World Cup a breath of fresh air in sizzling heat
The NFL can wait while the world takes in fútbol’s grand finale
A s the summer heat beats down upon Austin, nothing would be better than a cold glass of purple, uh, Kool-Aid.
I almost spoke with a pseudo codeine-coated tongue, but that was a nice save if I say so myself.
But more on the purple stuff later …
This summer hasn’t been half bad, has it?
Usually the end of the NBA Finals ushers in a dreary couple of months where you hope to get through the long part of the major league baseball season, with an eye turned toward the start of football. But not this year. We’ve actually had quite a few sporting choices at our disposal, including the World Cup, which held my growing interest over the past month. I admit it hurt to see Ghana hit the crossbar with a kick that would have beaten Uruguay and turned the West African country into the potential story of the summer.
The only surprise bigger than me tuning in daily to check out the action was Brazil bowing out in the quarterfinals, courtesy of the Netherlands. And no World Cup conversation would be complete without a vuvuzela mention. Actually
Continued from C1 those once annoying horns don’t even bother me anymore. They blend in nicely with the crowd noise.
The Netherlands will play Spain in Sunday’s Cup finale. As for a pick, I’m riding with the Netherlands, aka, the Double Dutch Bus.
* * * As is the case at this time of year, I spent the past two weeks watching as much of Wimbledon as humanly possible, and this year’s tourney brought with it the sad realization of two primes coming to an end.
Roger Federer will win a couple of more Grand Slam tournaments before he hangs them up, but it’s apparent that his days of dominating this sport are finished. After watching Rafael Nadal rout Tomas Berdych in the final, it’s easy to envision the Spaniard winning as many majors as Federer by the time he’s finished. He already has eight at age 24 and even with his gimpy knees, is it out of the question to imagine Rafa winning 10 or more slams during the next four years?
As for Federer, as classy a champion as we’ve seen, I wish he wouldn’t have made excuses for his semifinal performance against Berdych. Frustrated as he was, to blame the loss on back and leg problems was beneath his station. It was surprising to hear him reduced to the role of excuse-maker. Roger Federer’s days of dominance may be over, but don’t be shocked if he claims a couple more major tennis crowns.
Federer is ranked No. 3 now, his lowest ranking since 2003, but his decline won’t be as steady as that of Venus Williams, who has been on the downturn for a while. She could always hang her hat on Wimbledon every summer, but now that’s not even a given.
Venus is ranked fourth — behind baby sis Serena — but she just doesn’t play consistently enough to go two weeks of a Grand Slam without getting beaten. That shaky serve and a reluctance to serve and volley cost her four or five slams over the past few years. She may squeak out another Wimbledon title, but don’t bet on it.
* * * You read in this space in previous weeks that we’ve witnessed the end of Tiger Woods’ dominance, and that opinion could be as wrong as two left shoes, but we may have further proof of Tiger’s less-than-steel mentality with the news that he’s leaving Scotland to go back to Florida as the British Open fast approaches.
The guy we’re seeing these days seems to be a solitary figure in search of himself. His wife? She’s reportedly divorcing him. His swing coach? Gone. The endorsement opportunities? Rare.
Golf is better when Tiger is winning, and if he returns to form, maybe the smile will return as well. Life was much simpler only two years ago, when a gimpy knee was his biggest problem.
* * * The sad case of Jamarcus Russell just got sadder.
As if being the biggest draft bust this side of Ryan Leaf weren’t enough, Russell is now in trouble with the fuzz after being busted for having codeine cough syrup at his house, without a prescription.
Russell’s questionable work ethic dogged him during his three seasons with the Raiders, but as reports circulated that the New York Jets were interested in signing him to back up Mark Sanchez, it appeared he was on his way to salvaging what was left of his career. Now this. It’s difficult to feel bad for someone who was handed $32 million in guaranteed money, only to show up for camp out of shape and not give the maximum effort.
Maybe the kid will bounce back, but it would be hard to imagine someone taking a chance on a player who makes Ryan Leaf look good.