Daily Archives: June 23, 2010

“An Atypical Day in American Sport”

A couple of days ago I wrote a post entitled, “Proud To Be An American.”  In this post I discussed why I love the sports that Americans tend to prefer such as basketball, baseball, and football.  And basically talked about how soccer and the World Cup is nice, but it is not even on the same level as the American big 3 (baseball, basketball, football).  I still stand by this statement. 

But today was a day full of amazing sporting occurences in the non macho American sports.  Today was a day dominated by a thrilling end to a World Cup game that sent the American squad to the round of 16 and the longest tennis match of all time.  And the scariest part.  The  tennis match is still not even over yet.  John Isner and Nicolas Mahut head into Thursday still not knowing if they have advanced past the first round.  How many times do players head into Thursday without having advanced to the 2nd round of a Grand Slam?

So earlier today the American soccer team took on an Algeria squad looking to dash the Yanks’ dreams of making it out of pool play.  The refs once again really hurt the Americans and took away a Clint Dempsey goal on an abysmal offsides call.  Heading into extra time of the 2nd half, the Americans appeared to be headed home.  And even though they were on the attack for the majority of the game, they could not seem to find the back of the net.  England had won, and with a tie, the Americans would fail to advance beyond pool play for a 2nd consecutive World Cup.  Then all of the sudden Algeria got a decent shot on goal.  And the Americans went on the counterattack.  Landon Donovan, who I am not calling the Derek Jeter of US soccer, put the ball in the back of the net and did a beautiful head first slide onto the grass in celebration (did he learn how to slide like this from Derek Jeter?).  A sigh of relief rung throughout the American soccer nation.  What a disappointment it would have been to fail to advance out of pool play again.  The Americans live another day in the World Cup. 

Then the other exhilarating sporting event of the day.  A first round tennis match at Wimbledon.  John Isner, one of the top ranked Americans in the world split the first 4 sets with Nicolas Mahut on Tuesday and headed into Wednesday expecting to probably finish the match within an hour.  Boy was he wrong.  Their 5th set is currently knotted up at an astounding 59 to 59!  Their 5th set has lasted longer than any other full match in the history of the game.  The total span of the match thus far is over 10 hours.  And they still are not finished.  The previous longest match ever was 6  hours and 33 minutes in a 2004 battle between Fabrice Santoro and Arnaud Clement.  The 5th set alone in this match has lasted longer than that entire match.

How are these guys still standing?  Running a marathon would be easier than this.  It is a shame that this match is on one of the side courts and is not between 2 high-profile players, but it is still epic anyways.  Hats off to both of these amazing athletes and it is a dire shame that only one of them gets to advance into the 2nd round.  Also Isner and Mahut will forever be linked and in the record books with this astonishing battle.  So even if Isner never develops into a Grand Slam Champion like most Americans hope and expect he will become, he will always have this match to talk about.

So there you have it.  A day of amazing excitement in the non big 3.  A day of major excitement even for the Americans.

What more could you really ask for?

Stay tuned for the next edition of Sportskraze.


“Another One Bites the Dust”

Red's pitcher Mike Leake pitching for the Arizona State Sun Devils last season.

I realize most typical American sports fans are not avid followers of the College  Baseball scene.  Everyone knows that in the NCAA, football and basketball reign supreme.  And rightfully so, as these are the two sports that bring in the most revenue to their Universities.  Now I will admit that I am not an extremely avid follower of the College Baseball scene myself.  But I do typically call a couple of a baseball games for my University from the booth every year and tune in to the College World Series, but other than that, the sport is very hard to follow.

Outside of the tourney in Omaha, College Baseball really gets no television time making it very difficult to follow a team other than your local University.  So I digress.  The number 1 seed heading into this year’s tournament was Arizona State.  The boys out of Arizona State are one of the most well-known and respected baseball programs in the country year in and year out.  They have made it to Omaha a staggering 22 times and won 5 National Championships (none since 1981 though).  In addition they have produced players that you may be highly familiar with such as Reggie Jackson, Barry Bonds, Dustin Pedroia, and most recently, Reds rookie phenom Mike Leake (he was pitching in Omaha just last year).  The Sun Devils had a remarkable year and finished 52 and 10 overall (mind you they were 52 and 8 before Omaha).  But somehow, this star-studded and heavily favored squad laid a big egg in Omaha and lost both of their games.

