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Inside Info: Sports

have worked at the Stadium in San Diego for over ten years, and have also worked at the Sports Arena and fairgrounds on and off.  I've worked baseball playoffs and world series games, football playoffs and two SuperBowls, pro-basketball games, concerts, college football games, rodeos, tractor pulls, and just about everything else you might see at a sports venue.  I'm not proud of any of this, but the work pays very well for limited hours, and I have picked up some interesting facts and stories over time.

There are things I can't write about, mostly my current work and the company I work for, but I do have a lot of interesting stories from the years, and this page will have them added, on all different topics.  This page will grow over time as I relate new stories that end up here.

 

Stadium Stories

Other stadium stories, ones more specifically about the complete lazy fools I used to work with, and stupid idiots I used to work for, can be found on the Work Stories article page.

 

December 28, 2002

The Holiday Bowl was uneventful. The game wasn't bad, I guess, though I paid it very little attention, not caring who won, and left in the mid-3rd quarter.  Plus I don't have ESPN so I couldn't have watched the ending even if I'd wanted to, which I didn't.

I honestly have zero of interest to talk about, about it.  Oh, one thing, Kansas State has hot cheerleader outfits.  Black tights and purple sequined bikini tops.  They're almost halter tops, with just a strap that comes up from outside each breast, almost from the armpit, and goes around the neck.  So their entire backs are bare, and they look bare from the front as well, depending on the angle their arms are held at.

I'll give them credit, they didn't put on big ugly running jackets at any point while I was there, and it was down into the 50's by the 3rd quarter.  Of course they were pretty much non-stop dancing around and waving at the crowd and cheering, so they kept up their body temperature that way.  Plus after being in Kansas this time of year, the cool night here probably felt quite balmy.

They didn't roam the stands too much, but I saw a few up close at halftime, and like 99% of cheerleaders, they looked a lot better from a distance. Unlike the professional cheerleaders, the college girls don't put on ungodly amounts of makeup, nor do they exist at all times with a straining smile plastered to their faces.  So they aren't out right scary at face to face range, but they were heavily made up and all the ones I saw looked very solid.  Not that that's necessarily a bad thing, but they had like zero curves.  No hourglass figure at all, which reminded me of that Playboy centerfold study I ranted about a week or two ago.  These girls were probably something like 33-31-32; waists almost as thick as their hips.  There may be such a thing as "too many" crunches.

Plus their pants, while gloriously skin-tight, were cut to be unflattering.  Like control bottom or something, and sort of like cargo pants so it made their butts look wider and flatter and squashed. Ordinarily there's nothing I like better on a fit woman than tight pants, but these were not very attractive.  I'm sure my disapproval will be noted by the heads of the Kansas State cheerleading uniform council.

 

 

December 15, 2002

The first game yesterday featured the Saints vs. the Crusaders.  I don't remember where either school was from, but the names amused me.  It was like the Jesus bowl.

The Saints wore purple, and they had a lot more fans, all in purple on their side of the stadium.  They lost by a lot, like 42-14, since they ran for like 15 yards while throwing interceptions galore, while the other team ran for around 350 yards.  But what was funny was that they had really hot cheerleaders who ran through the stands most of the game.  In the front row in one spot there were 6 or 7 girls, obviously students, all in purple sequined bikini tops and tight jeans.  Sitting right in the front row, with belly paint and such, mostly standing up and waving their arms overhead at every available opportunity.  Half the time I was five feet away from them kneeling down selling my poison to children, so yes, I enjoyed the floor show.  All of them were cute too, though they had the one requisite fat girl in their posse.

They were flirting outrageously, as teen age girls often do when in packs at the stadium.  I often wish I were 18 again, when there is some bunch of 17 y/o's making goo goo eyes and licking their lips a lot as they try out their nascent flirting skills in half-hearted pursuit of a free cotton candy.  I don't think they really want one, it's just that I'm a not-too-ugly guy, and they are feeling their oats with no parental supervision in a safe environment.  Girls who are there alone or with just one friend act normally.  Girls over 14 in a group of 3 or more are wildly-teasing.

I assume they were the same when I was closer to their age, I just was too dumb to realize it.  Or was intimidated or charged up by it.  Now I view it with detached amusement.

