Tag Archives: Kei Nishikori

So this is me turning 40? I’m very happy with that. And the worst pro tennis shot you’ll see all year

MichaelandNate

On August 17, 2005, I turned 30. I wrote a fun little column that day for the newspaper I was working for at the time about the milestone.

I complained about my hairline (that hasn’t changed), I excitedly mentioned I was about to get married (yeah, that one didn’t work out too well, but I got it right the second time), and I talked about being slightly depressed at the big 3-0.
This is the last paragraph of that column:

Besides, I thought to myself earlier, when I’m 40, I’ll be dying to go back to the days I was in my thirties.

Perspective is a beautiful thing.

I went and looked up that article Sunday night, just for fun, to remind myself what 30-year-old me used to think.

Turns out I was dead wrong. I turn 40 today, and I don’t want to go back to my early thirties at all.

I am living an incredibly charmed and blessed life these days. I have found the perfect soulmate, a woman who complements and compliments me, who truly loves and understands me and makes me incredibly happy.

I’ve got that little fella in the photo above; at 30, I couldn’t change a diaper, put together a sippy cup, or figure out how to avoid stepping on 17 baby toys all on the way from the bathroom to the kitchen.
I now know how to do those things. And my life is immeasurably better for it, and for helping bring that boy into the world 11 months ago.

michael40.peterluger.cropped

I have wonderful friends, some I’ve had for all four decades of my life, some newer ones who’ve become so cherished. I have an amazing family, most of whom helped me celebrate the big 4-0 over the weekend at Peter Luger’s steakhouse in Brooklyn (even my best friend Clay, a devout vegetarian, couldn’t resist the famous steak there.)

I do fulfilling work as a stay-at-home father, seeing every small change in my little guy and cherishing every moment we have together (OK, not every moment. The ones where he’s screaming and his lower lip is quivering and I have no Earthly idea what to try next? Those moments aren’t scrapbook material.)

I have plenty of freelance work to keep me busy, I enjoy my occasional substitute teaching gig, and since my last birthday I’ve found incredibly rewarding volunteer writing opportunities with the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation, filled with sensational people bursting with good hearts. I’ve learned more about courage this past year, talking to parents and kids dealing with brain tumors, than I ever learned covering pro athletes.

My life is as good as it’s ever been, and I’m not interested in going back to being 30, or even 20.

Thirty was better than 20, and 40 is better than 30.

Can’t wait to see what 50 will bring.

**Finally today, it’s late August, the U.S. Open is two weeks away (I can barely contain my excitement), so here’s a little bizarre tennis shot for you. Kei Nishikori is one of the top five players in the world, but even he once in a while hits a shot that your average weekend hacker could do better.

Seriously, this is pretty hideous at the :16 mark.

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The NFL and Ray Rice: What a bunch of phonies and hypocrites. And a most unlikely U.S. Open men’s champion is crowned

I was nauseated by this Ray Rice situation Monday.
Not by the act itself, because we’ve all known for months that Ray Rice beat his fiance unconscious in an Atlantic City elevator, and what a deplorable act that was.
And we’ve known for months that the NFL completely dropped the ball and insulted women everywhere by pathetically suspending Rice for only two games.

No, what made me want to toss my cookies was the shear phoniness and cowardice of the NFL, suddenly acting all tough on Ray Rice once TMZ leaked the video from inside the elevator, which showed Rice just unloading with a huge left fist right to the face of Janay Palmer, then showing no remorse or concern at all while dragging her out of the elevator.

“Oh my,” the NFL and the Baltimore Ravens basically said. “We knew Rice had hit her, and she was knocked unconscious, and we were fine with letting him get away with that except for a measly two-game suspension. But OOOO, when the whole world sees the video of the act, well then we are shocked, horrified and outraged! Get that man out of our league immediately!” (Tweet from the NYT’s Lynn Zinser about sums it up: “We were totally OK with Ray Rice clobbering his wife until you all watched it on video.”

Puh-lease. What a joke. You’re going to tell me the NFL didn’t see this video until Monday? This is a league that gives a shit about players’ sock heights, suddenly they didn’t investigate to see what was on the Rice tape? If you believe that, I’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.

The phony outrage Monday, give me a break. How in the hell did Roger Goodell, and the Ravens, think Palmer had gotten knocked out in the first place? Suddenly Rice’s crime is worth throwing him out of the league for NOW, but not two months ago?

I swear, the NFL has become harder and harder to take. The hypocrisy is stunning. Keith Olbermann has the best take (above).

(For a nice NFL-related palatte-cleanser, check out this story of one team doing very, very good by a player.)

