Rarely do I post on sports apart from college football. In my mind, that is the greatest form of television known to man, and now, in its off-season, I find very little to post about, although an NSD post is in order.
Two stories have grabbed my attention recently. First, a PGA Tour rookie had the nerve to say that Tiger wasn't playing well. Second, the NBA fined Eddie House of the Heat for an inappropriate gesture. Both deserve very little scrutiny in my mind. So why blog? Because they're controversial, for who-knows-what reasons.
First, Tiger. Brendon Steele, a guy my age who has played in all of three PGA Tour events in his life, was paired with Tiger Woods. Steele, when asked about Tiger after the round, had the nerve to speak honestly. "I don't think he gave it everything today," Steele told a Sports Illustrated reporter. "Once it started going in the wrong direction, I don’t think it had his full attention." I don't understand why this is news. Tiger Woods has never--let me repeat again, NEVER--Tiger Woods has never come from behind to win a major. He is an outstanding competitor, and obviously a golf phenom. But, frankly, I think that serious golf fans have thought, and--oh goodness-maybe even said (oh my!) what Steele said publicly this past Sunday. Tiger uses salty language, as many of us do. And there's a good chance that no one would know, were the camera not on him all the time, I admit. But Tiger can flat stick his foot in his mouth. I would refer you to the period about a decade back when he said that he he "won the Byron Nelson with his C+ game." Egad. Really? A lot of guys struggled out there, and you tell them that you triumphed over them with a sub-average game? Inconsiderate at the very least.
And so this guy here makes an observation that is totally understandable. He didn't say "Tiger is a bad player." He didn't say "he's pre-occupied." He said "it [presumably, the tournament victory] didn't have his full attention." That is fine. Steele went on to say "You could see him, after every swing, he's rehearsing things. He's working hard on the mechanics of it." ANY golfer will tell you that if you've got a guy working on the mechanics of the swing after every shot, the round itself is probably not gonna fall into place. Compare that to the Tiger we see on TV every weekend--he is not one to stay on the tee or fairway and take practice swings. But at Torrey Pines, he did. And Steele simply pointed that out to an audience.
Steele is not Tiger's teammate. He's his competitor. And he is completely welcome to critique other players who play with him if asked. All of you know my views on the media, so I needn't repeat them here, but the same analysis applies. If he didn't give it his "full attention" is the worst trash-talking we'll hear this year from Mr. Steele, I think we can rest assured that golf is still the gentleman's game. Steele was asked for his comments and he gave them. He needs to apologize for nothing. A player was unfocused, and you said so. Greg Norman called John Daly, after the lovable (hopefully former) boozehound of the PGA Tour hit 6 shots in the water at the 1998 Bay Hill Invitation (Arnold Palmer's tournament) "too good a player to do that to himself.' Patronizing? Maybe. But more critical than a general, sort of "unfocused"? Yes. Absolutely. When players call it like they see it, they don't need to get criticized. Steele owes no apology.
Alright, Eddie House goes tomorrow.
Why Colonel Sartoris?
Allow me to explain the puzzling title. Colonel Sartoris is William Faulkner's greatest character. He exemplifies those values that his society cherishes, namely tradition, patriarchy, courtliness, and courage. Though modernity's slow march tries to strip him of these things, Sartoris continues to live as he always has, knowing that "the past is never dead. It's not even past." He seeks order in the honorable folkways and mores of his forbears. Let us not forget his example.