I know I’ve said this before but one of the things about the blog that I’ve truly enjoyed is reading the posts and the e-mails. With few exceptions they’re smart and they often raise good questions or make me think about an issue in a way I hadn’t previously thought about it.
An example: Someone reminded me yesterday that in writing about the Phil Mickelson-Scott McCarron square grooves controversy I had failed to point out occasions when golfers had bent the rules to their advantage.
Years ago in Phoenix, Tiger Woods claimed that a boulder blocking his path to the green was a moveable object—even though it took about a dozen people to actually move it. By rule, he was allowed to have a bunch of fans move the boulder for him even though that sort of thing clearly was not the intent of the rule.
In 2004 at The Masters, Ernie Els hit a ball dead left on the 11th hole and found himself under branches and rocks and pebbles to the point where he needed to take an unplayable lie. He called for a rules official believing he had the right to a free drop because that sort of debris is almost always removed before play begins at Augusta National. The rules official, Jon Brendle, who has been with the tour forever told him that there was nothing in the rules requiring the debris be removed and thus, he had to deal with it. Els then requested—as is allowed—a second opinion. This time the rules official was an Augusta member—not a professional but someone who had passed a rules test although he didn’t work on tour week in and week out the way Brendle did. He overruled Brendle, saying the INTENT was to remove the debris and therefore Els was entitled to a drop.
In essence, he made up a rule on the spot. Brendle was so angry about the incident he’s never gone back to work at Augusta.
There have been other moments: Greg Norman accusing Mark McCumber of using his club to improve his lie in the rough at The World Series of Golf in 1995. Norman was so angry he refused to sign McCumber’s scorecard. Mark O’Meara was once accused by a Swedish player (I forget his name) during a tournament in Europe of moving his coin up on the green, which infuriated him—and no doubt still does. And, of course, there are still tour players who will never forget that Vijay Singh was once banned from The Australasian Tour for signing for a wrong (lower) score. I once asked a long-time tour player if perhaps Singh’s three major titles and the fact that he was in the golf Hall of Fame might mitigate in Singh’s favor. The player looked at me, shrugged and said, “once a cheater always a cheater.”
People still talk—almost 30 years after it happened--about the Tom Watson-Gary Player incident at the first Skins game when Watson accused Player of removing an imbedded root in a bunker. Last year, Sandy Lyle caused a stir at The British Open by saying Colin Montgomerie had taken an illegal drop at a tournament in Indonesia in 2005.
That’s sort of the point about golf I was making: incidents like this are so rare that they are still remembered and talked about years later. Players were angry about Tiger and the boulder because clearly someone playing without a huge gallery—or playing in a Saturday morning foursome—wouldn’t be able to move the boulder. Many—MANY—players thought the Golf Gods got it right in ’04 when Phil Mickelson caught Els from behind at Augusta. That’s why McCarron raising the specter of “cheating,” got so much attention. I’m not saying the spirit of the rules is NEVER violated but it’s pretty rare.
Now onto some posts that I really disagree with or, in one case, I have no problem with the issue just the tone in which it was raised.
That would be the guy who referred to Navy slotback Marcus Curry as a “pothead,” and called Navy an “elite bastion of lower learning.” Here’s betting he couldn’t last a day at Navy. (On the other hand, neither could I). He also accused me of “situational outrage,” because I hadn’t commented yet on Curry. Two things: I’ve been a tad busy and, beyond that, I’m not going to get outraged about a college kid smoking pot. I do have an opinion on the case though and here it is:
Curry tested positive, according to numerous sources, for marijuana recently. Navy, as most people know, has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to drug use. Curry claimed the marijuana got into his system because he had smoked a cigar at a party that was laced with the stuff. I’m guessing most of you are like me: everyone has a story when they test positive for anything.
Apparently the commandant of the brigade, Matthew Klunder, recommended separation (expulsion) for Curry. Admiral Jeffrey Fowler, the superintendent, has—at least thus far—not followed through on Klunder’s recommendation.
Curry’s a very important member of next year’s football team. He is by far Navy’s best slotback, dangerous as a runner and a receiver and he’ll only be a junior next season. I’d hate to see him gone. That said, I don’t think Fowler has a choice: zero tolerance doesn’t mean zero tolerance unless you’re a star football player with an excuse. The ONLY way Fowler can justify such a decision is if there is precedent; if there are other Mids—non-athletes—who have been given a second chance because Fowler or the disciplinary board has found some credibility in their explanation. Marijuana isn’t a steroid or cocaine or heroin but it is against the law and against academy rules. My guess is—and that’s all it is—that one way or the other, it will be difficult for Curry to return next fall. That, sadly, is as it should be based on what I know.
Post number two was from a guy upset because I wrote yesterday that Gilbert Arenas’s lawyer wrote his Washington Post op-ed. He somehow saw the comment as racial—referring to Tony Kornheiser and I as “old white guys,” who didn’t think Arenas’s remorse was completely genuine.
Good God, this has nothing to do with race. In fact, the example I used of famous people in jockworld not ever believing they were truly wrong was Bob Knight. I would expect anyone—including a politician—to have his lawyer or lawyers or lawyers and a speechwriter, put together something like this. My point was that even with a lawyer putting it together Arenas (and the lawyers) STILL tried to point the finger at the media. As for the guy writing in about the initial, overblown New York Post story—yup, that was inaccurate. Gilbert’s response though was to the whole notion of him bringing guns in the locker room: it was no big deal, something to be laughed at. Sadly, he got that wrong.
Finally, someone wrote in claiming I was being unfair to women’s athletics when I made fun of two women’s basketball coaches a week ago. The first was Terri Williams-Flournoy, who tried to defend The Big East’s ridiculous decision to not release the names of three players (two from Georgetown, one from Louisville) suspended for a pre-game fight. Putting aside the fact that anyone with eyes could see who was suspended, she claimed the players were, “children,” and thus entitled to privacy. College students aren’t children. They can vote, they can go into the armed forces and they better be able to act like adults or they won’t get through college. What’s more, the incident took place in a public forum—an arena where tickets had been sold and TV cameras were present.
The poster, in claiming the “double-standard,” pointed out that Georgetown had refused to let any players talk to the media after its men’s team lost at Syracuse. I don’t doubt that for a second. That said, I think if anyone checks my record on the subject of Georgetown basketball, they wouldn’t exactly accuse me of protecting the Hoyas on any level. Remember the phrase, “Hoya Paranoia,” back in the 80s? That was me. One reason I generally avoid Georgetown games is because access to the players is so ridiculously guarded.
John Thompson (the elder) and I had more than a couple of screaming matches about access to players years ago. I remember saying to him one night, “if I could, I’d look you right in the eye and tell you that you’re full of s----.” Thompson’s 6-10. Fortunately he thought the line was pretty funny.
The other comment that upset this poster was me making fun of Maryland Coach Brenda Frese for saying, “this proves we can play with anybody,” after her team had lost at home to a Duke team that had lost by THIRTY-THREE to Connecticut a few days earlier. More double standard said the poster, I’d never make fun of a men’s coach that way. Go back and read what I wrote. I said, “It seems to me that coaches in all sports do this, throwing things like this out on the assumption that no one will challenge them on it.”
Sorry pal, no double standard here, just two coaches—regardless of sport or sex—being called for saying dumb things.
Keep those posts and e-mails coming everybody!