Sports Events Calendar and Results

NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs mid-April - mid-June. This year, the Predators are looking strong again, as are the Lightning, and how 'bout Vegas?! The Penguins won their second consecutive Stanley Cup championship in 2017. They defeated the Predators, who were playing in the final round for the first time in team history.

Tour of California May 13-19. Both women's and men's races. Props to the ToC for hosting and publicizing both. If you get the chance to see a stage or three in person, you won't be disappointed. In 2017, Americans Andrew Talansky and Brent Bookwalter (born in Albuquerque, NM) were third and fourth consecutively. Two-time World road champion Peter Sagan was bested on the line by Marcel Kittel Day One, but won the green jersey classification overall.

Giro d'Italia May 4-27. In 2017, Tom Dumoulin upended the predictions of an overall winner from the pool of Froome, Porte, and Quintana with a smokin' fast time trial effort. American Van Gardaren has won his first ever grand tour stage.

World Cup 2018 (futbol) June 8 - July 8 in Russia, although the Swiss are investigating that award as well as the bid Qatar won to host the 2022 Cup, after six top FIFA officials were arrested May 27, 2015. The FBI alleges corruption by FIFA in the form of money laundering and accepting bribes and kickbacks for media and marketing deals. Included among the six arrested is the official who runs the US region. In a blast from the past positive side note, U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard was fantabulastic in 2014, breaking the record for most saves in a single World Cup game. Italy was defeated in a controversial game that included biting (bad, bad Luis Suarez). The 2014 World Cup champion was Germany.

Tour de France July 7-July 29. Alejandro Valverde, lieutenant to GC contender Nairo Quintana, crashed out of the rainy time trial on Day One. Sprinter Mark Cavendish crashed out and sprinter Peter Sagan was disqualified in an unjustified decision by the UCI, governing body for sports cycling. With two strong sprinters out, Marcel Kittel dominated, setting a new record for German TdF stage victories. GC contender Richie Porte crashed out, as did Chris Froome's lieutenant, Geraint Thomas, and eleven other riders during a single stage. Americans Taylor Phinney and Nate Brown both wore the polka-dot climber's jersey briefly. Chris Froome won overall, with Rigoberto Uran and frenchman Romain Bardet placing second and third. The 4th edition of La Course, on July 20 and July 22 with stages in the French Alps and Marseille, was won by Annemiek van Vleuten.

2018 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships September 4-9, Lenzerheide, Switzerland. Check NBC Olympic Channel listings for TV coverage.

Vuelta a Espana Tour of Spain, August 25-September 16. After finishing the Vuelta 2nd three times, Chris Froome became the first to win both the Vuelta and the Tour de France in the same year since 1978, when the Vuelta was scheduled before the Tour. Albqerto Contador retired with flair, winning the penultimate stage - a mountaintop finish. On the final day, Contador was granted a solo circuit before the peloton rushed forward to contend for the sprint. Vincenzo Nibali placed second overall, and American Tejay van Garderen finished tenth.

2018 UCI Road World Championships (cycling) September 22-30, Innsbruck-Tirol, Austria. Eight days of competition including men's and women's individual and team time trials, and road races. Will Peter Sagan dare to dream of four road wins in a row?

2018 World Series (baseball) October. Congrats to the Astros, who won their first Championship in team history in 2017.

Spring Training baseball, February - March in AZ (Cactus League) and FL (Grapefruit League). Considering whether I should quit listing this here. Prices have skyrocketed over the past two decades. Southwest, area hotels, and ball parks all know it's awesome, and are testing how much you'll pay for it.

The Masters (golf) April 11 - 14. Patrick Reed won in 2018, and Fowler and Spieth placed second and third. Tiger recovered from another back surgery and dreamed of finishing Top 10, but landed in a four-way tie at 32nd.

33rd Annual Tour of the Gila around Silver City, NM, April. Check out this cycling race that will blow you away - literally. The website mentions "gusty winds," and it's serious. In 2018, ten women’s teams and 18 men’s teams competed, including teams from Colombia and Australia.

Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games 2020 August in Tokyo. Under economic, political, environmental and Zika epidemic pressures, along with a fast deadline for global federations to decide which Russian athletes could complete, the 2016 Rio Games proceeded with expected glitches, but success overall. Just before her 43rd birthday, American cyclist Kristin Armstrong won a third consecutive gold in the women's time trial, but Peter Sagan was unable to recover from two mechanical failures to medal in mountain biking. In wet conditions, the women's cycling road race was a nail-biter, as was the men's. US swimmer Simone Manuel won four medals, including two gold and two silver. Katie Ledecky earned five medals, including four gold and a silver. Michael Phelps won more medals (duh), and the "Final Five" (the next team will be four) US women gymnast team medaled as expected.

SportsSlant Book Club

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed, 2012

The Sportsman: Unexpected Lessons from an Around-the-World Sports Odyssey by Dhani Jones, 2011

Boy Racer by Mark Cavendish, 2010

Born to Run by Christopher McDougall, 2009

OPEN An Autobiography by Andre Agassi, 2009

The Agony of Victory: When Winning Isn't Enough by Steve Friedman, 2007

Gimp: When Life Deals You a Crappy Hand, You Can Fold - or You Can Play by Mark Zupan, 2006

Lance Armstrong's War by Daniel Coyle, 2005

Downhill: The Life Story of a Gravity Goddess by Marla Streb, 2003

Bobke II by Bob Roll, 2003

Not by Accident {Reconstructing a Careless Life} by Samantha Dunn, 2002

The Punch by John Feinstein, 2002

Zamboni Rodeo: Chasing Hockey Dreams From Austin to Albuquerque by Jason Cohen, 2001

Tropic of Hockey: My Search For the Game in Unlikely Places by Dave Bidini, 2000

Open Net by George Plimpton, 1985

Movietime

Concussion - arguably the most serious issue of the NFL, well-told.

Moneyball - more than a baseball movie (though it does that well), it's about reassessing life decisions, challenging priorities, and acting on intuition.

Bull Durham - minor league baseball, way funny

Half the Road - entertaining, informative, intelligent documentary about the state of women's professional cycling.

The Triplets of Belleville - animated cycling, unique

Breaking Away - oldtime cycling drama

American Flyers - oldtime cycling drama

Mystery, Alaska - pond hockey vs. the NHL, humor

Fight Club - "No fear. No distractions. The ability to let that which does not matter truly slide." Certainly not for everyone, the first 3/4ths of the movie is a highly entertaining, thought-provoking, cultural commentary with some brutal street fighting mixed in.