Chris Erskine has, by this time, already started home from his (what I think) Winter vacation- but not before he sent this to The LA Times:                                                  
“So I’m at this club with Pamela Anderson. Never in a million years would I think I’d ever write those words. Sure, I’m ashamed, but confession is good for the soul — assuming I still have one.

At the club — “Sanafir,” it’s called — they have large booths that are like hard padded beds, no tables or chairs, upon which everyone sits around
uncomfortably and tries to eat or drink without spilling. It’s supposed to be novel, I guess, but as with all things that try too hard to be different, it instead turns out silly.

Anyway, I’m at the club with Pamela Anderson, which is probably my cue to flee town. To speed my way through Customs, I’m thinking of hiring one of those seaplane pilots to strap me to a wing and drop me over California. Anywhere would be fine — Redding, Eureka, I don’t care. Seriously, just get me over the state line. I’ll walk the rest of the way.

Because somehow, through some wrong turn in life — bad karma, indifferent study habits — I’ve found myself at a club with Pamela Anderson, a woman with more interior plastic than my Honda.

By the way, it’s a lousy, odd coincidence that Anderson was “discovered” at the very same venue where the Olympic closing ceremony will be held Sunday night. Purportedly, she just stood up in a form-fitting T-shirt at a football game, and by chance the camera crew blasted the bombshell’s image on the big screen.

It was a Lana Turner moment, and popular culture would never be the same. Better? Worse? You be the judge. Anderson is a small woman on a very big
stage and I think she has conducted herself exceedingly well — especially once she rid herself of all those pesky small-town Canadian values.

In fact, I’m hoping they’ll pause during Sunday’s ceremony to give her some sort of lifetime achievement award — or perhaps that Order of Canada — then
ask her to go away forever. “Be our Garbo, darling,” they’ll explain. “Now scoot.”

My sources (actually, one liquored-up TV exec) tell me that Sunday’s ceremony will be more playful and comedic than the opening. It will poke fun at the nation’s quirks. These Canadians seem to be the most self-deprecating people ever, but how this will play out in front of 3 billion viewers is unclear. They might be the sort of jokes you can get away with at a family function, but when a bunch of strangers show up, it all gets kind of weird.

This is a city on the verge of a nervous breakdown anyway. You should’ve seen the streets this weekend. In the last couple of days, it is as if the earth burped up every hockey head in the 10 provinces. They strut across downtown drinking and yelling while wearing Canadian flags as capes — and those are just the grandmothers.

Really, it is as if they’ve opened up all the prisons here, though there is no real danger. Imagine a high school pep rally where all the teachers didn’t show up.
That’s what downtown Vancouver is like right now. And when the Canadians talk about “shots this period,” you never know whether they mean schnapps or Jager bombs.

Remember that former KGB agent the city assigned to follow me around, just in case? Emily is her name, and Friday night the “tourism office” she works for
put on this little going-away shindig at Sanafir, presumably for people they’re happy to see go away. As I mentioned, Pamela Anderson and I both showed up, as well as someone from the website Media Kitty, which dubs itself “The Leading Source of Trippy Journalism.”

Me, I couldn’t get out of there fast enough. I swear, in two hours I was gone.

Meanwhile, over at the figure skating hut, they put on some sort of exhibition Saturday evening.

As you’re already aware, you can’t beat figure skating for sheer entertainment. What I like best is when they almost crash into the boards, but not quite. They usually do this backward, for figure skaters are prone to traveling butt-first wherever they go. It’s just safer that way. Plus, then everybody gets a good look at your butt.

That’s the culture of figure skating. It’s not right. It’s not wrong. It’s just figure skating. If you look at things with a tolerant and open mind, the world just opens up to you.

Needless to say I was mesmerized. I fell asleep just once, and that was only for an hour. I finally awoke after having a bad dream about my attempt to collect quotes from the women medalists two nights earlier.

If you want to be humbled, try making sense of something a 16-year-old from Arcadia just mumbled at a million miles an hour.

Fortunately, I have kids.”

And now for something completely different-

Ken Davidoff of NY Newsday gave us a look at the once and future Yankee Slugger, Alex Rodriguez. “He’ll never be Mr. Warm and Fuzzy. Nor is he likely
to join the Fox broadcast booth upon retirement. People can stretch and alter themselves only so much.
But Alex Rodriguez lived up to his words last season, and he insists he’ll make 2010 an encore.
“I had a good year in ’07, and I followed a road map,” A-Rod said Thursday at the same Steinbrenner Field locale where he held his “steroids news
conference” last February. “I got a little bit away from that in ’08, and I got back to it last year.
” . . . It’s my responsibility to continue that, and do exactly what I did in ’09.”
It may not sound like such a big deal, and from a baseball analysis standpoint, the issue of A-Rod’s personality is undoubtedly overblown.
Yet if we’re going to scrutinize the remarkable 2009 season of the Yankees’ third baseman, from February revelation to November celebration — and
wonder if he can repeat it — we would be negligent to not discuss his mental approach to work.
“I feel like he’s well grounded right now,” Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long said of Rodriguez. “I feel like his personal life is in a good spot. I feel like he’s got the trust of his teammates. His actions on and off the field have been super.
“He’s got to keep it that way. All it takes is one bad decision, and it’ll go the other way. We’re all like that. We’re all in that boat.”
True, although A-Rod’s boat looks more like the Titanic. It stands out among the crowd.
After all, when we remember the Yankees’ 2009 World Series crown, we’ll remember A-Rod most, right? The fears that the Sports Illustrated story detailing his illegal performance-enhancing drug use would sink the team. Then, the fears that A-Rod’s serious hip injury would sink the team. His impressive rebound, culminating with his fabulous postseason performance.
“Looking forward, I expect to be in the postseason every year,” A-Rod said. “And there might be a postseason or two where I don’t hit four or five or six
home runs, and I know the way it goes. I’m going to get crushed, and that’s just part of it.
“But the one thing that no one can take away, what happened in 2009 with our team, and we came together as a family.”
Translated, that means: “You can’t call me a postseason choker anymore!”
Now, the concern: Will A-Rod’s ego swell back up to its pre-confession level? Although he helped the Yankees tremendously from 2004 through 2008, he
did alienate teammates and superiors with his prima-donna ways, as detailed in Joe Torre’s 2009 book, “The Yankee Years.”
I believe what A-Rod believes: His postseason turnaround partly could be attributed to luck and other external factors, but also to his simple relaxation. He no longer felt the weight of the world in every at-bat, because he trusted his teammates.
He made the gossip pages this winter, for dumping Kate Hudson and dating Cameron Diaz. Yet he also kept in regular contact with Long, and hosted the
coach twice at his Miami house for check-in visits.
“We’ll address issues as they come up,” Long said, “but the biggest thing is he’s healthy. I think his frame of mind is really, really good.”
With another quiet, successful season, A-Rod will have fully won the benefit of the doubt on his own team. The first steps are encouraging.”

Advertisements

Bill Plaschke previewed Sunday’s US-Canada hockey game by saying:                                 
 “Two Super Bowls in three weeks?

Thirty years in 60 minutes?

As it is written on the Canadian red T-shirts that currently hang from the backs of thousands of folks who will soon be forgetting their manners and clenching their teeth: “Believe.”

On Sunday around noon here, the Olympics will end with a five-ring circus, a caldron of emotion, a ceremony of mettle, one flaming torch of a hockey game.

You sort of wanted it, the Canadians really wanted it, now maybe you’re thinking twice about it, too late, it’s here, Canada versus the United States for the
Olympic gold medal.

“It’s huge,” said the Americans’ Patrick Kane.

“The best of the best, like a Stanley Cup, maybe better,” said American and Kings forward Dustin Brown.

It’s a nation that considers hockey a birthright versus its giant next-door neighbor that steals birthrights.

It’s quaint jerseys pulled from a tree (maple leaf) versus flashy ones pulled from the sky (stars).

It’s fans who chant thoughts (Go, Canada, Go!) versus fans who shout initials (USA! USA!).

It’s a way of life versus just another cool way to spend an afternoon, dude, the Canadians tight, the Americans acting like a 16th-seeded team on the verge of March Madness.

“Who do you think is going to win the gold medal?” American forward Ryan Kesler asked a group of reporters.

There was silence, and he smiled and said, “That’s what I thought. There’s no pressure on us because nobody thinks we’re going to win. Nobody but us.”

Plenty of that pressure was relieved last week when the U.S. beat Canada in a preliminary-round game, outshot but not outworked in a 5-3 victory. It was a game that turned up the heat on the Canadian team, the temperature now searing.

Canada lost then, it was a lousy day. Canada loses Sunday, it will be a bad four years.

“They’re the home team, they will have incredible support, it’s tough to beat a team twice,” said USA Coach Ron Wilson. But, he added, “we’ve beaten them,
we will play better than we did, and if we can survive those first five or six minutes . . .”

If Friday’s semifinals are any indication, the first period could indeed decide the game, two hot teams coming out throwing haymakers and havoc.

In the early afternoon at Canada Hockey Place, the U.S. team, playing what some observers called the best 13 minutes of hockey in recent Olympic history, stunningly blew out Finland with six goals in the first period en route to a 6-1 victory.

“I’ve never been part of something like that in my career,” said Teemu Selanne, the Finnish and Ducks star. “I was shocked. We had no chance.”

On Friday evening, the Canadian team was also impressive early, leading 3-0 after two periods before hanging on for a 3-2 victory over Slovakia.

Said Canada’s Sidney Crosby of Sunday’s finale: “The first game was intense, and you can put it up a level . . . it’s going to be an awesome atmosphere.”

Said Canada’s fans late in the game: “We want USA! We want USA!”

The gold-medal game was expected of Canada, whose roster is far more experienced and accomplished, and which leads all countries with 11 gold medals in men and women’s ice hockey combined.

The Americans, meanwhile, have not won an Olympic gold since 1980, and that one has since been trademarked with the word “Miracle.”

Though Canada defeated the U.S. in the Olympic gold-medal game in 2002 in Salt Lake City, this Sunday’s game, by virtue of its location, is bigger. It will
undoubtedly be the most-watched sports program in Canadian history, a nation transfixed as if cheering for its own children.

Funny, though, it could also end up being the most watched hockey game in U.S. history, Americans always up for a chance at tweaking tradition.

Given Friday’s effort, the Americans could be up for it.

They scored four goals in their first seven shots against Miikka Kiprusoff, statistically the best goalie in this tournament. Kiprusoff had given up just four goals in the previous 75 shots he faced.

