Summer can sometimes get a bum rap in the world of sports. By the end of June, basketball and hockey have both lapsed into their off-seasons, leaving the average viewer or fan down to baseball, tennis and golf. Compared to football, basketball and hockey (which are all three built on mostly break-neck action) we’re talking about the most stereotypically slow and unexciting games of the sporting world. That being said, this summer’s early months have been full of some wonderful moments and contests, proving the stereotype wrong in spades and keeping this sports fan’s plate more than full.
The baseball season has always been a big deal for me, with the Detroit Tigers being the only team I live and die for other than the Ohio State Buckeyes. As a result, baseball and summer are never a let down for me, though I’d be lying if said I didn’t spend a good deal of the summer anticipating the next season of Buckeye football in the fall. This year’s baseball season has been full of big surprises and competitive pennant races across the board, some of which I’ve already explored a bit in previous posts. The exclamation point on the first half of the season came a couple of weeks back when the American and National leagues met in the mid-summer classic, the All Star Game. The game has taken on a bit more weight and relevance since it became the deciding factor in home field advantage for the World Series, and this year’s contest was only further energized by being the last to be played in Yankee Stadium.
Joe Buck, Fox’s play-by-play announcer, called the soon-to-be-abandoned Yankee Stadium the American equivalent of the Coliseum in
While the All Star Game is an exhibitory affair, both leagues are obviously interested in a win because of both pride and the prize of home field advantage in the World Series. It can sometimes make for an uneasy mix of decisions for each team’s manager, because while each wants to play all of the players selected to appear in the game, exceptions must be made when it comes to banged up players or pitchers on short rest. Situations like last night’s game, where the contest happens to stretch into extra innings, create a series of tough decisions to be made. In extras, both teams’ benches are stretched thin in both position players and pitchers, which led to the game’s first ever tie a few years back in 2002. Both teams were out of pitchers and because of substitution rules, the game either had to end in a tie or have the final pitchers for each squad throw until the contest ended. Since the best pitchers from all of the MLB teams are throwing, no manager wants to see his guy go any longer than necessary.
It’s why so much talk was focused around
While I’m a bit late in commenting on the All Star Game, I’m very late in commenting on the
The kid has been the only player in the world that seems like he can actually give Federer fits on the court, and his match with the world’s greatest at
His address to the crowd (after playfully climbing into the stands to embrace his family and honor Spanish royalty in attendance) gave more than a tip of the hat to Federer, glowingly lauding Roger on an amazing match and giving him the respect the best player in the world deserves. Federer’s comments after the match were equally respectful, though you could see the crack of sheer disappointment in his exasperated smile at the press conference. The rivalry that is brewing between these two players is exactly what men’s tennis has lacked for so many years, ironically because Federer has been simply unbeatable for so long. Now he finds himself in the middle of a power struggle in the sport, and while the two men are a bit too congenial with one and other for a Connors/McEnroe type war that was so electrifying for the sport in the past, it should help revitalize tennis and make for great viewing down the road.
One of my first few posts on this-a-here blog was all about my aversion to the level of coverage that Roger Clemens received during his congressional questioning about his steroid use. At the time I thought my feelings toward Roger may have had something to do with my disgust with the publicity he was receiving from ESPN (who I have also loosed my venom upon for their “journalism” in a previous post), but now I realize that the sports media juggernaut can inspire the same level of scorn when it comes to an athlete I truly admire, Brett Favre. The network has been simply relentless in their coverage of Favre’s un-retirement, with the crawl at the bottom of the screen addressing his situation with the same frequency as the day’s baseball, tennis and WNBA scores. In between what I feel to be pertinent information, like who won the Tiger’s game that night, I’m also inundated with the latest comments from Favre or the Green Bay Packers or a reporter who happened to hear a rumor about the whole situation.
I don’t need constant updates on this whole saga, because like I said about the Clemens case, it simply doesn’t deserve this level of attention. Favre and the Packers are going to sort this whole situation out shortly, and until then I don’t need to hear about every phone call or text message the guy sent to a Vikings offensive coordinator or if Aaron Rodgers (Favre’s heir-apparent in Green Bay) cracked a smile when Justin Timberlake was making jokes about the situation on the ESPY’s. I realize that the guy is among the sport’s greatest of all time, but if he decides to come back as a Packer or a member of any other team, just let me know when that happens. I simply can’t take ESPN’s dependence on rumor and innuendo to create a story when that air-time could be devoted to more baseball highlights and analysis or actual developments in the NFL off-season outside of Favre’s situation.
Like I said, I do like Favre quite a bit and the level of attention he is receiving is not quite as bad as the whole Roger Clemens debacle. Still, Favre’s sudden change of heart about playing football again was released to the media in slippery ways that for me, indicate that Favre not only misses the competition of the NFL, but the limelight it creates as well. I don’t think he’s a preening sports diva like Terrell Owens or Manny Ramirez, but he had to know that telling former teammates he was “getting the itch” to play again and making contact with other teams’ coaching staffs was going to end up in the press. He has put an undo amount of pressure on the Packers organization, whose rabid fanbase is foaming at the mouth for Favre’s return, and slighted Aaron Rodgers to a more than necessary degree as he tries to step into Brett’s former role. Rodgers, who was a college phenom at
What Favre is doing is unfair to the Packers, Rodgers, and the fans in
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