Tuesday, September 11, 2012

09/11 (Finally) Quickie

Thoughts with all those who lost loved ones, friends and colleagues 11 years ago -- or in the ensuing years since, as a result. Unfortunately, a blunt transition to the superficiality of sports...

Three words: Andy. Murray. Finally.

Any time you have a longtime top-tier athlete or team "finally" win a championship, it is a wonderful moment. There is a special awesomeness to Andy Murray's first Grand Slam title.

I would argue that no team/athlete had to contend with a competitive environment as difficult as Murray. Not the Barkley/Ewing/Malone-Stockton NBA during the Jordan years. Not MLB contenders during the Yankees dynasty. Certainly not the NFL or college basketball. The closest analogue would be any college football team outside of the SEC beating an SEC team for the national title -- but only after the SEC extends its dominance from 6 straight titles to 16 or 36.

That is the only way to grasp the roadblock in front of Andy Murray during his prime: Roger Federer, only the greatest tennis player of all time. Rafa Nadal, probably in the Top 5 all-time (if not Top 3). Novak Djokovic, who will probably finish his career in the Top 3 and is at his peak right now.

And so Murray's first Slam championship is extra-sweet -- years of frustration, of looking up at the Rushmore of his sport, of nagging doubts and plenty of doubters. He finally gets his. Finally.

As Djokovic affirmed last night: It is impossible not to feel good for Murray today.


Ravens blow out Bengals: After years of being defined by its defense, the show that Baltimore put on last night foreshadows that this season might be the year the offense finally drives the bus.

Chargers beat the Raiders: That San Diego needed Oakland snapping problems to win the game doesn't bode well for San Diego's long-term chances of being a playoff contender. But 1-0 is 1-0.

RG3 Mania: I love the instant "Griffining is the new Tebowing" meme -- it fits the way Griffin exploded on the national scene on Sunday, carrying over to yesterday, where he was -- by far -- the No. 1 story of the NFL (and all of sports). Today's best RG3 pieces take a look at how Mike Shanahan veered from his offensive orthodoxies to take advantage of RG3's unique skills while recognizing he was only in his first-ever NFL game.

CBB: Academic fraud in college? You don't say! That it happens at Harvard the same way it happens everywhere else says less about Harvard than it does about college students more generally.

MLB: Gio Gonzalez for NL Cy? I'm not a big fan of "wins" as a Cy metric (he got his 19th last night), but it just so happens that Gio's advanced stats are just as impressive. (I'm a Nats fan, yet still partial to RA Dickey for Cy.) I will say that no offseason move was more savvy than DC GM Mike Rizzo trading some of the Nats' best prospects for Gonzalez, then locking him up for a half-decade at a reasonable rate for a league ace.

Clemens Watch: Houston is so irrelevant that I'm all for Roger Clemens pitching for them in the final few weeks of the season. Why not? It would be fun -- he's ageless. And he's probably pitch well, too. Hell, bring him back next year for a full run.

NFL vs. the Refs: Five more weeks...at least? There were probably two dozen screw-ups on Sunday -- ranging from minor to Seattle-Arizona -- and the more weeks that go by, the greater chance of a defining snafu will occur.

How'd your fantasy team do in Week 1? One of my teams was tied going into the final game of the week, and my opponent got 2 measly points out of Heyward-Bey, which was enough to get the winning margin. My other team had Philip Rivers in the final game, and I won by 2 points. So I guess all it proves is that things tend to even out. BTW, if you are in a Yahoo league, check out the "recap" feature on your scoreboard, where a cool company called Automated Insights has generated a custom game recap for your team's game. It's pretty awesome.

-- D.S.

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