What I’m watching: July 21-31

Friday, July 21

6:10 a.m.: Water polo, men’s Worlds, USA-Russia, NBC Sports online

11:45 a.m.: Women’s Euro 2017, Sweden-Russia, ESPN3

2 p.m.: Track and field, Diamond League Monaco, NBCSN

2:30 p.m.: Women’s Euro 2017, Germany-Italy, ESPN3

11:30 p.m.: Australian rules football, Essendon-North Melbourne, FS2

Saturday, July 22

7:30 a.m.: Tour de France, time trial, NBCSN

11:45 a.m.: Women’s Euro 2017, Iceland-Switzerland, ESPN3

2:30 p.m.: Women’s Euro 2017, France-Austria, ESPN3

3:30 p.m.: NWSL, Chicago-Orlando, Lifetime

4 p.m.: MLS, Minnesota-NY Red Bulls, ESPN

6 p.m.: UFC Fight Night, Fox

10 p.m.: Gold Cup semifinal, USA-Costa Rica, FS1

Sunday, July 23

Ongoing: Golf, British Open, NBC

9:30 a.m.: Field hockey, Women’s World League semifinal final, USA-Germany, ESPN3

2 p.m.: Swimming, World Championships, NBCSN

2:30 p.m.: Women’s Euro 2017, England-Spain, ESPN3

6:30 p.m.: MLS, Vancouver-Portland, FS1

Monday, July 24

11:30 a.m.: Swimming, World Championships, NBCSN

2:30 p.m.: Women’s Euro 2017, Belgium-Netherlands, ESPN3

Tuesday, July 25

11:30 a.m.: Swimming, World Championships, NBCSN

2:30 p.m.: Women’s Euro 2017, Russia-Germany or maybe Sweden-Italy, ESPN3

Wednesday, July 26

11:30 a.m.: Swimming, World Championships, NBCSN

7:30 p.m.: International Champions Cup, Barcelona-Manchester United, ESPN2

9:30 p.m.: Gold Cup final (might include the USA, might not), FS1

Thursday, July 27

6 a.m.: Cricket, England-South Africa, first day of third Test, ESPN3

11:30 a.m.: Swimming, World Championships, NBCSN

2:30 p.m.: Women’s Euro 2017, no idea which game, ESPN3

10 p.m.: Women’s soccer, USA-Australia, ESPN

Friday, July 28

6 a.m.: Cricket, England-South Africa, second day of third Test, ESPN3

11:30 a.m.: Swimming, World Championships, NBCSN

2 p.m.: Cricket, T20, Sussex-Middlesex, ESPN3

Saturday, July 29

6 a.m.: Cricket, England-South Africa, third day of third Test, ESPN3

11:45 a.m.: Women’s Euro 2017 quarterfinal, ESPN3

2 p.m.: Swimming, World Championships, NBC

2:30 p.m.: Women’s Euro 2017 quarterfinal, ESPN3

10 p.m.: MLS, Los Angeles-Seattle, ESPN

11 p.m.: Darts, Las Vegas Masters, FS1

Sunday, July 30

6 a.m.: Cricket, England-South Africa, fourth day of third Test, ESPN3

8 a.m.: Formula One, Hungarian GP, NBCSN

11:30 a.m.: Swimming, World Championships, NBCSN

11:45 a.m.: Women’s Euro 2017 quarterfinal, ESPN3

2 p.m.: MLS, Toronto-NYCFC, ESPN

2:30 p.m.: Women’s Euro 2017 quarterfinal, ESPN3

5 p.m.: BMX, World Championships, NBC Sports online

8 p.m.: Women’s soccer, USA-Brazil, ESPN2

Monday, July 31

6 a.m.: Cricket, England-South Africa, fifth day of third Test, ESPN3

There’s also cricket and cornhole. Yes, cornhole. And Battle of the Network Stars.

(All times ET. Olympic Channel events are pending a dispute with my cable/Internet company, which rhymes with “horizon.”)

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Cycling is the new golf?

From a participation point of view, anyway, according to this BBC Sport report.

More worryingly for golf in England, participation has fallen by about 180,000 in eight years. Cycling, on the other hand, gained about 270,000 pedal-pushers in the last year alone. This figure does not include people tootling to work or down to the local. Cycling waxes while golf wanes.

And a fun phrase here:

Golf and cycling overlap in terms of their socio-economic profiles. Both sports can be reasonably cheap, but they can also be eye-wateringly expensive. Golf has always had players with ‘all the gear and no idea’, but cycling also has its own somewhat pejoratively named demographic: ‘Mamils’, or ‘middle-aged men in Lycra’.

