Will Golf For Food.

So, Do You Write a Check for 750 Million? How's that Work?

Well, if LeBron signs with the Bulls while I am tucked away in a slumber, feel free to use this post as a, “OMG LeBron Signed,” thread, but in the meantime I’m going to try to wrap my head around the reports that Tiger’s divorce is about to become final.  The monetary figure we’re seeing attached to this affair is $750 million dollars.  If it makes you feel any better, that’s only 500 million pounds.  A drop in the bucket.  Every time I see a number that big, I think to myself, “why can’t this person just give me a million dollars?  What difference would it make, god dammit!”  Then, I relax.  According to gossip sites around the globe this is the largest celebrity divorce settlement of all-time.  We heard Tiger had Jack’s major championship records on his wall as a kid, not sure if that progressed to Michael Jordan (168 Million), etc.  Unfortunately, he’s not going to be able to touch Rupert Murdoch.

There are interesting details about the settlement, or the alleged settlement, I guess I should say.  Elin will not be able to tell her side of the story (also known as the truth) at any time.  No memoirs, tell-alls, or anything of that nature.  Shame.  I would have been tempted to take less money and then try to make up the rest with a racy tome.  Guess that’s not her style.  Apparently Tiger will also not be allowed to bring his future girlfriends around the children.  Another way of saying this would be Tiger is not allowed to take his kids to Perkins.  Another interesting point to note, it’s being reported that Elin’s legal team did a banner job finding Tiger’s assets.  His net worth, which was projected at around 1 billion dollars is apparently much more.  Thus, that settlement figure continues to balloon.  There really is no substitute for top-notch legal representation.

I imagine this money won’t be arriving in a lump sum, but it’s safe to say that Elin’s going to be pretty set financially for the foreseeable future.  What would you do with 750 million dollars?  Aside from trying valiantly to spend it all?  If she’s into revenge, maybe she can set aside a couple hundred million and then give the rest to Phil Mickelson’s favorite charities.  That would really be a spectacular moment of flair.  Does Elin become the world’s most eligible bachelorette after this?  Do we think ABC could lock her up?  I may have to send in a tape for that one.  I’m sure there are some guys out there already planning their strategies.  The bastards.

I guess the sports angle here would be, is getting these things behind him, one embarrassment at a time eventually going to help Tiger get back on form.  Also this week he’s dealing with Hank Haney being less than glowing in Golf Digest, he was interviewed about this Doctor Galea character and their involvement, there’s speculation he’s not on the best terms with Stevie.  Heck of a time to be the nominal best golfer in the world.  I guess Tiger is going to strip himself down to nothing, and then start to rebuild.  That 750 million isn’t going to re-earn itself.  Who wants a Victory Red driver?

Anecdote 23.5

Greatest Field Hockey Team Ever Assembled.

I haven’t told a story in a while, because I don’t have that many stories.  Kind of a boring individual.  I’m not sure what made me think of this story, maybe because we are right around its 2-year anniversary or perhaps just because it has a great moral.  Wait until you get to the moral.  It’ll be amazing.  This is a great tale of sport, and more than that a story of jubilation.  Pure unadulterated happiness.  Not this choreographed nonsense you see at the World Cup.  This is the story of one of the greatest field hockey moments ever recorded.  For the time being, I’ll have to ask you to trust me, and read on.

If I can be allowed a moment to set the scene:  I found myself along with a group of my closest friends participating in a charity field hockey tournament.  I’ll give you a moment to re-read that sentence, there are no typos.  I’m all for a good cause, and I’m also all for the chance to win any type of game.  When you reach adulthood, and the glory of beer pong and D-III golf (Big Dub knows what I’m talking about) has passed, you miss the opportunity to win games.  Real games, not freecell on the computer.  Some people join softball leagues, or something of that nature, but I’ve never been much of a joiner.  Plus, dominating softball isn’t something I really need to accomplish.  This field hockey, though, now there’s an interesting proposition.

I don’t know how I would describe my particular set of athletic skills.  My best sport probably is beer pong.   Or perhaps carnival games, think of the unique talents it takes to excel on the midway, and that’s me.   Kraft used to say that JCK and I were perfectly suited for intramurals.  Passable at everything, great at nothing.  It’s not as easy as it sounds.  No one knows what I am capable of more than me, so I manage the places I put myself in.  You won’t see me on a soccer field, you won’t catch me doing anything on a mountain.  Field hockey was a tough area, though.  My general feeling was I could rip a field hockey ball, but other than that, it would probably be ugly.  If it hadn’t been for charity, and if I hadn’t been told there would be other “for fun only” teams at the event, I probably would have been out.  But, as it turned out, there I was.

Now, when I arrived in Haddonfield, NJ (Dirty Jerz…what, what), I encountered quite a scene.  I’ve never seen such a gathering of field hockey, and immediately I was feeling a little nervous.  It wasn’t easy to tell the serious players from the non-serious ones.  A lot of people looked official.  Unis, more aggressive looking sock/shin guard combos, proper equipment…that kind of thing.  Of course, I didn’t have a stick, so everyone was looking like a pro.  The minutes before the first game were passed with a lot of nervous joke making, hopes that no one blew out a hammy, and the thought that it would be nice to score one goal.  Immediately following the introductions we found out that we’d be playing the first game in the main gym, or should I say, “Arena.”  And with that, it was on.

So, who were we playing you might ask?  Well, occupying the “rec” division was a broad array of squads.  We happened to get paired up against a collection of high school girls…who actually played field hockey.  I know what you are thinking, and yes, we were terrified.  I can think of some things more emasculating than losing a sporting event to 15-year-old girls, but on that particular day, it would have been the lowest of the low.  The scouting report was that we had no skill, but seeing as aside from our one woman we were a team of old guys, I think our opponents were a little creeped out, and rightfully so.

A quick note on field hockey:  it’s exhausting.  If we were going to get a jump on these girls, we probably needed to do it quickly, but we were having trouble finishing.  It was like a Flyers game, we had a lot of muckers and grinders, but no one was putting the old biscuit in the basket.  Sometime after the midway point, I think a decision was made to force the issue.  We had Rita Jones playing an immaculate goal, and a 0-0, El Cupo Worldo style draw was not going to be acceptable.  Perhaps I should mention at this time that we were playing in front of a reasonably large crowd.  All the teams that were waiting to play just stayed in the bleachers.  I kind of forgot about this, but at the same time, you could hear an occasional snicker.

Well, those laughs were about to be silenced.  Feeling perhaps a second wind, perhaps a final tinge of pride we forged into the offensive zone led by Hank Moody who was valiantly playing left-handed with a right-handed stick.  He charged up the left side, and sent a cross blindly into the middle of the gym.  Think foul-line extended.  The blind cross incidentally was the offense we ran the entire afternoon.  But, on this occasion, I happened to be all alone.  The ball came drifting toward me in slow motion, a perfect saucer pass.  I said to myself, you know what Hoss, just let it go.  I unleashed a laser beam, it sizzled through the air and into the back of the net at which point complete pandemonium broke out in the gym.  Or I should say, everyone got to witness the greatest moment of my adult athletic life.  I took off in a sprint toward our goal.  Legend has it that it was the fastest I’ve ever run.  I got to our foul line, and unleashed a vicious triple fist-pump, and we celebrated as a team.

Now, it’s not important that we went on to win the game (3-0, what?), and that I MAY have scored a few more beauties, nothing matched that first goal.  Not even when Rand almost got into a fight with an actual real live girl in the second game.  If I could have video of one moment in my life, I might pick this goal.  It was that amazing and hilarious.  Of course I did kind of forget that a lot of people were watching.  After the game I was confronted by a group of girls that said, “Hey its the Field Hockey All-Star,” then they burst into laughter.  It was a very proud moment for me.  They declined autographs.

