During the past couple of weeks, we've used this space to tell you all the things we hate about sports. Well, we don't want to come off as the cranky old man who yells at the neighborhood kids to get off his lawn, so we thought we would offer up a few of the subtle things about sports that we love.
Go to a major-league game and you're not guaranteed to see a homer. But show up early and watch Evan Longoria and B.J. Upton and out-of-towners such as A-Rod and Big Papi hit moon shots during BP.
ESPN's 'College GameDay'
Get up Saturday morning, grab a cup of coffee and settle in the easy chair for two information-packed hours capped off by Lee Corso's must-see predictions complete with a mascot head. Nothing better than when Corso, above, angers the home crowd by picking the road team. If you're not ready for college football after GameDay, either drink another cup of coffee or go back to bed.
Nothing springs fans to their feet like a home run, but give us a triple any time because it's the most exciting play in baseball. As soon as the batter makes contact, the race is on and your eyes dart around between the runner, the ball and the outfielders. And the whole time you're trying to figure out if the runner can make it. Our absolute favorite moment is that split-second the runner shifts to another gear and you know he's going for three as the Rays' Carl Crawford often does.
Today's elaborate paintings are worthy of a spot in a museum, but we actually prefer the masks of olden days — Gerry Cheevers' "stitch" mask, Ken Dryden's simple red, white and blue mask and the all-time classic: Gilles Gratton's roaring tiger mask.
We're not really sure how it works, but we love watching it circle the ice and the hum it makes. We even like that song Zamboni — you know, "I wanna drive the Zamboni" — in fact, it's the only song played at every hockey game that we can still stand. Our dream in life is to make one of those babies street legal and take a spin around town.
A bad drive in golf
At the U.S. Open, Tiger Woods crushed a drive and almost immediately dropped his club and muttered something in disgust. Moments later, we heard the thwack of ball hitting tree branches that is all too familiar to us weekend hackers. It's just nice to see that even Tiger does that, too. But what's also awesome is watching Tiger then slug his way out of knee-high rough next to a tree on his second shot and put the ball on the green.
The pick and roll
Basketball's most basic play is so simple it's brilliant. Think of all the genius coaching there is and yet, when done correctly, the pick and roll is virtually unstoppable. Utah's John Stockton and Karl Malone will both end up in the Hall of Fame for essentially running that one play together for 18 years.
Going for it
Doesn't matter if you're watching a pro football game, a college game or a high school game. Doesn't matter if it's two teams you don't care a lick about. If it's fourth down and the announcer says, "They're going for it," you must watch to see if they make it.
It could be any sporting event — football, horse racing, the Olympics, whatever — and if Costas is hosting, you are guaranteed to get intelligence, humor and insight. The guy could call a checkers match and make it entertaining and interesting. If there has ever been a better sports broadcaster, we haven't heard him or her.
A tennis tiebreak
Sure, it's unfair that a monster server who hasn't had his serve broken all day can lose a set by losing one service point. But we're not here to talk about justice. We're here to talk about what's fun to watch. A tiebreak in tennis, especially in a set that can end the match, is as good as it gets. We still rank the tiebreak between Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe in 1980 at Wimbledon as the greatest moment in tennis history.
First two days of the NCAA basketball tournament
Two days, 16 games each day. You start watching at noon. You go to bed after midnight. In between it's nothing but hoops — upsets, buzzer-beaters, Cinderella stories, blowouts, you name it. We have a name for it — the best two days of the college basketball season.