Sports weeks like these don’t come along often
July 7, 2008
As a weekly column writer, over the course of a 52-episode year you’re going to have your share of duds. Weeks when the top story to address in a column like this might be, say, a three-game winning streak for the Knicks.
But every so often the opposite happens, and along comes a seven-day stretch straight out of Sports Fan Heaven. These are the times when wives get angry, when the brain begins to smoke, when utter sensory saturation is reached.
Such was the case in the past half-fortnight. Forget for a moment that it was the Fourth of July, a blizzard of energy in its own right, and consider the rare collision of significant events we were left to consume and process from across the globe.
For starters, tennis is a sport that dates back to the mid-1800s, yet on Sunday a match that many said was the greatest in the game’s history took place on Centre Court at Wimbledon.
It was not only a thrilling, draining, edge-of-your-couch five-setter between the best two players in the game (a pair of Europeans, at that, who have managed to captivate America with their rivalry).
It was also a sea change moment in the sport, with the equal parts ferocious and athletic 22-year-old Spaniard Rafael Nadal officially supplanting 26-year-old Swiss Roger Federer as the best player in the world (never mind the rankings).
The Wimbledon crown was the first for a Spanish man since 1966, coming just a week after Spain won its first European soccer title since 1964. As if the throngs in Pamplona for the running of the bulls needed another reason to party. …
Not to be overlooked, you had Venus sweeping her baby sister Serena the day before the Federer-Nadal epic to claim her fifth Wimbledon singles crown, further cementing her status as an all-time great ” and preserving at least a sliver of respectability for American tennis.
Then the two of them went out and won the doubles title that night ” an almost unheard-of turnaround ” giving the family $2.5 million in prize money for the day and improving their record in Grand Slam doubles finals to 7-0. …
Through the Chunnel and across the continent, the Tour de France began for the second straight year without its defending champion in the field. In a different week, this might have been the biggest story here in Colorado, especially since a Boulder-based team, Garmin-Chipotle, is contesting the race.
As it is, however, the Tour has endured so much misfortune and betrayal in recent editions that it’s gotten to a point where the race has to prove itself ” at least in my opinion ” worthy of our trust and attention this July. Stay tuned on that front. …
Precisely six hours away as time zones go, a strapping, glowing, 41-year-old mom set an Omaha, Neb., pool ablaze with a stunning performance. Dara Torres, who made her Olympic debut in 1984, at 17, not only qualified for the U.S. team ” her fifth ” she set an American record in the 50 free and will enter the Beijing Games as a gold medal contender.
Oh, by the way, so will Michael Phelps, who finished all 15 of his Olympic Trials races in first place. …
Meantime, in Eugene, Ore., American track and field’s apple core, the U.S. Olympic team took shape with some mesmerizing developments of its own.
We saw Tyson Gay, the overwhelming 200-meter gold medal favorite, go down in one of the more violent running collapses I can remember, crippled in his bid for Beijing gold in that event due to a simple muscle strain.
We saw honest exultation and we saw hearts break, and for one ” naturalized citizen Bernard Lagat ” we saw the best of the free world’s allowances, as he attempts to win gold for his new home nation in the 1,500 meters. …
From America’s pastime came a most unlikely blockbuster. Reigning American League Cy Young Award winner C.C. Sabathia left Cleveland for, of all places, Milwaukee, where the mashing Brew Crew (49-39) will attempt to return to relevance in three short months. …
Down south, some kind of painful took place in Arizona, where painful play seems to be on the menu every night now. Only this wasn’t another D-Backs loss; it was catcher Chris Snyder “fracturing” his testicle during a game. I’ll leave it to you to find out more. …
In our “this just in” category, we found our Headline of the Week on CNN.com, “Bush: Olympic boycott would insult Chinese,” which makes you wonder whether sports analysis is in Dubya’s future. …
Oh, and in parting, Alex Rodriguez is now reportedly seeing Madonna and his wife (soon to be ex-wife) is shacking up with Lenny Kravitz in Paris.
Don’t blink now.
” Breckenridge resident Devon O’Neil’s $0.02 column runs Tuesdays. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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