Thursday, June 24, 2010

Zero Sum World

The longest tennis match ever just finished. Eleven hours and five minutes. The last set, Isner beat Mahut (above) 70-68. In other words, the last set alone was 138 games, 137 of which involved the players holding their service. And yet someone had to lose.

Wimbledon was so pleased with the extra attention it brought the sport that they rustled up some special awards for the judge and both players. The official presented them saying "They are both winners today."

Well, if that were true,
Mahut would be invited to play in the second round. But like the pitcher who recently lost the chance to notch a perfect game on a botched call. Mahut is going in the record books with an asterisk, a trivia question: Loser of the longest match ever. Hopefully he will go on to some positive acclaim. I still remember the name of the Chicago Cubs' Jimmy Qualls, who broke up Tom Seaver's perfect game in 1969 and was never heard from again. (I just looked him up and it was one of only 31 career hits.)

While I'm excited for the American Isner, my heart immediately went out to Mahut. It's not unlike choosing to remain a Mets fan in an era when the Yankees regularly resemble an all-star team. (As it turns out, Vin Scully agrees with me about who to root for.)

It's not because I identify with losers, I don't think. I identify with the struggle, the endurance, the resilience, wins that are hard-won. Deep down I hope there's room for more than one champ, that life isn't a zero-sum game.


jeff said...

I also identify with class, and I think Mahut showed a lot, both yesterday and today. The amazing to me was that he HAD to win all those service games and did -- until the last one, obviously. It was an incredible performance under pressure. Isner, too, but he's lacking so many basic tennis skills, it was hard to watch him after a while.

Don't you wonder though what was in those presents? Isner seemed especially anxious about his.

David Handelman said...

Steroids? (PS someone joked on Facebook, either to or from Seth Meyers, "Mahut just didn't want it enough.")