Coach's Corner

Twelve months of constant summer has beaten the creative energy out of me. This week, I'll stick to sports. Here are some floating summertime thoughts:

John Daly's emotional crackup on the putting green, during an obscure tour event in Vancouver, was gut-wrenching and difficult to watch. I can't begin to imagine the pain and humiliation the big man must have felt, knowing full well that this personal disintegration was going to be broadcast all over the world by 10 o'clock. Big John came out of literally nowhere — I don't know if he even went to college — when he won the PGA Championship in 1991. With an undisciplined, grip-it-and-rip-it style, his disheveled appearance, straightforward opinions on the stuffy game, and an obvious failure to attend the PGA Bland School, Daly's explosion onto the pro tour was akin to what Washington society must have felt when Andrew Jackson entered the White House. The weekend muni duffer can relate to Daly, with his wild game and all-too-human problems. Unlike the average bloodless golf pro, Daly seems like us all. I wish he'd forget golf and all his obligations for a year, and put his life back together again. I'm sure the guys out at Morris Williams would agree.

This weekend, another new UT football era kicks off, with Mack Brown's energized Horns set to slaughter New Mexico something or another. Last year, Texas, with lots of the same guys still here, was a pre-season top five pick. I'll grant the total irrelevance of pre-season polls, but still, to play the game, I'll say Texas will be better than most predict. Terribly overrated last year, they're somewhat underrated this season (which I'm sure Brown loves); 7-4 and a low-level bowl isn't unrealistic.

Doesn't a guaranteed #1 vs. #2 in a bowl game, by definition, makeall the other bowls an afterthought?

Do you think I blame the media for too many of the world'sproblems? That's because it's true. The news that Mark McGwire is taking a legal, non-prescription steroid-type drug has knocked Monica off the front page for a few days. In one day, as the frenzy reached its zenith, USA Today and The New York Times ran multiple front page stories and columns dragging McGwire through the defend-yourself-you-guilty-asshole muck that's become the daily staple of mainstream journalism. It doesn't matter that it's silly bullshit, the sorry truth is that now, like Maris with his asterisk, McGwire too has been tarnished. The fact the 35-year-old is the most prolific home run hitter of his time is now lost in this non-controversy. He's broken no rules. He's done nothing remotely wrong. Since McGwire admitted he took this drug, many more baseball players have admitted the same. No matter, now some will have the fuel to denigrate his magnificent season.

I detest the way a juvenile temper tantrum, which would get most six-year-olds tossed into time out, is replayed on Sportscenter and spun as some kind of boys-will-be-boys thing. I'm speaking of Mariners' manager Lou Pinella kicking his hat all the way across the diamond after he's been tossed out of a game for arguing a call. My thought was "what an idiot," but little league coaches and parents all over the country now have one more excuse to behave like louts. Kids have one less reason to respect an umpire. Grow up, Lou.

Speaking of Sportscenter, I've had it with cute, "witty" sportscasters. Every guy in front of the camera seems compelled to be Chris Rock. Chris Berman, whose act got old for me years ago, is to blame for this copycat culture at ESPN. I've moved back to the more professional, straightforward sports show on CNN Tonight. It's always been a well-produced show, which has never tried to copy, to its enduring credit, the schmaltz on the other channel. All the same stories. All the same clips. None of the sportscaster-as-celebrity attitude.

Were it not for the Great Home Run chase, what a dismal baseball season this would have been. The six divisions are producing only one display of anything resembling a pennant race. The NL wild card chase, I guess demonstrating that baseball management did do something right, and the McGuire-Sosa pursuit of Maris, are all that's left for September drama.

I'm an NFC guy, but I have to admit, all the excitement is now in the AFC. Pittsburgh, New England, Denver, Kansas City, even the Oilers are fun, happening teams I'd tune in to watch. Meanwhile, the NFC, with its glamour teams in decline or worse, is starting to look like a rumpled old grandpa.

Wasn't Jimmy the Genius supposed to have won a Super Bowl by now?

Call me the most unenlightened male in America, but I don't even know what a Beanie Baby is. Never seen one. Don't care to either. Despite this pigheaded anti-social (anti-American?) stance, Beanie Baby giveaways are the most successful promotions in sports history. Detroit vs. Oakland might draw 15,000 on a nice night. Give Stripes the Tiger away, it's a rock-solid, guaranteed sellout. Mets against Pittsburgh? A woofer, but not if the Mets are giving away Batty the Beanie Baby. Hardened, vicious New Yorkers filling Shea to get a teddy bear? The Horror. First the wave, still considered big fun in Arlington, now this. How did I get so out of touch?

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