Red Sox & Other Sports

Why Is Trump Tweeting About The NFL?

Thursday night in Alabama, at a rally, Trump went off on a tangent about the NFL and its bad ratings and how players who refused to stand for the national anthem (i.e., Colin Kaepernick) should be fired by the owners.  This got cheers from the Alabamians, because they are Alabamians.  And it made headlines on Friday (since he never says anything of substance), so Trump doubled down this weekend.  And tripled down.  And 4X downed. Etc.  Here’s SOME of those tweets, which are continuing into this morning:

For its part, the NFL stood united. For the Sunday games, many owners released statements supporting their players’ right to protest.  And of course, there was kneeling.  Players kneeled.  An owner kneeled.  A singer of the National Anthem kneeled on the last line.  Many in the crowds kneeled or stayed seated.  Some booed.  Others cheered.  Some teams, rather than take part in a political spectacle, decided to stay in the locker room during the anthem.  Players who didn’t kneel locked arms with those who did, in a sign of solidarity (including Trump’s friend, Tom Brady).

All-in-all, there was significant pushback.  And what was once a smattering of kneels became an overwhelming number of them. Trump seemed please with those who booed.

Later, many players spoke out.  They spoke of being “disappointed” or “disheartened”. A Seattle Seahawks wide receiver minced no words:

Trump does not seem to understand (or care) why some players had been choosing to kneel in the first place.  It is not a stand against American ideals, the flag, or the Anthem.  It is that the American ideals symbolized by the flag and the Anthem are not being applied to all of America’s citizens — black people in particular.

And now Trump is creating  fight, challenging the patriotism of those who kneel. Trump is making clear his moral priorities. He is infinitely more offended by the sight of a black ballplayer quietly, peacefully protesting racism in the United States than he is by racism itself.

The question is why, e.g., why would Trump continue to poke at the players and, as he did Sunday night, call for the NFL to change its policies to ban any sort of protests surrounding the anthem?

The most basic (and right) answer is because he knows that, for his base, this fight is a winner for him. Specifically:

1. The players are rich. Remember that Trump, despite being a billionaire, sees himself (and is regarded) as the voice of the Average Joe. And he knows that lots of Average Joes resent how much money these players make for playing a game.

2. The players are playing a game. Spend 10 minutes talking about football (or any pro sport) with a group of people, and I guarantee that you will hear someone (if not several) say something like: “Man, they get to play a game for their job. I’d do that for free.” (Obviously points No. 1 and No. 2 are closely tied.)

3. The players are (mostly) black. Trump insisted on Sunday night that “this has nothing to do with race.” But that simply doesn’t fly. The vast majority of the players in the NFL are black. Ditto the players in the NBA, whom Trump also went after over the weekend. Trump knows that. And he also knows that when he uses phrases such as “our heritage” to describe what’s allegedly under assault in the anthem protests, many of his supporters see that in racial terms. You don’t simply get to repeatedly flick at racial animus — in the campaign and as President — and then plead total innocence when those code words trigger a reaction.

4. Trump can paint this as a battle for patriotism. The anthem protest was begun last year by then-San Francisco 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who cited concerns about the deaths of African-American men at the hands of police as the motivation for his stance. Trump has seized on the protests as some sort of slap in the face to the military, which it’s not. By painting the players as insufficiently loyal to the country, Trump can make an appeal to patriotism — a powerful emotion not just in his base but in the country.

It certainly does not appear to be working. Yes, maybe it pleases his base, but most people recognize it as being divisive, even if they disagree with the protests. It is stirring a hornet’s nest, plain and simple.

Others are wondering about his priorities. Days after Maria struck, Puerto Rico remains crippled by widespread destruction and catastrophic flooding. Villages were razed and communications ruined, leaving officials unable to tally an accurate toll of the death and devastation. Power is out, and restoration of the electrical grid may take months, not weeks. A dam was compromised, threatening major flooding and a loss of drinking water.

There is no food.

There is no agriculture.

Although Puerto Rico cannot vote for president and has no voting representatives in Congress, its citizens are entitled to the same federal emergency funds and resources that Washington has been funneling to the far more politically powerful and economically resilient states of Texas and Florida in their hurricane miseries.

The same holds true for the US Virgin Islands.

Yet Trump has said (or tweeted) nothing these past few days on the subject.  Instead, he throws oil on the fire of an already too-polarized country.  It’s difficult to see the benefit in rending this country apart in a culture war.  But apparently the White House sees this as good.

Clearly, this is why Russia wanted him to be president – to start wars in his own country.

FLASHBACK: From an owner of the USFL football team in Tampa Bay:

UPDATE:  Conservatives, republicans and old white people have Trump’s back, but all told, only 38% agree with Trump

UPDATE: Props to Greg Popovich, head coach for the Spurs (basketball) for saying this at NBA Media Day:

Red Sox Opener 2017

I feel good about this team.  David Ortiz is gone, but Leon, Bogaerts and most of the old gang back.  Better still, we have an ace pitcher in Chris Sale, and a hot rookie Benentendi in left field.  Pennant is a definite possibility, as is the World Series.

40 Years Ago Today — Game 6: Red Sox v Reds

It’s arguably the best major league baseball game ever played, and it was played 40 years ago today.  The Reds-Red Sox rivalry revived national interest in the national pasttime.  And when you look back at all the hall-of-famers playing — Johnny Bench, Pete Rose (okay, not a hall of famer, but….), Carl Yastremski, Fred Lynn,. Luis Tiante, Carlton Fisk….

Boston’s Carlton Fisk waves the ball fair, then rounds the bases with a 12th-inning homer as the Red Sox beat the Reds, 7-6, to even the Series at three games apiece. Before Fisk homered, Boston’s Bernie Carbo tied the game with a three-run, pinch-hit home run in the eighth inning, the Reds’ George Foster, in left field, threw out the potential winning run at the plate in the bottom of the ninth, and Boston right fielder Dwight Evans robbed Joe Morgan of a home run in the top of the 11th and then doubled off Ken Griffey, who was on first base. All of which is why many consider this the greatest World Series game ever.

Have three and a half hours?  Watch it:

The Brady Decision and Deflategate

The decision says that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell could not act as an impartial arbitrator.  You THINK?!?  He also says no NFL policy says players can be disciplined and suspended for awareness of others’ misconduct.

Footnote: On Twitter, the hashtag #DoYourJob relates to Kim Davis, the Kentucky law clerk who refuses to license same-sex marriages.  But with the Brady news, it’s being applied there.  Heh.

Crazy Women’s Soccer Finals As US Scores 4 Goals In The First 20 Minutes

Ultimately, the US won 5-2 against Japan in a lop-sided game.  Highlights here.

