Italy


images-1Nadal and Federer (above), after Nadal saved 2 match points to defeat Roger in Rome in 2006, in their only 5 set match on clay to date.  Federer was 92-5 that year, in one of the most dominant single seasons in tennis history.

FORO ITALICO — INTERNAZIONALI BNL D’ITALIA (ROME, ITALY)

LADIES’ FINAL — 7:30 AM EST

Serena Williams:  – 450

Victoria Azarenka:  + 325

__ __ __ __ __ __

MEN’S FINAL — 10 AM EST

Rafael Nadal:  – 450

Roger Federer:  + 325

…..

Serena leads the h2h 11-2, is 1-0 on clay (Madrid, F, 2012, 6-1, 6-3), and has never lost a set to Vica on a specialty surface/soft court (grass + clay = 4 easy wins in 8 easy sets).  Obviously that is the knock on Azarenka, who is vulnerable to drop shots and balls that go back behind her, things she is not vulnerable to on hardcourts.  Nadal leads the h2h 19-10.  We’d give Roger more of a shot here than Vica, as again, it’s not often to see such a huge plus by either name, but we are expecting both favorites will come through.  If Fed is going to beat Rafa on clay this year, he should try to save it for RG.

Crack (https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com)

It’s true that Mike D’Antoni (above) is no longer a Knick, but we never counted him as one to start with.

Oh happy happy days. Our beloved Knickerbockers have dropped that tired, heartless “7 seconds or less” program, Wednesday firing coach Mike D’Antoni in what was a move long past due. Despite whatever shadowy shenanigans were reported otherwise about resignations and mutually agreed upon resignations and spontaneous, unplanned mutually contrived resignations, the Knicks did what they had to do and fired D’Antoni’s ass, at the behest of their star, Carmelo Anthony. Whether he spoke the words out loud “get this guy out of here” or not is of little consequence. He didn’t have to. We still have to thank Melo, Glen Grunwald, of course James Dolan, our major domo, and even Mike Woodson, who we do not like much better than Mike D’Antoni, but who stepped in and played one hell of a game of charades at The Garden Wednesday, and who will always play right along, making that nice Knicks assistant coaching and interim HC money, green as ever, for playing his part as house boy to the hilt.

Is that harsh? We really don’t mean it like that. We are thrilled to have Woodson as our HC. For the next 23 games. Couldn’t have been any happier unless one of the other holdover coaches, preferably Herb Williams or Kenny Atkins, had gotten the nod. But that’s okay. This Knicks rebuild is a process and a half, and in the long view, we also knew that D’Antoni was just a guy to point free agents to as being easy to play for during the recruitment part of the process, and that once the players were recruited, more or less, that a coach who is more than just a signpost would need to come aboard to do the heavy lifting, making a collection of players into a bona fide NBA squad that this city is desperate for.

So we won’t even quibble with yesterday’s grand folly at MSG, led by the major domo himself, out from behind his silk curtain, it seems, for the first time in a year. Remember the last time? After the consummation of the Anthony deal when James Dolan got up, lied through his teeth about Donnie Walsh’s pumped up but truly non existent role in the trade, and gritted out a tirade about Isiah Thomas and the foul lies of the whore media (that lives in the realm outside his own media empire). Once again, Dolan did not disappoint, aside from a tiny bone sliver we have yet to pick. First, get a little load of this press engagement:

To start it with a bang, Dolan says, “today we have mutually agreed with Mike D’Antoni that he will no longer coach the Knicks. Mike came in this morning and he met with Glen and Allan (Houston) and then they called me and I came up to the training center and met with Mike. It was not an event that was planned in any way. It just happened. This morning.”

What’s the over/under on lies in that paragraph? Today…that’s one lie. We have mutually…that’s two. Agreed…three. And what about this whopper? “It was not an event that was planned in any way.” Right. Hey there, kind sir, do whatever the flip you like. You do own these premises and the TV station bringing us all this fine spectacle, and it was your divine checkbook and never say die attitude that got Anthony here in the first place, and he’s truly the guy with a presence enough to advance the Knicks cause with this addition by subtraction, because of the failure between player and coach to get along and work together in D’Antoni’s system. No real Knicks fan has ever wanted anything to do with Mike D’Antoni, his southern drawl, and his very, very say die attitude, so pervasive that it’s caught fire with the very same foul whore media that James Dolan is so right to spurn, taking more care with the toilet paper stuck to his $3000 tassled loafer.

Should mega billionaire mogul James Dolan really be slumming with the sordid likes of dolts on par with Frank Isola and Mitch Lawrence of the Daily News, two guys who believe Mike D’Antoni didn’t get a real chance here, in 4 painfully long years, for reasons like this one: he never had a true point guard? Are these morons for real? When exactly have the Knicks had a true point guard? Walt “Clyde” Frazier graced us four decades ago and not since. The Knicks never promised D’Antoni a certain roster, a Steve Nash clone, an adequate big, that he’d never get booed, that they wouldn’t trade his boy toy Danilo Gallinari, or any owner–beat scum rendezvous for that matter either. What they promised him was a fat $24M, which he’s getting, and apparently some shallow ruse to save face, perhaps feeling some obligation to protect D’Antoni from embarrassment even though his team quit on him. Maybe the king of the realm felt truly bad for D’Antoni, the boo-ee, or maybe he was just giddy that this fantasy actually played out, enough to not publicly fire him.  Maybe Dolan is so media conscious and disturbed by the possible bad press that he had Glen Grunwald author this Shakespearian comedy.

