The Garden

A squash-friendly blog for our times

Monday, March 31, 2003

Davis Cup quarterfinal action occurs this weekend. If I have a chance—and this looks to be a busy week for me—I'll try to handicap the ties.
Michelle Kwan is self-actualized, this Washington Post piece suggests. (You knew yesterday's wouldn't be the last figure skating update, didn't you?)

Sunday, March 30, 2003

I haven't had a lot of time today to read the newspaper. I did enjoy a piece by Philadelphia Inquirer music critic Peter Dobrin about the war music commissioned and used by American news outlets, though. Also of interest in the Inky's war section: a piece on the emotional burden placed on the same-sex partners of servicemembers. Because of the government's "don't ask-don't tell" policy, this burden cannot be publicly acknowledged.
Japan Media Review has an interesting feature on expatriate bloggers in Japan., an example mentioned in the JMR article, looks to be a lot of fun.
Can you stand one final update on the 2003 World Figure Skating Championships?Ok, don't make me really promise that this will be my last figure skating update.
England thrashed upstart Ireland today in the final game of rugby union's Six Nations Cup. With the victory, England clinched the cup. Ireland's coach conceded that the better team won.
The Mickey Mantle-signed jockstrap, which dissed Joe Dimaggio, went for $1,200 at auction yesterday. As I indicated a few days ago, the jock was expected to sell for only $700-900.
Michelle Kwan is a goddess. (How did one of the nine judges not score her in first place?)

Saturday, March 29, 2003

Memo to CBS Sports: Your sportscasters really should have worked on how to pronounce Tahlequah, the Oklahoma town that's home to NSU—the new NCAA Division II men's basketball champs. It's TAHL-uh-kwah, not tuh-LEE-kwuh. Of the five times I heard CBS's guys say it, they got it right only once. Hmph.
England beat Liechtenstein, 2-0, in their Euro 2004 qualifier today. But, hey, Liechtenstein kept it close. Always sympathetic to the underdog, I was hoping Liechtenstein might even score. The team last scored in a 1-1 tie with Macedonia in 2002. Liechtenstein last won in 1998; that was a 2-1 win over Azerbaijan.
I really have to pay better attention, I guess. I was going about my day, watching Serena Williams defeat Jennifer Capriati in a good match from the NASDAQ-100, when I looked up and realized that the men's baskeball team of my alma mater, Northeastern State University, was in the NCAA Division II championship game. And it's on TV. Golly. UPDATE: NSU won!

Back when I was a student at NSU, we didn't even play in the NCAA—like most small Oklahoma schools, NSU played in the NAIA.

And, to follow up a story I've been going on and on about, the international ice dancing judges did prefer the American duo of Belbin-Agosto to the five-time U.S. champs, Lang-Tchernyshev. Belbin-Agosto finished in seventh, while Lang-Tchernyshev finished in eighth. It'll sure be interesting to see if that change in the pecking order holds (especially at next year's U.S. nationals).
Wow. The Canadian team of Shae-Lynn Bourne and Victor Kraatz overtook the Russian duo of Irina Lobacheva and Ilia Averbukh in tonight's free dance, giving the Canadians the world championship in ice dancing. The two pairs were so close in the original dance that the judges' scores looked like a Supreme Court ruling (5-4, Justice O'Connor the swing vote). It was the same story tonight; if the computer had chosen a different nine judges, the Russians could have won.

But maybe Bourne-Kraatz would ordinarily have been most of the judges' favorites all along. Kraatz had a misstep in the original dance that might have swung that result to the Russians. Apparently, the Canadians skated cleanly tonight in the free dance. (I say "apparently," of course, because there's no live television coverage. Grrr.)

Tonight was the final amateur competition for both teams. It's a shame, I guess, that either team had to lose.

Friday, March 28, 2003

As you know, I'm closely following the rivalry between the American ice dancing pairs. It's still close, but—after yesterday's original dance—Belbin-Agosto are in seventh place, one position ahead of Lang-Tchernyshev. I still think Lang-Tchernyshev have the better free dance, so they ought to move ahead of their compatriots in the end. But I also still think that Belbin-Agosto have the momentum in judging circles and will actually finish ahead. We'll know soon enough.
I've been thinking today about Evgeny Plushenko's victory last night over Timothy Goebel at the 2003 World Figure Skating Championships. Goebel, the American, skated like a dream. He hit jump after jump (he actually hit nine triple and quadruple jumps), and he skated as artfully as he ever has. The Russian, by contrast, skated a ragged performance, sprinkling his four-minute program with one minor problem after another. Yet each of the judges (or, at least, the nine of the 14 whose scores were picked, at random, by the computer) scored Plushenko better; the key was their marks for artistic impression. I'm not prepared to say that I'm a better judge than a unanimous panel—and I, too, will often forgive a couple of minor, technical flaws in a program that's artistically sound—but I just didn't understand last night's result. As a consequence of his several flaws, Plushenko's program came off as disorganized and, well, messy. For me, it had little artistic impact whatsoever. Goebel, I'll concede, probably isn't ever going to be an artistic genius. But last night, I actually got caught up in his performance, and the fact of all those triple and quadruple jumps was a happy irrelevancy.

As I said, nine of nine judges surely weren't wrong about who was better last night. But I wish just one had seen it Goebel's—and my—way.

Thursday, March 27, 2003

In rugby union, all minds are on Sunday's match between Ireland and England. The winner will take home the Six Nations Cup.
I'm a huge fan of artist Wayne Thiebaud. And if I lived in California, I could get a Thiebaud-designed license plate. Cool, huh?
Today's post about figure skating begins with a rant. ABC and its cable sports outlet ESPN aren't televising most of the World Championships live, even though the event is occurring in the United States during prime time. Instead, beginning tonight, viewers are mostly getting packaged coverage of events that are a day or two old. (Note, though, that in the "premier" men's and women's events, the long programs will be live. I guess we should be grateful for that.) Anyone who even glances at a newspaper will know the results of several events well before the broadcast, and—of course—the unknown outcome is one of the great spectating pleasures of sport. In short, ABC is taking some of the fun out of the event.

A few years ago, when the world championships were held in Halifax, I had the good fortune to live close enough to CBC to get its coverage. The coverage was comprehensive, and I had a ball. If the ratings here won't justify three or four nights of live coverage on ABC, they'd surely justify live coverage on ESPN. And I simply can't believe that the ratings don't justify wall-to-wall coverage: Figure skating is hugely popular in the United States. I think ABC is missing out on something big. I know figure skating fans are.

Here's tonight's wrap-up:

Despite my rant, I'll be watching tonight's stale coverage on ABC.

Wednesday, March 26, 2003

I have got to start working the word "touron" into my everyday speech. Too clever.
Not to be outdone, apparently, by the Louisiana legislature's focus on gumbo and mayhaw jelly, the Georgia legislature is focusing on iced tea.
I sure hope this news isn't the beginning of the end for Word Perfect, nearly every lawyer's favorite word processing program.
Should officiating teams always work together? After some strange calls in this year's playoffs, the NFL now thinks so.
Here's today's figure skating wrap-up:Tired of figure skating yet?

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Martina Navratilova thinks Pete Sampras has played his last professional match. As you may recall,'s Jon Wertheim thinks so, too.
Ernie from Little Yellow Different is back, temporarily, from his hiatus, and—if you want to laugh out loud—check out today's post. While you're at it, check out this cool picture of Ernie at PhotoJunkie (link, naturally enough, via Little Yellow Different).
Mom, avert your eyes. Nerve has an interview (link via Bookslut) with Cal-Berkeley history professor Thomas Laqueur, author of Solitary Sex: A Cultural History of Masturbation. Among the questions: "Can you place the term 'choking the chicken' in historical context?" Also, Laqueur discusses how wanker became a standard term for buddy.
I'm just going to come out and admit something, ok? I like figure skating, and I like it a lot. That doesn't mean I'm not a red-blooded American man, and—if you think otherwise—I'll pull a triple axel on you. I admit this because the World Figure Skating Championships are happening this week in Washington, D.C., and I'll probably be blogging about the sport (and the spectacle) quite a bit. Get ready for everything but compulsory school figures.

