Unfortunately, the astronomical cost of tickets and distance from the city is going to stop some fans from attending.
“A lot of people including me are being priced out,” Bryson says. “Season tickets would be double and I’d be driving much farther so there would be much more money involved. I understand it, but I wish there was a way to keep them closer.”
“Candlestick has that special place in the hearts of the fans,” Griepenburg concludes. “It rises out of a parking lot in one of the worst neighborhoods, it’s architecturally awful and an eyesore. But a stadium can become so much more than a place to watch sports. Stadiums are like church to a lot of people. It’s one of the last places where you can go where everybody is pulling for the same thing. It’s just an extraordinary place.”
With the 49ers looking like one of the best teams in the NFC, there is always the possibility for a historical farewell Super Bowl run that would no doubt be a perfect send off. Regardless, it would be in the cities best interest to give the stadium some sort of farewell aside from the climactic dynamite spectacle.
“I think they should have one more Giants vs. Dodgers series before destroying it,” Griepenburg says. “That would be perfect.”
The NFL has finally put their foot down after years of watching players like Chad Johnson and Terrell Owens party like its 1999 in the end zone.
The NFL has cracked down on taunting this season with the reinforcement of several rules that will essentially prohibit players from celebrating anywhere outside of the end zone—and even there their options are limited.
Good riddance! Why players felt compelled to taunt their NFL brethren in the first place is beyond me. Men have feelings. Just because some men are oversized juggernauts that get paid large sums of money to play a sport doesn’t make them inhuman.
Do they not bleed? Are they incapable of weeping like the rest of us!?
Bravo Commissioner Goodell. It’s good to know that amongst the plethora of problems facing the NFL at the moment—PED testing, player safety, concussion lawsuits, expanded seasons, etc.—that the league has still found time to address this very pressing issue.
The rule outlines what will be penalized, and includes “sack dances, home run swing, incredible hulk; spiking the ball; throwing or shoving the ball; pointing; pointing the ball; verbal taunting; military salute; standing over an opponent [prolonged and with provocation]; or dancing.”
Wait a tick, did it say dancing? Dancing, as in one of the few things left in the world synonymous with happiness?! Does that mean I may never see something like this again on a football field?
Well, not exactly. The rule actually prohibits players from doing any of the aforementioned celebrations towards an opponent. As such, players are free to celebrate within the confines of the rules so long as they’re not trying to antagonize the opposition.
It was just seven years ago that the league first banned props and group celebrations, as well as the “throat slash; machine-gun salute; sexually-suggestive gestures; prolonged gyrations; or stomping on a team logo.”
Now, I know what you’re thinking. Doesn’t this rob the NFL of some much-needed entertainment and—dare I say it—fun?
“It’s bad for the game,” says football fan and bar hopper Alex Robershotte as he takes a break from the delicious Cheesestake and Sunday Night Football game ahead of him. “I think it’s a natural reaction to celebrate. If you succeed at what you’re trying to do, and you have to be held back from celebrating from that, I think that’s absolutely absurd. And when you’re an athlete who’s amped up on adrenaline, you’re gonna go all out in your celebrations.”
For shame. Are we forgetting about those most affected by the celebrations? Lest we forget that the NFL is not the WWE. Players get paid a lot of money to perform their duties to the best of their abilities and shouldn’t be subjected to such public humiliation as this when they get burned on a fly route:
On the other hand, maybe everyone should just chill the fuck out and put everything into perspective.
Football is an inherently emotional sport played by some of the most competitive athletes in the world. Naturally, they’re going to do whatever it takes to gain a competitive edge. That includes getting inside the head of their opponent.
Sack and touchdown celebrations add a layer of untapped entertainment to the league. Guys like Terrell Owens and Chad Johnson were watched not only for their remarkable talent, but because you never knew exactly what they were going to do when they found the end zone. One thing you could always be assured of though was that it would be fun to watch.
The days of watching an NFL lineman breakdance, a quarterback moonwalk, or a wide receiver make untimely phone calls from beside the pylons are in the rear-view mirror now. All that’s left to look forward to is this:
“The rule is kind of ridiculous,” says San Francisco State student Jeff Palin. “I don’t think the celebrations were really hurting anyone. And I’m not sure why the league even felt that it needed to take action.”
The reasons behind the crackdowns are unclear. Perhaps the rule was instituted to protect the NFL image. Maybe its purpose is to keep angry players from inciting a brawl. It’s possible the league was fed up with diva wide receivers disrupting the flow of the game and shifting the focus from the competition to some over-the-top spectacle.
Maybe it was a combination of all three.
Regardless, fans are left wondering if the rules are even necessary.
“You don’t really see anything exciting anymore when someone scores a touchdown,” says San Francisco State student Andrew Newlee. “Some of those celebrations were hilarious. So yeah, I kind of miss them.”
At the end of the day, football—despite being a multi-billion dollar industry—is just a game. Someone ought to remind the Commish about that, because at the moment he’s robbing the league of some free and much-desired entertainment, and appears petty in the process.
For example during the preseason, the Jets third-string quarterback Matt Simms simulated that he was firing a pistol, and the NFL fined him $7,875 for the infraction.
For starters, how did the league come up with such a puzzling and specific fine; and secondly, did the crime really fit the punishment?
These rules are hurting the sport, and compelling fans to deem the NFL the No Fun League.
The celebrations are amusing. The only people they’re hurting are those being taunted. If they don’t like it, then they should get better at their jobs. Until then, they should bite their lip and set a good example for the kids watching.
I’m not advocating malicious taunting. Watching someone viciously sack a quarterback, stand over him and talk shit is never a welcomed sight. But something as simple and harmless as this (which was fined $10,000!) should never be penalized.
So think it over, Goodell. I know you care about the players (or at least that’s what you like to let on), but don’t go overboard here. Loosen up and just let everyone be themselves. Until then, here’s a little something for old time’s sake.