Tennis still not listening

STEVE SIMMONS -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:59 AM ET

Twenty two years later, and still no one has learned much of anything from the retirement of Bjorn Borg.

He walked away from tennis at 27, primarily because he objected to playing a schedule that belied the health of his body and mind.

And during one of the rain breaks at Wimbledon last month, John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors got to talking on the BBC about Borg's early retirement -- and how a simple adjustment in the schedule and expectation of the touring pros should have changed because of it.

But it has been painfully apparent this week in Toronto that the problem exists, apparent that greed and sponsorship pressure taxes tennis players beyond their physical means.

If a starting pitcher in baseball can take the mound only once every five days, how is it tennis players are expected to serve -- a similar motion -- every day, without any kind of relief?

The mess that has been this week's Rogers Cup at the Rexall Centre is really nothing new. It has been around forever, another sport playing its fans for suckers.

THIS AND THAT

Should the Marian Hossa salary dispute with the Ottawa Senators proceed to arbitration as scheduled, the team will get hit up for close to $7 million US a year in salary. Hossa has better numbers than Jarome Iginla or Vinny Lecavalier over the past four years, which means the Senators have a choice to make: 1) walk away from the arbitration award, which would be foolish; 2) Do the NBA thing and sign Hossa and then trade him; 3) Agree to the Hossa number and then move other players to make cap room available. Option 3 means one quality Senator isn't likely to be in Ottawa come October or November ... Lou Lamoriello, who doesn't overpay for anything including dinner, overpaid for Alexander Mogilny. For $7 million, he bought a semi-interested player of immense talent, who won't or can't play through pain and always leaves you wanting just a little more ... Mogilny, for the record, might be the brightest guy and the best quote in all hockey. So there is some value in that.

HEAR AND THERE

Only Gary Bettman can lead the NHL from ESPN to the Outdoor Life Network and proclaim victory for hockey ... Yesterday on the OLN, the All Star Bar BQ Showdown came on TV just after the Cheyenne Rodeo. Yee-haw ... Why is there any argument over Team Canada's goaltending backup for the Olympic Games. It's Roberto Luongo's job to lose, isn't it? ... Has Glen Sather just given up and not told anybody? How else do you explain the Rangers' signings of Martin Straka, Marek Malik, Ville Nieminen, Martin Rucinsky and Jason Ward? How many fourth lines can you have? ... Ron Francis hasn't officially announced his retirement, although his play in the 2004 playoffs seemed to do it for him ... Two of Bob Goodenow's biggest supporters, Vinny Damphousse and Arturs Irbe, are without signed contracts for the coming season ... What the Maple Leafs and Paul McCartney have in common: Neither play with wings anymore.

SCENE AND HEARD

The best player in the CFL that nobody talks about is B.C. running back Antonio Warren ... Hard to think in these elite terms, but Andre Rison, playing out the string with the Argos, has scored more touchdowns in the NFL than either Fred Biletnikoff or O.J. Simpson ... Jesse Lumsden's chances of earning a place on the Seattle Seahawks roster are growing slim as he continues to limp through camp. He may find a place on the practice roster, though ... Wonder who has CFL rights to bad boy running back Maurice Clarett, who is certain to get the pink slip in Denver ... For all the complaining about Jose Canseco's book, none of the people named in it as steroid users has filed suit against him ... The big difference with the Calgary Stampeders: Tom Higgins in, Matt Dunigan out ... So Randy Moss has admitted to smoking pot. So big whoop. Hands up, both of you, who haven't indulged.

AND ANOTHER THING

Don't know what would have been worse, having a football game without announcers or plugging in the Argos radio crew for television purposes last night ... Had it been anybody but Tiger Woods packing up and going home while still in contention at the PGA, the golfer would have been ripped up and down. But it's Tiger, and he is the game, so everybody walks on eggshells ... Chris Carpenter never looked like Cy Young material when he pitched for the Blue Jays ... Tough off-season for the Jays to have spending money when the free-agent field is awfully thin ... Above anything else, a fan has to have hope. So how do the Raptors maintain their fan base as they continue to get worse by inactivity? ... The Houston Astros have been shut out in six of Roger Clemens starts, four of which ended up as 1-0 losses ... Bob Costas on the television poker craze: "At the risk of alienating degenerates from coast to coast, I must say I find it hard to get worked up over a sport that boasts all the pageantry and magic of Saturday night in my Uncle Murray's basement." ... Under the new one-time amnesty clause, NBA teams have paid $212 million to clear players who won't play from their roster for the current season ... And hey, whatever became of Joe Sacco?


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