Are the Olympics over yet?

The Beijing Olympics ended today.  Interestingly, I didn’t really care.  I did not have much interest in these Olympics, although my wife — who was born in China — spent plenty of time watching the games.  My son also enjoyed watching some of the events.  However, even my wife did not spend as much time watching the Olympics as one might think for an Olympics hosted for the first time by her birth nation.  I didn’t have much interest partly because life has been so busy here, and partly because I feel quite isolated from the rest of the world in Paraguay.  I thought about the Olympics when walking past the Paraguayan Olympic Committee’s training facility yesterday, but only fleetingly.  Likewise, I spent perhaps 15 minutes in several installments watching the games.  The coverage — Argentine cable broadcast from Buenos Aires — wasn’t very good.  Once upon a time, when I was much younger, I spent untold hours watching Olympic event after Olympic event.  Not anymore.
Somewhere along the way, I lost interest.  I just wasn’t that interested in the games this year.  The most intriguing aspects of this summer’s Olympics were the controversies; and even those weren’t very noteworthy.  Of coure, it was a tragedy that the American family was attacked by a knife-wielding Chinese.  So the fireworks during the Opening Ceremony were enhanced, and the Chinese had a pretty girl lip-sync in lieu of not-so-cute one who sang the national anthem.  Or the Armenian-Swedish wrestler who was stripped of his medal for unsportsman-like conduct but turn out to be right when he contested a bad call.  Or the apparently underage Chinese gymnast the IOC absolved in three hours.  Even the debate over medal counts didn’t stir up much fury in me.  The U.S. won 110 medals; the Chinese 100.  The Chinese won 51 gold medals, the American 36.  The IOC and the rest of the world would say that the Chinese won based on the IOC’s regulations (which, obviously based on the gymnast age controversy, can be bent when necessary).  Yet the American media stubbornly continued to rank the U.S. first. 
None of it really matters, in the end.  The Chinese staged an excellent Summer Olympics, and they will continue to be a presence in the future.  The IOC will continue to make flaky decisions and annoyingly appeal to nationalist sentiments to bolster support for what is — when you boil the games down to its essence — really just a large collection of sporting events.  Someday, the United States will host the games again, perhaps as early as 2016 in Chicago.  Someday, India and Brazil will host an Olympics; someday Shanghai, China will host the Summer Olympics, and Harbin, China will host the Winter Olympics.  But for now, I really want to know why I really don’t care all that much anymore.

Am I supposed to be excited?

Having attended the University of Washington and being a proud Husky, I’ve been told I should never root for cross-state rival Washington State University, home of the Cougars.  I don’t begrudge the Cougars when they win at sports, even when they beat the Huskies.  But as a Vandal who attended the University of Idaho, I cannot be so quick to congratulate the cross-state Boise State University Broncos for winning the biggest football game in Idaho State history.  BSU beat Oklahoma 43-42 in the Fiesta Bowl in a game touted by many as one of the greatest bowl games in history.  BSU, the cinderella team, beat the Sooners on a trick play in overtime. 
‘Nuff said.  I really should be happy, shouldn’t I?  I didn’t see the game, although I did wonder how it stacks up against last year’s Texas-USC game (waiting for Tortmaster to chime in).  Some of my high school chums attended Boise State.  It brings pride and recognition to a state many people confuse with Iowa (except for Iowans themselves and a few Minnesotans).  So should I be proud of the Broncos and say congratulations?  No, I really can’t, and here’s why:
  • Could you seriously root for a team whose school’s initials are B.S. U.?  (Yes, it is an Idaho inside joke.)
  • B.S.U. is an upstart.  Think of all those poor Idaho State Univesity students in Pocatello who get absolutely no respect as regional school, even though it really should be the state’s #2 university.
  • Rumor has it that cow-tipping and beer bonging are undergraduate majors.
  • The Broncos play on blue turf.  That’s fine if you’re a smurf or Timothy Leary.
  • B.S.U. primarily serves the Boise area, making it arguably the largest community college in the nation (no offense to community colleges around the country). 
  • No other colleges sponsor bowl games to make sure their teams get a bowl invite each year and name it after some lofty ideal with lousy marketing potential (Humanitarian Bowl).
  • Boise is not a State.
  • B.S.U. is a short drive to slots, booze, and brothels in Nevada.
  • The Idaho State Legislature forgot that the only reason the state capital is in Boise is because the territorial government in Lewiston gave the capital to Boise and the State University to Moscow.
  • Bronco football proves that a university can sustain itself through athletics when it does not have much to offer academically.