For Grunwald as interim GM of the club also does not wish to be seen as a guy who fired the great Mike D’Antoni.  But Grunwald, as Senior Vice President of Basketball Operations does have the authority to scheme up a mutual half resignation plot, thereby saving James Dolan the perceived indignity of the vile stupid whore media which would have rained down upon him had he been so cold as to publicly discharge Mike D’Antoni, media darling and millionaire many times over, no doubt recovering his hurty feelings in one of his mansions or luxury apartments right now.

Dolan should’ve fired him when he first wanted to, after the Knicks blew a 15 point lead with 6 minutes to play at MSG last year at the same time when the owner was entertaining a party of friends.  But since Dolan doesn’t fire millionaires short of embarrassing public sex trials, he sent Donnie Wheelchair to do it.  Since Donnie doesn’t roll like that, Dolan planted a similar circumstance on Walsh at the end of his contract.  But he didn’t fire him.  He just didn’t retain him. He didn’t fire him.  He simply refused to negotiate with him on a new contract.  Well, not actually but rather mutually they decided together that Walsh would no longer be president of the Knicks anymore, quite obviously.

Grunwald and Dolan could never have orchestrated this delightfully demeaning hoax without Carmelo Anthony, who is not losing any sleep over these events.  D’Antoni foolishly picked a passive aggressive media war with Melo, perhaps forgetting that Anthony rest some 15M points higher than him in the pecking order of the Knicks power structure.

When the press would ask the coach if Stoudemire was doing all he can this year, the answer was always yes, without hesitation.  When asked the same question about Anthony, there was much hemming and hawing. D’Antoni simply didn’t have the “thrust” to beat Anthony at that game.  Is Anthony a coach killer?  Damned good thing he is.  His actions spurred the necessary change here that sprung the elaborate two party mutually consented upon resignation of Mike D’Antoni.  Anthony blew up a franchise just last year.  Why would he have any qualms about statements like “the Knicks could learn a lot from the Heat” because the Heat “practice so hard” and he “wished the Knicks practiced like Miami.”  Kudos sir.  Or when constantly hounded by the press about D’Antoni’s beloved system, Melo called it “just another system” and suggested it was a system that hasn’t won anything on this side of the Atlantic.  Kudos again.  When that wasn’t enough, Anthony resorted to back channels, or for the NBA, whispers from one’s entourage.  BTW, since this source works in the Knicks front office, it’s not a stretch to deduce that Anthony’s entourage and the club’s management are linked very closely, if they are not actually part of the same circle.  Did Anthony speak the words that he wished to be traded?  Of course not. Did someone suggest to the stupid whore media that Anthony wasn’t happy which the stupid whore press then re-interpreted as a trade demand to squeeze out one more cheap headline, NYC style? Indeed.

As the fiction goes, Mike D’Antoni was so despondent lately that he could barely keep down his rigatoni, yet the other day was in spirits high enough that when asked about a defined role for Knicks whipping boy Toney Douglas, he laughed and said, “he doesn’t have any role. It doesn’t get more defined than that”. Class right until the end.

An end, which despite Wednesday’s farce was classier than this coach deserved.  The Knicks were 45 games under .500 for his tenure, and the only identity the team built was that they were lazy and apathetic.

There’d have been absolutely nothing wrong with the Knicks standing up and saying, “You know what? We suck and we’re tired of it.  It starts with the coach.  We get embarrassed at home and away, and guys aren’t trying.  We spent 230M on a front line and this coach did not make it work.  This is New York, this is the NBA, the big leagues, and it is just unacceptable.  The front office rebuilt the team.  The coach failed and was given ample time and resources, contrary to fucking ludicrous media reports.  Therefore we had to shit-can this shitbird.”

But alas, it all supposedly went down much more mutually and spontaneously, like a quality one night stand with a fine piece of ass, because Dolan and Grunwald and Allan Houston don’t fire great coaches.  And as for Phil Webber and Dan D’Antoni, they must have just spontaneously combusted.

Crack (https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com)

Francesca Schiavone, the 2010 French Open champion (above).

It’s understandable if newly crowned French champ Francesca Schiavone has a little hangover still from Paris.  Schiavone, a heavy underdog at Roland Garros shocked Sam Stosur in the final, to become the first Italian woman to win a major, at the ripe old age of 30.

https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2010/06/04/womens-french-open-finals-vegas-odds/

https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2010/06/05/francesca-schiavone-2010-french-open-champion/

Schiavone started the week as the women’s new # 6 overall, but could not overcome Roumanian Sorana Cirstea, who defeated the French champ 7-5, 6-3 in 1 hour and 31 minutes.  Schiavone struggled to hold serve this morning.  She saved 9 out of 15 break chances, but was still broken 6 times–an element of her game that plagues her on faster surfaces.

–Crack (http://crackbillionair.tumblr.com)