Saturday, June 30, 2012

Second longest match in Wimbledon history

This is me on Court 1 during a tour of Wimbledon in 2008.
Most of what I know of Wimbledon 2012 before today had been what I've seen on Twitter. That's pretty typical of me; Twitter and sports go together like peanut butter and jelly for me, and I'm sure I'm not alone. (Even though a certain co-worker of mine thinks I need a Twitter-intervention.)

Other than a few minutes of the Championships over breakfast throughout this first week of play, I didn't get to watch much until this afternoon. I flipped it on to see the American Sam Querrey in a fifth set with No. 16 Marin Cilic. I had planned to do a few errands, but I figured I might as well watch the rest of the match.

Talk about long matches
Well, about an hour later, it was finally over. The fifth set (with no tiebreaker for the deciding set, remember) went to a score of 17-15, in favor of Cilic who will move on to the fourth round after defeating Querrey 7-6, 6-4, 6-7, 6-7, 17-15. The longer it went on, the more historical the match became. It ended up being a five-hour, 31-minute match, the second longest in Wimbledon history.

Querrey wouldn't quit. He came back from two sets down just to force the fifth set. He also had the chance to serve for the match many times in the fifth, but he just couldn't get it done. It was a bunch of games where the server did his job - he held serve. Breaks looked possible many times; Querrey got a couple points away from the match with a 30-love lead on Cilic's serve. And Cilic had the same kind of opportunities to break.

Finally, Cilic got the break and then served out the match that next game for the 17-15 fifth set and match win. A good example of a couple of guys who know how to hold their serves, that's for sure. Remember John Isner beating Nicolas Mahut 6-4, 3-6, 6-7, 7-6, 70-68 back in 2010 for the longest match?

Murray misses curfew
The other match going on was sentimental favorite No. 4 Andy Murray and Marcos Baghdatis. They were on Centre Court and played under the roof for part of the match. What got interesting was the Wimbledon curfew, which is 11 p.m.

As the time drew closer, Murray was up two sets to one in the fourth. He dominated the set, and when 11 o'clock came, he was up 5-1. Instead of calling the match for the day and having them come back to finish, they were able to squeeze in the final game to give Murray the 7-5, 3-6, 7-5, 6-1 win.

I would have loved to have read some of the stories and comments on that one had they decided to suspend play when Murray was that close to the finish line. I'm pulling for Murray to finally get that Grand Slam title. I can often pull for the underdog, mostly because I get sick of the same people or teams winning all the time. So I hope he can get it done.

Upset city
Murray might be just a tiny bit closer because this week in the upset category, No. 2 Rafeal Nadal lost in five sets in the second round to Lukas Rosol, ranked No. 100. That was certainly all over Twitter when it happened. I couldn't believe it. Then, Roger Federer had to pull off some magic in five sets just to survive the third round.
That's one thing that is so great about sports, the threat of the upset is always there, which turns brackets and draws upside down. A couple of years ago, Wimbledon had its fair share of upsets as well. I guess we'll see who else might fall in the second week of this year's Wimbledon.

My first Austin Greyhounds game

I'm almost embarrassed to admit this, but Friday night was the first time I attended a baseball game at Marcusen Park in Austin, for an amateur baseball game featuring the Austin Greyhounds. I rode my bike down to the stadium once last summer, but that was just for a looksie, not for a game.

Anyway, as I sat in the bleachers on a beautiful summer evening, I couldn't believe I hadn't been to a game before. Part of it, or at least the easy excuse, is that I work a lot and often into the evening. Weekends are usually busy or I just want to relax at home and do nothing after a long week.

Despite how often I do (or do not) get to the ballpark, I ended up choosing a good game. The Hounds won with a walk-off homer in the bottom of the 11th inning over Fairmont. It was Steve Serratore who hit the bomb over the right-center fence to give his team the 8-7 win. I was one of the few who stuck around until the very end (though I debated leaving early, I'll admit.)

To pull a line usually reserved for the Minnesota Twins, the Hounds accomplished the little things Friday night to bring some runs across early. An RBI-single and a couple of sacrifice flies put them up 3-1, and they added another 3-spot in the fifth inning for a 6-1 lead. They remained in control until the last three innings.

Fairmont slowly chipped away at the lead with a run in the seventh, two in the eighth and bringing three across in the top of the ninth to tie the game at 7 apiece. The Hounds had a couple chances to end it, and Fairmont had another look, too.

Heading to the bottom of the 11th, it looked like the game could go on for awhile. Both teams had their chances but couldn't get that big hit to bring the winning run in. That was until Serratore stepped to the plate and crushed the ball. He was 2-for-5 with 2 RBI. The win put the Hounds over .500 at an 11-10 record on the season.

