Potpourri of Sports in June

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This is Diana Nyad for KCRW. And this is The Score.

It’s that time of year when the all-round sports enthusiast can peruse a terrific potpourri of events. The meat of the tennis season  kicks off this Sunday just outside Paris and there is great anticipation for drama at The French Open this year. The two arch rivals of the men’s game go into the French with a new scenario before them this season. The clay-court specialist, Spaniard Rafael Nadal, 81 consecutive clay court matches won on clay until last week-end, will defend at Roland Garros, scrapping for his third straight French title. The rub is that the man who broke his 81-match streak in Hamburg on Sunday was his arch rival, Roger Federer, the best in the world on all surfaces--except clay. Now that Federer has broken through to beat Nadal on clay, he has literally served notice that the one elusive Grand Slam not on his lengthy resume, The French Open, could at last be his this time around.

The Indy 500 runs this Sunday and it will be the first time three women will pull into the starting rows for the storied race at the Brickyard. Danica Patrick and Sarah Fisher have raced with the boys at Indy before but they are joined this year by the first Latina to qualify, Milka Duno of Venezuela.

The top three horses in both the Kentucky Derby and last week-end’s by-a-nose Preakness will probably challenge each other one more time at the Belmont Stakes. In mid-April we were talking a dull spring at the races but Curlin, Street Sense, and Hard Spun have proven themselves high class down the back stretch.

The NBA, although a lot of us are missing both Dallas and Phoenix at this point, is cruising toward a showcase of talent and balance, no doubt between the Spurs and the Pistons. And baseball starts to take shape right about now. That has the Yankees plenty worried. They’ve been even further out of first place late May before and still turned the ship to win the World Series. But June will bring crucial nights for the boys in the Bronx…just as June will bring Roger Clemens into the Yankees starting rotation. It’s become a cliché in baseball that parity is gone and thus long gone are the glory days of the Royals, the Pirates, the Brewers, the Indians. Well, it’s been just great to see the Brewers way out on top of the National League Central…and the Indians sharing the spotlight with the Tigers in the American Central.

Golf is a big deal every week-end at this point. Soccer played its  European Championships yesterday. The Duke lacrosse players will suit up for the Final Four this week-end, bringing them a chance to recapture at least a bit of their innocence lost.

Yes, it’s a rich time of year for sports. The only one I’ve failed to include here and it’s a huge one for a lot of you, I know, is the Stanley Cup. Hockey’s championships are just about to begin and will finish the first week of June. Hockey in June!

Please! Last year’s Stanley Cup brought in a national television rating of .6. That’s about half a million people tuning in to the biggest event of the sport. They say this year’s ratings might underachieve last year’s. I watched some late-night highlights of the Ducks-Red Wings series the other night. They played and replayed a saved shot on goal a good half dozen times. The announcer went beserk and his frenzied call reached a higher fever pitch with each angle. Camera angle behind the net. Wow! Look at that wrist action on the stick. Camera angle high above the net. OH MY GOD! Look at the goalie’s dropped knee in anticipation! Six replays later and, much as I wanted to see that puck, I never did see it. Six times. Slow motion. An announcer spoon-feeding us the precise play by play and I couldn’t for the life of me see the puck. This year, I’ve officially given up on hockey. It’s just about June. Time for golf and tennis and basketball and baseball and Indy racing, horse racing, soccer and yachting. Time for anything and everything BUT hockey.

This is Diana Nyad for KCRW. And that’s The Score.



Diana Nyad