Midsummers Minute Pt. 2
Recapping the past month's big events in professional sports
After Ryan’s recap of all the the Hoos now off to the pros — read it here — here’s all you need to know about the professional sporting world more broadly. Fair warning, it’s slightly overwhelming trying to condense everything into a few hundred words. That’s why I’m not going to even attempt the impossible — instead taking a page from the syllabus of, I assume, every creative writing professor and simply write what I know. With that in mind, a few sportive notes from these so-called dog days of summer (my German Shepherd resents the phrase):
The World Cup: it happened.
Lionel Messi kicked the ball better than just about anyone from the United States has ever kicked a soccer ball, but the Germans took home the trophy — or at least a replica of it.
Lebron watched the finale from somewhere in the seats at Rio de Janeiro’s Maracanã Stadium — which brings us to a different subject in which I am less ignorant: the NBA.
NBA free agency: the Wizards and Mavericks scored big this summer. Washington signed Paul Pierce for the full mid-level exception (two years, $10.6 million) while retaining valued big man Marcin Gortat (aka “The Polish Hammer”). Otto Porter, Jr. figures to see important minutes this season when Pierce (aka “The Truth”) isn’t banging home his patented stop-and-pop elbow jumper or draining the threes formerly attempted by Trevor Ariza. Bradley Beal was even invited to USA Basketball’s upcoming mini-camp, though John Wall’s invitation has yet to turn up. The ghosts of Kwame Brown and Javale McGee still haunt Verizon Center, but things are looking up in the District. Now they just need to get someone to turn down the humidity and smooth over those potholes.
In Dallas, Dirk re-signed at a discount (à la 2012 Tim Duncan), and Chandler Parsons arrived after the Rockets, banking on a free-agent score that never fully materialized, declined to match Dallas’s three-year, $46 million offer. Tyson Chandler is back in Big D just a few years after helping the Mavs take home the 2011 title. Coach Rick Carlisle (one of the great Virginia Cavaliers) must be thinking playoffs, even after Vince Carter left for Memphis.
Lebron James recently told Sports Illustrated he’s coming home to play for the Cavaliers. Since then, the Los Angeles Lakers are without a coach. Carmelo Anthony re-signed with New York after considering an alliance with Kobe Bryant in the Southern California sun. Steve Nash is looking old, and Julius Randle isn’t the next Z-Bo yet (though he could be in a couple of years). Outside Laker Land, in Baltimore and Seattle, the future is even cloudier. The two basketball hotbeds continue to play some serious East and West Coast ball, but neither’s got an NBA team.
Wimbledon: We’ll only discuss the most hallowed of grass-court tennis tourneys briefly, since just one American man sits in the world’s top 50 and Serena Williams, the Queen of the WTA, is mired in a yearlong slump — but the spectacle of the summer Grand Slam was too good not to recount. Roger Federer played like himself — except at once a younger version of himself and an older version that guy wouldn’t recognize — striking the ball with precision, handling himself with grace and attacking the net like it stole his second pair of shoes. With Stefan Edberg on his side, the 32-year-old Swiss great made the final, where he fell to Novak Djokovic in five sets that lasted more than four hours. If it was Federer’s last run at a major tournament, at least he went out swinging and with his twin daughters watching from the stands.
Major League Baseball: the As are rocking and rolling; the Cubs are losing and losing a lot (but not for much longer, hopefully); the Nationals and Braves are battling it out in the NL East, and Jose Abreu is proving once again that these ballplayers from Cuba are really, really good. Masahiro Tanaka dominated the American League before suffering a fairly serious ligament tear, and Clayton Kershaw pitched 41 consecutive scoreless innings and no-hit the Rockies. Former Virginia Cavalier Sean Doolittle made the AL All-Star team, representing Oakland, and fellow Wahoo Ryan Zimmerman showed he can play left field as well as most. Derek Jeter is halfway through his last season with a decent chance of making the playoffs, while Mike Trout, the game’s current once-in-a-generation player, hasn’t exactly slowed down at age 22 — he’s got 24 home runs, 76 RBI and 10 stolen bases in 96 games. Not bad.
And, outside of the Tour de France, American soccer, the WNBA, the British Open and everything else in this ever-expanding sports universe, that’s pretty much what’s happened in the past few weeks. Next time, we’ll discuss a few of the highlights and lowlights from this summer of fun.
Click here to read the third installment of the Midsummers Minute, where Matt and Ryan take a look at this summer season’s highlights and lowlights.