A silly and senseless debate but a fun one nonetheless
The debate about “best ever” in professional sports is basically meaningless and more suited for stool conversation than anything – it’s a fun endeavour where no one is really wrong because it’s all opinion – so gather your stools around, fine folks, and let’s talk.
It’s topical, I suppose, because the New York Yankee closer is in Toronto for the last time in his storied career, he’s on one of those victory laps around major league baseball so teams and players can pay tribute.
But is he the best ever?
I would say he’s not only the best closer in history – and I understand fully that closers have been around a relatively short time compared to the game itself – but it would be fun to sit and make a case that he’s the most dominant, individual athlete in any sport.
Here’s a guy who has thrown basically the same pitch in the same circumstances for years and years and years, everyone knows what’s coming, no one can consistently hit him and he’s performed under incredible stress and pressure more times than you can imagine. Playoffs. World Series. Big games.
He’s not a physically imposing man – I saw him years ago front row at a Raptors-Nets game and remember being surprised at how slight he is – but he’s been able to carve out a Hall of Fame career as one of the most consistent performers in the history of the game. Or any game.
Now, I know. You can’t, or shouldn’t, compare him to a basketball player or a hockey player or a football player but I will.
What he does is basically dependent solely on himself. He doesn’t have anyone to pass him the ball or set a screen for him or design him a play or make a block; he goes out there man against man and wins the individual battle far more often than not. And has forever.
I guess that’s what makes him stand out even more to me, the nature of the game he plays and the role he has in it.
There have been other great relief pitchers – I can hear the Trevor Hoffman band warming up – and there have been other great baseball players, no question about it.
But if you combine longevity, success, the manner in which he performs and the role he has to play, I can honestly say I’d rank him very highly among the greatest athletes of all time.
What do the other stool-sitters say?
I quite like this.
The song and the sentiment.
Better start again.
Mail, same schedule as last week – it’s like Groundhog Week around here of late – so I’ll need some help at firstname.lastname@example.org.
My total beef with TV?
The seasons are too short.
How in the world can The Newsroom be over for the year already?
(And don’t spoil it, I haven’t even seen half of it and folks who have were kind enough not to spoil even that for me; some morning this week we’ll catch up to the finale)
Back in our day – and I’m talking eons ago, kids, didn’t shows run like 20 weeks or so? Not eight or whatever it is.
Kinda sucks, doesn’t it?
We’ll get to this a lot more tomorrow after I’ve hopefully had a chance to catch up with the staff and some of the players later on today but here’s a heads-up.
The Canadian women are off to Mexico tomorrow to the FIBA Americas qualification tournament for next year’s world championships.
Now, I’ll harp on an old point: This program has been exponentially more successful than the men’s over the last decade and while the hype machine isn’t working at nearly the fever pace for the women as it was for the men, it should be.
There are 10 teams in the tournament, broken into two pools, the top two from each advance to the semifinals and only the semifinal winners make the worlds.
It won’t be easy but it can be done and we’ll all be paying close attention, right?
They start Saturday and go four days in a row in the first round; not sure what the TV gig is – I suspect the games won’t be live although they should be – but we’ll follow it, right?
One more Rivera point?
I have seen, or read, some criticisms of teams – particularly this week the Red Sox – for honouring him on his final stop in a city.
Yes, I understand that the competitive nature of sports would suggest you don’t do that, that somehow you’re supposed to hate the other guy with a passion and never admit someone’s better.
But I have no problem whatsoever honouring even a bitter rival and showing an appreciation for continued greatness when a career comes to an end.
It’s not like anyone went up to the plate against Rivera this year trying to get out, once the game is on, competition rules.
But to say thanks and congratulations? I have no problem with that at all.
Okay, I’m totally confused.
Between Cups and SuperCups and Leagues and the regular old regular season, what soccer am I watching these days?
And is every game a “big” one now?
It’s obviously the North American in me but I can’t quite grasp who’s playing who and why and what’s on the line.