Friday, February 19, 2010

Tiger Apology Reax

*I'm surprised he didn't specify a return to golf -- he must have been coached that talking about returning to playing would undercut his apology.

*Do I believe he was sincere? I believe he is sincerely sorry that he has to prostrate himself publicly, and I believe he is really sorry about the pain he's caused his wife -- then again, not so sorry that he could keep from engaging in the behavior in the first place. But, yes: I caught whiffs of sincerity.

*A wee bit too much angry defiance at some straw men within the media.

*I have heard plenty of people trying to be publicly contrite talk about their Christianity; I have never heard someone talk about Buddhism. It was the most unexpected and refreshing part of the speech.

*Most sincere moment: The long hug Tiger gave his mom. Now THAT was real.

Quickie: Tiger, Olympics, NBA Trades, CBB

"I'm sorry" is a minimum threshold from Tiger this morning. The fact that there won't be any media questions to follow that up -- it's not like the questions would have been more than softballs, from the pliant golf media -- make it much less interesting or even sincere than it could have been.

But the real way Tiger could move the needle -- and change the story -- is simply by announcing when he is returning to golf.

THAT is the story that sports media wants to glom onto; they have been uncomfortable reporting on the scandal from the start, and this puts them back on more familiar ground and allows them to begin the "redemption" angle.

So if Tiger was smart, he would add "I'm back" to "I'm sorry."

Meanwhile, more you'll find in today's SN column:

*The most fascinating thing about the NBA trade-deadline jockeying is that it is entirely about the coming offseason. The Cavs wanted to prove to LeBron that he is better off being surrounded by a contender with top pieces; the Knicks simply want to be able to throw money at LeBron and the running buddy of his choice.

*I'm no ice skating aficionado, but I appreciate when athletes save their best performance for the biggest moment in their careers. It doesn't happen often, but when it does, it is about as special as it gets in sports. So I salute you, Evan Lysacek -- particularly in fending off Pluchenko, the reigning Olympic champ.

*It is totally the time of year when I begin to solidify my biases for NCAA Tournament bracket-picking. Syracuse had shaken my confidence when they lost at home to Louisville, but they got it back with a win at Georgetown. (Gonzaga? Not buying.) And the Bracket Buster is less about helping a mid-major get an at-large bid than evaluating which, if any, are potential crashers in the Sweet 16.

Lots more in there. Check out the complete column here. More later.

-- D.S.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Quickie: Tiger Hasn't Changed At All

I had to take the lead of today's SN column to tee off on this Tiger "press conference," on a few levels:

(1) Tiger: What a fool. This kind of "no questions" insulation is what got him into trouble in the first place. Hard to believe his advisors were OK with that.

(2) The golf media: Any reporter that is hand-picked by Tiger to watch his press conference should probably be taken off the Tiger beat -- if not the golf beat -- by their editor.

Compounding the ridiculousness is that these hand-picked media toadies aren't even allowed to ask Tiger what would invariably be softball questions! They don't even get to stand in the same room as Tiger and his flunkies. The "media" has to stand in a side room, and they don't get to ask questions. One more time: What self-respecting editor would let their reporter be used like that?

I appreciate the need to show the statement live on TV -- it's news. Check that: It's p.r. performed by a newsworthy subject. (Then again, that's 98 percent of journalism sourcing.)

But I hope it comes with some side commentary from the media folks that don't go for the easy "Tiger redemption" narrative that Team Tiger is surely banking on (and golf media would love to be able to pick up, leaving the unseemly storyline behind -- not that they were covering it particularly aggressively, if at all).

As you can see: I'm a bit fired up about this.

More in today's column: OK, I'm ready to move the Cavs ahead of the Magic as my team to beat in the East. Jamison defends Rashard Lewis really well, and that's what Cleveland needed.

It's hard to pick between Vonn, Shaun and Shani as the biggest star of the Olympics yesterday. Vonn, probably, if only because of the "comeback" storyline. But Shaun might just be the biggest name at the Games. Shani is just effective, and doesn't embrace the p.r. game nearly as effectively or intensely as Vonn and Shaun do.

Purdue gets a win that might put them in consideration for me to pick them into the Final Four; Northwestern gets a loss that is so bad that it's almost better than barely missing the Tournament -- losing a relatively easy must-win at home to Penn State should disqualify any bubble team. Ridiculous.

Complete column here. More later.

-- D.S.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Quickie: Birthday Fun

So today is my birthday. To celebrate (or "celebrate?"), I'm hopping on a plane -- weather-permitting -- and going to Seattle, a city I last left in my rear-view mirror nearly 13 years ago. If the flight is long enough -- oh, and it is -- I'm going to try to put together a post about my return to the West, because it is loaded with all sorts of nostalgia and symbolism.

In the meantime, here is today's SN column. Sprinting off to the airport. More later, if I can get it posted.

-- D.S.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Quickie: NBA 108K, Daytona Pothole

Your work or school may be closed today, but the Wake-Up Call at published in full force this morning, focusing on a couple of big stories from the weekend:

*108,000 people is a lot to watch a basketball game in a single arena. I care more about that particular superlative novelty than the actual game itself.

*Sorry, Jamie McMurray. This will be remembered as the "Pothole 500."

*Yesterday's losses by Syracuse and Georgetown are enough to really shake whatever confidence you had in them as top-tier Final Four contenders.

*More lamentation of the Wizards-Mavs trade, plus a look-ahead at what Amare would do to the balance-of-power in the East if he joined the Cavs.

*In praise of the underappreciated Frank Thomas (and the underpaid Tim Lincecum).

There's a lot more in there. Check it out here. More later.

-- D.S.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Sunday (Very) Quickie

That was a truly underwhelming dunk contest.

Convincing win for Kentucky: Wall was his usual dominant self. Eric Bledsoe had 16 in the 2nd half -- if Wall/Bledsoe is the best backcourt in the country, it begs the question if there has ever been a better two-freshmen backcourt in the country. The only one I can think of is Jalen Rose-Jimmy King, but I'm sure I'm missing someone.

Congrats to Hannah Kearney.

Question for Apolo Ohno: Do you really accept that silver pridefully, when the only reason you won was because two other skaters ahead of you crashed? I mean: I appreciate that "staying upright for the full race" is a key qualification to winning, but it seems like he backed his way into the record. Of course, other people's mistakes turn losers into winners all the time -- maybe the real lesson is that is precisely the essence of sport and, more specifically, competition.

Mavs-Wiz trade: See the post from last night. It's a steal for Dallas -- I'm particularly a fan of Butler -- and I just with the Wiz had the intellectual honesty to say "We're just dumping salary and we've basically given up. Wouldn't you?" At least they aren't dithering.

-- D.S.