I thought that I'd try out this whole live blogging thing for the UFC tonight. I'm not sure how it will go, but I'll give it a shot.
Tonight's UFC is coming to you from the UK on Spike TV instead of the usual pay-per-view (this is only in the US, for the rest of the world, it's pay-per-view). At first, I thought this was just the UFC being charitable and trying to attract new fans, but now I'm not sure. Are the fights actually live (at 2AM in Manchester) or is this on tape delay? If it's delayed, then that would explain why it's on Spike, since you'd have a hard time attracting a significant pay audience in the US for either a delayed card or a UFC on at 4PM on a Saturday. The logo in the upper right corner of the screen says "Live" but I never trust those.
Before the fights start, Rumors and Rants has a nice look at Cro Cop. The most interesting fight tonight has to be Cro Cop and Gonzaga. If Cro Cop wins, he gets a shot at Randy Couture in August, which would be a must see (although I can't see Randy winning that one).
More as the fights start...
Assuerio Silva Vs. Cheick Kongo
9:22 - Silva looks overweight and Kongo is ripped. But Silva is Brazilian, which always seems to count for something. Never mind, they just showed the stats, and Kongo has a 5" reach advantage. I'm calling this one for the Frenchman right now.
9:26 - I just noticed that there aren't any lines for the fights on Bodog. Maybe that has something to do with Calvin Ayre's silly attempt at putting together an MMA league. That guy needs to pick a few things and stick to it, instead of trying to do everything and make himself a mogul.
9:30 - Round 1 goes to the Brazilian (Silva) but not by much. Kongo looked far more dangerous and got a nice reversal at the end of the round, but Silva got a few takedowns that should sway the judges.
9:35 - I love how the Brits boo and whistle whenever the action slows down. The ref just stood them up, which seems unfair in a fight like this where one guy (Kongo) has such a huge standup advantage.
9:37 - Round 2 to Kongo but again not by much. Kongo hit Silva with a barrage of punches early in the round, but then Silva got a couple takedowns. I think in this round the punches outweighed the takedowns. Silva needs to take the fight to the ground to have a shot, but he seems confused at what to do when he gets it there. I haven't seen any submission attempts, and he doesn't throw many punches or elbows. The fight is much more exciting when they're standing up trading blows.
9:42 - Kongo starts the round playing to his reach advantage and throwing punches and kicks, but then gets taken down. The fight is stood back up (good).
9:45 - Round 3 to Kongo, very similar to Round 2. This is the type of fight that makes people (like me) not like the heavyweight division all that much. Two big dudes throwing a couple punches and then collapsing on each other. They can't do anything much on the bottom either. FWIW, Eddie Bravo scored the fight the same way I did.
9:47 - Kongo wins, but one of the judges scored it a draw. Hopefully the next fights will be more exciting.
9:52 - While we're between fights, I'd like to talk a little bit about a the Dana White - Tito Ortiz "fight" that was on Spike a couple weeks ago. I saw the listing for it, thought it might be interesting to see Dana White get his ass kicked (even though I like him), so I recorded it. I watched the whole thing (90 minutes of Dana White training, it was as exciting as it sounds) only to find out at the end that Ortiz never showed at the weigh ins, so there wasn't a fight. WTF?!!? The UFC doesn't let me down very often, but I was pissed after that.
Matt Grice Vs. Terry Etim
9:57 - Two undefeated lightweights in this fight. Grice is a decorated wrestler, but Etim is a hometown boy (from Manchester). You have to give the edge here to the Brit fighting in front of the home crowd.
10:07 - WOW! Amazing escape from a guillotine by Grice, then Etim gets the same hold again and puts Grice to sleep. Pretty good fight all around. Etim got in a good shot early, but then Grice took him to the ground and landed some good shots. After they stood back up, though, it was all Etim.
