Wednesday, June 30, 2010

This is the week of Tiger Woods' annual golf tournament. Or is it?

So, there is no soccer today. That means, I guess, there will be one goal fewer scored than were scored yesterday in 210 minutes of play. I realize this is where I get into trouble with the soccer-istas for not recognizing the beauty of the game; the opportunities denied; the beautiful passes that led to great opportunities that were denied by a great save.

I have no doubt that’s all true but ONE goal? Worse—as I’ve said before how can you take an event seriously that decided who advances and who does not by way of a shootout. Or, as it is technically called, penalty kicks. Whatever. The only thing sillier than a team advancing in something as important as The World Cup through a shootout is someone advancing in a shootout after a 0-0 tie for 120 minutes. Name me another sport where you can NOT SCORE for an entire game and still advance. (Don’t bring up regular season hockey, we’re talking advancing in a championship tournament here).

Anyway, enough soccer. Call me when someone scores or the U.S. scores first in a game that matters.

Back here where soccer matters most when people can scream, “USA,” this is the week of Tiger Woods’ annual golf tournament. Or is it?

The PGA Tour announced early in the year after Woods’ fall from grace that the tournament formerly known as, “The AT+T National hosted by Tiger Woods,” would be known this year as just, “THE AT+T National.” Apparently the sponsor wasn’t thrilled with seeing Woods’ name right after its name so it was removed. The tour announced—in classic tour fashion—that Tiger wouldn’t be the host because he was at that moment taking a leave of absence from golf so, given the uncertain nature of his future plans, it was best to remove his name for this year.

Of course Woods’ plans to come back and play crystallized soon after that and, apparently, his ‘people,’ went to the tour and asked to have Tiger’s name put back on the tournament title. They were told no.

That said, everything else has stayed the same. The tournament director is an employee of The Tiger Woods Foundation. The foundation still runs the event, received the bulk of the charity money from the event—even though a directive went out from the tour to its TV partners this week to be sure to emphasize that two other charities were also receiving funds—decided who received sponsor exemptions into the event and put together everything else associated with the event.

Woods has acted very much as you would expect a player host to act. He was here (Aronomink Country Club outside Philadelphia, more on that later) for media day; he took part in today’s opening ceremony; he referred in his press conference yesterday to ‘we,’ on several occasions when talking about the tournament. The general consensus is that his name will be on the event again in the future, perhaps as soon as next year, almost certainly by the time it returns to Congressional Country Club outside Washington in 2012.

All of which is fine. The tour gave this event a plum date—the middle week of the three between The U.S. Open and The British Open when most top players want to play—as a come on to get Woods involved. It helped him secure Congressional as a host site because Woods didn’t want his name on a tournament played at the tour owned TPC Avenel Farms, even after its redesign. Avenel was best described years ago by Davis Love III who said, “Avenel’s a nice course—unless you have to drive by Congressional to get there.”

Congressional was given huge money for a rental fee in 2007 and when it came time to try to extend the contract in 2008 both Woods and Commissioner Tim Finchem flew in for a meeting with club members because there was a good deal of pushback from the membership about giving up the club Fourth of July weekend. The club approved a new three year deal beginning in 2012 with a three year option on both sides—by a voting margin of 51 percent to 49 percent.

That vote took place when Woods was still a bullet-proof iconic figure. There’s little doubt if it took place today, the golf tournament would no longer be at Congressional. No one knows what Woods standing will be four years from now so it is hard to know whether either side will exercise its option then.

Of course everyone around here is claiming to know nothing. What percentage of the charity money is the Woods Foundation getting? No one seems to know. What is the likelihood his name will be back on the event next year or the year after? No one is sure. Will the tournament be at Congressional after 2014? Well, there is an option on both sides.

Aronomink isn’t a bad backup. The plan all along was for the tournament to come here this year and next because the U.S. Open was already scheduled for Congressional in 2011 and the greens had to be redone there this year to prepare for it. If Congressional doesn’t want the event back after 2014 it could come back here.

But there’s also the issue of sponsorship AT+T has four more years on its contract after this year. If it does NOT want Woods name back on the event an opt-out compromise might be reached. It’s a sure bet the tour is going to want Woods’ name back on the tournament as soon as possible. He still sells more tickets and sponsorships than anyone, regardless of the hits his reputation has taken the last six months.

That’s why the tour made no attempt to remove Woods’s foundation out of control here or attempted to take any of the charity money from the foundation. Finchem has made it clear almost since day one that he understands he still needs Woods more than Woods needs him. You can bet he’s negotiating with AT+T to get Tiger’s name back on the event for next year even as we speak.

Again, there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just a tad hypocritical for the tour to act as if it, ‘took action,’ after the Woods revelations when in fact it did almost nothing. And what it did do was because the sponsor insisted on some kind of action.

Here’s one thing I’m willing to bet on: If AT+T (or another sponsor) hasn’t agreed by this time next year to put Woods’ name back on the tournament no later than 2012, Woods will find a reason to play somewhere else or not play at all while this event is going on in 2011.

That’s more of a sure thing than a 1-0 lead in soccer.


John recently appeared on The Jim Rome Show ( to discuss 'Moment of Glory.' Click here to download, or listen in the player below:

John's new book: "Moment of Glory--The Year Underdogs Ruled The Majors,"--is now available online and in bookstores nationwide. Visit your favorite retailer, or click here for online purchases

Monday, June 28, 2010

FIFA could be more of a mess than the NCAA – who knew?

I didn’t think it was possible but it may be that there is an organization in sports that is more of a mess than the NCAA. That organization would be FIFA—which if you don’t speak French stands for, “Federation Internationale de Football Association.”

In English I believe that translates into Absolute Joke.

As I’ve said before, I’m hardly a soccer expert but the number of blown calls—I don’t mean controversial calls, I mean BLOWN ones—in this World Cup has been completely ridiculous. It happened again twice on Sunday where the officials somehow missed a clear goal scored by England and a clear offsides on a goal scored by Argentina.

These were not the kind of errors where we needed to see the plays from 15 different angles and then thought, yes, there it is a mistake was made. These were, ‘Oh My God what were they thinking?’ screw-ups. In both games, the better team ended up winning the game but that begs the point. Upsets do happen, in fact upsets are what make us watch sports. If we all know that Germany and Argentina are going to win why bother to watch?

The fact that The English goal that was disallowed would have tied the score at 2-2 a few minutes before halftime after Germany had jumped to a 2-0 lead certainly gives one pause. The momentum would have had to be with the English at that point. Germany’s two second half goals that made the final score an embarrassing 4-1 were both scored on counterattacks that occurred with England pushing forward to try to get the equalizer. (How do you like that for soccer talk, huh?).

The Argentine goal that was allowed in spite of an obvious offsides is tougher to argue in terms of the outcome because Argentina appeared in control of the game at that stage.

But all of that entirely misses the point. FIFA’s response to all this is two-fold: “We don’t comment on calls on the field.” (Good thing, because the only reasonable comment it could make would be the same as yours and mine: OH MY GOD!). And, more important, FIFA sees no reason to go to replay.

Really? Are you completely insane?

Alexi Lalas, the former U.S. World Cupper who is now one of ESPN’s 47 soccer analysts, said repeatedly on Sunday that Sepp Blatter, the head of FIFA, believes this sort of controversy is good for soccer because it gets more people talking about the game. Let’s examine that statement for a moment: If Lalas is to be believed, then Blatter thinks that totally botched calls are good for soccer. He believes that it’s a good thing that we will never know what might have happened had England tied the game (as it DID) 2-2. Maybe Germany wins 4-2 but we will never know. It’s a good thing, according to that way of thinking, to shortchange the players who work four years to prepare for The World Cup.

Blatter and his cohorts are also idiotic in their insistence that all games from the round of 16 on can be decided in a shootout if the game is tied after 120 minutes. To begin with, overtime should be sudden death. This isn’t basketball where teams score constantly. This is soccer where a goal is gold—thus the term golden goal in the old days for a sudden death overtime goal—and where a team that scores in overtime prior to the final should be able to go home and rest its legs.

What’s more, there’s magic in sudden victory and sudden death in all sports. That no longer exists in World Cup soccer.

Worse though is the notion of the shootout. As I’ve said before, you don’t decide the most important soccer games played every four years by NOT playing soccer. You play until someone scores and if it takes 250 minutes so be it. Sure, the winner will be exhausted but that’s the price you pay for not winning more quickly. Knowing you have to score to win would also changes strategy in overtime and cause teams to push up more knowing that they can’t just play for the shootout—which is Russian Roulette in shorts. At the very least there is NO excuse for allowing the final to be decided by a shootout.

Worst though is Blatter and cohorts insisting that replay should not be used at all. At the absolute minimum it should be used to decide goal/no-goal. How long would it have taken to decide if Frank Lampard’s goal for England was good on Sunday? About 15 seconds—if that. That call made Jim Joyce’s missed call at first base on the final out of Armando Galarraga’s imperfect game look too close to call.

At least Joyce said he blew it. At least Bud Selig said a mistake was made and more replay needed to be looked at by Major League Baseball. FIFA? Nothing. No comment from anyone. Who died and made Sepp Blatter the world’s last jock dictator?

If soccer wants to be taken seriously in this country two things must happen: The U.S. must continue to improve and not blow opportunities like the one it blew Saturday when it lost 2-1 to Ghana, missing out on a genuine opportunity to make the semifinals—Uruguay is good but beatable—for the first time since the first World Cup in 1930.

