Mission Not Accomplished Hope Solo

Unclear on the concept.

That’s Hope Solo.

Following the Americans 3-0 win over Columbia on Saturday, Solo foolishly turned to twitter in order to vent her frustrations. Hope Solo was less than thrilled with the way former American national team player Brandi Chastain was criticizing the defence and goalkeeping.

In 1 of her 4 tweets, Solo wrote “lay off commentating about defending and gking until you get more educated @brandichastain the game has changed from a decade ago. #fb.” Her final tweet read “I feel bad 4 our fans that have 2 push mute, especially bc@arlowhite is fantastic.@brandichastain should be helping 2 grow the sport #fb”

She basically says that Chastain’s comments are hurting the growth of soccer in the United States rather than helping it.

It’s pathetic really. Solo sounds unhappy that Chastain was doing her job with professionalism and objectivity. Her comments indicate that she would rather have an announcer who is as homer as Hawk Harrelson. Essentially, she condemned Brandi Chastain for not being pro-American enough.

News Flash Hope: Not everything can be sunshine and lollipops.

You would think that a figure as publicly recognized as Hope Solo could let the criticism roll right off her back. She must have heard her fair share of critique throughout her professional career. It’s odd that after a convincing 3-0 victory she would take to twitter to criticize an American soccer icon (Chastain was the player who took off her shirt, showing nothing but her sports bra, after her game winning penalty shot in 1999).

It’s ludicrous that Solo believes a little constructive criticism from a commentator is somehow harmful to the state of women’s soccer in the US.

Brandi Chastain didn’t say anything outrageous. Deadspin posted a 20 second clip where Chastian remarks that “as a defender her responsibilities are defend, win the ball and then keep possession. That’s something that Rachel Buehler needs to work on and, I think, improve on in this tournament.”

Blasphemous?

The state of women’s soccer or women’s sports in general throughout North America isn’t going to be affected by the somewhat negative observations from a single commentator. In fact, that kind of stuff is probably better for the sport. If Hope Solo wants the women’s game to be respected across the country, then the commentators have to announce the game the way it should be.

Seeing the game through rose-coloured glasses sure won’t make anything better.

Hope Solo speaks of Chastain’s supposed lack of focus on growing the game of soccer but the intent of her tweets clearly show that she is more worried about matters unrelated to that very issue. She is an ambassador for soccer throughout North America but she selfishly chose to attack Chastain in the most public realm possible.

They say bad publicity is good publicity but Hope Solo’s twitter tantrum might be one of those exceptions. If she wants to help the sport grow, it might be a good idea to show America that she is more concerned with winning a gold medal than attacking a critic. This is not the attention that women’s soccer so desperately seeks.

She utilized her power as the most recognizable member of U.S. women’s soccer to unnecessarily put the target on the back of an innocent commentator. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion but it is not Hope Solo’s place to be intervening in a matter such as this publicly.

Bringing publicity to the release of her upcoming memoir? Getting in a shot to continue some bad blood with an old teammate? Showing support for her current teammates? Protecting herself? Sending out not 1, not 2, not 3, but 4 hate filled tweets possibly accomplished a number of things.

Helping to grow the game?

That’s one item on Hope Solo’s agenda that won’t be achieved as a result of this.

Also, please vote for me to become Canada’s Next Sportscaster! I am one of the 24 finalists and I need your votes. It only takes a few seconds. Just follow the link: http://www.drafted.ca/finalists/chris-ross/

You can follow me on Twitter @paintstheblack and subscribe to Painting the Black to get the latest posts. Agree? Disagree? You can e-mail me at cross_can15@hotmail.com or reply in the comments section below.

For the Fans

Nashville is music city, not hockey city.

That’s why the Nashville Predators matched the 14 year $110 million offer sheet for Shea Weber.

After another highly successful campaign in 2011-12, the Predators lost Ryan Suter to the Minnesota Wild in free agency. Suter was one-half of what was possibly the NHL’s best defensive tandem. Nashville couldn’t afford to lose the other half.

