Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Neverending Match Ended

Love Tennis? Hate Tennis? Don’t care about Tennis? It doesn’t matter in this case. This is one of those stories that is just something that transcends the sport. This is not just an achievement in terms of an athletic feat but it is just captivating in terms of the magnitude of this one match.

The longest match up to this point was 6 hours, 33 minutes, set at the 2004 French Open, and the previous record for longest-ever fifth set was a mere 40 games. That pales in comparison to today’s match between American and 23rd seeded John Isner and Frenchman Nicolas Mahut. This match has not only been suspended once due to darkness When the score was 6-4, 3-6, 6-7 (7-9), 7-6 (7-3) . Then they came back for the 5th and deciding set the next day. That 5th set made for the longest match in history and then it also got suspended due to darkness when the match was ties 59-59 in games. Each player has held serve the entire set and just keep going back and forth.

The two greatest match I have seen have both been at Wimbledon. One was Roger Federer vs Nadal and the other was Federer vs Andy Roddick. No one is accusing this as being games of that nature. Those were exciting well played edge of your seat action with the trophy on the line. This is more like a boxing match without a 12 or 15 round limit. This is where both guys are getting their shots in and it is just back and forth shot for shot and the first mistake will likely cost one of these young men the game.

The thing with this game is that we may not remember the names of these guys 5 years from now but we will remember the match as the "Lamb Chop Match"....the one that ‘Will never end, yes it goes on and on my friends, some people started singing it, not knowing what it was, and they’ll continue singing it forever just because...’ it is an unbelievable feat not just in terms of time but of games played and the will of these two athletes.

And it is over 70-68 for the 23rd ranked John Isner and his 112 aces. And thus concludes one of the craziest tennis matches that you may ever see or hear about again in 11+ hours. For a first round match a lot of effort and energy was extended.
To put it all in perspective the first 4 sets went 2h 54min the 5th set alone lasted longer then the LONGEST MATCH EVER 8h 11min over 3 matches end faster then this did...WOW.
note: I am usually wrong when it comes to making wagers on the Proline but I will throw this out on whomever either of these guys plays in the next round...these gentlemen will almost have to be spent after this and after 3 days of play for one match there may be some scheduling issues that may creep into play. Also look to see these dudes in some Degree, AXE or Old Spice Deodorant/antiperspirant commercial in the near future!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Wizard of Westwood

It has been close to 2 weeks now but I didn’t want to not touch on the passing of arguably one of the best coaches, not just in basketball but in any major team sport.
UCLA’s icon John Wooden passed away June 4th in his 99th year. He is a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame as both a player (inducted in 1961) and as a coach (inducted in 1973). He was the first person ever enshrined in both categories. Only two others since have had that honour.
All he did as a coach was win. This is shown by the ten NCAA National Championships in a 12-year period while at UCLA. 3 of his tems went through perfect and undefeated. Also he was a winner off the court in his teaching of his players and just regular people alike. His Pyramid of Success is part of what made him so great as a teacher of both basketball and life.The Pyramid of Success consists of philosophical building blocks for winning at basketball and at life. In his later years he was hired by corporations to deliver inspirational lectures and even appeared in commercials for Hartford Insurance and the NCAA.

Some of Woodens Maxims include:
• Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.
• Flexibility is the key to stability.
• Be quick, but don’t hurry.

I am glad to say that I was able to get this All Time Greats autograph before he passed away and also received a card with information about the Pyramid of Success and his 7 point creed. Pretty cool to get something like that from a legend.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Seven Up-In LA

It is a nice thing to see a good team actually play as a team, play with effort and play with heart. The Lakers are a good team and when they show up and play with some urgency they make shots, force turnovers, get rebounds, play good defence and force good luck and good bounces.

While watching the Lakers-Celtics game 6 last night, although one-sided it was still good to watch, especially as a Kobe and Lakers fan. When the team you are rooting for manages a victory in the double digits and the game never in doubt you can sit back and watch a game and enjoy it for what it is and not fear that this could be the end of the line.

