Monday, August 25, 2008

Beijing: Lasting Memories

Wow. What a great Olympics. Sets the bar pretty high for London in 2012.(I'm sure they will do awesome) So I give you my personal lasting images from the Beijing Games.

1. Michael Phelps 8 gold medals: I wrote an entire blog about this already, comparing Phelps' domination only to Tiger Woods. A performance for the ages.

2. Usain Bolt: Fastest man ever? It is a ridiculous question to ask, but as far as athletics goes it could be Bolt. He set world records in the two fastest sprint events in the 100m and 200m. And he made it look easy. A huge congrats to Bolt and the entire Jamaican track team. They put on a show.

3. Nastia Luikin and Shawn Johnson Although they didn't win team gold, Luikin and Johnson performed with precision. In fact, I feel every event could have been won by either gymnast (I don't follow the scoring, too inconsistant). They were clutch with style. Great to watch.

4.Kerry Walsh/Misty May-Treanor: Nobody had gone gold in back to back Olympics until they did. Watching them celebrate was like watching the Olympic spirit. You could tell they are ecstatic to start their families with Olympic gold. The entire US volleyball did amazing with 3 gold and 1 silver.

5. The Host Nation: The government may have tried to hide the poverty, but the people showed their pride. The opening and closing ceremonies were the best ever, and the athletes won an incredible amount of gold medals. A great perfomance, even if they do have athlete factories.

6. US Women win gold in soccer: without Abbey Wambauch I thought the US would still medal. Their complete team performance to win gold against Brazil ushered in a new era of US soccer.

7. The Redeem Team: Not only did they dominate, they represented themselves as great Olympians by attending a variety of other sports. Class.

8. Swimming success, Track tribulations: Even without Michael Phelps, our swimming team has great success. They won a fair share of gold and silver. The track team has some answering to do. I believe their training was very poor, and half our athletes looked flat. We won a fair amount of medals, but clearly we struggled in some strong events.

Did I forget anything? I look forward now to Vancouver in 2010. And don't forget the World Baseball Classic next spring.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Michael Phelps: World Domination

We love sports for two reasons: for love of the game and to become a champion. I love watching championships being won. I watch any championship game that's on, which means I watch lacrosse only once a year. There are two types of champions: the surprise team/player who just seazed the moment and the heavy favorite that lives up to potential.

Michael Phelps redefined what it means to live up to potential. I've heard plenty of people say how difficult it is to win when everyone expects you to. That covers teams like The Patriots, The Spurs and the Yankees of the last 10 years. What Phelps did was different. He destroyed the competition. It was Phelps vs the field, and you gotta take Phelps. Only few athletes have done that in my lifetime. Here are the athletes I put Phelps with(from my lifetime).

Pete Sampras/Roger Federer: You knew what the Grand Slams looked like before the year started. They would win the Australian, Wimbeldon and US Open. It was all about the French Open. They dominated in an individual sport that had hundreds of professionals aiming at them.

Michael Jordan: It took a whole team, but we all know that Michael Jordan essentially single handedly won 6 NBA championships, and if he hadn't retired it would have been 8 straight. But he did it during an era when it was predominantly a US game, not the worldwide game we see now.

Michael Phelps: He didn't lose. He found that extra gear to get the clutch victory. He set a record for gold medals when literally the whole world is challenging him. And he did it in a competition held only once every 4 years. And he will swim again in 2012. The next 30 years will help us understand how remarkable this really is.

Tiger Woods: In tennis you play one man each match. Basketball is about 12 with subs. Phelps swam against 7 at a time. Tiger Woods faces over a hundred each tournament and has dominated. He blows people away. He wins the close call. He wins hurt. I remember saying to myself during his "Tiger Slam" you can't just say "I'm gonna win" and then go do it! Phelps really only compares to Tiger. Both are men who have changed their sports for a nation. You can't give a bigger compliment than that.

EDIT: Lance Armstrong: How could I forget the 7 time champion following cancer? Probably because it's cycling. Doesn't always come to mind. Still, it is hard for any athlete to dominate for 4 years, let alone 7.

Friday, August 15, 2008

The boys are back in town!

So, I am now the pround Papa of two boys! Now, let it be clear that boy or girl I have the same sports philosophy: start with baseball/softball and soccer and let the child choose other sports as they like. Or no sports if the child is more musical/artistic/smart. You get the idea.

As far as the sports go, you dream big for your child. US Men's National team player. Starting pitcher for the Cardinals. The next Tiger Tiger Woods y'all. But because this blog is all about fun, I have the following question: What is the most attainable/durable career you can have in sports. My choices are:

The left handed middle reliever: If you are left handed, can throw a fast ball in the high 80's and a curveball you can have a 15 years pro career getting one out a game. I'd take it.

