By Phil Hecken, with doubles partner Brinke Guthrie
Last week I
threatened promised you I’d be back with my doubles partner, UW West Coast Correspondent Brinke Guthrie, who’ll be joining me today for our “take” on the French Open, the tennis tournament beginning in Paris this coming Monday. This marks our third post together, so I thought you’d like to know a bit more about =bg=. Here’s a brief look at the gentleman who’s playing the ad-court for this post.
Phil Hecken: So, how you did you become interested in uniforms?
Brinke Guthrie: I would think it was due to the KC Chiefs and the Vikings. Loved the Chiefs look, (this was when I was about 8 or 9 growing up in Louisville, Kentucky) and the Vikings helmet. I didn’t know for years that was a Viking helmet horn on the side, but I did go and get Vikings PJ’s and a hoodie (the exact styles shown) from Sears. I then moved to Dallas, walked into the new Texas Stadium, and “How ’bout them Cowboys.” One of those Field of Dreams moments with trumpets and angels.
PH: And how did you find Uni Watch?
BG: I think ’cause some bozo at Creamer’s site got on me about something.
PH: And finally, what are your uni-related or sports-related interests?
BG: Well, the Giants and 49ers, and Cowboys. The A’s are in there a little bit. I used to have real game jerseys of Troy Aikman from Nike and also Apex (the double-star,) and I sold them on eBay. I have probably done stupider things in my life, but right now I can’t think of any.
PH: Heh. Thanks, =bg=.
And now, we begin with Brinke’s portion of the post:
Ah, springtime in Paris. (No, not that Paris.)
When young men and women’s thoughts turn to…………..clay.
Yup, it’s Grand Slam #2. First, they sweat it out in January on the pavement down under, now a test of endurance on the slow red dirt of Stad Roland Garros.*
French tennis has been something of a non sequitur. They’ve had a good player here or there, (the ’83 Noah win practically shut down the country due to the national hysteria) but French tennis is forever defined by the Four Musketeers and that preeminent French style icon, Rene Lacoste. Lacoste was part of the aforementioned French tennis dynasty in the 20’s and 30’s. Yes, it’s been that long.
What did Lacoste do? Besides being a dandy tennis player, he turned the crocodile (or alligator) into a global status symbol. As in La Société Chemise Lacoste. He also happened to invent the famous Jimmy Connors T2000 Wilson frame.
So let’s compare three-time singles champ Lacoste to current four-time defending champ Rafael Nadal.
Coolness of name:
Advantage: Lacoste. I don’t think we need to explain that point. His name is the shirt.
Coolness of attire:
Advantage: Lacoste. It’s a timeless look (though a bit impractical these days) to come out wearing long creme colored trousers and a cap. With a wood racket. Meanwhile, Nadal is known for the clam-digger shorts and tank top. Nike has shoved him into more of a conventional polo shirt look … but the damage has been done. The clam diggers live on forever in Google Images. (Don’t forget the ‘bull’ logo on the shoes.) Plus … Lacoste never got the staredown from Borg: “I still have more titles than you, junior. Six. Count ’em. SIX.”
Ubiquity of logo:
Tie. The alligator and the swoosh are everywhere.
Advantage Nadal. No “ifs”, “ands”, or, um, “butts.”
In all seriousness, you cannot compare the vintage to the modern game. Back then, it was finesse, skill, and touch. Today, it’s sheer power, and Nadal would destroy anyone from back then. It’s a completely different game today in many ways. But one thing remains — for the men, ya still gotta win best of five on the final day, baby.
*And who or what is Roland Garros? Glad you asked.
Some things are just wrong. This is one of them.
Recent past looks in Paris? Well, my favorite look would be the 1980 final. Classic Fila vs. classic Sergio Tacchini. Borg (in a terry-cloth Bj signature shirt and shorts) and the late Vitas Gerulaitis. Current fashion in Paris- nothing too special … except for defending champ Ana, who doesn’t have a chance. Take a look back at French Open fashion trends here.
While they don’t wear “uniforms” per se at the French — they wear “outfits” — there has always been a staid quality to most of the participants … although one of Nike’s original poster boys for outlandish fashion can be somewhat excused. After all, with Agassi, image was everything. A few of today’s stars flaunt flamboyant outfits, like the aforementioned Rafael Nadal. But, as Brinke points out, even he has toned it down a tad.
While bright colors still dominate, it wasn’t always that way. Growing up, the guy who always won the French Open, Bjorn Borg had that look, that style, that clothing line that just seemed so classic, so perfect. Of course, it was so expensive too — so although I wanted to look like Borg, I couldn’t afford the Fila line, so I would up in some cut-rate garbage known as “Todd1”. (Of course, when Borg was either still an amateur, or not the established Fila stud, he sported some, shall we say, more familiar clothing lines.
But I love the French Open for the same reason I hate it — it’s played on red clay, a slow, particularly TV unfriendly surface, and one where lesser men (and women) blessed with more stamina than talent can defeat a stronger opponent. Matches can last 4 or 5 hours easily. If you’re not a fan of tennis, the last tournament I’d suggest you watch if you wanted to “get into” the game would be the French Open. But it’s still one of the “Grand Slams,” and it’s still hugely important. It’s often the tournament the BEST players can’t win — Connors never did, McEnroe never did, Sampras never did, and it doesn’t look like Federer ever will. Winning the French Open means something, because it means you’re not only the best player that two weeks, but it means you conquered the clay.
