Tuesday, May 23, 2006

A Night of Sports

By Tiger Fan

In between reading cases about Title IX and police brutality at work today, I was looking forward to settling in for a full night of sports on TV. What’s on tap? International soccer between USA and Morocco, Reds-Brewers, Red Sox-Yankees, the NBA Lottery, Pistons-Heat, Mighty Ducks-Oilers, Pujols-Bonds and more! I’ve got a Penn Station sub, a Oguchi Onyewu jersey and a working TV. Life is beautiful.

(All times CST... and this is, by far, my longest blog entry ever. Good luck to anyone who dares to read it.)

6:07: First out of the gate is USA vs. Morocco in a pre-World Cup friendly match. As the teams take the field, defender Corey Gibbs is only starter who surprises me… and it’s not a huge surprise.

6:15: The ref is calling a pretty tight, which is good because you would hate to see any U.S. players get hurt so close to the tournament. Not to state the obvious, but Oguchi Onyewu looks out of place. I think he got lost on the way to the NBA Eastern Conference Finals tonight. Also, USA captain Claudio Reyna is starting to look a little old… of course, he has been playing at the highest level since ’94.

6:21: What is up with the socks? And the shorts for that matter. I like the red and blue stripe on the jerseys, but having the stripe on only one sock on and the back of the shorts looks stupid. But that’s what you get when Nike is involved. The only good news is that they don’t have the stupid bib thing going on or the one sleeve of a different color that debuted in college football last year.

6:24: So much for no one getting hurt. Reyna is leaving the game with what looks like a hamstring injury. That’s not good news for this game, but luckily this game doesn’t actually matter. Let’s just hope it’s nothing serious. Pablo Mastroeni has checked in to replace Reyna and the captain’s armband has been passed to Landon Donovan.

6:30: Time for the Thomas Gardner sweepstakes. I’m switching over to ESPN to catch the NBA Draft Lottery, which pretty much guarantees that I will miss the first goal of the soccer match. Dan Patrick, Greg Anthony and Steve Lavin are apparently going to handle things for ESPN. Solid crew, but only ESPN could turn this extremely short process into a half-hour show.

6:33: The graphic on ESPN just informed me that Michael Olowokandi is a key free agent for the Boston Celtics this offseason. I’m pretty sure I could hear columnist Bill Simmons dying a little inside all the way from California.

6:38: Steve Lavin’s top 25 players just rolled across the bottom of the screen and Mizzou’s Thomas Gardner was not on the list. I’m stunned.

6:42: Patrick just finished off an interview with David Stern in which the commish said nothing all that important. Mark that down as 10 minutes of my life that I’ll never get back. As they go to commercial, they show me a rather awkward looking guy in a suit walking through an office. Apparently he is bearing the frozen envelopes. The best part of the show so far comes during the commercial break when Mizzou grad John Anderson stars with Maria Sharapova in a pretty funny SportsCenter commercial.

6:46: Dan Patrick now informs me that the actual lottery already took place in another room. Apparently all the teams know the results and so does the media, but the studio audience does not. Boy, the tension sure is mounting. Meanwhile, the team representatives seem to consist of Chris Paul, Gerald Wallace and a bunch of awkward looking guys in suits… most of whom you have never heard of.

6:51: Portland gets the fourth pick, even though they had the best statistical shot at getting No. 1. In all likelihood, it probably ruins Portland’s shot at getting local headcase Adam Morrison, who will probably already be gone by No. 4. That’s too bad because the mustachioed wonder would have fit in well (and by well, I mean poorly) with the rest of Portland’s thugs and miscreants. Oh well. I’m sure there will be someone in the draft with a criminal record. Anyway, when the camera comes to him, the Portland GM is writing something down. Apparently he is concerned that he will forget his number. Meanwhile, it seems my Reds have taken a 1-0 lead against Milwaukee.