Since coming into the league in 1997, the Nashville Predators have predictably struggled to build a solid fan base. A lack of star players, good results and knowledge of hockey have all been factors that have hurt the struggling franchise.

The results have been changing though. The Predators have made the postseason in 3 straight seasons. Accordingly, their fan base has been increasing.

People in city of Nashville actually know hometown professional athletes other than the ones who play for the Tennessee Titans. Shea Weber is one of those guys. His missile of a shot and intimidating physical presence isn’t completely unnoticed anymore. However, lose Shea Weber and the Nashville Predators would have been left with not much more than Barry Trotz’s odd shaped head.

Profit is still eluding the franchise but attendance, TV ratings and corporate sponsorships are all rising for the Predators. In the regular season finale, they sold out their 25th consecutive game, a franchise best and counting. TV ratings for local broadcasts grew from a 0.4 rating in 2010-11 to a 1.0 rating in 2011-12. Also, private sponsorships at the arena have increased by 25% since CEO Jeff Cogen was hired in 2010.

Impressive…for hockey in the south.

Considering the Nashville Predators have finally started to build their franchise into a viable business, it would have been very difficult to convince their new and growing fan base to believe in the team if they let Shea Weber go. For a team that features one of the most boring teams in hockey, they couldn’t chicken out on Shea Weber for financial reasons alone.

From a hockey stand point, Shea Weber’s contract is questionable at best. But from the Predators stand point, he is a necessity. Weber is the face of that franchise. Other than Pekka Rinne, the Predators lineup is devoid of anything close to a star player unless you count Mr. Carrie Underwood. Nashville might have been able to compete for a playoff spot without Weber but this move is not mainly about competing.

The Nashville Predators don’t want to be the Florida Marlins of old who saw the likes Josh Beckett and A.J. Burnett leave because they became too expensive to keep. They can’t be seen like that to their fan base if they want to keep on growing as a franchise. Not after all they have been through in the past 15 years.

Yes, it has taken 15 long years for the Nashville Predators to get to this position. Cutting ties with Shea Weber would have been like heading back to 2007, when Jim Balsillie was trying to relocate the team to Southern Ontario. As good as Pekka Rinne is, it would have been a big blow for Nashville fans to see Weber in another uniform.

Nashville’s fans are some of the rowdiest in the league regardless of their uninspiring roster. But even they need something to get geared up about because David Legwand, Martin Erat, Sergei Kostitsyn and Patric Hornqvist don’t exactly get the juices flowing.

With the return of Shea Weber, Nashville fans can now look forward to another promising season.

Should they have expected anything less?

Also, please vote for me to become Canada’s Next Sportscaster! I am one of the 24 finalists and I need your votes. It only takes a few seconds. Just follow the link: http://www.drafted.ca/finalists/chris-ross/

You can follow me on Twitter @paintstheblack and subscribe to Painting the Black to get the latest posts. Agree? Disagree? You can e-mail me at cross_can15@hotmail.com or reply in the comments section below.

Only a Matter of Time for Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods fell short yet again.

Another rather atrocious Sunday at a major championship leaves Tiger stuck on 14 majors. He’s still 4 away from Jack but one has to wonder if he will ever win another major. He hasn’t been able to put together 4 solid, consecutive rounds in a major since his return from rock bottom. At this point, Tiger is about as dominant as Adam Scott is. In other words, that’s not very good.

However, the golfer formerly known as Eldrick is far from done.

It’s no secret that Woods is putting his game back together. Aside from his missed cut at the Greenbrier, Tiger has been in contention in most every tournament he has played in recently. He has won 3 tournaments this year. He came back from his disappointing Masters in April with strong major performances at the U.S. and British Open.

More importantly though, he seems to have accepted the fact that he isn’t the Tiger Woods of old. In stark contrast to his noticeable anger following the 2010 Masters, Woods could be seen smiling after his disappointing final round yesterday. He undoubtedly wasn’t content with his play on the course Sunday but Tiger gave the impression that he could take solace in a relatively good overall performance.

