Sunday, August 17, 2008

Getting Back in the Blogging Groove

I intended to blog today but I woke up with allergies from hell and unless they miraculously dissipate as the day goes on (which sometimes happens) I have a feeling I'm just going to curl up on the couch and watch some baseball. But I will hit you with a couple of quick things:

- Thank God the Michael Phelps show is over. Yes, he is amazing. Yes, he just accomplished a remarkable feat of endurance, strength and athletic ability. Yes, it's worth being celebrated. Unfortunately we've been celebrating it for the last week and a half to the point that now that Phelps has finally broken the record I really just want him to go away. Go away! Take your size 14 feet, your 6'7" wingspan, your freaky arm flap, your 20,000 calorie a day diet, your mic'd up mother and go away. (Seriously, do we need the replay of the race with Mrs. Phelps yelling, "Go, Jason! Go, Jason! Go, Jason!" She yells a lot and she wants her son/her son's team to win? Earth-shattering stuff.) I was annoyed when the NBC interview after the 4x100 relay skipped over Jason Lezak blowing through the anchor leg and focused on how MICHAEL PHELPS CAN STILL WIN 8 GOLDS! and WOW, ISN'T MICHAEL PHELPS A FANTASTIC CHEERLEADER! and I never quite recoverd.

- Also glad Dara Torres is done. NBC, Torres is not the first woman to ever have a baby and she's not even the first woman to have a baby and then compete in the Olympics. I know she's old but come on, give it a rest already.

- Over at Bfloblog Kevin posted his Sabres All-Time Team. I haven't been watching the team long enough to contribute but I've been reading and enjoying some of the debate in the comments section. I'm usually not a huge fan of people commenting while pretending to be someone else. I've noticed there's one particularly obnoxious guy who does that on Jerry Sullivan's blog and it drives me bonkers. It's no wonder Sullivan appears to hate blogging. But I have to give major props to the person responsible for this comment:

bucky g. Says:
August 17th, 2008 at 12:33 am

briere - drury - dumont
grier - drury - briere
dumont - briere - drury
drury - drury - drury

campbell - mckee
mckee - campbell
campbell - kalinin


That's funny!

- The Sabres just announced plans for Puck Drop 2008 which sounds pretty cool. Included at the link is this:

When the Sabres hit the ice for their first full practice of the season, fans will get their first look at the team’s new third jersey that will make its debut during the 2008-09 NHL season. The jersey features a modernization of the team’s vintage design elements, while incorporating the latest in sports uniform technology.

A modernization of the team's vintage? I'm scared. My guess is they're going to darken the blue so it matches the navy blue of the slug which is just a freakin' travesty. I'll hold out final judgment until I see the things but I am not optimistic.

- And finally I leave you with this video of the Toronto Maple Leafs off-season training (even Derek Roy is embarrassed by that dive at the 1:23 or so mark):


Kate said...

Wow! The Maple Leafs are looking really good this year. I wonder if we should be worried.

Heather B. said...

Kate, that somersault is impressive but I'm just not sure how useful it'll be during a game. I think we'll be okay.

Lee Andrew said...

Please make Michael Phelps go away! Can we stop with this greatest Olympian ever nonsense? He has the record for gold medals and nobody can deny that but how can you possibly compare him to every Olympian ever? The only reason he has so many medals is because he gets to compete in EIGHT events a year. Out of all the sports how many people can actually do that? Two? If Jordan could compete in 8 events in '92 he'd win 8 gold medals. If the USA softball team could compete in 8 events they would win 8 gold medals. Come on people, it's not rocket science to see he has an advantage simply because he gets to compete in 8 TIMES as many events as most people. Yes it's nice that he has to show up 8 times and be great 8 times, but so do people on just about every team sports team since they usually play 8 games.

And can we please get something in prime time other than swimming, track, May and Walsh and gymnastics? I mean I didn't expect softball to make it to prime time but the men's tennis final is stuck on MSNBC at 4 AM? Are you serious? A week and a half ago Rafael Nadal was a billion times more popular than Michael Phelps and he's on at 4 AM on MSNBC?

And come on May and Walsh? If you're going to show volleyball in prime time just because the US Women are so good then how come softball and women's basketball aren't in prime time? They're even more dominant than May & Walsh and Jennie Finch is probably more popular than May and Walsh combined. And Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi, Lisa Leslie and Candace Parker are WAAAAAYYY more popular. I really don't get it why are they pretending like beach volleyball or May & Walsh are such a big deal?

