Where our spout offs about sports are spot on!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Safin and Haas Play Tennis at Edo

On Wednesday I went over and ate lunch at Edo, a Japanese restaurant near my day job. It was good, as usual. The sushi chef there, Ernesto, is a good friend of mine. He gives me extra pickled ginger with my rolled sushi.

With the remnants of another Ernesto, the tropical storm, finally moving beyond the New York City area, play had resumed at the US Tennis Open. So on the TV in the Edo sushi bar I watched Tommy Haas beat Marat Safin in a fifth set tie breaker. Or was it the other way around? They are similar players in my mind; talented but vanilla in flavor. Haas (I'm pretty sure it was Haas...), had a beautiful defensive lob in the tie-breaker, forcing Safin to run back and around the ball and thus his return was weak and the counter-drive then won the point for Haas. Gotta love a good lob.

Update: Ah, it was Haas, but Davydenko took care of him and Federer felled Davydenko in turn -- Roger just has Roddick left tomorrow on his march to another Grand Slam title.

And the women are complete. I won't be as long winded as The Daily Growler. Justine Henin-Hardenne and Maria Sharapova gave a nice physical contrast -- the grunting former Russian Amazonian after the manner of the Williams sisters and Justine as petite as her name and her country (Belgium). But the match was a bit flat, the smaller woman really needed to make the tall blonde with the uncomfortable earrings and oddly split-back black tennis dress move, and so to move herself. I thought falling behind in the second set might be just what Henin needed in order to psyche up, but she continued to overhit and then lost with a forgettable forehand into the net. Sharapova: 6-4, 6-4.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Tiger tearing a new one...

A new page in the record books, that is. Five victories in his last five tournaments and 7 of 14 this year on the PGA tour. It's back to 2001 when it was Tiger versus the rest of the field -- an incredible feat in a world wide sport where victory is based on outscoring everyone else simultaneously, not eliminating them one at a time (and, by the way, thanking your competition for eliminating all but logBase2(n) - 1 of each other, e.g. 120 out of a field of 128; you have to beat the other 7 yourself, like Roger Federer will this fortnight at the US Open (tennis).)

But if his compatriots are mad at Tiger for his "Back to the Future" performance, they shouldn't be. Professional golf purses have accelerated like the DeLorean from those films since Woods repopularized the sport and arguably brought a broader audience to the game. Tiger was a phenom from the start and pulled a lot of eyeballs to the links. Of course adding in his endorsements of everyone from Buick to Upper Deck trading cards, and of course Nike, he makes a mint, but so do dozens of other pro golfers these days. Even the anti-charismatic Vijay Singh has non-equipment endorsements (84 Lumber). And like the royal animals he's named after, Tiger is a joy to watch go through his paces.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Crikey! Steve Irwin is dead!

"Life is a tragedy for those who feel, and a comedy for those who think." -- Jean de La Bruyère

It was neither for Steve Irwin, also known as “The Crocodile Hunter”. He died yesterday in a freak diving accident, stabbed through the heart by the barb on a sting ray’s tail.

Steve’s death is a tragedy for many people: most of all for his children and wife, but also for his personal friends, for the people of Australia and for all of us who loved not only his work but his big Aussie personality that leapt across the oceans. Who Steve’s death was not a tragedy for is Steve Irwin. He lived the way he loved. He understood the meaning of the word wild and loved nature the all the more for its wildness. He put Animal Planet on the map, raising the fortunes of The Discovery Channel group.

Of course he wanted to see his kids grow up and to handle 10,000 more crocodiles; but watching animals through a plate of glass was not his passion – you might as well have put him in a cage. I mourn our loss but salute Steve Irwin’s life and legacy.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Let's start with a movie, a new football movie, since I went to see
Invincible today.
(Spoiler Alert -- but then this is a Disney movie so if you're looking for a downer of an ending you've dropped in at the wrong production house.)

Do we really need another undertalented-athlete-with-a-lot-of-heart-gets-a-shot-at-the-big-time film? After all there's already a pretty good football film just like that, Rudy. It's college (Notre Dame) and Invincible is pro, but we still get to see a lot mis-matched pad hits. (Just FYI, Rudy Ruettiger is available for inspirational lectures, he recently spoke nearby at a fundraiser for a new Catholic High School -- wish I'd heard about it beforehand.)

In fact Disney has already had a very similar film in The Rookie, but that was about a baseball player, Jim Morris; and it was in Texas, not Philadelphia, PA. So has Philly already had an underdog-gets-a-shot movie? Uh, yeah, a little film called Rocky. Coincidentally this film is begins in the year Rocky came out, 1976.

So did we really need another one of these films? Of course not, but you know what; I'm glad they made it and if they keep finding these stories and doing a quality job with them I hope they keep right on making them. I can stomach one or two a year.
This one was made easier to swallow with a fine performance by Greg Kinnear as new Eagles head coach Dick Vermeil and it didn't hurt that I was kid in a Philadelphia suburb in the early 70's, when the team was struggling -- brought back memories like the Christmas that both the boys next door got full Eagles' uniforms, pads and helmets included.

Maybe my favorite part of Invincible was the stock footage at the end, showing the real Vince Papale, Dick Vermeil and the gritty Philadelphia fans, bad 70's haircuts and all.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Welcome to SportsSpout, where our spouting off about sports is spot on!

We plan to cover the big 3 1/2 sports: Football, Baseball, Basketball and Hockey. At least some of the time we will, but we will also talk about lesser sports like table tennis, soccer, cross-country running and lacrosse. And we'll look at all levels, from grassroots beginners in recreational leagues to scholastic conferences to minor leagues to the pros. We'll look from all angles: promotion, officiating, playing, operations and of course, as fans.

Let's have some fun!