Posterizing > Putting?

I love SportsCenter’s Top 10 Plays.  Frequently, I am doing something else in the evening and when I realize that it is around the time for the Top 10 Plays, I frantically turn the channel to whatever ESPN station is playing SportsCenter just to watch it.

I also love Best of the Best plays, where there is a vote between the day’s number 1 play vs. the current play that is named the Best of the Best.  I especially enjoy the plays that stay on the Best of the Best for weeks because I really can keep watching them over and over and over again (literally).

Like the Jerome Simpson flip….

Or Mark Sanchez’s infamous butt fumble on the Worst of the Worst… (sorry Mark, I had to do it).

Okay, okay.  It is really easy to get carried away.

So, a couple of days ago Paula Creamer, a women’s professional golfer, made a 75-foot putt  to WIN a tournament.  Not only was it 75 feet, but it also involved quite the slope.  I am currently in a beginning golf class and know all too well how easy she made this look.  I know you want to watch it, so here it is…

For obvious reasons, this was the number one play of the day and it beat the previous Best of the Best to take the title.  Yet yesterday, after one day with the Best of the Best title, it was beat by a baseball perfect game, which was also impressive.

I love baseball highlights, but I was surprised that Creamer’s putt only received about 1/3 of the votes for the Best of the Best.  Really both plays were great, but I would have expected the voting to be a little closer.  While the perfect game deserved to be honored, Creamer had made a 75-foot putt to win a tournament, which is incredible.

This probably sounds like a rant. I suppose it is a little bit of one. It just made me realize how much people like basketball, football and baseball. Nothing is wrong with that, and I feel the same way.  It is clear though, that if this putt cannot last on the Best of the Best then no women’s golf highlight is going to be able to compete.

It’s pretty apparent that the professional sports that are most covered in the nation media, especially on a short highlight/talk show, are usually men’s basketball, football and baseball. This highlight’s one day reign as the Best of the Best helped me understand why in a new way. Clearly, it is what the majority of people want to watch.

I just think Creamer’s putt should have lasted for several days, or at least until Blake Griffin did something this again…

Hannah

My (Un)official Guide to the 2013 US Open – Part 2

This is the second post in a series I am writing about the 2013 US Open. The event begins Monday, August 26 and the draw for the tournament was released yesterday. You can view the first post by clicking here.

I was surprised by several of the matches that could occur before the semifinals at this year’s US Open. In this post, I discuss some of the top players’ draws for this tournament.

The “Big Four”

For the last few years, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, and Andy Murray have been considered the “Big Four” in men’s tennis. Other than the 2009 US Open in which Juan Martín Del Potro was the champion, one of the “Big Four” have won every Grand Slam since the 2005 season.

The “Big Four” are going to be worth watching throughout this tournament because none of these champions have the easiest draw.

Here is a little speculation about how their draws may work out just to make it to the semifinals:

Djokovic [1] will probably have a bit of a test in the quarterfinals. In this round, Djokovic could potentially play former champion Del Potro [6] or Tommy Haas [12], who has been looking pretty good the last few months.

Djokovic

Novak Djokovic

Murray‘s [3] quarter looks to possibly be a little better than Djokovic’s, but he will likely have to defeat either Thomas Berdych [5] or Stanislas Wawrinka [9] to make it to the semifinals. They have all had a good years, and I would expect that to be an exciting quarterfinal match. In the semifinals, he would face the winner of Djokovic’s quarter.

murray

Andy Murray

Nadal [2] and Federer [7] have ended up in the same quarter of the draw. This sets up a possible quarterfinal match between the two of them, but they will potentially face some tough opponents before they would even get to that point.  Nadal could play either Nikolay Davydenko or Fernando Verdasco [27], who made it to the quarterfinals of this year’s Wimbledon, in the third round.  In the fourth round he could be up against either big-serving John Isner [13] or Gael Monfils, who has had good results US Open. Federer may end up playing Sam Querrey [26] in the third round and then Tommy Robredo [19] in the fourth round.

Since Nadal and Federer might play each other, I have included a great video of them promoting a tournament:

Serena Williams

While the “Big Four” have been several consistent players at the top of men’s tennis lately, women’s tennis has had Serena Williams. Williams, the top seed in the women’s draw, is the defending champion at this year’s tournament. Serena Williams won her first Grand Slam (it was the US Open) in 1999, and she is still an extremely dominating force in women’s tennis.

I would expect Serena Williams to have a good tournament, but she may have the most interesting draw in this tournament.  In the first round she will face Francesca Schiavone. Schiavone won the French Open in 2010. She has also made it to the quarterfinals of the US Open a couple of times. This is a first round match that will likely have the intensity of a match that would take place much later in the tournament.

Serena Williams

Serena Williams

In Serena Williams’ quarter of the draw is also Sloane Stephens [15] and her sister, Venus. Serena Williams could play Stephens in the 4th round. Stephens has had a great year and probably her biggest win was when she upset Serena Williams at the Australian Open. Since then, there has been some controversy about what they think about each other, too.

Sloane Stephens

Sloane Stephens

If they can both make it through four rounds, the Williams sisters would battle it out in the quarterfinals. It’s a little unlikely because Venus Williams would possibly have to have three huge wins against Kirsten Flipkens [12], Carla Suarez Navarro [18] and then Angelique Kerber [8] for this match up to happen, but she has an amazing serve and I would not completely count her out of it

Venus and Serena Williams

Venus and Serena Williams

What about Sugarpova Sharapova?

Sharapova has made some headlines lately. The third ranked women’s player has recently talked about legally changing her name to Sugarpova, the name of her brand of candy. Sharapova was also in the news about a week ago when she lost to Stephens and then fired her new coach, Jimmy Connors.

Sharapova will not be in any headlines at the US Open because she has withdrawn from this year’s tournament due to a shoulder injury.

Until next time,

Hannah

References:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Four_%28tennis%29

Photo Credit

IMG_7640

IMG_7839

Serena Williams

The Legacy of Greatness

Last Wednesday was the 14th anniversary of the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup finals between the US and China – the most inspirational sporting event I ever remember watching/experiencing.  I can so vividly recall watching this soccer game on television with my family.  All of us were on the edge of our seats throughout the game. It was the type of game that could have been in a movie. After neither team scored in the first 90 minutes of the game, overtime also went by scoreless. The US then won the shootout 5-4. The celebration after the game was so amazing that it is hard to describe. Brandi Chastain took off her shirt after she kicked the final penalty shot, and the rest of the team rushed the field. Everyone else was screaming and waving American flags. It was fitting for such a perfect moment.

The passion the US women’s team had for the sport and their teammates was so evident for years leading up to the tournament, while they played all of the games and throughout the celebration after they won the championship. This game broke the attendance record for a women’s sporting event, a record that the game still holds, which is a testament to all of the fans they had before the game. After this game though, the members of this team were known as childhood heroes. When I told my cousin I was writing about this game, she said “every girl wanted to be Mia Hamm.”  That was a perfect way of describing the effect of this game. I also thought that many girls had a new sense that dreams can come true with hard work.

Mia Hamm choosing people (that girl happens to be me) out of a crowd at a Charlotte Sting game.

Mia Hamm choosing people (that girl happens to be me) out of a crowd at a Charlotte Sting game.

Advertisements even displayed the impact the women’s soccer team had on sports and the perceptions of women athletes.

For their performance on and off the field, this soccer team will be thought of by many as being one of the greatest teams ever. I am sure that memories of this team and the final game of the 1999 World Cup will be remembered and talked about for many many years to come because of an amazing game and how their inspirational win changed women’s sports.

Until next time,

Hannah

 

Keeping My Eye on the Ball

During the Branding of Me class last semester and through some further reflection this summer, I have been thinking about my passions. What I have come to realize is that the apple really doesn’t fall far from the tree, and my passions are very similar to the passions of my grandparents.

My grandmother loved journalism.  Family and journalism definitely seemed to be her passions, or at least this is how it always seemed to me.  You could tell how passionate she was about journalism by reading her articles and columns that were in the Salisbury Post almost every day, or by hearing her talk about an article she had written. She loved writing, being able to learn about people’s stories and then having the chance to share their stories.  As you can tell from an article like this one “Where did all those years go?”, she had so much passion for what she did for a living.  I am pretty sure that her passion was contagious and helped me to look at writing as an enjoyable experience, and almost never as a task.

My grandfather had many passions, but I remember most his passion for sports and the perspective it gave him on life.  He loved baseball.  He told stories of playing for a team while he was in the army.  He was also a lifelong NY Yankees fan, although he at times joked that he cheered for the Atlanta Braves since they were on television more often in North Carolina. He mostly taught himself how to play tennis (at least I think that’s how it started), and then he played the sport all of his life.  His passion for tennis resulted in most of my family both enjoying and playing the sport. I always felt like he loved playing, watching and talking sports. He was also extremely supportive of everyone’s sports experiences. I remember him watching some of my first tennis matches and talking to me after softball practice. I always felt like he was on my side and was one of my biggest supporters.