This is why I do all my cycling in regular old cargo shorts. I’m under no illusion that I need $200 in body-hugging clothes to add 0.1 mph to my blazing 8 mph top speed.

But speaking as someone who is equally incompetent in each sport, I can see a few pros and cons here.

In cycling’s favor:

  • Flexible scheduling. Go whenever you’re free from work.
  • Actual aerobic exercise.
  • No looking for a lost bike in the woods while cursing your slice.
  • Groups of three, five, two or one are perfectly acceptable. No waiting for a foursome.

In golf’s favor:

  • Much easier on your backside.
  • If you hit the wall, it’s in the literal sense, and you just pick up your ball and move on.
  • No dismounting on ridiculous uphills.
  • I actually find it less of a pride issue to get skunked on the golf course than I do to have 60-year-old dudes in lycra ripping past me.

Now if you’ll pardon me, I’m off to yoga.

Monday Myriad, July 28: Sprinter’s paradise

We begin this week with a view of a cycling sprint finish from the winner’s perspective. Sounds like that would be “nothing,” but Marianne Vos didn’t take the lead until the last few meters:

And another point-of-view video from a winning cyclist, this time from BMX women’s world champion Mariana Pajon.

Nibali cares not for your dropped call: Tour de France winner Vincenzo Nibali is a model of focus as he plows right through a spectator’s calling arm. And the spectator also keeps her focus, ignoring the cyclists, the motorbikes, the oncoming car …

Things you don’t want to hear in cycling: “Midair collision”

More fast people: World Juniors track and field in Oregon.

But always remember …

Vertical jump matters, not age: Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross keep rolling.

https://twitter.com/ESPNOlympics/status/493505774182621184

And Phil Dalhausser and Sean Rosenthal made it a U.S. sweep on home sand …

The shots you don’t take: Compelling read on the need to take risks — pushing numbers up the field in soccer, swinging away in cricket — to get anywhere in sports.

On the other hand: Here’s a good strategy for getting out of an MMA fight without any blood or bruises: Tap out immediately.

Away win: U.S. wrestler Brent Metcalf came back from 6-0 down to beat Azerbaijan’s Magomed Muslimov at the FILA Golden Grand Prix in Azerbaijan. The key move, which earned four points to seal the tiebreaker for Metcalf, is at the 6:12 mark here:

USA Wrestling has the other U.S. results from that day and the next day, where the USA’s Elena Pirozhkova jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the final and held on with ease:

Comparisons: I think I’d rather be the Peyton Manning of bocce.

Along those lines …

Arf: Let’s see Rio 2016 top the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony:

Frame-by-frame defeat: Boxer Daniel Geale vs. Gennady Golovkin

21 seconds in: “Hey, I just landed a punch! That felt really good!”

32 seconds in: “Hmmm, maybe I should’ve been in better position to take this-”

Guess the sport: An U.S. Olympian has finally completed the American Ninja Warrior qualifying course. We’ll give some hints: It wasn’t a gymnast (Paul Hamm and Morgan Hamm did pretty well on the Japanese precursor Sasuke), nor was it a medalist. Give up? Here’s the answer.

UPDATE: I missed Jarrod Shoemaker’s World Cup triathlon silver when I posted. Please forgive me.

If you like full recaps of U.S. athletes in action or track and field in general, try TeamUSA.org and Daily Relay later in the evening. If you like pina coladas and getting caught in the rain … actually, I don’t like either of those things, so call someone else.

Catch the Monday Myriad again next week.

Monday Myriad, July 7: Meb passed a lot of you

Best and worst in myriad sports this week:

BEST CHARITY RUN

Meb Keflezighi started at the back of the Peachtree Road Race. He couldn’t pass everyone — the top runners were had been done for more than an hour by the time he started — but he reached his goal of passing 25,000 runners.

WORST COMPETITION

We were used to the idea of Ronda Rousey being a better grappler than every woman in MMA. Once she got you in her grasp, you were likely to fall prey to the armbar she honed as an Olympic judo medalist.

In her last two fights, Rousey has faced two accomplished grapplers — Olympic wrestling medalist Sara McMann and jiu-jitsu black belt Alexis Davis. She knocked both of them out in a combined time of 1 minute, 22 seconds. McMann, at least, is a relatively inexperienced MMA fighter. But Davis should have the kickboxing experience to avoid being knocked out in 16 seconds. And really, it was over in about 12.