I'm not sure where the line between admiring their hot young bodies and being a late-term pedophile comes in, but I try to not cross it.  The clothing for high school girls is amazing today though.  As I recall when I was in high school there were some tight outfits, but nothing ever in any way resembling a belly shirt.  Long oversized sweaters were in vogue then, usually over tights, which is a torturing outfit.  Torturing for me, a fella who most obsesses over women with tight butts.  So the fashion was to wear something that would have shown off a great butt, but to cover it up with an ugly sweater.

Now the girls all have on belly shirts, so their butts are out in the public view the entire time.  True, the fashion in jeans are those low rider ones that are cut poorly and make the ass look square, but at least you can see that they have one.  Not that I notice such things, of course.

The girls also all wear tons of make up, and obviously.  Lots of that sparkle eye liner, with liberal splashes on their cheeks and very shiny lip gloss.  It's not exactly a subtle look, but I think it's relatively attractive.  Would look ridiculous on a woman old enough that I'd consider dating, but it's cute on a cute 17 y/o.

And I saw about 200 girls like that yesterday, most of them from about a foot away as they bought or begged for a cotton candy.

I don't find any of them exactly "sexy", but they are flashy eye candy.

The dance/cheer teams are amusing also.  All in those short little skirts and prancing around the stands, displaying much of their panties.  Not that they're actually underwear; they're almost like bike shorts, coming down the thighs a bit, far larger than any underwear women wear.  But they're visible under a skirt, which makes it seem naughty.  Which is the whole point.

One team was the Lancers, and their miniskirt brigade were the "Lancer Dancers".  Which I thought was pretty cute.

None of the teams had any male cheerleaders that I saw.  So not much of the high-throwing acrobatic stuff; it was mostly synchronized dancing.  But sexy dancing, I mean tons of hip thrusting and pelvic swaying and high leg kicks.  Not quite of the "all they need is a brass pole" pro cheerleader style, but not far from it.  I got to trot out two of my favorite jokes, when after one routine I turned to a guy next to me and said, "The last time I saw dancing like that there was a two drink minimum."

My other variation on that is, "there was a cover charge." but it's essentially the same joke.  It amuses me, anyway.

The best usage ever was about 5 years ago when there were several really hot girls on the "Pad Squad".  That is a sort of "pump up the crowd" team the Padres employ at baseball games.  They run around wearing baseball jerseys and shorts and throw t-shirts and such into the crowd between innings, lead cheers and dance around and clap and such.  They aren't a cheer team in that they don't have routines or organized dancing, and they are co-ed, about half male, and all in their early 20's, I'd estimate.  The last few years there have not been any cute girls among them, but when they first started 4 or 5 years ago, there were several cuties.  Chief among them was a gorgeous woman with very long black hair.  She looked a bit like the Disney Pocahontas cartoon character, actually.  I don't think she was Indian, but she had a dark complexion and was truly beautiful. Picture Pocahontas in tight shorts with hair past her waist.  She'd often put it into two long braids, pig tail style, with sparkly lip gloss, and men would just groan as she pranced past.

She was a bitch though, stuck up and uncommunicative.  The few times I said something to her in passing she'd just ignore me completely. I assume that's a natural outgrowth of being really hot and able to get away with anything, and also working in such a public job, where every man is trying to hit on you.  I never was trying to hit on her though (at least when I saw how pointless it would be).  I'd just say "Hi." or make a quick joke as I passed, and she'd look away or scowl, ignoring me entirely.  The rest of the Pad Squad types would always laugh or reply, but she was too good for that.

Anyway, near the end of the year she was dancing between innings to whatever stupid music they were playing, and yes, she could dance.  Lots of the side shimmering hand movement stuff, pirouettes to show off her slim figure and send her hair flying out decoratively, etc.  But hot, stripper style gyrations as well.

I was nearby during one routine and couldn't help but look on appreciatively, as were the other 1000 men in visual range.  As she finished to applause and was doing her fake clapping and yelling of the "Let's go team" type, I walked past on my selling route. She looked over and saw me coming and looked away.  I had been on the verge of saying, "Nice dance." or something like that, since it was, but her usual, "Fuck off and die." look annoyed me.  So as I passed her I said, "The last time I saw dancing like that I had to pay a cover charge, baby."

She turned quickly and audibly hissed at me, while still keeping that fake smile pasted to her face.  I was greatly amused though, and it kept a (real) smile on my face for the rest of the night.

