Thursday, November 26, 2009

Taken for Granted

I recently finished Bill Simmons book Now I Can Die In Peace which is a collection of his columns about the Red Sox from 1999 to 2004. The book is informative, hilarious and an easy read and I highly recommend it to every Red Sox fan and also people who love baseball. I have learned a tonne from the book about not only the Red Sox but also about becoming a better writer. However there is one thing I learned from the book that has really changed my view of sports.

I learned that Pedro Martinez was one of the most dominant pitchers in the history of baseball. Why did this change my outlook on sports? Because I was alive during his prime and I never really paid attention to how great he was or fully appreciated how dominant he was. I mean I was a massive Pedro fan and I watched all his games but I don't think I ever truly appreciated how great he was until I read Simmons' book.

For instance during a 13 game stretch from August 8, 1999 to April 9 2000 Pedro pitched 16 games, started 13, finished 12-1 with an 0.96 ERA in 103.1 innings, gave up just 53 hits and three homers and struck out 165 guys. That is dominance. Yet when I watched those games all I took from them was that the Sox were winning. I never really stopped and thought that I was getting the opportunity to watch one of the best ever play the game.

So now I am going to go out of my way to try and appreciate the great players out there today for what they truly represent. Here is a list of athletes that need to be revered and treated as living legends even though they are still playing.

Tiger Woods

Hands down the greatest athlete of my generation. He was the first athlete to earn $1 billion and also helped break down any remaining color barriers in golf. Some of the shots he has hit are mind boggling and at the age of 33 he still has a lot of time left to play and break more records, earn more money and hit more crazy shots.

Tiger plays in tournaments against hundreds of other players every weekend and yet he is the favorite to win every time. If you were gambling and someone said I will take Tiger and you can have everyone else you would feel like you got the short end and would want some odds. He is that good.

He will no doubt go down as the greatest golfer in history and the fact that I grew up watching him play and will continue to do so is something that is no longer lost on me.

LeBron James

How good is LeBron? Ever watch a Plays of the Week where LeBron didn't have a highlight? Me either. Not only is he incredibly gifted athletically but he is also extremely entertaining to watch.

I went to a Raptors-Cavs game about 4 years ago and sat in awe as LeBron dropped 50 like it was nothing. He was hitting shots from everywhere on the floor and making it look easy. He already owns a number of NBA records and will only continue to add more as his career progresses.

Right now he is a once in a generation type player but he is only 24. He is going to continue to get better and when his career is over I think he will replace MJ as the best player of all-time. If you don't believe me just watch him play. He can do everything on the court you could ever want from a basketball player and he does it every night. He can shoot, dunk, pass, rebound, steal, run and inspire. He is the complete player and yet when people talk about him they focus only on his dunks and athleticism.

LeBron is the premiere example on this list. People don't appreciate what they are watching when they see him play. He obviously gets praise and accolades from fans and peers but I don't think people truly grasp what they are seeing when they watch. Old people talk about Kareem and Wilt as if they were gods. People talk about LeBron James as if he is the latest great movie in theaters. The level of respect just isn't there and it should be.

Peyton Manning

I could rip off a great big list of award, accomplishments and record that Peyton Manning has won and broken but it wouldn't do justice to him. Like everyone else on this list he needs to be observed to be truly appreciated and understood. However if I had to pick one stat to show how great he really is I would choose this one, 'Only QB with at least 12 wins as a starter in 6 consecutive seasons.' Why did I choose this stat? Simple, it shows that Manning makes the players around him better and play up to his level so he can have continued success.

For evidence of this simply look at this season. His offensive line sucks. The defense is mediocre at best and he lost his go to receiver when Marvin Harrison was released. Oh by the way he also lost his head coach and has 2 rookie wide receivers. Despite all of this Manning has flourished and is having one of his best seasons as a pro. His team is 10-0 and has a legit shot at going undefeated.

Manning doesn't get the credit he deserves because Brett Favre won't go the fuck away and because Tom Brady won 3 SuperBowls. Still Manning is better than both Favre or Brady and he will probably join the short list of greatest quarterbacks of all-time. While the Colts have always had a high powered offense they have consistently had one of the worst defenses in the league. Manning succeeds despite the obstacles put in his way and does so in classy and professional manner. The guy is a true living legend.

All 3 of these guys are special athletes. Each one of them could go down as the greatest player to ever play their respective sports and they are all playing at the same time. I am not saying we need to idolize these guys or anything but I do think as fans we need to understand how lucky we are to be able to watch these 3 every year.

Unfortunately in life you usually don't appreciate things until they are gone but this is a trait that I am trying to change. I think sports fans need to realize the greatness that we have access to on a nightly basis and sit back and appreciate it all.

Random YouTube Video


Draper004 said...

Tiger woods gets a 3 million dollar paycheck just for showing up the Australian open. I don't think he counts as an athlete that is being taken for granted.

Brandon said...

You forgot Brian Bellows.. Oh wait hes retired..

James Choleras said...

wow as if I forgot Bellows. He is a superstar.