The Lakers bench and rest of the team for that matter actually showed up to play and played with a little fire. Ron Artest looked focused and didn’t try to force things. Lamar Odom looked at least a little less laid back and was a solid contributor and Pau Gasol gave a good solid game. The team actually helped Kobe and gave him the option of using them...but more importantly trusting them. Kobe has not taken more then 30 shots in an game win or lose. For him to be criticized for jacking up too many shots in game 5 and not using his team is silly. If your team isn’t helping you, sometimes you have to take over. It is not selfish to put the team on your back, sometimes the best have to be the best. The unfortunate thing for Kobe is he can’t win unless he wins. IF they lose and he put up 40 he is a ball hog, if he only get 18 then he had a bad game or was contained. If they win and he has the same numbers he was a leader on the court with 40 or he made his teammates better with 18...damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

All I know now is there is going to be a Game 7 at the Staples Centre on Thursday night and it is for all the marbles and should be a tight well played game and will likely go down to the wire...and I have no idea what happen, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the Celtics came out and take the game.

We will see how it all goes down on the court.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Chipper To Talk To Braves Management

Chipper Jones has hinted that his retirement could be near. It looks like the 38-year-old, six-time All-Star might be ready to make that call when he sits down today with the Braves.

More on this when I hear more.... Chipper is my favorite player and I fear that his end may be near with my Braves. This might be a tough one to take.

Friday, June 11, 2010

World Cup? I'll Pass...Since That Is All They Do Anyway

All signs are pointing to this being the end. Yes it has in fact been 4 years already and unfortunately that means that the World Cup of Soccer is now at hand, silly FIFA. Now there is some saving grace that the games are during the morning hours so I shouldn’t accidental trip over a broadcast but that doesn’t save me from the ‘highlights’ on shows like SportsCenter. Even the local sports radio station, the Team 1200 is bending over for this event. Not only are they bringing in the Team 990 soccer guy in the mornings, Noel Butler (who’s show by the way is called Oranges at Halftime..brutal), They are having a former employee call in the afternoon show to talk footy, they are picking up the ESPN soccer wrap up show in the evenings as well. Then there is the regular ‘new’ show called ‘Corner Kicks’ on Thursdays. This is just not cool. You can hardly get baseball coverage on the ‘all sports format’ but your airways are polluted with this garbage, where is the justice.

The only thing worse then watching soccer is listening to people talk about soccer. I understand the interests as it related to kids, it is inexpensive and is good exercise TO PLAY. To follow as a competition, no thanks. Even to gamble on it is not fun, half the time the games look not to be on the up and up and with the probability of a nil-nil draw on the pitch so high one never sees the offensive explosion of a 2-1 game happening, those bastards come out of nowhere!

Here is the soccer breakdown for this month long margarine known as the World Cup in 3...2...1

‘Blake kicks the ball with high hopes that it will enter the goal, but it does not.’

I know we promised you soccer highlights, so let me just tell you that England beat USA one-nothing, Ivory Coast beat South Africa one-nothing, Uruguay beat South Korea one-nothing, and Italy beat Brazil 2-1 in an offensive slug fest. A modest proposal - make the nets bigger.

A tip of the cap to the character Dan Rydell for the inspiration and partial quotes as it relates to soccer.

Remember here at I’ll bring you the thrill of victory, and the agony of defeat, and because we’ve got soccer highlights, the sheer pointlessness of a zero-zero tie.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

It's Strasmus in Washington

Stephen Strasburg, the Washington Nationals young pitcher and last year’s No. 1 overall draft pick who went on to sign a record US $15.1 million contract before stepping onto a major League Diamond, went beyond the hype by striking out 14 batters in his electric major league debut. Unfortunately that may have been the worse thing he could have done. You always want to make your first game memorable but that in itself comes with a lot of extra baggage.

