This has been a pretty amazing week to be an American sports fan. To recap:
First of all, the week was dominated by the fact that Denver had the incredible honor to host the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, known as the Mid-Summer Classic. This is the halfway point showcase of the best players of The Great American Pastime.
Got that? The Great *American* Pastime.
The festivities kicked into high gear on Monday with the Home Run Derby. And, by FAR, the most interesting player, the one everybody’s eyes were on, was Shohei Ohtani of the California Angels. Shohei leads all of baseball in home runs, and also has a 4-1 record as a starting pitcher. This is a guy who has been clocked at 101 mph with his fastball and also hit a home run a couple weeks back that left the stadium at 117 mph. Guy’s a little bit of a freak. He’s also from Japan, and speaks very little English.
But Shohei didn’t win the Home Run Derby, though he did hit 15 balls that went 475 feet or further. Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough to win his first round match with the eventual winner, Juan Soto. Soto plays for the Washington Nationals, and hails from the Dominican Republic.
Then, on Tuesday night, the All-Star Game itself was played. Shohei opened the game as the American League starting pitcher, the Colorado Rockies were represented by German Marquez, from Venezuela, and the game’s Most Valuable Player was Vladimir Guerrero, Jr., a Canadian-born player of Dominican descent.
Wednesday night and Saturday night featured games 4 and 5 of the National Basketball Association Finals. If you haven’t been paying attention (because the Nuggets and their Serbian superstar were eliminated what seems like 7 months ago), the Finals is between the Phoenix Suns and the Milwaukee Bucks. And games 4 and 5 were absolutely dominated by the “Greek Freak,” the 6-foot, 11-inch Giannis Antetekuonmpo. Giannis was born in Greece to Nigerian parents, and now he’s on the cusp of winning the NBA Championship.
And, finally, on Sunday we got to watch an American win the Open Championship…
Apparently, they get touchy over there when you call it the “British Open”
… by outlasting another American to win by two strokes and raise the Claret Jug. Collin Morikawa, all of 24 years old, won his second major title in two years by playing mistake-free golf to hold off an exciting charge by Jordan Spieth. Morikawa is, as the name suggests, of Japanese descent, born in Los Angeles.
And, of course, the excitement of sport continues this week as the Olympic Summer Games begin. One of the biggest stars we’ll all be watching is, of course, Simone Biles, the African-American defending Gold Medalist who has redefined the sport. But, on a personal level, we should also all be watching Yul Moldauer, the Korean-born graduate of Golden High School who trained in Wheat Ridge, and currently represents the University of Oklahoma.
Get all that?
American sport culture over a two-week span will be dominated by two Japanese, a Venezuelan, a Korean, two Dominicans and two African Americans.
Is this a great country, or what?
No wonder when people in Cuba and Hong Kong march to throw off their oppressive governments, they march with American flags.
Michael Alcorn is a teacher and writer who lives in Arvada with his wife and three children. His new novel, “Valkyrie’s Kiss,” a finalist in the ScreenCraft Book Competition, is available now at mjalcorn.net. His opinions are not necessarily those of Colorado Community Media.
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