10:18 - Dana White just announced that Matt Serra and Matt Hughes are going to be the coaches for The Ultimate Fighter 6. Awesome choices. Serra is a natural coach, and Hughes is an egomaniac. Serra said that he's looking forward to fighting Hughes because he's had to fight such nice guys lately (Lidle and St. Pierre) and Hughes is such a dick. Couldn't have said it better myself.
Michael Bisping Vs. Elvis Sinosic
10:23 - Bisping is undefeated and British. Sinosic has been around the block a few times and has a reputation for never tapping out, but his record is under .500. This sounds like a fight that will involve Bisping teeing off on Sinosic for 2 or 3 rounds.
10:30 - I'm starting to re-think my assessment of this fight (before it even starts). Bisping is under a lot of pressure and looks very emotional. He could burn himself out early or get caught by a dumb submission. I still think Bisping wins, but I'm not as confident after seeing his entrance.
10:38 - DOMINANT first round for Bisping. Even though Sinosic is a bit of a patsy, he has some decent wins and some decent fights. Bisping made him look like the guy who loses in the first week of The Ultimate Fighter every season. I was really impressed with two things: 1) Bisping's submission defense. Sinosic tried a couple of submissions, but they were wholly uneffective. 2) All of the damage Bisping did was from Sinosic's guard. He just postured up and rained blows on Sinosic for the entire round. This one won't make it 3 rounds (not that I'm going out on a limb with that prediction or anything).
10:44 - Sinosic actually had a good start to the round, but Bisping reversed and ended the fight 1:40 into the round. I think at this point you have to start talking about Bisping as someone with a legit shot at the title. I'd like to see him fight Tito Ortiz with the winner of that fight getting a shot at the Chuck Lidell - Rampage Jackson winner for the title.
Andrei Arlovski Vs. Fabricio Werdum
11:00 - Arlovski is the former UFC heavyweight champ. Werdum is a jiu-jitsu specialist who trains with Cro Cop. I think you have to give the advantage to Arlovski. These heavyweight fights can stay upright pretty often, and that style would definitely suit Arlovski's striking abilities.
11:12 - Round 1 to Arlovski. Lots of standup. Werdum went to the ground at one point and tried to get Arlovski to take his guard, but no dice. Both fighters landed a few bombs, but no one looked too hurt by the end of the round.
11:14 - Coming back from commercial, I just noticed that one of Arlovski's sponsors is "Condom Depot." The NBA needs sponsors like that. It would be almost like a public service announcement.
11:19 - Arlovski wins round 2 by default. Neither fighter seemed to want to go on the offensive at all.
11:26 - One of the many things I like about Joe Rogan's announcing (and the fact that that sentence wasn't sarcastic deserves its own full post) is that he's not afraid to tell you when the fight sucks. He'll chastise the fighters when they aren't trying as hard as they should or when they aren't good enough. That kind of brutal honesty just isn't there for most announcers.
11:29 - End of the third round. It looked just like the second. Arlovski is clearly the better fighter, but he didn't have that killer instinct tonight. He'll win easily, but the UFC isn't going to be real excited to put him in a title fight (which would be against Cro Cop if he wins tonight and then beats Couture).
11:32 - I just became an Arlovski fan. During his post fight interview, the fans were booing, so he apologized for having such a boring fight and for fighting 15 minutes without knocking Werdum out (in a very thick Slavic accent).
Mirko Cro Cop Vs. Gabriel Gonzaga
11:40 - This one shouldn't be close. Cro Cop is the most dominant force we've seen in the UFC in quite some time. If you've seen the highlights of Cro Cop that are all over YouTube, you know that he has knockout power with both his punches and kicks. If Gonzaga gets caught with a shot from Cro Cop, this fight could be over quickly. Randy Couture picked Gonzaga to win, and Rogan thinks Gonzaga has a good shot. I'm not buying that. I think Cro Cop wins this in dominant fashion and is an early -500 favorite against Couture in August.
11:48 - Rogan on Cro Cop: "That's the most intimidating man to ever come out to Duran Duran music." Couture on Cro Cop: "His legs look like they're on a He-Man figurine." Now that's good announcing.
11:57 - WOW! That is the last thing I expected to happen. Gonzaga knocked out Cro Cop with a head kick! Gonzaga had Cro Cop on the ground and did quite a bit of damage with elbows. Gonzaga was clearly winning the round when Herb Dean stood them up. I thought at that point Cro Cop was in pretty good shape. Gonzaga landed a perfect head kick, and Cro Cop just crumpled. He was out before he hit the ground. Wow. That is definitely going to end up on the next "UFC Best Knockouts" show. Rogan pointed out that Cro Cop's knee and ankle twisted funny going down, so he may have a more serious injury. The Gonzaga - Couture fight isn't nearly as sexy as Cro Cop - Couture would be, but it should be a great fight. This might set up a Cro Cop - Arlovski fight, which would be fun to watch. Wow. Before the fight, I was thinking how cool Cro Cop's Zvonimir Security t-shirts looked and was debating whether or not I wanted to buy one. I think I'll hold off for now.
12:04 - That'll do it for my first live blog. It was fun, hopefully you all enjoyed it.
Here's the video of Gonzaga's knockout kick. Unbelievable.
YouTube took down the knockout video. Here's the whole fight from a YouTube ripoff site.
UFC 70 Crocop vs Gonzaga on Vimeo
April 21, 2007
April 20, 2007
Ummm....Greg Oden has a nice beard. Discuss.
I just wanted dibs on Post 200.
Contributed by J-Red at 4/20/2007 08:05:00 PM
Wow... you just gotta love Boston fans. But seriously, I think Awful Announcing needs to address the fact that the baseball announcers do play-by-play and slow motion of the pizza throw. Actually, it's FANTASTIC ANNOUNCING.
April 19, 2007
It was reported on Monday that the State of Washington has failed to approve funding for a new arena for the SuperSonics. The Sonics are owned by a group from Oklahoma City, which has gotten a two-year trial run at being the part-time host of an NBA franchise due to the displacement of the Hornets after Hurricane Katrina. That's news you could have read from "reputable" sources, but here are some things you may not have considered.
There's good news. The spectacularly awesome food franchise, Sonic, is based out of Oklahoma City. Most Marylanders have not experienced Sonic, but since I was already in the First State this past Sunday, I made a special 30-miles-out-of-the-way trip down US-13 to Bridgeville, DE. I've been to a Sonic before, in Louisiana, but it's awesome even in Delaware! It's fatally awesome. Just ask one of the founders, who died of a heart attack at age 54.
So we face the first legitimate, sensible time when an NBA franchise could have their name sponsored by a corporation. If you don't follow MLS (shame on you), the NY-NJ team is now known as the Red Bulls. Unless the price is very wrong, I can't imagine the team being called anything other than the Oklahoma City Sonics. The logo can even be adapted relatively easily.
As a Marylander who leans towards the Baltimore side of the Baltimore-Washington equation, I was curious to see how many people Oak City has been drawing. Keep in mind, of course, that the numbers must be discounted since the Hornets were only taking up space temporarily, a la Bud Adams' horrible misadventures in Memphis before Adelphi Coliseum was built in Nashville. Despite that, the Oak City Hornets averaged a very strong 18,329 in their two seasons. At this point that's a respectable baseball total.
I think this will be a success, despite my usual aversion to corporate branding. For some reason, I feel like Sonic branding the Sonics would be somewhat legitimated by the corporation's home-town feel. For anyone who wonders, the cost of opening a Sonic, including the modest $30K franchise fee, is $710,000 to $2.3M. I suspect the cost of land in the Baltimore-Washington corridor pushes the high side of the range. Also, you must either currently run a successful restaurant or have "strong entrepreneurial skills". This story means more to me* because the N.O. Hornets (please change the name) will be the Crescent City's team again (unfortunately, no one can return Baron Davis to the Hornets). At the same time, I am happy that Oak City is getting rewarded for taking on a vagrant team with remarkable enthusiasm. I've not read anything that laments the exit of the SuperSonics from Seattle, perhaps because Seattleites know it means "The Glove", Gary Payton, cannot impregnate any more locals.
