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Monday Blog: Biggest sports weekend of 2014?

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No matter what sports you enjoy, there was something for you this Memorial Day weekend.

While I did get a chance to be out on the water, do some fishing, and play a little cornhole, my focus on Saturday and Sunday was on the television. In sports, the biggest games and evens occur on weekends most of the time, and I’m usually able to soak it all in. But this weekend was different.

Actually, more like insane if you are someone like me who follows just about everything.

Normally, I don’t get to spend Memorial Day weekend at home because of the OVC Baseball Tournament. But since Austin Peay didn’t reach Jackson — and I’ll talk about that later on — I was able to watch events that I would have missed.

Amo fútbol

It all started with soccer, and yes, I have become a big fan of the sport in a short amount of time. I’ve always been a casual viewer, but for years I’ve wanted to learn more about the most popular sport in the world. So on Saturday was the Champions League Final between Real Madrid and Athletico Madrid, two rivals with two very different histories. If you know soccer, Real Madrid is a powerhouse with tons of cash to spend, while Athletico has put themselves on the map by winning the Spanish League title and beat the odds to reach the final of the biggest cup in soccer.

The match itself was terrific, and having Gus Johnson on the call made it even more enjoyable. Athletico scored first in the 36th minute on a soft header as the Real keeper looked foolish, and even though Real went scoreless through 90 minutes, I knew it was only a matter of time before they would find the back of the net. A goal in extra time by Sergio Ramos almost got me off my feet, and in overtime, Gareth Bale — the $100 million dollar man who had been flat all game — got the game-winning goal. And hey, why not add a little insult to injury by adding another two goals and let Cristiano Ronaldo show his abs to the world?

NBA and NHL Playoffs

I’m not a fan of having the NBA and NHL Conference Finals happening on the same days at the same times, but that’s where DVR comes in hand.

As of Sunday night, I still have the Spurs-Thunder to catch up on, but I did watch the Pacers-Heat. Here’s how that one went down in two words: Ray Allen, meaning his shots late in the game went down. Indiana just doesn’t have the fire power to match the Heat — nice play on words there, right? Paul George just isn’t at the level he was at the midseason point, and they can’t just rely on Lance Stephenson to lead them. Even though I have no idea who wins Game 3 between San Antonio-OKC, it’s going to be a Finals repeat between the Heat and Spurs.

Another sport I’m coming around on is hockey, because I just love the postseason atmosphere it brings. I watched the entire Blackhawks-Kings game on Saturday — I’m saying that series goes seven games — and caught the Rangers and Canadians game once they reached overtime on Sunday. A one-sided series, but overall a good weekend for puck fans.

UFC 173: Barao vs. Dillashaw

It was only a matter of time before I was able to include mixed martial arts in here.

The UFC bantamweight title was up for grabs this weekend as Renan Barao defended his strap against T.J. Dillashaw. Dillashaw came in at about an 8-to-1 underdog for the fight, but actually dominated Barao to claim the best with a fifth-round TKO stoppage. I honestly did not see this coming at all.

The card as a whole was solid, with Daniel Cormier vs. Dan Henderson in the co-main event. Cormier was just unbelievable with his dominant wrestling game as he eventually submitted “Hendo” in the third round. Also, Robbie Lawler earned a TKO victory over Jake Ellenberger to move one step closer to getting a rematch against welterweight champ Johny Hendricks.

Hopefully there are some MMA fans out there reading this.

Drivers…start your engines

Without a doubt, Memorial Day weekend is the best time of the year for race fans.

You have the biggest racing event in sports — the Indy 500 —  along with the longest NASCAR circuit on the calender —  the Coca Cola 600.

The only day out of the year that I’ll watch open-wheel racing is when they head to Indianapolis. The tradition — kissing of the bricks and chugging milk — is like no other. This year’s race was easily the best I’ve seen as it was the second-closest finish in the event’s history. In the end, I’m happy an American driver in Ryan Hunter-Reay won on Memorial Day weekend rather rather than Helio Castroneves, who has already won three in his career.

Two hours later, the green flag waved in Charlotte for the Coca Cola 600. It’s crazy that after driving 500 miles in Indy, Kurt Busch flew to get in his normal stock car to go another 600 miles. But anyways, the race itself was rather uneventful as it’s a drag, and I honestly didn’t watch but about half of it. Oh, and that Jimmie Johnson guy won for (surprisingly) the first time in 2014.

 Others that were partially watched

  • In golf, I watched the sudden death playoff of the Crowne Plaza Invitational between two of the more-likable guys in the sport — Adam Scott and Jason Dufner. Scott backed up his claim as the number one golfer in the world with some clutch approach shots and putts, winning the trophy. Also, I saw that Rory McIlroy won a big event in Europe, so that’s a good sign for the sport as he finally gets back to his winning ways.
  • As always, Major League Baseball was in full swing, with the big story being Josh Beckett. Beckett tossed his first career no-hitter, and became the oldest pitcher to accomplish the rare feat since “The Big Unit” Randy Johnson. It just added on to the already stacked weekend.
  • I even watched some college softball as the Super Regionals were being played across the country. I only got a chance to watch some of Tennessee-Oklahoma, which was a good series that went three games. OU’s Lauren Chamberlain is so good.

I know for a fact I missed something, but as you can tell, I was busy enough as it is. I’ll let you guys be the judge on if this weekend was the biggest of the year so far in sports.

Austin Peay updates

  • APSU’s Marco Iten just can’t catch a break with weather. The senior golfer began his final round at the NCAA Championship at Hutchinson, Kan., on Sunday, but rain will force him to finish Monday morning as he plays the final holes of his collegiate career. Iten is tied for 81st place out of 156 at 5-over par. Iten was also selected to the PING All-Region team earlier in the week.
  • In baseball, Alex Robles was named OVC Freshman of the Year, made the All-OVC second-team, and All-Freshman team. Ridge Smith was voted to All-OVC second-team and All-Freshman, while Cayce Bredlau also made the All-Freshman group.
  • In track and field, APSU will send Breigh Jones and Kaylnn Pitts to the NCAA East Preliminary Round in Jacksonville, Fla., which will be held from May 29-31.
  • Women’s basketball assistant coach Dean Walsh did not have his contract renewed for the upcoming season, and a replacement will be filled.
  • Also in women’s hoops, redshirt freshman center Aspriona Gilbert will not return to APSU for the 2014-15 season.
  • As one coach leaves, another enters as APSU volleyball has added Jami Thomas, the former head coach at Clarksville High, as a volunteer assistant to the staff.

The sinkhole at Governors Stadium is no more

If you’re wondering where they’re no news helicopters flying over APSU anymore, it’s because the talk of the town sinkhole on campus is now filled.

I was liking the amount of nationwide attention APSU was receiving, and I’m sure coaches were too as Clarksville was put on the map.

Here’s the story of the filling, courtesy of The Leaf-Chronicle http://www.theleafchronicle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2014305230035&nclick_check=1

Jacksonville State wins OVC Championship

I admit, when I made my tournament picks last week, I did not have the Gamecocks making a run. But man, they proved me and a lot of other people wrong.

JSU actually lost to Eastern Illinois in the opening round, and it appeared they were going to be the first team out again just like last year. However, they came back to beat SIU-E, which would be one of five elimination games they would win to reach the championship on Sunday. The Gamecocks had to beat Tennessee Tech twice in two days, and did so in impressive fashion. What a crazy season.

Here’s the worst part though: Watching the NCAA Selection Show tomorrow without Austin Peay’s name being called.

Photo: Ryan Hunter-Reay (Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

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