Perhaps it's my inclination to try and embrace the opposite of the "ugly American" stereotype. Maybe it's some kind of yearning to be 'worldly' or some other adverb that makes me feel international. Or, it could just certainly be the fact that Lance Armstrong resides in Austin and I see this as some kind of native son solidarity thing. Regardless, during much of the past decade I've made it a point year in year out to get out of bed early on the weekends (and uh, don't tell my employers, when I get to the office too) and watch as much of the the Tour de France as possible.â†µ
I certainly get the complaints about the sport. "Nothing much happens", "I don't know many (if any) of the athletes", or even "but, but but... Everyone cheats!" All fair in their own right. I'd say the first two in some ways apply to soccer, which if the numbers mean anything, Americans had no issues embracing this Summer. The pacing obviously takes some adjustment; waiting for that one perfectly timed run and the chaotic drama that ensues. Besides, If a dramatic sport at its highest level doesn't do it for you, there's always the danger element. If folks can profess to watch NASCAR just for the crashes, I promise you'll get your jollies, particularly in the early stages.â†µ
Finally, for the elephant in the room. Sure, I won't pretend that I didn't invest a lot emotionally in Floyd Landis' improbable come-from-behind victory in 2006 and felt tenfold as deflated in the ensuing legal battle/controversy that ensued. But if it's not a deal breaker in baseball (and even on our radar in football), why should it matter in cycling? Landis can continue to harp whatever he wants about Armstrong, but even if a cancer survived made the seemingly insane move to put carcinogens into his body, it's not as though that undoes any of the hundreds of millions of dollars he's raised to fight one of the world's worst afflictions. Not to mention he still beat the crap out of a field that were all likely doing the same. America! Yeah! And on that note, if you're still not on board, how about the nationalistic angle? There's nothing quite like irrationally hating entire nations personified by one person (or a handful of people) for a few short weeks a year just to get it out of your system.â†µ
Now if we could just keep Spain from winning something in 2010...â†µ
Here's what's good this afternoon:â†µ
Tour de Franceâ†µ
6:30 a.m., Versus - Stage 19, Bordeaux to Pauillac, France (replays all day).â†µ
6:30, KHOU2 - Crew at Dynamo.â†µ
Major Leauge Baseballâ†µ
3:00, Fox - Rockies at Phillies.
6:05, FSHouston - Reds at Astros.
9:00, ESPN2 - U.S. Men's National Team, intrasquad exhibition, Blue vs. White, live from Las Vegas.