Sigh. Just 24 hours ago, the idea of Tom Watson winning the British Open and Lance Armstrong winning the Tour de France didn’t seem all that far-fetched. In fact, we were all starting to believe that it all had to happen. Why would they come this far just to fail in the end?
Much has been written about Watson’s inability to hang on to a one-shot lead on the 18th at Turnberry, but lost in that shuffle was the news that Armstrong has basically conceded the Tour to his teammate Alberto Contador after falling behind in yesterday’s climb in the Alps. While Lance is still second overall, he finished ninth in yesterday’s stage and looks like he’s not going to be able to keep up as the Tour continues through the mountains over the next week.
Armstrong is trying to take the high road in pledging that he will do whatever he can to help Contador keep the yellow jersey until the end, but Contador couldn’t resist smacking Lance with a rather large verbal backhand:
“Lance Armstrong was my idol, but dropping him today wasn’t important — he was just like any other rider … It’s an honor for me to have him working for me,” Contador said.
In other words, this is my sport now. Armstrong, who is rumored to be starting his own team for next year, acknowledged that Contador was the best rider and that his goal now is to do what’s best for his team.
Wins by Watson and/or Armstrong would have probably ended up being the biggest sports stories of the year, if not among the best of the decade. These examples of the triumph of the spirit over the limitations of the body as we age are a shot in the arm of a lot of us could use. For the most part, we are faced every day with some reminder that we aren’t all we could be, and we accept it because we’re getting older. It’s the most convenient excuse, and perhaps the fact that they came up just short is enough evidence for us to keep using it. Golf and cycling are about as far apart in terms of their physical demands as you can get in the sports world. But the fact that a 59-year-old and a 37-year-old cancer survivor could come so close to reaching the pinnacle of their respective sports one last time has to be some sort of wake up call for the rest of us, right?
Speaking of wake up calls (and I hate to keep bringing this up), but it looks as if the nails are just about to be driven in the coffin of David Beckham’s MLS career. In his first home game since his return to the Galaxy, he was roundly booed and got into an angry confrontation with a fan during L.A.’s friendly with AC Milan (Beckham’s other team).
Though he claimed afteward that he expected some negativity, it was clear through his behavior that he didn’t expect it to be quite as overwhelming as it was. The main culprits were the Riot Squad, the Galaxy’s version of a wannabe European fan section. As you can see, they aren’t too happy that Becks backed out on the first half of the MLS season to play in Italy:
After hearing boos and coordinated chants and jeers throughout the first half, Beckham finally had enough and confronted the section of fans as he headed off the field for halftime. He says he went to ask them to calm down, but soon security was getting involved and escorting away a fan who appeared as if he wanted to engage Becks in some sort of physical altercation. The L.A. TIMES has all the particulars of a strange evening at the Home Depot Center.
Lost in all of the tension was the fact that Beckham actually played well, and was instrumental in both of L.A.’s goals in a 2-2 draw with Milan. After he delivered a perfect corner kick in the second half that Bryan Jordan headed into the net, he turned to the Riot Squad and stared them down as he raised his arms in celebration. I imagine that this battle isn’t quite over yet, even though Beckham tried to downplay it in his remarks afterward:
By the way, Los Angeles, way to treat your sports stars. You welcome Manny Ramirez, a proven cheater, back from his suspension as if he was returning from chemotherapy or something, but you get all over this guy. Nice.
• Roy Halladay dominated the Red Sox yesterday, throwing a complete-game in a 3-1 victory in what could be his last start in Toronto. So where’s he going? Philly? Milwaukee? The South Side? The North Side? Anaheim? Mannywood? St. Louis? Minnesota? Texas? Seattle is apparently bucking the trend by admitting they aren’t interested.
• From the world of minor league baseball promotions, here’s footage of Chewbacca riding around in the Mystery Machine at a single-A game in Lowell, Massachusetts:
• More from the world of minor league baseball promotions: The Brooklyn Cyclones dedicated last night’s game to preganancy, complete with a pregame Lamaze class, and the promise of free tickets for life to anyone who names their kid “Brooklyn” or “Cy.”
• The Mets have lost yet another player to injury, and are dangerously close to having to go out and sign Jose Lima again, and nobody wants to see that. Unless his wife shows up for his starts:
• 5,000 people showed up to see the groundbreaking for the new Marlins stadium, and their view was blocked by the families of the dignitaries involved in the ceremony. Now, if they could only get 5,000 people to show up for an actual Marlins game…
• Hey, so how about that really thrilling PGA tournament that ended in a playoff yesterday? That was some pretty great stuff. Wait, who’s Bo Van Pelt? Milwaukee? What’s going on here?
• With Tom Watson coming so close to winning the British Open, even a guy who survived four surgeries on a brain tumor thinks he’s good enough to come back and play next year.
• Henry Surtees, the 18-year-old son of former Formula 1 champion John Surtees, died yesterday from injuries suffered in a freak accident during a Formula 2 race in England. A tire from another racer’s car flew off and hit Surtees in the head, causing him to lose consciousness and drive his car straight into a barrier.
• First, Tony Romo lost Jessica Simpson. Now, he lost a celebrity golf tournament to Rick Rhoden, who won the tournament in Lake Tahoe for the eighth time. Charles Barkley finished last, falling behind Chuck Liddell and Kevin Nealon on the last day.
• Mike Mussina took the mound for the first time at the new Yankee Stadium yesterday. Of course, it was old-timers’ day, so I guess that means he’s retired. He is, by the way, the last Yankee pitcher to win a game against the Red Sox.
• Maybe the reason that the Pirates gave a bit of an insulting extension offer to Jack Wilson is because they realize that, despite his defensive brilliance, he’s an absolutely atrocious offensive player. Like, along the lines of Yuniesky Betancourt. But I’m not sure I give Neal Huntington that much credit.