Monday, August 18, 2008

Greetings, Wilmington!

Hello friends (another Nantz-ian greeting). News 14 Carolina is happy to welcome Wilmington into our station footprint. If you are just checking out the blog for the first time, this is a place where some of the things I'll want to say on the air are found. OK, everything except the expletives. We hope you fine folks enjoy the sports content found on News 14 Carolina, with our nightly program Sports Night hitting your set at 10pm. The Discount Tire Friday Night Final kicks off this Friday night at 11pm, with high school football highlights from across the state. It's a cool show--check it out.

OK, the weekend in review.

--Suddenly Kyle Busch is beatable. Yes, he won in Watkins Glen, and he finished 2nd in Michigan, but he's not dominating the way he did earlier this season. Don't get me wrong, the kid is on fire, but the flame is a little lower. Probably doesn't make things easy at Joe Gibbs Racing that NASCAR found magnets when tearing down one of their Nationwide Series cars--the magnets preventing the engine from hitting full throttle. Sort of a dark cloud hanging over the whole outfit.

Makes you wonder, if they are scamming the Nationwide Series , trying to disguise their horsepower there, what are they doing in the Cup series? Hope nothing, because it would ruin what has been a tremendous year for Kyle.

Don't want to overlook Carl Edwards--he picked up his 5th win this season in the Cup series on Sunday, and if not for Kyle, he'd be the toast of the series. A nice run for him in Michigan, as well as David Ragan. Ragan is nipping at the 12th spot for the Chase. He's a good driver, and a nice young man. Wouldn't mind seeing him scrap his way into it.

--Panthers in game mode now, as they have the Washington Redskins coming to the big ATM on Morehead Street Saturday night. The starters should play into the 3rd quarter, if not all of it. It will be their best chance to play like they hope to in the regular season opener against San Diego. The offense will certainly hope for a better start than they had in Philadelphia last week Thursday (they weren't very good on their opening drives). Defensively, the Panthers gave up too much in the passing game (very soft coverage), but then again,k they were missing 3 starters in their secondary. Chris Gamble and Chris Harris are back practicing, and Ken Lucas got back on the field over the weekend. I would bet Harris and Gamble go Saturday night, Lucas, he may need some more time.

The Panthers will cut their roster to 75 players a week from Tuesday (8/26), and then the 53 man roster is finalized on Saturday, August 30th. Still plenty of decisions to be made, and Saturday night's game against the Skins may only help a small number of those.

--As a football fan, I am in love with the HBO series Hard Knocks. As a member of the media, I am blown away by the seemingly unlimited access the cameras have with the Cowboys. It is a really amazing piece of TV, that I would only recommend if it doesn't conflict with Sports Night. If it does, set your DVR's for Hard Knocks. We appreciate it.

--Michael Phelps pulled it off, the 8-for-8 Olympics. Makes you wonder if swimming will see a boost in popularity (read kids signing up for classes and such) as a result. Women's soccer gained momentum when Brandi Chastain won the Women's World Cup (didn't hurt that the games were played in the U.S. either) for Team U.S.A. Ice hockey got a boost from the 1980 Miracle On Ice team. David Marsh, from Swim MAC in Charlotte, will be a guest on Sports Night this week--it's a topic we'll cover.

To continue on the Phelps theme, though, let's put an end to this. Phelps the "Greatest Olympic Champion Ever." Please stop it. What he has done this year is amazing. 8 golds, 7 world records. Amazing. As a swimmer, yes, he is the best ever, just knocking Mark Spitz from that pedestal. Someone suggested Eric Heiden as a great champion. They would be correct. Heiden won 5 golds in the1980 Winter Games in Lake Placid, NY. He set 4 Olympic records, and 1 world mark in his events. His distances: 500m, 1,000m, 1,500m, 5,000m, and 10,000m. I wouldn't classify Heiden as the Greatest Ever. I think it is important to salute both as great champs in the respective disciplines. They can (and should be) mentioned in the same sentence. Choosing one as better than the other is foolish.

--Team U.S.A. hoops ran Germany out of the gym on Monday morning, 106-57. Can we just give them the gold now? Yes, they play the always dangerous Australians next, and have yet to see Argentina. This "Redeem Team" is earning their wins--playing good defense, making shots, and so on. I give loads of credit to Mike Krzyzewski, the man in charge of this bunch. He's blended the personalities, made them believe in "team", and has them playing great. I also give credit to these millionaire athletes--they are playing for the name on the front, rather than the one on the back. Beating a country not names Angola by 51 in Olympic hoops is rough. It's up to Coach K, and the players to not let it go to their heads--I think they'll handle that nicely.

Mike Solarte

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