Behind the Mic: …Had a Great Fall

Tiger Woods played at the Memorial this past weekend.  He just made the cut on the very last hole.  This was a man who did not miss a cut for seven years!  On Saturday, he shot the worst score of his competitive career, an 85!  He hit seven fairways, nine greens in regulation, hit four balls into the water, and missed three putts inside of five feet.  Zac Blair (who?) played with Tiger on Saturday and beat him by 15 shots!

And, perhaps, that was not the most embarrassing part of the weekend for Tiger.  Because there were an odd number of players who made the cut, Tiger played the final round as the first one out for the day and he had to play by himself!!  He shot a 74 and finished in last place.  I know there are “Tiger-haters” out there and they are probably happy to see him fail.  I, for one, thought that this was a sad moment for one of the greatest ever in his profession.

This got me to thinking about some of the great “falls” in professional sports.

Pete Rose
I just loved watching the way he played the game of baseball.  He just exuded energy and enthusiasm for the game, became the career hits leader, and was destined for the Hall of Fame.  And then, there was the betting scandal, tax evasion, and imprisonment.  And still no Hall of Fame.

Lenny Dykstra
All his problems began after his baseball career – there was bankruptcy, concealing baseball gloves and other souvenirs that were supposed to be part of the bankruptcy, imprisonment, grand theft auto, and filing a false financial statement.  He was never able to “hustle” his way to success after baseball.

Lance Armstrong
He won the Tour de France seven times.  He beat cancer.  He was an American icon.  Turns out, he was a cheater who finally admitted to doping.

Marion Jones
She won five medals in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney and an NCAA basketball championship at North Carolina, but she used performance-enhancing drugs.  She spent six months in jail for lying to a grand jury.

Michael Vick
Football was not enough competition for him.  He decided to finance a dog fighting group.  That turned out to be a serious crime and a public relations nightmare.  He, too, went to prison.

These are just a few of the great falls from grace.  There are plenty of others – baseball’s Ryan Braun, Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, remember Tonya Harding, Oscar Pistorius, etc.

After thinking about these infamous athletes, I come away thinking Tiger’s problems with the “sticks” are not so bad.  Let’s hope that he thrills us a few more times in his career.

When I have a bad round of golf, I always use the excuse that “I’m working on things.”  At least, Tiger can continue to “work on things”.  You can’t say that for the others.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS) 

  1. As everyone knows, American Pharoah broke the 37-year Triple Crown jinx by winning the Belmont Stakes. The race took two minutes and 26 seconds.  The broadcast took two hours and 45 minutes!  NBC did an outstanding job with all the back stories, the atmosphere, and the actual race.  Jockey Victor Espinoza became extremely likable as the story unfolded and I’m sure was forgiven for his expletive right after winning.  Great story!
  2. Since this blog talks about the demise of some of the greatest athletes, how about the amazing success of Serena Williams. She won the French Open even though she was not physically at full strength.  This was her 20th Grand Slam singles victory of her career.  She, arguably, is the best women’s player ever.
  3. For the first time in NBA history, the first two games in the finals went overtime. Two great teams with great players.  I actually watched both and was thoroughly entertained and awed by the talent.  And both teams played defense!
  4. On Saturday night, the NHL playoffs continued and Tampa beat Chicago 4-3 to even that series at 1-1. There was an allowed goal that should not have been, a goaltender who left the game twice, a rookie goaltender who had five saves on five shots, and hockey at its best.
  5. The RCN-TV crew will be heading to Penn State and Labrano Park for the PIAA state baseball championships to be played on Friday. The broadcasts will be LIVE on PCN beginning at 10:00 AM.

 

 

Behind the Mic: What Were They Possibly Thinking?

I am not dumb enough to think that terrific athletes or sports personalities are necessarily, also, intelligent people. But, all too often these days, there are incidents that force average “Joes” like me to wonder, smart or not, what were they possibly thinking?

Let’s start with Ozzie Guillen who recently managed the Miami Marlins. One of the reasons he was chosen was because he related well to Spanish-speaking citizens in and around Miami. So what does he do? He talks about his respect and admiration for Fidel Castro in a city where many Cubans have fled Cuba because of their hatred for the Cuban leader. What was he possibly thinking?

Dennis Rodman visits the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, who runs death camps and oppresses his people. Rodman said, “He’s a good guy to me. He’s my friend.” Rodman totally disregarded all of the tragic history of the country and the man. Rodman’s statement implies that those who have suffered have earned their suffering. Otherwise this “good guy” would not have done these evil things. Dennis, what were you possibly thinking?

