The last week has been a very active one in sports so I have not gotten to many important stories. Here are a few short posts on a few stories I missed:
Federer Defeats Nadal in Wimbledon Finals
The Men’s final featured rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal battling for yet another major. Though they have faced each other in nearly every major in the last two years, this one was their best match ever. Both players played their best tennis and were on top of their games. Federer eventually won the match in five sets 7-6, 4-6, 7-6, 2-6, 6-2. With two losses in tiebreaks, Nadal had a great chance to beat Federer, but Federer played his best tennis ever in the final set. He stepped it up a level to the greats of tennis. With the victory, Federer claimed his fifth Wimbledon title, tying Bjorn Borg for number one overall, and his eleventh Major . At the same time where Federer stepped up his level to the greats, Nadal stepped his up as well. This rivalry can now be compared to the Agassi/Sampras and Borg/McEnroe rivalries. With these players so far ahead of the rest of tennis, there will be many more “instant classics” to come.
Rashard Lewis Signs With Orlando
A story lost in this last week is Rashard Lewis’s departure from the Seattle Sonics and arrival with the Orlando Magic. After getting two top five picks in the NBA Draft, Seattle had put together an excellent team until Lewis and the Magic agreed on a 6 year, $110 million deal. For Lewis, he is leaving a team with a very bright future to one that also has a bright future. If the Sonics had kept him, Lewis could have been a veteran leader to help Kevin Durant and Jeff Green. Instead, Seattle is left without that star, veteran presence and the two rookies will have to learn through mistakes. Orlando, on the other hand, gains that same presence for Dwight Howard. The combo of Howard and Lewis will have a huge impact on the Eastern Conference and will make the Magic immediate contenders.
Yet, this may end up being a huge mistake for Rashard Lewis, because the East does not seem to have any shot at winning a championship. Yes, the Magic could make it to the NBA Finals, but a championship seems unlikely. He would have had the same problem with the Sonics too, because Seattle would still need to acquire another superstar to make the team a Western Conference contender. The answer: Sign a short term deal that allows Lewis to play with the Suns, Spurs, or Mavericks so that he can win a championship. The money would still be good, and he could play for a year or two before going for the huge deal. He doesn’t realize that winning a championship is guaranteed for a star like himself, and when he retires, he will understand the mistake he made.
Vladimir Guerrero Wins Home Run Derby
Not too much to say here, except that this year had a great Derby line up, but poor results. The second round was excellent with all four players slugging out long ball after long ball, but the first and third rounds were extremely disappointing. When five home runs leads after the first round something is wrong, and when the two players in the finals combine for only five home runs, something is even more wrong. With Vlad and Rios in the finals, fans expected a good match up, but instead received an easy victory for Guerrero. MLB Commissioner Bud Selig could tweak a few rules to make the Derby more exciting and more competitive. These are my three suggestions:
1. Give bonuses to the players who come in first and second. Not that much, but maybe $25 thousand for second and $50 thousand for first. Just some incentive for players to participate in it and try their best at it. The NBA Slam Dunk Contest has it, why not the Home Run Derby?
2. Add a fence in front of the warning track. A home run in between the first fence and second fence is worth one point, past the second fence is worth two. That would give players down by a lot a chance to come back easier and would increase home run totals.
3. Carry home runs over from second round to third round. If MLB does it from the first round to the second round, why not from the second to the third? This would increase the incentive to hit as many home runs as possible in each round. For instance, once a player knows they have hit enough home runs to guarantee themselves a spot in the next round, they will try to conserve their energy. If home runs carry over, players will continue their pace knowing that a home run at the end of the second round counts as much as one in the finals.
AL Defeats NL 5-4 in 2007 All Star Game, Ichiro MVP
The American League continued their dominance over the National League with a 5-4 All Star game victory. Though the AL won, it required an inside-the-park home run and a narrow escape in the ninth inning. This shows that the gap between the NL and AL is narrowing and the two leagues are becoming closer. Many sports have large gaps between different leagues and conferences (see the NBA), but MLB is the only sport where the two leagues use different rules. In a National League park, the NL will likely have the advantage, because they are used to playing without a DH. The opposite is true for an AL park. Therefore, it is harder to judge the gap in the leagues based on the All Star game, but much easier with records. With 137-115 lead in the record, the AL retains the lead, but it is much closwer than the 154-98 massacre last year. The leagues are getting closer, represented by both the records and the All Star Game.