Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy Fourth of July: Baseball, Wimbledon Finals Preview and US Olympic Trials

Happy Independence Day, readers! Today's post is all about the United States of America, namely USA's only hope in Wimbledon (the Williams Sisters), the U.S. Olympic Trials, and America's favorite sport, Baseball.

A Classic Rivalry in the Bronx
Red Sox-Yankees always seems to bring out the best of baseball. This classic rivalry allows us to reacquaint ourselves with the game down to the small details. When it comes to Boston-New York baseball games, we seem to make comparisons everywhere, from the ballpark to the pitching to how players swing the bat. Baseball always has several layers of analysis, which feel the airwaves from the commentary that broadcasters make between plays.

In Thursday's game, the first of four in this series, it was a completely one-sided affair. The Yankees were "embarrassed" as Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester pitched a five-hitter, his best outing since his no-hitter against the Royals back in May. Andy Pettite gave up seven runs while the Yanks failed to score any and team manager Joe Giraldi held a 30-minute closed-doors meeting.
You can only wonder what Giraldi's feelings were after the game. Most likely, his feelings were the same as the Yankees fans that were at the stadium last night.

Nothing much to say other than the Yankees played a flat game, for more information on last night's game, the NY Daily News has you covered:

So we move on to today, and as I'm writing this, the Yanks are tied with the Red Sox at 3 runs a piece. So far the most memorable part of the game was how that ball stayed on top of the wall after Johnny Damon ran after it. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, go check out sportscenter or I'm sure video will be online soon. It's a play that is sort of hard to type out in words.

Anyway, aside from yesterday's game, surely there will be some fireworks between these two teams as the series plays out. Although the Yankees have been struggling this season, there are some pretty tight matchups between the two teams, especially offensively with the two teams having similar batting averages and on-base percentages. The Yankees have been on the losing end though since they've been allowing more runs that they should have (overall 4.22 ERA).

So enjoy baseball, especially this weekend, it only seems right to accompany your beer and hot dogs with a good American game.

Willams Sisters To Collide At Ladies' Final
There will be an American champion this summer across the pond at Wimbledon. Both Williams sisters won their semifinal matches yesterday in straight sets. Venus defeated fifth seeded Elena Dementieva while Serena defeated Chinese player and wild card Jie Zheng. Both fought tiebreakers in the second set before winning their match.

Before I move on, I just want to credit Jie Zheng for her play in yesterday's semifinal. Zheng made the match interesting, especially in the second set when she held serve. I can't help but saying that her presence in the semifinal and the story surrounding her was a nice feel-good story for the tournament. Chinese players are rarely seen as successful singles athletes on the tour and considering that she was a wild-card who wrote her way into the tournament, and that she came from the region hit hard by the Chinese earthquake earlier in the year, she's the type of athlete that tends to captivate audiences. And with China hosting the Olympics in a month, she is certainly one to watch at the Olympics. You can bet your dumplings that the Chinese will root for her heavily.

But it will be an all-American final featuring the Williams sisters. Venus is looking for her fifth title while her sister Serena is looking for her third. Venus is the defending champion and I'd like to say that she has the edge over her sister only because she had to face Elena Dementieva in the semifinals while Serena has faced relatively little competition except Mauresmo and Zheng. Both only faced one seeded-player in their road to the final. Honestly, I think that tomorrow's match should be close. If Serena wins, it should be because she is a little more fit and healthy than Venus, given that Venus has had some minor problems with her hamstring.

The Williams sisters will also be playing in the ladies' doubles final after their semifinal win earlier today. And it will be a Roger Federer vs. Rafael Nadal final again on Sunday. For more, log onto

There were surprises both at the track and at the pool. In Omaha, Nebraska, Brendan Hansen, two-time world champion in the 200m breaststroke and bronze medalist in that event in Athens, will not represent Team USA in the 200m Breaststroke Event in Beijing. He shockingly finished fourth at the trials, though he will still go to Beijing and participate in the 100m Breaststroke.

It's the drama of the trials that make them very exciting to watch. It doesn't matter how many medals you won in the past or how successful you are in the event. If you can't be a top finisher in the trials, you can't go to the Olympics. It's kinda cruel, but somewhat fair. If anything, I wish NBC devoted more time to them though I am happy with the coverage that we're getting now on cable and online.

Meanwhile, in Eugene, Oregon, Jeremy Wariner, the world's top runner in the 400 meters, lost to LeShawn Merritt at the U.S. Olympic Trials. Though he still will go to Beijing, it was shocking to see one of the best 400m runners, who usually dominates his races, place second. Yesterday's race showed that Wariner may be losing his edge and needs to train a little harder to overcome runners who might be ahead of him. Usually, Wariner has the lead off of the last turn and just kicks his way away from the rest of the field. But yesterday's race was unique in that Wariner was in a position that we rarely see him in.

Here was Wariner after the 400m Final, thanks to Letsrundotcom:

But Wariner does move on to Beijing and if anything, the fans of track and field win because we get to see a little bit of a rivalry in Beijing between Wariner and Merritt.

So enjoy the fireworks, both on the field, on the track, the court and the pool. Oh yeah, and in the air too. Have a great Fourth of July and hope you'll comeback tomorrow, when we'll talk more baseball, tennis and Olympic trials.

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