And second, you can’t have people sitting around talking about calls that are completely missed. Argentina dominated Mexico but the only real talk after the game was about the missed offsides call that led to one of the goals. It is NOT good for a sport when the focus is on the officials and not on the players. There are certain calls in every sport that can’t be fixed by replay.

In soccer, goal/no-goal almost always can be corrected if need be—and if it is too close to call, the ruling on the field stands—and a clear offsides that leads to a goal can also be corrected. There should also be postgame penalties when someone is clearly shown to have taken a dive if only to cut back on the acting going on.

Sunday was a disgrace on every possible level. The only thing worse than the calls was the reaction to the calls. If what Alexi Lalas says about Sepp Blatter is true, Blatter should be fired first and then locked in a room and forced to watch ‘Around The Horn,’ on a continuous loop for the next ten years.

Yes, he’s that bad.


While some of the details are dated, on Washington Post Live on CSN Washington last week, John discussed with Ivan Carter and Barry Svrluga the World Cup and soccer's growth in the United States. Click to play the video below:

Friday, June 25, 2010

Celebrating in Washington for Wizards moves; Yow moving to NC State, won’t be missed by many at Maryland

There was a lot of celebrating going on in the Washington, D.C. area last night.

The party that everyone noticed took place at Verizon Center where The Washington Wizards officially welcomed John Wall as the new face of their franchise. The Kentucky guard was considered by everyone in the NBA the no-brainer first pick, the closest thing there was to a sure-fire star in this year’s draft.

Almost as important, the Wizards made several other moves to acquire players, notably the Bulls Kurt Hinrich, who should help them improve after their woebegone 2009-2010 season that was ‘highlighted,’ by their star player being hauled into court for gun possession and was suspended by the league in part for bringing the guns into the locker room, in part for acting like an idiot.

Wall comes across as a nice kid who has overcome a tough childhood to become a future NBA star. One thing he needs to do though is drop the campaign he unofficially began last night to wear number 11 for The Wizards. That number was retired by the franchise years ago because it was worn by Elvin Hayes, who played a major role in the team’s only NBA title in 1978 and was a key player during a five year stretch when the Washington Bullets reached three NBA Finals. Hayes was a truly great player. You don’t go pulling numbers from the rafters (figuratively) for anyone, much less for a 20-year-old rookie, no matter how heralded he may be.

If Hayes makes some kind of money deal with Wall to use the number it will be smarmy and gross. If he graciously says, ‘go ahead and wear it,’ it will be less so but still wrong. Wall should establish his own identity and find a different number. It isn’t as if he’s worn number 11 for 15 years someplace and is attached to it that way. He wore it for one year at Kentucky and (I assume) for a couple years in high school. Move on.

Speaking of moving on: While they were delighted in downtown D.C. to welcome Wall, they were just about as happy down Route 1 in College Park to wave bye-bye to Debbie Yow, who is leaving Maryland after 16 years as athletic director to take the same job at North Carolina State. To quote one Maryland person: “What are THEY thinking.”

Yow was perfectly competent at some aspects of her job. She balanced an un-balanced budget (largely through cutbacks but nevertheless she did it); she hired some solid non-revenue coaches and she kept the trains running on time for the most part in College Park. But she didn’t make a whole lot of friends among those she worked with. People came and went in the athletic department the way pitching coaches came and went when George Steinbrenner was still running the Yankees.

She always had a bad relationship with the most important person at Maryland, basketball coach Gary Williams, and her relationship with football coach Ralph Friedgen went straight downhill just as soon as Friedgen stopped winning on a regular basis. She went from taking bows for hiring Friedgen—whose hiring she had little to do with—to acting as if she’d never heard of him and putting a ‘coach in waiting,’ in place which, even though she insisted Friedgen had ‘signed off on,’ clearly didn’t make the coach happy.

Her downfall—and believe me she’s getting out of town ahead of the posse here with a new president taking over the school on September 1—came when she thought she saw an opening to get rid of Williams in 2009 and the notion blew up in her face. The basketball program was struggling and Williams made the mistake of taking a frustrated public swipe at Yow when asked about some recruiting efforts that hadn’t panned out. Yow saw an opening and tried to pounce only to find that most Maryland people remembered what Williams had done to rebuild a fallen program into a national champion and also believed he could still coach.

Williams’ players rallied behind him to make the NCAA Tournament in 2009 and then had a very good year in 2010. Yow was forced to retreat. She even went so far as to “nominate,” Williams for the basketball Hall of Fame last month, an absolute grandstand play if there’s ever been one. Debbie Yow nominating Gary Williams for the Hall of Fame is the equivalent of Tiger Woods nominating me for The Pulitzer Prize. No one bought that act—especially Williams, who was as close to speechless as he ever gets when the subject came up.

There was also the botched attempt to get rid of Friedgen last fall. After failing to raise the money from boosters to buy Friedgen out, Yow let it leak that perhaps the money could come from state funds—an idea quickly shot down by Governor Martin O’Malley. So, she looked bad again and looked even worse because she had committed $1 million to James Franklin as the coach-in-waiting when no one on earth could see any reason to anoint Franklin.

I wrote a column on the football coaching situation last fall, saying that Yow had botched it with the Franklin deal and by not standing behind Friedgen, a Maryland grad who revived the program when he arrived before falling on some hard times. Yow’s response to the column was revealing.

She sent an angry e-mail not just to Matt Vita, the sports editor of The Post, but to Emilio Garcia-Ruiz, the ex-sports editor who is now the Metro editor and to Marcus Brauchli, the executive editor. She allegedly copied me but somehow the note didn’t show up in my e-mail cue until six hours later—AFTER I’d been forwarded the note and had responded to her. Just an electronic foul-up no doubt.

Yow claimed I had my “facts,” wrong in the column—basically claiming that Friedgen was all for the coach-in-waiting concept and then singing Franklin’s praises in a way that implied that Friedgen would never have gotten a player to sign with Maryland again if Franklin hadn’t returned to the school. I wrote her back to say (A) Don’t expect an answer from Brauchli anytime soon because he probably doesn’t know Maryland HAS a football team; (B) what was she expecting Garcia-Ruiz to do, scold me for being a bad boy? And (C) I’d be more than happy to thrash out our disagreements on the issue but I felt pretty confident what I’d written was accurate. I also wasn’t the only person by any stretch to write or say what I wrote.

I never heard back. From that point on Yow, who used to love to stop me at Maryland games to point out to me that Gary had switched to a zone defense (wow, really Debbie, I never would have noticed) made a point of looking the other way whenever I saw her. Which was actually fine with me. I figured someone else could let me know if Gary switched to a zone.

What was most interesting was her behavior the night of The Children’s Charities Foundation banquet in December. I was seated at a table with the coaches who would be playing in the BB+T Classic the next day, including Gary and Villanova’s Jay Wright. Yow was at the next table. At no point during the evening did she acknowledge the presence of her basketball coach or say hello to him. Within seconds of his getting up to leave—I mean SECONDS—she raced back to our table to lavish a warm welcome on Wright. It was stunning.

Yow won’t be missed by many in College Park. She’ll have a certain honeymoon period at State because her sister Kay, who died in 2009 of cancer, was a beloved coach there for 34 years. My guess is that honeymoon won’t last terribly long.


John recently appeared on The Jim Rome Show ( to discuss 'Moment of Glory.' Click here to download, or listen in the player below:

John's new book: "Moment of Glory--The Year Underdogs Ruled The Majors,"--is now available online and in bookstores nationwide. Visit your favorite retailer, or click here for online purchases

Washington Post column -- "John Isner and Nicolas Mahut: Hitting themselves into history"

The best moments in sports are almost always those we least expect: The U.S. hockey team stunning the Soviet Union in the Lake Placid Olympics 30 years ago; Boris Becker winning Wimbledon 25 years ago when he was too young -- 17 -- to claim the world's most important tennis title; Tom Watson coming within inches of winning the British Open when he was too old -- 59 -- to compete for a major golf championship.

And then there are those moments that involve athletes most of us have never heard of and may never hear of again; moments that come out of nowhere and hold us spellbound. That's what John Isner and Nicolas Mahut did the past three days. They began a routine first-round match at Wimbledon on Tuesday, a long way -- literally and figuratively -- from historic Centre Court. They were sent out to play on Court 18, which is tucked into a corner of the Wimbledon grounds and has seats for a mere 782 people.

When they finally shook hands at the net on Thursday after playing five sets and 183 games -- the last 138 of them in the final set -- millions of people around the world were watching and wondering when one of them would finally crack or simply collapse. To put what these two men did into perspective, consider: Before this epic match, the longest fifth set in the history of Grand Slam tennis lasted 48 games -- 90 games fewer than Isner and Mahut played. The longest match in Grand Slam tennis history before this one lasted six hours and 33 minutes. The last set between Isner and Mahut took eight hours and 11 minutes.

Click here for the rest of the column: Hitting themselves into history

This week's radio segments (The Sports Reporters, Gas Man, Tony Kornheiser Show)

Yesterday I joined The Sports Reporters' Steve Czaban and Andy Pollin in the normal timeslot (5:25 ET on Wednesday's). Click the permalink, then the link below, to listen to the segment from this week.

Click here to listen to the segment: The Sports Reporters


Also, I joined The Gas Man show on Wednesday evening in my normal 8:25 PT spot.

Click here to listen to the segment: The Gas Man


On Thursday morning, I once again joined Tony Kornheiser on his newest Tony Kornheiser Show. 

Click here to listen to the segment (starts at approx. the 17:00 mark): Tony Kornheiser Show

Thursday, June 24, 2010

World Cup fever; Soccer is solid niche sport with bursts of popularity

So now we have World Cup fever. Sort of.

