Tuesday, July 19, 2011

4am SportsCenter

This morning I woke up at four and couldn't fall back asleep. With my alarm set for five anyway, I figured it wasn't worth the trouble to fall back asleep so instead I went down to my basement and got on the bike for a chill, half hour ride. (not something i usually do at that particular hour)
Anyway, SportsCenter proved to be thoroughly enjoyable, and here's what I got out of it, or at least the two things I remember from it:
1. The Minnesota Twins are my favorite baseball team for a number of reasons. The athletes are great, the organization is well run, and I love Minnesota. But in case I didn't have enough reasons to be a Twins fan, SportsCenter gave me another one. I've watched their "My Wish" series before, and I've always been very impressed by the sports figures and teams, in this case Ron Gardenhire and the Twins, who give kids these truly awesome experiences. It's been a rough season for the Twins, but they remain, as always, a first class organization.  Here's the full story for anyone who's interested.
2. Hope Solo may be known for being outspoken and somewhat controversial, but I thought she said exactly the right things after taking silver at the World Cup. She credited Japan, spoke with pride about her own team, and acknowledged her own disappointment. My first real exposure to Hope Solo came in the '07 World Cup with her surprise benching and her subsequent comments, but all my (admittedly limited) observations showed me a champion with incredible big-game poise and composure. I know people always talk about the US Women's team as one that is in the shadow of the '99 squad, but I think that this team created a legacy of its own. Unlike Ann Killion, I don't think the extent of the legacy is that the women were admired simply for their ability on the field because they supposedly aren't trail blazing anymore. Firstly, I don't know what spotlight Killion is talking about; the World Cup, though fantastic soccer, wasn't nearly as hyped in the states as last year's men's event, so perhaps more trails need to be blazed, at least in terms of fanship. Moreover, I think this year's team left a legacy of toughness. They didn't play as if they were in another team's shadow; they played with a grit and determination that was all their own. Questionable officiating in the quarterfinal meant that the US would have had more than enough excuses for a loss. Take away Abby Wambach's header and US fans would have had ample reason to complain of a rip-off. But instead of self-pity, instead of giving up, the US kept attacking until the end and found a way to win. But it wasn't even the end result, a trip to the semis, that mattered; it was the fact that the US kept fighting until the end. Perhaps that's what should be taken away from the US's performance at this year's World Cup.
These were clearly the two that made lasting impressions on me. I can only retain so much of what I watch on TV before 5am.

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