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Soup of This Day #40: Send Someone To Fetch Us, We’re In Sasketchewan

July 26, 2011

Mont Ventoux Summit
The summit of Mont Ventoux. Hell for cyclists – Photo: Rolf Süßbrich, 2006. Rolf Süßbrich is not affiliated with Longworth72. Image cropped by Longworth72.

The Red Sox matched up this morning against the Seattle Mariners.

Boston is hot.

Prior to the 1st pitch they had won 4 straight and 16 of 19 in July. The Sox have overcome a fragile starting rotation that has more patches than a quilt made of… well, patches really. The M’s by contrast are cold.

Arctic even.

Heading into today’s Fenway stoush they had lost their last 14, a franchise record. They had plummeted from parity and 2.5 games off a tight AL West battle and sat 13.5 adrift at 43 and 57. Predictably Games 1 and 2 had gone the way of the Red Sox. Game 3 and Seattle needed to avoid a broom, although they could probably use one to pull themselves out of the hole in the ice they fell through.

God’s favourite knuckleballer with the start and Wake was ropey in the 1st, giving up a 2 run blast. Last year that might have been fatal, the bats might not have been able to pull it back. This is 2011 though and the Sox bats weren’t going to leave Wake to handle the Mariners by himself. Gonzalez (again) with an RBI single, Youk with a 2 run blast and Salty with a 2 run single gave the knuckleballer a 5-2 cushion heading into the 2nd. It was enough for 3 innings of shutout, the Mariners pulling 1 back in the 5th. Again it sparked a fierce response. Crawford, finding his mojo, singled in 2. Then Reddick doubled in 1 and Salty singled in 2 more. End of the 5th and a 10-3 deposit on a new broom.

In the 6th Pedroia hit safely for the 21st game in succession, before Gonzalez (again), whose slump probably looked like good form to the struggling M’s, brought him home. Heading into the 7th and it was 11-3 and Wake could be excused for switching off. Unfortunately he did that with bases loaded and a grand slam later it was 11-7 and Aceves was sent in to shut it down. Which he did and with Ellsbury providing a run to pad the gap back out to 5 that was it for Seattle, albeit with a consolation run in the 9th to make it 12-8 at closing time.

The veteran Wake got win 199, although he probably won’t be ecstatic with the 7 runs he coughed up. He also got his 2000th strikeout for Boston – A nice number that seemed to catch him by surprise. He’ll also appreciate the 62 and 37 record that leaves his Sox 3 clear of the Yankees.

From 1 veteran to another and George Hincapie is 38 and 6′ 3″. Not on the face of it really the guy that you’d pick to be in on a bike in the Tour de France. Except if you’re a smart team owner or leader. Then he is the guy that you’d pick.

First round.

Hincapie is a very special kind of domestique. He is a bodyguard, a strongman who excels at positioning and protecting his leader. Last night he shepherded his 3rd Tour de France winner across the line. The resident of Greensville, South Carolina, is the only rider to have been with Lance Armstrong for all 7 of his Tour wins. In 2007 he guarded Alberto Contador through for his 1st Tour win.

Altogether he has raced the Tour de France a record equaling 16 times, finishing the last 15 of them. There is no word of whether he will try for 17. The decision may not be his – He is a rider who has allegedly given testimony to a Grand Jury investigation in which he has implicated himself and Lance Armstrong in illicit performance enhancing processes.

Juicing and cycling brings me to the following 7 minute doco about the 1962 Tour de France.

This is a brilliant snapshot of a time when the sport was still disturbingly naïve and just a bit reckless.

The liquor raids are funny until you remember Tom Simpson, the Englishman who dramatically collapsed and died scaling the brutal Mont Ventoux in the 1967 Tour. On a scorching hot day Simpson took amphetamines to assist him, possibly as he was struggling to get over a stomach bug. In those days Tour organisers limited each rider to carrying 2 litres of water only and alcohol was seen as a thirst quencher. Simpson was thus seen drinking brandy at the base of the fatal climb. The amphetamines, alcohol, heat and the virus were too much for him and nearing the top, in a shimmering, oxygen starved, rocky and treeless wasteland he collapsed one final time with his hands locked onto the handlebars.

