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Mid-July? Sports Scene Hits Bottom, Bounces Back Big

July 22nd, 2018 · No Comments · Baseball, Dodgers, Football, France, Golf, Motor racing, soccer, World Cup

The nadir was Wednesday morning, July 18.

As I rolled out of bed, this is what was in the “scoreboard” bar of the homepage:

–The final score of the baseball All-Star game.

–A result from an NBA summer league game.

–And two scores from the WNBA. Yes, which still exists.

And that was it. Those were your North American/global sports highlights, the hottest news out there. Making things worse? Nothing significant was scheduled for the whole of Wednesday, July 18.

Which left me sad and bored. And rediscovering, again, that the low ebb for the generic sports fan is not the week leading up to Christmas … it is the third week of July.

It was a day of realizing that several major events had recently finished, but it also could have served as a wake-up call for some big things about to amuse us.

Some of what had just been completed:

–The World Cup. Arguably the most entertaining World Cup ever contested. Four-plus weeks of 32 teams and 64 games. The next is just around the corner — in November of 2022.

–France celebrating the World Cup. The team flew home on Monday and went straight to a victory parade down the Champs Elysees … and on Tuesday much of France talked/bragged about it some more, but by Wednesday it was history. Even over here.

–Wimbledon. The “fortnight” turned out to be pretty interesting. Serena coming up short against Angelique Kerber. Novak Djokovic pulling himself together to beat back Rafael Nadal and win the “gentleman’s” championship.

–The first half of the baseball season. The All-Star Game serves as the symbolic midpoint, even if if the actual midpoint was about 10 days earlier. And it means only one game from Monday through Thursday — the All-Star Game.

(I no longer consider the Tour de France a legitimate event. Too many drugs, too much bickering.)

Meanwhile, this is what had not happened yet — but would soon.

–The British Open.

–The F1 German Grand Prix.

–The Dodgers trading for Manny Machado.

–Major European soccer teams playing their first warm-up games.

–The conclusion of the latest round of qualifying for the Uefa Champions League.

–NFL teams fixin’ to get ready to go to camp.

–The Summer Olympics, which generally begin on the last weekend of July. Opening ceremonies for Tokyo 2020 are set for July 24. So, no, we didn’t have the Summer Games to look forward to, either.

By the time we got to Sunday, however, we had two major events that were quite tasty.

That would be the British Open, where Tiger Woods fought his way into sole possession of the lead after 10 holes of the final round. The same Tiger Woods who looked like an injury-stricken relic of golf history just a few months ago. And then he got it going at Carnoustie, maybe even winning a major for the first time since 2008! Until a disastrous tee shot at No. 11. But just seeing him out there aiming for the flag on the final day … who saw that coming?

That tournament had six guys tied for the lead at one point late in the final round, with some of the game’s biggest names jockeying for position as the final holes were played out. Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, that Tiger fellow … and the eventual winner, Francesco Molinari.

A bit earlier, came the German Grand Prix, and I don’t usually spend a lot of time following Formula One — or motor racing in any form, really. But within five seconds of turning it on our TV, polesitter, race leader and championship-points pacesetter Sebastian Vettel skidded off the course and ended in the soft embrace of a cushioned wall, which led him to beat his little fists into the steering wheel of his Ferrari.

How big was that?

When Vettel hit the wall, he was eight points ahead of arch-rival Lewis Hamilton, atop the season standings, and about 30 minutes away from stretching his lead to at least 16 points.

Instead, Vettel got zero points for a did-not-finish.

Meanwhile, Hamilton, who a day before looked cooked when he qualified his Mercedes 14th on the 20-car grid, took the lead — after a masterful drive from 14th to second — and went on to win the race, gaining 25 points on Vettel.

And just like that, the F1 season was turned on its head, with Vettel now desperately chasing Hamilton instead of the other way round.

Also, Hamilton’s going from 14th to first at Hockenheim … he had never finished first from a qualifying position further back than sixth.

Oh, and it rained for the final third of the race (I love that F1 keeps racing, in the rain), part of the reason why Vettel’s brakes locked and took him into the fence.

And then I had a variety of baseball games to watch, and sports is back!

So, yeah, that Wednesday morning with two WNBA scores on the espn homepage … that was pretty grim.

In retrospect it can be seen as global sports catching its breath in midsummer, and now barrelling toward all sorts of big events between now and the end of 2018.



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