End This Summer: What Mattered, What Didn't

With the non-football portion of 2009 mercifully drawing to a close, subjective observations about the meaningful and meaningless of the summer of 2009 seems like a good way to kill time.
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↵The Rise of Soccer.
The U.S. Men's National Team went to South Africa, rose from the ashes against Egypt, improbably took down Spain, and shocked Brazil for a half. They came home and lost to Mexico in the Gold Cup; they went to Mexico and lost at Azteca.
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↵But the American public was actually paying attention, to the USMNT and to David Beckham's return to the MLS, to the EPL games ESPN is broadcasting for the first time and to the barnstorming tours European clubs put on in the States. Soccer had a great summer. Verdict: Meaningful.
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↵The Fall of Tiger. Eldrick struggled in soggy conditions at Bethpage, missed the cut at the Open Championship, coughed up a lead at Hazeltine, and is still only four majors behind Jack Nicklaus, right where he was at the beginning of the year. He turns 34 in December. He'll be fine if only because he's still got plenty of time: Jack had 12 majors when he turned 34. Verdict: Meh.
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↵Postitively Bored. David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez were implicated as PED users by sources close to a 2003 list that may or may not have the names of players who tested positive for PEDs. Much wailing and gnashing of teeth and affixing of asterisks to pennants followed in the New England and New York areas. The rest of the country continued waiting for football. Verdict: Meh.
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↵TweESPN. The network, having hopped on the Twitter bandwagon with SportsCenter integration and the launch of SportsNation, radically redefined its Twitter rules. Except it wasn't really either radical or a redefinition, and it started incorporating Twitter in live blogs to mixed results. Call me when ombudsman Don Ohlemeyer gets an account. Verdict: Meh.
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↵Loose Balls.
LeBron getting dunked on and not shaking hands were blips of the frivolous variety, like Quentin Richardson getting passed around more often than links to Stephon Marbury's UStream feed. But the contenders loading up with moves big and small (for example, the Spurs trading for Richard Jefferson and drafting DeJuan Blair) consolidated power further in Los Angeles, Orlando, Cleveland, and San Antonio. Disregard the economic doomsaying: The 2009-10 season seems like a satisfying clash of the titans. Verdict: Meangingful.
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↵Bolt the Frightening.
Usain Bolt continued to shatter records. Here's hoping he outruns the shadows of suspicion. Verdict: Meangingful.↵

This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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