Sunday, August 16, 2009

Rockin' 30 ROCK!

It's always fun to return to the Big Apple, especially when it's to perform on the 'big stage' of NBC!

I spent the weekend anchoring 'Sports Update' for the 'Peacock', and it was good to be back at Rockefeller Plaza. You are walking the same halls that many of the biggest celebrities in news, TV, and sports frequent on a daily basis. NY in the summer is absolutely chock-full of tourists, and it was fun to people-watch while i wasn't on the set. Perfect weather this weekend as well- in the mid-80's, but in the low 70's in the evening (which is when i finished work).

Let's talk about the weekend's sports for a moment. The fun thing about doing 'Update' is that it's a full-speed, distilled version of what's important in sports at that given moment. The producers, and everyone working on the show, have to be on their toes constantly, in case something happens that needs to be included in the highlights.

A fun, and informative, aside to that is that they have approximately 50 TV screens, all tuned in to different events. It's definitely sensory overload, but once you get used to it, the information is all there for the taking! You want to watch the Yankees? Bam! Red Sox, no prob. Pre-season NFL, there it is! Tennis? Track and Field? Tiger at the PGA...just look to the left or right. Really spectacular.

The sporting highlight of the weekend was Usain Bolt CRUSHING his own world record in the 100 Meters at the World Champs in Berlin. Final time- 9.58 seconds! The Jamaican was still pulling away from Tyson Gay as he crossed the finish, and what's even more amazing is that one of the researchers here at NBC found an article from December 31, 2008 where Bolt and his coach talked about how it was 'possible' to go 9.58 at Worlds. OK, can you say "Nostra-BOLT-us?!"

My FAVORITE part of my two days here was getting to talk about Lance Armstrong winning Leadville. It was not going to be something we highlighted, but it turned into a story the producers wanted to do- we even tried to get Lance on the phone- and i think it provided an opportunity to raise awareness of the sport of cycling, outside the parameters of the Tour de France.

A late-night plane flight back to Maine, and then two weeks off of work...i'm not going to know what to do with myself. Correction...i'm going to know exactly what to do- spend time with the family, spend time on the bike, and spend time gearing up for a hectic week of WEC and PBR at the beginning of September! Until then...

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Fists of Fury and Shot at Glory

WEC 42...Torres vs. Bowles lived up to the hype in a BIG WAY!

Almost every fight on the undercard went the distance, so that pushed the Leonard Garcia fight to the 'live' card on Versus. And what a way to start off the night! It looked like it was 'lights out' for Leonard, but somehow Jameel Massouh did not realize how close he was to the win, and Garcia came back and made him pay.

Jeff Curran was a fan favorite in his 'Stars and Stripes' shorts, and chants of 'U-S-A' rang through the raucous crowd right from the start as he went up against Japanese sensation, Takeya Mizugaki. Many, including myself, believed Curran did enough to win the bout, but he was shut down in a decision which left the crowd in a funk.

Danny Castillo did not disappoint the legion of URIJAH fans by rep'ing Team Alpha Male in style, a HUGE right hand swayed momentum, and the match, in his favor. He pounced like a possessed tiger and finished off Ricardo Lamas.

The best 'back and forth' fight of the night was Cruz vs. Benavidez. From the start, it was a blur of fists, feet, and finesse. 3 rounds later, Cruz was declared the victor, and Benavidez flung himself to the canvas lamenting the lost opportunity. Cruz now sits as the #1 challenger in the Bantamweight pecking order.

Everyone assumed his opponent would be Miquel Angel Torres...


The 'shot heard round the world' can now be matched by the 'shots' heard round the world! Torres delivered a few, but then took a barrage that not only cost him the belt, but looked as if it cost him some brain cells in the process. Brian Bowles believed in himself like few others did, very reminiscent of Mike Brown last year when he went up against Urijah Faber. Bowles shook up the Bantamweight division like a fallen hornet's nest, and now, lays claim to the crown that had sat on the intimidating brow of Miquel Torres for what seemed like an eternity.

This was a night of questionable judging, but also unquestionable determination. Respect was served up in large doses, but the MMA world lives by the mantra, "What have you done for me lately", so the celebrations will be shorted lived.

Miquel Torres left the cage battered, and yes, beaten down, but not 'beaten'. You can bet he will use this as motivation for what is sure to be a quest to return to the top spot. The utter shock of seeing the former champ out cold on the canvas was enough to leave the crowd in deafening silence, but like the phoenix, expect Torres to rise up from the ashes of this defeat.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Something Wicked This Way Comes

On my way to Sin City for a wild weekend of WEC action! Miquel Angel Torres looks to keep one of the greatest 'unbeaten streaks' alive against Brian Bowles on Sunday night, live on Versus.

If you are already a fan of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), you know what this sport, and this fight in particular, offers. I love the 'mental acuity' needed in the sport, as well as the physical prowess. They have to think as thoroughly as chess masters, react with lightning quickness, and execute with surgical precision- based on a myriad of factors processed in the blink of an eye. It's the ultimate episode of "Survivor"- you have to be able to outwit and outplay your opponent, or else the consequences will be dire.

Torres is as complete a champion as Lance Armstrong, Tiger Woods, or Justin McBride. (You don't win for 5 years straight without doing something right). What all these men share is not just the passion to excel, but the unwavering desire to never settle for past excellence. What happened yesterday, has no bearing on what WILL HAPPEN tomorrow. In simple terms, it's often referred to as 'staying hungry', or reaching for a new goal. It's never good enough to win, but more important to win a certain way.

I admire that. Not just in an athlete, but in anyone who looks to make an impact on their chosen path.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Back in the PBR

Not exactly sung to the "Beatles" melody, but you get the drift...

Very weird to be back in the US, let alone back inside the arena after such a long layoff. I'm not sure what the Heat Index topped off at this weekend, but it was up there. San Antonio played host to the "Toughest Sport on Dirt" for the 3rd year in a row, and it was a combo-weekend for a lot of the DAY they went to go see Tony Romo and Co. kick up the dust in the Alamodome, and then at night, made their way over to the AT&T Center to see the PBR's finest kick it into high gear against a bigger, and altogether meaner, opponent.

Scary moments on Day 2 when Matt Bohon got KO'd by his Championship Round bull, Spitfire. Thankfully, even though he was carted off to the hospital by ambulance, word was, he was joking around.

So, from BIKES to BULLS in only a few days- and this coming weekend, i transition BRAWLING. Back in the cage for a WEC barnburner! Miquel Torres defends his Bantamweight title yet again, this time against Brian Bowles. And if i thought the heat in Texas was unbearable, well, HELLO LAS VEGAS!

Time to invest in some serious AC. Until next time...