Sunday, August 31, 2008

FatSpike mentioned in SmugMug blog

by Jason Schock at 4:31 PM

FatSpike was highlighted on the "Found on SmugMug" blog, which showcases SmugMug's "awesome hidden treasures". There are some great photographers featured on this blog, and we're really stoked to be mentioned among them. Thanks, SmugMug!

I don't get worked up too often over software, but SmugMug is frickin' great. Whether you're an amateur, enthusiast, or pro photographer, I highly recommend them. They make photo sharing super-easy, your photos will look great, and the technical support (should you need it) is bar-none.

 

Gold medalists quick to fall

by Jason Schock at 2:07 PM

Elaine Youngs hits a shotNicole Branagh and Elaine Youngs were knocked out relatively early at Beijing '08, but they managed to reclaim some respect today by beating the reigning two-time beach volleyball gold medalists in their first post-Olympics tournament.

In what can described as nothing less than a marathon match, Branagh-Youngs were able to triumph over Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh in a whopping one hour and 45 minute final, winning 21-19, 10-21, 25-23.

Perhaps it was the post-Olympics fatigue, the talk shows, or Dancing with the Stars. Maybe their minds are on babies and not volleyball. Maybe it was the festering bitterness in Elaine Youngs' uber-competitive heart.

It remains to be seen how the landscape changes now, if it is actually changing at all. In any case, the Misty-Kerri match win streak has ended at 112, their first loss in over a year.

 

Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh on Letterman

by Jason Schock at 2:50 AM

Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh did an appearance on Late Show with David Letterman.

It's old news, but I'm kinda burned out on beach volleyball writing after following so many Olympic matches at weird hours.

The best part of the segment is May-Treanor explaining the ass incident with Bush. That, and Walsh's dress. I try to be on the DL with the ogling, but good lordy.

 

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Conan thinks Todd and Phil look like gay porn actors

by Jason Schock at 12:13 AM

On Late Night with Conan O'Brien Monday night, Conan likened the gold-winning Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser to gay porn actors. During the popular Made-For-TV Movies intro segment, Conan showed a photo of the shirtless duo in front of a red backdrop looking incredibly fruity, juxtaposed with a fake porn DVD complete with lookalikes (see below).

Seriously, how did that photo make it to the light of day? I understand if you're broke and you don't have any representation, like back during the Speedo incident. But were those photos actually approved by their manager, or their AVP escort, or USA Volleyball, or someone before they were released?

I mean, damn. The last thing we need is to inadvertently steer beach volleyball into some kind of weird gay niche sport, like softball.

Watch the show (at 00:8:45), or read the transcript:

American beach volleyball team, Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser ...
[audience groans, laughs] That's a real photo of those two.

Todd Rog ... [cracking up]
Todd Rogers ... [audience applauds & whoops]

No no no, we have to get through this [laughs].

Todd .. [laughs] Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser will be played by Dak Packers and Rod Masters from Fire in the Hole 6.
[appaluse] We shouldn't have tried to show an after-picture. There was no way to top that.
From now on, I think some good rules would be:
  1. No more shirtless studio photos
  2. Reserve the right to nix a crappy shot
  3. Todd must shave his goatee forever

 

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Misty May-Treanor cuddling up to Republicans?

by Jason Schock at 10:33 PM

Misty May-Treanor digs a ballIt started with her visit to his house. Then he made a surprise visit to where she performed. She offered him her derriere; he couldn't give her what she wanted, his hands bound by forces larger than himself. On national television, she cried his name.

Now she's frolicking with his friend.

Oh, the drama! A Broadway love story? No! I'm talking about Misty May-Treanor, her pseudo-suitor, George W. Bush, and his "friend", presidential candidate, John McCain.

Bush was apparently smitten with the lass after she and Kerri Walsh visited the white house a few months ago. He dropped in on them unexpectedly at the Beijing beach volleyball venue during a practice session, where May-Treanor offered Bush her ass for a sporting slap.

When Misty and Kerri won the gold medal in Beijing, they shouted "Thank you, President Bush!" during their TV interview.

And just tonight, May-Treanor was seen sharing a laugh with McCain at a Diamondbacks-Marlins game in Phoenix.

I guess you could credit these Republican rendezvous to her care-free ways. Maybe Misty just likes the guys and doesn't know/care about their politics. Maybe that's just what you do when you've just won gold for your country: meet famous politicians. I gotta be honest, though. On the surface, it looks like she's got a bias toward the right.

