5-at-10: Tennis beauty, Waiting on LeBron, All-Star worthy

5-at-10: Tennis beauty, Waiting on LeBron, All-Star worthy

July 7th, 2014 by Jay Greeson in Sports - Columns

From the "Talks too much" studios, let's stretch this thing out - it's almost go time.

Tennis

Novak Djokovic of Serbia, right, shakes hands Sunday July 6, 2014, after defeating Roger Federer of Switzerland in the men's singles final at the All England Lawn Tennis Championships in Wimbledon, London.

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

We do not watch a lot of tennis. We are the most casual of tennis fans - cut-off khakis and a T-shirt for sure.

Still, Sunday's final at Wimbledon was great theater. Excellent stuff that makes watching sports fun - and certainly a classic as our ace columnist Weeds details here.

Side question: Is this the point where all tennis fans start waving their arms and say, "Tennis has arrived. And if you don't like tennis, it's because you don't understand it?" Or is that reaction only reserved for soccer and its ilk?

The Wimbledon championship between Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic was simply outstanding. A five-set classic decided by the current No. 1's perfectly rounded ability and the all-time No. 1's rejuvenation.

Federer is a lot like Tiger, only wickedly more respected out of the public eye and by his competitors, and the place tennis sits has to make golf jealous by comparison because of a clear and set succession plan.

Federer and Nadal were what Tiger and Phil should have been, and Djokovic is what Rory appeared to be and what golf wanted Adam Scott to become. But, unlike Rory, there are no doubts about Djokovic's skills across all parts of the game, and as we witness Sunday, Djokovic appears to have tamed the inner demons that plagued him and that have haunted Scott for every Sunday in his career but one magical April day in the rain in Eastern Georgia.

So we tip our visor to the tennis masters who gave us great joy and even better tennis. It was fun to watch - regardless what country you are from our what the future may hold for any sport.

----

LeBron James

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

LeBron

So as the clock ticks and the fiddler named Riley waits, the NBA landscape seems perilously close to a complete overhaul.

LeBron is in no rush - and since he is far and away the white whale and golden goose of this league, dude could sign anywhere, for any amount - and from there the dominos linger and wait.

But that waiting period ends this week when players can start signing deals, and the Heat and team president Pat Riley face a must-get-better scenario, or they will be left with an aged Dwyane Wade and little else on a roster that this time a year ago looked to be the best in basketball.

And with reports that Houston is making a hard push for Chris Bosh and that Cleveland may have pulled even for LeBron, what do we make of this situation?

We believe LeBron still lands in South Beach, but we do not think the Heat brass would be heart-broken if Bosh, the 7-foot, 3-point-shooter who averaged four rebounds a game in the Finales, shopped his talents.

We believe Wade is set in Miami with a deal that will be long-term lucrative and short-term affordable.

We also have to believe that Riley has something up his $500 sleeve other than hair gel. The Heat have a window, and the only thing worse in sports than squandering potential is wasting a championship portal.

So here we are, waiting on LeBron's decision, and while this one is no where near as public or high-profile, it's every bit as important.

----

Braves and all-stars

The Braves landed three players on the NL All-Star roster that was released Sunday. The starters were voted on by the fans - a tradition up there with using leeches for blood disease and horse-and-buggies considering the stakes - and the reserves and the pitchers were voted on by the players - who fared only marginally better all things considers.

So congrats to Julio Teheran, who deserved to make it even if he was only inlcuded after Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija was traded to the AL this weekend, closer Craig Kimbrel and first baseman Freddie Freeman.

Atlanta Braves' pitcher Julio Teheran throws in the first inning of his game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Friday, June 27, 2014, in Philadelphia.

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

That said, the obvious switch in talent and star-power to the American League is staggering looking at these rosters. Josh Harrison made it? He's a utility man and has great value during the marathon that is the regular season, but really? Jerry Royster 3.0 is an all-star now? OK. Somewhere Jose Oquendo just fainted.

The other debate about these patricularly all-star selections beyond the usual "This guy got snubbed; that guy doesn't deserve it" revolves around Derek Jeter being the starter at short for the American League. If you have a problem with that, well, you have our permission to quit reading and go on about your day.

