Monday, August 11, 2008

Monday 08/11 A.M. Quickie:
Phelps, 4x100, Rays, Ryan, More

Wow, that 4x100 freestyle final last night was just about the most exciting sports event I have ever experienced. You don't have to care about swimming to have appreciated it; you don't have to respect Michael Phelps to know his celebration was THE moment of the Olympics. (Today's SN column leads with that.)

Here are the various qualities that were in play, any one of which alone would have made this race notable: Rivalry, star power, uncertainty (even underdog status) going into it (along with trash-talk from the rival), dramatic comeback, insanely close finish, over-the-top emotional celebration, records smashed and history made.

Combined? Wow.

Everything else, by comparison, comes across as kind of ordinary: Katie Hoff's loss in the 400 free should have been huger (same with Brendan Hansen's humiliation in the 100 breast). USA Oops' romp over China was barely a blip. I cannot for the life of me understand gymnastics' scoring system. What makes swimming (and track) so universally appealing is that you've got competitors, a finite goal and a clock. It may not be enough to get folks to watch any more frequently than quadrennially, but when it comes up, it sure is fun.

Meanwhile, let's not overlook that the Rays set a franchise record for wins, and it's only August 11. (God, it's going to be deflating if they don't make the playoffs.) Brandon Webb moved to 17 wins; Cliff Lee advanced to 16.

In the NFL, let's talk less about Brett Favre's penalty lap and more about whether Matt Ryan is ready to take over as a starting QB for the Falcons right now.

And in college football, UCLA QB Ben Olson's injury (foot, two months) might be more drastic than USC QB Mark Sanchez (at least the 1st game, but I wouldn't put it past USC to keep his status VERY close to the vest, particularly with the OSU game coming in September).

More later; complete SN column here. My biggest question about the Olympics is: How do you top what happened in the 4x100 last night? For sheer value in the moment, I'm not sure it can be topped. Obviously, Phelps' quest for 8 golds will build over the next 6 days -- this race last night was the one most in question on that. But for jump-off-the-couch value, this was as good as it gets.

-- D.S.

3 comments:!/DuelingAces said...

Last night's 4x100 was by far the highlight of the Olympics, the only thing that could have made that race better and the greatest sport event in my life, would have been if that was Phelp's 8th gold medal and not his second, but still it was awesome.

I have never been more interested in a QB's knee that plays across the country from me. I hope there is tons of turmoil leading up to the game about who to play against the Buckeyes and USC gets absolutely crushed at home.

Does the fact that Cliff Lee plays on a last place team hurt his chances for the Cy or do they make his accomplishments even more impressive and help his case?

Matt Ryan's debut vs. Mike Vick back in the news. I wonder which one is going to get more airtime on tWWL, I'm guessing the one that involves less gameplay footage and more of those courtroom portraits.

Brian said...

Just wanted to say that being on the West Coast sucks for these Olympics - NBC is tape-delaying everything still, so there's no chance for us to watch some of the big events as they happen - the biggest one being the 4x100 relay. How can they get away with that??

(By the way, I was able to watch the basketball game live via, but they didn't stream the swimming live. What gives? Need tv ratings?)

Ken Dynamo said...

gymnastic scoring - not too terribly obtuse. first score is difficulty level, second score is execution, out of a possible 10. add them together and theres your score. as to what is used to judge what the difficulty level is or what your execution score should be, im as clueless now as i was with the old system.