Your morning roundup for July 3, the day after some baby gators proved a mud hole is better than any stop, drop and roll mantra.
What we watched: Somebody owes the world an explanation for that whole Klitschko/Haye pre-fight production. Part Blue Velvet, part foreign-language daytime Emmy skit, this is what happened before Wladimir Klitschko and David Haye participated in what was billed (but wasn't) a fight in Hamburg, Germany yesterday.
Rain fell. There was a doormat on the ground on which a scene from a pre-fight press conference played. A blonde picked it up and put it on a telephone pole. A Jumbotronic Haye head popped up on a screen between two bobbies and declared that Dr. Steelhammer killed boxing "and I'm here to save it."
They announced the Hayemaker's ring entrance to "Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now." Lennox Lewis pulled up to some sort of makeshift London corner in a British cab. He talked to a guy who didn't seem to know where Haye is. Eight minutes later, Lennox was still waiting.
Actor/boxers worked out behind him in a gym which Haye finally walked though, and past Lewis's cab. He wore booties. Germans in orange ponchos jumped in front of the cameras. Scuffling ensued. Haye's booties were then removed from his "boxing shoes." Jim Lampley explained they were a precaution.
Two minutes later, the setting shifted to an old-school movie theatre. Red drapes and all. An audience sat and watched Klitschko highlights. They didn't applaud, or react, when the film ended. They may not be real people. Or, they're just German extras. One in the same.
The cameras captured an old-school soldier talking to a dame. A German newsboy walked by hawking newspapers with TV screens where pictures should be. Entered George Foreman (reading electronic newspaper next to Klitschko's brother Vitali). An image of a beheaded Dr. Steelhammer got Jumbotronned. But Dr. Steelhammer has not been decapitated. The Red Hot Chili Peppers marked his trek to the ring. Foreman went to the dressing room door but was told to wait. Foreman waited.
"Everything is going according to script," Lampley said.
Really? What kind of fucking script do you mean, Jim? Because NOT ONE SECOND OF THE PAST TWENTY MINUTES HAS MADE ANY GODDAMN SENSE. ENTHRALL US WITH YOUR ACUMEN, JIM!
But no, he just let it go. And Dr. Steelhammer then made his way through the faux gym, past the cab Lennox Lewis has resorted to driving, through about 10 fake paparazzi along a red carpet and up to a ring where his foe wore some sort of aluminum-foil themed body wrap.
After the anthems came the fight for which Haye jibber-jabbered a bunch of hype and only landed 72 punches. That's one punch every two minutes on the pugiliclock. Instead, he danced, fell, looked to referee for help, ran, slipped and puppy-dog eyed for official intervention. To his credit — and despite a slurred-up Larry Merchant's request to "Wake me up when the fight starts" — Lampley maintained a No Doz tone in a valiant effort not to let on that everybody didn't get what they wanted and needed this production to be.
Even in the 12th and final round, when Haye needed to knock his weak Drago knockoff foe out to get a win, he seemed to put very little effort into accomplishing said goal. Sure, he was livelier and bouncing-on-footsier than in the previous 11 frames, but when a boxer in that position looks nonchalant with 20 seconds remaining in a fight that he vowed to decapitate his foe, well, athlete (who raised his arm in victory ironically enough) and weight class lose credibility.
Heavyweight boxing was not saved in Hamburg yesterday. In fact, it may have been eulogized with whines about size, a broken toe and the referee serving as coffin-dirt Jimmiesno matter what Haye says, because nobody's listening anymore. (Brian Hickey)
What we're watching: The man who will be the No. 1 ranked men's tennis player on Earth tries to win his first Wimbledon title against the man who is, if only for a few more hours, the No. 1 ranked men's tennis player on Earth. This is a first. As for Novak Djokovic (the former) facing Rafael Nadal (the latter) in a Grand Slam, it's a sixth. Record-to-date: Nadal 5, Djovokic 0 [Guardian]. Djokovic just won the first set 6-4 on a service break.
And, at 3 p.m. eastern, Copa America continues with Brazil vs. Venezuela.
"Welcome home Doc. Please be gentle": Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay returned to his former hometown and got a complete-game victory over the Blue Jays despite ceding a 4th inning dinger to Jose Bautista [Inquirer]. Then:
The Canada Day fireworks weren't the only ones to go off at Rogers Centre this weekend as tempers flared in a tense ninth-inning confrontation between the Blue Jays and home-plate umpire Alfonso Marquez.
Blue Jays reliever Jon Rauch and manager John Farrell were ejected during the fracas...
"The first thing I told the umpire is that it's a shame that he can't have an ERA because those runs are his. I think he directly affected the outcome of the game," Rauch said. "I voiced my opinion. Maybe a little bit too vocally, but it happens." [MLB]
In news that matters to people who think about New York City baseball matters: So, yeah, Brian Cashman said Robinson Cano's a better player than Jose Reyes. Consequences will never be the same. Especially when Scott Boras starts crying about team options and Jeter getting all that money and whatnot. In unrelated news, Reyes left yesterday's Subway Series game with hammy issues; Cano went 1-for-4 with 2 RBI. [ESPN]
Freefuckinghockeyagency: Pittsburgh's none to happy with Philadelphia as it pertains to hockey players. The Pens fans cry that the Jaromir Jagr signing was about money. Au contraire, said Jagr who noted, "There were a lot more teams with a higher offer than Philadelphia. I didn't think I was going to go there, but after the conversation with the coaches and Chris Pronger, I started to like it and I also like that there is something to this from their side, and that was important to me" [Broad Street Hockey]. Meanwhile, fellow defector Max Talbot hopes Pittsburgh people remember him fondly [Pittsburgh Tribune-Review].
"...we beat 'em and it feels good": Dave Ragan, who led the Daytona 500 with just two laps to go but didn't end up winning, prevailed in last night's 400-mile race at the track where Dale died. "We feel like we've been a player for the Chase all year," Ragan said. "Kind of disappoints me being 17th. We should be 13th in points. So we've got a lot of work to make up. We've got good tracks coming up. So I'm happy about the win. We should be higher in points than that." [FoxSports]
Your Sock Puppet Interlude:
Maria Sharapova is Ms. Brightside: After losing the Wimbledon final to Petra Kvitova, Sharapova said, "This is a big step because my game is improving, and it's a big step because it gives me a tremendous amount of confidence going forward. I'm determined to win more major championships. It didn't happen today; maybe, it will tomorrow." [Daily Mail]
Did naughty pictures cost "Miss Sprint Cup" her job?: "Paige Duke was suddenly and surprisingly relieved of her Miss Sprint Cup duties late Wednesday night – and some inappropriate online photos from her days as a Clemson University student appear to have been the cause. The web site CaptainThunderRacing.com posted the photos on Saturday." They were gone later in the day. Woe. [SBNation]
Gunfight at the G.B. Corral: If Lambeau Field isn't officially considered a state building, you may be able to bring your guns to Packers games! Unless NFL law supersedes a new state law that the governor will enact with a Fourth of July pen stroke, which it does of course, for NFL law supersedes even the Word of God. [Chicago Tribune] (H/T Tomuban)
We are all Dave McKenna CLXIV: Here's your daily link to Dave McKenna's brilliant "Cranky Redskins Fan's Guide to Dan Snyder," which we'll be posting until it gets deported as the treasonous enemy of everything America aspires to be.