Week of April 22, 2016


A Story That Actually Made Me Feel Bad For Tiger Woods

Long ago, on this very blog, I decided that Tiger Woods no longer deserved the nickname Tiger, and I encouraged our many readers to begin referring to him by his given name: Eldrick. But I’m using Tiger here because Wright Thompson wrote such a great piece on Tiger that I actually feel bad for him.

The nuts and bolts are simple: Tiger Woods was very close to his dad, Earl. Earl was Tiger’s only real friend – both as a kid and as an adult. He was the only person Tiger could really open up to. And then, in 2006, Earl died. To fill the void, Tiger sought comfort by emulating his father, a former Navy SEAL. Tiger began diving deep into advanced military training. It began to consume him. It destroyed his body. And now Tiger, at 40 years old, can barely walk. His golf career is essentially over, and has been for years.

Tiger Gun

But…this article is somehow so much more than that. It’s incredibly well researched. It is insightful, at times poetic. It’s not perfect – more than a couple times I rolled my eyes when it was a little too poetic. But it strikes deep at the universal relationship between a father and a son. And it paints the picture of Tiger Woods, deeply introverted and wildly awkward, as an incredibly talented golfer, who never wanted the immense fame he achieved. Or, at least, had severe buyer’s remorse when he got it. Some of the best passages, shockingly, are direct quotes from Tiger’s friend Michael Jordan, who seems to be reaching out to his troubled friend through this story. MJ sees himself in Tiger, making the connection between Jordan’s retirement to play baseball following his father’s death, and Tiger’s military fascination following his. “It could be his way of playing baseball. Soothing his father’s interest.”

Tiger Dad

Michael sees the end for Tiger, even if Tiger doesn’t quite see it himself. “I don’t know if he’s happy about that or sad about that. I think he’s tired. I think he really wishes he could retire, but he doesn’t know how to do it yet, and I don’t think he wants to leave it where it is right now. If he could win a major and walk away, he would, I think.” Jordan goes on to say that, like many of us, Tiger looks back at the events of his life since a major turning point and wishes he could go back in time and do it over again. Do it differently. For Tiger, that turning point was his father’s death. He’d be a better husband, for one. But, of course, he cannot. And so MJ hopes his friend, who has named his boats Privacy and Solitude, finds true companionship. Happiness. And continues to be, by all accounts, a loving and caring father to his two children. And that is why I feel bad for Tiger Woods. He has made mistakes, but he is human. He’s a son who misses his father. He’s a father who loves his children. And he’s a man who wants to be happy. -TOB

Source: The Secret History of Tiger Woods”, Wright Thompson, ESPN.com (04/21/2016)

PAL: We have two depressing stories about sports legends this week: Wood’s focuses on his search for something real in the wake of his father’s death, and Kobe Bryant’s story outlines his decades-long deconstruction of reality in his pursuit of greatness. Both of these dudes are beginning a part of their lives for which they are woefully unprepared. Tiger seems at least to want to find out how to exist in the now; whereas Kobe seems like he just wants to apply his single-minded approach to building a new fantasy world for himself and only himself.

Kobe’s Basketball Obit: A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Obliviousness

While walking Maxine Fischer the other day, I heard Ramona Shelburn interviewed about her freaking novel-length story on Kobe. Sounded interesting. Here’s the final story on the narcissist who alienated everyone on his quest to the be a better version of Michael Jordan. He lost himself somewhere along the way, and he’s been rebuilt by carbon copies of things he finds challenging in a really adolescent way: Jordan, composers, movies, hell, marketing slogans. A childhood obsession rotted away any chance of him having any real unfiltered emotion. Because I have no sense of who he is, and because I really don’t think he has any idea who he is either, I can’t find any reason to care about someone so exceptional. That – and only that – is what makes his life interesting. – PAL

Source: Mamba Out”, Ramona Shelburne, The Undefeated (4/19/16)

TOB: I’m glad Phil’s review of this story was so negative, because I saw the subheadline to this story and just could not bring myself to begin reading: “You’d think after the career Kobe has had, he’d just ride off into the sunset. But really, he’s just getting started. Black Mamba may be out of the NBA, but not the spotlight.” Ugggggh, he’s the worst. Thank you, Phil, for saving me some time.

RIP Prince

I’ve never been a major Prince fan, but I understand why he was an icon. More than that – as I wrote on March 2, 2015 below – I loved that this creature from another planet was as Minnesota as our high school state hockey tournament. Minnesota will always claim Dylan, but I don’t think he would return in kind. That was never the case with Prince, and it’s a real loss that he died so young. A genius by any measure. – PAL

March 2, 2015

Game, Blouses

We all know and love the legendary Prince basketball skit from Chappelle Show. Well, here’s some evidence that Prince (5’2”) was a solid player for real, and he argued about playing time with his coach, too. The team photo alone is worth the click here, folks. A side note: while I love Bob Dylan, Prince is actually the musical icon of Minnesota. The dude still lives there, regularly goes to Timberwolves and Vikings games, and records his music right there in Minnesota. True blue Minnesotan. Got to love it. – PAL

Source: “Prince Was An Afro-Rocking, Coach- Hating Schoolboy Basketball Player”, Billy Haisley, Deadspin (03/03/2015)

TOB: In the wake of Prince’s death, I am left with two lasting memories. When I was a kid, I wasn’t really into Prince’s music. I thought he was a weird, pop star, and I use that term derisively. But then I saw his performance at the George Harrison tribute concert:

Prince absolutely WAILS on the guitar. I love watching Harrison’s kid’s face at around the 1:14 mark. He just destroys everyone. And when he’s done he throws the guitar up in the air and walks off the stage. Amazing. The second was his Super Bowl Halftime performance, in the rain, which is the best halftime show I’ve ever seen, and the only thing remotely close is Paul McCartney.

Bryce Harper: Baseball’s $500M Man?


Bryce Harper is an incredible baseball player. He won the NL MVP last year, in a landslide, at the age of 22. And he’s having an even better start to 2016. This article asks: Has he surpassed Mike Trout as baseball’s best player. That’s a fine question, but I am more interested in this one: How much will Harper’s free agent contract be worth? He’ll be a free agent after next season, and I CANNOT wait to hear the baseball media howl when his contract is announced. Somethings to consider: He’ll only be 25, with likely two to three MVPs under his belt. His Wins Over Replacement (WAR) last year was 9.9, and the going free agent rate is around $6 million per WAR, and going up. Which means, on the open market in 2 years, Bryce Harper would be “worth” $60-65M per season. Now, he’s not getting that much. But $40M? I could see it. The top paid player right now is Clayton Kershaw, at $30M per year, in a deal given out a couple years ago. So let’s say $40M per year. He’ll only be 25 years old. A 12-year deal is reasonable, once a bidding war breaks out – putting Harper’s deal at 12 years, $480 million. And then the x-factor: His agent is Scott Boras. That baby is flying by $500 million. Peoples are going to lose their minds. It’s going to be great.

Source: Has Bryce Harper Surpassed Mike Trout? That’s a Clown Question, Bro”, Neil Payne, FiveThirtyEight (04/21/2016)

PAL: Whatever the amount lands at, it will be meaningless to me. Seriously, what’s the practical difference between $100M and $500M? Also, with all this TV money bloating the salaries, TOB had a great point the other day: Can we just cut ticket prices already?

I Have to do EVERYTHING?

There’s really not much to this, other than  NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt cleaning his window while hanging out of this window. During a race. While driving. Where you at, Jr?

Also, one negative effect of the internet is that we’ve completely given up on headlines: Look at the title of this story below!  – PAL  

Source: Dale Earnhardt once tried to clean his windshield by sitting out of his window mid-race”, Mark Hinog, SB Nation (04/21/2016)

Motor Cycle


Cycling and cheating have long gone together, but now the cheating has entered what Bill Simmons calls the “Tyson Zone”, meaning that there is literally no story relating to cheating in cycling that I would toss aside as unbelievable. Here’s a story about riders now putting motors on their bikes. The engineering is pretty fascinating, actually, and honestly, can we just make cycling the Amsterdam sport already? Anything goes. Take whatever drugs you want. Affix anything on a bike you want. Add a joust to the handlebars. Let’s get weird with it. – PAL

Source:Tiny Motor Powers a New Threat to Cycling Races”, Ian Austen, The New York Times (04/18/2016)

TOB: You know my take on Performance Enhancing Drugs: Why get upset? Why don’t I want to watch performances enhanced? Should players not be allowed to lift weights, too? Players should take MORE drugs! How exciting is Steph Curry? So exciting. What if he was hitting 50-footers instead of 30-footers? MY GOD. I am excited just thinking about it. But…I gotta draw the line at motors on a bicycle. It is now a motorsport, and I hate motorsports. Although, to be honest, cycling is boring as hell, too. So, fine. Use motors. I’m not watching either way.

Video of the Week

PAL Song of the Week

Song of the Week: Bruce Springsteen – “Waitin’ on a Sunny Day

Listen to the full playlist there, or be square:

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Twitter: @123sportsdigest


Dwayne told me. Chuck told me. Even Rachel told me. I heard about it from everybody. You gotta stop talking about it. It’s like “the Sopranos.” It’s *over*. Find a new show.


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