Every year, as sure as the leaves fall off the trees in New Hampshire, Aaron Krickstein shows up on CBS’ U.S. Open coverage during a rain delay.
He’s forever frozen in time in our eyes on that day in September, 1991,when as a 24-year-old he played Jimmy Connors in a fourth round match at the U.S. Open.
Every year, we get to see Krickstein battle Connors, with just about the entire crowd against the Jewish kid from Michigan, and for his 39-year-old, fists-pumping, expletive-spewing opponent (If you think what Serena Williams said last week was bad, you should’ve heard Jimbo during this match).
Every year I watch, Krickstein loses in a fifth-set tiebreaker. Still, I kind of root for him each time. It’s like watching an old movie where you know the bad guy loses at the end but you think, well, maybe this time he won’t run into that alley into the line of police cars waiting for him.
Watching a little of the Krickstein-Connors match last weekend, I got to thinking about how unfair sports is to some people, when their entire careers are remembered for one moment, or one game.
Aaron Krickstein was once No. 6 in the world tennis rankings, but all anyone remembers about him is that he lost that epic match to Connors. Ralph Branca, (a hell of a nice man, by the way) won 88 games in the major leagues, but he’s known to history as the guy who gave up the pennant-winning home run to Bobby Thomson in 1951.
Bill Buckner had over 2,500 hits in a great career, but now he’s just the bad fielding old first baseman who let Mookie Wilson’s grounder get through his legs in the ’86 World Series. Scott Norwood was a solid NFL field goal kicker, but because he missed a game-winning field goal for the Buffalo Bills in the Super Bowl, his name is mud to many.
There are so many examples of these guys in sports; Nick Anderson, Jackie Smith, Fred Merkle … and I wonder, how do they handle it? How do they walk around and go to the supermarket and the dry cleaners and the mall, knowing they might get recognized and all people want to talk about is the worst moment of their career? How do they feel every time someone blows a big game and ESPN puts them on a list of “biggest sports chokers” or something like that?
I hope Aaron Krickstein is happy today in 2009, wherever he is. I hope he can appreciate his place in history for what it is, and realize that some guys don’t even get remembered at all.
Couple other quick Thursday thoughts:
— Max Baucus’ health care plan: No public option, covers only 30 million uninsured, and not even the Republicans he completely caved in to like it. Yeah, I’ll pass, thanks. God, you know a proposed bill is bad when EVERYONE agrees it’s terrible and starts lobbing grenades at it.
Rachel Maddow, who continues to be brilliant, said it best and I’ll say it again: Why the hell is Baucus caving to Republicans on this, when Dems are so clearly in the majority? Do the right thing, push a truly universal plan through, and let’s move on the 27 million other F’ed up things that need fixing after 8 years of W.
–Finally, this is another one of those stories that could only happen in the South. A South Carolina high school cheerleader killed a 350-pound alligator the other day. God I love stories like this. I’m wondering, though, do you think the next time her school plays a team named the “Gators” she might get flashbacks? Will Tim Tebow haunt her dreams? And more importantly, this is what teenagers in South Carolina do for a good time?
I’m just brimming with questions right now.