They began the scoring on an unassisted Ryan Malone shot after Kiprusoff was rushed into passing the puck to his stick. Frustrated Finland then took two silly interference and boarding penalties and the Americans scored after both, their passing perfect, their intensity unmatched. By the time the game was 10:08 old, the Americans led 4-0 and it was over.

Said Finland’s Kimmo Timonen: “We knew they would come at us hard, but I was surprised at how hard. After every turnover it was a three-on-two, a
two-on-one.”

And now it s one-on-one, the final battle of these 2010 Winter Olympics to be waged for far more than a piece of metal or a spot on a podium, the
Canadians defending their heritage against a nation that shadows it in many ways, but not this, never this.

After Friday’s stunning U.S. win, Zach Parise shook his head and said, “I saw something today I’ve never seen before.”

He hasn’t seen anything yet.”

Chris Erskine continued his reporting from the Winter Olympic Games for the LA Times by saying:

“Friends from far away are already asking about the best part of covering an Olympics, and I always say, “The chance to meet lots and lots of journalists.”

The graying soldiers of the mainstream media are working in the convention center here, a barn of a place with writing spots for more than 700. Every few minutes, one of the seaplanes in the adjacent harbor takes off, making the work area sound like London, 1940.

Adding to the flatulence, nearby cruise ships periodically blast their horns, making this not only the world’s biggest newsroom but also one of its loudest.

Yet with a killer view of Vancouver Harbor, and the mountains behind, it has been my favorite place to scribble.

I’ve been writing every day for two weeks, and right now I could get a column out of the intern changing out the coffee urn. How she drops a shoulder and
wrestles the fat urn to her cart. Grunt. . . . phew. Like Jack Dempsey outmuscling some punch-drunk opponent.

OK, so maybe not an entire column.

But I have managed to nail a story I’ve been chasing for several days: the truth behind those crazy broccoli-looking bouquets the winners receive.

Turns out they’re green spider mums.

Now, you think somebody just went out and said: “Hey, let’s order up a million mums”?

Not so fast, pal.

“Long stems of grey and white pussy willows, known for their furry catkins that grow wild across the country, were also considered but dropped because of safety issues,” a news release on the bouquet selection explains. “When a bouquet is tossed into the crowd, it could cause injury if it contains pointy materials.”

The release goes on to say that all of the flowers have been “carefully hand-selected and shaped into the bouquets by marginalized women, who may be
recovering from addiction, leaving prison, exiting the sex trade . . . as well as by other women they train with who are (sic) changing careers to become florists.”

At this point, you’re probably asking: “Well, what about the marginalized men who are changing careers to become florists?”

Mostly, they are still reporters.

“Today” show staffers, also known for their furry catkins, have been here for two weeks now, rising in the middle of the night for the 4 a.m. start time (7 a.m. on the East Coast).

Perhaps NBC’s sturdiest ship these days, the show has been based at Grouse Mountain ski resort 25 minutes north of town, just above the snow line, taking
advantage of the splendid vistas and proximity to the city (better to bring in guests, says executive producer Jim Bell).

On Thursday, Meredith Vieira’s apple-dumpling cheeks — a gift from Hugh Downs? — glowed in the early-morning chill as she and her cohorts schlepped
between segments at a rink-side fire pit and a cozy lodge. “I would kiss you goodbye, but that would be disgusting,” Vieira says before hammering Matt
Lauer with a snowball.

Lauer headed back to New York on Thursday, having put in more than two weeks of Olympic prep work and coverage.

In person, you realize how many moving parts a show like this has. Two minutes of Jimmy Fallon. Two minutes with the bobsled bronze medalists. A segment on a hockey mom. A cooking demo. A drinking demo. Fashion tips. Kristi Yamaguchi. A minute with the premier of British Columbia. All of it assembled on a dark, snowy Canadian hillside.

Best moment: Off camera, Lauer scolding an audience member who heckled British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell before his appearance. Lauer
reminded the heckler that this mountainside set is like the “Today” show’s living room.

“I don’t care what you think, you don’t do that,” said Lauer, the classiest host on television.

The Russians held a major news conference Thursday, to announce . . . well, that’s anybody’s guess.

As you may have heard, the next Winter Games are at a Russian site called Sochi, and if this news conference was any indication, it’ll be more fun than a
barrel of former Bolsheviks.

International Olympic Committee member Rene Fasel opened the event by talking about how he gave up dentistry to become a hockey official. This was a critical stepping stone, he said, to his current post on the IOC executive board.

“The most important thing is to be nice to people,” Fasel told a room packed with 200 journalists. “Don’t be grouchy when you wake up in the morning. . . .
When you go to breakfast, have fun.”

Yes, he really said this. And I think it is excellent advice. So does former swimming great Alexander Popov, who stepped up to agree with Fasel.

Popov was followed by Russian pinup Natalia Vodianova — really, I was there. Dressed in leopard-skin pants, she assured the audience that “there is definite spirit for Olympic competition.”

Of the three, she seemed to make the most sense.

Much to the reporters’ dismay, comedian Yakov Smirnoff was nowhere to be seen.

Presumably, he will be heading up the Russian host committee.”

Normand Chad got off his couch (I like the way he works) to send this note:  “For those of you watching the Winter Olympics — and apparently
there are millions of lost souls doing just that — you may have noticed, to paraphrase Gertrude Stein’s famous line about Oakland, there’s no there there, only it’s colder. NBC is giving us 17 straight nights of winter inactivity — imagine if you had tuned in to “Roots” in 1977 for eight consecutive evenings and Kunta Kinte never got off the couch.
I have nothing against biathlon or speedskating or luge. The problem is: There are only a dozen or so Winter Olympic sports spread out over hundreds of TV hours and thousands of commercials. It’s like going to a three-ring circus with only one ring in operation.
Here are the major story lines of these Winter Games:
— Johnny Weir is not wearing fur.
— Apolo Anton Ohno won “Dancing with the Stars” in 2007.
— Lindsey Vonn is nursing a bruised shin suffered while training for Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit issue.
It’s reached the point where I look forward to that Weather Channel fella coming into NBC’s Olympic studio to update the weather — he’s exciting to watch and I keep thinking he might even give a five-day forecast for L.A.
On a positive note, NBC is losing so much money on the Winter Olympics, it might need a bailout from Jay Leno.
(Incidentally, if NBC wanted higher ratings, it should have marketed these Games as emanating from Vancouver-o.)
And who can argue with any event that sidelines the National Hockey League for two weeks?
(The NHL shuts down during the Olympics and MLS stops play during the World Cup. So can’t we get the WNBA to go on hiatus during QVC’s Fashion
Week?)
As much as I dread sitting down daily for a long day’s journey into nightmarish nothingness, I can find little fault with NBC’s primary studio broadcasters. It’s nice to see MLB Network lend its top voice, Bob Costas, to NBC for a fortnight, and it’s nice to see Al Michaels working more than 16 Sundays a year. But, frankly, I’d rather hear Costas interviewing Willie Mays about The Catch in 1954 than Evan Lysacek about The Quadruple Jump in 2010.
(By the way, when did Mary Carillo get this good? She’s so smart and measured, she could double as a yardstick. When you’re on TV long enough, you’re bound to say something stupid — she never says something stupid. Heck, if she did an investigative series on the problems anthills face during rainstorms, I’d be glued to it.)
At this very moment, I feel compelled to briefly discuss the whole live-vs.-tape-delay issue on NBC, simply because it is the topic on which I get the most reader e-mail. Personally, I don’t care when it’s happening — I mean, would I enjoy “Friday Night Lights” any better if it were live instead of taped? — but there are a lot of angry viewers out there ready to storm 30 Rock, or wherever The Peacock sets up its live-on-tape shop these days.
(I’m not 100 percent sure Bob Costas is sitting in a studio in Vancouver; I wouldn’t be surprised if he were in St. Louis, or Passaic, N.J. And I guarantee you that’s a gas fireplace burning brightly behind him.)
Best I can tell, if NBC Sports covered New Year’s Eve, it would tape-delay midnight.
I live in Los Angeles — the same time zone as Vancouver — where we get the entire Olympics on tape delay, like poker. In fact, by the time NBC’s
prime-time coverage premieres on the West Coast, the only people who don’t know that Shaun White has won a gold medal that day are those playing poker.
(I understand NBC is having trouble programming 10 p.m. weeknights. Here’s an idea: Year-round delayed coverage of Olympic men’s halfpipe!)
I also must inform viewers that on NBC, when it does say “LIVE” in the corner of your screen, that means, “Maybe LIVE, maybe NOT.”
Footnote: This column used to be live, but lately I’ve found it reads better the longer it’s delayed. NBC might want to take the same tack with Al Trautwig.
Ask the Slouch
Q. What’s your RPI and strength-of-schedule compared to other sportswriters? (William Freeman; Sugar Land, Tex.)
A. Sadly, my RPI is 0.5078, which ranks me 168th among sports columnists; I am penalized because I never leave home when I write.
Q. Since we have a Winter and Summer Olympics, do you think there will ever be a Fall and Spring Olympics? (Roger Roudebush; Anderson, Ind.)
A. I believe that is NBC’s next programming innovation.
Q. Is President Obama working diligently to have the hostages from the Tiger Woods news conference released? (Scott D. Shuster; Watertown, Mass.)
A. Pay the man, Shirley.
Q. What would happen to the ESPN ticker if Tiger Woods were discovered to be having an affair with Danica Patrick on the very same day that Brett Favre
announced his retirement and Michael Vick was caught organizing cockfights? (David Paul; Sugar Land, Tex.)
A. Cha-ching!
You, too, can enter the $1.25 Ask The Slouch Cash Giveaway. Just e-mail asktheslouch@aol.com and, if your question is used, you win $1.25 in cash!”

