Results tagged ‘ Olympics ’
Word on the street is that the NFL is seriously discussing holding the Super Bowl in London sometime in the near future. Now, this should probably be taken with a grain of salt since the commissioner apparently has no knowledge of these negotiations. However, to be fair, the amount of stuff that Goodell doesn’t know could fill a couple oceans.
It just goes to show how global sports have become, though, even sports that we consider inherently American. The World Baseball Classic illustrated this a couple months ago and the coverage of Olympic basketball last summer outshone everything except Michael Phelps.
But if you ever had any doubts about the true worldwide saturation of sports, perhaps this will change your mind:
Yep, “Stick a fork in them, the run is over.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.
-Video via Deadspin
After scoring a devastating own goal during the 1994 World Cup, Andrés Escobar returned home and found out the hard way that leaving drug lords on the wrong side of a huge gambling debt does not help your own life expectancy. As if to add insult to injury, the killer supposedly yelled “Goooooooooooooooooooool” after each one of the twelve shots. Of course, this is right around the corner from where a disputed soccer match led to an all-out war so I guess we shouldn’t be too surprised.
The Chinese Olympic Baseball Team
No team likes to be showed up on its own turf and it didn’t help when the US team used a couple hard-nosed plays to take it to the Chinese team. However, even though throwing high and tight is a time-honored part of the game, beaning someone is not something you usually expect to see in the Olympics. Thanks China. It’s not like you already won more gold medals than us anyway, Sheesh.
Hm, maybe the prize should actually go to Castro and his clan for their ability to blame the yanquis for every Cuban misstep since 1959. Now, if it were the Yankees he blamed instead, I could get behind that.
Every media outlet has been full of Olympic coverage for the past few months. We watched as French surrender-monkeys and dentally deficient Britons tried to tackle, steal or otherwise snuff the Olympic flame during its journey to the Bird’s Nest and then we saw the Chinese defy gravity to set the torch alight and begin the games.
Although the passing of the torch always seems to provoke strong emotions, these emotions tend to play out differently depending on the setting. When Jesse Owens overcame the Fuhrer’s supposedly invincible Aryan champions at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, he tried to defuse the situation by saying that Hitler had shown him respect. Michael Phelps managed to show a touch of class this year as he overcame Mark Spitz’s decades old record.
But sometimes the old guard is reluctant to let the torch out of their grasp. When the Yankees had the Red Sox in a 3-0 stranglehold during the 2004 ALCS, it seemed that the old guys had a little life left in them. But they should have realized that they had used up all the gas in the tank during the previous year’s ALCS. The Yankees may have won that 2003 series but in reality, Pedro Martinez body-slamming Don Zimmer was emblematic of the rivalry’s not too distant future. And in 2004 they proved it by fighting back to win the ALCS and then the World Series.
A similar fight broke out during the primary season as the junior senator from Illinois took on the Clinton juggernaut. And when the dust finally settled at the Democratic National Convention last night, it was obvious that the party the Clinton’s created was now firmly in the hands of Sen. Obama. Sure, there were a few last grasps for the torch (Hillary’s non-concession speech back in June for example) but the look on former President Clinton’s face during Sen. Clinton’s speech Wednesday night told the whole story.
So, how does one pass the torch gracefully and not get burned in the process? Well, you could take a lesson from Ted Kennedy (2008 Ted Kennedy, not 1980 Ted Kennedy)
Or you could look to Richard Nixon who so graciously handed off to Gerald Ford in 1974. However, I suggest avoiding the example of the 1997 and 2003 Florida Marlins. Or Jay Mariotti. Burning bridges and fire sales are tacky even in the best of times.
Earlier this week, Jamaican Usain Bolt proved to the sporting world that indeed speed sells. With MLB’s recent crackdown on PEDs subsequently limiting the homerun game, is it possible that baseball will start to see an increase of importance on the running game or have we already seen the last of players like Rickey Henderson, Vince Coleman and Lou Brock?
Running is a much more complicated process than it was when we played tag in kindergarten. As our good friend Sen. Obama has shown us time and again, it is not without its pitfalls. And as Chinese hurdler, Liu Xiang, showed us, it is not without its pain.
