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Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Save your analysis for tomorrow.

You don't know anything about what's going on with Simone Biles, and neither does NBC (although they'll pretend like they do).
  • Bombshell! The GOAT is gone! Mike Tirico starts the broadcast by telling us that Simone Biles has withdrawn from the Women's Team Final gymnastics event. Lets' go straight to the event and see if we can find out why.
  • Tim Daggett and Nastia Liukin start off this pre-recorded event by talking about how when they were gymnasts all their teammates relied on each other. And then as a Russian gymnast performs they talk about how she doesn't crack under pressure. I know they didn't record this post-event, but those words might come back to haunt them. Right before she goes on, they talk about how she's been short of her normal perfect self during these games. I'm actually beginning to wonder if they DID come back and record voiceovers later.
  • Simone's first vault is, for her, a disappointment. She steps out on the landing and does a less difficult trick. And then, just like that, she leaves the floor. Why? No one knows. Terry Gannon tries to read her lips, but I don't know if I trust his interpretation. I've seen too many episodes of Bad Lip Reading.
  • Back on the uneven bars, Grace McCallum is a late addition, warming up to compete in the spot that Simone was supposed to take. Biles comes out and tells her team that she won't be competing tonight. Hugs all around and then McCallum goes out and does her routine. Biles cheers from the sideline. It's like we've entered the Bizarro-World Olympics.
  • Andrea Joyce reports from the sideline that Simone Biles has withdrawn due to a medical issue. As for what kind of issue, they say it's mental not physical. That's pretty vague. I guess we'll find out more later. Regardless, the Russian Olympic Committee (the ROC) now has a two-and-a-half point lead over the US after two rotations. But do you smell what the ROC is cooking? The first two Russian gymnasts fall off the balance beam, leaving the door open for the Biles-less US team to close the gap.
  • Tim Daggett says "there's no defense in gymnastics." Now THAT would be an interesting sport. How would that work? A 300-pound lineman trying to tackle a gymnast during the floor exercise? Yeah, that would get some ratings.
  • After three rotations, the US still trails by eight-tenths of a point. Can they make it up on the floor exercise? That's a big margin in gymnastics, and given that NBC chose not to even show Grace McCallum's floor routine, it seems unlikely there's a miracle comeback in our future. The ROC still has two gymnasts left. Maybe it's not too late to find a 300-pound lineman. No lineman shows up and the ROC wins.
  • In the US team interview after the event, Biles evades the question about what was wrong, but in the post-event press conference she basically says that there was a mental issue so she bowed out. Back in the studio, Mike asks Nastia if that's a common problem for gymnasts and she says yes. It sort of sounds like the gymnastics version of the yips.
  • Time for some LIVE swimming. The Men's 100M freestyle semifinals leads into the Women's 200M freestyle final. It's another Ledecky vs. Titmus race. Can crazy coach Doxall be far behind? He's only slightly goofy tonight as Titmus makes a great comeback to win gold. Ledecky finished fifth. This is turning into a bad night for the US. In the next race, the US finishes 7th. Eek.
  • Next up, Ferris Bueller. Uh… I mean, Regan Smith of the US in the Women's 200M Butterfly semi along with Hali Flickinger. Finally, the US wins something, even if it is just a semifinal, with Flickinger and Smith finishing one-two.
  • Let's chat with Michael Phelps! About swimming? Sure, for about a minute. But then Mike asks him about Simone Biles and mental health. It seems a little premature for armchair psychologists everywhere, especially the NBC set, to speculate about what's going on in Simone's head. How about we let this story sit for a day before we start trying to diagnose someone based on four or five sentences they've uttered?
  • Around the Games we go! You like horses? Watch them bounce in dressage. Cycling? Watch the mountain bikes crash! Shirtless flag-bearers? Watch Tonga's Pita Taufatofua compete in taekwondo. Softball? Japan beats the US for the gold. Surfing? Bitchin' waves, dude! Carissa Moore of Honolulu wins gold in the women's event, so American women have won all the gold medals in surfing's Olympic history! Mike lets us know that when the Olympics are in Paris in 2024, the surfing event will be hosted in Tahiti, which is French Polynesia. That's 9,700 miles away. There's really nowhere closer?
  • Back LIVE to the pool for the Women's 200M Individual Medley final. There are two Americans in the race, Kate Douglass and Alex Walsh. Can they reverse the United States' bad night? Yes! Walsh gets silver and Douglass gets bronze. Japan's Ohashi Yui wins gold. I kind of feel bad for the Japanese swimmers this year. This is the second Japanese swimmer to win gold tonight. In a normal year, there would be an ecstatic home crowd celebrating their victory. This year, there are just some random guys with whistles. Not quite the same.
  • Next up, Katie Ledecky and the Women's 1500M Free final. This race is going to take 15 minutes. Think we'll get a commercial break in the middle of it? I'm betting yes. Let's see.
  • How do you pass the time when people are swimming back and forth for 15 minutes? NBC does a little bio of Katie Ledecky and how far she has swum in her entire life. A little back-of-the-envelope math later shows that in her entire life, Ledecky has traveled about 20,000 miles through the water. Then they animated a little line around the world leading to Japan. It was cute. Yes, it was sort of fluff, but since it happened while we got to watch the event, it's all good.
  • Ding! Mid-race commercial break! We're half-done when we come back. Katie is about four seconds ahead of her nearest competitor. By comparison, the woman in second is about one second ahead of third place. Rowdy and Dan aren't even talking about Ledecky anymore. They're concentrating all their commentary on the battle for second. Ledecky is going to win gold, but can the US pull off a one-two here? It looks like yes! Erica Sullivan is going to get silver to Ledecky's gold in the first ever Women's 1500-meter race.
  • Mike and Nastia are back to talk some more about Simone. Mike says maybe it's like the yips. Mike! Are you reading my notes? Nastia likes the phrase "stepped up to the plate." She's used it three times about the other non-Biles US gymnasts. But really, what else could they have done? NOT stepped up to the plate? Someone had to do the routines.
  • LIVE swimming with the Men's 4x200M Free relay. Michael Phelps, just moments ago in the NBC studio, is now at the pool. Of course, by "moments ago" I mean hours ago in real-time, whereas now he's live. Stupid time delays. Great Britain, who hasn't won this event since 1908, wins gold. The US finishes fourth.
  • Let's watch something new! LIVE men's volleyball, but only for a minute. Don't get used to it. You can watch it somewhere else.
  • Would you like to hear some more about Simone Biles? Ha ha ha! Like you get to choose. Let's watch Maria Taylor talk to the rest of the US team about Simone's withdrawal. They stepped up! One says their medal was gold in their hearts even though it's silver. Well, that's just silly. It's silver. That's still good! You don't have to devalue it by pretending it's something else.
  • Medal time! Katie Ledecky gets her gold medal. Will her parents sing? That's the best I can do with everyone wearing masks. They don't show her parents, so I guess we'll never know. Congratulations, Katie!
  • Back in the studio, Mike wants to talk about Biles some more. Ugh. Really? Seriously. Let it sit for a day. We don't have to analyze everything to death the first day. You need to pace your overanalysis, Mike! Of course, you know what this means, right? Prepare to spend the rest of the Olympics listening to psychologists tell us all about the mental state of athletes.

Yes, I know it's a big story. But sometimes the best thing to do with a big story is to let it rest for a while. You'll have plenty of time to reach conclusions later. Remember Lochtegate? That story changed five times in five days.  Why don't we give Simone at least one. See you tomorrow!

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