I'm sure she's landed some really rich husband by now, and all of his friends think he must be the luckiest guy in the neighborhood with such a hot wife, while he's sitting at home wishing to god he'd insisted on a pre-nup so he could dump the bitch.  Their first two years were great, but once the honeymoon was over and everything wasn't about making her happy, she began to show her true colors and probably avoids sex 90% of the time, and lays there like a lox the 10% she doesn't, saying endearing things like, "Hurry up and finish." or "You haven't bought me any new jewelry lately."

Not that I'm projecting or anything.

 

 

December 9, 2002

Perhaps the oddest thing at the Chargers games is the pre-game music. Each game they play basically the same thing, for about 45 minutes during the pre-game warm ups.  During this time the players are all on the field, stretching out or doing some light running or throwing, just to get loose and warmed up, so I assume they have some say in what music is played.

The music is always rap, and very angry, very black rap.  I'm not talking about some Eminem or happy rap like Will Smith.  This stuff is furious and incomprehensible.  It's almost instrumental rap, where some guy is just yelling "Here I go" over and over again for five minutes, while blaring samples and sound effects that sound like car crashes go on and on.  It's actively awful, and so loud that you have to shout to be heard by the person you are sitting next to.

What makes this odder is that 98% of the crowd can't possibly like the music.  They're mostly white or Mexican with some blacks, and the average age is 40+, during pre-game warm ups.  Once the game starts there are a lot of younger fans, guys in their 20's and early 30's mostly, but they don't get there early, since they're all out in the parking lot getting drunk at tail gate parties then.  Given that a beer costs like $7.50, I can hardly blame them for drinking up in advance.  Well, I could hardly blame them if I didn't hate drunks.  So they're filthy drunks.  But at least they're filthy drunks with some financial sense.

During the game they play music for the cheerleaders to dance to, and it's usually some catchy rock or rap song, or else something instrumental.  Stripper music, basically, but nothing anyone is going to be offended by, or really dislike.

I always wonder who requests the pre-game music, and why they play it.  The team owner is a really old and really conservative guy, and I always figure he'll come in one day and hear it and flip out and it'll be Lawrence Welk next game.  But not yet.

 

Players in Private

September 29, 2002

One thing that's always amused me at work is the player's wives/families seating section.  There's one section right behind home plate on the plaza level that usually has at least half the seats empty, even when most of the other levels are full, and seated there are usually half a dozen or more women who possess model-quality beauty.  With no men.  The reason, as you've probably grasped already, is that that's where the players get their comp tickets, and the women are their wives/girlfriends.  The empty seats are due to them all getting about 4 tickets per game, and usually not having anyone sitting in them.

The employees check in area is out in the parking lot, by the main tunnel entrance.  This is where all the deliveries come in to the warehouse, and there's always a tractor trailer parked there that's entirely full of ice (delivers a fresh full load every few days).  Forklifts ferry pallets of half a ton of ice from there up to the drop off spot by the warehouse, and from there it gets delivered to all of the vending and concession stands.

Anyway, from the main tunnel you go up a sloped hill into the bowels of the stadium, and there is a fork in the road.  To the right it continues uphill and goes to the main company offices and warehouse and kitchens and service elevator and other such things.  To the left the road goes downhill and runs into a metal door like a garage door (rolls up and down) that is between it and the field level.  This is where deliveries to field level go out, since they can't very well drive a fork lift with 100 kegs of beer down 4 flights of stairs.

Near the large door to field level there's a hallway to the right, and it leads to the locker rooms for baseball, football, and the visitors' locker rooms.  This is how the players and their families enter.

I belabor this explanation, but my point was to say that the players and their wives park right next to where we check in, and we walk through this parking area on the way into the tunnel, as we head up to whatever stand we're working in that day.  The players are there way earlier than I arrive, so I seldom see them, but their wives often drive up once we're standing around waiting to check in, and we walk past their cars.  They all own BMWs and big SUVs for the most part, with a few Porsches and such thrown in.  No one has a really flashy sports car now, at least not that I see at the stadium.  The one who used to was Benito Santiago, when he was on the Padres some years ago.  He had a white convertible Ferrari and a black convertible that was even more exotic.  I don't remember, but it was a Mazerati or something like that.

I often wonder where the players meet their wives.  I mean most of the players are just big dumb jocks.  They played baseball in high school and college and the minor leagues, and because they could throw harder or hit better than 99.9% of the population, they progressed to the major leagues and are now rich, for the most part (Younger guys are only making $300k or $500k, but once they get past 3 years they get big raises, and past 6 years they're making multi-millions per year.)