Will she get political? Misty 2012?

 

Karch's "US Open" site hacked

by Jason Schock at 3:54 AM

Karch Kiraly down on the sandWhile doing some research, I found that Google identifies Karch Kiraly's US Open of Beach Volleyball Web site as a security risk (see screenshot below). Basically, the site was hacked and may be installing nasty programs on visitors' computers.

I gave it a cursory inspection but couldn't find any obvious exploits, so the problem may already be fixed.

Still, it's alarming. This is the second volleyball Web site to be hacked this month. Just a few weeks ago, FatSpike broke the story when the popular Volleyball.com suffered a javascript injection attack that affected some parts of their site. The problem was fixed quickly.

Damn. Volleyball peeps need to get their online sh*t together (or hire me to do it for you).

The US Open of Beach Volleyball was created by Karch Kiraly and his agent, Steve Lindecke, and USA Volleyball. Lindecke's company, The Elevation Group, produces the event.

 

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Misty May-Treanor looking to medal in Dancing?

by FatSpike at 10:54 PM

Misty May-Treanor might be dancingA blog called gossipsauce has published what's purported to be the cast list of Dancing with the Stars: Season 7, and Misty May-Treanor is on it.

Misty has dance in her background, and still actively gets her groove on during AVP events (see below).

The full cast list is:

  • Kim Kardashian
  • Lance Bass
  • Toni Braxton
  • Brooke Burke
  • Maurice Greene
  • Cody Linley
  • Susan Lucci
  • Warren Sapp
  • Misty May-Treanor
  • Ted McGinley
  • Mark McGrath
  • Cloris Leachman
  • Jeff Ross

 

Beijing: Rogers-Dalhausser win gold

by Jason Schock at 8:32 PM

Phil Dalhausser has a gold medalThe United States reclaimed its status as the top beach volleyball nation today when Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser narrowly defeated Brazil to win the gold medal, beating Marcio Araujo and Fabio Luiz, 23-12, 17-21, 15-4, in the men's finals.

After two sets, they were tied at one apiece. But in the final set, Brazil fell apart. Errors by Fabio and impenetrable blocking by Dalhausser put the Brazilians into a hole they couldn't climb back out of. At one point, the U.S. scored a run of seven straight points, with "The Thin Beast" recording an astounding six stuffs.

American men were completely shut out of the medals in 2004, with Brazil's Emanuel/Ricardo netting the gold.

Results

Yesterday, Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh won their second gold medal in as many Olympics, establishing the pair as the greatest beach volleyball ever.

 

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Beijing: Gold medal for Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh

by Jason Schock at 8:44 PM

Misty May and Kerri Walsh won their second gold medalAmericans Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh have repeated their bid for the gold medal by winning the women's beach volleyball final today, beating China's Tian Jia and Jie Wang, 21-18, 21-18, in the heavy Beijing rain.

Results

In the bronze medal match, China's Xue/Zhang Xi beat Brazilians, Talita/Renata, giving China an impressive finish with their first ever Olympic medals in beach volleyball.

 

AVP emcee, Geeter, gets a mention in Slate

by Jason Schock at 3:03 PM

Chris Chris "Geeter" McGee can usually be found rocking the mic as the emcee of the AVP. His stage personality helps keep the crowd riled up, and I've personally witnessed acts of pure linguistic genius in some of his "under pressure" rants (see below) during AVP finals.

His job becomes truly respectable when he's not on the mic: the crowd can barely muster a smirk, and forget about doing any kooky variations of the wave (slo-mo is AWESOME). That kind of motivational power belongs only to Geeter.

Therefore, it was rightly so that Geeter was chosen as the English-speaking emcee for the beach volleyball venue at the Beijing Olympic Games. He doesn't get the TV air time like he does on the AVP, but you can hear him announcing stars and commenting in between points behind Marlowe and Karch.

Today, Slate talks with Geeter in The Science of DJing an Olympic Beach Volleyball Match.



