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Soup of This Day #31: Gold Is Where You’ll Find It But Silver Is Always With The Lone Stranger

July 10, 2011

Basketball hoop and board
Go Break Every Backboard and Come Back Alone, starring Chuck Connors – Photo: Mr. Prez, 2011. Mr. Prez is not affiliated with Longworth72. Image cropped by Longworth72.

Thursday morning on the drive in to work, as I waited behind a New Beetle at the lights, I found myself listening to Ennio Morricone’s Fistful of Dollars theme.

I don’t like Beetles. A car should not leave you wondering which end is the front.

Anyway, as I waited there I cranked up Morricone’s, frankly brilliant, music and reflected on many nights spent watching spaghetti westerns, most of whom make absolutely no sense. By the time the lights had gone green I was on to The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, Morricone’s guitar twang galloping me down the road with the Beetle trailing after. Or heading off in the opposite direction. Could have gone either way. You really can’t tell.

So, in honour of a film genre that defies logic, subtlety and comprehension whilst still being a shitload of fun here now is this blog’s first and probably last spaghetti western influenced review of sport for the past few days.

The Good:

The Matildas won, rallying from a goal down to beat the Norwegians 2-1. They have now qualified for the quarters and will meet Sweden on Sunday at high noon.

Or 1:00pm, which is higher than noon.

Young Western Australian tyro Danny Ricciardo is making his full F1 debut this weekend at Silverstone. He’s been loaned by Toro Rosso to the Hispania outfit for most of the remainder of the season. It will be (assuming Ricciardo qualifies the woeful Hispania) the first time 2 Australians have been in an F1 race since August of 1977, 12 years before Daniel’s birth and 2 months prior to the release of Star Wars in Australian cinemas. Star Wars is a space western. Wikipedia says it’s a space opera but they’re full of @#$%. Han Solo is clearly a gunslinger.

As I type this Webber has snaffled pole and Ricciardo 24th and last. Danny was at least inside the 107% qualifying cutoff so the race will begin with Aussies book-ending the field.

The Dockers have the bye this weekend. Surely not even they can find a way to @#$% that up. So far no news of the Pav being injured in a freak pizza accident so this is good.

Liverpool captured midfielder Charlie Adam from Blackpool after a courtship that stretched back though to January. Some would argue the Reds already have a stacked midfield but Adam is relatively young at 25, can smack a decent dead ball and looks to be a hard nut. The Scot is a decent acquisition at £8 million.

Australian Cadel Evans won the 4th stage of the Tour, beating out the unprofessional but talented Alberto Contador by a handful of inches. The finish was at the end of a steep wall of a climb, short but intense, and Evans matched it with the more prominent contenders and looked good value for the win. He’s since kept pace with the big guns and heading into the Pyrenees is just 1s off the maillot jaune.

The Red Sox finished out the series against the Blue Jays, bouncing back from a horror show of an opening game with 2 wins. In Game 2 they held on for a 3-2 win in a thriller that came down to a McDonald play to home. They had led from the 2nd when a Varitek RBI double and an error had made it 2-0. Pedroia added some cushioning in the 3rd with a monster (seats) smack. As it happened the Sox needed that because Papelbon gave up 2 and had the tying run barrelling in on home plate when Tek planted a leg and was adjudged to have got the tag. The replay kind of looks like he missed but it was called out and Papelbon got to record a save that he better be chalking up to the captain. I’ll reference this under ‘Ugly’ below but this game saw Lester exit after 4 with a lat strain.

Game 3 and the Clint Eastwood of Boston’s rotation, Tim Wakefield, wore a cast iron plate under his poncho in an effort to rope-a-dope Bautista’s bullets. He started shaky giving Jorge an RBI single in the 1st. Ellsbury led off with a long shot for the Sox to tie it before Youk snagged another in the 2nd. Back came the Blue Jays with 2 in the 3rd, before Boston dynamited a 4 run, 2 out rally in the 4th. A RBI single to McDonald, a RBI double to Navarro and finally a 2 run double for Ellsbury gave the Sox a 6-3 lead. Papelbon attempted to give everyone their money’s worth with another shaky 9th but the Sox just about good enough with a 6-4 win. Wake’s line, a decent 7 innings for 9 hits and 3 runs, enough for his 198th win.

Throw in 2 straight 10 run wins against the Orioles and the Sox are in the AL East lead once more. I’ll cover those wins tomorrow but for now the Sox are 8 from their last 9.

The Bad:

Sport is a celebration of life. Going to a sporting contest or participating in one is one of life’s great joys. This week Australian road race cyclist Carly Hibberd was killed while on a training ride in Italy. Hibberd came to cycling late at 19 but had by all accounts embraced it and was in Italy pursuing a professional career. She was struck by a car and died at the scene. She was engaged to be married and at 26 still had a long career and life ahead of her.