Cilic.USOPEN

**For so long, men’s tennis has been delightfully predictable. You knew at the end of the Grand Slam tournaments, either Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal would be holding the trophy and smiling broadly. (OK, Andy Murray snuck in there twice).
It was glorious, and the tennis was great, but it was pretty much guaranteed that one of them would win.
So I was totally flummoxed Monday night when I sat down to watch … Kei Nishikori and Marin Cilic in the U.S. Open men’s final. And unfortunately, despite my expectations of a tight, exciting match, it was as one-sided as the women’s final was. Nishikori was clearly out of gas after a series of epic wins last week, and had no legs left for the final.
Marin Cilic, for two weeks, has been in that indescribable place athletes and sportswriters call “the zone.” Every serve was perfect, every backhand stung down the line, every volley perfectly placed. It was incredible to see a guy who’s always had so much talent finally harness it for two weeks, and reach the pinnacle of the sport.

He’s a great story, Cilic, as he missed the Open last year after being suspended for taking a “banned substance,” which in this case was a glucose tablet his Mom had given him (hey, our Mom gives us something, we take it, right? I actually believe Cilic wasn’t trying to cheat).

Will Cilic keep this up and become a force in the game? I doubt it. I think this was a magical run by him that won’t ever be repeated, and his ranking will linger between 10-20 for several more years.

But man, it sure was a magical run. Bravo to him on finishing off a truly stunning U.S. Open.
(And now I pause for sadness, realizing the next Slam isn’t until January in Australia.)

The Jets dominate and survive as the NFL returns! Ireland’s wacky “Armagaydon”. And Serena cruises to another U.S. Open title

chrisivory

Football’s back!
Yeah yeah, I know college football started last week, but to me, the first Sunday of the NFL season is the real start of football season.
I love the first Sunday. I love seeing way more people in the sports bar than normal, because everybody’s fired up about their team, they’ve missed the sport, and they’re convinced their favorite team is going to win (hey, everyone’s undefeated at this point!).
I love trying to re-teach my brain how to watch 5 games at once. I love tricking myself into thinking the Jets will be good this year. And I really love the drunk moron in the bar (there’s always one) taunting other fans because he’s drunk and thinks he’s being funny.

Ah, football, I’ve missed you so. Some quick-hit thoughts from a pretty compelling week 1.
— I start with the Jets, of course. That was the most dominating five-point win you’ll see, since my boys shot themselves in the foot so many times the game wasn’t the blowout it should’ve been. Geno Smith looked mostly good (that’s different from mostly dead, right Miracle Max?) except for two killer turnovers, the running game looked fantastic, and the defense was stellar (albeit against a terrible team).

Jets will get creamed at Lambeau next week, I’m sure, but this was an encouraging start.

— It’s always a wonderful day when the Jets win and the Patriots lose. Boy that improved Pats’ D didn’t look so improved on Sunday.
— I’ve never NOT been entertained in recent years by a Saints-Falcons game. They play shootouts every single time. Matty Ryan was sensational on Sunday.

— Ah, Tony Romo, so good to have you back. My great friend Tony put it best about gunslingin’ No. 8, who threw three picks Sunday: “Tony Romo: the man with a Brett Favre mentality without Brett Favre ability.”

— Um, RGIII? What the hell happened to you? Man did the Redskins look awful. Poor RGIII hasn’t been the same since injuring his knee in that playoff game two years ago; he may never be the same again. Mike Shanahan, the blood of his career is on your hands.

— I know they lost, but man, Andrew Luck is some kind of terrific quarterback. Indy fans are so spoiled, getting Peyton and then him back-to-back.

– Did you see the clip of the Steelers player karate-kicking the Browns punter in the face? I mean, come on, that’s awful!

**Next up today, I thought this was very clever. Marriage-equality proponents in Ireland made this ad leading up to a vote for same-sex marriage, about what would “happen” if it were legalized. How do you deal with the “Armagayddon?” Hide all the women and children!

serenajumping

**Finally today, Serena Williams won a third straight U.S. Open title Sunday, routing Caroline Wozniacki, 6-3, 6-3. I’ve said the following on here several times but it’s worth saying again: I strongly dislike Serena as an athlete, for her comportment and lack of decency on the court (not just for screaming at linespeople when she foot-faults), and her arrogance and condescension off the court.

But I also admire the hell out of her career, and marvel at how when she’s playing well, like she did the past two weeks, she’s the best player women’s tennis has seen.
I would love to see her in her prime, up against Steffi Graf and Martina Navratilova, because for the past decade, when Serena is at her best, she’s miles ahead of the rest. An incredible, one-of-a-kind athlete wbo simply cannot be matched.

As for the men’s final today, shoot, I have no freaking clue who’ll win. I’m still in shock that Djokovic and Federer were so easily dismissed in the semis on Saturday. Kei Nishikori is a rising star, and a Japanese player winning a Slam for the first time would be a great story. But Marin Cilic played out of his mind last week and on Saturday, he’s got a huge serve, and may just be unbeatable right now (I cannot believe I’m saying that about Marin Cilic.)

As disappointed as I am that my man Federer lost, I’m thrilled that men’s tennis has some new blood in a Slam final. I’ll say Nishikori wins in 4.