Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Sports Illustrated staffer woefully mistaken about San Francisco sports bars

One "Lee Jenkins," a Sports Illustrated staff writer, recently penned this otherwise charming piece about being an obsessive fan of, as it happens, Vanderbilt football, which is where he went to college.

I enrolled at Vanderbilt in 1995, and on the second play of the first game 5'7" tailback Jermaine Johnson pinballed 75 yards through the Alabama defense. Nearly 20 years later I have watched Vanderbilt at a Champps or a Buffalo Wild Wings in virtually every American metropolis. I've left weddings when I was a groomsman. I've postponed assignments on deadline. I once got temporarily ejected from Virginia Tech's Lane Stadium for flipping the press-box TV to Vanderbilt-Florida. In San Francisco, a city lacking sports bars, I persuaded The Condor to open at 9 a.m. for Vanderbilt--South Carolina. The Condor, it turned out, was a strip joint. A weary dancer and I watched alone. Vanderbilt lost that game, and most others. My wife stopped making Saturday-night plans. Grieving takes time.

Vanderbilt was to the SEC what Florida State would have been to the Ivy League, only the opposite, by far the smallest school with the smallest stadium and steepest academic requirements. But it's hard to take solace in APR rankings when you go 30 years without a winning regular season. I never laughed at the Weed-Eater Bowl. I fantasized about it (and almost got there in '05!).

Now, thanks to a visionary coach—who I won't name for fear that someone will throw $50 million at him—I've spent the past two New Year's Eves at bowls. Last season Vanderbilt won nine games for the first time since 1915, and over my computer hangs the final AP poll, which has an unfamiliar name at 23rd. That's AP, not APR.

Aww, that's sweet. Except for one thing:

"In San Francisco, A CITY LACKING SPORTS BARS . . . ."

Whoa whoa whoa.  For whatever other faults SF may have, I think you can hardly argue it "lacks sports bars."  Maybe it "lacks sports bars in whatever hotel Lee Jenkins was staying in" or "lacks huge chain sports bars like Lee Jenkins is used to."  But consider this.  The game he's talking about probably happened in 2004, when Vanderbilt played South Carolina at 11:30 a.m. Central time (i.e., 9:30 a.m. our time.)  In 2004, the Condor, which has had a long and storied past and had been a strip club in previous incarnations, had just switched back to being a strip club again.  Immediately before that?  It was a SPORTS BAR.

About 3 blocks away from the Condor is the North Star, a small but perfectly reasonable sports bar.  I doubt it was open on Saturday at 9, but still.  Oh, and there's a totally corporate sports bar called Knuckles in the Hyatt at the Wharf that opens at 6:30 a.m. and is probably weary-dancer-free.  I'm not saying that Knuckles is a great option, but it's close to where Lee was and I bet they were open and showing football at 9:30 a.m.

If Lee had been willing to hop in a cab, of course, there is a whole universe of really great sports bars:  Kezar and the Phoenix and Connecticut Yankee and any number of other places that I'm sure would have been able to accommodate Mr. Jenkins.  Greens on Polk is really not far from the Condor, and they open at 10 a.m.  That's close!  I'm 100% sure that Google was around in 2004 and Googling "San Francisco sports bars" would have returned some usable results.

Sorry we don't have a Buffalo Wild Wings or a "Champps," whatever that is, though.


periqueblend said...

I think it's clear he doesn't know what google is:

"Now, thanks to a visionary coach—who I won't name for fear that someone will throw $50 million at him"

TK said...

HA! Good point. I can just see the athletic director at Big School saying "Goddamit, I wish we could find out who Vanderbilt's coach is, but THIS ARTICLE DOESN'T SAY. Oh well, get me the guy from Northern Illinois instead."

Lisa said...

Um. I'm actually totally on Lee's side here. As a highly obsessive LSU fan, I have often complained about SF being a really shitty sports bar city. San Francisco is more of a city with bars that show sports (like North Star, which happens to be the LSU bar) than bars focused on showing sports. In the South, a sport bar means a place with giant projection screen TV's devoted to every athletic competition ever that is happy to put the sound on for you. It will be on high quality surround sound and you will hear lineman inflict punishment. A place where watching the sports in a communal environment is the focus. The BEST place in SF proper for that is Kezar Pub. Pete's is good, if you can put up with the by the ballpark prices. I have never ventured to McCovey's in Walnut Creek, I believe, but have heard good things. So. Lee's not wrong. Coming from the same SEC tradition, I can see easily how he is perplexed by SF's lack of sports focused bars, and our plethora of bars that happen to have a TV stuck in the corner. North Star will open at 9 a.m. for you though. If you ask Brian nicely. Which I've done.

Tamagosan said...

I'm not one to comment since I only care about the Giants (and every World Cup, French footballeurs) but I was blown away by the sportsiness of the Final Final recently...

Stoney said...

Don't forget Jillian's. I think that's the sort of sports bar Lee would be fond of.

Rachel said...

Connecticut Yankee for Boston sports, Aces for New York Sports, and every Irish bar in the city for footie.
Every other bar with a tv = San Francisco sports.
And I seem to remember some college football bars my friends used to go to... Elixer might have been one of them?
I'm sure there are more, if you just look, Lee!

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