Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, I’ll relax on my couch in Brooklyn today and watch the Olympics in China, the PGA Championship in Michigan, and the Phillies game in Philadelphia. It’s certainly an interesting Sports Sunday and it starts early with the broadcast of USA vs. China in Olympic basketball. Predictably, NBC is airing a story on Yao Ming right now. Also predictably, I know nothing about China’s team other than Yao. It should be interesting to see how the US decides to defend him, because Dwight Howard is really the only center on the roster. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them throw a zone defense and see if these Chinese guards can hit some shots.
10:16 AM: Howard wins the tip from Yao. USA starting lineup: Jason Kidd, Kobe Bryant, Lebron James, Carmelo Anthony, and Howard. Yao hits a 3 to start! Maybe a zone won’t work (and yes, the US has come out in a zone).
10:20 AM: Oh, China has Yi Zianlian, of course. They also have a guard that was apparently drafted in the second round by the Lakers in 2007. He hit a 3 already. Early 11-9 lead for China, and the crowd is really into it, of course. Chris Paul checks in. Many people have pointed out that Paul has surpassed Kidd, and it should be interesting to see who gets the bulk of playing time at the point, with Deron Williams also in the mix.
10:36 AM: The first quarter ends with the US leading 20-16. Kidd has not come back on the court, and Paul and Williams have on the court together, which I think is a great idea. China’s been knocking down some 3’s. I see Jim Boeheim is an assistant coach. No word on whether or not he tried to get this game played in the Carrier Dome.
10:47 AM: China just keeps sinking the 3’s, they’re 7-11, and have the game tied at 29. It definitely hasn’t been an encouraging game for the US so far. Obviously they have a ridiculous advantage in athleticism but they’ve been a bit sloppy and haven’t shot the ball well, which has been the Achilles heel of a lot of these international teams. If they were playing like this against Argentina, they’d be down double-digits right now.
11:00 AM: It was a disastrous close to the half for the Chinese, as the US delivered what should be a finishing blow and taking a 49-37 lead. The US started bringing some pressure defense, which you would love to see more of considering their 12th man is an NBA All-Star. Fatigue will never be an issue for the ‘Redeem Team’.
11:32 AM: The US has really just enforced their will here in the third quarter, carrying over the momentum from the end of the first half. They still haven’t got the offense clicking on all cylinders but the defense has been pretty stifling and China looks worn down. It certainly won’t help that Yao just landed awkwardly and looks like he rolled his ankle. 69-48 US with just over a minute in the quarter.
11:57 AM: Well, it turned into a blowout win for the Americans, but there are still question marks for this team. They’ll get Angola in their next game, so there probably won’t be much figured out in that one either. One of my favorite sports quotes ever came from Charles Barkley during the 1992 Olympics. He was asked what he knew about Angola and responded, “I know they’re gonna lose!”. Final score: USA 101, China 70. Craig Sager looks disappointed that he had to wear the NBC golf shirt and not one of his purple and gold suits.
1:17 PM: After catching some rowing events that were probably about as exciting as rowing gets (i.e. not even a little bit), I’m ready for a switch over to baseball, as the Phillies get ready to finish up their series with the Pirates. The Phillies offense has been shockingly bad lately, but they did manage to break a 23-inning scoreless streak last night and beat the Pirates, 4-2. They cling to a one-game lead in the division over the Mets, and they’ll send Jamie Moyer to the mound today. The Pirates starter is some guy I’ve never heard of, Jason Davis, who has appeared in 4 games out of the bullpen for Pittsburgh this year.
1:35 PM: Rain delay in Philly. On the bright side, water polo is on the Olympics now, USA vs. China again. I guess these guys make a bit less money than the basketball players. This is probably the hardest sport in the world to play. US leads 3-0.
2:09 PM: Ah, the PGA Championship, everyone’s least favorite major. The CBS coverage is just getting underway. By the end of the day we’ll know who gets to join such golf luminaries as Shaun Micheel and Rich Beem as champions of this tournament. It’s quite an underwhelming leaderboard, with Ben Curtis and JB Holmes at the top. Padraig Harrington and Sergio Garcia lurk 3 shots off the lead. It will be interesting to see if either of those two can make a move. This is one of the 6 days each year that I make an effort to watch golf, so hopefully we get more than a Curtis-Holmes duel.
2:13 PM: I don’t understand Ben Curtis’s hats. I remember in the past seeing him wear a Chicago Bears hat while playing and I thought he was just a big fan and/or didn’t have any sponsorships. But today he’s sporting a Detroit Lions hat, with Titleist written on the side of it. Does he have some sponsorship deal with the NFL? Is he just a big football fan? I need an explanation here. Maybe Jim Nance will touch on this in a witty aside at some point.
2:20 PM: Well, Holmes might be exiting stage left, right at the start of his round here. He put his drive into the trees and then took a hack to get it out and the ball went about four feet. Now he’s taking a drop. It’s always fun to watch a professional athlete look completely incompetent.
2:48 PM: Well, apparently it’s raining everywhere in the whole world. The Phillies are still in a rain delay, the golf tournament in Michigan has had terrible weather, the beach volleyball match in the Olympics is being played in a torrential downpour, and there’s a severe thunderstorm warning scrolling across the bottom of my screen. Anyway, the final round in Michigan has gotten off to a crazy start, with Sergio Garcia and Phil Mickelson making strong moves. Sergio is still looking for his first major, and that always makes for an intriguing storyline. Long-time players in search of their first major tend to feel a ton of pressure over those last few holes.
12:15 AM: Well, thanks to Verizon wireless, my internet connection went out just as the Phillies game was getting underway. The Phillies won an (apparently) exciting game on a 3-run homer by Chase Utley in the 7th inning. At the PGA Championship, Sergio Garcia and Padraig Harrington DID make a move and it WAS very interesting and entertaining, with Harrington taking his third major in the last two years and establishing himself as clearly one of the top players in the game right now.