Monday, July 26, 2010

Glory's Last Shot

I'm not sure when the PGA of America decided to start using this moniker for their annual championship, but it seems like it was about 6-7 years ago.

At first, I found it groan-inducingly cheezy. "Glory's Last Shot." Eh.

But I think it's growing on me.

The PGA Championship has none of the familiar earmarks of the other 3 majors. Augusta has an annual "home course" that every golfer now knows like it was their own. The US Open has sadistic set-ups, and the prestige of being a "national" championship. The British has links-style golf, of course, plus all the years of history.

The PGA has... well.. um... things.

But that's unfair, because the PGA Championship has consistently delivered the most exciting finishes of any major. Perhaps it is because the course is set up hard, but not impossible.

Perhaps it is, because guys do go "all out" on the year's final major.

Whatever it is, I know this much, you guys in Wisconsin should be proud of the show Whistling Straits put on back in 2004. The course looked sensational to the rest of the country who had never seen or heard of it. And the crowds were off the hook.

Don't sleep on the event this year, even though I understand another PGA is coming in 2015 and the Ryder Cup in 2020. (I know, you've already got the babysitter lined up). I hope you golf fans to appreciate the fact that many of us in so-called "major markets" like DC and Philly either don't have a regular tour stop, or have to share an event.

Then, someday when you have a few pennies saved up and your game is as good as it's going to get, plunk down and play the place at least once in your life. It's beyond words.

Here was a little video log of my visit last spring - about 30 pounds of pizza and donuts around my waist - with good buddy Roger Derflinger from the DC area. We happened to get paired up with two nice chaps from Chicago who worked for - wait... BP! - and were originally from Scotland.

Talk about a perfect day!

Warm summer sun, that gave way to a little blanket of fog that covered us for about 2 holes on the front, giving way to a glorious afternoon of gentle breezes til sundown.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Could Be Worse. I Could Be Driving This Pile....

I own a 2005 Honda Odyssey Minivan. Yes, you can cue the "The Dad Life" rap in your head, I can't get that tune out of my mind since I saw it.

As a useful family vehicle, I like it fine. I don't get hung up on the whole "I'd rather get an SUV to be cool" thing as a family man. Look, when you are taking your kids to "the splash pad" it doesn't matter what you roll up in. You are still going to be smearing on sunscreen, popping Capri Sun's, and generally thinking to yourself: "I could be golfing right now."

So to me, I've always been a mini-van guy because simply, it's the right tool for the job.

Our Odyssey has wicked high miles on it, however. Something like 120k+. We've had it serviced regularly, and it hasn't been in any accidents, so I think it should be good until 200,000.

Plus: paid for. Cha-ching.

But recently, I noticed a bit too much play in the steering wheel, and the brakes cause the wheel to shimmy violently when you gently tap the brakes.

So I haul it to the dealer where I bought not just this van, but our previous Odyssey from. Service guy there replaces various brake parts, rotates tires, swears that the "tech" took it out for a drive, and it was good to go.

It wasn't.

I brought it back.

More efforting to fix it. They gave it back to me. Said they did more things to the breaks and what-not. Said it was good to go.

No. Even worse.

So I take the van to get a second opinion from another Honda dealer nearer my house. Here's what comes back. Mind you, I have not had any of this work done.. yet. I'm trying to puzzle out what's going on.

Dealer #1 says: We replaced all the brake pads and turned the rotors. Rotated and balanced tires, everything looks good to us.

Dealer #2 says:

2 Broken Engine Mounts ($900 each)
1 Cracked Engine Mount ($250)
Leaking steering rack ($1075)
Loose L/F inner tie rod ($245)

Oh yeah. Rear wiper blade was worn. Replaced: No charge. Thank you.

Now, here's my conundrum. What the hell is going on?

On the one hand, I would normally be suspicious that Dealer #2 is just trying to take me to the woodshed with a bunch of needless car surgery. However, the van is driving like crap. All of this sounds quite plausible.

But why would Dealer #1 actually perform a lot of brake job mojo (much of it for free, since I kept taking the car back to get it "right") and then just whistle and pretend everything was cool??

Also, how many more miles (round to the nearest 10, please) until my van's engine just falls to the pavement like dropped pop fly in shallow right?

