Battle of the sexes
By Brian Murphy
Special to Page 2

The First Lady of The Cooler is ticked.

My girl is frosted.

Vijay Singh
Vijay proudly holds up the Bobby Riggs Award at this year's convention.
She is hacked off.

And it's all because of Vijay.

That's right. Vijay Singh's week-old comments that Annika Sorenstam "doesn't belong" in a PGA Tour event, and Singh's hope that she misses the cut, has my woman doing her best imitation of Betty Friedan on 'roids.

I'm dealing with Susan Faludi in heat around my house these days, and it's all because some Fijian golfer with the sociological compass of Archie Bunker stuck his Footjoy in his mouth.

"He should hope he's paired with her," my wife fumed, "because it would be the first time anybody paid any attention to boring old Vijay Singh."

Annika, baby -- estrogen power is your 15th club in the bag.

That Vijay turns around and actually wins the prestigious Byron Nelson, and that Vijay follows his win by withdrawing from this week's Colonial ... well, I nearly had to get the rabies vaccination for the better half.

"Wuss," she spat. "Total wuss."

What is it about Annika's bid that is causing panties and boxer shorts to get all twisted up? Why does this issue create such polarity? Why is the Colonial going from the name of a country club to a tournament where some men think we're in the Colonial era and are telling women to stay home and stir the porridge while they go fight the Redcoats?

Forget Red Sox-Yankees; forget Alabama-Auburn; forget 49ers-Cowboys.

When it comes to Men vs. Women, we've got the Mother of all Rivalries.

Or the Father of all Rivalries.

Depending on your point of view.

Annika Sorenstam
News flash to some of you PGAers out there: Annika will beat you.
Me? Here at The Cooler, it's all about enjoying the ride. So let Annika tee it up. It's dynamite entertainment. She's not ruining men's golf. She's not ruining women's golf. She's instead providing us with some fascinating barroom fodder: How does the Tiger Woods of the women's game fit in with the Annika Sorenstams of the men's game?

Golf isn't football, where violence rules out women. Golf isn't basketball, where speed and height rule out women. Golf does present some inherent physiological disadvantages for women, but not so many that there aren't 90 dudes out there doing the cold sweats in the Fort Worth Marriott all week. 'Cause Annika's going to beat some of them.

And in the barefoot-and-pregnant political climate of the Tour's locker room, that's going to hurt. Politically, some of these guys make Strom Thurmond look like Abbie Hoffman, so the idea that Annika will post better scores than about half the field may be cause for a guy to retire from the game.

That said, it's just a shame she's going to miss the cut.

You heard it here first.

Too many obstacles, too much pressure, too many golf reasons why she won't be in the top half of the field.

Just don't tell my girl I said that.

I don't want to find my half of the bed short-sheeted, nor do I want to find Ben-Gay in my underwear.

Because my girl is all business, baby.

She is woman. Hear her roar.

Just not in Annika's backswing.

A toast of the Dixie Cup, then, to Annika for giving us something to watch, and on to the Weekend List of Five:

1. The late Lake Show
We dust off the age-old philosophical query: If they hold the NBA Finals, and Jack Nicholson is not courtside ... did, in fact, those NBA Finals exist?

The Cooler has never been Lakers territory, but we must admit: Life just isn't as fun without the purple-and-gold. What happened to the league fixing the Lakes-Spurs series? Did the game officials fail to check their e-mail? Granted, Tim Duncan is a fluid and beautiful player, worthy of our admiration and attention, but what's the NBA in June without that traditional start-of-the-fourth-quarter celebrity montage?

Farewell to the Lakers, it's not the same without you.
How are we to know what summer movies are coming out unless we get the slow pan around the Staples Center and Marv Albert's mellifluous tones:

"Ben Affleck ... set to star in 'Daredevil 2' ... Ice Cube ... who finished up shooting 'The Friday Three Weeks From Now' ... and Corey Feldman .... looking for work that will never come."

Man. Makes me nostalgic for Dancing Barry.

First, Chick Hearn goes to the great Refrigerator in the Sky. (No, wait. That was Ted Williams. Sorry.)

Now, no Lakers in our NBA playoffs.

Like Cube in "Boyz 'N The Hood," we pour out the last few drops of Sparkletts in memory of all the missing silicon-laden TV shots courtside.

2. Meanwhile, on the undercard ...
No, The Cooler has not been an NBA-friendly place the last three years, but we sat down and tried to watch the Nets-Pistons game on Sunday with high hopes.


76-74, final score!

Who kidnapped the NBA and put it on cough syrup? Since when did an Eastern Conference Final turn into a late-career La Motta fight?

Oh, wait. I'm sorry. Since the last time the Detroit Pistons were in one.

Bless the Pistons. They are bringing hope to the most sports-desolate city in America. Really. Top a worse NFL-baseball combo than the Lions and Tigers. That is heinous stuff, and I often wonder why there is not a steady stream of sports fan refugees pouring over of the Michigan border, seeking asylum in, say, Chicago (Cubs-Bears, at least, is better) or St. Louis (Rams-Cardinals). Maybe some of the more adventurous could, like the Joads, pack their cars for California and enjoy the consistently-contending Giants and somewhat-contending 49ers.

