William K. Wolfrum's picture

    By coming out of the closet, boxer Orlando Cruz proves himself a champion

    Emile Griffith was one of the great boxers in the history of the game. Throughout his career, there were rumors regarding his sexuality. Those rumors came to a climax during Griffith’s third fight with Benny “Kid” Paret, who had spent the build-up of the fight taunting Griffith about these rumors.

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    Donal's picture

    I can see the Olympics from my couch

    My daughter and I spent much of Friday and Saturday in cosplay at Otakon, but I got to watch some of NBC's Olympic coverage — which in some events seemed more obsessively focused on Americans than ever.

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    William K. Wolfrum's picture

    Brazil's Neymar - a gold medal would make up for that haircut

    With two games down in the London Olympics, Brazil’s men’s soccer team has looked strong, scoring six goals on its way to two victories. Brazil’s most famous player – young attacker Neymar – is showing why European clubs are drooling over him, scoring twice and setting up two other goals.

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    Donal's picture

    The Agony of the Tweet


    Athletes, especially Olympians, are to be seen and not heard, or even read. Remember when Crash Davis explains the perfect sports interview to Nuke Laloosh?

    Davis: You're gonna have to learn your clichés. You're gonna have to study them, you're gonna have to know them. They're your friends. Write this down: "We gotta play it one day at a time." 

    LaLoosh: Got to play... it's pretty boring. 

    Davis: 'Course it's boring, that's the point. Write it down.
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    William K. Wolfrum's picture

    Penn State deserves worse

    Penn State just received a walloping from the NCAA for the Sandusky pedophilia ring. A penalty of $60 million, vacating all its wins from 1998 to 2011 and a ban from bowl games for four years.

    And it’s not enough.

    On its own, Penn State University needs to drop its football program for at least five years. Pulling Joe Paterno’s statue down and pretending like the last 40 years didn’t happen isn’t enough.

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    Doctor Cleveland's picture

    Balotelli e Io, Balotelli and Me

    I've spent the last month or so in Rome; our last night in the city happily coincides with the 2012 Euro Cup final, with the hometown Italia Azzuri taking on defending champion Spain. (And that's a happy coincidence, too: a rematch of each team's first game of the tournament.) Naturally, we're going out to watch the match. And just as naturally, I bought a game jersey (from a pile at my neighborhood supermarket).

    Donal's picture

    At US Trials, Lochte, Phelps, Kalisz advance to 400IM Final

    After Beijing, Michael Phelps swore that he was done, finished with the grueling 400 meter Individual Medley. A day or so ago, Phelps dodged speculation about whether he would swim the 400IM again, even refusing to answer when he would shave his fu manchu mustache so as not to give away the time of his first event in the US Olympic Swimming Trials in Omaha.

    The 400IM was the first event today. You start with 100m Butterfly, and it is nice to get that over with because swimming Fly when you're tired is no fun at all. Then you swim 100m Backstroke. Back lets you breathe a lot more, but isn't quite as restful as it seems in Esther Williams flicks because you have to kick like blazes. Then comes 100m Breaststroke, which to my mind is even more grueling than Fly, and your legs are already burning. And finally you can open up with 100m crawl, the fastest stroke, if your arms aren't already full of lead lactic acid. I have swum a 200IM, but I've never even attempted the 400.

    Phelps, Chase Kalisz and Kevin Webster represented the North Baltimore Aquatics Club, where I swim, so it was fun to track them on the Omega Timing site. Webster looks to be about 23, and Kalisz is 18. I wondered if Kalisz was one of those kids zooming by in the afternoon practices, but apparently he swims in the mornings.

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    William K. Wolfrum's picture

    Lords of the Ring: Will Lebron, KD and Derrick Rose keep the rest of the NBA ring-less?

    When Michael Jordan won his first NBA Championship with the Chicago Bulls, he was 28 and defined his career. As much as that, however, he defined an entire era in the NBA. Because while Jordan and the Bulls went on to win five more titles, a plethora of other great players went on to search for other ways to define themselves.

