Around the Sports World in One Column
With JoeBlogs being a one-person writing operation, it’s hard* to keep up with everything going on in the sports world, and so, for the most part, I don’t even try. Yes, I do try to weigh in on the big moments and biggest stories, but just as often, while the sports world rages on, I’m off writing a deep dive on the history of Josh Gibson’s home run that never landed or ranking the best characters of “Justified” or whatever. I think that’s what makes JoeBlogs readers happy. No hot takes here.
But there’s SO much going on right now across the sports landscape, so today I’m going to offer a bunch of thoughts on a bunch of stories. We’ll talk a little Jokić, a little Djokovic-Alcaraz (and something special I’m planning for that match tomorrow), some LIV-PGA, some Vegas A’s, Elly De La Cruz, Messi — and I have a little Cleveland Browns Diary announcement.
As always, would love for you join the fun. Here’s a little 20% off deal if that helps.
I’ve written before about my newfound love of Denver’s Nikola Jokić. I have not loved watching a non-Cleveland basketball player this much since … I’d have to say the young Magic Johnson. I’m just utterly mesmerized by him every minute that he’s on the floor.
On Wednesday night, he was at his Jokić best in Denver’s 109-94 victory. The mind-blowing numbers are the mind-blowing numbers — 32 points, 21 rebounds, 10 assists, two blocks — but he was better than the numbers. Every time down the floor, every single time, the guy makes the right decision. He sets a perfect pick, he makes a perfect pass, he shoots a soft shot, he seals off a defender. I’ve heard people compare him to Larry Bird and to Tim Duncan and to Hakeem Olajuwon and to Arvydas Sabonis and to Bill Walton and, this is the thing, he’s like ALL of them, everything, everywhere, all at once.
After the game, he was asked what he thought about becoming the first player ever to have a 30-point, 20-rebound triple double in the NBA Finals.
“Not much,” he said.
How can you not love this guy?
On Friday morning at 8:45 ET, Novak Djokovic will play Carlos Alcaraz in a semifinal at the French Open, and it’s the most excited I’ve been about a tennis match since, well, certainly since the early days of Federer-Nadal, certainly since Sampras-Agassi, certainly since Graf-Seles, certainly since Navratilova-Evert, well, who am I kidding, I don’t think I’ve ever been more excited about a tennis match.
I think I’d have to go back to the second Sugar Ray Leonard-Roberto Duran fight to match the anticipation I have for this one.
The timing is so choice, so glorious, I can hardly contain myself. This is a 36-year-old Novak Djokovic, winner of 22 grand slams, master of the service return, shapeshifter of the tennis court, a man with a rightful claim to the title of greatest tennis player who ever lived.
And this is a 20-year-old Carlos Alcaraz, force of nature, perfect tennis being, a player with more weapons, I think, than any player I’ve ever seen. He can beat you with power. He can beat you with finesse. He can drop-shot you into oblivion. He runs down balls that I think even Djokovic and Nadal couldn’t reach. And he plays with this irrepressible joy. Vamos!
And anything can happen. Alcaraz could blow Djokovic off the court. I know there are some who are expecting it. But Djokovic could also pull out some tricks that Alcaraz might never see coming — he could do to Alcaraz what Ali did to Foreman. I literally have no idea what to expect. That’s what makes this so exciting.
As part of this, I think I’m going to live-blog the match here at JoeBlogs. I don’t know EXACTLY what that will look like quite yet, but I just want to write some of my thoughts in real time. So come on by!
LIV and PGA Tour merge
We actually know very little about this firebomb of a story. For those of you who don’t follow golf at all, well, this thing is so complicated and incomplete that it’s hard to even sum up. Let’s try it this way: LIV Golf — entirely backed by Saudi money — shook up the golf world about 18 months ago by paying gigantic sums of money to numerous name golfers such as Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka and Sergio Garcia, and formed its own golf tour.
The PGA Tour took this affront pretty badly, as you would expect. They threw out the offending golfers. They charged LIV Golf with being nothing more than a sportswashing entity designed to turn people’s attention away from Saudi’s murderous regime. The PGA Tour made various changes to its own tour, the most obvious being a substantial hike in the amount of money they paid players.
And then this week — after weeks of negotiations under the cover of darkness — the PGA Tour announced that it was merging assets with LIV (Europe’s DP World Tour is also part of the merger) and creating a “new, collectively owned, for-profit entity.”
What the heck does that mean? Nobody really knows yet. Well, I’m sure somebody knows — that somebody being Yasir al-Rumayyan, the governor of Saudi Arabia’s $650 billion Public Investment Fund — but for the rest of us, the details have been scant and contradictory. Will the LIV Golf Tour continue? Will the LIV golfers be allowed to return to the PGA Tour? Will the golfers who stood firm with the PGA be rewarded or punished? What will the new golf world look like?
Questions aplenty. There are no answers yet.
Here’s the one thing I think we do know: