Tag Archives: ESPN

Books Acquired Recently

Keri, Jonah. Up, Up, and Away: The Kid, the Hawk, Rock, Vladi, Pedro, Le Grand Orange, Youppi!, The Crazy Business of Baseball, and the Ill-fated but Unforgettable Montreal Expos. 2014. Toronto: Vintage, 2015.

I enjoy Keri’s writing for ESPN.com, and have been thinking about buying this book since it came out last year. I was always intrigued by the Expos as a kid because of their odd-sounding name (What is an “Expo?” I know the answer now, but it was an inscrutable question when I was six), the fact that they played in Canada, and their unique uniforms (especially their multicolored caps with the clever M-e logo). They were one of the few teams (the Kansas City Royals are another) who actually had decent-looking powder blue road uniforms because the color went with their overall color scheme. They played the Mets often, and were the National League East team that I disliked the least. I saw them play several times at Shea Stadium, and I remember that at one of these games (in 1990, I think, or maybe 1989) the Mets eliminated them from playoff contention. After the game my friend Stefan and I went and waited outside of the player’s entrance hoping to get some autographs, and Andres Galarraga (who seems like a glaring omission from Keri’s delightfully long subtitle) came out wearing an absolutely hideous sweater and an utterly downtrodden look on his face that epitomized “the agony of defeat.”

I decided to finally buy the book in preparation for my upcoming trip to Montreal for the Women’s World Cup semifinal. The match will be played at Olympic Stadium where the Expos used to play, and it will be helpful to know some of the history of the space before I experience it. I purchased the book at my local Barnes & Noble.

Roche, Charlotte. Wetlands. 2008. Trans. Tim Mohr. New York: Grove, 2009.

A friend recently recommended this book to me and I decided to buy it right away because it sounds like it fits right within my interest in transgressive sexual stories. The front cover advertises that there have been “Over One Million Copies Sold Worldwide,” so I am not alone in this interest. Apparently the main character likes to eat her various bodily secretions. This theme leads to some interesting quotations from the various review excerpts reprinted inside the front cover. Here are a few of my favorites:

From the Los Angeles Times: “A slimy swim, but one worth taking.”

From The Guardian: “If you ever wondered what you’d be like if you weren’t shy, polite, tolerant, modest, sexually repressed, logical, and constrained by modern standards of hygiene, this may be the book for you.”

From Time Out New York: “[Reading Wetlands] left us with that not-so-fresh feeling.”

I purchased the book from one of the independent booksellers on amazon.com.

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In Defense of Tiger Woods

Yesterday, Tiger Woods shot a 61 to give him a seven-stroke lead in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. He will now almost certainly win the tournament, which would give him four PGA Tour victories this year ahead of next week’s PGA Championship. Even though it isn’t finished, Tiger’s year is already one worthy of yet another Player of the Year award.

But despite his high level of play this year, most of the discourse surrounding him has focused on his failure to win a major tournament since 2008. Some columnists (e.g., Rick Reilly earlier this summer on ESPN.com) wonder what Tiger’s legacy will be if he never wins another major and thus fails to break Jack Nicklaus’s record of 18 major victories.

While I understand that this is a compelling storyline, it is also a ridiculous one. Whether Woods wins another major or not (and I think he will, and if he does win another major and gets that load off of his back, he will definitely break Nicklaus’s record), the way he has been playing this year makes it clear that he still has a number of prime years left and will obliterate the all-time record for PGA Tour wins, and maybe even become the first player to reach 100 wins. He is the greatest golfer of all time, and it is time the media started treating him as such the way they crowned Michael Jordan the best basketball player ever while he was still playing.

But, of course, there are extenuating circumstances. Aside from Woods’s highly-publicized womanizing and subsequent messy divorce, he is, apparently (just like Jordan!), not the most pleasant guy to be around. So of course many in the media focus on his failures instead of his continuing success. I think especially here of Curtis Strange’s commentary on Woods during the final round of this year’s British Open, which made me want to turn off the television. Strange acted like no one before Woods had ever had a bad final round to fall out of contention at a major at the same time Lee Westwood was doing the exact same thing! (The narrative there was simply “Poor Lee Westwood, will he ever win a major?”)

While I do not condone Woods’s personal behavior during his marriage (I have no problem with him sleeping with multiple women [let’s be honest, ninety percent of heterosexual American men would have done the same thing if they were in his position], but he should have been honest and asked for a divorce before doing so instead of trying to hide it from his wife), I do think it is unfair that the media keeps harping on it. Just compare the way the media treats Woods to how they treat Michael Vick’s story, which is presented as a narrative of redemption. Woods made mistakes, he paid for them both financially and in terms of trying to “get better” by going to rehab, and it is time to move on, which many in the media refuse to do.

