The good, the bad, and the ugly

Would you believe, despite the title, this is a sports related blog? All three parts are from various news sources, so if you want to know more, you should be able to do so, through search engine of your choice.

Firstly, the good, and suitably the first one I saw of these. When it comes to Wimbledon Tennis, which we will very soon, its fair to say that a number of wildcard places are handed out to British players, to allow them to get their 15 minutes of fame, before returning to the lower grade tournaments. But one I read this morning touched this jaded soul sufficiently to write about her

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/06/23/british-tennis-player-six-fingers-wins-wimbledon-wildcard/

Fran Jones has just about worked her way into the Top 300 female players in the world. What makes this amazing, as the link gives away, is that she has done this with just 6 fingers, 2 thumbs, and 7 toes due to the condition mentioned in the article, making gripping the racket complex, to put it mildly. I’m sure she wont go far at Wimbledon, but to have got where she has, all things considered, quite amazing, and yes I wish her well, both for this, and her career in future.

For the bad, lets cross the Atlantic, and the world of baseball. Its fair to say that the New York Mets are no longer the team that reached the world series 4 years ago. They’re better than Kansas City Royals, the team that beat them, but thats not saying much. So they lost again last night, yet again conjuring up defeat from the jaws of victory. So after these games, there is the press conference. So one of their local press followers asked a question, and then politely said that he would see the team manager the next day. For some reason, the team manager, and no one else took exception to this, turned on the guy, and demanded he was thrown out of the room, using a few swear words in doing so. Apparently, to keep the peace, he eventually walked out, to be greeted by one of their pitchers with numerous strong expletives, and a suggestion that he would be killing him very soon. Of course, at this point the news got out, the team issued a token apology, and its just taken off from there. As has been said, what do the Mets do now? If they dont discipline the people concerned, what image does it suggest, clearly that they support these actions. If they do, the team is still in a bad light, but at least seems to be doing something about such awful behaviour. But its the manager, and an important pitcher, so dont hold your breath!

Lastly, the ugly. This refers to a sport I cant even stand, football, or soccer, depending on which side of the pond you are? Last night, England played Cameroon in some ladies tournament going on. Nowadays I gather they use some form of video replay for close decisions. Anyway, England were given a goal by the use of this, and the Cameroon players just went crazy. They abused the ref, they abused their coach, and virtually refused to play at one point. Sadly, they continued in the end, and with the ref having lost any control, the Cameroon players now seemed to think they were in a WWE contest, quite literally pushing England players over at will, with no discipline from anyone. Thankfully they’re out of the tournament, but regret for their actions, none whatsoever.

I’m glad I’m not competitive, lol!

Oh fine, the video is the obvious one, under the circumstances

One can stop biting the dust!

Most US sports have so many games in a season, that its pretty near impossible for a team, however bad (and there are a few awful baseball teams this year) to go a whole season without winning a single game. Even in the NFL, with only 16 games in a season, a team (well, other than Cleveland of late, 1-31 in last 2 years) has to do very badly not to win a game. However, over here…

At the lowest level of the Rugby League system over here, there is a 3rd division, confusingly called League 1. No, dont ask! We have Super league, Championship, then League 1! Mind, in soccer, we have Premier league, Championship, then Leagues 1 and 2, so maybe its a British thing. Anyway…

So, after 11 weeks, in this league (though 1 team has only played 10, due to a weather postponement) there are 2 teams who havent won a game yet. One other team, Coventry, have won just one! But next week, those 2 winless teams, Hemel, and West Wales meet, so in theory at least, one of them has to win? It could be a draw, but its not easy to do in Rugby, but yes, then both would get a point, as there is no sudden death overtime with this!

Hemel, to this point, have lost all 11 games they have played, by an average of 8-52. West Wales have lost all 10, by an average of 6-87! Question probably will be, which team wants to lose the least! No, unlike the NBA, where teams seem to regularly not try, to improve their draft chances, there is no draft here, so no incentive to play badly, they are just awful.

Thankfully, it wont be on TV, though I guess it might make for road crash TV, I guess?

So, yes, fans of all those poor ‘Big 4’ sports teams in the US, just be grateful you’re not a supporter of these 2 teams!

Right, video time. It is the Queen song you’re expecting, but its not Queen. I found Leo Moracchioli by sheer chance on You Tube. His metal covers of Sultans of Swing, and Africa are quite something, but dont really work for this. This isnt in that league, but yes, the song works!

Hold on, to what we’ve got?

I guess if I was actually a movie star nowadays, like the one I took the name of, I wouldnt mind the insane salaries that they get paid nowadays. In truth, for her time, the money Harlow was getting a week was pretty crazy, even if you took the depression out of the equation. I have no idea how much Clara Johnson was making for her lesser roles, acting, dancing, and whatever, but I suspect it was enough for a decent life, if not a Hollywood, or Beverly Hills mansion!

Its been the same with music stars, I guess, though apart from a few names, most only have a short period of fame, and then the money just has to last as long as it can, assuming they havent blown it all already?

