Sports Roundup: Indy 500, the French Open and Bonds
STEVE INSKEEP, host:
The last 24 hours in sports included a win, by a fraction of a second, in the Indy 500. Sam Hornish edged out the teenaged Marco Andretti and his father, Michael Andretti.
In pro tennis, the French Open is underway, and we'll hear more about that in a moment.
In baseball, Barry Bonds hit homerun number 715. That puts him second on the all-time list ahead of Babe Ruth and behind Hank Aaron. Commentator John Feinstein has been taking it all in.
John, good morning.
JOHN FEINSTEIN (Sports Commentator): Good morning, Steve.
INSKEEP: A lot of the story with Barry Bonds has been the way people are responding to this milestone.
Mr. FEINSTEIN: Yeah, you know, in San Francisco, obviously, you saw, when he hit the homerun, everybody had their arms in the air and there was a celebration. But I think it's pretty much limited to that city, and maybe a few supporters of Bonds around the country.
Bonds is not a person who brings much joy to the world. He brings homeruns to the world, but the controversy over whether he's taken steroids - I think most people think he has - his attitude towards most people, toward the public, toward the media, doesn't make him a very popular figure.
And it's interesting how major league baseball is staying as far away as possible. Bud Selig said he wouldn't be there went Bonds went past Babe Ruth -the Commissioner of Baseball - because it's not the all-time record. Well it's not, Hank Aaron has the all-time record, but Babe Ruth is the most mythic figure, probably in the history of sports.
INSKEEP: And there's not an asterisk, in any event, on that 715, is there?
Mr. FEINSTEIN: No asterisk in the books, but certainly an asterisk mentally, in the minds of many, if not most, baseball fans.
INSKEEP: Okay, now the French Open. Rafael Nadal, the men's defending champion; unbeatable on clay for more than a year, but he's not the number one seed here.
Mr. FEINSTEIN: No, he's not, because they don't seed in tennis based on surface. Nadal is dominant on clay, as you said. He's won 53 straight matches. If he wins his first round match today, that'll be the all-time record on clay courts.
But off of clay, Roger Federer is the dominant player in the sport. He's won the last three major tournaments, Steve - Wimbledon, the U.S. Open, and this year's Australian Open. So if he were to win his first French Open next week, he would be the first player - male - since Rod Laver in 1969, to hold all four major titles. It's not a grand slam because he would not have done it in a calendar year, but it would be a remarkable achievement.
However, clay and Nadal are his Achilles heels. Nadal has beaten him three straight times this year - his only three losses this year. He beat him in Rome in a great match - a five-hour match - a couple of weeks ago, and Nadal is the player to beat on a clay court.
INSKEEP: And the French Open has been a tough title for a lot of great players.
Mr. FEINSTEIN: You're absolutely right. If you go down the list, Boris Becker, Stefan Edberg, John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, Arthur Ashe - great - Pete Sampras, the all-time leader in grand slam titles with 14 - none of them ever won in Paris.
Playing on clay is like a different sport. It's like playing baseball on ice for a lot of players. It's totally different. It takes a different skill set. Nadal has that skill set; Federer's still working on it.
INSKEEP: Now on the women's side, Justine Henin-Hardenne is defending.
Mr. FEINSTEIN: And she should be the favorite, again, because she is so good on clay. Maria Sharapova, who barely won her first round match yesterday, has been injured. Serena Williams isn't even here, she's injured. Venus Williams has played very little.
The sentimental favorite, though, is Amelie Mauresmo, the French woman who won the Australian Open to start the year, and she is the number one seed. She always gets nervous in Paris though. We'll see how her nerves hold up through the two weeks.
INSKEEP: We will see. John, thanks very much.
Mr. FEINSTEIN: Thanks, Steve.
INSKEEP: The comments of John Feinstein, author of Last Shot: A Final Four Mystery.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.