A SHOUT-OUT TO JOHN AND KEN

Ken Hoffman relives his painful showdown with tennis legend John McEnroe

McEnroe's upcoming Houston appearance should be a real scream. Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images for The Laver Cup

This article originally appeared on CultureMap.

Tennis legends John McEnroe, Jim Courier, Andy Roddick, and James Blake are coming to Houston for a one-night tournament, October 4, at Rice University's Tudor Fieldhouse. The Champions Cup will feature semifinal matches starting at 7 pm. with the winners facing off for the title. Tickets are $35 for adults and $10 for kids under 10.

Fans also can buy VIP packages that include backstage passes, the players' party, and opportunities to "play with the pros" earlier that day. 

Here's some advice. If you pay to play a doubles match with the legends, ask for John McEnroe as your partner. For two reasons:

No. 1: McEnroe may be the greatest doubles player of all time. They used to say, the greatest doubles team is John McEnroe and anyone else. He was part of 79 champion doubles teams, including nine grand slams.

No. 2: More important, you definitely don't want to play against him.

I learned No. 2 the hard way. True story:

Several years ago, River Oaks Country Club hosted an exhibition tennis match. Originally it was going to John McEnroe vs. Xavier Malisse of Belgium.

The tournament director and I cooked up an idea. I would be a linesman and call a "foot fault" on McEnroe's first serve. He would pretend to go ballistic on me, scream his trademark, "You cannot be serious," call me the "pits of the world," and demand that I be removed. Security would escort me to the parking lot and off I'd go. Then McEnroe and Malisse would play a real match.

It didn't happen that way. Malisse didn't show up at River Oaks and the tournament flew in U.S. pro Mardy Fish as a replacement. Also, I heard that somebody in McEnroe's camp killed the foot fault routine.

Instead ... the tournament director told me, "Look, McEnroe and Fish are going to play a match, then we're going to have a fun doubles match, you and Fish against McEnroe and the club champion."

Huh? Sure, I'll do it.

I love John McEnroe. He's one of my favorite players ever, seven-time Grand Slam singles champion, Davis Cup warrior, and the voice and face of U.S. tennis.  I think he's the best TV analyst of any sport. I respect him as a person for the way he's conducted his life. Plus, he was hilarious as a guest on Larry David's show, Curb Your Enthusiasm.

A few days before the match, I did a phone interview with McEnroe to drum up ticket sales. McEnroe couldn't have been more gracious and accommodating. He said he was driving one of his children to school (or something, I forget) and "take your time."

I told him, "I have your autobiography (You Cannot Be Serious). I hope I get to meet you and have you autograph it."

Things turned weird the night of the match. First, Fish beat McEnroe in a pretty tense match. McEnroe, true to his reputation, took the match dead seriously and played his guts out. He's not exactly what you'd call a "good loser," at least not during the losing. 

Now we're going to play doubles. As I was waiting in the players' lounge, an official with the event told me, "We're going to have you wear a microphone. We want you to go after McEnroe, rile him up, make him angry — the crowd will love it."

I told him, there is absolute zero chance I will do that. I should have said, "You cannot be serious!" John McEnroe is one of the reasons I stay up all night watching tennis tournaments from around the world.

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RAVENS 33, TEXANS 16

5 observations from the Ravens win over the Texans

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Let's be honest; the Texans were not going to beat the Ravens. Baltimore has better players, a better quarterback and a better coaching staff. (And oh, a better kicker). All of that was on display in the Ravens' 33-16 win.

The Ravens move to 2-0, while the Texans dropped to 0-2 after facing the AFC's two best teams.

The Texans will still likely contend for a playoff spot, but nothing the last two weeks indicates they are anywhere near contending in the AFC. A look at five things from the Ravens win:

1) Oh, Brien...It did not take long for Bill O'Brien's goofy coaching to rear its ugly head. Down 3-0 at their own 34 as the first quarter was running out, O'Brien chose to go for it on fourth and one. The play was predictably blown up, the Ravens quickly scored to make it 10-0, and the Texans were instantly in a hole against a superior opponent. You can't give points away against the Ravens. They might have scored anyway with a punt, but there was no stopping them with a short field.

2) Some positives on defense. Despite the score, The Texans looked much better on that side of the ball against an explosive offense. J.J. Watt had two sacks, the team had four total, and they kept Lamar Jackson from destroying them. Seven of the points were scored by the Ravens defense, and O'Brien's gaffe led to seven more. The Ravens wore them down in the fourth quarter, but they played well enough until then to keep the team in the game had the offense been better. They did not force any turnovers, however, and that was one of the differences in the game. They were also blown off the ball on a fourth and one in the fourth quarter that led to the Ravens' 30th points and could not stop the run at all in the fourth quarter. But that's what the Ravens do with a lead, and the Texans offense gave them no breaks by being unable to stay on the field.

3) The difference between real contenders...The Ravens were just so much more skilled on both sides of the ball. Defensively, they focused on taking away the run. David Johnson averaged 3.1 yards per carry. Will Fuller had as many catches as you did. The Ravens forced two turnovers on just really good football plays. The Texans don't make plays like that. They might against lesser teams, but if your goal is to compete with the best, it's just not good enough.

4) Deshaun Watson needs to be better. His numbers looked so so on the surface (25 of 36, 275 yards, 1 TD, 1 interception). He was sacked four times and added 17 rushing yards on five carries. He did not make plays late when they needed one here or there to maybe get back in the game. With his big contract, it's time for Watson to stop being close to elite and take the next step. His interception was more of being fooled by Marcus Peters than throwing a bad ball, but the Texans were just 3 of 9 on third downs. Throw in the ill-advised fourth down play, and they were just 3 of 10 extending drives. Give the Ravens a lot of credit, but again, to compete with the best, you have to be better than that.

5) Now what? The Texans travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers, who have not been impressive in their two wins. Still, it's hard to see Houston as anything but serious underdogs. They are last in the AFC South, and have a lot of work to do. The defense showed some promise at times, but will have to continue to improve. The offense has a long way to go. They match up better with the Steelers than they do the Ravens and Chiefs, but that does not mean they can win. If you were hoping they would give you some indication they can be more than just also-rans, they failed to do that on any level against either the Chiefs or Ravens.

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