Sports postsSunday August 05, 2012
What the Olympics Needs
A ninth lane, where someone like me swims.
Seriously. Here, for example, are the results from the Men's 50m Freestyle on Friday:
|7||02||BOVELL George Richard||21.82||+0.48||+|
First place was 21.34. Eighth place was 21.98. Not even a second's difference. A sixth of a second. Boom.
There's no perspective to that. We may sense, a bit, how fast they're going, but we don't see it because they're all racing against the other seven fastest swimmers in the world.
People at home, slumping on their couches, look at Eamon Sulivan and think he's the worst when he's the 8th best in the world. And he'd be the best, the fastest in the world, but for .65 of a second.
With me in lane 9, probably doing the sidestroke, suggesting, as George Orwell once wrote of an outdated missile, “nothing so much as a man riding along on a bicycle and whistling,” you'd see how fast all of these athletes really are. You'd get results like this:
|7||02||BOVELL George Richard||21.82||+0.48||+|
We'll all have a greater appreciation for Eamon Sullivan in lane 1.
LinkedIn to the Heavyweight Champ
Perks of the job.
In 2005, I wrote a profile of entertainment attorney Henry Holmes, whose clients included Michelle Rodriguez, Robert Evans, and, in particular, George Foreman. In 1994, Holmes helped clear the way for Foreman's title bout, at the age of 45, with Michael Moore, which Foreman won, as well as “The George Foreman Grill,” for which Holmes convinced his client to forgo an upfront salary for a joint venture that ultimately made Foreman upwards of $100 million. I interviewed Foreman for the piece, by phone, with maybe a follow-up by email. Apparently his email system never deleted me. A few days ago, this arrived in my in box:
I accepted, of course. I have a job at the moment but nothing's forever; and if you're going to have someone in your corner, why not the heavyweight champion of the world?
Seattle Sounders Win Best-of-Two Series, 1-1, against the Panamanians of San Francisco
My friend Parker told me yesterday afternoon that he had an extra ticket to the Seattle Sounders soccer game that evening and would I like to go? I did a quick mental check: Nothing planned. I looked outside: sunny and in the 70s. I thought about the sport: knew nothing. Why not?
Here's how much I don't know about soccer. I assumed it was still the regular season. But apparently the regular season is over and the Sounders won the championship. Or something. So what was this game? In this game, the Sounders, the best team in the MLS this season, played the best team from another league, a Panamanian team called San Francisco, whose colors, red and blue, happened to be the colors of the old Barcelonan futbol jersey (Rivaldo: 10) that I wore to the game. Oops. Almost everyone else in the stands was in Sounders/Xbox highlighter neon-green. Pity.
So: soccer. Two halves, 45 minutes each. But they count up. That was a surprise. In the second half they don't start over, either, but continue to 90. When that's over they sometimes (all the time?) add extra minutes for time lost due to injuries, set-ups, yadda yadda. I don't know who calculates the extra minutes. I don't know where those extra minutes are displayed in the stadium. But someone, somewhere, counts down. Or up.
No scoring for a while (this is soccer), but then the Sounders, who controlled the ball for most of the game and had many more shots on goal than Panama (San Francisco), head-butted one in for a 1-0 lead. And that's how it stayed until the 90 minutes were up. We won! Yayyyy! Sorry, what was that? Right, extra time. Then that ended, too. We won! Yayyyy! Sorry, what was that?
It still wasn't over. Apparently they'd already played one game in Panama, which ended 1-0 for Panama/SF, so now the series was tied 1-1, and the score was tied 1-1. They needed to break the tie to end the series.
“They play a best-of-two series?” I asked.
“Apparently,” Parker said.
“Huh,” I said.
So we settled back in. By which I mean we continued to stand, since everyone in our section stood throughout the game.
Thankfully the Sounders scored about halfway into the 15-minute overtime period to make it 2-0, Sounders, or 2-1 in the series. We won! Yayyyyy!
But they kept playing.
“They must finish out the 15-minute set,” Parker said.
“Right,” I said.
And they did. And we won. But they kept playing.
“Two 15-minute overtime sets,” Parker said to me.
“Right,” I said.
