Timing Is Everything…

They say timing is everything. That certainly applies to stand-up comedy; it surely applies to investing; timing may not be everything in the world of politics, but it is surely a critical ingredient in political success. Warren Spahn once described the role of timing in baseball:

“Hitting is timing. Pitching is upsetting timing.”

I mention this because the timing might not be worse with regard to an IOC event next month. According to a report in the NY Post, on 8 May a group of IOC officials will hold a video conference with 5 cities who have expressed interest in hosting the 2022 Winter Games. The information from that video conference will be an important element in a decision by the IOC Executive Board in July 2014 regarding how many of the 5 cities will be on the list of “finalists” as Games host. They might leave all 5 on the list; they might cut the list to 2.

For one of the 5 cities, the timing just is not right. The city of Lviv had expressed interest in hosting the games and is on the “List of 5”. For those of you who did not major in geography, Lviv is a city of about 750,000 folks that has been around for about 1100 years. The “problem” at the moment is that it is in Ukraine. As of this morning, Ukraine cities rank right up there with places like Damascus, Abuja and wherever the latest outbreak of Ebola virus happens to be in terms of desirable locales.

Nevertheless, I fully expect that the IOC will keep Lviv on the “active list” simply because it would be politically incorrect for them to appear to make a judgment on the political situation that exists there. However, in terms of places you might think would be ready to do the political work and the fundraising necessary to host a set of Olympic Games, Lviv would not be a solid choice in July 2014.

I said there are 5 cities on the current list. Here are the other 4 – in alphabetical order:

    Almaty, Kazakhstan
    Beijing, China
    Krakow, Poland
    Oslo, Norway

Having been to both Beijing and Oslo, I am confident that either city could host the games in a perfectly competent manner. I have never been to Krakow and do not recall any discussions with friends who had been there, so I will reserve judgment on that one. My long-suffering wife spent most of her professional career in the field of international relations. She took one trip to Kazakhstan (and Almaty) and spent a bit over a week there. Understand that my long-suffering wife has been to 71 countries in her life and has something warm and constructive to say about most of them. Almaty and Kazakhstan are places about which she had little to say that I would describe as “warm” or “fond”.

Think about it for a moment. When you read or scan the “Travel Section” in a Sunday newspaper, do you see a ton of tour companies pushing trips to Almaty and/or Kazakhstan? It should not take deductive skills comparable to Sherlock Holmes to conclude that his is not one of the garden spots on Planet Earth.

In any event, the folks in charge of representing Lviv and its intention to be an Olympic host city have a delicate line to walk in the next few months. They will have to demonstrate their enthusiasm and their optimism – and their ability to put their hands on significant amounts of capital – so that the IOC does not ignore them. At the same time, they cannot go overboard and look like Pollyannas. After all, when describing the current situation in Ukraine, one of the few positive things one might say is:

    Well, there have been no cases of Ebola virus there – yet.

Speaking of the IOC and the Olympics, there are reports that Michael Phelps might be “unretiring” from competitive swimming. According to an AP report, he will enter a meet in Mesa, Arizona later in April and might use the results of that meet as motivation to begin training for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. The “plan” is for Phelps to swim in the 100-meter freestyle and 100-meter butterfly preliminaries on one morning and – assuming he qualifies – then decide which finals event(s) to try in the evening. On the next day, the “plan” calls for him to try the 50-meter freestyle and butterfly qualifiers “just for fun” – to use his trainer’s words.

Michael Phelps has won more Olympic medals than any other athlete in the history of the Games. Of his 22 medals, 18 of them are gold medals; in 2008, he won 8 gold medals in the Beijing Games. If he does compete in the Rio Games in 2016, he will be 31 years old when they happen. His coach said that a “less-than-dominant” return to swimming would not damage Phelps’ legacy. I guess that sort of depends on how much “less-than-dominant” it might be. If he has to resort to a doggie-paddle to make it to the side of the pool in the final lap of one of the prelim events …

FIFA will stage the World Cup Tournament in Rio starting in June. There have been more than a few issues surrounding issues such as construction of stadium venues and protests that resources spent on stadiums could better be spent on social programs. However, as the time for the Tournament nears, there is an unusual twist in the reports about the World Cup. According to a report in the NY Post, the United States:

“…is currently the No. 2 country in terms of demand for tickets — behind only the host country Brazil …”

In 2010 for the World cup in South Africa, Americans were not in the Top Ten in terms number of attendees. For 2014, it seems as if Americans will outnumber visitors from Great Britain, Germany and Spain by significant margins. Raise your hand if you had that back in 2012…

Face value for tickets to the 3 US games (against Ghana, Portugal and Germany) is $205. According to the head of the major ticket reseller for the Tournament, American fans are paying up to $2800 for those tickets. Maybe that is all hype, but even if they are paying only half of the quoted figure, that is a surprising happenstance.

Part of the “American interest” in the Tournament seems to be coming from the Mexican-American community where fans are intently looking for tickets to the match between Mexico and Brazil. Be that as it may, this level of interest is a good omen for folks in the US who hope to grow the game we call soccer.

Finally, here is a nostalgic note from Brad Dickson of the Omaha World-Herald:

“Remember the old days when NCAA tournament coverage didn’t consist mostly of locker room dance-offs and shots of the coaches’ wives in the stands?”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………

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  • Steve  On April 18, 2014 at 9:28 am


    Your comments about Almaty Kazakhstan, reminded me of a passage from a John Le Carre novel that, as luck has it, I was
    able to find pretty quickly.

    It turns out that the character in the novel was referencing a city in Chechnya and not Kazakhstan, but I suppose he could have been.

    “For the full Christmas experience, try tasteful Grozny in December. Pitch dark, stinks of oil, dogs are all drunk, teenagers wear gold and carry Kalashnikovs.”

    • The Sports Curmudgeon  On April 19, 2014 at 11:46 am


      Wow! and a Merry Christmas to you too…! :)

  • Doug  On April 21, 2014 at 6:32 am

    Given the available choices, it’s hard to imagine how the winter games will not return to Oslo. But, I understand the locals are not behind this idea 100%. I can hardly blame them.

  • Doug  On April 21, 2014 at 6:47 am

    I have never heard of a player being ejected for incompetence. http://sports-law.blogspot.com/2014/04/ejected-for-being-bad-at-baseball.html

    • The Sports Curmudgeon  On April 21, 2014 at 10:47 am


      This sets a precedent for ejection. How about the pitcher who cannot get anyone out and has given up 7 earned runs on 9 consecutive hits in an inning? Does he get tossed too? What happens if a manager sends out a pinch hitter who has a .121 batting average? Can Joe West throw him out after he swings and misses the first pitch by a mile?

  • Doug  On April 21, 2014 at 7:40 am

    These obscure little factoids are every where this morning. http://thesportseconomist.com/2014/04/17/team-valuations-milwaukeealabama-edition/

    • The Sports Curmudgeon  On April 21, 2014 at 10:50 am


      One other economic fact about the Alabama Athletic Dept and the football team is that they pay no tax on any profit that they show. the Milwaukee Bucks – if they show a profit – will pay tax on it.

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