Category Archives: Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

SportsZone editorials

Thumbs up: Noah Rubin

I’m going to be honest here. This story makes me feel quite inadequate. But nonetheless I have to give a big thumbs up to Noah Rubin. Who is Noah Rubin? Good question.

Noah is a 19 year old American tennis player playing in the 2016 Australian Open. And Noah, just this weekend, won his first career professional tennis match.

But there’s more than just someone getting their first win. Rubin earned his first win, in a major tournament as just a wild card entry and ranked a lowly 328 in the world.

The American teenager ousted the 17 seed, Frenchman Benoit Paire, in straight sets, 7-6 7-6 7-6 to earn his first major victory. Though Paire was clearly not pleased with his own performance and his 72(!) unforced errors, I give a lot of credit to Rubin for being able to take advantage of the mistakes and string enough points together, even if Paire was not so complimentary of the youngster.

Beyond simply congratulating a young American tennis player, I feel a closer connection to this story. Noah Rubin hails from Long Island, New York and has actually played tennis at the same club where I used to back when I was playing sports rather than blogging about them. While I don’t know him personally-he is younger and much better than I am-I still feel like he deserves the shout out and that I have some connection to him and his success.

Additionally, since the retirement of Andy Roddick there has been a bit of a talent vacuum when it comes to American men’s tennis. John Isner is probably the best America has to offer at the moment on the men’s side but he struggles to make it deep into any major tournaments. Any potential young talent is worth keeping an eye on.

Rubin will advance and play another Frenchman, Pierre-Hugues Herbert, in the second round. Good luck to Noah and way to represent Long Island tennis!


Thumbs up: Blair Walsh

Now I know many of you reading the headline are asking “why are you giving a thumbs up to the dude who lost a playoff game for the Vikings?” And that is a fair question to ask. But bear with me and you’ll see why.

As mentioned above, Walsh, in the eyes of some, is the reason that the Vikings lost to the Seahawks last weekend in the playoffs. By the same token, the score was 10-9 so Walsh was the only reason the Vikes kept the score close, but you can understand the frustration at a missed 27 yard field goal, which is considered by many to be a chip shot.

But alas Walsh does miss his field goal and I’m sure got loads of hate from Minnesotans on Twitter. Though not everyone was so upset. A group of students at Northpoint Elementary School wrote Walsh letters of encouragement and had them sent to Vikings headquarters. For the students this was a class exercise on empathy.

But Walsh took it another step forward. He delayed his trip out of town-which takes courage in and of itself because I’m sure he’s not the most popular guy in Minnesota right now-to visit the school. He personally thanked the students for their messages and imparted some wisdom to the students as well.

Check out the video from ESPN here.

So that’s why Walsh gets a thumbs up. Because despite the miss, he remained a good and upbeat person and that’s exactly the person you want to be sending young children a message.

Thumbs Up: Mike Piazza

When Mike Piazza was traded to the New York Mets I was three years old. When he left the Mets, I was 10. Now, I know that even 10 is a young age to watch and fully understand sports.

But I remember Mike Piazza.

Many people of my generation born around the same time as me, recognize David Wright as the face of the Mets. And they should. Wright has been with the Mets for 11 years and he is the captain after all.

But I do remember a time before there was David Wright. When the guy you wanted at the plate in a big spot wore number 31 and not number 5.

For the longest time, the Hall of Fame was full of myths and legends. The Hank Aarons and Jackie Robinsons and Willie Mayses of the world. Those players whose feats you heard about but couldn’t understand because you weren’t there.

Now I’ve reached the point in my life where the inductees are people that I’ve seen play. Tom Glavine and Pedro MartinezĀ and Ken Griffey Jr. are all players who, though it takes effort, I can remember having seen.

But none of them have the impact that Piazza did for me. Everybody picks out their favorite player on their favorite team, either consciously or subconsciously. The first guy that I came to recognize as a good player, the face of a team and someone who brought hope and joy to fans was Mike Piazza.

There is something special to me about seeing Piazza get elected to the Hall of Fame. New York will always love Mike. We will always remember the late game dramatics and the heroism. The monstrous power and the healing power of one swing.

But beyond all that I will always have a soft spot for Mike Piazza. He was my first sports hero and this election is an honor that was 4 years overdue for the greatest offensive catcher in the history of the game and a man who was a pleasure to watch play the game of baseball.

So thumbs up and congratulations to Mike Piazza on his election to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Now the Mets need to get with the program and retire his number 31.