One would hope this would generate an interest in women’s team sports, but I highly doubt it.  But The US Women’s World Cup match on Sunday was the most-watched soccer game in the history of the United States. According to the NYT article linked above, more Americans watched Sunday’s game than watched the Stanley Cup final, Game 7 of the World Series between the Royals and Giants or the NBA championship final.

The victorious US women’s team will collect $2 million from FIFA. The men’s teams that lost in the first round (including the US men’s team) received $8 million from FIFA. The 2014 Men’s World Cup winner, Germany, received $35 million.

Laura Bassett Pulls A Bill Buckner

There’s not good video of this because of copyright blah blah blah; this Vine will have to do.

England’s Women’s World Cup dream concluded in the cruellest fashion with England defender Laura Bassett’s stoppage time own goal.  Bassett was in tears after slicing an intended clearance into her own net.  England had been holding their own against a very strong and dominant Japan.  Obviously, she was devastated.

bassett

But the nice news is that she got TONS of support.  #ProudofBassett trended hugely on Twitter.

(She probably still feels terrible though)

The Verdict On Deflategate

More than three months after the country was engrossed in an NFL scandal involving the New England Patriots and a bag full of allegedly underinflated footballs, America gets to experience the thrills of Deflategate all over again. Yesterday, the league released the investigation report by Ted Wells, of the law firm Paul, Weiss. It concludes, in careful language, that “it is more probable than not that New England Patriots personnel participated in violations of the Playing Rules and were involved in a deliberate effort to circumvent the rules.” In simpler terms, the Patriots probably did … something.

Coach Belichick is exonerated, but the report points at three guys.  The first is Jim McNally, a part-time officials’ locker room attendant, and the second is John Jastremski, an equipment assistant.

The third guy, however, is Tom Brady, the Patriots quarterback.  The report says that Brady was “at least generally aware of the inappropriate activities of McNally and Jastremski involving the release of air from Patriots game balls.”

That’s an ugly albatross to have hanging around your neck.  It’s so fuzzy…. “generally aware”?  What does that even mean?  It sounds like the report is saying, “We can’t prove he did anything wrong, but we kinda think he did.”

The investigation found no direct evidence that Brady spoke to either Jastremski or McNally specifically about deflating footballs before the A.F.C. championship game, or that he discussed the situation afterward. It does note that after the Deflategate scandal broke, Brady spoke to Jastremski on the telephone for the first time in six months, and that Brady sent Jastremski a series of texts, including “You good Jonny boy?” and “You didn’t do anything wrong bud.” (These came from Jastremski’s phone, as Brady did not make his cell-phone records available to investigators.) Brady also told investigators that he did not know McNally’s name or what he did for the team, which is something that Jastremski disputed in an interview and seems contradicted by the text-message conversations between Jastremski and McNally — text messages in which the two men discuss Brady’s preferences for the inflation level of footballs, and his dissatisfaction in a particular case of overinflation

So Brady, it seemed, lied about knowing the the main deflater.  But does that mean everything is a lie?

Even in the most heated days of the national Deflategate obsession, nearly everyone agreed that Tom Brady could have been throwing shot putts and still beat the Colts. Former players who weren’t busy expressing outrage were coming forward to point out the many ways in which footballs have been tweaked over the years by quarterbacks to suit their preferences or to gain an advantage. If the N.F.L. was so serious about the integrity of its footballs, then why did it allow each team to supply its own?

So in the end, this report, despite its headline findings, has enough ambiguity in it to leave all factions satisfied and unsatisfied. Diehard New England fans will continue to defend the Pats to the end. Most everyone else was already convinced that they were cheaters.

Perhaps the best response is the cynical one: “They want to win real bad. So, sometimes you do stuff that’s not fair, so that you can win,” the comedian Louis C.K. told David Letterman. “I think it’s hilarious. I mean, why not? It’s a stupid football game.”

Red Sox Preview

The Red Sox entered the 2014 season as the defending champions, having won the 2013 World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals, but quickly returned to their mediocre ways of 2012, finishing last in the American League East. They became the first MLB team to finish last in one season, win the World Series the next, and finish last again the following season.

So what kind of season will this be?  Winning big, or losing big?

Here’s what to watch for in 2015.

1. New Faces In The Field

Pablo “Kung Fu Panda” Sandoval takes over at third base for the Red Sox this season. Sandoval, 28, is a switch hitter, likes to laugh and thrives under pressure (.426 batting average during three World Series with the San Francisco Giants). He’s averaged 14 home runs over the past three seasons and is a .294 career hitter. He’ll be a fan favorite at Fenway … if he delivers.

Hanley Ramirez is back. Ramirez, 31, came up through the Red Sox organization. After playing two games for the big-league club in 2005, he went to the National League (Marlins and Dodgers). Ramirez is learning left field and the Green Monster after being a shortstop for most of his career. He hits for average (.300 lifetime) and power (191 HRs in nine full seasons) but has also been accused of failing to give his all at times.

Mookie Betts is about to have his coming out party. As a rookie, Betts looked sharp in 52 games last season, but with his spring training batting average well above .400 and consistently stellar defense, the starting job in center field is his to lose this year.

2. New Faces On The Mound

Right-handed pitcher Rick Porcello joins the Red Sox starting rotation after six seasons with the Detroit Tigers. Last year, Porcello was 15-13 with a 3.43 earned-run average, but the wins and ERA were both career bests. The Red Sox are betting he can match or improve on those numbers.

It might be just as important to Boston that Porcello, 26, rarely gets hurt. He’s made 27 or more starts every year of his career. Opening Day starterClay Buchholz has a history of injuries, and Joe Kelly is beginning the year on the disabled list.

Justin Masterson is another new addition. Like Ramirez, he is a returning member of the Sox. Masterson, 30, began his career in Boston but spent several seasons with Cleveland before landing in St. Louis last year. Masterson is a 6-foot-6, 260-pound righty with a 4.24 career ERA.

3. Aging Talent

The Red Sox have plenty of young talent, but the roster also features older players expected to play important roles this season.

David Ortiz is 39 years old. That’s about 104 in designated-hitter years. The face of the franchise hit 35 home runs and drove in 104 runs in 2014. Both of those totals were Ortiz’s highest since 2007. But his .263 batting average was 22 points lower than his career average. Expecting a player his age to deliver 30+ home runs and 100+ RBI is a risky bet, but if newcomers Sandoval and Ramirez live up to their billings, Ortiz will have less pressure to produce. Ortiz also has a personal milestone to shoot for this season: 34 more home runs will give him 500 for his career.

Relief pitcher Koji Uehara turned 40 last week. After being virtually untouchable in 2013, Uehara struggled late last season and he’ll start the 2015 campaign on the disabled list because of a nagging hamstring injury. Can Uehara stay healthy and return to form? Without him, there’s a bigger question: Who will lead the Red Sox bullpen?

