My pal, Stogie Robinson, and I make a near weekly telephone call where we catch up, discuss important life stuff, and then amble into a bit of general sports talk to wrap things up. He's a long suffering Philly sports fan although I remind him while it's been a long time for the Sixers, Flyers, and Eagles, the Phillies have been decent in recent years. But hey, if he wants to suffer I will let him. I like to remind Stogie that I am a life long Pittsburgh sports fan which means, recent Pirates teams excepted, we get to celebrate championships often enough to smooth over the rough patches.
That being said, we recently agreed that right now we are in the Annual American Summer Sports Drought until NFL and College Football gets rolling in a few months. Have you checked out a sports talk show lately? All these folks can talk about is where 3 or 4 NBA starts will sign for next season. It's bigger than the actual basketball season. Do I really care what the wife of some highly paid athlete tweeted last night and what it means? Come on, man! This is another reason I just cannot bring myself to watch professional basketball anymore. And baseball will not be relevant until late August which is when football becomes relevant, so sorry baseball. You lose. Again.
Sigh. So America...how about we all stop suffering with who is going to sign where and acting like anyone cares? And I already know unless you are a die hard baseball guy, like my brother in-law Dan, you are not really paying attention to any games this month. A casual glance at the Sunday standings tells you all you need to know. Let me tell you, there is some awesome stuff if you care to expand your horizons a bit.
That World Cup semi-final last night that ended in a 0-0 (or you can be cool and say Nil-Nil) tie until it was won with a shootout was not boring. It was 120 minutes of tension. Perfect tension. The Dutch spent all their key resources shutting down one guy, Messi, to the point they had no ability to try to score themselves. And then the guy who got shut down scores the first point in the shootout and the look on his face is the "We got this" look. Game over.
And then Stage 5 of the Tour de France yesterday was an instant classic. The Tour has 21 stages, but the first week is usually a number of easy days with sprint finishes and the hard stuff starts later. But this year started with two difficult days out of five and yesterday was off the charts. As a cycling fan, some of my favorite races are done early in the year and are called The Spring Classics or The Momuments. They are often raced in harsh weather conditions and winning one can make a career.
Paris-Roubaix is the Queen of The Classics. It is also referred to as The Hell of The North. Yesterdays Tour de France route was over much of the same route and after almost a week of racing in perfect weather, it rained all day. One of the difficult parts of the route are these sections of cobblestones, some of which date back to the Roman era. The are bone jarring in dry weather. In wet weather they are slippery and bone jarring and when mud creeps onto them from the farmlands the difficulty factor goes off the charts.
The defending champion crashed out of the race leading some to say the choice of routes was a bad idea from the race organizers. But nay, nay I say. Riders were so focused that the overall race speed was at the top end of what the pros ride. The peloton (the field) split apart. Unsure bike handlers had difficulty. We saw one guy overcook a turn and flip over the bike into farmland.
Some of the great bike handlers went fast and sure. The overall race leader, Vincenzo Nibali, had a day he may look back on as one of the finest in his career. This years overall champion will truly be able to say he was the best overall on different terrain and weather conditions.
This morning I went for a bike ride and had my own little Roubiax action. It rained a bit. I road over a short section of brick road. Hey, we don't have any cobbles around here. I caught a dirt and rock section between roads and then rolled down a paved section that was gator-backed broken asphalt. Yes, I had my own Walter Mitty moment. It was awesome being out there. Out there.
So I say take a peek at the world. Cheer the world. Get out there. Enjoy something different. Look at something different. Get caught up. You are welcome.