And they all have, without exception, model-beautiful wives.

No one seems to have a plain girl who they fell in love with for her personality, oddly enough.

The wives often dress casually, just in jeans and a t-shirt, but sometimes they are way overdressed for the stadium, in dress suits or designer outfits, and almost always with at least two or three obscene pieces of jewelry.  I'll sell their kids a cotton candy or frozen lemonade from time to time, and the woman will be digging out quarters to pay me while there's a rock on her finger the size of a robin's egg.

They're actually pretty nice, or at least not snobby bitches, and usually tip a bit, so I don't have complaints about them.  I just wonder how they hooked up with the players in the first place.  I'm not saying they are gold diggers, but you've probably noticed in society that there is a very high concentration of beautiful women around rich men.  And vice versa, I suppose, though to a much lesser extent.  I can see this in Hollywood, where movie stars and executives and aspiring actresses mingle at parties or meet at their agent's office.  But where do aspiring baseball players meet such gorgeous women?  Do the women know each other? I mean does a player's wife meet other beautiful women at the spa or beauty salon and introduce them to her husband's co-workers? Do the beautiful women in college gravitate to the star players, wanting to be with them, at least on some level, since they know the guy will probably be a millionaire in a few years?  Do the players have their pick of groupies early in their career or in the minors, and pick out the prettiest ones to marry/date?  Maybe the players spot beauties working in restaurants or bars or expensive stores; and the women there are working there at least half-looking for some handsome rich man to marry?

Anyway, I guess I've answered my own question, at least in speculative fashion.

I was thinking that since the players are big dumb jocks (for the most part) they weren't likely to be hanging around high society parties or other places where you'd see the rich and beautiful and be able to meet gorgeous women.  And that's probably true, but there are other ways to hook up than being a movie star and going to a casting agency to page through the aspiring actress/model books and pick out ones you like.

 

September 30, 2002

One thing I forgot to mention yesterday, about the hot players' wives.

A pitcher on the Padres for years in the mid-90's was Joey Hamilton.  He was this pudgy guy, tall but baby-fatted, and a wretched athlete.  He set the record for the longest streak going hitless to start a major league career, and was like 0-56 before he got his first hit.  Yes, he was a pitcher, but he swung like a left-handed girl, and was 0-56 on merit; it wasn't like he kept stinging line drives that turned into highlight reel diving catches.

In fact I remember his first hit, since I was at the game when he got it.  It was a drive to straight away centerfield that went all the way to the wall for a triple.  Half of the credit should have gone to Brett Butler, who was in his last or second to last season then, playing centerfield for the Dodgers.  He'd been a fast guy years before, but by 1995ish he was shot.  No legs, short white guy, 36 or so, and for some insane reason (probably since he had no arm) he insisted upon playing very shallow center field. I remember in one three game series here, where Hamilton (or "Hambone" as we used to call him) got his first hit, the Padres must have gotten 4 or 5 doubles and a couple of triples solely due to Brett playing deep second base and being way too slow to get away with it.  The hit Hamilton got would have been a can of corn for 95% of players, but the Dodgers were playing everyone shallow (since Hambone couldn't hit) and Brett was so slow that the 250 foot drive got over his head and bounced about 10x on the way to the wall.

Hamilton was not a handsome man.  His picture on his bio page (linked to above) there is very flattering, and he doesn't look good in it.  That thick goatee hides his plump little chipmunk cheeks pretty well, and he's improved with age over the last 7 years as well.  Back in 1995 or '96 he was actually a pretty good pitcher on a very bad team, and he was 25ish, but looked about 18 with a fat baby face, pop eyes, jowls, a big beer belly, bad spiky hair, etc.  Not exactly a chick-magnet.

But he was making hundreds of thousands of dollars, and was destined for millions, so of course he had a hot wife. She was the hottest of all the player wives, at the time.  At least at first glance.

She looked like a really hot porn star or stripper, circa 1991.  Like the cutest girl you'd see in an old Motley Cre video.  Not classy at all; long bleached blonde hair with black roots, huge stand up boobies, Angelina Jolie-sized CS'er lips. She always dressed a little bit slutty, with too tight silk blouses or slacks, more makeup than most women wear in a month, super high heels, etc.  I didn't actually find her very pretty; it was like she was trying way too hard.  First glance you'd think she was so hot, but after seeing her several times a homestand, my opinion of her looks went down in a hurry.  I always used to wonder if Joey felt the same way, and he'd thought she was hotter than the sun the first year, but was ready to kill himself by the fourth anniversary.

