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Benjy Asher '10: Please, give me some real sports drama

All right, I'll admit I enjoy being a cynical sports fan, but it's the only way I know. Don't get me wrong: I enjoy sports drama as much as the next obsessive viewer of "Friday Night Lights," but lately it seems that fans, players and the media all feel a need to over-hype the drama of each and every event.

After clinching his first championship in Game 6 of the NBA Finals, Kevin Garnett tilted his head to the sky and bellowed, "Anything's possible!" The announcers played along, chiming in that a year earlier, no one would have predicted that the lowly Celtics would be on top of the league. Yes, that's true, but on the other hand, few predicted that the Celtics' off-season would bring signings of Garnett, a former MVP, and Ray Allen, an eight-time all-star. It's amazing what you can accomplish with heart, guts and $42 million to spend. I guess what I'm saying is that Boston's title lacked extreme drama because it lacked extreme improbability.

Another example of overstated drama came at the Home Run Derby at Yankee Stadium. As Josh Hamilton launched a record 28 home runs in the first round, commentators remarked that this performance would go down as one of the most memorable moments in the history of Yankee Stadium. For Hamilton, who has battled alcoholism and drug addiction, his whole Major League career is a tale of triumph, and the Derby was certainly a major night for him. But it still seems a bit ridiculous to compare his home runs into the center field black seats to Reggie Jackson's blast to the same spot in the deciding game of the 1977 World Series, or to put his hits over the right field fence in the same category as Roger Maris's 61st homer of the 1961 season.

I love the Josh Hamilton story, and I'm sure there will be many moments of greatness to come in his career, but in my humble view, no home run off a pitch from a septuagenarian batting practice pitcher is truly that monumental. So, I guess what I'm saying here is that Hamilton's performance in the Derby, no matter how impressive, lacked any significance in and of itself.

Of course, this summer hasn't been without legitimately dramatic moments. Rafael Nadal's five-set win over five-time defending champion Roger Federer in the Wimbledon Final had the elements of both improbability and significance, as did Tiger Woods' U.S. Open win on a torn ACL and a double stress fracture in his leg.

And the summer's not over, so here's a preview of where to look for more potential moments of real, heart-racing drama:

American Adam Nelson will go to Beijing looking for his first Olympic gold medal in the shot put. A veteran at 33, Nelson has come away from the last two Olympic Games with a silver medal from each, and this could be his last chance for gold. Be sure to watch him, because in an event that isn't renowned as a spectator sport, Nelson adds some flair and attitude.

The Tampa Bay Rays will look to build on their first-half success to make the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. Even if it means sending my beloved Yankees home early, I would appreciate the inspiration provided by that kind of success from Tampa Bay, the team with a payroll lower than the salaries of A-Rod and Derek Jeter, combined.

Last but not least, watch the improbable love saga of A-Rod and Madonna. If that's not drama, then I don't know what is. Thanks for reading, and enjoy the rest of the summer.


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