Oh, relax Broncos fans!  You know I love you anyway.

200,000 hits and the Curse of Yamauchi

Thank you, Dear Reader, for visiting World Adventurers over 200,000 times.  I really appreciate it!  I was very happy to see this blog pass that milestone.  I especially have to thank Google, Technorati, and Baidu for hitting it so often–some of the hits come from Web searches.  Thank you for stopping by to read my musings and post comments.  I will do my best to respond to your comments soon.
As if that weren’t enough, the Detroit Tigers eliminated the New York Yankees, the best team money can buy, from post-season play in Major League Baseball.  I am such a happy camper, and I’m not even camping!  Will wonders never cease?  First, the Atlanta Braves’ 14-year playoff streak is broken, then the Yankees become the Braves by making it to the post-season for the ninth time but falling short yet again.  Will Manager Joe Torre be able to keep his job year in and year out without a World Series ring, as has Braves Manager Bobby Cox?  We’ll have to wait and see what Yankees Owner George Steinbrenner does.  Wait, before flaming me, Yankees and Braves fans, consider this–I am a lowly, hapless Seattle Mariners fan.  I root for a team languishing in futility and tantalizes fans with letdown season after letdown season.  It breaks my heart to see two of the greatest Mariners of all time, Randy Johnson and Alex Rodriguez, playing on the New York Yankees.  Come root for the Mariners for, oh, 29 years, the number of times the Yankees have won the World Series, before casting any sneaky fastballs this way.
Actually, watching A-Rod and Randy on the Yankees may be for the best.  I have a theory, and here it is:  No team with a former Seattle Mariner who came up through the Mariners farm system will win the World Series while the Mariner is on that team, unless that player is acquired through a trade with the Mariners (and your team is not the Arizona Diamondbacks–OK, so this theory has a lot of stipulations).  Call it the "Curse of Yamauchi" (in honor of Hiroshi Yamauchi, majority owner of the Mariners).  When Mariner Pitcher Freddy Garcia was traded to the Chicago White Sox, they won the World Series.  When Mariner Pitcher Derek Lowe and Catcher Jason Varitek were traded to the Boston Red Sox for Red Sox Pitcher Heathcliff Slocumb in what will surely go down as the dumbest Mariners trade in history, the Red Sox won the World Series.  The Curse of Yamauchi extended to the Texas Rangers and now to the New York Yankees, who picked up Alex Rodriguez, the greatest shortstop of all time playing third base, as a free agent.  Now that A-Rod is gone, Texas can win a World Series.  The Curse extends to the Cincinnati Reds, who got the deal of the century when they hired possibly the greatest player in the 1990s, Ken Griffey, Jr., who proceeded to implode.  I can’t think of a single Mariners acquired by another team in free agency who has won the World Series, except Randy Johnson, when he was with the Arizona Diamondbacks.  During the 2001 World Series, the Diamondbacks beat the New York Yankees with Randy Johnson on their roster, in spite of Randy Johnson. (Randy is terrible in post-season player–not the pitcher you want to choose for your fantasy baseball team.)  It could be that the Blessing of Gonzo (in honor of Outfielder Luis Gonzalez) trumped the Curse of Yamauchi in that instance. 
If the "Curse of Yamauchi" is true, I hope the Yankees go after Ken Griffey, Jr. in the offseason.  With Griffey, A-Rod, and Randy on the Yankees roster, it would be like reliving the glorious, magical 1995 Mariners season, when the Mariners lost to the Cleveland Indians in the American League Championship Series!  It was pure magic.  Until they lost.