Frank Deford, of SI.com, pointed out how the Games are “a-changin:’
“The Winter Olympics are basically a TV show, and thus NBC, which has become the New Jersey Nets of networks, actually won the Games’ most
important gold medal Feb. 17 — podiumed as we, unfortunately, actually, say now — when it whipped “American Idol” in the ratings.
What was so revealing about this victory was that the feature attraction was Lindsey Vonn’s victory in the downhill . . . which, of course, happened hours
beforehand and was thus, in this Internet world, already known to most viewers. Evidently, we would now rather revel in an assured triumph than suffer through a live competition with a problematical outcome.
Perhaps this suggests that at this time when there is so little good news in America, when we do not enjoy the everyday success we used to rather expect, when we are so at loggerheads as a people, that there is something comforting about us coming together to watch a beautiful young woman, struggling with injury, raise Old Glory on high. Every now and then sports truly might reflect some greater meaning.
Of course, like us Americans, the Winter Games have themselves changed so. It wasn’t that long ago that they bivouacked in precious little Alpine villages,
where we all but expected everyone to arrive in reindeer sleighs and yodel. Now they’ve moved to ordinary big cities, which just happen to have some
mountains down the road apiece. Folks were troubled when the temperatures in Vancouver crept into the fifties. The 2014 Games are in Sochi, Russia. Know what the temperature there was one day last week? Seventy-three.
Why, we might as well hold the indoor Games in someplace convenient for TV —- New York, say, or Hollywood —- with the mountain stuff on location in
Aspen or Crested Butte. The National Hockey League is dubious about whether the Olympics really do promote the league, so, come 2014, why truck all the way to some arena in Russia just to help the IOC sell tickets? Look, if the Olympics want hockey, well, let the mountain come to Mohammed, let the NHL boys play for their gold medal in Montreal, Toronto and Madison Square Garden. This business of jamming everything into one place just because the Greeks kept things in Olympia seems so outdated today.
Whatever, these next few nights are probably the swan song for NBC’s winter bacchanalia. ESPN, with all its cable riches, will undoubtedly win the contract for Sochi and Rio, too, for the summer of ’16. At least maybe ESPN can get by with fewer commercials. I mean, I know people have been complaining about too many television commercials since Howdy Doody, but these Winter Games have been ridiculous. The commercials have just taken so much spirit out of the rhythm of the visual experience.
But it is simply worth noting that if NBC does lose the Olympics, we lose Bob Costas as the interlocutor. ESPN hasn’t anybody even near his ability to do this unique thing he does so well, night after night. You’ll have no idea how good Costas is ’til you see somebody else try to do it.”

Neil Best of NY Newsday profiled Walt Frazier. “Walt Frazier turns 65 next month, which in theory didn’t seem all that shocking last night when he was
surrounded by teammates from the 1969-70 Knicks.
After all, that storied team is full of senior citizens now.
But Clyde himself, 65? He doesn’t look it or act it, and he said he doesn’t feel it.
And thank goodness for that, considering that for fans of a certain age, he remains a member of the era’s Triumvirate of Cool in New York sports, along with Joe Namath and Tom Seaver.
In part, you can credit Frazier’s famous fashion sense – his baby blue suit stood out from those of his peers – as well as his lifestyle.
Frazier works about three-quarters of Knicks games for MSG, taking time off during the heart of the season to decompress in his beloved St. Croix.
“That’s why I selected an environment like that, where I can stay active,” he said. “The sunshine, the water . . .”
But what helps keep Frazier fresh is that unlike the rest of the old gang, he remains part of the 21st century Knicks’ world.
For more than half the time that has elapsed since that first championship season, he has worked the team’s games, first on radio and now on TV.
Fans born long after Frazier retired often know who he is, and some even know he once played.
“The ultimate ego trip for me is I still do basketball camps,” he said, “and some kids are wearing my jersey, know all my stats, know where I went to college.”
Part of that, he knows, is “parents perpetuating the legacy of that team,” but part of it also is that Frazier has fashioned a post-playing career he never
imagined would go on this long.
“No, never,” he said. “It’s nothing I pursued. It was serendipitous that I got into it.”
Frazier envisioned a life managing rental properties and chartering tourist boats in St. Croix.
Then Ernie Grunfeld left the radio booth 21 years ago and the Knicks turned to Frazier. He had some media experience but not enough to have prevented a near-meltdown at a state high school tournament in Glens Falls in the late 1980s.
“I remember the camera came on, man, and my mind went blank,” he said. “I couldn’t remember any names. I couldn’t remember anything.”
I was there. Frazier looked as if he were going to pass out.
He overcame such nervousness in part by working on his vocabulary so he could articulate his thoughts in a short period.
“I remembered words in threes,” he said. “That made it easier to get the words in.”
His trademark rhymes, he said, “were because Jim Karvellas didn’t give me a chance to do much more. I knew he’d have to catch his breath sometimes, so
I’d say, ‘He’s ubiquitous! They’re shaking and baking! They’re wheeling and dealing!’
“Because if I stumbled, he’d say, ‘Excuse me, Walt,’ and he’d just talk right over me.”
Frazier has shown a willingness to articulate disgust with lousy basketball. He said it helps that he has no relationships with current players, saying little more than “hello” to them.
What about management? Some viewers have accused him of pulling punches over the years.
“They leave me alone,” he said. “The only thing is: Just don’t kill a dead horse. Articulate what’s going wrong, but don’t continue to pound on it.”
With two years left on his contract, Frazier said he has no plans to retire, and like everyone else, he is looking forward to what 2010-11 might bring.
The benefit of covering a winning team after all these years is obvious: “You don’t have to be so redundant,” he said, “about what they’re not doing.”

Ron Borges, of The Boston Herald, talked about Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. “Larry Bird and Magic Johnson became blood brothers in the only way you can. They made the other feel pain and in their shared anguish became more than warriors.
They became that most elusive thing. They became friends.
If there is a theme to HBO’s newest documentary, “Magic & Bird: A Courtship of Rivals,” which premieres March 6, it is that this is the story of how fierce
rivals became fast friends.
Bird and Magic. Magic and Bird.
For a generation of basketball fans that is what the NBA meant and nothing more. The alignment of their names is based mostly on what city you came from and what color your skin was. Those are undeniable facts of their joined lives, parts of what fueled a 15-year rivalry and fostered a love that comes out clearly in this 90-minute drama.
Once each made clear to the other a mastery of his game, nothing else mattered. Not childhood background, not pigmentation, not personalities. Once they got by the hate part, that is.
“The vibe, it was nasty,” Johnson said of the early rivalry. “It was ugly. We didn’t like each other.”
Said Bird, “I’m the one that did all that, to tell you the truth. I just don’t want to be hanging around him. I mean, that was my main competition. I’d get up in the morning and see what he did. I had to have him there for some reason, like a crutch. Somebody I can compare myself to.”
Throughout the 1980s as their rivalry grew, so did the NBA. Fittingly, they arrived together in 1979 following a remarkable showdown the previous April for the NCAA championship, a game that still leaves bitter ashes in the mouth of Bird.
“I didn’t play well at all,” Bird said of the 75-64 loss his Indiana State team suffered to Johnson’s Michigan State quintet. “Biggest game of my life, I didn’t play well. I mean I battled ’em, but I didn’t have it. It was over, you know? It still hurts.”
What hurt just as much was Johnson coming into the league and winning the NBA title the next season while Bird watched from his living room, Rookie of the Year but still unable to be Magical himself.
That would happen the next year, when Bird won the first of three NBA titles with the Celtics, but their battles would continue throughout the ’80s. They
would win eight championships between them, but more critically would go head-to-head three times in the Finals, refusing to give in to the other regardless of the outcome.
They were among the greatest players in history and among the greatest rivals, and because of it they were for many years incapable of becoming great friends.
“That’s why we hated each other,” Johnson said. “Because we knew we were mirrors of each other.”
By the time they were done, Magic had won two of their three NBA showdowns and had five NBA titles to Bird’s three, but more importantly their hate had been consumed by first respect and then love. Along the way a dying league was saved by the dominance of their game and the power of their personalities.
The NBA was on life support, having few sponsors and no TV contract. The NBA needed a savior. It got two.
And Johnson led a charmed life until he got what the world thought was a death notice in November 1991. The day he learned he’d contracted the HIV virus was the day he learned Larry Bird loved him.
“You could almost hear both of us with some tears in our eyes,” Johnson said, recalling a phone call from Bird just before Johnson was to announce his immediate retirement. “And I’m choked up because he did call me. You know when something happens to you and then you find out who really your friends are and people who really care about you. You figure all those battles, all those things we had to go through as warriors, as competitors, then as men, but here this man says, ‘Hey, you know what, man? You OK.’ And so that was the greatest moment for me too, to have him check on me to make sure I was OK.”
As Johnson speaks he wipes tears from his eyes. If you still have a heart, you will too.”

Barbara Barker of NY Newsday wrote about Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals between the NY Knicks and the Lakers where Willis Reed limped onto the
court and helped win the championship. I wasn’t there but did see it on TV.
“The moment he limped out of the tunnel, every Knicks fan knew it was going to be a special night. OK, make that every Knicks fan but one: Willis Reed.
Reed, the man at the center of what remains the most famous moment in Knicks history, openly admits that he had some real doubts when he made his stiff-legged walk into Madison Square Garden to join his teammates as they warmed up on the court before Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals against the
Lakers.
“I’m thinking, I’m in a hell of a predicament here,” Reed, 67, recalled in a phone interview last week. “I’m basically playing for a championship with one leg against Wilt Chamberlain, the greatest center in the game.”
Reed, now retired and living in Louisiana, will get a chance to relive that moment with some of his former teammates when the Knicks honor the 40th
anniversary of their 1969-70 championship team with a ceremony Monday night during halftime of their game against the Bucks.
There were many great moments in the series that culminated in the Knicks’ first NBA title, but it is Reed’s walk through the tunnel and onto the court that
ranks as one of the greatest moments in franchise history.
It never would have happened, Reed said, if the team hadn’t found a way to win Game 5 at the Garden, a contest he tabs as the most pivotal of the series.
Reed tore a muscle in his right thigh as he tried to drive around Chamberlain only eight minutes into Game 5. He didn’t get back on the court for the rest of the game, but his team, playing without a true center, rallied from a 13-point halftime deficit to take a 3-2 lead in the series.
With Reed out for Game 6, however, Chamberlain abused the Knicks for 45 points and 27 rebounds to force Game 7.
Reed, who still walks with a limp because of multiple knee surgeries, said the biggest piece of misinformation before Game 7 was that it was his knees that
were hurting. Rather, it was Reed’s thigh and right hip that were bothering him, and the uncertainty continued right up until game time about whether he would be able to play.
Reed says nearly every coach he ever played for called him the night before the game and told him he had to play. When Reed got to the Garden in the early afternoon and began getting treatment, he was pretty sure he would be able to go out on the floor. He just didn’t know how effective he would be.
“I could move around a little bit, but I couldn’t totally flex my leg,” he said. “I couldn’t pick it up and put it down like I should. I had to run with a stiff leg.”
As the trainer and doctor began working on him, teammates stopped by and encouraged him. “I knew if Willis was capable of attempting to play, he would,” said Dick Barnett, who also will attend the ceremony.
Reed said he would have been on the floor for warm-ups with his teammates, but it took the doctor longer than expected to administer a painkiller. “I can’t
remember how many shots I had,” Reed said. “I just remember that the needle was big.”
Though Reed knew how much the leg was bothering him, he also knew that the Lakers weren’t sure. When he entered the arena and the fans went crazy, he made a point of refusing to look at his opponents. Barnett was looking, however, and he could see that Reed’s presence on the floor was having an impact “emotionally and psychologically” on both teams. The Lakers even stopped warming up to watch Reed gingerly make his way onto the floor.
Much has been made of the fact that Reed hit a pair of jump shots for the first two baskets of the game, the first coming only 18 seconds in. Barnett, however, thinks what has been overlooked is the defense the 6-10, 240-pound Reed played against Chamberlain despite giving up three inches and 35 pounds.
“Willis was really playing Wilt,” said Barnett, who had 21 points. “It was just a positioning to keep Wilt away from the basket. I thought it was really telling.
And the crowd was so into the game. It’s obviously something no one ever forgets.”
Those were the only two baskets Reed made in 27 minutes, but he helped limit Chamberlain to 21 points. The Knicks took a 69-42 halftime lead, and Walt Frazier had 36 points and 19 assists in their 113-99 win.
Reed said he couldn’t forget that night even if he wanted to. No matter where he goes, no matter whom he meets, it’s that game that people want to talk
about.
Said Reed: “I know that the Garden used to seat about 19,500 back then, but the count should really be up to 200,000 because that’s how many people have told me they were there.”

