Fine and Fatigued

We missed a post. Not that we meant to do such a thing, but last weekend was so busy. Lots of sports. LOTS of sports.

First, there was hockey and basketball. Big men smashing other big men into the glass or the floor or the boards or the ice… Not exactly the moment for a spot of wine, perhaps, but we found beer and hard cider go well with NBA and NHL games. And hey, somewhere in there, we should send out hearty congratulations to the Warriors and Capitals.

Also a special salute to Alexander Ovechkin, who finally had the opportunity to raise the Stanley Cup. At 32, he has led the league in scoring seven times, passed 500 career goals  in his 10th season, and was voted one of the top NHL players in history. Yet, in all that time, he has never won the NHL championship. Ovechkin has had his chances, but never quite made it to that one big win. (An overtime loss to the Penguins in the 2016 playoffs was about as heartbreaking as it gets.) And then, finally, the fates were kind and there he stood, the Stanley Cup in his hands.

A moment worth celebrating for sure. Champagne is always good, but somehow maybe not quite right in this instance. Something with a little vodka maybe….

After that, there was Simona Halep and Sloane Stephens battling it out on the clay at Roland Garros. Hard to root against anyone in this match. And so when Halep the Jalapeño finally found that winning shot, there was a rousing cheer, even though she had defeated an American in the process. This definitely required something appropriately fuzzy and happy, so mimosas all around!

Later that same day was the final leg of the Triple Crown. This is the hardest title to claim in the entire world of sports. There is no guaranteed winner at the end of each annual run. In fact, prior to American Pharoah’s win in 2015, there hadn’t been a Triple Crown winner in over thirty years. We’d gotten so used to the disappointments, the oh-so-close moments. Though everyone hopes there will be another Triple Crown winner, some small part always believes that it won’t happen.

So here was Justify, a handsome red who ran away with the Derby despite the mud, held off a pair of fast closing challengers on a sloppy, foggy track in the Preakness, ready to tackle the beast that is the Belmont. A mile and a half, the longest race any of these horses will ever run. After running the Derby and Preakness over the previous five weeks, running such a distance is, as NYRA likes to claim, a true test of champions.

On a glorious day, on a fast track, Justify maneuvered to the front and held off all comers, bringing the total number of Triple Crown winners to 13. Some quick dancing, some clinking glasses, and really, the sports gods were smiling on the universe that wonderful weekend.

And it wasn’t even over.

Come Sunday, there was Rafael Nadal, back on the courts he loves. How good is Nadal at the French Open? He has two, count ‘em, two losses on these courts, over the course of his entire professional career. And here was Dominic Thiem, one of the young guns who had three previous wins over Nadal on clay. The world was watching, wondering if the King had one more win in him, or if Thiem would be the crack that opened the door, at last, for all those youngsters looking to take down the Big Four.

Well, the door remains firmly shut, for now. Nadal won in three sets, giving a clinic on clay court play. Thiem fired every shot he had, hard baseline pounders, wicked drop shots, some nasty slice. Yet Nadal took it all and returned it with even more power, finesse and slice. Nadal now has 11 French Open titles, an almost insane number of victories for championship open series titles, much less for a single event. Definitely time to pull out the champagne!

And squeezed in among all that joyful play, a bit of sad news – the suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. A shocking reminder that even amongst those happy, happy moments, there can be a soul-eating depression silently devouring its victim. And so we offer a tip of the head, a quiet prayer, and a simple request that if you find yourself staring into the jaws of this creature, please reach out to someone, anyone, and give yourself a fighting chance.

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