A GRIP ON SPORTS
Getting up early on a Sunday morning is usually no one's idea of a good plan. I agree. Except when the Wimbledon men's final is on. Read on.
• There was a time, not all that long ago, when watching the Wimbledon men's final was a patriotic duty. You know, celebrate the Fourth of July, watch an American win the title. Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Pete Sampras, assorted others. It seemed as if each year there was at least one American male in the title match. Those were the days. Now? Can you name the top-ranked American male tennis player? I can, only because I heard someone talking about it in a dismissive way the other day. The state of Amercian tennis is dismal, at best. The last U.S. player to appear in a Wimbledon final was Andy Roddick in 2009, the last of his three championship match defeats. The last time an American won was 2000, when Sampras (pictured) earned the final of his record seven championships. The year before Sampras joined Andre Agassi in the finals, the last time that's happened. Between 1972, when Stan Smith won the title, and 2001, a stretch of 30 years, there was an American in the final all but nine times. Five times both finalists where from the United States. Since then, however, other than Roddick's three losing appearances, there hasn't been an American in the title match. And there isn't much hope right now. Sure, three of the four junior semifinalists were from the States, but those fellows still have a ways to go. This year no American even sniffed the round of 16 – again. No woman did either, which is unusual, what with the Williams sisters around, but it's the state of men's tennis in this country that is deporable. Where have all the great American players gone? Into golf, maybe, or basketball or even soccer. It doesn't seem as if the recreational courts in this country are creating the Connors or Agassis or Jim Couriers as they used to. And the rich don't seem interested in getting to the highest level, as McEnroe and Sampras did. So we are stuck getting up and watching a match between Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. Great tennis, sure, as good as it's ever been. But there is no connection to this country and that's sad. By the way, the top-ranked U.S. male player? It's John Isner. Yep, John Isner. He's 11th in the world.
• Indians: The Indians have one of the more experienced hitting coaches in the Northwest League – heck, in any league – this season. John Blanchette profiles Rick Down, who has worked in the Bigs a lot. ... The Indians' bats were mostly silent last night in a 5-1 loss to Vancouver. Chris Derrick has the game story and blog post on the defeat.
• Seahawks: It's kind of slow in the Hawks' news department these days, but we did find something to pass along.
• Mariners: This is a true story. After watching the first couple innings of the M's game yesterday, and watching Ed Hickox generous strike zone, I turned to Kim and said something to the effect no one was going to score and the game was going to go 14 innings. Yes, I really did. And, thanks to great pitching by both teams, it did, with the M's finding a way to gain a 3-2 win over the host White Sox. ... When was the last time Larry Stone could write about the M's as contenders? It's been awhile. ... Picking the All-Star team is no easy task. The M's have at least four strong candidates. ... It's Sunday, so we pass along Ryan Divish's power rankings. ... The A's moves yesterday demand a response from the M's, don't they? Lloyd McClendon doesn't think so.
• Sounders: There are 11 starters in a soccer match. Seattle faced Vancouver in a Cascadia Cup match yesterday with five – by math that is almost 50 percent – of its starters missing. And yet the match was close throughout, with only a long bomb from Vancouver's Sebastian Fernandez finding the net in the Whitecaps' 1-0 victory. ... The Sounders' slow start was the subject of much of the post-game discussion. So was the importance of the win for Vancouver.
• And that's our report for this Sunday. As I type this, whether or not Federer will win a record-breaking eighth singles title is still unknown. I am kind of rooting for the "old" man. Until later ...