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Mizzou Links, 7-7-08

There's a rule here at Rock M Nation: make the MLB All-Star Game, get top billing on Mizzou Links.  Ian Kinsler, it's your moment.  Milk it for all it's worth.  (More here.)

And while we're talking about Mizzou Baseball, PowerMizzou has a solid article about Kyle Gibson and his selection to the US National Collegiate Team.

On to football, where Dave Matter continues his "Ranking the Big 12's Best _____'s" series.  This time, it's the linemen. Not surprisingly, OU dominates the category. But Mizzou finds a couple spots...

4. Colin Brown, offensive tackle, Missouri: As a first-year starter last season, this gargantuan former walk-on was Missouri’s most consistent blocker on a line that included two four-year starters. Brown, a 6-8, 325-pound right tackle, is the Tigers’ leader up front.


10. Stryker Sulak, defensive end, Missouri: D-tackle Ziggy Hood was unblockable for the Tigers in the Cotton Bowl, but Sulak was the more consistent playmaker from September to January. Since making seven starts as a redshirt freshman in 2005, Sulak’s developed into a productive every-down lineman.

Craig Heimburger: Cleveland Gladiator.  Sweet.

A few quick recruiting notes: 4-star Austin WR Emory Blake continues to like the Tigers, while sleeper WR Ja-Mes Logan seems to favor Ole Miss (we never have recruited well against Reverend Nutt).  Plus, we continue to intrigue 4-star TX RB Knile Davis (but remember my LSU/OU rule).  And even though everybody has pretty much agreed that Sheldon Richardson is not a TE, continues to insist that he is...but at least he's Rivals' #1 most athletic TE.  So that's something, I guess.  Ironically, Texas TE Jordan Najvar has bumped Mizzou down on his favorites list because we've gotten two TE commitments already.  One is Alex Sanders, two is...Richardson.  Damn you and your crazy impact, Rivals.

As for basketball last Friday's Chamber yet?  And if Mizzou's basketball recruitment works out, we'll have a very familiar name in black and gold in a couple more years.  Kreklow, Ricky Kreklow.

Finally...a monologue.  If you don't care for tennis, read no further.

I got really, really, really into tennis starting in 1988.  I had found a sport that I was actually better than others at, and I begged my parents for a subscription to Tennis Magazine.  The first issue had Steffi Graf, in the midst of a dominant Grand Slam (+Olympic Gold) run.  (Side note: I had massive crushes on her and Elisabeth Shue in 1988.  Just FYI.)  For the next decade or so, tennis was second to only college football in my eyes, and for brief runs in there, it was probably #1.  I memorized the Top 50.  I obsessively searched for tournament results (pre-internet).  Know who Jacob Hlasek, Jaime Yzaga and Carl-Uwe Steeb are?  I did.

Why am I saying all of this? Because I've been a hard-core tennis fan for a full two decades now, and I've never seen a match as good as what I saw yesterday.  Honestly, it's probably not close.  Spewing the hyperbole after a great event is commonplace, and things like "best match/game/whatever ever" are tossed around far too much.  But this was unbelievable.

Now...Federer and Nadal have been building toward this for a while.  Five sets in Miami in 2005.  Five sets in Rome in 2006.  Four tight sets, followed by five great sets at Wimbledon in 2007.  Even before yesterday, I was lamenting to my wife that Americans see tennis as something of a dying sport...basically because no American men are all that good at it anymore.  And I've heard some think it's boring because the same two guys seem to make every Grand Slam final.  Well...I'm all for an American presence in the sport, but for now I find myself actually rooting for a Nadal-Federer final because it's guaranteed to be ridiculously entertaining.  Almost every match (sans the blowout at the French Open this year) is better than the last, and the shot-making is simply unprecedented.

Nadal is Andre Agassi on steroids...and left-handed.  When most people reach out to stab a ball on a dead run, Nadal flicks his wrists and hits a passing shot.  He is the strongest player tennis has ever seen.  Meanwhile, Federer may be slightly past his peak, but the angles he creates with his shots are unique to him and no one else.  He made quite a few errors yesterday, due mostly to the pressure Nadal was applying on him to hit winners instead of just good shots.  But time and again (and again and again and again), he fell behind in a game (or the match) and came up with an absolutely sick winner.  The fourth set even had my wife on the edge of her seat (to the point where she said she hopes we have a kid who stinks at sports...because she'd be too tense).

Anyway...just had to get that off my chest.  Anybody who thinks tennis is dead isn't actually watching tennis.  And I can't wait to see the next guy who comes along and is able to do to Nadal what Nadal did to Federer yesterday.  And hopefully he's American, so that people will pay attention.