“(This classic Dave Barry column was originally published Dec. 23, 2001.)
We continue to see evidence of an alarming decline in the quality of our nation’s criminals.
Consider the man who attempted to rob a mini-mart in the town of Vernon, Conn., as reported in a Journal Inquirer story sent in by alert reader Dan
Thompson. The robber elected to wear a disguise, which was a good idea, since he was a regular customer of the store. The problem was the particular
disguise he picked.
Shaving cream.
Yes. According to police, the man walked into the store with his face lathered in shaving cream, apparently believing that this made him unrecognizable. Of course the only place where that disguise would work is Metropolis, the city where Superman lives. The citizens there are so stupid that, in 50 years, they
have not figured out that Clark Kent is actually Superman wearing eyeglasses. They would be totally baffled by shaving cream.
BRAIN TEASER: Suppose that, one day in Metropolis, Clark Kent loses his glasses. What can he do to prevent the citizens from realizing that he is
Superman?
ANSWER: He can announce: “I’m wearing contact lenses!”
But getting back to the attempted robbery in Vernon: Despite the disguise, the store owners instantly recognized the shaving-cream bandit, who ran away and was later captured by the police. The story does not say whether he tried to make himself invisible by putting his hands over his eyes, but we would not be surprised.
Another example of a criminal not being the sharpest quill on the porcupine was reported in an Associated Press story from Jackson, Miss., sent in by alert reader Bill Goggin. The story concerns a man who was arrested for robbing a restaurant and two banks. See if you can guess what clever detective technique the police used to figure out who he was. Do you think they found his fingerprints? Or do you think maybe they analyzed the banks’ security videotape?
Wrong! The police figured out who he was because, while he was waiting for a bank teller’s line to shorten so he could rob her, he filled out a credit
application.
Our point is that the nation’s criminals are becoming so incompetent that pretty soon they will need some kind of federal subsidy to stay in business. But this does not mean that we citizens should not be vigilant. For an excellent example of citizen vigilance, we turn to an amazing story from the Oklahoma City, Okla., Oklahoman (motto: “Located in Oklahoma”).
This story, written by Ryan Mcneill and sent in by alert legal attorney Jim Webb, describes a crime spree by a man who robbed three businesses by
threatening cashiers with an ax. The third business was a Wal-Mart, and when the man entered the store, he was spotted by a Wal-Mart employee. We all
wonder how we would respond if we faced such a situation – a man walking into our store, carrying an ax – and we just hope that we would show the
presence of mind of this employee, who, without regard for personal safety, walked up to this man and ….
…. and ….
…. and put a sticker on the ax. This was to show that the man had the ax when he entered the store. If not for this display of quick thinking, there could have been a major misunderstanding during the robbery, as we see by this hypothetical scenario:
ROBBER (brandishing the ax): Hand over the money!
CASHIER: Wait a minute! Did you steal that ax here?
ROBBER: No! I had it when I came in!
CASHIER: Oh, really? Then where is your sticker?
ROBBER: Dang! (He leaves, empty-handed.)
We conclude our National Crime Report with the following police-blotter item from the July 3 issue of the Tomahawk, Wis., Tomahawk Leader, sent in by alert reader Sylvia Linton, which we swear we are not making up:
“An elderly Merrill woman stated that a bear on a bicycle had vandalized her bird feeder Friday. She suspected that the bear, described as big, had fled from the circus because an ordinary bear could not ride a bicycle so well.”
So if you own a bird feeder, BE ON THE LOOKOUT for a bicycle-riding bear described as “big.”
Of course, all bets are off if it gets hold of shaving cream
(c) 2010, Dave Barry”

Chris Erskine of The LA Times gave us these entertaining and informative thoughts, “Reflections and observations on this, the 100th day of the 2010 Winter Games:

Canada has two main national sports: hockey and hockey.

The sun doesn’t come up here till almost 7. The people soon after.

Canadians are the kind of people who love to give directions. It is as if you are doing them a favor.

Best free thing in downtown Vancouver: the zipline at Robson Square.

Wait time for the free zipline: approximately five hours.

Time it takes to actually ride the zipline: 17 seconds.

We call it “Canadian bacon”; the Canadians call it “back bacon.”

You’ve got to love any country that has its own bacon.

Know what I like about NBC’s Al Michaels? Everything.

A recent poll found that 110% of Canadians are still confused as to why Gov. Schwarzenegger carried an Olympic torch.

In California, that number was slightly higher.

There are almost 20,000 blue-jacketed volunteers here, devoting their off time to making these Games a success.

None of them really knows anything.

But they are so kind and gracious, you don’t really mind.

They like cheese so much up here, they use it as a verb. As in, “I’m a little cheesed about that.”

Canadian translation: “I’m a little cheesed a-boot that.”

Watching curling always gives me the urge to sweep the porch.

A pair of those red mittens, one of the hottest souvenirs at the 2010 Games, costs $10.

The vendor had hoped to sell 1 million pairs. Sales are now up to almost 3 million. Cowbells, used to cheer Alpine skiers, are available at the Vancouver Public Library. The cost: $3.95.

Beer is to Canadians what helium is to balloons.

Canadians are in awe of the United States and tend to have a more favorable opinion of it than Americans do.

If you accidentally stand on a Canadian’s foot, he probably will apologize to you for having to stand on his foot.

No one seems to be having more fun at these Games than Mike Eruzione.

Asked if he was nervous about his appearance on “The Colbert Report,” Eruzione said, “Come on, it’s just a TV show.”

Did you know: Two weeks before the U.S. hockey team stunned the Russians in 1980, the Americans lost to the same Soviet team, 10-3, in an exhibition.

Segments from “The Colbert Report” taped in Vancouver this week will actually air next week.

Shaun White is currently the most interesting young athlete in America — poised, honest, funny. SoCal should be proud of the kid, still only 23.

Nationalized healthcare is a reflection of the Canadians’ natural inclination to help others. But it presupposes that the other people are doing everything they can to help themselves.

When London hosts in two years, the tabloids will no doubt dub it “The Olympic Thames.”

Then it’ll be everyone else’s turn to attack the snarky Brits, whose rush-to-judgment here has really cheesed off the Canadians.

Telling stat of the day: 80,000 girls play hockey in Canada. In Slovakia, which lost to Canada, 18-0, some 267 girls play the game.

In the U.S., the number is 60,000.

Classiest quote of the Games: “I’d say it was 99% him and 1% me,” said gold medalist Evan Lysacek, in crediting legendary coach Frank Carroll, 71.

The only real blowholes here seem to be TV producers and Russians.

If they ever hold a Blowhole Olympics, TV producers would capture the gold, the Russians the silver.

The Germans would finish third and throw a conniption.

Olympic record for a conniption throw: 30 meters (about 33 yards).”

“Know what I like? Ice dancing,” Chris wrote — “the elegance, the artistry, the physical contact. I used to express myself by cursing politicians on TV or swearing at other drivers. Now, ice dancing has come into my life.

Ice dancing is the sort of sport Barry Manilow might’ve invented. It belongs in Las Vegas, except it would all probably melt. Then it would be water dancing, which doesn’t sound so bad. Just imagine what NBC would do with a “skin cam.”

Right away you’re probably thinking, “Oh, this dude’s writing about ice dancing, he’s going to make fun of it.” But that’s not my way.

Matter of fact, in a world of instant messaging, quick hook-ups and Jiffy Lubes, I salute the time-defying old world elegance of Olympic ice dancing. Besides, we can always use more forums for funny little Bavarian marches.

What they do at ice dancing, as I’m sure you’ve seen, is to relate to one another in beautiful and heartfelt ways. Ice dancing is like a giant Olympic Hallmark Card, except that after it’s done, you just sort of want to shoot yourself.

Obviously, the budget for these things is not ginormous.

The other night, during the compulsory round of this arcane event, they played something called “Tango Romantica” 23 times. The first dozen or so times, I was OK with it. After that, my ears began to bleed. Let me just suggest that fans who sat through three hours of “Tango Romantica” deserve gold medals of their own.

So I’m sitting there with blood trickling out of my ears. It’s freezing, because they keep the ice rink here at temperatures that cannot sustain human life (it’s the law). And I’m freezing, like I said, sitting on my hands and stuff, when one of the dancers — I think it was the guy — takes off his jacket. And he has no sleeves.

Yow.

Now, nudity at skating events is nothing new. These kids always show up as if they’re headed off to high school — half dressed, shirts open, lots of cleavage,
the men more than the women. But this stunned even veteran ice dancing followers like me. When this guy took off his tux jacket and he had no sleeves, a gasp swept through the entire Pacific Coliseum.

I don’t know if you’ve ever been through something like that, but sometimes big arenas like this can be united by one great collective thought — the same
notion occurring to everyone universally. In this case, the collective thought was: “Holy spit, the French guy has no sleeves. Somebody call the maitre d’!”