My grandfather had a few sayings that I’ll never forget.  One was “grab a pen.”  He just wanted to make sure that everyone was ready if you drove over a drawbridge (and then really any other bridge).  He also would say “bend your knees,” which is definitely the best advice I ever heard for playing tennis.  The other saying I remember was “keep your eye on the ball.”  I know that this may have been directed at tennis, or another sport, but he said it very often and I really think he just liked this advice for life.  It was kind of like the book Rules of the Red Rubber Ball. While my grandfather may not necessarily have been giving only life advice, I think that the ball he was talking about represented passion.  Whether is was a ball in a sport or a “ball” representing something else in life, I really do think he was saying to keep your eye on it and then follow it.

I am excited to have the new blog title “Keeping my Eye on the Ball,” and I am looking forward to continuing to write about my passions.

Until next time,

Hannah

P.S. next time will be soon because I can’t wait to write about some of the recent events in sports!

What this Season Could Have Been for the Chicago Bulls

With the Chicago Bulls vs Miami Heat second round NBA playoff series starting tonight, I cannot help but think about what this season could have been for the Bulls.

Thus far, the Miami Heat are looking like they’re in a good position to defend their championship title. LeBron James, who just earned his 4th MVP award, and the Heat will be rested and ready to face the Bulls after their first round sweep over the Milwaukee Bucks 

The Bulls, on the other hand, are coming off of their series against the Brooklyn Nets that went to 7 games.  As a result, they will be playing the Heat on one day of rest following their hard fought first round series.

If Derrick Rose had never torn his ACL about a year ago, I wonder what position the Bulls would be in right now?

Photo Credit: Keith Allison

Photo Credit: Keith Allison

Without Rose, the Bulls finished 5th in the Eastern Conference.  If Rose had never been injured, I believe that the Bulls would have been a very strong team this season.  They likely would have had more wins during the season which would have possibly given them a better seed and a different opponent for this round.

As long as everyone else on the Bulls had the same kind of season they had this year, I would even go as far as saying that I believe the Bulls could have been the strongest competition for the Heat (especially considering Russell Westbrook’s injury now). Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah, Kirk Hinrich, and Luol Deng have all had good seasons.

While I do think it would be nothing short of amazing if they win this series against the Heat, I am not completely counting the Bulls out.  They do have a steep up hill battle though.  They were the team that ended Miami’s streak earlier this season, but that was one game, not the four they need to win the series.

The Bulls do have some health problems besides Rose to worry about for the up coming games that will have a big impact on their ability to hang in their with the Heat. Luol Deng has been sick with something similar to the flu and had complications from a procedure at the hospital.  Kirk Hinrich is day-to-day because of a calf injury.  Also, Joakim Noah has had a consistent foot injury, plantar fasciitis, for much of the second half of the season.  Noah’s injury needs rest and he played a lot of minutes in the Bulls last two games, so that could be a concern moving forward.

Could Rose come back for this playoff series? Pretty much since the All-Start break, there has been questions about him returning. There was even talk yesterday about him playing the Miami Heat tonight. You never know, but I doubt he will play tonight or this series.  I think if he is going to play, it would have made a lot of sense for him to start by building up minutes or at least playing some in the Bulls first round series against the Nets.  Also, I cannot imagine that he would want his first game back to be against the Heat’s defense.  We will see though.  He has not said he will not play.  It would certainly be exciting to see how things go if he does play.

Although this could have been a completely different match up than it is, it’s not reality. I am still looking forward to watching this series.  Maybe there will be the chance next year to see how the Bulls with Rose match up with the Heat.

Until next time,

Hannah

Photo Credit

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Derrick_Rose_2.jpg

As the Semester Ends, Tennis is Heating Up

Yesterday, I played tennis with my friend Sallie after the Branding of Me met for the last time.

Sallie and I at the tennis court

I was feeling a little down before we met up at the courts. Another semester is coming to a close. This has been a great semester. I have learned so much in all of my classes, and I have enjoyed them very much. Also, the conclusion of another semester makes me think about how quickly time goes by at UNC.

Playing tennis today was a great way to clear my mind. I left the courts not feeling down, but happy about all that I learned this semester and that I have the opportunity to spend another year at UNC.

I also left the courts happy because playing tennis and thinking about summer reminded me that tennis, as in the Pro Tour, is starting to heat up.  I am looking forward to watching some amazing tennis this summer.

