Monday, August 18, 2008

I'm Back...What Did I Miss?

So it has been nearly a month since I last added any new posts to this site but that is just because not much has really been happening in the sports world, plus that photo of the guy getting hit with a soccer ball was too spectacular to replace as the top story photo. Here's a quick, cursory glance at the insignificant stories and events that have taken place since my last post:

The Summer Olympics
I suppose that the fact that NBC is airing 216 hours of coverage per day (I did not make that up, that is their official number) means the Olympics are kindof a big deal. A few months ago, I wrote that the best Olympic rivalry is the U.S. and Australia in swimming. After Michael Phelps (ever heard of him?) tied the Aussies with eight gold medals through the end of the swim meet, I think the rivalry may be no more. Ian Thorpe looked more and more pissed every time they showed him on T.V. as the meet went along. It was wonderful.

Team Handball has once again become my favorite Olympic sport that no one knows about. In the Winter Olympics, it is usually the biathlon because the fact that they race around while armed, having the full capability to shoot their competitors gives me a great thrill. There should be an open-water swimming obstacle course in which the athletes are armed with harpoon guns. That's how to make the most out of those underwater cameras. Tell me you wouldn't watch.

Chris Kaman has taken a lot of flak for playing for the German National Basketball Team in the Olympics from seemingly everyone in the United States, including the Clippers and his own father. But at least Kaman is of German descent. Becky Hammon is playing for Russia because she was a free agent!

Because there is no women's professional basketball league anymore, you may not know about her, but the 2007 WBNA MVP was not selected to the U.S. National Team. (Wait, 2007? Oh, I guess the WNBA does still exist. Oops.) Hammon, who has been about as big a star as anyone not named Lisa Leslie, wasn't chosen to be among those trying out for the U.S. team. She plays for the WNBA's San Antonio Feminine Sounding Mascots, but in the off-season played for a Russian team coached by their National Team coach who offered her a chance to play with them for cash.

Hammon defends herself saying that athletes have competed for other countries than their native homelands quite commonly and that naturalization is a common practice. I agree. The U.S. track team's best milers are from Sudan and Kenya and I root for them. The problem I have with Hammon's situation is that it was purely a financial thing. She doesn't live there. She doesn't even really speak Russian. She has no connection to Russia. She wasn't oppressed or forced from her war-torn homeland. She just wasn't good enough to make it here anymore. Basically, she was an aging free agent and signed a deal to play for a club, and that is what is sad about the Olympics now.

I get that the games need to feature pros now because there is too much money at stake for countries to send people they know are not their countries' best. Advertisers would never pay for a college all-star basketball team. The ironic thing is that sports like baseball and tennis are in danger of disappearing from the Games for good (baseball is already out for 2012) because the best athletes...that is, the pros...don't see the value in playing and often sit out in favor of prepping for their professional leagues (baseball playoffs and U.S. Open). So because they may only get amateurs to play in the future, they will be dumped from the Olympics.

In other Olympic news, the U.S. soccer team stunk so badly, and interest has dipped so deeply, that they weren't even on T.V. Well they were on T.V. because again, there is 216 hours of coverage per day, but they were relegated to the midday time-slots on Oxygen or something. Where have you gone Cobi Jones?

Did you know that little girl who sang the song near the end of the Opening Ceremony (I don't really know what I am talking about because I didn't watch it) was lip-syncing? Government censors stepped in minutes before the Ceremony and forced the 'ole switcheroo because the girl actually singing wasn't cute enough and they didn't want an image of Chinese people possibly being ugly beamed out to billions of people around the world. I have seen some of their athletes and I can say that that ship has sailed.

The New York Bretts
The embarrassing Brett Favre mess finally ended with an abrupt and surprising trade to the Jets. That along with a Mets win that day made for the best day in months for my brother Steve. And he got married a week ago! Favre was traded for a conditional draft pick which means that the more he plays, and the better the Jets do, the higher the pick that the Packers get becomes. The thing is, the Jets still would only have to give up one first round pick next year if they make the Super Bowl. Correct me if I am wrong, but I don't think there is a single sports fan or front-office person for any sport on earth who would not give their next 3-5 first round draft picks for a trip to their league's championship (besides people in Boston who have completely forgotten what being a real fan is like).

Manny Goes To Hollywood
The Dodgers traded nothing for the best hitter in baseball, thus making their need to sign Barry Bonds disappear. Manny has been spectacular since joining the Dodgers, hitting .424 with 6 homers and 21 RBI in 16 games. He has done everything right, including saying he wanted to finish his career in L.A., invigorating a completely stagnant offense, and saying he'd even gladly cut his hair as per team rules (still waiting on that one). And best of all, they have pulled into a tie for the Division lead with the D-Backs. Of course, they were only one game back when he was traded. So after two weeks of everything going their way, they have gained a game in the standings and have only been playing four-games over .500. They'll miss the playoffs and he'll sign with the Yankees for five-years and $100-million.

Late-Season Baseball Packages
For the last few years, I have waited for the last month of the baseball season or so, and then signed up for the package where I get to watch all the Mets games live online (besides the 4-5 games per week that are blocked out because the whole system is corrupt). I wait on this because the entire season is far too expensive at the start and typically I would not have been able to watch 100+ games, thus making it worth it. But they prorate the package and you can get the last month for $15-$20 (right now it is $30 for the premium package, $20 for the basic with 1/4ish of the season to go).

Before signing up, I decided to try the cable company to see what their prorated price is for the same package on TV instead of the internet because I'd rather sit on the couch than in this chair. They don't prorate it after midseason! That's right, for the low-low price of $130, you too can watch the last 38 games for the same price as if there were 81 games left. What a deal! And Major League Baseball wonders why they're losing fans? I can't afford to go to a game or watch it on T.V. anymore. And the games I get for free are mostly on Fox, which means they take twice as long as they're supposed to and I have to deal with fancy space-themed sound effects and graphics every time Tim McCarver misreads a stat sheet.

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