A GRIP ON SPORTS
The sun is peaking over the house next door. Yes, we can actually see the sunrise today and, no, the surprise has nothing to do with the hour. We're up this early a lot. It's the fact there are no clouds in the way that is surprising. But clouds are on the horizon, especially around Augusta, Georgia. Read on.
• The storm clouds in Georgia seem to be swirling around one Tiger Woods, as usual. He had a bad day at the office yesterday and his response brought out the all-caps and exclamation points on Twitter and the sanctimonious soapboxes in newspapers around the country. Yes, Tiger said some things he probably wishes he hadn't said. Yes, he dropped his nine-iron (at least I think it was a nine-iron; the way he was hitting his irons all day it could have been a seven) and kicked it after pushing his tee shot into the trap on 16. And, yes, he looked like a spoiled little kid. Anyone surprised? Anyone? Bueller? Heck, Tiger has always acted like a spoiled little kid – when he wasn't playing the role of the bully. Actually, those two roles aren't mutually exclusive and like any spoiled brat or pompous bully who isn't getting his way, he's lashing out. At least it's at himself and not his caddy, competitors or the patrons, as fans at Augusta are labeled. Look, I've never been a big Tiger Woods fan, for a variety of reasons. But the guy is under a microscope. And just because that microscope catches behavior that is uncalled for, it doesn't mean it is necessarily huge news or deserves to be column fodder. In the Associated Press piece we ran in the S-R today, Tim Dalhberg writes his behavior would have resulted in “you or me being thrown off much lesser golf courses than Augusta National.” Maybe. But I've seen such antics more than once from folks who finished their round laughing and joking. It isn't excusable but it happens. Writers like to call Tiger a role model and I would agree, though I think often they miss the crucial point. He's actually a great role model for our youth these days, showing them what can happen to even the greatest athletes when they begin to believe the rules don't apply to them. That their athletic ability allows them to do whatever they want. That there are no consequences. The Tiger Woods that is currently playing on television in homes throughout the world can be a teaching tool. A powerful teaching tool. The lesson? The person you are is paramount. Not what people think you are, but who you really are. Your character. And if and when he ever turns the corner, harnesses his demons, cleanses his spirit and returns to the top of the heap, that can be a teaching tool too.
• Washington State: Christian Caple covered a lot of bases in the past 24 hours, putting up a video interview from football, writing his usual morning blog post, seeing his wrapup of the basketball season appear in the paper and respecting his elders by allowing me the freedom to link Ted Miller's mailbag on ESPN.com. He pretty much batted 1.000 yesterday. … The Cougars will hold a full-blown scrimmage today starting around 1 p.m. in Martin Stadium. … Former Stanford basketball coach Trent Johnson is leaving LSU, a BCS school, for TCU, BCS school-to-be.
• Eastern Washington: As the Eagles work to build something on the field in their spring workouts, the school is also working to build something around the field. Jim Allen has both stories, with a feature on the guys battling to start at quarterback and news on a proposed new stadium structure.
• Chiefs: Well, well. There was only one upset in the four WHL playoff series last night and it happened in Kennewick, where the Chiefs' Mitch Holmberg scored in overtime (above) to give Spokane a 3-2 series-opening win. Jessica Brown was in the Tri-Cities and filed this report. … We also have the Herald's story and this Oregonian piece on the Winterhawks' series-opening win over Kamloops.
• Shock: What's the easiest thing to do in football? Any list would have to include making the exchange from the center to the quarterback. But that basic fundamental hasn't been easy for the Shock this season and the inability to get it done bit them in the butt again Friday night. A late turnover deep in Arizona territory led to the Rattlers rallying past Spokane, 57-53 in a game the Shock should have won. We have the story that appeared in the S-R, Jim Meehan's blog post from last night and this piece from the Arizona Republic. … San Jose won again and the Shock sank deeper in the standings.
• Preps: Jim is also on top of the prep golf scene and had this notebook in today's Spokesman-Review.
• Mariners: Our Justin Vargas-for-Cy Young campaign moved forward last night when the crafty left-hander handcuffed the always-tough Oakland lineup for 5 1/3 innings in the M's 7-3 win. The train is leaving the station folks, so you might want to get on board before it gets too crowded. … Of course, 13 hits by the M's helped a lot too. … And Seattle did it while fielding a pretty darn cheap lineup, as this Geoff Baker story shows. … Larry Stone writes about opening day and the M's minor leaguers, of which Michael Saunders is desperately hoping he never has to be again.
• Golf: OK, we had our say on Tiger Woods above, so here are some of the stories we were referencing. Luckily, the Woods' angst can't overshadow the story of 52-year-old Fred Couples atop the leaderboard after two rounds. Can he keep it going today (and yes, as usual I was very careful in my choice of words in that sentence)? It is just one of many stories that will play out today.
• That's what we have for now. We're counting on two things today: A list of chores that need to be finished and ignoring that list to watch golf on the computer and television. Until later …