Those Damn Yankees


As a New Yorker, you know I love the Yankees.  This is a tennis story about one Yankee who was very loved; one who was not so admired and a Washington Nationals player.

It all started on a tennis court during a USTA match months ago.   One of our players beat a girl from a visiting team fairly easily.  She met up with her in another match a few months later, and beat her yet again.  As female players will do, they struck up conversations on change overs, went to lunch afterwards and even made a “mall date” for the future….until they met for a third time on the field of competition.

My player, whom I will call Molly, beat her opponent, who I will call Morticia 6-2, 6-1 in a rather short period of time.  Morticia had friends visiting from her home town and asked Molly if they could sit on the court to watch the match.  Molly agreed, although she later acknowledged that their chatting in their unfamiliar native tongue was a little unsettling to her.

After the match, as female players will often do, the group of women proceeded to the snack bar, had lunch and hours later, parted ways, agreeing to meet up at the new Outlet Mall after Memorial Day.  A day later, Molly received a text from her opponent Morticia that read, “I know what you did on the court yesterday, and if you want to cheat to win, then so be it.  You are not a nice person.”

You can imagine Molly’s shock and horror.  She immediately called Morticia.  The call went directly into voice mail.  Molly apologized for whatever Morticia thought she did, begging her to call her back.  After numerous phone calls and text messages went unanswered, Molly finally gave up.  She asked me, “WWLSD?”  (What Would Liz Stockton Do?).  Well, the Liz Stockton from 35 years ago would probably have ordered a hit on Morticia, but this older and hopefully more mature version of Liz Stockton would handle this unfortunate incident as Reggie Jackson and Bryce Harper did.

Reggie Jackson was no doubt an ego maniac, controversial and seemingly oblivious to attacks from the press and fans alike.  He was talented, confident to the point of arrogance and he definitely had the numbers to back up the bravado.

Bryce Harper was a rookie phenomenon a few years ago.  He rose to the highest levels of major league baseball and throughout his climb, he was attacked by the press, opposing players, teammates and fans.  During a press conference he was asked if the comments bothered him, because it appeared that they didn’t.  He smiled and said, “In the words of Reggie Jackson, they don’t boo a nobody.”

With greatness, comes tremendous pressure, responsibility and notoriety.  Many people ultimately want to see someone fail, and they revel in that failure, “I knew he sucked.”   If they’re talking smack about you, you must be good enough. 

Molly didn’t do anything wrong.  If you look at her statistics, it would seem illogical that she would suddenly feel the need to cheat.  Her first two wins were easy, her third win being the easiest.  Perhaps Morticia was experiencing a case of “sour grapes.”  Maybe Morticia’s friends got in her ear and convinced her that Molly was a cheater.  It’s all so ridiculous that I’m loathe to even address it, but hey, this stuff happens.

This incident happened weeks ago, and I know Molly is still shaken up.  My advice to Molly is to let it go.  She can’t control what people think about her, nor can she convince Morticia that she’s wrong.  I told Molly to grow a thicker skin, roll with the crazies, hold her head up, continue to play her game and remember, they don’t boo a nobody.

Be Amazing, Molly, Be Amazing.   (and Be Fierce).

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When my parents first came to this country in 1964, there were many things that didn’t make sense to them, at first. My father would watch baseball in the hopes that, somehow, he would be