Wednesday, August 8, 2012

PAGING PATTY SMYTH: Scandal is in the Olympic air this morning -- doping in 50km race-walking, Spain's (predicted!) tanking in men's basketball, illegal dolphin kicks in the men's 100m breaststroke and, of course, the calls in the USA-Canada women's soccer semifinal. What's capturing your attention today?

added: The men's 400m medal ceremony from yesterday. Kirani James sings!


  1. Joseph J. Finn8:41 AM

    Katie Taylor for Ireland (boxing) moving closer to a gold medal (which would be the first for Ireland since 1996, and since Michelle Smith was cauht doping 2 years later you have to go back to 1956 for another).  Interesting to look at Ireland's medal table, actually; a lot of boxers, some track & field, swimming and then one silver in the Flying Dutchman class of sailing in 1980.

  2. isaac_spaceman11:01 AM

    Three things occurred to me while watching the Games (r) last night:

    1.  In the broadest sense, ratings-wise, this was the Olympics Of Russian Teens Crying.  I have seen Kumova three times in my life, all three times crying or choking back tears because either she or somebody else had just screwed up her gold medal chances.  Kumova and Mostafina were completely brutal in the way they froze out that poor floor specialist. 

    2.  Statistically, you can triple your chance of medaling in a women's sprint event by having a hyphenated last name, and you can triple them again by adding a hyphenated first name. 

    3.  In the Isaac's Black Heart department, I'm a sucker for Olympic falls (remember that double-gold-favorite speed skater who spilled twice in the same games?  classic).  So while I feel for Liu, that qualifying round in the 110 hurdles was one of the funniest things I have ever seen.  NBC didn't show us the whole thing, but it went to tight close-up on Liu.  Zapruder the film:  Liu hits the first hurdle and crashes hard.  Two lanes to his left, you can just see another runner hit the first hurdle and go down even harder, a spectacular crash-and-tumble.  One lane to Liu's left, that hurdle goes down too -- either that guy hit it or it was collateral damage from the surrounding crashes.  And one lane to Liu's right, the guy comes out of the blocks and immediately pulls up lame, holding his quad.  Just complete carnage.  It was like a crash in the peloton in the Tour de France. 

  3. Melissa R.11:42 AM

    Yeah, I know I have a pro-USA bias.  But Considering a Canadian player deliberately stomped on the head of a US player, (details here among others: ) I have no sympathy for Canada.  I think the call should've been to give the goal keeper a yellow card rather than an indirect kick to USA.  But, Canada should've been playing one man down from the 55th minute on.  Such is the sport of soccer. 

  4. Poor Catalina Ponor.  It was refreshing to see a 25 year old woman out there with the teens!  I wish they had done more to explain the protest of Aly's beam score.  It really came across to me that the Karolyis bullied the judges.  Al Trautwig must go! 

  5. Melissa R.1:58 PM

    NBC whiffed by not doing a narrative on Ponor.  I found myself googling afterwards to learn more.  And women's gymastics tie rules are weird.  Why can't 2 people with the same score get the same medal?  But she did get a silver on floor! 

  6. bella wilfer1:58 PM

    Like mcm, I wish I knew more re: the appropriateness of protesting scores in gymnastics.  I'm a huge fan (and a former gymnast, though certainly not anywhere close to the Olympic level!) and don't think I've ever seen it done.  Was the judges' error something so obvious that it was like "of course they protested" or was it a technicality where the Karolyis' bullying pushed Aly over the line?  Even her coach seemed confused about the idea of protesting at first... Thoughts?

    That said, loved Aly winning the floor exercise.  Great routine (and she even got a thumbs up from Mustafina, who I've dubbed the evil Bond villainess of the games).  

    Komova needs Tom Hanks to tell her there's no crying in gymnastics.  Pull it together.

  7. Genevieve2:32 PM

    Here's an explanation of the procedure for raising a protest.  From what I've read (and from watching last night), I do think it sounds like they originally underscored Aly Raisman's routine's difficulty, and I think that's a relatively objective things to review.

    Now on the ties, I think it's ridiculous and outrageous that gymnastics doesn't allow ties anymore.  And the tie-breaker rules are crazy -- the lowest score gets dropped, and if two people tied and their lowest scores weren't equal, mathematically that means the one of them with the worst score on one apparatus will win.

    I was so glad to see Aly win last night!

  8. isaac_spaceman2:43 PM

    I don't know that the all-around tiebreaker procedure is any crazier than any possible alternative.  Yes, it works out to meaning that the one of the two competitors who had the worst score on any event gets the medal.  But that also means that that competitor was better than the other competitor overall on the other three events.  It might make more sense statistically to drop both the lowest and the highest scores (because one would expect those are the most likely to be outliers), but then you would cease to reward gymnasts for incredible performances.  Plus, it's easier to have a fluky low score than a fluky high one.  So from a combination of optics and statistics, dropping the lowest score seems to make sense (if you're going to have tiebreakers at all). 

    That wasn't the tiebreaker in effect on the beam, though (you can't throw out lowest score on a single-score event).  Apparently the tiebreaker is execution score.  You could make arguments for either execution (rewarding performance) or difficulty (rewarding the courage to do a routine that makes it harder to perform), but you have to pick one.  Or, again, you could just allow ties.  When you go to three decimal places, ties shouldn't happen all that often, though for some reason they do. 

  9. Tiebreaker should be the gymnastics equivalent of a game of H-O-R-S-E.  Each tied competitor picks one stunt on the apparatus for the other(s) to duplicate, judges score the results.

  10. Marsha3:32 PM

    Especially since we saw a three-way tie for bronze on the men's high jump.

    Ponor was great last night - and yes, it's nice to see a mature woman of over 4'10" do well. She is very elegant, especially on the beam, and I like watching her routines.

  11. Genevieve4:11 PM

    A very good article from Joe Posnanski, who was at the all-around sitting next to an expert: