The Opening Pitch: Forget Michael Phelps as "Greatest Olympian Ever." That's already in the bank. The next logical debate:
Is Michael Phelps the greatest athlete ever?
Even after his 6th gold of the '08 Games (and 6th WR), it's not premature to ask. Sure, he still needs gold in the 100 butterfly and the 400 medley relay, but those feel like formalities. (Isn't that amazing when two gold medals can seem like "formalities?")
The coronation comes on Sunday, when we look back at Michael Phelps' 8 gold medals (in what will likely be 8 world records) and we realize we have just witnessed not just the Athlete of the Year or the Greatest Olympian Ever ... But arguably the greatest athlete of all time -- whether measured by absolute accomplishments, level of dominance, context of the sport's competitiveness (or, ideally, all of them and more).
Even if you disagree, the fact he is even legitimately in the debate is amazing enough.
Here's the part to really swoon over: He's not done yet. All signs point to his participation in the 2012 Olympics in London. That feels like it will be a mere encore to this command performance he has been putting on.
Are we watching the Greatest Athlete Ever?
Put it this way: Don't you want that to be true?
Nastia Liukin tops Shawn Johnson for gold in women's all-around gymnastics. Liukin, the child of Russian immigrants, had been eclipsed by Johnson, the "All-American" girl from Des Moines. Not anymore.
Ryan Lochte pulled off a hell of a double, beating Aaron Peirsol for gold in the 200 back (WR), then less than a half-hour later, medaling in the 200 IM, missing silver by one-hundredth of a second.
Rebecca Soni wins 200 breast in WR time: Wow, has there been a more likeable Olympic champ this year?
USA Oops dispatches nemesis: Greece beat the U.S. in the 2006 Worlds, but not this time. This one was over as soon as you saw D-Wade make this pass.
Gymnastics age scandal: I appreciate that if China used an underage gymnast, it was cheating, but there should be no age limit for Olympic athletes, anyway.
If diving allows the participation of 14-year-olds, why not gymnastics -- and every other sport? If you qualify, you qualify, regardless of age.
(By the way, good luck getting China DQ'ed giving the U.S. the team gold. If the Games were in Chicago? Maybe. In Beijing? Ha ha ha ha...)
We already knew that Roger Federer was no longer No. 1 in the world, but it is possible with his Olympic loss (at least before meeting Nadal in the final) indicates he's not even No. 2 anymore?
MLB Instant History: Brad Ziegler is mortal. His record 39 1/3-inning scoreless streak to start his career is over, courtesy of B.J. Upton and the Rays, who chalk up another milestone in their Cinderella season. (The Rays also got another critical W, in 12 innings.)
More: Hot Dodgers get 1st 4-game sweep of Phils since '62. ... Leave it to Peavy to snap the Brewers' 8-game W streak. ... Record Books: The White Sox became only the 6th team to hit HRs in 4 consecutive ABs. ... Are the Astros this season's Rockies? ... Who had Ryan Ludwick with 30 HR this year? ... Fantasy Stud: Mark Kotsay, who hit for the cycle. ... Non-Story of the Day: Manny's haircut. ...
Replay as early as September 1? All I can say is: It's about time. What a welcome development.
NFL Preseason: If the Bills are going to be unbeatable in Toronto, isn't it for the good of the franchise that Buffalo fans should let them relocate there? ... Meanwhile, Steelers fans would be justifiably excited about rookie Dennis Dixon... Jake Delhomme seems ready to get back into action; will there be a McNabb-Kolb QB controversy? ... Tonight: Raiders at Titans, and I'm tracking McFadden... This weekend: How many reps will Brett Favre see for the Jets?
Pats sign John Lynch: Of course they did.
CFB: Good for Cincy QB Ben Mauk for suing the NCAA for a 6th year of eligibility. Unfortunately, even with a temporary restraining order, there's no way the Bearcats play him, in case the NCAA wins the suit down the road and makes the team forfeit in any games he played in.
Johnny Mac tossed ... from old-person's tournament: This feels like a marketing stunt.
Marbury jumping to Europe: Remember when everyone scoffed at Stephon Marbury's idea of playing in Italy? How quaint. Now, it actually seems like it may happen.
Sports Media: It's the end of an era with the break-up of Mike and the Mad Dog. Francesa will keep the house (WFAN); Mad Dog gets the kids (a rumored deal with Sirius).
The Last Word: Even beyond whether Michael Phelps is the greatest athlete ever is this very pressing question: What are we going to do when he runs out of events and isn't on TV anymore? Ack! I can already feel withdrawal symptoms.
(The Bolt-Powell-Gay sprinting rivalry is a good place to start.)
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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