The Sounders were playing a more cautious game now, which led to more shots-on-goal for the Panamanians of San Francisco, but nothing got in. And the clock counted up to 30. Which was 120. And that was that, right? We won, yay? No, they kept playing.
“The time-add thing,” Parker said.
“Where are they counting up?” I asked. “I don't see it anywhere.” The clock in the stadium was frozen on 30. Which was 120.
“They do it on TV anyway,” Parker said, looking around.
So the game continued. Until it didn't. The ball was in the Sounders corner, controlled by the Sounders, and a Panama/SF striker made an effort for the ball, and then everyone relaxed and walked off the field. And the remaining fans cheered.
“That's it?” I said to Parker.
“That's it,” he said.
“We won?” I said.
“We won,” he said.
“1-0 in regular time? And 2-0 in overtime? And the best-of-two series 1-1?”
“Yep,” Parker said.
No wonder soccer is the most popular sport in the world.
Sorry, Sports Fans: LeBron James Is Telling the Truth ... a Truth I Told 16 Years Ago
LeBron James wasn't wrong with his post-game comments about fans who rooted against him and the Miami Heat in their NBA Finals with the Dallas Mavericks. He may have been talking from a position of wealth and privilege, not to mention spite, but he wasn't wrong. Not nearly.
Here's what he said about all of those anti-Heat, anti-LeBron James fans:
They have to wake up tomorrow and have the same life that they had before they woke up today. They have the same personal problems they had today ... They can get a few days or a few months or whatever the case may be on being happy about not only myself, but the Miami Heat not accomplishing their goal, but they have to get back to the real world at some point.
His words startled me when I read them. Not because they seemed spiteful but because they echoed, almost exactly, something I wrote 16 years ago.
In May 1995 I was at the Kingdome when Ken Griffey, Jr., our young superstar, flew into the right-centerfield wall and fractured his wrist making a great catch against the Baltimore Orioles. He would be on the Disabled List for three months, maybe more. We were worried in Seattle. I was worried. So I wrote an Op-Ed for The Seattle Post-Intelligencer about Junior, which began with the following:
I returned to baseball four years ago with what I thought was an adult attitude about the game. No matter if my team won or lost I kept things in perspective. Randy Johnson strikes out fifteen guys, I'm still working the same job. Edgar Martinez injures his ankle, I've still got the same problems, the same goals, the same friends, the same enemies. Nothing about my life has changed except this or that vicarious victory or defeat.
James' comments, which echo my own, angered sports fans and columnists around the country. Jason Reid of The Washington Post wrote that “James put his foot in his mouth again ... essentially saying his approach wouldn’t change and all the people who rooted against him were stuck with their depressing little lives.” Abram Lufrano of Bleacher Reporter wrotes that James was essentially saying the following: “I am LeBron James and I have a better life than all of you losers.” James even had to walk back his comments from these interpretations. He had to say he wasn't talking from a position of superiority.
Who knows? But it doesn't surprise me that James' comments caused such a furor. He was not only telling the truth, he was digging past the cliches and the rhetoric and the lies to articulate the central truth of modern sports. The lie that covers up this truth, though—that it somehow matters to us if the Mavs win, or, to me, if the Yankees lose—is what allows him to live the way he does. In the end, I thought it rather brave of him to bring it up at all.
LeBron (left , a professional athlete) got in trouble for the same remarks that I (right, a sports fan) wrote 16 years ago.
"He's Moving Like a Tremendous Machine!"
My mother and my friend Jim both love horses and horse-racing movies, so they're both happy it's Derby day, and they're both looking forward to Disney's "Secretariat," about one of the greatest horses who ever raced. This morning, Derby morning, I watched the "Secretariat" trailer for the first time. The movie stars Diane Lane as the horse's owner, John Malkovich as the horse's trainer, and Margo Martindale (who played the American abroad narrating her Paris adventures in horribly accented French, in Alexander Payne's sweet, melancholy vignette in "Paris, je t'aime") as the horse's namer. Good cast. But it looks awful. How do you make drama out of a horse winning the Triple Crown by 31 lengths? ("He's moving like a tremendous machine! Secretariat by 12! Secretariat by 14 lengths at the turn!...") You make it all about the horse's owner. Hopefully they'll still give us Chic Anderson's great call that day. October release.
Secretariat by a nose.
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