Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Jim Nantz for President

Category: Sports News

Congratulations to Phil Mickelson for his third green jacket. Sadly, Mickelson's courageous victory and emotional embrace with his wife Amy at the end of the tournament was overshadowed by the very antithesis of the man Lefty is.

Amy Mickelson is drop-dead gorgeous. She might be considered the "poster child," so to speak, for the term "trophy wife," were it not for the fact that she and Mickelson married long before he became the golf superstar he is today. Mickelson truly loves this woman -- he frequently refers to her as "my life partner" and not merely his wife. His golf suffered because his head and his heart were with Amy as she underwent treatment for breast cancer.

Phil Mickelson shares his third
Masters victory with wife Amy,
who is battling breast cancer

Another golfer who shall remain nameless gets a trophy wife then started cheating on her before the ink was dry on his marriage license. He then insulted every golfer who was playing in the Accenture Match Play by scheduling his press show during the tournament as if to say that he agrees with the media that the entire world, not just professional golf, revolves around him.

And that is why Jim Nantz is my new hero. He took a brave stand after the Masters to call out this guy. In the aforementioned press show the golfer said he was going to "respect the game" more. He then proceeded to curse loudly and repeatedly as his game fell apart during the last round of the Masters.

Golf is a gentleman's game, and that kind of language is not allowed. In fact, in 2005, a PGA rules official told the Chicago Tribune that he loved the fact that the very first section of the rules book deals with etiquette. Here is what it says:

All players should conduct themselves in a disciplined manner, demonstrating courtesy and sportsmanship at all times, irrespective of how competitive they may be. This is the spirit of the game of golf.

What part of that does the other golfer not understand?
This fellow claims he follows Buddhism, so he should not be evoking the name of the God of monotheistic religions that he does not believe in, especially in a manner that every monotheistic religion considers blasphemous.

The problem is that a lot of writers are lining up against Nantz for saying the profanities uttered (well, shouted) and picked up by CBS's microphones were wrong. I say
Good for you, Jim! Nantz is absolutely correct when he said on Mike Francesa's WFAN radio show that if he, as an announcer, had said such a thing he would be standing in the unemployment line by the end of the day. While a number of sports writers have ridiculed Nantz for his stand, I will applaud him loudly.

And to Lefty, your performance at the Masters was superb, and it grieves me as a fan of yours and a fan of the great game of golf to see such a wonderful performance overshadowed by someone else because of lazy reporters.

Monday, April 5, 2010

A Great Trip to the Bottom of the Barrel

Category: 50 Songs to Hear

SONG: Swallowed By the Cracks
ARTIST: David + David
SONGWRITERS: David Baerwald / David Ricketts
ALBUM: Boomtown

One day my mom was on the Internet looking for relatives and found this fan page. It seemed my music was important to a lot of them. I was genuinely touched by their interest.
(David Baerwald)

Rarely has an album sounded so good while being so depressing as David + David's sole release, 1986's Boomtown. The album wanders through the bottom of the barrel of life in the booze and drug subculture of Los Angeles. The album yielded a minor hit, "Welcome to the Boomtown," complete with those aforementioned pictures of the seedy side: a person dealing "dope out of Denny's" (certainly not the best advertisement a restaurant can pick up) and another one dying because "the ambulance arrived too late."

The same problems of the characters in "Welcome to the Boomtown" plague the three protagonists in the brilliant "Swallowed By the Cracks," the highlight of the Boomtown album. The story is told in first person about a man, his girlfriend Eileen, and Eileen's brother and the narrator's best friend, Steve. They have lofty goals: Steve is a writer, Eileen is an actress, and the narrator is a dancer who has dreams of becoming a famous choreographer. The dreams turn to nightmares: "Stevie ran away and got bored, Eileen took a job in a store, while I became this drunken old whore." They were determined not to be "swallowed by the cracks, fallen so far down like the rest of those clowns begging bus fare back," yet that is exactly what happened. The dancer and writer and actress, instead of pursuing their occupational goals, end up "getting drunk with strangers, telling lies, and singing along with the jukebox."

