Tuesday, July 13, 2004


you talkin' to me?

I'm not as big a sports junkie as others I know (though some of them are so hardcore that it's hard to be on the same level) but I admit, I'm really getting sucked into this whole Natalie Coughlin story. I'm drawn to how much intense pressure is placed upon her to succeed dominate. It's as if anything less than world-record setting performances is somehow a let down to everyone else.

Case in point, this recent Daily Cal op-ed actually seems to complain that Coughlin, in the current Olympic swimming trials, is only choosing to compete in three individual events (out of a possible six). Author Marek uses the following (inadvisable) comparison: " the low-risk venture could earn its place next to the eternal what-ifs of the sporting world, right next to the Red Sox’s Bill Buckner letting a World Series ring slip through his fingers along with the baseball that took a bad bounce in 1986".

First of all, you can't just throw Buckner around like some cheap cliche that vaguely fits the bill. Bucknerian metaphors should only be reserved for events of similar magnitude: like Gore losing the 2000 Presidential election or, say, the comet that destroyed the dinosaurs. Coughlin deciding that she's going to take it easy is not a missed opportunity - why does she need to go after Spitz's record? As if it's an obligation? Please.

Likewise, in today's SF Chronicle, there's a story about how Coughlin came in second in the 100m freestyle and you'd think she came in last or something. Provided, I understand that people compare Coughlin in the water to Howe on ice or Jordan on polished wood, but what I'm enjoying about her mystique is that she seems genuinely humble and more to the point: unassuming about her greatness. I have no doubt she's very competitive and out for Athens gold but unlike Michael Phelps who seems genuinely (and rather incredulously) upset that he's come in second in his competitions, Coughlin has been remarkably gracious...or at least that's how she's portrayed in the press.

Maybe it's because the U.S. track and field is embroiled in BALCO embarassment, but suddenly, U.S. swimming seems like a lot more intriguing (and wholesome) to follow. Of course, whether the Olympics will actually happen at Athens might preclude some of that anticipation.

(Speaking of sports, I was excited to see Clemens come out - all 41 years of him - and make a good showing at the All Star Game but damn, dude got ROCKED. The AL hits the cycle off him plus an error and second homer for good measure? Ouch. Oh and Fox? LOSE SCOOTER.)