Monday, September 20, 2010

NFL overshadows Nadal's, Tulowitzki's accomplishments

By Jeff

Week 2 in the National Football League (Insert Ron Jaworski voice here) closes tonight, and there already countless storylines. The Pittsburgh Steelers are 2-0 despite playing their third and fourth string quarterbacks; The New York Jets have gone from a popular Super Bowl pick, to a joke and then back to potential Super Bowl contenders; The Dallas Cowboys have shown how overrated they are; and the Tampa Bay Bucs are 2-0 despite no one being able to name their receiving core prior to the season.

You get the point.

But while all of this was happening, two athletes are accomplished some amazing feats under the radar.

First, Rafael Nadal won the U.S. Open, completing the Career Golden Slam. For those of you unfamiliar with tennis, that means he's won all four Grand Slams (U.S., French, Wimbledon and Australian) and a gold medal at the Olympics. Nadal and Andre Agassi are the only men in history who can make this claim. It's kind of a big deal in the tennis world. Roger Federer, arguably the best player ever, hasn't even done it.

The Golden Slam is impressive enough, but the U.S. Open win was also Nadal's ninth major title. Bjorn Borg and Rod Laver won 11, Pete Sampras won 14 and Roger Federer has won 15. All of these men are mentioned when debating the greatest players of all time. Nadal is only 24 years old. He will win at least three more French Opens. He's going to overtake Federer for overall Grand Slam titles and already has overtaken him as the best player in the world. Chances are, when Nadal retires he will be considered the best.

What is so impressive about Nadal is his form goes against what any tennis instructor teaches to beginners. You're taught to follow through over your opposite shoulder on your forehands, not over your head. Watch Nadal rip a forehand. His arm goes flying over his head. By doing so, he gets about a million more rotations on the ball. OK, that's a stretch, but his shots do have a ridiculous amount of spin. If you were standing on the opposite baseline, the ball is probably bouncing over your head.

Not as adorable.
Second, we have Colorado Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki mashing the crap out of the ball. In the 15 games between Sept. 3 and Sept. 18, Tulo (As I and others like to call him) hit 14 homers and has helped the Rockies climb to within two games of first place in the National League West.

Back to the home runs. Tulo is only the third player in baseball's modern era to hit 14 homers in 15 games. The other two players are Albert Belle and Barry Bonds. OK, so one is a nut job and the other is possibly a cheater, but Tulo seems normal and clean!

If the young shortstop (he's only 26) continues the recent tear and the Rockies make the playoffs, he's the NL MVP in my book. That's not a knock on Joey Votto or Carlos Gonzalez, but September is the time for heroes, and Tulo is proving to be one.

They're not gridiron giants, but the Nadal and Tulowitzki stories are bigger than anything that's happened in the first two weeks of the NFL.

Tay Zonday featuring Weezer - Chaos

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