Wonder and genuine pleasure have been in short supply in so many of 2015’s venues, with one exception – the playing field.
If nothing else, the year is shaking out to be one of deeply memorable performances by the sporting class. They are a relatively inconsequential bunch as far as the headline makers of the world go, but they are coming in awfully handy at a time when any kind of uplift goes a long way.
It began in April when a barely legal professional golfer conquered the Masters. Then Jordan Spieth, on a course that is as different from Augusta National as a moonscape is from the gardens of Versailles, won the U.S. Open. Such adaptability at such a tender age was glorious to witness.
Try not to class Sunday’s conclusion as the Open that Dustin Johnson lost with his three-putt on 18. Think of it as Johnson merely stepping aside to let history play through.
Then a month later came a horse named American Pharoah, winning the Kentucky Derby and setting in motion another Triple Crown dream. Since Affirmed in 1978, each one of those dreams had been dashed. But not in 2015, when a feat that some had come to consider an anachronistic impossibility was finished off with style at the Belmont Stakes.
Now a horse of another kind is working – his name Max Scherzer. The Washington Nationals pitcher just about went Johnny Vander Meer (he of the back to back no-hitters in 1938). He piled his no-hitter Saturday atop a one-hitter his previous outing. Scherzer’s line over 18 innings: 0 runs, 1 hit, 1 walk, 26 strikeouts, 1 hbp. He has retired 54 of last 57 batters he has faced. The Braves are scheduled to just miss him in their upcoming three-game series with Nats. And that is a disappointment, for who doesn’t want to watch what Scherzer may be capable of next?
Now can Spieth win what currently is defined as golf’s Grand Slam – not won, in another form, since 1930 by Bobby Jones?
Spieth, for one, is not shrinking from the question. “I think it’s in the realm of possibility,” he said Sunday.
This is not the year to blow off such a wild notion.