After such a dramatic finish, not to mention good baseball game in nice conditions, I hope to get back to Marcusen for a game very soon.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Iowa Corn Indy 250

While any IZOD IndyCar Series race is a blast, I've always favored the road and street courses over the ovals. But hey, being there to watch those speed machines fly around any track is awesome. This weekend, my dad and I checked a new track off our list of ones we've visited: Iowa Speedway.

Since I'm living a couple hours closer to Iowa now, I figured we might as well go check out the IndyCar race. So off we went to see the Iowa Corn Indy 250 Saturday night at the 7/8-mile speedway in Newton, Iowa. It was a pretty cool sight, and as my dad put it, "like being in a constant beehive."

The race had already been pushed back to a 9 p.m. start time due to television schedules. It actually didn't start until after 9:30 p.m. because of some heavy rain and thunderstorms that popped up and didn't want to leave the area in the early evening. Always the prepared race fans, we were armed with our ponchos, though we didn't need them, thanks to the haven of standing underneath the bleachers.

Iowa Speedway, when it was still soaked with rain.
Once the rain stopped, the jet dryer got to work drying the banked speedway surface. The support series Firestone Indy Lights was supposed to run prior to the IndyCars, but they switched places. This meant that there were Indy Lights cars zooming around the track early into Sunday morning.

Action began even before the pace laps were complete for the IndyCar race. Pole sitter Dario Franchitti's car slowed and started smoking along the backstretch. His race was over even before it began. It took a couple laps under the caution flag and then a couple more before the cars were in a good enough formation to get the drop of the green flag. Showtime.

With 250 laps, these cars were obviously turning laps rather quickly. It was about 18 seconds to get around, according to my dad's trusty stopwatch. Fans in the stands - which were packed, by the way - got a great view of all the action on the track. It's a completely different scenario than watching a race at my favorite track, Road America in Wisconsin, which is a four-mile road course.

The IndyCar field heads into the first turn.
The Corn Indy 250 was a good one, that's for sure. It was a great night for the Andretti Autosport cars, as they ran up front all night. Ryan Hunter-Reay made it two wins in a row and he was joined on the podium with teammate Marco Andretti as the runner-up and also last year's winner at Iowa. Former Andretti Autosport driver and fan favorite Tony Kanaan made a late pass on Scott Dixon to finish third.

A lot of action was going on as cars filled every part of the track throughout the 250 laps. I focused in with the leaders though, because there were quite a few battles for the lead. Helio Castroneves, who started second but took the lead after Franchitti's troubles, led early on. Dixon had a bit of pit strategy on his side as he held the lead as well until he faded toward the end.

Andretti's James Hinchcliffe also had a great car during the race. I really thought he had a shot at the win, but he lost it in a corner and hit the wall just before lap 200. There weren't too many cautions, which was nice. Will Power and E.J. Viso got tangled up, as did Ryan Briscoe and Josef Newgarden. Katherine Legge hit the wall with just a couple laps to go, so the race finished under yellow, giving Hunter-Reay the win.

It was a great race that was very fun to watch, especially under the lights (and dry skies). It was also my first time seeing the new 2012 race cars in person. They flew by so fast, that I really didn't notice much of a difference. I'm glad my dad and I went to the race, and I hope to get back to Iowa for more IndyCar action.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Golf's 'get in the hole!' is now 'mashed potato!'

One of my first blog posts back in 2009 was about golf. I must admit that I don't write about golf too often, probably because I also don't watch or play golf with any real frequency either.

Anyway, one of the things that I find most annoying now when I do turn on a major golf tournament is the spectators and their "get in the hole!" screams - constantly. Even surrounding a green it's enough to make me sigh, but at least if a player's putting, he or she has a chance to literally get the ball in the hole.

What I have a problem with is those morons screaming the phrase at the top of their lungs off the tee box, especially those long and difficult par 5s. Seriously? Just stop it. It happens so much that it's not even remotely funny.

Taking it to a whole other level
A moment during this year's U.S. Open had my family laughing hysterically, however, and the loudmouth on the golf course did *not* yell the standard "get in the hole!" No, this phrase was completely different, out of place and had nothing to do with golf. I'm sure he did it on a bet with his buddies or to get some big reaction or viral video out of it. OK, I'll bite.

One of the leaders at the time, Jim Furyk, teed off during Sunday's final round at... one of the 18 holes, it doesn't really matter which one. He smashes the ball off the tee and everyone hears: "MASHED POTATO!"

It was so unexpected and so hilarious that my dad grabbed the remote to back it up so we could watch it again and again (Thank goodness for digital cable and DVRs.). As one of my Facebook friends said: "That never gets old."

So, the question is, what will be the next phrase someone yells on a golf course? And will it be as funny? Give it your best shot average-joe comedians.