This is a prime example of what makes college sports so great.  Any team can go down on any given day.  Realizing that Arizona State was the heavily favored one seed really got me thinking.  When was the last time that the number 1 overall seed won the CWS?  You would have to go back over a decade to the 1999 Miami Hurricanes squad.  That is 10 plus consecutive years that the favorite has not taken home the crown!  Look at this year’s NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament.  Everyone loves March Madness.  And one of the prime reasons, if not the main one is the unpredictability of the whole event.  Kansas, the overall number 1 seed was eliminated in the 2nd round by little known Northern Iowa.  The number 2 overall seed, Kentucky Wildcats, did not make the Final Four either.  The unforeseeable nature of the college sporting stratosphere is what keeps people coming back for more.

You have to love the unpredictability of college sports.  So if you get a chance this week, tune in to a game on ESPN and really check out how entertaining the sport of College Baseball truly is.  It is every fan’s dream of watching high level baseball with aluminum bats, big time hitting, and kids laying it all on the line.  I mean, who doesn’t like watching high scoring baseball.  The great thing though, this is high scoring baseball minus steroids. 

Or at least we hope..

Stay tuned for the next edition of Sportskraze.


“Should I Stay or Should I Go”

The NBA Finals just ended a little less than a week ago.  And now the fun is really about to begin.  The draft is just two days away, set for Thursday night in NYC.  And boy is it going to be a doozy.  Many of the experts have all the lottery picks as guys who have more college eligibility!  Not to mention this draft is lacking in foreign talent, therefore the League is back to mainly plucking from the NCAA.  This could be the most unpredictable draft in recent memory.  There will be more to come on this soon. 

Then of course there is the day everyone has been waiting for.  July 1st, the start of the NBA free agency period.  Names like Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh, Amare Stoudemire, and Joe Johnson are on the open market just to name a few.  Also there are guys such as Carlos Boozer on the market, who in a typical free agency period, might be the most hotly sought after player.  Not this year.

Then a story that is starting to really come to the forefront.  Both NBA Finals participants are unsure if their head coaches will be returning next season. Phil Jackson and Doc Rivers have made it unclear on whether they will stay or go.  Phil has been saying for a while now that he is unsure if he will come back for a 12th title due to his health.  Doc also made it known before the playoffs that he wasn’t sure if this would be his last hoorah with the Celtics in that he wanted to spend more time with his family.

So will either of these coaches be on the sidelines next year?  I will state that is unlikely that they will both return for another go.  My thoughts on this coaching dilemma.  Doc Rivers is as good as gone.  The Celtics are an aging team that is very unlikely to all be together next year.  I foresee Ray Allen and/or Kevin Garnett both being gone next year.  Not to mention both have lost a step over the years anyways and will continue to as time goes on.  In addition, Doc came so close, yet was so far from capturing that title and going out on top.  I could only see him coming back if he had never won a title as a coach before.  He already accomplished this 2 years ago though.  In addition, his youngest son, Austin, is heading into his senior year of high school and is considered one of the top 10 players in his class.  I do not blame Doc for wanting to be there for every minute of this special time in his son’s life.

Then there is Phil.  Jackson has now won 11 NBA Championships.  The most in NBA history.  He pretty much is known as the consummate winner.  Phil has had the pleasure of coaching some of the greatest players of all time in Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and Shaquille O’Neal.  His triangle offense is legendary.  So after rattling all of this information off you are asking why would he come back then?  Well the man loves to win.  And why not go for the 4th 3 peat of his legendary career?  Phil does not have kids to watch grow up anymore.  He is currently dating his bosses’ daughter.  And all of his players are begging for his return to the sideline.  So if his health is okay, the Zen Master will be back for next season.

So the call here is that Phil Jackson will be back for another go and Doc Rivers will not.  But we will all find out soon enough.

Who will stay and who will go?

Stay tuned for the next edition of Sportskraze.