Friday, July 08, 2005

Down on the Field Level...

Yesterday was another typical morning for most of us. About 3 minutes after my fiancé dropped me off at my building for work she called me on my cell phone to tell me about the terrorist attacks in London. It quickly brought me back to that day almost four years ago when the world changed forever and I had a hard time understanding why people would want to hurt and kill innocent lives.

Now to several sports topics to take our minds away…

This one is LONG overdue. Venus Williams won her 3rd Wimbledon Title and 5th grand slam – first since 2001 last weekend. Once she got into the semi finals I was rooting for her to win so much. The Williams sister that brought the family name into the public eye has taken a back seat to her lil sis in the last 3-4 years came back in a big way. Not only did fellow American Lindsay Davenport have Venus down and out in the second set, she had her almost beat again in the third set. Venus kept playing hard and kept playing good and came away with a 4-6, 7-6 (7-4) and 9-7 dramatic win. Great win for her after losing her last five grand slam final matches (all to her sister).

Curt Schilling and Red Sox Manager Terry Francona have decided that the best idea to get Schill out on the bump for the BoSox is for him to pitch out of the bullpen. I think it’s a great idea. In my eyes Curt Schilling is one of the gutsiest, big-game pitchers of the last twenty years, maybe ever. Not only for what he did in the 2004 playoffs and World Series, but for what he did in the 1993 playoffs for the Philadelphia Phillies and the 2001 playoffs and World Series for the Arizona Diamondbacks. He’s all heart. Early in his career he pitched in relief and after a few times getting himself reacquainted with the role in the minors he’ll be fine. A three-pitch pitcher who can still get his fastball in the mid 90s is a very effective closer…Dennis Eckersley, and John Smoltz would probably agree with me.

Nate McMillan left the Seattle Super Sonics to coach the Portland Trail Blazers. I’m not happy about this one at all, but I can’t argue with a guy if he wants to make a little more money. That being said, that’s the only reason why Nate left Seattle – the place he’s lived since 1987 when he was drafted by the Super Sonics out of NC State. When Seattle promoted him from an assistant to head coach early in the 2001 season I figured the only way he’d ever leave the team was if they fired him as coach and made him a front office guy…I was wrong. In his four full seasons at the helm he guided his team to two winning seasons, last season their best with a 52-30 record. The team is on the rise but he decided to take the 2 and a half hour drive down Route 5 to Blazer Land. Good luck Nate, you’re going to need it.

Michael Redd stays in Milwaukee rather than being wooed away by Cleveland and others. Nice work on Michael Redd’s part. He’s getting better and better each year and had the Buck not had so many injuries this past season they would’ve been a 42-45 win team…and now they’ve got Andrew Bogut the #1 pick of the NBA draft. Redd used his brain and realized that this team is on the rise and has the potential to be a major force in the Eastern Conference. Good loyalty to the team that drafted you Michael – I wish you well.

Hold everything, the NHL is going to end their strike and return to being a league again. I’m going to be honest for a moment? I used to be a pretty big hockey fan. I remember watching the New York Rangers of the early and mid 90s with so much admiration for what hockey players could do. Ice skate at fast speeds while hitting a hard and heavy puck with a small stick while trying to avoid being flattened by a big 6’4” 235 pound defenseman. That takes a lot of skill and athleticism. But in recent years I’ve really soured on the NHL. And now, I’m really close to being done with it. Most of the great players that I grew up watching are retired and now we’ve got a bunch of guys who go on season-long strikes? Not my kind of hockey. Hopefully it comes back and is popular, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it isn’t. Maybe I’ll watch a bunch of games in the playoffs…I’ll see what I’m doing that night.

Pedro skips the All-Star game because he is pitching a few days before it wouldn’t be able to pitch in the mid-summer classic. You can love him or you can hate him but what Pedro Martinez did was the right thing. Pedro’s pitched in so many All-Star games in the past that maybe this year he just doesn’t feel like being in uniform that night is worth it. But what he’s actually doing is giving the National League a big advantage against the American League. Now that this game actually means something you want all of your players to be at their best – and Pedro would not be. So he pulls his hat out and lets them pick up another pitcher who might be able to help the NL win the ballgame. He’s very justified in being there (leads the NL in strikeouts) but put the team first. Classic, unselfish Pedro Martinez.

Tim Brown will retire as a Raider…the soon-to-be 39-years old played 16 of his 17 seasons as a Raider (longest tenure in team history). He had 1,070 catches for 14,734 yards and 99 touchdowns as a Raider and will go down as one of the five greatest wide outs in NFL history. They’ll do the usual one-day contract with a press conference to announce the end of a Hall of Fame career. Good for you TB – I wish you could talk your buddy Jerry into doing the same thing.

Have a nice weekend…

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Games of the 30th Olympiad

"The International Olympic Committee has the honor of announcing that the
Games of the 30th Olympiad in 2012 are awarded to the city of London." - IOC president Jacques Rogge

I was disappointed when I heard the news that New York City didn’t get the 2012 Summer Olympics. New York City, like it or not, is the Capital of the World. I know a lot of people just read that line and said to themselves that I am wrong or that I’m biased, but it true – it’s the biggest and most powerful city in the entire world…bar none.

However, I was pretty happy that London was awarded the Olympic Games and not Paris. This is the first time since the 1948 Olympics that London will be the host, after they narrowly defeated Paris 54-50 on the fourth ballot of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) vote. But if we had to lose out to somebody, wouldn’t you rather it be our buddies across the pond?
The first three rounds eliminated the three cities that had small chances of winning with Moscow going out in the first round with just 15 votes. New York was next with only 16 followed by Madrid with 31 votes.

London's victory handed Paris its third loss at hosting the Olympics in 20 years – Losing out on the 1992 and 2008 Olympics. Paris hasn't hosted the games since 1924. Paris did have a perceived advantage because this was the third time they were bidding and especially because IOC has a tendency to reward persistence. Paris also already has an Olympic stadium and welcomed the IOC's blueprint for controlling the size and cost of the games. The massive urban renewal of East London was what London used as a major selling point in its fourth bid from Britain after losing bids by Birmingham for the 1992 Olympics and Manchester in 1996 & 2000.
I’ll say it again, I’m happy for Britain…if it wasn’t NYC it should be them. I just hope that the same terrorists that probably would’ve wanted to make disaster happen in New York will not be successful in London.

The Summer Olympics is and always will be a great month of competition and camaraderie held every four years…I’m sure London will put on a good show.