The all-star game should be a celebration of the best the game has to offer. Period. And for two decades, Jeter has been right there among the best things about baseball, especially considering the storylines and painful revelations of those two decades. Jeter has been a mainstay through the strike of 1994, the steroids debacle that haunted the game and now the dragging attendance and uncertainty of the future.

Jeter is the good face of baseball in this generation, and even Boston fans should be OK with that. Dude made headlines by making plays, not playing the fool. He deserves to be introduced as an All-Star in his final season, and bask in the praise he deserves.

But you know what's more: The fans deserve it. Jeter has already started his farewell tour, getting welcome receptions at every 'final' stop at various cities as the Yankees roll through.

This is everyone's chance, not unlike when Ted Williams got the All-Star treatment at Fenway 15 years ago.

This is a simple thank you, and we'll be on our way, but before we go, we have a few more All-Star suggestions.

  • For the love of everything, find a better way to determine home-field for the World Series. This is long over due and would cure a slew of the moaning and hand-wringing over the rosters and the obvious snubs.

  • Can we do away with the "Every City Gets a Representative" rule? What is this Upwards MLB? Yes, make sure the host city has a player in the game, but from there, is the fact that some yahoo from the Astros is pinch-running in the seventh really going to move the meter in Houston?

  • We need a tribute to Tony Gwynn, and with it needs to be a hard and direct message about smokeless tobacco. Hey, we dipped for almost 20 years - Copenhagen, straight and neat - and still miss it frequently after quitting almost four years ago.

But Gwynn died from it and, while baseball has a great history of sticking their collective heads in the sand that is only rivaled by the NCAA, it still is very common across the Major Leagues. Discussing it and its dangers is not a bad thing and it would honor Gwynn's impact on our lives as much as the great numbers - Maddux never struck him out in 107 plate-appearances - detail his impact on the game.

I quit dipping because I didn't want to have to answer my then-3-year-old son's questions about something that I was embarrassed about. Now, after Gwynn's death and the images of his son, I know that having quit, I have a much greater chance to answer my son's questions for a much greater amount of time.

----

This and that

- If there's any doubt that Johnny Football has pushed the envelope beyond the seal of expectation, know this: Chad Johnson/Ochocinco/Johnson, the former NFL wide out and reality TV star has endorsed his party-hard offseason lifestyle. Hmmmmm, let's see: Joe Montana says calm down; Chad OchoJohnson says party on. NFL Hall of Famer says slow down; former NFL blip on the radar and a VH1 laughing stock says party on. What say you Johnny Football?

- Staying in Cleveland - you stay classy Cleveland - the Browns best player is in more hot water. Browns receiver Josh Gordon, who is reportedly staring at a year-long suspension for failing adrug test, got a DWI this weekend. Not good times. Somewhere Chad JohnsoCinco says party on Garth.

- Hmmmm, who thought this was a good idea. The WestView (New York) News published an op-ed about Barack Obama in this month's issue with the N-word in headline. You can see a story about it here. Man, stupid is as stupid does, right Mrs. Gump?

- Much props to Aric Almirola for taking the No. 43 to victory lane for the first time in more than 15 years. Driving for Richard Petty Motorsports, Almirola won the rain-shortened race at Daytona. Almirola was one of seven cars to avoid one of two huge crashes. In fact, almost the entire weekend was a debacle for everyone not connected to the 43 and Petty, and it's just another weekend weather event that left all of NASCAR soggy.

- Angel Cabrera won the Greenbrier Classic. Side note: Dude speaks perfect English but still uses an interpreter, which is the language version of that Seinfeld episode where George uses the Rascal. Still, did you see the story of George McNeill, a journeyman PGA player? Dude shoots 61 Sunday morning and learned after the round that his sister died of cancer on Sunday. Wow. He finished two back of Cabrera.

----

Today's question

We have several.

We have our Monday staples - who won or lost the weekend?

Also, Happy Birthday Satchel Paige. If you could have dinner with four baseball players from history, Ol' Satch would be a pretty good choice for one of the chairs.

And with the 43 returning to the winner's circle, what's our Rushmore of Iconic numbers in sports? The STP 43 is a good starting point.