01 October 2009

2016 Time for Change

On the eve of the official selection of the host city for the 2016 summer olympics, I've got to chime in and cast my vote. First off I'm a big advocate of the continental rotation both with the Olympics and the world cup, the two largest global sporting competitions. With that in mind I just see no way that Madrid wins the games after London will have hosted the 2012 edition. Not to mention that going back to 1992, the European continent will have hosted 3 of the previous 6 summer fesitvals. Madrid's bid, by all accounts, is flawless. They've already invested in building some of the most modern facilities anywhere in the world, check out the tennis center.

The government is firmly behind the bid as our most, if not all Madrilenos. But it would be just another well organized, safe but rather unspectacular games in another European capital and I think 2016 is ripe for change. For mostly the same reasons, I'm tossing the Tokyo bid aside adding that they already had the games in 1964. While I know that doesn't prevent cities from getting a second go (see London, L.A. and Athens) it does in this case combined with the Beijing factor, the games being held in Asia merely 8 years prior.
That leaves Chicago and Rio de Janiero. Surprisingly two cities I'm familiar with and have an affinity for. ChiTown is in many ways, a nicer big American city than New York. In terms of cultural attractions, diversity and an unquenchable flair New York has still got the second city trumped but one can't deny Chicago plenty of plaudits. The lakefront is stunning, no one has done a better job of truly preserving an urban open space. Public transport and ease of movement are world class with the "El" in the loop providing the city with that iconic image. And the natives are passionate, knowledgeable sports fans second, bright and laid back Midwestern folks first.
Now Rio, I do it no justice by calling it a geographical, topographical, vibrant, exploding metropolitan marvel. Mountains, jungle, waterfalls, monkeys, beaches, thongs, chopp, favelas, I could continue but I'm getting dizzy. What a scene man. You've seen the pics I know you have, in person, it's better. You've heard about the Carioca way of life, in real-time, it's richer. But here's the real reason I want Rio to get 2016. The games, if anything, in this era of uber commercialization and over saturation provide us with more indelible moments from the host city and host venues than anything else. Sure Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps were the stand out stars from Beijing but who among us will ever forget those opening ceremonies, the row after row of synchronous drummers. I know the Dream Team scored about 4,000 points en rout to the gold medal at Barcelona but I remember that archer and Barcelona was catapulted onto the world stage, a legacy which lingers to this day. Ali lighting the torch in Atlanta...I could go on.
Rio...Brazil...2016 could be the coming out party. Maybe people don't realize it cause there down there you know, south of the equator. Brazil is a massive country and finally beginning to leverage the considerable natural, social and political resources at its disposal. There should be no doubt that Brazil is a player on the big boy courts now. If you live in the U.S. chances are you recently flew on a Brazilian-made airplane, entered a Brazilian-constructed building or enjoyed a morning cup of Brazilian Joe (Joao to be linguistically correct). What the games did for Barcelona, they would do 20 times over for Rio and Brazil. Yes because the TV images would be stunning, the roads and venues would be in place, Pele would be smiling at the opening to the delight of billions. But also symbolically the games would mean so much to Brazil, so much more than to Chicago, Madrid or Tokyo, all cities in the developed world strangers to the challenges particular life in Brazil and so many other cities of the developing world. An Olympiad in South America is as long overdue as Brazil's emergence onto the world stage, let 2016 be the culminating event that makes up for lost time.

19 July 2009


I am more often than one would expect astounded by the stupid things I hear on television. No arena of television provides more fodder for this than sports coverage, the result of the ubiquitous practice of employing former athletes as commentators, "analysts" or reporters. Some are serviceable, few are good and maybe Howie Long is the only exceptional example. Otherwise the morass is filled terrible anecdotes from the personal glory bygone days, cliche filled commentary straight from the "Bring your A game" handbook, culturally outdated or insensitive remarks and some flat out stupid shit. I just finished watching the British Open and Paul Azinger actually said "that bunker is full of sand" upon assessing the greenside hazards of the 15th hole. I'm not even going to comment on the rota of Sunday morning football shows. Even normally respectable ESPN keeps adding talking heads to that desk which is actually going to now cross over into a neighboring county. I can't imagine there's much of a future in professional sports broadcasting. If you want to cover the sports world apparently you had to have played in it beforehand regardless of your education, knowledge or familiarity with the English language. "Thunk" is for example, not a word. I can't only isolate the ex-athletes with this criticism, some of the "pros" out there are no better. You're too dependent on your little catch phrases (I'm talking to you Dick "oh my" Endberg). You gloss up the screen with so much over wrought fabricated sports drama Bob Costas, I have tried to make the connection but I'm sorry a baseball game is not a metaphor for life. I like my sports coverage accurate and concise. Tell me what I need to know and get out of the way.

