2014 Winter Olympics Sunday Thoughts

Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Basketball season is moving forward rapidly these days and Clemson is busy allowing any chance of an NCAA Tournament bid slip through their fingers.  Last weekend it was faltering down the stretch against the best team in the land.  There is no shame in losing to the Orangemen.  Tuesday it involved pissing away an excellent chance up in South Bend, as the Tigers were a mere free throw away from winning that game in regulation.  Yesterday it was a blown game against Virginia.  That drops this team to 6-6 in league play...frustrating when you consider one win keeps the NCAA hopes very much alive and two wins, and an 8-4 league record, puts the Tigers clearly in the driver's seat.  Clemson has six games left--all ACC games--in arguably its easiest stretch of the season.  The biggest obstacle in this run is Pitt, but the Tigers get them at home.  Four out of six of these games are at home, with the tigers traveling to NC State Tuesday then Atlanta on Saturday.  Also--MEMO to Brad Brownell--this offense sucks.  It is, for the most part, really really tough to watch.  Clemson has one offensive threat and he needs to touch the ball at the end of the game--especially with the contest on the line.  Get K.J. McDaniels the rock late in the game.  Let's avoid cross-court passes to players not named McDaniels to decide a basketball game.

Baseball season is back in business.  Our Tigers close the weekend series with Eastern Michigan this afternoon after splitting the first two Friday / Saturday.  Before anyone jumps off a cliff, this is baseball.  They play a boatload of games.  The early ones don't matter nearly as much as the late games when it comes to tournament seeding.  Clemson gets Maine next weekend then the Gamecocks the next.  It is a bit frustrating for me that we play Carolina so early every year but I completely understand the rationale.  Both schools play tough conference schedules.  (A) it is difficult schedule-wise to put a series together late in the year given conference requirements (B) this series is for pride as a loss now impacts you less than one later on in terms of tournament seeding.

Personally, I would like to see these two teams play four games a season and ideally split them (two in Clemson, two in Columbia).  I would like to see them played as weekend games and that seems to be the snag in the whole request (possibly Thurs/Friday in one local, then a Sat/Sun move to the other team's stadium?).  The four game season series is a distant memory so I'll discuss the current format.  For once, the powers that be have hit the nail on the head with scheduling this one.  They decided to eliminate any option of mid-week games and scheduled this as a single three-game annual series.  One game is played in Clemson.  Another is played at Carolina.  The third is played at a neutral location (previously in Greenville or Charleston).  Obviously, the home fans are treated to one game and other parts of the state are treated to high quality college baseball rivalry at a fantastic venue.

Obviously, the Olympics are in progress these days.  There is nothing like seeing these people skiing in short sleeves.  Brilliant move by the IOC and choice of location...props to Putin for being a big enough salesman to get the WINTER games located in an area that doesn't require a winter coat.  I am pretty sure it was a lot colder in South freaking Carolina last week than it was over tehre in Sochi.  Did the IOC not even take an obligatory visit to this location?  These morons are probably the same yahoos that run the NCAA investigative teams.

As you know, I really care little about these contests.  First off, I've never even heard of half the crap they are playing. What the hell is Snowboard Slopestyle or Snowboard parallel special slalom?  It is like the same stoners who came up with X-Games and Winter-X (then somehow successfully pitched the idea to ESPN) have now gotten to the Olympic committee.  I guess if those dumbasses can't pick a cold location to host things like, I don't know, downhill skiing, why should I expect them to choose reasonable events for world-class competition?

That brings me to the only event I've watched...curling.  The Shuster Rink is really pissing me off again this year.  Shuster is a choker and the Americans are getting completely rickrolled at the Ice Cube.  By the way, my guess is that (A) the rapper Ice Cube is a big curling fan so (B) Vlad honored Cube by naming the venue after him. This may not be the official claim but somehow that's probably how it went down.  Anyway, both American teams got the crap kicked out of them with neither even sniffing advancement in the tournament.  Yes, this men's team is the same Shuster-led group that won bronze back in 2006.  It all fell apart for the skip as he was benched in the 2010 Games then moved to a different team before getting back to the skip spot for Shuster Rink.  I am not sure if John has the curling-equivalent of the Yips, if the pressure has just become too much, or if the competition has risen to a level that the Americans simply cannot match.

The only thing worse than the Olympics is listening to these idiots on ESPN discuss NBA All-Star weekend.  Analyzing the dynamic of a dunk contest?  Really?  The NBA is a joke and ESPN trying to legitimize an exhibition matchup.  Who the hell cares about any of this crap, particularly hearing Stephen A. Smith and some other moron discussing this garbage.  The only thing that could save this discussion is if Gordon Sollie or Jim Ross were giving the play-by-play.

The 3 car will return to the track at Daytona.  I am not sure how well I'll receive seeing it there without the man piloting that ship--though it does look dramatically different than the legendary black #3 Earnhardt drove.  I thought NASCAR should have gone ahead and retired the number but then again, I never think NASCAR gets anything correct.  My plan this year is to watch just the races I want and not care about the rest.  This "playoff" setup is the stupidest thing I've ever seen.  Combine that with Brian France rolling this genius plan out a month before the season starts and you get pure genius.  Maybe they will wait until the end of the "regular season" again this year to amend / interpret rules that assure their guys get into the "playoff."  The "playoff" is so stupid because they race at a different location and different track every week.  They do this to assure the best driver can run on short tracks, superspeedways, road courses, and the now standard 1.5 miler.  There are quirky places like Pocono, Darlington, and, of course Indy.  This series is designed to be a contest of consistency.  To set up a "playoff" is ridiculous. Even more ridiculous is that the circuit's signature location--Daytona--plays no part in this alleged playoff.  This system sucks and NASCAR is losing fans because the system sucks.  I used to plan my week around watching on Sunday but now that the series has sold out there is little reason for me to do more than cherry-pick the races I want to watch and ignore the fallacy stock car racing has become.

The PGA boys are out at Riviera this week.  As you all know, Fred Couples is close to deity out there so they always try to get Boom-Boom in the spotlight during this tour stop.  Yesterday CBS killed it having Nick Fado and Couples in the booth together commenting on the action in the tournament while chatting it up.  That was epic and I am glad I got home from the course in time to catch that bit.

As for the golf game, I can feel improvement.  The biggest key for me--like most of you out there I am sure--is to assure consistent head position and understanding your swing plane.  On the first item, I read a tip (originated from Justin Rose, I believe) to keep your head from moving and your body from rising through the swing.  Get into your stance then imagine there is a ceiling above your head and you don't want to bump your head.  That worked for me so far, so I figured I'd pass it along.  I am still having trouble with a consistent swing plane but know that consistent eye/head position assures more consistency which will improve range-time and understanding of the swing path.

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