Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Leaving Early, Staying Late

Last week, two of my favorite athletes retired, both surprisingly. Annika Sorenstam is one of the greatest female golfers of all time, maybe even the best. At age 37, she figured to have a number of high-quality years left in her career, with a number of career records in sight. Last year she was injured and Lorena Ochoa took over the number one ranking. This year she is back and is ranked second behind Ochoa, pretty impressive coming off an injury. Yet she has announced that this year would be her last. It seems that her time off while injured showed her that there were other things she enjoyed doing. Add that to her impending marriage with the possibility of kids out there and she doesn’t want to hang around as a part-time player. Maybe, a few years down the road, she’ll be back, as others have returned. For now she will leave, but the sport she leaves behind is in fine shape, with youngsters like Paula Creamer and Morgan Pressel emerging as possible stars, as well as an endless stream of Korean youngsters set to challenge Ochoa at the top.
The other departure is sad in a different way, as Justine Henin has decided to leave tennis while on top. In the modern era, no woman has quit while number one. She was a player of incredible talent, combining speed and power with competitive fury rarely matched. Her talent and spirit enabled her to overcome a lack of size relative to the other top players. Most of the top players are anywhere from 5’10 to 6’2, she is only 5’5 ½, not an unusual height for a woman, but for a top tennis player, quite small. Add in her beautiful one-handed backhand, a shot rarely seen anymore, and she will be sorely missed. The game has been given over to the giants, with spectacular power and court coverage. There’s nothing wrong with that, but all tennis fans will miss the variety which Justine brought. Why quit now? The fire had gone out – it was that simple. She couldn’t coast on talent until it came back, she suffered the worst defeat ever by a number one. So now she is gone – maybe the desire will return, but her body and will were being pushed to their extreme all the time, resulting in injuries to her body and now her departure. It’s hard to believe she can recapture her greatness if she does come back.
Which brings us to Hillary Clinton – she ain’t going nowhere. Her competitive fire has not gone out, not for a second. She is still talking about going all the way to the convention, still talking about the popular vote, still talking about Florida and Michigan. Tonight she will win Kentucky easily, in two weeks she will win Puerto Rico. Does any of this really matter? It’s not like the super delegates are coming to her side. With every victory of hers, more and more of them endorse Obama. Does she really think she can win? Maybe she does, as unlikely as that seems. There is a real chance that she will win the popular vote race – a race only she seems to be running, but nonetheless, a talking point. Puerto Rico is the key there, as they could cast upward of 2 million votes there, as it is the only chance they get to select the President. Give her 62% of those and she makes up nearly half a million votes on Obama. Look for the Clintons to keep talking about this and saying how she is the real choice of the people. I’ll have more on this tomorrow.

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home