Here's today's round-up:

Is that enough figure skating for one day?
World tennis No. 2 Venus Williams looked awful last night, as she lost to American Meghan Shaughnessy, 7-6, 6-1, at the NASDAQ-100 Open, the "fifth major." (Isn't the "NASDAQ-100" a charming name for a semi-major tournament?) I'm beginning to wonder if Venus will ever get it together again. Maybe Kim Clijsters will end up being the big rival of Venus's little sister.
I'm not going to attempt too much war coverage here, partly because others are doing it so well and partly because, well, I just haven't yet forced myself to squarely face the reality of the world situation. Right now, I'd rather provide some relief from the—understandably—relentless war coverage than to contribute to it. But some mention here of the war is inevitable, I guess. I'll try to keep all references here respectful and in keeping with the spirit of the blog (whatever that is).

So here goes: Palau, a Pacific paradise without an army that is best known for its diving, has joined the "coalition of the willing," the Washington Post reports. Also in the coalition is Iceland, whose ambassador stressed that his country has no military because his ancestors laid down their arms sometime in the 14th century.

Random aside: I nearly took a job in Palau once, as a clerk for the Palau Supreme Court.

Random aside II: No one in Iceland has ever offered me a job, but I'd be thrilled to have a chance to visit Reykjavík.

UPDATE: Dolphins are also in the coalition of the willing (link via Shattered Buddha).

British Prime Minister Tony Blair believes that Europe must address anti-American sentiment there. Blair may see himself as the person who can facilitate a rapprochement.
Despite McLaren's second victory in two Formula One outings this year, this one by Kimi Raikkonen, Michael Schumacher insists that he's still confident in what was once, anyway, the Ferrari juggernaut.
There's gold in them thar, er, bergs. Greenland will open its first gold mine this summer. Gold has been found near Nanortalik, Greenland's southernmost city.

Monday, March 24, 2003

Liechtenstein has worked out the security arrangements for its Euro 2004 qualifier against England on Saturday in Vaduz. As I noted yesterday, the principality was concerned that it did not have the resources to protect English players and fans during the war.
Later this week, Alexander Autographs will auction off a Mickey Mantle-autographed jockstrap that mischievously indicates that rival Joe Dimaggio needed only an extra small jock. I knew you'd want to know. The auction house describes the jockstrap as a "particularly rude Mantle item" and also states that it is "suitable for display or wearing!" Well, ok. The jock is expected to sell for $700-$900.
In a shocking and unexpected display of good taste, ABC has decided to pull Are You Hot? from its schedule in light of world events. Aside from the always-stellar Alias, ABC is a black hole these days.
There were isolated episodes of violence in India after its loss to Australia in the Cricket World Cup final. In Calcutta, police clashed with a mob trying to save two men who were arrested after they attempted to burn effigies of Indian cricket players. Semi-relatedly, the Indian team's vice-captain, Rahul Dravid, has defended teammate and Man of the Tournament Sachin Tendulkar against charges that he chokes during big matches.
An ethics committee of the International Olympic Committee is investigating allegations that Uday Hussein, president of the Iraqi National Olympic Committee and son of Saddam Hussein, tortured Iraqi athletes who did not perform well. Warning: There are lots of unpleasantries in this Sports Illustrated piece.

Sunday, March 23, 2003

Spanish bouncers will soon be taking courses in civil rights and anger management. Sounds like a good idea, huh? A Spanish security expert said many of those interested in becoming bouncers are "big, strong, and only think about . . . bust[ing] heads." Would it be dangerous for me to say that the same thing could probably said about bouncers here?
Liechtenstein is not sure that it can provide a safe venue for its Euro 2004 qualifier against England. Apparently, the principality has only about 70 full-time police officers, and that may not be enough—in the current world situation—to ensure the safety of the English side and its fans.
What a relief! Volokhia is a nicer place to visit today. UPDATE: Something seems to be awry with The Volokh Conspiracy's archiving, so my link may not work for you. Ignatz's discussion of this topic, though, will give you insight into what I meant.
Still speaking of sumo, I'm wishing I could get to Tokyo for the May 31 retirement ceremony of longtime rikishi and fan favorite, Terao. The charismatic, good-humored Terao was one of the things that drew me to sumo in the first place. He also proved to me that a wrestler didn't need to be a super-heavyweight blob to compete. Sumo hasn't been the same for me since he left the dohyo.
Speaking of sumo, the important news today is of Chiyotaikai's victory in the Haru basho. Chiyo finished in fine fashion, beating new yokozuna Asashoryu to take the Emperor's Cup with a fine 12-3 record.