Then the guy put on his jacket and the dancing resumed.

When they finish, their fans hurl things onto the ice in celebration: stuffed animals, some roses and I think a squid. There’s also a black jock-strappy kind of thing that I don’t want to think about.

Needless to say, ice dancing offers some unique parting gifts.

The next performers/exhibitionists are an American pair, Meryl Davis and Charlie White. That Charlie White has a head of hair on him, let me warn you — it looks like a small cocker spaniel hat.

The Americans are a handsome couple. He’s very fair and she’s darker. They use this to their advantage and skate well in these compulsories, moving into first place.

Up next, a Japanese couple: Cathy Reed and Chris Reed. I know, that didn’t sound very Japanese to me either. I guess diversity is catching on everywhere.

When the Reeds are done, another couple comes out — I think they might be vampires. Or maybe they’re just Russian.

What makes it so hard to tell vampires from the regular skaters is that many of the women — and no doubt some of the men — are wearing what the kids refer to as “heavy raccoon makeup.”

Believe me, this is pretty goth stuff. If any raccoons were watching at home, I’m sure one raccoon turned to the other and said: “You know, Audrey, even for me that’s just way too much eyeliner.”

Anyway, this is a celebratory piece about ice dancing, obviously, so I think it would be good to end it on a high note.

On Sunday, they’re holding yet another major stepping stone in this majestic event, something called the “original dance.” Plan your day accordingly.

Just my luck, I have hockey tickets.”

Speaking of hockey- here is Bob Ryan’s take, from the Boston Globe, about that stirring game where we (the US NHL’ers) beat
Canada (Canadian NHL’ers) 5-3.
“It’s the Olympics, so you must always remember the context.
“It’s a huge win for us,’’ said US defenseman Jack Johnson. “But they didn’t give us any medals tonight.’’
True enough, but it was US 5, Canada 3, and so I say to you and yours . . .
How ’bout dem Yanks?
And how ’bout the game of hockey, which, when it contains both the background and the set-up this one had, and the execution on display from some of the world’s greatest players, can stake a claim as the world’s most dramatic team sport?
Tell me any of the 18,561 in attendance at the Canada Hockey Place or the millions watching worldwide were just sitting there watching calmly as the
desperate Canadians peppered US goaltender Ryan Miller in the final three minutes, only to see the game decided on one of the greatest empty-net goals
imaginable when hometown hero Ryan Kesler outfought Corey Perry for the puck and swatted it home for the clincher with 44.7 seconds left.
I’m not saying I’m Mr. Hockey or anything, but I’ve never seen anything quite like that. Most empty-netters require no more expertise than it takes to tie your shoes.
“That’s Ryan Kesler to a T,’’ said Johnson. “He makes something out of nothing.’’
Coach Ron Wilson’s job now is to keep this very young team anchored. All they’ve done is get themselves into the quarterfinals, and from now on it’s single elimination. But they will play whomever they play with great confidence after defeating the mighty Canadians in one of their own buildings. They will also play with the knowledge that they have a goaltender they can ride a long way.
The Americans were outshot, 45-23, and yet they defeated the Canadians by 2. So it seems logical to start with a discussion of the goaltending supplied by
the 29-year-old Miller, who had come here far from the top of his game but who recovered his mojo at just the right time, it seems.
Miller was somewhat matter-of-fact in his explanation as to how he stonewalled the Canadians to this degree.
“There was pressure,’’ he said, “but they weren’t coming from a lot of rushes, and I was able to make my reads.’’ Very clinical.
That’s good, I guess, but the fact is there were a lot of A-level stops, whether they were coming out of rushes or flurries in front of the net, and it seemed as if 75 percent of the of the game was played right in his face. There were long stretches in which Canadian goaltender Martin Brodeur could have done The
Sunday Times crossword.
Miller is being modest. He was bleepin’ great.
“He was obviously on the team for a reason,’’ said forward David Backes. “He steals games.’’
It was a strange game, because while the Canadians generated so much offense and exerted so much pressure, they were doing so in a quasi-panic mode, almost from the beginning. It was the United States that set the tone 41 seconds into the game when Brian Rafalski blasted a slap shot past Brodeur.
“We wanted to get off to a good start,’’ said forward Patrick Kane, “but we weren’t expecting anything like that.’’
Even more telling was the second US goal. Canada had tied the game at 1 on Eric Staal’s redirect of a Brent Seabrook shot, allowing the crowd to think all
was right and wonderful with the world.
For 22 seconds.
That’s how long it took the eerily inspired Rafalski to restore the lead on an unassisted wrister. It was his fourth goal in two games.
And when Canada again tied the game when Dany Heatley poked one home, the United States struck again. This time 33-year-old Chris Drury was in the
right place at the right time, and stop me if you’ve heard that one before. He’s not exactly the toast of old Broadway this year (10-12 -22 and a minus-9 for
the Rangers). But there was a reason why he is on this team, too, and general manager Brian Burke explained just what it was only the day before.
“I took him on this team because he’s Chris Drury,’’ said Burke, assuming that no further explanation would be necessary.
So you can talk shots on goal all you want. The US team was always in control, which doesn’t detract a bit from Miller’s spectacular play.
“When things happened,’’ Miller said, “we responded.’’
The atmosphere was predictably electric, and one reason was that both the Canadian press and the Canadian fans had a healthy respect for the Americans.
This was no David vs. Goliath, no “Miracle on Ice’’ reprise. This was a meeting of international hockey titans.
Oh, sure, the Canadian fans expected to win, but they always felt they’d have to earn it. What they got was what they most feared: a great hockey game.
They would have much preferred a repeat of the 8-0 destruction of Norway.
“USA hockey has come a long way,’’ said Kane. “I’m sure in this tournament we were considered to be underdogs, but we have a lot of good hockey
players.’’
To a man, the US players said the right things about this game not bringing them any medals. What it did represent was enormous satisfaction.
“I wouldn’t want to play Canada anywhere else but in Canada, and in this awesome city,’’ said Johnson.
“To beat Canada here was special,’’ agreed Kesler.
“This is probably the biggest game I’ve ever played,’’ said Miller, who played in a Game 7 against the Carolina Panthers a few years back.
“For us, it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play Canada here with the whole world watching,’’ said Kane. “This was about bragging rights.’’
It would have really been sweet if it were for the gold. It wasn’t. But it sure was one phenomenal game of hockey.”

Chris Erskin said in The LA Times:

“Ever see an entire nation with the hiccups? That was Canada on Sunday afternoon, almost sick with anticipation. What a bunch of hockey pucks.

See, the good old U.S. of A was in town, those football-digging varmints to the south. It was almost a national holiday, only bigger. Up here, hockey ain’t a
sport, it’s a sex act. As such, it tends to hold the locals’ interest very well.

“We’re born with hockey skates on our feet,” explains Justin Kremyr at Molson Canadian Hockey House.

That certainly must make for some difficult deliveries, but these Canadians are nothing if not resilient. Yet nothing could hurt like what happened Sunday night, a 5-3 American upset.

Wish you could’ve seen Molson’s on Sunday evening, first a wedding party, then a funeral. The big tent the beer company is sponsoring here has become a hugely popular gathering place for hockey fans at these Olympics, only a berry burp from where the games themselves are being played.

Imagine a big, quivery tent revival that serves alcohol. Beer is the national nectar here in Canada, and they were serving it in buckets on Sunday.

“It’s our life,” explains Leo Peloquin about hockey.

“Because they don’t have anything else to do,” jokes Jen Campbell, visiting from Australia.

That’s not quite true. There is also curling.

It’s difficult to overemphasize how much they bleed these games. They play hockey as kids, as fathers, as moms. Hockey is the way they light up their
six-month winters.

In fact, the saddest day in Canada is — usually sometime in late July — when the pond starts to melt and little Mikey falls through the ice while attempting a slap shot, marking the end of hockey season and the beginning of that awful three-week summer just ahead.

But they’re not thinking about that on this cool, sensational Sunday afternoon. What they’re thinking about is beating the USA. The United States of Aggravation.

“Go, Canada, go!” they chant even as the Americans saturate the Canadian net with hockey pucks.

There is a mosh pit here, I kid you not. Right in front of the stage, where the big screen hangs and bands perform between games, fans crush together, raising their arms, raising their beer cups.

They are a tall nation, one of the tallest I have visited, and the fans crowd together like trees: Canadians in flag capes. Canadians in face paint and fright wigs.

How big is hockey in Canada? A dozen film crews are here just to film the fans’ reactions to this big game. “Go, Canada, go!”

“It’s our game,” explains Katie Forss, watching in a fright wig and face paint. “It’s like Americans with baseball.”

Presumably, young Katie will wash up a little before work tomorrow, but no one knows for sure. For it’s becoming a debilitating day for the poor Canadians.
Feckless. Frustrating.

As day turns to night, they drown their beers in sorrow.

There’s not an American in sight, except for me, and the normally affable Canadians don’t know whether to hang me or roast me on a spit. The U.S. team is performing better than expected against the highly skilled Canadians. The younger Americans seem to be a step quicker to everything, not to mention surer in the net.

For all their stars, when was the last time Canada had a well-rounded national hockey team? Upsets like this are becoming a national habit.

To Canadians, hockey is the whole reason for hosting an Olympics to begin with. Compared to hockey, these other events may as well be intramural
activities, silly little ways to kill an afternoon.

But also, how many times have we seen “can’t-miss” teams like this stumble? There are no sure bets in sports except that ticket prices will be higher every
season and surprises like this will flourish. Indeed, it might be sports’ greatest gift to us, the unexpected.

“Go, Canada, go!”

In the last period, time running out, the Canadians take so many shots they look as if they are beating rugs. The Americans can’t even manage to clear the
puck, then wind up scoring in the open net to seal the victory.

It is sad faces all around at Molson’s. The streets aren’t any better — quiet, as if their pockets had been picked.

When this little hockey tournament began here, the Canadians were the prohibitive favorites. If they don’t play better than they did Sunday, they may not even finish in the money.

O, Canada. What will happen then? Your pretty little pond has already begun to melt.”

