The Opening Pitch: You know you're good when the story is that you lost, not that the other guy won.
That would have been the case if the Bills hadn't managed to fumble a sure win away against the Patriots in Foxboro.
That was definitely the case at the U.S. Open with Roger Federer and Juan Martin Del Potro, who -- if he does nothing else in his career -- will enjoy the moniker "The One Who Beat Federer at the U.S. Open."
Look: It beats being just another of the long line of folks who Federer has steamrolled en route to yet another major title.
But the fact is that Federer has elevated himself to "Greatest Tennis Player Ever" -- we expect him to win, particularly at the U.S. Open, arguably his best event.
When he hit that between-the-legs winner over the weekend, we were quick to call it "The Shot" and describe it as the greatest shot in tennis history -- we wouldn't have done that if Random Player X had hit that shot. Federer MADE it The Shot.
This begs an essential question of sports fandom: Do you want to see our dynasties -- our "greatest-evers" -- succeed, so you can witness it in real-time? Or do you want to see them fail, so you can witness that?
Did you want to see the Pats beat the Giants? Did you want to see Lance Armstrong win the Tour de France this past summer? Did you want Michael Jordan to be elegant or petty at his Hall of Fame speech? Do you want Tim Tebow to go unbeaten or stumble?
Roger Federer lost, when it mattered most. I think that diminishes his legacy. And it instantly makes the career of... what's-his-name? Oh, right: The Guy Who Flushed Federer.
Patriots get lucky: It is obvious that this Patriots team is not going to steamroll the league, like they did in 2007. They are (and, after last night, should be) in "just-happy-to-win" mode, not to mention "just-happy-Brady-didn't-suffer-a-season-ending-injury" mode. Brady was obviously clutch late, but -- come on -- the Bills gave away what would have been a shocking win on the Pats' home turf. No wonder Brady didn't want to talk with Suzy Kolber walking off the field after the game.
Chargers edge Raiders: Another San Diego-Oakland matchup, another Chargers win. At least the Raiders made this one interesting. Nothing was all that great for the Chargers, although they spread the wealth around: LT (meh) and Sproles each had rushing TDs; Gates led the team in receiving yards; Vincent Jackson caught a TD; and four Chargers caught at least five Rivers passes.
Brian Urlacher out for season: I'll go further than my TSB colleague Mike Tunison's smart take on this -- it has only been one week, but the Bears might want to start thinking about next year.
(But what are they going to do: Go get a new QB or franchise MLB? For now, they must deal with the latter, but they can't really do anything about the former.)
Eagles sign Jeff Garcia: Go back to the beginning of the summer and try to tell Eagles fans that their two most promising QBs heading into Week 2 of the 2009 season would be Jeff Garcia and (one-week-away) Mike Vick. They would have laughed at you ... then punched you in the face.
MLB Talking Points
*Lincecum returns: Picked an opportune moment.
*ALCS Preview? Yanks out-hustle Angels (ALDS preview? Angels play at Fenway tonight.)
*Rangers pinched: Bad moment to get blanked.
*Cards top Marlins: Tough break for Florida.
*Fantasy Stud: Reid Brignac (4/4, HR, 3 RBI, SB).
Serena, Cont'd: She was fined. She kind of apologized. She got asked about it after winning the doubles title. Then more clearly apologized. Is this over yet? (Federer's loss was Serena's gain: She isn't the Open's lead story anymore.)
CFB Must-Read: Brian Cook's always-amazing This Week in Schadenfreude
NBA Offseason: It seems pretty clear that the team most likely to make the jump from pathetic to playoffs is the Wizards -- but only if they can finally be healthy. (It can't get much worse than last year.) As a Wiz fan, I am more excited about this season's team than I have been since they acquired Chris Webber more than a decade ago.
Duke gets it: They recognize that putting the students -- rather than boosters -- as close to the court as possible gives them a very tangible home-court advantage. They just reconfigured their ticketing to pack grad students behind each basket. I went to a Duke hoops game with some Duke law students once; they are as die-hard as the undergrads. Watch for new (smarter!) behind-the-basket chants.
YouTube Clip of the Day: Roger Federer works blue at the Open. Not quite Serena -- not quite regal, either.
The Last Word: "We'll do whatever we have got to do." -- Urban Meyer, on whether Florida coaches will use Lane Kiffin's offseason trash-talking to motivate the Gators to obliterate the Vols. (Tebow & Co. seem pretty motivated already, with or without Kiffin's yapping.)
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. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/danshanoff.
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