Yesterday a man, Shannon Stone, was killed at Rangers Ballpark when he leaned over a fence to catch a foul ball thrown to him and overbalanced. His young son was with him. An awful, awful story and nothing I can write here will make it less so. Being a dad myself I reckon I’d give up any number of wins for that kid to have his dad back. About all I can do is to stop writing so that I can go and watch my son sleeping for a moment or a thousand.

The Ugly:

Roger Clemons, you total arse.

And that goes for anyone else that was juiced up. You got paid buckets of cash ( I was gonna say fistfuls of dollars but I’m not associating a great movie with you pillocks) to play as we dream and you decided to screw it up for the fans and the sport. Now, when it’s time to gain some spine and be honest you turn out this crap? For shame. Grow a pair, you gutless bastard.

Yeah, I know everyone was in on it. Doesn’t make it right.

And yeah, I know he was a hero for a lot of folks. That just makes it worse.

Did I mention growing a pair?

Meanwhile the Lackey saga rolls on. He starts tomorrow against Baltimore at Fenway. The Sox just don’t have a rotation that resonates right now. Beckett apparently ‘tweaked’ his knee against the o’s this morning but seems to have pulled up alright. Even with him ok the line reads Lackey and then Weiland leading in to the All-Star break. Given that Lackey gave up 7 runs in 2.1 before being yanked last time out and that Weiland is a surprise call up from Pawtucket (I had him as a maybe for the pen with the prospectus being he was 1 for 2013) this could be an ugly momentum shift going in to the break.

Moving now from the ugly to spaghetti in Spain which falls mainly on the plane. Or something.

In 2008 Alberto Contador won the Vuelta a España, the last of the 3 Grand Tours to elude him. It was his home tour, finishing in his home town of Madrid. It commenced in the south in Granada, a stone’s throw from Almeira where the desert scenes of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly were shot, along with so many other spaghetti westerns it’s ridiculous. Further along the route and Stage 12 passed within 100kms of where the final graveyard scenes were shot in the north near Burgos. It was on the next stage that Contador took the lead and the golden jersey, which he then held through to the end. The easy parallel then is to connect Alberto with Blondie, aka the ‘Man With No Name’, who rode away from the graveyard with the gold.

After the 2008 Vuelta, Contador went on to win the 2009 Tour de France and the 2010 Tour de France. He had previously won the 2007 Tour de France and has also won the Giro d’Italia in 2008 and 2011. He is the favourite for this edition of the Tour de France.

If Contador is the ‘Man With No Name’ then Aussie Cadel Evans is the Tuco (‘The Ugly’). With an ungainly and defensive style Evans has twice finished 2nd in the grandest Tour of them all and was well rested going into this edition after he skipped the Giro. So far he has been in good touch, holding leads over his rivals, including 1:41 over Contador, not to mention the stage win referenced previously in this post. In spite of this he isn’t attracting as much interest from the punditry. Being out of the news seems to suit him though and if he can hold Contador and Schleck in the mountains he will have the edge for the ‘Race of Truth’, the individual time-trial that is the penultimate stage. Seemingly an outsider, Evans could turn out to be the Pale Rider that rides out alone, leaving the hired guns lying in the street.

One thing worth noting about Cadel: He is a model professional and this year with the support of a strong team can be seen very near to the front of the peloton in each and every stage. I wrote the other day that Contador had been caught out twice in recent memory by not riding at the front of the peloton, a tactic that is considered road race 101. He had actually been caught a 3rd time, in Stage 1 last year when a Frank Schleck accident split the field. Less ‘Man With No Name’ and more Martin Short in the Three Amigos. Or maybe, given recent drug accusations Alberto is really ‘The Bad’.

I’ll leave you with this: In 1968 the (mostly) great Enzo Castellari made the wonderfully titled spaghetti western Go Kill Everyone and Come Back Alone. And yes, it is what it says on the box. It tells the story of a Confederate prisoner of war who attempts to steal some gold and stars Chuck Connors in the lead role. In another life Chuck played post-war 1st base for the (then Brooklyn) Dodgers in just 1 game. He then managed 66 outings for the Cubs back east and was at 1 time drafted by the NFL’s Chicago Bears although he never played for them.

Prior to all of this, in 1946 he signed on to play basketball for the newly founded Boston Celtics. He played 53 games for them in the American Basketball Association, making 99 field goals at a touch over 25% but I’m name-checking him here because of the claim that he’s the first professional player to have shattered a glass backboard. The feat occurred in a warmup at Boston Arena before the 1st ever Celtics game.

Nice one Chuck.

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