Twining’s Take on the week in sports: Beer Fest, remembering 9/11, Serena’s outburst

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Heading into Beer Fest Friday night, I planned on live-tweeting throughout the event, interviewing brewers, patrons, and volunteers, and writing a feel-good story about an event which was expected to raise $80,000-$100,000 to fight cancer. And then I showed up and, with the exception of live-tweeting, the rest fell by the wayside the moment I realized, A) those 4oz. tasters, while small in size, really pack a punch as the night progresses, B) by the time I showed up, a little before 8 p.m., most everybody in attendance, including the brewers and volunteers, had already done their fair share of sampling and C) the more I sampled, the less notes I took. Therefore, instead of inundating you with 1,500 words on the different tastes and aromas of the 10 beers I sampled, I figured I’d start this week’s Twining’s Take with some info about the 17th Annual Festival of Beer and list my top-10 beers.

I was able to secure one interview during the night with Candace Brown, the president of the San Diego Professionals Against Cancer, who hosts on this event. She told me the most difficult aspect of putting on such a large, alcoholic event is not necessarily convincing the brewers to donate beer at their expense or rounding up the 300+ volunteers to sell merchandise and tickets and serve beer samples. No, the biggest challenge is navigating and paying for the various city permits required.

“The hardest part is learning the matrix of city permits and health regulations – We have to have a permit for everything,” she said. “We have to have a floor plan, an ambulance. A couple years ago we wanted to have a balloon arch but we would’ve needed [Federal Aviation Administration] approval six months in advance. For a balloon arch!”

While the festival has grown throughout the years – this year more than 70 brewers participated – it is no longer the largest beer festival in San Diego. That being said, it remains the longest-running beer fest and Brown attributes that to her and her team’s motivation.

“It’s all out of the goodness of our hearts for a good cause. I always tell my team after the event to step back and look at what we’ve done together,” Brown said. Later she showed me a poster containing a list of names of friends or relatives who had died of cancer. “Every year we come up with a motivation, a way of remembering those close to us who died. I can’t give back to my father, who didn’t have cancer when we started this.”

Now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for – my top-10 beers. Actually, you know what, I think I’ll begin with Twining’s Take on the week in sports. And then, when you’ve had your fill of sports opinion, I’ll top it off with a nice brewski.

A weekend of Remembrance

Ten years ago, the sports world played a significant role in helping the American people heal after the terrorist attacks of 9/11. As we mourned the thousands who perished, we all lived in fear – our national security compromised. Initially, sporting events were cancelled. Eventually, as we began the healing process, professional sports resumed and provided us with a distraction and allowed us to come together and show the world we are a resilient nation.

In front of a crowd of 15,000 people, World Wrestling Entertainment’s Thursday Night Smackdown was the first public gathering – two days after the attacks. Later the NFL and MLB resumed play, paying tribute to the victims, the New York City firefighters and police officers and honoring all those involved or affected.

That year, my Seattle Mariners tied an MLB record with 116 wins. What I’ll remember most about the season was when the Mariners clinched the AL West on Sept. 19. After clinching a playoff berth Sept. 5, the Mariners chose to not celebrate. Following the attacks, however, a celebration was needed. An archived Associated Press article, by Janie McCauley, perfectly describes that celebration and paints a picture of the mindset of players and fans at the time.

The Seattle Mariners celebrated the American League West title, and so much more. Seattle players walked in a line hugging one another after their 5-0 win over the Anaheim Angels on Wednesday, then gathered at the mound and knelt for a moment of silence to pay tribute to victims of last week’s terrorist attacks. Mark McLemore hoisted an American flag into the air and led his teammates around the base path as others raised their arms in the air and tipped their hats. “It was just something that came together,” McLemore said. “It wasn’t choreographed. I don’t think I could be any prouder to be an American than I am tonight.” The celebration was spontaneous. Winning the AL West was special, but in the wake of national tragedy, it was secondary.