Heather B. said...

Lee, I was JUST having that conversation via email with someone. "Most Decorated Olympian" and "Greatest Olympian" are not the same thing and the fact that NBC is using them interchangeably is driving me bonkers.

As for May and Walsh, they were bikinis when they play. It's not hard to figure out :P

Pookie said...

Thank you, Lee! This "greatest Olympian" thing has been driving me nuts since they started in with that last week.

As for May and Walsh, they were bikinis when they play. It's not hard to figure out :P

I agree with both you about the greatness of the softball and basketball teams, but just to play the devil's advocate, women's beach volleyball takes about 45 minutes to play. NBC can play the entirety of a May/Walsh match while killing time between 9 and 10; they couldn't show a whole softball game or basketball game. But again, I agree with you and really, really wish they'd quit it with the beach volleyball. Prior to these games I thought it was a great sport and was looking forward to it. But on top of being force fed a steady diet of it at the expense of a smorgasbord of other fun events, we're also stuck with the craptacular NBC announcers who refuse to admit there's another team on the sand with May and Walsh. We saw them play against Cuba and the announcers literally called them "The Cubans" the entire time. I think they mentioned one by name once. It's so ridiculous.

TheSharpie said...

The new 3rd jersey can't be any worse than the slug, as it promises to have at least a sabre or a buffalo.

Kirsten said...

*high five*
I'm also happy for Mr. Phelps, but I'm wholeheartedly sick of him.

Baseball is good! Who's your team?

Heather B. said...

I don't get beach volleyball so I haven't watched any of it it. One night of it is too much for me.

Sharpie, a sabre on the Sabres uniform? You don't say? What a caa-raaazy idea! Seriously, I'm sure whatever they come up with for the third will still beat the slug by a country mile. I love the bright vintage blue though so if it's gone I'm going to be sad.

Kirsten, my team is :::sigh::: the Pirates. We're rebuilding. For the 16th year. But this time we're doing it right, I swear! Really! Anyway, they were playing the Mets today so they were actually on TV here. It didn't go well. (Zip it, Lee.)

Are you a Twins fan? I'm pulling for you guys to make the postseason!

Lee Andrew said...

Good point that beach volleyball is shorter, I didn't think about that. Also I would accept Heather's reasoning that they wore bikinis if I thought either one was remotely attractive but May and Walsh aren't Caitlin Lowe or Sue Bird that's for sure.

Another thing that bothers me about May & Walsh is everyone has to act like they are the greatest thing to ever happen to volleyball when the greatest thing to happen to volleyball is actually the guy calling the matches, Karch Kiraly. He was the captain of the USA Indoor Volleyball teams that won gold medals in 1984 and 1988. Then when that got boring he became a beach volleyball player, won 148 tournaments and the gold medal in beach volleyball in 1992.

Heather, I would never say anything about the Mets beating the Pirates THREE GAMES IN A ROW. I especially won't point out that Johan Santana pitched a COMPLETE GAME SHUTOUT and we didn't even need DAVID WRIGHT to win the game. I mean I can't gloat THAT much since the Pirates did manage ONE run against our starting pitchers in this series.

Seriously though, the Pirates are only one game worse than the Braves! You might not like the Mets beating up on the Pirates but you should cheer for the Mets to beat up the Braves in their next series. After that we play the Astros so you can hate us again then.

OH yeah, and Michael Phelps cards (there are Michael Phelps CARDS!?) are selling for $1000. Seriously? Somebody is actually buying the card of an athlete that well never be heard from again in about two weeks?

Jennifer said...

Yeah, I agree about Phelps. He did great and I'm happy for him, but I would really like to turn on my TV or radio 1 day without hearing his name over and over and over.

Sadly, I believe that I am in the minority on the beach volleyball matter. I love it and would watch it all day long. And I can honestly say that it has NOTHING to do with bikinis.

Vanek's Hair said...

I guess I will have to be the only one standing up for Michael Phelps. Other athletes throughout history have had opportunities to compete in 8 or more events at the Olympics. Swimmers for all the years prior to 2008 for instance. What about track and field? What would prevent someone from entering the 100, 200, 400, Pole Vault, High Jump, Long Jump and 110 Hurdles? That isn't even close to an exhaustive list of the events in Athletics. I find it amusing that since Michael Phelps "hype" was driven by the fact the actual people wanted to watch (Check the ratings). Little choice existed but to cover him.