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    Donal's picture

    The 1500m Freestyle in London


    Competitive Swimming is one of the obscure sports I follow. Swimmer's Daily posted this video dedicated to the Korean swimmer Park Tae-Hwan. I instantly recognized the tune from the Marine Boy anime I watched as a child, and indeed the song is titled Marine Boy, though with quite different lyrics than I recall:

    Hi, flip over that London town
    The marine boy yo is coming out
    Everyone move out of the way, new record
    Set a record, a glorious venture
    Higher, faster, further, let’s go
    Marine Boy is a brave hero
    Conquest a victory, the best in the world is going
    Let’s go Marine Boy

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    William K. Wolfrum's picture

    Lance Armstrong: The guy who lied about cheating

    It has always been a no-brainer to me that Lance Armstrong used performance-enhancing drugs. The world of cycling is dominated by PEDs and has been for a long time. The idea that a guy who heroically recovered from cancer of the everything came back and completely dominated fields full of guys who cheated while not cheating himself is unreasonable. In 2009, I wrote this:

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    Donal's picture

    Blue Clay Disappoints


    Tennis is in the middle of clay court season. Last year Novak Djokovic stunned everyone by continuing his winning streak on Rafael Nadal's best surface—beating Nadal on the red clay of Madrid and Rome. This year, Djokovic has been less dominant, losing to Nadal in Monte Carlo, and losing early in Madrid. So Djokovic should be motivated to defend his points this week at Rome—the Internazionali BNL d'Italia.

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    Donal's picture

    Bilateral Breathing

    I've always admired the grace, efficiency and symmetry of swimmers that breathe to both sides at any pace and distance. Laure Manadou, Rebecca Adlington, Federica Pellegrini and many other elite female swimmers breathe bilaterally while competing, as do many excellent masters swimmers. But, many other women and almost all of the elite male swimmers in the world breathe to one side, or unilaterally, in their races. 

    Welsh distance swimmer Dave Davies is one of the few male swimmers I have seen consistently breathing bilaterally. World 1500m champion Sun Yang quickly breathes to both sides before and after turning, but mostly breathes to one side. Many male swimmers can sneak a breath to the opposite side to keep an eye on an opponent, but most opt for the additional air available when breathing every other stroke.

    Despite the prevalence of unilateral breathing, some coaches recommend bilateral breathing to develop symmetrical body roll to each side and to avoid the lopsided stroke that often comes with same-side breathing. Michael Phelps breathes to one side, but in this training video, his coach, Bob Bowman, recommends learning bilateral breathing:

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    Donal's picture

    Alexander Dale Oen


    At the pool, you often see people swimming a very relaxed style of breaststroke—head out of the water, breathing freely, legs frog-kicking deep down—but swum properly, modern breaststroke is as physically grueling and technically demanding as butterfly, itself an evolution of breaststroke. One would expect a world breaststroke champion to be in fantastic physical condition. Norway's Alexander Dale Oen was 26, almost 27. In Beijing, he had won the Silver medal in 100m Breast behind Kitajima Kosuke, and was in training for the London Olympics.

    Champion Swimmer Found Dead in Arizona

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    Donal's picture

    Losing Our Marbles

    During the week between the Indian Wells and Key Biscayne Masters tournaments, the Tennis Channel showed their Greatest 100 Players of all time show. Rankings seem to be partially based on stats and partially on perception. For example, #13 John McEnroe is ranked higher than #18 Ivan Lendl, who was more durable and has one more major title than Mac. I think Mac at his best was slightly better than Lendl, but I also think Serena Williams at her best was better than Steffi Graf or Martina Navratilova. Yet Graf and Navratilova were ranked #3 and #4, while Serena was far behind at #12.

    I already knew a little something about many of the players, but I learned that #51 Doris Hart won a career Grand Slam and six majors in singles, and twenty-nine major titles in doubles with a right leg that was impaired by childhood osteomyelitis. Even one side of her face looked impaired in the videos, though I don't see it in the still photo.

