Wednesday, July 1, 2009

And I Say Your Uncle was a Crooked French-Canadian!

Good morning. First things first-

Programming Note: Seth Curry Saves Duke! will not be running on Thursday, Friday, or Monday. I'm sojourning into the upstate forest kingdom to test my manhood, and will be away from computers and other non-essentials. If I'm able to slaughter a bear, rescue a drowning human in white water rapids, and use cattails and mud to make a satellite dish that only gets German television, I'll have survived the rigors of nature. In that case, I'll be returning Tuesday. Otherwise, I'll grow a beard, find a cave, and draw pictures of people I used to know on the walls.

For my last post of the week, I'd love to pen a real doozy. I'd love to hammer out 9,000 words on the way Tiger Woods treats waiters, or examine the relationship between A-Rod's streaky play and Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle. Sadly, it ain't gon' happen, and not just because I don't dig Heisenberg's music. I'm a tired soldier this AM, and I've got travel on the brain. So let's cover some basics that'll bridge the gap between now and Tuesday.

*The Yanks have won six straight, and seem to be back in the high life. It all started in the 5th inning of game two against Atlanta last week. After being shut down by some Triple-A arm, the offense finally recognized it had fangs. It was like watching a dragon try to fight off medieval knights by waddling around and frantically swinging his tail. There comes a point where he happens to cough by accident, sees a flash of red, and goes "damn...I can breathe fire?" Changes the game. The Yanks found their fire, and haven't lost since. I have a feeling this particular streak will be more permanent, especially since the Lightning Rod finally came to life. If Girardi could get it into his head to bat Jorge fifth and leave Cano further down in the line-up where his anti-clutch can't sting so bad, things would be perfect.

(By the way, in the continuing annals of my stepfather's awful nicknames for sporting personalities, he just hatched one of his greatest for the Yankee skipper: "Gerkardi.")

*Prediction: Phil Hughes will become our 7th and 8th inning man in big games. It's hard not to love P-Huge these days, and if he doesn't end up starting, I'd love to see him take over Bruney's set-up role. Hughes-->Rivera would be reminiscent of the Rivera--->Wetteland days, and would mean our starters could go six solid innings and not worry about the pen blowing their win.

*We've got Seattle and Toronto over the next few days. 2.5 back of Boston. To get really greedy, it'd be nice to pull level before the All-Star break next week. And we need to grab that lead, because Tampa is scaring me cold with their recent surge. It's shaping up to be a fun summer in the AL East.

*As I'm typing, Roger Federer has a two-set lead on Ivo Karlovic in the Wimbledon quarterfinals. He's looking like your basic freight train these days, with a little extra steam since Nadal quit the scene. Yesterday, he told an interviewer that he feels "perfect." And if you've ever doubted that he's a tactical genius, check out this quick article where he dissects his strategy for beating Soderling in the round of 16.

Federer with swagger is a rough proposition. On the other side of the draw, though, Scotsman Andy Murray keeps marching on. He plays his quarterfinal later today, and a Brit vying for the Wimbledon title is a big fucking deal over there. It hasn't happened since Fred Perry in 1936, back when tennis was played on a croquet field, and you got most of your points by drinking tea in a way the reminded people of the Queen. Or something.

But if Murray can advance to the finals, Federer might actually have a crowd squarely against him for the first time in ages. Unfortunately, the Brits are probably too polite and respectful of Federer's record in London to really mix things up, but it could still be a mental hurdle. And in one last interesting angle, Andy Roddick is also looking fantastic. Here are Friday's potential men's semi-final matches:

Andy Murray vs. Andy Roddick
Roger Federer vs. Novak Djokovic

For those who don't know Djokovic, he's one of the biggest douchebags in the sport. He gives little exhibitions where he imitates the style and serve of other players, he acts like a baby on the court, and more than anything he's a sore winner; any success spawns a slew of statements about his own greatness and his forthcoming domination of the tennis world. But he's a big, rangy Serb with a superb serve and forehand, and can beat even the best players on a good day. And there's no love lost between he and Federer. Read this piece for some very harsh and atypical Federer snipes after Djokovic retired (tennis lingo for quit) in his Australian Open match with Roddick.

As for Roddick, he's grown on me a lot in the last two years and has even matured a little, I think. But it'll be fascinating to watch him face down a strong opponent and a partisan crowd that won't treat him with the same deference afforded to Federer. It could be the biggest test of his career.

*Summary: Friday is a can't-miss day in Tennisland. Pending today's results, of course; Federer just advanced over Karlovic in straight sets, Djokovic is actually down two sets to love against Tommy Haas, and Roddick and Murray play later. Those bored at work can follow the matches online here.

In honor of Independence Day, I'm going to go way out on a limb and predict a stunning Roddick title. Do I really believe it? Probably not. Am I rooting for him? Kinda, but I also really want the Federer-Murray final. Go America.

*It's July 1st, folks. The second half of the year starts today. Have a great 4th, be safe, and be careful if you play around with fireworks.

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