6:54: The No. 1 pick goes to Toronto. So you have to feel good right now if you’re a power forward from BYU. Quite frankly, I’m stunned. I assumed it would go to Chicago, just because God hates the Knicks. Meanwhile, America thinks that the Raptors should take Adam Morrison first overall. Of course, more Americans vote for American Idol than vote for the President, so I don’t put much stock in what America thinks.

7:06: Why is Stephen A. Smith yelling at me? In the pregame show? If the soccer match wasn’t at halftime, I would not be on this channel right now. In fact…

7:11: We’re underway in Edmonton… I will say one thing for OLN: They managed get the game started a lot closer to 7:00 than ESPN did with the NBA game. Meanwhile, the soccer match is back from halftime and Bobby Convey has checked in, looking very English. This is the one sport where that is actually a compliment.

7:15: Three minutes in and we’ve got a fight going in the hockey game. Maybe this is worth watching… and about 10 seconds later, they’re at it again. All over the ice, in fact. Three guys in the box for Edmonton and four for the Ducks. Yowzers. Meanwhile, the basketball game is finally underway and Miami has jumped out to a quick 11-0 lead. It seems like they’re not rusty.

7:24: Holy cow, they’re fighting again at the hockey game. Apparently I don’t understand hockey. Five minutes in and it’s still 0-0, but nine guys are in the penalty box. But I’ll stick with it… I promised Rocky Mountain Tiger that I would give hockey a chance.

7:43: We’ve got a goal in Edmonton before we get a goal in Nashville. That makes it Hockey 1, Soccer 0 on the night. Meanwhile, back on ESPN2, I’m trying to decide which American name will be more fun to say during the World Cup: Cherundolo or Onyewu. I think depends whether you prefer the guy who is 5’6” or the guy who is 6’2”.

7:52: Junior has left the yard and the Reds take the lead 4-3. While we’re on the subject: The Reds have one of the best hitting outfields in the league and probably the best young infield in baseball. But the question is, who do you trade to get more pitching? The Arroyo trade has already shown how rewarding this can be, but who goes? Do you trade Griffey because he’s the oldest? But who will take his contract? Do you trade Kearns? Do you move Dunn to the infield and hope to clear some space that way? I’m not sure what the answer is. I feel like the Reds are close to getting to the next level, but they’re going to need at least one more quality pitcher.

7:57: We’ve finally got a goal in the soccer match in the 90th minute, but it wasn’t for the home side. After weathering a barrage of shots from Team USA in the second half, Morocco broke free after a U.S. corner kick and got a goal in transition against very poor defense. Ouch.

8:00: It’s over in Nashville as Team USA loses 1-0. It’s an unfortunate result, but it’s certainly not the end of the world. This is why the team is playing these friendly matches. They made an unusually high number of substitutions today to try out a lot of different combinations and when Morocco finally pushed one through, some of the best American defenders were on the bench. Also, Morocco is not a pushover. They fell one game short of making the World Cup themselves. Team USA certainly has some work today before Cup play begins, but they can get there. They showed some flashes of brilliance on offense – particularly Convey’s bending free kick in added time that went just wide of the net – but they just didn’t manage to find the net. I think they’ll get to a level where they will be competitive in Germany, but I didn’t see anything tonight to make me question my prediction that they won’t make it out of group play. Next up on ESPN2? The WNBA… so I’m pretty much down to two channels until the Cards game starts.

8:06: A couple notes on the Heat game. First, Shaq just joined Wade on the bench with three fouls at about the five-minute mark in the first half. The Heat lead by three. Let’s see how long that lasts. Second, ESPN just showed Detroit Shock player Cheryl Ford in the crowd and Mike Breen commented that she looks just like her father (Karl Malone). The scary thing is that it’s true. Yikes.

8:19: It’s halftime in Detroit and Miami still leads by four. But I don’t think they can keep this going. I’m picking the Pistons to win this one.