What wasn’t so great was the physical toll that the tournament took on my body (thank god we withdrew after 2 games).  Bending over a field hockey stick designed for someone 5′ 4″ for an hour wasn’t the best thing for me.   I spent the rest of the afternoon trying to find a comfortable position (unsuccessful), and spent the next week or so walking with a noticeable limp.  Anything for charity right?  But, when balancing the glory of adult athletics with the possible after effects it is important to remember one thing:  Gym class heroes have expiration dates.  And, there it is.

Philly Finally Gets Some Golf.

Grab Judge Smails, Head Over to 'The Mink'

Hard to say why Philly doesn’t have a regular PGA Tour stop. To hold an event you need a sponsor and a venue along with a decent date on the schedule. Considering the fate of the PA Classic, I suppose its mostly a sponsor issue. Certainly there are courses, and even if the best were unwilling to yield their grounds every year, I’m sure a permanent home could be found. Philadelphia is one of the great American golf cities. New York, Chicago, SF, Atlanta, Houston…they all rank up on the list, and all have or had much more consistent and successful tour stops than Philadelphia. I’m not sure we’ll ever lock up a spot on the schedule, but the next two years at Aronimink will probably go a long way toward determining the future of PGA Tour golf in the Philadelphia area.

The Tour has gotten itself a fine venue to retest the waters. The criticism of Aronimink from local players, who aren’t members, usually centers around the course’s lack of originality (I’ve never played there myself, just passing along reviews). They concede it’s a fine golf course, an immaculately conditioned one, but I’ve heard it called monotonous on more than one occasion. It suffers from par four deja vu.

I’m not quite sure how to respond to that other than to say that Aronimink certainly has its haters within the local golf scene, but the fact remains it is a track that Donald Ross considered one of his signature works, and he kind of knew what he’s doing. The course has held up to major championships in the past, and possibly if not for the Shoal Creek incident and the fallout it could have wound up in the PGA of America’s favored rotation. Instead they lost the 1993 PGA, and perhaps still suffer from the memory of not having an African American member until the late nineties. But, this isn’t a time for that discussion necessarily. The policies at Aronimink have changed, and this week the world’s most recognizable golfer, minority or otherwise is hosting an event there.

I imagine we’ll hear plenty about the course from the players. They rarely hesitate to grumble. I’m sure we remember the trip to Liberty National last year, but perhaps the Ross name will earn it some respect. I’m expecting good reviews, though. It’s the type of course your standard tour pro will enjoy, and it’s also a fair ballstriker’s test. The whole field has a chance here, and when you factor in the unfamiliarity (of everyone except Sean O’Hair), it should be a wide open week. I’m interested to see how they score, I’m sure the members have their fingers crossed for a winning number in single digits…we’ll see.

Even though Tiger had never played the golf course, there is some sense I think that he is the man to beat in his own event. Tiger faces just an average field. It’s funny that Woods is the strength of the event, but also could be a factor in the hindering of the overall quality of the field. If you have Tiger, you have a tournament, but the supporting cast could be better. Tiger’s boys are in town, guys like Hunter Mahan, O’Hair, Jim Furyk and Dustin Johnson. But there’s no Mickelson, the European presence is lacking, and you have to wonder what that says exactly. I imagine there aren’t a lot of guys on Tour who owe Tiger favors, or feel like going out of their way to help him out. This event was supposed to grow into Tiger’s Bay Hill or Memorial. I think that is on shaky ground right now, and I don’t know that Tiger will ever get the deference shown Jack and Arnie. But time heals, perhaps.

In the end, it should be a decent event, Tiger gets another chance to build momentum for St. Andrews, and we get to see the home town on the old picture box. Newtown Square, bitches. If anyone is heading over, let me know, snap some photos and enjoy that shuttle ride in from Scranton.