Shane Victorino, 34, played just 30 games last season before undergoing back surgery. Now Victorino is back in the lineup and will open the season as the starting right fielder. But Boston’s outfield is crowded. Backups Daniel Nava and Allen Craig are available. And down in Pawtucket, Jackie Bradley, Jr. and Cuban star Rusney Castillo (and his seven-year, $72-million contract) will be hoping for a call-up.

4. Can Dustin Pedroia Return To Form?

If Big Papi is the face of the franchise, Laser Show is the heart of the team. It’s hard to find a player who loves playing the game more than Dustin Pedroia, but the 31-year-old is is coming off his worst full season in the majors. In 2014, he posted a .278 average, 7 HRs and 53 RBI. The Red Sox don’t need him to hit for power, but they do need him to drive in runs and be more efficient at the plate. However, Pedroia’s defense continues to shine. He earned his fourth Gold Glove award at second base last year.

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That’s a lot of question marks.  So it’s a tough call.  I tend to be less optimistic because… well, I’m a Red Sox fan of old.

Flashback

From the Boston Globe, February 24, 2013:

It’s hard to get excited about these Red Sox

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The air is warm and fresh. Everybody is in a good mood. Players in the clubhouse are especially relaxed. No one is looking for snitches or rolling their eyes at the mention of the new manager.

There were not a lot of fans for the first week of Red Sox workouts. We witnessed none of the Beatlemania of 2005. The Red Sox were not visited by many members of the national media. No sign of the ESPN bus. Sox workouts were not featured on live television. There was no daily presence from members of the New York newspapers.

This must be what it feels like covering the Pittsburgh Pirates in Bradenton every spring.

The 2013 Red Sox have reinvented themselves. Surly, entitled ballplayers have been replaced by stand-up guys. Churl has yielded to character. Larry Lucchino actually said the $170 million Red Sox are a team of “scrappy underdogs.’’

Swell, just swell. Hope springs eternal and all that.

But here’s the reality, people: The 2013 Red Sox might be really bad. Worse, they might be really boring. Anybody talking about baseball in your neighborhood these days?

Two weeks and too many hours in the Sox clubhouse left me with a couple of impressions.

The Sox are a lot more likeable. Jonny Gomes really is the latter-day Kevin Millar. Stephen Drew has the manners of a West Point cadet. We were able to coax a smile out of Jon Lester, and Jacoby Ellsbury seems to understand the amusement we have with a player who is marking his final days at Fenway like some guy in Shawshank scratching lines on the wall of his cell.

But with one (spring training) game down and seven months to go, it’s apparent that the Sox have more questions than any other team in the American League East. It is difficult to pick them anywhere but last.

They will not be as bad as last year. This isn’t going to be a Pinky Higgins renaissance. The Sox have actual major league players this year, not the Pedro Ciriaco All-Stars who made out the lineup in the final days of the Bobby Valentine train wreck of 2012.

If, in fact, things go perfectly, the Red Sox actually could contend for a playoff spot. This is 2013, and five out of 15 make it in each league and it’s almost impossible to play yourself out of contention before August. The moribund Houston Astros have joined the American League. In this spirit, an optimist can make a case for the Red Sox.

I am going the other way this morning.

Where is there any evidence that the Red Sox have improved their starting pitching? It’s the starters who have killed the last two campaigns (starting with September of 2011 and running through all of last season).

Lester is supposed to be the ace, but he is coming back from a 9-14 season in which he gave up more hits than he had innings pitched. Next up is Clay Buchholz, who always looks good but gets hurt a lot; he strained a hamstring in the very first workout of 2013. Local pariah John Lackey is the third starter and made it to the mound Saturday for the first time since the end of 2011 when he was, statistically, the worst Red Sox starting pitcher of the last half-century.

Then comes veteran Ryan Dempster, who was cannon fodder when he moved to the American League last year. Finally, there is Felix Doubront, who is 25 years old and has managed to arrive in camp woefully out of shape in two of the last three seasons.

If any of these guys gets hurt (very likely) or don’t work out, the Sox turn to . . . Franklin Morales? . . . the maniacal Alfredo Aceves?

The bullpen looks strong. Let’s give Ben Cherington some props on the relief corps. Joel Hanrahan looks like a real closer and the Sox were smart to cut their losses with Mark “Schiraldi Eyes” Melancon.

Behind the plate, the Sox have depth, but not enough prime-time quality. There is a connection between the ineffectiveness of Sox starters and the insertion of Jarrod Saltalamacchia into the starting catching role in 2011. Salty has good power, but there is a big hole in his swing (.222 with 139 strikeouts last year). David Ross looks like a solid backup who’ll get plenty of playing time.

The first base situation is alarming. Mike Napoli is an old 31, hit .227 last year, has played only 133 games at the position, and has a degenerative hip disease. Don’t be surprised to see Lyle Overbay as an alternative.

We know the Sox are set at second base (Dustin Pedroia) and third base (Will Middlebrooks), but I worry that Middlebrooks will be asked to do too much to protect David Ortiz. It might be too much for a kid with only a half-year of big league at-bats.

Drew is in his walk year and should be OK at short. But he hit .223 last year.

The outfield looks like Gomes in left, Ellsbury in center, and Shane Victorino in right. Not exactly Rice, Lynn, and Evans, is it? Gomes is a winner but is best deployed as a platoon player. Ellsbury’s power numbers were way off last year. Victorino looks like a guy whose best days are behind him. Better hope he’s not Kevin Stevens or Joseph Addai.

Finally, it’s tough to feel good about Ortiz. He turns 38 this year, and is coming off an Achilles’ tendon injury — an injury he sustained running the bases in front of an Adrian Gonzalez home run last July. Ortiz doesn’t have contract incentive (he finally got his two-year deal, a lifetime achievement award from the Sox), and he is concerned that the Sox did little to find him lineup protection.

Sorry. The juice glass is half-empty today. These guys could be really bad. And really boring. “Scrappy” doesn’t sell in Boston in 2013. Not after everything that’s happened. For $170 million, a little more prime-time talent would have been nice.

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Will The Red Sox Win The World Series?

The 109th World Series, starting tonight in Boston, pits the 97-win Red Sox against the 97-win St. Louis Cardinals, the first time since 1999 each league is represented by teams with its best records.

It should be one for the books.

The oddsmakers favor the Red Sox, but not by much.

Each team has its strengths and weaknesses.  Boston steals bases (fourth in the majors); St. Louis does not (29th). Boston hits home runs (sixth); St. Louis does not (27th). Boston strikes out (8th); St. Louis does not (26th).

The Cardinals have young pitchers (2nd youngest) and the Red Sox have old pitchers (third oldest). The Cardinals' pitchers throw ground balls (2nd in ground ball-to-flyball rate) and the Red Sox' pitchers do not (23rd). The Cardinals play in a pitchers' park (Busch Stadium saw the third fewest total bases) and the Red Sox play in a hitters' park (Fenway Park saw the fifth most total bases), and the Red Sox have home field advantage.

