Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The World Baseball Classic

Did you pay attention?

Ah March, NCAA at its finest, conference championships, tournaments champions, bubbles burst, and of course the tournament itself. So, after the first two rounds filled with upsets and bracket busters, I am going to focus on none other

MLB owners fought against it, Cuba had to fight to participate, and is A-Rod in or out, he's in for the U.S.A, no, wait, he's in for the Domincan...he's back out....WAIT, he's back in for the U.S.A. All of this drama before the games even started! Everyone knew it was happening, but how many people actively paid attention to the games (checking the scores on ESPN doesn't count). I admit, I didn't watch more than 4 innings of the whole tournament. Shame on me.

Baseball, America's past time, and where was our national pride. I assume most of you were like me, you cared, but did you really? Other countries were stoked, finally, Latin Americans can show off their pride. Japan and Korea have a chance to prove that baseball is every bit theirs as it is ours. Hell, even some European countries participated. Where was the American spirit...this is OUR game, OUR pasttime. Where was the hype that the Dream Team had in 92. It's like Canada not caring about how they do in Hockey.

Pride of country was obvious from the start at the games (even ours), flags were waving and competition was fierce. It is March, we aren't supposed to see baseball this intense until fall! Yet, after Canada, with a group of mostly minor leaguers beat the U.S., the water cooler talk wasn't how awful it was to lose to our neighbors of the north, but rather how Stubby Clapp sounded more like a Venereal Disease than a name. We still made it to round 2, shit happens, at least we didn't lose to Mexico right?

Obviously we know what happened in Round 2, we needed to beat Mexico in order to advance to the semifinals....umm, we lose to, Mexico. What little I did watch though, was the end of the U.S. vs Japan game, extra innings, two top baseball countries going at it. The end was the U.S. winning with a line drive up the middle, thrilling, exciting, and controversial. Just how I like it.

So who ends up in the finals, Japan vs Cuba! Cuba beat the Dominican Republic to advance. That had to look bad for our politicians who fought to keep Cuba out of the country, I thought it was rather fitting however. Japan ultimately won, rightfully claiming the first World Baseball Classic as theirs.

Was it bad or dissapointing for the U.S.? Absolutely not! It goes to show how, baseball, OUR game has spread around the world. It also shows that baseball is a game where the underdog has a chance, it is a game that can unite the world. I expect you all to be cheering for the Red White and Blue in 4 years! Speaking of sports uniting the world, isn't there some other tournament starting that takes place every 4 years? Bah, who cares, opening day is coming and I want to see if Stubby Clapp is playing in the majors!

Monday, February 20, 2006

The Winter Olympics

Normally when the Olympics are on I pay minimal attention to what is really going on. I check on what the medal count is and hope that the U.S. is ahead. This year, I have tried to pay attention to what has been taking place.

Bode Miller
I figured it was only right to start with one of the bigger and more controversial stories of this year's Olympics, at least in the U.S. Bode Miller, according to the media, skis drunk and doesn't care about winning. What I pick up from listening to his interviews is a little different than what the media portrays. First, the drunk skiing issue, this one is hard to defend and is indeed reckless. However, he never stated that he got drunk then went skiing, what he said was he got wasted the night before skiing and was probably still drunk. In this context, I have frequently driven when I shouldn't have the morning after when you aren't necessarily thinking about being drunk still. As I said, still reckless, but taken a bit out of context.

What the media has been hounding him on though, is that he "doesn't care". The message that Bode tried to get across is that winning isn't the only thing. Yes, this goes against the great Vince Lombardi, but what Miller says, in my opinion, is actually a positive message. In his Nike commercial,, he states that we as a society, whether we know it or not, put so much emphasis on winning, that people shouldn't even try if they know they are going to lose. He thinks that kids should participate in sports and not necessarily worry about winning or losing. We all want to win, including Miller. If he really didn't care, how would he be an Olympian and a top skier on the world circuit. You don't end up towards the top of a sport by luck.

Miller is currently 0-4 in his events and is being labeled an American bust, and considering he was expected to medal 5 times, yes, he is a bust. However, Bode isn't going to let that get him down, he is going to continue doing what he does best and not dwell on his losses. Try to win, let down when you gave it your best and lost, no. That, to me, is a good message, just as long as he stays sober on the slopes.

Snowboarding vs Ice Skating
After the halfpipe was over, my dad was questioning how this was an olympic sport. I fired right back asking how figure skating is an olympic sport then. Snowboarding was an excellent addition to the games because of the younger fan base it provides. I want to see people doing spins, flips, and 900 Stalefish Airs, more than I care to see a triple lutz. Ice skating seems to always have some sort of controversy in its judging. This year, how does the Chinese team crash hard, take a 5 minute break, and come back to win a me this is rediculous. Sure they had a lead going into that skate, but how many pairs performed almost flawlessly on all of their skates just to finish in the back of the pack.

Snowboard Cross = Exciting to watch! I missed the men's Snowboard cross, but I thoroughly enjoyed watching the women race down the mountain in one big free for all. Speed, falls, passes, all in a race format is the perfect recipe for my entertainment. This of course brings me to Lindsey Jacobelis. I know I said before that Bode Miller has the right idea by not worrying too much about winning it all, but I am going to be a bit of a hypocrit here. Jacobelis is probably bothered by her silver medal and should be. With the gold all but certain, she, in true snowboarding free spirit, attempts to perform a trick. This was nothing nore than showing off for the Wheaties box. This, as you know backfired as she wiped out and was passed. I honestly feel bad for her, but sometimes you have you weigh the risks vs the rewards. To be fair though, that would have been one hell of a Wheaties cover, "Jacobelis taunts the rest of the world in her domination".

I guess it is cool now? I admit, I have been watching it. Well, I have been watching the women's curling. I'll be honest, I have been hoping to catch a glimpse of the Russian "skip". This sport is oddly amusing to watch, and I bet even better to play. I compare it to shuffleboard at the bar, and I enjoy playing tha. And this, unlike skiing, is a sport that might be ok to play drunk, so I am down with that.

Lindsey Kildow
Just a quick shoutout to Kildow. I saw the was grueling to watch. Lindsey, however, has battled on. Her injuries are obviously affecting her, but she is displaying true courage and is representing our country as well as any medal winner. Her spirit and perserverance is indeed inspiring and should come out of this Olympics as America's Olympic darling. (I might consider changing that if Emily Hughes can win gold after all she has been through as an alternate to Michelle Kwan)

well, I am done bantering for now. Yes, there is more I could say, but hey, it is 12:30 am. If was to be staying up this late, I might as well have went out to the bars! I just want to know one I supposed to cheer for Canada when the U.S. is out of contention, I feel like I want to, but do they cheer for us I wonder? Anyways, the games are almost over and I wish Team USA success in all events