I don't publicize it but Friday nights are pour moi. If possible I avoid the Internet and sit and watch television. I did that for the first part of the evening catching up on shows I missed during the week that were sitting on the DVR and preparing for a tennis overdose tomorrow by avoiding the above mentioned internet and except for a foray onto the Foodnetwork to find an oven setting I did well.
But such is my life that I got a text asking when my fave ATP player was going to play so I went to the BNP Paribas Open/Indian Wells official site to check out the Order of Play.
You see once I start looking at tennis stuff my brain short circuits and I end up on tennis fanboards. That is how I found out about the Dust Up in the Desert (I don't have that rhyming gene a la Muhammad Ali. Sorry.) The boards were all lit up about some trash talk between Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras. There was talk of a fired up Agassi with blood shot eyes going after Sampras the way he did in his book. Deciding I needed to find out just how serious this was I went on Twitter and the tennisheads were all over the situation too. Insinuations were being made there that Andre appeared to be "on something".
I found this hard to believe. I mean what tennis player is going to take the court in a high profile exhibition match aimed at raising money for the people suffering in Haiti intoxicated or high? Andre has done a lot to tarnish his image in the last few months and something like that would just be beyond the pale.
Fortunately Tennis Channel's war with Cablevision ended right after the US Open last year so when someone let me know they were repeating the event I put on my television. This was the regular television not the HD one that's in the living room. I had read that on HD the condition of Andre's eyes was very clear so I decided that when the men's segment came on I'd watch it on the HD television.
It must be said that Martina Navratilova talked all through the women's portion but while annoying it didn't get personal. Unfortunately my ear isn't tuned to her accent when she's speaking fast so I didn't catch a lot of what she said. I can say I'm sure that no insults were spoken by her.
Unfortunately I could easily understand what Andre was saying. It started when he said younger viewers probably wonder who the two bald guys are playing with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. Even though Sampras managed to reply by saying he still had some hair left you could see that he was annoyed to say the least. Losing your hair is traumatic for anyone, male or female, as Andre of all people should know. You will read that it started when Pete imitated Andre's pigeon toed walk. Sampras did that after the hair comment. Now it was Andre's turn not to be amused.
Before you could settle down Andre started in on Pete being a cheapskate and bad tipper. First he turned his pockets out and imitated a person pretending to look for money in said pockets and finding none. A few minutes later he said he'd hate to be a parking valet when Pete drove up.
Sampras aimed a serve right at Andre barely missing him. The crowd had been laughing and taking the comments lightly. Now an uneasy silence reigned and both Federer and Nadal were quite uncomfortable. Federer tried to make some jokes of his own but by that point things had gone too far downhill to salvage the good feelings that were part of the first few points.
Both Tracy Austin and Patrick McEnroe were stunned into silence. Justin Gimelstob tried his best to calm the waters but instead seemed to be making matters worse. At the end there was an embrace at the net but no one was fooled. Emotions were still running high.
By the end of the match Agassi had run out of gas and his team lost 8-6 to Federer/Sampras. But the score will always be secondary to what happened between the two biggest stars of American tennis. It's perverse tennis history and something that will be talked about for a long time. Was Andre "on something" as many implied? I don't know. I know that I saw that his eyes were big and round, pupils hugely dilated, the whites of his eyes were bloodshot and that he suddenly ran out of gas leaving Rafa to play two men on his own. HDTV is a bitch. It shows everything.
What should have been a joyous occasion before a packed house turned out to be a downer. The people of Haiti, and the people who put the exhibition together, deserved better.
The good news is that a check for one million dollars was given to the Red Cross. That is what this was supposed to be about.