Coach's Corner

In his "View From the Couch," the Coach takes on a variety of pressing subjects, from the demise of the Detroit Red Wings and Pat Riley, to the sad state of women's golf.

"View From the Couch":I watch NHL hockey only at playoff time, so changes appear more abrupt than they might to a truly frightening sports creature: the Hockey Fan. Like, if you only saw your wife once a year, the 30-pound weight gain might appear a bit more dramatic. I liked the Detroit Red Wings -- the hockey dynasty of the Nineties -- for a typically twisted reason: As the first NHL team to fully embrace the flood of Eastern European (particularly Russian) players that rejuvenated the league over the past decade, they once had a line composed entirely of Russians, called, I think, the Red Line. When Detroit was in its red road uniforms, with the Konstantinovs, Larionovs, Fedorovs, Kozlovs, and many other ov's my Western mind can't recall, they looked exactly like the Red Army teams that scorched the hockey world of the Cold War era. That was cool. But now they seem old. Very old. And so, by the way, do the Dallas Stars…

Since Pat Riley took over the Knicks more than a decade ago, his style of knock-the-other-guy-down-don't-shoot-until-the-23rd-second-and-win-75-68 has been the single most destructive influence in modern basketball. Riley is a control freak who resented Magic and Kareem because everyone understood ShowTime was about the players, not Pat Riley. In New York he was determined to show it was really about him. He's tried to wreck a nice game for 10 years proving his point. The pitiless beating the Heat absorbed from the underdog Hornets (with some ex-Riley players with a grudge) was as bad a first-round beating as I can recall. Pat's a rich and powerful man in the aqua blue land of South Florida, but his 18-25 Heat playoff record and the-refs-can't-call-everything view of the game is long overdue to hit the road. I hope the burnt-out Riley hangs up the whistle…

The surreal coverage of the "surprise" teams in Major League baseball has to be blamed on something. I choose the ubiquitous, voracious appetite of ESPN and its spin-offs. That an old-line magazine like Sports Illustrated would put the Twins on their cover with a "Do You Believe in Miracles?" banner is stunning. It's April! On the opposite side, the Yankees are being written off as too old, when it's still snowing in Boston! Back when I was a wee nipper, people were smarter. Must have been all the Pez and the candy on strips of paper we ate. Back then, if the Cubs were in first place on April 25 (and they are!), the news was met with justified cynical derision. It's April! People need to spend more energy pulling weeds and cleaning out the garage. Too much leisure time breeds idiocy…

An X-File mystery: Hockey teams would seem to have the biggest home advantage in pro sports: 19,000 rabid hockey fans (a classic redundancy) packed into an arena to witness a sport where violent street crimes are part of the game. A highly emotional, primordial affair where live animals are tossed on the ice. It's as close as modern sport gets to the coliseums of ancient Rome. It seems like the home team would never lose, but in the Stanley Cup tournament anyway, the home team usually seems to lose…

If you're relatively new to Texas, you can't possibly appreciate the meteorological fluke of the last week. Cool nights, pleasant, low humidity days in late April? This is as unlikely as a six-page pictorial of Jenna Bush in Hustler … maybe that's not even far-fetched enough. I mention this only because this burst of livable weather inspired me to rise from the couch not once, but three times … because I live to keep you informed. The occasion: the LPGA tournament at Onion Creek. It was lovely and I had a grand time. The scenery. The golf. The good-natured bonhomie. Outstanding stuff. This said, I could not -- if you placed a gun to my temple -- name five LPGA pros … and I'm pretty much a long-gone golf fanatic. I'd never heard the name of tournament winner Rosie Jones, though my media guide says she's a 10-time winner. There, sportsfans, lies El Rubbo. These pros are great. Really. Outside of raw power off the tee, female golf pros are equal to their male counterparts in every way. And even then, the sight of a 110lb woman whacking drives 255 yards is an awesome thing to behold. Quite humbling. That said, who cares? You? Your retired dad in Orlando? I doubt it.

TV golf has always been a niche sport, appealing to a few wealthy pensioners in Scottsdale. Tiger changed this, but Tiger's a fluke. A charismatic generational oddity capable of capturing the interest of people like my wife, who wouldn't go out to Onion Creek under any conceivable circumstance except to drink and sunbathe at the pool. No Tiger in the field equals a small niche game again. What chance does the LPGA have? What niche do they capture? Elderly lesbian retirees in Carmel? The sport has no more chance of mainstream American acceptance than soccer, the WNBA, bowling, or billiards, and for the exactly the same reason. We are a sports-saturated nation.

With half a year of playoffs still remaining, "View From the Couch" still has much to say. Due to space considerations, it must wait until another week.

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