Unless everyone can quit making excuses and let Rousey face Cris Cyborg, the woman who demolished the game but overwhelmed Gina Carano in the biggest pre-Rousey women’s MMA bout, who’s left to face her?

MOST EXPERIENCED YOUTH OLYMPIAN

The USA is sending 94 people to the Youth Olympic Games. One, table tennis player Lily Zhang, is the first U.S. athlete to have been in the regular old Olympics before she was in the Youth Olympics.

WORST OLYMPIC BIDDING PROCESS

The three finalists for the 2022 Winter Olympics are the only cities still bidding — Beijing, Almaty and Oslo. And you can almost hear the IOC saying, “Please be Oslo, please be Oslo.”

BEST GIF

MOST LEAD-FOOTED SWIMMER

BEST SHOWDOWN

Justin Gatlin needed a world-leading time of 9.80 seconds to beat Tyson Gay (9.93), who was returning from a one-year doping suspension.

Gay got a win on Monday.

BEST RALLY (EXCLUDING WIMBLEDON)

Not “rally” in the sense of a comeback. World League volleyball, USA-Russia.

(Start at 1:25 if you’re not already taken there.)

BIGGEST RECLAMATION PROJECT

MOST DIVERSE COLLECTION OF CELEBRITIES

The World Series of Poker main event is underway.

https://twitter.com/pamelam35/status/486308526004772865

BEST RACE

Jenny Simpson got out in front and nearly stayed there in the 1,500 meters in Paris. The quick tempo wound up dragging five runners under the four-minute mark. The Netherlands’ Sifan Hassan posted the top time of the year, Simpson just missed the American record (Mary Slaney, 3:57.12), and fellow American Shannon Rowbury (DUKIE!) set a personal best.

BEST RIVALRY

Kirani James vs LaShawn Merritt, once again. This time in Lausanne. No spoilers. Just watch.

BIGGEST TIE

World League volleyball, Pool A: Brazil, Italy, Iran, Poland. Each team played 12 matches. Brazil’s record: 6-6. Italy’s record: 6-6. Iran’s record: 6-6. Poland’s record: Basic match tells you what it has to be. A four-way tie.

By tiebreakers, it’s Italy, Iran, Brazil, Poland. And that leaves Poland out of the next round. But their fans were still great.

Meanwhile, the USA traveled to Serbia, needing a win to clinch a spot in the final.

BEST ROUNDUPS

The Daily Relay’s Monday Morning Run rounds up the record chases in track and field this year, along with a Tim Howard save. Also in that roundup is the shocking revelation of a massive mistake — when Emma Coburn ran away from an elite field to win the steeplechase in Shanghai, a couple of runners assumed she was just a pacemaker. They didn’t even realize she finished the race, crossing the line and thinking they had finished first and second.

They’re not making that mistake again.

And as always, Ollie Williams’ Frontier Sports roundup is a must-read. The Monday wrap features a lot of cycling (including a third sport for Dutch short-track/long-track speedskater Jorien Ter Mors) and the odd story of a judo athlete who won her appeal against a positive test for cocaine, spurring a new investigation to find out who might have slipped her the powder.

Lance Armstrong, the Tour de France, purgatory and peace

The word “Tour” appears only six times (not counting the tour of his art collection) in this lengthy piece on Lance Armstrong: Lance in Purgatory: The After-Life – Esquire. The word “France” appears only once. It’s as if we no longer associate the man with his rise. Only his fall.

The Tour is back on TV this week, and though it’s starting in England, it’s the same old Tour. It’s live shots of the peloton clawing back to catch the little-known riders in the day’s heroic but ultimately doomed breakaway. It’s Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen chatting about castle architecture and William the Conquerer as the helicopter cameras show us some impossibly beautiful scene from the countryside.

Perhaps the Tour is the ultimate Buzzfeed personality test. Do you see the Tour as an utter fraud, a spectacle that masks the generations of cheating in the sport? Or do you see it as an exercise in persistence?

The Esquire story attempts to balance Armstrong’s good and bad. He still records video messages for cancer patients, and it emerges in the course of the reporting that Livestrong may want him back despite the blistering email he sent upon his resignation. He lives comfortably — for now. He has more days in court ahead. But he tries to live in the present with his golf buddies and his kids.

We know quite well that Armstrong wasn’t the only doper in the peloton all those years. More than half the winners of the past 50 years and the overwhelming majority of top 10 finishers in the Armstrong years have been caught. Do the others share Armstrong’s pariah status? How do they live today?

