Saturday, June 30, 2012

"Man of War" is a funny, entertaining look at historical reenactors

Charlie Schroeder's new book, "Man of War," takes a funny, entertaining look at the world of historical reenactors. Schroeder spends nearly a year traveling America and joining forces with reenactors of all kinds in a quest to get more in touch with American history. He learned much, but also found out some reenactors were as clueless about history as he says he was. Schroeder joins the Roman legions, World War II German solidiers, French and Indian fighters and Polish cavalry and tells their tales. My review for U-T San Diego.

Friday, June 29, 2012

In San Francisco, the Melkmen deliver cheers for Melky Cabrera

Five college students (and one dad) have become the Melkmen in San Francisco this season, dressing up in old-fashioned milkman attire to root on outfielder Melky Cabrera, who's on pace to collect about 230 base hits this season. The Melkmen add one more touch of fun to the carnival atmosphere at AT&T Park, where fans where pandas and giraffes on their heads, or beards on their faces, and cheer on a team that won their hearts with a World Series title in 2010. My story (and a sidebar) for's Playbook section:

All those yellow flags in 2011 raise a red flag for Raiders

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: It's hard to win close games when a team keeps committing penalties, and the Raiders of 2011 committed more penalties than any other team in the NFL. How bad were they? Very bad, offensively and defensively, the numbers show. And new coach Dennis Allen says that must change.

49ers' Vernon Davis is top-flight player (and talker)

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: Tight end Vernon Davis is one of the best in the NFL. Is the THE best? Probably not. But he wants to be, and there's nothing wrong with that.

For golden retriever owners, meetups are golden opportunities

The San Diego Golden Retriever Meetup Group, with about 1,000 members across San Diego County, gets together several times each month at parks, beaches -- and even restaurants. There's always an instant bond between the dogs and the people who take care of them. My story for the San Diego Union-Tribune's pet page:

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Raiders hoping new corners can plug leaky secondary

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: Shawntae Spencer and Ronald Bartell were cast off by their teams after last season, but signed by Oakland. Why would the team go after a pair of castoff cornerbacks? Because the Raiders, who allowed the second-most TD passes in the league and cut ties with their previous starting, are revamping their D and believe the pair of veterans can make a difference.

Seven 49ers on NFL's 'Top 100' players list

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: Seven 49ers, led by linebacker Patrick Willis, were elected by their peers to the list of 100 best players in the NFL -- tied for the most by any team (Ravens).

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Kyle Williams will fight to keep job with 49ers

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: Wide receiver Kyle Williams, labeled by some as the goat of the Niners' playoff loss to the Giants last season, knows he has a hard road ahead to make the team because of the wealth of wideouts now on the roster. But he's determined.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Some believe 49ers' Alex Smith is still overcoming his 'limitations'

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: Alex Smith may never get his due. He may never be listed among the NFL's elite quarterbacks, simply because the perception is he has too many "limitations." Yet in 2011, he showed vast improvement and may get even better in 2012.

Reece's pieces coming together for Raiders

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: Marcel Reece was considered a 'tweener when he came out of college, too big for a wide receiver and too small for a tight end. With the Raiders, however, he's found a home at fullback and with a new offense and the departure of Michael Bush, Reece may be ready to play a large role for the team in 2012.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Raiders tight end spot is still up for grabs, it appears

Daily Raiders blog for NBC Bay Area website: Once upon a time, Oakland's QBs were throwing to the likes of David Casper, Raymond Chester and Todd Christensen. Now, with last year's starting tight end Kevin Boss gone, the Raiders aren't quite certain who their go-to guy at the position will be.

Once-thin 49ers receiving corps is suddenly beefy

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: By the end of last season, the 49ers' receiving corps was so thin the team was signing inexperienced players off the waiver wire. Going into this season -- after the addition of Mario Manningham, Randy Moss and A.J. Jenkins -- the Niners have a much deeper group at the position.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

U.S. softball team proud to play in special Title IX game

Stacy May-Johnson has been a standout player at Iowa, a star hitter on the U.S. national softball team and is now a coach at Iowa, so she's seen the importance of Title IX and its impact on her life and the lives of others. She and her national team teammates are proud to be playing against Canada in the 40th anniversary game in Oklahoma City to honor the landmark equal-rights legislation. My story for

Friday, June 22, 2012

Because speed thrills, 49ers like 'LaMike'

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: With all their offseason moves, the 49ers' drafting of Oregon running back LaMichael James in the second round has been a bit overlooked. But as the upcoming season unfolds, the small, quick playmaker may give San Francisco an element it hasn't had.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

How long do fans hold a grudge against those who take away their teams? A long, long time

It's been hard for Seattle SuperSonics fans to watch the NBA Finals, with the transplanted Oklahoma City Thunder. Just four years after losing their team to Oklahoma, Sonics fans still hold a mighty grudge, and photos of owner Clay Bennett and former owner Howard Schultz would be on dart boards all over the Coffee City ... if fans could even bear to look at them. But don't expect those grudges and feelings of hate to just fade away any time soon. Fans from Cleveland to Brooklyn, Los Angeles to Quebec City and Minneapolis to Atlanta can vouch for the fact the ill will stays a long, long time. My story for's Playbook section:

For 49ers, repeating that 13-3 record might be difficult

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: In 2011, the moons and sun aligned perfectly, and the 49ers went 13-3 and advanced to the NFC title game, certainly an unexpected occurrence. Now, with the season about three months away, national prognosticators are writing that the 49ers' record in 2012 may not be as sparkling.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Boxer Queen Underwood earns a trip to London Olympics

Queen Underwood is one of America's most decorated women boxers, yet until this week her status for this summer's London Games was in doubt. But Monday she learned she'd been given an at-large berth, meaning the five-time national champion will get to take part in the debut of women's boxing in the Olympics. Her story, for the U.S. Olympic website:

Will fulltime role help or hurt Aldon Smith?

