Being a sports fan in Sacramento isn’t completely awful.
True, the Kings have exploited the community’s one-horse status for decades. The basketball team sells far more tickets, suites and sponsorships than failure warrants.
A season or two of home games with 10,000 empty seats would embarrass the Kings, if that’s possible, and provide visual and financial motivation to fix the mess.
The town’s favorite sports bookies didn’t wear mouse ears. They chewed toothpicks and smoked cigars. They hung out at the Bar of Music on 11th Street and Georgian’s on J Street. When those joints disappeared, they moved to Joe Marty’s on Broadway and Simon’s on 16th Street.
What would our legendary gamblers—a hall of fame led by Jackie King and Sid Tenner—think about Mickey Mouse muscling in on the action?
West Sacramento is celebrated for its minor league ballpark, River Walk Park and Trail, waterfront housing, bars and restaurants. But who cares? I’ll never forgive West Sac for killing West Capital Raceway.
Local historians say I’m wrong. They say I can’t blame the city of West Sac, because it didn’t exist when West Capital Raceway died in 1980. The city lurched to life in 1987.
They say the Yolo County Planning Commission killed West Cap Raceway. The county refused to issue permits for crowds to gather, engines to roar and dirt to fly. The county encouraged the track’s new owners to sell out and turn California’s heroic quarter-mile dirt speedway into a parking lot for trucks.
Some NBA teams don’t worry about balancing the books. Their owners swim in deep green seas of personal wealth. They treat league membership as an extension of their entitlement, a bragging right with benefits of ballooning equity.
The Kings are different. Their owners are rich, relatively speaking, but can’t matchup against billionaires. A welterweight bank account is a big disadvantage in a game played by heavyweights.
My friend Bill Conlin would fill the room with unprintable words if he could hear what I’m about to say. But Bill is resting at St. Mary’s Catholic Cemetery and not likely to notice.
Bill was a baseball guy. The demise of baseball in Sacramento saddened him. He died two years before the River Cats arrived and never had the pleasure of wrapping his hands around a cold beer at Raley Field or Sutter Health Park. As a newspaper sports editor, he covered the burials of two Solons iterations, in 1961 and 1976.
So I hope Bill’s spirit forgives me for saying it’s a good thing Sacramento isn’t a baseball town these days. Because baseball is dying.
As an old sportswriter whose tastes favor unfashionable games such as boxing, horseracing and indoor track meets, I was suspicious when I heard people talk about pickleball.
What’s that? I figured pickleball involved cucumbers and suburban backyard parties and lazy summer afternoons. A silly fad.
Then I began to get emails from pickleball devotees inviting me to play. The emails bubbled with enthusiasm and fellowship. The authors insisted I’d love their little game. I normally respond right away to emails. These I deleted.