8:40: As we come back from halftime, Jim Gray won’t get off the floor. He’s actually standing right where Ben Wallace needs to stand to inbound the ball. Brilliant. Moments later, Jason Williams slashes to the hoop for a lay-up. If you had told me two or three years ago that Williams would have been the starting point guard on a team in the Conference Finals that also had Gary Payton on its roster, I would have said you were crazy.

8:49: Wade leaves the game with his fourth foul. The Pistons take their first lead of the game. Yep. And by the way, after an exciting start, the hockey game has failed to keep my interest.

8:54: ESPN has been periodically going to this weird floating camera angle. I hate it. I’m about five minutes from e-mailing ESPN ombudsman George Solomon. Seriously. It’s that bad. And, I’ve been wanting to use the word “ombudsman.”

8:57: Between the second and third period, we get a look at the studio guys on OLN. There is a guy who has the side of his head shaved under his mullet. I can’t make this stuff up. Given the prevalence of trailer trash fashion sense in the NHL, I’m surprised that it’s not a more popular sport in the Deep South.

9:00: Flipping back to ESPN, I stop on the Deuce and learn that the Houston Comets are considered the WNBA’s first dynasty because they won four championships. That’s even more impressive than the USC football dynasty that won one national championship.

9:02: And the Reds have won 7-4. Every time it looks like the other shoe is about to drop for the Reds, they play the Brewers and get back in a rhythm. So from all of us to all of you, thank you Milwuakee! By the way (and I say this knocking as hard as I can on a piece of wood), Junior is beginning to look like the Junior of old. He has hit three homers in the last four games and has made several great catches out in center. I won’t count on it continuing, I’ll just enjoy it while I can.

9:14: Goooooooooooooaaaaaaaaalllllllll! I’ve been waiting all night to say it. I was hoping to use it for Team USA, but I’ll have to settle for the Oilers. Michael Peca nets his fifth of the playoffs and things are looking mighty grim for the Mighty Ducks, now down 2-0 in the game and the series.

9:16: Goooooooooooooaaaaaaaaalllllllll, again! Well that didn’t take long. Great goal from the Oilers and it’s 3-0. And here we go with more fighting… which also doesn’t take long as the Oilers’ player with dreadlocks (is that even allowed in the NHL?) drops the Mighty Duck aggressor almost immediately and the place erupts again. Okay, Rocky Mountain Tiger, you got me… this IS kind of exciting.

9:20: And heading back to the basketball game, I stop of FSN and see that Pujols has already hit a homer in the top of the first. The three-run shot is his 23rd of the year. Take that, Barry Bonds.

9:22: Yikes. By the time I get back to OLN, Edmonton has scored again and this one looks to be over. The 3-0 series deficit will be tough for Anaheim to overcome. But that’s probably how it should be: A Canadian team playing for the Cup instead of a team from Southern Cal.

9:29: The Yankees have beaten the Red Sox 7-5. I don’t particularly care about either team (other than the fact that they usually play entertaining games), but I can’t believe that ESPN2 is actually running a WNBA game instead of Sox-Yankees.

9:31: Bonds has answered! (with an RBI single)

9:32: By the way, that John Anderson/Maria Sharapova commercial that was funny two hours ago is no longer even mildly amusing. That didn’t take long. Next!

9:33: In a fascinating turn of events, the Heat-Pistons game has devolved into a free-throw shooting contest between Ben Wallace and Shaq. Unbelievable. Pat Riley goes to the Hack-a-Ben while leading by nine points. Hopefully this won’t become a trend in this series, lest an entire generation of youngsters grow up unable to shoot free throws.

9:38: During a timeout in Detroit, I meander back over OLN to see if it’s gotten any uglier. As I get there, I’m stunned to see Anaheim score its third goal. WHAT?!?!?!? It’s now 4-3 with eight minutes to play. Are you kidding me? Only RMT knew hockey could be so compelling.

