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Top 5 Sports Stories

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Happy Tuesday everyone, here's my Top 5 for July 31, 2012 from Len Berman at www.ThatsSports.com.

1. Quick Hits

  • The U.S. men's gymnastics team tumbles out of the medals finishing fifth. 17-year-old Missy Franklin strikes gold in 100 meter backstroke. Ryan Lochte finishes fourth in the 200 meter freestyle.
  • Through three days of competition, the U.S. and China both have 17 medals. China has out-paced the U.S. in gold 9-5.
  • 25-year-old Tennessee Titans wide receiver O.J. Murdock has died of a self-inflicted gunshot according to Tampa Police.
  • Kendrys Morales became the third switch-hitter in major league history to homer as a lefty and righty in the same inning as the Angels won in Texas 15-8.
  • Today is the baseball trade deadline. After today, players who are traded have to pass through waivers.


2. The Agony of Defeat

I covered fencing at the 2004 games. Trust me, it's not a great TV sport. Both fencers touch, both lights go on and it's left to the referee to explain what happened... in French. But yesterday it got really interesting. South Korean fencer Shin Lam thought she had beaten German Britta Heidemann. She would fight for gold. But hold on, they put a second back on the clock. (Shades of USA/USSR basketball in Munich in 1972.) Well needless to say Shin Lam then lost in the final second, burst into tears and refused to leave the piste (mat). So she remained there for over an hour. Actually, she had to stay while the appeal was being heard. Not only did she lose the appeal, she then had to fight for the bronze and she lost that one too. So in summary, one second and an interminable appeal cost Shin Lam a chance at gold and she goes home empty handed. Oh well, we'll catch up in four years.

3. Rules Rules Rules

You guys came up with some great comments when the fourth best overall gymnast, American Jordyn Wieber, didn't qualify for tonight's all-around title because even though she's the defending world champ and was better than 21 other gymnasts. Only two per country are allowed in the final and she was the third ranked American. A sampling:

J.C. Wrong that the best woman won't be competing.

P.R. This rule of to per country is for the greater good of the Olympics spirit. If not for the rule, the U.S.A and a couple of other countries would win all the medals and so called competitors from other countries will become just spectators.

W.W. It's like the requirement that each baseball team has at least one representative in the All Star Game, but with much more significance than that exhibition.

R.K. Disagree. By your logic, then the U.S. ought to also be able to enter three basketball teams, Canada 3 ice hockey teams etc. Spread the wealth so people in other countries can participate on the grandest stage too.

4. Wordsmith

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, wrote a newspaper column the other day titled "Here's 20 jolly good reasons to feel cheerful about the Games." He included stuff like "Yaaay! Team GB has won some medals." and "We certainly didn't spend the Beijing-style sums on fireworks -- since the Chinese blew roughly the same amount as the British defence budget." But the Mayor's most interest comment may have been his 19th reason. In part, "As I write these words there are semi-naked women playing beach volleyball in the middle of the Horse Guards Parade. They are glistening like wet otters...the whole thing is magnificent and bonkers." Isn't that what the Olympics people had in mind when they came up with this sport? Semi-naked, wet otters and bonkers?

5. Oops

Felipe Kitadai, the Brazilian bronze medal winner in judo was so excited about his medal that he carried it everywhere. Unfortunately he dropped it in the shower and broke it. At least he still has what remains, and he's requested a replacement. At the 1956 games in Melbourne, a Soviet rower won the single sculls. He was so excited he tossed it in the air. If tell into the lake and it was never seen again.

Happy Birthday: #1 ranked (and noisy) tennis player Victoria Azarenka. 23.

Bonus Birthday: Happy Potter author J.K. Rowling. 47.

Today in Sports: The Virginia Squires trade Julius Erving to the New York Nets. 1973.

Bonus Event: President Truman dedicates the International Airport at Idlewild Field. Now known as JFK. 1948.

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