Take It Off Life Support.

Breaking the Cable Show Rules.

Rough afternoon.  We find out Megan Fox married David Silver.  We anxiously await MRI results for Chutley.  Kind of things that can put you in a foul humor.  So, while we’re speaking of unfortunate occurrences, might as well go off on Entourage for being completely and utterly awful.  I kind of forgot they were making another season, completely forgot last year’s story lines, but in my rush to stream television shows that I don’t pay for, I realized it was Entourage season again.  I watched the season premiere (season 7, can you believe it?) this morning, or I guess I should say I watched it for about 18 minutes, then got distracted by a shiny object and didn’t finish.  This show is so terrible now, it makes me feel sad for HBO.  How the mighty have fallen.

When Entourage hit the air, it was appointment viewing.  You could overlook the fact that it ran about 23 minutes, and that most of the stars couldn’t act.  It was something different.  Jeremy Piven was very funny, we latched onto catch phrases, it was good times all around.  The problem with Entourage is that it a) went in the wrong direction, and b) has completely over stayed its welcome.  HBO never realized the star of the show was Ari, and perhaps Johnny Drama, and it instead kept force feeding up the listless Vince and “E” story lines.  If you don’t think this show would be better with Ari shaping a new rising star and his idiot friends each year, well, then you are a moron.  But even if they had realized that much, seven years is too long for cable, it’s too long for about anything.

How do you know when a show has run its course?  Well, characters lose their identity.  In this first episode, Turtle is some burgeoning limousine company mogul.  Um, Turtle is supposed to sit around in Yankees hats and smoke weed.  He’s not supposed to make money.  Not only do characters lose their identities, but they lose the fire.  Piven is acting like someone who’s trying to remember what he sounded like 5 years ago.  His trademark rants lose steam, his insults have an unfortunate case of deja vu.  The most desperate thing I’ve seen from Entourage, though, is the cameos.  At first they seemed a nice complement, at this point, it’s more like, “That’s not really Chris Moneymaker sitting there, is it?”

The good thing about shows on cable is that they usually don’t milk it.  Take The Office, for example.  This is one of my favorite shows, but it’s long past its prime.  It’s in dire need of a revival, but it’s likely not coming.  Steve Carell has one more season, but they’re going to keep plodding on after that, milking every last cent they can.  Cable doesn’t have that kind of money involved.  It’s allowed them to be tighter.  The Wire for example, or the rumors that Mad Men will probably only last a few more seasons at most.  You can only be interesting for so long.  This is why sequels eventually fail.  People get tired of it, right now we’re on like Entourage 4: The Turtle Wins the Race.  It’s ridiculous.

The worst part is, I find myself still watching, or still kind of watching the show out of some sense of obligation, or a feeling that I might miss one classic moment.  Sometime in the last four seasons you’d think there would have been a good line somewhere, but they just lead me on.  Put me out of my misery.  There are so many other shows on that are better.  Party Down.  Where the bleep is the 2nd season of Eastbound and Down?   I hope this is it for Entourage, I really do.

Summer of LeBron.

A LeBron divided Against Itself Cannot Stand.

So I spent the better part of the day combing the desert for the Wawa hoagie bus. I didn’t find sheeit. Disappointing. But, there are other big stories out there besides Hoagiefest this summer. Hell, I don’t even eat hoagies. Too much lettuce. Icky. Moving on, LeBron trumps Hoagiefest, because LeBron trumps everything.

Sometime in the wee hours of Wednesday night/Thursday morning LeBron is going to start getting rundown with offers. Nets, Knicks, Bulls, Cavs, Heat, Real Salt Lake…there’s going to be a lot of suitors. It’ll be a little bit like the first episode of the Bachelor when all 25 girls know for sure they heart some guy they’ve never seen before. Only in this case LeBron is REALLY hot. Everything points to a cat fight. I have so many questions about this…

1. Does LeBron have too much power? This notion that everything stops until he signs is pretty amazing. Teams are already announcing their plan Bs, but also making it clear that everything hinges on Bron Bron. In other sports guys sign and set the market for salaries. In this case LeBron could set the market for the whole competitive balance of the league. Pretty big. Of course this assumes LeBron will eventually stop getting beaten like a drum in the playoffs. (Zing).

