It’s sad news that former Maple Leaf Wade Belak was found dead last week. Tie Domi took it hard, the two were very close as players. The message Domi wants to get out to everyone seems to be that we should be really careful where we look for the message in this. Domi wants Belak’s death, if it’s going to be talked about, to be part of a serious discussion of what depression actually is and how serious a problem it is, long before it becomes a debate on the effect of violence in the NHL. When you look at the difference in scope between the two issues, Tie Domi might come out as the voice of reason here.
Anyway, a strange poetic feeling seemed to haunt the reporting done during this week in sports. In South Korea for instance, “drama, of one kind or another, was ever-present against a back drop of velvet mountains draped in mist”. Hmm. Sort of puts you in the mood for some questions to think about. Well, that’s how we find this week’s highlights from the world of sports.
1. How was your long weekend? Just remember that the key to it all is how to bounce back effectively. Take it from the Blue Jays. A series sweep at the hands of the Yankees spelled out three straight loses for us on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. But Monday was a brand new start, as the Jays beat the Boston Red Sox with an 11th inning walk-off home run by our rookie sensation Brett Lawrie (he’s for real). Or think about Rafael Nadal. An affliction of some dramatic muscle cramping is almost enough to seriously derail his media time after his third round match at the US Open. But he bounces back, stretches it out, calls the media back in, and is ready for the tournament to go on.
2. What happened with the loose ends of some of our favorite summer-long sports stories? Well, Serena isn’t done yet. She is still racking up likeability as if she’d never fallen out of the sporting public’s mind or favor. She’s making jokes about trophies and karaoke. It seems like she’s only rounding into true form now at the US Open, exactly when she’d hoped for. Serena is straight through to the quarter final, and everybody is starting to look to her as the favorite. So it’s onward from here for Serena, but the Little League World Series wrapped up in South Williamsport Pennsylvania. The kids from Huntington Beach California took it all in the final against Japan, 2-1. Young Nick Pratto knocked in the winning run with a walk-off single that brought teammate Eric Anderson in to score. Nice job California.
3. If a race starts but nobody is there to hear it… Bored by regular sprinting, world’s fastest man Usain Bolt has recently taken to waging war against the IAAF’s (International Association of Athletics Federations) assertion that the human brain can’t both hear and process information from a sound (let’s say, for instance, to signal the start of a race) in any time under 0.1 seconds. In fact, he tried to move so fast at the recent Track and Field World Championships in Daegu, South Korea that to the naked eye (and also on video) it looks like he tries to start running his 100 meter sprint before the race has even been signaled to begin. This of course (due to the one strike and you’re out policy for false starts in international track and field) led to Bolt’s disqualification from the 100 meters final. So his teammate Yohan Blake had to win it instead. Don’t worry though, Usain ‘fastest man alive’ Bolt still won the 200 meters final and anchored the Jamaican men’s relay team to a first place finish at record-setting speed.
4. Mar Del Pata Argentina or Siauliai Lithuania? International basketball has taken the stage in two different corners of the globe this week. Team Canada is down in Argentina for the FIBA Olympic Americas qualifying tournament. We had a good showing early on in the week, but lost on Monday to Argentina and now teeter on the brink of elimination. But even a fifth place finish gets us into a tournament next summer for another chance to make the Olympics (who knows, maybe even Captain Canada Steve Nash would come back for that)? Coach’s son (and New York Knick) Andy Rautins has been good to watch. Over in Lithuania, at Eurobasket 2011, Toronto Raptor Andrea Bargnani has been brilliant for his Italian national team (even when the team has fallen short). He poured in 36 points on Friday when the Italian team faced a must win situation against Latvia.
5. Is it the summer of Tsonga? Do you remember Wimbledon? This year‘s men’s tournament at the Rogers Cup in Montreal? Well Jo-Wilfried Tsonga isn’t stopping. With two victories over Roger Federer already this year, and having just eliminated the top ranked American in the men’s draw at the US Open, we can say that Tsonga’s hot streak is definitely iconoclastic. And he is now headed to another showdown with Roger at the US Open quarter finals. He seems to be equal parts love, enthusiasm and really interesting tennis. If that’s not enough, it’s time to start watching this man on the tennis court very carefully if for no other reason than there seems to be more still to learn. For instance, I understand the time Tsonga jumped around like a crazy person to try and distract Federer, but I’m not yet sure what to make of the boxing footage below.