Saturday, 9 June 2012

LeBron, Pacquiao, Sharapova, Stanley Cup, Euro 2012 and you: Welcome to a Saturday of bliss

You long for the remote control, a beer and a ballgame, and nobody could blame you. You don't know it quite yet, but you are in luck.
You've sat through two interminable graduations in a week and there's one more to go. The back of your neck is beet red from the sun. You barely know your sister's kid, yet you broke out the credit card for a gift. You tucked a $100 bill in a congratulations card for that no-good son of an in-law who by some miracle was able to toss his tasseled cap in the air. You need sports. And air conditioning.

 Manny Pacquiao takes on Timothy Bradley to cap a full day of sports. (AFP) You flip through the on-screen guide for Saturday. Your mood shifts. Suddenly you feel buoyant. You head to the market to pick up provisions. From morning coffee to an evening nightcap, from three easy-to-assemble square meals to snacks salty and snacks sweet, from a six-pack of microbrew to that energy drink next to the cash register, you don't skimp. This is going to be one long, leisurely day of televised action.
Normally you can't stand tennis. You'd never let a friend catch you watching soccer. A horse race is something your wayward uncle Ernie couldn't leave alone. Hockey? Please. Boxing is cool but you only want to see Floyd Mayweather Jr. or Manny Pacquiao.
Wait, Pacquiao is fighting Saturday night. Nice. Springing for the pay-for-view is a no-brainer. Then you start looking closely at the other offerings, the intriguing stories, the potential drama. This day reminds you of ABC's "Wide World of Sports" that you watched as a kid. You miss Jim McKay.
Then comes the clincher. The Miami Heat trounced the Boston Celtics in Game 6 of the NBA East semifinals, forcing a winner-take-all showdown Saturday night. You might have to flip channels between the fourth quarter and the fight, but that remote is part of your hand.
You'll go to sleep Friday night with a smile. "Pomp and Circumstance" is fading from your memory. Come morning, any pageantry will be followed by competition, spanning the globe to bring you the constant variety of sport – go ahead and say it out loud: "the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat."
Sure, if Tim Tebow or even Chad Ochocinco utters a peep or types a goofy tweet, it'll preempt everything else. If some big-league journeyman takes a no-hitter into the seventh inning, you'll have to endure a split screen. But you'll take your chances. This is your day, your time.


French Open women's final, 9 a.m. ET, NBC: Nothing gets the blood flowing early like watching Maria Sharapova attempt to achieve a career Grand Slam in this match against Sara Errani. With her semifinal win, Sharapova ascended to No. 1 in the WTA rankings for the first time in four years. She's made a courageous comeback from a devastating shoulder injury, and women's tennis can certainly benefit from an international star of her caliber atop the world rankings. You'll watch while eating eggs over medium, an easy-on-the-eyes way to begin your day of televised sports bliss.

Euro 2012, Netherlands vs. Denmark, 11:45 a.m. ET, ESPN; Germany vs. Portugal, 2:30 p.m. ET, ESPN: Let's be frank: The only soccer that normally doesn't bore you to no end is your kid's games, and that's only because another parent is forever behaving abominably and getting banished to the parking lot by the referee. But the European Championships have piqued your interest because they are being hosted by Poland and Ukraine, countries still trying to pull themselves out of the Middle Ages. A recent documentary stoked fears that racist fans could disrupt the prestigious event. Even though Germany is the tournament favorite, and the Netherlands and Denmark must have some kind of teeny country rivalry going (who can forget Denmark declared war on the Netherlands in 1543), the primary attraction will be camera shots of Polish and Ukranian toughs in the stands. And when the Portuguese reduce the action to playing keep-away from the Germans, you'll have time to heat frozen pierogies in the toaster oven, a simple lunch that pairs nicely with that first beer.


Belmont Stakes, 4:30 p.m. ET, NBC (6:40 p.m. post time)/online at Y! Sports: Until Friday it was all about I'll Have Another, and nobody minds if you do, so you pour a cold one into a frosty mug and settle in for some pre-race regrets. You knew it'd been 34 years since Affirmed won the Triple Crown, but after winning the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, I'll Have Another was scratched from the Belmont a day before the race because of a tendon injury. What a shame. You were captivated by the rags-to-riches rise of jockey Mario Gutierrez because, let's face it, a human is always more interesting than a horse. Now you just wonder who Uncle Ernie's money is on and tilt forward in your chair when they break from the gate.
NHL Stanley Cup Final Game 5, 8 p.m. ET, NBC: Your pal in L.A whose wardrobe is normally limited to board shorts and flip-flops is suddenly wearing a thick black hockey jersey festooned with a crown. He's talking about lighting the lamp by sending the biscuit between the pipes. You roll your eyes and tell yourself his usual surf lingo wasn't so bad compared to this. You can't wait for the Kings to dispatch the New Jersey Devils for their first Stanley Cup, and doing so on the road would be poetic justice: L.A. has won all 10 postseason road games this spring, an NHL record. And if the Devils happen to extend the series again, you'll give all praise to 40-year-old goalie Marty Brodeur, who gives you hope you could rise from the couch for something more athletic than reaching into the back of the fridge for pregame guacamole.

NBA Eastern Conference Finals Game 7, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN: You reflect on this strange series, with first the Celtics in Game 5 then the Heat in Game 6 winning on the road. Big names crowd the court, but how can it not continue to be all about LeBron? He'll continue his Game 6 "Bleep You" rampage and dispatch the creaky Celtics with ease or, if the game is close down the stretch, he'll get that curious, indecisive look and choke. Only if he makes a clutch shot to win would you be surprised. Dinner is a quick burger on the George Foreman – a lettuce leaf serving as your veggie for the day – because as gripping as the action has been all day, you don't want to miss the best part. NBA playoff action has become the rhythm of June in America. You just roll with it and enjoy.

Manny Pacquiao vs. Timothy Bradley, WBO welterweight title bout, 9 p.m. ET, PPV-TV and TopRank.TV/Yahoo! Sports : Pacquiao's opponent is the unbeaten Bradley, but the fighter on your mind is a guy sitting in a jail cell – Floyd Mayweather Jr. Who's the greatest? Will Pacquiao ever fight him? Bradley is a formidable opponent Pacquiao can't take lightly. That gives this fight intrigue. But hardcore and casual boxing fans alike need Pacman to win for one overriding reason: to preserve the possibility of Pacquiao against Mayweather, a fight that might never be made. You toast to this fight and that one, to a quirky and plentiful day of sports and to the sunscreen you tossed in your grocery cart at the last minute yesterday. You'll get through that last graduation OK and keep the remote handy. After all, this one Saturday improved your mood so much you might try it again.

No comments:

Post a Comment