To borrow from the Twittersphere, #NBCFail(ed) me Thursday night.
All afternoon I waited for the tape-delayed broadcast of what promised to be an epic re-match between Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte.
Could the classy, retiring all-time medal champion out-swim the handsome upstart who denied Phelps individual gold in a previous event?
Because there is no sports viewing thrill greater than watching the hometown favorite in an Olympic event, once I got off the radio at 3 p.m. EDT, I refused to watch television or talk about the race. I didn’t want to know what happened until I could watch it on TV.
I wanted to experience it as it happened, albeit tape-delayed. I wanted to be excited by the real-life drama.
Would the greatest Olympian ever leave the world stage with a golden roar in the 200 individual medley or would it be a silver or bronze whimper? Then I sat down to write this column, turned on the computer an hour before they showed the race on TV and saw a bulletin that Phelps had won.
Immediately, I opened the window and howled in protest.
How could NBC rob me and millions like me of watching the joy of victory and the agony of defeat in real-time? What NBC accountant decided that the network audience could successfully remain in the dark, ignoring omnipresent social media?
What a rip-off.
But as disappointments go, that one paled in comparison to the dream-crushing experience of 19-year-old John Orozco, the Puerto Rican Olympic gymnast from the Bronx, New York.
After extensive coverage of his scrappy career made possible by enormous talent and hugely supportive parents, he choked on the pommel horse and barely made it off the mat.
Whacked with a barely measurable score, give the kid credit, John dried his tears, pulled himself together and finished the event eighth overall. I hope he has medals and other accolades and honors waiting for him in the Rio games of 2016.
The other Latino I’ve been following since getting back from vacation Monday is Ted Cruz, the 41-year old Tea Party favorite who wiped out Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst to gain the Republican nomination for the Senate seat being vacated by Kay Bailey Hutchison in Texas.
Even though his opponent was enthusiastically supported by mainstream Republicans nationwide and by Texas governor Rick Perry, and despite being wildly out-spent by Dewhurst, Rafael Edward Cruz pulverized his opponent 57 percent to 43 percent, instantly propelling Cruz to the front ranks of influential Latinos on the national scene.
Aside from his experience as the first Hispanic and the youngest ever and longest-serving Solicitor General in Texas history, Cruz has an interesting back story.
His mom is American, his dad is a Cuban refugee, but not of the usual sort.
The older Cruz was a pro-Castro rebel who fought against the dictator Batista, was captured by him, tortured and then escaped to the United States in 1957.
Nowadays the official biographies claim that Cruz Sr. didn’t know Castro was a Commie at the time.
Whatever, Cruz Jr. is an intriguing, Spanish-speaking Texas politician with an attractive family in a state with a burgeoning Hispanic population.
He has a stellar record as a practicing attorney, and a political point of view that is hard-core conservative enough to attract energetic support of the anti-tax Club for Growth and from Tea Party icons like former governor Sarah Palin and Senator Rand Paul.
All indications are that Cruz will be joining fellow Cuban-Americans Marco Rubio and Robert Menendez, who polls indicate will again be re-elected, in the U.S. Senate in January 2013.
The other relevant issue on my mind is what happened in Anaheim California; the week of violent unrest that followed the police shooting deaths of two Mexican Americans.
One of them, 25-year old Manuel Diaz was unarmed. First of all, the legitimate outrage over the killings is discredited by the mindless, selfish looting and trashing of local businesses that followed the news of the Diaz death.
Credit to Anaheim mayor Tom Tait, who on Tuesday accepted an invitation to visit relatives and neighbors of the victim in the hard scrabble Anna Drive neighborhood where the fatal shooting took place.
It is not far from Disneyland geographically, but in all other ways it is a million miles from the Magic Kingdom. Poor, and gang-infested, the area has suffered five fatal police shootings in the first seven months of 2012 alone.
Their city burdened by the usual social problems associated with wide-spread poverty, the cops in Anaheim seem to have morphed into the NYPD of the 1970s.
When New York spiraled down, the cops assumed the posture of an army of occupation whose sole task was containing urban ills and keeping them from the embattled better neighborhoods in the Big Apple.
The Anaheim P.D. must remember that they serve everyone, not just Mickey Mouse, the hockey Ducks or the baseball Angels.
What is happening there cries out for a full, fair investigation by the U.S. Attorney. Sure there are two Anaheims, but the cops have to support folks on both sides of the tracks.