Happy Olympics, all.
Before I go an a riff about how NBC's coverage wrecks a perfectly good sporting event, two Olympic memories:
• The Miracle on Ice, 1980 - Yes, we beat the Soviets, but everyone forgets that we still had to beat Finland two days later to clinch the gold. The game started at 8 a.m. in San Francisco and that was a problem. I was 9 and wanted to watch the game, but the Freud parental units had a habit of going to church at 9:15 a.m. every Sunday.
Had I known about mixology, I would have tried to get my parents drunk the night before. Pop ended up teaching me how to make a gin and tonic (for him) when I was 12 and a martini (for him, extremely dry) at around 15, but no such luck at 9.
I crept upstairs to our TV room to watch the start of the game. Sometime, late in the first period, I saw Pop at the base of the stairwell, and I thought the gig was up. As it turned out, the Freuds stayed home from church - I ended up singing in the St. Luke's Junior Choir, so I made amends - to watch the game. It was one of those fond childhood episodes which should be set in a "Wonder Years" episode.
• Freud does gymnastics, 1984 - Yes, it happened. I was at summer camp, most of Communist nations (except Romania and Yugoslavia) had boycotted Los Angeles, and Mary Lou Retton was the bomb. (Actually, she was probably "like totally awesome" in 80s speak.)
We watched the Olympics every night on TV as the United States won practically everything, and then emulated them during the day. So, alas, I remember doing the floor exercise, the vault, the uneven bars and the rings. That couldn't have been pretty as, not surprisingly, I was a short, chubby kid. Mercifully, I did not pommel-horse accident.
I could make cracks about "Welcome to two weeks of sports Americans only care about once every four years," but track and field, swimming, boxing (at this level, it's legit), wrestling, volleyball, any form of cycling and archery among others are fun to watch. (I was the my camp's best archer back in the day in rare display of athletic prowess.)
I know this will go unheeded, but I do hope that NBC can go without showing United States-exclusive sports in primetime and cut out the human-interest pieces, in which every gold medalist had some family member die in a tragic combine accident.
OK, other topics:
• Remain calm, Broncos fans, Peyton Manning has started training camp. That said, don't print the Super Bowl tickets yet. While a lot will be discussed about Manning getting his touch back, being on the same page with his receivers and the Broncos adapting to Manning, the most important thing is keeping No. 19 upright. Sometimes, the most obvious thing is really the most important thing. Manning only plays behind Broncos' starting offensive linemen because you don't want him getting killed in a game that doesn't count.
• Penn State ... Sort of mixed on the ruling. I'm glad the NCAA actually considered the death penalty. I didn't think it would have the guts to put it on the table. I'm happy that Penn State will be hurt on the field by a reduction of scholarships and some players likely transferring.
It still pales in comparison what happened to the victims/surivivors. And the $60 million fine is a joke. That's one year of Penn State football revenue. That is still a drop in the bank. It won't happen, but, "Go Ohio" in the opener. (Please note that isn't Ohio State, and I refuse to call it "The Ohio State University.")
• OK, Olympic opening ceremonies just started and I heard Ryan Seacrest talk to the U.S. ladies' gymnasts about Justin Bieber. Egad. This is what I was talking about with the American-centric coverage, etc. Hopefully I never refer to Bieber ever again in one of my columns.
• Baseball trade deadline deals ... The Dodgers are showing some muscle under new management by acquiring Hanley Ramirez from the Marlins. But will it work? It's pretty telling that the Marlins dumped him. That said, Los Angeles could have lightning in a bottle a la Manny Ramirez in 2008.
• Ichiro to the Yankees? Yes, he requested the trade to a contender, and he deserves it. Yet this is why most of baseball hates the Yankees. They got a future Hall of Famer as a hood ornament.
• Pitchers Zach Greinke, Ryan Dempster and Francisco Liriano all appear to be going somewhere. How desperate will teams get by Tuesday? I wouldn't be surprised if the Dodgers pick up Dempster. (The two have been linked over and over.) Liriano is a total crapshoot - utterly brilliant or a flop. And just as I type this, Greinke is off to the Angels. That is a good match, people. He doesn't need to be the star there with Jared Weaver and C.J. Wilson already on the staff and Anaheim is out of the spotlight media-wise, especially compared to the Dodgers.
• And, just in case you didn't know, the Spice Girls will be reunited for the closing ceremonies of the Olympics. A nation and a world rests easy again.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or email@example.com.