Asashoryu struggled in his first outing at sumo's highest rank. He suffered five losses, surely causing some to wonder if his promotion came too quickly. In my opinion, his 10 wins is enough—but just enough—to stop much eyebrow-raising. He'll have to do better in May, though. Chiyo looked so good this tournament that I'm wondering if he'll turn out to be the next yokozuna and Asashoryu's longtime rival.

I need a self-esteem boost today, I guess. First, after spending much of the first 14 days of the current Haru basho in the Top 10, and every single day of the basho, in the Top 25 of my favorite fantasy game, I somehow managed to drop to 40th place on the final day. Ugh. At least it's an ozeki-caliber performance. Likewise, I'm bumming over my performance in the office NCAA tournament pool: After yesterday's results, I dropped one position into 8th place. I managed to pick only 27 of the first 40 games, five correct picks behind our current leader. It's all enough to make a boy's fantasies turn to baseball.
Australia has defended its Cricket World Cup championship, handily defeating India today in the final in Johannesburg. Australia's performance in the tournament was awfully, awfully impressive: For the first time ever, a time went undefeated in winning the World Cup. And today's victory over an excellent Indian team was nothing short of comprehensive.

Saturday, March 22, 2003

India's Sachin Tendulkar has been named the most valuable player (it's formally called, impressively enough, Man of the Tournament) at the Cricket World Cup. The beloved Tendulkar, who with teammate Sourav Ganguly has been the driving force of the Indian team, set a record for runs scored during the tournament. And he has one more match to play, of course.
Ireland struggled mightily today to beat lightly-regarded Wales in their Six Nations Cup match. Wales was poised for an upset until late into the game. England also won today, decisively handling Scotland. Those results set up an exciting Ireland-England decider on March 30, the final day of the tournament. Can Cinderella Ireland manage one more win? Today's results must make Irish fans nervous, but their team will have home-field advantage next weekend. In any event, a deciding match for the Cup is sure an exciting way to finish the tournament.
Before it's too late, I wanted to mention this Philadelphia Inquirer article about the passion of local cricket fans, who must watch the World Cup via satellite at the oddest hours. It's a shame that no North American broadcaster secured the rights to the event.
Are you doubting my abilities as a sports prognosticator now? Well, I wouldn't blame you. But I did pretty well with the cricket, didn't I? And I'm also doing very well right now in a fantasy game for sumo fans. With one day to go in the current basho, I'm in 16th place out of 171 entrants. You can find me on the leaderboard by looking for my shikona, or fighting name—Squashiki. As you'll notice if you look around the site some, I spent a good deal of the basho in the Top 10, but I've fallen back the past couple of days.
I promised updates on how my picks for the NCAA basketball tournament are doing. Well, I could be doing worse, but I'm not going to threaten for the office championship. Of the first 32 games, I picked 22 correctly. That puts me in seventh place (of 13) in the office pool. (Our two co-leaders picked 26 of the first-round games correctly.) Our pool uses a traditional, non-weighted scoring system (yawn), so I get no extra credit for correctly predicting Tulsa over Dayton, or Central Michigan over Creighton, or Oklahoma State over Penn. (Ok, I threw that last one in for nefarious reasons.) I don't really regret any of my picks—I still think Memphis should have beaten Arizona State, for instance—except for one: What exactly was I thinking when I picked San Diego to beat Stanford? I'm an oddball.

Friday, March 21, 2003


Thursday, March 20, 2003

There's still no word from jambalaya's political supporters, though. On the heels of the exciting news from the Louisiana legislature about gumbo, there's word of a bill to make mayhaw jelly the official state jelly of Louisiana (link via Louisiana Legislature Report). Tasty. UPDATE: Before any Yankees ask, here's an explanation of all things mayhaw.
India advanced today to the Cricket World Cup final with a steady victory over Kenya. My predictions are looking pretty good, huh?

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Hey, it looks like Kate of The Kitchen Cabinet is in Oklahoma City. No fair. I'm the Oklahoman. But I'm in Philly, and she's in OKC. Maybe we should switch sides in the Oklahoma State-Penn feud.
Kate at The Kitchen Cabinet has dared me to put my NCAA tournament bracket where my blog is, and rightly so. I thought I'd just enter the Cabinet's own pool, but I truly can't figure out how to convert the site's Word entry form into anything that this all-Word Perfect household can manage. (Lawyers seem to be the only Word Perfect-friendly crowd around anymore, sadly enough.) But I'm in a pool at work—I'm actually the commissioner—and I expect to do as poorly this year as I normally do. I'll try to keep you posted from time to time on the horrible embarrassment of it all.

