Summer Competition

After months of turmoil in the Eurozone and the continuing environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, the world was ready for some Summer Competition. Last weekend all the world turned to South Africa for the start of football’s World Cup. The host South Africa played Mexico on Friday to a 1-1 tie to kick off the “beautiful game’s” global tournament. At the outset we were introduced to the vuvuzela. I trust many of you, as I did, tried to no avail to remove the annoying buzzing from your sound by adjusting the volume. Last Saturday we saw the United Kingdom and the United States, both Group C teams, put their special relationship to a test as they played to a surprising 1-1 tie on goalie Robert Green’s poor attempt to stop Clint Dempsey’s soft shot. Whether it was the design of this year’s ball or a lack of concentration on Green’s part, the result had many proclaiming U.S. football (soccer in the U.S., Canada and a handful of other countries) had come of age. Friday’s 2-2 comeback tie against tiny Slovenia’s tough squad kept expectations in line for the U.S. team. England played Algeria to a 0-0 draw in its second match. We will have to wait until Wednesday to see which teams emerge from Group C for the next round.

Basketball is the only sport that rivals football for worldwide interest, and it does not get any better than the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers playing for the NBA Championship. Between them, the Celtics and Lakers have played in more than half of all the league’s finals, with Boston going into this year’s series holding a slight edge. On Sunday evening with the series back in Boston and tied 2-2 in the best-of-seven finals, Paul Pierce put on a shooting display while the Lakers seemed to forget that they needed to play defense to allow Kobe Bryant to dominate. The Lakers left Boston down 3-2 with a 6th and possible 7th game back home at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. On Tuesday evening the Lakers finally played four quarters of team basketball and got a strong showing from Pau Gasol, who had been tied up in the previous games by Boston’s tenacious defense. Up until the 7th game, Celtics coach Doc Rivers had the edge over Phil Jackson, who with 10 championship rings between Chicago and Los Angeles had coached more championship teams than any other NBA coach in the long history of the league. Everyone knew that Thursday evening’s 7th game in Los Angeles would not disappoint. The stars were out in force, led by the ever-present Jack Nicholson. The “will to win” was on display on the Staples stage. By midway through the 3rd quarter, the Celtics appeared to have a commanding lead, but the Zen Master coach, Phil Jackson, remained calm and the world’s greatest basketball player, Kobe Bryant, with strong support from Derek Fisher, Gasol and Ron Artest, came roaring back to hold on to a 83-79 victory for the Lakers’ 16th championship. This was Kobe’s 5th championship as a player and Phil Jackson’s 11th as a coach. Artest has been toxic since the brawl at the Palace, but he played the best game of his career as the Lakers’ supporting cast delivered in the 7th and final game.

Mary Claire and I are visiting our children in Boston on this Father’s Day weekend. As I write this on Saturday our attention will shift to that golf mecca, Pebble Beach, for the final two rounds of the U.S. Open. Tiger Woods ran away from the field at Pebble Beach in 2000 to win the Open, but despite making the cut this year he remains 7 strokes back of the leader and is clearly not the Tiger of old. Phil Mickelson, who has finished number 2 too many times at the U.S. Open, has moved into contention in the #2 position after a flawless 66 on Friday. I have been reminded this week that I need to schedule another trip in August or September to Pebble Beach to have the unique golf experience that only Pebble Beach and a handful of other great courses around the world can provide.

For two summer wine recommendations, I turn to the oft-slighted Rose, which this summer seems to have come back in vogue in New York restaurants:

Copain Wines
Tous Ensemble Rose at $15 provides great value and with a slight chill is perfect for a warm summer day.

Landmark Vineyards
They produce a Rose for their mailing list customers and it also provides great value at $20.

Enjoy the summer!