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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    Donal's picture

    Australian Open begins



    We're half a month into 2012. Novak Djokovic's streak is long gone and most of the top names are at the Australian Open. Even though Australia is not presently as big a tennis powerhouse as say, Russia, tradition has the AO as the first major of the year. While planning the first Grand Slam—winning all four majors in one year—Don Budge was advised to skip the Australian Championships. In 1938, Australia took several weeks to reach by steamship, and his friends warned that he was such an attraction that the Aussies would play him to death in preliminary tournaments. But Budge schemed to win all four majors before turning pro, and had to start down under—as did Maureen Connolly, Rod Laver (twice), Margaret Smith Court and Steffi Graf.

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    William K. Wolfrum's picture

    Muhammad Ali & Martin Luther King Jr.: America is the better for them

    It is a wonderful coincidence that Muhammad Ali's 70th birthday comes the day after Martin Luther King Jr. Day. While the two essentially ran in different circles, as it were, both were amazing parts of a time that saw America change dramatically for the better.

    William K. Wolfrum's picture

    Chael Sonnen's & soccer team Palmeiras highlight a dilemma for Anderson Silva & Brazilian fighters

    When Junior Dos Santos creamed Cain Velasquez to win the UFC Heavyweight belt, it codified something everyone knew - from top (Dos Santos) to bottom (Jose Aldo), Brazilians are a dominant force in the UFC and MMA.

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    Donal's picture

    Marat élu


    Named for the famous revolutionary who was stabbed in the bath, Marat Safin was about as talented and powerful as anyone that has played tennis. While the he earned a handful of good results on the tour, like defeating Sampras in the 2000 US Open and briefly claiming the #1 ranking, the rumor was that he spent too much time satisfying his female fans. Though charming off-court, he was known for angry outbursts on court and claims to have smashed over a thousand racquets. He once played the Hopman Cup, "sporting a bandaged right thumb, two black eyes, a blood-filled left eye, and a cut near his right eye, all suffered in a fight several weeks earlier in Moscow."

    So he's well prepared for a life in Russian politics.

    Marat Safin Reveals His Plans for His Future

    Donal's picture

    Cups Runneth Down Under

    Some live tennis is being played, but in a series called Love-30, the Tennis Channel has been mostly rebroadcasting the 30 best matches of the year. There certainly is live controversy Down Under, though, in advance of the Australian Open. On Tennis Channel's news crawler, I caught a glimpse of a story about players being fined $75K for playing the Hopman Cup, an exhibition tournament named after the legendary Aussie tennis coach.

    Exhibitions have long been controversial. In 1991, Monica Seles ticked off a lot of people when she withdrew from Wimbledon, citing an injury, only to play an exo in Mahwah NJ for a guaranteed six-figure payday. There's no income equality in tennis. Once they've succeeded on the tour, top players can make stress-free money playing exos, but the tour and the tournament organizers need those top players to attract crowds that keep their tournaments profitable, and claim that without the tour, there would be no top players. Tennis politics is truly Byzantine.

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    William K. Wolfrum's picture

    Newt Gingrich and Tim Tebow: Winning ugly and heading toward defeat

    As of this very moment, there are two men that are dominating the news – and both of them are just awful at their chosen professions. But amazingly enough, we are all witnessing mediocrity rise to incredible heights as a lousy NFL quarterback is leading his team to victories while a lousy politician is leading the race for the GOP nomination for President.

    Donal's picture

    Boys and Girls Together

    In high school swimming at a boy's school, I only remember one girl on an opponent's team—probably Sidwell Friends. She swam one race, then got out of the pool and ran to the locker room with her hand over her mouth. In college, men and women swam separate events, except for diving.

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    Donal's picture

    Tennis: The Low Gluten Finals

    In two days the top eight male tennis professionals will play in the Barclay's ATP World Tour Finals in London. The tournament is organized much like the WTA Championship in Istanbul. There are two groups of four players, who play each other. Whoever has the best record and second best record in each group are seeded into the single-elimination semifinals. Number and percentages of matches, sets and games won all count towards breaking ties - which is supposed to discourage less than stellar efforts by making no match entirely meaningless.

