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Original Issue

My Breakfast with Andre

The author loses his appetite for Wimbledon, and NBC is left with egg on its face

Breakfast at Wimbledon, 1992: I could hear the bacon frying, I could smell the bacon, I could see the bacon, I could even touch the bacon, but, alas, the folks at NBC never let me actually taste the bacon. In short, I got no bacon. I hope they didn't expect a tip.

I mean, I was raring to go and ready to eat. (O.K., O.K., so I stumbled out of bed maybe an hour late each morning. Who do I look like, Jack LaLanne? Hey, I'm living on the West Coast, where the tennis from England comes on so early, it's pre-Columbian. Like I'm going to set my alarm for 5:45 a.m. to watch Bud Collins?) I was all prepped for this Wimbledon tradition, but I never even got served breakfast.

On Saturday there were three rain delays, totaling three hours, 16 minutes, during the Steffi Graf-Monica Seles women's finals. During that time we saw a tribute to NBC analyst John McEnroe (similar to the network's tribute last year to then NBC analyst Jimmy Connors), and we saw Chris Evert's conversation with Martina Navratilova, and we saw Bob Costas in Barcelona talking about the Bruce Springsteen concert there.

We did not see one moment of that day's Pete Sampras-Goran Ivanisevic men's semifinal.

We did see the McEnroe-Andre Agassi semifinal on tape, but NBC ruined that for many viewers by giving the result of the match shortly after it came on the air. (This bitterly reminded me of the 1969 incident in which my soon-to-be-ex-friend Chip Muldoon leaned over to me at the start of Easy Rider and said, "You know, Dennis Hopper buys it at the end.")

Finally, with Graf ahead 6-2, 4-1, NBC left Wimbledon for the day. Forty-six minutes later the match resumed, with Graf finishing it off in two games. Now, I can't blame NBC for finally pulling the plug, but I was still darn hungry.

At that point I called my local cable service and asked for the Wimbledon Triplecast. I figured I'd pay the $125 so I could get all rain delays and interviews uninterrupted. But the cable operator put me on hold and never got back to me.

On Sunday, during the Agassi-Ivanisevic final, McEnroe dropped in and did two weeks of commentary in 15 minutes. His addition briefly gave NBC a cozy four-person booth.

I now interrupt this column—it's a personal rain delay—to present highlights of Bud Collins's commentary on Sunday: 1) "Ohhh!" 2) "Ooooh!!" 3) "Whew!!!" 4) "Ahhhhhh!!!!" I'm not sure if he was watching tennis or giving birth.

Fittingly, NBC ended its Wimbledon coverage while McEnroe and Michael Stich were tied 10-10 in the fifth set against Jim Grabb and Richey Reneberg in the men's doubles final. This enabled the network to switch to its Dream Team basketball coverage, in which the U.S. gained a 15-0 lead and held off the fast-closing Venezuelans 127-80.

I'm still here, waiting for NBC to bring home the bacon. Breakfast at Wimbledon? Next year I'm going to Denny's.