9:41: And just as I’m singing the praises of the NHL, one of the announcers calling the game on OLN makes one of the worst jokes I have ever heard. He said getting a good quote from someone who wants to be a dentist after his hockey carry is over would be like pulling teeth. If I had a pair of scissors, I would drive to Edmonton and cut that guy’s mullet off.

9:44: FSN just ran a Big XII baseball tourney ad. The Tigers were not in it. I’m mad. Mizzou has to win now, just for spite. By the way, if you are still reading at this point, I will mail you a used Metrolink ticket signed by yours truly. I’m not even kidding.

9:46: It’s all over in Detroit as the Heat take Game One 91-86. As a quasi-fan of the Heat (what can I say, I like Shaq), I’m happy to eat crow. Miami out-Pistoned the Pistons tonight, getting it done as a team. Alonzo Mourning, Antoine Walker and Gary Payton all stepped up tonight… and Wade managed to fight through foul trouble to play well. But this doesn’t necessarily put Miami in the driver’s seat. The Heat lost the Eastern Conference Finals last year in a series where the road teams won three of the seven games.

9:47: Back on OLN, the Oilers have scored again with about five minutes to play and it looks like it might actually be over this time… but the Ducks have shown they only need two minutes to score three goals, so who knows.

9:54: Wu, Wu, Wu. Kenny Wu! It’s now 5-4 with 1:45 to play. Anaheim has pulled the goalie. Hold onto your hats… I would recommend the Flying V here for the Ducks. Or maybe a knucklepuck. We all know that’s what Gordon Bombay would do.

9:59: Edmonton survives a late flurry of activity in front of the net and wins it. The No. 8 seed in the West is now one win away from the Finals. Whew, a wild four hours of sports. Hope everyone else was watching too! Until next time…


Rocky Mountain Tiger said...

That Metrolink ticket sounds nice...when you get a chance.

Glad you enjoyed the hockey, but fighting is part of it. Typically you don't see much of it during the playoffs because yielding power plays too often provides a costly handicap, especially this late in the year. It's nice to see a Canadian team get success. It would be appreciated more, appropriately than if, say, Anaheim met Carolina in the finals. The next game in the Eastern series should just as good if not better. Carolina and Buffalo thrive on speed, which leads to power plays and goals and excitement. Kind of a perpetual thing. In addition, that series features two of the league's best young goaltenders.

I'm glad you gave it an intelligent, open-minded chance. Not like those St. Louis fans, who, when the Oilers came to town late in the year, ceaselessly booed Chris Pronger without reason. Pronger, the Oilers' best player, was traded to Canadia before the season so that St. Louis could adjust to the recently instituted salary cap. "Damn that Pronger. He's too good. Boo that Pronger just cuz he's good." (Quotes equal the rationale of the St. Louis fan) When Colorado played Minnesota in the playoffs a couple years ago, Minnesota Tiger hated Colorado's best player at the time, Peter Forsberg, because he was the best player. Sorry folks, if you're gonna hate someone, show me he did something to you.

I didn't watch much of the Heat-Pistons, but it has yawner written all over it, first one to 80 points wins. A tired Pistons team vs. an aging team coached by Pat Riley? No thanks. Maybe I'm skeptical of Pat Riley and his post-Magic Johnson strategy. Ok, I am. Besides, Big Shot Rasual doesn't play in Miami. For whom would I shot late in the game? The ideal Eastern Conference Finals for me? Washington vs. Milwaukee.

I hope Dallas reverts to its ways of yester year so that to win a game in the West, someone has to get to 140.

Nicole said...

Now granted it's a long, boring day at work, but I'm prett sure I deserve something for reading all that, especially after you insulted (albeit correctly) my Brewers.

If you're a soccer fan, I can't imagine that you couldn't find at least a passing interest in hockey. You need to watch a few games through and try and attend some, especially if you like or have ever seen indoor soccer.

Plus, college hockey is where it's at. I'd recommend that wholeheartedly.