NFL 9/11 Tributes

Ten years later, it’s fitting that the anniversary of fell on Sunday, allowing for the sports world to once again honor the memories of 9/11 throughout an emotional weekend. The New York Jets hosted the Dallas Cowboys in New York City on Sunday Night Football. In every major sporting event that took place this past weekend, special ceremonies took place to pay tribute to the victims and heroes. Professional and collegiate athletes wore special apparel dedicated to 9/11. After nearly every national anthem on TV, chants of U.S.A echoed throughout the stadiums.

While I was unable to attend any events this weekend, my parents went to a Seattle Sounders match and told me about the crowd of 35,000-plus people joining together to sing the National Anthem. I can only imagine the atmosphere in the stadium and wish I could’ve been there to experience it.

Serena’s U.S. Open Outburst

After watching Roger Federer lose for only the second time in nearly 185 matches after leading two sets to none, I jotted down some notes and wanted to write about how rivalries in professional tennis have sustained the sport even while Americans struggled and the overall talent declined. When I was growing up back in the 1990s tennis was all about Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi – at least as far as I was concerned. I was an Agassi fan but it seemed that Sampras nearly always won – and by winning 14 majors it’s clear he won a lot.

Recently, tennis has become all about Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. For years, it seemed those were the only two people who ever won majors. If Federer lost, it was to Nadal. If Nadal won, it was usually not to Federer, unless in the French Open. Now, as the sport has progressed and the overall talent improved, the tennis rivalries are becoming less one-sided. Djokovic is finally getting the better of Federer, not just once but on multiple occasions. While Andy Murray can never seem to get past Nadal and into a major final, at least Nadal is no longer winning every major not won by Federer. It’s a great time to be a men’s tennis fan and while I could continue to discuss this topic, I like to, instead, turn my focus to the women’s side.

Serena Williams is one of the best female tennis players ever. Since she burst onto the scene as the 17-year-old bead-haired younger sister of Venus Williams, she has dominated female tennis. Serena is a stocky woman and has a unique blend of power and agility. Like most athletes at the top of their game, she also has an aggressive side. That is understandable.

What I don’t understand, though, is that Serena, like many tennis players before her (primarily men), feels it is okay to publicly berate the chair umpire when or if things aren’t going her way. I don’t know about you all, but when I played organized sports, I was always told to respect the officials and never blame them for a loss. In nearly all sports, berating an official can get you penalized, ejected from the contest and fined. Prior to last season, the NBA extended its officials’ ability to call technical fouls on players for excessively arguing a call or for pretty much anything that publicly disrespects an official.

Why then, in tennis, is it okay to publicly berate a chair umpire with virtually no penalty? Two years ago, Serena famously threatened to shove a ball down a line judge’s throat after Serena was called for a foot-fault that cost her the set and, ultimately, the match. In that instance, Serena has broken the rules. Yet, instead of being mad at herself, it became the line judge’s fault. This year, Serena once again broke the rules when she bellowed “come on” after hitting a forehand winner. The only problem – Serena yelled before her opponent made an attempt on the ball, defined in the rule book as “hindrance.” In the ensuing dressing-down of the chair umpire, Serena actually said “…and I never complain.” I’m sorry Serena, you have become the biggest complainer in women’s tennis; now you could be labeled a liar as well.

Serena has no excuse for violating the hindrance rule because two years ago she was called for the same violation after committing the same error with the same chair umpire officiating the match. Clearly, this time it was not the chair umpire who was out of line, it was Serena. I used to be a fan, but after seeing her outburst Sunday, I will no longer support Serena Williams.

Top-10 San Diego Beers

You’ve made it through this week’s Twining’s Take and now it’s time for me to reward you. I sampled an assortment of beers last Friday, all from different breweries, and must say they were all delicious. But alas, only one could be my favorite.

Lost Abbey's Lost and Found

    10. Minott’s Double Barrell Golden Ale
    9. Mission Bay’s Shipwrecked IPA
    8. Maui Brewing’s Mana Wheat
    7. Anchor’s Breckle’s Brown Ale
    6. Bear Republic’s Hop Rod Rye
    5. North Coast Brewing’s Pranqster Belgian Style Golden Ale
    4. Oggie’s Red IPA
    3. Grand Teton’s Bitch Creek ESP
    2. Ninkasi Brewing’s Rediant Ale
    1. Lost Abbey’s Lost and Found

Photo courtesy theseoduke via Flickr

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