Standing O for Martina Navratilova

Sunday, September 10th, 2006, 1:04 am

Before I begin a late-night rant, let me ask a question: where does the mixed doubles title Martina Navratilova won tonight at the US Open rank on the all-time Are You Kidding Me list? Navratilova turns FIFTY next month. FIFTY YEARS OLD. And she’s still winning Grand Slam titles. That is un-befreakingly-believable. That’s awe-inspiring. Now, doubles isn’t as physically taxing as singles. You don’t do as much running. But unless you like having a perpetually-broken nose and a standing appointment at your dentist’s, your reflexes had better be sharp. And Navratilova, at FIFTY YEARS OLD, is still a world-class doubles player.

And I think this needs emphasized–she’s playing against MEN. Young men, in their physical primes. The boys are allowed to hit at the girls, there’s no taking turns. The team across the net from Martina can huddle together and say, “Every shot, hit it at Grandma”. And they STILL couldn’t beat her.

Well, her and her partner Bob Black, who is one of the best doubles players in the world (he and his brother are the #1 men’s doubles team). But still, I don’t care if Martina is playing with a clone of John McEnroe in his prime. It is an absolutely stunning achievement, and one that really hasn’t gotten much play in the sporting press. Andre Agassi deserved every bit of attention he received, especially after his magnificent match with Baghdatis, but Martina’s victory should also be heralded far and wide. Especially as this was, sadly, her final match. She’s hanging it up, again, after her first retirement in 1994. She won 59 Grand Slam titles, in singles, doubles, and mixed. Fifty-Nine. A-mazing.

Know what else is amazing? You know how when you’re playing poker, and you have a pair, and you flop a set…know how great that is? Or when you have an open-ended straight draw, and you hit it on the turn, and the other guy leads out betting? Isn’t that awesome? Well, I wouldn’t know. Good Lord, what a dreadful week it’s been. True, I’ve only dropped about 10% of my bankroll, which isn’t big to begin with, but, as I just said, Good Lord.

My recent record in SNGs is simply appalling. The four I’ve won I’ve had to get ridiculously lucky at some point to even get in the money. If it wasn’t for those four wins, eww, we’d be talking about some real carnage. Then again, I’ve also bubbled about ten times this week, in every hideous way imaginable. I’ve gone card dead, been sucked out on, and run my big hands into monsters.

You know of whence I speak. I’m mostly writing this for catharsis. I don’t think I’m playing that well, to be honest, but the cards and the breaks aren’t making things easier. Need to clear the head, plug some leaks, play better.

Much like my Nittany Lions, who didn’t even bother to show up in South Bend. One of the worst performances I’ve ever seen from Penn State. How can a Division I football team not have a single player capable of holding the ball for the kicker? They’ve muffed the hold on THREE field-goal attempts in two games.

I also saw some disturbing signs in the play-calling today, signs that made me fear that the influence of Jay Paterno is making itself felt again. First of all, Morelli isn’t Michael Robinson. He’s a classic drop-back passer. What the HELL is he doing running the goddam option? When you’re down by three touchdowns? That wasn’t the worst call of the day, however. Heck, the worst call wasn’t even Paterno’s decision to kick a FG in the third quarter while down 27-0. What the hell good does THAT do?

No, the worst call was, with the score a laughable 38-3, Penn State ran a play with Morelli split out wide and Derrick Williams under center. Williams rolled out left and got clobbered before he could get his pass off. Um, you’re down by five touchdowns. Anyone wanna explain what the HELL you’re doing taking your best WR and making him into the GODDAM QUARTERBACK? Exactly how are you going to fool the defense? They’re in a prevent already, and they sure as hell aren’t going to be concerned about Morelli catching a pass. So you’re playing ten on eleven, with a guy not used to throwing the ball under center, and the defense hanging back and not really too concerned if he runs. I hope to hell someone asked Paterno about this. I’d like to know who the hell came up with that one.

OK, tomorrow is another day. I’ll be in a better mood then.

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