Tag Archives: Bud Collins

Bernie and Hillary spar once again in terrific Dem Debate. Nancy Reagan’s indelible impact on Gen X’ers like me, in one TV clip. And remembering the great Bud Collins, as fine a man tennis has seen

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That was one heck of a newsy weekend, on a lot of fronts, in my world. Two very famous people died (more on them below), my Duke basketball boys lost to North Carolina Saturday night (not crushing because Duke is so undermanned but still, I hate losing to the Heels), Ted Cruz looks like the only person who might be able to stop Donald Trump, and Peyton Manning is going to announce his retirement today (and maybe Maria Sharapova too?)

No way to cover all that in one blog post, so let’s start with with a crucially important Democratic debate from Flint, Mich. Sunday night.

First of all, I don’t know what kind of “presidential debate” this was. Nobody made reference to their penis size, nobody called each other liars, and I don’t think in the whole two hours anyone obsessively bragged about their poll numbers. Weren’t Hillary and Bernie watching the GOP Debate last week, to see how it’s done? Geez, all we got Sunday night was a couple hours on substantive issues, policy, and real answers. Madness!

— In all seriousness, what a damn breath of fresh air this Dem debate was. Actual policy discussion, no ridiculous braggadoccio, and very few insults.  Tweeted NYT columnist Nicholas Kristof: “Listening to tonight’s debate  and the audience, it appears the Democrats and Republicans are competing to lead different countries.”

And said Yahoo!’s Matt Bai: “Watching these GOP and Dem debates isn’t like watching 2 different parties. It’s like watching 2 different political systems entirely.”

— Personally I thought it was another even debate. Hillary was outstanding on the schools question, her “blind spot” when it comes to race, and on guns. Bernie was terrific as always in pushing her about her Wall Street ties, his forcefulness about income inequality, and his fantastic line about mental health (“Either President Clinton or President Sanders is going to invest a lot of money in mental health, and when you watch these Republican debates you know why.”)

— But as a huge Bernie backer, I must admit that an “even” debate doesn’t help. He needs, in boxing parlance, some 10-8 rounds here. He had a strong weekend, winning Kansas and Nebraska and Maine caucuses, but he needs a yuge state win. He needs Michigan, or Florida, or Ohio on March 15 to really turn the tide here.

— I thought Bernie was fantastic and moving, in embracing his Jewishness really for the first time in front of a national audience. But I also think it’s completely ridiculous that in 2016, candidates still get asked about God and religion in their life, when it’s completely irrelevant and immaterial to them doing the job of President.

— Final thought: Bernie has to be careful with his hectoring and his temper and his “Excuse me, don’t interrupt me” like he did a few times tonight. Comes off looking bad.

**Next up today, Sunday brought news of the death of Nancy Reagan, who symbolized so much to so many. For a lot of people, she was a symbol of style of grace, the first lady of the 1980s and the strength behind her husband, Ronald Reagan.

For others, she was a cold, shrewish woman who consulted an astrologer on major decisions and helped her President husband do some terrible things for non-rich white people in that decade.

But for me, and my fellow Generation X’ers? Nancy Reagan will always be associated with three words: “Just Say No.” Her preaching on the drug issue to children was by far what we will remember her for, nevermind that her husband was doing absolutely nothing to help poor and inner-city people get off drugs, or give them economic opportunities besides selling on the corner.

Yep, for us and Nancy, it’ll always be about this “Diff’rent Strokes” episode…

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**Finally today, the tributes have been pouring in since word came down Friday that the great Bud Collins, a wonderful sportswriter and sportscaster of my favorite sport, tennis, had died.

Everyone in tennis has a Bud Collins story, or at least, they do if they’re lucky. As good a sportswriter and broadcaster as he was, he was an even better person. There was no one he didn’t have time for, whether you were from Sports Illustrated or a two-bit weekly with a circulation of 12.

Me? I got a Christmas e-card from Bud and his wife twice, and felt honored. I had interviewed the legend a few times by phone that year for a few freelance stories I wrote for Tennis Week magazine, and thoroughly enjoyed both conversations.

You couldn’t not enjoy talking to Bud; I saw in one of the tributes to him a comparison to Dick Vitale, in that both were so passionate about their sport that you couldn’t help feeling energized.

I’m sure I got the card because I had first emailed Bud through his wife, Anita, who took care of him in all ways, and that thousands of other people got the same card.

Still, I was excited. I felt, somehow, part of the big, beautiful world of Bud Collins. He made everyone feel that way, and he will be sorely missed.

I hope he’s got a great seat for this year’s French Open up there in heaven.

Here’s the best Bud tribute I’ve read, by the great S.L. Price on SI.com.

 

Some thoughts on a fabulous first week at the U.S. Open. And a football team plays with 10 men to honor a fallen teammate, and scores a TD

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I have been extraordinarily blessed this year in many ways, with the latest wonderful gift my having acquired a full press credential to the 2015 U.S. Open, thanks to the rising fortunes of my American junior star Reilly Opelka, who I’ve been covering for a long time.