There’s always a buzz when the United States is doing well in an international event—especially if it is on television and there’s no doubt this World Cup is on TV—non-stop. My friend Sally Jenkins wrote a column about being in a New York bar yesterday morning and the electricity inside when Landon Donovan scored the goal that saved the U.S. from being eliminated after an embarrassing 0-0 tie with Algeria. Instead, the Americans escaped with a 1-0 victory to reach the knockout round where it will play Ghana on Saturday in a very winnable game.

That’s all good. With ESPN’s non-stop promotion of the event during the last year and with the U.S. team managing to make it this far, there will be tremendous focus on soccer the next couple of weeks. There’s even a chance the U.S. could reach the semifinals to play one of the world’s true powerhouse teams. A win over Ghana would lead to a game with Uruguay or S Korea, both good teams but not in the same class with Argentina, Germany, Brazil—the teams that (along with defending champion Italy, which is struggling) usually dominate international play.

So, it is a day for U.S. soccer fanatics to celebrate. As I’ve said before, I like soccer and I love the electricity of The World Cup. I’ve covered soccer, back in my early days at The Post. I would never claim to be an expert on the game, but I like it and I’ve liked most of the people I’ve encountered through the years. Just a couple of weeks ago I ran into D.C. United Coach Tom Sohn and his assistant Ben Olsen at a TV studio and they patiently explained to me why the U.S. had a very good chance to win or tie in its opening game against England.

Having said all that, soccer is going to remain a niche sport in this country unless—and even then it isn’t guaranteed—the U.S. wins the World Cup. The closest we’ve ever come was a third place finish in 1930 and there aren’t too many folks around with memories of that occasion. In fact, from 1934 to 1986 the U.S. team didn’t even make it to the World Cup tournament. Since then expansion to 32 teams, being named the host team (1994, which gives you an automatic berth) and improvement in U.S. soccer have allowed us to at least make the tournament the last six times it has been played.

In 1994, playing at home, the U.S. reached the round of 16. In 2002 it got to the quarterfinals. If it could reach the semifinals, there’s no question TV ratings would be as high as they’ve ever been for soccer and, with all the ESPN hype, there would be as much talk about it as there has ever been. Some of that will carry over, no doubt, but it doesn’t mean attendance at MLS games is going to suddenly double or TV ratings will triple. One thing soccer people have always had trouble doing is understanding that, YES, soccer is the world’s sport but NO, it is not the United States’ sport. Even with all the ESPN hype it is worth nothing the U.S.-England game didn’t get nearly the rating the four letter people had been projecting.

Football—American football—is our number one sport and that isn’t going to change. Baseball and basketball come next and then there’s hockey and golf and once there used to be tennis. Soccer is always going to fit somewhere in that second tier, moving up or down depending on circumstances. This is certainly a chance for it to move up.

Some history here: When I covered the North American Soccer League in the late 1970s, the Cosmos were a true phenomenon. They had brought Pele here and followed that by bringing genuine international stars like Franz Beckenbauer and Giorgio Chinaglia to their team. They drew huge crowds in Giants Stadium on a consistent basis. The Washington Diplomats traded for Johan Cruyff, who had arguably been the No. 2 player in the world behind Pele in the early 1970s, and even the Dips drew well in RFK Stadium—averaging more fans in 1980 than D.C. United averages now, including a crowd of more than 53,000 one Sunday afternoon for a game against the Cosmos.

“Soccer—the sport of the 80s,”—that was the NASL’s slogan. Then Pele retired, the league over-expanded and by the mid-80s, the NASL was completely gone, one of the great league collapses in sports history. It wasn’t until after the 1994 World Cup that MLS was launched and, even then, it was done so with the notion that salaries would be modest and the pursuit of big-money superstars would be controlled. For most of the first 10 years that’s exactly what the league did. The big experiment—bringing in David Beckham, created buzz for a while until everyone realized Beckham couldn’t play anymore, even on those days when he did limp onto the field.

In 1999, the U.S. women’s soccer team created great interest—why?—because it was WINNING and because some of the players were extremely attractive. Most people forget the U.S. and China played to an incredibly dull 0-0 tie in that World Cup final and remember Brandi Chastain ripping off her shirt after scoring the winning goal in the shootout. (Seriously soccer fans how can you hope to have your sport taken really seriously if you continue to decide World Cup knockout games in shootouts? It’s the equivalent of deciding postseason baseball games with a home run Derby; postseason football with a field goal kicking contest or a major golf tournament with a chip-off. Ridiculous. You have to play to a real soccer result).

After that U.S. victory, women’s soccer was going to be the next big thing. I remember a dopey New York publishing guy named David Hirshey going on Tony Kornheiser’s radio show saying there was going to be an “explosion,” in women’s soccer (the fact that he was publishing a women’s soccer book may have influenced him). So a league was launched and it failed in a couple of years and now there’s another league where they play mostly in high school stadiums in front of crowds of maybe 5,000.

You see there is NOTHING wrong with being a solid niche sport that has an occasional burst like the one going on now. Hockey isn’t that much different: People were riveted by the Olympics this year and ratings DID go up during the Stanley Cup playoffs but nowhere close to what the big three get in ratings in postseason—or for that matter what the NFL gets for a routine Sunday afternoon.

So, soccer fans, enjoy these next couple of weeks. Maybe the U.S. will pull off a Miracle on Turf. More likely it might reach the semis, which would be a fabulous achievement. People WILL be paying attention and will be talking about it. But don’t be disappointed or rant and rave when normalcy returns and crowds of 15,000 show up at MLS games and the TV ratings are in the 1’s and 2’s again. Actually, that’s progress and it’s okay.

Just don’t think soccer is going to be the sport of the teens. The last group that made that mistake was the NASL and we all know how that turned out.


John recently appeared on The Jim Rome Show ( to discuss 'Moment of Glory.' Click here to download, or listen in the player below:

John's new book: "Moment of Glory--The Year Underdogs Ruled The Majors,"--is now available online and in bookstores nationwide. Visit your favorite retailer, or click here for online purchases

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Eric Prisbell’s story on John Wall – he did his job, and did it very well

There’s a fascinating story in Sunday’s Washington Post on John Wall, the Kentucky freshman guard who will be the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft tomorrow night. Eric Prisbell, who does an excellent job covering college hoops for The Post, spent a week in Raleigh interviewing Wall, his mom, his old coaches and some of his friends. Since Wall is about to become the face of The Washington Wizards it was a natural story to do.

The story Eric wrote paints a shattering picture of Wall’s early life: his father was in jail almost from the time he was born until he died of cancer just prior to John’s ninth birthday. The only time John Wall saw his father outside of jail was the last month of his life when he was released from prison because his cancer was terminal.

After his father’s death, Wall became—by his own description—a very angry kid, constantly in trouble, thrown off basketball teams in spite of his talent, often benched, moving from school to school while his mother, raising three kids as a single parent worked multiple jobs.

Then came the intervention of a high school coach, an understanding of his own potential and, now, superstardom. It is a well-reported, well-written story. In return for a job well done, Prisbell is being criticized by a number of people for the story. Here’s why: During his research, Prisbell learned that John Wall Sr. had been to jail more than once and not just on the armed robbery charge that his son knew about. He had been convicted prior to his son’s birth of second degree murder for shooting a woman in the head. (Click here for Eric Prisbell's column)

John Wall Jr. was apparently unaware of this. His mother had never told him. He had never asked for more details about his dad’s incarceration—certainly understandable, especially given how young he was at the time. Prisbell and his editors had a choice to make: leave the detail about his dad committing murder out of the story completely or tell Wall about it before writing the story. Simply writing it without telling him wasn’t an option. Imagine how Wall might have felt picking up the newspaper or, worse, having someone say to him, “hey I read in The Washington Post your dad committed murder.”

I know there will be some people who see the notion of telling someone their father committed murder as cruel and un-necessary. But Wall’s father and his relationship with him and the way he behaved after his death were all a crucial part of the story. Leaving out the fact that he had been convicted of murder would be hiding a crucial—and once you know something and don’t reveal it you are hiding it—fact. What’s more, it was going to come out at some point. Prisbell may have been the first person to check the legal records, he would not have been the last. As Wall’s star continues to rise, there will be other long pieces written about him and his past and his father’s past will be part of those stories.

John Wall was going to find out about his father whether Prisbell told him or not. What’s more he did it as delicately as possible and, if you read the story, the revelation is near the bottom of a very long piece and is dealt with in about three paragraphs. It’s not as if there was a blaring headline that said, “No. 1 Pick’s Dad a Murderer.” If you think some outlets on the internet or among newspaper wouldn’t have handled it that way, think again.

Prisbell is uncomfortable being part of the story, which is understandable. There are also some dopes out there who are somehow connecting the reporting he did here to the reporting he and Steve Yanda did 16 months ago on the Maryland basketball program. Then, with all sorts of (accurate) rumors floating that Athletic Director Debbie Yow was trying to find a way to ease Gary Williams out of his job after 20 years, Prisbell and Yanda did a three part series on Maryland basketball. The single most important thing that they reported in detail was this: Gary Williams had steadfastly refused to get down in the mud with coaches in the slimy world of AAU basketball and that had cost him some superstar players. He had also refused to be blackmailed into giving one star player’s “trainer,” a job and had decided, after wrestling with it for a long time, not to recruit a star player who had a criminal record.

