Ronaldo Must Single-Handedly Beat the Greatest Team in the World to Live Up to Unrealistic Expectations
At the club level, Cristiano Ronaldo has won everything there is to win. Still, he is criticized and constantly compared, not just to Lionel Messi, but to the greats of all time like Pele and Diego Maradona. In regard to the latter two, Ronaldo’s critics love to mention that he hasn’t won a major tournament for Portugal.
To be fair, his performances for his country haven’t matched those for his clubs. He has been surrounded by more talent at Real Madrid and, before that, Manchester United. Former Portugal manager Carlos Quiroz did him no favors with his negative tactics either.
Thus far, Ronaldo has been the player of the tournament. I had no expectations that Portugal would survive the Group of Death. If he loses to Spain today, that should change nothing. Spain is supposed to win. Portugal did defeat Spain recently in a friendly, 4-0, but Spain took that game as seriously as a game of FIFA on X-Box.
Just because people remember Maradona leading what was considered to be a mediocre Argentina side to a World Cup, some expect Ronaldo to do the same. If Spain does win, get ready to hear this garbage. Portugal legends Eusabio and Luis Figo couldn’t deliver a major championship either.
Perhaps Ronaldo’s arrogance that he carries himself with attracts undue attention. His chiseled physique, model good looks and long string of bombshell WAGs maybe just inspires more jealousy. Hell, I think the guy is a douchebag half the time! None of that means he’s less of a footballer if he does the improbable tonight.
You always want your favorite sports athletes to go out gracefully. Not everyone can go out a champion like John Elway. You at least want them to retire before it gets sad watching them. That’s why it’s painful to see Venus Williams play in 2012.
On Monday, Williams lost to Elena Vesnina in the first round at Wimbledon. Wimbledon is the same tournament where Williams won five championships and became one of the greatest female grass court players of all -time.
Vensina, who is ranked No. 79 in the world, had lost 10 of her previous 11 Grand Slam singles matches prior to Monday’s match. Vesnina is someone Williams would have beaten in straight sets two years ago. Today, Williams just looked like a player who should have retired a year ago when her health took a turn for the worse.
The five-time champion has been suffering from Sjogren’s syndrome, a disease which the immune cells attack and destroys exocrine glands that produce tears and saliva. The disease is also said to reduce energy, which could explain Williams’ performance in 2012.
Williams withdrew from last year’s U. S. Open after she was diagnosed with and did not return to tournament play until March. She has made the quarter-finals three times since coming back, but only reached the second round of the French Open.
After today’s loss, Williams refused to answer questions about her health, saying simply, “I did my best today. My opponent played well.” She also said, “Life is challenging. I’m always up for a challenge.”
Even if Williams is past her prime, no one imagined she would go out like this. Not only did Williams win Wimbledon titles in 2000 and 2001 when she was in her prime, but she also won in 2005, 2007 and again in 2008, over her sister Serena Williams in the final. Her last major victory came in 2008.
The Olympics will be played at Wimbledon in a little over a month, but Venus says she will be there, despite her 2012 struggles. “Yeah,” Venus said, “at the Olympics, you’ll see me here.”
Remember how sad it was to see Brett Favre’s consecutive-game streak end due to injury? Remember how poorly he played in 2010? I don’t want to see Venus go through the same thing. She has nothing else left to prove to anyone. She is a sure-fire Tennis Hall of Famer and one of the best female tennis players of all time. Everyone knows how hard of a worker Venus is and how determined she is, but even her pride can’t get in the way of father time.
Williams just turned 32 on June 17 and that is ancient in tennis years. With Williams suffering from Sjogren’s, I believe 2012 will be her last year on tour. When her sister, Serena, is focused, she is still one of the best in the game, but the game has passed Venus by.
I just hope Venus takes a long hard look in the mirror and realizes that she shouldn’t be losing in the first round of major tournaments. Venus, it is time to retire.
On Friday, Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Joel Peralta was suspended eight games for coming into a game with pine tar on his glove. This whole fiasco went down on Tuesday, when the Rays were in D. C. taking on the Washington Nationals. Peralta had just entered the game in relief of David Price. While throwing warm-up pitches, Nationals manager Davey Johnson approached home plate umpire Tim Tschida, which everyone thought was a bit out of the ordinary. After their pow-wow, Tschida headed to the mound and inspected Peralta’s glove.
Upon finding pine tar, Peralta was immediately ejected from the game; before exiting the ballpark, however, the reliever tipped his cap to the bench of his former team. Granted, MLB rules clearly state that pitchers may not apply foreign substances to the ball or have any such substances in their possession, I find myself in agreement with Joe Maddon. Knowing full well his pitching habits from when he played for Washington, Peralta’s former teammates made sure to tell Johnson about the likelihood that he would have pine tar on his glove.
But, what really boggles my mind is that the league considers using a foreign substance to be a worse offense than admitting to beaning an opposing player on purpose – which Cole Hamels did to Bryce Harper. Hamels, who claimed the incident to be his version of welcoming Harper to the majors, only got a five-game suspension out of the deal, which ultimately only resulted in one missed start. Yes, cheating is wrong, but the punishment really needs to fit the crime. If Hamels got five games, Peralta’s punishment is absolutely ludicrous. But I digress …
I can understand the reasoning behind wanting to use insider information to gain an edge, but the guilty party must have to be willing to pay the price. Like Johnson, If a ballplayer – or manager, in this case – essentially breaks a set of unwritten rules, he will, undoubtedly face some sort of wrath from colleagues. Personally, the way things went down with Peralta, I think Maddon had every right to call Johnson’s actions “cowardly.” But I’m curious to know what other people think. Is it an act of cowardice when you betray a gentlemen’s agreement or does the old “all’s fair in love and baseball” saying apply here?