In the title song from his debut album Guitars, Cadillacs, Dwight Yoakam referred to "this tinsel land" as "this town [that] can shatter dreams." David + David expounded on that thought explicitly in this superb song, a song that showed the promise of where this duo could have gone had they continued to make music together.


When My Rowboat Comes In
When I Lift Up My Head
Rose of My Heart
Rock of Ages, Hide Thou Me
Our Town
Old Memories Mean Nothing to Me
Not That I Care
Nobody Eats at Linebaugh's Anymore
My Book of Memories
Lost to a Stranger
A Little Bitty Heart
Life Has Its Little Ups and Downs
Life is Too Short
I Want a Home in Dixie
I Lost Today
Down to the River to Pray
Don't Let the Stars Get in Your Eyeballs
A Death in the Family
Dark as a Dungeon
Bottomless Well

Stealin' Time
Starting Tomorrow
Sleep's Dark and Silent Gate
She's a Runaway
Painted Bells
Out to Sea
One More Song
New Delhi Freight Train
Long Way Home
Heart of Rome
Harriet Tubman's Gonna Carry Me Home
Entella Hotel
Desperados Under the Eaves
Crossing Muddy Waters
Cliffs of Dooneen
Bruised Orange (Chain of Sorrow)
Baby Mine

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Coach Kroojawoosky

Category: Sports

In Kentucky, Duke is a four-letter word. It has been since March 28, 1992, the night of that game. Every college basketball fan knows exactly "what" game I mean: the regional final in Philadelphia between Duke and Kentucky that went into overtime and ended with Christian Laettner's last-second shot that went in and sent Duke to the Final Four and Kentucky fans home with a horrid taste in their mouths. That game is still discussed in Kentucky, and no doubt there'll be an effigy or two hung on the 20th anniversary of the game
in 2012.

Let the Kentucky native and lifelong UK Wildcat fan (and someone who actually attended a University of Kentucky-affiliated community college for two semesters) now praise Coach Kroojawoosky (as a great parody of those old Bud Light commercials once pronounced it). Mike Krzyzewski is one of the true legends of the college basketball game. What is not to like (other than the fact that 99% of the population cannot spell nor pronounce his name -- it's M-I-K-E!)?

  • His players graduate. In fact, Coach K refused to hang the 1992 championship banner until Laettner finished his final courses in summer school.
  • His program is clean. Duke does things the right way. No scandal, no hint of a scandal, nothing The NCAA puts endless rules on coaches (everything short of what the coach can have for breakfast before he talks to a recruit), but Krzyzewski follows every one of those rules to the letter.
  • His players are clean. Krzyzewski once said that he would not recruit someone who he didn't feel comfortable having around his family (and he's the father of three girls). He could probably get better players every year, but he'd also have to take some baggage with them, and he doesn't want to win that badly.
  • HE is clean. He's been happily married for nearly 40 years. There's no Tiger Woods sex scandals and no Billy Gillispie drunk driving charges out there. Holy cow, Krzyzewski will actually be in church the day before his team plays for a national title!
  • He is not Vince Lombardi. A famous quote of Lombardi's is, "If it doesn't matter whether you win or lose, then how come they keep score?" Sure, Krzyzewski wants his team to win -- him and 346 other Division I coaches. But Coach K realizes that being a winning human being is far more important than winning a basketball game.
  • He is genuine. With all his success -- two gold medals for coaching Olympic basketball teams, three national titles, and induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2001 -- he still answers his fan mail. I know that for a fact: I have two letters from him and an autographed photo on my office wall.

Whether Duke cuts down the nets on Monday night or the Butler Bulldogs complete the Cinderella story, Duke fans can rest assured they are already winners because of the man who patrols the sidelines. And, as long as Mike Krzyzewski continues to coach college basketball, the game itself wins.