Wednesday, February 16, 2005

when I get to the bottom I go back to the top of the slide

Sports news today...and depending on your point of view, both pieces of news could be good, could be bad, or could be a mixed bag. I've put them in the order of importance I think they warrant.

Item #1: Lance Rides Again
Thankfully, the pullout of the Postal Service has not doomed the dynastic cycling team of which Lance Armstrong is the gravitational center. Lance has announced, officially, that he will compete for his 7th consecutive victory in the Tour de France.
Lance Armstrong will be back in the saddle at this year's Tour de France, chasing title No. 7. The Tour's only six-time winner finally put an end to questions about his plans for 2005, announcing Wednesday on his Discovery Channel team's Web site that he'll try to extend his record streak of consecutive victories in cycling's most prestigious event.

"I am grateful for the opportunity that Discovery Communications has given the team and look forward to achieving my goal of a seventh Tour de France," Armstrong said, according to the team's site.

Until Wednesday, the Texan had left open the possibility that he wouldn't compete in this year's Tour. As recently as last month, Armstrong said: "I'll definitely be in France this summer. It just might not be on the bike."
Only time will tell whether Armstrong can get as fired up about winning a seventh Tour as he did to clinch record No. 6. But he already has said that if he did come back, he would aim for nothing but victory. He says he loves the classic race too much to treat it with anything less than the respect it deserves.

Item #2: NHL Cancel Entire Season
Well, this really was a forgone conclusion. After all, over 2/3 of the games have already been cancelled, and the entire all-star celebration as well. There was a brief discussion of an 18-game season followed by playoffs, simply so the Stanley Cup could be awarded. (As a brief aside, the last time the Stanley Cup was not awarded was 1919 due to a flu epidemic...this time it's due to a greed epidemic).
A lockout over a salary cap shut down the game before it ever got a chance to start in October. Now the NHL, already low on the popularity scale in the United States, becomes the first major pro sports league in North America to lose an entire season to a labor dispute.

"As I stand before you today, it is my sad duty to announce ... it no longer is practical to conduct even an abbreviated season," commissioner Gary Bettman said. "Accordingly, I have no choice but to announce the formal cancellation of play for 2004-05."

"This is a sad, regrettable day that all of us wish could have been avoided," he said.

Bettman said the sides would continue working to get an agreement.

"We're planning to have hockey next season," he said.