I still think that Oklahoma State will beat Penn, though.

Nearly every single day, I'm tempted to link to something I saw on Shattered Buddha. Today, for instance, it's a piece on the growing visibility of gays in Cuba. And I can totally relate to all that Florida zaniness that Buddha chronicles. It makes me nostalgic for Louisiana zaniness. (I don't think there's enough Pennsylvania zaniness, by the way.) The Garden loves the Buddha, you know?
Sports and War: Major League Baseball has cancelled next week's season opener in Tokyo between the Mariners and the A's. Commissioner Selig indicated that the action was motivated by safety concerns and by the need for players to be near their loved ones. I can't believe that safety was a true concern, as Japan is one of our strongest allies. I don't doubt that many players wanted to avoid the trip, but surely there's something to be said for going about our business as planned.

The war will affect protests at this year's Masters Tournament. Martha Burk, chair of the National Council of Women's Organizations, has even suggested that Augusta National postpone the event altogether. Again, isn't there something to be said for going about our business, and perhaps our protests, as planned?

A bill in the Louisiana House of Representatives would make gumbo the official state cuisine (link via the Louisiana Legislature Report). Jambalaya is not amused.

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Cricket: Australia is through to the final at the Cricket World Cup. That darn Duckworth-Lewis system made an appearance in the victory over Sri Lanka.
Avery Brundage would be proud. The games will go on. I'm pleased. I can really use a distraction right about now.

Monday, March 17, 2003

Maybe some much-needed reform of the tennis calendar is in the offing. The "season" now begins in January with the Australian Open and doesn't really end until late November with the tour and Davis Cup finals. I don't know how the players do it. And if there's such a thing as spectator fatigue, tennis fans are susceptible to it.
Rough Start: Sumo's new yokozuna Asashoryu has had a decidedly difficult first tournament as a holder of the sport's highest rank. On Day 9 today, he dropped his third bout, apparently injuring his arm in the process. Sumo is at a crossroads these days, and this isn't the fresh start it needed to regenerate interest in the sport.
Population Crisis: Last month, 11 bloggers seemed like too many. This month, there are 12. Isn't Volokhia getting a little crowded?
Cricket: Security is getting tighter for the rest of the World Cup. That seems, well, prudent. But shouldn't it have been prudent several weeks ago, too?
If you're already making travel plans for 2014, it looks like Brazil will host soccer's World Cup. And, oh, where are you headed on summer vacation in 2022?
How could the NCAA selection committee forget that BYU doesn't play on Sundays? It's hard to fathom. Anyway, the proposed fix could totally screw up your office March Madness pool, you know? UPDATE: Kate of The Kitchen Cabinet has some thoughts on this topic. Of course, she might be delusional: She thinks Penn has a chance against mighty Oklahoma State!
How will the pop fly play in Marseille? Major League Baseball intends to find out.

Sunday, March 16, 2003

What Augusta National chairman Hootie Johnson and National Council of Women's Organizations chairwoman Martha Burk need is an expert in conflict management, according to a Penn psychologist interviewed by the Philadelphia Inquirer. Vivian Seltzer's view is that both sides need to learn to think in shades of gray. She actually makes a lot of sense.

And, gosh, I really enjoyed all of the Inky's golf page today. Golf writer Joe Logan had this amusing piece on the rules of the game. To test your knowledge, the Inquirer also offered a rules test from the USGA. The quiz asks—among other things—how many penalty strokes a player would incur if he removed a butterfly from his ball. I'm surprised there aren't on-the-course lawyers all over the world to help interpret rules like that....