And don't say "sell the car and get an SUV." I checked the Blue Book. My van isn't worth crap in GOOD condition, much less this way. Aside from these mechanical issues, the interior is in fine condition, and the Touring model (which I have) is all tricked with NAV, back-up camera, prox sensors, DVD entertainment, auto-doors and the like.

There's no way I'm getting rid of it. Even if I've gotta take in the face and spend another 2-3K getting it fixed.

Thanks for your manly advice, oh, manly men.

PS: I have a sneaky suspicion my wife is STUNT JUMPING this puppy at the State Fair when I'm out of town. THREE BROKEN mounts!? CRIKEY!

Tiger Woods, Say Hello to Lion Kim

No, I am not making this up.

Lion Kim is a real golfer, and he just won the US Amateur Public Links championship. Now, will he go on to challenge Tiger Woods for 14-plus majors?

Child, please.

The kid is good, however. And here's the backstory on his name.

Kim, whose given name is Jun Min, was born in Seoul, Korea, but moved to the United States when he was less than a year old. He has been known as Lion since he started playing junior golf tournaments. It was a change Kim’s parents made to distinguish him from other junior golfers.

“My dad wanted to name my Lion because, number one, it's very easy to remember,” said Kim. “I'm sure my parents got the idea from Tiger Woods. But I know for a fact they didn't name me Lion Kim thinking I would be the next Tiger Woods. Trust me, they're smarter than that.”

REACT: Of course, Tiger has been re-named "Cheetah Woods" my some of my golfing buddies, so I guess all we are missing is "Wildebeast Jones", "Zebra Smith" and "Hyena Johnson" for the PGA Tour to become interesting again.

Friday, July 23, 2010

"It id, what it id...."

Or something like that.

I believe, although my hearing is starting to fade after all these years in radio, that is what Chris Johnson calls his souped-up, sweet-ass hooptie of a vehicle.

"I call it, it id, what it id...."

Look. Chris Johnson is a fabulous athlete. He may also be a decent guy. But if you could write a cliche about the modern NFL player, would you include as many stereotypes in one guy as REALLY DO exist with the Titans star back?

I think not.

Why, they would call you a racist!

Gold teeth: check.
Tattoos from goal-line-to-goal-line: check.
Iced out watch and necklace: check.
Pimped ride: check.
Likes the club life: check.
Unhappy with contract: check.
Thinks he should be the league MVP: check.
Biggest Goal: breaking individual record, not winning SB.

I mean, wow. That's a cartoon character! But hey, he's really really fast, and he piled up really insane numbers last year, and um... yeah. The Titans still didn't make the playoffs.

So how valuable were Johnson's rushing numbers anyway?

That's a good debate over summer beers. For the record, I think they were valuable, but perhaps not nearly as much as he - or his diamond encrusted 40-yard-dash-time might think.

When a running back has THREE touchdowns of 85 or more yards, that's amazing. But you don't call 85 yard TD runs in the huddle. To me, yards 10-85 are less important, because they may represent defensive breakdowns more than actual running back skill.

You run the football in the NFL with the goal of having every run go for at least 4 yards. Everything on top of that is gravy. Or luck.

If you back out the 75 yards after the initial 10 on those touchdowns, that's 225 yards or well over 10% of his season rushing total on 3 plays!

So does a 1780 yard running back on a non-playoff team deserve to be considered the "best back in football" or the MVP?

I'm not so sure.

But that necklace is dope, yo. Let's hope nobody ever posts a 4.1 at the combine!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Joe Mauer Just Crapped On Your Yearly Salary

This is not news: today's athletes make waaaayyyyy too much money.

See this handy-dandy-website to learn just how long (or short, really) it takes for jocks to make as much money as you and I toil a hard 365 days for.

I plugged in 100k for kicks - since isn't that the universal American dream, to make six-figures? - and found out that Joe Mauer makes that much money in basically 6 innings.


Now before anybody gets all worked up, let it be known that I don't begrudge Mauer (or any other jock) their salaries. They have earned it fairly, under "market" conditions. I put "market" in quotes because as we know, professional sports are essentially closed markets, that often feature distorting dynamics.

I still think it's way too much. I still think pro sports leagues should think hard about enduring short term pain (lockouts, strikes) to whack labor costs more into line with business reality.