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: As a rookie pass-rush specialist, Aldon Smith was a terror, collecting 14 sacks while playing less than 50 percent of the defensive snaps. Will a fulltime role this season as an outside linebacker mean more impact from him, or less?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Niners' window of opportunity is open now

Daily 49ers blog for NBC Bay Area website: Justin Smith, who looks at the Niners roster and sees a good thing, says he has just three or four seasons remaining in his career. After 49ers mini camp concluded, Smith says if he -- and his team -- want to win it all, they better get moving. Their future is now.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Mike Hessman is the major bopper of the minor leagues

For 17 seasons, Mike Hessman has been hitting home runs in ballparks all over America (and Japan and China, too). Today, the 34-year-old slugger ranks as the active leading home run hitter in the minor leagues, playing a game he loves. He's waiting for another shot at the big leagues, but knows that's out of his control. His story, for ESPN's Playbook:

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Maureen Wilton Mancuso, who broke the world marathon record at age 13, received few accolades but much criticism

Maureen Wilton Mancuso was just 4-foot-10 and about 80 pounds, but she was all heart, lungs and legs. When the little Canadian girl ran her first marathon in 1967 at the age of 13, she broke the world record. Today, her feat would be reported and celebrated across the globe. But 45 years ago -- when women were discouraged from running long-distance races -- her accomplishment was largely ignored or simply dismissed as a strange occurrence. "It's like pushing peanuts up a hill with your nose," said one Canadian track official. "She did it, but so what?" My profile of Mancuso and her largely ignored record for ESPNW:

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

After football and wrestling, Ryan Estep now focused on fencing

When he was growing up, Ryan Estep says he was always the smallest guy on the field or the mat. To overcome his opponents, in wrestling and football, he learned to be smarter, faster and "meaner." Now, the former football star has become one of the finest Paralympic fencers in the world, channeling his natural competitiveness to rank No. 1 in the U.S. as he prepares for his first Paralympics in London this summer. My story on Estep for, the U.S. Olympic website:

Monday, June 11, 2012

Jim Thorpe, 100 years after achievements in Stockholm Olympics, still ranks as America's finest all-around athlete

In the 1912 Olympics, Jim Thorpe won both the pentathlon and decathlon. It was, he said, the highlight of his life. Yet Thorpe was far more than an Olympic star. He's in both the college and pro football halls of fame, the U.S. track and Olympic halls of fame and played major league baseball. He had speed, power and an ability to see something done once, and then do it better, said one U.S. Olympic teammate. My story on Thorpe's magnificent achievements for the U.S. Olympic site on the 100th anniversary of the Stockholm Games.

Are you hungry for baseball? The all-you-can-eat seats may be for you

Around baseball, in the majors and minors, the all-you-can-eat sections have become popular attractions. Have as many hot dogs, peanuts, drinks, popcorn, ice cream and cookies you can stuff into your face while you watch the game, all for one, all-inclusive price. Some sections are bare bones and some offer good variety. Plus, more high-end sections are on the way. My story for's Playbook section:

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Angels still rallying around their famous monkey

It's the Rally Monkey's 12th birthday, but the Angels won't make a big fuss over their prime primate's big day. Like any other day, the Angels will let the Rally Monkey speak for himself ... if he's needed. Though he was born in 2000, the Rally Monkey leaped into the national consciousness 10 years ago when the Angels unexpectedly won the World Series, in part because of a series of dramatic, comeback victories and the magic of the monkey. My story on the monkey for's Playbook section:

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Young Devils fan savors his day with the Stanley Cup

Noah Delaney and his father share a love of hockey, so when his dad, a sergeant in the Army, was sent to Afghanistan for another tour of duty, he's missed the times on weekends that they played the game together or watched their beloved New Jersey Devils. However, Noah got to share a special treat with his father recently when he won a national contest to spend a day with the Stanley Cup. Noah got to show his dad the Cup, via Skype, and spend a day hanging with cup with his friends and family. My story for USA Hockey:

Saturday, June 2, 2012

This couple tees up together on a new career

Tom and Pam Koppel decided to go a completely new direction in their lives, opening up a Big Frog custom T-shirt shop in Rancho Penasquitos. They went all in, even moving to the area from San Diego to become part of their new community. So far, the venture has fit them to a T. My story for the On the Job series in the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Phillip Wellman's tirade, caught on video five years ago, ranks as one of the most memorable in baseball history

For more than 100 years, managers have had disputes with umpires. Fortunately for most, video cameras weren't around to document them. Five years ago today, however, cameras were rolling when Mississippi Braves manager Phillip Wellman stormed from his dugout in Chattanooga and went on a tirade that made movie magic. His improv act earned an "A" for creativity, even though Wellman was fearful it would cost him his job when he saw it on national newscasts the next day. Now, it's something he has to live with. It's never going away. "It has a life of its own," says Wellman. My story for's Playbook section: