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  • 07:50 PM ET  08.12
12:30 a.m. Yes, in TV land the national anthem is customarily played at signoff. And as NBC signs off, so does this Beijing blog. Many thanks to all contributors (particularly the mighty Bechtel) and readers. In my book, you all get the gold!!

12:28 a.m. Karolyi reiterates his underage remark...this will not go away.

12:25 a.m. Michael Phelps suffers his first loss...for words. Andrea Kremer has the nightly task of finding different ways to ask, "How does it feel?" Hang in there, Andrea.

12:19 a.m. Daggett nailed it: The Chinese earned it.

12:11 a.m. Wow, Bob Costas gets Bela Karolyi to play the age card (re whether the Chinese are really old enough). Will be interesting to see how this plays out.

12:03 a.m. An early-morning thought from Beijing blogger and resident Cubs fan Mark Mravic: This is really the first Olympics my son, Branko, has watched. He's 11. About three-fourths of the way through the 4x200 tonight, as the U.S. looked about five seconds ahead, he just stared at the screen and said, "I love America."

12:01 a.m. (Hey, Burke, do I get overtime?) No one has had as bad a night as Sacramone since Dan Uggla at the All-Star Game.

11:56 p.m. OK, fourth quarter. Can the U.S. pull an Eli Manning?

11:47 p.m. This, for Alicia Sacramone, is the Jim McKay "agony of defeat" moment.

11:42 p.m. Oooh, Daggett's questioning the Chinese scores (too high). Could be a talk-radio topic tomorrow!

11:35 p.m. From Bechtel: I do not envy the rest of Phelps's relay team. It's not enough that their own Olympic dreams are on the line, but if one of them blows it then the biggest story of the Games goes down the drain... Also, would it kill NBC to show the total scores in gymnastics instead of telling us what everyone has averaged? I realize it's kind of apples and oranges, but I'm following it online and it's not exactly rocket science.

11:30 p.m. This from my daughter: "Phelps is the Secretariat of swimming!" ...As excited as Dan Hicks is, you have to fight not to get blase...the ease with which Phelps is accomplishing this sometimes makes it seem like just another day at the office.

11:18 p.m.Obviously, NBC wants to show all swimming finals, but in doing so, it had to leave gymnastics at a crucial moment, with the Chinese on the parallel bars. Maybe it should not have broken the flow and stayed a few more minutes with the gymnastics and showed the women's IM on a slight delay?...Meantime, you can hear Daggett's deflation over this superb Chinese score on the bars.

11:07 p.m. Wish they would address: In the old days, would Nastia Liukin have gotten a perfect 10?

11:02 p.m Kudos to Tim Daggett for pinpointing the source of Chelsie Memmel's deduction.

10:55 p.m. As Al Trautwig noted, kind of forebodingly, "How many times in the Olympics has it been Russia, the U.S. and China?"

10:50 p.m. For those who might have been having trouble with the paragraphing on this blog, we think we have identified the problem and made the appropriate adjustments. We apologize and appreciate your staying with us.

10: 38 p.m. If he had been in the arena for her vault, Dick Vitale would have called clutch Chinese gymnast Deng LinLin a "PTP-er."

10:29 p.m. The Beijing blog's Sir Mix-a-lot, Larry Burke, weighs in: Here's one of my (many) pet peeves--why does NBC put up the big name-ID-graphic thingie in the swimmer's lane just as he or she is making the last turn for home? It obscures the swimmer's body at a crucial point of the race. (Gaines even said, "Watch Phelps on this turn..." And then we couldn't see him!)

10:24 p.m Echoes of Al Michaels by Hicks when Phelps approached the wall: "Is he gonna stand alone in Olympic history? YES!"

10:12 p.m. Hey, my man Jason Lezak made it to the 100-m free finals! Coming from the golf beat, I'm thinking of Jason as the Rocco Mediate of swimming.

10:03 p.m. I almost hate to bring this up, but watching Dan Hicks and Rowdy Gaines tout the evening's activities in the pool, I had this thought: If Phelps doesn't win, NBC will have a collective heart attack.

