The Week That Was: Hot Times At The US Open

     For years the main weather worry for the United States Tennis Association was rain. It was the impetus for the construction of roofs on Arthur Ashe and the new Louis Armstrong Stadiums.

      Rain hasn’t been much of a factor at the 2018 US Open but extreme heat has been. Ironically even though Ashe has a great air conditioning system (Armstrong is naturally ventilated), the USTA will not allow it to be employed, and rightfully, so since it would be unfair to the competitors playing on the outside courts such as the Grandstand.

       The heat has produced some memorable moments such as Alize Cornet removing her tennis dress and turning it inside out in the middle of a match; a referee giving Nick Kyrgios a pep talk when it looked like he had stopped playing because of the heat; and finally, Andy Murray lashing out at his opponent Fernando Verdasco in their second round match when Verdasco started talking with his coach during a ten-minute rest break from the heat which is a violation of tennis rules.

     John Isner, the top-rated American male player and the only one to make it into the second week of the tournament, said that he has gotten over the pressure of being the great American hope at the US Open. “I felt more pressure about it five or six years ago but I’ve gotten over it. I have had more success in pro tennis than anyone, including myself, could have predicted,” he said philosophically. Andy Roddick was the last American to win the Men’s Open title and that was in 2003.

     Sloane Stephens admired the aesthetics of the new Louis Armstrong Stadium but made it clear that she did not enjoy playing there because of noise. “I could hear people on line at the concessions, the subways, and the airplanes overhead,” she said following her first-round match.

    When I asked her if she planned on filing a protest with either the Women’s Tennis Association or the USTA, she smiled and said that she wouldn’t. “They will see this press conference,” she said with a broad smile.

     Billie Jean King told the press on the red carpet outside Ashe Stadium prior to Opening Night ceremonies that she’d like to see the men’s and women’s tours, the Association of Tennis Professionals and Women’s Tennis Association, merge. “There is always more strength when there is unity,” she said.

     Fubu founder and one of the investor stars on ABC’s “Shark Tank,” Draymond John  also walked the Open’s opening night red carpet. John, who grew up in Hollis and is a Bayside High alum, admitted that he always checks the financial statements of the budding entrepreneurs even though you don’t see it on television. “You only see eight minutes of a three-hour process,” he said..

      Mike Greenberg co-hosted the opening night ceremonies with Billie Jean King at Arthur Ashe Stadium. He is the anchor ESPN’s ratings-challenged morning show, “Get Up!” and he was a bit indignant when I asked him if there is a low ceiling for a sports show audience in that time period.  “I think that you’ll see our numbers pick up in October when the baseball playoffs are underway; the NFL is in full gear; and basketball and hockey are starting up,” he replied.

    CBS Sports held their annual NFL Media Day last Tuesday and almost all of their on-air talent was present.

     Forest Hills High school alum Ian Eagle is the play-by-play voice of CBS’s second team with the incomparable Jim Nantz being the network’s top sports anchor. Ian has also been the longtime TV voice of the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets on YES, and in order to survive that long calling games of that beleaguered franchise you have to possess a great sense of humor which he certainly does have.

    I told Ian that I was watching a Jets preseason game that he was calling while I was in San Diego. “They couldn’t kick, block or tackle,” I told him. “Yes, but other than that they were great!” he replied with a broad smile.   

    Jim Nantz has followed such notables as Francis Ford Coppola and Tom Seaver into the wine business. Six years ago he and his partner, Peter Deustsh, started a Sonoma Valley winery that they appropriately dubbed “The Calling.”  Nantz told me that his biggest sellers are their Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay varieties. When I told him that I prefer Pinot Noir from the Pacific Northwest, he told me that his Pinot Noir, which is sourced from grapes in the Russian River Valley area of California, are every bit as tasty as those from Oregon, Washington, or British Columbia.

     Rich Gannon was an NFL quarterback for parts of 17 seasons before retiring and eventually becoming an analyst for CBS Sports. He had a durable career not just because he possessed a terrific arm but rather because of his smarts that made mediocre teams far better than what they actually were in terms of talent. Viewers who get to watch the games that he broadcasts are beneficiaries of Gannon’s on the money insights.

     One of Rich’s pet peeves with NFL general managers is how they don’t properly value the role of a backup quarterback. “If your starter goes down say in the third week of the season you r year is lost if the backup is like a deer in the headlights. I remember have tough negotiations with Kansas City Chiefs general manager Carl Petersen. I told him that having a solid backup quarterback is like having a good insurance policy in your back pocket,” he told me last Tuesday.

    Speaking of backup quarterbacks, the Giants surprised everyone by cutting Eli Manning’s understudy, Davis Webb. The Giants had the second pick in the 2018 draft and could have chosen from such highly rated signal callers as Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, or Josh Rosen. They chose Penn State running back Saquon Barkley instead leaving most observers to believe that management had faith in Webb to be Eli’s eventual successor.

   Yankees manager Aaron Boone displayed great showmanship on Friday night when he voiced his displeasure with home plate umpire Nic Lentz over his calls of balls and strikes. Lentz threw him out when he got tired of Boone’s heckling from the Yankees dugout. Aaron immediately rushed to home plate and began squatting like a catcher to show him the strikes that he was missing.

     No one can ever accuse Yankees general manager Brian Cashman of ever being asleep behind the wheel. Realizing that Aaron Judge may not be fully recovered from his broken hand for the regular season’s final month he smartly traded with the San Francisco Giants to acquire outfielder and former National League MVP Andrew McCutcheon last Thursday.

    McCutcheon for his part seemed happy to be a Yankee but I get the feeling that he wasn’t thrilled at having to shave his mustache and beard in order to comply with Yankees culture.

     Fall cleaning doesn’t get the same attention that spring cleaning does but getting rid of summer dust and germs is a good idea.

    Swiffer’s Continuous Clean Air Cleaner has a redundant name but its cloth sphere machine, which resembles a small cylindrical stereo speaker, does a fine job of trapping room dust particles.

      Bissell’s AirRam Cordless Vacuum is a lightweight stick that takes up minimal storage space and also removes almost every conceivable particle.

     The fall is the best time to get your flu shot. Another way to stay healthy is to use CleanWell’s botanical hand sanitizer spray and foaming soap particularly if you are a mass transit commuter or you shake a lot of hands..

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