This morning, I watched the replay of last night's Real Madrid-Los Angeles Galaxy friendly. Real Madrid is a team filled with impressive players, but Zinedine Zidane was a star among stars. Zidane is one of those athletes like Wayne Gretzky and Joe Montana who seem to see the game at a much slower speed than everyone else. While most players run around with a frantic intensity, and Zidane is as cool as can be, never in a hurry, always making the right decision.
I wonder if Rich Harden watched the same replay I did. Harden got in a jam in the second inning, and had Steve Finley on third with one out. Macier Izturis hit a grounder back at Harden, who dropped the ball, but then made a perfect Zidanesque kick pass right to Jason Kendall at the plate. Finley was tagged out in a rundown.
That was the Angels best chance to score until the two outs in the ninth, when Harden ran out of gas. From the fourth through the eighth, Harden was completely dominant. Fastball, changeup, splitter, slider--every pitch was working. He's taking his amazing physical talent and putting it all together into a perfect package.
There is a rarefied level of athletes who make you feel privileged to have seen them play. Gretzky, Montana, Jordan, Magic, Bird--they were there. Zidane is there. Tiger Woods. Barry Bonds. Rickey Henderson.
Rich Harden is moving into that territory. A superstar is being born right before our eyes. I feel fortunate and grateful to be alive to witness it. This is why we watch.