Archive for July, 2012

Disclaimer: I am currently employed by NBC Universal, which happens to be broadcasting the London Olympics.  Obviously, this presents a conflict of interest because I am writing about why you should watch my company as they broadcast the Olympics.  By no means is that the case; if the games were on CBS, ESPN, or even VH1 I would still write this piece.  But please, do watch the London Olympics on the networks of NBC Universal and also online at NBCOlympics.com. 

In less than two days, the best athletes in the world will start two weeks of competition in one of the most famous cities in the world.  In fact, some games have already started.  So while I know canoeing, rhythmic gymnastics, archery, and handball (which my mom played!) won’t excite you as much, there is plenty to tune in for during the next two weeks.  So I’ll get into the top 3 storylines for the games of the 30th Olympiad.

The Invincible Has Kryptonite – In 2008, two men took the games by storm and didn’t let it go.  Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps shattered records left and right, seemingly at will.  Records that probably will never be broken.  It was such a display of athleticism that was otherworldly at times, like these two were birth on Krypton and descended on our planet to show us how to truly compete.  We didn’t want the games to end then.  When the games did end, we wanted 2012 to hurry so we could see these two modern marvels.

Well, 2012 is here, and Bolt and Phelps are returning, but not as the invincible titans of ’08.  No, these two are now threatened, amazingly by their own countrymen.  Bolt is an underdog against training partner Yohan Blake who beat him in the Olympic trials in the 100m and 200m.  Phelps is facing off against his good friend and biggest rival Ryan Lochete.  You saw their meets in the Olympic swim trials.  Bolt and Phelps may not recreate the magic of ’08, but will they at least win gold facing their biggest tests?  Both are still in the prime of their careers, though Phelps says he is done after this Olympics.  This is the greatness of competition; facing your biggest obstacle on the grandest stage for the greatest prize.

Crazy, Sexy, Cool – Ah, Lolo Jones.  This Bayou beauty has a very interesting love life to say the least.  Especially for someone who doesn’t have one.  Her search for true romance is hilariously analyzed in this video.  Yeah, Lolo will be the one to show up at yo’ job.  She is not looking for love, or at least someone to knock the cobwebs out at Olympic Park, but maybe that’s a good thing; who could forget the tragedy in Beijing, when she hit the 2nd to last hurdle, costing her potential gold.  Now she is back and better than ever.  If she wins the gold this time, I wonder how she would celebrate.  I know I would probably warn the first guy that’s in her path.  In other track events, who doesn’t love the story of Sanya Richards-Ross who is supported by her husband, Jaguars corner Aaron Ross, going for the 400m win after a great run in the Olympic Trials

How about Holley Mangold?  She 5-8 and 350 lbs.  Somebody probably thinks she’s sexy too.  She certainly is confident in herself, which is half of what it takes to be sexy.   She also happens to be a weightlifter for the US Team, one of two women who will make the trip to London.  You can read her impressive story here, and while she probably won’t medal this year, it’s pretty cool that this former gymnast, turned big girl, will use what God gave her to represent her country in the Olympics.  Watch out for the big girl!

Dream Showdowns – I remember racing home from work in 2008 to watch the gold medal game between Spain and USA.  The Redeem Team actually had a shot to lose the game.  The Gasol brothers and Rudy Fernandez were cooking.  It was a 4 point game down the closing stretch when Dwyane Wade made the clutch play to seal the game for the country.  I knew then that Spain would give the USA problems for a long while.  Fast forward to 2012, the Dream Team looks dominant again with LeBron coming off a championship, Kobe still doing work, and Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook coming into their own.  But the Spanish still have the Gasol brothers, and add to their frontcourt Serge Ibaka.  Does the US have the frontcourt to match?  Dwight Howard is not playing, can Tyson Chandler and Kevin Garnett get it done down low?  It will be an amazing rematch if it does happen.  Oh yeah, I have USA winning all their games by 15-20, with the 10 point gold-medal game win.  And I do think they would lose to the 1992 Dream Team, but they ain’t losing by 25.

Other dream match-ups: Allyson Felix (my love) vs Veronica Campbell Brown in the 200m.  Justin Gatlin running faster now that he’s not cheating vs Tyson Gay.  USA Women’s Soccer vs Japan.  And of course cheating China and their 13-year-old wunderkind gymnasts vs Gabby Douglas from Virginia Beach and the rest of the USA gymnastic team.  There are plenty of other matchups as well.  The Olympics provide pressure and drama that is not match by many events around the world.  So give the Olympics a shot this year.  If you don’t like it, hey at least it only comes on every four years.  Let the games begin!

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Best Player In Baseball…By Far

I hope you are enjoying the worst day on the sports calendar; the day right after the MLB All-Star Game.  No games on, football games are weeks away from starting, and NBA free agency is lagging (even though this year, the NBA offseason has been fantastic!)  So to entertain you on this dreadful day, and catch you up on what you may have missed watching the NBA, here is the good, bad, and ugly of baseball’s first half.

Is Bryce the Real Deal?
That’s A Clown Question, Bro?

The Good – Let’s talk about some surprise teams.  The Pirates, led by easily the 1st half NL MVP Andrew McCutchen, has seemingly put it together with great pitching from James McDonald and former castaway A.J. Burnett.  Even better than the Pirates, the Nationals are the best team in the NL with 3 starting pitchers who could start for most teams, along with spark plug Bryce Harper.  In the AL, it’s the usual suspects at the top with the Yankees and Rangers.  But the Orioles have turned their fortunes around behind Adam Jones hot bat, and Cleveland is in first, if only because the AL Central is suspect.

The Bad – Well good thing we have surprise team to excite us, because these other teams have been god awful.  The Red Sox and Tigers have struggled staying at the .500 level, but it’s the Phillies and Marlins that have really been woeful.  It’s really hard to believe, since their offense is statistically better than last year with a healthy Ryan Howard and Chase Utley.  All these teams have proven that baseball is not just stockpiling the best arms and bats to overpower everyone.  The Tigers have no pitching outside Verlander and bad defense; the Marlins are more streaky than Will Ferrell in Old School; the Phillies have no bullpen, no depth and are too old;  and the Red Sox just hate each and everyone hates the manager.  Can’t win that way, can’t do it.

The Ugly – This is actually a beautiful thing for a Nationals fan like myself, but the National League is easily the NFC West of the two leagues.  There is no way that the Nats should be the favorites in the league, but top to bottom, there really isn’t a team that you could see upending them.  The Dodgers don’t have the offense or pitching depth.  The Nats just swept the Giants and their ace Tim Lincecum is struggling this year.  The Cardinals don’t have their ace Chris Carpenter either.  The Reds could come close but their starting pitching isn’t intimidating.  You can’t count on the Braves, especially after last year, and the Mets have been overachieving all year.  Could we see a Nats-Pirates NLCS?  The baseball gods wouldn’t allow that right?

As for the AL, I would love to see Yankees-Rangers again but the Angels, not led by grisled veteran Albert Pujols, but by the young gun, Mike Trout, could overtake the Rangers.  As for the Yankees, they clearly are the class of the MLB, and that’s with them cutting payroll.  So for the ALCS, I have Angels-Yankees.  It should be an interesting next two months for baseball as these races heat up.  If you don’t care about that, at least it will entertain you until football returns.

Yankees-Red Sox…We Still Get These Games Force-fed to Us!