Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The problem with GOAT-hood

[The G.O.A.T.]
At the top of the rankings erectly he stood
Lay ee odl lay ee odl lay hee hoo
Proud was the stance of the Swiss GOAT-herd
Lay ee odl lay ee odl-oo
Loudly they declared him the best in GOAT-land
Lay ee odl lay ee odl lay hee hoo
Winning most of the trophies in all Tennis-land
Lay ee odl lay ee odl-oo

[94 Fans sing…]
Revenge is a dish best served cold or colder

Our Duck is the one who got bolder and bolder

How dare they declare me 94
th in tennis?
Lay ee odl lay ee odl lay hee hoo
What must I do to get rid of this menace?
Lay ee odl lay ee odl-oo
Miami will be mine, this day I promise
Lay ee odl lay ee odl lay hee hoo
The G.O.A.T. will be crushed with my bare fist!
Lay ee odl lay ee odl-oo

[94 Fans croon…]
Revenge is a dish best served cold or colder

How much life could there be in that aging shoulder?

[The G.O.A.T.]
I wish they had waited until I’d retired
Lay ee odl lay ee odl lay hee hoo
Calling me G.O.A.T. has clearly misfired
Lay ee odl lay ee odl-oo
Duckboy came out there totally inspired
Lay ee odl lay ee odl lay hee hoo
By memories of Wimby, and he never tired
Lay ee odl lay ee odl-oo

[94 Fans shout…]
Revenge is a dish best served cold or colder

The G.O.A.T. will regret getting one day older

You call that a G.O.A.T.? That name is MINE.
Lay ee odl lay ee odl lay hee hoo
I predict even more losses down the line.
Lay ee odl lay ee odl-oo
How dare they rank me 5th behind two women?
Lay ee odl lay ee odl lay hee hoo
Women shouldn’t even be in the Top Ten!

Lay ee odl lay ee odl-oo

[94 Fans chant…]
Revenge is a dish best served cold or colder

It’s time the G.O.A.T. learned he’s just a place holder.

(all rights remain)

Monday, March 26, 2012

A question I would like to ask Venus

Welcome  back Venus Williams. On the one hand, yes, I am happy that you are back. You are great for women’s tennis. The WTA benefits from your appearance at events. The sport itself is grateful that you are choosing to hang around. Fans show up by the thousands to watch you play because you bring a level of athleticism to the sport that has raised the bar and embarrassed many of your opponents into fitness. Even non-fans tune in to see how badly you will whup their faves. Or at least to eye what you are wearing because you are always guaranteed to be dressed like no one else.

But there is one question I’d like to ask Venus Williams if I could. I know that she would not answer because her nature has always been private. So even if I were to show up at a post-match interview in Miami, I probably won’t waste the breaths asking her this, because I know that her reply would be something canned and inauthentic. But I hope that there are people close to her to whom she would answer this question honestly.
And my question is this: “Why are you doing this?” And the reason I would ask is because she makes playing tennis seem so joyless and painful. I like her determination to win -- especially in that third set against Kvitova -- but I can’t help but wonder if this is the right thing for her to be doing at this time, given the apparent fragility of her health.
In September 2011 Venus informed the tennis world that she had been diagnosed with Sjogren's Syndrome, a a rare auto-immune disease that diminishes energy levels and causes fatigue and joint pain. Not six months later she is back on the tennis court under the sweltering heat and intense competition of Miami. My question is, why?
Is it that her condition is not that serious? In which case she owes her fans this information so that they will not worry about her. After all, initial announcements described this as a chronic condition. What did she do to cure herself of it in less than six months? I’m sure that there are medical minds that seriously want to know.
Or is Venus wanting to show the world that being diagnosed with Sjogren's Syndrome does not have to be a death sentence? In which case part of me says more power to her, even as the other part is wondering if she may be being somewhat foolhardy.
Because surely it’s not the money. Venus is rich as dirt. And besides, Richard had predicted that his daughters would abandon tennis to become business-women by now. Venus has tried her hand at interior decorating and fashion design. Did these businesses fail? Is tennis her only resort? Are there slews of people she is supporting?
What’s the benefit to her for playing tennis at this time? Did she miss the spotlight? Is she addicted to our attention? Does she really believe that she can win Slams again when it took her three sets and almost three hours to put away the 65th ranked Wozniak (whom everyone kept calling Wozniacki, which must be majorly annoying)?
Or is Venus playing for the mere love of the sport? I certainly hope that this is the case. The fanatic in me gets that. That’s because I love tennis and hope to play until I am old and rickety. But if Venus loves tennis that much, can she tell me why playing it always seems to be such a grim joyless experience for her?
There is so much intensity to her matches, so much screaming, so much emotional pushing of self to the brink. Surely that cannot be good for her overall health? Surely wherever and whomever they are, her medical providers must be telling her that the mind and body affect each other, and that anything that causes her to be so mentally worked-up cannot at all be good for a body that is busy attacking itself?
So if she is out there only because of her love of the sport, would Venus mind terribly dialing down the screaming and occasionally putting a smile on her face? That would enhance my enjoyment very much. And it might even work wonders for her health.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The G.O.A.T. has been declared!

