Friday, February 28, 2014

The Honda Classic

First of all, being a Harley rider, yours truly finds nothing "classic" about Hondas whatsoever. To each their own, I suppose, but more times than not, the "short-strokers" just get in the way of the real bikers, while not having a clue how to properly operate and navigate a motorcycle in traffic.

That said, on to the golf version of the Honda Classic. Honda's corporate headquarters is in Tokyo. It makes vehicles in the US in Ohio, Indiana, and Alabama. They have little presence in Florida. How a PGA tournament named the Honda Classic wound up in Palm Springs would seem to be a very good question.

Nevertheless, that perky Irish lad Rory McIlroy is leading the pack, barely, after two rounds of play. He stands at 11 under par. This is likely big news in Ireland and many other countries around the world.

Of course, in America, the sports media sees things a bit differently. They remain transfixed on their two heroes, one much more so than the other. Tiger Woods is always front and center, no matter how well, or poorly, he's playing. And after winning a few majors in recent years, all-around nice guy Phil Mickelson will always be included in their conversation as well.

At this particular tournament, Eldrick barely made the cut. He's 11 shots behind after two rounds of play. That's a bunch. Lefty was only one stroke further back, but that's where the axe fell. Woods gets to play on the weekend and Mickelson does not.

At that, the media was all agog about the possibility of both Tiger and Phil not making the cut in any particular tournament in which they were both entered. Turns out, the only time it happened was 12 years and well over 200 tournaments ago.

Just two questions. Who cares? Why is it so important how Tiger and Phil fare in any particular golfing contest? Guys that are 11 and 12 shots back after two rounds should not warrant media attention while the other 60 or 70 that are ahead of them get absolutely none.

This seems to be peculiar to American sports reporting. Once a certain player, or team of their choosing, has experienced success, they get adopted as media darlings. And it persists even when they're not competitive, let alone championship caliber.

Consider the Dallas Cowboys. They've been no more than mediocre for several years, but the media still kneels at the altar of Big D. When owner Jerry Jones speaks, the reporters climb all over themselves with their microphones trying to get close. So why is that?

Pretty much the same could be said about Kobe Bryant. Never mind he's been a non-factor for a couple years and the Lakers have fallen from height to blight -- the media still hangs on his every word. Why?

There was a time, not long ago, when the idea of neither the Lakers nor the Boston Celtics reaching the playoffs in the same season was unheard of. But it's going to happen this year, and likely for the next few years until and unless they can rebuild. In the meantime, other teams have zoomed past them, and still others keep getting better -- rather than worse.

Will the most storied franchise of them all -- the New York Yankees -- even make the postseason this year? Maybe, maybe not. The Detroit Red Wings of the NHL have made the playoffs for 21 straight years -- a record in all of professional sports -- but that streak might well come to an end this year. Speaking of storied franchises -- when's the last time the Montreal Canadiens got within sniffing distance of the Stanley Cup? Try 1993, the same 21 years ago.

The point is, great teams and players come and go, but the sports world marches on. Others will take their place winning championships and various accolades. It's just the nature of the business.

So why does it remain such a big deal what Phil and Eldrick do at any particular tournament -- especially when they're not even in contention? One is already gone at the Honda Classic, and the other might very well wind up 20 strokes behind by the time it's all over, if he can't figure out how to hit the golf ball straight. Miraculous chip shots luckily going in the hole and long, par-saving putts are great, but that won't nearly get it done against a field of world-class golfers that are leaving him further and further behind in their rear view mirrors.

So I guess it's good news and bad news. We probably won't hear anymore about Phil over the weekend, because he's already history. Yet the bad news is -- even though he was only one stroke ahead of Phil when the cut axe fell -- we'll be bombarded with Tiger this, and Tiger that, along with a bazillion replays of Eldrick's every move on the course, despite the fact he's likely already hopelessly out of contention as well.

And why is that? Because Woods is "black"?  Should being caught serially cheating on his former spouse get him bonus points? Or perhaps throwing clubs, cursing, and being arrogant to many fans on the courses over the years have endeared him to the masses.

Beats me. I don't get it. But evidently, the media sees things a lot differently.

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