The ethos of the Red Sox is their tenacity and scruffiness, exemplied by their beards which make them look like extras in the opening scene of Les Miserables.  They started the season with the catch phrase "relentless", and they have lived up to it.

The ethos of the Cardinals is in their youth, particularly their pitchers.  Their team has been led by pitchers who are 22 and 23 years old.  This is a team that will be a force for the next several years — something that can't be said about the Sox.

And that's where the game will come down to.  Pitch counts.  In the postseason, Boston batters have forced 157.1 pitches and Cardinals pitchers have thrown only 130.6 pitches.  Who wins and who loses, I believe, will come down to whether or not Boston players can grind down the Cards' pitchers, or whether the Cards' pitchers keep throwing premium stuff, forcing the Red Sox to swing and miss.

Sadly, the Red Sox will lose their DH — either Napoli or Ortiz — when playing in the NL park.  But I don't think that will have as big an impact as the pitch counts.  If the Red Sox can wear down the Card pitchers — not over each game so much as over the course of the series — then you get a tired Cards team going into Game 6 and Game 7, at Fenway, with the DH, and with the tiny foul ball territory (forcing more pitches).  And that's when the Red Sox take it.  Most likely, in a memorable Game 7 at Fenway, the site of so much incredible baseball legendary games.

The players to watch are (1) Ortiz for the Red Sox — if he's hitting deep and has the good eye against the Cards' fastballs, it's over (on the other hand, if he walks a lot, he's less of a threat); and (2) Allen Craig for the Cards — coming off of a month-long injury, he can't ease back into peak condition; he has to be there.

And me?  I'm rooting for Red Sox rookie Xander Boegarts to deliver.  Just 21 years old, I saw him play in Winston-Salem last year (he was on the opposing team – a Red Sox minor league team).  And I remember him being a standout.

The Strangest Sentence Ever Written About The Whole Government Shutdown Thing

Say what, Politico?

President Barack Obama may get the clean debt limit extension he’s been demanding, but it wouldn’t be a clean victory.

By adopting the House GOP plan to raise the debt ceiling, Obama would avoid a potentially crippling blow to the economy and, in the White House’s view, finally break Republicans of their habit of seeking concessions each time the debt ceiling needs to be raised.

But the downsides are significant. The federal government might not immediately reopen, there’s no guarantee Republicans would stop using the debt limit as leverage in the future and Obama could find himself in the same position once the temporary extension expires.

And yet, Obama may have little choice but to accept House Speaker John Boehner’s offer because it delivers what the president wants: a debt limit hike with no ideological strings attached.

Rrrrright.

That's kind of like saying, "If the Detroit Tigers don't hit the ball in the next several games, the Boston Red Sox have little choice but to accept the American League Championship."

FCC Gives David Ortiz A Pass

During the nationally broadcast pre-game ceremonies last week — the one where the Boston Red Sox had their first home game following the Boston Marathon bombing — Red Sox player David Ortiz took to the microphone and spoke from the heart, uttering these words:

“This is our fucking city, and nobody’s going to dictate our freedom.”

Now remember, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals has twice found the FCC’s rules on so-called “fleeting expletives” to be a violation of the First Amendment.

So thankfully, the FCC seemed to get the message.  Normally, this sort of casual swearing would net the offending network a $1 million fine (which would then be thrown out by the court). Not this time. Instead, FCC head Julius Genachowski took to the new face of journalism — Twitter — and declared his (and his office’s) solidarity with the people of Boston.

 

Nicely done.

Olympic Badminton Cheating

AP:

LONDON — Eight female badminton doubles players were disqualified Wednesday from the London Olympics after trying to lose matches to receive a more favorable place in the tournament.

The Badminton World Federation announced its ruling after investigating two teams from South Korea and one each from China and Indonesia. It punished them for "not using one's best efforts to win a match" and "conducting oneself in a manner that is clearly abusive or detrimental to the sport" in matches Tuesday night.

"We applaud the federation for having taken swift and decisive action," IOC spokesman Mark Adams told The Associated Press. "Such behavior is incompatible with the Olympic values."

***

Teams blamed the introduction of a round-robin stage rather than a straight knockout tournament as the main cause of the problem. In the round-robin format, losing one game can lead to an easier matchup in the next round.

The Chinese players were accused of leading the way by deliberately losing a game. This led to other teams behaving in a similar way to try to force an easier quarterfinal. At one stage, both teams appeared to be trying to lose.

Wang and Yu and their opponents were booed loudly by the crowd after dumping serves into the net and making simple errors, such as hitting the shuttlecock wide.

The longest rally in their first game was only four strokes. The umpire warned them, and tournament referee Torsten Berg spoke to all four players but it had little effect. At one stage, Berg showed a black card, which usually means disqualification, but the game continued.

Eventually, the Chinese women lost 21-14, 21-11 and both pairs were jeered off the court.

Not that I condone throwing games, but it seems to me they need to change the structure of the tournament back to a knock-out tournament, rather than a round-robin.

Kevin Drum agrees:

Count me among those who blame the badminton federation at least as much as the players themselves. It's idiocy to set up a knockout system in which it pays off to lose, especially when it's pretty obvious that your system rewards strategic play. It's like complaining about cricket teams deliberately slowing down to produce an inconclusive result, or basketball players trying to run out the clock. It's all part of the game. If you don't like it, don't set up the rules to encourage it.

Talking A Little Football

I think it's great that God sacrificed his one and only son so that the Denver Broncos could get into the playoffs.  I really do.  

I'm sure that is what Jesus had in mind when they hammed spikes through his palms on the cross: not the famines, war, and disease which, every day, kill the faithful all over the world — but the ability of a man to throw an awkwardly non-spiral football to another man on the first play of overtime in the AFC Wild Card playoffs two thousand years hence into the future.

But seriously, I hate to say this because it sounds like trash talk against a team which is going up against my Patriots next week.  But I'll say it anyway.  If Tim Tebow is so good, why is his team always behind?  Or, if yesterday's game is the template, why can't his team hold a lead?

And, by the way, sports media, stop it with this crap:

Denver Broncos QB Tim Tebow and the biblical verse John 3:16 have long been entwined. So why is it now trending on Google?

Turns out that the evangelical Christian — whose dramatic sideline praying on one knee has even spawned the phrase "tebowing" — churned out some timely 3-16s in his team's big playoff win over Pittsburgh on Sunday night.

Most notable, Tebow threw for a season-high 316 yards and set an NFL record with 31.6 yards per completion.

Seriously.  Stop it.

Raw Deal for Paterno

I'm not a Penn State fan; I'm not even a follower of college football.

