Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Sports Updates

The Winter Olympics should be generating good ratings, with a near-optimal first-week performance from the US team. I don't think things will be quite as dreamy this week; focus will move to the men's hockey tournament, and there expectations are now too high. Canada would be looking for revenge after the 5-3 loss in the qualifying round, but they have to get by Russia first.

I have to complain about evening anchor Bob Costas and his I-know-something-you-don't-and-you-have-to-endure-hours-of-teases-and-commercials-to-find-out-what-it-is smirk. Afternoon anchor Al Michaels would be better, or better yet, show some live events! This is a North Anmerican time zone, this time....

Reds Hope Eternal in Spring
There isn't really that much hope for the Cincinnati Reds this year, though I am encouraged by their investment in Cuban defector Arnoldis Chapman, a lefty with a live arm. He got a five-year contract for some $30 million, a huge gamble by Reds' historical standards, but I'm not sure he is ready for major league bats just yet.

I have to say the Yankees, once again, have made the right moves--I particularly like their pickup of Curtis Granderson, who sure looks like the new Bernie Williams to me. I guess it would be nice if the Red Sox lose out to the Tampa Bay Rays for the wildcard, but I will probably be reduced to rooting for our neighbors in Colorado once again. I love the Phillies' lineup but will be rooting against them this year, I feel, due to their ungrateful trading away of Cliff Lee.

It's amazing how many times the last two Eastern Conference champions, Orlando and Cleveland, seem to play each other. As I anticipated in the preseason, the big story of the year is the Cavaliers' attempt to convince LeBron James to stay by surrounding him with ever more top players, though only an NBA championship is likely to be successful (and that is problematic, unless Kobe goes down). Their trade deadline acquisition of Antawn Jamison seems right on paper--a tall team player with a good shooting touch--but it remains to be seen if it pans out. Once again, I'll be rooting for our neighbors in Colorado.

The Champions League match in Milano tomorrow vs. Inter has me very nervous. Former Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho knows every secret of my team and will look to exploit. For one thing, they are coasting in Serie A, while Chelsea must battle every week to hold its lead. This is much too good a match for the Round of 16.

The key to a famous victory, I think, would be Chelsea's ability to set up either Nicolas Anelka or Frank Lampard, as I believe no effort will be spared to shut down our star center forward, Didier Drogba. Inter has been finding Spaniard Diego Milito in every game I've seen them play this year, so there should be a similar, offsetting effort to close out any opportunities for him to score. Petr Cech has been outstanding recently in the Chelsea goal, and I'm thinking a scoreless tie may be the objective, and may be good enough for now.

I'm still loving Kentucky's team, which recalls the Fab Five freshmen-dominated roster of Michigan of about 20 years ago (Juwann Howard--who's still playing in the NBA, Chris Webber, etc.) Kentucky has three top frosh--Bledsoe, Cousins, and Wall--and a strong upperclassmen in Patterson--but today's economics and rules will probably send them all to the NBA after this year's tournament, hopefully with a championship. I like the dynamics, the way they play in the close games--I really think they have a good chance.

Meanwhile, our state's New Mexico Lobos are on a 12-game win streak and have now cracked the Top 10. I'm hoping they will not bomb out at the end of the year, and I'm particularly worried about a loss in the conference tournament putting them into a tough first-round matchup in the NCAA tourney.


Chin Shih Tang said...

I was kind of half-right about the Inter-Chelsea game. Inter won, 2-1, with Milito (who's Argentinian, not Spanish, as is their other goal-scorer of the night, Cambiasso) scoring in the first three minutes. Cech got hurt, which makes the result doubly unfavorable. The two good aspects were Chelsea's actual play, which was aggressive, and even somewhat dominant except for the moments when Inter attacked successfully, and the "away goal", which would give Chelsea the edge if they win the rematch at home by a 1-0 score.
The refereeing was poor, and I saw two likely penalties for the visiting team that were not given. Inter defenseman Walter Samuel (a wily and tough veteran, yet another Argentinian) was draped all over Drogba all night (and sometimes there were two of them sandwiching him). I think--I hope--it will work out differently at home; a penalty kick will be likely if they try the same approach. But Mourinho probably won't repeat the strategy--look for them to attack early. (Chelsea's goal was from Salomon Kalou, who was given a lot more space and had several chances.)

Koo said...

It was a bad sad game.

Chin Shih Tang said...

March 18--my fears about the Inter-Chelsea matchup were fully realized in the rematch at Stamford Bridge in London. Inter won, 1-0, for a 3-1 aggregate margin. I can't really complain about the result--Inter seemed to have our number, and it was 11 (Didier Drogba), who they shut down effectively throughout, then suckered into a red card in the last minutes.
The card was not really fair--the Inter player Thiago Motta (now on my hate list) ran up and jumped on Drogba's back in the penalty area (so it should've been a penalty shot for Chelsea, though even that still wouldn't have saved them). Drogba wrestled him off, then--intentionally or just off-balance--stepped on him, which got him the card and exclusion. Don't know if that has any further consequences: now Chelsea has to focus exclusively on the Premier League (some easy matches, which they can't slip upon, and a huge one with Manchester United April 3), and, secondarily, on defense of the FA Cup (looks very do-able).

Coach Ancellotti needs to think about some new offensive moves--Chelsea's offense was very much contained on Tuesday.