09 July 2009

Musings on Cycling, ing

Le Tour de France
Is actually in Spain right now. Today's rainy finish was up on the Montjuic hill in Barcelona right next to the Olympic stadium from 1992. The Big Norwegian Thor Hushvod won in a sprint finish. Tomorrow's foray into the Pyrenees should have ramifications on the general classification. Two more really tough days in the mountains after that will further solidify the real contenders in this year's edition. I can't imagine what's going on in the Team Astana strategy sessions. Lance is in a virtual tie for yellow right now and has looked strong over the first few stages. Contador sitting third at the moment, was predetermined to be the favorite after winning two years ago and his class should show in the mountains. Andres Kloden is 4th, and Levi Lepiheimer sits in 5th. Did I mention they all race for the same team. Oh yeah I've got to link to something involving that crazy dude dressed like the devil who chases these riders all over the place so here. Hilarious.

Ronde Van Zuid Dadelaand
I've gone a little bike crazy myself recently. Been riding down in South Dade with a few friends. The busway that runs parallel to U.S. 1 from dadeland southwards has a nice wide, clean bike path. There's a part where we break off at about 200th street and turn right onto the Black Creek Trail which takes us up to Larry and Penny Thompson park just adjacent to the Metro Zoo. Ok it's not the French countryside or Holland but it's a nice ride, there's very little traffic and the canal and park sections are wonderfully serene given the urban grit and biker unfriendly confines of my own neighborhood. Round trip from Dadeland south, which Jordan and I did once, it was 33 miles.

There's El Gordo hauling along the Black Creek.

There are a ton of trails down there and we are planning a ride down to Card Sound road before we lose a member of the group to Washington, D.C. at the end of the month.

Upcoming Events

Marlins Stadium groundbreaking ceremony- Saturday, July 18, 10:00 AM
First 1,000 fans get a free ballpark style lunch which I can only assume means a hot dog, soda and nacho chips (with the real nasty cheese dip the consistency of motor oil)-normal retail price $18.95. I might actually go and I might actually get my hands on a decent digital camera so's I can post the pics here.

British Open- I'll give my readers (all four of you) an exclusive preview next week of the third golf major of the year from Turnberry, Scotland.

01 July 2009

My First Stupid List

Top 5 Sports Movies of all-time:

5. Victory!
Stallone, Michael Caine, Pele as POW's in a soccer match vs. the Nazi's...genius.

4. Bull Durham
Classic lines, still referenced frequently in sports and pop culture. And Susan Sarandon, oh Susan Sarandon.

3. Rocky IV
Ivan Drago is probably the single biggest badass on film. Also love the scenes of Rock training in the Siberia snow drifts.

2. Major League
I don't care what I'm doing, where I am, if Major League is on I'm watching it. Classic Beringer.

1. Chariots of Fire
I know it's old school but it's a great all around flick. Can't really argue with the Best Picture of 1982.

Honorable Mention:
Breaking Away
Step into the Liquid (Documentary)
Any Given Sunday
He Got Game

Totally Overrated:
Field of Dreams
The Natural

26 June 2009

The Truth Hurts

Much to my dismay, the following things are true in sports today:

There's a NBA franchise in Oklahoma City. The Thunder. Sounds like the big marketing brains burned the midnight oil on that one. Must be the same whiz kids behind Pepsi Clear.

The Jazz moved from New Orleans to Utah, then the Hornets moved from Charlotte to New Orleans and then the NBA expanded, awarding Charlotte a new team, the Bobcats. Cluster fuck. How about the Utah Bobcats, Charlotte Hornets and New Orleans Jazz...no, my bad, that actually makes sense.

Professional hockey teams in Nashville, Columbus, Phoenix, Atlanta...why? Here's a crazy idea put teams in places where they actually like hockey like CANADA or Minnesota or Wisconsin or fuckin Sweden, not the bible belt. If I've offended any hockey fans in the cities I called out, my sincerest apologies to both of you.

No more hot tubs at baseball stadiums, please, what an abhorrent trend. If you want to soak your weary bones and your beer gut for three and half hours, do it in your backyard not on the jumbo tron. Unfortunately, Jeffery Loria and David Samson, Owner and President of the Marlins, respectively, couldn't resist the urge and have included some sort of pool/jacuzzi in the renderings for the new Marlins Ballpark. I can't wait to hear the corporate tie-up cheesy name they'll come up with for this one...Bud Chill Zone, Toyota Take a load off Terrace, anyone?

Any music played when a closer comes in the ninth inning. Unless it's "Wild Thing" and it's Rick Vaughn coming in, I don't want to hear it cause no one, no one is as bad as that dude. Also "Major League" possibly the best movie ever.