With a standing-room-only crowd cheering every pitch, the Washington Nationals phenom put on a dazzling display of pitching power Tuesday night in a 5-2 win over Pittsburgh. He was only touched up once on a 2 run home run but the rest of the time looked virtually untouchable. His fastballs topped 100 mph., and his nasty curves fell off the table and made opposing batters look silly standing in the box. What was equally as impressive was that he managed to do it in 94 pitches - just shy of the limit imposed by management before the game -- and 65 were strikes. He threw strikes and worked fast.

Usually when there is this much hype it doesn’t live up to it...not this time, the kid was SICK. That being said there is the fear that a) It was versus the Pirates sand that he still has yet to face a Major League Team and b) he may set the bar too high to soon. Every start from now on will be compared to this game...a tall order for a seasoned vet let alone a 21 year old fireballer. How does he respond when he gets roughed up in a start? There have been Phenoms before him that have looked good only to flame out (Mark Prior and Kerry Wood), lets hope that is not the case for this kid. Only time will tell if he has a Hall of Fame arm or is just a flash in the plan. In any event it was one of the most exciting regular season games, maybe ever. When each team plays 162 games a year it is rare that one has she sound and feel that there was in DC last night.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

The 28-Out Perfect Game

By now I am sure most people have heard about Armando Galarraga’s "Perfect Game" that was taken from him by a blown call from 1st Base Umpire Jim Joyce. Many people have had varied opinions on the subject to how this all should have been handled and was it indeed handled correctly.

Given the circumstances I think that mistakes were made on both sides but in the long run it may make this one games stand out and pass the test of time. This will likely be the game that changes baseball forever. This will most likely make baseball expand the use to some sort of new system for instant replay. No small feat for baseball who does not like to adopt change unless it is set in motion by them and on its own timetable. The 28-out perfect game proved to be in many ways a goodwill storey rather then the storm of controversy like the numerous blown calls in last years playoffs resulted in.

Why is this better? Joyce, upon seeing the replay said that he knew he blew the call and ‘kicked the shit’ out of the call. That the poor kid worked his butt off just to have it taken away from him. Most officials from any other sport would have not addressed the media and would have been ‘protected’ by the union. The fact that Joyce got ahead of it and also made a point to go to the tigers dressing room and apologize to Galarraga made a huge difference on how we perceive this mistake. Next is the way that Galarraga reacted while on the field and handled the situation. Most players would flip out and explode with rage, but not Armando, he smiled...smiled. Sure part was in disbelief but the level of maturity and sportsmanship that he showed is the attitude that kids should emulate. They say that athletes should not be role models, maybe but Galarraga may be the exception to that as well.

Did Bud Selig do the right thing by not overturning the call?? Unfortunately yes, you can’t change a call no matter when it happens in a game after the game, even if it ends play and nothing else is to be decided. Sure it is their fault for being too far behind and not dealing with this inevitability sooner in terms of a replay rule but baseball is never quick to make any change. Who is to say that a simmilar call that happened in the 3rd inning doesn't effect everything that happens going forward. The approach to a hitter will change as the circumstances do. What should have happened was there should have been a conference on the field at the time involving the 4 umpires. At that time of the game with a Perfect Game on the line, everyone in the stadium knew what they were seeing and that includes the other 3 umpires. One (or more) should have had the balls to get the 4 guys together and make the correct call. The second base umpire surely had a good view of the play, all eyes would be on first, someone in a position of authority should have stepped up and helped make the correct call, even if it may "embarrass" a colleague. When even the runner can't believe he was called safe chances are the call may not be correct.

There may have been only 20 perfect games ever thrown but it is the 3rd (had it counted) in less then a month. This one will have a lot more staying power for the way it went down then any other. If Galarraga is at all concerned about his place in history going forward he need not. This game will be linked with perfect games forever, some of his gear has been requested to go to the Hall of Fame, the Tigers organization rewarded him with a Corvette. He gets all the pub and knows what he did was the real deal and if he can handle all that he should be just fine.