That Was a Moment Like No Other!
While celebrating the Fourth of July with my family, I flipped on ESPN hoping to find a baseball day game, but found the Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest instead.
What made me more than a little sick was not the sight of unholy amounts of meat slipping into the gullets of the competitors, I've been to a BBQ or two in my day, that was nothing new. Rather, it was the commentator's pronouncement that this competition was one of the greatest spectacles in sports.
Saving the debate over whether or not competitive eating is a sport at all for later, I could hardly believe my ears.
Surely these broadcasters had seen Mario Chalmers do his best Danny Manning impression to save the Kansas' national championship hopes, hadn't they?
If that was too long ago, surely they had seen Tiger Woods limp around Torrey Pines and sink putt after putt that he absolutely had to make? No? What about David Tyree's unbelievable grab in the Super Bowl?
This foolhardy quip came back to my mind on Sunday as I watched Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer hit shots I didn't think anyone could hit. I found myself wondering if their match was the greatest Tennis match of all time, and where it ranked in all of sports' history of great games.
This year has been a year of superlative performances, and we are just over halfway through it. Here are my top five moments of this year so far, and believe me, Joey Chestnut isn't anywhere in sight.
Five: The Fourth Quarter of Super Bowl XLII
The rest of the game was so-so at best, but for those who actually watch the Super Bowl for the game, not the commercials, the fourth quarter made it all worthwhile. A 21-point barrage highlighted by David Tyree's incredible catch on third and five made for one of the greatest single quarters in NFL playoff history.
Four: Tiger Wood's Birdie Putt on 18 to force the Play off with Roco Mediate at the US Open.
This moment became even greater when Woods finally let on how hurt he actually was when it happened. That he had played himself into that position at all, overcoming severe pain and playing against doctors orders, was incredible. That he had the mental strength to drain that difficult putt, and others like it on Monday, was something special.
Three: Spain's win on PKs over Italy in the Euro 2008 Semi finals
Spain had so much working against them in this game, from their unlucky yellow kits to the fact that they had lost three times on penalties on that very day before, that it seemed almost cruel when the final whistle of extra time signaled that the game would be decided from the spot.
The game featured two of the top keepers in the world and some of the very best scorers as well, so it was fitting that it came down to the last kick. Cesc Fabregas coolly slotted the ball past Gigi Buffon and Spain was on their way to their eventual European Championship.
Two: The last two minutes of regulation in the Kansas-Memphis National Championship.
With 2:12 left in the college basketball season, it seemed as though Memphis had locked up the title. Their lead reached nine and had grown steadily for most of the second half, it was all over but the crying.
Only, no one told Kansas to just fade off stage left so the celebration could begin.
The Jayhawks played like a team possessed for the full two minutes, twelve seconds and with just nine seconds left, Mario Chalmers rose up from beyond the arc and tied the game. The game was decided in overtime of course, but the massive momentum swing in Kansas' favor had all but assured that the Jayhawks would emerge victorious.
One: Federer and Nadal's 4th and 5th sets.
I'm still not sure where this match ranks in the great games of all time, but I am sure it was the best I've seen so far this year.
I'm not even a tennis fan, I'll watch if I have to, but it's not really my thing. Still, I watched the last two sets of this match blinking as little as humanly possible, for fear that I would miss something.
The best two players in the world, on the game's largest stage, playing the game at a level rarely touched was a sight to behold.
Federer survived three championship points before finally succumbing to the young Spaniard. Nadal looked gassed at some points and at any given moment either player seemed in control of the match.
If Federer had won, he would likely have cemented his legacy as one of the greatest grass court players ever. Instead, Nadal became the first player to win Wimbledon and the French open since the great Bjorn Borg almost 30 years ago.
This match had everything a sports fan could possibly want: incredible skills, high drama, a fitting setting, history, rivalry, and when it was over, we got to witness the pure joy of Rafa Nadal, and what could be better than that?
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