Sam Allis groused in The Boston Globe (grousing’s really not that unusual for any sports guy from Boston): “Let me count the things that bug me about these Olympics.
First, let’s talk snow. Um, where is it? There’s nothing sadder than to be a skier in a ski town with no snow. You die if you’re paying north of a couple of
hundred dollars a night not to ski. Even if you’re mooching off a friend with a condo, you can only watch so many James Bond reruns before turning to
amber liquids.
It is quite another thing, though, for the site of a Winter Olympics to lack snow to this extent. I for one am deeply unamused. We watch television
correspondents do stand-ups in front of vistas of brown and green, leavened by occasional spots of dirty white.
There have been warm weather problems in past Winter Olympics – St. Moritz in 1928 and Lake Placid four years later, among others. No event at
Vancouver has been canceled, as happened halfway through one event at St. Moritz that year, but both training runs and races have been endlessly
postponed. The rain, sleet, and fog have delivered a body blow to the esprit of this year’s Spectacle of the Five Rings. The Vancouver story line flies like a
wounded duck.
I say to myself, this can’t happen again, but then it could. Four years from now, the Winter Olympics will be held at the Russian Black Sea resort city of
Sochi. This place has subtropical vegetation and a year-round temperature of 57 degrees. (Stalin favored Sochi, where he kept a dacha, for balmy vacations.)
Granted, the lofty mountains behind it will be where the skiing competition will be, and they should be fine. Then again, Vancouver said Cypress Mountain would be fine. Cypress is the small suburban affair below Whistler Mountain that has become a slush bowl. Some 28,000 tickets were canceled there last week for snowboard events because the snow was too risky to stand on.
Olympic poobahs knew about the Pineapple Express going in and went with Vancouver anyway. The Pineapple Express is the vernacular for the winds that blow in from the area of the Pacific near Hawaii that carry mondo moisture and rain. It was a gamble that bombed.
No more gambles. Hold Winter Olympics high enough to guarantee decent snow. If those spots require too much construction – concern about carbon
footprints has become a big deal in the Olympics – too bad. Either go high or can the whole thing. This is intolerable.
Almost as embarrassing are the ridiculous Ralph Lauren logos on the US team duds that are the size of my first VW. Some members of Daughters of the
American Revolution, bless their tiny hearts, reportedly protested that the humungo logo comes at the expense of more American flags on team duds. I’m with them. Lauren’s polo horse and rider logo was harmless when it was small – an affection of an insecure man. But now it rises like Godzilla out of Tokyo Bay.
Shame on the USOC for caving to this low-rent marketing ploy. What’s next, an Ernie Boch Jr. logo with the words “Come on Down’’ on it?
True class is leaving your logo off completely. Everyone would know the parka is made by Lauren. He’d make sure of that. The really cool philanthropists give away large money anonymously. The Mellons built and stocked the National Gallery of Art in D.C. and never put their name on it.
A final point on marketing: I’m deeply tired of racers embracing their skis like long-lost children for contractual reasons after their runs. Do a quick photo op and then forget about them.
On the plus side, I roll over with joy like a porpoise at the boffo win of Lindsey Vonn in the women’s downhill, the repeat gold for Shaun White in the men’s
halfpipe competition, Evan Lysacek’s surprise gold in men’s figure skating, among many. It goes on.
And for the record, Vonn definitely belongs in this year’s soft porn Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. Whiny competitors have accused her of being too beefy.
Weight helps in the downhill. Duh. This dumb charge is rebutted in grand fashion by her bikini photo in the mag. Eat your hearts out, ladies.”

Gwen Knapp said that NBC forgot the seven-second rule, when she wrote in the SF Chronicle: “Now we know why NBC refuses to show the Olympics
live. It’s not to satisfy the sponsors’ desire to hold an audience captive during prime time. The network simply doesn’t know how to do live coverage anymore.
That was evident Wednesday night, when NBC decided to treat its East Coast audience to the half-pipe competition as it occurred. As Shaun White
prepared for his final run, a mere exhibition since he’d already secured the gold medal, his coach dropped some exuberant obscenities into his pep talk.
“Do whatever you want and (bleep)-ing send that thing,” Bud Keene said, as a network camera and microphone picked up the exchange.
The NBC announcers apologized for the language, without taking responsibility for airing it. Has the network forgotten the seven-second delay? It worked in Johnny Carson’s day. How did no one remember to use it at a snowboarding event, of all things?
Putting live mikes around any athlete, without an editing function, is asking for trouble. It’s dangerous around golfers, ostensibly masters of protocol. But snowboarding? There’s no Tom Watson of the halfpipe, expecting impeccable behavior from his heirs and dashing off letters about breaches of decorum.
This is a sport built on free-spirited rebellion, its competitors eternally saluting the flag of grunge. At the first Olympic news conference ever held for a U.S. snowboarding team, in 1998, an awed rider looked around the packed room and said only one word into the microphone. It began with an F.
The network somehow muffled Keene’s profanity in its delayed West Coast presentation. Here in California, our delicate ears were spared.
We should be grateful. Even the hard-to-offend can be lulled into such a stupor by the pace of the NBC coverage that an obscenity would come across like a verbal sucker punch. After endless scenes of Bob Costas’ fireside chats, the Olympics barely resemble a sports event. The network of John Chancellor and David Brinkley has become the Yule Log channel.”

Neil Best wrote in NY Newsday about NBC getting the “Big Events” in prime time:

“Any notion that NBC would rethink its approach to covering the
Olympics went up in a spray of ski powder Thursday with this headline atop a news release:
OLYMPICS BEATS IDOL
Note the all-caps flourish, in case we didn’t get the message.
Yup, for the first time since 2004, something beat Fox’s “American Idol” juggernaut between 9 and 10 p.m. Eastern time Wednesday.
And that something was not just the Olympics, but for most of the hour, it was tape-delayed Olympics – the women’s downhill held earlier in the day.
NBC averaged 30.1 million viewers and 17.5 percent of homes as Americans Lindsey Vonn and Julia Mancuso took gold and silver, while “Idol” managed
18.4 million and 10.4 percent.
Those numbers in effect were NBC’s answer to the predictable firestorm of frustration on the Internet Wednesday as a huge story played out while NBC
stubbornly awaited prime time.
Like it or not, my fellow journalists and avid sports fans, the Olympics are a sports TV creature unlike any other, and NBC doesn’t care how often we rail
against that reality.
Deal with it: Even in an era of easy access to real-time information, many of the nontypical sports fans who enjoy the Games – including the ones in my
house – like a neatly packaged, conveniently timed show to digest after dinner.
(And by the way, how is it that before every Olympics, avid fans take pride in talking about how little they care about the Games yet watch them
anyway – and then complain about the coverage?)
NBC mostly has delivered on its promise to present marquee events such as snowboarding and figure skating live – or close to it – thanks to the favorable time difference with Vancouver. Americans Shani Davis and Shaun White won their golds live Wednesday before and after the Vonn Show.
But consider this: In the West, where everything is on delay, outraging many fans and journalists, the Games are doing even better than in the East.
Through six nights they were averaging 20.0 percent of homes in major markets in the Mountain time zone, 16.9 in the Pacific, 16.7 in the Central and 16.1 in the East.
Let’s be clear: As a journalist, I do not condone any of this. In much of the world, including Canada, the Games are treated as news and thus presented live.
But as long as you take the Olympics for what they are – a TV miniseries wrapped in patriotism and colorful costumes – it’s not so bad, really, is it?
Another reality check: Sunday night, the United States will face Canada in men’s hockey, the kind of marquee event for which the NHL shut down for two weeks in midseason.
Sounds great! But puckheads are furious that the game will be on MSNBC, not the NBC mother ship. Why would the Peacocks do that? Two words: ice
dancing.
To a sports fan, that is unfathomable. To anyone with a clue about Olympic viewership, pre-empting Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto to squander 21/2 hours on hockey is equally unfathomable.
Back to the live vs. not debate: There is a compromise solution. Why not just show key events live and in their entirety, then repackage them into an evening highlights show?
(That would guard against what happened Monday, when NBC saved the men’s downhill for prime time, then boxed itself into a limited window for actually showing the runs.)
The network should consider that for London in 2012, but I wouldn’t hold my breath, especially if ratings for Vancouver remain strong.
If ESPN outbids NBC for the 2014 and ’16 Games, I expect it would be more apt to go live whenever possible.
But who knows? By then we might be getting results beamed directly into our cerebral cortexes. For now, NBC has made its decision: Prime time is the right time.”

Bob Ryan, of The Boston Globe, told us about Bobby Ryan.                                          
“We took care of those Norwegians, all right. Beat ’em, 6-1, but I couldn’t relax until I found out if my man Bobby Ryan was OK.
I mean, geez, that Tommy Jakobsen guy high-sticked him right in the mouth.
“Couple of chipped teeth,’’ Ryan said with a shrug. “What are you going to do?’’
I’m not making this up. Bobby Ryan is a 22-year-old winger for the Anaheim Ducks and he is a full-fledged member of your Team USA. A No. 2 overall
pick in the 2005 draft and now a proficient scorer for the Ducks, he is a fourth-line center on this team, and he is happy – no, make that ecstatic – to be here.
He also scored the first US goal of the Olympics during the 3-1 triumph over Switzerland Tuesday.
“Something I’ll always remember,’’ he said. “I don’t think I was ever more nervous before a game.’’
Full disclosure: he was not born a Robert Ryan. He was born Robert Shane Stevenson in Cherry Hill, N.J., on March 17, 1987, and how he got to be
officially known as Bobby Ryan is an almost impossible-to-believe saga that would be a blockbuster mini-series. The abridged version involves a hard-nosed father who skipped bail after being charged with assaulting his wife, moved to California, changed his name, switched professions from insurance guy to professional gambler and told his son that from now on his name was Bobby Ryan (his mother’s maiden name), and that was that.
(Of course, I’ve left a few hundred things out. If you want the whole story, you can Google him).
But he is Bobby Ryan, and he intends to remain Bobby Ryan for the rest of his life, and so I welcome him to the clan. Anyway, his mother is a certified Ryan, so what more verification does he need?
I embrace my athletic Ryans when I find them. The NFL gave us that egghead quarterback Frank, and among the several Ryans who have played major
league baseball you might recall a righthanded pitcher who was said to have a pretty good fastball. Meanwhile, I’m still waiting for a Ryan to make the NBA.
There are some interesting Bob Ryans out there.
There’s Bob Ryan, the onetime Channel 4 weatherman who has become a Washington, D.C., institution.
There’s Bob Ryan, a Canadian singer-songwriter.
There’s Bob Ryan, a longtime mainstay of NFL Films.
There’s Bob Ryan, a celebrated artist.
There’s Bob Ryan, the disgraced mayor (sexual harassment charges) of Sheboygan, Wis.
There’s Bob Ryan, a retired NASA engineer and successful high school basketball coach.
There’s Bob Ryan, a renowned California-based school administrator, who serves as a Mr. Fix It for school systems nationwide.
There’s Bob Ryan, the senior vice president and CFO of Medtronics Corporation.
There’s the Bob Ryan Auto Mall in Minneapolis.
And there’s even a great fictional Bob Ryan, a feared character in “Entourage’’ who is said to have “produced virtually every important film of the ’70s.’’
But this one’s “Bobby,’’ not Bob. Like most Bobs, I was once a Bobby. My mother called me “Bobby,’’ unless she was angry, at which point I became
“Robert.’’ There’s hardly anyone left who would call me that. (One, interestingly, is Tom Heinsohn.)
I forgot to ask Bobby Ryan why he’s not a “Bob,’’ but when you think about it, why not stay as he is? After all, it was good enough for Bobby Orr.
He grew up in what most people would consider to be confusion, but the one constant in his life was hockey. It was a bonding thing between him and his
father, who, whatever his faults, loved his son very much and who happened to be a good friend of – this may explain it – Bobby Clarke. Bobby Ryan came
through the ranks the old-fashioned way, joining the Owen Sound Attack of the Ontario Hockey League when he was 16. At 6 feet 2 inches and 200 pounds, he had the body and it was clear to one and all he was made of the right stuff. People feared at first they might be dealing with a young man laden with personal baggage, but the opposite turned out to be true. All anyone could ever say was how friendly and polite and amazingly level-headed he was.
Bobby Ryan is one of the youngest members of a ridiculously young US squad, and he would be happy just to tape the sticks. He has adopted a fourth-line mentality already, claiming that his job is “create energy and finish checks,’’ but he is a very dangerous scoring threat who had at least one excellent opportunity yesterday. But that’s the nature of any All-Star competition. Teams can succeed only when people accept their new roles.
Playing for the Olympic team was a dream, but hardly an expectation. “It wasn’t until I was invited to camp last year that it was even on my radar,’’ he said.
Next up: a game against fearsome Team Canada Sunday afternoon. He knows his team will have to raise its game substantially to compete. “We have to
clean some things up,’’ he said. “We let [Norway] back in and gave them some chances we shouldn’t have during the second period.’’
With two full days off, he and his teammates can properly rest and practice in anticipation of the big game. And somebody had better do something about
Bobby Ryan’s two chipped front teeth.
C’mon, if I don’t look out for him, who will?”

