The Tour 2008

With an exception of one day, our TV service has been off for about eight months. The one day we broke down and turned it back on was Super Bowl Sunday, and that just served as confirmation that 200 channels or whatever it is of satellite television wasn’t anything we were missing. For the most part, anyway. I will admit that it’s a little weird to hear people talking about Colbert or “The Daily Show” and think, wow, we just don’t look at that anymore.

And the other thing I’ve realized is that, the vulgar excess of the Super Bowl aside, TV is very much the way I keep up with the sports I still follow. So: no baseball this year and very little sense of how the season is unfolding beyond sporadic reports that the Cubs are doing well and that that poor, poor pitiful team in Tampa Bay is really having a year.

Tonight, though, we are linked up again to the broadcast world. The reason is the Tour de France, broadcast again on Versus. The first stage was today, and we got reconnected just in time to see the tail end of the first rebroadcast of the day. A Spaniard named Alejandro Valverde won in an oddly configured finishing section–a sharp descent followed by a short sharp climb that kept the usual contingent of crazy sprinters out of the picture. Valverde took the stage with a shocking burst of uphill acceleration in the last 250 meters that blew away a rider who looked like he had the stage in the bag. And besides the wonderful action, I knew the Tour was back when I heard Phil Liggett, back for the umpteenth year of melodrama, mispronouncing the winner’s first name. At various times it seemed to come out not only as Alejandro, but also as Alefandro, Alessandro, and, most weirdly and regularly, Alethandro. Phil, I missed you.

Tomorrow’s stage broadcast starts at 5:30 a.m. here, and we’re having our traditional “first Sunday of the Tour” gathering with some neighbors.

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