Moreover, he crushed the competition in many of those events. Not all, but winning by a second and half in any Olympic event is domination. Most importantly, people who denigrate his accomplishments must not understand the physical toll that 17 world class competitive swims in a week have on a body. He eats 10,000 calories a day for a reason. Over and above that, the mental and emotional toll that has. The mental preparation for those events is exhaustive in and of itself.

If it was such an insignifcant accomplishment, someone explain why there is not someone, Olympic after Olympic chasing 8 golds. It is because it is a difficult, almost impossible feat. In fact, the last time someone did something comparable (Mark Spitz) I was not born. And I am not young.

"Greatest Olympian" is like best quarterback of all time. You can make a well reasoned, sound argument for about 8 different people. Same with Olympians. It is very subjective. But to deny the greatness of Phelps is to ignore facts. And don't worry, he will go away, look at history. Olympians fall off the radar within a week of the torch being extinguished.

Lee Andrew said...

Nobody denied that Michael Phelps is great or that the accomplishment is great. I didn't even deny Michael Phelps shouldn't be in prime time (I said May & Walsh shouldn't). It's just not possible to say he is the Greatest Olympian of all-time when he has a huge advantage over athletes in other sports.

I know that swimmers and the competitors in Athletics can compete in 8 events, but THAT'S IT. You're excluding every other sport. There are plenty of examples of people that could win 8 medals in one year if their sport had 8 events but there are only TWO that offer that many in one year.

It may be exhausting to compete in 8 events but there are plenty of other people playing 5, 8, 10, 12, 15 games in one Olympics, some of the tennis players were competing in singles and doubles tournaments in the same day. They have to play every day just like Michael Phelps does and they only getting one medal for it. It's not any more exhausting than having to play softball, basketball, tennis, or several other events every day.

It's really not that hard to understand.
Baseball Medals - 1
Basketball Medals - 2 (and nobody can win both)
Beach Volleyball Medals - 2 (and nobody can win both)
Diving Medals - 8 (China would definitely get 8 if one person could compete in all of them but you can't)
Hockey Medals - 2 (nobody can win both)
Volleyball Medals - 2 (nobody can win both)
Tennis Medals - 4 (nobody can win more than 2)
Boxing Medals - 11 (but they are divided into weight classes so you can only one 1 each)
Wrestling Medals - 18 (but they're divided into weight classes so you can only win 1 each)
Swimming Medals - 34
Athletics Medals - 47

Come on, it doesn't take a genius to see they have a HUGE advantage when it comes to acquiring medals.

It's not even possible to compare Michael Phelps and Mark Spitz. Athletes have better conditioning today, they have better swimsuits, the swimming pools are deeper, and I don't know about every venue but in Beijing the first and last lanes are open. All of these factors make the swimmers swim faster and look a lot better than they are. Spitz, with all those conditions might very well beat Michael Phelps in race. It's not possible to compare the two. And if you can't even compare a swimmer in 2008 to a swimmer in the 70's then how can you possibly compare a swimmer in 2008 to a basketball player in the 90's, a tennis player in the 80's, a boxer in the 70's, a gymnast in the 60's, etc, etc. Calling ANYBODY the greatest Olympian of all time is nonsense because there is no way to even begin to compare. At least when people compare Babe Ruth and Barry Bonds or the Godfather and Gone With the Wind they are comparing somewhat similar things. If you compare a swimmer in 2008 to a wrestler in 1896 then you might as well be comparing Barry Bonds to the Godfather but they are nothing alike.

Lee Andrew said...

Jennifer, don't get me wrong. I LOVE beach volleyball. I just don't A) want to see only one team (May & Walsh) over and over again and B) like other sports too. Pookie made a good point about beach volleyball being shorter but I still don't see why they can't put indoor volleyball, women's basketball, softball and tennis in prime time, even if it's taped and they only show a little bit at a time.

Again, Rafael Nadal just won the French Open, Wimbledon, a gold medal and knocked Roger Federer out of the number one spot in the world for the first time in FOUR AND A HALF years. He can't get on in prime time? A month from now Rafael Nadal will be going for his third Grand Slam at the US Open. Michael Phelps, Natalie Coughlin, Misty May, Kerri Walsh, Shawn Johnson, and many other people may never be heard from again. At the soonest we'll see them in four years.