Although Gary got bent out of shape about the series and Maryland fans tried to make Prisbell and Yanda into the bad guys in the scenario, the fact is that the series HELPED Maryland by giving a clear picture of why the program had slid from its peak in 2001 and 2002 when it reached back-to-back Final Fours. Some fool called a local radio show yesterday claiming The Post had to run a ‘correction,’ after the series ran which was simply wrong. Prisbell is a very good reporter who I’ve been fortunate to work with for nine years now. He was dealing with a very tough story once he found out about Wall’s dad and he handled it as well as it could be handled. The notion that he could have just walked away from what he found is ludicrous.

I’ve become part of the story myself on more than one occasion. The two that were most significant were entirely different. One was on a series I wrote along with another Post reporter, Gene Meyer, while I was covering cops and courts. It involved a group of police officers in Prince George’s County who had set-up black teen-agers in the 1960s to be killed. They became known as, “The Death Squad,” and when Gene and I got a number of people—including one of the cops involved—on the record we had to go to the other cops involved, one of whom had risen to No. 2 in the police department, to hear their side of the story.

Since I had been the initiator of the story—having stumbled into the phrase, ‘Death Squad,’ while working on another story—the cops involved HATED me for asking the questions we were asking. One threatened to kill me—on tape—in the middle of an interview. Was I shaken up? No, not a bit. And if you believe that you believe in The Easter Bunny too.

The other time was quite different: When ‘A Season on the Brink,’ came out Bob Knight insisted I had promised him I’d leave his profanity out of the book. At first I thought he was joking when he said it because who in the world didn’t know Knight used profanity? But he was serious and I had to spend a lot of time explaining that I had told Knight that writing a book about him without profanity would be like writing a book about him without the word basketball. I loved the way the book sold; I hated having my integrity questioned knowing that some people would automatically believe Knight.

No one should question Eric Prisbell on this story. He did his job. And he did it very well.


John recently appeared on The Jim Rome Show ( to discuss 'Moment of Glory.' Click here to download, or listen in the player below:

John's new book: "Moment of Glory--The Year Underdogs Ruled The Majors,"--is now available online and in bookstores nationwide. Visit your favorite retailer, or click here for online purchases

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Fred Barakat, ACC insider, passed away last night; Comments on the comments

Fred Barakat died last night. He had a heart attack at a hospital in Greensboro where he had just undergone knee surgery. He was 71 and had dealt with all sorts of health issues for the past several years.

Unless you are a big-time ACC basketball fan you probably have no idea who Fred was. But he played an important role in changing the college game. He came to the ACC in 1981 as the supervisor of basketball officials after 11 years as the coach at Fairfield University. His hiring was an out-of-the-box move by the ACC. Until then, almost without exception, the men in charge of basketball officials had been former officials. They had a tendency to be very defensive about the guys who worked for them, often because they were former colleagues and friends.

There was an aura of secrecy that surrounded college basketball officials. When I was in college, I did a story on officiating in the ACC—a controversial subject then as now—and I was able to talk to all seven conference coaches. (To be fair, I got Dean Smith to call me back by saying I wanted to give him the chance to respond to what Lefty Driesell had said and I got Lefty to return my call by saying I thought he should hear what Dean had said about him. When Lefty asked me what Dean had said, I fessed up and said I’d just told his secretary that to get him to call. Lefty said, “that’s pretty good son, you got me.”).

I couldn’t get anyone from the ACC to comment on officiating. No one. That was the norm until Fred arrived. From day one, he took every call he got—from coaches, from the media, from just about anyone. “I let them talk,” Fred once told me, talking about the coaches. “I knew how they felt because I’d been a coach. Sometimes when they were done I told them why they were wrong. Other times I had to tell them they were right and we’d try to do better. But I think they always felt better because I let them talk.”

According to the coaches he was right. “You always knew Fred would listen,” said Gary Williams, who has complained about ACC officiating as much as anyone through the years. “Sometimes you’d get pissed at him because he’d defend someone you thought shouldn’t be defended but he never cut you off, he never got impatient and you knew he wanted his guys to do better the next time. That’s really all you can ask.”

When Rick Barnes was at Clemson he got so frustrated with what he saw as Duke-Carolina bias in the officiating that he flew to Greensboro armed with tapes to show Barakat what he was talking about. Barakat sat and watched all the tapes with him, then showed him some tapes of his own. “I still wasn’t happy when we were done,” Barnes said. “But I left there knowing that Fred was conscious of what I was talking about. He gave me an entire morning and never flinched.”

“I let him vent,” Fred said later.

Fred was the same way with the media. He always returned phone calls. Sometimes he called YOU if he thought what you’d written was unfair or not entirely correct. He defended his guys but he also knew they weren’t perfect. He was disliked by a number of officials because he stopped giving them ACC assignments. Officiating was very much a good old boy network into the 1980s. Fred began working with younger officials, bringing them along so they could work bigger games. Occasionally they were put in over their heads and couldn’t swim. Others did swim and became very good refs.

Fred and I had our battles but it was more over the way he ran the ACC Tournament than his work with the officials. Fred thought the tournament needed more discipline. He hired a thuggish security company run by a thug and pretty much gave them the run of whatever building the tournament was in. Sadly, that company is still working for the ACC. Two years ago in Atlanta, the guy who runs the company decided the hallway that led to the locker rooms and the interview rooms should be off-limits to the media—it’s about 100 yards wide—until the players and coaches had reached the interview room after a game. That created a five-to-seven minute delay in starting postgame interviews with people scrambling on deadline. When I asked him why he needed such a rule in such a large building he said, “I don’t, I just decided to do it.”

When I told him that was a ridiculous and arbitrary decision he looked at me and said, “What does arbitrary mean?” He was serious.

That disagreement aside, I always liked Fred. He and I had an annual routine at The Final Four (now it can be told I guess) where he would tell me on Friday who the nine referees were for the weekend. The NCAA always tries to keep the names of the refs a secret (I think it has something to do with the way the games are bet on depending on who might be calling them) and it always gave me great pleasure to tell Hank Nichols, who was then the officiating supervisor, who his nine officials were for the weekend. Fred didn’t think Nichols ever selected enough of his guys. This was one little payback for him.

It also helped me to know who the officials were when writing my advance stories: certain guys were going to ref the game one way; others in a different way.

Fred was a gentleman—always. You could disagree with him, argue with him, even tell him his security company buddy was a thug and he’d tell you why you were wrong and when it was over you’d always shake hands and vow to have a drink together soon. Coaches respected him because he’d coached and he understood their frustrations. The media respected him because he never ducked a question and those he worked with him respected him because he worked hard and was fun to work with and work for. My old friend Tom Mickle nicknamed him, The ‘Cat,’ early on and it stuck because Fred was quick and smart and sly.

I always looked forward to seeing him, especially in recent years. He had retired but still had his hand in and knew what was going on in college hoops. He was a good resource to get an expert’s honest opinion on officials, especially those he had NOT worked with because he was completely unbiased. And he always had a good story to tell, one he would tell with a big smile on his face.

I’ll miss him. So will a lot of people.


Two notes to some recent posters: For those of you who are bothered by my criticisms of Tiger Woods—seriously—just don’t read the blog anymore. There are enough people out there willing to kiss Tiger’s butt for anything and everything that he doesn’t need me to do it and you don’t need to get all bent out of shape reading what I think about him. As one poster said: “Tom Watson good, Tiger bad, what a surprise.”

Yup, that’s the way I feel. I don’t think Tiger’s changed even a little bit since his fall from grace—one reason he will start winning majors again soon—and I do like and respect Watson. Has he lived a perfect life as one angry e-mail pointed out? No. Neither have I and I suspect neither have you. But he’s learned as much as anyone I’ve ever met from his failings and changed considerably through the years.

Am I biased? Of course I’m biased. As I’ve written before, we’re ALL biased. I’m just more willing than some of my colleagues to admit my biases and try to be aware of them. I’ve always recognized Tiger’s brilliance as a golfer (tough to miss) and thought of him as bright and someone with great potential to do good. His failure to do that—and please don’t tell me about his foundation, that exists for PR purposes as with so many athletes—with his money, power and platform disappoints me. Sorry if you don’t like that. Again, there are plenty of places to go to read about what a great guy Tiger is.

And, as for the one comment that when I wrote “a lot of guys,” thought Tiger was acting like a baby last Thursday that I got that from other media members or The Golf Channel people? Are you kidding me? Do you watch Golf Channel? My God, Tiger walks on water there most of the time to the point where I tease people there about it. And I do NOT quote other media members. I should have written “a lot of players.” I thought that would be understood. But believe me it was players who thought he was being a baby.

So, as I said, if my being critical of Tiger is that bothersome, go on his website and find comfort there.

Second: To the poster who wondered how much I got paid for the rights to ‘A Season on the Brink.’ Let me answer that this way: If giving back the money would have kept the movie from ever being seen, I would have done it in a heartbeat.


John recently appeared on The Jim Rome Show ( to discuss 'Moment of Glory.' Click here to download, or listen in the player below:

John's new book: "Moment of Glory--The Year Underdogs Ruled The Majors,"--is now available online and in bookstores nationwide. Visit your favorite retailer, or click here for online purchases

Monday, June 21, 2010

There’s nothing like an Open at Pebble Beach; Is Tiger back?

Fifteen years ago, after playing his first practice round prior to the 1995 U.S. Open, Lee Janzen sat in the locker room at Shinnecock and said this: “They ought to forget all the other golf courses and just rotate this event between here and Pebble Beach. Those other places are nice, but they just can’t compare to these two.”

