MAKING GROWN MEN CRY: When the Oakland A's asked outfielder Jonny Gomes to help Army Spec.Scott Pearce, of Antioch, home on leave from Afghanistan, surprise daughter Allie at a recent game at the O.co Coliseum, Gomes jumped at the chance -- for reasons you'd expect, and one you might not.
"We were in Colorado," Gomes said. "I was talking to two dudes. One guy, just joking around, said he cries all the time when he watches chick flicks. A grown man cries. I was thinking, 'What makes me cry these days? What do I watch that makes me cry?' I couldn't think.
"And I nailed it. I was like, you know what makes me cry? When we're on the field, and those soldiers surprise the kids? That gets me. So now to have the opportunity to watch it firsthand will be pretty cool."
Thinking out of the box: One Hercules resident thinks an Apple Store could help solve the city's financial woes.
"Retail! Retail! We need retail!" Hercules Chamber of Commerce Director Jojo Soriano proclaims on his website, Hercules2020.com. "Create the space, and people will come!"
Soriano, a Herculean Realtor, according to his website, wants to woo upscale retailers more aggressively and personally to the city. His strategy: Bring an Apple Store to Hercules "to ignite creative economic development, attract new sales
Soriano is among a group of Hercules residents, miffed over plans for apartments in the city's central and waterfront area, who say it's time to think and act boldly to preserve the New Urbanist vision of a walkable downtown with upscale restaurants, galleries and shops.
Mark Conroe of Presidio Development Partners, which has a contract to buy the four-story, half-finished Sycamore North project, thinks there's only so much retail that the area can support. Once approved for 30,000 square feet of retail space on the first floor, then 40,000, Sycamore North today is slated for about 145 apartments and only 10,000 square feet of stores and restaurants; that's all the retail space that the complex, which is about 700 feet from a main thoroughfare, can realistically fill, Conroe said.
Soriano's proposed location for an Apple Store? Why, Sycamore North.
Current East Bay Apple Store locations are Emeryville's Bay Street, Berkeley's Fourth Street, Pleasanton's Stoneridge mall and Walnut Creek's South Main Street.
Soriano is circulating a petition around Hercules for delivery to Apple. By last week, he said he had collected 900 signatures.
Apple was officially noncommital.
"We've made no announcements about a store in Hercules and don't comment on future plans," said Apple spokeswoman Amy Bessette in an email.
A GREAT PLACE FOR PETS: Richmond is known for a lot of things: its World War II shipbuilding prowess, a Chevron refinery, crime and poverty.
Now, its governing majority thinks it should add "great place for pets" to the city's reputation.
Councilman Jeff Ritterman has proposed an ordinance to change the city's municipal code to replace the word "owner" with "guardian" in reference to the relationship between residents and their pets.
The move wouldn't be groundbreaking -- cities such as Berkeley, Albany and Boulder, Colo., have similarly distanced themselves from "ownership" of pets in favor of the more cuddle-worthy "guardian."
But it is a little different in Richmond, a tough, blue-collar town that stands in contrast to more affluent cities like Berkeley and Boulder.
Ritterman's measure has drawn some flak.
"What's going through your minds?" asked resident Don Gosney during the first reading of the proposed ordinance. "We need jobs and important public business done, and you are trying to give our goldfish and hamsters self-esteem?"
Ritterman responded by noting that the measure cost nothing, and that adopting more inclusive language in the city's codes was important to thousands of local pet lovers.
The council passed the first reading 6-1, with Councilman Nat Bates dissenting. The new language will likely become law in July.
"This council has gone to the dogs," Bates grumbled.
STEPPING UP: The Eye heard loud and clear that the volunteer spirit is alive in East Contra Costa County.
After Wednesday's story about the East Contra Costa Fire District looking for volunteers, The Eye received at least a dozen phone calls from readers asking for details.
For the record, those interested should call the district office at 925-634-3400.
Least likely accomplishments: A recent Lawrence Livermore Laboratory news release made an odd assumption. In trumpeting the confirmation of Livermorium as the name for element 116, the story began: "The periodic table of elements that you may have memorized as a child ..."
Memorized? Not likely.
Staff writers Gary Peterson, Tom Lochner, Robert Rogers, Paul Burgarino and Andrew McGall contributed to this column.