Long live the GOAT!!! May his career continue to thrive. May he win a couple more Slams to silence the qualms of the doubters. May his loins bring forth more fruit, with or without penises, so that his dynasty goes on into another generation. And may Anna Wintour, the fashion witch, please find someone else to haunt so that his current run of luck remains untainted, unblocked, unsullied.

Of course I never doubted for a second. And yes I am sure that there are Rafaelites out there currently choking with rage. But they really need to get over themselves. Just because Rafa has a winning record over my Fed on clay, and just because he beat him on grass in a match that should have been ended for lack of sunlight, and just because Rafa hired some hack journalist to write an obsessive book about said match because it will remain his greatest victory ever and he clearly knows it – none of these change the fact that the experts ranked Rafa 6th best in the world and declared Federer the Greatest Tennis Player of All Time. Wherever he is right now Uncle Toni must be choking with rage.

And did you catch the reluctance with which SamprASS made the admission? Talk about choking. I'm not sure if it was with just rage. His manner seemed to me to contain a side order of bitterness. And who can blame him, really? Because for years he was made out to be the G.O.A.T. An American was supposed to carry this honor, not some dude from a country that doesn't even know how to properly wage war.

Am I gloating? Possibly yes, and can you blame me? Ever since Rafa appeared on the scene people have been making like he was the one to dethrone my G.O.A.T. I insisted that as talented as he was – and he is, never doubt that – one of Rafa's weaknesses is that his game is predictable. And once a player's game becomes predictable, once you can anticipate his every move – then he becomes beatable. It was just a matter of time.

The great ones are the ones who can keep improving, changing things up, mixing and matching, surprising their opponents, making us the viewers gasp with surprise. The great ones don't just have a winning season. They are not flashes in the pan. They don't flare and then burn out. They endure.

Another reason why I believe that Rafa will never be declared the G.O.A.T. is because of the price he has had to pay for the physicality of his game. I will never forget the image of Rafa collapsing in that interview. It was terrifying to see him literally faint with fatigue. And then there are there are the images of him trying not to grimace in pain, frighteningly unable to stand in Australia after losing in five sets to Djokovic.

The price of Rafa's success has been inordinate. The abuse of his body has been excessive. Yes he will continue to win matches, but his career will never have the longevity of an Agassi. And Rafa has admitted that it irks him when people say this. But as the Mighty Sparrow would say, sixty million Frenchmen can't be wrong Rafa. Yes that seems random but the Calypso G.O.A.T. is reportedly at death's door and I mean to honor him as well.

If you don't know about The Mighty Sparrow you can thank me for introducing you to him. He was born in Grenada but claimed Trinidad as his home. And Trinidad claimed him right back. And he is the greatest calypsonian to ever sing this art form. He was witty, vulgar, irreverent, and talented for days. No matter what ever happens in the world of calypso he will forever be the greatest in this field, ever. Sure there have been challengers along the way, but there will always and forever be only one Mighty Sparrow. That's how greatness works.

But the problem with greatness is that it inspires jealousy. Instead of people celebrating your achievements, they become increasingly inspired to knock you down. And this dynamic is important because the great ones inspire others to be better than they thought they could be. There could have been no Rafa without Federer. There could have been no Djokovic without Federer. No Raonic, no Tomic, no Tsonga – all these players have been inspired by the man who dominated tennis for most of the last decade.

And what I admire most about Federer is that he dominated with such class. He has been the players' choice for many years to represent their needs to the ATP. He has been an unselfish leader of the sport. No he is perfect, I don't mean to give this impression. Indeed, the great ones are always flawed. They have Achilles heels that others can exploit. But that too is part of greatness. It takes courage to be the best, not just talent. It takes courage to rise above your weaknesses and strive to be the best ever. Congratulations Mr. Federer. This is an honor well-deserved and long overdue in its declaration.