In order, beginning just after 5 p.m. on Saturday, we saw the following: American Pharoah’s last race, a thrilling New York Marathon, a record-setting Saints’ victory and, ending just after 11 p.m. Sunday, a World Series championship. Let me make my argument, and then I welcome you to come up with another previous window that can equal it.
American Pharoah had done enough to garner all-time status by becoming the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years. But on an overcast day at Keeneland, the nation’s most beautiful race course, Pharoah won the prestigious Breeders Cup mile-and-a-quarter Classic in a course record of 2:00. That performance was an incredible send-off, considering it was a full five seconds off the course record and stunningly close to Secretariat’s all-time Kentucky Derby record of 1:59 2/5 over the same distance. Being one of 12 horses to win the Triple Crown, American Pharoah was already legendary, but thanks to horse racing's 1984 creation of this annual two-day best of the best, American Pharoah became the first Triple Crown winner to double down, and he did so by a dazzling 6 1/2 lengths.
On Sunday morning, two Kenyans won the women’s and men’s New York Marathon races, a not-so-memorable fact until you look at the individual performances. Mary Kitany dominated the women’s race in 2:24.25, more than a minute ahead of her closest competitor. Stanley Biwott ran a cautious race then accelerated into a blistering finish, winning his first major marathon, in 2:10.34. Biwott was in a four-man pack until he launched three hammering miles between Miles 21-23 of 4:24, 4:30 and 4:33 to surge ahead. The New York Marathon stands on its own as the epitome of speed, strength and endurance, qualities that were exhibited once again Sunday.
Around midday, lovers of offensive football were in their glory during the Saints’ victory over the Giants. QB Drew Brees tied an NFL record with seven touchdown passes, and his 511 passing yards fell 43 short of tying the NFL’s single-game record. His opponent, homeboy Eli Manning, threw six touchdown passes of his own, a combined total that broke a 46-year-old N.F.L. single-game record for touchdown passes by two quarterbacks. Brees’s seven touchdowns tied a league record, and the 101 points were the third-highest total in N.F.L. history. Brees also set the NFL record for most career games with five or more touchdown passes with his 10th, breaking a tie with Eli’s big brother, Peyton. It was almost an injustice that the game was decided on a field goal, the first attempted by either team, as Kai Forbath drilled a 50-yarder to give New Orleans the walk-off victory.
If you weren’t stoked by then, Kansas City’s ninth-inning rally and 12th-inning explosion gave the Royals their first World Series championship since 1985. The Mets seemed to have it in the bag as the ninth inning began, leading 2-0. Mets Manager Terry Collins wanted to go to the bullpen, but starter Matt Harvey talked him into one more chance to pitch the first complete game World Series shutout since Curt Schilling did it with the Phillies in 1993. But as the Royals have shown time and time again, you can never count them out.
Harvey walked leadoff batter Lorenzo Cain who stole second base and scored when Eric Hosmer ripped a double to left field. Jeurys Familia was brought in, and Mike Moustakas’ grounder pushed Hosmer to third base. Salvador Perez hit an easy grounder to David Wright at third base, who looked Hosmer back then casually tossed the ball to first base. Hosmer bolted home, and first baseman Lucas Duda made an errant throw to catcher Travis d'Arnaud, and the game was tied at 2-2. For the sake of full disclosure, I will admit that I watched two more innings, and then went to bed, one inning too early.
In the 12th, Perez singled, and pinch-runner Jarrod Dyson stole second base then moved to third on Alex Gordon’s ground out to first. Christian Colon put the Royals up 3-2 with a line drive single to left field. That would have been enough, but to add insult to injury, second baseman Daniel Murphy, as he did in Game 4, booted a sure double-play ball which opened the gates. Alcides Escobar doubled to left field, adding an insurance run, and Cain drilled a bases-clearing double to left-center, for the 7-2 final score.
If your favorite college team had an especially big win, you can start the clock a bit earlier on Saturday and roll that into the mix. But for my money, the events above provided a weekend for the ages!