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Saturday, August 23, 2008



Start the marathon, watch for the tanks...

The end is here today, but we're going back to yesterday. Fun with time shifting in Beijing...

• We join the start of Men's Marathon LIVE at Tiananmen Square. The starter's gun fires and 50 dissidents are killed. Ha ha! Just kidding! No one ever died at Tiananmen Square!

The runners pass Chairman Mao's tomb. My mistake. I guess there ARE dead people in Tiananmen Square. But only one. Officially.

Fancy fountains spray in front of the Forbidden City, looking much like the ones at The Bellagio. Once capitalists finally conquer China, the Forbidden City will be turned into a casino.

• Tom Hammond mentions that this is the last event of the Olympics. Confused? Remember, since we're shifting time, this LIVE event is actually taking place on Sunday morning. All of the taped events you will watch later were taped on Saturday night in Beijing.

• The 3D marathon map is back! A map like this is what the capitalists will use when they conquer China. But for now, a map like this is what the capitalists use when they sell out to the oppressive Chinese government so that they can get better access for their TV coverage.

• Lewis Johnson is reporting from the marathon course via cellphone. He sounds scratchy. Did you know that many sports broadcast by NBC don't even have the commentators at the venue, but instead have them in New York, doing their analysis using the same HDTV feed that you're seeing?

So, despite the fact that NBC can transmit HD signals around the globe with perfect clarity, the can't hook up Lewis Johnson with a decent sounding radio to make it a couple of miles.

• Marathon trivia from Craig Masback! That blue line on the pavement that marks the marathon route results in more traffic accidents in the host city because local drivers get distracted and follow THAT line instead of the normal traffic lines. Nice!

• "We check in again with Lewis Johnson," says Tom. Then... dead air. A few seconds later, Tom says, "Lewis didn't answer his phone." Too bad you don't work for a worldwide communications company with access to reliable radios, Tom.

• Just four miles in, a pack of runners have broken away from the main group. Craig thinks their pace is too fast and that none of these runners will end up making it to the end. We'll see if Craig's marathon predictions are more accurate than mine were for the women's marathon.

• Speaking of the women's marathon, it's the Men's Marathon drinking game! Take notice all of the police officers lining the route to shut down possible protestors. See a cop, take a drink!

• Six miles in, three Kenyans, two Eritreans, and two Ethiopians are in a pack of ten that is waaay out in front. Craig thinks they've gone out too fast and predicts no win for them!

• As the runners circle back past their starting point, Tom tells us that Tiananmen Square is as big as 90 football fields. He also gives us a rundown of all the other buildings that surround the square as well as their histories. But does he mention that there was an incident with hundreds, maybe thousands, dying there? Of course not! That never happened! Ha ha ha ha!

• Mid-race fluff, starring U.S. marathon runner Ryan Hall. He made a small decision that changed his life forever. That decision? He wanted to run 15 miles around a lake near his house, having never run that far before. He tried it and made it. And thus was born a marathon runner. Can you imagine ever thinking that? I can imagine thinking it might be nice to drive around the lake. Fluff!

• Tom throws us again to Lewis Johnson and his cell phone. Lewis says, "zxxzzzttt shhhhhxx zsasxxzx xggttttx hxhxhxx." Exactly what I was thinking, Lewis.

• Camera note: the handheld camera on the back of the motorcycle leading the marathon runners is having problems. More to the point, the cameraman on the back of that motorcycle is having problems. It's like he keeps losing the handle on the camera. I can't imagine it's easy to shoot a camera while riding backwards on a motorcycle, but this seems worse than usual.

• Ten miles in. The lead pack is down to six runners. Then we go to a commercial break. By the time we come back, the lead pack is five. Maybe Craig Masback DOES know something!

• Ed Eyestone says normally he'd be concerned to see cars driving this close to the runners, but these are okay because they're hydrogen-powered cars. Yes, I'm sure it would hurt a lot less to get hit by a hydrogen-powered car. It is the lightest element, after all.

• Some more mid-race fluff. Four years ago in the Athens marathon, Brazil's Vanderlei de Lima, who was leading the race at the time, was attacked by a spectator. That man, Cornelius Horan, thinks aliens are going to come down from outer space and rule from Jerusalem for 1,000 years. NBC interviews him. Why? Why would you give this psycho any air time?

Vanderlei still finished third in Athens, so he got a bronze medal which, he said, was "like gold to him." Bob says that his running of the last lap in Athens was "celebration in face of adversity." This is all extremely fluffy.

Nowadays, Psycho Alienman is sorry for what he did to Vanderlei and thinks that maybe he went too far. Is that why we're watching this? Was this supposed to be apology fluff? Blech.

• The halfway point still has five people in the lead pack. Craig's prediction is half right. Or half wrong. I guess it depends if you're an optimist or a pessimist. And no, I don't know which way would be which in this case.

• More from Lewis on his cell phone! His mid-race report says, "xxxssttt thsshhhh xxzxxvvht stttstttxx drrrrrttttt." Inciteful!

• Ed Eyestone keeps referring to runners who drop off the lead pack as "carnage." Is that term really appropriate on a course that was routed by the site of a massacre?

• Nineteen miles in and the lead pack is down to three. All three of them check their back to see if anyone is coming up behind them. Less than a mile later, the lead pack is two. It's looking more and more like Masback might be right.

• Whoops! After an ad, the lead pack is back to three. I guess Masback was premature. But Craig isn't giving up. He keeps predicting a leader collapse.