Saturday, March 15, 2003

I really, really want to see the Suzor-Coté exhibition at the National Gallery of Canada. Check out this preview and let me know that you'll go with me, ok? How can you resist that self-portrait? And Ottawa looks like lots of fun.
The issue of sovereignty is on the backburner in Quebec, according to The Globe and Mail. Instead, Quebeckers are feeling confident and looking outward (and maybe rightward, too?). UPDATE: Maybe somebody should explain this to the Parti Québécois.
I enjoyed this essay from The Chronicle of Higher Education detailing one academic's unique perspective on the America's Cup (link via Arts & Letters Daily). The author was a childhood friend of Swiss team skipper and New Zealander Russell Coutts.
Cricket II: Australia struggled to win against Kenya today in the last of the Super Six matches at the World Cup. And, yes, despite their mediocre play today, I'm sticking with the Australians. And while I'm on the topic: The Times of India had this piece today on the surprising Kenyans.
Cricket: Sri Lanka systematically dismantled Zimbabwe today at the Cricket World Cup, clinching a spot in the semifinals. Sri Lanka's advance means there's sadness in Wellington and Christchurch today.

And, now, drumroll please: Here are my predictions for the rest of the tournament. Australia should thump Sri Lanka in the first semifinal (set for March 18), and India should handle Kenya easily in the other (set for March 20). I'll take defending champion Australia in March 23's final. It should be good stuff, though.

Friday, March 14, 2003

Incredibly enough, I watched biathlon on TV today. My TiVo treats me right.
As a game show nut, I'm thrilled to have Celebrity Mole back for another iteration on ABC. But I'd really prefer to have the original Mole—the one with the real contestants, not the one with the Dutch ex-models and the WB stars I've never heard of—back. Isn't this obsession with fourth-tier celebrities how NBC killed The Weakest Link?

And, gosh, I totally miss Anderson Cooper as host of The Mole. I guess Anderson's busy elsewhere. And I guess Ahmad Rashad is not.

UPDATE: I should have known that Kim at Fresh Hell had already blogged this news. She said nearly everything I wanted to say, and she did it in about half the syllables. I'll go sit in the corner now.

India got off to a slow start today at the Cricket World Cup, but New Zealand's start was even worse. After their loss, the Kiwis now need for Zimbabwe to upset 1996 champion Sri Lanka to advance to the semifinals. I see a flight back to Auckland in their future very soon....

Thursday, March 13, 2003

Lynne Thigpen, a Tony winner and one of my favorite actresses, has died (heads up via Shattered Buddha).
Chicken Liver Bake: This has to be seen to be believed (link via Fresh Hell).
Is cricket dying in Zimbabwe? Some say yes.
World tennis No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt supports the move to form a breakaway union to represent the players' interests with the ATP. I mentioned the irony in all this a few weeks ago.

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

TLC is promising viewers a fiery ending to its March 22 episode of Trading Spaces. It's hard for me to imagine that the lovely and talented Laurie Hickson-Smith was the designer-bane of the homeowner.... And who doesn't like taupe, anyway? (link via Reality Blurred)
If you ever shop for books at, you've seen the name Harriet Klausner. Here's the skinny on Amazon's ubiquitous reviewer (link via Arts & Letters Daily).
The Sopranos vs. James Gandolfini: Heresy!
Cricket: After its victory today over Zimbabwe, Kenya will be the first "minnow" ever in a World Cup semifinal.

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

I'm a law nerd, and I love neologisms as much as the next guy. But I'd never say something was FOI-able.
Kirby, Kirby, Kirby. We hardly knew you. Apparently.
Cricket: New Zealand should have pulled off an upset of Australia today at the Cricket World Cup. The Kiwis got off to a strong start, but they just couldn't finish things up. Now, New Zealand must beat India to have a decent chance of making it to the semifinals, and that's a tall, tall order.

Up next at the World Cup: Kenya vs. Zimbabwe.

You know you make too much money when you can afford to decline a whole year's salary. Thanks, Bobby Knight, for making me feel like a real schmo. (I almost wrote schmutz, not schmo. Is there such a thing? If so, how's it different from a schmo? Inquiring minds and all that, you know.)

Monday, March 10, 2003

After a convincing win over Sri Lanka, India is through to the semifinals at the Cricket World Cup. I still think the title is Australia's for the taking, but India is looking better and better. Meanwhile, little-respected Kenya is tantalizingly close to the semifinals.'s Jon Wertheim thinks Pete Sampras has played his last professional match.
David Wells's controversial new book, which I mentioned a few days ago, has hit the stores. Today, Wells got hit with a $100,000 fine by the Yankees for comments in the book that tarnished the club's image. (It would be so easy to hit that one out of the park, wouldn't it?) What's the point? Wells is a grown-up, his teammates are grown-ups, the Yankees' management consists of grown-ups. Wells is a character, and we all knew that. I just can't get behind sanctioning a player for, well, communicating.