*The author spent about three years in New Orleans and treats her like his baby sister. He can talk shit about her, but you can't.
April 18, 2007
If you missed my comment on the fantanking issue today, here's something you should know.
The Timberwolves traded Sam Cassell to the Clippers earlier this year. One condition of the deal was that the Clippers got Minnesota's first round pick in 2007 if the pick was 11th or higher. As it stands, the Timberwolves are in a three-way tie for 7th place overall. If they finish 7th or worse, they keep a top-10 pick. If they finish better than that, the Clippers get their pick.
For the love of God, either don't take Minnesota -3 tonight or do the safe thing and take the under 222.5. Of course, if you're betting on the NBA you should seek counseling anyway.
Courtesy of Bodog Sportsbook:
Arizona Cardinals 40/1
Atlanta Falcons 50/1
Baltimore Ravens 15/1
Buffalo Bills 50/1
Carolina Panthers 20/1
Chicago Bears 10/1
Cincinnati Bengals 15/1
Cleveland Browns 100/1
Dallas Cowboys 15/1
Denver Broncos 15/1
Detroit Lions 100/1
Green Bay Packers 50/1
Houston Texans 100/1
Indianapolis Colts 8/1
Jacksonville Jaguars 28/1
Kansas City Chiefs 30/1
Miami Dolphins 40/1
Minnesota Vikings 70/1
New England Patriots 9/2
New Orleans Saints 18/1
New York Giants 20/1
New York Jets 30/1
Oakland Raiders 70/1
Philadelphia Eagles 18/1
Pittsburgh Steelers 15/1
San Diego Chargers 6/1
San Francisco 49ers 45/1
Seattle Seahawks 12/1
St.Louis Rams 50/1
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 70/1
Tennessee Titans 40/1
Washington Redskins 50/1
So here are my thoughts:
MOST UNDERVALUED, TAKE THE BET:
New Orleans Saints at 18:1. They haven't lost anybody and they made a damn good run last year. Granted, they will have to play a schedule commensurate with their better finish last year. And they won't have the immediate return to New Orleans post-Katrina emotion. But I see no reason to think that Drew Brees and Reggie Bush will have a down year. Plus, I think it's always a little better to give a little more credence to an NFC team simply because it's easier to get out of the NFC and make the Super Bowl than it is to get out of the AFC. An NFC team with the same talent as an AFC team should always have better odds to win the Super Bowl just because it's easier to make it to the game out of their own conference.
MOST OVERVALUED, PASS ON THE BET:
San Diego Chargers at 6:1. Their division is always tough (aside from Oakland), and trying to get PhiLLLLip Rivers into the swing of a new coach will be tough. Especially when this coach is Norv Turner. Anytime you have L.T. on your team you're a threat, but I still think they'll be vulnerable to a team with a good passing game (i.e. Colts and Patriots).
Contributed by Jeremy at 4/18/2007 04:48:00 PM
Brien has commented in the past on the blurring division between ESPN's news and entertainment divisions. Two of the top stories on ESPN Radio today seem to bear this out.
First, Colin Cowherd plugged ESPN Insider by saying the subscription-based service was the only place you could hear his confrontation with ESPN employee and former NFLer Eric Allen, which ended with Allen walking out of the studio. I may be mistaken but I believe Eric Allen is an ESPNews-side employee.
Then, Dan Patrick goaded Keith Olbermann into a tiff after pointing out that Cowherd criticized his selection as a commentator on NBC's Football Night in America. Apparently Cowherd felt that Olbermann is a Liberal based on his statements for his MSNBC show, Countdown, and that this would distract viewers. Olbermann responded by saying that Cowherd was jealous that he was passed over for the job.
