Friday, June 13, 2008

Turns out you can take it with you...

...assuming "it" is a crappy writing style, and the place you're taking it to is ESPN. Hell, judging by the current state of the DotCom branch of the World Wide Leader, that appears to be pretty much required. Rick Reilly?

Rooting for Tiger Woods is like rooting for Justin Timberlake to get lucky, Exxon to hit a gusher, Bill Gates to find a twenty on the sidewalk. It takes no imagination.

It takes a certain amount of imagination to come up with rooting for Bill Gates to find a twenty. That's a pretty out-there example.

It takes no courage. What's the point? It's 1-to-5 he's going to win anyway, whether you cheer or not. Makes no difference to him. It's like rooting for erosion.

Little-known fact - erosion actually has terrible self-esteem and would probably do a lot better if we cheered him on every once in awhile (my first family vacation was a trip to yell encouragement at Lake Michigan). I mean, erosion has been working for, what, billions of years? And the Earth is still 1,083,207,300,000 cubic kilometers in volume. All the oxbow lakes in the world aren't going to make up for that sort of failure.

Huh. Oxbow lake reference. Looks like someone just justified their eighth grade science class.

Rooting for Phil Mickelson, on the other hand, is like rooting for the salmon to eat the bear.

Nah, rooting for Phil Mickelson is like rooting for a smaller bear to beat another bear. Admittedly, this bear is also fatter and pretty out-of-shape, but it's still very much in the family Ursidae. Point is, as freakishly brilliant and in his own class as Tiger may well be (he is), his closest competitor (which is Phil) is still a bear. Maybe a bear with a limp and a touch of hernia or something, but still a bear.

You'd have to root for somebody like, I don't know, Zach Johnson, if you really wanted to root for the salmon. I mean, the dude was only ranked 56th when he won the Masters in 2007. 56th is pretty salmon-esque. Admittedly, we're talking about a very Christian salmon here, which pretty much completely evens out the playing field against a bear, which as we all know is a godless killing machine.

It takes faith. It takes forgiveness. It takes Tums. Mickelson is a roller coaster in an earthquake. One shot will be so inspired you'll cover your mouth in astonishment. The next will be so Spam-brained you'll slap your forehead in disbelief. It's like watching a blind guy jaywalk across Hollywood and Vine. Your fist is in your mouth the whole way.

A blind guy...jaywalking...across Hollywood and Vine? That's so bizarre on so many levels I'm not even going to bother breaking it down.

Also, Reilly's fist is in his mouth the whole way? Did this dude have a career before sportswriting that he's kept under wraps? And by "career", I do of course mean gay porn.

(I know, I know...I assume everyone does gay porn. Well, prove me wrong folks. Prove me wrong. As a great sage once said, you can't send me photos of something you don't do.)

I bring all this up because Woods and Mickelson will play side-by-side Thursday and Friday at the U.S. Open. You must choose. You cannot root for both. It's un-American.

Can we root for neither? Is that an option?

Also, rooting for both may be un-American, but it's very Moroccan. I say that because Morocco was for some reason the country that came up when I googled "most bisexual country", and I wanted to make an immature and somewhat offensive joke. I think I succeeded.

Here's how to tell them apart: Woods has the Joe Weider body, the Iron Byron swing, the Green Beret mind. Mickelson's body leans toward Sara Lee. He's carried two drivers—one for hooks and one for slices—but none for straights. He can get it up and down out of an ice cream cart, which is a good thing, because he's there a lot. He might be the only athlete whose catch phrase is, "I'm such an idiot!"

Who exactly needs a field guide to tell the difference between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson? Well, other than that blind jaywalker, but I'm pretty sure he's still in intensive care.

I mean, those dudes wouldn't look anything alike even if their skin pigmentation happened to be the same (OK, that's not true - both Tiger and black Phil would be dead ringers for Martin Lawrence, as any Deadspin commenter would be glad to point out). Hell, one's a righty and the other's a lefty, which I deduced from Phil's nickname being "Lefty" and Tiger's nickname being "Tiger." Tiger means "Righty" in some language, right? I'm guessing Swedish, what with the whole Elin Nordegren thing.

