If you missed "the stack" from Friday, it was actually posted Saturday. Sorry. So here it is. It's Super Bowl week which means we will have plenty to talk about in terms of storylines before the big game this Sunday. Another storyline will be below. There are some other storylines to get to as well so let's get right to it and see what made "the stack" for today, Monday, January 27:
Wawrinka takes Ausie title
Few people saw this one coming. Stan Warinka against Rafael Nadal in the finals at the Australian Open. And Wawrinka won. The number eight player in the world beat Nadal, and rather easily at that, 6-3, 6-2, 3-6 and 6-3 to win the 2014 Australian Open. It's Wawrinka's first grand slam title and given what he had to do, who he had to beat just to win this first title, it should make it all that much more sweeter. Wawrinka had to take down Novak Djokovic and then beat Nadal, a guy he had never even won a set against in twelve previous meetings. Maybe it just wasn't Nadal's day or maybe it was just that fate was on Warinka's side. Either way, Wawrinka has won his first grand slam title and I think we can expect to see a few more from him in the coming years. I seem to know of another guy from Switzerland who knows a thing or two about tennis. Ever heard of Roger Federer?
On the women's side, Li Na upended Dominika Cibulkova 7-6, 6-0, to win her first Australian Open title. Na has fought through plenty of adversity and it helped that there were plenty of upsets on the women's side with Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova bowing out early. Na alomst gave up tennis six months ago. Good thing she didn't. Tennis' first grand slam is in the books. Wonder what the other championships will bring.
Team Rice wins Pro Bowl
In what certainly was one of the more entertaining Pro Bowls we've seen in recent years, a late touchdown and two point conversion by Carolina Panthers running back Matt Tolbert put Team Rice over Team Sanders 22-21. This Pro Bowl was much different. Of course there were the new rules such as no kickoffs and two minute warnings at the end of each quarter. There was also the draft in which Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders each picked their team of Pro Bowlers, but the feel of the game was also very different. There was definitely more effort shown by both teams on both sides of the ball than in years past. It was fun to see teammates hit each other on opposing teams. By all accounts and purposes, it looked as though the players were taking this game somewhat seriously and they really wanted to win. That is something we haven't always seen in years past. They said it during interviews, on social media and just in their overall play. The players tried hard and it might save the Pro Bowl, at least for a year or two. Good job to NFLPA President Dominique Foxworth for his creative ideas on how to make the Pro Bowl more fun and competitive. For one day, he was right on the money.
NHL Stadium Series continues
Over this past weekend, the NHL ventured outside into the friendly confines of two MLB parks and transformed them into spectacular sights. Hockey outside. We've seen it with the Winter Classic ever since the NHL's first lockout this decade and it has helped the league's popularity enormously. They thought they would try and take it up a notch this year with their "Stadium Series." This includes stops in Los Angeles, New York and Chicago. Los Angeles and New York had their moment in the sun (no pun intended) this weekend. The Anaheim Ducks beat the Los Angeles Kings 3-0 in front of a packed house of 47,000 at Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles Saturday night while the New York Rangers disposed of the New Jersey Devils 7-3 Sunday afternoon at the new Yankee Stadium. Hockey has come a long ways in Los Angeles and perhaps reached the pinnacle with Saturday night's game. Who would have ever thought that an outdoor hockey game featuring two NHL teams would sell out an MLB stadium in southern California? In New York, there will be a second game played at Yankee Stadium, this one between the Rangers and the New York Islanders. Devils goalie Martin Brodeur said the ice was the "worst ice I've ever played hockey on." Hopefully it's better for the second game. It is always tough to keep the ice at the same fantastic level that it is for games played indoors, but the NHL does an outstanding job for the most part. These stadium games are a lot of fun to watch.
Super Bowl storyline #3
Will Peyton Manning be the best quarterback ever if he wins the Super Bowl Sunday? That question is certainly getting thrown around in the days leading up to the Super Bowl. Manning has one Super Bowl victory on his resume. We all know about his amazing statistics during the regular season...
- 64,964 career passing yards (2nd all-time)
- 491 TDs (just 219 INTs)
- 224 games started
- 167-73 career record
In his playoff career though, he is just 11-11. Tom Brady has won three Super Bowls (though not one since 2005). Terry Bradshaw, Joe Montana each have four. Yet these guys' stats pale in comparrison to what Manning has done in the entirety of his career. Is it a different era that Manning plays in than what Bradshaw and even Montana played in? Yes, no doubt about it. But what Manning has done year after year after year is truly special. His all downfall has been in the postseason. Another Super Bowl win can certainly get him closer to being the greatest QB of all-time. I think he needs two more to be considered the greatest with Montana just above him. Manning will certainly be tested against the Seattle Seahawks and a win over them would maybe mean more to his legacy and add to the argument even more of why he should be considered the best of all-time. What do you think?
Comign up Tuesday: Reaction to top stories in the sports world.