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August 13, 2016

Breaking News: Michael Phelps Is Coming Back For The 2020 Tokyo Olympics!

This, and other clickbait headlines await you.

  • Welcome to the weekend! Let's start at the sparsely populated Olympic Stadium for semifinals of the women's 100-meter race. Tori Bowie of the US advances to the finals tomorrow. And then we head straight to the men's long jump. I can't remember if they had this last Olympics, but now they've superimposed the jump lengths over the sand, so you know instantly how far they've leapt.
  • Jamaica's Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce had some micro fluff. It was only about 15 seconds long leading into a commercial, so I'm not even going to count it. Honestly, if all fluff was like that, I probably wouldn't even care. But you know it isn't.
  • More on the long jump. Given that they've only shown us three jumpers in two different segments of this plausibly live event, I think we can predict who our medal winners are. We just don't know who is who yet.
  • Hmmm…English Gardiner, the American in the 100m also got some micro fluff. This isn't a good trend.
  • We're getting ready for the men's 10,000-meter final, says Tom Hammond. This is a 26-minute race. I'm sure we'll see all of this without commercial interruption. Ha ha ha ha! They've already decided that Britain's Mo Farah will win this, so I'm guessing there will be some picture-in-picture Farah fluff. There are 34 runners in this race, so many that they have two groups starting in different locations. Are the 10k's always like this? Maybe I've just never watched one before since they were always taped delay. What I am saying? This one is, too.
  • We take a quick peak at the long jump, where Great Britain's Greg Rutherford has just taken the lead over American Jeff Henderson with his last jump. Back to the 10k!
  • Yep. The 10k runners are still circling the track. Let's take a commercial break!
  • Still circling. OH! Something actually happened! Mo Farah, the designated favorite, got knocked down in the turn! In a shorter race, that would have been a disaster, but really he only lost about four seconds to the leader and they still have 14 or so minutes to go. As long as he's not injured, he should still be okay.
  • As we left the men's 10k for a commercial, the clock stood at 14:00. After a two-minute, 30 second break the clock is at… 16:30. Well whaddya know? They actually ARE treating this as plausibly live!
  • Long jump round three has a new leader: American Jarrion Lawson. Back to circling runners!
  • With six laps to go, favorite Mo Farah has just lapped a slower competitor and is holding on in fourth place. All this after a fall. I guess there's a reason he was the favorite. With 1,000 meters to go he moves into first, and proceeds to taunt his opponents, not verbally, but rather by refusing to be passed. They keep attempting to pass him, but he speeds up just enough to prevent it. He's like a cat playing with a toy. I spoke too soon! Farah gets passed at the beginning of the last lap. Can he catch up? Oh yes, he can and more! Apparently he was still toying with his opponent. He trailed all the way down the backstretch, then passed him in the last turn and pulled away to win. That was so good it was Phelpsian.
  • To the pool! Can Simone Manuel win the 50-meter freestyle? No! But she gets a silver. Had she been two hundredths of a second faster she would have had gold. So close!
  • It's time for the Men's 1,500-meter race or, as Dan Hicks calls it, the "longest race in swimming". This will take about 15 minutes, and it's LIVE! It seems unlikely that NBC will just let us watch people go left and right for a quarter of an hour, so let's see what they do to break this up.

    Connor Jaeger of the United States doesn't have a medal of any kind, says Dan. Sure, rub it in. Is he the only one? How do you think that works out in the post-Olympic parties? "Woooo! We all have gold medals! Wait! Shhhhh! Everybody be quiet. Connor is here."

    Let's interview Michael Phelps' coach! Is he really going to retire this time, asks Michelle Tafoya? He wants to go out on his own terms, says the coach. Notice, that's not a "yes." He just won another fistful of medals in this Olympics. Would you bet against him in Tokyo even if he is 35 years old?

  • Connor Jaeger wins silver! Those parties won't be so bad after all. Italy's Gergorio Paltrinieri wins gold in world record time.
  • To LIVE track and field for the women's 100-meter final. Jamaica's Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce is the favorite, and the US competitors are English Gardner and Tori Bowie, but I'm rooting for Dafne Schippers of The Netherlands, because every time Tom Hammond pronounces her name he says "shkippersh." I laugh every time. An interesting note, the world and Olympic record for this event are STILL held by American Florence Griffith Joyner from the 1988 Seoul games. None of these four women won, though, as Jamaica's Elaine Thompson breaks Fraser-Pryce's streak. Bowie finishes second, and I'll have to wait for another year to hear Tom Hammond call out "Shkippersh" name, because she tripped the line in fifth.
  • Over to the swimming events where we look LIVE at Michael Phelps sitting in the waiting room. I know that the "live" tag is a big deal for NBC this year, but it seems like it could be better utilized by something other than watching the world's greatest swimmer sitting in a folding chair.
  • The women line up for the 4x100-meter medley relay race. Every member of the US team has won a medal in this Olympics. I'm betting that makes them the favorites. They win by almost two seconds. By comparison, teams two through six finished within the two seconds of each other. The US Swim Team is completely dominant.
  • Or are they? The next race is the men's 4x100 medley relay. All the Americans have is Michael Phelps, Ryan Murphy, and Nathan Adrian. What could they possibly do?

