Sweetness And LightSweetness And Light The Score On Sports With Frank Deford

The Most Wonderful (Sports) Time of the Year

May to July brings a symphony of sport, with glorious strains of baseball, basketball hockey, U.S. Open golf, tennis at Roland Garros and Wimbledon and horse racing's Triple Crown. And this year a crescendo: The World Cup.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

Our sports commentator, Frank Deford, could hardly be having a happier month.

FRANK DEFORD reporting:

Those fans who are engrossed in one sport live their lives by that schedule. For example, those NFL maniacs who are devoted to football uber alles, have their every year ascend and climax through January, define annual ecstasy only on Super Bowl Sunday.

But if you're a connoisseur who finds joy in many games, then right now is always the glorious season upon the sports calendar. Beginning in May, rising through June, concluding early in July, now is the true high season for games, both for ours here in America, and upon the globe.

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DEFORD: Listen! Now it is the symphony of sport and this morning, I am your maestro, conducting.

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DEFORD: The violins first - the backbone of any philharmonic. They can only represent baseball.

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DEFORD: After all, as there are so many violins, so there are so many baseball games. And the best hitters - aaah! They wield a bat as their musical counterparts do a bow. And, today, I present to you, my virtuoso first violinist Ozzie Guillen of the White Sox.

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DEFORD: Next, the NBA play-offs, where Dallas is leading Miami in the finals. I must signal the low brass here. Of course, the tuba for Shaq, who is rather shaped like a tuba.

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DEFORD: But it is the trombone for the long and thin Dirk Nowitzki of Dallas, as he slides about the court.

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DEFORD: The U.S. Open begins tomorrow - Phil Mickelson seeking his third straight Grand Slam; Tiger Woods returning from mourning to try and deny him. Aaah, golf! The trees, the flowers, the grass, the water: nature's magnificent confluence of what God and man have best fashioned together. Soft, now - only our harpist should be heard in the veil and over the pond.

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DEFORD: Ahh, tennis! What spirited majesty! The French Open just done, Wimbledon ascending. Roger Federer, the greatest master, except on clay, where Rafael Nadal still reigns. Their shots back and forth the clarinet, high and higher.

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DEFORD: The Triple Crown for thoroughbreds, too. It's just finished - no champion, but Barbaro still lives. And wait - wait there's more.

They're still playing ice hockey. Yes, ice hockey, even as we near mid-summer's night! The poor NHL may be overshadowed, as always, but at least the league is in business again this year, and with a far faster, better game. Welcome back to our symphony, hockey. And so, let us hear from, appropriately, that NHL of instruments, that which always gets lost between the stylish violins and the hardy cellos: the viola!

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DEFORD: And, of course, this June, even with all these annual athletic melodies playing, the symphony has its quadrennial crescendo, as well. The World Cup of football is pounding itself into the emotional rhythms of most of the world. My percussion section concludes a fabulous June sports symphony.

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INSKEEP: A composition in words by Frank Deford, Senior Contributing Writer at Sports Illustrated. He joins us each Wednesday from member station WSHU in Fairfield, Connecticut.

It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

LINDA WERTHEIMER, host:

And I'm Linda Wertheimer.

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Sweetness And LightSweetness And Light The Score On Sports With Frank Deford