You can tell when it's sticky and hot in America. My mail gets even crankier. Off we go ...
ON DUSTIN JOHNSON AND STUPID GOLF RULES:
Rules are in place for a reason. There are no gray areas, a rule is a rule, plain and simple. Should we have discarded the "12 men in the huddle penalty" during the NFC championship last year that cost Minnesota a penalty? Surely that would not have affected the outcome, it was just a "mistake" that was made without any attempt for an advantage. Why do reporters and others want to single out golf as a game that is decided by "stuffy suits?"
-- Mark Olson (Lakeville, MN)
I wasn't saying we should discard a stupid rule once it's been violated. I was saying don't MAKE the stupid rule in the first place. Golf has turned stupid-rule-making into a science. There were two colossally lint-brained ones this week alone:
1. Jim Furyk was DQ'd from The Barclays in New Jersey -- the first week of the FedEx Cup playoffs -- because he missed his tee time at the Pro-Am. Not the tournament. The Pro-Am -- the six-hour skull-and-giggle that the stars on tour are required to play. His cell phone battery was dead and so his alarm didn't go off. It may end up costing him his crack at the $10 million first prize. That's an expensive battery. There's no reason in Hades that a golfer should be DQ'd from a tournament because he missed the Pro-Am. His score in it doesn't count! Furyk was there five minutes after the round started. They could've driven him out to join the guys. Where were they, the first green? And what, no warning system? One violation and you're out a possible $10 million. Worse, this is a rule that applies to only half the field -- the better-known players. Derek Lamely is not in danger of losing $10 million because he's not going to be asked to play in the Pro-Am. Patently unfair!
2. At the Safeway Classic last week in Oregon, Juli Inkster was stuck in a long delay. During it, she warmed up with a weighted practice club. A viewer saw her doing it on TV and called it in. She was DQ'd for using a practice aid during a round. Also totally unfair. The rule is fine. What's unfair is that only the popular players are on TV, so only the popular players are under the scrutiny of millions of TV viewers. Can you imagine if NFL fans could call in rule violations in football? I just saw Felix Jones holding a guy's jersey! It would be unfair to hugely popular teams like the Dallas Cowboys because they're seen way more often than the St. Louis Rams. Just as a rule should be applied evenly to all, so should the risk of breaking the rule be applied evenly. In both cases, it wasn't. Golf 2, Logic 0.
Rules are rules, even if they are stupid. What's more stupid is the idea of a golf course dressed up as a circus hippo having a major championship decided on it. You can have Pete Dye and his railroad ties and special ground rules and almost 1,000 bunkers. ("What, it's not a thousand? Dig 33 more!! Put 'em in the middle of the practice green.") Whistling Straits is a British Open course without bump and run, which means it's target golf like 95 percent of tournament courses. Years ago, the PGA Championship had bikini girls updating the scoreboard. That was more dignified than holding this major at a 200-acre glorified sand dune. The PGA is dead to me, DEAD!
-- Chris A (Bethesda, MD)
Well, Chris, you're going to hate the 2015 PGA and the 2020 Ryder Cup, because they'll both be at Whistling Straits. The problem at Whistling Straits is the design of it. If you're going to have 1,000 bunkers and treat them as bunkers, then you can't have tournaments with galleries. The galleries have to stand somewhere and that means they're standing, sitting, sleeping, eating and drinking beer in bunkers. And yet the PGA -- which runs both events, the PGA and the Ryder Cup -- keeps putting events there. Folks, you have to decide: bunker or grandstand? They can't be both.
I play at Bandon Dunes. Similar setup: lots of bunkers. Their rule: No rake, no bunker. No rake, it's a waste area in which a club can be grounded. Is this not obviously sensible?
-- Randy Omdahl (Grants Pass, OR)
Yes. And when thousands of people are traipsing through your bunkers, they're going to break, step on and steal your rakes, which is why they weren't there. It's a waste area, kind of like the board of director's room at Whistling Straits.
(In the Dustin Johnson rules column) you wrote "If he could have stolen two beers and popped the slide, he would have." I have never heard the expression "popped the slide." Enlighten me.