Jennifer said...

Maybe that's why I like the beach volleyball, swimming & diving so much. I have a short attention span and these events typically don't take long. I'd never thought of it before. WOW, I possibly learned something new about myself today. Thanks Lee Andrew & Pookie! :)

While I am tiring of listening to Michael Phelps name being mentioned repeatedly, he is a great athlete. While it may not be logical to call him the "Greatest Olympian", he IS still a "Great Olympian".

I don't care who they are, what country they are from or what event(s) they participate in, all of the Olympic participants worked their asses off to get to where they are and they all deserve to be praised.

And let's face it.... networks are going to air what the majority of viewers want to watch (or at least what they think we want to watch) so they get the best ratings.

This has been long, sorry everyone!

Vanek's Hair said...

But what advantage did Michael Phelps have over the swimmers and/or athletics competitors in 2004, 2000, 1996, 1992, 1988, 1984, 1980, 1976, 1972, 1968, etc? None. Swimmers and athletics competitors were free to qualify and compete in 8, 10, or 20 events in all those years and the years before. What prevented them was an inability to even qualify for that number of events. So not only did Phelps qualify, he went on to win all of them.

Regarding the training, suits and pool. All the swimmers in 2008 had access to those training methods, were permitted to the same suit (Speedo LZR) as Phelps, and they all swam in the same pool. Yet no one could beat him. And how is that different from Rafael Nadal using a lighter racket and having better, more durable shoes than John McEnroe? Or the composite hockey sticks? Or the advances technologically that all sports have available to them. The best way to compare is to look at how similarly situated athletes compete against one another.

And the reason why the tennis is on the back burner of coverage is because people don't tune into the Olympics to watch tennis. They tune in for swimming, track, gymnastics and other things they otherwise have limited exposure to. People can watch tennis most every weekend of the year.

Heather B. said...

Vanek's Hair, I guess you missed the part where I said Phelps' 8 golds were a remarkable feat of endurance, strength, and athletic ability and worthy of being celebrated, eh? :P

My beef isn't with Phelps. Again, I fully agree that what he accomplished was AMAZING and I have no problem with someone calling him one of the greatest Olympians of all-time or even the best Olympic swimmer of all-time. My beef is with the hype around him. We've spent so much time talking about him and about his training and about his mother and interrupting other events to hear what he had to say after a race - guess what, it was the same thing he said after every previous race, can we please return to the sporting event that's still going on? - that by the time he actually won the 8th gold, when the celebration of Michael Phelps really should have begun, I was tired of him. Really, really tired of him. Amazing athlete, breath-takingly beautiful to watch in the water, seems like a nice kid... but make him go away now please.

And Phelps is fortunate he won all 8 golds because after all that hype, if he hadn't done it a lot of people would've considered him a disappointment. And that would've been a shame.

I agree with you that if we're just talking about swimmers, every swimmer in this Olympics had access to the same advantages Phelps did. But I agree with Lee that calling him the greatest Olympian just because he has the most medals does a disservice to the athletes who compete in sports where they can only win a limited number of medals each Olympics.

I do think tennis in the Olympics probably gets ignored some because the audience can watch tennis - most of the same players even - any time. Sorry, Lee.

And Jennifer, the one thing you NEVER have to apologize for around here is being long-winded. Seriously, take a look at the average length of one of my posts. I'm all about using 1,000 words when 100 will do :-D

Vanek's Hair said...

< Vanek's Hair, I guess you missed the part where I said Phelps' 8 golds were a remarkable feat of endurance, strength, and athletic ability and worthy of being celebrated, eh? :P >

No, I didn't miss that part. I have snapped a bit because I suddenly am hearing (not just here) that accomplishments are pedestrian. I think to a great degree it is because for ONCE someone actually has lived up to ALL the hype. I think a lot of people had their daggers sharpened to come down hard on him for failing in his quest for 8 golds, and now are angry that they did not have the opportunity to do so. Instead, they make stuff up, like Phelps wouldn't be good at track (I guess I am to assume Bolt would win the 400 IM with ease) and things like that.