But they do have the Pistons to embrace. And embrace is usually what a Piston defender does whenever an opposing player gets within 10 feet of the basket. This isn't defense; this is Leo Buscaglia, only pissed off.

Hey, it works. They're the toughest defensive team in the league, and they are spiritual descendents of the Bad Boys, the guys who ruined the NBA for casual fans like me.

I feel like sitting by a roadside with a cardboard sign: "Will Work for a Fast Break."

Western Conference final, anybody?

3. The Spelling Bee: best show going
For some unknown, yet entirely welcome, reason, ESPN used Saturday afternoon to air the 2002 Spelling Bee again. How the stirring victory by young Colorado lad named Pratyusha did not qualify for ESPN Classic status, I'll never know.

Pratyush Buddiga
Forget the Super Bowl, The Masters, the NBA Finals -- the Spelling Bee is the real deal.
The Spelling Bee rules. We watch team sports like the NBA Playoffs or the MLB season or the NFL and see guys who can constantly seek refuge in the concept of the team.

Blown coverage? Could have been the pass rush's fault. Mistake pitch? Bad call by the catcher. Gave up the easy three-pointer? My teammate didn't rotate.

Not in the Spelling Bee. Nobody high-wires it more than the Spelling Bee kid. Nobody takes more heat than the Spelling Bee kid. You get asked to spell "prospicience," you better bring every letter of it, alone, in front of the mike, or you are toast.

Maybe that insane pressure is why these kids do the greatest Stall Jobs in history.

They get asked a word, and they immediately go into the Four Corners offense.

"Could you repeat the word?"

"Could you use it in a sentence?"

"What's the language of origin?"

"Are there any alternate pronunciations?"

"Could you repeat the word?"

You want the Spelling Bee kid as the lookout guy if you're ever pulling a clandestine heist. Beat cop may walk by and look suspicious, and your Spelling Bee kid could ice him forever.

"What's going on in there?" the cop might ask.

"Could you repeat the question?"

"I said that there appears to be some suspicious activity. What's going on?" the cop might say.

"Could you define 'suspicious'' please, sir?"

"Listen, kid. You better come clean," the cop might say.

"Could you repeat the original question?"

Meantime, you and your pals are out the back of the building, with the loot. If that's your thing, I mean.

This year's Bee is set for May 28-29. Call your bookie. Bet on the geekiest kid. It's a blast.

4. Les Expos, cheaters? Sacre bleu!
Last month in Reno, my girl and I were scouting pennant and World Series odds at the Silver Legacy sports book. There, on the hallowed grease board, almost glowing neon orange, it read: Expos, 35-1 to win NL, 75-1 to win World Series.

Zach Day
"Don't just stand there, get some glue." -- Hon. Judge Smails.
"That is seriously worth 20 or 50 bucks," I said to her. "It is extremely conceivable that the Expos can win the National League this year."

"Well, let's do it," she said.

"Nah," I said, aching for free booze at a video poker stool nearby, "we'll do it tomorrow morning before we leave."

Never made the bet, dweller.

Now, 45 games into the season, Montreal has the third-best record in the NL. The Expos would make the playoffs as a wild card if the season ended today. They're just a few days removed from a sweep of the Giants, part of which I witnessed in person, that was earmarked by aggressive baserunning, situational hitting and the sheer magnitude of Vlad Guerrero's arm in right field.

And they're cheating.

These kids are hungry.

Hot damn, can't I get up to Tahoe fast enough?

I found Zach Day's open attempt to remove glue from his pitching hand rather amusing, given that if you're going to cheat, it's best not to do it behind the mound, with the trainer's help and in full view of the umpiring crew.

But I consider his blister excuse and ensuing explanation as part of the quirky charm of the Expos. Where else can you find a story like Tomo Ohka, a Japanese pitcher playing America's game for a team in Canada, in a city dominated by French speakers, and on a team plays 22 of its games in Puerto Rico? Next thing you know, they'll hire Juan Epstein, the Puerto Rican Jew, as Bat Boy, to round out the UN feel. Talk about your coalition forces:

Les Expos, bebe.

I can hear the odds on the hallowed grease board dropping as we speak:

Expos, trendiest bet in town.

5. And finally, a salute to Funny Cide
Two down, only the Belmont to go. Exciting times. Especially for the oft-forgotten Eunuch Lobby, which generally doesn't get its time in the sun.

Funny Cide is their equine patron saint!

But I wonder if the horse-as-gelding thing is wearing thin in the stable. Do other horses heckle him, and plant copies of the "Funny Girl" soundtrack in his hay? Do they accuse him of listening to Streisand?

Oops. I'm delving into caveman humor.

My wife may accuse me of veering into Vijay Territory.

I don't need that heat, dweller. I'm sure you understand.

Brian Murphy of the San Francisco Chronicle writes the "Weekend Water Cooler" every Monday for Page 2.



Brian Murphy Archive

Murphy: Going, going ... boring

Murphy: Raising a Tiger

Murphy: Fandemonium

Murphy: Life imitating art

Murphy: Masters of our domain

Murphy: Somebody has to lose

Murphy: Welcome to Cooler Day!

Murphy: Spring is in the air

Murphy: Here's to Ew

Murphy: A barren wasteland

Murphy: Tiger gets his Phil

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