Memories of sports shootaround, part 1: I was there

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Sports seasons everywhere have been suspended in light of the COVID-19 crisis, but we still have the memories of phenomenal games, plays and moments we’ve seen. The Daily Californian’s sports writers share the greatest or most memorable sports moments they have witnessed live.

Josh Yuen: The Oakland Coliseum isn’t exactly the most appealing ballpark for a variety of reasons, but it’s $15 bleacher tickets on a summer Friday night were perfect for a high school me and two other buddies. With Manny Machado and the Orioles in town for the first time since Machado became public enemy No. 1, the three of us sat back with popcorn and hot dogs as the home crowd booed the Baltimore third baseman relentlessly, all evening long. Machado himself didn’t seem too distracted by the extra noise, helping his team jump out to a two-run lead heading in the bottom of the ninth. Against All-Star closer Zack Britton, back-to-back singles brought Josh Donaldson to the plate as the winning run, and Oakland’s slugger didn’t miss a first pitch fastball, sending it over 400 feet to dead center. From our cozy spots along the front row of the right field bleachers, we went crazy.

Nico Alba: The Raiders played the Chargers in their last prime time game in the Coliseum. It was a Thursday evening and you could feel the autumn wind hit your face as you walked from the BART station to the stadium. I went with a couple of friends from LA, who unfortunately were Charger fans. Down four with four minutes left, it was Derek Carr’s time to articulate another game winning drive for Raider nation. The trash talking was at an all time high between my friends and I. With about a minute left on the clock, Josh Jacobs broke one for a touchdown and the crowd erupted! There was jumping, hugging and beer spilling everywhere. It was peak Raider nation.

Kabir Rao: As a Chicago Bears fan, it’s in my blood to hate the Green Bay Packers. After years of suffering heartbreaking losses to the Packers, my Bears had become the butt of the joke in the rivalry. Attending my first game in Chicago, I was cautiously optimistic. But I shouldn’t have been cautious – we beat the cheeseheads at Soldier Field for the first time in 8 years, ended Aaron Rodgers’ interception-less streak, extinguished Green Bay’s dwindling playoff hopes and clinched the division and our first playoff berth in eight seasons. Being in Chicago and on the frozen December lakefront only made crossing the item off my bucket list that much sweeter. Witnessing perhaps the most memorable Bears game of the past decade made that day the best of my life.

Jasper Kenzo Sundeen: I saw Jake Arrieta pitch a no-hitter at Dodger Stadium. I don’t remember the date or the time or even the score. What I remember is the quiet. The game started quietly, but after a couple innings, there was still a big old zero sitting in the Dodgers’ hit column. I don’t know when I really started to pay attention to that. But whenever that moment was, it was greeted by silence. No one said a word about it. Not the fans in the stands or in concession lines, not the play-by-play, not my family, not me. I remember looking at my dad and looking at the scoreboard. We were both looking at the exact same thing and we didn’t breathe a sound about it. The game inched into the bottom of the ninth and two batters came up and went back to the dugout. The entire stadium was there, no one spoke but everyone knew what was on the line — all eyes were glued to the plate. Arrieta threw three strikes and even the home fans gave a standing ovation.

Ethan Moutes: This past January, I attended a game between the Cleveland Cavaliers and my hometown Los Angeles Lakers. On the way there, my heart stopped for a moment when I saw that LeBron James was listed as just “probable” to play on account of flu-like symptoms. I breathed a sigh of relief when James’s name was called during the starting lineup introductions, but he looked sluggish at the beginning of the game. A few minutes into the second quarter, the Lakers trailed by 14 and my friend joked that we might witness history — the end of James’s unprecedented then-964 game streak of scoring at least 10 points. Maybe he heard us? Just over a minute into the third quarter, a thunderous alley-oop slam by the kid from Akron brought the crowd to its feet and sparked what became a 29-point rout in favor of the Lakers. James finished with 31 points, 23 of which came in the second half.

William Cooke: In December of 2015, I went with my Dad to watch West Ham play Southampton at Upton Park. After going down 1-0 early on, Michail Antonio leveled the scoring late in the second half. Desperate to see a game-winning goal, I don’t think I exhaled for 10 minutes. Then came an out-swinging cross from the top of the box. Antonio got to it, only to see the ball rifle off the crossbar and directly onto the head of our big center forward, Andy Carroll. In an instant, the ball was in the back of the net like it had been shot from a cannon. I tackled my Dad in my happy delirium as Carroll trotted coolly to the nearest corner flag to celebrate. The indescribable relief that came with seeing my favorite club win in dramatic fashion was what made that moment so memorable.

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