-- Paul Oliver (Kansas City, MO)
The phrase, "Take two beers and popped the slide" is based on this news story. It's about a JetBlue flight attendant who recently went double bat-guano crazy at a passenger, announced he was quitting on the PA system, took two beers out of the beverage cart, popped open the emergency door, deployed the slide and slid down it. So much for two weeks' notice. I'm hoping it becomes part of the vernacular.
"I swear, if my girlfriend gives me anymore crap this weekend, I'm taking two beers and popping the slide."
ON THE RYDER CUP:
I think the Ryder Cup team should pay tribute to Payne Stewart this year through their uniforms. It has been around a decade since the world lost a wonderful human being (11 years in October). The team should wear knickers, tam-o'shanters and sweater vests for the competition. Please help make this happen.
Tell you what, Mike. How about you go up to Tiger -- maybe when he's lifting -- and tell him he's got to where knickers and a tam o' shanter. I'll handle your estate.
ON NOT EVER BELIEVING BRETT FAVRE EVER AGAIN (RILED UP)
The NFL is pushing a new holiday -- August 2nd, GroundFavre Day. If Brett leaves his house & sees his shadow, he stays retired for another 6 weeks.
--Atlee Anderson (Huntsville, AL)
And if he sees three teammates, he plays another year.
ON DEFENDING USC FOOTBALL COACH LANE KIFFIN:
I'm not expecting Lane Kiffin to be in remotely the same universe as John Wooden, but John Wooden passed up his dream job (at Indiana) because he gave a school (UCLA) his word over the phone. Lane Kiffin signed on the dotted line (at Tennessee) and skipped town. Dream job or not, what's the point of signing a contract these days?
-- Dave LaCasse (West Allis, WI)
Do you even GET cable? This happens now in every sport at every level. A coach or a player bolts his current situation for a better deal, with the rest of the contract being bought out by the big fat cats of the new school. I'm afraid there are very few Woodens out there anymore, least of all Kiffin.
How did Kiffin have no hand in what is happening to USC (NCAA probation) when he was at USC while Reggie Bush was playing? I don't think for a second only Pete Carroll knew what was going on. Every coach knew and had a hand in it but head coaches take the heat. Kiffin probably handled making Reggie Bush happy so well he was named recruiting coordinator the year he left in 2005.
--Justin Shaw (Knoxville, TN)
Wow. Assume much? You're right that Kiffin (2001-06) was at USC with Bush (2003-05), but Kiffin's name was not mentioned in the NCAA violations listed. You say only head coaches take the heat, but USC running backs coach Todd McNair got a one-year recruiting ban and his contract was not renewed. (McNair is appealing.) Perhaps you want to rephrase your argument?
To say ... "Lane Kiffin is just being loyal to USC" does not take away the disloyalty to UT. Tennessee hired him when no one else would, after his episode with the Raiders. The whole state praised him through all the stupid things he said, the stupid things he did and the stupid coach he was. We wanted him here for years, not one year. That was a promise he gave to us. ... Just because an idiot starts to say logical things, it doesn't take away from his previous idiotic statements. Lane Kiffin is still a terrible coach. He has still yet to do anything worthy enough to be considered a great coach. ... I know it's obvious that I am just another Tennessee fan angry at Kiffin.
Noooooooo! Look, I know Kiffin has made silos full of mistakes and said more stupid things than a newlywed game contestant. I know he comes off sometimes as a spoiled, rich brat. I know his ethical compass may point south a lot. All I'm saying is the guy hasn't coached a single down at USC yet. Can you at least not start building the hanging gallows until he screws up a little?
ON BLIND YANKEES FAN JANE LANG AND HER SEEING-EYE DOG CLIPPER :
Heartwarming. Almost makes this lifelong Yankee-hater want to cheer for the Yankees. For one game. Maybe. OK, one inning.
--Gaurav Guliani (Minneapolis, MN)
Plus, she's funny. People sometimes ask her if she ever gets lost in and around the giant, new Yankee Stadium. "Well, I've wandered into a few men's rooms," she says. "But only when sighted people were guiding me."
Ahhh, the now annual Yankee Hope Week "Who Gives a Damn" piece. Great work, Rick. Once again you nailed it. Another wonderful masterpiece that has nothing to do with the play on the field.
-- Geoffrey W. Greer (New York, NY)
Thanks, Geoff. And please call when they locate your heart.
Was her dog named "Clipper" for Joe DiMaggio "The Yankee Clipper"?
