Debating William & Mary, sports and culture since 2011. Updated every Wednesday.

Fireworks

In Culture on July 6, 2012 at 12:09 pm

We tend to be critical of sports on this site. But the Fourth of July reminds us that we, as Americans, have so much to be thankful for. There are so many reasons to be grateful as an American sports fan in 2012. Here are some of ours:

-Because the United States has a player in Clint Dempsey that can do stuff like this, or this. Every so often, an angry voice from the archaic past will try to restart the argument that soccer will never catch on in this country. Dempsey’s poetic fury on the international stage proves soccer is already here. And that Americans are not only industrious — they can also be beautiful.

– Because sites like Deadspin and KSK and writers like Spencer Hall and, God help me, Bill Simmons prove that there is no one way to write about sports. Not every game is a tragedy; not every opinion has to be a “take.” American sports writing is wittier and sharper than it was when we were kids, and that is a good thing.

– Because kids in West Baltimore wear Joe Flacco jerseys and kids in rural Eldersburg wear Ed Reed jerseys, and none of them are making any kind of political statement.

– Because we can watch both the European Championships and the NBA Draft and know just as much about a 21-year-old Italian-Ghanian striker as we can about a 21-year-old forward from the University of Kansas. The world is getting smaller.

– Because William and Mary continues to field teams at the collegiate level. Not all of them are good; in fact, most of them are not. But the little school that never has is almost always entertaining. A dumpster fire and a sunset both give off a warming glow at night.

– Because the A’s are still in Oak… wait, I had to double check. Yeah, they’re still there.

– Speaking of the A’s, because Brandon McCarthy’s Twitter feed is one of the greatest gifts any athlete has given us. (Example: “Chuck Norris counted to infinity — twice. Then he got mad at gay people for wanting to learn how to tie knots and set up campsites”)

– Because Matt Cain is finally getting the respect (and run support) he deserves. A perfect game was just the tip of the iceberg when it came to that guy’s greatness.

– Because desperate general managers still treat free agents like dying men treat all-you-can-eat buffets. Joe Johnson’s contract is still inexcusable. And just because Mikhail Prokhorov has more money than God doesn’t excuse that (Also: God forgives, I don’t).

– Because it’s July and the Pittsburgh Pirates are in contention for the playoffs. Not in contention as in, “not yet mathematically eliminated,” but in contention as in, “a good team playing well.” Apparently any team can right the ship — it just might take 19 seasons.

– Because the Miami Heat’s NBA championship effectively neutralizes the media’s incomprehensible “LeBron as underdog” narrative.

– Because R.A. Dickey can turn conventional baseball knowledge on its head by becoming a Cy Young award-caliber pitcher at 37… as a knuckleballer… for the Mets… seriously, for the Mets.

– Because no-hitters are happening with seemingly greater frequency than ever before in baseball history. Impressive performances from Philip Humber, Johan Santana, Jered Weaver and others show just how good modern pitchers can be. They also show that pitchers are back on a level playing field with hitters. Each one hammers another nail into the coffin of the steroid era.

– Because Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg have given Beltway baseball fans something to cheer about for the first time in a decade. Hopefully, they can do it for years to come.

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