Thursday August 9th was a busy day in the world of sports. At one point last night I was flipping between Patriots-Saints (the offenses looked in midseason form), Red Sox-Indians (yet another loss), a Nebraska-Missouri Little League World Series regional game (the highlight of the night), Packers-Chargers (Rodgers had a 0 passer rating?) and Olympic diving (no but really, how do they do that?). Here’s a rundown of the Top 10 stories of the day:
1) USA Women's Soccer – The USA women’s national soccer team won the gold medal yesterday behind a heroic performance from Carli Lloyd and fierce goalkeeping from Hope Solo. Lloyd scored in the eighth minute and again in the 54th. The first goal came off a brilliant pass by Alex Morgan. Morgan delivered a bullet right toward Abby Wambach. Known for scoring with her head, Wambach nearly notched her 144th interinational goal. But it wasn’t Wambach’s head this time. Instead, a slashing Carli Lloyd came out of nowhere to head the ball into the net. A celebration and inevitable pig pile ensued as the USA took a 1-0 lead. Lloyd’s second goal was a laser beam (fire the laser beam!!!) from way downtown. It was like an Antoine Walker three-you question it while it’s happening and then erupt once it somehow goes in. Yuki Ogimi scored for the resilient Japanese squad in the 63rd minute. Japan had many chances, including one in the 83rd minute off a misplay from USA defender Christie Rampone. Solo made a stellar save and the USA preserved a 2-1 win. After losing to Japan on penalty kicks in the 2011 World Cup finale, the USA is back on top, and, as their t-shirts so modestly say, “Greatness has been found.”
2) Dwight Howard- Dwight Howard is actually going to the Lakers. This seems like I accidentally copied and pasted a Tweet from May, June or July, but this time it seems like a deal is imminent. Part of a four-team mega-deal, Howard joins Kobe, Gasol and Nash, catapulting the Lakers back into elite status after a one-year respite. Bynum is heading to the 76ers along with Jason Richardson, while Iguodala is off to Denver and Arron Afflalo and Al Harrington are going to Orlando (the only team that didn’t win personnel-wise in this trade). Basketball-wise, there are pros and cons for LA. Nash, Kobe and Dwight are all playmakers and require the ball a lot to be effective, which can be both good and bad. Nash to Howard alley-oops will certainly be “Nash-ty.” From a Hollywood, media and fan standpoint, the deal has people salivating and fantasizing about a Lakers-Thunder Western Conference Final. It will still be tough to get by the Spurs, Clippers and Grizzlies, but LA certainly took a Super(man) step in the right direction.
3) Usain Bolt – The puns are hackneyed and unexciting at this point when it comes to Usain Bolt. His speed is not. Bolt bolted to a win in the 200-meter dash (couldn’t resist the bad pun-shucks) and became the first person to win gold in the event twice. Just to boost his swag and add to his legend, Bolt has essentially trademarked the “Shhhh As You Cross The Finish Line While Everyone Else Stumbles Hopelessly Two Seconds Behind You (or the SAYCTFLWEESHTSBY if you will-you probably won’t. I wouldn’t either.). Supposedly he does the SAYCTFLWEESHTSBY to silence his critics. What critics? Last time I checked, people recognize that he’s a fast runner. No, Chris Johnson doesn’t count. And no, there’s no way Johnson would beat Bolt in a 40-yard dash. Bolt will be considered one of the greatest athletes of all time, whether he plays professional soccer or not.
4) Football – Are you ready for some football? Of course you are. During what feels like the longest offseason in sports every year (maybe because it is), NFL fans are often forced to hide in their rooms and prep for Fantasy Football drafts months in advance, sleep and eat to pass the time. Now that period of hibernation is history and the preparation finally comes to fruition. Football is here. Here are some storylines from yesterday: Peyton Manning was intercepted. I guess that means he’ll have a terrible season now…Michael Vick hurt his thumb. Fans cheered for Andy Reid, a few days after his son tragically passed away. Curtis Painter threw three touchdowns for the Ravens (yeah!). The Chargers-Packers game featured six fumbles and three interceptions. Chargers RB Ryan Mathews broke his collarbone and will be out 4-6 weeks. RG3 threw a touchdown. Shannon Eastin became the first female to ever ref an NFL game. Great for the sport. But none of that matters-the Jets are playing tomorrow and Tim Tebow will likely take more than a few snaps. That’s what all of America wants to see and what the whole country cares about! Tebow Time, baby!
5) Decathlon – While all of these other occurrences captured the public’s attention (including mine), Ashton Eaton was “Eaton” the competition alive in the Decathlon. It was the 100th anniversary of the event. Jim Thorpe won in 1912 in case you were wondering. The always modest Usain Bolt even had words of praise for Eaton: "I'm a great athlete, but to do 10 events, especially the 1,500 -- I've got to give it to him," Bolt said on ESPN.com. Eaton dominated in the 100-meter dash, long jump and 400. Props to Ashton Eaton. Now Ashton Kutcher (aka Kyle Korver) isn’t the only Ashton grabbing headlines in the USA. The decathlon is one of the most incredible events in the Olympics. Possessing the ability and work ethic to excel at such a wide variety of events in tremendously impressive.
6) The Red Sox lost.
7) Baseball - R.A. Dickey improved to 15-3 on the season (Who saw that one coming?), giving up only one run while going the distance and ending Jose Reyes’ 26-game hit streak. Michael Morse homered twice and the Nationals beat the Astros (whoop-dee-doo) 5-0 behind a gem from Jordan Zimmerman. Zimmerman is very quietly having one of the best seasons in Nationals/Expos franchise history. Evan Longoria is making his presence felt. The Rays’ star went 3-5 in his third game back since coming off the DL as the Rays beat the Jays. The Cardinals once again have the same record as the Giants after beating San Fran 3-1.
8) POP! – American runner Manteo Mitchell’s leg popped while he was running the 4x400 relay. “It felt like somebody literally just snapped my leg in half," he said. Sounds like fun. Yowza. He remarkably finished the last lap while limping on what was later diagnosed as a broken fibula. I ain’t fibbing when I tell you that’s impressive stuff. The team incredibly finished tied for first with the Bahamas and tied the all-time record for a first-round race with a time of 58.87 seconds. The Americans have won gold eight times in a row in the event, so Mitchell knew he had to do his job, despite the agonizing pain. That’s exactly what he did. He’ll be out 4-6 weeks while wearing a walking boot and watching from the sideline.
9) College basketball – ESPN College Game Day released its schedule. March 9th: Syracuse vs. Georgetown at noon and Duke vs. UNC at 9:00. Hubba hubba.
10) USA Women’s basketball – The USA women’s basketball team beat Australia 86-73 to advance to the gold medal game. Diana Taurasi and Tina Charles led the USA with 14 apiece as the team held Australia to 26 points in the second half. They’ll face France on Saturday in pursuit of the gold.