Superbowl Sunday 🏈

Chiefs become first team in 20 years to win back-to-back Super Bowls
LAS VEGAS — The NFL has a repeat champion for the first time in 19 years. The Kansas City Chiefs, with a third Super Bowl triumph in five seasons, cemented the league’s modern-day dynasty with a 25-22 overtime win against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.

This one, the same as the last two for Kansas City and its superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes, came with a stirring second-half comeback and, this time, with some late heroics in overtime.

Jake Moody’s 27-yard field goal on the first possession of overtime put the 49ers ahead 22-19, but the Chiefs responded with a 13-play, 75-yard drive and won it on 3-yard touchdown pass from Mahomes to Mecole Hardman.
– Zak Keefer, National Staff Writer for The Athletic

Overtime is over, and the game is over, and the usual pandemonium erupts onto the field.
The confetti is real. The purple oysters shooting green slime onto the field are from cartoon channel Nickelodeon, as are Spongebob SquarePants and his foil Patrick Star (an overweight coral-pink starfish), in the bottom left corner.
Superstar Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (28).

Sunday/ a new champion 🥕

Congratulations to Jannik Sinner (Italian, 22), the 2024 Australian Open Men’s Singles champion. It’s his first Grand Slam title.

Sinner rallied back from two sets down, to outlast Daniil Medvedev 3-6, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-3. Medvedev was definitely the underdog, since he had lost his past three matches against Sinner.

Picture from the Australian Open website. The carrots are a nod to Sinner’s red-orange hair.

Friday/ the last of the year’s pro tennis 🎾

The hard indoor courts in Turin are ‘fast’— very different from Alcaraz’s home turf of red clay.
Still, he showed by winning Wimbledon on grass this year that he can adapt rapidly to new court conditions.
A two-time Grand Slam champion and already fabulously rich at age 20, I just hope he keeps the fire in his belly and will be able to play for another 10 years without a career-ending injury.

There is spectacular men’s tennis on display in Turin, Italy, this week.
It is the last of the year: the world’s top eight players squaring off in the ATP Nitto Finals.
The semifinals are tomorrow.
Jannik Sinner (Italy, 22) plays Daniil Medvedev, from a country non grata*, 27)
Carlos Alcaraz (Spain, 20) plays Novak Djokovic (36, Serbia).
*The one that invaded Ukraine. When will that terrible war end?

Update Sat 11/18: Well, winning the ATP Finals was not to be, for Alcaraz this year. He lost 3-6, 2-6. It will be Sinner and Djokovic in the final.

Saturday/ on top of the world 🏉 🇿🇦

Bok, bok, staan styf
Hoeveel vingers op jou lyf?

(An Afrikaans rhyme from a children’s game.
Loosely translated, it says
‘Bok, bok, hold still.
What number of fingers do you feel?
Four! says the Bok).

Top: Reporting in The Observer/ The Guardian by Robert Kitson at the Stade de France.
Cartoon by South African cartoonist Dr Jack. One more stripe can now be added under the Rugby World Cup trophy on the Bok’s sleeve.
The event takes place every four years, and South Africa has now won four times: 1995, 2007, 2019, 2023. The first RWC was held in 1987 and other past winners are: New Zealand (3 times), Australia (twice) and England (once).

Saturday/ another win for the green & gold 🏉

Congratulations to the Bokke from South Africa, coming from behind and notching a 16-15 win against England, in today’s 2023 World Rugby Cup semi-final.
New Zealand’s All Blacks easily dispatched the Argentinian team by 44-6 in the other semi-final on Friday.
The final is next Saturday, in the Stade de France stadium, in Paris.

Handre Pollard of South Africa kicks his side’s second penalty during the 2023 Rugby World Cup semi-final against England. The only try (‘touch down’) of the match came in the 69th minute, when South Africa’s replacement lock RG Snyman went over the line.  
[Photograph: Adam Pretty/World Rugby/Getty Images]

Thursday/ ‘I’ in Japanese 🏯

Here is Eric Margolis writing for the Japan Times (just the introduction of a long article):
You may have learned that “I” is 私 (watashi). And while this is a handy all-around term to use when referring to yourself, a 2019 survey showed that over 30% of Japanese women and around 70% of Japanese men don’t regularly use it.
To make things even more confusing, people do or don’t use 私 entirely depending on the situation. While 80% of women in their 50s expected to use 私 to address colleagues or acquaintances their own age, just 30% expected to use it for people they met for the first time. Meanwhile, 60% of men in their 50s expected to use it when meeting a young person for the first time. But that percentage dropped to 40% of the time when they were meeting someone their own age.
Japanese dictionaries and resources list over 30 different words for just one in English: “I”. Every word expresses different nuances about how the speaker views themselves and what their relationship is to the person they’re speaking with. There’s わたし (watashi), わたくし (watakushi), あたし (atashi), 僕 (boku), 吾輩 (wagahai), 俺 (ore), うち (uchi), 儂 (washi), 麿 (maro) and 自分 (jibun), just to name a few. So how to know which one to use?