Anyway, the funny part was that he was eventually traded to Toronto, IIRC, and that year I was watching a game from his new team for just a minute when there was a break in the action (Well, that's pretty much 98% of a baseball game, but you know what I mean.) and the cameras were showing various people in the stands.  After a moment they flipped to a shot of this really cute woman from behind, and as it zoomed in she turned around, talking to someone in the stands behind her, and I laughed out loud. It was Joey's wife, looking just like she had here, with perhaps even thicker pancaked-on make up, and something silk on with her big nipples poking out.  You could see several other women in the shot, and all of them looked just like the players' wives do here, unsurprisingly.

I'm not sure why it amused me so, probably just that I'd never thought to see her again, and hadn't thought of her since he'd left the team, and then suddenly there she was, on that there teevee, looking just the same, if not more so.  His career has pretty well crashed in the last few years, so I wouldn't be surprised if she's moved on to someone younger and richer.

 

Men in Figure Skating

So all the men in figure skating are gay, eh? Well lots of them are anyway, I mean it's ballet on ice, and have you heard Brian Boitano talk?

I used to work part time at the sports arena here.  I'd walk around vending ice cream for Nestle, hockey games, basketball games, concerts, etc.  All small time sports, San Diego lacks any real sporting teams (college or pro) other than Padres and Chargers.  And those are "real" only about every other year.

Anyway, working at the sports arena Nestle had 4 or 5 push carts, and they had girls working those at stationary locations. Somehow they'd hooked up with a woman whose daughter and most of her friends were on local ice skating clubs.  All high school girls, 16 or 17, and they'd stand there in white shirts and black jeans and sell ice cream.

I was 25ish at the time and too old for them (in my opinion, not necessarily theirs) but we'd talk at times before the people arrived, or when I came out to get some more Drumsticks or whatever from their cart (whichever one was closest, usually), and yes, according to them virtually every guy in ice skating was gay.  And the ones who weren't were pigs.

The daughter of the ice skating team was sort of the main girl, as in she'd be there almost every time I worked, along with 2 or 3 team mates, usually different ones each time.  She (the daughter) was sort of a bitch, I'd say she was an ice princess, but that would be a terrible pun, and her mother didn't seem to spoil her, she was just really pretty and probably popular, so somewhat fucked up from that, as most prom queen types are.

Funny part was that she was a total slut, always telling me about making out with some guy at a party, or giving some guy a hand job in the back seat, etc. My impression was that her mother knew nothing about any of this. It occurs to me now that perhaps she was flirting, or at least trying to tantalize me, but at the time I didn't do more than enjoy the amazingly nice ass she had a quick glance at a time, since I was really into mature, intelligent, adult women to not meet or date, as opposed to hot little teens to meet and not date.

Talking to the daughter (I can't at all remember her name, or I'd use it.  I'll call her "Jessica" just for the sake of the argument, though I have no idea if that's right or not.), Jessica, she would complain how hard it was for girls to find any guys to skate with.  Basically the girls who are pretty good skaters and artistic and stuff, but not brilliant enough to win solo, would look to get into partners.  It's a way to skate longer too; the winning singles are usually national champs by 15 or 16, and in the Olympics by 18 or 20, and then it's all down hill.  While in pairs the women are often in their mid or late 20's and still going strong, since you don't need to do 7 triples, you need to flow and look artistic and do a little jumping.

Jessica and her mother both remarked on how few guys there were doing it, and how most of them were gay and into solo performance, and certainly not into pairs with girls.  And the few who were, mostly hetero guys, were horn dogs.  Like there were so many girls competing to partner with them they got totally spoiled, and some would almost demand sex to stay as a partner with a girl.  IIRC Jessica was just fuming one day, since some guy from LA had met her and had been a great skater, but was grabbing her ass and tits on the ice, and strongly hinting about them getting to know each other better later.  Unclear why she'd dislike that, she didn't seem to be too picky, but anyway, she was pissed about it at the time, and had evidently turned him down totally.

So most guys jeer and taunt and sneer at male cheerleaders and figure skaters.  Meanwhile they are lifting young, lithe, sexy women all day, holding their asses and legs, spending hours with them in practice, and girls fight each other to be with them, and put out to stay with them.  That might be worth ignoring a few weak insults from washed up football players, eh?