David Ortiz went on another one of his now patented rants on Thursday. The WEEI.com headline is that Ortiz says he isn’t having fun in Boston. Can you blame him? It is a new and different shit-show every day at Fenway Park. If I was David Ortiz, I wouldn’t find having to deal with the constant drama that surrounds this team to be fun either.
Most of this drama has nothing to do with him. He wasn’t in the chicken and beer crowd. He didn’t piss away hundreds of millions of dollars on free agents who have literally contributed less than nothing. He didn’t force the new general manager to hire a manager he didn’t want, then sit idly by as the manager was undermined publicly by the GM. Nor is Ortiz responsible for the dysfunction amongst the coaching staff, which Buster Olney and Sean McAdam have alluded to.
Boston is become the “shit-hole” team it used to be. Forget your father’s Red Sox, these are the Red Sox I grew up with. It was dysfunction like this that was the real reason why this club went 86 years without winning a World Series. Those of us who remember how this team could never get out of its own way thought we were finally beyond this after the Yawkey stink was removed from this franchise. Unfortunately, John Henry, Tom Werner and Larry Lucchino have managed to reinvent the wheel in that regard.
At least on the field, the club has managed to turn things around. They are three games over .500 and several of their injured stars are getting close to coming back. This team may well be primed to make a push for one of the Wild Card spots. Either way, I doubt it will be without drama.
After 143 winless races, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. proved yesterday that he can still find his way to Victory Lane. After four years without a win in the Sprint Cup Series, Dale beat Tony Stewart quite handily, finishing 5.393 seconds ahead of the No. 14 Office Depot Chevrolet. He dominated the 200-lap Quicken Loans 400, leading 95 laps; no other driver led more than 38 laps.
With 11 top 10 finishes before Sunday’s win, this could prove to be Earnhardt’s year to finally win it all in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. He is second in points behind Matt Kenseth, but it’s still early in the season. It seems, after a few inconsistent years, that Junior has finally started to find his footing once again with Hendrick Motorsports. When he made the move to the colossal NASCAR conglomerate in 2007, teaming up with the likes of Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon, I was skeptical, to say the least. I thought he might be overwhelmed or get lost in the shuffle, but it appears that their leadership and success has rubbed off on the 37-year-old.
I haven’t watched a whole lot of NASCAR in the past couple years, but I hate seeing a fan favorite like Earnhardt, Jr. struggling while arrogant pricks like Johnson and Kurt Busch have constant success … when Busch isn’t suspended, that is. And don’t even get me started on Stewart’s thoughts about Earnhardt, Jr. snapping his losing streak. No, Tony, it’s not a national holiday, but at least show some respect for your fellow racecar driver. Now I know why I’ve always hated that jerk.
Rajon Rondo’s performance in the Eastern Conference Finals has been underappreciated. All I read about still is LeBron James or Russell Westbrook’s 9-assist game that was spotlighted on ESPN’s First Take. LeBron James’ 40-point performance against Indiana was also analyzed and praised, but still, nothing on ESPN’s First Take about Rondo. There have only been a few articles here and there, but nothing mainstream about it. He only did something that has never been done before in the postseason, and had a 44-point, 10-assist, 8-rebound and 3-steal performance. That’s right, Larry Bird never did it, Magic Johnson never did it, Michael Jordan never did it and Wilt Chamberlain certainly never did it (he could pass and led the league in assists during the 1967-1968 season).
This performance was overshadowed by the fact that the Celtics lost the game. LeBron James, who is widely considered the best player in the NBA, had this to say about Rondo’s performance: “Rondo was absolutely amazing. The performance he put on tonight will go down in the record books.”
Almost every superstar in the NBA has a moment or game when the world takes notice of them and realizes how unbelievably talented they are. For example, when I think of Jordan, I don’t think about the flu game. I think of the 63-point performance he put on against one of the greatest teams ever, the 1986 Boston Celtics. Coincidentally, Jordan’s performance was in a losing battle as well. Paul Pierce’s moment came during a regular season game when the most dominating center in the NBA, Shaquille O’Neal, let the world know that the Lakers couldn’t handle The Truth. I also, think of the 2008 NBA Finals when he dominated the league’s MVP and best player, Kobe Bryant.
Wilt Chamberlain had his 100-point game. Magic’s moment was when he played center in Kareem Abdul Jabbar’s absence in Game 6 of the 1980 NBA Finals. Larry Bird told Kevin McHale he should’ve scored 60 when McHale set the Celtics single-game scoring record. Bird proceeded to do it himself and break McHale’s record one week later. Bill Russell doesn’t have just one game; he will always be remembered for his 11 championships and eight in a row – both records that will never be broken.
Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals was Rondo’s defining moment. He let the world know what Celtics fans already know – that he is the best pure point guard in the NBA, no doubt about it. There isn’t a single player in the NBA who can do what he does. He is special and talent like that only comes around once in a while. I’m not talking LeBron James talent, I’m talking Magic Johnson and Larry Bird potential. He has the ability to control the game without scoring. No player has been able to do that since Magic and Bird hung ‘em up. Rondo makes everyone around him better. This is not a knock on LeBron, who is crazy talented, but LeBron can’t alter the game the way Rondo can. Nobody in the NBA can when Rondo plays like this.
People talk about what the future Celtics will look like when the Big Three of KG, Pierce and Sugar Ray are gone. Well, I think you got a good glimpse; they will be just fine, as long as Rondo is there. Do yourself a favor and go look up highlights for this game so you can fully understand how great this performance was. It deserves to be watched again and immortalized because it is the stuff of legends.