Tag Archive | winter classic

High 5 Headlines: Silly Soccer Celebrations, Wie Wins, Kershaw’s Ks, and Penn State Pencils in Premium Players

dancing-soccer

OK, for the last time: This is MY dance space, this is YOUR dance space.

1 – The U.S. Men’s Soccer Team played to a 2-2 draw with Portugal on Sunday, much to the frustration of fans who, after the U.S. defeat of Ghana, were excited at our very real prospects of qualifying outright for the final Round of 16. Now we must at least tie Germany, who gave a Deutsche drubbing to Portugal last week, 4-0. Game time: 12 noon ET this Thursday (or as many Americans will call it, a sick day).

PS –Colombia’s team jubilation dance was one of the best moments of the tournament ; scroll down for a fun clip of soccer celebrations.

2 – Michelle Wie, who sparked the golf scene at age 10 when she qualified for a USGA amateur championship, won the U.S. Women’s Open Sunday. There’s a reason this is pretty cool. Since she turned pro at age 15, along with a flood of endorsements and the pressure of publicity, the 6-1 daughter of a professor and golf champ/beauty queen never won a “major” championship, but just the weekly tourneys that rarely merit any TV time. Frustrated, Wie retreated from the game for a time and attended Stanford, graduating with a degree in communications.

Now 24, she’s back in the golf spotlight at a more acceptable age—and must have experienced both happiness and concern for Lucy Li, 11. Li was the youngest player ever to qualify for the Open, but didn’t make the cut. Didn’t seem to bother her though; she wore braces, ate ice cream and joked with the media. Hopefully she will learn some lessons from Wie, and golf will remain fun, not forced.

3 – Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw threw a no-hitter June 18 against the Colorado Rockies. A no-hitter occurs when the pitcher allows no batter to record a hit. Batters can reach base in other ways, like a walk or error, but this is rare. Most no-hitters are also complete games and shutouts. However, one higher honor exists: the perfect game, in which no batters reach base at all. This is much rarer. There have been 284 no-hitters since 1875; there have been 23 perfect games.

4 – Now that college football’s National Signing Day, on which high school players make their formal college commitments, is behind us, news outlets have ranked the schools’ “recruiting classes.” Naturally the top schools are no surprise, institutions like Alabama, LSU and Ohio State. But what caught my attention is the inclusion of Penn State at around #24 although I’ve seen them as high as five.

I think this is kinda neat because 2014 is roughly the first year the Nittany Lions team will be comprised of players who did not have to endure the 2011 Jerry Sandusky child sex assault scandal. Since then, Sandusky rots in prison, head coach Joe Paterno was fired for allegedly covering up Sandusky’s acts and subsequently died, players transferred elsewhere, and the entire university was penalized by the NCAA for falling down on the job, a decision that, in my opinion only hurts blameless players and fans in the end. For PSU to be getting attention again from players and media is a good sign that, while we should never forget what happened, a historic program can return to its former glory.

5 – Granted I am little biased on this one, but I’m thrilled that one of sports’ most fun and exciting events is coming to my backyard in DC. The Winter Classic is the NHL’s annual game featuring two teams playing outdoors. Even if you don’t follow hockey, it’s great to see two teams take on the elements as well as each other in the old-fashioned way. The Capitals will play January 1, 2015, reportedly against the Chicago Blackhawks at a venue TBD. It doesn’t have to snow, but I would buy up all the milk and bread in the region for a chance to see it in real winter conditions. Fingers crossed!


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FBS, BCS, WTF??? Frozen Cheese, a Flopping Foot, and How Hip Is My Mom?

1–Living in Washington DC, you get used to a lot of acronyms: CIA, POTUS, IRS, OMG the NSA sees my FB? But the government has nothing on football championship nomenclature.

