Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Dead Grass Tells The Tale
I have often said that no sport - not even soccer - contains less traditional "sports radio" fodder than tennis.
This does not mean tennis sucks, or cannot be discussed by avid tennis fans.
No, it just means that the traditional serve and volley of a sports radio show, does not in any way lend itself to discussing tennis.
Last year at tennis' holiest venue, it's two highest profile stars, Federer and Nadal, staged why my tennis geek co-workers called the "match for the ages."
And yet, you couldn't fill half a phone bank as a sports radio host if you tried to talk about it.
Because, honestly, what are you going to say? What strategic decision will you, Joe Fan, second guess between the two players? What style of play, at what point in the match, proved to be the crucial turning point?
What rally, or what shot will you call up breathlessly to remind the radio talk show host: "And remember that long rally, at 40-all in the 2nd set, tied at 3-3? Remember the forehand winner Nadal hit! Amazing! Best shot I ever saw."
Host: "Yeah, well Nadal lost that set. So what's your point?"
Even golf, a sport with a NICHE following itself (please notice how I belittle my own beloved game) is capable of generating sports radio interest amongst casual fans. And it need not necessarily be Tiger Woods related.
Like this year at Augusta, when Phil Mickelson went for broke by lashing a 6-iron through the trees, off the pine-straw, to 8 feet for an easy birdie, it WAS INDEED the turning point of the round, and propelled lefty to Green Blazer Numero Trois!
You can even visualize that shot, with the resulting left handed Phil Phist Pump, if you close your eyes.
You can't visualize a Federer-Nadal rally to stave off set point - they all look to similar. The court never changes, and a laced down-the-line winner looks like... well.. a laced down-the-line winner on pretty much any day of the week.
Please take note, dear fuzzheads, I say all this not to diminish the incredible athletic skill, genius, and mental fortitude of your sports' best and brightest. It just doesn't lend to much common radio yak the next day.
That said, there ARE some - shall I say "global" - tennis issues that could fuel an interesting segment or two. This post I found would certainly be one.
The post discusses how the power-game in tennis has affected the visual and strategic nature of the sport at its highest level. And it does so, using the most low-tech of analytical devices: dead grass.
As a kid, who was wowed by Roscoe Tanner's amazing serve, I nonetheless lamented that this big-cannoned one-trick pony was really no match on most days for artisans like Borg and McEnroe.
Because the game they played - and the game of most players of note back in the tiny-headed, wood-framed days - was one of angles and deftness. You saw more slicing, spinning volleys, half-volleys, and yes, drop shots back then.
Was that game "better" than today's powerfest? I have no idea. I don't bother to make a claim either way.
At this point, I would typically open the phone lines for calls, and see what turns up. You guys can pretend the message section below is your chance to pick up the "phone" and chime in.