Open Court publishes on Mondays and Fridays, bringing sports, life and cool stuff to your email (subscribe at opencourt.bulletin.com/subscribe). Please feel free to comment, share, like and join the Open Court community.
Work-Life balance is important, so Monday will be a true day off for Open Court. Go rest, relax and put down this crazy world for a bit. We will meet again later next week!
Hey! I got mail!
Mail drop 1: from Becky T., “How did you get so comfortable writing or talking about sports? Just curious.”
I will go straight at this – I get asked that question a lot, with the underlying predicate being, how did I get to this place as a woman? Some of it was nature, some was nurture. I’ve always loved sports, from watching to playing. I’m a good athlete and I love to compete. My family watched sports live or on TV. It was never seen as a “male” or “female” things. The career part of being a sports journalist evolved along the same track. Writing brings me joy and I have been blessed with the talent. Throw in that I am a journalism and book junkie, and I was lucky to grow up in a place that had a legacy of female sports writers. The ingredients were there to build me. In other words, I had no idea there was no gender barrier to me becoming a sportswriter. (I know, I was a naïve, naïve girl child back then.)
Oh the JLA. For those unfamiliar, Joe Louis Arena was the downtown Detroit home for the NHL Red Wings, concerts and other random stuff like monster trucks, lacrosse teams and skating shows from 1979-2017. It was taken out of service when the Red Wings moved, along with the Pistons from their northern Detroit suburban home, into the new Little Caesars Arena in Detroit. It has been torn down and now is an empty lot on the Detroit river.
Joe Louis Arena was first poorly done, then transitioned into a quirky, degenerating analog dump. An offense to architecture. Others have too. The steps on the front and back of the building were an invitation to break your neck in the winter. The inside was always sticky, dirty and smelled like stale beer and urinal pucks. And those were the better-maintained public concourse levels. The press box, which was at the top of the arena, had frayed wires everywhere (rats and their sharp teeth), no direct way to get there other than a vertigo-inducing staircase and was mooshed on space. The sightlines were great and you were close to the action. Everything else…not so much. Did I mention the press box was a retrofit construction because the arena was scaled-back and the done on the super-cheap during Detroit’s crippling economic recession of the late-70s?
The ice-level (ground) concourse was its own adventure. Rats. RATS. Running around, jumping into small spaces, and looking at you while you were working. Why rats? The JLA was located right on the edge of the Detroit River, with the food and beverage stores for the concussions were on the ground level. The rats walked right in, around the big semi’s delivering supplies at the loading docks, and found a home.
My joke during the JLA's end days was I wanted the honor of flipping the switch to blow it to bits. I didn’t get to do that, but I was definitely fine with seeing it gone. Not a tear shed. The new Little Caesars Arena is lovely, and a good place to work and play.
That being said…The JLA was a dream spot for many, as it was where the Red Wings had six Stanley Cup Finals – won four, clinching two at the JLA. The Pistons had a playoff game there in 1985 when the Pontiac Silverdome (also RIP) roof collapsed. The WNBA Detroit Shock (also RIP) won the 2006 title at the JLA, after moving out of the Palace of Auburn Hills (also RIP) because of…a Mariah Carey concert. And course, it was the crime scene of the most excellent hockey fight in NHL history. (Sorry Amy - she's a Colorado girl who likes the Avs.)
My first big-time concert, Huey Lewis and the News in their entire Back to the Future glory, was at the JLA with my grade school posse. (We were damned cool.) Best concert I have ever seen, Prince in 2004, made the fans groove so hard the JLA decks were swaying from the dancing. (Another Open Court for another day…Prince is definitely the son of Minneapolis, but a lot of his legacy was built in Detroit. So I have been told that seeing Prince in Detroit is a special thing. I remain blessed.)
Today’s irony is Detroit finally has a state-of-the-art arena in its improving downtown, and now the Wings and Pistons are terrible.
Maybe someday we will have it all.
Mail drop 3: from Casey M. “Do you think Stef Tsitsipas is cheating with his bathroom breaks? Because Djokovic and other players do the same tactics, especially if they lose a set. Cheating or smart?”
That is the question of the now. Are you a cheater if you reallllly take advantage of a rule and push it to the edge? (Uh, Stef, do you really need your WHOLE bag in the bathroom. Cough, or is that where your cell phone is to get some quickie coaching from dad?) Tsitsipas is the lightning rod for his bathroom breaks in Cinci and the U.S. Open. Andy Murray, or if you prefer, SIR Andy, even made the sly comment to the chair ump that he has never had to use the bathroom as long as Tsitsipas did in their excellent first round match. But Tsitsipas is far from alone in abusing the rule. A lot of players do it.
Before we render our peanut gallery judgment, let’s review a few things: 1) you can go the bathroom at certain times in matches, like end of sets, and you have like 7-10 minutes (nobody is standing there watching every second, kind of an honor system); 2) besides using the facilities, a lot of players take the trip to change out of sweaty clothes. Hence why you may have your on-court bag for the trip. Fresh clothes, socks/shoes and undies can be a huge reset, especially in humid conditions; 3) the bathroom break has nothing to do with the first two things. It is a pure psych move. Like icing the kicker or calling a time-out before a free throw. That works when you are losing and need to break your opponent’s momentum. Tennis is the ultimate head game, because you have no teammates to pick you up. It’s your body, your head and your heart out there; 4) Or, your coach has sent you text messages to help pick up your game…and you need to go somewhere private to sneak a peek.
Tsitsipas doing whatever he does in the bathroom is…at best, using the rules to the max, or at worst, gaming the hell out of things in a bad way.
I don’t blame other players for being ticked off. But until the rule changes or the other bathroom break connoisseurs get busted…the rules are made to be pushed.
So that’s it for today. Have a great holiday weekend…and enjoy the start of Fall!