France has, of course, seen history far worse than a bunch of EPO-ravaged cyclists climbing its mountains. We’re now marking the 100th anniversary of the war that should have shocked the world into never taking up arms again. The Tour passes gentle fields that were once bloody. Villages that have somehow managed to patch themselves up.

So when we look at the Tour and the beautiful towns, castles and streams, do we think of the history? Does that history make the bustling and tranquil settings seem fraudulent? Or do we see peace and perseverance? Maybe even forgiveness?

Woly Award: Bryan brothers, tennis

Two remarkable careers, one in tennis and one in cycling, are worth celebrating this week.

Bob and Mike Bryan have been the top doubles team in the world for nearly a decade. Rewind to 2003, when they first claimed the top spot in the year-end doubles rankings, and see how the other names in men’s tennis have changed: Andre Agassi won the Australian Open, Juan Carlos Ferrero won the French, and Andy Roddick won the U.S. Open and finished first in the season rankings.

After all that, the Bryans are somehow getting better. With their win at Wimbledon over the weekend, they’ve become only the second men’s doubles team to hold all four Grand Slam titles at once. And they won the Olympics along the way.

So the Bryans are a rather convincing winner of the Woly Award, given for the top U.S. performance in Olympic sports this week.

But there’s another career that also deserves our attention this week.

Mara Abbott was a fast-rising U.S. cyclist. She won a U.S. title in 2007, when she was fresh out of college. In 2009, she won the King of the Mountains title at the Giro d’Italia Femminile, the biggest stage race in women’s road racing. In 2010, she did even better, winning the overall Giro title.

Why didn’t you hear about Abbott in the 2012 Olympics? Because she had quit. More than that — she had literally starved herself out of the sport, miserable with what her life had become.

Velo magazine published a gripping story on her downfall and comeback a couple of weeks ago. It’s now available on their site. Why put it out on the Web now? Because she just won the Giro again.

And now that she has climbed back to the top, she could be around for a while.

Elsewhere in Olympic sports: Aries Merritt won a Diamond League 110-meter hurdles race in the fifth-best time in the world this year (13.09), U.S. volleyballers had a rough weekend, and shooter Corey Cogdell took World Cup bronze.

Monday Myriad: Feb. 4

Yes, this will be more of an evening thing from now on.

The week’s headlines:

– Jose Aldo defended his UFC featherweight title as Frankie Edgar suffered yet another close decision loss. The rest of the UFC 156 card scrambled the title chases in ways I’m still working out. Rashad Evans was supposed to fight for the middleweight title, but he lost a dreary light heavyweight fight to Antonio Rogerio Nogueira. In the heavyweight division, Alistair Overeem was supposed to fight for the title, but Antonio Silva knocked him out. And now lightweight contender Anthony Pettis says he wants to drop down to featherweight and fight Aldo.

– Steve Holcomb’s four-man sled set a track record in the fourth and final heat to take bronze in the World Championships.

– Noelle Pikus-Pace took silver in the skeleton World Championships.

– Erin Hamlin and Chris Mazdzer each placed sixth in their events at the luge World Championships. They, along with doubles team Matthew Mortensen/Preston Griffall, placed fifth in the team event.

– The U.S. men struggled past Brazil in the Davis Cup. Turned out to be a great first round for North America, with Canada upsetting Spain.

– Katie Compton was second in the elite women’s race at the cyclocross World Championships.

– Helen Maroulis was the Outstanding Wrestler at the Dave Schultz Invitational.

– U.S. sailors at the World Cup stop in Miami: Five golds, three silvers, three bronzes.

– Upcoming: Biathlon and Alpine skiing world championships, some of which will be televised. Also the U.S. men vs. Honduras as World Cup qualifying’s Hexagonal starts.

http://storify.com/duresport/monday-myriad-feb-4-features

Lance Armstrong and the truth-tellers … well, sort of

The NYT has a curious piece hailing the independent media as the sole source of truth in the years before Lance Armstrong was buried under 1,000 pages of U.S. Anti-Doping Agency evidence.

Nice shoutout to NYVelocity.com, home of the ever-classic Tour day Schmalz, but it’s a little unfair to split the cycling media into “brave, truth-telling, low-profile underdogs” and “those who were unwilling or simply scared to tell the truth.” (Or even worse, “enablers.”)

The issue: For journalists to print doping allegations, they have to have something called “evidence.”

