Wednesday, August 25, 2004

OLYMPICS WRAPUP POST DAY #14: Here are the capsules. The Olympics have a winding-down feel right now, as the team sports conclude and teams are eliminated and suddenly the game you catch in the middle of the night means a lot more.

Baseball: The Japanese pros (minus the guys who play for American teams) went down to a bunch of Australians in what presumably will be tabloid fodder in Japan. Canada could not pull off the upset and so we're probably going to see a Cuban gold medal. This is what happens when our cretinous major leagues don't give Olympic baseball a second thought, the one nation who doesn't allow its citizens to play outside said nation ends up winning. Am I digging a grave for Australia too early? Probably not.

Soccer, Men's: Iraq went down and will face Italy for bronze. Paraguay vs Argentina for the gold. There are few things more annoying than a South American soccer team in celebration mode.

Beach Volleyball, Women's: You know--this stuff gradually won me over. Yes, it's an exercise in t&a, but it's also one of the two really fun events that have been on from Athens (the other being--of course--mixed doubles badminton.) The crowds loved it. The midnight chokers loved it. The Greeks put on a really good show. It stands in stark contrast to the high drama and high seriousness and bitter disappointments of the gymnastics. But this is the great thing about the Olympics, you have the high culture sports and the low culture sports and everything inbetween.

Anyway, May and Walsh took gold and McPeak and Youngs took bronze. I can make fun of NBC for putting on so much of this stuff for the obvious reasons but it is good tv and you're not going to get too many doping scandals out of it. What can I say? It's good, competitive, entertaining sports.

Water Polo, Women's: I managed to catch two American water polo games and in both we lost in the last few seconds, except the one today was to play for gold. Blame me--I'm the jinx.

Volleyball, Women's: Beach is really stealing Indoor's thunder these games, which should not minimize the fact that Indoor judges dress in 70s-style jumpsuits. We lost to Brazil and are done. But--hey--indoor is fun too.

Another thing to recommend beach (to digress) is its two-on-two simplicity, I guess.

Handball, Men's: Hungary beat Korea and I got to watch.

Wrestling, Men's: Greco-Roman was on Tuesday and a lot of that stuff is reminiscent of the "Frank Gotch and Ed 'Strangler' Lewis lay on the mat for an hour without moving a muscle" line from The Music Man: just two guys bouncing off each other for a long three minutes. But they have this thing now where somebody has to score a point at the beginning of the second round (I think) because they place them in this position where somebody's grip has to be broken at some point or else the other guy gets the point--I'm not completely clear on it, actually. Anyway, I missed all of Rulon Gardner's matches but I did see Dennis Hall (an American) beat a Czech in a very intense match where both guys fought each other off for most of it until they went to that grip-breaking position noted above.

All of the wrestling's been pretty intense, actually, except for the heavyweight. There were a lot of stories about Sara McCann and Chiharu Icho being inconsolate with their silvers today. Maybe losing is just way worse in wrestling. Or maybe it was a lot of sportswriters needing an angle to talk about women's wrestling and going with how emotional the wrestlers were in defeat, and in victory as well. I forget that female wrestling is a novelty to most people, though not to the pro wrestling fan.

I think that's it. That Hungarian from yesterday didn't give the IOC enough pee so they took his gold away. A Russian murdered the former women's pole vault record that she herself had set three previous times this year. And apparently this is only the second year for women's pole vault--what's up with that?

Okay, that's it.

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