I don't follow American summer sports the way I used to. When I was a kid, I loved the San Francisco Giants and had a passel of favorite players. I didn't just love Mays and Marichal and McCovey and Perry. I rooted for Ollie "Downtown" Brown to become a starter and for Fireball Frank Linzy when he came out of the bullpen. Now, I follow the Giants and A's with one eye on the standings once a week. I have a dear friend who is a Yankees fan, so I find out if they are hot or stink before I give her a call.
But right now there are two sporting events I do care about, at least to some extent. The hard-to-find cable network Versus is carrying the Tour de France, both live at an ungodly hour and on tape delay. I'm not rooting for anyone in particular, but boy, is it pretty to watch. The scenery is fantastic, the race is exciting, and when you think that these guys put out this much effort day after day for weeks, you have to respect anyone who finishes the race in one piece, let alone wins it seven times straight like Lance Armstrong did.
The Tour, and bicycle racing in general, suffers from the idea that there are a lot of people taking performance enhancement drugs. NEWS FLASH! Athletes in every money sport in the world are taking performance enhancement drugs. The difference is that in America, where we love to catch criminals and put them in jail, we do not give a rat's ass about catching performance enhancement drug users. The enforcement policies for all major sports in the United States are pathetic jokes compared to any major sport anywhere else is the world.
Off my soap box for a moment and back to being a fan, the final of Copa America is being played today in Venezuela. Copa America is the national team championship of South America, though now they invite a few teams from North America as well. This year they invited the U.S. and Mexico. We sent a truly crap team of nobodies and lost three straight games. Mexico sent their best, but got beat bad by Argentina in the semifinals.
So the finals are Argentina vs. Brazil. Argentina sent their A Team, while Brazil sent their B team. Brazil are Ronaldo free: no Ronaldinho, no Ronaldo, no Cristian Ronaldo. Brazil's best scoring threats are Robinho and Vagner Love, a name I... well, love. The Spanish language announcers love it, too. (VAG-ner Luh-uuuuuv!) A lot of fans blame Vagner Love for Brazil's poor showing in the last World Cup. Some stories about him mention that the teams he plays for professionally might have ownership groups that are a little... well, mobbed up, but right now, I'm a fan. I rooted for Brazil when I was a wee lad and I will always want them to win, up until the day (if any) when the United States can put a team on the pitch that deserves to beat them. I get the feeling they are going to break my heart today, but I'm going to watch anyway.
So, Viva Brazil!
And, oh yeah. Amelia Rosner, if you read this... Yankees suck.