By the way, as much as Djmmm has promised me he won't edit my posts anymore (my posts are like my deformed children, and I won't have him coming in here and plastic surgeoning them into something presentable), I'm pretty sure he'd just delete the entire post and replace it with three dozen Elin Nordegren photos if I didn't make with the sexy snaps.

It's the law of the sports blogs - you mention a sexy woman, you provide pictorial evidence. Sim-fucking-ple. This is why With Leather is pretty much the best blog around. Well, that and Matt Ufford's sexy, sexy rage.

I believe I've gotten slightly off point. Still good though.

For Woods, there's almost nothing at stake this week. It will be just another hunt for just another major, his third U.S. Open and his 14th major overall. It's Year 13 of his Scorched Earth Tour, which we all know will end up with The Coolest Guy in the World owning every golf record known to man, to say nothing of every T-bill. He'll finish with 25 majors, making Jack Nicklaus look like a guy with a rental set.

Yeah, probably, but you're telling me him getting dangerously close to Jack's total isn't interesting? Sure, the 18th and 19th Majors are going to be the really exciting chases, but it's not like he can skip right to those. I mean, there's nothing interesting about Hank Aaron's 715th home run if he doesn't hit the 714 before that necessary to get there. (I would've have gone with Bonds there, but he carries too much baggage at the moment for even an innocuous analogy). So yeah, in a long-term sense, there's definitely something at stake.

At stake for Mickelson? Just about everything. This is arguably the most important major of his life, the one in his hometown, on his home course of Torrey Pines, in front of all his family and friends, against the man who has caused him more heartburn than any other.

Come on, give a little credit to the guy who invented "lobster ravioli with tarragon cream sauce and garlic bread." That shit's got way too much stuff in it not to need an Alka-Seltzer afterward.

He's got hopes of finally winning his first U.S. Open after four catastrophic chokes, near misses, and should-have-been second-place finishes in this baby. I ask you, couldn't you switch to Phil just this once?

Wait, so you can't root for both, but you can randomly switch your allegiances from one very popular golfer to another very popular golfer? This is a little like, "I know you've been on the Lakers bandwagon since the threepeat, but don't you think, just this once, you can root for KG and his upstart 66-win team?" Well, not quite, because Phil probably won't win the US Open, but still.

Also, I don't know if there are really much by way of popularity rankings in golf, but I always thought Phil was the popular fan favorite, and most people more respected Tiger than actually liked him. Or have I underestimated the American penchant for front-running?

Besides, rooting for Phil is so much more interesting. Tiger's in the fairway. Phil's in a lady's Prada!

A joke as lame as that requires a comeback equal as lame. *AHEM*


Tiger's on the green. Phil is banking it off a pine, a boulder and a San-o-let! Tiger makes a 2-footer for a what-else-is-new 4. Phil makes a seagoing 30-footer for a did-you-see-that 4! It's the difference between watching Dow Jones and Indiana Jones.

That doesn't even begin to make sense. I mean, I'd try to parse it, but I wouldn't even know where to start. Fine, I'll give it a go...

1. Who actually watches the Dow Jones? You can monitor it, sure, and people work in its vicinity, and I'm sure some of the business channels sort of cover it, but it's a stock market index. That's basically an abstract concept.

2. Even if you grant that first thing, how the hell is Tiger like a leading stock market index? Especially when you consider our current economic situation, which makes Reilly's use of it in the simile as something steady and successful even more puzzling. Hmm. You know, between that and the random reference to Hollywood and Vine, I think Rick might be a little out-of-touch. Privileged even.

3. Phil Mickelson has, to the best of my knowledge, never made par by hiding in a fridge during a nuclear explosion.

And that's just off the top of my head. Equally off the top of my head (as is, well, everything else I write on this blog), here are some comparisons that would have made more sense. I'll even keep up the weird Jones-and-Jones scheme!