Despite being behind numerous strokes on Sunday, Tiger stubbornly and illogically refused to pull the driver out of his bag, only to use it when it was too late. Call it a lack of confidence, call it a refusal to stray from his game plan, call it whatever you want. The way I see it, the new, older, Tiger Woods understands that he can’t simply go out and play so freely the way he used to.

The Tiger Woods of 2 years ago wouldn’t have been able to comprehend that.

Like everyone else, he realizes that at age 36 he can’t dominate the field in the manner that he used to. His ego has been healed enough to the point where he can finally come to terms with his inability to be prime time Tiger. Other than his Spock evil twin-like goatee, Tiger Woods once again looks to be happier. He is enjoying the game of golf.

It won’t be too long before Tiger Woods wins his 15th major. This Tiger’s head is finally getting screwed on straight. He is contending at Majors. The pieces of his shattered ego are slowly being put back together, each and every week. It’s all steps in the right direction.

Forget the Tiger Woods of yesteryear. He is long gone and isn’t coming back.

Expectations of Tiger have to be lowered. Immediate gratification be damned. The major will come. He is getting closer.

18 total majors. Well, that’s another story. It is ridiculous to guarantee Tiger Woods 18 majors as of this moment but it would be just as ridiculous to write him off completely. He hasn’t won a major in 2012 but it has been a solid comeback season.

The magnitude of his epic collapse was a 9.0 on the Richter scale. As we have seen, that isn’t something that gets fixed overnight. It’s a process. Tiger Woods is still in the middle of that process. He is no longer clearing the rubble of his damaged self but is on to building the foundation to a new person, a new Tiger.

A 73 to put him out of contention on Sunday at the British Open shouldn’t tell you that Tiger doesn’t have it in him anymore to win major championships. It should tell you that he played 3 more good rounds at a big tournament. It should tell you that the consistency is coming back. It should tell you that he’s close to regaining the title of major champion. A title that he so desperately covets.

At 42 years old, Ernie Els won his 4th major. There is no rush for Tiger. He has plenty of time left to win a few more majors, let alone 1. He is too good. He is due.

If Tiger doesn’t win at the PGA Championship in August then he will be closing in on 5 years since winning his last major by the time the Masters rolls around next year.

Don’t fret though, because it’s only a matter of time.

Remember to vote for me to become Canada’s Next Sportscaster! It only takes a few seconds. Just follow the link: http://www.drafted.ca/finalists/chris-ross/

You can follow me on Twitter @paintstheblack and subscribe to Painting the Black to get the latest posts.

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No Lin Situation

Editors note: Excuse my title and conclusion. I couldn’t resist.

The New York Knicks had 2 choices: One, they pay a generous amount of money to keep Jeremy Lin in the Big Apple. Two, they let Linsanity walk and every greenback dollar that his sensation would have brought to the franchise along with it.

There was no right choice for James Dolan.

Sign Lin to the 3 year, $25 million back loaded contract and you risk compromising your already delicate as a baby’s head roster. Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith have both gone public about their displeasure with the enormity of Lin’s contract. Behind the scenes locker-room balance is often overblown by the media but Linsanity could very well have produced a major rift among the Knick players.

Not to mention that bringing Lin back would in all likelihood have meant a similar and familiar fate for the New York Knicks and their fans – no championship. Because of the danger Lin’s contract posed to the Knicks financially, anything less than a championship in his 3 years would have been deemed a failure.

Considering what the Knicks have given up to create this “superstar” roster to match that of Miami and Oklahoma City, bringing Jeremy Lin back would have brought even more unrealistic expectations to a team that has shown no ability to contend.

On the other hand, let him walk and the Knicks risk losing a potential star quality NBA point guard. Lin doesn’t even have an entire season under his belt yet has shown that he can play at a level that most NBA players could never reach. The Knicks brass will never hear the end of it if Jeremy Lin finds a way to blossom in the Houston Rockets organization.

Lin will have to fall flat on his face in Houston to silence Lin’s legion of fans in New York.

