Sunday, June 1, 2008

Dear Over-Tanned ESPN Anchor: You Are Dumb

Not to be outdone, some random ESPN-anchor bonehead wearing too much makeup over his fake tan came up with this gem yesterday: The French Open has never been kind to the Americans.

Actually, that’s a flat-out lie and it only reinforces the whiny-baby attitude that our current US players adopt every time they’re forced to show up at the French. “We hate clay!” they cry. “It’s so European!” they scream. “It’s too slow!” they bawl. Enough already. Our players aren’t setting the world on fire, but they are good enough to win a few rounds at the French. They just aren’t mentally tough enough to figure it out.

As for the historical statement that the French Open has “never” been kind to Americans, that simply sells the Americans short. They haven’t dominated the way they did at Wimbledon, but no player won more most singles championships in the modern era than Chris Evert-7. American. In fact, since 1925, the America ladies have racked up 27 championships. Impressive, non?

It’s true that the American men have had several long droughts at the French.  Non-French players rarely participated in the French Championships before 1925. After ’25, Frank Parker won twice (’48-’49), followed by Budge Patty in ’50 and Tony Trabert in ’54-55. Then there was a long wait until Michael Chang broke through in 1989. Two years later he was joined by back-to-back winner Jim Courier (1991-92). In 1999, Andre Agassi won. Although that represents just four championships in the open era (1968-present), that’s three more than the French men got during the same period.

Even more significant is the number of runner-up appearances notched by the American men in the Open era. They are: Harold Solomon (’76), Brian Gottfried (’77), Vitas Guerilitas (’80), John McEnroe (’84), Andre Agassi (’91 losing to Jim Courier), Jim Couier (’93), Michael Chang (1995). That’s seven appearances, including an all-American final.

If ESPN wants to argue that the American men have stunk up the joint on clay in recent years, I will readily agree. These years have produced a record number of clay-court specialists. But even given the number of experienced clay courters, there is no excuse for American men (and now women) losing unceremoniously in the first two rounds. 

This is just another example of totally ignorant US media. It has been so bad this year that at the end of the French, Cyclops shall bestow an award for Ignorance in Tennis Media.

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