History to absorb

Kids aren't into history these days. Too many old guys. Too many dead guys. Wars and issues and causes that chip your nails and get in the way of updating your Facebook page. Stuff that happened long ago, like, waaaay back in the last century.

Pity. It's like that NEA study in which kids rated Jay-Z a more influential historical figure than Nelson Mandela. Or was it an MTV study? I get them confused. NEA, MTV — same difference.

Anyway, it was a remarkable sports weekend made all the more noteworthy with some historical context and reference material by your side.

Tennis, golf, cars, hockey and baseball, both near and far.

Start with baseball. Menchville and Poquoson both won rain-delayed high school state titles Sunday, while the University of Virginia won at Ole Miss to advance to its first College World Series.

The Peninsula District regularly produces state track and football champs, even the occasional basketball title, but never had won a baseball championship. Sometimes it was talent, sometimes fate or luck that stopped PD teams short.

However, the Monarchs overcame all manner of forces inside and outside their control within the past week and validated the hype that accompanied them all season.

Poquoson, meanwhile, won its second Group AA title, a bookend to the school's 2001 championship. One of the Bay Rivers District's smaller schools, the Islanders gave the district its third state baseball crown.

Virginia continued an amazing run to achieve the program's first appearance in Omaha, Neb., and college baseball's showcase event.

The Cavaliers have won nine of 10 postseason games, all on the road and against top-shelf competition. They have allowed a paltry 10 runs in the past 57 innings — 63 if you count six shutout innings versus Florida State to close out the ACC tournament championship game.

Virginia coach Brian O'Connor grew up in Council Bluffs, Iowa, just across the Missouri River from Omaha, and a 10-minute drive to Rosenblatt Stadium. He began attending CWS games at age 4 with his dad and brothers, and he later pitched for Creighton in the Series.

"It was the thing to do in the Omaha area at that time of year," O'Connor said Monday, "especially if you were a baseball player. This is why I believe it's the greatest sporting event in college athletics, because the entire city of Omaha wraps their arms around this two-week event. The hospitality and everything that goes along with this World Series is something that, when people get to witness it for the first time, they've never seen before."

You might say the same thing about witnessing Tiger Woods. Prepping to defend his U.S. Open title, he came from four shots back to win The Memorial with a 7-under 65 Sunday that was two shots better than the field for the day and one of only eight rounds in the 60s that the course yielded all day.

El Tigre didn't miss a fairway Sunday (he missed only five the entire tournament), the first time he hit every fairway in a round since 2003 at Bay Hill.

While Woods prepares to chase his 15th major title, his compadre-in-excellence Roger Federer won the one major in tennis that had eluded him — the French Open — and in the process completed the career grand slam and tied Pete Sampras for the most major championships (14).

Fuss, if you like, that Federer didn't have to face his nemesis, Rafael Nadal. But he beat the man who beat Nadal and, in the process, shook off a freaky, potentially Monica Seles sort of moment (don't you hate it when Mr. History causes you to Google stuff?) when some wack job jumped out of the stands during the final and tried to put a red something-or-other on his head.

Perhaps the most graceless moment of Federer's 14th major came afterward when TV head Dick Enberg (talk about your historic figures!) asked him if the rivalry with Nadal had elevated his game, as rivalries have done for other great champions.

Federer, whose grace on and off the court usually is unmatched, replied that he thought his own game had elevated opponents more than the other way around. Though we might prefer a bit more humility, when a man reinserts himself at the top of the discussion of the best ever, maybe he deserves a pass.

Speaking of passes, how about Tony Stewart becoming the first NASCAR owner-driver to win a Sprint Cup/Nextel Cup/Winston Cup/Dixie Cup race since 1998, when Ricky Rudd did so at Martinsville? With his backup car, no less?

Stewart is the first owner-driver to lead the points race since the late Alan Kulwicki in 1992. Kulwicki won the title that year, and "Smoke," in his first year as owner of Stewart-Haas Racing, appears a legitimate threat to win the Big Cell Phone.

All of that overshadowed, at least in these parts, the Detroit Red Wings sitting on the verge of becoming the first repeat Stanley Cup champs since they did so in 1997-98. And the Los Angeles Kobes going up 2-0 in the NBA Finals. And jockey Calvin Borel coming up short in his quest for the first two-legged Triple Crown on different horses.

So much history. But don't worry. No quizzes. Absorb at your leisure.

Monarchs end PD's title drought

Believe it or not, the Peninsula District never had won a state baseball championship until Sunday. Thanks to a stable of aces, including Austin Chrismon, left, Ethan Carter and Jharel Cotton, Menchville ends the drought.

Islanders nearly perfect in quest

When looking for a championship-caliber baseball team, you need three things: pitching, hitting and senior leadership. Poquoson uses all three to rip through Group AA with a 28-1 record and a second state title.

Hoos heading to Omaha

Considering the success Virginia has had in recent years, one could assume the Cavs had reached the College World Series. It took Sunday's Super Regional victory over Ole Miss for U.Va. to book its first trip to Omaha.

Look out, Smoke's on fire

Tony Stewart entered Sunday's race at Pocono with the Sprint Cup lead without having won a points race. Despite having to start dead last, Smoke burns the field for his first points win of '09, widening his lead in the process.

It's back to Tiger and the rest

When the U.S. Open begins play June 18 at Bethpage, all eyes will be on Tiger Woods. He simply was vintage at The Memorial. Down four shots, he was 7 under Sunday to rally pass the likes of Jim Furyk and Jonathan Byrd.

Federer wraps up career slam

What took you so long, Roger? Oh yeah, that Rafael Nadal guy. Well, he wasn't in Sunday's French Open final. Robin Soderling was. The result: A 14th Grand Slam title for Federer, matching Pete Sampras' all-time mark.

Dave Fairbank can be reached at 247-4637 or by e-mail at dfairbank@dailypress.com. For more from Fairbank, read his blog at dailypress.com/fromthetarpit.

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