Chris Erskine, of The LA Times, gave us some tip for good eating (like I need any of  them) in Vancouver:
“I’m watching what I eat up here. First I watch it, then I eat it. Total elapsed time, about 4 seconds — a new North American record.

What’s really doing me in are these Japadogs (about $9). Japadogs are basically Japanese hot dogs, served from a couple of simple carts on busy Burrard Street, one of the main Vancouver thoroughfares.

Japadogs have seaweed on them and a whole bunch of other stuff that could be good for you — I’m not sure. But don’t let that put you off, because bite for
bite, Japadogs might be the best thing you ever barked down.

At some point in my life I’ve got to start focusing on finding a career, and what I think I’ll do is finance one of these Japadog carts, place it at the corner of a major intersection in the states — Wilshire maybe, or even Michigan Avenue – and just retire. They’re pretty good, these Japadogs.

But they aren’t the only culinary triumph in this town of explosively good and diverse restaurants. What I like about it is the damage you can do with a twenty in your pocket. Crazy, gonzo stuff. Call it fear and bloating in Vancouver.

In fact, my original goal was to eat at every single Vancouver restaurant while I was here, to share with you the hits and the misses. I’ve since modified that goal; I now want to eat at every Vancouver restaurant twice.

Pardon the aside, but part of the goal is mere survival: If I can eat myself into a stupor, which you can do here very cheaply, I think it might make me sleep
better. I never sleep well in a hotel.

Who does, right? But I can’t count how many nights I’ve tossed-turned to the hiss of tires on wet pavement in the street below.

I just seem destined to spend too much of my life in hotels that face the street.

“Hello, front desk?” I say.

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Do you have any *&^%$##^ rooms that don’t sound like *&^%%*&% bus barns?”

“Sorry, ma’am. I’m afraid we’re all booked up.”

So be it. And off I go in search of sushi.

Remember how Jeremy Piven claimed mercury poisoning when he dropped out of that Broadway show? Well, I may have to drop out of the Olympics, same reason. I have never seen so much sushi. It’s good too, on a par with L.A.’s, and about half as cheap.

There is also a huge Chinatown, with a palace called Flota that seats 1,000 people. Order what they call the “hot pot,” stir-fry that comes to the table sizzling from the kitchen — a brushes-on-snare-drum sound so mesmerizing you could dance to it.

Another culinary adventure you should try is this gloppy delicacy called poutine — French fries smothered in cheese curds and a layer of pure cholesterol traveling under the alias of “gravy.” Outside of the Japadog (and Peggy Fleming), it is the most delicious thing ever.

I’d recommend a little place called Fritz, on Davie Street, where you can get a bowl of the stuff for $4, and chicken on top for another buck.

Poutine is hearty, Great White North food, and your doc would never recommend it every day. But have some next time you’re here — late at night, in lieu of dessert. They’re open till 3.

Maybe I’ve inhaled too many Zamboni fumes, but I’m also nuts for a greasy spoon called the Elbow Room, five minutes from downtown.

I have no patience with hyperbole, but the Elbow Room may be the best thing to happen to breakfast since the chicken.

Sure, it’s got a reputation as an ornery place — but it’s a manufactured ornery, not mean-spirited like the old biddies at some deli. The Elbow Room waiters,
for instance, make you get up and refill your own coffee.

It’s worth it though, because they have this long list of blow-your-cork egg dishes — all for around $10. I have something called the Brett Cullen. If I ever sleep again — probably not — I may dream of it.

Whatever you choose here, and you can hardly miss, I recommend that you get wobbly with food, then walk it off, then get wobbly once again — you only
live once. Health is precious, sure, but so are good memories. So is a deep, rich sleep.

Besides, the best health club of all time is this Stanley Park — the great water-rimmed oasis on Vancouver’s front porch. It is the ultimate jogging venue. The other day, while running, I passed a bald eagle supping on a boulder, a mere 20 yards offshore.

I’m pretty sure he was having the poutine.”

Bob Molinaro discussed, on HamptonRoads.com, why visiting college basketball teams have a hard time winning games.

“The kids aren’t mentally tough enough.
When I’m feeling less than generous, that’s my explanation for why some college basketball teams go as limp as wet origami when they hit the road.
You can blame the refs if you’d like.
Influenced by the crowd, zebras can turn 50-50 calls into 60-40 for the home team.
A couple questionable fouls on the wrong player, and things can begin to unravel for the visitors.
Playing on the road is never a picnic, but while there are many variables to a game, the feeling persists that one of the biggest obstacles to victory for visiting players lies between their ears.
“Kids are kids. When things go bad and you’re in an evil environment, it’s tough,” Blaine Taylor said in the wake of Old Dominion’s convincing home victory over George Mason last Saturday.
The season series between the teams has been a microcosm of the home vs. away dichotomy In January, ODU lost by 16 at Mason. At the Ted Constant Convocation Center, the Monarchs returned the favor, winning by 16.
The 32-point swing isn’t all that surprising if you know anything about college basketball.
“At home, your players have a little more strut,” Taylor said.
Better to save some of that swagger for the road, where it’s really needed. That’s what ODU did in December when it upset Georgetown in the Hoyas’
cramped, on-campus facility.
Along with William and Mary’s victories at Wake Forest and Maryland, that ODU win ranks as one of the season’s most impressive results.
On the other hand, it’s no discredit to ODU that its only three losses in the CAA have come in opposing gyms – all by double figures. That’s the way of college hoops.
Why teams so often change character away from home is a question that’s been debated since James Naismith cut the bottom out of his first peach basket.
“When you’re shooting at home, you’re shooting on the same basket, the one you’ve been shooting on all year,” Lefty Driesell said Tuesday from his Virginia Beach home. “On the road, you don’t have the same lighting. You just don’t shoot as well on the road.”
The noise from opposing crowds can’t be underestimated, either.
“But a lot of it’s psychological,” Driesell said. “If I went on the road and only lost by 8 or 10, I thought we can beat that team at home, because I always
thought the home court was worth 10 points.”
Basketball people have had a lot of years to compile figures that prove that teams don’t travel very well. But records alone don’t tell you as much as you’d think they would. Why not? Because the strength of home schedules is so often different from the strength of away schedules. And because major-conference teams rarely play real non-conference road games, preferring the relative safety of neutral sites.
What does the home court mean? On Valentine’s Day, Rutgers, which lost by 25 to Georgetown in Washington, D.C., last month, beat the Hoyas by three in
Piscataway, N.J.
But what got me started on this semi-rant was Maryland’s virtual no-show at Duke on Saturday.
Not to exaggerate, but for those of us anticipating a riveting regional attraction, the game was to ACC basketball what that pothole was to the Daytona 500.
Maybe the lighting at Cameron Indoor Stadium caused Maryland to shoot far below its conference-leading percentage. But did it keep the Terps from playing better defense and rebounding?
It’s understood that Duke loses at home about as often as Mike Krzyzewski invites Roy Williams over to his house for Sunday brunch, but some of us were expecting – hoping for – a competitive contest.
Instead, Maryland wilted like a delicate flower.
In turn, the home-court dynamic favored the Terps when Virginia came up puny in College Park on Monday. The Cavaliers pride themselves on defense, yet Maryland shot 70 percent from the field and scored 52 points in the first half en route to its 85-66 victory.
How many points is the home court worth in a conference game?
That depends, I suspect, on what’s going on between the players’ ears.”

                                                                                                                                                                       I deliberately haven’t mentioned the entire Tiger Woods mess because I don’t believe it has anything to do with sports. But Jack Finerelli (The Sports
Curmudgeon) is a sports guy, with whom I’m in agreement nearly all of the time (he roots for DC/Baltimore teams) so when he sent this rant, I posted it.