Janzen had already won one U.S. Open-at Baltusrol—at that point and would go on to win a second one three years later at The Olympic Club. He knows most of the Open courses that have been in the rota in the last 20 years. His point is well-taken: There’s just nothing like Pebble Beach and Shinnecock isn’t far behind. Personally, I would throw Pinehurst in every so often and perhaps Bethpage Black—but the latter no doubt reflects personal bias.

Of course that isn’t going to happen. The USGA is committed to moving the national championship around the country and to trying to find new venues. That’s why it is going to Chambers Bay outside Seattle in 2015 and last week announced it will be going to another new course, Erin Hills (in Wisconsin) in 2017. Right now, negotiations are continuing to try to go back to Shinnecock in 2018—the membership is apparently hard-balling negotiations—wanting a different (read, far more lucrative) deal than the USGA gives other places because, well, it’s Shinnecock. Stay tuned on that one.

If the USGA makes a deal with Shinnecock, that would mean Janzen would get his wish for two years (problem being he’s unlikely to still be playing Opens at that stage since he’ll be 54) since that would mean Shinnecock in 2018 and Pebble Beach in 2019.

I say all this as a way to getting to the headline from this past week: there’s nothing like an Open at Pebble Beach. The USGA should, at the very least, go there every five years the way The R+A goes to St. Andrews every five years. Even if it means I have to get on an airplane.

There were, as always, some complaints about the golf course—notably the greens, especially after Tiger Woods got finished whining on Thursday. Complaints from the players are as much a part of The Open as narrow fairways and fast greens. There will also be some who will say, ‘who the hell is Graeme McDowell and what is he doing in the same sentence as Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Tom Kite and Tiger Woods?’—the four previous winners of Opens at Pebble Beach.

Look, the stars don’t always win. Woods, Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els all had golden chances to win on Sunday and didn’t get it done. McDowell did. So too did Gregory Havret, the Frenchman who finished second. To show you how much I know I looked at the leaderboard on Saturday night and saw six names: Dustin Johnson, McDowell, Woods, Havret, Mickelson and Els and thought this: one of four guys is going to win this thing: Johnson, Woods, Mickelson or Els. So, McDowell and Havret beat all four of them. Shows you how much I know.

Of course I suspect I wasn’t alone and that’s comforting. Ironically, I walked with McDowell and got to see him up close on Thursday but it had nothing to do with any special golf acumen or ability to see the future. He was paired with Shaun Micheel and Rocco Mediate and I wanted to watch THEM play so, by accident, I ended up seeing McDowell. I’ll say this: I was impressed. He struggled at the start but stayed calm and pieced together an even par round that went un-noticed because everyone was screaming for Rocco and because Micheel ended up as one of the leaders that day after shooting 69. McDowell, who I’d never met, was also very friendly—even early on when he wasn’t playing well. I liked him.

His life is completely different now because he’s a major champion. As the first European winner in 40 years, he’s going to be a very wealthy man. Havret’s life will also be different because he’s an Open runner-up, but as I can tell you from my experience dealing with major winners and runners-up in, ‘Moment of Glory,’ the gulf between first and second is wider than The Atlantic Ocean.

Naturally, much of the talk today is going to be about Tiger Woods. The question that will be asked is this: Is he back? In my opinion—yes, he is. He was very much the old Tiger this week, on and off the golf course. He hit the ball far better than he has hit it all year and on the back nine Saturday it was all there again: putts going in from all over, the remarkable second shot on 18, the fist-pumps, the crowds roaring for him (which hadn’t happened at all before then) and that game-face of his, firmly in place as the thought crossed his mind that he could win another major.

It was electric stuff. The fact that he didn’t close the deal on Sunday changes nothing. He’s never come from behind to win a major on Sunday before so it wasn’t stunning that he didn’t do it on this Sunday. It is also difficult for ANYONE to back up a great round with another one the next day. Think about the three 66’s shot this week: Mickelson shot 66 on Friday; 73 on Saturday; Woods went from 66 to 75 and Johnson went from 66 to (gasp) 82.

He was also back to being totally-Tiger in his behavior. On the course there were the looks to the sky, the eye-rolling, the occasional slammed club when things didn’t go exactly as they were supposed to go. Off the course, more of the same. On Tuesday someone asked him a very carefully couched question about the fact that ANYONE dealing with personal troubles can find his job more difficult and he snapped, “it’s none of your business.” So much for getting back to Buddism. On Thursday he acted as if he had just discovered that the greens at Pebble Beach were poa annua and might get bouncy in the afternoon.

He said no one had been able to putt on them in the afternoon even though the three guys leading the golf tournament had played in the afternoon. Don’t bother Tiger with the facts. What’s more, the greens in 2010 were MUCH better than the greens were in 2000 when Tiger made every putt you could possibly make on them en route to his astonishing 15-shot victory. What wasn’t better was TIGER, not the greens. Or, to quote Nick Faldo, who was once asked if his problem was his putter: “No, the problem wasn’t the putter, it was the puttee.”

It wasn’t the greens either. Sure they bounced—this just in, poa bounces. On Saturday, after USGA executive director David Fay had pointed out that both Woods and Mickelson had used the word, ‘awful,’ in talking about their putting Thursday: one said the greens were awful; the other (Mickelson) said HE was awful, Woods was given a chance to say, ‘hey, I was frustrated, I didn’t make a birdie all day.’ Instead, looking away from the questioner as he always does to show his disdain, he said, “A lot of guys thought the greens were awful. I was just the only one who said it.”

Actually, a lot of guys thought Tiger was acting like a big baby.

Then on Sunday, Tiger threw Steve Williams under the bus, blaming him for several bad decisions. Look, no one likes seeing Stevie with tire tracks on his face more than me, but Tiger lost because Tiger lost. Period. Still, my guess is he will have a great chance at St. Andrews where he can keep the driver in the bag almost the entire week.

His whining brings me back to Tom Watson, whose emotional final Open at Pebble is something I will remember for a long, long time—especially the tears he shed without hesitation on the 18th green on Sunday. I know he was thinking about how cool it was to have his son Michael walking next to him at that moment; of all the memories he has of the golf course; of the ’82 Open and of Bruce Edwards.

Through my own tears I thought about Bruce telling me one reason he loved working for Watson was because he never blamed anyone but himself when things went wrong. Which is one more thing—among many—that Eldrick T. Woods might be able to learn from Thomas Sturges Watson.


John recently appeared on The Jim Rome Show ( to discuss 'Moment of Glory.' Click here to download, or listen in the player below:

John's new book: "Moment of Glory--The Year Underdogs Ruled The Majors,"--is now available online and in bookstores nationwide. Visit your favorite retailer, or click here for online purchases

Friday, June 18, 2010

Day out on the course, soaking in spectacular views; Rocco with fantastic news

The wake-up call came at 4:30 in the morning. I had to be on the air for Golf Channel at 6. That was the bad news. The good news was I was off-air and finished with my TV work for the day by 8 a.m. which gave me some time to get out and actually watch some golf.

There are times, especially at the U.S. Open when I don’t get to watch nearly as much golf as I’d like to watch. In past years I’ve done book-signings in the USGA merchandise tent that, while fun and a nice sales-boost, keep me pretty tied up. There are also frequently radio interviews to do as part of book promotion and times when I need to be around the media tent or the clubhouse to try to talk to people.

Today, for a change, I had none of that. Because the USGA doesn’t control the merchandising at this Open—it’s too complicated to explain but it has to do with the contract they sign with Pebble Beach; it’s a similar deal at Pinehurst—I wasn’t asked to do any book signings. On the one hand, yeah, I’d like to sell extra books. In fact, a number of people walked up to me on the golf course today to say they were disappointed to find I wasn’t signing books this year. I said me too—sort of.

I managed to get most of the book promotion for ‘Moment of Glory,’ done before I came out here, especially knowing that with the time change I didn’t want to get tied down at all sorts of strange hours. So, once the Golf Channel morning show signed off, I had the day free to play reporter. On the one hand, I was really tired from the early-morning wake-up. On the other hand, it was a gorgeous day and it was Pebble Beach so I thought I’d be insane not to get out and walk for a while.

So I decided to walk with the threesome of Shaun Micheel, Rocco Mediate and Graeme McDowell. No, I’m not contemplating a book on McDowell. The other two have already been involved in book projects with me. In fact, when Rocco got in to the championship on Sunday as the first alternate, I e-mailed Shaun and jokingly said that he and Rocco could discuss the pleasures of working on a book project with me while on the golf course.

The afternoon turned out to be more fun that I could possibly have imagined. The first piece of good news came on the first tee when Rocco came over and said, “I just got some unbelievable news. They found a donor for Cindy.”

Cindy Hilfman is probably the reason Rocco is still playing golf. She is certainly the reason why he almost won the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines two years ago. After years of back miseries that almost ended his career, Rocco was introduced to Cindy through a mutual friend. She figured out a way to make his back feel better.

The problem was he couldn’t figure out a way to make her kidneys better. Cindy has been afflicted with a rare kidney disease since childhood and has desperately needed a transplant. Finding a compatible donor has been the problem. Now, they’ve got one and her surgery is scheduled for July 20th.

“I found out an hour ago,” Rocco said. “I can’t tell you how good I feel. I’m actually nervous and jumpy about being out here right now and I haven’t felt this way for a long time.”

If this were a movie Rocco would have gone out and shot 68, led the tournament and been the story of the day. He couldn’t quite pull that off, shooting 77, but still I was happy for him, knowing all he and Cindy have been through the last several years with her health issues.

