Dan Bickley is a sports columnist for the Arizona Republic, host of the award-winning “Bickley and MJ” radio show and author of two books. He covers the Suns, Cardinals, Diamondbacks and Coyotes, and has traveled the world covering everything from the Olympics to the British Open.
This weekend, he’s in town covering the Chargers/Cardinal game, and we’re asking him his thoughts on San Diego.
1. You’ve traveled all over the world covering sports for cities like Phoenix and Chicago. What makes San Diego’s sports scene and fans unique?
San Diegans seem to have a healthy perspective. They want to go to the ocean. They want to ride bikes or jog along the water. They want to breathe some of the freshest air on the planet. They don’t want to spend exorbitant sums to attend sporting events or fund new stadiums. That seems pretty smart. Besides, it costs enough money just to call this place home.
2. What is your favorite restaurant or neighborhood to get a bite to eat before or after a game?
The Gaslamp Quarter has become so chic and trendy that there’s no reason to go any place else. But I still can’t tell my wife that I’m going to the Gaslamp Strip Club, lest she get the wrong idea. And I’ll always be partial to the Tipsy Crow, where I once enjoyed a beer with a very tipsy David Wells.
3. When vacationing here with your family, what is their favorite outdoor activity to do with them?
They love the zoo. They love the beach. They love Legoland, especially the Apple fries. But nothing compares to walking the harbor with ice cream cones, and once, my kids were stunned to see a real dolphin frolicking in the water.
4. When you have your alone time, what do you like to do in San Diego?
I get on a boat and go. Or I head to the Maritime Museum and stare. As a devout fan of Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey/Maturin series, I could spend hours on the HMS Surprise, imagining what it must’ve been like to experience the Age of Sail, traversing oceans in wooden ships. And I never fail to gasp at the USS Midway, and how something that big can actually float.
5. How do you compare Charger fans to Cardinal fans?
Cardinals fans are a relatively new phenomenon. Ten years ago, the team was a joke, a civic punching bag. It was a fashion faux pas to wear a replica jersey in public, and you could’ve fit the diehards in the back of a Volkswagen. Now, with a little taste of competency, the bandwagon is jammed. The team’s run to the Super Bowl two years ago completely legitimized the Phoenix area as a sports town.
Chargers fans have enjoyed a much better history, but have also endured some industrial-sized heartbreak. They’ve been blown out in the Super Bowl. They’ve been subjected to horrific playoff collapses. Yet unlike Raiders fans, they seem like rationale, reasonable folk. And there’s nothing like running into tennis great Rod Laver in the middle of a tailgate party outside Qualcomm Stadium.