søndag, september 10, 2006


Dolph Lundgren as Ivan Drago from Rocky IV. BananaGate does not refer to him, sorry...but have any of you ever seen the final silhouette shot from Lundgren's version of the Punisher?

Congratulations are in order for (a) Martina Navratilova for winninng the Mixed Doubles title at the US Open at age 49 and in her final professional tournament. She's on my list of people I'd like to have dinner with. (Jeers for the match not being broadcast!)

And, (b) for Maria Sharapova who played quite well last night in winning under the lights in New York. I was, per usual, rooting for my shorty Justine.

One ought to root for players who are about the same height, I think, as it gives one some delusion of developing comparative skill. I've even adopted the one-hand backhand over the past few years after watching Henin play. Hers is the sweetest looking shot on either tour. It is the sun while mine is light from a distant star.

(Justine! Can't you see that Pierre-Yves is a skinny dork who files his elbows to razor sharp points!? I mean, really. If you want to spend your life with a dork who doesn't make money, you could really go so much dorkier. I can help.)

But last night Justine was rattled. She seemed to be just trying to keep the ball in play, which is, yes, a sensible goal, but it's a disastrous strategy when Sharapova is hitting her groundstrokes. That girl can hit. Hard. She ran around many forehands (because Henin wasn't moving her side to side) and struck them at rather impressive angles. She hit her lines. She blasted winners. She even had a drop shot working.

She earned it.

Comically tarnishing the victory was yet another BananaGate episode. Coaching is illegal during a Grand Slam match. It's illegal during most matches (though it's folly in today's entourage system). Interaction on any level is illegal. Players are not supposed to make sustained eye contact with coaches, and coaches are not to sign anything to the court beyond basic, controlled cheering.

But Sharapova watches her team. She eats a banana when her coach-father or trainer does. She holds up a banana. They point at a banana and make an eating motion. She eats. She drinks water when they drink water. Are we to think she's too timid to feed herself? Or was Rocky IV correct about the Russian regimental behavior? Is her training like that of Ivan Drago?

But she played well. Very well. Still, in her post-match award acceptance and celebration, she did two things which are going to cast her, unfairly, in a bad light because she's sort of blonde and her looks are promoted.

First, she said that because she'd lost to Justine the previous four times, she had to do things differently. She said she had to do a total 360...in which case my cutie Belgian should have won again.

Second, she hopped as she raised the lidded trophy, spilling the lid which clattered on the court. I believe Sampras or Agassi almost committed this faux pas one year. (Was it Sampras at Wimbledon?) But neither is going to get the dumb blonde insult. They weren't blonde, and they were balding. That's just the way the world works right now.

That poor girl. I'm happy for her and I enjoyed the match. I adore the tennis slams. But it's so sad when players demonstrate the sort of clumsiness I normally associate only with people like myself.

Only I don't drop trophy lids. I drop hot pans. (NOTE: Reread that if you read "hot pants.") And I don't say "a total 360" during awards acceptance speeches. I say it during job interviews or when trying to say something witty to a woman I'm blushing inwardly towards up until the moment I say that.

As Milhouse declared in Shelbyville when he discovered his Shelbyville double using words he considered his own: "That's that thing I say!"

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