NFL Place Kicker/Punter: Can you kick the ball really frickin' far? You're hired. Shoot, you could play for 15 years at this job also! Just don't blow the point spread or some drunk guy will push you into his hibatchi after the game.

Three Point Specialist: Too short to dunk and play defense? Just keep hitting the three-pointers once every three tries and you too can play for the Memphis Grizzlies.

For me I would go with the place-kicker. You don't even have to run. But I will put it up to a poll. Tell me what you think!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

US Men's Soccer: How to shoot yourself in the foot.

At least I didn't lose any sleep over this one. Wait, I was up at 4am watching. Crap.

Being a soccer enthusiast, I know the US Men's team is talented. I know we have great players and when we play together we can do great things. Which is why it sucks so bad when we don't advance in World Cup and now the Olympics. At the World Cup I thought we played hard but the refs could have been a little more lenient. Today....we have nobody to blame but ourselves. My (brief) recap.

US vs Japan: 1-0 The result we needed. Japan was the weakest team in the group and the US put in a scrappy goal. Otherwise all I wondered was if the ref would ever call a foul in favor of Freddy Adu. It was silly.

US vs Netherlands: 2-2 If you would have told me before the tourney that we would tie Holland, I would have been extatic. But its how we tied that was crushing. We were up 2-1 with 45 seconds to go. A win and we are through. Stuart Holden commits a silly foul in a bad location. The Dutch put in the free kick. 3 points melts to 1, and we have to play Nigeria without two stars in Freddy Adu and Michael Bradley. But we are still very alive.

US vs Nigeria: 1-2 Mike Orozco better hope he doesn't run into American soccer fans for a while, maybe years. His red card for throwing an elbow to the chest of a Nigerian in the THIRD FREAKING MINUTE all but eliminated us. We only needed a tie, so maybe we could hold on. After the first goal, I knew we were sunk and only have ourselves to blame.

So I maintain that the US is a good soccer nation. These tournaments are just tough (and the referees never give our players the benefit of the doubt). Although we dominate our continent, it will still be at least two more years until we gain some worldwide respect. I hate getting knocked out so fast. It hurts. We are better than that. In fact, I don't know if I will watch another match with all the other events. So I will wait for the World Cup in South Africa to hedge our Men's American Soccer hopes.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Olympics Junkie

The Olympics are a drug. A sweet sweet drug, and I am an addict. Think I am exagerating? Look at my symptoms. Whenever I watch the Olympics I immediately feel great and all warm inside. I want to watch more and more and it affects my daily schedule. And it may affect my marriage (being on 20 hours a day).

I love the Olympics because of 2 reasons. 1)I love the Olympic spirit and the fact that we talk about the competition and not contracts and agents. Everyone is on a level playing field, may the best athlete win. 2)I love watching the top competition of any sport. Which leads me to watch almost every sport. I've been known to watch everything from rowing to curling. (Curling is awesome btw. look it up). What I am watching this Olympics:

Men's and Women's Soccer: I know, I am a nerd but I love soccer. The women are looking to rebound from a poor World Cup. Well, they are without their top scorer and lost their first match. It would be a great accomplishment to make the gold medal match. The men's tourney is under-23 with 3 overage players, so it is not quite a World Cup. But a medal for the US would show our increase in quality and gain some well deserved respect.

Michael Phelps: He could destroy not only World records, but the record for most gold medals by any athlete. Ever. Gotta watch it.

Women's Gymnastics: Alright, not the most manly sport to follow. But the women's gymnastics often gives the best story lines. I watched Kerry Strug limp away from the vault victorious. Anything can happen, and I will try to watch it.

Men and Women's Basketball: I am interested if we can maintain and regain our dominance in this now world-wide sport.

Team Handball: Let's call this the Curling event of the summer Olympics. It looks awesome, and I totally want to play it but there is no place to play in Mid America. It intrigues me and I will learn what I can from the next two weeks.

Anyone else have an event they are embarassed to be caught watching?

Thursday, August 7, 2008

J-E-T-S Jet Favre!

The soap opera is over. The divorce is finalized. Brett Favre is a Jet. While I truly thought he would end up in Minnesota in the end the Jets get their superstar QB they have been looking for since Broadway Joe (sorry Boomer Esiason).

I feel for the Packer faithful: You lost your all-time great over.....well we're not sure why. I also feel for EA Sports, who probably never dreamed that their cover boy would be with another franchise!