A pause for a sappy moment
Don’t tell anybody, but even we bitter old grouches look forward to what’s referred to among some of us as “Olympic Moments” at bun-tosses like this.
They’re the instances at Games where you smile at the emotion of the moment and feel good that you’ve seen something.
Having covered a fair share of rather unsuccessful moments here, I finally got my first on Friday morning here.
It came when Lauren Bay Regula got out of a bases-loaded, none-out jam in the bottom of the seventh to preserve a win in what was an absolute gem of a game.
The smile on her face, and the embrace of her teammates when it was all over, was one of those moments you kind of remember for days over here. It reminds you just why most of the athletes are at this thing.
God knows I’ve seen some go the other way – losing archery teams and field hockey teams and water polo teams and soccer teams (although the women did get a win and a tie, too) – so it was nice to see drama.
Trust me. You’re gonna like this softball team as we go on and they chase a medal.
Okay, enough gushing, back to your regularly-scheduled snark and bitterness.
You go to international basketball things like Olympics and world championships and it’s like a reunion of old players, who love to stick around the game.
The other night at Lithuania-Russia before USA-Greece, three guys from different continents were sitting around swapping stories and it must have been very, very cool.
Jay Triano’s sitting alongside Andrew Gaze of Australia and the great Oscar Schmidt of Brazil watching and chatting. They probably represent a kabillion or two international points scored.
And Oscar was probably the best. One of the greatest pure scorers in international basketball history, he could roll out of bed and get you 40 before he wiped the sleep from his eyes.
Knew his place, too.
Jay tells me at one point in the conversation, he said of his team and himself:
"We had four guys to carry the piano and one guy who had to play it.”
I know the names aren't exactly right given first and surnames in this part of the world but it was pretty cool to look down at my scoresheet at the Canada-China softball game and see Sun batting just ahead of Tan.
So I hear of this little local joint down the street from the basketball venue that’s become quite the night spot for parched North American writers and the odd NBA assistant coach.
It’s got affordable cocktails and a menu that’s, well, that’s quite interesting.
Among the delicacies, according to the English side of the menu, are:
Fish Tastes Like Pork and Soup Made Of Goat Private Parts.
And on the list, along with chicken, beef and pork is something they term Special Meat.
I can only imagine.
Maybe, on a dare, we get some of that Saturday night after Spain-USA.
Or maybe not.
Priceless public address announcement of the day at softball:
"We are glad you cheer for the teams but please remain silent when the player is about to strike the ball and please do not use profanity.”
How do you think that goes over in North America?
They’ve got mountains around here.
Well, we didn’t, what with the haze that’s engulfed the city since we arrived, replaced every now and then by clouds and rain.
Imagine my surprise when, as we’re on a bus from the main press centre to Fengtai, home of softball, and there were mountains on the horizon. First time I’d seen them since landing here almost a week ago.
The weather Friday was spectacular. Blue skies, about 30 C, no wind. Guess the cloud seeding or whatever meteorological magic they’re pulling off finally worked.
Raptor fans out there?
I tell ya, I don’t think I’ve seen Chris Bosh play too much better at both ends of the court than he did in that game on Thursday over here against Greece.
Active, intense, unselfish. He looked outstanding.
And my spies tell me that’s pretty much how he’s been playing all along this summer with the American team. He’s forced Carlos Boozer to a 12th man role and I’m betting he pushes Dwight Howard for minutes the rest of the way.
I don’t know if it’ll translate to every night in the regular season (it’s going to be a lot harder to get up for, say, Charlotte some Tuesday in February than it is for Greece at the Olympics) but something seems to have twigged for the young fella.
This is interesting and very telling about the character of Roger Federer.
It’s about 1:20 a.m. Friday when we were pulling out of the main press centre to head home after a long, rainy day.
The tennis stadium’s on the way and we notice the lights are on and games are being played. A fellow traveller reports that not only are games going on but that Roger Federer, as big a name as anyone here, is out there toiling in doubles, just a couple of hours after losing to James Blake in singles.
Now, I know it’s cynical but I can imagine a handful of other big-time athletes pulling a muscle or getting a cramp or developing some intestinal illness that would have allowed them to bail on the doubles and that could have only been cured by a drive to the airport.
Hey, kids, I'm glancing every now and then at the mail in-box and there aren't that many good queries in there. What's wrong, you all watching the Olympics or something?