Wednesday, August 01, 2012

08/01 (Phelps) Quickie

What a jaw-dropping day yesterday: Michael Phelps loses his signature event at the wall touch, then turns around and wins his record-setting 19th medal (gold, no less, in a U.S. rout).

Greatest Olympian ever? No question.

But my favorite moment was the sincere joy on Phelps' face for Chad Le Clos, who was overwhelmed by the moment. Phelps was pissed immediately after the race, in the water, but by the time he got to the medal stand, he was relaxed and able to enjoy the moment for Le Clos. Honestly, that is the essence of the Games. (Meanwhile: The interview with Le Clos's dad. Oh wow.)

Also, the reason to watch on TV, even though I saw the race live in the afternoon: The NBC reaction shot of Phelps' mom, who thought Phelps won, raised her arms and face in exultation, only to be told by her daughter a moment later that Phelps had come in second.

Meanwhile, the women's gymnastics gold was no less compelling in primetime than it was live -- maybe even more so; NBC knows how to weave a narrative, combined with awesome footage that the BBC world feed just doesn't have. This is a fun "fab five," and McKayla Maroney's vault was the most spectacular moment of the Games so far for the U.S.

More later.

-- D.S.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

07/31 (Olympics Tuesday) Quickie

I've been immersed in Olympics live-blog coverage for USA Today all day. I won't spoil things here until tomorrow morning, in case you're waiting. The swimming is worth watching tonight, whether you know what happened or not.


*Tunisia hanging with USA Hoops for a quarter qualifies as one of the great moral victories in the history of basketball. And I'm not even kidding.

*MLB Trade Deadline: Ryan Dempster to the Rangers. Between the Angels getting Greinke and the defending AL champs getting the Cubs' ace, the AL West is going to be superb -- and if both teams make it to the playoffs (even one in the Wild Wild Card one-game playoff), both are tough outs.

*Penn State RB Silas Redd transfers to USC: It will be very interesting to see what the reaction is -- clearly, he is within his rights to leave. Still: There will be plenty about his perceived disloyalty. I side on "Good for him."

(Meanwhile, USC gets that much better. I still don't think they can hang with the best of the SEC -- whether that's LSU or Alabama, it almost doesn't matter -- but they certainly size up as a team that will run the table and position itself for the second spot in the title game against the SEC champ.)

Much more later.

-- D.S.

Monday, July 30, 2012

07/30 (Olympics) Quickie

First, about the whole #nbcfail thing: I have absolutely no problem with the decision by NBC to tape-delay. And the ratings bear that out -- if you get out of the Twitter vortex, you realize most people are fine with it. And you can watch anything you want live, via the Web or tablet app.

EXCEPT: The Web and tablet live video feeds have been shaky -- I was OK on Saturday, but missed a bunch of swimming on Sunday because of iffy feeds, which was maddening. Presuming NBC can work out those issues, there is nothing wrong with having a "live online now, taped on TV later" strategy.


There are two main dynamics at the Olympics, beyond winning gold: You can win silver, you can lose the gold.

Allison Schmitt? Won silver.
Men's 4x100 free relay team? Lost gold.

That's the whole thing -- expectations. Perceptions. That was the US's 4x100 to win, and Lochte couldn't do it. I called him a choker on Twitter immediately afterward, but that isn't fair to him -- it's the coach's fault for putting a swimmer without the right experience or skillset to anchor a 4x100 race (especially coming so shortly after Lochte's own 200 free semi heat). Blame Greg Troy.

Last thing: Yikes, you have to feel terrible for Jordyn Wieber. Those shots of her on TV last night were brutal -- and a reason to watch the tape-delay even though we all knew the results already. Devastating visuals, but an intrinsic and important part of the Games. We can argue whether the "only 2 from each country make it" is fair, but that's the way it is in swimming. It's harsh. If it was Raisman who finished 3rd and Wieber in the money, no one would be complaining.

As for the scoring of Wieber? Now THAT was unfair. It all combines to create the epic disappointment that seems to be as much a part of the Olympics as success.

-- D.S.