Originally posted February 25th, 2002.  Edited here with minor editing October 19, 2002.

 

Monster Trucks

February 3, 2002

There is a Monster Truck event every year at the stadium, usually in February.  This is "dirt event" season, since football is over, baseball hasn't yet begun, and they can cover the entire field with plywood and plastic and several hundred tons of dirt without worrying about killing all of the grass.

In addition to the Monster Truck event we usually have a motorcross event, and used to have another type of racing with pick up trucks and dune buggies and such, but that's not happened in recent years. The racing events are pretty straight forward, with a big track built and then lots of heats and different engine classes and guys racing around them.  Monster Trucks are different.  They are much more show than sport, and have a lot of elements of pro wrestling.  These include spotlight introductions, long waits between short bursts of action, cult of personality yelling and showboating, and fixed results.  Well, potentially fixed with the Monster Trucks.

What goes on at such an event?  The monster trucks have varied over the years, but the actual big pick up trucks are always the main show event.  However they only take up maybe 1/2 or 1/3 of the actual time, with other junk filling up the rest.  There used to be tractor pulls and mud buggy races, which were incredibly loud and fast events.  In recent years they've discontinued those aspects.  What they have now is ATV racing, where the guys on the 4-wheel bikes race around the outside of the Monster Truck course.  It's generally a pretty crappy event since there are just a few low jumps, rather than the moon-surface look of the motocross motorcycle races.  Also the ATV racers are very much a side event there, so the best riders are off on their own racing tour, and the people at this are just scrubs, probably locals hired for the event, pit workers for the monster trucks, etc.  In addition to that they have local guys driving their remote control cars around and off huge jumps, little kids riding motorcycles around, some guy doing wheelies around the entire track on a motorcycle, etc.  All sorts of side show crap.

The monster trucks are pretty entertaining, but there are a lot of failings in how they are run.  The vehicles are so large that they can't race on the same course (they'd never have any room to pass) and they aren't real good at handling with their huge bouncy tires.  They have no top speed either, it's all about acceleration and a sprint, rather than an actual longer race.

The usual course is about a 50 yard sprint, straight ahead, with various old sedans in the middle, two lanes, and each truck lines up and goes straight ahead, leaping the cars (which have smooth dirt ramps up to them) and then crossing the finish line.  The problem is if you have the trucks side by side one will bounce or crash over into the other lane about every fourth race, and quite possibly take out the other vehicle. Also this works out to about 3 second races, which aren't a whole lot of fun to watch, and if one guy is a second late or misses a shift, he will lose every time.

So the course is usually a down and double back sort of thing.  One common layout that is functional but very boring is to have a big rectangle.  Truck A starts at one corner, Truck B starts at the diagonal corner, and they both go clockwise.  So they're going in opposite directions, one left and the other right, they turn and cross over the other truck's starting spot, and then go down the other side of the rectangle from where they started, which is the finish line.  This basically doubles the length of the track and race, but the lame aspect is that they are never side by side.  The whole point in a race is each competitor trying to reach the same "finish line", and whoever gets their first wins. In this layout of Monster Truck racing, they are finishing at opposite corners, 60 or 70 yards apart.  There's no way to tell with the human eye which one wins if it's a close race.

The other problem is that there are almost never any close races.  There don't seem to be any engine classes or size requirements, so whoever has the bigger motor and greater horsepower wins 90% of the time.  This is why one truck tends to dominate the sport for years at a time.  Bigfoot used to always win, and now Gravedigger always wins.  The winning team gets a bigger prize but also has more money from endorsements, and they use that to upgrade their truck, fix broken parts, etc.  It's not at all fair; and makes for very predictable outcomes.

The odd part is that the fans appear to like it, with everyone cheering madly as Gravedigger, super turbo powered, sparkling new, great paint job, blows away Bob and Ted's jacked up Chevy with no sponsor stickers on it at all.  It's like racing a Ferrari against a home-built stock car.  You can try all you want, but if your truck has half the power, you're never going to win, barring mechanical failure.

I wouldn't say it's fixed, but it's extremely uneven, which makes all of the preliminary rounds pretty pointless, as the 5 or 6 pro-class trucks just wipe the floor with the other lower budget ones.  The event will run 1 or 2 Monster prelims, with the obviously superior truck winning by a mile.  They then drive them back out of sight up the tunnel, and have a race with the ATVs, or have some little kids ride around on bikes.  Just time filling crap.

