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My Apologies to 1991 Ryder Cup Captain Dave Stockton

September 27th, 2014 · No Comments · Football, Sports Journalism, The Sun

In a previous life, I often compiled a list of the “10 biggest local sports events of the year” and prepared it to run on the morning of December 31.

That typically is a slow day in the sports world, and readers often like to have a year recapped for them. And journalists who have an appreciation for writing a sort of history of a year … like doing it.

It was fun to compile, even if it took quite a lot of time.

Not only was it a long piece, it called for going through the previous 364 days of newspapers — to make sure nothing significant was missed.

In fact, on December 31, 1991, I missed something very significant:

Dave Stockton leading the U.S. Ryder Cup team to a controversial and nerve-racking 14.5-13.5 victory at Kiawah Island, in September, the first victory by the U.S. in eight years.

Given how the Ryder Cup has, in the past 20 years turned into something resembling a perpetual trophy owned by the Europeans … Stockton’s achievement seems only more impressive as the years pass.

And my neglecting it seems ever more egregious, and I recall it whenever the Ryder Cup is contested anew, as it has been this weekend.

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ESPN v Bill Simmons

September 26th, 2014 · No Comments · NFL

Wow. I just poked around to see reaction to Bill Simmons being suspended by ESPN for three weeks for calling Roger Goodell, the NFL commissioner, a liar on his (Simmons’s) podcast¬† … and it seems like every blogger and talking head has weighed in.

It’s like the perfect storm for sounding off.

Seems like most everyone hates Simmons or ESPN, and sometimes both of them. Which leads to blog entries and video clips.

And me?

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The 8,390-Mile, 16.5-Hour Nonstop

September 25th, 2014 · 1 Comment · Abu Dhabi, Travel

It’s a bit mind-boggling, the numbers around the Etihad Airlines nontstop flights from Abu Dhabi to Los Angeles, instituted on June 1 of this year.

They fly their Boeing 777 equipment 16.5 hours without touching ground. On “one tank of gas”, that is. And cover 8,390 miles –making it the third-longest commercial nonstop route in the world, according to this chart.

Now that we have bought tickets on one of those flights, to spend some time in Southern California during the holiday season, the notion of the time and distance in the air … is a bit terrifying.

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Dodgers Clinch; a Freeway Series, Finally?

September 24th, 2014 · No Comments · Angels, Baseball, Dodgers

The Dodgers clinched the National League West tonight by defeating the San Francisco Giants 9-1 behind Clayton Kershaw. Always grand to clinch against the Giants, and let them watch the team in blue celebrate.

But, more important, the Dodgers winning the division, and avoiding the wild-card stuff, comes a week after the Angels secured the American League West.

Which means, of course … the possibility of the first Freeway Series!

A true Freeway Series, which would pit the Dodgers and Angels in the World Series, is like a unicorn: Often talked about, never actually seen.

The notion of a Freeway Series is a localized rendering of what in New York is called a Subway Series.

The big difference being … a Subway Series has happened. Fourteen times, actually.

Granted, New York had many more opportunities, with three big-league teams in the city for most of the history of the World Series. But, still, you would think that the Dodgers and Angels would have bumped into each other at least once in the 52 previous seasons they have shared the L.A. market.

This, however, is the most promising opportunity yet.

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My Pals at the U.S. Embassy

September 24th, 2014 · No Comments · Abu Dhabi, UAE

Just about the only time in the UAE when I feel like an American is when I am in the U.S. Embassy, which is barely a mile from where we live, near the southern end of Abu Dhabi island.

Granted, I don’t feel it right off.

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‘False’ Fall

September 23rd, 2014 · No Comments · Abu Dhabi, UAE

Today was the first full day of Fall, if I read my almanac correctly.

Fall, or Autumn, begins on the day of the autumnal equinox, when every place on Earth gets 12 hours of sun and 12 hours of night.

In much of the northern hemisphere, it means cooler weather, perhaps even cold weather, in regions closer to the North Pole.

In the UAE? The first day of Fall is really just Summer by another name.

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The Stick Tree

September 22nd, 2014 · No Comments · Abu Dhabi, UAE

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We have a handful of outdoor plants arranged on the balcony.

Just for the sake of a bit of greenery in a part of the world that has very little of it, naturally. The “dirt” of Abu Dhabi island is not actually dirt. It is sand, with little or no nutrients in it. And not much of anything can grow in that.

We water our few plants fairly regularly. Occasionally I try to mix in a little bit of potting soil. And we talk about buying liquid nitrogen, to give the plants a boost — but haven’t actually done it yet.

A few of our plants are identifiable. “Rubber trees” or something like them, with broad flat leaves. (These are the stars of our balcony garden.) A weak and scraggly bougainvillea.

But the strangest one is something we call, simply, The Stick Tree.

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Up on the Roof

September 21st, 2014 · No Comments · Abu Dhabi, UAE

A curious aspect of life in the tower we have lived for nearly two years … is how many residents are convinced that some of the little guys who work in the halls of the 20-or-so stories … sleep on the roof.

I am not sure I believe it, but I certainly wonder.

Would it be legal? Probably not, unless the roof has an area with some amenities in it. Shelter from the elements, being high on the list.

Still … those of us who spend any time in the gym area, which is on the top floor of the building, have seen the guys who sweep and repair during the day, going out and returning through a small door that leads to the open air … and where I can see a half dozen pairs of shoes nearly arranged against a wall.

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England’s Soccer System

September 20th, 2014 · No Comments · English Premier League, Fifa, Football, soccer

Soccer is pervasive in England. You can hardly go over a hill in that part of the British Isles without bumping into another soccer team.

FiveThirtyEight.com rose to prominence while appearing in the New York Times, tracking likely outcomes in elections for the past 10 years or so.

It’s a generic website now, with a sports component, which has a link to ESPN.com … which is how we know that they did a sort of primer on English soccer.

The gist of which is … England has about 7,000 teams playing organized soccer. Which is a lot.

This is not news to those of us who cover the top level of English football, but I find a couple of aspects of it interesting.

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The Biggest Sports Event No One in the West Knows About

September 19th, 2014 · No Comments · soccer, The National, UAE

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The Asian Games.

Held every four years … somewhere in Asia.

The biggest world’s sports event that isn’t the Summer Olympics.

Something like 10,000 athletes, and closer to 13,000 people involved, when coaches and staff are counted.

The Asian Games are almost as big as the continent.

And the 2014 edition opened offically tonight, with a parade of nations and entertainment. The whole nine yards. Gangnam Style K-Pop king Psy (above) performed.

Why are the Asian Games largely ignored in the West?

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