It takes something rather extraordinary for me to pay attention to and care about, much less waste your team reading about, in the sport of golf.
Well, Sunday afternoon, something rather extraordinary happened. A 43-year-old man named Eldrick Woods (you may know him by his nickname) ended an 11-year major drought and improbably captured the Masters championship in Augusta, Ga.
Years after just about all golf watchers and journalists wrote off his chances of ever adding to his haul of 14 major trophies, after all the knee injuries and back injuries and car crashes and painkiller addiction, and alleged “sex addiction” and all of that… Tiger Woods won a freaking major again.
There was so much said about his improbable victory Sunday on the InterWebs, and 95 percent of it was marveling at the comeback and saluting Woods’ transformation.
By all accounts, Woods is a changed man at age 43. He no longer thinks everyone in the world is beneath him, as he used to. He was miserably rude to fans, other golfers, caddies and others who worked for him, and most certainly to women, particularly his ex-wife.
He was arrogant, entitled, and so many other negative things that many of us who paid any attention to him at all were repulsed by him.
But he has apparently changed, as time and a body breaking down can humble anyone.
A golf commentator named Jason Sobel, who’s watched Tiger since this beginning, had this Tweet after Woods’ win that I thought was telling:
“We’ve seen Tiger Woods pleased after winning majors. We’ve seen him relieved. We’ve seen smug and cocky and proud. We’ve never before seen him this happy. Pure happiness on his face.”
So my question today is this: Is it possible to marvel and appreciate the achievement, while not applauding the person who did it? Lots of terrible men (and women) have done amazing things in the world of sports over the years. Ty Cobb was by all accounts a miserable bastard, yet is one of the best baseball players ever.
Lawrence Taylor, an awful human being, was maybe the best linebacker who ever played in the NFL. And there are a hundred more examples like that.
I guess my point is that it’s an incredible sports story what Woods did on Sunday, winning another Masters after such a long gap. And maybe he IS a changed man, kinder, friendlier, and a better all-around dude.
But he was such a jerk for so long, to so many, that I’m not sure I can feel happy for him.
If you disagree, please comment here, would love to get a dialogue going.
**Next up today, it wasn’t the highest-rated show ever, and I can’t say I watched all of it, but the wildly strange and hilarious “My Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” wrapped a four-season run on the WB network last week, and it deserves to be saluted by all who love oddball, wacky, laugh-out-loud song parodies.
There have been so many over the years that Rachel Bloom and Co. have given us, from my old favorite “J.A.P. Rap Battle” (that’s Jewish American Princess for you unitiated), to “We Tapped that Ass” to “I Go To the Zoo.” All of those are classics.
But for sheer hilarity, this one is my favorite, from one male character (Santino Fontana) to Bloom, singing a delightful tune about a medical condition he claims he gave her.
I was singing this happily to my wife for the past week, so if you enjoy it too, you’re welcome.
**Finally today, a simply gorgeous piece of writing from one of my favorite newspaper writers working today, the Toronto Star’s Bruce Arthur. Bruce, normally a sportswriter but excellent in everything he writes, had a complicated, difficult relationship with his father, and after his Dad passed away a few weeks ago, Bruce had some complicated feelings.
Henry Arthur and his wife got a divorce when Bruce was 5, leading to the reasonable question “Why do you have to go, Dad?” Over the last few years Henry suffered from dementia, and became sadly a shell of his former self.
Just gorgeous writing here. Here’s an excerpt:
Once back to Canada, the decline was steady. On early visits my dad and I would walk in Beacon Hill Park and look at the totem pole and the peacocks and the ocean, and he was still partly there. Once I warned him not to bump his head on a cupboard door and said, “Watch your head,” and he grinned and said, “That’s what I’m trying to do.” Once he said, “It’s what you do with what you didn’t mean to do that matters.” I don’t remember why he said that, but it’s true.
And we would play pool for hours, because it was the last thing he could do at a high level, and that we could share. He was delighted when I made a good shot, or won a game; he was satisfied when he did. He would have about one moment of clarity per visit, but never more than one. Once he remembered we had walked there before. Another time we were driving back from the ocean and he said, “I made my way in the world with my mind, and it’s very hard to lose it.”