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Friday, May 29, 2020

Son of Agassi, Graf could be a future ace

Oh, he’s dabbled in the sport associated with his world-famous parents, Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf. But that usually just results in Jaden smacking the ball as hard as he can, with no regard for the rules or the lines.

His mom and dad can have their 30 combined Grand Slam singles titles. Jaden just wants to hit grand slams.

“I love baseball,” he says. “I love the teammates, surviving and fighting with your brothers. Every game comes with a new set of challenges, and I really love figuring those out.”

The 18-year-old Agassi is following that love and forging his own athletic path. He’s a home-schooled third baseman and right-handed pitcher in the home stretch of his rehab from Tommy John surgery on his throwing elbow. And he’s planning to begin his collegiate career at the University of Southern California in the fall after standout summers with Las Vegas Recruits, a college prep baseball academy.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: May 29, 2020 at 05:32 PM | 42 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Itchy Row Posted: May 29, 2020 at 05:47 PM (#5954416)
“I come from a sport where you eat what you kill,” Andre Agassi says.
Obvious reference to the fact that Dave Winfield and Randy Johnson didn't eat the birds they killed.
   2. Howie Menckel Posted: May 29, 2020 at 06:59 PM (#5954421)
ah, take me back 30 years....

Agassi was part of infamous tennis coach Nick Bollettieri's stable - and if that makes you think of horses, it should.

He put talented teenagers like Agassi up in his "academy" in Florida.

Andre was a fair-haired by while Jim Courier was the junkyard dog. I remember seeing them at a somewhat modest tournament at Forest Hills in Queens - previously the site of the US Open - circa late 1980s. their desperation for approval from cold, calculating father figured Nick was tough to watch.

along comes a camera commercial where wild-haired, colorfully-dressed Agassi declares "image is everything" - and the jackals came out with fangs bared.

Lupica and Feinstein (who used to acknowledge each other in the Open press box elevator as "Jesus" and "God") despised Agassi with a passion.

but it really was all an image, as far as I could tell. he'd pose for a celebrity canoodle shot with a starlet the way Rock Hudson or Cary Grant would. well, not THAT way. Andre liked girls just fine - it was partying that iirc never interested him.

Graf reminded me of a shyer Jack Nicklaus. neither was nearly as desperate for the spotlight as their talents demanded, but they were always the professional.

Graf's father was quite the ne'er-do-well, including tax evasion. another reporter asked about it in New Jersey once, and she burst into tears. that guy (not me, I promise) never lived it down.

that's because the European press was 1000x more intrusive than Americans. someone once asked Graf if it was challenging to play in the US Open because of the "hardnosed New York media." I never saw such a grin from her.

(in the mid-1990s, the British tabloids were all abuzz about possibly the first all-lesbian Wimbledon semifinals. well, they all were lesbians, but tough to confirm such details from 100 years ago, for instance. they get to Queens not even two months later, and if you read every tennis story in the US, nothing about such 'intrigue.)

so one year Agassi is in the US Open final - held a day after the women's final - and mid-match, the TV cameras find Graf in the midst of a crowd. I was stunned. and delighted. because reclusive Steffi wouldn't have been there unless she was in LOVE.

Agassi was once married to Brooke Shields in just the same fashion that Springsteen was married to actress Julianne Phillips - both preposterous pairings.

Andre and Steffi live a quiet life now in Agassi's native Las Vegas, where he is a leading philanthropist in a city that has many.

you don't hear about either of them anymore (ok, before their son now will bring them back a little bit) - and that is just the way they like it: happily ever after.
   3. Hysterical & Useless Posted: May 29, 2020 at 07:11 PM (#5954422)
Agassi had the best return of serve I have ever seen. Just incredible quickness. Playing Sampras, with his 130+ mph serves, on GRASS, Andre received from inside the baseline. Yeah, cuts down the angle a tad, but you've still gotta MOVE PDQ.

Glad their kid is into baseball. Save the tennis for fun when you can't play hardball anymore.
   4. PreservedFish Posted: May 29, 2020 at 07:52 PM (#5954431)
His book - ghostwritten by J.R. Moehringer - is supposed to be terrific.
   5. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: May 29, 2020 at 08:03 PM (#5954432)
Lupica and Feinstein (who used to acknowledge each other in the Open press box elevator as "Jesus" and "God") despised Agassi with a passion.

to be on the bad side of either of those is an incredible badge of honor
   6. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: May 30, 2020 at 02:07 PM (#5954502)
Of course, we can only observe their marriage from afar...but I think the Graf/Agassi marriage is one of the best celebrities stories you're going to find.

