June 23, 2010: What a Day in Sports

Today was an unforgettable day in the world of sports.  Let’s recap the day by looking at the highlights from sports all across the world:

Wimbledon

To start the day (and to end it), John Isner and Nicolas Mahut played 10 hours of tennis at Wimbledon, making it the longest match in history.  Tied at 59 games in the 5th set, play was suspended due to darkness and will resume for the 3rd day tomorrow.  It is by far the longest game ever played in tennis history and it isn’t even over yet.  The last match that I remember being that long and on such a grand stage was last year’s final match between Roger Federer and Andy Roddick at Wimbledon that went to 30 total games in the 5th set at Wimbledon before Federer broke Roddick.  The 5th set of this match, at over 7 hours long, is probably one of the most stunning events in sports history and it is amazing that we can watch it resume tomorrow.

Update: American John Isner finally won the match today with a 5th set score of 70-68.  The match totalled 183 games, far and away the record.

The World Cup

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last couple of weeks you know that the FIFA World Cup is going on in South Africa, and that team USA had high hopes of competing against the world’s best.  At 10am today USA played their third and final match in their group against bottom dweller Algeria.  If they win, they go on to the Round of 16.  Lose and the are out.  Tie and they need some help to get in.  Well, late in the 2nd half England had pulled off their victory and were moving on, so behind by two points,the USA had to win to advance.  Still tied after 90 minutes the refs gave the game 4 minutes of stoppage time.  One minute was all the USA needed.  Landon Donovan followed up the play on a great run and put a wonderful strike into the back of the net, sending the USA into the next round and allowing them to win their group for the first time since 1930.  Donovan’s goal was probably the most important goal in USA Soccer history and could inspire a new generation of soccer players in the United States.

NHL Free Agency

In a (not so) surprising move, the Chicago Blackhawks relieved some of their cap problems by trading Dustin Byfuglien, Ben Eager, and Brent Sopel to the Atlanta Thrashers for a 1st and 2nd round pick, Marty Reasoner, and a prospect.  This shakeup really shows how dire the Blackhawks’ cap situation really is and makes us question their longevity as a team, something that bodes well for the Flyers.  Even though the Thrashers gave up some good picks in the trade, I think that it was a good move for them.  Having seen what Byfuglien can do first hand, I know they got someone who will irritate the other team and be a force in front of the net, and I really can’t stand the fact that I will have to see him twice this season.  Ben Eager is another tough guy who can help a young team with no real leaders and Brent Sopel gives them a veteran on defense.  Overall, this NHL offseason is getting off to an interesting start, and hopefully the Flyers will make another big splash soon.

Meanwhile, congratulations to Henrik Sedin for winning the Hart Trophy as league MVP.  The Sedin’s haven’t gotten the credit they deserve from the mainstream media (probably because they aren’t Crosby and Ovechkin), and hopefully this is the start of their emergence as faces of the league.  Congrats to Ryan Miller as well for winning the Vezina as the league’s best goaltender, to Duncan Keith for winning the Norris Trophy as the best defenseman, and Tyler Myers for winning the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year.

Around Major League Baseball

Stephen Strasburg continues to show why he signed a record contract as the 1st overall pick last season.  The man is a machine.  Tonight he received his first loss, by a score of 1-0.  Strasburg pitched 6 innings and had 9 more strikeouts, bringing his season total to 41 strikeouts in 25.1 innings.  The rookie continues to break records and is even being considered for a spot on the All Star Game in a few weeks.  If he makes two more starts and gets to 60 strikeouts before the break he has my vote.

Josh Hamilton and the Rangers have also been red hot.  The Rangers have won 10 straight games and are well atop the AL West.  Hamilton has been a man on a mission.  In the month of June the Rangers are 17-4 and Josh is batting .476 with 8 HR and 26 RBI.  Thankfully we don’t play them in interleague play, that’s all I’m saying.

Phillies Baseball

Tonight I was fortunate enough to score some tickets to the Phillies vs. Indians game so I got to see them play first-hand for the first time since Roy Halladay got hit around by the Red Sox.  Well, from a pitching perspective, Kyle Kendrick didn’t have it tonight.  He looked very nervous out there, possibly because he saw J.A. Happ making another rehab start and saw his job on the line.  In the first inning Kendrick allowed a leadoff double and then tossed up a meatball to Shin-Soo Choo who crushed a homer to the upper deck in right field.  Their second time around was like deja vu, with another double by Trevor Crowe and another home run by Choo.  After that, Kendrick’s night was done.  The bullpen actually performed well.  Mike Zagurski, who was recently called up from the minors, did a great job coming out of the pen, getting 5 outs with what looked like zero effort.

The Phillies offense wasn’t too shabby either.  Jimmy Rollins, who was only playing in his 2nd game since being back, didn’t look too sharp during the game, but let’s just say he turned it around later.  Jayson Werth hit another opposite/center field home run and Raul Ibanez had a 2 RBI double to give the Phillies a 4-3 lead.  Brian got off the Schneider (I had to use that sorry) by hitting a homer to right to tie the game at 5.  One person who really hit the ball well tonight was Chase Utley, but that won’t show up on the scorecard.  He ripped two balls foul that were no-doubt-about-it home runs and hit another one to the warning track that needed a great catch to avoid an extra base hit.  All in all, Chase was on top of the ball tonight and I really think he has gotten the confidence to break out of his slump.

Back to Jimmy Rollins.  After the Phillies allowed the Indians to take a 6-5 lead (possibly due to some poor managing by Charlie Manuel who should’ve walked Carlos Santana to load the bases and create force outs at each base with 1 out instead of pitching to him), they were down their last chance, the bottom of the 9th.  Jimmy Rollins, who was 0-4 with two miserable looking strikeouts came to the plate.  Watching him in the batter’s box brought back memories of Game 4 against the Dodgers in the NLCS when Jimmy hit a double in the gap to fuel the Phillies’ comeback.  Me, my brother, and my neighbor were discussing that at bat and getting pumped up, hoping Jimmy could provide some more magic tonight, down one run with a man on.  Just then, Jimmy took a Kerry Wood fastball and deposited into the right field seats at Citizen’s Bank Park, hitting his FIRST ever walk off home run and giving the Phillies the 7-6 victory they really needed!  While giving his post-game interview, Shane Victorino emerged from the dugout and gave Rollins his shaving cream pie to the face, showing us that this team still has the confidence and swagger that we’ve seen for the past few seasons.  At 37-32 the Phillies still have a lot of work to do, but the season isn’t even half over yet and we are only 4 games out.  Let’s go Phils!

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