3 point guards, a big luxury tax hit in 3 years and almost undoubtedly no championship? Raymond Felton, Jason Kidd and no hope for a championship?

With Jeremy Lin, the Knicks were left without a good alternative.

Jeremy Lin is as unknown as the unknown gets. At this point, the mystery of Lin is tougher to solve than Jack the Ripper. No one knows who Jeremy Lin really is and who he really can be. The riddle of Lin is what has made this so doggone difficult for the Knicks.

Despite James Dolan’s apparent disgust at the Houston Rockets and Lin’s lack of loyalty, it is peculiar that, since their season ended, New York had been adamant in the fact that they would match whatever offer Jeremy Lin received. Marketing aside, Lin has immense potential that you would have thought the Knicks wanted to explore. They discovered Lin so it made sense that they wanted to see what type of player he could turn into. By handing him over to the Rockets it’s as if they discovered gold in a small untouched area yet didn’t want to fully invest in the possibility that the entire area could be flooded with gold.

While the marketability of Jeremy Lin clearly wasn’t as big a deal as it was made it out to be, the Knicks still lose out on that as well by setting Lin free.

Nevertheless, there was so much lose and awfully little win surrounding both choices in this decision-making process.

That is why it is so difficult, one way or the other, to condemn or applaud the Knicks in choosing to let Jeremy Lin sign with the Rockets.

There was just no Linning this one.

Don’t forget to vote for me to become Canada’s Next Sportscaster! It only takes a few seconds. Just follow the link: http://www.drafted.ca/finalists/chris-ross/

You can follow me on Twitter @paintstheblack and subscribe to Painting the Black to get the latest posts.

Agree? Disagree? You can also e-mail me at cross_can15@hotmail.com or reply in the comments section below.

Monday’s Seven Casual Contemplations

I know I have missed the last 3 weeks but considering that It is my goal to start your work week off right with random thoughts, ideas, rants and ramblings from the week that was in the world of sports, I felt I should get back on the horse. Unfortunately for those of us not still in elementary or high school, it’s Monday so let’s get to the contemplations. Exclusive to Painting the Black, here are your Monday Morning Casual Contemplations…

Help Me Become Canada’s Next Sportscaster!

Reminder or in case you did not know: I was selected as a top 24 finalist for theScore’s (a TV sports station in Canada) Gillette Drafted competition, which is the search for Canada’s next great sportscaster and I need your help. That’s right, your help.

Voting has become an integral part of the process and I need as much support as I can possibly get. Shameless self promotion is key and what I ask of my blog readers is to go to my voting page http://www.drafted.ca/finalists/chris-ross/ and vote every day. Tell your friends, family, coworkers, strangers, pets and just about anything that could possibly work a computer to vote as well.

Thank you for all your support in advance. It is unbelievable to know that I have the backing of so many people in the hope of achieving my dream job.

Jeremy Lin a Rocket?

Isn’t this Lin-teresting. Jeremy Lin might actually be going to Houston. That’s quite a shocker.

The contract is ridiculous but I think the Knicks will never hear the end of it if Jeremy Lin turns out to be a quality point guard in the NBA. Raymond Felton thrived in Mike D’Antoni’s offense without Carmelo Anthony. He has struggled ever since getting traded from the Knicks and who knows how he will perform in a brand new offense. Jason Kidd is 39.

You add in the business side of this equation and it seems like an odd decision (Stephen A. Smith would disagree) on the Knicks part to let Linsanity go in favour of Raymond Felton. Lin’s contract, while ridiculous, still offers immense upside. They struck oil in a Beverley Hillbillies manner with Jeremy Lin. However, would undoubtedly be problematic for them to bring back Lin now after the comments from ‘Melo and J.R. Smith. Even so, you would have thought they would have liked to see where Lin could take them because a Raymond Felton/J-Kidd combo isn’t taking them anywhere.

I for one am hoping they end up regretting it one day. I mean, come on, all Lin does is…Lin, am I right?

Beer Me

I will assume that you saw this video over the weekend of Steve Nash being handed a beer by a group of rather ecstatic fans while on the highway. No biggie, right. Of course, Steve Nash was smart enough to take a video of it and post it on twitter.