Graf was one of the most dominant athletes of the last 50 years:
- In 1988-1989, she got to all eight grand slam finals, and won seven of them, barely losing the '89 French Open.
- Then, from 1993-1996, she gets to the finals of 12 of the 16 grand slams, winning 10 of them
- She went to 31 Grand Slam finals in 13 years, going 22-9. She averaged 2.5 grand slam finals a year, every year, for 13 years.
- No drama, no scandals or controversies - just winning.

Andre Agassi's story is amazing. He is all flash, no championships, disliked by players on the tour, punk teenager. Skips Wimbledon because he had to wear all white. Dismissed the Davis Cup, etc. Eventually, he becomes one of the great champions of all time, a role model for younger players, cleans up his act physically, emotionally, and mentally, and is now happily married for 20 years back in his hometown to one of the most have-your-sh*t together athletes you'll ever see.

He goes skipping 4 of his first 5 shots at Wimbledon to winning it in his 7th year. He was the 5th player to win the career Grand Slam, gets to 15 grand slam finals, and wins eight of them. He is absolutely one of the dominant stories in American sports in the 1990s and early 2000s. It is a career rehab unlike almost any other in my lifetime in sports.

It doesn't surprise me they would have an elite athlete as a kid - and it would not surprise me if their son was uniquely prepared for professional sports life. Andre will tell him not to make the mistakes he made early on; Steffi will make sure he practices five hours a day. Pretty good.
   7. PreservedFish Posted: May 30, 2020 at 02:17 PM (#5954505)
The kid must have great genes, but I suspect that neither Andre nor Steffi wished for him to have the childhood experience that they each shared. Both had famously domineering and demanding fathers, terrible men that were nevertheless likely instrumental in their development. I didn't know the story until just now, but when Mr. Agassi and Mr. Graf finally met for the first time, they got into a fist fight over which of their children had the better backhand.
   8. Walt Davis Posted: May 30, 2020 at 07:29 PM (#5954544)
- In 1988-1989, she got to all eight grand slam finals, and won seven of them, barely losing the '89 French Open.
- Then, from 1993-1996, she gets to the finals of 12 of the 16 grand slams, winning 10 of them
- She went to 31 Grand Slam finals in 13 years, going 22-9. She averaged 2.5 grand slam finals a year, every year, for 13 years.


She came up in the big newspaper quiz we do every day at work (even working from home) ... I think it was something like "only player to win each of the singles GSs at least X times." She does have 4+ of each so I assume that was it. Our tennis expert wasn't there (actually I think she retired just before the madness hit) so we got it wrong. Various guesses of Federer (I thought that might be right), Serena (another solid guess), Martina (another solid guess), Margaret Court (we're in Australia and she does have the record for most GS titles in singles and overall) and finally settled on Rod Laver (which I was pretty certain was wrong but we're in Australia).

Court only won Wimbledon 3 times. She's an unpleasant old woman these days but an impressive record, spanning the pre-open and open eras. She won 3 of 4 GS in 62, again in 65, again in 69, all 4 in 70, then 3 of 4 in 73.
   9. Mike Webber Posted: May 30, 2020 at 09:14 PM (#5954550)
@2 - Thanks for the stories Howie!
   10. Zach Posted: May 30, 2020 at 09:40 PM (#5954554)
#4 -- It is teriffic.

One of the things he's open about is that he really didn't like the sport. Which you would think would kill a sports autobiography, but actually gives it structure. He was pushed into the sport by a controlling sports dad, hated the stress, but at the same time suffered from a crippling perfectionism and need to win.

He mentions in passing that Graf's father was similar, but I would not hold my breath waiting for Graf to tell her story.
   11. Zach Posted: May 30, 2020 at 09:48 PM (#5954555)
It's funny, but 80s sports icons have aged pretty well.

Jordan, Gretzky, Agassi, Bo, Montana -- all advanced middle age, quiet lives, relatively scandal free.