The heat and necessary stamina to play long gruelling matches means that even better — far better — players have to be in top physical shape. You will often see players chowing down bananas during changeovers, and seeking other remedies like bags of ice and lots of water (but not TOO much, don’t wanna cramp). I recall one five setter between Ivan Lendl and John McEnroe in the mid-80’s when McEnroe had his opponent dead to rights, up two sets to none, with Lendl puking his guts out on the court, only to have Lendl gut it out and win in five. At that time, McEnroe was the better player, but not on that particular day.
So, as you watch (or don’t — I’m pretty sure the majority of you UWers don’t like tennis) the French, remember that the better player doesn’t always win, but if you aren’t sure about checking it out, or need a reason to — I’ll give you one: Ana Ivanovic, defending Ladies champion.
And lest we forget, Maria is back.
From The Squiddie Files: Today the Indy 500 is being run. Lance Smith (aka “Squiddie”) checks in with this:
The 1950 race was shortened due to rain. The winner was Johnnie Parsons. (Here Parsons signs a pith helmet.) Check out this excellent group photo of the teams on the celebrated bricks. Apparently, there weren’t any restrictions about smoking in the pits.
Is purple evil? In 1972, a puncture forced Jerry Grant to pit late in the race. He “overshot” his stall and wound up in the pits of team mate Bobby Unser. Unser’s crew replaced the tire and fueled his purple Mystery Eagle and Grant finished second. However, the USAC decided that Grant’s race ended with the illegal pit stop and he drops to 12th. Mark Donohue wins in the blue and yellow Sunoco Penske.
Thanks Lance! That’s awesome. You lucky readers can look forward to more editions of “From The Squiddie Files” sporadically over the weekends. Be sure to tip him on your way out. Finally, Lance asked me if I “could justify running this photo of Linda Vaughn in 1969, go right ahead. That’s a lot of hair.” Yep, Lance — I think we can do that.
Guess The Game From the Scoreboard: Here ya go … no clues … it’s all right there. Difficulty: Medium-Easy
I found this one myself, but if you folks enjoy this game and want to send me a few scoreboards (easy, medium or hard) so we can have this little “game” every weekend, I’ll post em!
Just in case you missed yesterday’s post, next weekend, I plan to run a (possibly two day, depending upon the response) article highlighting the “uniform record” of the team you’ve been tracking. A number of you (I’d conservatively say 20) have already contacted me to indicate you’re tracking your team and there may be others out there who are also doing this. I think I “flagged” everyone’s email who has contacted me, but just to be on the safe side, I’d ask that you all please contact me again this early this week (say, Monday-Tuesday, if possible) — I will be sending out an as-yet-to-be-determined “questionnaire” on your tracking technique, team record wearing such-and-such uniform, etc., and I’d hope you could take a moment to answer. I’ll try to include everyone’s responses in next weekend’s “2 month track”. If you aren’t aware of the tracking of which I speak, I direct you to the third section of last Sunday’s post, which explains it. Anyone who has been keeping that uni-record, please send me an e-mail so I can post your efforts as we begin the third month of the MLB campaign. I’m sure there will be some interesting trends emerging, and we can “see” if teams start “shifting” to certain uniform combinations because of their successes (or away from them because of their failures) … or whether the decision to wear a uniform is completely random, based on a day or days of the week, starting pitcher (for those tracking that stat) and so on. Looking forward to everyone’s results.
This and That: OH MY FUCKING GOD … The appearance of the New York Mets’ blue and orange trimmed uniforms at Fenway Park still brings back painful memories of what transpired between New York and Boston during the 1986 World Series … Did the dude in the middle of this photograph actually go to the game with the other four? Or did he just randomly step into some gathering … Here’s something I bet 99.99% of you don’t know — Indy racing has an official clothing brand — and it’s IZOD … What’s the best way to keep fans interest and intensity after the NHL’s finalists are set? How about take 10 days off before starting the finals … Old Time Hockey? … “Dude, be my wingman tonight?” … I love oxymoronic headlines … Hey look! Beardface was at the Canes game … I love pics of Big Klu … but dude, wear some kind of sleeves … Robbie Cano — Don’t ya know! … Hmm–do they use the Natinals signmaker? … And what, is this soccer’s version of Jackie Robinson Day? … This is why I love “Wiki Answers” … As bad as Majestic may be, this is why we cannot entrust MLB unis to Nike, adidas, Rbk or UA … Thankfully the Reds decided to hold Bring your pooch to the Park Night later in the season … If they only knew what made his hair look like that … I honestly feel this is the worst uniform in baseball — how much will he need to give Tatis for that number? … Guess they don’t care if he’s tipping his pitches anymore … They say this like it’s a good thing … Seems I’m not alone in my complete hatred of interplague.
Enjoy the 500. Get ready for the French. The red caps are coming. Have a great Sunday.