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Category Archives: Sports

I know I don’t have many readers who enjoy a fine European soccer game. But perhaps even my non-soccer watching friends find it interesting that ESPN has suddenly added European soccer scores to their ticker at the same time they’re trying to nab the U.S. rights to the English Premier League. “Oh, we’re crazy about soccer at ESPN! Look, we stick the scores right in there with all the latest A-Rod updates and countdowns to the next Duke-UNC games.”

I just hope if they get the rights they keep the British announcers. That’s one of the best parts of the games on FSC.

I enjoy the thought of viewers with a narrow world view watching the scores from a blue collar bar in Pittsburgh. “What the hell’s an Inter? Who names their team Arsenal? Is there a Fake Madrid too?”

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So I bet you’re thinking, “Man, he’s got a new baby laying on his chest every night. He’s probably been watching a boatload of football and baseball.”

Wrong.

Unlike four years ago, when then three-month-old Meghan slept on me for hours at a time while I watched the Red Sox- Yankees and Cardinals – Astros do battle in their epic LCS, Lia is a little too little to be able to hang on dad that long. Plus, with the whole waking every three hours thing at night, I’ve had to reign back my traditional night owl ways. Some nights, I’ve been going to bed around 10:30. Thus, I’ve hardly watched any baseball since the first week of the playoffs. I flipped by ALCS game five as I was on my way to bed last week and saw Papelbon was in in the 7th (I checked the game during Must See TV, saw the Rays were way up, and gave up). I thought that was weird but didn’t bother to stick around and see if he escaped without giving up any more runs. Of course, the next morning I wake up and see that I missed another epic game. Oh well.

I’ve watched a few minutes of the first two games of the World Series but have had trouble getting into it. Part of it is the teams involved. First, I have a thing with Philly teams. It all goes back to 1980. The 76ers lost to Magic and the Lakers in the NBA Finals. The Phillies broke my heart and beat the Royals in the World Series. And the Eagles beat the Cowboys in the NFC title game in January 1981. I’ve had little use for teams from Philly since then, unless they were playing a team I hated more.

As for the Rays, I should really be into them, right? Great story, proof that spending and drafting wisely can turn an organization around, and something that breaks up the Red Sox – Yankees – Cubs trio that ESPN forced down our throats all summer. Yet, I’m having a hard time getting into the Rays. It’s not because of this year’s team. It’s because they’ve been a horrible franchise with no fan support playing in the worst stadium in professional sports for a decade. As the Royals have withered on the vine over the same period, the Rays were the firewall anytime the word contraction got thrown around. At least Kansas City had a baseball history and a reputation as a good baseball town back in the day. If push came to shove, Tampa was one of two or three franchises that might get the ax before the Royals. So I’ve rooted for the Rays to be awful. While the idea of contraction seems to have been shelved for the time being, it is a scary thought if they can continue to be good.

As for football, between working the past two Saturday nights and not being able to sit in front of the TV for six hours anymore, I haven’t watched much. There is a bigger problem, though. The mental midgets at our cable provider and our local CBS affiliate are in a pissing match over the rights to the CBS feed. Thus, we’ve been without CBS since Lia was born. That’s three straight Colts game we’ve not seen. That’s three straight Saturdays without SEC football. That’ll put a damper on anyone’s football appetite.

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I don’t know how to feel about Lance Armstrong’s return. I tend to want my retired athletic heroes to stay retired. Call me old fashioned. But, I read an article during this summer’s Brett Favre drama that convinced me that the whole idea of legacy and pleasing the fans is a little silly. Each athlete should do what makes him or her happy, not what keeps our mental image of them intact. So if Lance wants to hop on a bike again and attempt to prove that he’s got it, more power to him. I’ll follow the story, but I won’t have nearly the interest in it, or make the investment in time and emotion, that I did during the era when he dominated the Tour de France.

Accepting that does not clear him from criticism, though. He’s become a bit of a gossip page regular over the past years, and some have argued that his playboy ways have come to overshadow both the memory of his career as a biker and his efforts with the Livestrong foundation. I don’t know about that. When I hear his name, I still think of him riding up the Alps in a yellow jersey, no matter who he’s dating.

However, I do think it is a bit, I don’t know, sad, disappointing, frustrating that he is yet another supreme competitor that can’t turn those energies off. He seemed like someone who would make a good transition because of his focus on cancer research. Clearly that hasn’t been able to fill the void. While I admire him for his drive, determination, and epic commitment, I also feel a little sorry for people like him, Michael Jordan, etc. that are so driven that they can’t give up the thing that best quenched that thirst. Remember when Jordan seemed like the coolest, most together guy in the world? Since his final retirement, we’ve learned that he’s a bit of a freak, and probably not someone you want your kids to emulate. I fear Lance is heading down that same path, where a life of doing good and making a difference isn’t enough, and instead he becomes the sad, old guy who is hanging out with people half his age in an effort to prove he’s still got it.