Many other figures didn't age nearly that well, of course, but that's your inner circle.
   12. Zach Posted: May 30, 2020 at 09:50 PM (#5954556)
I really enjoyed #2 -- thanks, Howie!
   13. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: May 31, 2020 at 02:12 AM (#5954571)
but when Mr. Agassi and Mr. Graf finally met for the first time, they got into a fist fight over which of their children had the better backhand.


Well that's ironic, IIRC miss Graf had quite the habit of running around the ball quite frequently so she could pummel the ball with her wicked forehand. I would say Mr. Graf had no argument to defend. Now if you wanted to argue about who had the better forehand.....

Agassi had an incredible career. Twice they guy went from top 5 to way down the rankings due to personal issues and came back and won slams. He was huge here in Aus as he won the open here 4 times, just a wonderful, gracious champion.
   14. Fernigal McGunnigle Posted: May 31, 2020 at 08:43 AM (#5954577)
#2 that's great. Steffi and Andre are a bit reminiscent of Nomar & Mia, though the latter seem to have more completely ridden off into the sunset. In both pairs the woman is an all-time great, and Andre and Nomar lesser. (Andre is greater than Nomar.) Mia & Nomar's kids are 13 (twin girls) and 7 (a boy), so no idea if they'll be athletes. Mia and Nomar were both so uncomfortable in the spotlight that one can imagine them pushing their kids hard not to be athletes.
   15. McCoy Posted: May 31, 2020 at 08:44 AM (#5954578)
Gretzky kind of had some big scandals.
   16. Howie Menckel Posted: May 31, 2020 at 10:51 AM (#5954583)
Graf never lost a Grand Slam final without either forcing a third set or at least a tiebreaker.

I only noticed because I recall she once took a couple of timeouts during a match (thought it was a final) and was asked about it afterwards.

she vaguely explained, but the assembled press didn't get it. she then bluntly explained that she was having her period that afternoon.

something very German about the whole thing.

btw, she had a particular affinity for a U.S. Open tuneup event in a Bergen County, NJ town with the funny name of "Mahwah."

there was a German family in town that would put her up and make all of her favorite dishes for a week - ever the recluse.
   17. Adam Starblind Posted: May 31, 2020 at 11:43 AM (#5954585)
30 combined Grand Slam singles titles


Wow, that's 29 more than Ventura.
   18. The Mighty Quintana Posted: May 31, 2020 at 11:55 AM (#5954587)
(Andre is greater than Nomar.)

How dare you!
   19. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: May 31, 2020 at 12:17 PM (#5954588)
btw, she had a particular affinity for a U.S. Open tuneup event in a Bergen County, NJ town with the funny name of "Mahwah."
They closed down the auto plant there a while back. One guy in particular didn’t handle it very well, if I recall. Wonder whatever happened to him.
   20. Tom Nawrocki Posted: May 31, 2020 at 12:34 PM (#5954589)
Mia & Nomar's kids are 13 (twin girls) and 7 (a boy), so no idea if they'll be athletes.


I saw Nomar in line once for the gondola at Steamboat Springs, carrying a little girl's skis. So they ski, at least.
   21. Zach Posted: May 31, 2020 at 12:48 PM (#5954591)
Gretzky kind of had some big scandals.

I guess I'm wrong. I don't follow hockey.
   22. Ron J Posted: May 31, 2020 at 02:41 PM (#5954596)
#21 It wasn't Wayne himself. His wife was involved in a gambling operation with people like Rick Tocchet. Very heavy betting on her part, but she wasn't one of the people who ended up charged. There were rumors that she was betting on Gretzky's behalf but that's all.

And then his daughter started to post racy pictures on Instagram. Somehow this was supposed to be a problem for Gretzky. And then there was some drama with Dustin Johnson (who was married to Gretzky's daughter).

About the worst thing you can say about Gretzky himself is that he had an ownership stake in the Coyotes when they went bankrupt. And before that he got taken for a ride by Bruce McNall.

Oh and some people weren't happy that he endorsed Stephen Harper. And praised Bush the younger during the invasion of Iraq.
   23. CFBF's Overflowing Pathos Posted: May 31, 2020 at 03:24 PM (#5954600)
There was a very funny (and very famous) moment where Graf was playing Wimbledon in the middle of some controversy involving the German tax authorities ("German tax authorities" might be the most terrifying phrase imaginable). Between points, someone in the stands shouted "Steffi, will you marry me?" After the laughter died down, Graf shot back, "How much money do you have?"

