Thursday, June 24, 2010

Why was June 23rd different from any other sports day?

Because Stephen Strasburg, and Ubaldo Jimenez's starts were shown 30 minutes into Sportscenter, behind soccer and tennis. WHAT? This is the United States of America, not England, or France. But, truth be told, this was no ordinary day for soccer and tennis, not even close. When 2 sports that are more often played by kids then be in the American sports spotlights, are focused on, then something is up. It was.

U.S Soccer has been oft tossed aside for more interesting football. Our football. We would care more if Ben Roethlisberger was arrested, then if the U.S qualified for the World Cup, the world's biggest sporting event. We were all captivated by soccer by the start of this world cup though. But, the average fan may not yet have been drawn in yet. And yesterday, that has definitely changed, due to Landon Donovan's stoppage time goal. From David Wright taking batting practice, to Josh Lewin, lisp and all in Arlington, to a tiny corner bar in Seattle, we were all fans of Soccer for 94 minutes yesterday morning. If the U.S didn't make the Sweet 16 in the World Cup, soccer would never again be as popular as it is now in the U.S. The 2018 or 2022 World Cup may have just gotten a boost to come to the U.S. And think of it, the Italians in New York and South Philly who were die hard for the Azzurri, will do so now, as Italy got the boot (joke not intended). The ESPN announcers at Wimbledon couldn't care less about the Nicholas Mahut- John Isner match at Court 18 at the All England Tennis Club. Speaking of which.......

Unless it was Nadal or Federer, no one would care about Wimbledon in the U.S. Until this day. John Isner may very well be the next good American tennis player, but that may be way in the future. In the present, these 2 played the most epic match in Tennis history. 3 days, 11 hours, more aces than in any match ever, and the 5th set could be on its own, the longest tennis match ever, and finally, 2 days after it started, Isner won 70-68 in the 5th set. This will go down as the craziest tennis match ever, and surprisingly, it got top billing on many ESPN programs. Americans actually cared. We wanted to watch it, wherever it was airing, during Thursday morning. So many match records were set, I couldn't keep track, and I love tennis. This alone would be top  billing on any normal sports day, but if you combined it with U.S Soccer, you get..........

The best sports day in a long time. I already wrote an article about May 29th, but that doesn't hold a candle to this day. These 2 amazing events combined created a sports day unlike any other, where Ubaldo Jimenez and Stephen Strasburg were upstaged by soccer and tennis. Yes, I did just say that. Our national pastime, upstaged by "football" and tennis. But, I'm happy to say that. I truly became a soccer fan watching the U.S team, try for that golden goal, and fail, until stoppage time when all hope was lost. Then they scored, and the whole country cheered. A sport that was cared about deeply by a select crowd, now cared about by the average sports fan on a farm in Oklahoma. He now knows who Landon Donovan is. That was amazing, and it got the notice of everyone. Brian Anderson during a Brewers game, Mike Patrick at the College World Series in Omaha, and back to your average pub in New York. Hey, it even put Jerry Seinfeld on notice.
Combine that with the most epic tennis match in history, and you can upstage a Jimmy Rollins walk-off home run in  Philly, and the Yanks and Mets in New York, on their local sports news.

Sports are a mysterious being. You never know what you're going to see, and yesterday was a true example of that. That is why sports are so amazing. You just never know. You could walk to Court 18 at Wimbledon, expecting to watch a simple tennis match, and see a set going 70-68 over 3 days, and a man celebrating like he just won Wimbledon. In Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria, South Africa, just a few miles away from the U.S embassy, with a former president in attendance, you could see the most amazing goal in U.S Soccer history, and Landon Donovan being place in the pantheon of American Sports Heroes with guys like Mike Eruzione. So, the next time your buddy wants to take you to a game you frankly don't want to see, remember, you just never know. Your ticket stub may let you be able to watch history in the making.

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