Sergio Garcia, one of the most recognizable members of the PGA tour and loaded with product endorsements, attacks Tiger Woods for an unsportsmanlike incident which turned out to be totally inaccurate. He not only doesn’t retract what he said, but he also doesn’t apologize and further tarnishes his image with a racist comment about serving “fried chicken” if he had Tiger over for dinner. All he had to do was ascertain the facts about the incident and keep his mouth shut. He didn’t do either! Instead of continuing to be a popular golfer, he will lose future endorsements and constantly hear a chorus of boos from the galleries. He goes from good guy to bad guy because of an incorrect interpretation. What was he possibly thinking?

Notre Dame went to College Football’s National Championship game last year with freshman quarterback, Everett Golson. Golson was looking at three more years playing the most glorious position at college football’s most historical football institution and the adulation that comes with THAT territory. All he had to do was just stay in school. However, Everett Golson is no longer enrolled because of “poor academic judgment.” We do not know what he did – cut classes, cheated on tests, had someone take his tests, failed too many courses – the list could go on and on. The bottom line and most obvious question is, “What was he thinking?”

I could certainly give you more examples – NBA’er Andrew Bynum bowling on a bum knee, causing him to now have two bum knees; NBA’er Amare Stoudamire punching a glass fire extinguisher following a loss to Miami; Lance Armstrong’s arrogance in denying his use of illegal substances when he knew he had been caught; etc., etc. I wish I could understand what they were thinking. But, alas, I cannot!

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

1. I have tried to watch the Phillies, but their pitching is bad and the hitting is worse. They are getting to be an old baseball team and it is showing.

2. Heartbreak occurred at the Indianapolis Speedway again for the Andretti family (Mario, Michael, Marco). Marco was right there, kept all the locals in front of the TV, and, once again, fate dealt a stunning blow with a caution flag that cemented defeat and a fourth place finish for Marco. The family says there is no curse; I do not believe in curses; but, if I did, the Andretti history at Indianapolis would certainly qualify as one.

3. Tiger Woods, whose golf schedule is certainly limited, has agreed to play in the Turkish Airlines Open in Europe. Why there, you may wonder. There is a $7 million purse. Still wondering?

4. I needed to prepare for the District XI baseball championships over the holiday weekend. It is very difficult to get information when schools are not in session. I finally got everything I needed Monday night at @ 10:30 (after numerous phone calls to coaches). I worked all day Sunday with what I had. Guess what? The games were rained out on Tuesday and one of the games (already done) was moved and will not be televised. I am not complaining; just a little venting. Thanks for listening.

5. I am hosting Sportstalk next Thursday (June 6) and the panel will be discussing the best 5 high school football players at various positions. Dick Tracy, Dennis Laub and Joe Craig will offer their lists. Join us with your opinions. I am sure there will be many.

Behind the Mic – January 22nd

The Bible says, “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” This past week, the passage from John 8:32 was put to the test by two outstanding athletes, who exhibited less than stellar actions in their athletic pursuits.

In the case of Lance Armstrong, he admitted to Oprah Winfrey that his career as the premiere cyclist in the world was a fraud. Armstrong rose to the top of his profession and deservedly garnered the adoration, admiration and acclaim of cycling fans and those of us who admire any athlete who seems to accomplish the impossible. In addition, after his bout with cancer, Armstrong was seen by virtually everyone as someone who not only overcame this setback, but worked tirelessly to help fight for a cure with one of the greatest charitable organizations, Livestrong. We, then, discovered that these accomplishments were won with the aid of performance enhancing drugs. The situation was compounded by years of lying to the governing bodies of cycling and to the adoring public, who so much wanted to believe him.

He admitted those lies in an interview with Oprah this past week. Did the “truth set him free”? Based on the reaction from the media, the admission came much too late. The overwhelming response is that Armstrong is still arrogant, barely repentant, and bitter.

In my opinion, the passage from John 8:32 should be two affirmative sentences: “You will know the truth. The truth shall set you free.” Armstrong knew the truth all along and took much too long to admit it. Going on Oprah years later will not and did not set him free.

