I’m on holidays, but thought I’d chime in on a couple of sports happenings:
- The U.S.A. beating Spain in the Confederations Cup semi-final was a shock to everyone, and actually gave the tournament some significance – no small feat. You have to wonder just how genuine that result turns out to be, however, when you consider how badly the Americans played against Italy and Brazil. If they’re as good as their past two results (a 3-0 drubbing of African champions Egypt), it’s bad news for Canada in the upcoming CONCACAF Gold Cup (which is our version of the Euro).
- Coverage of Wimbledon by ESPN/NBC is just superb. They bring just the right amount of gravitas while being on the money with analysis and prognostication. All of them, that is, save Brad Gilbert. Clearly from the Chicago White Sox School of Broadcast Journalism, Gilbert makes absolutely no effort to conceal which player he likes, and proceeds to call them by their nicknames. Just counting today, I heard: “Delpo” for Juan Martin Del Potro, “Fed” for Roger Federer, “Rusty” for Leyton Hewitt and throwing it back to the studio for P-Mac (Patrick McEnroe). His manner in the broadcast booth also drips with arrogance rather than wisdom. Mary Carillo, Dick Enberg, the McEnroes and most everyone else on staff, though, I could listen to all day (and I have been).
- Great moment today during Andy Murray’s destruction of Ernests Gulbis. The hype machine was in full swing preceding the match, touting Murray as the next great British champ, the one with the best chance of bringing back the crown to Great Britain. Problem is Andy Murray is a Scot, and although Scotland is part of Great Britain, the English will never truly embrace him as one of their own. ESPN sent Pam Shriver over to the hill outside of Centre Court, where people gather to watch the big matches on the big screen, presumably to whip up this fake hype into a Murray frenzy. Shriver goes on to ask a lady where she’s from (Southern England) and “just how big is Andy Murray in your part of the country?”. Deadpan British response: “Well, not as popularly as Tim Henman was”. Ouch. Shriver, not to be made a fool by this buttoned up Englishwoman, turns to two kids behind her and after verifying their age (13), asks them how much they love Andy Murray. The kid answers: “Well, he’s not English”. Back to you in the booth, Dick! The only response that would have been funnier would have been “He’s no Greg Rusedski“.
- The NHL draft goes tomorrow, and have you noticed the media trying to pull the wool over your eyes this week? For a year, all we’ve heard was “John Tavares Sweepstakes” and “Leafs should tank to get the no. 1 pick. They could really use a sure fire #1 like Tavares”, etc. Now that we’re close to the draft and the networks need some drama, everyone from Victor Hedman to Evander Kane to Brayden Schenn are being touted as possible first selections. When it comes to televised sporting events, there is no shame. With three dedicated sports network in this country covering the same event, I guess if there is no news you simply make it up. I guess their only saving grace is that those wacky Islanders are picking first.
- If you ask me, there is absolutely no doubt the American League Wild Card will come from the AL East. Just look at the standings. Only the Texas Rangers could pull one out of the bag, and they’ll fade as soon as summer hits Arlington as usual, right?