Tuesday, October 14, 2008

And We're Back!

And we're back. Check this poor sap out:

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The REAL Michael Phelps

Here's the heretofore (is that a word?) unseen video of Michael Phelps' amazing 100m butterfly victory in Bejing:

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Your Home for the 2020 Olympics: Birmingham, Alabama!

At least that's what Birmingham mayor Larry Langford believes. Nevermind the fact that the city's infrastructure is in no way, shape or form ready to host anything larger than the first & second rounds of the NCAA basketball tournament or a monster truck rally, much less the Olympics. The pitch is to show people that "we can do something!"

Among Langford's claims: Badminton could be held almost anywhere...archery at the state park...basketball at the Birmingham Jefferson Civic Center or the "new dome"....kayaking in the Cahaba River....cycling at "the new Fair Park"....equestrian at the Birmingham Race Course (which features greyhound racing)...the possibilities are endless!

Not to mention fencing:

All you need is a big open place, a mask over your face, one of them funny little suits and a tip over your sword and you can just duke it out all day long.
Lankford claims that all Birmingham needs to do is "put a little grease on the bottom of the pan, butter the pan, put some flour on and put the mix in."

Sounds like a recipe for success to me.

The Roundtable: Larry Langford Montage

The Agony of Defeat & A Failure of Sportsmanship

Imagine this: you've worked tirelessly at something for years, taken odd jobs and sacrificed in a way that most of us never will experience in our lives. All for the chance to one day compete in an athletic event that won't last as long as most television commercials. You have sacrificed, compromised and trained your way into the position as the top performer in your sport. You are running the 100 meter hurdles final in the Olympics. You posted the fastest time in the world this year in the semifinals. You are so far ahead that it is a foregone conclusion that you will win the gold medal.

And then, your foot clips the top of the next to last hurdle and you go down, in a heap. In a daze, you stand and jump the last hurdle and finish the race seventh.

My God, how horrible that must feel.

That is what happened today to American Lolo Jones, the premier athlete in the world in the 100 meter hurdles. She was out front, cruising to victory, when it all fell apart:

"About twice a year you hit a hurdle and it affects your race," Jones said. "Unfortunately, it was the biggest race of my life."
After crossing the finish line, Jones collapsed and cried. Years of sacrifice came pouring out; she was simply heartbroken at what had taken place. You just had to feel sorry for her, right?

Not if you were fellow American and competitor Dawn Harper. Harper couldn't be bothered with even so much as speaking to her teammate:

Harper set off in a delirious victory lap and never bothered to look back at Jones, stricken on the track. Neither did the surprise silver and bronze medalists, Australian Sally McLellan and Canadian Priscilla Lopes-Schleip. American fourth-place finisher Damu Cherry placed her hands sympathetically on Jones' shoulders as she sat on her knees and cried.
At least Cherry played the part of a human and stuck around to console Jones. The kicker was that Harper crossed the line a full tenth of a second slower than the time Jones had run in the prelims.

Now, I know that you've got to clear all of the hurdles in order to win the race; but, at the same time, don't you have to have a small bit of respect for the woman lying on the track? It wasn't like Harper beat Jones "fair and square"; rather, it took a catastrophic fall from Jones for Harper to even sniff the gold.

At any rate, in Bejing today, you were able to see the awfulness of the agony of defeat, only to watch it followed up by a complete failure of sportsmanship. Frankly, I expect more out of our athletes, and Harper failed her test of sportsmanship.

ESPN: Don't think Olympics can't be cruel?

Monday, August 11, 2008

Suck It, France

I almost hate to admit it, as cynical as I am, and as sarcastic as I am, but I've got to say it: I've got Olympic fever. I watched the incredible opening ceremonies on Friday night, alternately in awe and terrified at the 2,008 drummers shouting and beating their drums. I watched Michael Phelps win his first gold medal in the 400 IM as he started his quest to best Mark Spitz's record of seven gold medals at one Olympic Games. I've watched beach volleyball (men's and women's), indoor women's volleyball, boxing, team handball, men's and women's gymnastics, men's water polo, countless other swimming events, and even women's badminton. I've watched almost every chance I've had. I've commented on the fact that the badminton announcers call it a "shuttle" because they're afraid to say "shuttlecock." I've spoken with a buddy about how hard it must be to play five minutes of beach volleyball. I've thought that it seems rather sad that Michael Phelps can swim 400M faster than I can cover the same distance on the ground. I felt happy for Raj Bhavsar, who frankly got screwed after the U.S. Olympic trials when he was left off the men's gymnastics team, when after several injuries he ended up getting to compete.

