Is there a better sports weekend than the one we just experienced? (Well, yes, you say, what about the second weekend in June, with the Belmont and the French Open final?)
This year, though, we had not only Super Saturday and the women’s final at the US Open but Derek Jeter Day at Yankee Stadium and the Royal Salute Cup at the Greenwich Polo Club, both on Sunday, Sept. 7.
Patience, dear readers, let us pace ourselves. This week there will be in-depth posts on Jeter, Royal Salute and a fascinating new book on Nole.
But right now we must address two things. The first is more Michael Sam meshugas, with the Dallas Cowboys now saying that they weren’t pressured to put Sam on the practice squad. But AP’s Paul Newberry isn’t buying it. His view is that management is chicken, and the media likes to stir the pot, with ESPN exploring Sam’s shower habits. (Really, ESPN? Maybe you should write erotica. Oh, wait, that would be a kind of literature, requiring talent.)
The irony is that Sam really is the gay Tebow – someone whose questionable (albeit considerable) skill set can be used as an excuse for getting rid of him and thus avoiding a controversial situation. Hence Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones saying that Sam isn’t in effect ready for prime time.
The hell of it is that maybe they’re assessing his talents correctly. But how do we know?
The Cowboys could’ve used Sam in their home opener against the San Francisco 49ers, in which the Cowboys went down 28-17. At least we’ll have a week of peace in which we won’t have to hear from the haters of Niners quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Colin is among the NFC “Gunslingers” featured in Sports Illustrated’s NFL Preview issue. He’s the only one wearing his padding but no shirt. Let’s face it, he’s a sex symbol, which goes a long way toward explaining why he’s hated. Men in particular don’t like men women find attractive. I say cowboy (as opposed to Cowboy) up.
Now to the second subject we must tackle: Super Saturday was a super dud if you are a fan of tennis’ Big Four as Nole and Feddy Bear went down to Kei Nishikori and Marin Cilic respectively. (Yeah, I know, Who?) This means for the first time since Juan Del Potro won it in 2009, the US Open, which concludes with the men’s final Monday, Sept. 8, won’t be won by a member of the Big Four – Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray. I predict that this is the beginning of the end of the Big Four – or should that be the Churchillian end of the beginning?
My guess is that Feddy will be gone by the time he’s 36. I see Rafa playing mostly in the clay court season, then disappearing for long stretches in an attempt to conserve his strength and top Fed’s 17 Slam titles by acing the French Open. Andy will recover fully from back surgery, but I don’t see him becoming a double-digit Slam winner.
Nole is the most intriguing narrative as he may be the most talented and at the same time, the most restless. I see him playing till he’s 30, particularly if Rafa hangs around to keep him challenged, and then going on to become what I suspect he was really put on this earth to be – an ambassador for his country and his sport.
I know, I know, change is good and we have to open our hearts and our imaginations and welcome the new guys, blah, blah, blah. But with the exception of Grigor Dimitrov, I don’t see anyone else on the horizon with the glamour and charisma of Fed, Rafa, Nole and Muzz.
Say what you want about them singly and together. They were and are magic. We won’t see their like again.