2016 medal projections: Men’s handball

Never too soon, right? Spain was the runaway winner in the just-concluded World Championship, beating Denmark 35-19 in the final. They lost a group-stage game to eventual third-place finisher Croatia but otherwise won with ease. Two reasons not to anoint Spain as the 2016 favorites just yet: 1.  Spain hosted the tournament, a big advantage. 2. The tournament, Team Handball News reports, didn’t find teams at their sharpest. Some are rebuilding, some may have tournament fatigue. That said, Spain is no stranger to the podium and usually makes the knockout rounds at least. Our likely contenders are: – Spain: World champion, 2012 … Continue reading 2016 medal projections: Men’s handball

The Ultimate Fighter 17, episode 2: We believe in you … maybe

What we learned from episode 2 of The Ultimate Redesigned Fighting Show … – The Red Hot Chili Peppers’ cover of Higher Ground, which replaced the original TUF theme as the show’s intro music, has been replaced by … pretty much nothing. No montage of the fighters smiling and grimacing for the cameras. Just quick pictures of Jon Jones, Chael Sonnen and Dana White, in case you forgot what they look like. – Josh Samman worried that coach Jon Jones made a really questionable fight pick, sending Gilbert Smith against the much taller No. 1 Sonnen pick Luke Barnatt. – The darker, … Continue reading The Ultimate Fighter 17, episode 2: We believe in you … maybe

Soccer Hall of Fame: Can we induct some people this year, please?

The National Soccer Hall of Fame: It’s so exclusive, it doesn’t even exist. That’s not to make light of the Hall’s current plight. It’s a real pity to have so much soccer history stored away in North Carolina warehouses instead of in display cases somewhere. If the Hall can’t have a permanent building, perhaps we can at least build a “Virtual Hall” with all that memorabilia on a good website, then scatter some of it in various soccer facilities across the country. We do have a few people making tremendous efforts to keep the history alive — I bumped into … Continue reading Soccer Hall of Fame: Can we induct some people this year, please?

Winter weekend: World Championships vs. X Games

Quick peek at the calendar shows us a couple of items to consider for 2014 medal projections: 12-27: Handball, Men’s World Championships 14-27: Tennis, Australian Open 18-27: Snowboarding, World Championships 19-Feb. 10: Soccer, African Cup of Nations 20-27: Figure skating, U.S. Championships 24: Bellator: Askren vs. Amoussou (welterweight title) 24-27: Winter X Games Aspen 25-Feb. 2 Bobsled/skeleton, World Championships A few details: SNOWBOARDING (worlds and X) Reminder of the ever-expanding Olympic snowboarding program: halfpipe, snowboardcross, parallel giant slalom, slopestyle (new) and … parallel slalom (also new)? The World Championships, underway in Stoneham, Quebec, have all those events, plus big air. The only … Continue reading Winter weekend: World Championships vs. X Games

MMA weekend: Fast and furious

Can Bellator keep up the momentum after a strong Spike debut last week? Who’s the fastest flyweight in the world? Can UFC get a bang for its marketing buck, particularly with a main card that would stack up quite well against some of the recent pay-per-views? BELLATOR (main card 10 p.m. ET Thursday on Spike) Ben Askren (champion) vs. Karl Amossou (tournament winner), welterweight title fight: You can hear Bellator and Spike execs now, praying that this will not be a lay-and-pray win for Askren. The former world-class wrestler has won six straight decisions. King Mo Lawal vs. Przemyslaw Mysiala, light heavyweight quarterfinals: Winner … Continue reading MMA weekend: Fast and furious

The Ultimate Fighter 17, episode 1: Sonnen-chanted evening …

Funny: I Googled “sonnen chanted” to see if anyone else had used that, and Google asked me if I meant “sonnen cheated.” Yes, it’s The Ultimate Fighter‘s 17th season, in which we’ll see if a move to Tuesday nights can re-invigorate the ratings. First, let’s clear up one misconception: Season 16 was not the worst season of the show. Last season’s fighters were interesting, at least until they got into the cage. Season 13 is still the worst by far — boring fights, boring fighters, boring coaches. So this season, they’ve re-branded. The intro talks about the tough tournament (Bellator execs surely aren’t … Continue reading The Ultimate Fighter 17, episode 1: Sonnen-chanted evening …