But as I understand it, after 46 seasons, Penn State college football coach legend (he's a "legend" apparently, although I wouldn't know) Joe Paterno has been removed from his position because he supposedly exercised bad judgment back in 2002.  What happened was, he was told by a graduate assistant coach that Jerry Sandusky (a former assistant coach to Paterno who stilled used the Penn State facilities) sexually assaulted a boy in a school shower.  The graduate assistant coach witnessed the assault.

Paterno reported the incident to Penn State athletic director Tim Curley and Penn State vice president Gary Schultz, who did nothing, and are now under criminal investigation for doing nothing and covering the matter up.

And now, in the wake of a scandal where Sandusky is accused of molesting/raping dozens of boys over several years, the Penn Board of Trustees have removed Paterno.

Why, exactly?  Paterno reported the incident to his higher-ups, whose job it was to take it further to the police.  They didn't.  How is that Paterno's fault?

Sure, with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight and knowing NOW what a danger Sandusky was, I'm sure everyone, even Paterno, wishes that that Paterno had "done more".

But at the time, all Paterno was aware of was a single incident, relayed to him as a second-hand account.  He had no independent knowledge of the incident.  He didn't sit on it; he reported it to authorities.  They dropped the ball (negligently or intentionally); not Paterno.  And arguments (mainly from the left) that Paterno is a child-molester "enabler" simply overlook the what Paterno knew to be true as well as when he supposedly "knew" the facts.

Furthermore, it seems to me that the assistant coach who witnessed the rape has some culpability as well — tell me, why isn't that a 911 call?

UPDATE:  Bill in the comments thoughtfully disagrees:

Need to disagree with you on this one. Paterno had a severe moral lapse. What he should have done is reported what he knew to the police and then the university, immediately and in that order – what he should *not* have done is sat by for nine years while nothing happened.

But this is my point.  What Paterno KNEW at that time was nothing much.  Rumor isn't knowledge.  And in fact, the more outlandish the rumor, the less likely someone in Paterno's position is likely to accept it as "factual truth".  What's worse, he could have suffered consequences (including lawsuits) for making what could have been false accusations.  If he had done nothing, I would agree that he was being, at best, negligent.  But he didn't do nothing.

To my mind, the "moral lapse" moniker doesn't apply unless one expects Paterno to have possessed, at that time, 20/20 hindsight, or that he actually witnessed a 10-year-old boy being raped.  In retrospect, he says he wishes he had done more, and I'm sure we all agree.  But his failure not to do more is not, in my view, sanctionable.  This strikes me as a typical situation where peoples' (understandable) outrage over the heinous act is causing them to demonize people — Paterno, specifically — who not culpable of anything truly immoral.

Put another way: if, back in 2002, Curley and Schultz had done what they were supposed to do, namely:

(a) talk to the graduate student to confirm the allegation; and
(b) notify the police and/or district attorney

then this scandal would have erupted in 2002 and 2003.  Would anyone be criticizing Paterno for a "moral lapse" then?  Not likely.  In fact, he would be praised for setting the wheels in motion to bring a horrific molester to justice. 

So why is he being blamed now?

FIFA Women’s Final

Seriously, just how disappointed can any American be?  Our girls played well and it was a close game.

Japan lost 23,000 of its countryman.  The women's soccer team victory in no way compensates for that, but damn if it isn't nice to see Japan getting some good news.

Opening Day

The Line-up:

1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF

2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B

3. Carl Crawford, LF

4. Kevin Youkilis, 3B

5. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B

6. David Ortiz, DH

7. Mike Cameron, RF

8. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C

9. Marco Scutaro, SS

How does this season look?  Gooooood:

As the Major League Baseball season hits full swing this weekend, a Massachusetts professor predicts the Boston Red Sox will easily outflank divisional rival the New York Yankees in 2011.

Dimitris Bertsimas of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology used quantitative models based on player analytics to predict the Red Sox will win 101 games this season, eight more than the Yankees.

New York won 95 games last season to finish second in the American League East and Boston was third with 89 wins.

"A player is a vector of numbers and from that, we can forecast overall team statistics," said Bertsimas, co-director of MIT's Operations Research Center and admitted Red Sox fan.

In a new paper "The Analytics Edge in Baseball," Bertsimas and doctoral student Allison O'Hair developed three models to determine the outcome of teams' 162-game seasons.

The Tampa Bay Rays, last year's AL East champs, are forecast to have another great year with 100 wins. Divisional also-rans are forecast to be the Baltimore Orioles with 83 wins and the Toronto Blue Jays, with 80.

Now if we can stay injury-free…..

What So Proudly We Watched At The Twilight’s Last Gleaming…

I was going to give Christine Aguilera a pass for her National Anthem flub in yesterday's Supre Bowl.  "Of course she knew the words.  She was just nervous.  It happens".  I was ready to say that.

Except maybe she didn't know the words.  Because

[a]ccording to the Daily Mail, her gaffe matched erroneous lyrics published on Wikipedia, which have since been corrected.

So apparently she went to Wikipedia to get the words, and got punked.

Really, Christine?  Really?

For those who missed it….

 

Not That Anybody South Of Connecticut Cares….

but the Red Sox signed Carl Crawford, which is a good thing.  He'll be hitting third.  When you couple that with the acquisition of Gonzalez, this may be the strongest Red Sox lineup in the past few years.

1. Ellsbury, CF
2. Pedroia,  2B
3. Crawford, LF
4. Gonzalez, 1B
5. Youkilis, 3B
6. Ortiz, DH
7. Saltalamacchia, C
8. Drew, RF
9. Scutaro, SS

Now, Theo needs to work on the bullpen…

Baseball: The Tenth Inning

I, like many others, was and remain a big fan of Ken Burns' nine-part, 18.5 hour Baseball documentary series when it came out 1993.  That series was fascinating look at America's favorite pastime since its inception over 100 years ago to 1993.  That series ended with the clear message that baseball had survived wars, depression, and scandal, but it always persevered.  Ironically, when the series originally aired in 1994, baseball was in the midst of a players' strike.  Eventually, the 1994 season, and the 1994 World Series, was canceled.  So much for perseverence.

The past two evenings, Ken Burns returned to the documentary series to produce the tenth part (or inning) — an update of baseball since 1993.  The four hour supplement aired on PBS Tuesday night and last night, and it was just as good as the original.

Burns, of course, addressed the 1994 players' strike and the impact on the game.  Casting it quite accurately as a fight between millionaires (the ballplayers) versus billionaires (the owners), the documentary captured the disgust of the fans who seemed to say "a pox on both your houses" and left the game in droves.

He followed the resurgence of baseball over the next couple of years, sparked by Cal Ripken, Jr., quietly and poignantly breaking Lou Gehrig's "unbeatable" record of most consecutive games played.  Baseball's popularity came into full swing with the McGuire-Sosa home run derby battle in 1998, where Roger Maris' 61-homers-per-season record was shattered.