P.S. I would have loved to be in Japan right now, at the tennis courts watching some Japan Open tennis action.

Posted by The Japan Times on X, today.

Sunday/ go Bokke! 🏉

South Africa’s Springbokke prevailed 29-28 over the hometeam ‘Les Bleus’ from France in tonight’s 2023 Rugby World Cup quarterfinal. The match was played in the Stade de France, the national stadium of France, located just north of Paris in the commune of Saint-Denis.

Next Saturday the Bokke will play against England.
In the other semifinal Argentina will take on New Zealand.

Eben Etzebeth played in the No 4 lock position, and is scoring a crucial try here, 27 minutes into the second half, to win the game for the Springboks.
[Photo by Associated Press]

Sunday/ it’s a wrap 🪲

The US Open tennis tournament is a wrap*— and I believe this coat with a green sheen, on a Tesla Model Y, is a wrap as well.

*Novak Djokovic (Serbia, 36) beat Danill Medvedev (27) in straight sets in today’s Men’s Singles final. I pay my respects to Djokovic begrudgingly.  I am not a fan of his.

Saturday/ congrats, Coco! 🏆

Coco Gauff (19) is the first American teenager to win the US Open since Serena Williams won the tournament in 1999 at 17.

Coco Gauff (above, USA, 19) ran down just about all the shots that Aryna Sabalenka (Belarus, 25) blasted at her, neutralizing Sabalenka’s aggressive play.
Final score: Gauff 2-6 6-3 6-2.
[Photo: Karsten Moran for The New York Times]

Monday/ the US Open starts 🎾

The US Open tennis tournament is under way, at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens, New York City.

It is— amazingly— the 50th anniversary of the US Open becoming the first sporting event to offer equal prize money to female and male competitors, promising never to stop fighting to maintain that hard-won progress. (It would take 34 years before all the other Grand Slam events followed suit. This year, the US Open winners will each receive $3 million, with total player compensation rising to $65 million).
– James Martinez reporting for the Associated Press

The competition is ferocious, and No 4 seed Holger Rune (age 20, Denmark) is out.
He lost in four sets against Roberto Carballés Baena (30, Spain)— serving, and about to close out the third set.
This is an outside court, Court No 5. Rune complained about the court before the match, posting a map on X of the court’s location for his fans, saying he thought he deserved to play on a stadium court. He did admit after the match that he was outplayed and cannot blame Court No 5 for his loss.
[Still frame from video on US Open website]

Monday/ clear enough 🌝

The surface smoke from the wildfires in Canada and the Pacific Northwest that hung over the city on Sunday, had cleared enough by Monday morning so that the amigos could go out and play a little pickle ball.

Wednesday/ Stan the Man 👨

There is tennis in Cincinnati, Ohio this week: the Cincinnati Open (also going by its sponsor’s name, the Western & Southern Open).

The hardcourt season is in full swing, in the run-up to the year’s last Grand Slam tournament that starts on August 28— the US Open in New York City.

The Cincinnati Open was first held in Sept. 1899, and is the oldest tennis tournament in the United States that is still played in its original city.
Action from last night: Stan ‘The Man’ Wawrinka (Switserland, 38 yrs old) rolls back time by ten years with this incredible pickup way, wa-ay out wide.
He outplayed Francis ‘Big Foe’ Tiafoe (USA, 25) in straight sets, 6-3, 6-4.
[Screenshot from TennisTV streaming service]

Sunday/ Sweden, by a hair 🙈

A goal is scored in soccer when the ball completely passes over the goal line, between the goalposts, and beneath the crossbar at either end of the soccer field. It first appeared that US goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher had successfully stopped Lina Hurtig’s penalty kick, but a video review revealed that the ball had crossed the line, by a hair.
Of course: one could argue that it should not have come to a penalty shootout in the first place— that the US team should have bested Sweden by at least one goal in regular time, or in extra time.
[Images from Fox Soccer @FOXSoccer on X]

Sweden won the penalty shootout, 5-4, to eliminate the United States from FIFA’s 2023 Women’s World Cup.

The American team was billed by some as the favorite to win yet again, after winning two consecutive champion-ships, in 2015 and 2019.