Turns out it's on YouTube.
   24. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: May 31, 2020 at 04:53 PM (#5954605)
#21 It wasn't Wayne himself. His wife was involved in a gambling operation with people like Rick Tocchet.

I thought it might have been the trimmed T-206 McNall/Gretzky Honus Wagner card.
   25. Sunday silence: Play Guess How long season lasts Posted: May 31, 2020 at 05:21 PM (#5954607)
[quote
His book - ghostwritten by J.R. Moehringer - is supposed to be terrific.]

Who's? HOwie's?
   26. PreservedFish Posted: May 31, 2020 at 06:47 PM (#5954609)
Yes. Howie's. He paid a million dollars to a Pulitzer-prize winning author to pen his memoirs. It's mostly about sitting indoors and talking about baseball on the internet with likeminded dorks and misanthropes. A narrative challenge, to be sure, but my understanding is that Moehringer pulled it off with aplomb. Definitely on my Christmas list!
   27. SoSH U at work Posted: May 31, 2020 at 06:51 PM (#5954611)
Yes. Howie's. He paid a million dollars to a Pulitzer-prize winning author to pen his memoirs. It's mostly about sitting indoors and talking about baseball on the internet with likeminded dorks and misanthropes. A narrative challenge, to be sure, but my understanding is that Moehringer pulled it off with aplomb. Definitely on my Christmas list!


I liked it, but I thought it was a mistake to devote half the book to Johan Santana's "no-hitter."

   28. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: May 31, 2020 at 06:59 PM (#5954612)
Jordan, Gretzky, Agassi, Bo, Montana -- all advanced middle age, quiet lives, relatively scandal free.


On the other hand, some of the biggest baseball stars from when I started getting interested in the game in the mid-to-last ‘80s have had a pretty rough go of things: Gooden, Strawberry, Clemens, Canseco, etc. And poor Tony Gwynn is dead.
   29. PreservedFish Posted: May 31, 2020 at 08:15 PM (#5954621)
Yes - while Jordan and Gretzky belong on any list, the rest of it seems somewhat edited, and doesn't really seem like the "inner circle." I'd put Mike Tyson on any list of 80s sports superstars, for instance. Globally, Diego Maradona may well have been #1. Lawrence Taylor may have been the #2 to Montana's #1...
   30. JJ1986 Posted: May 31, 2020 at 08:30 PM (#5954624)
MJ may be scandal free but he owns a terribly managed NBA team.
   31. SoSH U at work Posted: May 31, 2020 at 08:38 PM (#5954625)

MJ may be scandal free but he owns a terribly managed NBA team.


Also, he's a lifelong #######.
   32. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: May 31, 2020 at 10:59 PM (#5954638)
Also, he's a lifelong #######.


Well yeah.

You get the feeling that any reunion of any Bulls championship team will involve Michael simply because without him, they would have never won.

However if BJ, Oakley, Paxon, Kerr, Pippen et al are all catching up for a few beers and dinner somewhere, I don't think Michael is getting invited.
   33. dejarouehg Posted: June 01, 2020 at 12:00 AM (#5954646)
However if BJ, Oakley, Paxon, Kerr, Pippen et al are all catching up for a few beers and dinner somewhere, I don't think Michael is getting invited.


Not sure about Kerr, but Oakley has been a long-time MJ ass-kisser. If you believe what is reported, you're certainly correct on BJ & Pippen. Also wouldn't let Horace anywhere near MJ's food without a taster.

I appreciate all the MJ did, but his HoF speech was as classless as you get. LBJ may not be the player MJ was, but he is 10x the person.
   34. Walt Davis Posted: June 01, 2020 at 02:55 AM (#5954659)
I find the reactions to the last dance sort of interesting. First, did folks expect it to actually rip Jordan to shreds? I understand the ethics of his company being one of the producers, etc. and that should be made more clear but you'd have to be naive to think they'd turn up/confirm scandals (and keep it all quiet until the film came out). Second, he still comes off as an #######. Sure, it's a hagiography in the "I will not let us lose" sense but beyond that and his relationship with his parents, it's a pretty bleak picture of his personality. He's dissing players and his own teammates, he admits a desire to personally humiliate opponents, it's clear he was brutal to Scott Burrell (and not just in person but made it clear with other people in those clips), he admits to punching Kerr, he admits to making #### up about other players dissing him and it's obvious he had a gambling problem. I don't think anybody could come away from watching that thinking "gee, I bet it would be fun to hang out with that guy."