    Dan says it's the 30th and final Olympic race for Michael Phelps. I'll believe that when he doesn't line up on the blocks in Tokyo, but not until then.

    The US starts off with Ryan Murphy setting the world record in leg one. Great Britain closes the gap in leg two, so now it's Phelps' turn. No chance, Britain. Phelps puts the US back on top and now Nathan Adrian is destroying everyone else in the field. The US sets a new Olympic record. So, yes, the US Swim Team is completely dominant. This is yet another gold medal for Phelps, his 23rd. Was that his last race? Ryan Murphy doesn't think so, and says so in the post-race interview. Even Nathan Adrian interjects with "potentially" when Michelle asks Phelps about this being "his last race." But Phelps is insistent that it is. He said he's looking forward to a new chapter in his life. You know what a new chapter would be? Winning a gold medal in Tokyo!
  • Now the US women get their gold medals. Do they all sing? Yes they do! Of course, they've all had a chance to practice once this Olympics, so they're experienced at this.
  • While we wait for the men's medal ceremony, Bob takes us around the Olympics, showing us highlights from fencing, tennis, and golf. I'd rather see more of that than of the swimming replay NBC is using as a time killer, but I guess I'm just being whiny.
  • Ask and you shall receive! Bob segues to a replay of Usain Bolt's morning qualifying heat in the 100-meter. I actually watched this one live, but I appreciate being shown an actual event instead of just highlights of one.
  • The final Phelps medal ceremony of all time is still being prepared, so NBC gives us more pity events. This time, semifinal heats of the men's 400-meter race featuring favorite LaShawn Merritt of the United States. Again: events = good!
  • In heat three of the 400m, American Gil Roberts hails from Oklahoma City. Go Gil! Oh no! It looks like Gil cramped up in the last 100 meters. NBC cut to a close-up of him just in time for him to drop the F-bomb. He finished fourth, but that won't be good enough to make tomorrow's final. Come back with Phelps in four years, Gil!
  • Back LIVE to the men's medal ceremony. They're still getting ready, so NBC shows us a quick replay of the other three swimmers trying to get Phelps to come back for Tokyo, even as he insists he's done. I know how to get him to come back. Someone just needs to tell him that Chad le Clos thinks he's too weak to do it. He'll set that Tokyo water on fire!

    So, will Michael Phelps sing in his "last" medal ceremony? Sigh… no. The world's best swimmer is not the world's best anthem singer. But Nathan Adrian sings, and restarts even after Phelps interrupted him, so we've still got him in Tokyo. Him and Phelps. C'mon! You know he's coming back!
  • Simone Biles and Usain Bolt are coming up tomorrow, says the NBC fluff. That is all.
  • Ryan Seacrest is live at Copacabana Beach, slowly plotting his scheme to take over the Olympics from NBC. He'll be broadcasting on Facebook later. So you're saying Ryan is slowly establishing himself as the go-to man at NBC for online broadcasting? I present you the face of the Olympics from 2024 to 2060.
  • The Heptathlon! It's not even plausibly live, it's just selected highlights. We got to see a few javelin throws and then the 800-meter race. It's hard to even care about the winner when all you're shown is her highlights and a few random others.
  • More track! It's the plausibly live heats of the men's 800-meter race. I was just watching the races, so I don't really have any comments other than Adam Kszczot appears to have left Poland so quickly that he forgot to pack the vowels in his last name.
  • Long jump! We only get to see three jumps, including the gold and silver jumps. The main thing I want to note here was how strange the pre-jump rituals of all the jumpers has become. I remember Carl Lewis just sort of stretching back then running down the track. Now there's some leaning, some twitching, a little bit of dancing…
  • Selected highlights of the women's eight rowing shows the last 500 meters of the race which the Americans won. Fortunately, they both won gold and didn't drink the water. Even better, they all sing during their medal ceremony. Of course, this is their third gold medal in a row, so they've got experience, too.
  • After all these fluffless minutes, we close tonight's show with a minute of slow-motion Phelps. I could cut him some slack because he's won 23 gold medals, couldn't I? I could, but he's not the one turning this into fluff, NBC is.

Is Michael Phelps coming back for the 2020 Olympics? He says no, but he's said that before. We'll have to wait and see what happens in the future. But as for today: three minute of fluff! Woo-hoo! Keep that up and Phelps will have no choice but to come back, right?