Several A/K/A Random's 'sporting blues'
I missed The Post deadline last week (and so did The Post) and it wasn't pretty. Without getting into clinical details, DO NOT think tissues, wastebaskets and other stuff, some personal issues and the whole lot.
It was a not-good week, at the least.
The last week started sniffling, sneezing, coughing spasms (that's only part of it) and, when the news broke Monday of the untimely demise of writer/author/commentator Hunter S Thompson I was left brainless, lost, even more ill.
Hunter Thompson may have not been a great man, but I have developed a small part of his 'The Sports Desk' and cannot claim to be anything like 'The Man' he was, covering sports, politics, the arts, wildlife, guns, drugs and all that anywhere near what he did.
Apparently, someone has compiled many of Hunter's recent columns - they may still be on espn.go.com in its Page Two feature - in a book titled Hey Rube: Blood Sport, the Bush Doctrine and the Downward Spiral of Darkeness which gives you an idea of what his frame of reference has been of late.
I am physically, emotionally, culturally and writing-skills miles down the mountains where Hunter lived and roamed, with his unique grace (of sorts) and humour... it is a sad, sad day indeed when the wolverine doesn't snarl at your door, the coyotes and wolves don't even howl, echoing themselves in the wilderness we call 'Life.'
In his last (apparently) column on the 'net, Thompson suggested a new sport called 'shotgun golf' where two men earned points. One tees up a golf ball, the other attempts to shoot the ball in flight. Two points for the golfer to getting an intact ball on the green... then the man with the gun gets the golf clubs on hole number two.
Having played golf, this makes perfect sense to me. Many is the time I've hit a long iron (or short wood) and wished I'd had a shotgun for the area of the woods and brambles the golf ball disappeared into. Scares the critters away, y'unnerstand, and blasts a path so you can drop another ball and chip out from a good lie.
We have now, among the 'Sporting Blues' heading into March, on a positive (of sorts) note, college basketball's annual championship tournament and pro baseball's Spring Training, where every team starts out 0-0 and each can win the Ultimate Trophy at this point in time. How much money$ us fans will shell out in attendance of teevee ratings are yet to be determined, as is how many of these 'athletes' are drug-induced and have million$ in equipment contracts.
Hunter Thompson would write about these issues and more with more insight, more acidic commentary than I am capable of, at this feeble, pale imitation of his The Sports Desk... while I cannot even be a tenth of one per cent of the writer HST was (and still is) I shall carry on, following sports, monitoring politics and dabbling in the arts, with an everyday eye on cartoons.
I am unsure about the future (as anyone should be) and can only hope that my esteemed editor Shazz will/can incorporate any sporting issues someone might have, and I promise I won't bury them underneath buffalo doo-doo, alpaca doo-doo, and no ostrich will get a chance at snatching them. (Really, all those animals are within twenty miles of The Belfry, here on the frozen shore of the great lake named Erie... the horizon looks like it might be water, then a layer of pink (at present, 7 AM) with a band of blue clouds and then (going up) the normal grey...)
A good day to be out in Woody Creek, Colorado, USA with peacocks strutting in my back yard, a glass of du jour, a double omelette, bacon, sausage and potatoes, rye toast and a coffee IV, with orange and pineapple slices, various melon slices, a stash of powder and herb and a six-pack of Bass Ale.
That would about finish my day, but Hunter S Thompson lived, and wrote about it... for a while.
This is several, a/k/a random (I need more fruit and granola bars, I'm running low... and milk) over and out.
Elsewhere, in a Small Place Called Europe
The third week of play in the 6 Nations Rugby delighted some, angered others and plunged a few fans into despair.
First onto the field of combat were Scotland and Italy. Both sides displayed a certain tenseness in the opening half. Italy, starting the tournament as underdogs, began well but Scotland took first blood courtesy of Paterson. The Italians fought back and, despite missing two chances, were eventually rewarded with an equalising penalty taken by De Marigny. Scotland finally ventured into the Italian end and Paterson did the kicking honours again to put the Scots 3 in front. Both sides missed chances and a somewhat lacklustre first half finished with no further score.
After a scare early in the second half when an Italian kick hit an upright, the Scottish team settled down to some fine attacking play. Despite this they won purely on penalties - 6 in total; the Italians grabbing consolation with a try and conversion at the tail end.
Scotland 18 Italy 10
The second match on Saturday promised to be a corker. The French were always going to play hard and confidently on their home ground and were looking to improve their points difference score which had them placed only 3rd after two games. The Welsh, however, were also in bouyant mood after their convincing away win over Italy on their last outing. France certainly pounded Wales in the first half scoring 2 tries, 1 conversion and a penalty. The shell-shocked Welsh managed to stay in touch by slotting in a couple of penalties and finished the first half 9 points adrift.
Whatever was said during the half time pep talk certainly did the trick, however, as the red dragon swarmed all over the French. Two tries by Martyn Williams and one conversion from Stephen Jones put them in front by a slender 3 points but, after 60 odd minutes, they fumbled a lineout and the French took a drop goal to level the score. Three minutes later Wales lead after a penalty and stretched it even further with a drop goal on the 73rd minute. The final few minutes of play were electric as the French tried to claw their way back and the Welsh refused to relinquish. The fans must have been gnawing their knuckles as 3 minutes of extra time were played and the French came perilously close to scoring. The whistle eventually sounded and the elated Welsh left the pitch with their Grand Slam hopes still very much intact.
Wales 24 France 18
Sunday found the English side over St George's Channel at Lansdowne Road to face the superbly confident Irish team. An early Irish lineout led to a drop goal and placed them 3 up after 5 minutes of play. They barely had time to celebrate, though, as a hole wider than the channel tunnel opened up in the Irish defence and Martin Corry charged to deposit a try, neatly converted by Hodgson. Briefly the English were in front but off-side incidents soon saw them conceding 2 penalties which were both effectively taken by O'Gara. Illegal ball handling by Simon Easterby1 gave Hodgson a chance to shine after last week's dismal display and he scored a brilliant penalty from the half way line. England were back in front again - but not for long as O'Gara chanced a drop goal 6 minutes from the half time whistle. With one minute to go Cueto looks to have made a try but the English fans are left disappointed and somewhat gob-smacked as he is ruled to have been offside.
Personally, I thought that England looked the stronger side in the second half. They took back the lead with another drop goal after 17 minutes of play only to see the Irish bag a try and conversion just one minute later. With the score now standing at 19-13 to Ireland both the pace and intensity of play increased. What happened during the final twenty minutes of play is still subject to heated debate and may lead to possible censure of England Coach Andy Robinson. Was the disallowed try refereed fairly or were England robbed? Was there an Irish arm underneath the ball? Already smarting from the offside decision in the first half this final blow sealed England's fate, gave the Irish their third successive win and placed them firmly at the top of the table. No doubt the controversy will rage for some time to come and Robinson may have to publically apologise for questioning the actions of South African referee Jonathan Kaplan. Me? Well, I couldn't see any problem with either try attempt but then I'm possibly slightly biased and definitely no expert on the offside rule. I shall just console myself by thinking 'if only'!
Ireland 19 England 13
Standings After Third Week
- Saturday March 12: Ireland v France (13.30 GMT)
England v Italy (16.00 GMT)
- Sunday February 27: Scotland v Wales (15.00 GMT)