But there are some people who just make it look easy. Michael Johnson, Carl Lewis, Usain Bolt. All of them make sprinting look as simple as hitting a home run looks for Manny Ramirez. Maybe they’re genetic freaks (or just straight up freaks as in the case of Manny), but there’s no denying they have a talent that 99.9% of the world just doesn’t have. It’s not so much what they do or how they do it but the fact that they can go out and replicate the feat on a consistent basis that sets them apart.
However, running does play an important role in the great American pastime. As much as I hate to have to think about it, much less mention it, one of the reasons that Cardinals beat the Tigers in the 2006 World Series was because the Cardinals had a running game that always put them in a position to score while the Tigers relied on brute strength that seemed to escape them when they needed it most. So, in that respect, I would argue that the question is moot in and of itself.
The running game has always been important for clubs that can’t afford to go out and buy sluggers. Now, the question is if the decrease in power will start to affect the Yankees, Tigers and Red Sox of the world. Again, I’d have to say that successful teams have usually found a way to combine the two elements.
Look at the Oakland A’s of late 80′s. Although they had the two most prolific juicers outside of Sammy Sosa on one team, they also had Rickey Henderson, Mr. “Rickey’s the Best” himself. And Canseco, although he could pound the ball, also did quite well for himself on the basepaths.
However, thoughts of Mr. Canseco and his ill-begotten physique bring me to another important point. Speed and doping aren’t always mutually exclusive. In fact, sometimes they’re regular kissing cousins as the the pride of Canada, Ben Johnson, can attest to. The crackdown on PEDs in MLB might lead to a general and overall slowing down of the game from the way it is played today. Remember, it wasn’t just the the Barry Bonds of the world who were looking for that little extra. It was also the Roger Clemens. And who knows how that might have also played into the speed game.
So, I think the answer to your question is that we have not seen the end of an era and that players who have great legs and a great jump will continue to be sought after. The thing that you have to take into account, though, is that you can’t steal a base or try for the hit-and-run unless you have someone on base in the first place. That was Rickey’s true talent, his ability to get himself in scoring position. And if you want to take it full-circle, it’s also the talent Mr. Obama has shown to this point in getting himself nominated. However, now we have to wait and see if he can find a way to bring it home just like Mr. Bolt.
Ever since the accident (see comments), I’ve been having difficulty focusing my thoughts; but don’t worry. I will still find a way to express them in a brilliant, informative manner as is always expected here at RSBS. I am many things, but a quitter without an opinion I am not.
Picture it: October 2008. The first round of the MLB playoffs are in full stride and not a Red Sox or Yankee is anywhere to be found. Yes. It could happen, folks. For the first time in recent memory, both the Yankees and the Red Sox may find themselves sitting out during the important games. The Rays and Angels look to be locks and it seems that the Twins and White Sox are in a tussle for the other two spots in the AL. I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but it’s hard to dismiss the possibility. Think of the chaos, the madness, the tantrums that would follow. At least emergency rooms in the northeast would be more quiet than usual.
Imagine my horror. Finally over the disappointment of not being able to see Allison Stokke vault her majesty in the Olympic games, I found myself settling on Swedish hurdler Susanna Kallur to satisfy my propensity for body-gazing during female competitions. Yes. My mind was made up. She was going to be the one. And then she knocked down the very first hurdle, fell to the ground and didn’t finish the race, further proving my theory that the combination of beauty and athletic prowess is more rare than me having somewhere to go on a Saturday night.
Envision the face of Barack Obama’s Vice President. Is it male? Female? White? Black? (doubt it) Latino? (double-doubt it) In any case, we should know soon and I have a feeling it will be someone whom we never even thought of. (No, silly, it won’t be me. I’m too busy blogging and raising cain, but thanks for the thought).
Think about it. Wouldn’t that USA/China baseball spat have been more exciting and more newsworthy if some real punches had been thrown? Look, I get it. The Olympics is all about class and sportsmanship but this isn’t the floor exercise we’re talking about here: this is baseball. Our sport. Our way. And we fight. Robin Ventura, Nolan Ryan, Michael Barrett, A.J. Pierzynski… those guys would have tore heads off — they would’ve brought bloody pride to the Red, White and Blue. A knockdown at home plate, some bean balls here and there… jeesh. I was really disappointed.