I was also happy for Micheel, who didn’t get off to a good start, but made back-to-back birdies at five and six to get going in the right direction. Shaun has been through a lot himself the last few years. He had a testosterone issue that turned into a battle with the tour because even though several doctors said he needed to take a pill, the tour didn’t want to allow it. On one occasion they denied him a waiver after doctors THEY sent him to said he needed to take the pill.

After getting through that problem, he had shoulder problems and had to have surgery two years ago. In 2009, coming back from the surgery, he had to go back to qualifying school after not playing especially well. Worst of all, his mother is very sick, fighting cancer.

He’s battled back from all that to play well this year, getting into some tournaments on his status as a past champion and a few others—though not as many as you would expect given that he’s a past major champion—on sponsor exemptions. A week ago, he played six great rounds of golf: two on Monday to qualify for the Open, then four in Memphis, to finish tied for fourth place. That check just about wrapped up his card for next year.

Shaun played well all day, tripped up at 17 when he missed a short par putt but bounced back to make a long birdie putt at 18 to shoot a two-under-par 69. That made him the first guy to make it in under 70. I sincerely hope that he continues to play well, NOT because the publicity he might get would help sell books—Mike Weir finished at one-under-par today by the way—but because he’s a good guy who has dealt with some really tough times.

The real highlight though, I must admit, was the golf course. I’ve walked Pebble Beach before but not under absolutely perfect conditions like today. It was cool and breezy and the views—seemingly from everywhere—were spectacular. Standing on the third tee, which is where the golf course really begins, Micheel looked towards the water and said quietly, “how about this place?”

It just gets more spectacular as you go from there on the front nine. The view from the fourth green? Amazing. Five? Great. Seventh tee? Ridiculous. Eight, nine ten? All incredible. And then of course the two finishing holes. You can’t help but be reminded why people deal with the trip to get here and why people will pay $495 a pop to play here.

I’m sore and tired from all the walking but I’m very glad I did it. Early to bed for me tonight. Another 4:30 a.m. wake-up call awaits.


John recently appeared on The Jim Rome Show ( to discuss 'Moment of Glory.' Click here to download, or listen in the player below:

John's new book: "Moment of Glory--The Year Underdogs Ruled The Majors,"--is now available online and in bookstores nationwide. Visit your favorite retailer, or click here for online purchases

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Updated -- This week's radio segments (The Sports Reporters, The Gas Man, Tony Kornheiser Show)

Yesterday I joined The Sports Reporters' Steve Czaban and Andy Pollin in the normal timeslot (5:25 ET on Wednesday's). Click the permalink, then the link below, to listen to the segment from this week. This week we obviously focused on the US Open at Pebble Beach -- is this the year a European wins, and my favorite pairing of the weekend - Tom Watson (age 60) paired with Ryo Ishikawa (18) and Rory McIlroy (21). We also discussed the Redskins and college conference shuffles, including the Maryland rumors.

Click here to listen to the segment: The Sports Reporters


Also, I joined The Gas Man show on Wednesday evening in my normal 8:25 PT spot. As expected, we discussed this week's US Open, including its nature as a truly 'open' championship.  We also spoke in depth about Erik Compton, who I wrote about on here as well as focused the Golf Channel diary on, and the 'Caddy for Life' documentary.

Click here to listen to the segment: The Gas Man


On Thursday morning, I once again joined Tony Kornheiser on his newest Tony Kornheiser Show.  This week, in addition to talking about my trip to Pebble Beach and my on-air wardrobe, we took at look at the US Open including discussing Johnny Miller's commentary with Tony on yesterday's PTI.

Click here to listen to the segment (starts at approx. the 17:00 mark): Tony Kornheiser Show

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Erik Compton –THE best story of this US Open

Well, I made it.

As it turned out, the easiest part of the day was the plane flight. Seriously though, I do not know how people who fly all the time do it. First you wait in line to get your ticket checked and then you go through the degrading experience of practically stripping to go through security.

I made two mistakes today: First I started to pick up my bag while the guy was still scanning my driver’s license. “I’ll tell you when to pick up the bag sir.”


Then, after taking off my shoes and my belt, I forgot to take my sports coat off (!!). I was so focused on making sure I didn’t put anything in the wrong place I flat out forgot to take off the jacket. I got snapped at for that too.

Dulles Airport used to be one of the world’s simplest. You went through security—a lot different back then obviously—and got on what they called a “people-mover,” that delivered you to your plane. Now they have a subway system ala Atlanta and you take an escalator to the center of the earth to get to it and then walk forever once you get off the escalator to get within range of your gate.

I do this stuff maybe three times a year and it makes me nuts. How do people do it three times a week? Or more?

The flight—drug-aided—was fine. Then we landed in San Francisco and boy has that airport changed. Again, I’m old enough to remember WALKING to my rent-a-car. Now you walk miles to a train, take the train through about 100 stops, wait on line forever at the rental car counter and then wait AGAIN until your car pulls up. I swear it almost took longer to get out of the airport than to fly across the country.

I made it down the Monterey Peninsula fine but then must have driven 170 miles on 17-mile drive to find the parking lot. But I found it. So I’m here. When I walked in two things happened, one nice and one predictable. The nice thing was that a number of people came up to say how much they enjoyed the ‘Caddy For Life,’ documentary last night. There were also a lot of nice e-mails saying the same thing.

The predictable thing that happened was that someone apparently asked Tiger Woods in his pre-U.S. Open press conference today if, given that one’s personal life can affect one’s performance, there was anything new on his impending divorce. (Not sure how it was phrased EXACTLY, I haven’t looked up the transcript. I’m sure it is online if anyone is curious). Tiger’s answer was apparently something to the affect of, “none of your business.”

I guess it’s not, unless HE thinks it may be affecting his play. But it is a legitimate question to ask. I honestly don’t care whether he answers it or not at this point. I just don’t want to hear from ANYONE—including the BCS Presidents and Ari Fleischer—that Tiger is a changed man.

Enough about that. My brother Bobby says I take the bait on Tiger too often, that I shouldn’t write about him or talk about him anymore until and unless something REALLY happens. I agree except for this one problem: people ASK me about Tiger all the time. A few days after John Wooden died I was on Tony Kornheiser’s show. Maybe Tony didn’t ask me about Wooden because he was afraid I’d tell the hotel lobby story again—no apologies, it’s a great story—but he wanted to talk about Tiger. I swear I don’t even remember what he was asking about but that’s where HE went with the conversation, not me.

The last month when I’ve been promoting, ‘Moment of Glory,’ how many times do you think I’ve been asked about Tiger? Granted, I have a set answer designed to steer the conversation back to the book. At least I DON’T go around saying I know Tiger well or believe I have any handle on his psyche. I don’t—neither does anyone else who does what I do for a living.

The best story at this U.S. Open, regardless of who wins the championship, is Erik Compton. No one else comes close. This is a guy who has had TWO heart transplants—one at the age of 12, the other at the age of 28 after he had a major heart attack six months earlier.

I had the chance to talk to Compton after he made it through Open qualifying—walking 39 holes that day because he had to go three holes in a playoff to earn his spot. If he has any complaints about how tough his life has been (The guy has had more than 1,000 biopsies; that’s not a typo) he doesn’t let on.

“When I had the heart attack I was trying to get myself to the hospital (he blew through a toll booth on The Florida Turnpike en route) I was honestly thinking two things,” he said. “One was that I was lucky that I had lived this long and two, I hoped I would make it to the hospital so I’d have a chance to call my parents and say goodbye.”

He was in intensive care for 30 days after the surgery and there were times, he said, when he regretted the transplant, wished he hadn’t done it. But his parents sat with him for hours and hours and his father, Peter, wouldn’t allow him to give up.

“He sat there and said, ‘you’re going to play golf again,’” Compton said. “I’d say, ‘dad, it’s over.’ He simply refused to accept that. Eventually I came to believe what he believed.”

Five months after the surgery, Compton made the cut at Disney. He’s playing this year on sponsor exemptions wherever he can get in and he’s five-for-five making cuts. But the weekends still wear him out. Walking four days in a row is still difficult. Which is what makes what he did in the Open qualifier remarkable: on Sunday he shot 82 at The Memorial and thought about not even going to the golf course for the qualifier on Monday. He went—and made it, his first trip to a major.

“Two years ago I was lying in a hospital bed wondering if I’d ever get out of that bed, now I’m playing the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach,” he said. “This is my journey this week. It isn’t about being in the same field with Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson or anyone else it’s about me getting to play in this event.”

If you really want someone to pull for this week, here’s your answer. He tees it up at 5:30 eastern on Thursday.

At the end of our conversation, Compton jokingly asked if I’d write a book on him if he won the Open. I told him, if he was game for it and wanted me as the author, we’d start Monday morning.

I wasn’t kidding.


John recently appeared on The Jim Rome Show ( to discuss 'Moment of Glory.' Click here to download, or listen in the player below:

John's new book: "Moment of Glory--The Year Underdogs Ruled The Majors,"--is now available online and in bookstores nationwide. Visit your favorite retailer, or click here for online purchases

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Positive feelings about Golf Channel documentary 'Caddy For Life'; book to movie process

Since I’m scheduled to fly to Pebble Beach first thing Tuesday morning—and dreading the trip given my complete hatred of the entire flying experience—I’m writing this on Monday night just prior to Golf Channel’s airing of the documentary based on, “Caddy For Life.”

I can honestly say I’m very proud of the documentary and I hope if you did not watch it Monday night you will watch one of the re-airs that will occur periodically throughout this week.

When Keith Allo from Golf Channel first contacted me last summer about the notion of turning ‘Caddy,’ into a documentary I was pleased—and skeptical. The experiences I have had with my books becoming—or not becoming—movies has been checkered to say the least.

