Does Michael Phelps dominate swimming more than any athlete has ever dominated a sport?

We're watching a whole lot of Olympics at the bar, and I need to pose the question that has to be on everyone's mind as they watch the drama unfold in Beijing.

You know the mystery I am talking about.


How does anyone distinguish one synchronized dive from another? Is it like one diver's big toe flinches and his/her partner's doesn't? Every single one (or pair, I should say) looks the exact same to me, yet the female announcer oohs and ahhs and tsks tsks over imperceptible differences.

Seriously, I've watched more synchronized diving in the past two days than one man should be allowed, and I just don't get it. I've covered plenty of sports in my lackluster career, and I'd like to think I'm good at picking up nuances. I can identify basketball defenses in a nanosecond and I recognize pass patterns and pitch selections with the best of them.


But whether dives are perfect or ordinary -- and for that matter, floor exercises and uneven bars -- is too much for my macho-sports brain, apparently. At least gymnasts (and ice skaters) have the decency of falling every now and then to let me know they're struggling. But since divers are falling on purpose, I am flummoxed.

OK, rant over. Let's get back to our theme of the week. His name is Michael Phelps. He's from Towson, but he is not of this world. Five golds, five world records. Eleven overall golds -- more than anyone ever on this particular planet.

We weren't crushed with comments yesterday, but the ones we had about whether Phelps deserves to be with three other legends on Mount Baltmore (and who should be bounced if he does) were incredibly spirited. We're going to keep that going as a bonus topic.

Quick note about Tuesday: Everyone is welcome at Connolly's, especially wiseacres (Bryan fit in fine). That's the fun of this whole gig. It's driven by opinions. And we're supposed to argue. But no name-calling and no tossing out patrons -- only I get to do that. You guys have been awesome at policing yourselves and so I got a little lax. But, please, respect your fellow barmate. I don't want this to turn into another insensitive board. We're touchy-feely here in a manly, how-bout-them-Ravens kind-of-way.

Anyway, during Tuesday's convo, sandkuhz made a startling and provoking comment: "Phelps is more dominant in his sport than any other athlete has ever been at their sport (Jordan, Ali, Gretzky, Woods, etc.)"

Think about that for a second (while sandkuhz drinks for free today). Is it true? I am not so sure, but I want to hear your call. I know it's comparing apples to oranges to golf balls to hockey pucks, but let's hack at it.

To me, Ali had been the gold standard (pardon the pun) because he transcended the sport. But then Jordan came along, and even though he played a team sport, suddenly everybody everywhere became the "Jordan of insert-activity here."

The Jordan of bowling, the Jordan of Tetris, the Jordan of watermelon-seed spitting.


Is it possible that may change? Is Jordan the Phelps of basketball? OK, I know that's going too far, I know we are just riding the wave (pun intended) of his current glory. But is it possible Phelps is more dominant than any other athlete has been in his or her selected sport? If not, who is/was?

Daily Think Special: Is Michael Phelps the most dominating athlete in a given sport that we've ever seen, more than Tiger Woods, Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan?

Bonus Think Special: Does Phelps deserve to be considered one of the four heads on the fictitious Mount Baltmore, joining three pro sports icons? If so, who else makes the cut?