Nothing, however, prepared me for the awesomeness of the U.S. 4x100M relay team sticking it to France last night. The French talked a bit of smack in the days leading up to the Olympics, declaring that they were there to "smash" the Americans. Unfortunately for the Frenchies, Jason Lezak did his best Kurt-Russell-playing-Wyatt-Earp impression, standing up and saying "NO" and over the last 50m ran down world record-holder Alain Bernard in one of those "I'm watching this but I don't believe what I'm seeing" moments. Lezak swam the fastest 100m ever recorded. Ever. All that was missing was Jack Buck exclaiming "I don't believe what I just saw!"

The race itself was a microcosm of almost all sports. You had the star, Phelps, leading off the relay and setting a new American 100m split record in the process, which although great, still wasn't good enough for the lead. Then you had Garrett Weber-Gale and Cullen Jones swimming the next two legs, both toiling in relative obscurity but now exposed on the biggest stage with the very real possibility of being designated as "the one who screwed it up for Phelps." They didn't.

And then there was Lezak, the sage veteran. He's anchored the relay team for years. He anchored the U.S. relay teams in 2000 and 2004, the only two years the Americans haven't won this event. He likely wanted to win this one more than any other swimmer in Bejing. At the 50m turn, he was almost a full length behind. I said, "Well, it's over." I kept watching, hoping for a miracle. 25m to go, and it was a half a length. The crowd began to cheer louder and louder. 10M to go and I was yelling at the TV, "COME ON! SWIM YOU BASTARD!" When that long, skinny, "look who won" American flag came up first, I went bananas. Over a swimming race. I had chills. In sum, it was amazing.

Aren't sports great?

ESPN: "No way" turns into "No quit" for Lezak, men's relay team

Monday, August 4, 2008

Yeah, So It's Been Like Two Weeks

Things happen. Life goes on. And today, our return is marked with enthusiasm from Alabama fans, Penn State fans, and, heck, fans of any school whose players can't keep from getting arrested. Not because we're back; no, my friends, because of the #1 team in America, both in votes by coach's assistants and on the local police blotter: Georgia.

It seems that these Bulldogs just can't keep from getting into trouble. Over the weekend, no less than four Bulldogs were involved in all sorts of shenanigans. Barfight at a bar called The Library? Check. Two players getting hit over the head with beer bottles? Check. Another player apparently went to the hospital to check on the two bottleheads and went all Hulk on a few trash cans. On video. Finally, UGA's long snapper was arrested for urinating on a bank.

From fans of programs who have been through the arrest ringer this offseason, I say a hearty thank you to you Bulldogs. Now keep on keepin' on.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Monkey Butlers of the Week

Athlete Breaking the Law Part I: Quinton
Jackson. The MMA fighter decided that Tuesday was a good day to hit several cars and then lead police on a bizarre car chase before being arrested for felony evading, et al. In providing Costa Mesa with his best Grand Theft Auto imitation, Jackson was seen hitting cars on the freeway, crossing center dividers, and talking on his cell phone while driving onto sidewalks, which caused several pedestrians to have to jump out of the way. The chase finally ended when I presume Jackson was unable to continue on his shredded tire. Even more bizarre? No evidence of drug or alcohol use by Jackson was found.

Athlete Breaking the Law Part II: Double winner alert! Rampage Jackson was at it again on Wednesday; although I don't guess he technically "broke the law," police were called to Jackson's residence after receiving reports of a crazy man named Rampage acting, well crazy. As a result, Jackson was taken and hospitalized for a mental health evaluation. Yikes.

Motivational Speaker of the Week: Ichiro Suzuki, batshit-crazy baseball player. It came out this week that since 2001, tiny supposedly-can't-speak-English Ichiro has delivered a pregame speech before each All Star game in the American League locker room. The funny part is that the speech is so laced with profanities that it would probably make most batshit-crazy high school football coaches blush. Two things to learn from this: 1) Ichiro can speak better English than he lets on, and 2) a National League team needs to trade for him post-haste.

Best Use of a Hotel Room Overlooking an MLB Stadium Award: The half-naked chick staying at the Renaissance Hotel in Toronto. You see, the hotel has suites that look down into Rogers Centre Stadium, the home of the Toronto Blue Jays. Last Saturday, a lovely young blonde woman was photographed leaning up against the window of the suite while casually carrying on a conversation with a man. The only problem for parents of small children was that the woman was seemingly only wearing a thong. Ka-zow! I would like to know, however, why the other two guys in the photo are completely oblivious to the topless woman's presence. Have they already had their go at her? Are they tired of stuffing $1 in her thong? Are they perhaps blind?