It's the difference between watching James Earl Jones and Catherine Zeta-Jones.

It's the difference between watching Chipper Jones and Andruw Jones.

It's the difference between watching Welsh crooner Tom Jones and crazy preacher Bob Jones.

It's the difference between watching Terry Jones the Monty Python member and Terry Jones the Christian rocker.

It's the difference between watching John Paul Jones the admiral and John Paul Jones the Zeppelin drummer.

It's the difference between listening to Billy Paul's "Me and Mrs. Jones" and "Mr. Jones" by Counting Crows.

It's the difference between watching British computer scientist Clifford "Cliff" Jones and Adam "Pac-Man" Jones.

Oh, and in terms of what I prefer, it's all the first stuff. I guess that makes me a Tiger fan, or maybe I just thought it made more sense to list that stuff first for joke purposes. Anyway, I'll take the former in all those examples. Except for Catherine Zeta-Jones and the other John Paul Jones; they too can live. Oh, and Pac-Man as well, but that's only because I believe it's impossible to kill him with conventional weaponry. If only my werewolf boomerang would hurry up and get here!

Look, Tiger needs this major like Yao needs stilts. There'll be a dozen more after this. He doesn't need to prove he's better than Phil. We know. Not counting Stableford or match-play tournaments, these two have entered 157 pro tournaments together. Tiger is 104-50-3 against him. That's not a rivalry. That's avalanche versus twig. That's more one-sided than a Venezuelan election.

Someone get Ed McMahon over here, because that zinger demanded a hearty "Hey-OH!!!"

You know, I know, Phil knows that Tiger is a god and Phil is but a serf. There's no argument. Yes, Mickelson is No. 2, but it's about as far as a 2 can get from a 1. Put it this way: Let's say Tiger's knee really bothers him this week—say it bothers him for the rest of the year—and he doesn't play the next three majors. And let's say Mickelson wins all three of these majors. That would still only get Mickelson even with Woods in the world golf ranking.

Man, that's insane. I now sort of get what Phil's up against.

Do you sort of get what Mickelson's up against?

Dude, I just said I did. We're never going to get anywhere if you don't learn to listen. Also learn to love, but there's time enough for that. That's what our trip to the lake house is for!

So you could do worse than rooting for him. After all, he has a few qualities Tiger doesn't have. He signs more autographs, smiles more, tips way better. He skis better. Flies a plane better. Bets better, despite all those Vegas rumors that never were true.

Yes, but does he bang Swedish supermodels better? Oh, he doesn't? Going with Tiger.

I have nothing against Tiger, of course. He's the most accomplished athlete I've ever covered.

Reilly's willing to reassess that if Sammy Sosa ever accomplishes the simple task of peeing in a cup. He's a reasonable man.

He's taken us to places in golf we never dreamed. When he said the Grand Slam this year was "easily within reason," we all agreed, because it was. But it's like watching a thresher go through wheat. All that blinding brilliance, all that chewing up and spitting out, can make you a little numb.

Lot of wheat threshers on Hollywood & Vine, I guess. C'mon, Reilly, don't try to pander to middle America. They're smarter than that!

(Well, I hope they're smarter than that. But not smart enough that they can challenge my northeastern elitism.)

So, while everybody feeds the big dog, couldn't you throw the little dog this one bone?

You know, I always remembered Rick Reilly as saccharine, emotionally manipulative, and boring, but I think I forgot his true defining characteristic: the weirdest motherfucking metaphors I've ever come across. This whole ESPN thing should be fun.

1 comment:

Djmmm said...

Okay, first of all, I never promised not to edit your posts. I merely promised not to edit ongoing live blog posts.

Also, I never realized how offensively TERRIBLE Reilly's writing is.

True story: One of the first interviews I ever did for the radio station in college was with a member of the 1972 Dolphins. I mentioned that Rick Reilly, among others had critized that team for being "grumpy old men." His response-- "Rick Reilly is a horse's ass." We played it over the air, and the powers that be went apeshit.