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    Donal's picture

    Kvitova Is WTA Champ

     

     
    Over the years, the season ending WTA championship event has moved from New York to Munich to Los Angeles to Madrid to Doha and this year to Istanbul (not Constantinople) — and is scheduled to be held there until at least 2013. In accommodating such an event, the ancient city wants to prove itself fit to host the 2020 Olympics. By this time of the year, a lot of the top players are tired and banged up, but up to 1500 ranking points were available and prize money ranged from $110,000 for just playing to $1,750,000 for winning the title (if undefeated in the round robin).
     
    [Update: The WTA and BNP Paribas, the title sponsor, announced Saturday a joint donation of $250,000 to the Turkish Red Crescent to assist victims of the earthquake in eastern Turkey that killed at least 580 people on Oct. 23.]
     
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    Donal's picture

    Moneyball & Smooth Strokes



    Since they've just come out with a film version of Moneyball, starring Brad Pitt as Billy Beane, I thought it would be interesting to revisit a 2003 review I wrote comparing Moneyball, the Michael Lewis book, to Long Strokes in a Short Season, a book about swim coaching.
     

    I just read three books in a row. One involved a boy wizard with a scar on his forehead. The other two were about men taking a new approach to their sports using ideas that were not new, but which had languished because they challenged the conventional wisdom. In both cases, their teams showed significant success due to the contributions of athletes who were not obviously gifted.
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    Doctor Cleveland's picture

    Taylor Branch and the Shame of College Sports (Pay the Kids, Already)

    After I suggested being honest about college sports on this blog page, Taylor Branch has made the same case, better, in The Atlantic. With, you know, actual reporting and everything.

    Here's a bit from Branch's lead, as a shoe-advertising king pin talks openly about "buying your schools" in order to increase his market share:

    Donal's picture

    Serena's Evil Twin



    The US Open has played out on the men's side more or less as expected - the top four seeds made it to the quarterfinals and the top two seeds made it to the finals. Mardy Fish and Andy Roddick had decent runs, but lost to Jo Wilfried Tsonga and Rafa Nadal. Tsonga could not beat Federer this time. The former teen phenom Donald Young had a good run but eventually lost to Andy Murray. In his bio, Hardcourt Confidential, Patrick McEnroe hinted at the stormy relationship he had with Young's parents, claiming that they demanded far more resources than USTA player development had to give. But as a broadcaster PMac had only positives for Young.

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    Donal's picture

    I Want My Cable TV

    Comcast/Xfinity still hasn't restored my TV, Internet and Phone, so I can't watch the US Open. Mind you, I'm extremely grateful to not have been killed by a tree branch, to not be flooded out, to not be without power, but I would have liked to see a few matches before Labor Day weekend, when I'll be limited to whatever they show on the major networks. I looked at the Comcast forums (on the office computer), and customers there are cursing a blue streak - threatening to leave for Dish or Verizon, expecting fee reductions, etc. People aren't used to disruptions.

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    Donal's picture

    Setting Stage for the US Open


    ESPN Classic was showing a 1980 US Open Men's semi final last night, and I happened to catch the fourth set. I remembered watching the other semi in which Bjorn Borg came back from two sets down against Johann Kriek, 4-6, 4-6, 6-1, 6-1, 6-1 but I didn't remember this match between Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe. The idea that Kriek might actually take out Borg was amazing at the time. Kriek was muscular - he looked like a mini Lou Ferrigno - and fast, but no one was as fast as Borg.

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    Donal's picture

    Big Babe Semifinals

    Rod Laver, Ken Rosewall and Bobby Riggs were each 5'-7" tall. Jimmy Connors was 5'-9 1/2".

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    Donal's picture

    Wimbledon Men's Quarterfinals

    Jo-Wilfried Tsonga -his father was Congolese but no one questions his French citizenship.

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    Donal's picture

    New Blood at Wimbledon

    Looks like Peter Bodo was right:

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    Donal's picture

    Stop Making So Much Racquet

    The New York Times has an article, Rackets Provide Window Into Tennis’s Top Three Men, discussing the tennis racquets used by Nadal, Djokovic and Federer. I haven't paid much attention to racquets since 2001, but I used to obsess over them.

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    Michael Wolraich's picture

    Escaping Below the World

    There is much to be said for vanishing. Short escapes from the frenzied tumult of modern life help to calibrate the soul and maintain perspective.

    I've learned that proper escape requires more than disconnecting electronic devices and traveling to faraway lands. Though people may not follow you on your journey, your thoughts are more tenacious. Anxieties, memories, hopes, and fears stow away in your crowded cranium, accompanying you across the globe like irritating travel companions.

    But not under the water.

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