• Lewis is back on his cellphone for another report! "xzdtt sxxxzzz thmmxx sxttxx pzaszx xxsstt." Spot-on, Lewis!

• Where are the Americans? About three minutes back. Not bad, but they're not going to win a medal unless Craig's prediction comes true.

Oooo... and now the lead pack is two... no, one! Kenya's Samuel Wansiru is leaving Morocco's Jaouad Gharib and Ethiopia's Deriba Merga behind at the 22 mile mark.

• Now in sight of the Bird's Nest, Wansiru is waaay out in front of Gharib and Merga. It's looking like Craig's prediction of total collapse is going to be wrong.

• One more time from Lewis Johnson's cellphone. "xxssdtt zzhht tshhxxk kcssxss qsrrt shhtxxx." This is why Lewis is getting the big bucks.

• Into the Bird's Nest tunnel goes Wansiru, shattering both the Olympic marathon record and Craig's theory. The most amazing thing is that Craig actually says that he was wrong about someone being able to keep up that pace. When was the last time you heard an analyst say something like that? Bonus points for Craig!

Gharib finishes second and third is Merga...NO! Merga's teammate Tsegay Kebede catches Merga after they enter the stadium and proves at least part of Craig's prediction correct.

• Now, over to tape-delayed diving for the men's platform finals. Now THIS is the last time we'll be here. I know I've been saying that for two days, but this time for sure!

•  David Boudia's fluffette tells us that he really wants to win a medal. I wonder what Lewis would think of that? "Zxxhxt sdrrrth zhhhthttx kxxrt." Uh-huh. That's what I thought, too.

• After four rounds out of six, Boudia is in seventh. If he wants that medal, he better start calling upon the power of fluff. Maybe he could recall some past hardship that makes him worthy of winning. It would be best if it included kittens. Who doesn't love a fluff story with kittens?

• Cynthia Potter tells us now, in round five of six in the finals of platform diving, that all male divers must do a handstand of some kind. This is the first time I've heard this rule. Shouldn't Cynthia have told us about this tidbit earlier? And speaking of things they should have told us earlier, I don't think I've ever heard Cynthia or Ted Robinson talk about which scores the judges keep and which they throw out. It's small thing, I know, but that's something for them to work on for London in 2012.

• What's this? The Chinese didn't win gold in the final! Matthew Mitcham of Australia gets two 10.0s in his final dive and wins. He didn't even realize it. Some blonde Australian cutie comes up to him and says, "You just won the Olympics!"

• The Chevy Gold Medal Spotlight tonight is on the women's and men's 4x400m relay finals. And I hate to have to say it to the U.S. teams, but DON'T DROP THE BATON!

The women go first. The U.S. makes the first pass. The second. The third, but they're trailing the Russians! Then Sanya Richards kicks into gear on the back stretch and pulls out the win! Great race!

• The men's race will be coming up next, but first, some U.S. relay team fluffette. They're all winners! Well, except for the two guys who didn't win in the 400 meters. Those guys are just close to winners. Except for Jeremy Wariner, who's just bitter.

Now in the booth, Tom Hammond talks to both Ato Boldon and Lewis Johnson about the upcoming race. Will the U.S. team be able to put their hard feelings behind them? Ato says yes. Lewis says xxhhtt ssttrr zxxzhht.

• Now, the men. LaShawn Merritt, winner of the 400m race earlier this week, leads off for the United States. At the first pass, the U.S. is ahead and the exchange is clean. The second exchange is good to David Neville who now has a HUGE lead. Hopefully he won't try to dive over the line on the last pass.

Jeremy Wariner takes the last exchange and blows the rest of the field away in new Olympic record time. The camera had to zoom out so far to capture Wariner's lead that you couldn't even tell which countries were battling for second. It was the Bahamas and Russia, by the way.

• So will anyone sing on the medal podium? The women get their chance first. Almost no. Mary Wineberg joins in at "Oh say does that.." but the rest of the ladies just smile. At least they weren't pulling a Wariner. From now on I'm just going to call Jeremy Wariner "Scowly." Is the man never happy?

• As we get a blimp shot of the stadium, Tom tells us that from the distinctive architecture we can tell how the stadium got it's nickname "the Bird's Nest." Incidentally, the name of the architect who created the criss-cross pattern? Eddie Van Halen. That's why there's a big hole in the middle, because it looks like a guitar. Would I lie to you?

• Shannon Rowbury from the U.S. gets some fluffette before she runs the 1,500m race. It turns out she used to compete Irish step dancing... you know, like Riverdance. "His legs flail about as if independent of his body!" Calm down, Chandler.

She won't get a chance to imitate Michael Flatley on the medal podium. She finishes seventh.

• Bob talks to Jacques Rogge. Jacques is the president of the International Olympic Committee. That means he's an Olympic-class question dodger. When Bob asks Jacques whether Russia's invasion of Georgia might endanger the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, just miles from Georgia, Rogge waffles. He says that international tensions have happened with the Games before, such as the South Korean games being just miles from North Korea. Nice try, Jacques, but South Korea didn't send an army storming into North Korea right after they won the Olympics.

• Finally, the men's 4x400m relay medal ceremony. Will the men sing? LaShawn? No. Angelo Taylor. No. Scowly? No. The biggest disappointment, though, is David Neville, who sang for his bronze medal in the 400m, but is apparently not singing due here to peer pressure. David, David, David... it's COOL to sing the national anthem! Don't be a Scowly.

That's it for live events at the Beijing Olympics. By tomorrow night's broadcast it will actually all be over. But pretend you don't know that and tune in tomorrow night anyway! See you then!

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