by Tom Weppel
The Masters is ongoing this weekend in Augusta, Georgia. Unquestionably, the main topic of conversation has been who things would continue to evolve with Mr. Eldrick ‘Tiger’ Woods. Everyone certainly has an opinion on what he has done or did, and the TV ratings are sure to be huge for at least the first two rounds of the tournament, which were broadcast on ESPN for the first time.
A person who should’ve kept his mouth shut, though, was Masters Chairman (and former head of the US Olympic Committee in Atlanta) Billy Payne. Payne came out with a statement saying Woods ‘disappointed all of us, and more importantly, our kids and our children’. And while he has every right to make that statement, among others, he didn’t NEED to make that statement, especially when he did, on Wednesday before the start of the event. After Tiger’s press conference on Monday, things were fairly tame on Tuesday and Wednesday, up until Payne’s statement. My feeling is that’s the way most people were wanting it all to be, while hanging in anticipation for the start of some golf to be played. All Billy Payne did was stoke the coals and fire up the cauldron on controversy even that much more by coming out with such a nasty statement. Tell us something we don’t know, Billy! Billy Payne turned into an idiot with that one comment. He turned into a true blood Southerner from yesteryear. And as far as I’m concerned, he lost a slight degree of credibility, at least in my book. Perhaps if Tiger wins this thing on Sunday, he won’t shake the hand of one Billy Payne…maybe he’ll spit on it instead…
Meanwhile, the first Major of the calendar year has cranked up. In a way, its been great for many of the golfers who prefer to fly under the radar, in having Woods around, since he has sucked up all the attention. Almost everyone in the field can do their own thing and not worry too much about any spotlight or scrutiny. No matter what score Woods will post, he will be getting the attention from most of the Media. Obviously, the better he plays, the more attention he will receive. It should be indeed interesting to watch and see how things evolve, especially heading into the weekend.
Congrats to the Duke Blue Devils for running the table and winning the National Championship. They did it when not a lot of people thought they would, instead believing it would be either Kansas or Kentucky.
I will say this, though…can you imagine if Gordon Heyward had MADE that half-court shot in the last second for Butler? You wanna talk about pure pandemonium?! If that ball goes in that basket and Butler pulls off an unbelievable upset, it would’ve become the most amazing ‘Cinderella’ story you could ever imagine, easily surpassing any other game in recent memory for its outcome.
Nonetheless, Duke won, exhaling a slight sigh of relief, as much as anything else. Mike Krzyzewski now has won four National titles at Duke, and its fair to say he is now being ranked with Dean Smith as the best Head Basketball Coach in the State of North Carolina.
Meanwhile, back in Kentucky, John Calipari is dealing with a wild situation. I am sure Calipari figured he might not keep some of the players on his roster, losing them to leave school early for the NBA Draft. I am guessing he didn’t plan on losing FIVE underclassmen! John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Eric Bledsoe, Daniel Orton (all freshman), and Jr. Patrick Patterson declared themselves eligible for the NBA Draft. Most of those guys had a lot to do with Kentucky and their games this past season. They will certainly have to be replaced. By who, and when, is another story.
This is going to be one bitch of a recruiting season for Mr. Calipari and his staff at Kentucky. They are essentially going to have to replace their entire starting line up from last season, building almost from the ground up, in order to come up with, if nothing else, a serviceable team to play for the Wildcats next season. Without question, the way things are between College Basketball and the NBA is ridiculous, with neither entity working in a positive manner. But for all intents, there isn’t too much that can be done differently to make the situation more palatable. Until a change is made, kids will continue to possibly go to college for one year (for no reason at all, really, except to play a little basketball), then go play pro ball. It’s a joke.
SPORTS – The Jock 4/8/2010
by Tom Weppel