Thursday, December 29, 2011

What a Mouthful!

I'm on record as saying that the site is a nice addition to the squash world's relatively paltry offerings for news. I make it a point to visit "the Report" after first checking out SquashSite. I definitely recommend lovers of squash bookmark both sites....

The Report does, however, have its quirks. The daily news is posted in the morning, so anything newsworthy that happens during the day will not appear until the next morning. So when Willstrop won the Punj Lloyd PSA Masters tournament, and thereby ascended to #1 player in the world rankings, there was nothing on the Report's site until the next day. But okay, fair enough, I'm sure the folks putting the Report out have other things to do during the day, and aren't sitting around a desk waiting for squash news to come drifting in. 

Another quirky thing about the site is the writing of Rob Dinerman. I've never met the man, but having read his articles over the years you can draw a few firm conclusions: he is a hardball fanatic, is not a fan of US Squash (probably because of its embrace of softball), and is not a fan of the common period.

He writes enthusiastic reviews of professional doubles tournaments, in particular those played under the ISDA banner. He also recently picked what he considered the most important squash performances of 2011 in an article he wrote for his site, and of the 8 players highlighted, 5 were squash hardballers -- a disproportionate number, surely. But again, to each his own. If the Report wants to be mainly a venue for original articles about squash doubles, that's fine, although certainly limiting.

But of enduring interest is what appears to be Mr. Dinerman's antipathy towards the period -- a/k/a the full stop. He doesn't seem to like them, sometimes going to seemingly extreme lengths to avoid their use. Here is a wonderful example, from his recent article about the ISDA tour:

When Manek Mathur and Yvain Badan posted sequential victories over first Damien Mudge and Ben Gould (rupturing their 46-0 skein) and then Matt Jenson and Clive Leach, the top two ranked teams on the ISDA tour, in the final two rounds of the Briggs Cup, the last and most lucrative pro hardball doubles tournament in calendar 2011, they completely upended the prevailing status quo, generated the most noteworthy accomplishment in the nearly nine years since Leach and Blair Horler dethroned reigning champs Mudge and Gary Waite in the final of the April 2003 Kellner Cup (on a daring Horler reverse-corner at 14-13 in the fifth), became the first team in the 12-year history of the ISDA to win a tournament in which they faced match-point-against in the third game of their semi and culminated a meteoric ascent from having to hack their way through the qualifying rounds as recently as this past January to winning an event of this magnitude less than a year later.
When I first read this paragraph I searched desperately for a period, but only at the very end of the paragraph, spent and exhausted, did I find one.

It's clearly Dinerman's writing style, which he has honed over many years. I am a writer and an editor, and frankly I wouldn't write that paragraph that way, but clearly Mr. Dinerman is just exercising his own artistic license, and I'm all for artistry. 

I was curious, though. There are ways of judging the difficulty in a written sample, and it has become something of a science. I am occasionally called on to write at a 6th grade level, for example, because I need to convey in layman's terms rather complicated things about medicine that need explaining, but big words cannot be used. Well, there is a site for figuring out grade-level reading abilities. WordsCount analyzes text through various means and can estimate the level of education one must have in order to understand it. So by copying the above sentence-paragraph into the readability calculator, I was able to get an approximation of the grade level one would need to understand the text. 

The Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level was 65. 

Not 6th grade, but 65th grade. What the hell is that, anyway?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Smart Move

The Pro Squash Tour, Joe McManus' let-shunning sports creation, has just made a very smart move, decreeing that as of the new year all players must wear eye protection.

It's been worrying me that in a no-let tournament players will be more likely to accidentally hit unprotected eyes as they scramble to get around the other player. I felt there was an accident out there waiting to happen.

It turns out McManus must have been thinking the same thing. And now he's fixed the problem. Players will probably whine a bit, but after awhile it will become part of the deal: If you want to play PST, you have to don the glasses. Easily enough done.....

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Old Farts Play On, Despite All

I ain't no spring chicken, so the prospect of playing 4.5 league ball with those who are often 3 decades younger than I can often be discombobulating, disheartening, and disagreeable, leaving me disgruntled. That's just the way it goes when you are an athlete who's beginning to age out of the standard competition.

So here's a thought. Let's start new, age-based league divisions, starting at about 55 and going up by decades.

The Official League Denoting the Fellowship of Aging, Rheumatologic, Tragicomic Squash players -- The OLD FARTS -- could play once a month (not every week; we need time to recuperate). We might all chip in to have an orthopedist on hand in case something untoward happens. 

Or maybe a cardiologist.

Who's in?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Willstrop or Won'tstrop?

James Willstrop, current world #2, can attain the #1 ranking if he wins the Punj Lloyd PSA Masters tournament, which starts tomorrow. I hope he does it.

I've always been of the opinion that Willstrop is just too damned tall to be the best of the best, and yet the guy, to his immense credit, keeps trying to do just that. He's just come off two very successful tournaments, winning both the Hong Kong Open and the Kuwait PSA Cup. For some reason nobody has yet told him that he is too tall to play top squash. He's proven me wrong about my prognostications about his height and i'm both happy for and impressed by him.

He's only 28, so he still has some good years left, but this may be his best opportunity yet. With all the effort he has put in, I want him to be able to look back and say he made it to #1. Best of luck, Mr. Willstrop!