PARIS — Unable to find Giants or Athletics results in L’Equipe, the historic French sports daily, one goes to the internet and ESPN and gets not, say, the Red Sox but so help me Qarabag FK, an Azerbaijani soccer team. Yikes.
Not until I open the Examiner website do I discover the Giants have been in a free fall that began in San Diego, of all places, and continued at Fenway Park. The A’s unfortunately have been in a free fall since April.
This is an in-between week, for me, not Qarabag. The British Open ended Sunday and because the schedule had to be revised to make room for golf in the Olympics — without Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Louis Oosthuizen, Adam Scott and others — the PGA Championship begins in a few days in New Jersey.
L’Equipe is best known for its support (promotion?) of the world’s most important bicycle race, Le Tour de France, which, starting at that most impressive of locations. Mt. Saint-Michel on the Normandy coast, went for 2,195 miles and 22 days and will climax Sunday with ceremonial laps on the Champs Elysees, around the Arc de Triomphe. Sort of like a Cal-Grambling football game, the winner, after climbing mountains and barreling through vineyards, is pre-determined before the finish. It’s Chris Froome of Great Britain.
But L’Equipe is not limited to a single sport. There are the obligatory stories on soccer — football, it’s called everywhere except the U.S. Indeed France just hosted the Euro 2016, the final at Stade France in Paris’ northern suburbs, and, alors, won by Portugal over the French, 1-0. Think of the Warriors failing to hold that 3-1 lead over the Cavs, and you comprehend the degree of gloom around here.
Soccer remains No. 1, with rugby hardly insignificant. The same with basketball. Tony Parker went from France to help win titles with the Spurs, and Mickael Pietrus and Ronny Turiaf both were on earlier Warriors teams.
Although only 26 miles across the Channel, Britain has virtually no interest in basketball — Luol Deng had to flee to America to be appreciated. The NFL, however is doing everything possible to persuade the Brits our football is worth their attention. Three games are scheduled there this fall.
Maybe the big difference between the nations, meaning the U.S. and everyone else, is that in America it’s us vs. us, 49ers vs. Seahawks, Giants vs. Dodgers, while in the rest of the globe it’s them vs. them, England against Germany. The Premier League title is huge, but what they really want is what they can’t get, the World Cup. We’re more internal: Super Bowl, NBA Finals, Stanley Cup.
Paris, the city, seems more subdued and definitely is less crowded than in past summers, surely because of the terrorist attacks. Hotels have vacancies, restaurants bookings. There’s both a sense of dread and of optimism. France and Paris made it through Euro 2016 without anything worse than Russian and British thugs punching out each other. Authorities exhaled.
At the British Open a week ago in Scotland, a French golfer, Clement Sordet, who lives in Nice, where a terrorist drove a truck through Bastille Day revelers, killing more than 80, wrote in blue marker on the bill of his hat, “Pray for Nice.” The R&A, which runs the Open, passed out black ribbons to entrants who chose to wear them.
One who did, attached to his cap, was Henrik Stenson, who in a spectacular final round Sunday, held off Phil Mickelson. After too many days to forget, there at last was a day to remember.