Ready for the Olympics? By the time you read this, they will have started, with four women's soccer matches getting underway at 11 a.m. EDT. The U.S. plays Greece in one of them, on the island of Crete.
Greece is a soccer-mad country, especially in light of its upset win in Euro 2004, but it's not mad for women's soccer. The Greeks only qualified because they're the host nation. Eight American women of Greek descent were recruited for the team, which is not expected to do a lot of scoring or winning.
Soccer starts two days before the Opening Ceremonies to give it enough time to hold a full tournament, although it wouldn't be impossible to start Saturday and still end on time. Take away a couple of off days and play the men's gold-medal game the same day as the bronze-medal game, same as the women, and there you go. It's nice that they get two off days between games, but there have been Olympic boxers who have had to fight twice in the same day, so concessions can be made to the schedule.
But nobody asked me, and if they want to start playing two days earlier, fine. Fine. Seems a little bush league, but fine.
The other matches Wednesday are Japan-Sweden, China-Germany and Australia-Brazil. The men get going at 1:30 p.m. EDT, but the Americans aren't playing so who cares.
Just kidding! The four men's games are South Korea-Greece, Mexico-Mali, Australia-Tunisia and Serbia and Montenegro-Argentina. That's a tough match for the Argentines, having to beat Serbia and Montenegro.
But that business about only American athletes likely to win medals making it onto American TV screens is one of the two biggest complaints I hear from readers about Olympic coverage -- and I hear a lot of complaints. The other big one is about the sappy up-close-and-personal features on the athletes, which can be summed up as: An illness, injury or death in the family has been bravely overcome.
NBC is devoting 1,210 hours to the Olympics on the big network and a record number of hench-networks: CNBC, MSNBC, Bravo, USA, Telemundo and NBC-HDTV. That's about three times more coverage than in Sydney four years ago, so there ought to be time for more events where Americans aren't favored to win.
Men's basketball, for instance.
Or, it could mean another 800 hours of purple prose, slow motion and violin music. We'll see how it goes, but the schedule looks encouraging, and NBC suits have been saying the right things about both big complaints.
On the other hand, the very first Olympic broadcast began at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday on MSNBC with a shot of the U.S. women's soccer team walking onto a practice field -- in slow motion. With syrupy choral music playing under Jim Lampley as he intoned, "It's a soccer team. It's a symbol. It's a sisterhood."
But NBC has definitely answered the third most popular Olympic TV complaint from this column's readers: John Tesh is nowhere to be found.
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Security report [PERMALINK]
These are the Security Olympics, which is necessary in today's world to try to ensure that they won't be remembered as the Terrorism Olympics.
At a full-dress rehearsal of the Opening Ceremonies Tuesday, 70,000 spectators were evacuated from the stadium in 17 minutes.
It's not true that Athens officials are sharing information with the Miami Dolphins, whose fans may want to get out of Pro Player Stadium that quickly on certain Sundays this fall.
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Adam Dunn goes interstate [PERMALINK]
At times in his up-and-down career, Jose Lima has been so bad it was damn near a crime. Now working for the Dodgers, he pitched well Tuesday night and beat the Reds 5-2 in Cincinnati for his 11th win. Along the way, though, he gave up a home run to Adam Dunn that was so prodigious the FBI may have to get involved.
The Reds were down 4-1 in the fourth inning when Dunn hit a shot to center field that left the stadium, bounced in the street and rolled all the way into the Ohio River, where it came to rest on a stationary piece of driftwood. Based on where a security guard said he saw the ball bounce, the homer was estimated at 535 feet.
Dunn didn't want to talk about his clout after the game because his team lost. But it looks like it wasn't just an ordinary tape-measure shot. As reader Jeff Mathews of Lexington, Ky., points out and the U.S. Geological Survey confirms, the Ohio-Kentucky border at downtown Cincinnati is the north bank of the river. If you stick your toe into the Ohio, you're in Kentucky.
As of this column's posting time, the Hall of Fame had not been able to confirm that Dunn's shot was the first home run in major league history to have crossed a state line, but I think it's a pretty good bet that it was.
You know you've really given up a home run when there are only 48 states it hasn't traveled through.
There oughta be a law.
Previous column: Maddux, 300 and celebrations
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