I was watching golf at 9 a.m. Thursday, which validates Annika Sorenstam's contribution to the sport's legacy. I'm about as likely to watch golf at 9 a.m. on a Thursday as Guillermo Mota is to watch "Mike Piazza: The Philly Years" on TLC.
And after watching a couple of hours of Sorenstam, including her post-round interview, I came away with a question: Is it OK to root for her? Is it all right to say we can all agree to dislike the overkill but enjoy the spectacle?
The pop culture propagated by television -- the reality shows, the Dateline shows, the look-at-this-freak daytime shows -- have made us pretty savvy in one aspect. They've tuned our BS antennae to the point where we can spot a shameless self-promoter. We can see through the transparencies of the culture wagon, which allows us to watch anyway and feel pretty good about it. In on the joke and above the fray at the same time.
|Annika just wants to know how good she is. So what?|
And you know what? Sorenstam doesn't give off the self-promoter vibe. There's probably an element of it in there, but for the most part she seems to be interested in how she measures up against the best golfers in the world. If they happen to be men, what can she do? She'll line up against them and give it a shot.
It really doesn't mean anything more than that. There are no sweeping conclusions to be made about men or women or male athletes or female athletes or creationism vs. Darwinism. It's golf. Golf. And it's got some antebellum name like the Colonial and we're watching on a Thursday morning for one reason.
So how bad can it be?
This Week's ListIt's the most money Nike's ever paid a teenager, and it beats the old mark by about $89,999,998.50: LeBron James, $90 million.
Nope, fine, no problem, everything's cool over here with me: Carson Palmer's contract with the Bengals calls for him to forfeit his $10 million signing bonus if he utters a disparaging word about his team during his rookie season.
Sample dialogue following horrid Bengal loss:
Reporter: Carson, do you think you ...
Reporter: ... um, I was going to ask if you think the team is ...
Reporter: So, what you're saying is ...
Palmer: I'm not saying anything. Nothing. I'm not even thinking of saying something. Saying something is, right now, the last thing on my mind. I couldn't even begin to think of thinking of something to say, that's how much I'm not thinking of saying anything.
You can still yell "traveling" every other possession, but stop with the "Back in the day, everybody made their free throws" smack: Mavs, 49 of 50 in Game 1.
And then, in Game 2: The Mavs shot 22, the Spurs shot 45.
Which brings to mind one of sports last remaining truisms: There isn't a more difficult job in any sport than being an NBA official in the playoffs.
Two reasons: 1) call it tight and everybody hates you; 2) let 'em play and it becomes a brawl.
And no: There doesn't seem to be any middle ground.
Just for the heck of it: Rick Behenna.
Overlooked aspect of the LeBron James' phenomenon: He's the best thing to happen to Wes Unseld in about 25 years.
Then again: The last Cavalier anybody outside of Shaker Heights cared about was ... was ... Nate Thurmond?
Trivia: Remember Walt Frazier, Cavalier?
One way to know your team is an integral part of the barren NBA wasteland: There's a guy near Memphis named Silky Sullivan who has a goat named Maynard, and Silky was so convinced this goat could change the Grizzlies' lottery fortunes that he brought Maynard to The Pyramid for a pseudo-rally.
And since the goat didn't work: They can always try to draft Steve Francis again.
Because, if you shake that head, he just might drill it: Tim Wakefield lost No. 299 Wednesday night and said, in summary, "Two-hundred and ninety-nine wins is nothing to shake your head at."
It's early, of course, but here are two counter-arguments for those who say Roger Clemens and Greg Maddux could be the last 300-game winners: Barry Zito and Mark Mulder.
It's about time to be wondering when the MRI will be scheduled: Freddy Garcia.
By the end of the year, every newspaper will be running side-by-side comparisons: Tigers vs. Padres, down to the wire, with the possibility of 120 losses on the horizon.
Personally taking a stand against the outdated notion that offense is good for the game: The Tigers, shut out nine times through 44 games.
There's no justice unless we can see the facial expressions, the palm rubbing across the eyes, and the cap slapping across the right thigh in disgust: Bobby Cox was ejected twice in a row this week for arguing balls and strikes.
What Bobby Valentine said: "The Diamondbacks are done."
What the Diamondbacks said: 1) "He should know, based on what he's done for a living," Chad Moeller told the Arizona Republic; 2) "He has managed some teams that were out of it on May 20, so maybe he is the voice of experience," said manager Bob Brenly.
And the only proper background music for the Valentine-Diamondbacks snipefest: Cats hissing and screeching.
When it comes to the budding A's-Twins rivalry: The A's see Twins catcher A.J. Pierczynski as the ace of spades in the deck of evil, if you know what I mean.
And finally, yet another inexplicable quirk of American law getting in the way of a good time: The Associated Press report on Steve McNair's arrest for DUI and carrying a loaded 9mm included the following -- "McNair reportedly has a permit for the handgun, but an intoxicated person may not legally carry a loaded weapon."
Tim Keown is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.