-- Gerry Calhoun (Bonaire, GA)
No, the dog was already named when she got him. But she gets a few laughs -- to say nothing of makes a lot of friends -- through Clipper. When the ump has made a bad call, she'll holler out, "Hey, ump! Wanna borrow my dog?"
SPEAKING OF COACH WOODEN:
Twenty years ago, I got to meet Wooden at an event for suits. One of the Master-Of-The-Universe types asked Wooden about his greatest accomplishment. Wooden didn't miss a beat, "I was an Academic All-American at Purdue."
This CEO puffed himself up and retorted, "But what about all those championships at UCLA?" Wooden quipped, "I didn't make a single bounce pass or layup -- the boys did all that."
The CEO was now disoriented and looked lost. "I don't understand, Coach. You were their leader."
Wooden studied this guy for a minute and quietly asked, "Tell me, sir. Do you have many employees at your company?"
The guy was now back on top. "More than 60,000 and we did about $12 billion in revenue last year!"
Wooden's eyes twinkled as he asked, "Tell me, how much could you do all by yourself?"
The CEO fell quiet. Wooden had a point to all the outsized egos in the room -- you can only win with a team. It was a priceless moment with a timeless man.
He gave me a basketball that night. It is the only piece of memorabilia I treasure, not because he won, but because he stood for something besides winning. RIP Coach Wooden.
--James Brown (East Jordan, MI)
ON RUNNING WITH THE BULLS IN PAMPLONA, SPAIN:
You know a sure-fire way to die in Pamplona? Be a BULL. Always been a big fan of yours, but I'm disappointed you could make such light of an event that leads to such a bloodbath. If you really want to test your manliness, run an ultramarathon.
-- Abbie Moore (Los Angeles, CA)
I heard from a lot of people who thought the run and the subsequent bullfight each night, in which all six bulls are killed, was cruel and bloodthirsty. Maybe it is. But the Spanish people treat the bulls with such reverence. If you touch a horn on any bull during the run, you'll get the snot beat out of you by the locals. I saw it happen. If you taunt the baby bulls in the ring and don't treat them with honor, you'll get pummeled. Saw that happen, too. These bulls were raised for this specific purpose -- the bullfight -- in a country where bullfighting has been in their blood for 4,000 years. I just don't see how you can sit in Los Angeles and judge their culture.
Have never seen that many drunk people at 8 a.m. in my life -- not even in college.
-- Kevin Critzer (Wilson, WY)
Just walking through the center of the town early one evening, I had enough sangria squirted, spilled and dumped on me that I could've wrung out my shirt and had a full glass. Good thing I'm a sportswriter. We're famous tee-totalers.
ON RYO ISHIKAWA'S HEAD COVER OF HIMSELF:
Hey Rick, just read your post about the U.S. Open. I found a company who makes custom head covers. They do Ian Poulter's, too. It says they do custom orders, but only in quantities of 500-600. You can make one of your own head and start a fundraiser, "Stick a Piece of Metal Through Rick Reilly's Skull for Cancer Awareness." Don't worry, we can work on the name.
-- Scott K (Marlboro, NJ)
Geez, this is genius. Or, "Fill Rick Reilly's Head with Something."
Here's the site. You can also buy replicas of Gary McCord, not to mention Retief Goosen's goose, John Daly's lion, Pat Perez's boxing gloves (very cool) and Sergio Garcia's bull. Well, nobody buys Sergio's bull, but you get the picture.
ON PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES PITCHER JAMIE MOYER PASSING ROBIN ROBERTS AS BASEBALL'S ALL-TIME GOPHER KING:
Since Moyer pitched in the steroids era, that 506 has to have an asterisk next to it, meaning Roberts has the only "legitimate" number of home runs given up.
-- Eric Padol (Bronx, NY)
OK, that's very good.
With 506 homers served (at the time) and approximately 15 seconds to circle the bases, Jamie Moyer has had to endure over 2 HOURS of home run trots in his career.
-- Tan (San Francisco, CA)
Your comment that if Stephen Strasburg is still pitching at 47, you'll eat a gopher ... I'm pretty sure when Strasburg is 47, gophers will be eating you.
-- Matt Penrod (Columbus, OH)
Please don't outwrite the writer.
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