The main reason we wait for evidence: It’s simply ethical to do so. The other reason is one I supposed you could file under “scared,” but legitimately so: Lance Armstrong wasn’t just suing his critics over the years. He was winning.

Satire, such as NYVelocity’s inside joke-heavy “Toto” cartoons, has broader protection. And in a lot of cases, satire is better able to tell the truth than the “media.” Just go back a couple of years to the classic Onion story “Lance Armstrong Wants To Tell Nation Something But Nation Has To Promise Not To Get Mad.”

Sure, a few people pursued the Armstrong case when it wasn’t cool to do so. A lot of people in the cycling community owe Betsy Andreu an apology. But “enablers”? That’s a little harsh. And unfair.

Tuesday’s links: Pot in MMA, skeleton comeback, soccer launch, Armstrong albatross

The day got away from me, but I did some interesting reading in between trips tending to sick cars and family members who need oil changes.

Wait, I’ve got that backwards.

Anyway …

MMA: Matt Riddle, “Chipper” from his TUF days, says he’s not a stoner but smokes pot because he needs to chill out. Having never walked in that world (apart from attending indoor Pink Floyd and Rush concerts), I can’t tell whether that’s a meaningful distinction.

Speaking of odd behavior in MMA, remind me to get to this hourlong Jason “Mayhem” Miller interview when I have a spare hour.

Skeleton: Like a BMW on the Atlanta Perimeter, Noelle Pikus-Pace came back and sped past the rest of the field.

Cycling: Some sort of philosophy blog thinks Lance Armstrong has become an albatross to co-author Sally Jenkins.

Soccer: Congratulations to Howler magazine (on Tumblr, too) on its launch party. My invite got lost in the mail, I’m sure. (That, or they realized I don’t live in New York.)

Finally, a quick thought on today’s Twitter conversation about how much or how little commentators should ramble about their playing days. I can’t compare or critique Kate Markgraf and Brandi Chastain — they’re friends and colleagues, and I hope we’re all covering another Women’s World Cup someday. But I know a lot of fans have had issues with Chastain, claiming she talks too much about her playing days. So it struck me as interesting that Arlo White was trying to get Markgraf to talk more about her playing days. Maybe he doesn’t read Twitter?

Lance Armstrong’s legacy falling like Berlin Wall

At what point does Lance Armstrong go from a being an inspirational figure to a sympathetic one?

Six months ago, Armstrong was comfortably in the USA’s firmament of sports heroes. He had parlayed his Tour de France championships and triumph over cancer into an assortment of lucrative business deals and a reputation as one of the country’s leading cancer-fighters. Of the people whose names are synonymous with cancer organizations — Susan Komen, Jim Valvano — he’s the one who’s still with us, ready to speak about his experience.

Sure, he had critics. But they were mostly shouted down, scorned or sometimes silenced in court.

Then the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency said it was checking into Armstrong’s past. And Armstrong scoffed, confident that his business partners and the sports community as a whole would stick with him. After losing a round in court, he wiped his hands and figured he didn’t even need to fight the case against him. Maybe he couldn’t? No one knew for sure.

When USADA released its colossal evidence against Armstrong, he shrugged it off again. Great times coming up at Livestrong, he reminded everyone on Twitter.

Aside from the media reaction, nothing tangible happened at first. Then, everything fell. It was like everyone in East Berlin suddenly realizing that the guards were no longer at the Berlin Wall. The official bulwarks — in Armstrong’s case, Livestrong and his many commercial partners — fell away. And journalists, many of whom had suspicions for years but no proof, felt free at last to heap scorn upon Armstrong.

Today, Lance Armstrong is officially the seven-time Tour champion no longer, stripped by international cycling authorities who seem to believe every bit of evidence except the bits that implicate them as well. Given the depth of doping scandals within cycling over Armstrong’s decade of wins, many titles will simply sit vacant. There’s no point in “promoting” anyone to the Tour title when the other cyclists either had doping issues of their own or were never put under the same scrutiny to which USADA put Armstrong.

And Armstrong has lost the last of his endorsement deals. A few days ago, he had tens of millions in future earnings. Today, that’s all gone.

Other people and organizations are feeling the ripple effect. In the D.C. area, some people want to hear from Post columnist Sally Jenkins, Armstrong’s co-author and staunch defender a few short weeks ago. Former Armstrong teammate Levi Leipheimer will be telling his story in a documentary and panel discussion. And will we ever see the lovely Tour de France the same way?

But at the heart of it all is a giant now toppled. Just 12 days ago, he said he was “unaffected.” How different he must feel today.