Thursday, September 09, 2004

U.S.Open Rockin! 

Another sport that has caught my attention is tennis, and the U.S. Open is my favorite tournament. Two contrasting styles on TV today shows what makes tennis so interesting. In the afternoon match, Roger Federer and Andre Agassi finished up their rain-delayed match in conditions far less than ideal. Wind gusts of 30-40 MPH had these two masters of control fighting to keep the ball on the court, and having a battle with the elements as well as each other. In the end, Federer prevailed when Agassi yanked a relatively easy forehand well wide on break point.

In the nightcap, defending champion Andy Roddick found himself down two sets to relative unknown Joachim Johansson, 22, from Sweden, who hits his forehand harder than any man I have ever seen hit a forehand before. Yeah, the 152 MPH serve that Roddick can hit is damn impressive. But when Roddick would hit a deep ball only to see it punished past him for a forehand winner from behind the baseline, it had him downright demoralized. Roddick served great, but in each of the first two sets, let up with a 40-0 lead to get broken, and Johansson would not allow Roddick to return the favor despite multiple break chances.

Roddick recovered by attacking Johansson's backhand and relying on his big serve. At one time in the fourth set, he lost a point on his serve, ending a string of 28 consecutive points he won on serve. And Johansson began to feel the pressure, giving up a break in the third and two breaks in the fourth. But he survived break points at 0-0 and 4-4 and Roddick came out shaky at 4-5, double-faulting to go to 0-40 and at 30-40, made an unforced error to give Johansson the win and a trip to the semis, where he will face Lleyton Hewitt. What makes that semi VERY interesting (beyond the great tennis) is that Johansson's long-time girl friend is Lleyton's younger sister Jaslyn Hewitt. When asked who Jaslyn will be rooting for, Joachim answered that Lleyton can't stop being her brother, so she will be rooting for me. Great stuff. So I'll be watching the U.S. Open on Super Saturday, even though Americans may be nowhere to be seen (I have a bad feeling about the American ladies falling on Friday to the Russians).

Meanwhile, back at the Safe, the M's have a 7-0 lead on the Bosox in the 5th. Madritsch looks great (5 IP, 5 K, 3H, 65 pitches), Ichiro is mortal (1-3), but still fast (stolen base) and the M's will be 1-0 with Jeremy Reed and Gregg Dobbs in the starting lineup. Jose Lopez eats knuckleballers for breakfast (two doubles and a 2 run blast), at least when they leave their knucklers up in the zone. I'm going to bed now, and in my world the M's extend the blowout and cruise to an 11-0 win. And in the postgame conference, they will announce that they are committed to the youth movement, and that Dobbs & Reed will be starting the rest of the year.

Flipping between the U.S. Open, the Pats-Colts game (why the heck is Dominic Rhodes taking touchdowns away from my man Edgerrin James?) and the Red Sox-M's tilt has left my hand a bit blistered. I've been told that urinating on my hands my help, but as a father of three, I figure I should be getting enough urine on my hands already, just from changing diapers and dealing with accidents. Apparently not.

Today's picks:
Another fine day, with easy money to be had taking odds to bet against the likes of Ismael Valdez and Jose Lima. Today, I don't feel so good about the huge underdogs - Expos vs. Braves (Thompson), Marlins vs Cubs(Wood), Mariners vs Sox(Schilling), so instead I'll pick and choose a few favorites.

Padres(Lawrence) -135 over Rockies(Estes)
Astros(Munro) -180 over Pirates(VanBenschoten)
Cardinals(Marquis) -130 over Dodgers(Ishii)
Twins(Silva) -115 over Tigers(Maroth)

Money to date: $-363 (picking dog/favorite = +1157/-1520, 34-45, 24-25) - +380 with Blue Jays, Mets and Brewers winning upsets, and only the DBacks falling 5-4 to the Lima-led Dodgers. I should stick to picking underdogs, but, what the hey...

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