BREAKING NEWS: Becky Hammon has been hired by the Spurs as the NBA’s first full-time, paid (assistant) female coach. Lisa Boyer was almost first, “hired” back in 2001, but only worked part time and wasn’t paid. Like that really counts (no disrespect to Boyer).
CAN’T STAND THE RAIN: The toll this year’s Tour de France took on its riders was as much psychological as physical. The number of cyclists who finished was only a percent or two lower than the average the past five years (2012 was the significantly lower number, with 153 of 198 riders finishing to 2014’s 164). It was the weather that did it, meaning rain, of course. And the cobble stage, because riding cobblestones in. the. rain. is just nutty.
Sprinter Mark Cavendish crashed the very first day. It was just like last year, except this time, the race ended in his country, in his mom’s home town, with the fam all waiting at the finish line.
Even the Royals were there: Kate standing, yellow jersey in hand, ready to clothe the “Boy Racer.” She seemed a touch stumped to see the German specimen that is Marcel Kittel standing before her with arms outstretched. If you were watching closely, you noticed her turn to Prince William, mouthing, “Did this man eat Cavendish? Where’s Cavendish?”
This was a mental sports setup if ever there was one. Greater men would buckle under that sort of pressure, whether consciously or subconsciously. The question his sports psychologist asked is, “What made you choose to lean heavily into that other sprinter?” Cavendish, the most prolific Tour sprinter of all time, certainly remembered from last year that the younger Kittel could outgun him – did on opening day and otherwise in 2013 – and will in the future.
Cavendish was only the first of several very top contenders of the Tour to crash out. Next to exit was defending overall champion, Chris Froome, who was followed by his primary rival, Alberto Contador, crashing out the tenth day.
American Andrew Talansky, who finished Top 10 last year, crashed during several stages. In his final stage, he fought the pain at the back of the pack, at one point dismounting his bike to stop the suffering, tearfully listening to his coach’s breakdown of the situation. Talansky finished that stage, but didn’t start the next one.
So Italian Vincenzo Nibali finished first overall with a massive 7:37-minute lead over second place – a psychological tactic if ever there was one, to assert his win wasn’t dependent on the absence of Froome and Contador. Sprinter Peter Sagan did something similar, all but guaranteeing himself the green jersey long before the end of the race.
There was a women’s race! It took place during the final stage, just before the men’s, and was won by Dutch cyclist Marianne Vos. It’s not the first women’s Tour de France-ish, but it’s (another) start.
Moving on. World Cup – is it football, soccer or futbol? This explains it.
UNDER PRESSURE: Brazil knows exactly how Cavendish feels. In the semi-finals, overall winning team Germany scored five goals in 29 minutes against Brazil in Brazil: fastest ever five goals; first time since 1974 five goals were scored in the first half of a game; first time Brazil lost a competitive match in its country since 1975, and holy hell, did I mention the final score was 7-1?!
GOOAAALL!!! This was the rare soccer game during which viewers could play a drinking game for goals and actually need to call a cab ride home.
Brazil was the favorite right up until it faced Germany without its No. 1 star, who was kneed in the back the previous game and couldn’t feel his legs afterwards – at first he thought he might be paralyzed. Brazil’s captain was out as well, serving a suspension. No chance.
Algeria won it’s first Fifa World Cup game since 1982, against Korea. When an Algerian player cramped and fell over during the only injury not faked, a Korean player stopped playing mid-game to stretch his opponent’s leg for him on the field, while the game progressed. A+ for sportsmanship!
F- for sportsmanship to Luis Suarez of Uruguay, who needs to be banned to Kindergarten, where he should learn to keep his teeth off other people. Read this.
And he’s not the only one. Albuquerque Isotopes catcher Miguel Olivo brought ear biting back into play during an intrateam altercation. Yes – he bit a teammate. Again, people, Who gets past Kindergarten without kicking that nasty little biting habit?
In other baseball news, because the next major sports event not cycling is the World Series, Josh Reddick of the Oakland A’s was using Careless Whisper (yup – by Wham!) as his walk-up song. That, my friends, is just one reason the A’s might win the World Series. Sonny Gray is another. You heard it here (unless they don’t).
TIMBITS: The underlying implication of Kevin Durant’s speech to his mom as he accepted the NBA’s MVP award in May, is that the beauty of living into your 40s, 50s, 60s and beyond is that even if you have a really rough decade or three, they could be followed by times so unimaginably better.
Enjoy the rest of summer, my friends! If you haven’t already, sip a Moscow Mule served over ice. Note: If you’re crazy about ginger, I say skip the copper mug. It seems to dilute the flavor.
2 oz Tito’s Handmade Vodka
3.4 oz (half bottle) Fever Tree Ginger Beer (half bottle)
Juice of 1/2 lime (cut the juiced lime in half and toss in a quarter)