My approach to the Olympics has been pretty much catch-as-catch-can. So I’ll watch some weightlifting or archery or synchronized judo or whatever while eating lunch, then catch a little bit of the sport that’s on at night if I’m around the apartment, but I’m hardly prioritizing one sport over another. Eventually, I assume that it’ll be easier to find basketball and baseball than it has been — although I imagine I’ll have to hit up MSNBC for baseball — and I look forward to that, since I haven’t seen much of either so far. And, all due respect to women’s trap shooting and all, I still prefer those sports to most of the Olympic options on offer.
With basketball, my unwillingness to camp out at 8am to watch games means I’ve mostly just missed seeing how amazing Dwyane Wade has apparently been. With baseball, at least as pertains to Monday’s China/USA game, I apparently missed one of the weirdest, most ultra-violent baseball games since James Shields and Coco Crisp last shared a moment. The Detroit Free-Press‘ Michael Rosenberg recaps the salient/violent points:
By the time the game ended, the U.S had won, 9-1; Chinese pitchers had beaned five American hitters, including star Matt LaPorta in the head; the U.S. had plunked two Chinese hitters and nearly knocked two Chinese catchers out of the game; and the umpires had been replaced by members of the U.N. Security Council. The biggest blow was to LaPorta™s head. LaPorta, the big catch for the Cleveland Indians in the C.C. Sabathia trade, went to the hospital and suffered a minor concussion.
œI don™t think they have maybe the right understanding of when to hit a guy, how to hit a guy ” if you™re gonna do it, U.S. player Jason Donald said. œThe way they did it tonight just shows a lack of respect for the game and very little knowledge on their part of how to play the game.
…In the sixth inning, American Nate Schierholtz was closing in on home plate when he saw Yang in the way. Schierholtz then decided to see if he could snap Yang in two. Schierholtz scored, but the NFL fined him $15,000 for helmet-to-helmet contact. œIf you come in and have a collision at home, you never hit someone in the chest, [China Manager Jim] LeFebvre said. œIt was an illegal slide. The umpire should have ejected him, and that™s where the game got out of control.
If you have ever watched a baseball game (and from all indications, Chinese fans haven™t) then you know what came next. In the next inning, Chinese pitcher Kun Chen drilled LaPorta. Unfortunately, the instructional manual œHow To Hit A Batter Like A Real Pro! has not yet been translated into Chinese. Chen made two mistakes. One was hitting LaPorta high ” the pitch skimmed LaPorta™s shoulder and hit him in the head. His other mistake was ignoring Lefebvre™s wishes by hitting LaPorta.
…[W]hen you don™t expect to win ” ever ” then it™s actually easier to cheer. For example, when your team is down 9-0, and backup catcher Yang Yang exacts revenge by hitting a home run off Tigers minor leaguer Blaine Neal, you go nuts. Yang reacted as though he had just won a World Series between Earth and Mars. He circled the bases with one finger in the air, then did some sort of dance move that ended with him touching home plate.
After the final out of the night, Neal tossed the game ball toward the Chinese dugout. So it was a wonderful night all around for the grand old game of baseball, not to mention international diplomacy. For the last four innings, it really felt like a brawl would break out.
I’ve been waiting to see how the hilariously nationalistic (and, and perhaps this another way of saying the same thing about sports, obscenely homer-ish) state-controlled English language paper China Daily spins the game. So far they’ve elected not to cover it. For a taste of their work, check out this florid recap of China’s defeat of Taiwan/Chinese Taipei from last week. Not having seen the game, it sounds like there was some pretty intense boorishness on both sides. For some reason, that strikes me as authentic and maybe good. Better than fake sad gymnast hugs and swimmery half-submerged bro-grabs, at least, in that regard.