He also did a nice segment on the rise of latino players in the game, particularly those from the Dominican Republic, where — even today — the only way to escape a life of total poverty is to be able to hit or pitch, so it has become a country where baseball is more important than, well, anything.

But of course, you can't do a documentary about baseball from 1993-present without talking about the common thread lurking underneath, and then finally dominating, the game: steroid use.  The film did a good job in reminding the audience that steroid use was, throughout the nineties and much of this past decade, perfectly legal.  And to the extent that it was immoral — well, everybody (owners, players, and the sports press) just turned a blind eye.

Why in 1998 did two players surpass Maris' home run record of 61 home runs — and not just surpass it, but blow it out of the water?  Smaller ballparks?  Who really believed that?  It was the performance-enhancing drugs.

And of course, there was Barry Bonds, who eventually came along and stole the home run record from McGwire (hitting 73 of them in 2001, when nobody was paying attention because of 9/11) and taking the all-time home run record from Hank Aaron (ultimately hitting 762 by the end of the 2007 season, although nobody cared because we all know that Bonds spent most of his career doped up on steroids).

Is the game of baseball – a game where so much enjoyment comes from comparing the present players, through statistics, to those with the past — forever tainted because steroids, until their ban, gave so many players (like, 70-80% of them) such an advantage for such a long period of time?

The film says "no" and concludes that most fans have made their peace with the steroid era.  Yes, many fans will never acknowledge, for example, that Bonds is the home run king — and that's fine, but the point is, they are still fans.  And I can go along with that.

Of course, the best part of them film was the 2004 World Series winning Red Sox, which got close to a full 20 minutes.  Burns focused (as he should) not on the 4-0 World Series blowout, but on the American League playoffs where the Sox came back from a 3-0 deficit to sweep the Yankees.

Good times.

It’s Over

With the 5-3 loss against the Blue Rays last night, I'm giving up on The Red Sox's chance at the playoffs.  Nope, not even a wild card position.  We're one month out and 6.5 games behind.  And half the starting team is on the DL list.

Wait'll next year…. again.

The Match That Wouldn’t End Resumes, Ends

Isner (from Greensboro, dontchaknow?) and Mahut are back out on Court 18 of Wimbledon, playing the match that is now entering Day 3.

They quit last evening as the sun was going down, tied 59-59 in the fifth set.  They were just at the tenth hour of play.

As of this writing, 11:35 am. EST, they are tied 67-67.  Mahut has served 100 aces, which also smashes the record.

It's 11:43 am, and they're starting their 11th hour….

11:48 am EST  –  It's over.  Isner finally broke Mahut's serve. 70-68 in the fifth set.

Tennislong

7+ — Make That 8 — Make That NINE — Make that TEN Hour Wimbledon Match

Ouch:

John Isner of Tampa, Fla., and Nicolas Mahut of France are playing what already is the longest match on record in tennis history.

Their first-round match at Wimbledon has lasted more than 7½ hours – breaking the record of 6 hours, 33 minutes set in a 2004 French Open match.

Isner and Mahut have played more than 90 games in the fifth set alone. They resumed playing Wednesday at the start of the fifth set; the match was suspended because of darkness Tuesday night after four sets.

As I write this, they are up to 106(!) games in the fifth set.  The NYT is live-blogging it.

Normally, when players tie a set, they go into a tiebreaker, where you have to win by two POINTS.  Unfortunately, tiebreakers don't apply to the fifth (and final) set, where you have to win by two GAMES.  And they're just basically trading games.

UPDATE – 3:50 pm EST:  115 games now.  Isner 58, Mahut 57.  Mahut's service….

UPDATE – 4:08 pm EST:  The fifth set is no longer than any MATCH that has ever taken place in professional tennis.  It's 59-59.  It's getting dark as other tournament games are coming to a conclusion.

UPDATE – 4:15 pm EST:  From the Wimbledon blog:

“We want more”  Mahut and Isner are discussing whether to continue and the crowd are chanting: “We want more”. But it looks like they are going off. And they are. What a shame but this match will enter a third day. Incredible. They are getting the loudest standing ovation I’ve ever heard.

ESPN reports: "They have been playing for a total of exactly 10 hours — 7 hours, 6 minutes in the fifth set alone, enough to break the full-match record of 6:33, set at the 2004 French Open."

100623_spt-mahut-wimbledon.h2
Mahut, exhausted, from earlier today 

Gooooooooalllll!

USA v. Algeria is going on right now.  I can't watch it, but I tuned in here to see a running commentary.  At the 89 minute mark, it was a 0-0 draw.

Groan.

Then USA scored at the 91 minute mark.

Awesome.

Also in the C group, England is playing Slovania at the same time.  England is up 1-0.

ONE MINUTE LATER:  It's over.  England won 1-0.  So did USA.  So both of them advance. You're going to be hearing a lot about Landon Donovan….  This moment in sports will be talked about for years to come….

UPDATE:  The Internets go kablooey

The dramatic ending to the World Cup match between the U.S. and Algeria on Wednesday could set a new record for internet traffic…..

In the minutes following Landon Donovan's game winning goal in the 91st minute of action (which sent the US to the round of 16), traffic spiked to 11.2 million visitors per minute, which move the event past the 2008 presidential election as the second highest traffic day of all-time.

The World Cup news knocked Yahoo Sports offline and caused issues at Twitter.

Sox Got The Mojo

Tampa Bay had the winningest record of all the MLB teams this year so far.  Earlier this week, they were 32 wins and only 12 losses, a percentage of around .700.

And the Sox swept them, three games in a row.  In Tampa Bay.

So the Boston Boys are doing something right.  Still, they're in the toughest division in baseball.  Tampa Bay still has the highest win-loss percentage; the Yankees have the second highest.  But don't count the Sox out yet.

Team W  L  Pct  GB  Home  Road  East  Cent West  Last10  Streak
Tampa Bay 32  15  .681  -  13-10  19-5  14-7  6-3 10-4  6-4  L 3
New York 28  18  .609  3.5  13-6  15-12  12-7  7-5 8-4  4-6  W 2
Boston 27  21  .563  5.5  14-11  13-10  13-14  6-5 6-1  8-2  W 5
Toronto 27  22  .551  6  11-11  16-11  5-7  11-5 10-8  4-6  L 2
Baltimore 15  32  .319  17  9-13  6-19  6-15  4-5 4-10  3-7  L 1

David Ortiz Getting Paid $13 Million, By The Way

From The Onion, who gets it:

BOSTON—According to official MLB statistics available as of press time, struggling Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz is hitting only .200 and has tallied a paltry four home runs and 11 RBIs thus far in 2010. Sources close to the team noted that, just FYI, Ortiz is being paid $13 million per year to do nothing but hit.