I don't confuse ESPN Radio with any legitimate news source, but they certainly aren't endearing themselves to critics who feel that ESPN makes its own news, or becomes the story on slow days.
Update: So I am an ESPN Insider subscriber, and I went to find the "controversial" Eric Allen walk-out interview. What actually happened is that Allen and Cowherd got into a friendly argument over the quality of the Raiders defense. Cowherd found the stats, which supported Allen's position, and Allen walked out a la Costanza leaving on a high note.
I'm actually more irritated by this than I was when I thought ESPN was manufacturing its own news. There was nothing sarcastic in Cowherd's voice when he pimped the ESPN Radio Insider service. If I had been listening live at the time it occurred, I would have known better. But then again, the supposed benefit of being an ESPN Insider is that you can catch up on what you miss at your convenience. It's a little unethical for ESPN to pull the bait-and-switch with their "premium" content.
April 17, 2007
NOTE: Pictures were removed by Blogger (presumably). To see them, visit UniWatch here and look towards the links in the comments.
Apparently the Nationals honored the dead at Virginia Tech by donning Hokie Hats for tonight's game. Here are some pictures, courtesy of MASN.
As you can see, the Nats didn't splurge for VT batting helmets. In fact, since there are SIX different VT hats apparent above, not to mention at least one all-orange cap I missed, I'd guess the Lerners raided the Salvation Army Thirft Store before the game to obtain the hats.
And as much as I wish it were so, Andruw Jones shows here that the Nats weren't the only ones to treat the mid-50 degree weather as though it were actually cold.
So I pulled myself away from watching TV coverage of the horrible tragedy in Blacksburg to watch Idol on DVR tonight. Here ya' go:
SAFE BECAUSE OF SPECTACULAR PERFORMANCES:
Spectacular vocals, a stunningly beautiful performance. I should've put my money in Vegas back when I saw this coming so many weeks ago. She's got such wonderful versatily and such strength in her voice, and that's not even including her personality that's made for this show.
She lost that surprise pretty quickly and ably, dontcha think? Maybe the conspiracy theorists were right all along? But anyway, good to see her looking within 20 years of her actual age tonight and she had a great performance as well.
SAFE BECAUSE OF AN ALRIGHT PERFORMANCE BUT BECAUSE AMERICA LOVES THEM:
Well that was kind of mean of Simon to remind everyone of the deaths of 32 people just before giving out the kid's phone number. I mean, to use a word Ryan used earlier in the week, a true "buzzkill." But he did alright, maybe a shade better than alright, but the song didn't really suit him. He adjusted it to sound a little Keane-ish and carried it fairly well. The women love him, he's safe.
You've got a lot of friends in Blacksburg? How many Hooters franchises are there? You intentionally sing nasally? That would be like somebody saying they intentionally talk with a lisp. Anyway, the females love you, your song was a shade worse than alright, but you're safe. Even though you were in the bottom 3 last week, you're safe. Other people did far worse tonight.
IN DANGER DESPITE AN AWESOME PERFORMANCE:
Well we all learned tonight who the next Idol country sensation will be. He nailed this genre. He seemed like he was having fun, he seemed like it was effortless. He carried a great tune and really told the story with his lyrics the way country music should be sung. But he's been in the bottom three now what... 4 weeks running? He'll be there again.
TERRIBLE PERFORMANCES AND POSSIBLY FINALLY IN DANGER:
Simon really put it best... she tried to sing a country song gospel and it just doesn't fit. She's a great singer, but I had more concerns about her trying to pull off country tonight than anyone else, and they turned out to be well-founded. She's mailed it in a few weeks now, she had tears in her eyes tonight when the judges critiqued her so hard, and if she survives this week, watch out, cause I think she'll be on a mission.