Sure, Mauer is a fabulous player. Likeable fella, hometown boy. STUD ballplayer. That said, I don't think it makes economic sense to pay him $184 million guaranteed over 8 years.

He's just one player, on a team sport that requires a full roster of guys doing their job to have success. You are telling me, that one guy is directly responsible for nearly $20 million in revenue to the club?

I just don't buy it.

Now, the on-line salary calculator for sports I would love to see (and hint, hint! Maybe the boys here at Smart Interactive Media could whip it up!) is one in which you type in your salary. Then type in the salary of Player X. Then type in either the a) fine he has been hit with by the league or b) the charitable donation he has given.

The result would be to translate what a new donated $120,000 wing to a school for Joe Mauer, would be like for you, Joey Punchclock making like $45,000 per year.

When you find out it's like Joey Punchclock buying an iPod touch ($250 or so) for his wife, then we won't go so gaga saying "Wow, that pro athlete is soooo generous! He bought a whole new wing of a school for those kids!"

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Greatest Golf Montage - Evah!

If this gem from ESPN's weekend coverage of The British Open doesn't stiffen the wood in your persimmon, then nothing will. The great Ian McShane of Deadwood fame narrates and the visual imagery is beyond compare.

A Madness To His "Method"

I only wish Donald Trump himself had been flown in to do the honors. Looking right down into Tiger's bag, he could have lectured the new Method putter about how it had let the World's #1 player down. How it would never make it in the competitive flatstick market if it didn't work much harder to please its owners.

And then: “You're fi-ahed!”

If I were Stevie Williams, I'd be puttin' out more than just feelers right now. I'd be puffing into my own inflatable life raft. Wife. Fired. Coach. Fired. Putter. Fired.

Can “Caddy” be that far behind?

So for the record, let's go tale of the tape here.

Scotty Cameron

Starts: 186
Wins: 86
Majors: 13 (all but 1997 Masters, Ping Anser)
Earnings: $83.6 million.

Nike Method Putter

Starts: 1
Sunday Rounds: 0
Earnings: It ain't getting none of Tiger's money!
Majors: Major pain in Tiger's ass, that's what!

I am going to go out on a limb and say we won't be seeing that Nike Method putter back in Tiger's back until... uh, well, never.

That putter is coming back like Adrianna is coming back to play herself in the Sopranos movie.

That putter is coming back like the “3 to make 2” rule in the NBA.

Ian Baker Finch will earn his tour card back before that putter gets to crawl back into Tiger's bag.

So this is how this guy rewards and thanks a major international conglomerate like Nike. Perhaps his staunchest marketing ally, and the one company that didn't flinch when it came time to either stand by him or cut him loose. The same company that cut him a (seemingly) insane $40 million contract deal before he won a single Tour event.

They no doubt paid him EXTRA to play that stupid putter this week. And all they wanted from him, was to NOT – under any circumstances, Tiger – blame the fucking putter!

I bet Nike reps were saying to Tiger's people: “Look, unless the Big Cat is totally in love with this thing, and ready to really show it some love, then let's not do it. Let's wait. We'll hold off.”

And I bet Tiger, or his people, said, “Nah, nah. Whatever. We'll use it. Now make that check out to my “other” bank account.”

So when he's clearly out of it on Sunday – I mean, snowball's chance in hell out of it – the least he could do is suck it up and play one more dumbass round with the thing.

Then, back stateside, he could just lie about how much he liked it on slower greens, and that he thinks it might be perfect for us weekend publinxers because of the greens we play on. But because we're back to super slick stateside greens on Tour, he's sorry, but the Scotty Cameron is back in the back.

Like you know, “you don't lose your starting job to slow greens” kind of thing.

But no. Tiger chose not to do that. He chose to be a petulant dick.

Nike's money is gone. The Method Putter is on a rocket sled to the discount barrel at your local pro shop, and he doesn't give a rats ass.

Are you folks starting to see why rooting against him has become such delicious fun?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Now That's Some Racin!

I once said the Tour De France was boring.

How, WRONG I WAS!!!!

Mark Renshaw has been kicked out of the race - for HEADBUTTING an opposing rider while they sprinted toward the finish!

