January 19, 2003

Weekend in Sports

Those were a couple of exciting but convincing wins for the Buccaneers and Raiders in the NFL conference championship games. Tampa Bay actually looked more solid from top to bottom, with the expected dominance by the defense and the unexpected ease in moving the ball against Philly. Well, there were a couple of special team lapses, but not sure if the Raiders can really take advantage of that.

The Raiders-Titans game was precariously close as the first half was running down, but those Titans turnovers really, really hurt. The Raiders put the pedal to the metal in the second half, and not even Steve McNair's studliness could keep up. But there were some warning signs. Only one (non-QB) running play in the first three quarters? Even if it's by (effective) design, one would think they'll have to be more balanced against Tampa Bay's defense. Despite the big turnovers, the defense gave up a few too many big plays, although McNair was a big part of that, and the penalties (14 for 127 yards) was flat out ridiculous. Do you really want Sebastian Janikowski standing over the kick to win the Super Bowl?

Michelle Kwan was pretty much perfect at the US National Figure Skating Championships (unlike the men). The program was so clean that the only reason she didn't get more perfect 6.0 scores was because she skated first in the group, so the judges had to leave room in case another girl deserved higher ordinals. Technically they might've had a case, since Michelle didn't do a triple-triple combination, but nobody was going to pass her in Presentation, and there was one 6.0 there. She was beautiful, confident, crowd-inspiring. Of course, "the Vera Wang costume really rounds out the whole package," according to Peggy Fleming. That's why we love figure skating, right? I feel kinda bad for the girls that finish 4th and get shut out of Olympics and World Championship spots because Michelle has taken up a spot for so long, but then I also feel bad when every news story about Michelle Kwan has to include the caveat "sheneverwonOlympicgold." And is it just me, or is Sarah Hughes a lot blonder this year?

While Michelle Kwan was skating her short program, Yao Ming was bumping and grinding against Shaquille O'Neal. After only three months in the US, Yao's already doing commericals. Welcome to America, dude. Back to the game. Sure, Shaq had better stats, but not much above his season average, even though people were predicting that an inspired Shaq Daddy would steamroll the Chinaman. Yao was strong enough on defense so that his teammates didn't have to give him too much help, and hey, his team won the game. Now if Houston would only learn to run some honest-to-goodness half court sets and involve him in an offensive system.

As the favorites, Alinghi won the right to challenge for the America's Cup, ironically by knocking out the last American team in the Challenger Series. Oracle BMW had some boat speed advantage in low winds and calmer seas, especially downwind, but their optimal window was much smaller than Alinghi's, and it just seemed like every single wind shift and break went Alinghi's way. Not surprising, really, since the heart of the "Swiss" team consists of the Kiwis that won the two previous Cups for New Zealand. This hasn't made Russel Coutts and friends very popular with the home folks. It adds a little spice to the main race, anyway. The America's Cup needs all the publicity it can get, considering that it's an obscure sport involving no American teams taking place in a country about as far away from the US as you can get. Oh well, I'm sure they'll scare up a few more billionaires to compete for the next Cup.

Jos´┐Ż Hernandez? WTF are the Giants thinking? No, he's not that bad, but where are they going to play him? Maybe they'll just use him for DH duty on road interleague games. And making Felix Rodriguez available? I hope for season's sake that the Giants front office isn't stupid enough to buy into the myth of the closer. But hope doesn't get you too far in baseball.

Posted by mikewang on 11:51 PM