As such, I have been here at Flushing Meadows almost non-stop since Tuesday morning, and am enjoying every damn second of it. I’ve been doing some freelancing for new places (hello, Buffalo News and Wilmington News-Journal readers!), hob-nobbing with some of my tennis writing/broadcasting heroes (spent five minutes with the amazing Mary Carillo Sunday; she’s fantastic) and seeing some fabulous tennis.

I’ll try to keep this relatively coherent but my brain’s been overloaded with lots of great stuff and I’ve been in the sun a lot this week.

Herewith, some thoughts from a fantastic opening seven days of the U.S. Open…

— Best thing I’ve seen, Part 1: Donald Young, a former phenom who was once hyped as the future of American tennis, but then never quite lived up to it. I saw him on Court 17 Tuesday come back from two sets down to beat the No. 11 seed, Gilles Simon.
Then, improbably, he fell behind two sets again on Friday, to Viktor Troicki on the Grandstand court, the best place to watch a match here. With the crowd going nuts on every point, Young fought back to win the final three sets, punctuating the win on match point here.

I was at the top of the stands for the final set, and it was an insane atmosphere; crowd was screaming on every point, and even the yahoos chanting “U-S-A!” U-S-A-!” didn’t bother me that much. (OK I lied, it did bother me. Does every international sporting event have to turn into a xenophobic “we’re No. 1” contest?)

Nothing better than the Grandstand court during a great match.

— Best thing I saw, Part II: The last U.S. Open match of Lleyton Hewitt was also fabulous on Thursday; he played fellow Aussie Bernard Tomic, and believe me when I tell you a stadium full of Australian fans cheering and chanting is about as much fun as it gets. Hewitt got down two sets, won the next two, went up 5-3 in the fifth, and then somehow lost the last four games. Again, the crowd made it special.

— You really don’t appreciate how hard, and how accurate, pro tennis players hit the ball until you sit down close. Madison Keys on Friday night hit the cleanest, most powerful shots I saw all week. She obliterated her opponent, and I thought for sure she had a good chance to beat Serena Williams yesterday.

And she didn’t come close. That’s how good Serena Williams is.

— Two Serena thoughts: 1, She first won the Open in 1999, and now she’s going to win it in 2015. Sixteen years apart, that’s never been done before. 2, she plays Venus on Tuesday night, and how dramatic and incredible would be if her big sister stopped her Grand Slam?

— Did a mid-tournament podcast with my Twitter e-migos Jonathan and James over at The Body Serve; give it a listen here if you want to hear three tennis nuts have a good time.

— So here’s something I wished I’d seen: A flying drone crashed in Louis Armstrong Stadium Thursday. During a match. Didn’t hurt anybody, thankfully. But that had to have been weird to see.

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— They honored the legendary tennis writer/broadcaster Bud Collins Sunday morning in a dedication ceremony, officially naming the media center after him. It was a sweet, beautiful tribute, with Billie Jean King, Martina Navratilova and other luminaries there. Two great pieces on Bud that I read Sunday: this one by Jon Wertheim of Sports Illustrated, and Mike Lupica, Bud’s best friend in the media, penned an ode to Bud as well.

— Nothing like seeing the “professionalism” of European media members openly cheering loudly at matches for their countrymen. That would be, um, frowned upon here in the U.S.

— Finally, this bothered me to no end: I saw a bunch of people throughout the week dragging strollers with babies in them around the grounds. Really? This seemed like a good idea, bringing your baby or toddler to the Open for 7-8 hours in 90-degree heat, schlepping them up and down stadium stairs? Sometimes I just don’t get people.

**Finally today, Arkansas Tech is a Division II college football team, and earlier this year a teammate, Zemaric Holt, unexpectedly died at age 21.

He was a defensive player, so to honor him, Arkansas Tech decided to start the first game of the season, on the first play, with only 10 men on defense.

And then this happened…

Very cool…

Good News Friday: Four guys get childbirth labor pain simulated on them. Bud Collins gets a very cool tennis honor. And an oldie but goodie: Young love and a first kiss

Of all the good news we could celebrate today, I think the fact that none of those 10 stooges on stage at the GOP Presidential Debate last night are actually President, you know, now, and hopefully never will be in the future. Man oh man, what a shitstorm that thing was, and I only watched half of it.

OK, on to the real good news of the week:

First up, I thought this was fascinating, and it’s good news because in just a few minutes it finally and truly showed men what women go through when pushing the human they’ve been growing for nine months, out of their body.

These gentlemen called “The Try Guys” do interesting stunts all the time, but this was definitely the bravest and coolest: They literally asked doctors to simulate what it would feel like to give birth. And the results are shockingly painful.
Sign me up! (Not really). Seriously though, all credit to these dudes for trying this.

See women, men DO feel your pain sometimes.

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**Next up today, one of my all-time idols just got awarded a very cool honor. Bud Collins, the incredibly talented sportswriter/sportscaster who’s covered tennis since the sport was invented, practically, is not in great health these days, and sadly it’s been years since he’s been seen on a tennis broadcast.