Alright America, you've had your fun. If he had sung this song in audition round, he wouldn't have made it to Hollywood. It was a train wreck of a performance. I'm truly hoping that because of the awful choice of bandanna, maybe a Crips member will take him out. But seriously... it was painful. He has to be the most undeserving member of any of the top 7 ever. And he eats this shit up.
Phil goes home. Despite a great performance, he doesn't have a solid voting bloc as seen by being in the Bottom 3 so often. He went first which will work against him. It's alright... as soon as we leave country week, we'd be reminded why he is no good.
I am sure everyone has read Bill Simmons' take on "fantanking", when it is in your best interest as a fan to root against your own team. While I feel fantanking is the most treacherous of all sports fan moves, short of abandoning your childhood baseball team for the flavor of the week, I can understand it in the NBA context.
After a loss to Milwaukee last Friday, Celtics' F Ryan Gomes had the following to say:
"I probably (would have played), but since we were in the hunt for a high draft pick, of course things are different, I understand that. Hopefully things get better. Now that we clinched at least having the second-most balls in the lottery, the last three games we'll see what happens. We'll see if we can go out and finish some games."
So the Celtics, or at least one of them, admits the team has moved into the realm of ACTUAL tanking. That is unacceptable for a number of reasons.
- Fans pay good money to see the team play. The average NBA ticket price is $51.02. When they bought the tickets, they expected that they would be seeing an honest, straight-up athletic contest.
- Degenerate gamblers, where such a thing is legal, actually bet on the outcome of NBA games while operating on the assumption that external factors, such as purposely not winning, will not come into play.
- Pete Rose is suffering through a lifetime ban from baseball based on the presumption that he might have managed games differently if it would benefit him financially. Apparently this standard does not apply to GMs and coaches who want to select/coach the next hot draft pick. We'll ignore the Michael Jordan gambling incidents for now.
- When one team tanks, another team benefits. This seems obvious, but if you're on the cusp of home team advantage for the playoffs, and someone else has the benefit of playing the Celtics after they've decided to tank, you'd be very pissed.
- It's un-American to not try to win
- It screws your players. Not every player on a team is in a position where they can suck alongside four other sucky players. Some of these guys are just on the edge of making a livelihood. They don't want to test the value of their kinesiology degrees from Some State. If your favorite player from your favorite school ends up as PG for the Celtics, their career likely just ended...unless they draft Oden.
I've been thinking a lot about Ceph the past couple days, so I wanted to put up something more about him.
Heather Dinich's Baltimore Sun article has a great quote from Gary on Ceph:
LaRon Cephas was an integral part of our 2001 Final Four team. His attitude and dedication was something coaches wish every player had. You don't have good teams without people such us LaRon Cephas in your program. After graduating from the University of Maryland, he did a tremendous job making a difference with young kids. He was one of my favorite players in 18 years as head coach at the University of Maryland.
Gary isn't the sort of guy to just say that about anyone. Most of LaRon's contributions to those great Terps teams of the late 90s and early 00s clearly happened in practice and in the locker room. As fans, we didn't see a lot of the direct contributions, but we certainly saw the results on the court and in his teammates' love and admiration for him.
The Sun story also notes that Cephas graduated with a communications degree, played basketball overseas for 3 years, and then worked at the Annapolis Boys and Girls Club.
You can see LaRon's career statistics on Terrapinstats.com
One of LaRon's High School Basketball teammates talks about LaRon's smile on his Myspace blog. From someone who didn't know Ceph at all, he always seemed to be smiling, whether he was on the court or on the bench.
The Washington Post obituary has some quotes from Terrell Stokes on his reaction to learning of Cephas' death.
Finally, MetaDC very eloquently sums up what many of us who closely followed Maryland Basketball during those years are feeling:
LaRon was not exactly famous if you didn't follow those late-90's/early-00's Maryland teams closely. That didn't make him any less of a campus celebrity, and it didn't make us appreciate him any less as "one of our guys" while we got to watch him play. Those teams meant a hell of a lot to me as a fan and even more to me as a student, and I know a lot of my fellow alumni are just as saddened by the death of Cephas as am I.
