THE U.S. OPEN
Roger Federer (4 Australian, 1 French, 7 Wimbledon, 5 US Open) has 17 Majors which is the most all-time. Rafael Nadal will have to wait to add to his 14 (1, 9, 2, 2) as he will miss the U.S. Open with a wrist injury. Novak Djokovic enters with 7 career majors (4, 0, 2, 1) and would have to be the favorite followed closely by the re-surgent Federer. For the first time in a long time the door is slightly ajar from the “Big 4” (Andy Murray currently a non-factor) and there is an opening for the next generation of talent: Milos Raonic, Grigor Dimitrov, Nick Kyrgios, Jerzy Janowicz among others.
What that means is that time is really starting to run out on Federer and outside of next year's Wimbledon.........this is his best shot to add one more. Federer is clearly hanging on for the 2016 Olympics (only thing he has not won) and it is very likely he retires after the 2016 U.S. Open (ala Pete Sampras). The next 12 days are big for Federer. A Djokovic win might signal that he will truly enter the chase. Only a year younger than Nadal in real terms, Djokovic is probably 3-4 years younger in tennis terms. It is essentially the difference between beginning the grind at 18 and 21-22. Djokovic will almost certainly get to 12ish Majors, the question is if he can squeeze out a few more.
The ladies side is also more open than it has been as everything that applies to Federer applies to Serena Williams. She is no long a shoe-in to win (even when she plays well). Maria Sharapova, Eugenia Bourchard, Simona Halep, and Victoria Azarenka figure to be the main competition.
BREEDER'S CUP CLASSIC SHOULD BE AMAZING
The Travers Stakes---the jewel of the summer session at Saratoga---was run last Saturday and little known V.E. Day ran away for the upset victory over Bayern (Haskell winner), Tonalist (Belmont, Peter Pan), and Wicked Strong (Jim Dandy, Wood Memorial). A win by any of the three mentioned horses would have placed them right in the race for the coveted “3-year old of the Year” award. California Chrome can rest easier, although all 3 are likely to race in the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park in late September which will provide one more opportunity for a major win.
However Chrome now needs to be concerned with another California bred horse- Shared Belief- who missed all the Derby prep races with an injury. The undefeated colt won the Grade 1 Pacific Classic against older horses on Saturday. That followed a win in the Las Alamitos Derby (Gr. 2) in his second start back. Belief will likely race in the Grade 1 Awesome Again Stakes (Santa Anita) in late September.
The Breeder's Cup Classic----which seemingly gets bigger and better every year-----figures to be an absolutely amazing collection of horses potentially in one race. California Chrome, Shared Belief, Tonalist, Bayern, and several others will certainly be on hand. Palace Malice, Moreno, Will Take Charge, Game on Dude, and Imperative are just some of the older horses that will be running in “the big one”. Mark down November 1st on your calendar of great sporting events.
MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL
In years past, the best division race---the AL West---would not have mattered as both teams would be in the playoffs on relatively level footing. This year winning the division means everything with the one game scenario for the wild card teams. The LA Angels are better, but Oakland just seems to get the job done and who would have thought that even in this tough division the Seattle Mariner's would be in position to snag the other wild card spot?
The AL and NL Central divisons also have close races between Kansas City/Detroit and St. Louis/Milwaukee with a third team that would need to get hot (Cleveland, Pittsburgh). This writer just gets the sense that the baseball regular season needs to be ending around this time and September should be the playoff month. We can't help but think that there would be a little more interest.
If you missed Pete Rose's interview with Jeremy Schaap on ESPN, the all-time hits leader made yet another strong case that this “life time suspension” should be lifted. He has paid the price for his transgressions and one can hope that the new commissionor makes this one of the first orders of business. As the father of a 9 year old baseball player, do I want my son to play like Pete Rose or Robinson Cano? Rose hustled, played hard, and maximized his talent while Cano rarely hustles, never plays hard, and coasts on his unbelievable set of raw tools. You can bet that Cano will be a first ballot Hall of Famer.
The one thing the NFL does better than just about any other sport at any level is that literally every single team's fan base has reason to believe that their team can not only WIN, but win the whole thing. I do believe that parity is great in that context, but the trade off is that outside of the handful of teams that truly have a difference maker at QB........it is difficult to put together a consistent winner. A team that can compete for 5-6 years.
NCAA COLLEGE FOOTBALL
Games of the week:
1. Florida State vs. Oklahoma State: 'Noles role in Texas. 49-14.
2. Clemson at Georgia: Clemson finds life after Watkins/Boyd difficult. 'Dawgs win 28-20.
3. LSU vs. Wisconsin: LSU young, but too talented. Tigers roar 27-17.
4. West Virginia vs. Alabama: Bama RBs run for 250+. Roll Tide. 41-10.
5. Miami at Louisville: Almost no good news from Cards camp. 'Canes win 31-14.
With amateur player rounds plummeting and golf courses closing across the country, the CEO of TaylorMade has made an interesting case to turn that tide around. A way to make the game easier for the weekend warrior (and thus increase enjoyment). Here is a link to an intersting article: Bigger Hole
OUT ON A LIMB
Within 25 years, all sporting events will essentially be free of any admission price. IE- tickets will have no value. It will not be that interest in sports has waned, but because the alternatives to view them are simply easier and better. Free will be the only way to get some fans to be there. The bad news is beer prices will probably stay ridiculously high.