Many of you know that “A Season on the Brink,” did become a movie. The general consensus is that it was one of the five worst movies ever made. I would rank it number one on that list but then I’m biased. I had no control at all when that movie was made. It’s a long story not worth rehashing in detail here but the synopsis is that a long-forgotten guy named Mark Shapiro (unless you are a big follower of bankrupt theme parks) was trying to blackmail me into doing things for ESPN I had no interest in doing. When I refused to be blackmailed he did two things: ordered Joe Valerio, the executive producer of The Sports Reporters to stop using me on the show and put out the word that NO ONE was to allow me to see the script of ‘Season.’

Of course I did see the script in advance and knew it was God-awful. ESPN hired a distinguished screenwriter who, sadly, knew nothing about basketball to write the script and he produced a cartoon. The funny part of the story was when critics savaged the movie, I dropped Shapiro a note saying that it didn’t need to have turned out the way it did except for his massive ego. (Pause here to note my ego’s pretty big but I was never in this guy’s ballpark). He wrote me back—I still have the e-mail—saying the reason the reviews were so bad was because I had ripped the movie publicly.

If only I had that kind of power the world would be a much better place.

Flash forward: There have been a number of false starts with other books, but none ever made it to a screen. In one case I’m grateful because I read a script sent to me by a movie company that optioned, “Last Shot,” that was so bad it actually had the potential to be worse than ‘Season on the Brink.’

It has always been my belief that I’ve written two books that had the potential to be truly compelling movies. One is ‘A Civil War,’ the book I wrote about the Army-Navy football rivalry. There’s been interest in it at times but it has never gone anywhere. Years ago I sent a copy of the book to Ron Shelton (Bull Durham, Tin Cup among others) who I respect as much as anyone in Hollywood—not that I know that many people in Hollywood. I’d met Shelton and gotten to know him a little when he was on the golf tour doing research for Tin Cup. He called me and said, “This is a great book but it’ll never be made into a movie.”

“Why not?”

“Because Leonardo DiCaprio can’t play one of the players. Maybe if you could cast him as a waterboy you’d have a shot. You need STARS to get a movie like this made and there’s not star in Hollywood who can legitimately play a college football player.”

I thought Shelton was stretching the theory but that was ten years ago and the movie hasn’t been made. Maybe I can get The Jonas Brothers to play college football players? My daughter would watch.

The other book I thought was a natural for a movie was, ‘Caddy For Life.’ When Bruce Edwards first asked me to write the book in 2003 shortly after he was diagnosed with ALS it never occurred to me that it was that kind of story. But spending that year with him, seeing his remarkable courage up close and the amazing resilience and loyalty of his family, his wife Marsha and his pal Tom Watson, I came to believe the book was going to be made into a movie.

This time Shelton agreed with me. He thought a big star would want to play Bruce—maybe even his buddy Kevin Costner—and that Gary Sinise would be perfect to play Watson. A number of producers were interested in optioning the book as soon as it came out. For the record, getting a book optioned is one step in a journey of a thousand miles towards getting a movie made. When you read in the publicity notes for a book that it has been “optioned to be a major motion picture,” 99 times out of 100 the movie will never get made. I have now had, I think, eight books optioned.

This is the first time I’ve felt good about the end result. With the help of my friend Terry Hanson, ‘Caddy,’ did get optioned eventually by a production company called, “Live Planet,” that was owned in part by Matt Damon. He was (is) a big golf fan. He planned to be co-executive producer on the film. We interviewed screenwriters and chose David Himmelstein who wrote a superb script. ABC loved the script and green-lighted it (that’s Hollywood talk) with one caveat: They needed to wait until the end of the year (2007 I think) to get their budget from Disney. The plan was to get my old friends at ESPN to pay some of the costs from their movie budget since the first run would be on ABC and then the movie would be re-run a bazillion times on ESPN.

The ESPN people, in spite of my involvement, said they loved the script. The New Year arrived. We got a call from the people at ABC. There was a problem: Because ESPN’s movies had been so BAD—starting with, you guessed it, ‘Season on the Brink,’ their movie budget had been slashed to close to nothing by Disney. Without the ESPN money, ABC Entertainment didn’t have the dollars to make the movie.

End of story.

Until the phone call from Allo. Golf Channel wanted to make a documentary and they wanted to make it right. They wanted to start by making a large contribution to The Bruce Edwards Foundation, the organization I’d started in 2005 to raise money for ALS—with HUGE help from Watson and The Edwards Family. They understood that the script had to work for me but more important as far as I was concerned for the family and for Watson. They wanted me to be co-executive producer and do most of the on-camera interviews.

They were as good as their word on all of it. Stage Three Productions in Philadelphia was hired to actually produce the documentary and the people there, led by Steve Ciplione and Kelly Ryan did, I think, a masterful job. If this reads like a press release, sorry. This is the first time I have seen one of my books on a screen somewhere and felt really good about it.

Bruce was an extraordinary person and his relationship with Tom was a remarkable story about two men who were, as their pal Neil Oxman so eloquently put it in the book, “closer than brothers.”

I hope you watch. I will be surprised and disappointed if it doesn't make you cry.


John recently appeared on The Jim Rome Show ( to discuss 'Moment of Glory.' Click here to download, or listen in the player below:

John's new book: "Moment of Glory--The Year Underdogs Ruled The Majors,"--is now available online and in bookstores nationwide. Visit your favorite retailer, or click here for online purchases

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The dominoes are falling in college sports – it's changing forever, and not for the good

And so the dominoes have started to fall—although not in the direction everyone thought.

While Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany was sitting smugly holding a full house, Pacific-10 Commissioner Larry Scott may well be holding four aces. IF Scott ends up stealing Texas for his conference then he will have out-maneuvered Delany—perhaps showing that a Harvard education is more valuable than a North Carolina education. (Just joking Tar Heel fans).

What’s far more significant here than exactly where everyone lands is this simple fact: the college landscape is in the process of changing forever and it isn’t going to change for the good. Nothing ever changes for the good when the only motivation involved is money and that is ALL this is about—nothing else.

Here’s one thing I don’t EVER want to hear again from my friend Bill Hancock; from his henchman Ari Fleischer or from any of the BCS college presidents: “The BCS must continue to exist in order to preserve the tradition of the bowls.”

That’s always been a bogus argument but now it rings even more hollow because this dismantling of the conferences—The Big 12 is on life support as we speak—is absolute proof that NO ONE in power in big-time college athletics could care less about tradition.

Tradition? It’s bad enough that Nebraska and Oklahoma don’t play every year anymore. Now they won’t even be in the same league. Texas Tech-Washington State is tradition? Nebraska-Michigan State is tradition? What if Delany, having been shunned by Notre Dame and lapped by Scott on Texas, adds Maryland and Syracuse to his wish list? Can you imagine how Maryland fans would feel about annual games against Iowa and Northwestern instead of Duke and North Carolina in basketball? The Big Ten may be overrated in football but Maryland and Syracuse would be buried in that league as opposed to the even more overrated ACC and the rarely rated Big East. Of course Maryland and Penn State have tradition in football (Penn State traditionally hammering Maryland) but how about a Maryland-Penn State basketball rivalry? Can’t wait for that one.

There are a lot more issues involved here than the breaking up of football and basketball rivalries—although that matters a good deal. Football teams travel to games by charter and, most of the time, so do big-time basketball teams. That’s not true of soccer teams or wrestling teams or field hockey teams or volleyball teams. The Oklahoma State non-revenue teams are going to love those trips to Pullman, Seattle, Eugene and Corvallis. The same—obviously goes for Oklahoma, Texas, Texas Tech and Texas A+M. And in reverse for the Pac-10 teams. Eugene to Stillwater in December—what a delight.

You think the Maryland non-revenue teams will enjoy trying to get to Iowa City in January?

Let’s be honest, none of that matters to the presidents or the commissioners who are putting these deals together. This is all about chasing money and trying to jump on board before the train leaves town. How do you think Kansas, Kansas State, Baylor, Iowa State and Missouri are feeling right now—especially Missouri which thought it was going to get a Big Ten invite only to be left standing in the rain without an umbrella. The only thing missing was a crumpled note saying, “My darling I can never see you again,” from Ilsa Lund/Delany.

Beyond that, how do you think Big 12 Commissioner Dan Beebe is feeling these days? Beebe took over the league from Kevin Weiberg in September of 2007. Soon thereafter Delany convinced him that an ACC-SEC proposal to change the BCS to a ‘plus-one,’ format—which in affect would have created a four-team playoff en route probably to an eight-team playoff—was a bad idea. If you believe Dan Wetzel, the outstanding Yahoo!.com columnist who knows more about BCS finances than anyone (he’s done a book on the subject) that decision may have been the Big 12’s death knell. If Beebe hadn’t trusted Delany—and since he knows him and succeeded him as commissioner of The Ohio Valley Conference in 1989 there’s no excuse for that—then The Big 12 would probably be so flush right now that schools wouldn’t be looking to jump ship. It might even be better off financially (according to Wetzel) right now than The Big 10. Which might explain why Delany told Beebe it was a bad idea.

But the league’s real demise—ironically—may have come in February when Scott convinced Weiberg to move west and become his No. 2 man. Weiberg was commissioner of The Big 12 for five years, so he knows all the players in that conference. He was also Delany’s deputy at The Big 10 for nine years which means he (A) knows the league (B) knows how to set up a TV network since he was involved in the start-up of The Big Ten network and (C—perhaps most important) he knows Delany’s psyche and knows when Delany says, “I’m going to make a left-turn,” you better watch out on the right.