It is thus difficult not to read a racist element in the media’s treatment of Woods. He is a black man succeeding in a white sport, and not only did he cheat on his wife, but he was guilty of that most punishable of sins throughout American history, having sex with a white woman. I suppose that, this being America, I shouldn’t be surprised about how Woods gets treated, that he gets judged for things other than his performance on the golf course, but it angers me nonetheless. This is why I continue to root for Woods. He is the one more sinned against than sinning.

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USA 1 Costa Rica 0 in the Snow

The USA defeated Costa Rica 1-0 outside of Denver in a World Cup qualifier tonight, and what a spectacle! It snowed steadily–and at times heavily–the entire match. In fact, I’ve never seen such snow at a sporting event before. It was a crucial match for the USA, and they earned an essential three points, but I found myself not even thinking about the significance of the match as I watched because it was so much fun to watch the snow. Kudos to the referee for letting the match go its full length. The USA should qualify for the 2014 World Cup, and thus this result will just look like an early step on the road to qualification in the record book, but it will be a match that is remembered for years and years. It will be an event that one sees clips from on ESPN anytime the possibility of snow looms over a sporting event. I am happy I got to see it.

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Euro 2012 Quarterfinals Preview

The first round of Euro 2012 ended today with England beating Ukraine 1-0 and France losing to Sweden 2-0. England thus advance to the quarterfinals as the winners of Group D with France in second. The English victory was a stereotypically English display–defend, defend, defend, and score on a set piece. Wayne Rooney had a good game in his first match of the tournament after a two-match ban for a red card received during qualifying, and scored the only goal on a header in the aftermath of a corner kick. Soon afterwards, Ukraine looked to have equalized as a shot went over the line momentarily before being cleared by John Terry. But despite the fact that the extra goal-line official was standing right there, no goal was given and the English held their lead. However, earlier in the play Ukraine clearly had a player offside, so it wasn’t terribly unjust that the goal was ignored.

Steve McManaman, the color commentator for ESPN, said the incident was reminiscent of the 2010 World Cup match between England and Germany when Frank Lampard clearly scored, but the referee didn’t see the ball go over the line. However, McManaman called that play “Frank Lampard against West Germany,” and his partner Ian Darke didn’t correct him! This verbal slip both shows which era they grew up in and is an example of an odd trend in soccer commentary to assume that the current German team are only the successors of the West Germans, not the East Germans. Whenever anyone speaks about Germany’s previous successes, they always say that “Germany has won three World Cups” (or, more negatively if you are talking to an Englishman, “Germany lost the 1966 World Cup final to England”) but that’s not true–West Germany won three World Cups. There is a difference. If you are going to give the Germans all of West Germany’s successes, you have to give them all of East Germany’s (relative) failures, too.

Anyway, Ukraine needed to win in order to advance, and their failure to do so makes this tournament the second successive European Championship where both co-hosts have failed to advance (Switzerland and Austria were eliminated in the group stage in 2008). It is always sad when the hosts are eliminated immediately, but there are some exciting quarterfinal matchups to look forward to nonetheless. Here are comments on each match in the order they will be played:

Czech Republic vs. Portugal–Both teams are somewhat shaky on defense, and both rebounded with two wins after losing their first match. Portugal looked especially dangerous in their final match against Holland due to the emergence of Cristiano Ronaldo from his mini-slump, and I think this momentum will carry Portugal through to the semifinals.

Germany vs. Greece–The Germans were the only team to win all of their three first round matches, and looked fairly at ease doing so even though they only won each match by one goal. Greece is a tough team to beat because they are strong defenders and they take their few chances well, and Germany is not a flashy offensive team, so Greece might give them some trouble. But the Germans have too much quality, and will go through.

Spain vs. France–The juiciest of the four matchups. France looked like the second-best team of the tournament behind Germany until their uninspiring loss to Sweden. Conversely, Spain won their group in rather pedestrian fashion. Spain should win this match, but it really depends on which versions of the two sides show up. If France play the way they did against England and Spain play like they did against Croatia, I like the French. But those are two huge ifs. If each team plays to the average of their performances thus far in the tournament, Spain will win, because France must play their absolute best to have a chance.

England vs. Italy–Both teams have had middling performances that were enough to get them through to the quarterfinals, with England looking slightly more impressive. This match will come down to which teams’ stars have the best game. I really liked the way Wayne Rooney played today despite being rusty, so I’m picking England to move on.

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