See the world the way my colleague Allen Krause sees it and see a world that revolves around the wonders and blunders of one irksome Venezuela. Yes, dear readers, I ask the same question you do: What the hell is up with all of these Venezuela posts? This one and this one and this one… I understand that Venezuela is quickly rising the ranks to be the proverbial pebble in US America’s shoe, but come on… Mr. Krause is talking about the degrees of handsomeness between Miguel Cabrera, Magglio Ordonez and Ozzie Guillen. That’s crazy. That’s just plain crazy.
And you know it’s crazy. You know you’ve had enough. And you know there’s no reason to hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
Michael Phelps and a few other American athletes have voluntarily
submitted to a higher level of drug testing in an attempt to head off
any questions about their impressive victories. If the US Olympic team
can do this, why hasn’t baseball taken similar steps to get rid of the
drug stigma surrounding the game today?
In a way, Major League Baseball, behind the leadership of Bud Selig and an overwhelmingly grumpy push from the US Government, has taken similar steps to get rid of the drug stigma, Mr. Krause. I’m not sure if you heard about it this past winter, but the Mitchell Report made quite a stir all over the baseball cosmos, and got a great number of ballplayers thinking “Hey, maybe I shouldn’t put this crap in my body anymore.”
While the drug screening program in baseball is still somewhat lax and random in its procedure, it is still light years better than what it was (non-existent) and does an adequate job by simply scaring people into doing the right thing. This is progress that at one time seemed improbable. Why? Because the don’t-ask-don’t-tell secret of performance enhancing drugs was bringing people to the ballpark. Whether it was the greenies of the 70s or the HGH of the 90s, fans were coming out to games in droves to witness the high octane occurrence of homeruns and 100 mph fastballs. You’ve said it here a million times, Mr. Krause, money is what makes the world go round and if shooting up brings it in then so be it.
Unfortunately, we US Americans sometimes have a conscious; and that’s the only reason why this phase has transitioned to a foreseeable end.
Are players still using PEDs? Probably. Are they using them as much as they used to? No. Not at all. Need proof? How about Richie Sexson, Eric Gagne, Paul Lo Duca just for starters. These guys are mere shadows of what they used to be while on the juice; because of that, I’m convinced that the biggest proverbial battles have already been fought and won.
Could more be done to ensure the sanctity of the game? Probably.
Will a more stringent array of tests similar to those of Olympians Michael Phelps and Dara Torres (both voluntarily) ever be instituted in Major League Baseball? I doubt it.
And here’s why: Player’s Union, Agents, Club Owners, the Players themselves. Try to get anything past these guys that could theoretically threaten profits and you’ll quickly realize you’re dealing with a much higher power than voluntary amateur athletes who compete for a friggin’ medal that everyone will forget about two months from now.
The difference between asking Michael Phelps to take a rigorous amount of drug tests to prove his purity and asking Manny Ramirez to do the same can be summed up in two words: Scott Boras.
Boras, evil incarnate, who single-handedly changed sports forever, will hunt down your children, cut off their heads and sell them to Colombian witchdoctors if it means he’ll get 10%. I guarantee you, if Boras represented Phelps (which would never happen whilst Phelps maintains amateur status), Andrea Kramer would be lucky if Phelps even acknowledged her existence after winning 8 gold medals.
Money. Money money money money money. Money. Money money money money. Money. Money money MONEY!
Of course, public relations and digesting the fact that hardworking US Americans actually do want to be assured that their national pastime isn’t being abused both factor into MLB’s stricter regulations; but MLB and its myriad components, from the owners to the players to Joe Blow who spent $48.50 of his paycheck to sit in the upper deck, will continue to do whatever they have to to straddle the precarious line between profit and purity.
It hasn’t been perfected in politics (see Bill Clinton, the Kennedy’s, John Edwards) yet, so it’s no surprise that baseball hasn’t a clue either.
