If you are a professional baseball player and you are 26 years old, you are about ready to test the free agent market. You're hitting the prime of your career. If you are 26 and a tennis player, the best is supposedly behind you. If you are 36 and still playing tennis, it's probably a charity event. Unless, that is, if you are Roger Federer.
Federer won the Australian Open yesterday, and in case you don't know what that is, it's a big deal. It's one of the four biggest tournaments in the sport, and carries with it a top prize of four million (Australian) dollars. The Swiss sensation defeated Marin Cilic in five sets for his sixth Aussie Open championship, and his 20th Grand Slam tournament title. No man has more.
While doing well in majors, it seemed like he was done a few years ago. Maybe, if the breaks fell his way, he could get past rivals Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic and win one more, but he's now won three in just over a year. Only Margaret Court, Serena Williams (who is also 36 years old and has been out this past year because she had a baby), and Steffi Graf have more majors. Williams is not done, but neither is Fed.
Federer (and now I'm editorializing here) is the kind of champion you want in sports. He works hard, he's a good guy, he's humble, never talks trash or thumps his chest or points at himself. He just goes out and gives it all he has, knows what he wants, and works for it. In this day and age, a lot of people would call that kind of personality 'boring', but that is not the case with him. He may be the most respected male athlete on the planet at this point.
Federer didn't want to think about the number 20 during this tournament, but now he has it, and his career has been rejuvenated. The French Open is the next major, coming up in May. Out of his 20 titles, only one has been on the clay in Paris. The grass of Wimbledon awaits in June, and the spotlight of New York is coming up in September. His age may be 36, but he's playing like he's the number of grand slam tournaments he's won. Twenty.
P.S.: Both the women's and men's tournaments went the distance, with Caroline Wozniaki of Denmark defeating Simona Halop of Romania 7-6, 3-6, 6-4. It was the first grand slam final for both players, and the first time a Dane has won one of the four majors.
Unwatchable I: Yesterday was All-Star Sunday, The NHL All-Star game with its Division three-on-three mini tournament on NBC, followed by that venerable classic known as the NFL Pro Bowl on both ABC and ESPN. I don't care how many networks that game is on, it's not worth watching. Passed on hockey, too.
Unwatchable II: Last week, we told you that UCLA Bruins basketball was one of the worst programs on television. While they redeemed themselves with wins over Cal and Stanford this week, ESPN went out and ruined Sunday Night Baseball. They hired Fox's Matt Vasgersian as play-by-play man, and while he is no Jon Miller or Dan Shulman, the network went into further craziness and named Alex Rodriguez as analyst. Yes, the steroid cheat pretty-boy that was on the Fox set during the playoffs will now be in the booth. The two will join ESPN holdover Jessica Mendoza, with Buster Olney on the field. When it comes to Rodriguez, it never ceases to amaze me how guys who cheated the game and are just genuine sleazeballs in general, still get rewarded. Remember, Fox also had Pete Rose in the studio until the allegations that he had sex with underage girls during his playing days. That, apparently is the line. Gambling, tax evasion, and being banned from the Hall of Fame, and the game itself, is okay.
Watchable: Worth watching were the Grammy Awards, and even though a middle-aged white guy hosted the event, that's not really the demographic (me) that CBS was likely going for. Bruno Mars is awesome, and I finally got to see and hear that 'Despocito' song everyone's been talking about. Yes, it is catchy, isn't it?
Saturday was the anniversary of my uncle's death. It's been a tough year for my mom and myself, but my thoughts go out to my cousins this week. I love you all.