And this is why the world loves Steve Nash. He’s on that same kind of stardom level as Derek Jeter in the sense that he can do no wrong and I’m not just saying that because I happen to be Canadian. Nash has that star quality and likeability that enables him not only to be dearly loved by fans but also to get a pass on most anything he does that isn’t very role model-ish (i.e. cheating on his wife).

I see nothing wrong with him getting a pass on those types of things. He’s a character that everyone can like and you can never have enough of those. I mean, how many athletes would allow fans to deliver a beer from car-to-car on the highway?

Steve Nash would.

Olympics and Basketball

Blake Griffin went down with a torn meniscus in his left knee. Apparently, that means Mark Cuban was right. Owners don’t like their prized assets risking their futures for free. Playing simply for pride and being patriotic doesn’t fly with them. They want to restrict the Olympics to players who are 23 years and younger.

What else do they want to do? Put a leash around their player’s necks and tie them to a tree for the entire off-season?

If they’re not playing in the Olympics, they’re probably playing ball somewhere else (see: Kevin Durant at Rucker Park). Obviously, the intensity can’t match the level that they go through preparing for and playing in the Olympics, but they’ll be playing some form of basketball nonetheless. Injury is a risk anytime physically activity occurs.

The owners concerns are valid but they can’t stop player from doing everything athletically related in the off-season. Players are going to work out. They’re going to play. Kyrie Irving broke his hand at the Cavaliers summer-league practice facility over the weekend after he slapped a padded wall in frustration.

I guess I don’t like the idea of taking away these players ability to represent their country. Olympic gold is a big deal to these guys and I’m not just talking about the Americans.

I can’t imagine there’s a much better feeling than having an entire nation root for you. Doesn’t seem right to take that opportunity away from them.

Feel For Ya

Ever since I read “Ball Four” by Jim Bouton, I can’t help but feel sorry for the fringe MLB pitcher.

Mop-up situations are often reserved for pitchers that are too good for the minors but not good enough to be used in any sort of high leverage situation in the majors. It takes the most die-hard fan to care for the mop-up situation.

However, Jim Bouton’s book made me realize how much each and every outing matters for a MLB pitcher struggling to earn his keeps in the Bigs. 2 runs allowed in a 14-3 game may not concern 99% of the viewers but to that one pitcher who allowed the 2 runs, it could be the difference between grinding out a 5 hour bus ride to Tacoma or flying on a chartered jet to New York City.

Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Jesse Chavez had one of those make or break outings on Saturday. He had been struggling lately and came into the ball game with an 11-4 lead. He left the game with the score 11-8. His line: 0.0 IP, 3 hits, 4 runs, 4 earned runs. His face had devastation written all over it.

I really do feel for the guy. What can you do though? Like so many others who get a cup of coffee in the Majors, Chavez was sent back to the minors. It’s the unfortunate reality of professional sports. Not everyone can have a happy ending.

Oh yeah, if you’re a sports fan and you haven’t read “Ball Four,” you better get on it. An absolute must read.

Easy Breesy

So Drew Brees got a lot of money. Don’t really know how the whole logistics of how his $40 million first year pay-day affects the Saints’ salary cap but I hear it’s not nearly as brutal as it sounds. An average of $20 million a year isn’t so bad either and it looks as though the two sides finally met somewhere in the middle in agreeing to this contract.

I still do have trouble comprehending why Drew Brees wouldn’t want to take a little less money for the greater good of his team but, hey, it’s easier to say that when I’m the person sitting in front of my laptop screen typing for free. So, who am I judge?

Of course, I will continue to judge anyways.

Oh Tiger, My Tiger

He missed the cut at the Greenbrier Classic a couple of weekends ago but he’s still got to be the favourite going into the British Open. His game is on the up and he is playing more and more like the best golfer in the world is supposed to.

A fair bet won’t be Tiger or the field at least until he wins another major. However, I like Eldrick’s chances this coming week at Royal Lytham and St. Annes.

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