Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Final Event of PGA Tour ‘Playoffs’---And My Suggestion; Yesterday’s Radio Hosting

One of the notes that came in yesterday about the blog--I try to read the posts every day and e-mail as often as possible--expressed some disappointment that I wasn't, "telling more stories." To be honest, I was a little surprised because I've wondered from time to time these past three months if I should focus more on the news and less on telling stories about my experiences past and present with some of those I've encountered along the road. I would be very curious to hear from more of you whether you prefer more news, more stories or blogs like yesterday where I combined writing about the weekend's news with a couple of anecdotes about my misadventures on the road to and from Pittsburgh.

I am not going to mimick Ken Beatrice, a long time sportstalk host in Boston and Washington who used to always say, "This is YOUR show." This is my blog but if I'm going to keep doing it you readers have to enjoy it. So, needless to say, input is welcomed.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled blog.

I watched some of The Monday Night Football game last night. I missed the finish because I just can't stay up that late and then get up at 7 to start getting my son ready for school. I noticed Tiger Woods on the Colts sideline. One thing that told me was just how important the upcoming Tour Championship in Atlanta this week is to him. I know he knows the golf course (East Lake) well and I'm not saying he won't win--to quote Lefty Driesell, "I may be dumb, but I ain't stupid,"--but if this FedEx Cup thing really mattered to him do you think he'd be standing on a sideline in Miami less than three days before he tees it up? Don't think so.

That's the problem with these so-called 'playoffs,' they concocted on The PGA Tour three years ago, mostly because Woods and Phil Mickelson told Commissioner Tim Finchem they weren't going to show up for the season ending event if it was still played in early November. It's kind of tough for golf to have a "climactic," event without Woods and Mickelson so Finchem managed to get FedEx to put up big money to sponsor the "FedEx Cup," and tried to create drama with the four tournament "playoffs."

There are problems with this that may be unsolvable because golf just doesn't lend itself to this sort of format. For one thing, how big a deal can 'playoffs,' be when 125 players make it? That makes the NBA and NHL playoffs look elite. No knock on Heath Slocum but he gets in at No. 124--his key points coming at a tournament played opposite a World Golf Championship event meaning none of the top guys were in the field--then wins the first playoff event and goes to number FIVE on the list?

If they want to shorten the season, that's fine. But just throwing more money at a bunch of rich guys in order to get them to tee it up a few extra times--during football season--isn't going to generate interest no matter how much you try to hype the thing, and God knows the tour has tried to hype it. My suggestion is this: Let the first three tournaments that are currently, 'playoff,' events be the last three events of the so-called regular season. Inch the points up as little--but not too much--and then send the top 32 guys to East Lake and have them play MATCH play.

The TV folks might have a heart attack at the thought of a Mark Leishman-Retief Goosen final (no offense to either guy) but the fact is their ratings are nowhere right now anyway. And, if some year you did get Tiger-Phil in the final or Tiger-Ernie Els or how about this: Tiger-Y.E. Yang this year in a PGA rematch, you might get a few people to watch. Plus, it would be far more dramatic.

That's my suggestion for the day. Oh, in case you were wondering why Woods was hanging out on the Colts sideline, it's because he's friendly with Peyton Manning. They played together in the pro-am this year in Charlotte. Like a lot of elite athletes, Manning loves to play golf and is a good player. I was the MC for the pro-am draw party for the tournament and ran into Manning before dinner started. I was curious about how things were going during the offseason with Tony Dungy gone and Jim Caldwell taking his place. Manning wanted to talk about golf--tour golf and his own golf. I got a detailed description of his off-season regimen--on the golf course.

Changing subjects...I hosted Jim Rome's radio show yesterday. I've been an occasional guest host for about 10 years now and Jim has always had me on whenever I have a book out. People have asked in the past how I became friends with Jim. It's a pretty simple story. Twenty (or more) years ago a friend of mine named Judy Carlough was running the new all sports station in San Diego. She called and told me she had a young overnight host she thought was talented and he was hoping I'd go on with him and that he could pre-tape before I went to bed so I wouldn't have to stay up half the night to be on.

I was happy to do it--I never could turn Judy down under any circumstances--and then the young host turned out to be very bright and asked very good questions. We hit it off. I became a semi-regular having no idea that Jim would end up not long after with national shows on radio and then TV. I know Jim can be an acquired taste. To be honest I could live without most of the "clone takes," and when I host I tell the call screeners to tell callers I'm looking for questions and discussion, not takes. Every once in a while someone starts in on a take and someone presses a button in LA and they're gone.

