Sports Events Calendar and Results

Vuelta a Espana Tour of Spain, August 19-September 10, departing from Nimes, France. Expect to see some of the same faces from July's Tour de France, including Chris Froome, Fabio Aru, Albqerto Contador and Romain Bardet. Froome has finished the Vuelta 2nd three times. Vincenzo Nibali and Rafal Majka, along with Americans Tejay van Garderen and Andrew Talansky, will race as well.

2017 World Series (baseball) October. The Cubs beat Cleveland on 2016, severing Chicago's role in: "The combined championship drought for the two teams playing for the championship is 176 years, by far the most in the history of American sports." [FoxSports.com]

Winter Olympic Games 2018, February 9-25 in PyeongChang, South Korea. The NHL has decided not to break for the 2018 Games, as it had the previous five Winter Games. The Paralympics are scheduled to take place March 9-18.

Spring Training baseball, baby! Late February - March in AZ (Cactus League) and FL (Grapefruit League). Again the A's beat the previous season's World Series champion, the Cubs, in a Spring Training game. In 2016, the A's beat the champion Royals, then tanked the regular season. Bets on a pattern?

The Masters (golf) April 5 - 8. Sergio Garcia finally won the elusive major on his 74th start, besting the field at the Masters in 2017. Lucky for him, it happened just in time to wear the green jacket for his wedding. The secret to winning at last, according to Garcia, was "believing." He said he also felt a calmness that hadn't been there before.

32nd Annual Tour of the Gila around Silver City, NM, April 18 - 22. Congrats to Tayler Wiles for winning overall in 2017. (Scroll down to see photos of podium boys!) In 2016, Kristin Armstrong competed as part of her Olympic training, and earned the Stage 3 time trial win.

NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs mid-April - mid-June. The Penguins did it again in 2017, winning a second consequtive Stanley Cup championship. They defeated the Nashville Predators, who were playing in the final round for the first time in its team history. Toronto fans finally, finally have a quality young team to be excited about. Though defeated in the first round, Toronto's future looks bright. The Detroit Red Wings didn't make a playoff appearance for the first time in a quarter century.

Tour of California mid-May. 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. 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.

Summer Olympic 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.