2. Do you think Lebron has already made up his mind? I feel like I would have. Just because the money is set, he’s had months and months to think about it really, and now he’s had a month of downtime to coordinate with Chris Bosh, et al. Is it possible that LeBron could still be swayed in some direction?

3. If he is still sitting with an open mind, what do you think goes on in these recruitment meetings? This has always fascinated me a bit. We get a little glimpse into free agent wooing from time to time, but I think everyone is meeting with Bron in Ohio. Can’t take him out on the town, can’t swing by an impromptu fan rally, can’t hit Scores, so what’s going on? Are they promising LeBron minutes? Is there a powerpoint presentation involved? And could LeBron be the one making the promises? Is Joe Johnson on speed dial waiting to be told what to do?

4. How long do you think it will take this to play out? I won’t be able to tolerate much of a wait. Instant Gratification! The only way I want this to drag on is if it keeps Brett Farve out of the news. I don’t think LeBron will deliberate too long. Gotta get the wheels in motion, especially if it is a new city, sell the brand. Global icon first, remember?

5. Where do you want him to end up? Or is there a preference? I suppose with no chance of him coming to Philly (sign and trade for Iggy?), I shouldn’t really care, and yet I clearly have an opinion. I guess I’d prefer Cleveland, because I don’t think that disrupts competitive balance and it satisfies some sense of loyalty that I feel. I wouldn’t mind the Nets either, because the Nets are beaten down and LBJ plus the Russian makes magic. There would be movies made. I’m against Chicago, I can say that. It’s too much with the Jordan thing, and if he went there I’d have to root for him to never win it all. And, that can be draining. I only have so much negative energy to spread around, and there’s a lot of teams out there.

So yes people, it is the Summer of LeBron. I want to hear all your thoughts. Answer these questions, pose your own, offer a wild hypothesis…whatever lights up your iPad.

Phils Need To Feast On Pirates Sandwich.

Remember the Old Senior Circuit?

The Phillies have fourteen games before the All-Star Break, four series before the American League shows its dominance once again.   Even I feel bad for the National League at the this point, and their eventual World Series participant who surely will not have home field advantage.  Speaking of NL teams in playoff position, the Phillies of course are not, but they’ll play a quick 10 against first place competition over the next two weeks.  The Reds are the surprise of the National League Central, and Atlanta is still maintaining some control over the closely packed NL East.  The Phillies have rebounded of late, and managed to stay within shouting distance of the Braves, who have become the team I thought they would become (crown their asses).  Good pitching and just enough hitting to be factors in this race.  That Troy Glaus is putting up the Chipper-esque stats is a surprise, but it’s the same in the end.

Smack dab in the middle of these series with Atlanta and Cincy is a four game set with the lowly Pirates.  Oh, those Pirates.  Someone please buy this team, but in the meantime, thanks for being so pitiful.  The Phillies we know, the Phillies we love, make their living trashing bad pitching and bad opponents.  We lost sight of that mission for a while, but after sweeping Cleveland and knocking around the Jays’ backend, the Phillies are finally scoring more than 2.4 a game.  The offense, our beloved mashers that are enjoying what Chuckles calls, “hitting season,” is the reason why the series with Pittsburgh is maybe more important than the ones against Atlanta and Cincy.