Tiger Woods’ Reemergence Into Society
In all of the rants I have done here, I do not think I have ever done this before.  I must inform you that I am writing this late at night on the day before the date that you see at the top of this rant.  I want to make that clear because I am going to talk about the “Tiger Woods Coming Out Party” scheduled for tomorrow morning and I want to be sure that everyone knows that this is written before the fact and not after the fact.  If I need to change or modify any of my statements here after the fact, I will be back on Monday to do so.
[Aside:  Reading that last sentence, I realize that I sound like a US Senator who has just asked for and received unanimous consent to modify and extend his remarks after his previously prepared speech.  As you know, I hold the entire Congress of the United States in profound contempt; therefore, the similarity of my statement there to a US Senator makes me feel the need to go and take a shower.  I will be back in a moment…]
OK, I am back – – and surprisingly, there is still some soap left in the shower…

The topic of the moment is the reemergence of Tiger Woods from his self-imposed exile/hibernation subsequent to his “one-car traffic incident” back around Thanksgiving time when his wife miraculously and benevolently came to his aid with golf club in hand to smash out the window in his SUV with the sole purpose of extricating him from that dangerous and threatening situation.  Remember, that was the “official story” way back when…

After about three months of living in a cocoon, Tiger Woods will reemerge in front of TV cameras, radio microphones and “selected members of the
media” – – translation tame scribes who are on a short leash with shock collars attached – – to address the public and tell us what happened.

First of all, let me say that each and every member of the press corps who attends this charade by invitation and holds to the dictum that no questions will be allowed needs immediately to turn in his “investigative journalism card”.  Go to this event under those conditions and fawn over this man after his prepared and well rehearsed statement and you are nothing but a toady.  If that term offends anyone, the one I had here before I “edited” it was “lickspittle”.

Let me begin by stating something that you will not find anywhere on the website of The Golf Channel:

The entirety of the adult life of Tiger Woods has been a lie – – and I do not mean that in the sense of where a golf ball comes to rest.  This man is really a
blatant pretense of a socialized being; he is not the person we have been led to believe that he is.  He cares nothing for his family; he is not focused solely on the greatness of his golf game; he is a horndog.

I will pause for a moment here while everyone associated with the administration of the PGA Tour and The Golf Channel catches their breath and calls “911” to come and assist their associate in the next cubicle who has just lost consciousness…

I really do not care how much you might want to sugar coat the “Tiger Woods Reemergence Event”; the fact is that his image as a wholesome family man and totally focused competitor is a complete lie, fabrication, untruth, calumniation – – go to your thesaurus for more synonyms here. 

In addition, having said all of that, let me add that it is HIS life and so be it.  There is no cause for – – or need for – – any prodigious amounts of hand-wringing on the part of US society at large.  This man is a golfer; he hits a small white ball into a hole in the grass for a living.  Big  f- – – ing deal!!! 

He is not a “leader” of society; he is not a “pillar” of society.  If he happened to drop dead next week from an aortic aneurism, what would be the loss to
humankind-at-large?  Answer:  Not a damned thing!  In fact, if The Golf Channel managed to survive his imagined demise, they would be the only people whose lives would be impacted by his imagined demise more than 6 months from now…

Let me be clear.  Tiger Woods committed no heinous crimes against society.  Depending on your views of family and marriage and honoring one’s oaths, he may have committed heinous acts against a small circle of individual people, but Tiger Woods is not Josef Mengele.

Tiger Woods’ handlers and image-makers herded the media in the past the same way drovers herded cattle.  When anyone “got out of line”, that person got a cattle prod.  In the case of a drover, that was a literal event; in the case of Tiger Woods, a “journalist” who got off the reservation simply got cut off from any access to “His Tigerness”.  Most golf journalists who had access would rather have taken a cattle prod to a sensitive body region…

Now, we  are about to see a reemergence of “His Tigerness” orchestrated by the same handlers and waiting to be covered by the same tame writers who
have been on the short leash for so long.  Tiger Woods will stand before cameras and microphones and will mouth words that have been prepared and “focus-grouped” for him in advance by the same handlers that sold us the image of the “devoted family man” just three months ago.  You can be certain that he will apologize for his actions to anyone and everyone.  Please note there will be no polygraph leads attached to him so he can say whatever he wants with complete impunity.  His media acolytes will assure everyone that he is sincere, that he has learned a terrible lesson, and that the future will show what a wonderful hominid he really is. [They will surely stop short of assuring us that Tiger Woods walks upright instead of on all fours but that is probably the limits of the lengths to which many will go to assure us that their hero/meal ticket is “only the best”.]

Controlling the audience is a typical behavioral mode for the folks who have handled Tiger Woods for the last 15 years.  They can do that here because they can control access to this event.  However, those people – – and Tiger Woods – – are deluding themselves if they think they can control the “tabloid wing” of the media.  Lots of celebrities have tried; few if any have succeeded.

In the past, access to Tiger Woods meant that the writer/reporter had information to convey that was timely and important because it had a source.  That access gave a cachet to the reporter and whatever he had to report at any instant in time.  People hung on that kind of stuff.  But the tabloids do not work that way. 

Readers of the tabloids and the “gossip-gobblers” do not care if a reporter interviews the subject – – in this case Tiger Woods.  All they give a fig about is
“stuff”…  If someone has some “stuff” that leads to the possible conclusion that aliens abducted Tiger Woods 15 years ago and gave him a rectal probe that lasted too long such that it afflicted him with an insatiable sexual appetite, there is a tabloid somewhere that will print it. 

Tiger Woods’ handlers have been able to control a bunch of golf-writing lapdogs for the past decade.  Good luck controlling the tabs and the paparazzi…

Before the fact of the Tiger Woods Reemergence Event, let me make a couple of things very clear:

1.  He needs not to apologize to me or to you.  He did not do anything to us that affected our lives in any meaningful way.  If you think he owes you an
apology, you are an entitlement freak.

2.  His actions – – not any crafted statements or choreographed publicity events – – will determine whether or not his wife accepts his apologies.

3.  His actions – – not any crafted statements or choreographed publicity events – – will determine to what degree his “bimbo troupe” accepts his apologies. 
Just a suspicion here, but “his actions” in this regard could well involve a lot of portraits of dead presidents migrating in the direction of the “bimbo troupe”…

If you have gotten the idea here that I think Tiger Woods’ handlers are antediluvian pond slime and all of them should be waterboarded just for the Hell of it, you are pretty much on target.  Nevertheless, let me presume to offer some advice to Tiger Woods as a golfing icon:

Memo to Tiger Woods: 

1.  Once you show up back on the PGA Tour – – which is really the only venue on Earth where you are even marginally interesting as a “public figure” – – try
to be a wee bit “nicer” to the plebeians who cover your actions.  To some extent, the furor over your “one-car traffic accident” emanated from what many would call your “haughtiness” in dealing with the ink-stained wretches that cover you and who work on deadlines.

2.  Either that, or do not screw up even … one … more … time…

Just so there is no ambiguity as to where I stand on this issue and because I want to make it clear that I have never been part of the “Tiger Woods Adulation Machine” nor will I ever be on speed dial for any of his handlers, here is what I think of Tiger Woods:

1.  For the period 2002 – 2010, he is/was the best golfer on the planet.

2.  The label of “best golfer on the planet” is no more significant than the label “best bisexual yodeler on the planet”.

3.  As a father and as a family values person, Tiger Woods is a turd with hair.

Finally let me close with a comment from Scott Ostler in the SF Chronicle.  This comment came a couple of months ago when Nike chairman, Phil Knight, tried to minimize the things that were coming to light regarding Tiger Woods’ activities.  This comment puts into perspective “wrongdoings” by sports figures and “wrongdoings” by more important entities:

”Nike’s Phil Knight says Tiger’s misdeeds eventually will be seen as ‘a minor blip.’  I guess when you’ve been accused of massive exploitation in third-world countries, blind-side chop-blocking your wife and kids at the knees would seem like a minor blip.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………”

Frank Deford, of SI.com, bemoaned the lack of emphasis on women’s team sports.                                                                                                                                             “Have women’s sports ever been so much in the news? Lindsey Vonn
was ordained the very face of the Olympics. Danica Patrick’s incursion into NASCAR has been all the vroom-vroom of motor sports. The showdown
between the two great mares, Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta, overshadows interest in the Triple Crown. A bowler named Kelly Kulick whipped all the men in the Tournament of Champions. Serena Williams’ victory at the Australian Open matched the headlines given to Roger Federer.
But notice something unique about this exceptional focus on women athletes?
All of them are in individual sports. Although more and more American schoolgirls grow up playing team games, those sports just don’t attract commensurate attention at any level. With women’s team sports, there is still a glass grandstand. All the more amazing that right now, the women’s basketball team at the University of Connecticut may well be the most overwhelming power ever to dominate any major sport… but to most media, the Huskies are but a stealth bomber.
There is, significantly, a considerable emotional difference between team and individual sports in that teams represent an entity — a school, a college, a city that we identify with. That’s why Jackie Robinson, with the name “Brooklyn,” across his chest, was so much more a symbolic cultural breakthrough than, say, were Joe Louis or Jesse Owens.
Even now, we do not yet seem prepared to accept women teams as our representatives. The only female group we ever truly embraced was the U.S. soccer team of 1999, but that was much more a case of nationality than gender — more like the celebration of the U.S. men’s ice hockey squad of 1980. Women’s soccer immediately faded into the green room, waiting to go back to obscurity. But then, few women’s teams draw crowds in any sport. Certainly women themselves do not seem wired to support their gals as men the world over cheer on their guys.
And here’s the ultimate put-down: while Las Vegas will take bets on almost any game men suit up for, only at NCAA tournament time can you bet the
women’s game. Then, ironically, almost no women bet — just hard-core male gamblers. You may not like gambling, but the sports that fans can bet get the
most attention. As Dick Vitale would holler on ESPN: “Certification, baby!” Ladies, to help your athletic sisters, you have to descend on Las Vegas and
demand the right to lose good money betting on games, just as men have, forever.
Meanwhile, UConn remains in a league of its own. It has won 65 games in a row — and, incredibly, all 65 by double digits. In their last game, Monday night, the Huskies played a very dicey game against 12th-ranked Oklahoma on the road and still won by 16 (and, per usual, the national media barely noticed). In Maya Moore and Tina Charles, UConn may very well have the two best players in college. When has that been the case, in any sport?
There are a lot of reasons girls from all over the country decide to go play their college basketball in a chilly little backwater called Storrs, Connecticut, but a prime one is simply that UConn women’s basketball is so popular. Teams that get absolutely destroyed there nonetheless come away somehow honored to have been part — even a losing part — of such appreciation (and such majesty). The home games at both Storrs and Hartford sell out. The glass grandstand has been smashed. The players are celebrities. They are treated, well — they are treated like men.
But UConn remains the prime exception. Even as more and more women participate in sports, not enough of us, either sex, seem to want to watch, to care, when women play in groups.”