Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Official G:TB Olympics Preview

Gheorghe: The Blog loves it some Olympics. Our Romanian heritage means we're required to dig on gymnastics, but frankly, we celebrate the entire catalogue. We're suckers for the pomp, pageantry, and - most importantly - the competition. We'll be glued to the coverage from beginning to end.

In our own inimitable and haphazard way, G:TB today begins our coverage of the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics. We promise that our reporting will be biased, mostly uninformed, and generously sprinkled with jingoistic flavor. Just like that of NBC, come to think of it.

Our first installment then, is a preview of Team Handball, which is a sport Americans really should love, chock full as it is with speed, tons of scoring, random physicality, and the occasional 70 mph ball to the head of an unsuspecting goaltender.

In a nutshell, Team Handball is a soccer/basketball hybrid played on a shorter field (40m x 20m, which by my metric-to-English calculations is about 3.32 miles x 1.61 miles – I could be off by a few feet). Teams of 7 (6 field players and a certifiably insane goaltender) advance the roughly volleyball-sized ball by dribbling and passing (only three steps are permitted before dribbling, so LeBron James would be right at home). The object of the game is to throw the ball into the 2x3m goal – roughly the size of a 6-story building, I think. Games last 60 minutes, with teams in international competition routinely scoring 25 or more goals in a contest.

The men’s field for the 2008 Games is dominated by the traditional European powers, with defending world champion Germany joined by Denmark, Poland, France, Iceland, Spain, Croatia, and Russia. A bunch of pretenders round out the field, with host China, Egypt, Korea, and Brazil serving as fodder for the Ivan Drago-lookalikes in the Euro contingent. Women play too, apparently.

G:TB’s Team Handball staff likes the Croats to knock off the Germans in the Gold Medal match on August 24, with Denmark taking the bronze. And if that happens, I’ll eat a handball.

28 comments:

Jerry said...

Did you write this somewhere else? I swear I just read something very similar earlier this week. Or maybe it's just one of my handball-induced out of body experiences.

Regardless, handball gets the thumbs up from this guy.

rob said...

someone, somewhere recently made the point about handball being something americans would like, but i can't figure out where. it's been bothering me, too. this was in the works for a while - just finally got around to posting it.

rob said...

it's possible it was part of the discussion during the trip back from nags head, but got lost in the excitement of the british open.

Jerry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rob said...

stefan fatsis mentioned it during his interview with the bog. that's where we saw it.

Jerry said...

Yup. That's it. His book sounds pretty good.

Jerome said...

If it's not solo synchronized swimming I'm not interested.

rob said...

teejay will be previewing that later.

Rhymenocerous said...

FYI: Gasoline futures have dropped over 50 cents in the last couple weeks. You all should be seeing that price drop at your local gas stations within a couple weeks.

It's trading at about $3.05 now. That translates to an average of $3.70 at the pump.

Fill 'er up, bitches...

rob said...

is that speculation ahead of the moronic bill to punish speculation?

Zoltan said...

I read about handball in SI 2 or 3 Olympics ago. The US team had some freak of nature who could run a 4.3 40, had a 69-inch vertical, could bench 500 pounds, etc. Oddly, he played Team Handball.

Rhymenocerous said...

I can't wait for DC to finalize their ill-conceived "Punish Speculators and Increase Exploration" legislation just as oil drops below $100. It's off over $20 to $124 in less than two weeks.

Mark said...

Rob...in response to you pondering about the Josh Childress to Greece thing in the comments of the last post, I have a couple of thoughts. It can be seen as good for the globalization of the game in that there's a chance many NBA or NBA level players will choose to play in Europe for a certain amount of time. However, I think it ends up hurting the NBA overall because you're going to see less and less established European players or even established up and comers who will be motivated to move stateside in order to take less money and play lesser roles. Never underestimate the ego of athletes in this equation. Few of these guys are going to be able to handle significantly reduced roles AND paychecks just to say they play in the NBA. I imagine even a good number who do come over will end up back in Europe within a few years ala Juan Carlos Navarro.

Okay, that is all. Back to your discussion of handball. Which, I must agree, is pretty fucking great.

rob said...

but if more and more american nba players go overseas (i.e., if the monetary and lifestyle values become roughly equal for players of a certain caliber - were not likely to be talking about elite players anytime soon, but there are a lot of josh childress types in the league), that opens more roster spots for euros, right? if euro teams are able to effectively compete for american talent, the whole market gets to a sort of equilibrium, which over time leads to a world league - which stern would love, so long as it was a world nba.

