Friday, February 21, 2014

Sports this 'n' that

You knew the Winter Olympics weren't going to go without any kind of controversy, didn't you?

First, it was barely acknowledged that there were some issues with the officiating in the US Men's hockey match vs. host Russia last weekend. However, the Russians won't be able to collect payback until the next Winter Olympics in South Korea in 2018, since they were eliminated earlier this week by Finland. I'd seen a newspaper article or two, but it wasn't discussed on TV that I could see.

Then, Yahoo! reports today that figure skater Ashley Wagner railed against the judging system after finishing 7th in the women's competition. Implying, but not outright accusing, that eventual gold medalist Adelina Sotnikova and Julia Lipnitskaia, who finished 5th after leading Russia to the team gold a week earlier, had their scores inflated. The identities of the judges from each country are kept secret, but Wagner is looking for accountability.

This isn't new. However, after defending champ Yuna Kim of South Korea finished with a silver medal, a petition went online, presumably started in South Korea, demanding that the scores be reviewed, suspecting that the Russians weren't exactly on the up and up. However, as long as the judges remain anonymous, there is no proof. The petition is meaningless, since the IOC won't do anything about it, even with over a million signatures to this point.

Turning closer to home, it's back to the drawing board for Catholic Central High School's men's basketball team, eliminated in the first round of sectional play Tuesday by Niskayuna of the Suburban Council. Christian Brothers Academy is the lone team from the Big 10 left in class AA play, but the road isn't as easy as some might think. CBA finished 3rd in the Big 10 behind CCHS & Troy High, and had 5 league losses, which is rare for a pristine program that has just 1 star player.

Troy is in class A this year after winning the AA title last year, and will play Mohonasen of the Suburban Council on Sunday. They're also the only hometown team left in the men's tournament, after CCHS & LaSalle were knocked out on Tuesday, and I don't think Lansingburgh (Colonial Council), in class B, even made it into the tournament. No one expected CCHS to fall this quickly, but then, they're finding out that there's still some work to be done.

In New York, WFAN afternoon host Mike Francesa is in an on-air war with Yankee announcer Michael Kay, who hosts an afternoon show on ESPN Radio's NYC affiliate, and is being simulcast on the Yankees' cable network as of last month, after the station ended their association with Francesa, who has a reputation of being an obnoxious windbag who thinks he knows everything, although he's routinely outed as being wrong as wrong could be, such that New York Daily News media columnist Bob Raissman mockingly refers to him as the "Sports Pope".  Francesa didn't exactly endear himself to the Yankees' top brass last year when he had embattled slugger Alex Rodriguez as a guest and opted against being a real journalist. That is, he gave Rodriguez what Raissman likes to call a "Twinkie munch", a soft interview so that Rodriguez could get his point across without the other side of the story being addressed. For Francesa, this has been par for the course ever since he became a solo act.

Back to the Olympics. The US women's hockey team finished second best again, losing to Canada in the finals on Thursday in overtime, but then, the men's teams meet today to decide who advances to the finals on Sunday morning, meaning the American men can atone for the ladies' heartbreaking loss. Canada swept the hockey gold in Vancouver in 2010, but I don't see it happening this time.

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