Moreover, as long as sources happen to be on the subject, Ortiz is carrying an on-base percentage of .274 and a slugging percentage of .412 for an OPS of .685, which ranks him at roughly 60th in the American League. Basically, witnesses said, this means Ortiz has earned $165,214 per hit this season, which is something to think about for sure.

Once again, sources stated, Ortiz only gets paid to hit. Just hit. Nothing else.

So those familiar with the Red Sox organization are completely clear, baseball insiders said, the Dodgers' Andre Ethier is leading the NL with a .385 batting average, has 37 RBIs, and is second in the majors with 11 home runs. It also bears mentioning, they continued, that he plays a position in the outfield, is a 2009 Silver Slugger Award winner, writes the food blog Dining With 'Dre, and does all of this for $7.25 million per year less than David Ortiz.

Sources also confirmed that Milwaukee's Ryan Braun is right behind Ethier, hitting .359 with 28 RBIs, for only $1.3 million, if you can see where sources are going with that.

Personnel close to the Red Sox front office noted yesterday that Ortiz is being paid one-twelfth of the team's total payroll, adding that they were just saying, is all. In addition, those who wonder if you can see a trend developing here at all reported that the Texas Rangers, currently in first place in their division, will spend just over $55 million on payroll this year, which is only a little more than four times what Ortiz costs Boston.

Flustered Red Sox officials, who are reportedly "very familiar" with these numbers, have on multiple occasions been overheard to say—usually with a fair amount of groaning, sighing, and wall-punching—that there are 12 teams without a single player earning $13 million this season, including Pittsburgh, San Diego, Arizona, Oakland, Florida, Cleveland, Washington, Cincinnati, Kansas City, Milwaukee, Tampa Bay, and Baltimore.

And one can't help but notice, sources confirmed, that Tampa Bay is currently in first place in the AL East.

Opening Day Shock Horror Surprise

Red Sox beat Yankees, 9-7.

It was, by all accounts, not a pretty win (so much for BoSox pitching), but it was a win nonetheless.  So, gift horse and all that….

UPDATE:  They probably won because of this kid (performing the Kurt Russell locker room speech from the movie "Miracle"):

When Tiger Woods Needs Brit Hume’s Advice…

The Tiger Woods story, as I've often said, isn't a news story.  It certainly doesn't warrent a panel discussion on a Sunday morning "news" channel.

And it certainly doesn't require commentary like that offered by Brit Hume, who said this weekend that Tiger Woods isn't going to be made whole until he rejects his religion and accepts the correct religion (Christianity).  Specifically, Hume said:

"The extent to which he can recover seems to me depends on his faith… He is said to be a Buddhist. I don't think that faith offers the kind of forgiveness and redemption that is offered by the Christian faith. So, my message to Tiger is, 'Tiger, turn to the Christian faith and you can make a total recovery and be a great example to the world.'"

Watch:

I love how Hume's comments make Bill Kristol and the other panelists uncomfortable.  Perhaps they, too, are wondering why a senior political analyst for a so-called "news" network proselytizing, on the air, during one of the network's "news" programs.

Welcome to Fox News Ministries.

Racist Much, CNBC?

Hard to believe they allowed this to be published:

Marathon's Headline Win Is Empty

By: Darren Rovell
CNBC Sports Business Reporter

It's a stunning headline: American Wins Men's NYC Marathon For First Time Since '82.

Unfortunately, it's not as good as it sounds.

Meb Keflezighi, who won yesterday in New York, is technically American by virtue of him becoming a citizen in 1998, but the fact that he's not American-born takes away from the magnitude of the achievement the headline implies.

Nationality in running counts. It's why many identify Kenya as the land of the long distance champions.

As for the United States? Not so much.

It has been well-documented that since the mid-80's, Americans haven't had much success in the marathon. Many cite lack of motivation as the root of our troubles, as in our best athletes devote their lives to sports where they can make big money instead of collecting the relatively small paychecks that professional running offers. That, of course, is not the case with African runners, who see in the same winner's check a lifetime full of riches.

Given our disappointing results, embracing Keflezighi is understandable. But Keflezighi's country of origin is Eritrea, a small country in Africa. He is an American citizen thanks to taking a test and living in our country.

Nothing against Keflezighi, but he's like a ringer who you hire to work a couple hours at your office so that you can win the executive softball league.

The positive sign was that some American-born runners did extremely well in yesterday's men's race.

If any of them stand on the top step of the podium in Central Park one day, that's when I'll break out my red, white and blue.

Got that?  Keflezighi is "technically American", but he's not a real American because he wasn't born here, according to this bozo.  Never mind the fact that he's been living in America since he was 12, after fleeing as a refugee from Eritea.  Went to American high schools, and finally became a U.S. citizen — he's not a real American.

Fortunately, the commentors over at CNBC are lambasting this guy.

UPDATE:  A weak apology, but an apology nonetheless.

Football Logic

Shorter every single rightwing website right now:

Was civil rights pioneer Medgar Evers ever denied the right to purchase an NFL franchise?  Hellz, no!  So why can't Rush?  Because of racism!!!

Okay, not all are saying that.  But you have some really over-the-top whines.  This, by far, is the most WTF of them all:

Earlier this evening, as most of you now know, one of our own, Rush Hudson Limbaugh, while taking withering fire, crashed and burned.

Tonight, Rush is no longer ‘just’ a radio personality.

Tonight, Rush is no longer ‘just’ a NFL owner denied

Tonight, Rush is us. And we are him.

Tonight Rush became the metaphor for all of us… every man woman and child in this great nation of ours.

The enemy of this great nation, the enemy of you and me, Rush’s enemy… those on the left, inside and outside of this nation abhor success… and when faced with it will destroy it… by any and all means possible.

We all have our dreams in life… such as they might be. Rush dreamed of being an owner in the NFL.

Tonight the left proved that they will stop at nothing to end our dreams. Our dreams of success and happiness devastate their need to dominate and control you and me… and well everything and everyone.

And it ends with the Niemöller quote, too ("First they came for the communists….")

With prose like that, you would think this is the equivalent of 9/11.

Seriously, what happened with Rush Limbaugh and the St. Louis Rams is the free market at work. 

Rush was a limited partner in a group headed by St. Louis Blues chairman Dave Checketts.  The group hoped to purchase the Rams.  There was a public outcry, not only among the public, but from many NFL pros themselves.

Rush became an economic liability.  So the group cut him loose, so they could proceed with the sale.

Obama didn't cut him.  The liberal media didn't cut him.  Congress didn't intervene and strike down any purchase possibilities.

It was a business decision.

Heh.

