Thursday, July 4, 2013

Niche Sports Apocalypse

The view from over my Gin&Tonic tonight is troubling. Somehow I've lost pace with my cozy little world of niche sports this spring. May flew by comfortably enough, in fact I don't think I even looked for Mt Everest News. Dare I say Everest has become 'So Last Century'?

I'm used to the dearth of Indianapolis Motor Speedway news now. The daily records and breathless headlines of speed are quaint memories from the Pre-Split IndyCar world. Which is not to say the Indy 500 is passé contraire the 2013 Indy 500 was very exciting, with double last year's record lead changes, leading to a very popular victory for Tony Kanaan, who's been a bridesmaid twelve times at the Speedway, but never the bride until this year.

The 'new' IndyCar Series has settled back into it's boring slate of 1-1/2 Mile Ovals, Temporary Street Circuits where the only overtaking is done on Pit Stops...too many Saturday races...IndyCar is trying double headers this year, Saturday and Sunday on the same circuit...I prefer my motorsports to be ennui-free...

June brought back the 'June Swoon' for my World Champion San Francisco Giants. The Giants starting pitchers suffered from one blow-out inning in each outing, while the Giants hitters slumped as a group spectacularly...MLB's worst team batting average for June...fewest home runs in the Majors for June...

Did I mention the injuries? Center fielder Angel Pagan pulled a hamstring, nursed it for a month, then tore it in earnest during his first 'rehab game' with the Class A Advanced, San Jose Giants farm team. Starting RHP Ryan Vogelsong broke the pinky on his throwing hand when hit by a pitch back on May 20th, he's due back sometime in August.

The Giants moved long reliever Chad Gaudin into Vogelsong's spot in the starting rotation where he made two quality starts before struggling in his third outing (attributed to 'Dead Arm Syndrome' by Giants' broadcaster and pitching guru, Mike Krukow) Gaudin was back to form on his fourth start when he was hit...twice! by batted balls.

The first hit bounced off Gaudin's butt, Gaudin picked it up and threw the batter out. The second time the line drive hit Gaudin on this pitching arm just below the elbow, on his forearm. Gaudin was unable to continue, and has in fact missed his next two scheduled starts.

The Giants acquired Gaudin to fill in for long reliever Santiago Casilla who was lost to a cyst in the bone of his lower leg. Casilla had the cyst removed and went on the 15 Day DL (Disabled List) He's been rehabbing with the San Jose Giants and should return this weekend vs the Dodgers at AT&T Park.

Another Giants' Hit Batsman, 2nd baseman Marco Scutaro suffered a dislocated pinky on his glove hand, missed six games and is back playing with his new splint protecting his 'mallet finger'

Future Gold-Glove shortstop, Brandon Crawford jammed two fingers on his throwing hand sliding into second base and missed a couple of games, until his replacement Joaquin Arias pulled up lame with his pulled hamstring...see where I'm goin' here? 

Slugging All-Star MVP 3rd baseman Pablo 'Kung Fu Panda' Sandoval did a stint on the 15 Day DL for a foot sprain, and apparently left his bat behind...he's batting just .152 since returning...

The Giants fell all the way to the cellar in the NL West, displacing the hated Los Angeles  Dodgers...this past week, at least all the other teams in the NL West fell of their barstools's a long season, as they say...

Independence day was Opening Day on San Francisco Bay for The America's Cup Regatta. After a fatal training accident and the subsequent pause to re-evaluate the safety protocols of the scary-fast AC72 catamarans, there's some static background noise of possible litigation of the new safety rules possibly delaying the racing...stay tuned as they say...

The 2013 Formula One Season has been excellent so far. I'm having a little trouble adapting to the new US Broadcaster NBC SportsNet however...gone are the live streaming sessions of Free Practice 1 and FP3. NBCSN does air FP2 and Qualifying LIVE, except during Le Tour de France (read the month of July, plus the last weekend of June, or another way to say it, the British and German Grands Prix)

The F1 season has been a gearhead geek's delight so far, but things looked like they were falling off the rails when a series of high speed tire failures began on Lap 7 of the British GP at Silverstone, when favorite son, Mercedes' Pole Winner Lewis Hamilton's left rear Pirelli disintegrated at 100+ MPH!

Two more Pirelli tires suffered a similar fate during the race, as well as one during Saturday practice. all were fitted to the left rear. No injuries or crashes resulted from the failures, and the racers soldiered on fearlessly.

The silver lining? It looks like the FIA will again allow the teams to test during the season. Germany's GP comes Sunday July 7th at the Nü should be say the least!

Finally, July is the time for my favorite sporting event, Le Tour de France. I was looking forward to entering a couple of Fantasy TdF Games, but my favorite places were gone! I found a new spot, this one from Great Britain and began boning up on the Start List.

Where is everybody? American sprinter Tyler Farrar didn't make the Garmin-Sharp Tour Team...Norwegian World Champion sprinter Thor Hushovd...MIA, last year's winner Brit Bradley Wiggins is unable to defend with a knee injury...I gave up...plain and simple...

NBCSportsNet's TV coverage has been as good as ever. This is the 100th running of Le Tour, and the organizers have outdone themselves...more mountains, a team time trial, and get this, they climb L'Alpe d' the same stage! Stage 18 Gap to L'Alpe d'Huez, Thursday July 18th.

Today is Stage is customary, the first week of Le Tour has been mostly about the sprinters...with the attendant high speed crashes, and drama. One fellow is already soldiering along with a hairline pelvis fracture. American Christian Vande Velde was caught up in Stage 5's contretemps and hit the road hard enough to loosen some surgical screws in his collarbone...Vande Velde is still racing today.

One more thing is bothering me about this year's Tour. Being that this is the Centennial Tour, there's lots of Tour History, which for American TV means Lance Armstrong's history. Admitted PED user, this is uncomfortable in the main, but PEDs in competitive cycling is not a Black & White story. Performance Enhancing Drugs have been part of Le Tour since 1903 the first Tour.

I'm not excusing Armstrong's deeds. I'll have more to say in a later blog.

Thanks for reading...

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