February 28, 2001. A lovely Sunday, and a great day for a Daytona 500. That is, until we lost Dale Earnhardt (Sr). The racing legend began his dominance at the precise time that television and advertising was beginning to make NASCAR—-the pre-eminent stock car racing series here in the US—-visible to a mainstream audience. Earnhardt won 7 season championships in NASCAR’s top series, between 1980 and 1994, and was most likely its most beloved driver by fans. (His son, Dale, Jr., was far and away NASCAR’s most popular driver his entire career.)
Rafael Nadal has now won the French Open—-one of tennis’s major championships—-a mind-boggling 14 times. No other man has won an individual major more than 9 times. In this era of the “Big Three” —- Nadal, Roger Federer, and Novak Djokovic —- the trio have captured an absurd 62 major championships. Recall that there are 4 major championship tournaments in a calendar year. Nadal is now two majors clear of both rivals for the most career majors among men.
The St. Louis Cardinals have a defensive dynamo at third base, the perennial Gold Glove winner, who also provides middle of the order punch to the offense, and makes them a yearly threat to be world champions. His name is Scott Rolen.
At the end of August, the U.S. Open tennis tournament will begin in Flushing, New York. Novak Djokovic has recently won Wimbledon, bringing his total of major titles to 20, equaling him with Roger Federer, and Rafael Nadal. Someone is likely to be the all-time leader in men’s major titles alone at the end of this tournament.
She’s already the greatest gymnast of all time. She could have not come to the Tokyo Olympics at all, and this would be true. The United States was projected to win the team competition by a full point and a half, with Biles at full strength. In a competition normally decided by tenths of a point, this is comically absurd.
Wimbledon began on June 28. After not being contested in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic, tennis’s premier tournament is back. This era of tennis has been utterly dominated by three men: Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic. If Djokovic were to win the tournament, he would join Federer and Nadal at the very top of the all-time list, in terms of major victories, with 20. Most observers believe that since Djokovic remains at the top of the rankings at this very moment, and is five years younger than Roger Federer, while being more dominant on all surfaces than Nadal, he will be the most decorated major champion in tennis history before long. Roger Federer, the great Swiss legend, still has something to say about that, at age 39.
Roger Federer won three matches at the French Open this year, and withdrew before his fourth-round match with a young Italian star. Roger had to fight to win his third-round match against an opponent he had never played before, and it was quite early in the morning of the next day.
On Sunday, May 23, Phil Mickelson started the insanity, by winning the PGA Championship in South Carolina. It represented his sixth major title, and he surpassed Jack Nicklaus, and Tiger Woods to become the oldest major winner in the history of professional golf. I don’t recall thinking that Phil was too long in the tooth to win anymore, but he’s 50 years old. He’s eligible for the Champions Tour, which in a bygone era was called the “Senior Tour.” Phil had won the PGA Championship before: 16 years ago. That gap represented the largest for anyone winning the same tournament in the history of professional golf.
We sit on the very edge of the beginning of the tournament. Just hours from now, the four teams playing in the play-in games for the 68-team field will tip off for the right to take their places in the main 64-team bracket.
We’re running out of meaningful things to say. I can remember when Tom Brady was derided as a “system quarterback” that benefited from the excellent schemes of the legendary coach Bill Belichick. Now, his place at the top of the NFL mountain is assured. He became the quarterback of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who had not even qualified for the playoffs for some half-dozen years, and they are now the champions of the NFL. Brady now has more Super Bowl rings than all NFL franchises. His 10 appearances in the Super Bowl, to go along with the seven victories, is unfathomable.