During the U.S. Open how many balls are used?

Between practice and play, the U.S. Open runs through six tons of tennis balls, or roughly 70,000 balls. Wilson, who supplies the “optic yellow” balls to the tournament, estimates that they need 3,900 pounds of rubber and 700 square yards of felt to make their annual shipment to Forest Hills. To insure consistent “bouncability” U.S.T.A. rules dictate that each of the balls in competition must bounce between 53 and 58 inches when dropped from a 100-inch height. For weekend hackers, try dropping the ball from forehead height. It should bounce to around your belly button. Tweet good…

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College football

For many, college football is the only sport, and for good reason. First the fans are great. Second, every game counts (The NCAA has a self-promotional blog of the same name). And finally, players stay closer to the amateur athlete model which so many N.F.L. fans seem to find desirable. This said, the sport is a sprawl of conferences, school rivalries and opaque tradition all governed by a moving thicket of NCAA regulations. A cryptic postseason bowl game system caps it all off. To try to get their hands around it all, sportswriters inevitably revert to lists.…

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Tennis Gets a Little More Virtual

There will be no more complaining about the umpires in tennis. Last Monday the U.S. Open began using something they call “instant replay” to review line calls. Here’s how it works. A player — let’s say, Andre Agassi — hits a ball that lands very close to the line. It’s called out. He swears it’s in. He says to the umpire, “I beg your pardon, sir, but I challenge your assertion.” Then, the big screen above the court flickers to life. On it, a flat yellow circle loops through a blue field. As it changes direction, a…

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The Wooly Wilds of the Sports Web

The range of sporting information on the web is truly embarrassing. ESPN’s site alone could paralyze all but the most sports crazed. In addition to the basic stats and scores that fuel sports junkies, the web oozes sports from all sides. Front and center is the bottomless pool of commentary and opinion on all matters sports related. (Who knew the wave needed defending? ) Next come the lists. These cover everything from bad hair to the biggest flameouts in the National League this season. Finally, the arcane arrives. Take a visit to the mound by a baseball…

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Besides the Yankees, what franchise has won the most World Series?

It’s a tie, at least since the modern World Series began in 1903. The Cardinals and the Athletics have each won nine times. But the Cardinals have the semantic edge. In 1886 they won a championship called the “World Series,” the annual exhibition that was played between the winner of the National League and the winner of the American Association. The St. Louis franchise, then called the Browns, was the only AA team to ever win that original, unofficial World Series. They beat the Chicago White Stockings, four games to two. Six years later the AA folded,…

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Buddy Up

When I went to religious school as a kid, at a small Jewish temple in my mostly Catholic hometown in upstate New York, Sandy Koufax was a subject worth fighting over. This was in the mid-1980s, nearly 20 years after the famed fastballer won Game 7 of the 1965 World Series for the L.A. Dodgers. Whenever our religious school class was assigned a book report or research project, the boys fought over who would present on Koufax. Since Koufax’s last season was in 1966, it goes without saying that none of us had ever seen him pitch.…

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The U.S. Open

The U.S. Open turns 125 this year and has only become more vigorous after passing the century mark. In its early days, America’s premier tennis tournament offered only one title: the men’s single championship. Now there are five—men’s and women’s singles, men’s and women’s doubles and mixed doubles. To help you keep track, here’s a TV schedule, from the official website, which is chock-full of information including regular match updates, analysis and features (A great primer on racket history is, unfortunately, marred by overzealous sponsor, Wilson). The mildly addictive Ball Boy Challenge provides a break. Besides the…

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Where does “love” come from?

In tennis, as in all things, love is shrouded in mystery. Some claim that it was derived from the French for egg, “l’oeuf,” since an egg resembles zero. Lexographers at Oxford University Press disagree. They think it’s more likely a version of ‘for the love of the game,’ that is, for nothing. The whole tennis scoring system is a bit of an enigma. It seems that the modern rules were formalized by the Marylebone Cricket Club in 1876. They adopted the deuce-advantage scoring system in favor of a first-to-15 game that was also common. The scores 15-30-40…

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Monday Morning M.D.

My friend Gabe was watching the preseason football game between the Washington Redskins and the New York Jets the other night. Gabe is a Redskins fan, so I asked him about the injury to their star running back, Clinton Portis. A shoulder problem is it? “It’s subluxation,” Gabe replied. Ah, subluxation! I thought. That’s serious. It’ll probably keep him out 3-4 weeks. Of course, I don’t know what subluxation is. But that’s what preseason is for: boning up on your medical jargon. There are a lot of well-documented problems with the NFL’s extended summer preamble. It’s too…

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Premiership Preview

If you already miss the international action of the World Cup, turn your attention to the English Premier League, which promises cosmopolitan action. The Premiership kicks off this Saturday, August 18th. To get ready, take a look at the BBC’s quick team by team preview, and the Guardian’s guide to off-season roster changes. Sky Sports also has a more in-depth breakdown of the 20 clubs. Here as well is a full schedule and a guide to soccer on TV in North America. This year the team to beat is the two-time defending champion, Chelsea. Since Russian tycoon…

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