9:55 p.m. I've seen some criticisms of Mary Carillo's travelogues as being a.) too cutesy and b.) having nothing to do with what's going on in the arena. I say: Lighten up, people! Loved Mary's question to the Chinese vet about the Whitman's Sampler.

9:43 p.m. OK, with the US team winning solidly in volleyball, the evening's prelims are ending. If you haven't popped your popcorn already, get it into the microwave pronto.

9:39 p.m Play-by-play man Chris Marlowe got off a good one by referring to the middle, where Dalhausser's serves are going, as "the husband-and-wife area of no communication." I'd ask my wife is she agrees, but...

9:31 p.m. Wonders Bechtel: This question has been troubling me all week: Who does Phil Dalhausser more closely resemble? A young James Carville or Billy Corgan?

9:25 p.m. NBC analyst Karch Kiraly adapts the basketball truism to beach volleyball: You can't teach height.

9:15 p.m. Sandbox expansion: Will backyard volleyball courts like Todd Rogers' be the next yuppie craze? Would sure save a bundle on lawn maintenance.

9 p.m. Combat duty (interviewing Debbie Phelps) for Cris Collinsworth--morphing before our eyes into the amiable Zelig of TV sports!

8:55 p.m. I did like Potter's calling one dive "a tidal wave."

8:52 p.m. Bechtel re Kath and Kim: It has Selma Blair in a comedic role and it's based on a show from Australia, a country whose most significant contributions to the world of comedy are Paul Hogan and Yahoo Serious. So my guess, Mrs. F, is no.

8:50 p.m. More from Bechtel, re diving: The judging in this sport is terrible. How can one judge give a 7.0 for execution and another judge give the same dive a 4.5? It's just too hard to rely on the naked eye. The Mexican dive stunk--the replay, especially the overhead one, made it clear that they weren't rotating in sync, but in real time it didn't look that bad. If the entire competition is going to come down to judging, they really should let the judges look at the dives in slo-mo.

8:46 p.m. One thing I've appreciated is the way NBC has given us exact times for the start of upcoming events. That way, if we want to do something else during the earlier acts (particularly those, like the synchronized diving that we're watching now, in which the results are known), we can.

8:32 p.m. My wife, having seen all the promos, just asked me if Kath and Kim is supposed to be any good. My answer (which I give for almost anything she asks): How the hell am I supposed to know?

8:27 p.m. A first entry from ace staff blogger Mark Bechtel: I must say, I'm a little disappointed that NBC is completely ignoring the women's soccer competition. Today (our today, their last nite) was a huge day (nite)--the U.S. beat New Zealand and Norway somehow got shelled by Japan, which means the U.S. won its group and, more significantly, will avoid Brazil and Germany in the quarters and semis. Enormous day (nite), and worthy of a highlight or two. Also, how awesome was it to see the guy from Togo win a bronze in the kayak? When I was in Germany for the World Cup, I met some very nice Togolese. That's the end of the story. No payoff or anything. Just that my only two experiences with Togo have been pleasant.

8:21 p.m. I always measure Olympic analysts by the gold standard: figure skating's Dick Button. He not only explains a move, but also pinpoints the most minute mistakes in ways a layman can understand. By these measures, the diving analyst, Cynthia Potter, is very solid.

8:13 p.m. To answer Head Kick KO's question below: I guess NBC has decided that judo is not a ready-for-prime time sport--doesn't have the appeal to the treasured female demographic.

8:08 p.m. I must confess, despite the obvious and enormous expertise of Bela Karolyi, I am a little bothered by his presence as an NBC analyst. His wife, Martha , is of course the U.S. coach. It's as if a network had enlisted Bill Clinton as an analyst when Hillary was in the running for the Democratic presidential nomination.

7:50 p.m. ET Good evening, FanNation members. This is Dick Friedman, SI senior editor, and I'll be your emcee for Night 4 of the Michael Phelps Show--I mean, the NBC prime-time telecast. Phelps, of course, will be sharing the spotlight with the women's gymnasts. I hope to hear from other members of the Beijing blog staff and, more important, from you.

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