Headbutting. I kid you not.

This follows a July 9th cycling donnyrbook between the Portugese and the Spanish along the trail, that involved a bike wheel beat-down to the noggin!

I think cycling is onto something. This is NASCAR, meets Rollerderby, meets the vaunted "Chinese Downhill" from the cult ski movie "Hot Dog."

I think it has legs.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

"Leading Question, Your Honor!" - Sustained...

Tiger Woods largely escaped the wrath of the vaunted Fleet Street tabloids this week at the British Open. What we had expected to be a savage, unrepentant grilling of Tiger's personal life and divorce, fizzled into a weak half dozen questions that barely drew blood.

Booo. Come on, British tabloids! I thought you guys were tough!

That said, here was one "question" which I felt would have been rejected by any decent judge as "leading" to say the least.

“Tom Watson has said you need to clean up your act on the golf course. He’s gone on record. Many of us over the years have heard you use the F word, we’ve seen you spit on the course, and we’ve seen you throw tantrums like chucking your clubs around. Are you willing to cut out all those tantrums this week and respect the home of golf?” one reporter asked.

Woods simply replied with, “I’m trying to become a better player and a better person, yes.”

Score a birdie for Woodie on that one.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Mediocrity Is Given It's Due

Chris Berman is going into the Hall of Fame.

The talentless blowhard Hall of Fame?


The Pro Football Hall of Fame. Yep, the big one, in Canton, Ohio.

The one we like to think is reserved for the giants who played the game, and the men of vision who were instrumental in the league's success.


But then again, with Dick Vitale having recently been elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass, we now have a matching set.

I'll give Berman this much. It's remarkable how somebody with so little actual television talent could ride it that long. He's been on the football set for ESPN for 25 years now, and to some (I don't know WHO, exactly) he remains a likeable fella with a "passion" for the game.

Hey, who doesn't have a "passion" for the NFL?

Besides Albert Haynesworth, that is.

You can say this post is my pure jealousy shining through. I'll admit to that. I am jealous of his current job, and his career.

But it doesn't make me wrong.

If Chris Berman is the beacon of how to be a top flight TV sports talent, then how come we aren't seeing more of him come through the pipeline?

Where are similar guys like him, who don't write for broadcast very well, who stumble on delivering simple questions and introductions to set pieces in a show, and who make cable-access caliber hand gestures while talking?

There are talents at ESPN who do what Berman does, that are truly skilled broadcasters. Their writing (yes, that's part of the job, and it is difficult to do!) is crisp and thoughtful. They deliver those words almost flawlessly, and can ad lib in a fluid situation or during an analyst focused give-and-take without blu-blu-blubbering away like Berman does.

Their "passion" for a sport shines through by the amount of preparation that goes into a show, not by sheer volume or nicknames.

A perfect example of all of this is Chris Fowler, host of College Football Gameday. He's so good, it's almost freaky.

By contrast, Berman is a nickname spewing galoot. I won't make any personal attacks on his girth, baldness, or ego, because from what I've been told he's a relatively likeable fella.

I just think his work sucks. And that's not me saying I could do it better, that's me just watching the other guys on the set in Bristol.

For ESPN to keep Berman around all these years, long after the novelty of "Albert 'Winnie the' Pujols!" has worn off, is on them. They like Boomer, and think he still draws fans. Fine.

But why the Pro Football Hall of Fame felt compelled to honor him is beyond me. Surely, there were more worthy broadcasters out there.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Dad Life

Much of what resides on YouTube is absolute crap. Poorly shot footage on a cheap camcorder, of somebody getting hit in the nuts with a foul ball from a kid in the backyard.

Then, there is this.

Maybe the greatest parody song of our generation.

And by "our" generation, I mean us 30-40-something suburban fathers, just "livin' the life!"

This video is perfect in nearly every way. It's not too long. The song is catchy and well written. The audio is clean. The HD aspect ratio, with a wonderful guazy film "look" is Hollywood caliber.

The casting is so spot on, it is frightening.

If you are a dad my age, you know these guys. You are these guys. Fatherhood today, is not like that of say, your father. Or especially your father's, father.

Hanging out in gin clubs, playing poker, working at the factory from 6a-10p just isn't happening.

