The Opening Pitch: Let's talk about Michael Phelps some more.
Even though he didn't win another gold medal yesterday ...
No gold?! Boo! Best athlete ever? More like Olympic choker ...
What? He didn't have a finals event to race? Oh ...
Without a medal race to focus on, the O.D. of Phelps on display yesterday is turning him into a parody of the old SNL "Da Bears" skit:
"Sure, Kosuke Kitajima is pretty good [um, yeah: best ever in his sport], but is he Phelpsian good?"
"If Phelps focused on the backstroke, he could beat Aaron Piersol!"
"If Phelps focused on playing quarterback, he could lead the Ravens to a Super Bowl championship ... this year!"
"Hey, did you hear about Michael Phelps' diet?" (Yeah, yeah. So stop mentioning it. Ooh, news flash: High-level athlete burns calories!)
"Hey, Jason Lezak: How did it feel to help Michael Phelps win another gold?"
Unfortunately, that last one was a real question, paraphrased, from Cris Collinsworth.
To his credit, Lezak was like: "Um, what about me?" (I'm paraphrasing again, but Lezak's moment-of-the-Games anchor leg in the 4x100 relay earned him the right to say something like that.)
I'm sure another gold medal tonight will help stave off Phelps’ fatigue, but it's not easy when every single thing that is happening at the Games is framed — yes: eclipsed — by Phelps Mania.
Wow: What will do we do next week? Phelps Withdrawal will be even more punishing than Phelps Mania.
Meanwhile, here's an intriguing quandary for Ryan Lochte:
He is scheduled to race against world record-holder Aaron Peirsol in the 200 back, then turn around and race Phelps in the 200 IM a half-hour later. He risks falling short in both. Would Lochte be better off dropping out of the first to focus on the run at Phelps? It's a huge risk, although Peirsol is arguably as dominant in back as Phelps is in everything else.
Then again, if Lochte managed to defeat both (or even one), he would become an Olympic immortal. Alternatively, hey: Two Olympic silvers isn't a bad consolation prize, is it?
More Olympics: In Kosuke Kitajima (breaststroke) and Peirsol (backstroke), are we watching the best EVER to compete in their respective strokes? ...
* Despite winning the 100 free, Alain Bernard is still a jerk after choking in the 4x100 relay (Jason Lezak's bronze was much more exciting to see.) ...
* Under enormous pressure, Yang Wei won gold in the men's gymnastics all-around; Shawn Johnson is under the lights today ...
* What a race by Stephanie Rice and the Aussies in the women's 800 free relay. It was almost ... Phelpsian. (D'oh!)
* Prediction: Aussie Libby Trickett will make the most of her second chance after not qualifying in the women's 100 free semi. She is now the 8th seed in the final after Pang Jiaying's crazy, the-Chinese-government-wants-to-see-you DQ.
USA Oops: Finally, a true test — Greece, the NBA-free nemesis that vanquished the U.S. so decisively in 2006 at the worlds. I expect Team USA to be plenty motivated.
Meanwhile, this is probably the most profound point Jason Kidd has ever made.
MLB replay almost here? Let's hope MLB can have replay in place by the end of August, so it's tested and ready for the playoffs.
MLB Instant History: Carpet-baggers rule! Big games for short-season NL award contenders:
Manny for MVP! Hit his 5th HR as a Dodger, and L.A. climbed into a tie for 1st in the West (yes, h/t to Nomar for the walkoff HR — and thanks to Adam Dunn, who choked for the D-backs in Denver.) CC for Cy! Sabathia runs his record to 7-0 (7 IP, 1 ER, 8 K) leading the Brewers to their 8th straight W ...
They both have my vote.
More MLB: The Cubs are only getting better, destroying the Braves in a doubleheader by a combined 18-2 (seven straight road wins for the Cubs.) ... So Mark Teixeira hits 2 HRs and the Angels still lose? (No surprise who starred for Seattle: Raul Ibanez!)... The Rays announce they aren't folding (Good thing: The Red Sox out-slugged the Rangers again.) ... Fantasy Stud: Daniel Murphy (3-for-6, HR, 2 R, 3 RBIs). Don't bother checking; someone in your league grabbed him a week ago.
Brett Favre says his arm is "fatigued": Already? If his arm is flimsy, Favre is merely a megalomaniacal version of Chad Pennington.
I'm late on this, but ... Cincinnati WR Chad Johnson wants to change his name to "Chad Ocho Cinco" — um, legally. Chad Johnson is the greatest gift to sports ever. (If he pulled this off, he would make "World B. Free" look stale.)
NFL Preseason Tonight: Bills fans, meet your future — Steelers at Bills ... in Toronto! Yes, you may weep now.
Also: Panthers at Eagles. Just as long as there are no more questions to McNabb about T.O.
Pacman wants back in: If you were Roger Goodell, would you accept Adam Jones' request for reinstatement? He's kept his nose clean this preseason; given time served, I'd let him back in. For now.
NBA Trade: Mo Williams to the Cavs, in what feels like a win-win-win deal: LeBron gets a true PG to run with (and Nathaniel Friedman thinks it might be enough to keep LeBron in Cleveland) ... Milwaukee unloads Williams' salary (although they give up on a Bogut-Jefferson-Williams core that didn't look half-bad) ... Oklahoma City clears the way for rookie Russell Westbrook by getting rid of Luke Ridnour (and nabs a local hero in Oklahoma State's Desmond Mason).
NASCAR: Newman joins Stewart. So Tony Stewart is going to be Ryan Newman's boss? Is that how it works? Ownership must rule.
CFB: Another day, another ACL injury ends the season of a starter for a Top 25 team. In this case: Illinois DT Sirod Williams.
The Last Word: I said yesterday that today I would introduce the various criteria for picking a "Greatest Athlete Ever," but the Phelps non-story-is-the-story bumped it. Don't worry — we'll get there.
Dan Shanoff writes The Wake-Up Call every weekday morning for SportingNews.com and blogs daily at DanShanoff.com. Got any comments, questions or feedback? Email Dan at shanofftsn-[at]-gmail-[dot]-com.
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