It is probably not coincidence that soon after Weiberg’s arrival, Scott, who has spent his entire professional life in tennis, has proven to be the wild card in this scenario, swooping in to stand on the verge of creating the first super-conference—one that will include Texas if things go Scott’s way on Tuesday when the school’s board of regents meets. If Texas goes, the other invited Big Twelve schools (Colorado has already jumped) will follow (although Texas A+M seems to change by the moment). End of Big-12; start your engines on The Pac-16 (or whatever it is called) being the most important—and perhaps most lucrative—conference in college athletics.

To keep up, The Big Ten, the SEC and the ACC will almost certainly have to go the 16-school route. That will probably mean The Big Ten going after Syracuse, Maryland, Pittsburgh, West Virginia, Rutgers—Notre Dame (again) and God knows who else to try to get to 16. The SEC will likely try to recruit Florida State, Miami, Clemson and either Georgia Tech or Virginia Tech from the ACC. The ACC would be left to plunder The Big East yet again going after Big East schools left out by The Big Ten including perhaps Connecticut and Cincinnati. Big East football would go away.

Of course there are about a million things that can happen in the next few months. What we know for certain though is that they WILL be happening. This is no longer speculation. Where everyone will land isn’t certain although it is becoming clearer by the day. Once the musical chairs have all been grabbed and some schools are left standing, college athletics will undergo another sea change.

Whether the super conferences will bring us any closer to a true football playoff is hard to say. About the only thing the BCS Presidents may like more than money is power and control. IF they can find a way to hold a playoff just among themselves—in other words leave out schools like Boise State, Utah, Hawaii and any other upstarts that might pop up—they might very well do it.

They might even forget about the great tradition of the bowls. In the end, there’s only one tradition any of these guys care about—the time-honored tradition of the rich getting richer. It has never been more in play in the cesspool that is big-time college athletics than it is right now.


John recently appeared on The Jim Rome Show ( to discuss 'Moment of Glory.' Click here to download, or listen in the player below:

John's new book: "Moment of Glory--The Year Underdogs Ruled The Majors,"--is now available online and in bookstores nationwide. Visit your favorite retailer, or click here for online purchases

The Golf Channel will be airing a documentary based on the book "Caddy for Life: The Bruce Edwards Story," with the premiere showing Monday, June 14 at 9 p.m. ET.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Back on Monday - book duties called

John was caught up conducting book promo interviews earlier in the morning than he expected for 'Moment of Glory,' which ran later than he thought they would, all done to get ready for the upcoming Father's Day weekend. He will be back with new content on Monday assuming conference commissioners and school presidents don't implode all sports leagues over the weekend. Or better yet that may give him one more day of topics.


John recently appeared on The Jim Rome Show ( to discuss 'Moment of Glory.' Click here to download, or listen in the player below:

John's new book: "Moment of Glory--The Year Underdogs Ruled The Majors,"--is now available online and in bookstores nationwide. Visit your favorite retailer, or click here for online purchases

The Golf Channel will be airing a documentary based on the book "Caddy for Life: The Bruce Edwards Story," with the premiere showing Monday, June 14 at 9 p.m. ET.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Congrats to the Blackhawks, Philly is a true sports town and the melancholy feeling at the end of seasons

Last night was a bit melancholy for me. The hockey season ended. Don’t get me wrong, I was happy for The Blackhawks and for long-suffering fans in Chicago who went almost 50 years between Stanley Cups. There are few things in sports more dramatic than any overtime playoff game in hockey but when the Cup is decided in overtime it is quite a sight and a scene. That said, you had to feel something for The Flyers and their fans, seeing an unbelievable run end on what has to be considered a soft goal.

If it sounds like I’m Billy Martin on this—feeling strongly both ways—I am. I don’t have any special feelings, either yay or nay for either franchise. I like both cities a lot. I love going to Chicago, especially in the spring or fall. One of my favorite days in recent memory was last November when I flew in (yes, I actually flew) there from a speaking gig in Phoenix the day before Navy played at Notre Dame. I spent the afternoon just walking around The Magnificent Mile and over to Lake Michigan before meeting friends for dinner. The next morning I drove over to South Bend—the weather both days was spectacular, it was 67 (!!) at kickoff inside Notre Dame Stadium—and saw Navy beat Notre Dame. It was a great two days.

I also have a warm spot in my heart for Philly. I laugh when people here in Washington put down Philadelphia. There is no comparison between the two as sports towns. For one thing, all of Philly’s major sports venues are right in the same place in South Philadelphia. The politicians there managed to get it right rather than fighting with one another so that the football stadium ended up in a cow pasture somewhere out in Maryland the way it did here.

Wachovia Center and Verizon Center are similar. Lincoln Financial Field is about 100 times nicer than the stadium formerly named for Jack Kent Cooke because almost any stadium is 100 times nicer than that place. Nationals Park is a fine facility but Citizens Bank Park is magnificent, built so that one can see the Philadelphia skyline from almost anyplace inside the park.

Washington is a transient town and a Redskins town. Philadelphia is a SPORTS town. Oh sure we hear the stories about the drunks who makes fools of themselves at ballgames but I’d rather deal with that than an owner who has signs confiscated from fans trying to send out a message to their husband who is serving overseas.

There’s also The Big Five. While most of Washington’s college basketball teams play silly games to avoid playing one another, Philly’s five major D-1 teams (and you can add Drexel too) play each other every year—many of those games in college basketball’s best arena, The Palestra.

But I digress. Hockey. I love hockey and always have. This winter I actually saw some hope for my long-beleaguered Islanders and my schedule fell in such a way that I got to watch the team play on the hockey package a lot. The Olympics were spectacular—and, in my mind part of the reason the ratings for the finals have been so high. The NHL did a brilliant thing starting the Winter Classic and these playoffs, with the No. 7 seed facing the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Finals and one of the sport’s truly classic franchises ending up with the Cup, have been fabulous.

So here’s to the Blackhawks—present and future. Given the youth of their best players, they should be contenders for a while. Just hearing The United Center rocking again after several miserable years did my heart good.

So why melancholy? It’s something that dates to boyhood. I always feel a little sad when a season ends. I have this distinct memory of watching game seven of The Blackhawks-Canadiens final in 1971. It was a tough series to watch because the Rangers were my team then (no Islanders until ’72-’73) and they had lost to the Blackhawks in seven games—even though they had won game six in triple overtime on a goal by Pete Stemkowski.

I remember that game vividly because it was a school night (Thursday) and a lot of fans came with signs to Madison Square Garden that said, “Let there be Sunday.” I brought my radio, as I always did, to listen to Marv Albert during the game and remember him saying at one point during the overtime something like, “I just want to let our babysitter (can’t remember her name) know we’ll be home as soon as possible.”

There was Sunday, but the Blackhawks and Bobby Hull were too good. In the meantime, Ken Dryden had announced his arrival as a hockey force by single-handedly beating the defending champion Bruins. When the Canadiens then forced a game seven on a Sunday afternoon in Montreal during the finals, I was bereft: I wouldn’t get to see game seven because CBS only did Sunday games. Except CBS made arrangements to televise game seven—first hockey game on network TV in primetime I believe. The Canadiens came from 2-0 down in Chicago to win.

What I remember most about that game—besides Jacques Lemaire’s goal from about 80 feet—is feeling sad that hockey season was over. When did training camp begin? When could I go and buy tickets in the blue seats for early season Rangers games?

As much as my life has changed through the years, I STILL feel that way. The Islanders start camp when?—heck it’s a little more than three months away. Who will they take with the fifth pick in the draft? How good will the Caps be coming back from their disappointment in the playoffs? I’m PSYCHED.

Of course I feel the same way at the end of The World Series and The Final Four. I saw a story in the paper yesterday about the fact that college hoops season will begin on November 8th (I will get into the bogus nature of The Coaches vs. Cancer season-opening event another day. Put simply: Even if Maryland, Illinois, Pittsburgh or Texas LOSE one of their first two games they will still ‘advance,’ to the semifinals in New York. What a joke). And did the math in my head: five months until college hoops starts.

I’ll admit I don’t get as sad about the end of the NFL season or the NBA season in part because the NBA season never ends. (Note to Michael Wilbon: those of us who don’t love all things NBA as you do are not ‘meatheads.’ Come on, quit selling the product so hard all the time). I fall in the middle on college football because it SHOULD end on New Year’s Day and night. In the old days, when the Orange Bowl ended, I would get up after 10 hours of football, sigh and wonder what the best games would be of the first weekend in September. I’m willing to give that up for a true PLAYOFF but not for the ridiculous BCS. By the way, this coming season’s so-called national championship game is on January 10th. January 10th! You could have a full-blown eight-team playoff and the season would last exactly ONE week longer than it does now. What a joke.

Anyway, I was happy for the Blackhawks when Patrick Kane’s shot went in the net last night but a bit sad there would be no game 7. A game 7 in The Stanley Cup finals is about as intense and cool an event as there is in sports. On the other hand, the draft is in two weeks and the Islanders report to camp in, by my calculations, 93 days.


John recently appeared on The Jim Rome Show ( to discuss 'Moment of Glory.' Click here to download, or listen in the player below:

John's new book: "Moment of Glory--The Year Underdogs Ruled The Majors,"--is now available online and in bookstores nationwide. Visit your favorite retailer, or click here for online purchases

The Golf Channel will be airing a documentary based on the book "Caddy for Life: The Bruce Edwards Story," with the premiere showing Monday, June 14 at 9 p.m. ET.
I can’t wait.