 

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Beijing: Rogers-Dalhausser will play for gold medal

by Jason Schock at 7:47 PM

Phil Dalhausser: Huge blocksTodd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser utterly dismantled Georgia's (Brazilian) beach volleyball team today, beating them 21-11, 21-13. The U.S. pair put up some of their best numbers of the tournament, with Dalhausser grabbing a monster nine blocks, and Rogers with 14 digs. Full results

The Americans will play for the gold medal against Brazil's Marcio Araujo/Fabio Luiz on Friday morning (Thursday evening PDT). The Brazilian team is considered one of the strongest on the international circuit; they qualified third for the Olympics after Ricardo/Emanuel, and Rogers/Dalhausser.

 

Monday, August 18, 2008

Beijing: May/Walsh to face China's Tian Jia/Wang in final

by Jason Schock at 8:28 PM

Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh steamrolled their way into the women's Olympic beach volleyball finals today, destroying Brazil's Talita/Renata, 21-12, 21-14. They will play for the gold medal on Thursday at 11 AM (Wed. @ 8PM PDT) against the tournament's #1 seed, China's Tian Jia and Jie Wang.

Following the win against Brazil, May-Treanor scattered some of her mother's ashes on the court.

Results

 

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Beijing: Rogers and Dalhausser on to medal round

by Jason Schock at 7:53 PM

Americans Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser are one step closer to a medal at the Beijing Olympics after beating Germans, Klemperer/Koreng, today. The world champion U.S. pair fought back after being down 18-20 in the second set to win, 21-13, 25-23.

Dalhausser put up a monster six blocks, including a stuff at the end to close out a tight second set.

Rogers/Dalhausser will play Georgia in the semifinals on Wednesday morning (Tuesday evening PDT).

Results

 

Badminton is more popular than beach volleyball

by Jason Schock at 2:25 PM

Beach volleyball got a popularity boost during the 2004 Athens Olympics, no doubt in part to the dramatic finish, what with Misty May and Kerri Walsh smacking each other's ass and rolling around on the sand in their bikinis -- an iconic image of the Games, as crazy as it may sound.

But how popular is beach volleyball, really? Let's check Google Trends to see the volume of searches for "beach volleyball", which we can basically equate to active interest in the sport.

Worldwide Search Volume of "beach volleyball"

Popularity of beach volleyballWow, look at that traffic spike during the 2004 Olympics! You can also see that the mention of beach volleyball in the news is significantly higher this year. [The Y-axis value is actually the number of searches relative to the average. So during that first spike, traffic was 13x the average for the 5-year period.]

Now that's all well and good, but as Edward Tufte says, information isn't useful until you have something to compare it to. So let's look at how beach volleyball stacks up against some other sports.

Beach Volleyball vs. Michael Phelps

Beach volleyball vs. Michael PhelpsOk, maybe not the fairest comparison. Phelps is superhuman, an outlier on the search terrain.

Let's start with a more appropriate comparison. How about another Olympic sport that is fairly obscure?

Beach Volleyball vs. Table Tennis

Beach volleyball vs. Table tennisOuch! Apart from the Olympics, table tennis is 2.6x more popular, according to Google. And that's the proper term, "table tennis", not the more common, "ping pong".

Well, surely beach volleyball is more popular than ping pong's cousin, badminton.

Beach Volleyball vs. Badminton

Beach volleyball vs. badmintonWhat the ...? Badminton enjoys a 5.2x lead over beach volleyball. Turns out it's a pretty popular sport outside of the U.S..

Handball! Surely handball, a simplistic game that involves little skill to play, must be less popular than beach volleyball.

Beach Volleyball vs. Handball

Beach volleyball vs. handballFoiled again! Handball, too, enjoys an inexplicable popularity abroad, especially among the Germans. Weird.

Ok, let's try something really obscure.

Beach Volleyball vs. Water Polo

Beach volleyball vs. water poloAt last! A comparable sport. They are similar in search and news popularity. You have to wonder, though, if water polo might edge out beach volleyball if they showed the entire women's matches from the underwater perspective.

And now for the fatal blow ...

Beach Volleyball vs. Synchronized Swimming

Beach volleyball vs. Synchronized swimmingBam! In your face, synchronized swimming! Beach volleyball destroys it with 11x more popularity.

Now, before beach volleyball starts getting an ego, take a look at how it compares to some of the most popular sports.

Beach Volleyball vs. Soccer vs. Golf vs. Football vs. Basketball

Beach volleyball vs. the worldThat blue line at the very bottom? Beach volleyball. Yikes.

