Fall is in full bloom, and we are fast approaching the holiday season. Baseball has recently completed its annual rite of championship. College football is in its stretch drive, and the hoopsters of academia are just getting their seasons into swing to bombard the market with action on the amateur front. The NFL has people ready for their traditional Thanksgiving games in sandwiched between a few weekends that will yield the inevitable buzz from all corners. The NBA and NHL are back in action, the latter almost a quarter of the way through its season and the former an eighth of the way on its way.
But that is hardly the only action either currently underway or on the horizon. The final field of 32 is set for the FIFA World Cup coming up in South Africa next summer, with New Zealand, Nigeria and Cameroon claiming their spots right after my deadline last week and then Algeria, France, Slovenia, Portugal, Greece and Uruguay punched their tickets on Wednesday. Now all we have to await is the draw to determine each team???s potential path to glory and then the passing of the months until South Africa comes to the forefront.
Manny Pacquiao defeated WBC Welterweight Champion Miguel Cotto at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas last weekend to claim the world title in his seventh weight class during his career, surpassing the theoretically-retired Oscar De La Hoya as the most diverse boxer in the long and illustrious history of the sport. What Pacquiao did was nothing short of astounding, coming back from what appeared a slight disadvantage in the early rounds to pummel Cotto into submission and wrest the titles away. Now Pacquiao sets his sights on a potential fight against Floyd Mayweather, who proved that retirement is only another prime prizefight away from a pipe dream... and boxing is all the better for the continued prominence of its most marketable stars. Here???s to hoping that boxing can find a way to take advantage of this newfound resurgence and find its place back alongside such upstart powerhouses as the various MMA enterprises to regain some legitimacy with the pugilistic public.
And the men of the tennis tour head to London to get down to business and play out their last tournament of the season. The top eight guys in the rankings will square off in two round-robin groups starting this Sunday, with the top two from each group advancing to play in the semifinals of a knockout tournament to determine the champion. Also at stake will be the finish in the season rankings, where Roger Federer holds the slimmest of leads over Rafael Nadal. Should Nadal sweep through the tournament, he???d eclipse Federer???s season points total and surpass him to retake the top spot in the standings.
Both also get the chance to avenge their opportunities at creating history which were lost -- Federer when Juan Martin Del Potro beat him in the U.S. Open final to crush his bid for an unprecedented sixth straight title, Nadal when Robin Soderling knocked him out of the French Open as he was on pace for the fifth straight championship to pass Bjorn Borg for the record at Roland Garros. With Federer facing Del Potro, Andy Murray and Fernando Verdasco, though, there is no guarantee that he will even make the semifinals. The same goes for Nadal, who must navigate a draw that includes his nemesis Soderling along with Nikolai Davydenko and last year???s Masters Final champion Novak Djokovic.
With all this action going on about, it???s no wonder that we???ve still got a lot to discuss. So without further delay, let???s jump right into the biggest topics of the week as I see it... all aboard, A Non-Traditional Sports Fan in America is about to leave the station and head on its weekly journey across the world of sport...