The modern dad, is indeed a rather emasculating endeavor. If you feel self conscious about driving mini-vans, watching Disney movies, or fussing over garden plants, then maybe you should just stay single.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

That's My Girl!

America's Golfing Sweetheart is a flat out strawberry studmuffin.

On the most sadistic US Open venue, with greens that breathe fire into every 4-footer, the LPGA's most photo-genic player demonstrated how to execute a hammer-close while wearing pink ribbons.

Paula Creamer is awesome.

I'd say it's too bad she doesn't get the hype of lil'-miss-pouty-lips (82-76-trunkslam), but then again, I like it that Paula belongs to us golf nerds who appreciate the package.

Smile. Game. Killer instinct. Pink on pink. She's got the girlie-girl look, but she still puts the emphasis on ggggrrrrrr!

An ass kicking, name taking, no excuse-making gal you can really root for.

Any tart with a 2-handicap can knock it around on the LPGA, shoot 74, and make $68,500 a year. Then dress up all sexy-like, do some photo shoots, and parlay that gig into another $1M a year off-the bentgrass.

Sorry to knock the likes of Natalie Gulbis, Anna Rawson, or say Sandra Gal. (Rawson and Gal below, you've already downloaded enough Gulbis. Pervs.)

But Creamer excites many of us men not just for her 300-yard-bomb of a smile, but her golfing toughness.

I remember when she won as an 18 year old. I remember when she made the Solheim Cup team as a rookie, and then bragged at the presser about how they were going to whup the Euros. I remember how she wanted Laura Davies in singles, and then gutted her like a big fish in dramatic fashion.

Now, look at how she's shook off the US Open disappointments of the last two years in which she faded badly on Sunday.

She played this week fresh off a four month recovery from thumb surgery. Her bandaged digit was still so sore, she could only hit 40 warm up shots before each round to lessen the wear, tear, and pain.


Scorecard match this toughness with the Punahou High Flash.

Michelle Wie had a wrist injury that occurred when - her story, not mine - she was jogging backward and fell!

Even though that wrist never got cut on by a doctor, it was milked for almost 2 and a half years of excuses, withdrawals, and general angst anytime she played like crap.


(Can you please read that as slowly as you can, so it can come across the way I intend it. There you go! Thank you.)

Creamer has a 4 month, in-season layoff, and then wins the Open with a duct-taped hand.

Wie uses a mysterious wrist-ouchie to walk off multiple courses, including, the inexcuseable-to-this-day "Rule of 88" abomination in Florida.

Is there any wonder why I root for The Stanford Millionaire to shoot a BILLION every time she puts it in the ground?

Way to go Paula! Your photo is going up on the bedroom door of both of my daughters. I'm sure your pops and family, is mighty proud too. Get your thumb right, and keep kicking ass.

There might be hope for the LPGA Tour after all!


Here's a nice little sampler platter of Paula from Sunday at Oakmont.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Did That Really Just Happen?

Well, I'm wrong as rain, yet again. Put it on my room tab, I'll pay up by credit card on the way out.

But for an outcome that matched all the rumors and reports, how is it that I am more stunned the morning after, than I was last night when I heard it?

I have this feeling of: "Man, I gotta get my head around what all of this actually means now."

For LeBron, I'm struggling to find any upside. Any.

Yes, he gets to play in a warm, international city, with his buddies. He might someday win a championship.

And....... that concludes the "upside" portion of his Decision 2010.

The downsides are all over the place.

The manner in which the announcement was made, will go down in the PR Bible under the chapter of "Don't Ever, Ever, Do It This Way".

More importantly, how can he even call himself "King James" anymore? The guy has voluntarily downgraded his status in the league. He's an accessory now.

In a span of 27 eyeball glazing minutes on ESPN, LeBron James morphed himself from potentially "The Greatest Player of All Time" into a jezebel Scottie Pippen.

The King? Please. He's now middle management in Miami. He's Dwight Schrute with a 48 inch vertical.

Did that really just happen?

Clearly, James and his high school homies who manage his image, tend to his empire, and control his "brand" didn't really think this one through beyond the initial two moves on the sports chessboard of greatness.

If they don't win a championship THIS year, it's EPIC FAIL.

If they never win one together, it's ALL TIME EPIC FAIL.