“Hold That Line! Hold That Line!” (Luke 3:7)

I don't have all the facts, just this:

Cheerleaders at a north Georgia high school will have to fall back on school spirit alone to inspire the football team tonight against a longtime rival because the school district will no longer allow them to hold up signs bearing Bible verses.

The Catoosa school district banned the signs over concerns they were unconstitutional and could provoke a lawsuit, the Associated Press reports.

That has angered a number of people in this deeply religious community near Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School and many held a rally last night to protest the ban.

For tonight's game against Ridgeland High School, an area outside the stadium has been designated for displaying the signs. Football fans will be allowed to take their Bible-verse signs into the stands as long as they're hand held, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports.

A sign at a recent game read: "Commit to the Lord, whatever you do, and your plans will succeed."

School superintendent Denia Reese says she invoked the ban after getting a call from a Ringgold, Ga., resident, Donna Jackson, who allegedly said the signs could provoke a lawsuit. The school's attorney agreed.

Reese also said that Jackson filed an open records request for financial documents on the purchases of supplies used to make the banners, the Times Free Press reports.

Jackson denies the allegations, calling them "absolutely false."

I'm not sure it is unconstitutional, to be honest.  The U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled that students can pray at football games (or pre-games), so long as the prayer is not school-sponsored or school-funded or broadcast over school equipment.  That's the bright line, and there's nothing (yet) to suggest that the religious banners and signs were bought and paid for by the school district.  In fact, the Chattanooga Times Free Press says "the cheerleaders said they raised all the money to make the banners".  If that's true, I think they're okay.

The larger question for me is: What the hell does God have to do with high school football?

1002_WEB_A1_LFO_signs2_t305

Score a touchdown for Jesus?  Oh, come on.  And what happens if the other team scores a touchdown?  Who is that for?  Satan?

I'm no biblical scholar, but I don't think "goal" as used in Phillippians 3:14 was intended to mean the goal line in a football game.  And in fact, in the Kings James Version of the Bible, that passage reads: "I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."

Generally, speaking, the Bible doesn't serve well as a football playbook (ignoring the fact that the Bible predates football by about seventeen centuries).  Take Joel 2:8, for example:

They do not jostle each other; each marches straight ahead. They plunge through defenses without breaking ranks.

Well, that might work for short running plays where your team is inches from the goal line, but you've got to put the ball in the air once in a while, right?

Another one that won't work, Genesis 4:8:

"Let's go out to the field." And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.

That's probably an egregious foul.  Just guessing.

And why no Galatians 3:3 banners?

Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?

Yeah, I guess that banner wouldn't go over too big.

Of course, I think the most problematic verse for football players is Deuteronomy 14:8:

The pig is also unclean; although it has a split hoof, it does not chew the cud. You are not to eat their meat or touch their carcasses.

Not sure how you can score a goal if you are forbidden to touch pigskin.

Chicago Nixed For 2016 Olympics

Blog_Olympic_Logos To all the conservatives who rooted against America (which, not too long ago, you once considered a bad thing), pat yourselves on the back:  Mission accomplished.

Never mind that the event would have brought in 22.5 billion in economic activity (the equivalent of 315,000 permanent jobs in America), much less be a good place to exhibit American pride.  It's more important to conservatives that Obama loseMalkin's mocking the U.S. defeat; so is the Weekly Standard (the offices of the Weekly Standard, in its own words, "erupted" in "cheers" after the announcement). Fox News, which launched an aggressive effort against Chicago's bid, will no doubt follow.

Sad, really, that they're lust to see Obama "lose" trumps everything good.  Let's have a flashback to January 2008:

President Bush Meets with Chicago 2016 Bid Committee and United States Olympic Committee Members

THE PRESIDENT: I want to thank the members of the 2016 Chicago bid to get the Olympics. Listen, Mr. Mayor, you and your committee have put together a great plan. It's a plan that will make America proud.

They say that the Olympics will come to Chicago if we're fortunate enough to be selected, but really it's coming to America, and I can't think of a better city to represent the United States than Chicago.

This is a well thought out venue. There will be — the athletes will be taken care of. People who will be coming from around the world will find this good city has got fantastic accommodations, great restaurants. It will be safe.

And so I — this country supports your bid, strongly. And our hope is that the judges will take a good look at Chicago and select Chicago for the 2016 Olympics.

Kevin Drum reminds us:

Remember, in 2005, when New York was eliminated as a host city for the 2012 Olympics, and liberals everywhere giggled like children and mocked the Bush administration?

Oh wait, that didn't happen.

UPDATE:  One conservative columnist, at least, has some sense:

I don't think conservatives should be celebrating the U.S. losing out on the Olympic games. The Olympics is always a chance to put our national pride on display. However, this might be an instructive lesson on how Obama views the world and possibly the miscalculations of his political team.

Obama looks bad. Anyone disagreeing is being disingenuous. But conservatives should temper their excitement. Is losing the Olympics enough to really go nuts over an Obama loss?

Oh, and Rio won, by the way.

Blame it on Rio.

The Jeanne Dixon Of Baseball

Asked prior to the Mariners game against the Toronto Blue Jays last week for a prediction for the game, Mike Blowers, a former Mariners player and now color commentator, said he expected rookie Matt Tuiasosopo to hit his first big league home run in the game.

But not only that – he predicted that it would come on a 3-1 count.

But not only that – he predicted that the pitch would be a fastball.

But not only that – he predicted it would come in Tuiasosopo's second at bat.

Guess what? All of these things happened.

Check it out — this is fun…

Red Sox In Postseason

Losing five in a row will get you a wild card spot only because Texas lost three in a row.

Not awe-inspiring, but I'll take it.

Still, they will have to get their mojo on as they face Anaheim post season.  No slouching across the finish line against guys like that.

Quote Of The Day

"Get your hats on… We're gonna score before the two-minute warning, get the ball back, then we're gonna score again and win this thing!''

– Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, moments before they scored before the two-minute warning, got the ball back, then scored again and won that thing.

Bloody Sock To Replace Liberal Lion?

Just because he's got he had a decent split-finger fastball doesn't mean he'll be a good political leader:

Can a Republican fill Ted Kennedy's Senate seat in Massachusetts? Among the list of possible GOP candidates is Curt Schilling.

The former right-handed starting pitcher for the Boston Red Sox is not ruling out a possible run.

"I've got a lot on my plate," says Schilling. "Right now, I'm not even going to speculate on it."

But, Schilling admits he would need to make a decision pretty quickly.

"I think for the first time in a long time, it will take the right candidate," Schilling said of a Republican beating a Democrat for the Senate seat.

"I have been contacted," says Schilling about a possible Senate run.

Schilling, a registered independent and longtime Republican supporter, wrote on his blog that while his family and video game company, 38 Studios, are high priorities, "I do have some interest in the possibility."

A registered independent?  Uh, Curt, if you want to run as a Republican, you missed the deadline.