It barely registers, nor does it ever surpass the other sports, even during the Olympics. The Misty-Kerri gold medal moment is utterly dwarfed even by basketball. (Of course, the results for the term "football" are skewed because that's what they call soccer abroad. But we still know it's considered the most popular sport in the world.)

Conclusions

So, what does this fairly unscientific investigation tell us?
  1. Watching girls in bikinis hug and roll around is incredibly popular, at least every four years.
  2. Unless they start playing beach volleyball in the nude, it's got a long way to go to catch up in popularity to other obscure sports, let alone the popular ones.

 

Beijing: First American team falls

by Jason Schock at 5:43 AM

Nicole Branagh and Elaine YoungsAny hopes of an all-American final in women's beach volleyball were dashed when China's Chen Xue and Zhang Xi knocked out Nicole Branagh and Elaine Youngs, 21-17, 21-13.

Strong blocking by Xue, and a litany of errors by Branagh-Youngs in the second set helped seal the Americans' fates.

The strongly favored team of Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh are the remaining U.S. team in the women's tournament.

Results

 

Blogs: Players write like they play

by Jason Schock at 12:31 AM

Jake Gibb celebrates a pointThe personalities of the U.S. men's Olympic beach volleyball teams couldn't be more divergent.

World champs, Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser, are reserved, methodical, cool. This whole volleyball thing is clearly all business for them. Can't be bothered to get too worked up lest it interfere, you know, with winning.

Sean Rosenthal and Jake Gibb, on the other hand, play with their hearts on their sleeves. Gibb, especially, is an enthusiastic guy. He clearly loves the game and relishes every second of the whole experience. As a photographer, I love to shoot him because you're guaranteed to get a great emotion shot.

Now, the beach volleyball world isn't exactly the most wired bunch. But we're lucky enough to have both Rogers and Gibb actively writing on their respective blogs.

Perhaps not surprisingly, their writing style somewhat mirrors the way they play.

Rogers, for example, describes his matches as a kind of third-person narrative, like a news story, breaking down play-by-plays with an analyst's detachment.

Todd Rogers. Cool as a cuke.Gibb's blog entries are no Shakespeare, and a bit fleeting, but they're a lot more fun to read because you actually feel what it's like to be Jake, blasting balls and taking in the Beijing spectacle. Somehow his enthusiasm comes through unfiltered.

Each style has its merits: "The Professor" (Rogers) gives you a dissection, and "The Big Nasty" (Gibb) gives you a visceral reaction.

How appropriate.

Personally, I like reading the adventure aspect of their experiences. Like bartering for silk suits in China, or bribing striking cabbies in France during a quest for Russian visas.

It's the stuff you can't find on TV that makes for the most engaging read, no matter who's writing it.

 

Saturday, August 16, 2008

 

What's that stuff on Kerri Walsh's shoulder?

by Jason Schock at 1:17 AM

No, that's not a flesh-eating virus on Kerri Walsh's shoulder. That's Kinesio Tape. Kerri appears to be wearing the Kinesio Tex Platinum Black to help her rehab a recent shoulder surgery. If you've been watching the AVP for a couple seasons, you'll have noticed it started getting popular, mostly among the female players.

So what does it do? It's used to increase blood flow, for pain relief and to correct body mechanics. Athletes use it, but it also has many applications for injury rehab and correcting physical disabilities.

 

Friday, August 15, 2008

Beijing: Holy comeback, Batman

by Jason Schock at 9:57 PM

Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser bust a hi-fiveThere aren't many beach volleyball teams that can come back from a 0-6 deficit in a 15 point game and manage to win.

Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rogers can. And they did. And that's why they're Olympians, folks.

In their first match in the Olympic elimination round, the Americans went one game apiece with Switzerland's Laciga and Schneider. Laciga was bombing jump serves and putting up a wall at the net. Dalhausser was flubbing shots.

After taking a timeout, however, the U.S. came back with five straight points to get right back into the match. Then, it was almost a point-for-point battle to the end until Rogers ended the match with high a line roll shot.

So it's on to the quarterfinals for the U.S. team. They'll face the #8 seed Germans, Klemperer-Koreng, who took down the #1 seed Chinese today. Quarterfinal matches begin Monday at 10 AM (Sunday at 7 PM PDT).

