A different view of sports

Clearing my mind and notebook while wondering what Donald Trump thinks of the coin-flip, flag flap between two U.S. Olympians, luger Erin Hamlin and speedskater Shani Davis:

Just desserts

A pudding in the shape of the Korean peninsula divided by a dark chocolate “barbed wire” was served as dessert at a pre-Olympic reception Friday. When it was topped by melted white chocolate, the “border” partially dissolved, signifying the future potential of a unified Korea.

The two Koreas are competing as one nation and under a unified flag at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Games. But that doesn’t mean the United States is supportive of such diplomatic outreach efforts.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence certainly hasn’t been. When South Korea’s president Moon Jae-in greeted Pence and North Korea’s ceremonial head of state, Kim Yong-nam, at a reception Friday, it didn’t go well. Pence and Yong-nam did not shake hands and Pence left shortly afterward when he learned they would be seated for dinner at the same table.

Pence also snubbed Kim Yo-jong, the sister of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, when they were seated near each other during the Opening Ceremonies. He and wife Karen also remained seated when the unified Korean team marched into the stadium.

Meanwhile, one Twitter user not named Donald Trump said photos of the dessert “looked like the whole Korean peninsula getting nuked.”

That should tone down the rhetoric.

They said it

NBC comedian Seth Myers: “Injured Philadelpia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast dinner this evening and what better metaphor for our country right now than a prayer from an injured Eagle.”

RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com: “A man frolicked buck naked for over two minutes on a fairway during the Phoenix pro-am. And where better than the Waste Management Open to show off your junk?”

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe.com: “It’s that time again – when Americans who might last have set foot on an ice rink in high school suddenly become experts on triple axels.”

TBS comedian Conan O’Brien: “The New England Patriots were beaten by the Philadelphia Eagles 41-33. Eagles fans started fires and punched police horses, then they sat down to watch the Super Bowl.”

Greg Cote of the Miami Herald: “New York Mets announced their spring training would include a circus again this year. Welcome back, Tim Tebow!”

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “The London Daily Mail says a jet-powered mobility scooter was successfully tested, boasting a top speed of 70 miles-per-hour. So if NASCAR was ever thinking about starting a senior circuit.”

Comedian Steve Hofstetter: “Don’t let the Patriots coming back from a 22-12 halftime deficit distract you from them blowing a 33-32 lead.”

Focus on Finnishing

As Andrew Keh reported in the New York Times, Finland won an average of 24 medals during the Summer Olympics from 1908 to 1948. However, at the 2016 Rio de Janiero Games, the country took home only a bronze in women’s lightweight boxing by Mira Potkonen.

Predictably, it’s a slightly different story in the Winter Games, where Finland won as many as 12 medals as recently as 1998. The country won five medals in 2014 in Sochi, including gold in men’s team sprint cross country skiing and bronze in men’s ice hockey.

But as Keh’s noted, the country has since become “fertile ground for whacky sports” like the Swamp Soccer World Championship, the Mobile Phone Throwing World Championships, the Mosquito Killing World Championships, the Wife Carrying World Championships, the World Berry Picking Championships, the World Air Guitar Championships and Competitive Hobby-horsing.

From 1999 to 2010, Finland also hosted the World Sauna Championships, but that endurance event ended with the unfortunate death of a competitor to third degree burns.

To quote Keh on why Finland has invented ways to compete:

“There’s no simple answer, but Finns offer various deep-seated factors, including an enthusiastically outdoorsy populace (that goes slightly stir-crazy during the region’s oppressively dark winter months), widespread public access to recreational spaces, and a continuing relaxation of the traditionally reserved national character. (Also, alcohol.)”

Sports psychologist Pasi Koski puts it another way, “We learned to laugh at ourselves. What’s so serious?”

 Headlines

Fark.com: “Philly closes schools because teachers too drunk to teach.”

TheOnion.com: “Flustered father struggling to answer all of son’s questions about what a catch is.”

SportsPickle.com: “Report: Nick Saban pondering retirement to spend more time criticizing his family.”

LeftcoastSportsBabe.com: “Well, at least the Colts were undefeated in the Josh McDaniels era.”

TheOnion.com: “Minneapolis shocked  to discover thousands of Super Bowl attendees left without seeing rest of the city.”

SportsPickle.com: “Jimmy Garoppolo offers Tom Brady a loan to help him build his struggling supplement business.”

TheOnion.com: “2018 Winter Olympics cancelled due to inclement weather.”

Fark.com: “NFL quarterback, sports broadcaster, PGA golfer — is there anything Tony Romo can’t do? Besides win a Super Bowl.”

Drop the Trop

For their 20th anniversary, the Tampa Bay Rays elevated their game Friday by announcing that a new stadium will be built in the Ybor City neighborhood of Tampa.

It’s still unknown how much longer the Major League baseball team will play at Tropicana Field, which opened its doors in St. Petersburg in 1990 but didn’t become the home of the Rays until 1998.

St. Pete officials decided to build the ballpark in 1983 and broke ground on its construction in 1986, but it took another five years to get a regular tenant — and it wasn’t a MLB team despite being used by several teams as a bargaining chip to get new stadiums in their home cities.

By breaking ground on a barebones roofed stadium in 1986, St. Pete only managed to win the baseball war with Tampa. But before baseball, the arena was home to  the NHL’s Lightning (1993-96) and the Arena Football League’s Storm (1991-96).

Those teams moved to a new arena in Tampa in 1997 ahead of the Rays coming to St. Pete. And now the Rays have confirmed their intentions to move to Tampa.

It’s just not known when, what the new stadium will look like, how much Tampa is willing to spend, or what the final cost will be. The Rays have reportedly committed $150 million to make the move.

For comparison purposes, St. Pete initially spent $130 million, and the dome underwent more than $115 million in renovations over the next 20 years, and it still doesn’t meet today’s standards of a MLB stadium.

I was working in St. Pete when the decision to build The Trop was made but I had moved to S.C. by the time it opened. I hope to make it back before the final out is recorded.

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