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Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming.

There are other events, right? Sometimes it doesn't seem like NBC thinks so.
  • Welcome to Wednesday where we start with… fluff? That's not a good sign, is it? American families are wishing their athletes good luck via Zoom because they can't come to Japan in person. It's been a couple of days since a Zoom call failed live on air, so maybe NBC has figured that out.
  • It's time for the Men's Individual All-Around in gymnastics. There was no story before this started, so I'm assuming everyone who was expected to show up actually has done so. The US men start on the pommel horse. Tim Daggett says Brody Malone is "a little stocky" so this event is a little tougher for him. Obviously there's a difference between what regular people consider a little stocky and what Olympians consider a little stocky.
  • Russian fluff! Nikita Nagornyy from the ROC spent his pandemic time training by doing pushups on the limbs of trees and doing backflips over towers of toilet paper. It's just as exciting as it sounds.
  • Andrea Joyce reports on Simone Biles and her withdrawal from the All-Around. Simone won't be competing so she can concentrate on her mental health. Jade Carey will take her place.
  • Malone figures out a new way to mount the parallel bars, so now he'll have a move named after him. Cool! But he steps out on the landing and gets a low score. Not so cool.
  • Xiao Ruoteng of China performs an amazing routine on the high bar and nails the landing. After he exits the main stage he goes back up onto the platform to salute the paltry crowd that is applauding him. High score, right? But wait! The NCAA football referee committee has something to say! Apparently excessive celebration penalties exist somewhere other than college football. Xiao loses three-tenths of a point for taking a curtain call from an empty arena. That's gonna hurt if he ends up losing. Lucky him, Japan's Hashimoto Daiki ends up winning the gold by four-tenths, so it was close, but it didn't actually cost Xiao a win.
  • To the pool for some springboard diving! The US men, Andrew Capobianco and Michael Hixon, actually have a chance to medal in the 3-meter synchronized competition. After five of six rounds, they're comfortably in second place. They're not going to catch the Chinese team, but as long as they don't belly flop, they should win silver. They nail it! Maybe the Chinese will belly flop! Yeah right. A silver it is!
  • We're still at the pool but now we're LIVE for the Men's 800M Freestyle. That's about eight minutes of swimmers methodically going back and forth. Distance swimming in a pool isn't the most exciting thing to watch for most of the race. And right as I say that, American Bobby Finke comes out of nowhere in the last 50 meters to win gold! In all the swimming races NBC shows who is in the top three after every length. Finke hadn't been in the top three for almost the entire race. In his last turn he was FIFTH. Dan Hicks and Rowdy Gaines didn't even start talking about him until the last 25 meters, when he passed four other swimmers to win.
  • Next up, American Nick Fink (no relation) will swim the 200M Breaststroke final. Will we get a Finke-Fink two-fer? No. Fink number two finishes fifth.
  • Caleb Dressel is writing the soundtrack to his own swimming movie on his trap set. He plays drums like he swims, to a rhythm.
  • Suni Lee gets some fluff. Her dad was her biggest supporter and then just before the 2019 national championship he was in an accident and ended up paralyzed. This is the first tragedy fluff we've had this year. I can't say that I've missed it.
  • Back to the pool LIVE for the Women's 200M Fly final. Americans Regan Smith and Hali Flickinger race hard, but can't overtake China's Zhang Yufei. But  now… 
  • THE MAIN EVENT! The Men's 100M Freestyle final. Caeleb Dressel will try to bring it home for the US. And he does! But not by much. He had a big lead at the turn, but he only won gold by sixth hundredths of a second. His family is ecstatic back home as we find out on –not Zoom, as I've been saying all week– but on Microsoft Teams. So my apologies to Zoom, who I've been unfairly maligning for the whole week. It's really been Microsoft that's been screwing up the family cams.
  • Steve Kornacki is back to give us some stats on how Suni Lee can win the gold. Does he do anything on any other than this segment on the prime time show? I kind of feel like they just bring him to the studio, pump him full of coffee, then let him go onstage once a night. People shouldn't be this excited about hypothetical statistics.
  • How about some LIVE beach volleyball? But wait! It's the men, so we have knee-length shorts and tank tops instead of skimpy bikinis for the competitors. The American team of Lucena and Dalhusser finishes off Argentina. If this is live, couldn't we have been watching more of this instead of Kornacki's statistical gibberish?
  • Back in the water for some more LIVE swimming, but now it's just semifinals. I'm so jaded. "What? The fastest swimmers in the world are mixed with some swimmers who are slightly slower? Not interested!"
  • Chase Kalisz gets a minute of fluff where we find out that both he and Michael Phelps were delivered by the same doctor, and that both swimmers were pulled out of the womb by their arms. Did I mention Kalisz tracked down Phelps in Baltimore beforehand? This story sounds a little stalkerish, doesn't it?
  • I don't think I'm the only one not interested in these semifinals. Dan and Rowdy barely even talk about the swimmers during the race. It's like that patter you hear in a baseball broadcast when the home team is losing.
  • Back in the studio. Table tennis! Why couldn't we have watched some of that? Kayaking! Ditto! Rugby! Fiji beat New Zealand for gold and their whole country celebrated.
  • Medal time! Bobby Finke gets his gold medal. He's singing! I can see his larynx moving in rhythm with the music. Great job, Bobby!
  • Finally! Another race that counts. The Women's 4x200M Free Relay final could end up with yet another Titmus vs. Ledecky matchup. Australia and the US are in the middle lanes, so let's see if any other country can hang with those two. It turns our they can. China wins the race by withstanding a big charge from Ledecky over the last hundred meters. Australia finishes just behind them. All three teams broke the previous world record time.
  • More medal time! Caeleb Dressel takes the stand. He's crying, his wife is singing. Good times.

I'm picking on swimming events. I know NBC is trying to give us live events, which I appreciate, but it would be nice if someone could figure out a way to shoehorn some other things in there (badminton, rugby, table tennis?) for ten minutes or so when they're clearly bored with a semifinal. It's a minor complaint when everything's online for my streaming enjoyment, but that's what I do here: minorly complain. I'll do it all again tomorrow! 

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