Whether or not you agree with me that Michael Phelps isn't just the greatest Olympian of all time but also the greatest athlete ever (or is that Greatest. Athlete. Ever.), you have to agree that the fact that he's even in the conversation is impressive enough. Today is closure on Phelps, though I'm not quite sure what Olympic storyline could fill the void left from the previous week's drama...
...Oh, wait: The hero to more than 1 billion fans in China pulled out of the Games in the preliminary heats with a leg injury? Liu Xiang's attempt to repeat as Olympic champ in the 100m hurdles was certainly the biggest story of the Games -- if you consider that the attention of 1 billion Chinese fans trumps the attention to Phelps by 250 million American fans.
Maybe we should all be paying even more attention to Usain Bolt, who didn't just win Olympic gold and didn't just set a new world record in the 100 meter dash, but redefined the art of showboating -- in a race lasting 100 meters and less than 10 seconds, he managed to gloat through the final 20 percent of it and STILL set the world record. Amazing. Awe-inspiring.
(Oh, and let me just say: NBC's tape-delay entered the ludicrous stage with that race. The result happened 12 hours earlier, but NBC is acting like it's 1992 -- pre-Internet age. So many fans knew what happened, it was an insult to our intelligence. It's a Saturday -- fans are home. Why not show the race live in the morning, then -- in primetime -- bring Bolt to the studio to give us his "Director's Cut" of his performance, breaking it down from every angle? Cripes: Is this so hard?)
OK, back in the real world of, um, real sports: No, I don't really care that Brett Favre had a decent debut for the Jets... yes, I am kind of intrigued that Matt Ryan struggled in his 2nd NFL preseason game (with a shaky O-line, perhaps the Falcons should have skipped Ryan in favor of the more nimble -- and draft-bargain -- Dennis Dixon).
In MLB, I'm really more about the weird storylines around the league than the competitiveness in the AL Central: Like this non-story that Derek Jeter could end his career like Brett Favre? Like Jeff Kent scraping a new low by ripping Vin Scully? Like RA Dickey tying an MLB record with 4 wild pitches in a single inning? Now that's some dog-days fun.
Full SN column here. Next post scheduled for noon: Another sports social network?