 

Stolfus breaks down round of 16, rants on writing

by Jason Schock at 5:34 PM

Hans StolfusHans Stolfus - the only beach volleyball blogger writer on the Internet - takes a look at the Olympic men's beach volleyball tournament, which begins tomorrow in China (or 6PM Friday PDT).

Stolfus also devotes a blog entry article to give props to Chris "Geeter" McGee's blog entries articles on Beijing, and throws in some bonus rants on writing for the AVP.

 

Blog update: Gibb and Rogers write from Beijing

by Jason Schock at 3:12 PM

Jake Gibb has a cool new Olympic design to his site. He discusses the matches vs. Germany and Japan, hotel accommodations, and family support.

Todd Rogers talks about his upcoming match vs. the Swiss.

 

Rogers to endorse SideOut, wear neon short-shorts

by Jason Schock at 2:17 PM

Sinjin Smith rocked SideOutI thought SideOut was a brand relegated only to the golden age of beach volleyball, but apparently it's making a comeback. Todd Rogers signed a deal with brand owner, Cherokee, Inc., to wear SideOut gear in Olympic matches and on the medal stand.

Dude, I am so looking forward to the resurgence of neon! Now whatever happened to Spot Sport ...?

Story at bizjournals.com

Update: SideOut's web site is some kind of craptastic PowerPoint slideshow focused just on brand licensing. Where are the oversized foam visors? I was promised oversized foam visors!

 

AVP hoping Olympics boost them into black

by Jason Schock at 1:24 PM

The WSJ writes about the potential of beach volleyball as a business:

"Coming off the Olympics, this is going to be very big year for us," [CEO] Leonard Armato. "We're going to get a big boost."
...
But many AVP players don't make enough to cover their expenses, which include having to pay for travel and lodging. [Jeff] Nygaard said some players occasionally sleep on the beach at tour events or under the triangular sponsorship signs that line courtside.
And don't expect the AVP Tour's circus-like atmosphere to change any time soon:
Steve Lindecke, an AVP board member and former top executive with sports conglomerate IMG, said beach volleyball needs to embrace its roots and turn tournaments into festivals with concerts and other attractions. After the competitive glory of the Olympics goes away, pure competition simply isn't enough.

 

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Beijing: Gibb-Rosy eke out win; all US teams into sweet 16

by Jason Schock at 5:15 PM

Sean Rosenthal goes for a digIf there were any distasteful stereotypes still lurking about the Japanese being timid little people, Japan's men's beach volleyball team likely put them to rest today.

Asahi-Shiratori forced Jake Gibb and Sean Rosenthal to a third set today, putting up a plethora of stuff blocks and hitting lots of big juicy spikes. The Japanese got to match point twice, but Gibb-Rosy fought back, and a final stuff by Gibb allowed the U.S. advance, 21-15, 19-21, 18-16 (results).

With this victory, all U.S. men's and women's beach volleyball teams have advanced to the elimination round of 16.

Play begins Friday at 9AM Beijing time (today 6PM PDT) with Misty May-Treanor/Kerri Walsh taking on the Belgians.

 

Beijing: Not everything sunny for Walsh's shoulder

by Jason Schock at 3:09 AM

Kerri Walsh spikes a ballFrom USA Today:

Though the gregarious Walsh is, in public, perpetually smiley-faced and provides more happy talk than Mister Rogers, she wasn't so cheery on that van one early morning in June in Berlin on her way to play a semifinal in her first international tournament of the year.

Two months before the Olympics on a ride to a match she wasn't sure she could finish, she was in agony, and near tears.

Read the story at usatoday.com.

 

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Beijing: Rogers-Dalhausser win, advance to round of 16

by Jason Schock at 7:01 PM

Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser soundly defeated Argentina today in two games, 21-12, 21-13, and will advance to the round of 16. Results

 

You need a publicist

by Jason Schock at 5:36 PM

Speaking of those God-what-was-I-thinking moments ...

Somehow I stumbled across this article from June 2001 showing some beach volleyball stars modeling skin tight Speedo shorts and man-sarongs, including Beijing Olympian Todd Rogers. No, it's actually not a spread from Out Magazine. This ran in the LA Times.

This is a great reason to pay players more, because then they could afford publicists who would have never let this happen.


Dain Blanton, Chip McCaw, Eric Fonoimoana, Dax Holdren, Todd Rogers, Rob Heidger, and Jeff Nygaard model their Speedos.