But yes, fine, this comment comes out of a sporting event over the weekend, and OK, it relates to LA, so…

To me, what some sporting people earn is just crazy money. Even the lower league soccer stars earn more in a week, than I do in a month, for just kicking a ball around. When you get to the Premier League stars, and the stars of some of the US sports, well, it just goes crazy! I know, they’re good at their jobs, but $20 million plus, a year, seriously? I know, if I was male, and good at one of these sports, but, from the outside?

After this weekend, the NFL finally got round to the first coach sacking of the season, Jeff Fisher, at the LA Rams. The crazy thing, he’s only just been given an extension to his contract, so thats about $8 million he’s made, for about a fortnight of work! But the NFL is so loaded with money that even though I’m sure the owner will hate writing that money off, its an insignificant amount, in a billion dollar business! I know, football especially is a dangerous sport, careers are short, but…? Mind, the basketball, and baseball players earn equally insane amounts, but at least they work for a larger portion of the year to earn it!

But fine, the thing that amused me the most about an article on the CBS webpage on this, and the possible dismissal of the General Manager as well in the near future, was the talk of a woman in one of these roles, though I’m pretty sure they mean GM, not Coach! They then proceeded to give a list of 10 suitable names for the latter role, not one of them a woman! I know, I’m hopelessly not qualified, but if (seemingly when) it comes up, I’d be tempted to apply, just to shake up the old boys network. As I say, I wont get it, not qualified, no great experience, but…

Would any woman really stand a chance for a role like that, even if they were perfect for the job, and did apply? Hmm?

Yes, I’ll go back to dreaming of being offered a small theater, or movie part, and leave it at that, I guess! 😉

Video time. What the Rams didnt do in the title, and some would say, what they are now living on.

A world championship?

Ah, a thorny subject, sporting events, and world championships!

There are some sports, like football, which genuinely have a world cup. Everyone gets the chance to qualify, even if some nations have about as much chance of qualifying for their World Cup, as I have of visiting Pluto! But, the point is, they have the chance. In fact, in the next European Championships, Gibraltar are attempting to qualify for the first time. See the above comment for their chances of doing so. In a friendly, they lost at home, to the might of Estonia (not a football powerhouse!) so the omens arent good, for when they meet stronger teams.

Ironically, they were drawn to be in the same group as Spain, but things were rapidly changed. If you need to know why, just type in Spain/Gibraltar dispute (or similar) into your search engine, and… ah, thats why!

Then we go to the other end of the scale, and one of my favourite sports, baseball. Yes, they have a ‘World Series’ to decide the title, but beyond 1 team from Canada, every team is from the US! Not all the players are, but the teams… and yes, the sport is played in many other nations, who probably couldnt win a genuine world series anyway, but never get the chance to find out! In fact, every couple of years or so (I think?) baseball has a sort of World Cup, and the US doesnt win it every time! Most of the players are in Major League Baseball, but…

Somewhere in the middle, are the 2 sports I’m featuring tonight. Rugby Union, and Cricket, if you must know.

Lets start with rugby, especially given that Ireland won the 6 nations title today (pretty much European championship) when narrowly beating France today. Yes, the 6 nations involved probably are the best in European rugby, but no matter what others do, there is no promotion or relegation involved. Equally, in the southern hemisphere, its basically 4 teams, that are spread around the globe that play off. And no, no matter how good, Samoa, Fiji or Tonga get, there is no route in. They do get to go in the World Cup, but because of their lack of really tough matches, they dont get a true chance to compete.
Not bad, but not perfect.

Then we get to cricket! There are in fact over 100 cricket playing nations in the world, of various abilities, though you would never know it! Officially 10, realistically 8 countries dominate the scene totally. Below which, comes the like of Ireland and Afghanistan. But at least some of the lesser nations do get the chance to play off to be at the World Cup, the 20 over version of which starts tomorrow.

But no, entry isnt equal, far from it. The 6 associate nations not only had to qualify through one tournament, to get to Bangladesh, they then have to qualify again, against the 2 weakest test nations, Zimbabwe and the hosts, to get to play the big boys! And yet the commentators will claim its a world cup! Seriously?

Yes, fine, its better than baseball’s world series, but all the same…bit of a joke! But this is what you get, when you virtually allow 1 country (India) to set down the rules for playing cricket, I guess? I hope Ireland can rub a few big team noses in the dirt, but they dont make it easy any more, maybe because we’ve made them look silly before!

The video, a cynical comment on matters mentioned above, as just the opposite rules in cricket

A day at the races

No, no Marx Brothers here, so if thats what you’re looking for, go elsewhere lol! But given my love of vintage stuff, it just seemed an apt title.

For the next 4 days, its the big August race meeting at York. Thankfully, if things work out right, I should miss most of the fuss and finery involved, as 3 of the days I’m starting at 9, and the other day I’m off. Thankfully thats early enough to avoid the race going crowds, as the trains will be busy enough without them. Tomorrow night, I’ll be through Leeds before they get back there, as I finish work about 5 minutes after the start of the last race, and they are 25 minutes or so earlier down the line than us. Friday and Saturday, should I miss the stopper train, I will see some staggering back mid evening. Probably delay the train (and TPE dont need much excuse for that anyway), and I could do without that in all honesty, especially Friday, as I will have to be up early again for Saturday.

