The Sports Hangover recuperates from a weekend of a final-furlong-finish Preakness, the NBA and NHL playoffs weeding out weakness, and an MMA card with several losing fighters peddling a grievance.
Don’t Hate Me Because I’m Beautiful
“F— France and F— Deschamps! What a s— manager,” stunning model Anare Atanes said of soccer coach Didier Deschamps’ decision to leave her boyfriend off the French World Cup team’s roster. Deschamps cut her beau, Manchester City star Samir Nasri, because the coach couldn’t guarantee him a starting spot and felt he wouldn’t be happy watching from the bench. It seems he’s less happy watching from his living room. “Incase u didn’t read my tweet properly,” Atanes continued, “I’ll repeat myself…f— France! And f— Deschamps!”
Not the nicest thing ever said online, but a legal matter? Deschamps filed a civil suit in French court against British model for insulting language. Should she counter sue that he effectively called he boyfriend a “s—” player by cutting him? Deschamps should win ridicule. Unfortunately, he wins support. The French Football Federation, according to my translation of the Googleese translation of the original French, “condemns the abusive remarks against Mr. Didier Deschamps and fully supports its coach in his approach. Unanimous reactions confirmed that the entirety of France condemned such remarks. The FFF considers the unanimous indignation enough to condemn such behavior.”
If you want to confirm to the world you’re terrible, sue the people who call you terrible.
California Chrome Goes for Three
California Chrome, in winning Saturday’s Preakness, seeks to become the first horse since 1978’s Affirmed to win the Triple Crown. He races his contemporaries. But at this point he competes with horses long since gone, too. Since the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont Stakes began during the nineteenth century, just twelve horses have won all three signature races. It’s an exclusive club that California Chrome looks to join. Within that small club of horses exists a more exclusive club of one. Secretariat owns the race records, which have stood since before my birth, at the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont Stakes. California Chrome waits three weeks to make history thirty-six years in the making. Then, in the conversations of equine aficionados, he perpetually runs in imaginary races against Man o’ War, Seattle Slew, Gallant Fox, and other legendary horses.
Match Made in Hockey Heaven
I doubt the NBA salivates over an Indiana-Oklahoma City Finals. The NHL surely loves the fact that franchises in America’s three largest media markets, and the marquee team north of the border, fight it out to play for the Stanley Cup. It doesn’t matter who loses in the Conference Finals. The NHL’s ratings win.
I’m a proponent of the sports let-down theory that postulates that a team deflates after huge victories. I worried it would happen to the Boston Red Sox against the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2004 World Series after they had vanquished the Yankees after a disastrous 0-3 start to the American League Championship Series. We should have seen it coming for the Montreal Canadiens. After an emotional, hard-fought series against their Original Six archrivals, the Canadiens dropped the opener of their series with the Rangers. It’s not that they lost but how they lost that jarred. Montreal netminder Carey Price, who outplayed Tuukka Rask in the Bruins series, allowed four goals before coach Michel Therrien pulled him after the second period. It didn’t do any good. The Rangers romped 7-2 on Saturday afternoon. Worse still, the netminder so stingy in allowing goals during the Boston series now appears out–the hook almost certainly stemmed from the hurt–for the New York series. That’s going to be tough to rebound from, too. If you feel as though you’ve already won the Stanley Cup after the second-round of the playoffs, getting up for really winning the Stanley Cup can prove difficult.
Are Race-Car Drivers Athletes?
Jimmie Johnson came in 11th out of 119 male participants in the Over the Mountain Triathlon in Kings Mountain, North Carolina on Saturday. The race consists of a 10K run, a one-mile swim, and a 30-mile bike ride. He finished in 2:30:07. Later that day he did a little better in the NASCAR All-Star race, which he had won two-years running, by placing sixth. Jamie McMurry pocketed a million dollars for finishing first. Kurt Busch, who drove his qualifying run for the Indy 500 earlier in the day, finished in 11th place.
Look at Your Face
Bellator finally hit the pay-per-view airwaves this weekend. But the event was not without controversy and cancellations. The scheduled headliner, Eddie Alvarez versus Michael Chandler, shifted to co-feature after Alvarez pulled the plug on the trilogy due to a premature concussion. Then Will Brooks, the last-minute substitute, really messed up the promotion’s plans by decisioning Chandler. So, too, did Tito Ortiz. Riding a 1-7-1 record in his last nine fights, the former UFC light heavyweight champion rebelled against the script by putting Bellator middleweight champion Alexander Shlemenko to sleep in the first round. Size matters, and the over-the-hill Ortiz used it, and superior wrestling, to rag doll his opponent into a vulnerable position. Fans have dug Tito’s grave for so long. Seeing Tito pull out the gravedigger routine satisfied.
In the reconfigured main event, judges found King Mo’s takedowns not enough to overcome Rampage Jackson’s strikes. “You wanted to wrestle,” Rampage told his angry adversary at the postfight presser. “You wanted to hump. Look at your face. I think the last round was really close. But look at your face. You didn’t beat nothing.” Ultimately, it’s a fight. And “look at your face” plays as an argument that even novice fight fans grasp.
The consensus takeaway from the card seems to be that Bellator suffered in having one its stars (Chandler) taste defeat and two UFC castaways (Rampage and Tito) win fights that many expected them to lose. I dissent. The unexpected always works for promotions. Sure, a star lost. But a star is born in Brooks. Rampage and Tito, two of the most marketable names in mixed-martial arts history, live to fight another day in Bellator, a promotion that lacks less in talent than in talent with high name recognition. Interesting endings to fights always make for interesting fights down the line. A fighter inevitably loses. But no matter the outcome, the promoter always wins.