Ask Gary: Who stole the American tennis rackets?

by Gary Shelton on June 10, 2016 · 1 comment

in general, NFL, Tampa Bay Bucs, Tampa Bay Rays

(Each week, the readers take over and play Ask Gary. They send in a question, or a couple, on Thursday night or Friday morning and we all talk about the world of sports.  Think of it as a radio show where you don't have to be on hold. Join us and ask a question, make a comment or be funny. Send the questions to

Saturday, 6 a.m.

Whatever has happened with men's professional tennis in the U.S.? I doubt if young boys are foregoing tennis to play golf or football and the women have no problem developing future stars so why do we rarely see an American male make it to the second week of tournaments?

 Barry McDowell​
It's amazing when you remember our youth. America had Stan Smith, Jimmy Connors and Arthur Ashe. Roscoe Tanner and Vitas Gerulaitis and  John McEnroe. Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi and. for six minutes, Andy Roddick. And then it all dried up. It was like American forgot which end of the racket to hold.
It isn't money, because a guy can made a lot on the tennis tour. I wonder if it's the finite surface; it's a tiny playing field, really. I've said that tennis is to sports what pong is to video games.
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But in Sweden and Russia, they still find it compelling. Did we surrender the sport to others?
I do think Americans have a lot of choices. Football and basketball and golf and hockey and the rest of it. But every time I drive by the courts, there are people playing. It just seems by pure numbers, we'd have happened onto a decent player or two. Doesn't it?
Has the world gone mad? The Chicago Cubs are the best team in baseball. The TB Rays are second in the majors in home runs. Carl Crawford gets sent to the minors and James Shields appears washed up.
I agree with you that Carl Crawford should have remained in Tampa Bay. When considering playing for teams in New York, Boston and LA, one must consider the increased scrutiny and pressure you get over there. It's not just about the money.
Howard Powders
Yes, the world has gone mad. But it has little to do with what you're saying. We have so much leisure time, I think we are driven crazy.
I used to have a friend who was a huge Cubs fan, and I told him often that he was nuts. The Cubs have had great seasons, and they've watched Hall of Fame players. The one thing they hadn't done is win a World Series, but a lot of franchises can say that. But that's the one thing that drove them crazy.
I read a column that said Joe Maddon would be successful but wouldn't win a World Series. Sorry, but if he doesn't win a World Series, it doesn't matter. No one in Chicago counts coming close as a win.
But I think the Cubs will win. They just look so good.
Shields and Crawford are matters of age, not insanity.
Players like Crawford always think they can handle the extra intensity of big-media markets. Maybe they can if they get off to a good start. But if all the questions are "what's wrong" and there are always dozens of cameras around your locker, its tough.

There are currently 33 MLB position players with contracts of $100 million or more.  For the 2016 season to date (through 6/9/2016) 31 of those 33 players have played games.  Their composite batting average/bop/slugging/ops is: .251/.327/.426/.762.

Their average salary for the 2016 season is $19.6 million.

For the entire MLB the line reads: .252/.319/.411/.730  and the average salary is $4.4 million.

There does not seem to be much additional performance extracted from this group of 33 highly paid players who are making about 4 ½ times what the average player makes.  Why do the owners of the 23 teams that have one or more of these players continue to be so stupid?

Scott Myers

In a recent "Ask the Expert" with Jerry Angelo, I quoted an old line by Bill Veeck that suggested you cannot overpay a Superstar. But you can get poor in a hurry paying average players a superstar's salary.

That's happened in baseball. Agents have become great car-salesmen. They can convince a team that another mystery team is offering more money, and the competitive juices start flowing, and suddenly, they're paying silly money. Remember when A-Rod was being paid $26.2 million a year? What? $26 million wasn't enough?

I know owners can't collude. But if owned a team, I'd be a lot more frugal. Why pay big bucks to, say, Melvin Upton? Is he going to make yoiur team win more? Is he going to bring fans out?

It's the old line. There is nothing common about common sense.

What is your take on ASJ?   Does he not love playing football enough? Bad attitude? Lazy?
Jim Willson
There is something missing, isn't there?  Even his response, to go home and get on the internet and answer critics, smacks of his immaturity. Did Michael Jordan ever do that? Joe Montana? Does Tom Brady?
I'm not blaming Seferian-Jenkins for getting hurt. That happens. But even before he did, he was capable of brain cramps (remember him posing over the ball in the end zone?). To me, being unable to function in an OTA is unforgivable. It's your job. Period. That's the sort of thing that tells you the guy has no clue as to how tenuous his position is. He's still filled with the entitlement he had in college.
I don't think Seferian-Jenkins is long for the Bucs, frankly. He'd have to have a heck of a year before the Bucs would be interested in a second contract with him. Yes, you'd hate to see him take his impressive talent somewhere else, but at this point, could you make a good argument to pay him big bucks?
I can't. In 10 years, he's still on the internet, still answering heckling fans.
Bottom line: It's a man's game. He's still a child.
Which Bucs rookie do you think will have the most impressive season?   Who do you think will most surprise us?
Jim Willson

Call me silly, but I think Roberto Aguayo will have the best season. I know he's a kicker, and he came at a price. But I loved the kid in college. If he gets off to a good start, no unnamed general managers are going to be talking about how dumb the pick is.

A surprise? I don't think Vernon Hargreaves can qualify; he was a No. 1 draft pick. Same for Noah Spence. Besides, most rookie defensive ends struggle.

How about Ryan Smith? I don't think the Bucs' safeties are great, so playing time can be had.  I think Dan Vitale will have his moments, too.

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