Friday, January 14, 2011

Bobby Jones, Rod Laver, the Grand Slam, and the striking physical similarities between Colin Montgomery and Madeline Albright

Curator’s note
: Bobby Jones and Rod Laver commiserate over the Grand Slam.


Bobby Jones

January 14, 2011

George "Rod" Laver

Dear Rod,

I just wanted to write and say how sorry I am about you being subjected to this talk about Rafael Nadal and the Grand Slam.  You handled yourself quite well in that interview yesterday, but I know how frustrated you must be.  I felt the same way in April of 2001. 

Tiger had won the three previous majors, and the sports world was contemplating whether his winning the Masters would constitute a Grand Slam.  Isn't that just like the talking heads to manufacture story angles?  Tiger was the first to point out the lunacy of the argument, but the media wouldn’t let it go.  I think they settled on the “Tiger Slam” – but whatever: I’m just happy I was 30 years too dead to be interviewed.  I might not have been as humble as you.  If you ever need someone to talk to, I’m here for you.

With warm regards,

Bobby Jones
1930 Grand Slam Winner


George “Rod”Laver

January 13, 2011

Bobby Jones

Dear Bobby,

Hey mate, it's good to hear from you.  I didn’t know Heaven had a postal service.  Your letter arrived same day delivery.  Not as fast as email, but still pretty good.

Anyway, I’m going bloody crazy down here.  How many times do I have to say it: capturing the Grand Slam means winning all four major in the same year.  How difficult is that to understand?  If Nadal wins the 2011 Australian Open he will be one fourth of the way to the Grand Slam.  Simple as that.  Tennis isn’t mix and match shopping.  You don’t get to grab the French and Wimbledon one year and match them to the Australian and the U.S. Open the next.  That’s called the “Career Grand Slam.”

Look, if Rafa wins four in a row I’ll be the first to shake the man’s hand.  That would be an amazing accomplishment, considering he is competing against Federer.  My problem is that surfacing the Grand Slam question has shed doubt on my own Grand Slam achievements – that three of the tournaments were played on grass and that the competition wasn’t as good.  First, I could have beaten Chuck McKinley in the parking lot.  Second, you can only play against who you play against.  Laver or Sampras or Federer?  Who can say for sure?

Okay, I’m finished, except for one final point.  To his credit Nadal hasn’t suggested that winning this year’s Australian will earn him the Grand Slam.  He obviously understands that while Adrian Peterson and Whoopi Goldberg look alike, and while Colin Montgomery and Madaleine Albright really look alike, and while Mel Kiper, Jr. and Joey Buttafuoco are identical twins separated at birth, these people are NOT the same people. 

Hope things are good in heaven.  Good golf courses there?  Grass tennis courts?


Rod Laver
1962 and 1969 Grand Slam Champion


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