After a momentary lull in mid-July, the sports scene is heating up. Summer is clearly not just about baseball anymore.
This week is packed with news about football, hockey, soccer, tennis, golf, cycling, the Olympics and probably some stuff I’m leaving out. Consider this your Fish ‘n Chips guide to this sports week.
The week started off with Ernie Els’ remarkable comeback to win the British Open, which was made possible when Adam Scott choked during the final four holes. Bradley Wiggins won the Tour de France, by the way. The Phillies salvaged their series with the Giants by pulling out a 4-3 victory in 12 innings.
Monday was all about the NCAA and Penn State. Despite the best efforts of the NCAA and Penn State to put this story behind them, we will be hearing much more about the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
Tuesday: Cliff Lee opposes the Brewers’ Zack Greinke in a battle of former American League Cy Young Award winners.
Wednesday: Veterans report to Eagles training camp. The Phillies face the Brewers in the afternoon. The Predators have until 11:59 p.m. to match the Flyers’ offer to Shea Weber. The MLS all-stars square off with Chelsea FC at PPL Park. As if that weren’t enough, the Philadelphia Freedoms host the Boston Lobsters in their final home match of the season.
Thursday: There aren’t any games scheduled. So you can push the Flyers-Weber story to the overnight, technically making it Thursday. There also could be big news from Eagles training camp or developments on the Phillies’ trade front. Don’t expect a day without major news.
Friday: The Olympics kick off with the opening ceremonies from London. The Phillies battle the Braves in Atlanta.
Saturday: Soul host New Orleans Voodoo in Arena Football League playoffs. Phillies face Braves again.
With the July 31 trade deadline looming and the Phillies 10 games out of the second wild-card spot (through Monday’s games), as well as Eagles camp starting, this could be an especially interesting seven days.
DYNASTY DENIAL: Nobody begrudges Michael Vick having a positive outlook, but shouldn’t the Eagles win a playoff game, let alone a championship, before he compares them to the 49ers and Cowboys dynasties?
PENN STATE TWISTS AND TURNS: The latest twist in the Penn State case is that former university president Graham Spanier – in a letter to the Penn State Board of Trustees that was not intended to be public – reveals that he was physically abused (not sexually) by his father. Spanier argues that, given his history of being abused and his background as a sociologist and family therapist, it’s inconceivable that he would do nothing about it if he had known that Sandusky was sexually abusing boys.
I’ll have more on this in another column, but this is one reason I found the NCAA’s sanctions against Penn State premature. There are two sides, at least, to the “cover-up” story, and we’ve only heard from one side.
COMMITMENT TO WINNING: The offer to restricted free agent defenseman Shea Weber is the latest example of the Flyers’ commitment to winning. It seems as if the Flyers do all they can every offseason to put themselves in the best position to pursue the Stanley Cup.
You can quarrel with the results. You can’t quarrel with the Flyers’ effort.
EASY DOES IT: The “Big Easy,” Ernie Els, captured his second British Open championship Sunday by playing the final round in 2-under-par while the other top contenders were failing to match par. Els’ birdie putt on the 18th hole was the winning shot, but he didn’t know that until Adam Scott bogeyed the 17th and 18th holes, dropping four strokes over the final four holes.
Els, 42, didn’t qualify for this year’s Masters, but has bounced back by being in contention during the final round of the U.S. Open and winning the British Open. It appears the Big Easy still has some great golf in him.
THRILLS AND AGONY: I spent seven hours in my car Thursday, with a few stops along the way, as we visited friends and family. We experienced the thrill of seeing the Phillies take the lead in the 10th inning on Hunter Pence’s 2-run single while at a friend’s house in the Catskills … and the agony of learning that they had lost to the Dodgers in 12 innings during dinner at a restaurant somewhere along Route 84 in New York or Connecticut.
SPIN CYCLE: Remember when the Tour de France used to be a big deal? The combination of the lack of American contenders and the ongoing damage done by drug scandals has reduced the Tour de France to an afterthought in the American sports landscape.
OLYMPICS OPEN: Speaking of sporting events with declining interest, I find myself increasingly less interested in the Olympics every four years. I know the Olympics will generate huge ratings. But I’m simply not that interested in the outcomes.
One factor that may change my mind is the number of channels on which the Olympics will be broadcast. The “NBC family” of networks will show a variety of sports. This gives the viewer options to turn to when they don’t like what’s on NBC at a particular moment. Being able to watch the events I want to see and, for example, spending less time listening to the shrill gymnastics and diving commentators may enhance my own Olympic experience.
And shame on the International Olympic Committee for not having a moment of silence or some other recognition during Friday’s opening ceremonies of the 40-year anniversary of the murder of members of Israel’s Olympic delegation in Munich.
Eric Fisher, who has been covering sports for more than 23 years, feels badly for Adam Scott but is happy for Ernie Els.