The comeback story in tennis is that Rafael Nadal is back from his knee injury. Not only is he back, but Nadal is winningNadal may have lost to Novak Djokovic in the final of Monte Carlo over the weekend, but he has made it to five finals out of the five tournaments he has played in since his return. He has won two of the tournaments. Monte Carlo marks the beginning of the clay court season which will lead to the French Open at the end of May.

Photo Credit: Christopher Johnson

Photo Credit: Christopher Johnson

There is a lot up in the air about tennis this year…

Will Djokovic continue his dominance? Earlier this year he won the Australian Open and last year he was victorious at the French and Australian Open. This year could be more of a challenge with Nadal’s return, and Andy Murray and Roger Federer are still very threatening, but Djokovic has looked very good the last few months.

Can Murray win Wimbledon? Talk about pressure…and passion.

Winning his first Grand Slam at the US Open last year will hopefully make it a little easier for him. Also, he was able to win the Gold Medal at the All England Club just weeks after Wimbledon last year. I would love to see him win at Wimbledon, but this year will certainly be a challenge.

Is this the year Federer will not be as relevant? I doubt it, and I certainly hope not. Federer has won 17 Grand Slam titles and I’d love to see him add more to his record this year.  Men’s tennis is as tough, but I still think this year will be good to Federer.

Can anyone stop the big four? Can David Ferrer, Juan Martin del Potro, Jo-Wilfred Tsonga, or anyone else get in the way of Djokovic, Federer, Nadal and Murray? What about Stan WawrinkaHe beat Murray at Monte Carlo and lost to Djokovic 1-6, 7-5, 6-4, 6-7, 12-10 in the Australian Open earlier this year. There is the potential for some great tennis in the upcoming tournaments and Grand Slams.

Who will step up in the women’s game? Currently, Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka are in familiar spots on top of the rankings, but can they stay there? I believe Sharapova could have an excellent year if she stays healthy. Azarenka won the Australian Open earlier this year, and took Wimbledon and the US Open last year.  She could continue to be a strong force in the women’s game. Also, Serena Williams is hard to ever count out, and like Sharapova, she will be hard to beat if she remains healthy. With that said, one of the reasons I like the women’s game is because upsets happen often and you never know what will happen.

Until next time,

Hannah

Photo Sources

Can they Comeback?

One aspect of sports that I really enjoy are the comeback stories.  Sports create some circumstances that allow a person to overcome the odds and return to where they once were or even achieve more than they had before their comeback.  Yesterday, was the last day of the NBA regular season.  As the season concluded, the basketball world has presented several comeback stories that will be worth watching in the upcoming days, months and years.

Tracy McGrady

Photo credit: Keith Allison

Photo credit: Keith Allison

T-Mac was playing in China this season after not getting signed to an NBA team, but it is working out for him because he is making a NBA comeback to play for the San Antonio Spurs just in time for the playoffs.  He is eligible to play even though the Spurs signed him after the NBA trade deadline because he was not signed on another NBA team.

Will this comeback allow him to be on a team that wins his first playoffs series?  It looks like there is a decent chance.  I am just not sure how much playing time he will get or how much of an impact he will have on the Spurs.  I’ll be rooting for him to have a comeback though!

Kobe Bryant

Photo credit: Steve Lanctot

Photo credit: Steve Lanctot

One reason that Tracy McGrady may get his first play-off series win is that the Spurs will be playing an LA Lakers team without Kobe Bryant in the first round.

Kobe Bryant was in top form for almost the entire 2013 NBA regular season.  The LA Lakers made it to the playoffs this season largely because of Kobe’s contributions. Kobe tore his Achilles tendon last Friday and at best will not return to playing in basketball games for 6-9 months.  Other than this injury, not much else could stop Kobe this season.

Achilles are tough to come back from.  There is a lot that needs to happen correctly for a successful recovery before he can even start to prepare for basketball.

Only time will tell if Kobe can beat the odds, make a full comeback and try to get his 6th NBA championship.  It’s hard to doubt Kobe… he just had an amazing year in his 17th season in the NBA.

Phil Jackson

Photo credit: Keith Allison

Photo credit: Keith Allison

Another big story in the NBA is that Phil Jackson wants to comeback to the game. This may have been expected because he tried to return to coaching earlier this season by reuniting with the Lakers when they were searching for a coach.  Interestingly, he is currently saying his return to the NBA may be in management, not coaching.

I think a lot of NBA teams would like to have Phil Jackson.  It will be interesting to see where he ends up if he has a comeback.

Until next time,

Hannah

Photo Sources