    Donal's picture

    Between Forehands

    In Spring are two American tennis tournaments, each of which likes to be known as the fifth major. Both include both the men's and women's tours at the same time, which does give them the feel of a major, but they have 96 player fields instead of 128, and offer 1000 ranking points to the winners instead of 2000. Still, they're big tournaments.

    The Indian Wells Masters, now officially called the BNP Paribas Open, was the Pacific Life Open (with lots of whale ads) from 2002 to 2008, and has had almost a dozen names over the last 38 years. I associate Banque Nationale de Paris and BNP Paribas with the French Open at Roland Garros, but BNP Paribas is now the largest bank in the world, so I guess they can sponsor a tournament anywhere. The Miami Masters, or Sony Ericsson Open, started out many names ago as the Lipton, and is often just called Key Biscayne. Larry Ellis of Oracle now owns the Indian Wells event, and former top ten player Butch Buchholz started the Key Biscayne event.

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    Donal's picture

    Endurance Topspin

    The promoters of the Australian Open should be awfully pleased. Often—too often—the women's final in a major is a dud. Usually the semis are better matches, and one player freezes up to play a bad match in the final. But even though the 2012 women's final was a 6-3, 6-0 rout, a new Number One was crowned, and the match wasn't completely awful. Maria Sharapova wasn't dumping serves into the net, was returning well, and hit a few winners—she was simply led into a boatload of errors. The NY Times' Straight Sets blog offered the theory that Victoria Azarenka won mostly because she hit with more topspin than Sharapova. Even though she obviously does hit with topspin, Sharapova is considered a flat hitter in the modern game. My feeling was that Azarenka covered the court a lot better than Sharapova, while hitting the ball just as powerfully (and shrieking just as loudly).

    The men's semifinals were excellent, and the final may be one for the ages. The Atlantic speculates that this final may portend the new look of men's tennis: as an endurance sport. Even given that both Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal took a lot of time between points, the match took almost six hours, and many of the points involved over twenty shots, even thirty shots. A popular tennis coach once noted that, statistically speaking, for the average player the point will end on the next shot. For these guys, it seems that no matter how well they hit the ball, the point will go on at least another six shots. Part of that is because the tennis authorities have slowed down the courts, and part of that is because these guys are very fast and very fit, and part is because they are hitting with extremely exaggerated topspin.

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    Donal's picture

    Dogfight Down Under


    Yesterday, the New York Times' Straight Sets blog raved about the intensity of the Nadal-Federer semifinal, but this morning's match between Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray was a dogfight. I woke up at 4:30AM to a score of Djokovic leading 6-3, 3-5, but Novak fell behind on serve and was broken to lose the second set. All even.

    The third set was very tight. The first game, Djokovic serving, took over ten minutes. Murray was serving crisply and controlling the baseline rallies with tightly-angled forehands. Reportedly suffering from a "stuffy nose," Djokovic looked tired and far less confident than usual. He wasn't serving that well, and repeatedly had to fight back to hold his own service games. Nole did well to reach a tiebreak, but couldn't hold off Murray. Andy only needed to keep going and take the fourth set. Crikey, even Ivan Lendl cracked a smile.

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    Donal's picture

    New #1 After Australian Final

    Women's tennis will have a new #1 next week, and the current top-ranked player, Caroline Wozniacki, will drop to #4 in the WTA rankings. A lot of scenarios were possible before the semis, but now that third seed Victoria Azarenka and fourth seed Maria Sharapova are to play the finals, the winner will also secure the #1 ranking.

    According to a contributor at Yahoo, if Azarenka wins, the points will stand at:
    1. Victoria Azarenka 8585
    2. Petra Kvitova 7690
    3. Maria Sharapova 7560
    4. Caroline Wozniacki 7085

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    The NY Giants will win the Super Bowl

    If I were a betting man, and I'm not, I'd bet the house on the Giants beating the spread which currently has them 3 point underdogs versus the Patriots.  In fact, I'm very confident that they will win the Super Bowl.  For the life of me, I can't figure out how the Patriots are favored.  Okay, I can.  Tom Brady. 

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