Two weeks ago I wrote about how there did not appear to be many opportunities, outside of one Serena Williams, for fans of the red, white and blue to cheer for one of their own at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. I also noted that it’s been a decade since Andy Roddick won the US Open, and no American man has won a Grand Slam event since.
For a country that has produced such tennis legends as Jack Kramer, Arthur Ashe, Jimmy Connors, Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi and, of course, Douglaston’s own John McEnroe, the natural tendency is to believe that the USA has been in a slump but the cycle will reverse itself.
That’s probably wishful thinking.
I ran into Taylor Dent, who recently retired from the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) Tour outside Arthur Ashe Stadium last week. Dent was never a superstar but consistently had a Top 50 ranking. I naturally asked him if I would see an American man win the US Open in my lifetime. He became a bit glum and explained to me why the odds of that are becoming more remote.
“European players such as Nadal, Federer, Gasquet and Djokovic have been playing against older guys in professional tournaments since they were 12 years old,” Dent said. “In contrast we shield our players. Our juniors program is a nice way to introduce tennis but we baby our kids compared to what goes on overseas.”
I then asked him why you don’t see tennis players learning their craft against good competition on the NCAA’s dime. There would be a natural maturation process by going to college that could only serve Americans well. After all, many professional golfers such as St. John’s University alum Keegan Bradley prepared for the PGA Tour by playing collegiately.
“While some believe that American tennis players would do better if they went the university route, it’s not fair to compare golfers with tennis players,” Dent said. “Age is not as big a factor competing on the PGA Tour as it is on the ATP. It’s very hard to win a tennis tournament once you are past 30, given the incredible level of competition.”
Boxer Floyd Mayweather may have been the person most responsible for resolving the CBS-Time Warner Cable blackout. This Saturday night, the undefeated Mayweather will take on his toughest challenger, Canelo Alvarez, in a 12-round bout at Las Vegas’s MGM Grand. CBS’s Showtime’s Pay Per View division will televise it and divide the revenue with its various cable and satellite providers. TWC and Showtime would have forfeited millions of dollars had the dispute continued.
Many boxing experts are predicting that Mayweather will suffer the first defeat of his career this coming Saturday. While that’s possible, it’s always best to follow the money.
This is only his second fight under his six-bout, $65 million contract with Showtime. The term “undefeated” in boxing is akin to gold bullion, and once a fighter has incurred a loss, the dropoff in ticket demand and media interest is palpable. To use an accounting term, accelerated depreciation sets in. In short, if it is up to judges, Mayweather will win even if he has had the stuffing knocked out of him from pillar to post. If Alvarez is able to knock Mayweather to the canvas, expect the referee to have the slowest 10-count in ring history.
In their season opener the Jets snatched victory from the jaws of defeat with a field goal in the final seconds — just after it appeared that all had been lost when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers moved the ball efficiently down the field and kicked a field goal of their own, for a 17-15 lead with 38 seconds left. Considering that the Jets had no timeouts left and were depending on a rookie quarterback, Geno Smith, who was making his NFL debut, it looked like Gang Green was finished.
Normally it is the Jets who lose heartbreakers through ineptitude, but the shoe was on the other foot this time. When Smith ran out of bounds to the Jets sidelines at the 50-yard line with seven seconds on the clock, all chasing linebacker Lavonte David had to do was wave at him and odds are the Bucs would have had the victory. Instead David showed that he is not a member of Mensa as he made a needless hit on Smith and was called for unsportsmanlike conduct, which resulted in a 15-yard penalty putting the game-winning field goal within Jets kicker Nick Folk’s range. Folk delivered.
The evil unleashed allegedly by the Tsarnaev brothers at the Boston Marathon has had a chilling effect on the National Football League, as it has banned fans from carrying most bags into any stadium. Unfortunately, this new policy was not as well-publicized as it should have been, and the results at MetLife Stadium were long lines outside, as patrons had to check their belongings and were given a cheap plastic bag for essentials.
While I always understand the need for safety at all costs, I believe that the NFL is overreacting here. There is no reason why stadium security personnel can’t check all bags that are entering stadiums as they have done in the past. This places a needless burden on the innocent while the wrongdoers will find ways to act nefariously even with see-through bags.
Be that as it may, if clear bags are going to be the law at stadiums then you might as well get a good one. Richard Nashmy, the New Jersey Devils longtime press box announcer, had the foresight to see where stadium security was heading after Sept. 11, 2001, and he created a company called Clear Concepts which makes fashionable, high-quality, thick vinyl polymer transparent bags in a variety of sizes. For more information, log onto carryitclearly.com.
Speaking of fashion, New York is wrapping up yet another of its semi-annual Fashion Weeks.
A pair of Philadelphia Eagles cheerleaders greeted media and celebrities at the GBK Lounge at the Empire Hotel wearing new uniforms that were created by designer Vera Wang.
The National Hockey League brought a few players who will be taking part in its scheduled outdoor games this winter to Rockefeller Center’s Top of the Rock last Friday.
New Jersey Devils defenseman Andy Greene, who has spent the last seven years with the team, said that he and his teammates are excited that financier Josh Harris has bought the club but isn’t sure that its culture of not promoting players or working well with the media will change.
“As players we have no control over that,” he said with just a hint of frustration.
Greene is well aware that Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello, who has made nearly all of the business decisions in the past, is staying on. If I were Harris, I would make sure that Lou understands who the owner is and that he should think about ways of enhancing revenue. That issue was not a concern for him under previous owner Jeff Vanderbeek, during whose stewardship the Devils flirted with insolvency.
New York Islanders center John Tavares, who was just named team captain, feels that the January outdoor game against the Rangers at Yankee Stadium will raise the team’s profile in the metropolitan area, especially in light of the Isles’ planned move to Brooklyn in 2015.
Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist played in the 2012 NHL Winter Classic in Philadelphia when the Rangers beat the Flyers 3-2 at Citizens Bank Park, and he seemed excited to be playing in a pair of outdoor games at Yankee Stadium, where the opponents will be the other local NHL teams, the Devils and Islanders. Lundqvist is also known for his GQ style, and he said that he would try to catch a couple of shows during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week.
Clothing designer runway shows are actually a small part of the New York Fashion Week activities. More and more food and beverage companies with “health conscious” products use the week to promote their wares.
At the GBK Lounge, Oasis Naturals was promoting its line of Mediterranean products such as hummus, grape leaves and pita breads; while Latta was giving out samples of its Russian kefir, which is a drinkable yogurt. As hard as it is to believe, there was actually a “kefir war” going on as Lifeway, Latta’s chief competitor, offered the “official kefir” across the street from the Empire Hotel, at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week tent at Lincoln Center.
Not to be outdone, Gardein was offering guests samples of its meatless beef and chicken sliders.
I could tell that the vegan beef-style sliders were good but not the real thing. The plant-based grilled chicken patty, however, fooled me. Yes, it did taste like chicken, as the food cliche goes.
ESPN Radio’s popular morning duo, Mike & Mike (Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic), made a visit last week to a New York Subway Restaurant to boost the nation’s largest chain restaurant’s September sandwich promotion. The guys are a lot better at talking sports than they are at preparing sandwiches, although they were good sports about serving the public.