by Lang Whitaker

I was out of the office all day yesterday, pulling off a rare doubleheader of New York sports stuff. My parents were in town, so I spent the last two weeks procuring tickets, and finally managed to pull it off.

We started by going out to Queens yesterday morning and spending all day at the afternoon session of the US Open. I’ve never been much of a tennis fan, but I do appreciate great athletes; from our seats in Arthur Ashe Stadium, we saw four of the greatest athletes in the world play: Rafael Nadal, Amelie Mauresmo, Roger Federer and Serena Williams. (Here’s a Sidekick picture I took of Nadal serving.)

It was a pretty cool event, and I got particularly interested in watching the ballboys, who were trying to run around and collect the loose balls while being as inconspicuous as possible. There was one moment where there was one of the kids grabbed a ball and ran behind Federer, as he sprinted behind him he bumped into a umpire and three balls went flying into the air, bouncing all over the place. Of course, every eye in the stadium focused in on the poor kid, as he scrambled around trying to grab all the balls. He finally collected them and, in trying to hustle to his spot, rammed into a cameraman. When he finally got to his spot even Federer was watching him. Federer then calmly said, “Ball, please.”

From the US Open we busted it up to the Bronx and went to the Yankees/Tigers game, which was great, too. My dad had been to Yankee Stadium as a kid in 1949 and hadn’t been back since, so he was pretty excited to get back. We had great seats, right behind third base, and we got to see what was a close, exciting game until we left, exhausted, in the 8th, with the Yankees ahead 3-2. Got home and found out the Yanks lost on a two-out homer in the top of the ninth.

Anyway, that’s why I was away all day yesterday. And then this weekend we’ve got Labor Day, so thing might be a little slow around here then, too.

For now, though, let’s check out The Links…

QUOTES OF THE DAY
“They already knew what they wanted. They said it was a tryout, but they already had their team selected … No joke, I felt like I was the 16th man on a 15-man roster. You are there to support your team and support your country and be happy to play but you know, I did everything they wanted me to do; but if I did everything they wanted me to do, why am I on the bubble of getting cut? I sacrificed. You’ve got LeBron being LeBron. You’ve got Carmelo being Carmelo. You’ve got D-Wade being D-Wade. Why can’t I be me? Why do I have to transform? I did that and now you are going to cut me?” — Gilbert Arenas, on his USA Basketball experience.

“I’m going to be the silent assassin this year. I can’t wait to play the Suns and Portland. Against Portland, Nate McMillan, I’m going to try to score 100 in two games and against D’Antoni, I’m going to score 100 in two games. I’m going to try.” — Gilbert.

THE LINKS…
• Gilbert Arenas isn’t so excited about his time with USA Basketball. He vents today to the Washington Post that he doesn’t understand why they let him go from the team after he tried to “transform” his game. What he means but doesn’t say is that Team USA wanted pass-first point guards, which Gilbert has never been and probably never will be. Instead they tried playing him at the two guard, so he could jack up threes, but he wasn’t able to shoot well, so they let him go. I love Gilbert, but it was obvious watching Team USA training that Gil just wasn’t a good fit for the team. Don’t take it personally, Gil. Actually, it’ll be more fun for the rest of us if you do take it personal.

• The Suns have unearthed another gunner who’s never had the chance to shoot every time he touches the ball in the NBA — Jumaine Jones. (Can I say he’s my jumaine man? We both went to UGA, after all.) “I didn’t want to take a pay cut to play in Phoenix,” Jones didn’t say, “but I knew I’d average ridiculous numbers and some crazy GM would way overpay me when this contract runs out.”

• As a Hawks fan, I like hearing someone talk about how much better we’ll be next season, even if it is a guy who just signed with the team.

• Linkstigator Chris Sheridan had this very confusing World Championships TV guide in his column:

The winner of the Greece-United States game (3:30 a.m. EDT, ESPN2) will advance to play the winner of the Spain-Argentina game (6:30 a.m. EDT, ESPN2). ESPN2 will re-broadcast Greece-USA on Friday at 4 p.m. EDT. Both semifinal games will also be re-broadcast Saturday afternoon on NBA TV and Saturday evening on ESPN U (Spain-Argentina, 6 p.m. EDT; Greece-USA, 8 p.m. EDT). FIBA switched the Americans and Greeks into the early semifinal slot to ensure a larger television audience in Europe, where the Spain-Argentina game will begin in the late morning or early afternoon.”

Got that?

• Check out the note low here about Kenyon Martin looking great in workouts.

• Is it just me, or does Chris Mullin intimate here that Mike Montgomery was starting to realize he didn’t understand the NBA?

• And is it incongruous to anyone else that the Blazers formerly had a “Mexican-themed” club?

• Shawn Kemp…in shape…chiseled…can we believe it?