Tonight, Auburn and Florida State face off in the “Football Bowl Subdivision” (FBS, previously NCAA “Division I-A” football) Bowl Championship Series (BCS) Championship Presented by Vizio, Dorito’s, Capital One and My Hairdresser. FBS championships are not actually sanctioned by the NCAA, but instead determined by a controversial ranking system (the BCS) and a whole lotta sponsorship money.

Dude, if you freeze to death at this game, it's not that hat I'll eat!

Dude, if you freeze to death at this game, it’s not that hat I’m gonna eat!

On Saturday, there was another Division-I NCAA college football championship between the “Football Championship Series” (FCS, traditionally known as “Division I-AA”) teams. After a month-long playoff tournament, finalist North Dakota State defeated Towson (Md.), 35-7 for the Bison’s third-straight national title. (By the way, Northwest Missouri State was the 2013 Division II winner, and Wisconsin-Whitewater won Division III.) FBS teams will adopt their own playoff system beginning in 2014,  producing what proponents argue will be a “true” champion. The new approach has its critics, but at least we can give the alphabet a little bit of a rest.

2–Green Bay is famous for many things—“Cheeseheads,” Vince Lombardi, the Lambeau Leap, and Butt. Cold. Football. Sunday wasn’t quite the 1967 “Ice Bowl” between Green Bay and Dallas, when the temperature was an all-time game low of minus-13. Pundits geeked out about the potential blizzard conditions all week for the nighttime NFC Wild Card match-up between Green Bay and San Francisco. And temps came close at a balmy 5 degrees. But in the end, the story actually became the game itself, which saw the 49ers top the Packers 23-20 after superb performances from quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers (newly returned from a broken collarbone) and San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick (who rushed for 98 yards to become the fifth-highest rushing quarterback in NFL history). Also advancing in this weekend’s playoffs: New Orleans, San Diego and Indianapolis.

3—With its crime, jobless rate, and bankruptcy that had the city seeking to sell off works of art, it’s rare Detroit has anything to celebrate. But Red Wing fans enjoyed the Winter Classic New Year’s Day, the NHL’s annual outdoor hockey game, despite losing to the Toronto Blue Jays, 3-2. At the University of Michigan’s “The Big House” stadium (where Michigan football usually plays), 105,000 people watched the teams battle each other and a steady snow that kept rink managers busy, skating back and forth between plays pushing shovels. During intermissions, fans enjoyed family activities, the introduction of the U.S. Women’s Olympic Hockey Team, and the Zac Brown Band.

4—Ronda Rousey retained her women’s bantamweight championship title, defeating Miesha Tate Saturday night in the second-ever women’s UFC Championship. It was the eighth consecutive victory for Rousey, a former Olympic judo medalist. After the bout, Rousey turned her back on her opponent’s handshake—the two also face off regularly on the reality show The Ultimate Fighter.

But it was the main men’s fight, a middleweight rematch between Chris Weidman and Anderson Silva, that stole the show (and had people grabbing for the nearest trash can). In the second round, the two men’s shins collided on simultaneous kicks, snapping Silva’s leg in half on live TV, with a result that resembled…um I don’t know…imagine you are wearing a long winter sock with the foot full of sand, and you are flopping it around in 360 degree circles. Weidman had handed Silva his first defeat in 17 bouts two months ago with a total knockout. Silva vows he will return to the ring.

(And of course, here’s the video. I used the Brazilian version so that maybe the Portuguese is a distraction from the carnage. No? Oh well.)

5–Speaking of gruesome breaks, just a quick tip of the hat to my mother Betsy, who fell and broke her hip the week before Christmas. A lifelong athlete, coach and a Senior Olympian who still holds records in track and field, she’s back home and on the mend–far sooner than she might have if not for making health and exercise such a priority in her daily life. We can’t change our genes or avoid freak accidents (in her case, tripping over the Geeksquad guy as she was hanging Christmas decorations), but we can prepare ourselves better for lifelong health by staying active through sports, the gym, or even just walking the dog (which isn’t so bad for him either!) Go Mom!