Apologies for the brief hiatus. I was sent on assignment to the Galapagos Islands to study the evolution of Fitches in the NBA. In a nutshell, the genus Bill Fitch adapted to its surrounding environment and evolved into the genus Gerald Fitch, and the NBA game became better. A fleshed out thesis is pending.
In my absence, the sporting world certainly kept turning, chock full of compelling stories and developing situations. A quick recap of some highlights to catch up on what's transpired.
-The NFL found a new way to stir the pot this spring, stealing headlines for weeks with Draft coverage. In a bold, and most would agree, stupid move, the Houston Texans passed on the unparalleled Reggie Bush to snatch a DE from a 7-5 NC State team. This reeks of the 1983 Bowie-Jordan NBA draft mulligan. Time always tells, but that is one ginormous silverback gorilla placed on Mario Williams' back.
Always encouraging to see Irish names pop up on draft boards, especially 1st Day draftees Fasano and Mo Sto. The talent cupboard is being replenished. More under the radar, it's quite obvious that Charlie's willing to reach out to his NFL frat brothers in securing jobs for his graduating seniors. All the more reason for players to buy into his system. Charlie will get you to Sunday.
- Barry Bonds "cleared" and "creamed" his way past the Babe, yet only San Franciscans gave a hoot. Meanwhile, Albert Pujols started as hot as Hansel, well ahead of pace to break Bonds' single season home run mark, a fitting parting gift to the sullied slugger. The Cardinals could roll Pujols out in a wheelchair and he'd still knock a few out of the park. Don't call it a conspiracy theory yet, but anyone else perplexed at teams' insistence on pitching to
-Cowboy Dirk and the Dallas Mavericks keep trucking through this snails pace playoffs. It appears Mark Cuban's insanity will pay off with a title. Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge Cuban fan and think his ownership mentality is great for sports. His blog is quality, too. It's nice to finally see some new blood in the NBA Finals. It's hard to believe only 5 cities have brought home a championship since 1987. Can you name them? Answer at the bottom.
-Rafael Nadal continued his clay court mastery, fending off Roger Federer to defend his French Open crown. His unbeaten streak on the red clay is now a record 60 matches long. There's a rivalry brewing in ATP-land. It appears Federer has finally found a worthy adversary in the 20-year old Nadal, a perfect foil to keep his supremacy in check.
-The World Cup kicked off last week in Deutschland, sending myriads of futbol fans into a frenzy. Nothing really tops the Copa Mundial. Olympian in its four-year intervals, the world's best athletes grab center stage, showcasing their dazzling array of tricks. Critics (read: Americans) cry that there's not enough scoring. Whatever happened to that virtue called patience? Whaa whaa all you want, but the wait is almost always worth it, as the best goals of World Cup 2002 prove. There's a magnetism inherent in every game. Just listening to the omnipresent drone of the crowds chanting and cheering for their country is intoxicating. It's truly pure sport at its finest.
You want to know the origins of the endzone celebration? Look no further than soccer goal celebrations. It's a showman's dream come true for that brief moment before your teammates mob you. Liverpool's Robbie Fowler makes T.O.'s antics look childish as he sniffs a white line after a goal. (Add your own subtitles). England's got a new dance craze- The Crouch- which is a notch above The Sprain. Thankfully, this dumb luck can't happen to you amidst celebration on the gridiron.
-Last but not least, ND Football made plenty of headlines of their own this off-season. The Blue-Gold game affirmed that Charlie Mania is in full bloom. A record number of Weisaholics turned out to watch the ho-hum affair. The game was icing on the cake after the #1 QB in the country committed to Notre Dame earlier that morning. Boy Wonder Jimmy Claussen plans to enroll in January, 2007 to fully immerse himself in Weis’ regimen for success. Top recruits are following his lead, making sure not to be left out of a bumper crop. Charlie has piqued the country's best and so far 7 commitments have fallen like dominos with a predestined goal – dynasty.
One certainty this fall will be the full-blown media overkill hyping Brady Quinn's Heisman campaign. He can try and evade the attention like a blitzing safety, but if he puts up comparable numbers to last year, the Debate for Eight will rage all season.
The player that may have the biggest hand(s) in making Quinn's Heisman hype a reality is creating a mystique onto his own. Jeff Samardzija, 5th round draft pick of the Chicago Cubs, has agreed on a contract and should test the waters of summer ball in Boise, Idaho. Don't be calling him Bo just yet, despite this clever allusion.
The Shark’s not the only one with a high-profile summer job. Roommate Tommy Z stepped into the ring at