A Saturday Sports Smorgasbord

2010 June 19

An early Saturday morning — these don’t happen often for me. What better time to write an insanely long post where I attempt to cover two dozen things. I think I’ll start out just talking about baseball, but perhaps I’ll make my way to the World Cup, or the Stanley Cup Playoffs, or the NBA Finals, or the French Open. Man, I have missed a lot of potential bullshit to write about this past month.

Two perfect games have been thrown since I last wrote — one official, one unofficial. Even though Roy Halladay is on the Phillies, I was rooting for him to get that perfect game. I wanted people to realize how fucking awesome he is, and I think that’s finally happened. I think it’s happened with Chase Utley, too. Maybe It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia was the tipping point. Or maybe it was the 5 HR in the World Series. Who could possibly guess?

But a player that people don’t yet appreciate AT ALL is Ryan Zimmerman. I thought maybe his fantastic year last season — combined with David Wright’s down year — would bring him into the discussion as the best 3B in the NL. Sure, it has done that among internet denizens, but it seems the general public still doesn’t even know he exists. Hitting .295 with 13 HR while being lauded for top-notch defense apparently isn’t enough to be in the Top 5 in All-Star Game voting. It’s almost infuriating to hear people talk about Stephen Strasburg and say how it’s great that the Nationals “finally have a star.” I’d say that maybe 3B just isn’t that sexy or something, but both Evan Longoria and the aforementioned Wright have had their knobs lathered with sportswriter adulation for a couple of years now. Zimmerman deserves to be given EXACTLY the same amount of attention and praise. I should have left some of this for its own post.

The World Cup, on the other hand, I can cover more than well enough within this post — mostly because I don’t know shit and can think of multiple friends who could write up more interesting thoughts on it. I know America got fucked over, I know England has been hilariously awful, and I know there have been a number of mind-blowing upsets. That’s about as much as I can be bothered to type about soccer.

Two other sports I barely care about finished up in the past month. It’s kinda sad, because I do find hockey pretty damn exciting when I care (like USA-Canada in the Olympics), but I just couldn’t bring myself to watch more than a period of two a game intently. And that wasn’t until the Finals. The NBA just sucks. I hate it. I hate the Lakers. I hate the Celtics. I hate how games turn into foul-shooting contests. I hate how much refs can control games. I hate Phil Jackson’s face.

(I will overcome these feelings if LeBron comes to the Knicks.)

Keeping up with other things that suck, The Sporting News published their “25 Under 25″ list. This would be their rankings of the best young athletes in only the popular North American sports. There is no Michael Phelps. No Lionel Messi (someone alerted me to his greatness). No Rafael Nadal. These are three generational talents, but they don’t play baseball, basketball, (American) football, hockey…or drive a fucking stock car. To be fair, it doesn’t seem like they cover the sports in which those athletes excel, but it’s pathetic anyway. Even Sportscentury, if I remember correctly, made a point to say “North America” whenever referring to its list of greatest athletes of the 20th century.

If you didn’t figure it out, this was a way for me to mention Rafael Nadal taking back his rightful place as the King of Clay at Roland Garros. He now has five French Open titles to go along with his one Wimblebon and one Australian Open. He’s still not even halfway to Roger Federer’s total of 16 Grand Slam title, but he could make it there in the coming weeks at Wimbledon. I think every tennis fan is praying for another Federer-Nadal Grand Slam final. There hasn’t been one since the 2009 Australian Open. None of the finals since then have quite lived up to that one, although the Federer-Roddick 2009 Wimbledon war of attrition came close. I know some people found that serve-dominated match to be boring, but I found Roddick’s determination absolutely enthralling. That’s about as embarrassingly gushy as I’ve ever gotten on this blog, but fuck if I didn’t feel for Roddick after that match. HE JUST CAN’T BEAT FEDERER.

But yeah, a Federer-Nadal Wimbledon final is solely needed; I won’t accept anything less. I said going into 2008 Wimbledon that if Nadal beat Federer, it would signal the beginning of the end. I was wrong then, but I’m going back to that well. Federer is now 29. He didn’t reach the semifinals at the French, ending a streak of 23 consecutive Grand Slam semifinals. Nadal is not yet 25 — even if his knees might be older than Federer’s. I’ll leave it at that.

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