Every casual or "on-the-fence" LeBron "fan" just fell off the fence. On the wrong side.

Every other NBA team is going to lick their chops when Miami Thrice comes to play. They just signed up for 82 consecutive regular season "Game 7" efforts from opponents.

Cavs owner Dan Gilbert may have done himself and his franchise irreparable damage with that open letter to fans. But guess what? You aren't going to escape his wrath without further image damage to yourself.

You can say Gilbert is a ranting lunatic, but people do listen to ranting lunatics.

Many will listen and say: "Oh. Really? Wow. Didn't know that...."

Gilbert is now the crazy spurned girlfriend who just threw your clothes and shit out the window onto the street. He's the crazy bitch, we get it. But crazy bitches run around and tell all the dirty secrets about you, and that's not going to be fun.

Gilbert has the freedom now to elaborate on the absurdly feeble exits to the post-season James authored the last two seasons.

"He quit," Gilbert said in an interview with the AP right after "The Decision." "Not just in Game 5, but in Games 2, 4 and 6. Watch the tape. The Boston series was unlike anything in the history of sports for a superstar."

Gilbert continued, saying LeBron quit against Orlando in 2009 as well.

"Go back and look at the tape," he said. "How many shots did he take?"

You can say Gilbert is wrong to be saying this now, but the substance is 1000% correct. A fair defense of Gilbert's bitterness is that he did all he could to provide a championship caliber team to Lebron. They were the league's #1/#1 seed going into the post-season.

And then James turtled.

LeBron fucked it up this year. I don't know how you can say otherwise.

Gilbert must have been thinking: Hey, grow up kid, work harder on your game's weak points, become a better leader, stop taking fake pictures with your team making goofy poses, and I'll pay you every dime I'm legally allowed AND put up with all the myriad nonsense and off-court bullshit that I have been keeping buried for the last few years.

It doesn't make what Gilbert did right, or even smart. Felt good, I'm sure. Entertaining as hell for us in the chattering class to discuss.

But he'll pay a dear price for it too.

Like the crazy bitch who throws your clothes out on the street, guys will whisper that one around too.

So Lebron is in Miami. Good for him. I hope he's happy, because he sure didn't look like it on TV. For a moment so big, so career defining, so worth making yourself look like an insufferable ass on TV for, well, he sure did come off as nervous and timid.

That ain't no Global Icon, folks.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Because These Shows Don't Come Around More Than Once Every 20 Years

Face it, you're gonna watch tonite. For the train wreck quality alone. You'll watch. Sure, it's stupid-on-stilts, but its like those donkey-dive-stunts from the 40's.

Why the f would anybody push a mule off a board into a pool of water?

Because it's not something you see every day!

So tonite, Lebron James is going to grab a baseball hat one second, and immediately spike a 500% surge in season ticket prices in another city the next.

It shall be televised on ESPN.

What, did you think Versus was in the running on this one?

If you are trying to flowchart or score all the journalistic conflicts and problems with ESPN on this one, stop. Just stop.

It would be easier to count the exact number of highlights in ESPN's "Final Cavs Lebron Highlight Package". I think the thing went about 4 minutes, and had somewhere easily north of 100 different dunks, blocks, chalk-volcanoes and fake photo-poses.

Overkill. Duh. It's what ESPN does best. And Phil Mushnick takes the biggest bat to this pinata.

A one-hour show for James to announce his new kingdom?

If he doesn't re-sign with Cleveland, it will take only 10 minutes for the price gouging to kick in.

Does ESPN already know James' new team?

Doesn't much matter; ESPN outlets took good care of that yesterday, suggesting that James will sign with five or six NBA teams and one or two in the American Hockey League. It bet every horse in the race; it has the winning ticket.

In the throes of a drought, it's worth remembering that crops die from over-watering, too. That's what ESPN does -- it saturates; it drowns nearly everything it touches in excess. It specialized in root rot; root rot in inevitable.

Yup, ESPN is the perfect place for the consolidation of Too Much and That's Enough. Tonight will be like the gold spike driven to complete the trans-continental railroads. Don't miss it. But who will? We'll try anything, at least once.

Read more:

We are now just hours before the big reveal, and let me get on record with one last prediction. Shocker: he does go to NY, and the Miami rumors were just an orchestrated ruse, approved of by his buddies Wade and Bosh.

Think of it. If this guy went to such lengths to orchestrate a show of this magnitude, then why not go all the way and orchestrate one final little white lie to make the WOW factor even more WOWY when it goes down?

Bron: Knick. Book it.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Dead Grass Tells The Tale

I have often said that no sport - not even soccer - contains less traditional "sports radio" fodder than tennis.

This does not mean tennis sucks, or cannot be discussed by avid tennis fans.

No, it just means that the traditional serve and volley of a sports radio show, does not in any way lend itself to discussing tennis.

Last year at tennis' holiest venue, it's two highest profile stars, Federer and Nadal, staged why my tennis geek co-workers called the "match for the ages."

And yet, you couldn't fill half a phone bank as a sports radio host if you tried to talk about it.

Because, honestly, what are you going to say? What strategic decision will you, Joe Fan, second guess between the two players? What style of play, at what point in the match, proved to be the crucial turning point?

What rally, or what shot will you call up breathlessly to remind the radio talk show host: "And remember that long rally, at 40-all in the 2nd set, tied at 3-3? Remember the forehand winner Nadal hit! Amazing! Best shot I ever saw."

Host: "Yeah, well Nadal lost that set. So what's your point?"

Even golf, a sport with a NICHE following itself (please notice how I belittle my own beloved game) is capable of generating sports radio interest amongst casual fans. And it need not necessarily be Tiger Woods related.

Like this year at Augusta, when Phil Mickelson went for broke by lashing a 6-iron through the trees, off the pine-straw, to 8 feet for an easy birdie, it WAS INDEED the turning point of the round, and propelled lefty to Green Blazer Numero Trois!

You can even visualize that shot, with the resulting left handed Phil Phist Pump, if you close your eyes.

You can't visualize a Federer-Nadal rally to stave off set point - they all look to similar. The court never changes, and a laced down-the-line winner looks like... well.. a laced down-the-line winner on pretty much any day of the week.

Please take note, dear fuzzheads, I say all this not to diminish the incredible athletic skill, genius, and mental fortitude of your sports' best and brightest. It just doesn't lend to much common radio yak the next day.

That said, there ARE some - shall I say "global" - tennis issues that could fuel an interesting segment or two. This post I found would certainly be one.

The post discusses how the power-game in tennis has affected the visual and strategic nature of the sport at its highest level. And it does so, using the most low-tech of analytical devices: dead grass.

As a kid, who was wowed by Roscoe Tanner's amazing serve, I nonetheless lamented that this big-cannoned one-trick pony was really no match on most days for artisans like Borg and McEnroe.

Because the game they played - and the game of most players of note back in the tiny-headed, wood-framed days - was one of angles and deftness. You saw more slicing, spinning volleys, half-volleys, and yes, drop shots back then.

Was that game "better" than today's powerfest? I have no idea. I don't bother to make a claim either way.

At this point, I would typically open the phone lines for calls, and see what turns up. You guys can pretend the message section below is your chance to pick up the "phone" and chime in.

Submitted For Your Approval

The wonder of golf, and the vagaries of rank weekend amateurs like you and me playing the game in futility, does produce some sights and moments that are almost too much to believe.

So if I may, this photo shall serve as "proof" that the following happened. I swear to Lebron, this happened. I mean, swear to god, god. Sorry. I keep doing that....

My boy Mike McGowan (who is often quoted in this space my "Conscience of Cowboy Nation") was playing with me today in the lovely 94 degree July heat at my fabulous home course, Westfields GC in Clifton, Virginia.

On the lengthy and difficult par-4 6th hole, he flew his iron approach long and over the green into a mulched bed near some small trees. As I was looking down at the scorecard awaiting his shot, I heard a "whoosh-climp" and then..... silence.

"Where did that go," Mike asked? Sheepishly, I had to apologize for not looking, but for chrissakes, it was a 20 yard pitch shot out of mulch near three measly saplings!

Well, low and behold, there it was. Like the Twilight Zone episode where the guy lands a quarter on edge. Of course, Mike couldn't suddenly read minds after this (or he just politely ignored me thinking: man, he really does suck!) but he had a good laugh along with the rest of our group.

Did he play it from here? No. He did not. Mike knows, when enough is enough. Personally, I would have played that bitch from that tree. There's no lie in golf too hard to withstand choking down, swinging hard, and closing your eyes!

Friday, July 2, 2010

"Unacceptably Stupid"

Before we know it, the World Cup will be packed up and bubble wrapped for another four years, and I don't want to miss the chance for one last swift corner kick to the sport's unprotected gonads.

Especially not before other summertime events overtake people's give-a-shit-sports-meter. Things like: how Lebron is going to afford penthouses for his whole crew in NYC. Or what does Elin buy FIRST with her 9-figure go-away-and-die money from Tiger.

When I last left commenting on soccer in this space, the United States had merely been robbed of a spectacular game winning goal by a referee who - to this day - only explained his call by shrugging his shoulders and giving a look like the guy who is out of jetski rentals on a Jamaican beach.

If that wasn't stupid enough, more dumb shit went down since then, that further buttressed my contention that this sport just can't survive American style professional fandom.

And we'll even leave OUT, the gutless squids known as the French national team. Stay on strike, Pierre. It's what you guys do best.

Now, where was I?

Ah yes, stupid.

It is patently stupid to have an elimination game, go into 30 minutes of "over-time" and yet, NOT make that OT sudden death. Ridiculous. Ghana's goal, while exciting for a brief moment, came so early in extra time, that what should have been a jubilant moment for all time in that nation, instead got the ol' wet blanket of "hey, wait, still almost half a game left here, fellas!"

It is also patently stupid to have a single referee attempt to administer to a field that large, and with 22 guys running around, and have him be the only guy to rule on goal-line scoring plays. One guy, can't do this job. Period. And FIFA's bullheadedness on refusing to use instant replay in any capacity for World Cup games, remains just one notch below the BCS on the global sports stupid index.

It is stupid, how players act to fake injury. It's insulting on every level. The Ghana guy who lay on the ground against us for like a minute, and stopped play. Only then to get carried off on a stretcher, and then POP! "I'm fine!" Haha! Soccer commentators say sternly, they have to "clean this up." Well, I've been hearing that forever. It's not going to be cleaned up. Not when you have (see above) 1 dude running the whole game from endline to endline! I hope that guy's village in Ghana gets overtaken by a severe strain of bovine herpes powerful enough to make fruit break out in open sores. You dick.

Finally, it is stupid to make huge pronouncements and judgements on results in a single tournament that - most of the time - hinges on nothing but pure luck. The Brits are in a snit, because of the 2nd half pounding by Germany. But they also got hosed on a horrible call, and against the Yanks their goalie went all Bill Buckner on them and cost the team a win.

Yet I've been reading about British soccer bellyaching, and it's completely absurd. Forget about the no-goal vs. Germany. Go back to the US game, and make that a win. Then England is top-dog in the group, they get the easier draw, and if they beat Ghana 1-nil, then lose to The Netherlands 1-nil, every Nigel in the UK can say: "Eh, chap. Good effort by the Three Lions, all-in-all, eh?"

Meanwhile, I was amused to read about how our coach, ol' Coach Bradley, was in limbo because a) Had they not made it out of group play, he surely would have been fired. Yet, b) because they actually won their group, it made the decision harder. And because they only lost to Ghana 2-1 in OT, you can't really make an easy call.

Or something like that.

Stupid. Just stupid. Fact of the matter, is Bradley is 1 goal either way of being either Rodney Dangerfield in "Ladybugs" or... um... or... the Greatest Coach In World Cup History! (Whomever that is. Help me here, people.)

All of it, is just unacceptably stupid to American sports fans. We wouldn't stand for any of this, and we don't. We change rules, we add refs, we bolt cameras in places they need to be bolted so we can make sure a championship isn't handed out on a ref's whoopsie.

And our coaches, hell, even incompetent boobs like Jim Zorn get 32 full games to prove they suck. Prove it! And he wasn't one-touchdown either way of looking awesome or stupid. He proved it.

But in the end, I have no problem with this event every 4 years. It remains a colorful, multi-national trainwreck that kind of wins you over as a casual fan.

But like the fat chick slumpbuster you brought home in college. When it's over, you just say: "Now, get out."