Divisional games by nature are more important, and the Phillies could overtake the Braves possibly, but this is all about sustaining offensive momentum.  The Reds will bring Cueto, Leake and the boys, the Braves have Huddy and Hanson, but the Pirates basically have jackola.  If the Phils are going to win this thing in the end, like I said, they’ll have to go back to pounding the bottom feeders of the NL.  Also, if they did happen to get slightly off-track against the Reds, the Pirates step right in to offer a possible cure.  Sweeping Pittsburgh isn’t going to cut it if they drop 7 of the other 10, but while these are first place teams, they aren’t great teams, or anything like the AL powers the Phils faced recently.   Beat up on Pittsburgh, confidence and everything else falls into place.

What else to look for as the Phils build toward the actual and symbolic midway points of this season:

1.  Cole Hamels needs a bounce back.  No worry here at all, just one good start to make us feel nice and comfortable.

2.  Jamie Moyer Cy Young watch.  Ubaldo who?  Of course somehow Moyer misses the Reds both times, I think.  The guy as some folks like to say is literally, “dipped in sh*T”

3.  Raul Ibanez:  Is he coming around for real, or is he coming around to .260/11/63?

4.  For the idiots and the talk radio callers, Dom Brown was promoted to AAA!  Start the campaign.  Platoon him!  He’s Darryl Strawberry without the recreational drug curiosity.

5.  Watch that calf, J-Roll.

Without Further Ado, See You in Brazil.

Remains Absent From US Trophy Case.

I’d like to formally bid adieu to El Cupo Worldo. I’m aware that we aren’t even into the quarterfinals, that there could still be some games that soccer fans crave, but I’m out. Patriotism, honest attempts at real interest, they can only go so far. I’m just not a real soccer fan. My sincerest apologies. I can watch the youtube sensation that shows country wide celebrations for the Landycakes goal and understand the sentiment, but in the end two things sink the World Cup for me: the demise of the US Team, and the complete atrocity that is soccer officiating.

Starting with our beloved home squad, I still can’t help but feel that I was a little misled. As nice as it was to win the group, the majority of the excitement the US team created was a result of them trying to make up for their own mistakes. We heard a lot about the US team’s resiliency, their tendency to score in the waning minutes, but what of their inability to find their top game from the start? Does a team that constantly puts itself in a hole, cannot finish its opportunities, and gets average performances from its stars deserve to move on?

We’ll be reminded that the US could have won the game against Ghana. Some will say they should have won, or deserved to win, but it’s tough to argue that when you witnessed the domination of the first half. The questionable lineup, the play of the US’s supposed ace in the hole, Tim Howard…it all could have added up to a much deeper deficit than 1-0. The fact that the US team suffered a similar breakdown in the opening moments of extra time seems to make the loss more appropriate than disappointing. So with the US team on its way home, I’m thinking, was that all there is?

On a more general level, the officiating in this World Cup has been the most offensive thing to me, a casual fan at best. How does a sport retain credibility when the flow of games is constantly interrupted by atrocious calls? We often hear of how good officials are, how few calls they actually miss, and I generally believe this, but not in the case of this World Cup. In a sport where scoring happens only so often, it would seem that calls on scoring plays should be made correctly, and yet time and again, they are botched. And botched with flair.

Both games Sunday featured dumbfounding blown calls, one put a goal on the board, the other taking one off. They robbed England of a clean slate, and put Mexico in a hole. I believe the better teams likely prevailed, and easily, in both cases, but how can we know for sure? Personally, I’m rooting for poor officiating to continue. I want a big fat black eye on the Final.

The argument against replay from FIFA is that the game must be the same at all levels, in all locations. Some countries, some venues wouldn’t have the budget or the technology in place for video replay, etc. While this makes sense in maybe the most literal of worlds, not protecting the integrity of the results in the sport’s biggest stage seems to bring pointless criticism. And when the whole stadium is watching replays of blown calls, don’t we have to look around and say, this could be fixed in 8 seconds, no?

So aside from watching a highlight here and there, and hoping Maradona rushes the field in his suit and hand balls one in a for game winner (no one saw it), I’m going to say farewell soccer. Thanks for the blip. See you in Brazil. If we qualify.