I guess it means little to me that other events only award one medal or very few. For gymnastics, swimming and athletics, this is it. Tennis players have Wimbledon, the French and the Aussie. Boxing has heavyweight, and other belt championships. I could go on. For the gymnastics, swimming and athletics, your career is judged on Olympic performances, and nothing else. Quick, name me the the 2007 World Champion in the 100 meter dash, 400 IM and Women's pommel horse. So, yes, particularly those three sports have a huge advantage over other Olympic sports. That's what they set their sites on. Do you think Kobe's Hall of Fame credentials will at all be upgraded or downgraded because of what happens this week?

Heather B. said...

I have snapped a bit because I suddenly am hearing (not just here) that accomplishments are pedestrian.

I don't think anyone here said Phelps' accomplishments were pedestrian - I certainly didn't - though I won't speak for the rest of the internet. I think he's amazing, I think he's the best swimmer in the history of the Olympics, I think he deserves the celebration and adulation... I just wish the machine had started cranking up after he did it instead of weeks (if not months) before. That's all.

Vanek's Hair said...

No, the idiotic stuff I encountered was a totally assinine column I read and dopey remarks I heard on the radio and TV yesterday. But I hit my tipping point.

I actually don't mind the hype machine for Phelps. It was relatively short in duration and he actually exceeded the hype. Plus, once every four years we care about swimming, track and gymnastics. Let the kids have their day in the sun. Next Monday, we can (and will) go back to worrying about Brett Favre's sore arm, Lindsay Lohan's dating habits and the "Leadership with a Vision" that the presidential candidates are ready to spew...err...present us with.

I get wrapped in the Summer Olympics every four years. I pay attention to the three I mentioned, plus women's beach volleyball (Why not? They're almost naked). Then, I move on.

In a related complaint, I am not happy with the ultra-creepy camera work in the gymnastics. I get very uncomfortable with some of the close ups of 16 year olds, particularly what the close up focuses upon.

Jennifer said...

I actually don't mind the hype machine for Phelps.

Not surprising for someone who has a man-crush on Ovie!!! :)

Heather B. said...

I actually don't mind the hype machine for Phelps.

Well, I hate hype! And the Olympics! So it's possible we're coming at this from slightly different angles.

(And get off my lawn!)

Kirsten said...

Are you a Twins fan? I'm pulling for you guys to make the postseason!

I absolutely am a Twins fan! The Twins appreciate your support. Twins fans always welcome more fans into one of the most unloved, fairly good teams in the league.

As a kid, I always thought the Pirates were awesome because they were the Pirates. How much better could your team's name be? My mom feels your pain. For most of the Twins' existence, they have been absolutely awful. She's been a fan since pretty much the beginning.

Heather B. said...

Kirsten, I can't wait for the day when I can call the Pirates a fairly good team! :-D

(I've had a soft spot for the Twins since the 1991 World Series. For one, they beat the Braves who beat the Pirates in the NLCS. For two, it was the best World Series of my lifetime, I think.)

Kirsten said...

Haha, I was three during the 1991 world series, but I still have a few things from it. I can't wait to see Justin Morneau and crew go deep into the playoffs. I also really want a Kevin Slowey shirt.

Their day will come, I have confidence. Twins fans believed hard enough and FINALLY got a good team. It did take a while however. (and luck, Morneau and Mauer together? someone loves us) If you ever get to MN, you should come to a game. If you are smart, you will come in 2010 or later. The new ball park is going to be bitchin'.

Kate said...

The 1991 World Series was the greatest sporting event of my life.

Heather B. said...

The 1991 World Series was the greatest sporting event of my life.

Yeah, well just wait till the Sabres win the Cup in June!

I forgot you're a Minnesota girl, Kate! While I wouldn't say it was the greatest sporting event of my life since MY team didn't win, when I think back over my life it's one of the sporting events that I can still very, very clearly remember years later. I was at a perfect age (13) for it to make a real impression. Jack Morris forever!

John said...

There WERE other women's US teams dominant in their sport shown on NBC. Didn't you see the women's 8-man rowing team just skunk the other competitors in the 2km race? Amazing. I could watch more rowing.

Heather, I take it you're not a Toronto fan. And your picture doesn't like how I remember you.

Heather B. said...

John, Buffalo fans are not allowed to like Toronto and vice versa. To put it in your language, think Auburn-Alabama.

And it's been a couple of years. Things change, you know? :P

Kirsten said...

*high five* yay for being from Minnesota, Kate!