November 19, 2006


It struck me that I've been rather fortunate in my life when it comes to seeing legendary sports figures in action. I grew up in the San Fransisco bay area (long before it became the silly-con valley) and saw Willie Mays, Juan Marichal, Willie McCovey and others play at Candlestick. Bobby Bonds too, who was a phenominal talent in his own right, before his son became all that written in all capital letters, italicized, underscored and possibly asterisked (depending on your viewpoint).

Across the bay there were the Oakland A's of Rick Monday and Reggie Jackson, Vida Blue and Rollie Fingers. I saw them during their year of the big mustache, and they were colorful even without the kelly and gold uniforms. I saw Rod Carew, Tony Oliva and Harmon Killebrew when the Twins came to town.

On the lower pantheon of legends were Charlie O'Connell, Joanie Weston, Ann Calvello and Alvin Mallory of Roller Derby fame. Do a little googling, and then tell me those guys (and gals) weren't amazing.

Back in SF was Joe Montana and Jerry Rice (after a long and painful drought when the Niner's weren't very good) and Darryl Lamonica, George Blanda and Ken Stabler (to name only the QBs in silver and black) led an always entertaining cast of misfits and characters which existed as one of the most successful sports stories for almost three decades.

Now living in the Washington D.C. metro area, we've had the treat of seeing Michael Jordan in his post-Bulls days. Still legendary, and although diminished it wasn't enough to tarnish the career.

Baltimore offered us Cal Ripken and Eddie Murray, both of whom I shall tell my grandchildren about.

And now, much like those fortunate enough to live in Edmonton during Gretzgy's reign, or Pittsburgh while Mario was on the ice in his prime (or the Steelers during the *spit* "Steel Curtain" *spit* years), I have the opportunity to see a very rare talent in action. I got to see Alex Ovechkin play hockey for the Washington Capitals live last year, and countless times on local television. Folks, if he comes to town, take advantage and see this kid play. Amazing, and it's not hype to say that he belongs with the legendary names mentioned above.

I need to snag tickets for the Caps/Penguins for the chance to see Ovechkin and Semin, Crosby and Malkin playing all at once. That's one for the ages, and happens not too rarely thanks to hockey scheduling.

For the record, I dislike Sydney Crosby for no real reason other than the fact that the NHL handed him the throne before he played a single minute on the big ice. He's earning star status, but not *the* star, and I find it hilarious that he's been referred to as "Captain of the Canadian Diving Team". Hopefully, he'll be whistled for some penalties that will disabuse him of that shoddy habit, but I worry that "the star" will come to expect calls to go his way as he tries to draw penalties. Anyway, he's exciting to watch and a genuine talent and I don't like him. Maybe I'll mellow in time, but I'll for sure go to see him while I have the chance.

Posted by: Ted at 07:15 AM | category: Square Pegs
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