6/14/12

Seven Out! Stories from the Sports Week

Its mid-week in mid-June and we are in the midst of the summer sports doldrums where we must suffer a nauseatingly endless string of Major League Baseball games until the glorious gridiron returns. Thank God for the Olympics ... at least that will keep our simple sporting minds occupied in the interim.

However, for those of you who have not mentally checked into September yet, there was an amazing number of compelling stories in sport and "sport" this week. Yes, there is a difference. Those of us paying attention were rewarded with the following Gatorade and Red Bull infused nuggets.

A Cup fit for a King
For the first time a championship trophy was lifted in Los Angeles, in June, and it wasn't the NBA trophy. Lord Stanley's Cup will reside near the Hollywood hills for the next year. This history comes coupled with several of it's own back stories. It's the first time the LA Kings have won the Cup. Hard to imagine given The Great One played eight years there while he was still performing at a legendary level. It's also the first time an eight seed has ever won the cup. Goalie Jonathan Quick stole the show, the Cup, and cashed a big fat check for himself in the process. Dude was stone cold throughout.
From the University of Nebraska - Omaha Facebook page
Want a local spin? Scott Parse, career points leader for UNO Maverick hockey, celebrated with the Kings on Monday night after the win, the first Mav alum to lift the cup. Still not sure if he will get his name on it, since he was out most of the year with injury, but just to lift it,  not bad, kid.


Game of Thorns 
Most recent story addressed first. If you have not heard the Jim Rome v. David Stern battle, YouTube it pronto. Great aural stimulation if nothing else. Rome asks Stern if the fix was in the the NBA draft. Stern eventually responds by asking Rome if he still beats his wife.
Listen, I get the point. Stern was asking Rome an outlandish question because he thought Rome's question on the fix was equally ridic. Stern crossed the line. Right or wrong, rational or not, enough fans are begging the question of the fix. Nobody is demanding Rome to prove he doesn't beat his wife. The question was a low blow to make a point and thus made Stern look like a prick.

Heavy lies the crown for LeBron James. That is, if King James actually ever had won a crown. He and the Heat managed to out-grind an aging Boston Celtic team and pick apart the four-leaf clover of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo. May have been the death of an era in Boston.

However the Oklahoma City Thunder are poised to start a new dynasty and nothing would make me happier than to see them smash Bron Bron and Co. I hope he never wins one. The one thing that would change my opinion on LeBron James is if he looked remotely interested. C'mon man, fake the funk if you have to, just show me you want it. The whole Celtic team took their exit personally, emotionally, knowing it may be over for good. James takes the game for granted. He plays ball like Tiger plays golf, robotic, calculated, cold. At least Tiger knows what a win feels like and isn't completely immune to emotion when it comes.

Power Trio
Speaking of Tiger and winning, he takes his most recent tune up victory into the US Open this weekend and is paired with a group made for good television. They aren't exactly the Three Amigos, but Tiger, Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson will play 36 holes together over the first two days of the tourney. Great theater, but the true power group is that of Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood and Luke Donald, the top three players in the world right now. Will it be one of these six dueling on Sunday or a Cinderella like 14-year old Andy Zhang. Fourteen and playing the US Open. Weekend swingers, wrap your head around that.

Two Teams to Midnight
The 2012 College World Series is thick with stories. The Stony Brook Seawolves (or as I like to call them, the East Coast Dirtbags) have barely landed in Omaha and they are already the darlings of the series. Try buying a Stony Brook hat anywhere in town. Not happening. Maybe its because Omaha loves a good underdog. Maybe its because their first opponent is the very UCLA team that ended Creighton's unlikely run. Either way its just cool to see David v. Goliaths. Pretty credible resume the Seawolves have though. As a four seed, they dropped their first game to Miami, had to claw back, win four in a row and did. Their reward, LSU in Baton Rouge. They lost their first there too, but in three games, slayed the Tigers. Next is  the UCLA Bruins. Canes, Tigers, now Bears ... oh my. Yep, I went there. Can we say Fresno State?

Lost in all this Stony Brook love are the forgotten Flashes. The Kent State Golden Flashes may have had a smoother trip to get to Omaha, but now face Arkansas coached by former Husker coach Dave Van Horn. There is still Husker love for DVH for bringing Nebraska to Omaha, so the Flashes won't get the home field flavor that Stony will have.

The third story line is the three SEC teams acting like this is college football, and remaining in the field of eight. Top this all off by a South Carolina team trying to be the first team to three-peat in Omaha since the USC teams of the early 1970's. Rock ... chalk ... Gamecock?

I'll not Have Another
On to the Triple Crown that wasn't ... again. Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner I'll Have Another was scratched for last weekend's Belmont Stakes, ending any shot of a Triple Crown winner most were hoping to see. My initial reaction when hearing of a possible injury was "Good, he won't be like Barbaro." I also thought it was a great business decision. The horse goes out a two-time champ (save your John Elway jokes), and gets to play stud the rest of his life. Win-win-win.
What really stings is that after watching the Belmont I'm nearly certain that I'll Have Another wins the race going away.
But then I started reading. Trainer Doug O'Neill has had several run-ins with the horse powers that be, including an upcoming 45-day suspension. His horses have tested positive over and over again for what amounts to doping similar to how cyclists dope. O'Neill has been caught at least three times for causing horses carbon dioxide levels to be higher than normal. The withdraw of Another may have been a ploy to dodge further controversy, but that's obviously educated speculation.
For a sport hanging on to these three events on an annual, it didn't need this. I love the novelty and pageantry and never miss these three races. Lets just hope this sport doesn't become like boxing.

PacMan topped by Phantom Ghost
Controversy begets controversy and we got more than just the Belmont issue on the very same Saturday. Manny Pacquiao won a fight Saturday, just as he had done many Saturdays for the last seven years. Problem was that the only two people in the world that thought Timothy Bradley won just happened to be two of the three official judges.
I will only say this, do not leave it in the judges hands. Finish him, lest you be judged by Steven Tyler.
It is, however, sad that the only time people give a damn about boxing is when some silly stuff like this happens, and who knows, maybe that was the idea.
Whatever, wake me up when they get the Pacquiao-Mayweather square off. Not before.

Dirty Dozen for The Brat
Phil freaking Helmuth just won his 12th World Series of Poker bracelet extending his all-time lead.
Phil Helmuth bugs me too. The only thing that annoys me more than someone who is overtly cocky is someone who has no reason to be. Problem is, Phil has a reason, and he's actually humbling himself a bit as his legend grows. How annoying. Pick a side! Still, I detest.
Congrats to the guy, but I will still never think of him as the best ever.
And screw ESPN for editing the WSOP experience over the last few years. We have been given one hour a week for years now and that doesn't tell the story. Guys like Will "Poker Monkey" Souther tell the story. ESPN will tell you that the winner of the main event played 14 hours a day for seven days to win millions. Monkey will tell you about playing 14 hours a day for months on end just to make a living. He tells stories of poker dumps like the dog track in Florida. Or the converted-bar-turn-poker room in Council Bluffs. Or the auditorium in Saint Louis. They aint all the Rio in Vegas and they aint all for a million dollars. Some wins are the $8,000 variety that take 27 hours over two days. The Grind is the true story, and nobody tells it quite like Monkey.

That's seven solid stories from this week and I didn't even touch French Open Tennis, the Euro Cup or the swim trials. But like in craps ... 7-OUT!






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