Mark said...

A few of things:

- Josh Childress is not your typical NBA player. He's far more well rounded and probably far more open to a European existence, at least for a while. I can't see many guys like Ricky Davis and Rashad McCants going to Europe unless they have no other choice. Remember, we're pretty xenophobic...how bad do you think some of these NBA guys are?

- While many NBA players leaving for Europe (not likely) does open up more roster spots, these aren't prime roster spots but roles as the 4/5/6th man, or lower, its gonna be tough to convince a star in Europe to come over for less money and a lesser role. Dejan Bodiroga's flirtation with the NBA last summer is a prime example of this, as is Navarro's one year stint in the NBA.

-Finally, I guess this could lead to a "World NBA" but there are a ton of logistical problems that come with that. For instance, how do you convince the top level Euro teams like Maccabi Tel Aviv, CSKA Moscow, Tau Ceramica, etc. (because those are the only ones you want based on the shady dealings of many Euro teams) to leave their respective leagues and join the NBA without giving up a number of things (I highly doubt they'd want to deal with only NBA certified referees)? And, is the notoriously stubborn David Stern going to be willing to meet these teams in the middle? Doubtful, imo.

rob said...

fair point regarding childress' unique perspective in comparison with his peers.

your point about foreign stars unwillingness to come here is well-taken, but i'm thinking there could be a two-way market for the middle tier type. but, again, that assumes more american guys would be interested in playing overseas, which in the end brings us back to your accurate point.

i'd love to see a world league, and i think stern would, too, but perhaps we're a few decades early.

Rhymenocerous said...

I am lucky enough to have travelled to Greece. It is un-fucking-believable over there. I would take a 1/3 cut in my salary for a 2-year work assignment there. The food, the land, the sexy ladies and the partying are all over the top. The older guys on the Greek Isles are the most laid-back and happy people you'll ever meet. They know they live in paradise.

Assuming Greek women will sleep with Childress and his 'fro, he has made a wise life decision.

Trajan Langdon, hooping it up in Moscow, has probably banged out more Eastern European women than you saw topless in the movie Hostel. I bet he's enjoying life a lot more that JJ Redick...

Greg said...

More Greek women would sleep with him if he signed with a classy organization like Panathinaikos instead of with those low-lifes at Olympiakos.


Everybody knows that.

EboR√Ęguebi said...

One Small Blog, in a small region of a small country that "talks" about a BIG SPORT - RUGBY.

Ebor√Ęguebi

Mark said...

Greg's got a great point...per usual.

I've never disputed that the choice to play in Europe is a wise one. If I was a borderline NBA guy I'd jump at the chance and never look back, instead of toiling over here in the D-League and trying to grab a ten day contract and then stick with a team. However, we are far different than most NBA players in our worldview. I don't anybody would dispute that.

I've gotten to know Darius Washington through a guy I play ball with in local rec leagues (he played with Darius' Dad in college). Let me tell you, he was making great money over in Greece and couldn't get out of his contract fast enough when the Spurs invited to training camp last year. For most guys like him, there is very little appeal to living overseas especially when compared to the status provided by playing in the NBA, even if they never play. Sad...but true.

Mark said...

Wow...Greg totally made up an ridiculous name so he could pimp some rugby blog.

Greg said...

I think the Brandon Jennings thing is more of the way forward and I'm surprised it hasn't happened sooner. Instead of having to meet the academic rigors of say, Arizona, why not go to Europe, make more money and play against what could be a higher level of competition than the NCAA?

Mark said...

Interesting points on the Childress thing:

http://tiny.cc/9GUSZ

Mark said...

Jennings will definitely be playing against better competition most of the time and he'll probably get better coaching as Lute isn't exactly a technician on the bench. Its an especially enticing things for some high school seniors if they think they can get out of their deals in one year. If they don't mind going overseas, I don't see a ton of downside to it.

TJ said...

So one of the chicks in that WNBA "brawl" blew out her knee during the fracas. Sounds about right.

Greg said...

I get the feeling that the "brawl" was staged to garner more interest in the WNBA.

Don said...

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Our site:

URL: http://www.2008chinaolympics.com
Title: Beijing Olympics

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Many thanks for your reply.

Best Regards,

Don
chinaolympics8@gmail.com

Mberenis said...

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