Nygaard and Blanton modeling the man-sarong.

photos: Rick Meyer / Los Angeles Times

 

Beijing: American men and women notch second wins

by Jason Schock at 1:34 PM

American men's duo Jake Gibb and Sean Rosenthal won their second match in pool play today, beating Germans Brink-Dieckmann, 21-15, 21-13.

On the women's side, wonder-women Misty May-Treanor and Keri Walsh beat Cuba, 21-15, 21-16.

 

Beijing: Rogers and Gibb blog from China

by Jason Schock at 1:26 PM

Jake Gibb discusses playing in the rain and the excitement of his first Olympic win: http://jakegibb.com/blog/?p=27

Todd rogers talks about his loss to Latvia, and his win over the Swiss: http://toddjrogers.blogspot.com/2008/08/beijing-update.html

 

Nike makes funkier version of the Sand Sock

by Jason Schock at 1:54 AM

The Nike ZestiNike has made their own version of the Sand Sock for Beijing beach volleyball Olympians, the Zesti. Of course, they had to get all artsy and make it look goofy as hell.

In addition to protecting your feet on hot sand, the Zesti supposedly gives you more grip on the sand, if that's possible. I think you'd need some several-inch metal spikes for that.

If you're one of those people that likes to look at photos of yourself 10 years ago and ask, "God, what was I thinking?" then this is the sand shoe for you.

Crocs people, you know what I'm talking about.

 

Monday, August 11, 2008

Beijing: They're back, baby

by Jason Schock at 4:32 PM

Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser obviously read my inspiring post and used that to power their destruction of the 12th-seeded Swiss team today, winning 21-15, 21-10.

Their next and final pool match is against 13th-seeded Argentina on Wednesday.

 

Beijing: Branagh-Youngs soundly spike Germans

by Jason Schock at 3:56 AM

Nicole Branagh was still reeling from the death of her close friend's father, but she and partner Elaine Youngs were able to soundly beat the Germans today in pool play, 21-17, 21-16

Branagh played on the U.S. national team with Wiz Bachman, whose father, Todd, was killed in an apparently random stabbing while visiting a tourist attraction on Saturday.

 

Beijing: Can Phil and Todd find the nerve?

by Jason Schock at 1:24 AM

Todd Rogers and Phil DalhausserAfter losing in a huge upset to Latvia on Saturday, Todd Rogers told a TV interviewer that he wasn't nervous before their match. If that's true, then there's your problem right there.

Stage performers, for example, expect to get nervous before a show. They usually embrace it. When they don't feel the nerves - many will tell you - their acting suffers. There is a lack of energy. The actor chemistry isn't there. They don't connect with the audience.

A flat performance.

Yup, I'm drawing a parallel here, folks. Todd and Phil are known for their level-headed game strategy, never getting too fired up, maintaining that cool temperament on the court. That's all well and good, and maybe that's what's been working for them.

Like it or not, however, when you're playing in a professional match match, you're the performer. You're on stage. And without getting too Yanni on your asses here, you feed off the energy from your fellow actors, but especially the audience. Hi, ever heard of the home-field advantage phenomenon?

In this case, Phil and Todd are our thespians, and the audience is, oh, the entire United States of America. If that doesn't have your nerves tingling, then you need to find some way to tap into those 304 million people seeking vicarious national glory.

Phil and Todd also need to tap into each other (hold the gay jokes, please). Their communication on Saturday appeared nothing more engaged than Manger-Employee.

Sure, energy isn't everything - being good is important, too. But at the Olympic level, everyone is good. So limit the robot dogma and use some real, good ol' human fire when you need it - it worked for Latvia.

[Todd and Phil next play Switzerland today at 7:00AM PST.]

Hans Stolfus' post on this subject partly inspired this article. But, you know, I was going to write it anyway. I swear, I was.

 

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Beijing: Gibb-Rosenthal win first match, meet Dubya

by Jason Schock at 7:14 AM

Jake Gibb, hitting past a blockJake Gibb and Sean Rosenthal quickly dispatched their first opponents in just 37 minutes, dropping the Dutch 21-16, 21-15.

In his blog, Gibb describes his opening ceremonies experience and a surprise meeting with Dubya on the court:

"He didn’t look like he had places to be, which he obviously did, but he stood and talked about how tough the sport of beach volleyball is and how hard it is to move in the sand for him."

