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2006
20
Jun

Cavalcade of Sports

And they call this the Dead Zone. That sports-starved period between the end of the college basketball season and the beginning of another football one seems to be fairly busy. There is a lot of stuff going on, some of it even bearing at least a passing resemblance to sports.

The NHL finally got around to awarding Lord Stanley’s Cup. That coldest of cold weather sports reached its climax in that winter wonderland of Raleigh in June. The Raleigh city fathers had been spending much time arguing over where to hold a championship parade. The Carolina Hurricanes noticed that a strong argument was being made to hold it in downtown Edmonton and finally went out and won the darned thing.

There will be many celebrations feting the winners of that funny-looking trophy being added to the all of the RTP’s basketball ones. While whether to hold downtown Raleigh’s first sports parade since that one celebrating State football’s middle-of-the-pack ACC finish a few years ago [somebody sure knew something] is still being discussed, the Centennial Authority, operators of the Pork Palace where the Canes play, got the jump on everybody by holding their own.

It was to begin at the Wendell Murphy Center , where hopefully Chuckie will be looking out of his office window in order to get a glimpse of what a championship trophy looks like. It was to end in the parking lot of the Pork Palace , where the taxpayers of Raleigh could take pride in that they finally got something for all of that money. As El Sid carries to the curb all of the stuff Herb left behind in the office as he raced out of town, he may ponder exactly how long it might take for the other tenant of the Pork Palace to add to the hardware.

While the Stanley Cup will reside in the continental United States , the chances of the World Cup doing the same remain remote. After that dreadful performance against the Czech Republic , Team USA looked very much like they were going to become the RUTSgers of international soccer. This was reinforced in their second game against power Italy when the US quickly fell behind 0-1. Things were looking grim.

It was then that Italian defender Christian Zaccardo noticed that the Americans had not scored during the entire World Cup tournament. He took matters into his own hands, kicking the ball into his own goal to help out the US effort. It is this kind of display of selfless sportsmanship that makes soccer such a wildly-popular game everywhere but in this country. Zaccardo’s goal stood up as the US forged a 1-1 tie, keeping alive their chance of being embarrassed by Brazil in the next round. A grateful US team named Zaccardo its game MVP and carried him off the pitch on their shoulders. When nobody on the American team seemed capable of scoring, they were able to find somebody who could. Hopefully Zaccardo will receive the same enthusiastic fan support when he returns home to Palermo .

There was a period of a couple of hours Sunday afternoon between the end of the day’s last soccer match and the beginning of Carolina demonstrating at the College World Series that baseball is indeed about pitching, pitching and pitching and Little Johnny Swofford showing that his wardrobe contains a depth sufficient for him to find a polo shirt in a carefully-neutral color nowhere near any of the ACC’s four CWS participants, down to three as of this typing, as Georgia Tech proved that late collapse against Clemson was no fluke as they did it again against Fullerton. Adios, Jackets.

That couple of hours was filled by the end of the US Open. Phil Mickelson had survived 71 holes of the treacherous Winged Foot course and was in great shape to win his third straight major golf championship. This would have put him in some illustrious company among golfing greats; the only active golfer to win three straight majors is Tiger Woods, whose tournament dedication to his late father involved missing the Open cut.

Mickelson confidently strode to the tee of the Eighteenth hole with a seemingly insurmountable lead. It was then that Phil Mickelson remembered that he is Phil Mickelson, one of golf’s all-time great major tournament choke artists. Mickelson began flailing away like a Sunday afternoon duffer, exploring all parts of the Eighteenth except the fairway and green. It’s a wonder he even found the tee box.

By the time Mickelson finally got the ball into the cup half an hour later, he had managed to butcher the hole to the tune of a double bogey, handing the US Open championship to somebody named Geoff Ogilvy, who seemed quite surprised as he relaxed in the clubhouse counting his second place money. That will teach him to overestimate the collapsing power of Mickelson at the Open.

In addition to all of the action on the field, ice, pitch and course, there have been some sports items in the news that have caught my eye. Last Friday, the Charleston, WV paper pointed out to the handful in that state that can actually read and all the rest of us that the august law firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Mesgher and Flom ]Flom?] had sent the Li’l E a bill for their crack services rendered during their expansion lawsuit against the ACC. WVU’s share of the tab came to $2,299,658.20 For that kind of money you would think Skadden Arps would have forgone the 20 cents.

That bill of nearly $2.3 extra-large was only a piddling $1.3 mil more than the $1M the Cousins received as their hunk of the settlement with the ACC negotiated by Skadden Arps. Good job, guys! Being paid over $9 million to negotiate a $4 million award is why law schools are bursting at the seams.

WVU spokesperson Becky Lofstead claimed that the huge discrepancy between that paid the lawyers and what they delivered was well worth it. She is obviously a graduate of the WVU Mathematics Dept. The numerically-challenged Ms. Lofstead did point out that the money would not come from WVU athletic revenues since, let’s face it, the amount ESPN2 will pay the Li’l E for that blockbuster WVU-UConn game, part of exciting Li’l E Friday Night Football won’t cover it. The cash will come from the state’s upscale taxpayers. They can afford it. Better you than us, Cousins.

There is always joy in Hooville. It would seem that fundraising for that brand spanking new basketball arena has come up about $18 mil short. I would advise against contracting with Skadden Arps for the rest of it. Not to worry, says Hoo AD Craig ‘At least I don’t have to pay Tubby, too’ Littlepage. He plans on putting the bite on generous Hoos who so far haven’t been. The Hoo Lawyer can expect yet another phone call begging for him to augment that twenty bucks he contributed to the arena campaign.

Little Craig also pointed out that a few mil could be raised from arena naming rights. Certainly the numbers of corporations wanting to associate with Fallback Dave’s program would be large. The John Paul Jones Dole Soft Serve Frozen Dessert Product Arena certainly has a nice ring to it.

Upon further review, however, a soft-serve company would probably prefer to cozy up to algroh’s program. Colin Cowherd certainly thinks so. David Wayles Harrison Field at Scott Stadium in the Carl Smith Dole Soft Serve Frozen Dessert Product Football Complex sounds even better. They could call it the Softie for short.

Speaking of algroh’s powerhouse program: When last we looked at Hooville, coaches were racing pell-mell out of town for coaching upgrades at places like Liberty and Temple . Now it is the players heading out. algroh is whittling his roster down in order to get it to the NFL’s 45-man limit. The Great NFL Legend has become quite the recruiter for Grambling, which Frank and the boys will no doubt be pointing out on the recruiting trails.

Some of the parents and coaches are a bit peeved at algroh for yanking their scholarship for what they perceive as no good reason. Algroh points out that it is a privilege to play football at Hooville. Too bad it is not considered one to coach there.

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