With the NBA Championship decided a little more than a week ago and another month before football begins to pick up, July is a full month when baseball is the only major sport to reign. We will take a look back now, though, at how this past month has gone in the sports world and ask the question, “How is baseball going to be enough?”
We’ll begin with the more obscure sports in America. Horse racing saw another failed attempt at the Triple Crown at the beginning of June. Big Brown and his busted horseshoe showed us that sometimes it is better to be lucky than good, and he was neither at the Belmont Stakes. With this loss, the drama slowly begins to build again towards next year as horse aficionados everywhere stare at black and white photos of Affirmed, the last horse to win the elusive Triple Crown 30 years ago in 1978.
Moving across the Pond, much to the chagrin of many of my fellow countrymen, we look at the 2008 Euro Cup. Soccer is still an ugly duckling in this country even with surging numbers (surging for soccer anyways) watching as evidence it should be taken more seriously. Even though I hear the masses booing at their computer screens, I have to push on and look at the 2008 Euro Cup since Spain, a country that has not won a major tournament in 44 years, upset the heavily favored Germans. It was a thrilling 1-0 victory as Spain narrowly escaped several attempted German scoring blitzkriegs. Sorry, I had to work a WWII reference in there somehow. Kudos to the Spaniards and I wish, more than anything else, I could have been in Barcelona or Madrid on that day. Paaaarty!!
From the other side of the Pond, we move on to something so stereotypically favored in the deep south of these United States: NASCAR. Nothing really special happened in NASCAR this month. There was no amazing race or impressive comeback. There was one man, though, who did a whole lot more driving than ever before. Kyle Busch became the first man ever to compete in a Trucks Series race (on Friday), a Sprint Series race (on Saturday), and a NASCAR race (on Sunday) over the course of one weekend. He did progressively worse in each race, so maybe he will think twice before trying that again.
In hockey, the Detroit Red Wings won their fourth Stanley Cup in the past 11 years and their 11th Cup overall. They defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins in six games and the sixth game came down to the last second, literally. I had never seen a delayed reaction like that of the Red Wings’ bench in Game 6 due to Marion Hossa coming within an inch of tying the game and forcing Chris Osgood to make his best save of the night. As the seconds ticked away on the Penguins season, down by one goal, they made one last desperate outlet pass to Hossa. The puck was just off the end of Hossa’s stick so he could not fully control it, just flick it on net where an unsuspecting Osgood had dropped his guard in the final seconds, thinking the victory was in the bag. The puck hit the post and Hossa’s rebound attempt was futile as he was too far past the net to shoot at any conceivable angle. It was the best-ranked Stanley Cup Finals in 14 years and that signified that the prodigal sport has returned and is ready to fight the NBA for third place among the four main US sports.
Speaking of the NBA, the Boston Celtics completed their return to glory this past month. One of the greatest storylines ever played out came to a close. Last off-season saw the dreadful Celtics make key trades to obtain Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett and usher in a new era of “The Big Three”. The new “Big Three” would lead the greatest single season turnaround in NBA history and cap it off with Boston’s 17thNBA Title. With Tim Donaghy looming over the head of the entire series, though, and claiming that the playoffs had been fixed several years back, how could you not expect the best possible outcome for this season for the NBA? As David Stern foolishly fails to sweep Donaghy and the gambling scandal away, the NBA’s secured spot as the third major sport in this country is in serious jeopardy should any of Donaghy’s claims be found true. Congrats to the Celtics, though I suppose.
And of course, now to give you a taste of what you will hear about for the next month and, remember, this is ALL you will be hearing about for the next month. Unless, of course, you are a NASCAR fan, but for the human beings out there, here is what happened in the past month of the mile-a-minute world of Major League Baseball. Willie Randolph, the head coach of the New York Mets, got fired after having it dragged out for a month and a half. The Yankees ace, Chien-Ming Wang, will miss the rest of the season, all but dooming their playoff hopes. And Ken Griffey Jr. hit his 600th home run and no one even batted an eyelash because he plays in Cincinnati and he should have done it years ago if he could stay healthy for one full season.
That is what we have to look forward to? God! July is going to suck! I can’t wait for football season…