San Diego Gulls vs Bakersfield Condors
Friday, January 5 | 7:00 p.m. | Pechanga Arena San Diego
“Do you still have $2 beer nights?” I recently asked a Gulls ticket sales rep. After a brief hold, they got back on the line to deliver the saddest news in the era of post-Covid inflation: $2 Bud Lights at Friday home games have been replaced by $5 Blue Line Blonds.
Blue Line Blond Ale isn’t Bud Light—the latter is the best beer on earth, after all—but Friday night at the Gulls is still one of the best happy hours in San Diego. In their first home game of the new year, the Gulls take on the Bakersfield Condors. Six of the Gulls’ nine wins on the season came in December, offering a glimmer of hope that the team can climb from last place in the AHL’s Pacific Division. Whether the Gulls continue their winning trend or not, $5 beer nights are a win-win for fans.
January 13-14, 27-28 | Snapdragon Stadium
Are motorsports defensible in the face of climate change? Debatable. Is Monster Jam even a sport? Also debatable. What’s not up for debate is its enduring popularity, a peculiarity of American culture that The New Yorker recently explored. “We sell four million-plus tickets a year,” Jayme Dalsing, Monster Jam’s senior director of global operations, told the publication. “That’s more than Taylor Swift.”
As Swift counts her billions, I don’t think she’s too concerned about Monster Jam, but the motorized traveling circus does have one advantage, at least to San Diegans: it actually comes to town. Monster Jam renews its San Diego residency over two weekends at Snapdragon this month. The last time Swift played San Diego was in 2015.
SDSU vs UNLV Women’s Basketball
Wednesday, January 17 | 11:00 a.m. | Viejas Arena
The SDSU women’s basketball squad has quietly won six straight games and 10 of their last 12 to finish the 2023 schedule at 10-3. They have a slate of winnable conference games to kickoff 2024, but none will be more pivotal than their January 17 matchup against UNLV, who lead the Mountain West Conference at 11-1. It’s a rare 11:00 a.m. start as one of the program’s Field Trip Days so that local youth can attend a game, so take that first sick day of 2024 and cheer on the Aztecs with the future of San Diego.
Farmers Insurance Open
January 24-27, 2024 | Torrey Pines Golf Course
The field isn’t set yet for the annual Farmers Insurance Open, but last year’s champion and world No. 7 Max Homa is sure to be at Torrey Pines Golf Course defending his crown. Jon Rahm, who won the Farmers in 2017, as well as the 2021 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, will likely join him. Neither will be the crowd favorite though, not if Scripps Ranch High and SDSU alum Xander Schauffele joins the field.
The world No. 6 can hang his hat on having won a Tour Championship, an Olympic gold medal, and a Ryder Cup, but one thing missing from his résumé is a win in his hometown. At this year’s Farmers Insurance Open, Schauffele will try to become the seventh San Diego native—following Phil Mickelson, Scott Simpson, Craig Stadler, Greg Twiggs, Billy Casper, and Gene Littler—to hoist the trophy.
San Diego Mesa College vs. Santa Ana College Baseball
Saturday, January 27 | 1:00 p.m. | San Diego Mesa College Baseball Field
I am under no illusion that many San Diegans will attend the season opener for an average community college baseball program in the middle of a weekday. With 13 conference championships, 20 regional tournament appearances, 231 alumni transferred to NCAA or NAIA baseball programs, and 34 alumni having played professionally, the San Diego Mesa College baseball program is one of the most successful in California.
And one of those alumni is responsible for some of the most groundbreaking moves in the sport. In various management roles in MLB, Billy Eppler established the Yankees scouting department, brought Shohei Ohtani to the U.S. from Japan, and set a record $375 million payroll with the New York Mets. Not bad for a former ballplayer from Allied Gardens. After the holidays and weeks of the sun setting at what feels like noon, the Knights kicking off their season is worth celebrating. Baseball is back!