Manti Te’o is one of the best college football players in the nation and played for Notre Dame University. By now, you know he claims to be the victim of an on-line hoax that established a relationship with a non-existent girlfriend, who later supposedly died. Here the Bible wins out. It is said Te’o found out the story was a hoax in late December and notified the University. Wasn’t this the perfect time to disclose to everyone that this was a hoax perpetrated on an unsuspecting athlete? Particularly, since Notre Dame was playing in the national championship game the first week of January. To paraphrase the Bible, “now the truth WAS known, so let it set you free”. Sure, there would have been questions, but there, also, would have been timely and, hopefully, appropriate answers.

Now those questions, we have been told will be asked by Katie Couric. The answers did not work so well for Armstrong.

We are left in both situations to believe that both these athletes and Notre Dame are not really upset with what they did, but that they got caught. They all need to read more passages from the Bible to get it!!

 


 

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

  1. My Super Bowl pick at the beginning of the year was San Francisco. There is hope.
  2. Some pundit called the Super Bowl the “Har-bowl” (Harbaugh vs Harbaugh). Clever. By the way, SF’s Jim Harbaugh was last year’s coach of the year. Should it go to brother, John, this year? It would keep peace in the house.
  3. Is San Francisco’s QB Colin Kaepernick in the same category as RG III and Andrew Luck or is he better? By the way, I would start my NFL team with Atlanta’s WR Julio Jones. He is amazing.
  4. There is a new sport that is catching on – it’s called the Tough Mudder. There are no winners and contestants help one another get through the course. It is a 12-mile extreme obstacle course which includes walking through a vat of ice, a crawl through thick mud with barbed wire hovering over your head, and another walk through more mud with live electrical wires (10,000 volts) dangling overhead. There are 53 events in 47 cities and 13,500 people signed up for a Tough Mudder event in Sarasota in early December. Up for it?
  5. The Lance Armstrong story this week made me think of an incident I had on a vacation cruise. My wife and I were invited to dine with the captain and other officers and guests. I asked the purser (the only American officer) to find out why and was told the captain had heard I was a sports announcer and he was a big sports fan. I was seated right next to him and all he wanted to talk about was Greg Lemond, the great American cyclist and an international icon. I had virtually no knowledge of cycling or of Lemond. I faked the conversation as best I could. Perhaps, the “truth would have set ME free.” Oh well, the escargot was good.

 

NFL PICKS FOR THIS WEEK
(Last week – 1-1) (88-54 for the season – 62%)

  • SAN FRANCISCO

Behind the Mic – January 4th

2013 is upon us, so I thought I would take one last look at the top 10 national sports stories, in my opinion, for 2012:

10.       Tiger Woods wins again, but not very often.

9.         Peyton Manning released by the Colts; he has a great year with the Broncos.

8.         Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps, and Gabby Douglas make the London Olympic Games very special.

7.         Lance Armstrong stripped of his 7 Tour de France titles by the US Anti-Doping Agency.

6.         Replacement refs in the NFL – How did that work out?  They were replaced after Week 3 debacle with Green Bay and Seattle.

5.         Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck become the most exciting rookies to play in the NFL in a long, long time.

4.         Notre Dame ends college football’s regular season #1, undefeated, and becomes a very relevant football program once again.

3.         Lehigh beats Duke in NCAA basketball (enough said).  Kentucky wins championship with freshmen and sophomores.

2.         College football playoffs in the BCS are approved for 2014. Top four teams  will compete.  You just know it will expand in the future.

And the #1 story:

  1. 1.      NCAA imposes on Penn State a $60 million fine, a four-year bowl ban, a reduction of scholarships, imposes a five-year probation, and vacates all wins from 1998-2011.  Overkill?  Joe Paterno dies.         

 

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

1.                  On Sunday night in Washington, do you think there was more interest in the “fiscal cliff” or the Washington-Dallas NFL football game?

2.                  All four Wild Card games this coming weekend look like tossups to me. 

3.                  Having done four high school basketball games before the holiday break, I think this might be a very, very competitive and exciting year.  Although, looking back, I think I say that every year.

4.                  Happy New Year to everyone, but especially to Mike Joseph, John Leone, Tom Stoudt, Scott Barr, and John Bowman!  I spend a great deal of time in the booths and at courtside with those guys and thoroughly enjoy their company each time!

5.                  In 2012, I lost my 97-year-old mother and my 96-year-old father-in-law.  There will be a large void in 2013.

 NFL PICKS FOR THIS WEEK

(Last week – 12-4 )  (  83-49 for the season – 64% )

HOUSTON

GREEN BAY

 

INDIANAPOLIS

WASHINGTON