This week I thought we would look for GOATs.
What’s a GOAT? Sometimes people call the player who messes up to lose the game the goat.
But the GOAT that I mean is the Greatest of All Time: G-O-A-T. So let’s find athletes competing these days who are the Greatest of All Time at what they do.
Consider New York Yankees relief pitcher Mariano Rivera. The 43-year-old right-hander has announced he will retire after this season. Most baseball fans would agree that Super Mariano is the greatest relief pitcher of all time. Even Boston Red Sox fans would say that Rivera, with more than 650 saves and an incredible postseason record,is a GOAT.
Soccer star Abby Wambach this year set a record for the most career goals scored in international matches by either a man or a woman. Does that make Wambach the greatest soccer player of all time? Probably not. Other players have better skills. But the always-hustling Wambach is a GOAT when it comes to finding the back of the net and scoring goals.
Anyone who has a world record in the timed events in track and field or swimming can claim to be a GOAT. After all, no one has swum the 800- or 1500-meter freestyle faster than Katie Ledecky from Bethesda.
But I think that to be a real GOAT in those sports, you have to have set a number of records and have won several world championships or Olympic medals. So in swimming, Michael Phelps is a GOAT, with 18 Olympic gold medals and a zillion records.
Phelps is retired from swimming, so let’s look for a GOAT who is still dominating his or her sport.
Usain “Lightning” Bolt is a GOAT. The Jamaican sprinter won the gold medals in the 100-meter, 200-meter and 4-x-100-meter relay races at the 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympics. He won those races again at the 2013 World Championships in Moscow. Bolt also owns the world record in the 100 and 200 meters.
It’s harder to agree on who is a GOAT in other sports. After Serena Williams won the U.S. Open tennis tournament for her 17th major singles title, some people were saying she was the GOAT in women’s tennis. Still, some tennis experts say tennis great Steffi Graf, who won 22 majors between 1987 and 1999, is a GOAT.
I know Michael Jordan has more National Basketball Association titles, but I think LeBron James is the greatest all-around basketball player ever. To me, James is a GOAT.
You see, this time it’s good to be the GOAT. In fact, it’s great.
Bowen will speak at the National Book Festival on Saturday at 10 a.m. in the Children’s Pavilion.