Uh huh.

 

Want Misty-Kerry autographs? Buy baseball cards.

by Jason Schock at 2:15 AM

Topps is including Misty/Kerry autographs and occasionally chunks of actual bikini in packs of vintage-style baseball cards.

Sure. Makes perfect sense.

Todd and Phil aren't household names yet, but you'd hope that they've at least made their way into some hockey cards by now.

Story on orlandosentinel.com

 

Killing of volleyball dad hits home in Southern California

by Jason Schock at 1:40 AM

The LA Times has a story on the impact of the stabbing of American Todd Bachman, 62, in Beijing. His wife, Barbara, was seriously wounded while their daughter, Elisabeth “Wiz” Bachman McCutcheon, witnessed the attack.

The Bachmans are well-known in the tight-knit Southern California volleyball community, in both beach and indoor. Olympian Kerri Walsh played with Elisabeth on the US junior national indoor team and against her in college.

A true tragedy. Our condolences to the Bachman family and friends.

photo: L-R: Barbara Bachman, Elisabeth and Todd (AP)

 

Beijing: Women's beach teams warned about safety

by Jason Schock at 1:16 AM

Following the killing of the father of a former Olympic volleyball player, American beach volleyball players were warned against advertising their nationality, despite China's insistence that the victim was not targeted for any specific reason.

According to a story by the Associated Press:

U.S. Olympic officials met with the women's beach volleyball players and warned them about going out, reminding them that if they must, they should avoid advertising themselves as Americans.

"I told my family that there's no need for that," said beach volleyball player Kerri Walsh. "We have our patriotism (inside) our hearts."

Walsh has known Elisabeth Bachman since they were 13, playing with her in junior volleyball and against her in college.

"It's overwhelmingly sad," Walsh said. "All of our hearts are heavy."


Read the story on espn.com.

 

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Beijing: Rogers-Dalhausser lose opening match

by Jason Schock at 6:56 AM

Things are already getting shaken up in Beijing. The best beach volleyball team in the world lost their opening match of the Olympics today to a low-ranked Latvian team in pool play today.

American beach volleyball players Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser, 2007 world champions and clear gold medal contenders, were beaten by Samoilovs/Plavins in just two sets, 21-19, 21-18.

Was it nerves? Smog? Did they eat the "chicken"? In any case, it's a stunning start for the men. How it affects the confidence of the other American men's team will remain to be seen.

View the match recap.

 

Beijing: Branagh-Youngs eke out first American win

by Jason Schock at 5:02 AM

The first American beach volleyball victory is in the books as women EY-Branagh won their match in pool play today. For the men, Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser face their first test in less than an hour against Latvia.

 

Beijing: May-Treanor offers ass to president

by Jason Schock at 4:05 AM

Never mind the politics - slap my ass, Mr. Bush!

After peppering in Beijing yesterday with the President of the United States of America, Misty May-Treanor apparently offered her backside for a congratulatory slap.

Yes, the man has so dumbed-down the highest office in the world that someone thought it would be appropriate to publicly offer the man a grope.

Bush impressively declined the offer and Misty had to settle for a back-slap.


Be sure to check out the slide show of the Prez obviously peeping tail at the practice session.


photos: top - AP; bottom - Getty

 

Friday, August 8, 2008

Product review: Schick Quattro Titanium Trimmer

by Jason Schock at 4:39 PM

Some folks sent me a Schick Quattro Titanium Trimmer and asked me to review it on my blog here. What does that have to do with beach volleyball, you ask? Not a whole lot, but there are some dudes one the tour that could benefit from such a grooming implement. I'm thinking specifically of Todd Rogers and that ill-advised dish scrubber on his face.



Anyway, being the gadget nerd that I am, I gave this thing a thorough test. (Disclaimer: I'm not a hairy dude in the slightest. Conan O'Brien probably grows hair faster than I do. Your mileage may vary.)

So the Trimmer is pretty cool. In addition to the standard razor, it has various cutting thingies on it, including a tiny edger if you're going for that Persian dude skinny-beard look. It also has a small electric razor built in, which is good for safely buzzing off clumps of hair on any part of your body. Best of all, it's waterproof.

I gave myself an awesome reverse soul patch in my five days of chin scrub. Worked like a champ *and* I look cool as hayell.

Yeah.