I’m just glad that I can go to sleep at night knowing that I am PED free. A bulging forehead, weak libido and distending testicles wouldn’t be good for my image.
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
The way the balls were jumping out of The Joan today, one might have thought that the Chicago Air Show started a day early. That wasn’t the case. No. Those were homeruns flying out of the ballpark, not F-14s, and at least four of them flew out in a row: back-to-back-to-back-to-back.
When you say that out loud, it sounds like a bad rap song.
And it got me thinking…
Rarely do things as delightful as homeruns occur four times in a row (especially in the post-PED era) … so when they do, it surely is magical. What else would I like to see back-to-back-to-back-to-back?
Back-to-Back-to-Back-to-Back Saves by the St. Louis Cardinals Bullpen:
Because of the rarity of this now-merely-theoretical possibility, I am beginning to think that the 2008 Cardinals are looking more and more like the 2007 Cardinals. And folks, let me tell ya, that ain’t a good thing.
Back-to-Back-to-Back-to-Back Republican Sex Scandals:
Foot tappin’ in an airport bathroom stall, meth dealin’ gigolos, married northeastern governors who just happen to dig guys more than their wives… keep ‘em comin’!
Back-to-Back-to-Back-to-Back French Male Olympians Crying After Competition:
Why? Because the only thing better than watching a Frenchman cry is watching four Frenchmen cry — in a row. “Zee wemen… zay sink zee cry-eeng… eez sexy.” Ah, the French are such easy targets sometimes.
Back-to-Back-to-Back-to-Back World Series Titles for a Team NOT Named the Yankees:
It could happen. No. Seriously. It could. Okay… no. You’re right.
Back-to-Back-to-Back-to-Back Presidential Terms for the Democratic Party:
FDR did it — by himself — and he was awesome. I’m not saying let’s rewrite the Constitution. I’m just saying we could use a good twelve to sixteen years to get some s*** done — for real.
Back-to-Back-to-Back-to-Back RSBS Posts Where Allen Krause Doesn’t Offend a Great Number of People:
Look, in this case, I agree with you, Mr. Krause; but somebody has to stop those Christians from firebombing my house! Enough already!
Back-to-Back-to-Back-to-Back Evenings Where I DON’T Receive a Soliciting Phone Call from the Number 800-450-9135:
I signed up for one non-profit organization that stands for making the earth a little bit better place and now, every day, non-stop, I get anonymous phone calls from this number asking me to donate to (insert random charity name here). No. I’m through giving my money away. Why do you think I’m still single?
Back-to-Back-to-Back-to-Back Pow-Wow Sessions with the Staff of Arizona via Slough:
I realize that I’m starting to sound like a real perv here, but trust me: I’m not. I’m interested in his staff because they are smart problem-solvers with real world experience and decorated graduate degrees. That’s it. That’s the only reason. Oh — and they know how to order Chinese food properly as well. Very important.
I leave the last one up to you, dear reader. Leave us with your back-to-back-to-back-to-back dream and we’ll see what we can do to make it come true.
I promise. It won’t include rhyming.
You can hate me ‘cuz I’m a dork… but don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
Despite baseball and basketball being sports born in the good old USA, both national teams have lost touch with winning gold at the Olympic games. Why do people care so much more about the basketball team losing top standing than the baseball team?
Quick, name the top three players in baseball. If you did this honestly, you probably came up with A-Rod, Pujols, Miguel Cabrera and so on and so forth. Now, do the same thing for basketball. What’s the difference? When you name the basketball players they all have last names like Bryant, Garnett, Anthony and James. Good ol’ Anglo-Saxon names that sound about as American as apple pie.
Americans like their heroes to have names that sound like their own. There’s a reason you see Senator Obama slipping in the polls and it isn’t because John McCain has a better energy plan. When it comes right down to it, Americans, despite being only a couple generations removed from immigrant status themselves, don’t trust immigrants. When a current nominee for the presidency has to deny ties to Islamist terrorists in the same way that Kennedy had to deny that he would take orders from the pope 50 years ago, it’s not hard to see that we haven’t come all that far.