Stop comparing everyone to Michael Jordan. Stop calling Tiger and Roger the greatest ever. MJ was far and away the best basketball player walking the planet while at his prime winning six titles with da' Bulls. Was he better than Wilt or Dr. J or Oscar Robertson, it's impossible to compare, each man was dominant and distinctively defined his generation in the game. Just as Kobe, LeBron and D-Wade are now. As for Tiger and Roger, clearly they have excelled in their championship pursuits like none of their contemporaries. But in golf and tennis, I think you've got to factor in the advances in technology, the changes which have unprecedentedly opened up their once privileged and exclusive games. Jack and Arnie were playing persimmon woods to say nothing of what Bobby Jones or Ben Hogan were hitting back in the day. Same goes for tennis. Those wooden rackets played by Laver, Bjorg, Connors and McEnroe don't give us any idea how yesterdays greats would do against present ones. Let's just enjoy what we're witnessing without trying to rank everyone on some mythical totem pole.

Fantasy everything. Fantasy baseball, ok. Fantasy football, of course. That's it. No fantasy golf, tennis, soccer, basketball, hockey, ladies indoor lacrosse, beach volleyball, cricket, marathon running. That's ridiculous. If you're putting together your Indy Racing League drivers for the Iowa Corn Indy 250 that's a sure sign this phenomenon has gone too far and that you have way too much time on your hands. See a gambling counselor, get some sun and start a blog, worked for me.

17 June 2009

Father's Day Weekend- What to Watch For

Good sports weekend coming up.
I'm a soccer nut, so International tourney going on in South Africa, Confederations Cup. Somewhat meaningless in terms of prestige but entertaining stuff nonetheless. First off, it's in South Africa, a tune up for the World Cup which is a tantalizing 359 days away. Some intriguing competitive and political match ups on the slate. The home team, Bafana Bafana, playing in front of the home fans. Think soccer or sport in general has no impact on society, see Rugby World cup circa 1995, Nelson Mandela slapping on the Springbok Jersey..amazing stuff. Now the world's biggest sports event (sorry it's not the Super Bowl my American football friends or the Olympics my friends at Coca-Cola) is coming to South Africa 16 years after the end of apartheid, not to mention it's the first World Cup in Africa. Iraq is there too, though they look unlikely to advance to the second round right now after the scoreless draw with S.A. and a 1-0 loss today to Spain. I don't need to recount the myriad of problems going on in Iraq but when they won the Asian Cup last year against all odds, the Kalashnikovs were firing straight up into the air rather than at coalition soldiers or fellow countrymen for the first time in a long time. I don't want to casually overlook the Kiwis but hey you've been dominating in Rugby (love the Haka http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8eGCsEQ15L4) for I don't know how many years and your country (even though I never been there) looks amazingly beautiful, is super safe and has some pretty decent white wine. Pretty soon there going to start calling Switzerland the "New Zealand" of Europe. In the other group, Brazil (O jogo bonito) vs. Italia vs. USA vs Egypt. I love my countrymen. I love Landon, DeMarcus, Jozy, Bocanegra but man what a tough group. Brazil v. USA tomorrow morning 930am on ESPN the dos. Watch it. Watch it at work or watch it at home, watch it at the pub, do what you got to do but watch this game. Our boys always play the pentacampeao tough, not many results but we always get physical with the Brazilians and throw'em off their normal flowing, stylish, effortless game. After the 3-1 loss to the Italians on Monday, I expect the Yanks to really come out looking for goals so it should be a cracker of a game as they say across the pond.
U.S. Open, Bethpage Black, oh baby. That's enough drama to get even the most casual of golf fans interested in this one but add to it the return of El Tigre to the tourney he won on one leg last year after 19 holes...on Monday. Then we've got big Philly, back in NY, finished second four times including that heart breaker at Winged Foot. Now Amy has Breast Cancer and you know everyone is pulling for our favorite everyman. If Phil is there on Sunday I'll be edge of my couch, living and dying with every tee ball, approach shot and putt like I was during that 30 on the front at Augusta, simply some of the sickest golf I've ever witnessed. Paddy there's too don't underestimate the Dubliner in majors and I'm predicting my fellow Gator Camilo might breakthrough in a big way. He's got the length for the Black and the mental makeup to handle the open setup and weekend pressure cooker. By the way Roethlisberger, an 81 on a US Open setup. Cool you're two-time Super Bowl winner, all-around badass QB and apparently a kick ass golfer as well. Way to make the rest of us normal dudes look like total pedestrians. Well done my son, well done. Just stay off the Kawasaki, alright.
And of course Happy Father's Day Pop, wish we could play 18 in the morning then watch the pros with a few brews in the afternoon. Love, Santino