Pawing through the Duffle Bag

 

Masha

As I watch the snow flakes float down to the six inches of snow already in the front yard (six inches that was supposed to be a “dusting”), I am reevaluating what I’m going to wear tomorrow to Opening Day in Denver. As a part of that, I’m not going to cover the topic I had picked for today’s blog – the Cardinal/Reds game – since it’s currently in a rain delay.

So I’ve decided to write about all the little, strange things that have happened in a variety of sports this week that usually aren’t enough to write a full blog  about. So they get tucked into the duffle bag of topics that may be a Facebook posting, but often they just lurk in the back of my mind doing nothing. Let’s do some nothing:

1) Tiger’s Back. And not in a good way. A ‘pinched nerve’ in sports parlance is a herniated disc in a neurosurgeon’s mind. Now I’m not a doctor (and I don’t even play one on T.V.), but I am a golfer. I know there are as many adaptions to the golf swing as there are golfers, but there is one consistent theme in the swing – shoulder turn, which is only possible if your back twists. If you have a herniated disc, that’s a big ouch. Trimming the disc may relieve the pain, but the disc may continue to break down, or other discs in the spinal column may join the party and that leads to more pain. I hope for Tiger’s sake that this works – I would love for him to break Jack’s record. But it’s looking less likely with every knee and back surgery he has.

2) Baseball Managers and shaving. I know, no one rates baseball managers on their personal grooming, including me. But I’m always amazed at how scraggly most Managers look on game day. This Opening Day’s broadcasts included some of the best (or worst, depending on your viewpoint) examples of usually unshaven Managers proving they do have a razor: Kirk Gibson, Don Mattingly, and Clint Hurdle – all clean shaven, all looking fabulous. Hey, guys – you’re the leaders of MLB teams; be the leader and pick one. Beard or clean shaven, either one. Just pick. The days of the 3-day growth went out with Miami Vice.

3) Andrew Wiggins declaring for the draft. Bad decision, Andrew. You need some seasoning and Kansas would have been a great place for you to develop into a world-class player – in a couple of years. Bill Self could have taught you how to play as a teammate, not a star. But you’re off to prove you’re the star everyone says you are. Best of luck – I believe you’re going to get crushed the first year by all the NBA guys who are looking to prove you’re not ready. Prove me wrong.

4) Vin Scully announcing during the LA earthquake. In only the way Vin can do, he calmly announced the 5.1 earthquake and then continued on with his play-by-play. I’ve attached the link for your enjoyment. Compare this with the LA T.V. announcer…. Vin’s been in LA a long time and it’s going to take more than a 5.1 earthquake to break his stride. I love Vin Scully…

Vin Scully Earthquake announcement – unshaken

Pat

1)  Tiger’s swing has always put a lot of stress on his body.  He’s had stress fractures in his leg and knee surgeries, sore elbows and now the the back surgery.  One thing I do know is that Tiger Woods works harder on his body and his golf game than any other golfer on the PGA tour.  Given his dedication to winning, I have to believe that Tiger still will figure out how to make his swing work to achieve many more wins and several more majors.

4)  I was raised in St. Louis listening to Jack Buck and Harry Cary doing Cardinal Baseball on the Radio.  It was wonderful.  But I must say that Vin Scully has to be one of the best ever and I love the way he pulls off broadcasting a ballgame all by himself.   It takes a lot of work and style to pull that off.

My Personal Desert

 

My view of February...

My view of February…

 

Masha

February is traditionally a huge sports desert for me. I don’t enjoy basketball, I don’t watch hockey on T.V. and it’s early enough in the golf calendar that the tournaments are more about the pro-am than the final round. So usually I stare across the wasteland stretching between the Super Bowl and March Madness thinking I’ll improve my XBox skills or catch up on Netflix shows.

