Class Acts o’ the Day (Mo & Rafa Edition)

Let’s start with Rafael Nadal, winner of the Gentleman’s Final at Wimbledon – and the Gentleman’s Anything everywhere else.

How classy is Nadal? He absolutely manhandled Tomas Berdych, but afterward made the match sound like some Strawberries-and-Cream Smackdown.

To paraphrase:

“Tomas has had an amazing tournament and I had to play my very best to compete with him.”

Nadal about his Wimbledon victory in general:

“I think I have very good thing to play here, on grass. It’s the movement. I move well on this court, and that’s very important part of the game.” (via espn.com)

“To win titles you need to win the very big points,” said Nadal. “To win those points, it is very important to have both the will and the calm.” (via cbssports.com)

The will and the calm. That’s Rafa all day long.

Then there’s the great Mariano Rivera’s overdue cover story in Sunday’s New York Times Magazine.

Nut graf:

In his 16th year with the Yankees, Mariano Rivera, who is 40, has become a kind of living god of baseball. While his regular-season statistics are remarkable, in postseason play, where the pressure is at its highest, he is sui generis. He holds the lowest earned-run average in postseason history (0.74) among pitchers with at least 40 innings pitched. On 30 occasions he has gone more than one inning to record a save; over the same period, all other pitchers combined have done so only a few more times more than Rivera alone. In 2009, when he was thought to be slowing down and yielding his place to the Red Sox phenom Jonathan Papelbon, he pitched 16 innings in postseason play and gave up one run, while extending his career postseason saves record to 39 as the Yankees won the World Series. (Papelbon gave up a two-run lead in the ninth to end the Red Sox’ season in the divisional round against the Angels.) Rivera, when pressed, attributes his gifts to providence; people of a more secular bent say that he combines one of the single greatest pitches baseball has ever seen — his cutter, or cut fastball — with an inner calm, and a focus, no less unusual and no less inimitable.

Inner calm and focus.

Do we see a pattern emerging here?

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3 Responses to Class Acts o’ the Day (Mo & Rafa Edition)

  1. Chris Ross says:

    I really enjoyed reading your article keep up the good work! I thought that this year’s wimbledon was very exciting and was happy to see Rafael Nadal take home his second title. But you have wonder if his injuries are going to catch up to him. I’m worried for how his career is going to pan out because of the injury problems considering it could be an unbelievable career rather than just very good. Also, you think you could check out my blog? I really want to know what your opinion is on my thoughts. http://chrisross91.wordpress.com/2010/07/05/nadals-last-chance/

  2. Sam E. says:

    First off, another Rafa article: http://bit.ly/aEyRSX – (He’s only 24? Really?)
    Tennis seems to be the sport that requires its athletes to mature the fastest. There’s a whole lot of decorum that’s not in the rule book, and plenty more that actually is.

    As far as Mo is concerned, there’s just no one better. You know you’re good when the hitter knows exactly what’s coming and still can’t hit it. I am a Yankee fan (full disclosure), but anyone who says he would want someone other than Rivera in the 9th is either lying or stupid. I’m also fairly sure it’s the first time the phrase “sui generis” has ever been used in an article about baseball.

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