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Cristiano Ronaldo Airport?

July 22nd, 2016 · 1 Comment · Football, soccer

This is never a good idea.

Want to give the name of a prominent person to a civic facility?

Wait until that person is dead. So you don’t look silly if/when that living person does something stupid/immoral/illegal.

And when that person is an athlete … be doubly as cautious.

The government of Madeira has ignored that advice, apparently still revved up about Portugal’s first international championship — the 2016 European tournament.

Effective today, the Madeira International Airport has been renamed for the island’s most famous citizen.

It now shall be known as … Cristiano Ronaldo Airport, named after the Portugal and Real Madrid star.

Oh, what a bad idea.

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Another Misadventure in Sports Tattoos

July 21st, 2016 · 1 Comment · English Premier League, Football, NBA, soccer

The web has scads of pages pertaining to bad sports tattoos. There are so, so many, after all. Just search “bad sports tattoos” and you can spend an afternoon paging through them.

It has been suggested that an athlete probably should have a better idea for a tattoo than his own name, which often is Tattoo No. 1.  But it seems to suggest athlete forgets his or her name, from time to time.

Athletes may not want to advertise that.

I am of the retro opinion that no one should get tattoos unless 1) it is a cultural thing (you are a Polynesian) or 2) you have been in someone’s navy.

For sports people who go the ink route … it’s just pretty much permanent self-mutilation that you put on display whenever you play a game.

We were informed of another really silly sports tattoo the other day, and the explanation of it apparently goes back to this story, from a publication in Watford, England.

In short, a soccer player named Jose Holebas has “Don’t care” tattooed on his knuckles — which was not what he intended. Or so he says.

His intention?

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Bad News: Klinsmann Not Getting England Job

July 20th, 2016 · No Comments · English Premier League, Football, soccer, World Cup

It would have been so tidy.

Jurgen Klinsmann, the coach who is leading the U.S. national soccer team into irrelevance, was interested in the England job. England was interested in him.

At points over the past two weeks, bookies in England (they will bet on anything in Britain; anything) had the German as the favorite to get the job.

The U.S. Soccer Federation establishment, which often seems paralyzed when it comes to Klinsmann, could simply have waved goodbye and offered him a ride to the airport.

Now, it seems all but certain England will choose one of its own, Sam Allardyce, and the U.S. remains stuck with Klinsmann.

Klinsmann might even had some success with England.

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Trout’s Greatness Wasted on Fallen Angels

July 19th, 2016 · No Comments · Angels, Baseball

No, really. Sometimes we know things before someone in the advanced-metrics community produces the numbers that tell us so.

Mike Trout is really, really good, and his Angels teammates are really, really not good.

Anyone who watches the Angels for a weekend (or follows the club’s boxscores for a week) could have deduced that.

But, still, it was a bit fun to have it reinforced by someone from the sabermetric crowd, in this case Neil Paine over at FiveThirtyEight.com.

Some of the findings:

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Cheating Russia Should be Banned from Rio

July 18th, 2016 · No Comments · Olympics, Rio Olympics, Sports Journalism

The most frustrating aspect of the nearly 40 years I spent in sports journalism was how the blight of doping always lurked in the rear-view mirror.

We sped up, slowed down, turned left, turned right, and we could never shake the druggies. Eventually, we suspected nearly everyone — which was unfortunate because I’m pretty sure not every elite athlete got to where he or she was by cheating.

Aside from the Russians, that is. I’m convinced the Russians were there the day sports doping was invented and never kicked the habit.

And I am pleased, very pleased, that they have been called out by the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada), which today confirmed allegations of government-sponsored cheating and called for the International Olympic Committee to ban the Russians from the 2016 Summer Games.

I hope the IOC is brave enough to follow Wada’s advice. Losing the Russians wouldn’t assure a clean Rio Games, but it would be a fine and logical place to start.

 

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The French Summer Vacation Stampede Is Under Way

July 17th, 2016 · No Comments · France, tourism, Travel

We returned from Paris to the Languedoc yesterday, and I remarked on how crowded the TGV was. It seemed as if the train had more people than seats; several travelers seemed to spend hours standing in the small spaces between cars.

I was informed that the Saturday following Bastille Day — and this is what it was — is the busiest day for internal travel in France.

Basically, it is the opening of the month-and-a-half of summer when nearly everyone in France goes on vacation.

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The Difficulty of a Coup d’Etat in the Age of Social Media

July 16th, 2016 · No Comments · Uncategorized

All politics aside, I have always been fascinated by the concept of the coup d’etat. This must go back to the 1960s, a particularly busy decade for overthrowing governments — which I would have followed, once the news finally came in.

The coup is about as old as government itself. The oldest on record, recorded in the Bible, is from 876 BC.

The coup is an ultra-dramatic event. And such a zero-sum game. Someone survives or falls; someone takes power or is headed for extinction. Very black and white.

Last night, in Turkey, elements of the military staged a coup against the democratically elected government led by Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

It became perhaps the first coup in a major country to be followed/consumed via social media, which made it even more interesting — and prompted another late-night vigil to see how things turned out, because so much information was rolling in.

Some key points for a successful coup:

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France Slammed Again by Terror

July 15th, 2016 · No Comments · France, Travel

Over the previous few weeks, France seemed to have resumed being its old mostly carefree self, the horror of several terror attacks, including two in Paris, not forgotten but perhaps compartmentalized.

Some could dare to hope a corner had been turned.

France had hosted the 31-day European Championship of soccer, which attracted hundreds of thousands of fans to massive stadiums and fan zones in from Lille to Nice. It went off with hardly a hitch — aside from moronic brawling by English and Russian hooligans early in the tournament.

The French Open tennis tournament had seen no trouble, during its May schedule, and the Tour de France was up and rolling.

Yesterday, the Bastille Day parade, in Paris, lured the usual big crowd and produced no moments of danger.

Maybe the government dared hope a return to normalcy, too. Francois Hollande, the country’s president, had said that a state of emergency would be lifted in a few days.

Maybe the terrorists had been driving into hiding, it seems some were thinking. Perhaps concern over murderous attacks did not have to cloud the collective conscience, going forward.

And then came the attack last night in the southern French city of Nice.

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France and Its Semi-Jarring Bastille Day Military Parade

July 14th, 2016 · No Comments · France, tourism

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We mention the words “massive military parade” and we think of repressive regimes. The Soviet Union, and now Putin’s Russia. China. North Korea.

And France?

Yes. France has a big military parade each year on July 14, Bastille Day, which is a sort of a Fourth of July for France.

Except for the enormous military parade, that is, which the French stage in Paris, usually down the Champs Elysees, as it was this year.

And it makes you wonder why they stage such a martial parade when, to the best of my knowledge, none of the other Western democracies has anything quite like it.

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Riding the French Rails and Arriving Late

July 13th, 2016 · No Comments · France, tourism, Travel

The 20th-century dictator Benito Mussolini was famously credited (deserving or otherwise) with “making the trains run on time” in Italy.

About now, France could stand more than a little improvement in its trains’ on-time performance.

That’s four consecutive French trains now, that I have met or ridden, that failed to arrive on schedule.

None of them were rickety locals. Two were the high-speed TGV trains plying the main north-south route to or from Paris. The other two fall into the intercity category — which was the top end of the French system, before the high-speed trains were added.

All four of them … late.

Sometimes, France seems to be a slightly bogus member of the First World. The performances of their railroads certainly contribute to that sense.
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