On the plus side, the fine is going to charity.

Sunday, March 09, 2003

I also enjoyed—and, yes, I know this may seem strange—an article in today's Inquirer Magazine about personal shoppers. I could totally use, I think, some good advice about my wardrobe. If only the featured Nordstrom personal shopper, who struck me as one of the coolest people on the planet, worked with men....

In a related vein, I finally caught up this weekend with TLC's version of What Not to Wear. I enjoyed it, though I think the BBC's brilliant original—at half the length—is much more of a gem. TLC's version has lots of unnecessary clutter, including an omniscient narrator and a completely useless host. Just give us the feisty style consultants and their victim, ok?

As someone who gets up before dawn every workday, I really enjoyed this article in today's Philadelphia Inquirer about the epidemic of early rising. As the article suggests, it can't be good for us.
Roomba: Do I need one of these? I really, really want one.
It would have been a great story. Villanova's basketball team, down to a measly seven players after a mass suspension of most of the team for allegedly making unauthorized telephone calls, still nearly upset No. 7 Pitt today. Hey, it's still a good story, anyway.
Michael Schumacher is human? Who knew? For the first time since July 2001—and, gosh, isn't that a lifetime ago?—Schumacher was not on the podium after a Formula One race. Instead, McLaren's David Coulthard won the Australian Grand Prix this weekend in Melbourne. Does this portend much-needed change in Formula One, where Schumacher's Ferrari team has dominated since, well, forever? Probably not. Even McLaren concedes that Ferrari is still the fastest. But for some miscues by Ferrari, Schumacher would not have finished fourth. Schumacher's Ferrari teammate, Rubens Barrichello, crashed early in the race. All in all, it may have been a perfect storm for Coulthard.

Before Ferrari poured so much money into its team, Formula One was awfully exciting. But it's been all Ferrari—and, hence, all Schumacher—for far too long to be interesting.

Saturday, March 08, 2003

In today's early sports news, New Zealand has defeated Zimbabwe at the Cricket World Cup. The win puts the Kiwis into fourth place, ahead now of Sri Lanka, in the Super Sixes. Meanwhile, at a different Six, Ireland has continued its winning ways at rugby union's Six Nations Cup; it defeated the defending champion France. It looks like the tournament's final match between Ireland and England could be a thriller.

UPDATE: Scotland defeated Wales in the second Six Nations Cup match today. I guess that means Wales is definitely the worst team in the tournament.

Friday, March 07, 2003

I like the, um, theory of snow a lot better than the reality of it. Especially after this winter. Unsurprisingly, these pictures of snowy scenes, brought us by, really appealed to me. I bet you'll like them, too.
Spreading it around: A venue in South America will host the 2014 World Cup, FIFA has announced. Gosh, that's planning ahead.

The next World Cup, in 2006, will be held in Germany. FIFA has promised the 2010 tourney to Africa.

Cricket: It was all Australia in its Super Six match against Sri Lanka in the Cricket World Cup. India, strangely, struggled before beating lowly-regarded Kenya. Still to come: New Zealand's match against Zimbabwe. New Zealand, by the way, is seeing things from a new perspective, after its forfeit to Kenya early in the tournament left it with few points going into the Super Six round.

In other cricket news, so many nations have cricket programs that the International Cricket Council plans a Davis Cup-style World Cup Qualifying Series. I think that's a wonderful idea.

Thursday, March 06, 2003

In this essay from The New Yorker, historian Simon Schama notes that anti-American feelings in Europe are nothing new (link via Arts & Letters Daily).
Rugby union: After a week off, action at the Six Nations Cup resumes this weekend. Surprising Ireland has another big test, as it meets the defending champion France.
Tomorrow is a big day at the Cricket World Cup: Australia meets Sri Lanka in the first of three good matches. Meanwhile, Pakistan is still trying to figure out what went wrong, and its team manager is looking in a surprising direction—towards Europe—for a possible solution.

Wednesday, March 05, 2003

The governing bodies of 65 sports and about that same number of nations yesterday adopted a World Anti-Doping Code. In the United States, the Code will affect primarily Olympic-eligible athletes.
The Swiss America's Cup team is still looking for a venue to host its 2007 defense. Several European cities have expressed interest, and a choice is expected to be announced in the next few months. I'm rooting for Cowes on the Isle of Wight.

