Do you have Olympic fever yet? Don't look now, but in just a few days, the torch will run its last relay, the cauldron will be lit, the parade of nations will be paraded, and the competition will be underway. I will get the bug, I'll be excited to see if Ryan Lochte can beat Michael Phelps, if Usain Bolt is as fast as he used to be, and the quadrennial crash course of how to play team handball. I'm not there yet, but I will be.
The Opening Ceremonies are Friday in London. NBC will be there to bring them to us, tape delayed, just like we're used to. Sports highlights shows like SportsCenter will only have still photos of the event until NBC gives the okay to show video, which usually comes days later. It's all part of the drama.
NBC will dust off Bob Costas, prop him up in the host chair like it was Weekend at Bernie's, and let him pontificate about Russian weightlifting. He'll give us a reminder of where exactly Luxembourg is, and then send us out to the various venues where hours ago, so-and-so triumphed, while another someone was defeated. It's still great television, and we will be captivated.
The Peacock Network has owned the Olympic rights for two-and-a-half eons now, so we are familiar with some of the announcers. However, there will be a lot of new ones. The network and its cable partners are bringing 115 commentators to the Games. That's more than athletes representing most countries. Costas, Al Michaels (solid as you can get), Dan Patrick (boo!), and Mary Carrillo (stay up and watch her!) are studio hosts. Look for Dan Hicks to do swimming, Tom Hammond at the track, and Al Trautwig with Cycling. John McEnroe will be at the tennis court, and the intelligent, eloquent, and always entertaining hockey announcer Mike Emrick will be doing water polo. I just wish that sport translated better to television, but Emrick would be the guy to make it work.
I don't know who is good in gymnastics, but you know there will be a story. I only am interested in diving two weeks out of every four years, and I wonder if the American kayakers are any good. I doubt I'll follow too many of the team sports. Soccer gets its stage at the World Cup in two years, there is no baseball anymore, I'm not sure if there is a Team U-S-A in handball, and I hope the basketball team loses.
You know America will have a new darling in about three weeks. Will it be Phelps? A gymnast? A track star? An equestrian? We'll have to watch (NBC, CNBC, MSNBC, NBCSN, etc.) to find out.
It had to come down: I agree that because of all the derision that the Joe Paterno statue caused in State College, the removal of that statue from the front of Beaver Stadium was a good idea. However, was the way they went about it really necessary? Sure, have police, barricades, and security to prevent any violence or rioting, but did they have to then put up a temporary fence around the statue, and a tarp so that no one could see them taking it down? One student interviewed about the statue removal made the best point when he said “They are doing what they've been doing for awhile now—just covering things up.”
Oh no you didn't (get all those wins)!: The concept of vacating wins is ridiculous. In addition to the harsh penalties imposed on Penn State, coach Joe Paterno now didn't win 111 times. The NCAA imposed heavy sanctions on Penn State today in wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sex scandal. Those sanctions included a 60-million dollar fine, a four-year ban from bowl games, a reduction of ten scholarships a year for four years, and erasing all of Penn State's wins from 1998 to 2011. Sure, clobber the program, but the players in all of those games didn't have anything to do with the scandal. Are all the video tapes of those games supposed to be destroyed, too, so there's no evidence that Penn State won? Paterno, who died six months ago, is no longer the winningest coach in NCAA history, and now ranks eighth.
Ichiro Is a Yankee: Major League Baseball's trading deadline is next week, but the Yankees shocked the world early. New York acquired Ichiro Suzuki from the Seattle Mariners this evening (Monday) for two minor league pitchers. The Yankees were at Seattle, Suzuki bowed to the crowd when he was introduced, and promptly singled up the middle in his first Yankee at-bat. Suzuki, who spent 12 seasons in Seattle, now has a chance to win a World Series, but it still doesn't seem fair.
Beane Is a Genious: I said this (and I think I wrote it), but I thought Oakland A's General Manager Billy Beane was giving A's fans the proverbial middle finger during the offseason, when he traded starting pitchers Gio Gonzalez and Trevor Cahill, and closer Andrew Bailey. He got several top minor leaguers in return, but those players, and others, have led the A's into playoff contention. The Athletics just swept the Yankees in a four-game series at the Coliseum, are 14-2 in July, would be in the playoffs if the season ended Monday night. Maybe Brad Pitt was a good choice to play him in Moneyball-Beane is looking good right now.
Dodgers?: They could use two hitters, a starting pitcher, and some bullpen help. Stan Kasten or Ned Coletti, or Magic Johnson, or whoever is running the show, you've got seven days.