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His is a summer of unparalleled dominance, of achievements that will live on through the ages, tales told from generation to generation.
It is time The Cooler honored him.
He stands alone in his craft; history is his only company.
Yes, even Lance Armstrong and Tiger Woods should stand today and raise a platter of ribs to the great and legendary Kobayashi.
Kobayashi's efforts, seen this past weekend on ESPN at the U.S. Open of Competitive Eating, give us the magical pleasure of knowing what it was like to see Jim Thorpe run, or see Red Grange gallop. He didn't just beat the competition, he devoured it, as if it were nothing more than a six-pound tailgate platter -- which, coincidentally, he consumed several times over in his finals-bracket thumping of an overmatched Sonya "The Black Widow" Thomas.
This must have been what it was like when Babe Ruth out-homered every team in the American League. Kobayashi's quarterfinal match win, in the Italian Chopped Salad category, was so thorough, he simply savored his final plate of food, casually spooning the salad in, coasting to the finish line like Man O' War trying not to embarrass the other steeds. His semfinal romp over "Cookie" Jarvis in the Potato Skin category was an embarrassment of epic proportions, made more so when a two-shot of Kobayashi and Jarvis showed that two of the diminutive Kobayashi could easily fit into one of the ursine Jarvis. And yet the size disparity only highlighted the difference in talent.
ESPN commentator Rich Shea observed Kobayashi's work, and told viewers that what we were witnessing was simply the "Powell Doctrine of eating just overwhelming force at work."
Fans of competitive eating know the keys to victory include such critical components as jaw strength, hand speed and tummy capacity. But when a "gustatory gladiator" (as Shea calls them) such as Kobayashi is at work, the particulars of his craft recede in the greater glory of his sense of the moment.
Most ball fans know that Ted Williams was the greatest hitter who ever lived because of his vision, his pitch selection and the power generated through his hips. But Teddy Ballgame's artistry surpassed the mundane details of his skills. He was, simply, poetry. There is no other definition.
Same goes with Kobayashi. The kid can eat. We'll never see another like him.
All I ask is when you pass Kobayashi on the street, you say to yourself: "There goes the greatest eater who ever lived."
On, then, to the Weekend List of Five:
It was Tiger Woods who first called Vijay Singh "Veej." One has to think that's an ironic use of a friendly nickname, since "Woody," as Tiger calls himself, and "Veej" aren't necessarily bringing each other fruitcakes at Christmas.
Well, Veej came through in a head-to-head with the World's No. 1 at the Buick Open, and thank goodness. Tiger was in danger of turning this summer's golf series into a domination of Kobayashi-esque proportion. The sports world needed Veej to show up on the first tee with Tiger Saturday and post the smooth little 63 that he did.