Featured Stories

Other Pamplin Media Group sites

The best gifts for sports die-hards

I know, there are questions this time of year. I'm not talking about the big one we've all pondered concerning the Blazers: If Maurice Cheeks' players respect him so all-fired much, why in the heck don't they play hard for him?

No. That's a silly question, anyway. Obviously, some of Cheeks' players don't respect anyone, least of all the pouting couch with head in hands on their bench.

The question on your mind today is, What last-minute Christmas present can I buy for that sports fan in my life?

And unless you hand out more gifts than the Trail Blazer defense, I think I can help you with a few suggestions:

nÊBooks Ñ I've got just a couple of them for you this year, one of which I've recommended previously.

'Out of Left Field Ñ How the Mariners Made Baseball Fly in Seattle' is the definitive history of baseball in Seattle, penned by Seattle Post-Intelligencer columnist Art Thiel.

The book is a little light on those charming early seasons of Willie Horton and Craig Reynolds, but Thiel knows how to write, and he was there in the front row through the good and the bad of this franchise.

I think he gushes a little much over Lou Piniella and Ichiro, but this is a book for fans, and Mariner fans, quite obviously, are stricken with the same malady.

If you're thinking of buying this book for someone, I advise you to do it quickly. My hunch, just from a few early transactions, is that by the time new General Manager Bill Bavasi has a chance to put his stamp on this organization, there won't be as much interest in the team. I'm getting the feeling that these guys are headed downhill.

'Rob Neyer's Big Book of Baseball Lineups' is still a good catch, and if you're a baseball fan and don't own it, you should be ashamed of yourself. It has unlimited shelf life, and it's one of those great books that you can keep by the bed and just nibble away at for months. It may be the most fun baseball book I own.

nÊTickets Ñ There's no better time to buy someone Blazer tickets. He or she doesn't like the Blazers? That's OK, go just to watch the Lakers or Kings or Mavericks. The team is cutting some great deals on seats right now. It's a buyers' market.

Don't overlook the Winter Hawks, either. Ken Hodge and Mike Williamson have put together a pretty good team, and bruising Robin Big Snake by himself is worth the price of admission.

nÊVideo Ñ Again, two choices. One will not be available until Dec. 30, but you can order it now online or in video stores. It's a 'Hoop Dreams' type of documentary about football called 'The Last Game.' Except it's more upbeat than the basketball film and more uplifting.

In fact, the story of crusty Pennsylvania high school football coach Mike Pettine Sr. and his quest for a third straight state championship is as dramatic as any fictional movie you'll see. It's required viewing for high school coaches and athletes.

My other video selection is offbeat, but I'm betting not as much as you'd think. It's 'The Ultimate Ric Flair Collection' Ñ a three-DVD set that runs about 10 1/2 hours. If you're a pro wrestling fan Ñ or once were Ñ this is an incredible selection of interviews and matches from the top entertainer in the history of 'rasslin.

The old wrestling footage in the collection reminds you of the days, long ago, when people actually thought pro wrestling was 'real.' The interviews with the self-styled, 'limousine-riding, jet-plane flying, kiss-stealing son of a gun' are priceless. Flair used to always say, 'To be the man, you have to beat the man.' For my money, nobody ever has.

nÊVideo games Ñ Not an expert. I don't play them. But my pals tell me that you can never go wrong with anything from EA Sports. And everyone loves Madden Football.

Contact Dwight Jaynes at djaynes at portlandtribune.com.