So alright, its fun to see some of the dresses and stuff (and the silly hats) that they wear, and probably would be fun to wear myself, but post racing, many are very drunk, and a sight I’d prefer not to see!

I know going to the races can be expensive over here, but even so, I was amazed to hear the cost of a days racing in the main stand at York each day, £54! ($80 ish?) Wow! And thats not the most expensive option, that was £123 ($180 ish?), and was sold out! Sorry, I thought there was a recession on, or something, or maybe thats just for ordinary folk? The last meeting I went to, a few years back, Philadelphia Park, they welcomed you in for free! Much lower grade racing, but even so…

So, no I wont be going to York races this week, unless someone offers to take me Thursday, and I dont expect that to happen! Me, Thursday, plan is off to Wakefield, afternoon out, collect my dollars for next month, and maybe some shopping? Much cheaper, and for me at least, more fun!

The video, a lovely song, and maybe a moral for those throwing £123 a person at York races this week. If people stayed away due to the ridiculous prices, they might learn sometime, but…

Goodbye ESPN America, I will miss you

To be honest, I dont watch an awful lot of TV with sound. Before that confuses anyone, given where I work, we have masses of screens on, for the racing, for the football (soccer) and other sports, but for obvious reasons, given its a call centre, we dont have any sound on, 99% of the time. Yes, there are a few occasions when the sound goes on, but not very often.

At home, where I can have sound on, the viewing is limited. Pretty much BBC News, Sky Sports (mainly for cricket), and ESPN America for Baseball, College Football, and other things. Sadly for me, tomorrow is the last full day of ESPN America on TV. Why, its something that annoys me even more, is because of Football on TV politicking!

Basically BT Sports have bulldozed in on the football market, and have bought up the ESPN channels over here, and are only keeping the main channel in action.Even if they do (seemingly unlikely) continue to show baseball, there is no agreement with Virgin Media, so its gone for me anyway.

Let me explain. Most of the Premier League football up to the last season was on Sky Sports. ESPN had 1 or 2 games as well in a week, as well as showing plenty of other football. I didnt care, never watched the channel, as people know, I cant stand football! But I did watch its sister channel, ESPN America. Mainly for the baseball, yes, but other things too. As well as college football, they do some fantastic documentaries in the 30 for 30 series. Only Sunday, on an early shift, I sat engrossed as I watched a feature on a 1962 college football team who remained unbeaten during the season, but that was barely the feature of the film. Yes, it was Mississippi, in the days of segregation, about the first black pupil at the college. Oh wow! Unbelievable now to think that 50 years ago, in the Deep South, that was still going on. Did you know Michael Jordan played baseball, as well as basketball? I wouldnt have done, but for another film in this series.

But seriously, apart from the baseball, which I will seriously miss, there is one gem that I will miss just as much. You’ve probably missed it, its broadcast at 6 am, then again at 7 am, Tuesday to Saturday over here, and its called Around The Horn, hilarious stuff. Mainly because of one man, a genius called Woody Paige. The rest are good, but when Woody is on, its crazy!

So all I can say is, thanks ESPN America, for all the good memories, I’m going to miss you.

For those of you who have never seen Woody in action, here’s your chance

How long!

The thing with many sports over here, is that we can settle for a draw, a team doesnt have to win every time they play. Indeed with football, that can be a blessing at times, as some games I’ve had the misfortune to see at work would probably end up 0-0 if they played for 3 days. Of course in cricket, they do play for 3,4 or even 5 days, and the game still ends up a draw.

But over in the good old USA, they dont go in for draws, or not if they can really help it. Well, alright, in soccer they do, but otherwise…The NFL can have a regular season tie, but only after an extra 15 minute period when neither team scores, and yes, they are pretty rare. In the play offs, they do carry on until there is a winner, but even then, one period of overtime is usually enough.

The NHL has one period of overtime, but after that they go into a sudden death shootout to get a result, they dont go on forever. The NBA does continue with overtime periods until a winner is found, but the nature of scoring here tends to get a result in 1, at most, 2 periods of overtime.

But then we come to Baseball. Last night, just after 6 pm, I got home, and ESPN America were just about to start showing Texas playing at Toronto. When I went to bed, at 10.50 pm, they were still playing, at the end of the 15th innings. At that point I gave up, but its still the most innings of baseball I’ve ever seen in a single game. They finally decided it after 18 innings apparently. The thing is, it wasnt even the longest game of the day, Miami and the NY Mets went a mind numbing 20 innings before a winner was decided. Seriously, is the need for a winner really that great? Both of those are the equivalent of 2 normal games, or more!

And seriously, no, they are nowhere near the record for the longest game, that stands, and will probably always stand at 33 innings, back in 1981, between Pawtucket and Rochester, two teams I actually saw play a normal length game back in April. That did stretch to two nights, but 32 innings were played on the first night, play ending at 4.19 am!

So, in tribute to the MLB, and its desire for a winner in every game, I offer…