Here’s your chance to play along with Wednesday’s WGEM SportsCenter presented by Hardee’s. I’ve thrown these Mid-Week grades up early so that you can play along. Don’t like what you see here or would like to give out your own grade. E-mail the show at email@example.com or hit up the Illinois Signal Text Line at 217-617-9437. Listen on ESPN 1440 from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m.
A — Not that I need the help, but a commenter pointed out last week that the country of Spain deserves the A this week. Can’t argue with that. First, the country’s soccer team won Euro 2008 for the first time since 1964 with its 1-0 victory over Germany. Then, Rafael Nadal proves that he’s more than a clay-court specialist by beating Roger Federer in a five-set classic in the men’s final at Wimbledon. He’s inching closer to Federer in the world rankings thanks to the win. Now, if he would only ditch those silly capri pants he wears, Nadal might have some street cred.
B — Milwaukee Brewers. Not that many people in Wisconsin are paying much attention with all of that Brett Favre talk, but the Brewers are trying to make the postseason for the first time since Gorman Thomas was struck out by St. Louis’ Bruce Sutter to end Game 7 of the 1982 World Series. You have to admire the gamble of trading for C.C. Sabathia. Yes, the team could lose him after the season without signing him to a long-term deal — same goes for staff ace Ben Sheets — but the Brewers have decided they’d love nothing more than to ruin the 100-year anniversary story brewing a few hours south of them down the Lake Michigan shores. They’d better make Sabathia and Prince Fielder sit on opposite sides of the bus.
C — Taking their lead from an executive from the National Alliance for Youth Sports, a youth baseball league outside of Cleveland has dropped its all-star games this year. The parent in me says, "Hey, this makes some sense," especially after seeing some of the win-at-all-costs coaches that sit in dugouts out at the Quincy Family YMCA youth leagues. The competitor in me says, "Hey, deal with it if your kid isn’t good enough. He’ll get over it." There’s probably a good middle ground in there somewhere.
D — The fans who put the following people in the starting lineup for next week’s MLB All-Star Game — Dustin Pedroia (should be Texas’ Ian Kinsler), David Ortiz (several should have been ahead of him at DH), Kosuke Fukodome and Alfonso Soriano (Colorado’s Matt Holliday and Pittsburgh’s Nate McLouth are more deserving).
F — ESPN’s coverage of the "Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Championships." On more than one occasion, defending champion — and eventual winner — Joey Chestnut was called the "Tiger Woods of competitive eating." That’s like saying Kevin Garnett is the "Michael Jordan of basketball." One title doesn’t make the man — or two in Chestnut’s case. Until he rips off six straight Nathan’s titles like Takeru Kobayashi did before Chestnut finally beat him last year, Chesnut — and the goofy announcers — had better recognize he has a way to go to match greatness. And, Chestnut’s win last year was not "a great moment in American sports," as one talking head called it during the broadcast.
I — The eight-year, $1.1 million contract that Western Illinois University handed men’s basketball coach Jim Molinari last week. Time will tell if it was money well-spent or a nice little retirement balloon for Molinari, who will be 61 by the time the contract is finished in 2016.