Condolences to Cephas's family, and thanks to LaRon himself for being a part of something I will always remember as all but magical.
Rest in peace, LaRon. We'll always remember you fondly.
Update 4/19: The Capital (Annapolis) has an article on Ceph's work at the Boys and Girls Club.
"The teenage girls had crushes on him. The older boys looked up to him and the little kids just wanted to hug him," said Carole Alexander, director of development for the club. "He was so big in stature, but his heart was that big, too."
On my way home from class last night, I checked the score of the Orioles' game. It was 7-1 in the top of the 6th. I debated changing the station and finding some music, rather than listening to the end of a blowout, but I decided to stick with the game for a little while. I'm glad I did. By the time I got home, the Orioles were up 8-7 in the bottom of the 7th. Over the course of my 45 min drive, I heard the Os score 7 runs in 2 innings, including 2 home runs.
A win like that has to build a lot of confidence for a fairly young team. It also makes it a lot easier to support the club as a fan. For all the things they've done wrong over the past 8-10 years, the Orioles have managed to build a very likable mediocre baseball team. With Sammy Sosa gone, there's not really anyone on the team to dislike.
That win puts them over .500. We'll see how long that lasts, but for right now it's pretty nice.
April 16, 2007
1) So details are still very sketchy, but our ACC breathren Hokies are mourning a huge loss of life. 30+ killed, 20+ wounded, many critically. Condolences to any Hokie alums or students who frequent our blog.
2) TSR and The Baltimore Sun are reporting that LaRon Cephas, former Terp hoopster, Class of 2001, died of a seizure at the age of 29:
LaRon was most recently the Athletic Director of the Boys and Girls Club of Annapolis. RIP LaRon. Your chest bumps were the highlight of player introductions and your spirit was effervescent.
April 15, 2007
Yet another race that started out fairly exciting but ended up boring. The thing about F1 that bugs me the most is how often a driver qualifies on pole, takes the lead into the first turn, and drives away from the field. At least in this race the top 4 stayed pretty close together for the first few laps.
I guess I'm going to have to take back some of the bad thoughts I had about Massa based on the previous 2 races, since he essentially dominated the weekend, winning pole and leading the race start to finish. I still have a sneaking suspicion that Massa sucks, though.
I was very surprised at Alonso's pace this race. He had looked like the favorite (along with Raikkonen) to win the Driver's Championship. After today, I'm not so sure. The championship race should be exciting, though. Three drivers are now tied for the lead (Raikkonen, Alonso, and Hamilton).
Through three races, the most interesting story lines are:
- Lewis Hamilton: The young Brit continues to impress everyone. He's the first driver ever to reach the podium in his first three Grand Prix. The British press is having a field day with him. I wonder if Jenson Button is happy to have some of the pressure taken off him, or pissed that the spotlight is off him and on the next hot thing.
- BMW: After the BMW-Williams split, I wondered which team would fare best on its own. Last year, the answer was "neither." This year, BMW has clearly staked it claim to the 3rd best team, ahead of not just Williams Toyota, but also Renault. I never thought Nick Heidfeld was all that good, but apparently a quick teammate and contract year was enough to light a fire under his ass.
- Honda: If you haven't been watching F1 this year, let me sum up Honda's efforts so far: they suck. I don't mean the kind of mediocrity that we've come to expect from Honda. I mean real suckiness. They look better than Spyker and about on par with Torro Rosso. That's pretty bad for a team that's spending more money than any other team and has two fairly accomplished drivers. They're doing worse than Super Aguri, who is on a shoestring budget and running Honda's car from last year.
We have 4 weeks until the next race. I have to say that the scheduling this year is really annoying. There was the first race, 2 weeks off, then races in 2 consecutive weeks, and now 3 weeks off. WTF?