The ATV racing is very suspect as well.  The thing they've done the last few years is to have 2 Teams of 4 or 5 guys in matching jerseys.  In San Diego they always have team California vs. Team Mexico or Arizona.  One obvious good guy, and one visiting bad guy.  The riders get a little bit of time to scream into a mike before each race, and the good guys are good and humble and vow to win for the crowd while the visiting bad guys are angry and insulting and hostile. It's very pro wrestling.

Of course you know that next weekend they'll be in Dallas and it'll be team Texas vs. the evil team Oklahoma, or whatever.  Same guys, same jerseys, same dialogue, with just the names changed. I don't know how much of the race is real; everyone seems to be trying, but both years I can remember this going here the team California has been way behind but managed to make a huge comeback and win at the last second in a neck and neck final lap.

The crowd seems to enjoy it and cheers madly, so perhaps they actually buy the rivalry part?  Or maybe they realize it's bullshit on some level, but cheer anyway for the sheer spectacle of things.  People cheer at pro wrestling as well, and no one thinks that's real.  After the event the team California guys says how great this is and the Team bad guy probably pushes him or yells from the winner's podium.  Each time I'm almost expecting the bad guy to trip the ref and then hit the Team California rider with a folding chair, while the evil but hot blonde manager poses and smiles for the camera before trying to snatch the wig off of the cute and pure and dumb Team California leader's girlfriend. I enjoyed stupid wrestling theatrics when I was 13, though I knew it was at least mostly fake, but haven't watched any of it in years and years, it's just so dumb and choreographed to my adult eyes.

Another odd aspect of the Monster Trucks is that it's all about the truck.  In most racing sports it's about the driver.  Formula One or stockcar or whatever, you follow the drivers.  It's Dale Earnhardt vs. Richard Petty; the cars are seen as extensions of the drivers since there are so many rules about engine size and performance and spoiler height and tire width and everything else. It's highly controlled and therefore a battle of driver skill.

With Monster Trucks this is reversed.  Everyone glorifies the truck, and the driver is hardly even mentioned.  When they introduce them they call out the name of the truck; there could be a brick on the gas petal and a bungie cord on the steering wheel for all anyone knows.  It's sort of like horse racing in that way, where no one goes to see the jockeys.  Only jockeys have a lot more to do with the outcome than the Monster drivers.  They do interview the winning drivers at the end, but it's mostly a lot of "Yeah! It ran great tonight!  The crew did a great job!" shouting over noisy engines.  At least there's no wrestling-style taunting of the losing drivers.

The really absurd element of the Monsters is the style show.  Each truck gets 90 seconds or so to drive around the arena, leaping over the cars or doing wheelies up these huge dirt banks they put around the outside of the racing area.  The crowd is supposed to cheer madly for their favorite.  It's not part of the race but is a sort of bonus event, and is always dreadful.  It's like 20 seconds of trying to do a donut in the hard packed dirt, nearly tipping over driving the wrong way up an already-wrecked car, and slowly inching up a huge mound of dirt.  People always lose interest half way through the demo round, especially when the lower quality trucks get their turn and can't do even as well as the boring big budget ones did.

The unbalanced nature of things is shown in the merchandise as well.  Virtually everything is Gravedigger.  Calendars, videotapes of highlights, glow in the dark pens, t-shirts, caps, and on and on.  They have shirts and hats and such for all the major trucks, but seem to have about 10 Gravedigger T's for each of the other types, and all the specialty crap is Gravedigger only.  The most annoying item last year was a fountain pen with a built in LED, like what you have in your TV remote, shining through a red filter to make it visible.  It's basically a low-powered laser pointer, in a cheap plastic Gravedigger case. Virtually every kid there screamed until daddy bought them one, and those things were going for $10 each.  I'm sure the lights burn out after about six hours, and they don't shine far enough to be of any practical use.  Fortunately, since I'd have been blind by intermission otherwise.

So I guess it's a sport, but it's more about spectacle than honest competition.  The good guys/favorites almost always win, the action to filler time is about 1 to 10, and you go home buried in ugly $25 t-shirts and other merchandise junk your kids begged relentlessly for. It's better on TV, edited from three hours down to 45 minutes, and a lot cheaper too.

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