Hope everyone had as much fun this weekend as we did. Trying to squeeze as much into the final non-football days as we can, because when the ball that bounces funny starts bouncing, the 5-at-10 gets crazy busy. So it goes, and we've always preferred being busy to being bored.
From the "Talks too much" studios, here we go...
We'll break down the first half on Tuesday, but let's rest today on the fact that your Atlanta Braves hit the All-Star break feeling good after sweeping the Phillies.
(Side note: The Phillies are cooked. Heck, they might even start moving pieces like Shane Victorino and/or Cole Hamels. And who saw that coming in April?)
The Braves won three straight in Philly in large part because Brian McCann remembered he was Brian McCann. He homered in each of the three games against the Phillies.
Your Braves are seven games over .500 and four back of Washington Nationals after 85 games. This, despite losing your most effective starting pitcher (Brandon Beachy) to an arm injury, losing your most effective set-up guy (Jonny Venters) to stinky-ness and having your Nos. 4 and 5 hitters (McCann and Dan Uggla) proving the ultimate bizarro alterntive to the Abbott and Costello classic of "Who's not on first?"
So this bunch has overcome some hurdles to be in the thick of things midway through. They'll have to overcome some more, too.
Rookie shortstop sensation Andrelton Simmons broke his right pinkie Sunday, an injury that could cost him some time. Simmons has been special since replacing Tyler Whoshisnicky and an extended absence could be prove costly.
Federer breaks records, hearts
Roger Federer's continued assault on the tennis record books has left him with 17 major titles and seven Wimbledon crowns after Sunday's four-set triumph over Andy Murray.
As out ace columnist Mark Wiedmer wrote here, http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2012/jul/09/federer-murray-both-won-mark-wiedmer/ it was tough not to want to see Murray win. For those not in the tennis know - and we're right there with you - Murray was trying to become the first Wimbledon winner from Great Britian since the 1930s, and the stakes and pressure and background buzz were overwhelming.
Seriously, this was the rarest of scenes; it was a home-court disadvantage in a lot of ways because of the suffocating intensity on Murray. Hey, we love sports for a lot of reasons, but we love, Love, LOVE major sporting events because of the pressure and how athletes either handle it or become unhinged.
That's the stakes and the storyline, and we trust and treasure it. For Murray, though, it was surreal. It was greater because this meant so much to so many. He was playing for his first major title and that surely would have changed his life. But he was carrying the weight of a national fan base and he succumbed to it - that and the landslide of shots that made Federer look like, well, Federer.
It was so all-encompassing, that as Weeds wrote, even Federer fans would have been OK on a lot of levels if Murray had won.
The United State Olympic basketball team was picked this weekend and there were few surprises.
The Americans are stacked even with Dwyane Wade pulling out because of an injury.
It would take an upset of major proportions - we're talking 1980 US over Russia-level shocker - for a team with a proposed starting line-up of Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Blake Griffin or Kevin Love to not walk to the gold medal.
We have to admit it, we're getting excited for the Olympics, and we're pledging to devote more space here to them in coming days.
That said, the start of these Olympics games had a mild hiccup this weekend when the torch was extinguished during its march to the stadium in London.
No, it was not rain that got the historic flame on the ceremonial torch that is passed through towns and cities on its way to light the cauldron for the start of each Olympics. No, the torch was put out when they took it white-water rafting? Who planned this route, Kramer and George?
This and that
- Tony Stewart rolled to the checkered flag at Daytona this weekend. We know what you're thinking - "They raced at Daytona this weekend and we missed it?" Yep, they raced on Saturday night and again asked the question, "If we crank a 750 horse-power engine and no one is watching, does it make a sound?" We checked in on the race for a moment Saturday night and could not help but notice there were plenty of good sections available at Daytona International Speedway.
- Other than Webb Simpson, there were a bunch of unknown guys with their names on their bags Sunday at the Greenbrier playing golf. And if it had not been for the familiar voices of Jim Nantz and Co., it might as well have been the Chattanooga Metro. Ted Potter Jr. won in a playoff. (No, not that Ted Potter Jr., the other one.) We will say this, though: Watching guys have their lives changed forever can make moments like Sunday mighty enjoyable. Think of it this way: If that had been Webb Simpson and Rickie Fowler or anyone this side of Tiger Woods, would the theater been more enjoyable than Potter and Troy Kelly trying to stake their claim on Tour? No way.
- Congrats to Cody Godfrey on winning the aforementioned Chattanooga Metro.
- Moment of silence for Norman Sas, who died this weekend. Sas invented the electric football game with the vibrating board, the pieces that ambled toward the goal line and the passing game that was so tough, Joe Montana and Peyton Manning would have struggled. Still, it was the bee's knees of its time and was the first playable football-electronics marriage. So in some ways, Sas paved the way for the 10-figure industry that is Madden13 and NCAA Football whatever. Rest in low-humming peace Norman.
The split between Katie Holmes and L. Tom Cruise has been cover-stuff for the tabloids and will continue to be for the foreseeable future.
While the details and the issues made for Hollywood-gossip gold, it also overshadowed last week's release of the top-paid actors of the last year.
Cruise was far-and-away out front on that list, pulling in the tidy sum of $75 million. In a year. That's a lot of cabbage.
Ever wonder why we frequently hear that athletes are overpaid but never hear about actors being overpaid? Sure a bundle of Cruise's deposits were off revenue generated by his films - and "Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol" did almost $2.1 billion at the box office - but still.
Side question: What's the Rushmore of Cruise movies and where does he rank among his peers? Looking back dude has a pretty strong resume, religious beliefs notwithstanding.