ESPN's Overhyped Story of the Week: O.J. Mayo's 3/4 court shot in an NBA summer league game. It was the end of the first quarter. It was from almost 70 feet away. It was meaningless in every single way. However, ESPN.com chose to describe it thusly: "O.J. Mayo...made the most spectacular shot of his career Monday night at the NBA Summer League." The title to the article on the website called it "career highlight No. 1." Gee, I wonder which draft pick ESPN has latched its long, evil tentacles into?

The "Don't Let the Door Hit You On Your Way Out" Award: Billy Packer, ex-CBS basketball analyst. It was announced this week that Packer would not be returning to call the NCAA Tournament for CBS next year, thus breaking his 34 year streak of calling the Final Four. His replacement will be Jim Nantz's doppleganger, Clark Kellogg. I'm sure that it will be a pairing unlike any other. The decision was actually made last year, and Packer eschewed any sort of "farewell tour" type of sendoff, so I believe that does say something about the character of the man. I always kind of liked Packer even though it seems that most of the rest of the world doesn't, so at the very least I'll miss him. He was certainly better than what I think Kellogg will be.

He Had it Coming Award: Jose Canseco. Canseco squared off against ex-Philadelphia Eagle Via Sikahema in a bout meant to test whether or not Canseco would move from boxing and into the world of MMA. Canseco outweighed Sikahema by 43 pounds and had a seven inch height advantage, both of which bought Jose a scant thirty seconds before Sikahema put him on the canvas with a left hook. Canseco got up, got pummelled for another minute or so, then went down for good. As I'm sure many current and former MLB-ers would say (Mr. Burns-style): Excellent. Check out the video:

Best Manager Tirade of the Week: Kash Beauchamp, Wichita Wingnuts. Sensing that his team needed a spark, an inspiration, a kick in the pants, etc., Beauchamp decided to go wingnut and get thrown out of the game. His shoe came off. His armpit was thrust into the umpires face. We feel that this one is better told through video:

Loser of the Week: Alex Rodriguez. He was hosting a "bash" at Jay-Z's 40/40 club in NYC Monday night and he invited all of his friends. The popular guy, Derek Jeter, was on the list. So was the class whore, Madonna. Heck, he even invited some of the nerdy guys Billy Crystal and David Wright so that everyone would be included, because he's that type of guy. The only problem? Nobody showed up. A-Rod was seen sitting in a corner booth doing shots, accompanied by Madonna friend hanger-on Ingrid Casares, his new agent, Guy Oseary (godfather to Madonna's children), and his mother. Meanwhile, Jeter was partying somewhere else with his hottie-of-the week, Minka Kelly, Crystal and Michael Jordan. Wright even threw his own party, which featured a performance by none-other than 50 Cent (yeah, that makes sense).

Random Bikini Photo of the Week:

Random Somewhat-Sports-Related YouTube of the Week:

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Insert Joke Here

You know, I've never seen more guys excited by a hunk of wood since, uh, well, ever:

I can't figure out why the three guys in the middle have their hands so low. Does anyone else think that the bat is going to nail all of them across the face? The pensive Mexican kid is also odd as well. Does he not know that the Bat of Death is hurtling towards his tiny head?

Also, how about the expression on that girl's face at the bottom of the picture? It looks like she's signaling for a retarded touchdown.

SportsbyBrooks: The Lighter Side of Broken Bats Soaring Into Seats

Black Thursday at Royal Birkdale

Wow. Phil's at +9, Ernie and Vijay are at +10, and some guy named Greg Norman is even through 11 holes, good for second place. So this is what happens when Tiger Woods doesn't show up? (Check live scores here)

Els played the front nine at +1 and then decided to completely melt on the back nine, even as the weather got better, with a cool, breezy +9. Phil and Vijay pretty much mucked up the entire course.

Meanwhile, the top of the leaderboard is loaded with old names like the Shark and Tom Lehman along with relative unknowns, like Ross Fisher, Peter Hanson and Douglas McGuigan. Fisher is apparently some sort of rookie phenom on the European Tour, or at least the British guys on the XM coverage think he is. They also kept talking about "the email from Middlefart" and laughing like 12-year-old boys, so I'm not exactly sure which of what they said was true or conjecture or lunacy.

Oh, by the way, the pictured superstar was also at +10 for his first round. No word on whether Butch Harmon was there heckling him.