Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Greatest Upset In Sports History?

Working on the Tennis Channel's Wimbledon Primetime show, I have not had too many chances to watch any sports, let alone write about them (besides tennis), so it has been a quiet week on this site. But for anyone who has checked in to see if there were updates, at least you got to see a picture of Marisa Miller on the top of the page each time.

Last weekend Turkey beat Croatia in one of the more excruciating endings I have seen in a long time, and this game highlights many of the reasons that soccer is the stupidest sport on the planet. Croatia led 1-0 in this European Championship Soccer Tourney and in gave up a slop goal with no time left on the clock...or in overtime. You see, the clock in soccer is really only a suggestion. They play 90 minutes and the freaking clock counts up, and the goal was scored at about 90:30 or so. The game was later won in penalty kicks.

Let us count the ways in which soccer is stupid: While it provides some spectacular highlights each game, these account for approximately 5-15 seconds of the game. The other 89 minutes and 55 seconds are painfully dreary, uneventful, and annoying, full of flopping and whining and even the goal celebrations are obnoxious. The clock is an approximation of what the referees keep on the field. Really? We can land people on the moon, but we can't figure out a way to have the ref's clock send a signal to the stadium clock? Penalty kicks decide games, which is the equivalent of a basketball game being decided by dueling half-court shots rather than actual game play.

Steve Hartman was screaming in his normal radio voice today about how dreamy Dodger Stadium is, particularly the parking situation. I will give you that the parking is better than last year as the new policies seem to be finally taking hold (because they repainted the traffic lane lines to match the new system instead of last year: new system - old lanes). However, it still stinks. Hartman's example was last night's game against the White Sox. He said he stayed for the whole game, and when they left he expected a madhouse, but instead was pleasantly surprised.

Has he ever been to a Los Angeles sporting event before? Everyone knows that in order to miss the traffic you leave when it's over! The only time LA fans have stayed till the end consistently is when Eric Gagne was on his hot streak (and I am not only referring to the streaks on his forearms at the time). Not to mention that the game last night was a blowout loss so there were probably 5000 fans left at the stadium at the end.

While Hartman was blathering on about this, Vic the Brick Jacobs was screaming "If there is a problem, the McCourts fix it," "they fix it" like he had some form of non-obscene Tourettes syndrome. Apparently Vic was not referring to the roster.

Marat Safin decided to show up this morning at Wimbledon and absolutely destroyed the world's #3 Novak Djovovic. If Safin plays the rest of the tourney like he played today, that semi vs. Roger Federer will be wonderful. Speaking of Federer, perhaps Djokovic should have thought twice before offending the tennis gods by saying last week that Federer's six losses in 2008 prove he is ripe for a downfall.

You should have heard the director and producers of Wimbledon Primetime on the headsets as #1 Ana Ivanovic faced two match points against her. Let's just say that the general consensus is that Ivanovic is good for ratings. Her reaction after her shot hit the net and dribbled over on the second match point and then her kiss of the net after she won the match an hour and a half later made my crush on her deepen considerably. How nice to have the best player in the world also smile and laugh and seem to enjoy herself, but also handle herself with class! We've been spoiled with Federer, Justine Henin and now Ivanovich. I hope another Serena Williams doesn't rise through the ranks.

With the NBA draft coming up tomorrow, the sports talk radio shows in L.A. are all buzzing about the Clippers trading Elton Brand and the#7 to the Heat for Shawn Marion, Shawn Marion's contract, and the #2. I hope they don't because I'd rather have a good guy who is a great player and a possibly great pick than a jerk who is a great player and a possibly great pick. I can't imagine that the Clippers are really looking into a trade with Miami (unless Brand is not involved or Dwyane Wade is), but they have done dumb things in the past so I won't rule it out.

The other big talk is of the Lakers trading up to get Miami's pick (or someone else's). Supposedly they would unload Lamar Odom. Right, I am sure there are a lot of G.M.'s calling the Lakers clamouring to get their hands on Odom after his NBA Finals series. No doubt Miami wants him back, right?

I saw a headline online for Chad Ford's NBA Mock Draft Version 6.0. Seriously? 6? How many times can you openly admit that you were totally wrong and still be considered publishable, let alone an expert?

Remember the loudmouthed trainer who guaranteed the Triple Crown and openly used steroids on that horse as well as many of his others? I won't bother writing his name because you won't remember him, but here's a shocker: he was just suspended because one of his horses tested positive for twice the legal limit of a blood doping drug. This makes eight consecutive years he has been fined or suspended for many, many violations. Here's hoping he gets another shot at glory. Everyone deserves a 20th chance.

Finally, Fresno State's comeback victory yesterday, facing elimination in the Final round of the College World Series against of the best teams in the country, could go down in history as the penultimate crowning achievement in the greatest upset story in Sports history. Yes, that was a lot of hyperbole, but think it through:

Putting their seed in college basketball terms (since most people are more familiar with that 64-team tourney than this one), they would likely be a 15 seed. They would not have made the tourney had they not won their conference (an upset, by the way). In the first round of the tournament, beat the #7 team in the country twice (my USD Toreros) as well as the #22 team on the road (Long Beach State). Then after losing game 1 in the second round, they beat the #4 team in the country on the road twice in a row to eliminate them. In the next round they beat the #6 and #2 team (twice). And now they face the #8 team for a final game to decide the whole thing (after having split with them in the last two games).

An unranked team has beaten nine top 25 teams in the NCAA Tournament. Villanova was an eight-seed when they beat Georgetown and probably faces 2 or three ranked schools in the tourney. North Carolina State over Phi Slamma Jamma was the same. At least the 1980 U.S. Hockey team was made up of the best players in their own country - Fresno State was not top 10 in their state. The Giants-Patriots or Jets-Colts are not remotely close to that. Miracle Mets? Fresno State doesn't have Tom Seaver. If the "Under-Dogs" win today, it is the greatest upset story in Sports History. Don't miss it - 4 p.m. Pacific time on ESPN.

This is all a reminder of how insane the BCS is. In what other league in any sport in the world are the two finalists selected at the end of the regular season?

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