The Tour takes it’s toll. In 2007 Cadel Evans was questioned by a French journalist after an extraordinarily tough Stage 7 up to Plateau de Beille. The journo asked his question in French. Evans responded in English:

‘I’m sorry… but I’m too tired to think and I don’t understand your question…’

The Australian is fluent in French and Italian. As exhausted as he was he didn’t miss the opportunity to take the mickey. For the record he would go on to finish 2nd that year by just 23s to Alberto Contador. This year, after winning the event he gave the 1st half of his victory speech in what sounded like very coherent French. C’est la vie.

With Evans boring down the Champs Elysees, only 2 laps from victory, Australian broadcaster SBS returned from an ad break with a customary musical interlude. This is necessary as commentary feeds from UK channels tend to have longer breaks and the music fills a gap until the commentators come back on. Usually the music is emotionally apt, such as Coldplay’s Yellow, or Snow Patrol’s Open Your Eyes (‘The anger swells in my guts / And I won’t feel these slices and cuts’). This time however, returning from the last break before a truly momentous win for Australian sport, SBS chose to go with Kermit and Fozzie singing Movin’ Right Along. Somehow, with it’s dueling-banjos-in-the-elevator beat it just seemed right. It was SBS’s 21st Tour so they get some leeway anyway.

On two wheels still but this time propelled by a 500cc motor and Casey Stoner has taken the chequered flag ahead of the rest in the US MotoGP round at California’s iconic Laguna Seca track. The Aussie championship leader passed rival Dani Pedrosa on lap 17 going inside down the Corkscrew.

Longworth72 has been all over the Corkscrew himself, owning that piece of real estate via Gran Turismo 4 so he knows how difficult that must have been. Jorge Lorenzo finished 2nd and fell 5 points further behind Stoner. The gap is now 20 points with 8 rounds remaining.

There are no rounds remaining of the 2011 Copa America. Uruguay easily accounted for Paraguay 3-0 in the final. Liverpool striker Luis Suárez opened the scoring on 12 minutes with Diego Forlan bagging the others. Suárez is an undoubted talent, tearing up the international scene as well as the Premier League for a memorable few months earlier this year. Unfortunately he is also a complete tool. His antics at the 2010 World Cup were regrettable and pretty much every time he falls over, back arched like he’s been kneecapped on the rack I want to side with the other guys. Maybe just focus on playing football Luis.

And so to round off this post we return to Seattle. Seattle is currently in the 1st innings of a homestand against the Yankees. To say that they need a win is like saying that we need more songs from Kermit. Big Mo is not with Seattle right now. He is with Boston and that is a frightening prospect for their current opponents the Royals.

Game 1 is at present delayed but when it gets under way the 10 and 4 Jon Lester will be returning from a left latissimus strain. He will be up against Kyle Davies, whose 1 and 9 contains an unwelcome 8 game losing streak. To illustrate this scenario I’ve compiled the following helpful graphics:

The elephant is Big Mo. Although in this instance he is also known as Rommel. As in the German Afrikakorps General who made his name pulverising Allied armour in the deserts of North Africa in WW2. I think there is a clue in that.

The car, or what is left of it, is Kyle Davies. It doesn’t end well for Kyle Davies. The car was going to be Seattle but I’m asking the baseball gods for a 3 game sweep of the Yankees by the M’s so figured I’d big them up a bit.

For those of you concerned nobody was hurt in the making of these graphics. The vehicle belonged to a couple of researchers who apparently didn’t see this coming but who got out ok anyway.

Some ‘research’.

As it happens they were the guys who named the elephant Rommel. They then parked too close to a fight between another bull elephant and, wait for it… the sexually frustrated and aggressive Rommel. Who was named after a WW2 armoured general famous for pulverising opposition tanks.

You’re just not careful guys.

Not careful at all.

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