There is no ‘I’ in teammates for Americans competing abroadWritten by Matt Sussman | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Teammates. What are they good for? Absolutely nothin’.
Hopefully the late Edwin Starr doesn’t mind me altering his famous line and using it to describe American athletes on the international scene.
On Sunday, Tiger Woods’ victory in the British Open and Floyd Landis’ win in the Tour de France made me realize how great our countrymen perform under pressure when there are no other U.S. citizens wearing the same colored jersey.
Woods had no teammates this past weekend, doubly so with his father Earl passing away earlier this year. His two-shot victory at Royal Liverpool Golf Club made it four years in a row some bloody Yankee won the British Open.
Meanwhile, across the English Channel, Landis pedaled faster than several other spandex-clad cyclists through the Alps. He gave the United States an eight-year win streak in the Tour. Down more than eight minutes after leading at one point, he decided to pedal a bit faster. It worked. He won Stage 17 and stormed back into contention, eventually breaking the tape in Paris before everyone else. So while he didn’t beat cancer like Lance Armstrong, he did almost choke.
What’s that, you say? Landis had teammates? And Woods had a caddy? Well, to quote Bluto’s “Animal House” frat brother, “Forget it, he’s rolling.”
The Tour de France is won by an individual and not by a team, even if a group of cyclists have the same sponsor. As for Woods’ caddy, well, 95 percent of you reading this don’t know his name, and even if you did, that name doesn’t get engraved on the claret jug.
The teams I think of are the ones that play actual team sports. And when the United States plays other countries in such sports, hoo boy, we’re not so good at that.
The World Cup: We didn’t win a game. Sure, we tied eventual champion Italy, but that’s merely a moral victory — a statistic Eastern Michigan football uses to judge a good season.
The World Baseball Classic: We lost to Canada, Korea and Mexico. And we’re the ones who came up with the tournament.
World Lacrosse Championship: This past weekend American laxers had a chance to redeem months of red, white and blue shame by winning the lacrosse championship, and all they had to do was beat Canada. Final score: Canada 15, United States 10.
I won’t even mention USA basketball falling to Puerto Rico — our own freakin’ territory, no less — in the ’04 Olympics.
Oh, I just did.
Rather than using my suggestion of putting Puerto Ricans on the team, our national basketball team hired Mike Krzyzewski, um, Kryzsewski … Coach K to lead the team and select a 15-man roster that will play in Tokyo in next month’s 2006 FIBA World Championship. While the legendary Duke University coach hopes to revive Team USA as a global basketball champion, I remain cynical. You see, among the teams in our opening round pool? Puerto Rico.
So let’s just abandon all efforts to build great teams. We clearly want to go it alone. Tiger Woods and Floyd Landis are proof.
Let’s just have an international basketball one-on-one championship. An intercontinental home run derby. A soccer — well, no soccer. We still wouldn’t win that.