Fridolina Rolfo scoring Sweden’s first goal of the shootout, past the outstretched arms of U.S. goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher on Sunday.
[Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images]

Monday/ Wimbledon starts 🎾

The two-week tennis tournament at the freshly-mowed green grass courts of the All England Lawn Tennis Club in London SW19’s Wimbledon village* started today.
Russian and Belarusian players are allowed to compete this year, after they were banned from Wimbledon in 2022. (The ban achieved nothing, really).

*The village is referred to as “Wimbedounyng” in a charter signed by King Edgar the Peaceful in 967. The name Wimbledon means “Wynnman’s hill”, with the final element of the name being the Celtic “dun” (hill).
In June 1877 the club decided to organize a tennis tournament to pay for the repair of its pony roller, which was used to maintain the lawns.
The championship has been held every year since then, outside of the World War I and II years (so not held 1915-18, 1940-45).

Jannik Sinner (Italy, 21) at full stretch in his match today against Juan Manuel Cerundolo (Argentina, 21). Sinner won in straight sets (6-2, 6-2, 6-2) and will face another Argentinian in the second round: Diego Schwartzman.
[Photo from]

Wednesday/ hello summer 🌞

We are blessed with goldilocks weather here in Seattle at the start of summer— mild and sunny, with a high of 72 °F (22 °C) today.
Sunrise was at 5.11 am and sunset at 9.10 pm, so we had just a touch under 16 hours of sunlight.

The amigos in action this morning at the Mt. Baker Park tennis (and pickle ball) courts. Everyone is up at the kitchen line (the kitchen is the non-volley zone at the net) and showing good form. 🤗

Saturday/ three titles in four years 🎾

Congratulations to Iga Swiatek (22) from Poland.
She bested Karolína Muchová (Czechia, 26) by 6-2, 5-7, 6-4 in the French Open Women’s Final at Roland Garros today.

Iga Swiatek now has three French Open titles in four years, and four Grand Slam titles overall. She is only 22, and No 1 in the world of women’s tennis.
[Thomas Samson/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images]

Wednesday/ sweaty 😅

It was warm here in the city today (85 °F/ 30 °C).
Most of the Pacific Northwest has— so far— been spared the smoke from Canada that is plaguing New York City and the Northeast.

The amigos were out on the pickle ball courts at Mount Baker park this morning while it was still OK to play.
We picked the pickle ball court that has a nice patch of shade on the one side of the net.

Saturday/ tennis, in Rome 🎾

The ATP* tour action is in Rome this week and next, at the ATP Masters 1000 called the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, on the red clay courts of the Foro Italico grounds.

As the players walk onto the court, the speakers play rousing music from Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana. The stadium around center court reminds one a little of the Colosseum. (The Colosseum was built in the years between CE 70 and 72 at the height of the Roman Empire).

*Association of Tennis Professionals

Superstar Carlos ‘Carlitos’ Alcaraz (Spain, 20) on the far side, won his second-round match against countryman Albert Ramos Viñolas (35) in two straight sets. As of today, Alcaraz is back at the top of the ATP world rankings, in the No 1 position.
These weeks are the final run-up to the climax of the clay court season: the French Open at Roland Garros in Paris. The Really Big Question on every tennis fan’s mind: Will Rafa (Nadal, 36, 14-time French Open champion) play in Paris? He was to play in Rome but announced beforehand that he decided to withdraw, still hampered by a nagging hip injury.

Sunday/ way to go, Kraken! 🏒

The Seattle Kraken knocked off the defending Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche by 2 goals to 1 tonight in Denver, in the seventh and final game of their first-round play-off series.

From the Seattle Times:
A blistering, second-period wrist shot by Kraken winger Oliver Bjorkstrand had stunningly put his team ahead by two and allowed followers of his second-year franchise to dare to dream the impossible.
After being outplayed most of Sunday night’s opening-round Game 7 to that point, the Kraken somehow had found themselves poised to knock out the defending Stanley Cup champions for good. And though the Colorado Avalanche eventually did mount a furious, desperation-fueled comeback, the Kraken and goalie Philipp Grubauer held on for a history-making, 2-1 victory and advanced to a second-round playoff showdown starting this week against the Dallas Stars.
– By Geoff Baker, Seattle Times staff reporter

Seattle Kraken goaltender Philipp ‘Gru’ Grubauer gathers in a loose puck before Colorado Avalanche center Alex Newhook can get off a shot, as defenseman Vince Dunn defends during the first period. Gru successfully fended off 32 out of 33 attempts at his goal tonight.
[Picture by Jennifer Buchanan / The Seattle Times]