Meanwhile, the New Zealand government ponied up some big bucks to spark the nation's challenge for the Cup.

Iran's wrestling team, which is a good one, will boycott this year's world freestyle wrestling championships in New York. The Iranians object to the fingerprinting required by the State Department of their nationals on entry to the United States.
Pakistan's cricket team issued a public apology today for its poor performance at the Cricket World Cup. The players' statement said they were "ashamed, disappointed, sad and heartbroken" that they had been unable to advance to the second round of the tournament. Also, the Pakistan Cricket Board formed a commission to study the side's early exit. Meanwhile, back in Pakistan, unhappy fans burned effigies of the players. Pakistan, one of the great cricket-playing nations, lost unexpectedly at the World Cup to teams from Namibia and the Netherlands.

By the way, cricket was the subject of—well, ok, it was the hook for a larger discussion of geopolitics and sports in—George Vecsey's column on the New York Times sports page.

Tuesday, March 04, 2003

It was all about the weather again today at the Cricket World Cup. Zimbabwe advanced to the next round after its match with Pakistan was abandoned due to rain. That "result" sealed England's fate. Meanwhile, a World Cup organizer has defended the decision not to have reserve days for rain-affected matches. I'm not convinced. When so much of the outcome depended on off-the-field events, how much "integrity" can a prestigious sports title really have?
If everyone jumped off a cliff: Everyone in Blogistan linked today to this New York Times piece on blowouts in high school sports. When I have a little more energy (i.e., when it's not Mardi Gras), I may have a little bit to say on this topic. In the meantime, can you even imagine losing a basketball game by the score of 115-2? Can you imagine watching such a game? What must it have been like in the gym when the losing team scored its one basket (or was it two free throws)? Odd.
Happy Mardi Gras!

Monday, March 03, 2003

Monday: It's Mardi Gras minus one (a/k/a Lundi Gras). If you're brave and want to know what's happening on Bourbon Street right now, here's the link to the world-famous BourboCam. And for something (probably) a bit tamer, here's a link to the ParadeCam, which shows what's happing on beautiful St. Charles Avenue.
Just don't get me started on haggis hurling, ok?
Is this any way to run a sporting event? I don't think so. Inclement weather caused today's South Africa-Sri Lanka match at the Cricket World Cup to be scored a tie. That result ended host South Africa's chances of moving on to the next round. The tie allowed New Zealand to advance, however, despite its forfeit of a match against Kenya early in the tournament.

The system used to score weather-affected one-day cricket matches is known as the Duckworth-Lewis Method. It seems to me that nuclear physics might be easier to figure out. Sigh. In any event, if you're smart and interested (that would be about one-and-one-half of my readers), here's how the Method was tweaked for 2002.

In other cricket news, the Dutch team managed its first win ever in World Cup play, besting fellow "minnow" Namibia.

Sunday, March 02, 2003

I have no idea why I'm so obsessed with cricket right now. The world's best cricket side, Australia, barely beat England today in the Cricket World Cup. That loss leaves England only a small chance of advancing to the next round. Meanwhile, Sri Lanka has launched a challenge to the tiebreaker to be used in the event of a four-way tie in its group. Sri Lanka fears that New Zealand will advance over it under the current rules, even though it defeated the Kiwis head to head.

Saturday, March 01, 2003

It's over, and—for the first time ever—a European team has taken the America's Cup. The Swiss Alinghi team defeated New Zealand again, taking the best-of-nine series in a 5-0 sweep.
Cricket: India, spurred on by the great Sachin Tendulkar, has defeated archrival Pakistan in the Cricket World Cup, ensuring a spot for itself in the next round—the Super Six. Pakistan still has some work to do to qualify. In "related" news, Zimbabwean police arrested 42 persons who protested the Robert Mugabe regime during Zimbabwe's match with the Netherlands in Bulawayo.
Johnny Spillane has won the world nordic combined championship, becoming the first American to win any nordic world championship. Nordic combined, of course, is an event involving both cross-country skiing and ski jumping. Spillane is from Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Another American, Kris Freeman of New Hampshire, finished fourth in the 15-kilometer cross-country classic event. The nordic world championships (cool website alert) are being held in Val di Fiemme, Italy.


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