He was ruthlessly competitive, a great player and he led my laundry to victory time and again ... and it was fun to relive those moments. Beyond that, it was a lot more honest than I expected (low hurdle) and was pretty well-constructed. (And I can't remember the last time Carmen Elektra even crossed my mind.)

Meanwhile, Pippen still isn't apologizing for sitting out that play. I don't know what he was expecting about that but just cop to a deeply immature moment and apologize. Of course it's likely that Jordan would have strangled Jackson on the spot if he'd suggested that play to Jordan.

I still consider that and how he handled Rodman to be Jackson's finest moments as a coach. Like Jordan, he just wanted to win by putting his best team on the floor. I'm not sure any other coach in any other sport wouldn't have benched Pippen for at least the start of the next game (and no fan would blame him). Phil just rolled past it (at least in public and on the court) and did much the same with Rodman's hijinks. The part of the doco about Rodman's sojourn to Vegas might have been my favorite bit.
   35. Ron J Posted: June 01, 2020 at 07:45 AM (#5954662)
#32 Oakley still hangs out with Jordan last I had heard. I admit that's not very current, but he was certainly a part of Jordan's circle after both had retired.

EDIT: Contactless Coke to dejarouehg
   36. Rally Posted: June 01, 2020 at 08:58 AM (#5954669)
I remember reading about Oakley being part of Jordan's entourage in Bill Simmons' book. Surprised me a little then, because Oakley was his teammate for only 3 years, and none of the championship years. His Knicks were eliminated by the Bulls 5 times in the playoffs in the Jordan years.
   37. Rally Posted: June 01, 2020 at 09:02 AM (#5954670)
Burrell was a legitimate 2 sport prospect, pitched a few partial seasons in the Toronto organization, and struck out 60 batters in 60 innings. Would have been the dominant one if they had met in baseball.
   38. Der-K's emotional investment is way up Posted: June 01, 2020 at 01:36 PM (#5954750)
Agassi was part of infamous tennis coach Nick Bollettieri's stable - and if that makes you think of horses, it should.

He put talented teenagers like Agassi up in his "academy" in Florida.

that academy was purchased / turned into the IMG Academy, which has churned out a number of high calibre baseball players - including all-stars Jose Fernandez and Chris Perez. (link)

   39. Itchy Row Posted: June 01, 2020 at 01:49 PM (#5954755)
With the Margo Adams thing, Wade Boggs was one of the first 1980's sports stars to have a scandal, but I don't think he's been in the news for anything other than baseball, beer, and TV guest star appearances otherwise.
   40. Zach Posted: June 01, 2020 at 03:57 PM (#5954778)
I'd put Mike Tyson on any list of 80s sports superstars, for instance. Globally, Diego Maradona may well have been #1. Lawrence Taylor may have been the #2 to Montana's #1...

I'm not going anywhere with this; I just find it interesting that some of the biggest stars of the Miami Vice era ended up having private lives that wouldn't make the cut for an average Tiger King episode.
   41. dejarouehg Posted: June 01, 2020 at 05:07 PM (#5954795)
it's obvious he had a gambling problem


Why is this obvious?

It's obvious that he likes/loves to gamble. He still managed to pay his divorce settlement in full. None of his kids ever publicly complained about his supporting them or that he ran out of money. No one, to my knowledge, is claiming he's stiffing them because he lost the money he owed them at the craps table.

This was media driven and their desire to take Jordan down a peg because they need to find fault with those who are uber-successful.

His problem is that his competitiveness is, to many, beyond over-the-top extreme and that he's a lousy owner, in terms of building a winner.



   42. Lowry Seasoning Salt Posted: June 02, 2020 at 12:43 AM (#5954868)
I still consider that and how he handled Rodman to be Jackson's finest moments as a coach.


Those years of the Bulls were the last years I followed basketball. The personality and presentation/marketing of Phil Jackson never clicked for me. But this interview with Peter Richmond, author of the biography Phil Jackson: Lord of the Rings, demonstrated for me how deft Jackson was with players (not that I've yet followed through and read the book):

http://www.bronxbanterblog.com/2013/12/26/bronx-banter-interview-peter-richmond/

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