But in honor of his decades of brilliance, and kindness toward others (seriously, he’s like the nicest man ever, and I say that from a few brief but awesome personal encounters), the U.S. Tennis Association has decided to name the media center at the U.S. Open after Bud.

Very cool. Every journalist who steps foot in that room (as I will be lucky enough to do again in a few weeks) owes a debt of gratitude to one of the trailblazers of the profession.

Even better news is Bud’s Twitter feed says the 86-year-old is recovering

**Finally today, I’ll be honest: I could’ve spent some more time searching and searching for a third GNF item. But I’m tired and it’s late and I love this video so much that I just like sharing it once in a while; I think I’ve run it twice before, but it makes me smile every time I see it: Bowie and Elliott, two little kids, and a first kiss: The look on Elliott’s face at the 53-second mark is the greatest thing ever.

The robot that always wins at rock-paper-scissors. Introducing “Anti-semitic Elmo,” definitely not the real one. And a loving tribute to the great Bud Collins

I’m fascinated by stories of robots taking over the world. Yes, I know I’m weird. But every time a robot learns to do something human, I get a little more frightened.

However, this above video cracked me up.  Scientists in Tokyo have created a robot named Janken that wins every single time at Rock Paper Scissors. I was mesmerized and realized the only hope we have against this robot? Dr. Sheldon Cooper, and “Rock Paper Scissors Lizard Spock.”

**Well here’s something altogether disturbing and weird: A man dressed as the famous Sesame Street character Elmo wandered a park in New York City the other day, spewing anti-Semitic filth and probably scaring a few kids in the process.
I’m reasonably certain this isn’t the real Elmo, a story backed up at that link above. But that leads to another troubling question: You mean there’s more than one Elmo in the world????

**Finally, it’s been a pretty interesting first few days at Wimbledon. Venus Williams lost, a new young American star continues to bloom (remember the name Sloane Stephens, a very talented teenager), and Roger Federer looks awesome as usual.

But it’s different there, because Bud Collins isn’t around. The greatest writer/broadcaster of tennis of all time, Bud is a Hall of Fame person and writer (and his pants were always pretty fantastic), but after 43 straight years at Wimbledon, he’s dealing with some health issues and is missing the tournament.
I’ve interviewed Bud a few times, and he’s as classy as his reputation indicates. He didn’t care if you were from the New York Times or a weekly in East Podunk; Bud always made time for you, and always spoke with enthusiasm.

Steve Flink, a terrific writer in his own right, has penned this sweet tribute to Bud that is worth your time.

Assisted suicide should be legal

While I completely disagree, I understand rationally and logically why so many people believe abortion should be illegal.

And while I completely disagree, I understand why the idea of euthanasia, or assisted suicide, freaks so many people out, and creates such strong reactions in people.

Who gets to say that another person’s life should end? Why do they get to decide that that person shouldn’t breathe anymore?

But ever since I heard about the concept of euthanasia many years ago, I’ve been in favor of its legality. Of course in this country, assisted suicide is illegal. Despite the best efforts of Dr. Jack Kevorkian in Michigan in the 1990s, you’re not allowed to end someone else’s life, unless you’re a physician in a hospital.

But I think the huge objection people have about assisted suicide is that it will be arbitrary and unnecessary, like there will be a whole slew of older folks just going around offing each other.

When I think of why I’m in favor of it, I think of suffering I’ve seen, older people who no longer are capable of taking care of themselves, or have unbelievably painful illnesses.

Should someone who’s suffering from the final stages of Alzheimer’s be forced to live out their final days without being aware of anyone or anything around them? What’s the sin of a loved one peacefully ending the life of someone suffering from ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease)?

I think the decision to end the life of a loved one is an unbelievably difficult one, but it’s one that loved ones should be allowed to make. It’s not murder, as some have called it. It’s the most humane thing to do in some cases.

I bring all this up because I was just reading a N.Y. Times story today about England appearing to slightly relax its laws about the issue.  While not quite making it legal, the story says that the country’s top prosecutor created a list of conditions under which his office would be unlikely to prosecute people who helped friends or relatives kill themselves.

Basically, the prosecutor is saying he’d look the other way under certain circumstances.

I’m not naive enough to think America is ready to pass any assisted suicide laws making it legal; Oregon is the only state that allows it right now.

But even if this is happening in England, it’s a step in the right direction.

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**From the category of “Fascinating Fact I Learned Today,”  I was listening to an NPR podcast and they mentioned that Bud Collins was being inducted into the Brandeis University Hall of Fame this weekend; apparently he was the tennis coach there from 1959-63.

But that’s not what blew me away. It was this: One of his star players was Abbie Hoffman. Yep, the 60s radical, lunatic but biazarrely entertaining guy who led the Yippies and then was a fugitive from the law for more than 10 years.

What a bizarre couple that must’ve been, Abbie and Bud. If you’re as curious as I am, Bud wrote about Abbie in this 1979 Sports Illustrated article.