 

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Players blog from China

by Jason Schock at 1:30 AM

American beach volleyball Olympians Todd Rogers and Jake Gibb have arrived in Beijing and are writing about their experiences.

Rogers: http://toddjrogers.blogspot.com/2008/08/beijing.html
Gibb: http://jakegibb.com/blog/?p=25

Check the FatSpike beach volleyball Blog Watch regularly to get real-time updates of player blogs.

 

Saturday, August 2, 2008

AVP San Diego: The Stolfus Punt

by Jason Schock at 10:51 PM

Insane dig by Hans StolfusThe San Diego AVP Crocs Slam is a mellow tournament. The top four teams are gone - en route to the Beijing Olympics - and it's single-elimination, so there are fewer matches taking place at any given time.

At least, it had been a mellow tournament.

The intensity was cranked up in an insanely entertaining, seesaw match between Jason Ring/Hans Stolfus and top seeds Nick Lucena/Sean Scott.

Ninth seeds Ring-Stolfus battled hard and eked out a win in the first game, 25-27. But with Scott's patented Giant Sweaty Man-Beast power, and Lucena's alien intensity, they took the second match, 21-16. The third game was intensely fought, with sick digs, long rallies and an incredible bomb by Ring and his 44-inch vertical jump.

Alas, Lucena-Scott edged forward to a significant lead. At 11-13, Stolfus lost his sh*t on what he thought was a bad call, screamed and punted a ball at least 100 feet into the air. I'm pretty sure it landed in Mission Bay.

That's the way to protest a call.

And that's a red card. Minus one point. (And he might have to pay for the ball, too.)

Lucena-Scott went on to win, 15-10.

As ridiculous a display of poor sportsmanship as it was, the crowd loved the Stolfus Punt. Hans is a scrapper and I think people felt the passion.

Sadly, I didn't get the photo, but Ken Delgado got the incident on video. Please pester him until he posts it on YouTube.

 

Friday, August 1, 2008

Crocs croaking?

by Jason Schock at 2:49 AM

Future of Crocs?Crocs shoes, the most polarizing force in America since George W. Bush and title sponsor of the AVP Tour, may be going the way of the dinosaur.

In less than a year, the stock has gone from a high of more than $75 to now less than $4.50.

I think it started when parents discovered their kids' feet were getting mangled in escalators (see video below). Then the factory closed and moved abroad.

A few days ago, they offered a dark forecast for the year to investors, sending the stock plummeting and sparking a 50% stock sell-off.

Then, they announced a new "retail channel strategy", the strategy apparently being to go back to only selling plastic shoes in retina-scarring colors.

And just yesterday, Crocs lost another appeal to the ITC seeking to ban cheap Crocs knock-offs. Can you say "commoditization", kids?

Now, all I really want to know is, if the gator croaks will the AVP go with it?

Video: "All five toes are cut to the bone, two broken"

 

New book: Beach volleyball dirt exposed!

by Jason Schock at 2:23 AM

Order on the CourtTom Burke, a beach volleyball journalist I've never heard of (sorry, don't get out much), wrote a book called "Order on the Court". It's apparently goes behind the scenes at the AVP and the general f*ckery currently plaguing the sport.

If it's written with a tenth of the cheese of its press release, I seriously won't be able to get through it. It reads like a film description of a softcore beach volleyball porn from the 80's.

Sounds interesting, though. Hopefully, they send me a free copy because I'm cheap like that. If anyone's read it, though, let us know.

 

Volleyball.com hacked

by Jason Schock at 12:55 AM

Update: The site has been fixed. See comment below.

It appears that Volleyball.com has sustained some kind of hacking attack recently. Various links across the site have some evil JavaScript from Russian Web sites injected into the URL. Just poking around, it appears that it tries to run some kind of a script from a malicious web site.

You don't have to click a link to be affected. Just visiting the site could subject you to attack.

Any decent browser will ignore tags in a link URL, but older browsers may not. The really evil thing is that he attack has infected URLs in RSS feeds. This means that any RSS subscriber that doesn't sanitize the URL is potentially susceptible, and if you republish the feed on your site (like I do - don't worry, it's clean), the attack propagates to your site, too. Clever.

Google has some info about the malicious site if you're curious.

Let's hope they get that fixed soon. Screenshot attached.

Screen capture of malicious script in URL