Midsummers Minute Pt. 3
The highlights and lowlights of the summer so far
Now time for the third installment in The Cavalier Daily’s newest series, the Midsummers Minute. For this edition, Matt and Ryan will look at the highlight and lowlights of the summer sports season so far. Miss the first two parts? Click here to read about the latest Cavaliers to join professional sports and here to catch up on the summer’s biggest professional sports updates.
Ryan: My highlight of this summer has got to be watching Clayton Kershaw return from an early season injury to own the big leagues. What he’s done is incredible, as the Dodgers ace has tossed a no-hitter and ran a scoreless-inning streak to 41 (the fifth-longest streak in the modern era) all in the space of a month. Kershaw currently boasts a 1.71 ERA and a 1.58 FIP (a measurement of ERA only considering factors pitchers can control like strikeouts and home runs given up) — which, if it holds the rest of the year, will be the second-best season from a starting pitcher by that metric in 100 years, according to Grantland. I don’t really have much more space to talk about what he’s done, so if you’re interested in baseball/history/sports/really cool GIFs, I suggest you visit Grantland to read the articles they’ve posted about Kershaw in the last several weeks. The guy is filthy — both in terms of pitching and that phenomenal neck beard — and fun to watch, regardless of who your team is.
Matt: Kershaw’s been awfully good this summer, but nothing’s made me happier than watching the Spurs dismantle the Heat in the NBA Finals as my friends scarfed down some late-night Taco Bell. It wasn’t so much Miami’s fizzling flame as San Antonio’s laudable ball movement that made me smile. Tony Parker knifing into the lane for a deceptively difficult kiss off the glass, Manu Ginobili whipping corner-to-corner baseball passes while jumping over the baseline, Tim Duncan (Old Man Riverwalk!) dumping in bankers despite that slightly lumbering gait and Patty Mills sinking catch-and-shoot threes — these things brought me joy.
“The Heat Game” (or maybe the clunkier but decidedly less confusing “No Air Conditioning at AT&T Game?”) will go down as a classic and/or live in infamy, and Jeff Van Gundy’s insistent praise of Boris Diaw (“the best passer on the Spurs”) might just prompt future conversation on the importance of team basketball. I just hope Kawhi Leonard wins another Finals MVP someday. It was good to hear his voice. Especially after watching San Antonio’s young, quiet star line up jump shot after jump shot to begin game three, leap to the Moon for a game-four tip slam and pour his heart into defending LeBron James.
By the way, I just watched Kershaw fan the Giants’ Mike Fontenot, Aaron Rowand and Cody Ross — on repeat.
Ryan: I think the obvious answer here has to be falling short in the College World Series. Anyone who watched that series saw Virginia dominate Vanderbilt for 25 of 27 innings, which makes the defeat all the more heartbreaking. Seriously, I still think about that series at least once a week. I’m not trying to take anything away from the Commodores — especially John Norwood, whose eighth-inning home run off a 97-mph high-and-inside fastball from Howard was just ridiculous — but I think Virginia should have won. I’m incredibly proud of what our team did — again, it was historically great — but it would’ve been nice to bring home the hardware. On the other hand, maybe it’s for the best — it really wouldn’t have been fair — selfish, even — for Virginia to have 21 National Championships before our turkey friends to the south get even one (no, bass fishing does NOT count, so don’t try to correct me, All-Of-My-Friends-From-Home).
Matt: If we’re talking lowlights now, we’ve got to mention just how unlucky the 2014 Bronx Bombers have been. The Yankees rotation looks pretty excellent on paper — they’ve got 208-game winner CC Sabathia, once-promising youngster Michael Pineda, Japanese sensation Masahiro “24-0” Tanaka and the dependable Hiroki Kuroda. But only Kuroda’s healthy enough to pitch, and New York is nowhere near full strength.
Even so, I guess this “lowlight” is a bit of a cop-out because what I really want to discuss is how the Yankees have fought (sorry, Ryan — I’m breaking the rules!). Brian McCann kept swinging the bat despite a long slump, and now he’s got a hit in more than half of his last 10 games. Shane Greene and Brandon McCarthy have stepped up as viable replacement starters the last couple of weeks. And Derek Jeter ignited the AL’s three-run first inning with a double off Adam Wainwright in the July 15 All-Star Game (even if Wainwright maybe “piped” a couple of fastballs to the retiring New York captain). Hmm…I think I might be turning into a Yankees fan.