Beyond all that, timing is an integral part of who can actually
represent our country. The baseball season is in full swing and there’s
no way that all those athletes are going to sacrifice their big
salaries or that the teams are going to sacrifice the playoffs for a
couple of weeks of nationalistic fervor. I’m sure that basketball GMs
dread having their best players out there risking injury but at least
the Olympic competition is over before players even need to report for
However, in the Olympics, it also comes down to something much more simple. Basketball has been around in the Olympics for decades and became a sporting symbol for the Cold War conflict between the US and the USSR. When the Soviets beat the Americans in 1988, it stunned the US sporting psyche in the same way that Sputnik called our national pride into question at the end of the 50′s.
Baseball just doesn’t play the same role. It’s only been an Olympic sport for the past 12 years and the US hasn’t even qualified every time. And beyond that, who plays the role of the villian? What reason do we have to win? Real baseball plays out between May and October in a bunch of stadiums scattered across North America.
So, maybe if Cuba ever becomes a legitimate threat or Venezuela is able to back up the big game they talk with some international clout, then baseball will come to play a similar role to that of basketball. But until then, the Dream Team will be Kobe and company and the Olympic baseball team will be a bunch of college schlubs trying their hardest to make their country proud.
Finally, there is something to distract me from the escalating woes of St. Louis’ bullpen, the blooming ERA of the White Sox pitching staff and the rumor mill officially known as Veepstakes!. Yes, dear readers, it is time for another Olympiad. The story lines are plenty, but first and foremost my focus will be on whether or not the Chinese follow through on their promise to change the weather to their specifications. They have made great strides in weather modification (I heard the North Koreans gave them a hand with the necessary plutonium) so I really look forward to seeing them turn off the rain and turn on the sunlight. I am also curious to see how successful they are in duping athletes into thinking that the ominous, smoky, gray haze really is just fog and not smog like the big bad foreign devils claim. And of course, we all look forward to watching sappy melodrama after sappy melodrama, narrated by Bob Costas, featuring Olympians who overcame war, severed limbs and mange to compete on the world’s stage.
Interesting as the above may be, still, as a proud US American, I must say that the two main story lines I looked forward to the most will not be present in Beijing. And this, dear readers, makes me sad.
Because ever since Deadspin made her an internet sensation, I have long dreamed to watch California pole-vaulting vixen Allison Stokke turn multicultural heads. When I found out she didn’t make the USA team, I was crushed. In my depressed stupor, I chugged a 40 oz., plucked out a few of my eyebrows, and drunk-dialed everyone I knew.
No one answered the phone.
If you’re one of those people unfamiliar with the greatness that is Allison, you don’t need to know much. These pictures will provide all the necessary information:
Besides Ms. Stokke, the presence of St. Louis Cardinal top-prospet Colby Rasmus will also be missed. Touted as the ‘next big thing’ in the Cardinals farm system, I have been ravenous to watch him play. With a measly .249 average and just 11 homeruns in 329 at-bats, I know he hasn’t had quite the year everyone expected him to at Triple-A Memphis, but there’s no telling what putting on the Red, White & Blue uni could do to a player. Unfortunately, a leg injury will keep him from making the trip so I will be left to watch Davey Johnson manage the likes of Gronkiewicz, LaHair, Segovia and Bacsik — very US American-like names that I’ve never heard before.
Of course, there will be one big name I’m glad I won’t have to see play, whine, cry, shoot-up, whatever and that is Roger Clemens. There was some hinting that he might make a run at pitching for Team USA and all I can say is that I am very pleased that general manager Bob Watson quickly dismissed any potential shenanigans involving Mr. Clemens. After the Marion Jones fiasco, the last thing US America needs is to have another steroid scandal — especially one involving the most detractive PED user this side of the Atlantic.
The decision to keep Clemens at home with his underaged and/or married love affairs was elementary my dear Bob Watson and I thank you for making it. In fact, I, and the rest of US America, applaud you for it. That being said, I don’t quite agree with your hasty acquisition of Chewbacca for the starting pitching rotation. His fastball is a little weak and I’m not so sure he’s from our country — or planet for that matter. Did you check his birth certificate?
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I ask the tough questions, Watson, and don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
U-S-A, U-S-A, U-S-A!