Monday August 10th, 2009

1. World Series

In 1980, I was covering the Philadelphia Phillies for a newspaper in Allentown, Pa., when, in early August, I left to take a job at the now defunct Baltimore News-American. So I missed that team's memorable run to the 1980 championship. After a short time in Baltimore I left to become the baseball beat writer for the now defunct Philadelphia Bulletin -- I've worked for four newspapers and three of them are now dead; I hope there's no connection -- but never covered that 1981 team because I took a job at SI. So though I've come closer, I've never covered the granddaddy of America's professional sports pastimes.

2. Wimbledon

In 1976, my wife and I were bumming around London and somehow scraped together a few shillings for Wimbledon tickets during the second week. We saw Bjorn Borg in action in the first of what turned out to be five straight championships. We both fell in love with the whole strawberries-and-cream scene, and, though I've been back to Merry Olde, I've never made it back to Wimbledon.

3. The Ironman

I have a son who as of last year decided that he wanted to swim, bike and run himself into exhaustion. He's done it five times, including one half-ironman, and now he wants to take on the entire 2.4-mile swim/112-mile bike ride/full marathon boat next year. I've fallen in love with the whole thing ... as long as I'm just watching with a full complement of ice water.

4. Palio

During a recent vacation in Italy, we spent a day in Siena, whose grandest attraction, the Piazza del Campo, is also the site of one of sports' craziest events. Twice a year, on July 2 and Aug. 16, bareback riders take off on three wild laps around the square, on which a thick layer of dirt has been laid. Invariably, a jockey or two gets tossed. Italy loves a pageant under any circumstance, and this one must be insane.

5. National Senior Games

I read a story recently about a 100-year-old tennis player, who also competes in the Senior Games, which I never knew existed. This year's Games are in San Francisco in August. I mean, how cool is it that there's a 90-94 division ... in the freakin' pole vault? What's the winning height, 2 feet, 6 inches? With my 60th birthday hard upon me, I'd like to find at least one event in which to compete. When I get older, of course.

My All-time Favorite

I've covered several Super Bowls, a few Finals Fours, too-many-to-count NBA Finals and only one Masters. I'll take the Masters. Compelling storylines invariably develop over four days, and you can't find a more pleasing venue at which to do your work. Plus, you can sneak out to play a round or two, and the pimento sandwiches at the course take care of hunger pangs.

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