I enjoy hosting although I'm pretty sure I wouldn't want to do three hours a day alone in a studio, five days a week. That's work. If I ever did radio on a regular basis I would want someone in studio with me--preferably someone I liked. In the past I've been approached on a number of occasions about hosting a show and the conversation usually goes something like this:

"We've heard you when you've hosted shows in the past and really like what you do."

"Thanks. It's fun, I just wouldn't want it to interfere with my writing because that's what I like to do the most."

"Oh, of course. We could work something around your schedule."


Things usually go well until the forbidden subject comes up: money. Most radio programming guys (not to mention my old friends at ESPN) always count on ego to get them past the money issue. As in: you'll have your own radio show (!!) so you don't need to be paid very much. (Or in the case of ESPN, 'you're on ESPN, that should be honor enough for you.'). I have as much ego as anybody but I also am lucky enough to have a very busy writing life for which I'm well paid. I don't NEED my own radio show (or to be on ESPN) although I'd do it under the right circumstances for reasonable money.

So, it always comes down to this. "We couldn't pay you very much--but you wouldn't be doing this for the money."

"Really? Why else would I do it?"

That usually brings negotiations to a screeching halt. One guy at a national radio network (no, NOT ESPN in fact) must have called me a half dozen times to discuss his philosophy of radio. I listened and listened and finally brought up the subject of money. He said he would get back to me, "within a week."

That was exactly a year ago.

Thank God I didn't sit and wait by the phone.


Jimmy said...

John - since you asked for input, here's mine....I like the blog the way its going. Its nice to pop in from time to time and see the topics, and you put in enough personal experiences that makes topics I'm not interested in worth a read.

Recaps and hot topics you've written on that I've read have only added to the storytelling. If I had to lean one way or the other on which way to go, I'd lean to put in more hot items, not less. But I'm not sure I'd even do that. Keep up what you are doing.

Laura's Husband said...

Great blog John...keep going just the way you are now...great balance of stories, news, opinions. What I'm really amazed by is how much you write each day! - you're very generous.


cd1515 said...

love the stories john, keep em coming

Anonymous said...

The anecdotes are great. I've always enjoyed your writing, but the anecdotes are the highlight for me. Anytime we get to "peek behind the curtain" at these people or events is great!

Gunnar said...

The blog is great the way it is. The stories are great!! Hopefully East Lake will not be delayed by weather this week.

Iain said...

I love the anecdotes. I think you do a great job using a current story or topic as a launching point to a trip down memory lane.

Dana King said...

I fit in with the growing consensus: don't change a thing. Your opinions are always worth reading, and well put. The anecdotes complement them well, and are unfailingly entertaining. The story of Lefty and the trick or treaters is a classic.

Vince Spence said...


Definitely stories.

By the way, East Lake was unplayable and closed yesterday and MIGHT not be open today. And, if Tiger has a phone, he has a pilot. Atlanta might be 90 minutes from home by private jet. Why spend the night in Atlanta?

Bennettar said...


As a consumer of sports information, the personal anecdotes that go along with your sports topics bring a lot of value when compared to typical sports news outlets. I enjoy your insider's view on stories that get rehashed several times in many other places. Thanks.

Thomas said...

Vince - I was thinking the same thing with Tiger Woods at the game and then read this, but then I thought of something....this is supposedly golf's Super Bowl week. Would Manning travel to see another event 60 hours prior to his next chance for a title?

I think that shows the place of golf playoffs.

case said...

have you heard that jim crews was fired by army today ?

Anonymous said...

I love the current format of your blog, John. It's your stories that bring me back every day. While I would never want to turn down more of them, I really don't think they've been lacking at all. It's great stuff! Thanks and please keep it coming.

Anonymous said...

I am a long-time fan, but this could be your best work ever. The behind the scenes that you have perfected in books is even better here. Plus, not many that I follow post as often or in the length you do. Keep it up,

Sean said...

I enjoy the stories. Keep 'em coming. Also, since you've been on radio so often (love you on Rome), and TV throughout the years, I can "hear" your voice while I read it to myself. I've got a "Feinstein soundtrack" playing in my head. It makes your writing come even that much more alive. Instead of "Being John Malkovich" it's as if I am "Being John Feinstein!" Keep it up and thanks for doing it for us.

case said...

do all these sycophants owe you money ?

Anonymous said...

Love the blog, heard about it on Rome. You're right, he is an acquired taste. You asked for feedback on the blog. My advice, what you are doing is working, it ain't broke, so just keep on following your nose and I will keep on following the blog. Just ignore the flamers and trolls.