And then there’s the whole doping angle. I still buy into his argument that he was tested time and again and never tested positive. But I’m not naive enough not to understand the best athletes are always ahead of the testing curve. The Tour has probably made the biggest and best strides in all of sports at nabbing offenders, and they damn near wiped out last year’s race they were so efficient in catching people. Maybe Lance is going to continue to pass every test and performance baseline they can throw at him. Maybe he always was and always will be clean. But I dread the headlines and resulting drama if he does ever fail a test.

So welcome back, Lance. I guess.

Perhaps Brett Favre and Manny Ramirez should run off together. And then they could take a significant portion of the sports media with them.

Every football off-season, it’s Favre’s retirement drama. And every July, it’s the Manny Wants Out Of Boston drama. Every summer Favre comes back to play another year. Every August, Manny wakes up wearing a Red Sox jersey and goes out and continues to be Manny as long as the Sox play that season.

I feel comfortable saying the Celtics have this thing wrapped up, since they have a 31 point lead three minutes into the fourth quarter. I believe that’s what you call a comprehensive ass-kicking. So much for my Lakers in five pick.

Paul Pierce proves he’s one of the best players in the NBA, officially ascends as the second best NBA player to come out of KU, and puts a nice wrapper on the year of the Jayhawk (Bonus: Scot Pollard gets a ring as well!).

KG finally shakes his Great Guy, Not A Winner label with a huge game six. The Kid was a monster tonight.

And perhaps best, Ray Allen found his shot for the Finals. It was sad watching one of the most beautiful shots in the game desert him in the early rounds. Another nice guy who is worthy of a ring.

And where was Kobe? He had some nice moments but he completely disappeared for long stretches as well. If he gets credit for nothing else, Doc Rivers deserves credit for figuring out how to contain Kobe.

Ray Allen has hit three more threes since I started typing this. Amazing. I could watch that shot all day. The only thing that could ruin this is if Lamar Odom throws a punch, which he seems like he’s poised to do.

One final point: all this Boston sports success started after my brother-in-law moved to Boston to attend Boston University seven years ago. The Patriots winning three Super Bowls. Defeating The Curse. And now the Celtics win their first title in over 20 years. The kid has some karma, apparently. He needs to start going to some Bruins games, I guess.

Happy Father’s Day, late in the day, to the other pops out there. I enjoyed mine. Worked in the yard. Had a little cookout for the local family. Enjoyed my gift, the Rock Chalk Championship DVD. (I learned one thing from the DVD: Bill Self is a locker room genius. No singing “Eye Of The Tiger.” No tired “Everyone is against us,” tirades like John Calipari is perpetually rolling out. Just calm, confident speeches that inspire his team. Of course, those speeches would not have seemed as cool had Memphis hit one more free throw or Mario’s shot rimmed out.) Oh, and watched a little golf.

First thing’s first: Tiger fucked up. His crazy run on Saturday would have worked much better on Sunday. That’s a historic way to win a tournament. Now the dramatic birdie putt on 18 today was nice, but after scuffling around all day it didn’t have the same feeling that his eagle – chip-in – eagle run Saturday did. Of course, with the playoff Monday, he still has a chance to do something special for the history books.

And now it comes down to Tiger’s knee vs. Rocco’s back. You know that back is tightening up tonight. I have to say, I’m generally a Tiger Uber Alles guy, but I really enjoyed watching Rocco this weekend. Sure, he’s a nervous guy, which kind of makes me nervous, but I loved his attitude. He was just having fun, enjoying every moment of his run, not getting too down when the inevitable U.S. Open stumbles came, all while acknowledging the greatness of Tiger. Monday’s round should be a lot of fun.

(I actually stayed up and watched an entire NBA game last night, hoping the Celtics would close out the Lakers. Paul Pierce was phenomenal, until he gave Kobe that little opening for the game-clinching steal, but that was not enough. Now they go back to Boston meaning there’s at least one more night where, at 11:00, I bargain with myself: “Well, it could be a great fourth quarter, but that means I’m not in bed until 12:15 at the earliest.” The NBA sucks.)

The calendar has flipped to November, baseball has ended (only 14 weeks until pitchers and catchers report!), the furnace is on, and there is frost on the grass. All sure signs that football will rule my TV for the next couple months. Three games will hold most of my attention this weekend. Some thoughts below.

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Over 3200 words from my Saturday sports watching experience. Not for the faint-hearted. If you dare, check below the jump.

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Just shut up and eat it.

OK, I found another thing I like about the Olympics. I love how the support teams for male skiers yell at them before they start each race. “Come on Daron! Let’s go buddy! Come on D! Let’s go D. Rahlves!” Makes me laugh every time.