But this year has been different. My oasis this year has been the Sochi Winter Olympics. For those of you who are traditionalists, the XXII Olympic Winter Games. The Olympics are always full of wonderful stories of athletic sacrifice, family support through thick and thin, and comebacks from training accidents/surgeries. Stories like Nate Holland, who has tried and failed to make the podium in three different Olympics, after a tremendously successful X Games career in snowboarding. Nate’s quote after falling in the Snowboard Cross semifinals told the story for a number of athletes: “The Olympic rings, these five rings, they don’t agree with me exactly, apparently,” he said. “Every Olympics has ended in a fall and I felt great in all of them. They give me a lot of drive, a lot of joy while I’m here, but also a lot of heartbreak at the end of the race.” Oh, Nate.

But this year’s Olympics have added an additional layer of exciting stories. Stray dogs wandering the city and the Olympic venues; heartwarming alert – US Hockey player, David Backes’ organization in St. Louis is rescuing as many of the strays as they can and transporting them to the US for adoption. Twitter photos of brown water, broken doors, stuck elevators, and complaints about the Olympic village food. Warm temperatures and rain during winter sports. Vladimir Putin glaring during visits to other country houses and at every event he’s attended. And of course the infamous snowflake that stayed an ugly snowflake instead of maturing into a beautiful Olympic ring (sorry Hans…).

Oh, I know, there are always negative stories about the city, the food, the venues; it’s a part of the Olympics. In fact, if I went by just the reporting I’ve seen on T.V. instead of the additional social media layers of Twitter and Facebook, then I wouldn’t know about any of these miscues, except the dysfuntional snowflake. I would see the beauty of Russia, the fabulous new venues on the Black Sea, and two weeks full of good natured, competitive sports with exciting split-100’s-of-a-second endings. So I’m choosing to put on my rose-colored glasses (red for Russia) and looking at the XXII Olympic Winter Games as a huge success. Because, after all, it’s rescued me from a dry, hot desert bereft of sports.

Pat

I agree this time of year is bad for sports watching for us.  The winter olympics does help.  The sports are diverse enough to find something compelling enough to enjoy.  But I must say that I find it totally appalling that I am sitting here with my wife watching and discussing the strategies of curling.  That’s hard up!

The Olympics and corruption? Wha…?

Masha

While watching the Opening Ceremonies in Sochi, I was confused by the athletes who marched behind the Olympic flag and were competing as “independent” athletes. I wasn’t aware of the ban of the Indian Olympic Association due to corruption, and hence the reason the Indian athletes were marching as independent athletes, until today when the Indian Olympic Association was reinstated. They were the first Association to be reinstated while the Olympics were taking place and they were reinstated because they held elections on Sunday to elect new officials.

Apparently this ban on the Indians has been in place since December 2012, when the officials who were being investigated for corruption were elected to serve as Secretary and Secretary-General of their national association. Those readers who live in the US, take a moment right now to thank God or whoever you pray to that you live where “innocent until proven guilty” exists. So the IOC banned the Indian nation from competing under their country’s flag until they elected new officials.

I’m not really sure what happened between December 2012 and February 2014, but the Indian Olympic Association finally got onto the task of responding to this ban and elected new officials just in time for Shiva Keshavan, the Indian luger (the crazy guy who trains on Himalayan roads – I’ve inserted the YouTube of his training runs that will make your hair stand on end) to march behind his country’s flag for the Closing Ceremonies. 

Now, being from Salt Lake City, and remembering the corruption surrounding the original organizers for those games (remember the Mormon guy who had a huge number of visits to a whore house as “Olympic marketing” and “Officials entertainment”?), and thinking back on how that was handled, the idea that corruption may be rampant throughout the IOC pops back into the forefront of my mind. There have been ongoing allegations about bribery during the site selection process, Committee heads who expect “presents” during the games, and other, shadier gifts (see Salt Lake above). I’m guessing the IOC debate about the Indian officials may be a case of the pot calling the kettle black.

Too bad not everyone shares the Olympic dream and follows the Olympic Creed:

“The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.”

In my world “fighting well” doesn’t involve corruption of any sort… just saying.