Coach's Corner

"Cub Fans Dare to Believe,"says the headline. "Hah!" says Coach. Also: odds and ends about football, Tiger Woods, and Andy Roddick.

It's August 14 andI'm walking quickly through DFW, rushing to make a flight back to Colorado. I don't have time to stop, but the bold slug at the top left corner of USA Today compels me to halt. It announces, in large black font, "Cub Fans Dare to Believe: Story C1." A year won't pass when, somewhere along the long summer road, I'll write, not about pitying or understanding the poor, pathetic Cub fan, but an angry, acid-laced diatribe more apropos for the jilted lover.

In fact, if you took some of those columns out of their appropriated spot in the Chronicle Time Continuum, blacking out references to the Cubs and whatnot, they'd read (filled as they are with venomous references like: they don't deserve me, never, ever, again, and I'll never come back) like angry letters to the jiltee.

"Cub Fans Dare to Believe: Story C1." If we travelled back in time to, say, 1920, with our everyday use of terms like co-dependence and a thorough understanding of the plethora of addictions our brother humans are prone to, we could pass for experts -- nay pioneers! -- in early century psychiatry.

We'd explain to the anxious scientific community that it's the addict who's the last to see his own addiction. We'd introduce terms like denial. For example, if we put a fellow who drank too much on an isolated island someplace in the Solomon Islands where coconut milk's the only beverage available, after some time this fellow would forget (or repress) the taste of beer. So it is with the fan of the Chicago Cubs. If you've spent thousands and thousands of hours of your life watching on WGN (from Jack Brickhouse to Chip Caray), listening on the radio (from Lou Boudreau to Ron Santo), reading hundreds of thousands of written words (from Jack Griffin to Jerome Holtzman), and attending uncounted games in person, then you'd understand the massive aggregate of failure for this team … my team. With pages upon on pages of records chronicling such abject futility that even Peter Pan would require Prozac to carry on to NeverNeverLand, then -- finally -- you could explain how easy it is to deny what in the heart is still true. When there's no hope, it's easy to deny. The Cubs are 3-7 since that day in DFW. They've dropped two games out of first place … "Cub Fans Dare to Believe: Story C1."

Odds and ends: I receive all kinds of useless, poorly written, dull shit over the Internet, much of it sports-related. There are a few exceptions. One is a weekly, top 10 college football thing written by an Austinite named Adam Jones. I don't know Jones, never met him, wouldn't know him if we were paired together as a twosome at Jimmy Clay. However, what little I know about college football I steal from Jones' concise, funny, not overly partisan (i.e. a UT fan with some modicum of objectivity, who understands that football's actually played in places removed from Austin) newsletter. This year's first edition just showed up, picking Oklahoma as the best team in the country: a welcome harbinger of a still-distant fall…

The best thing to happen to golf is Tiger's "slump." I've never bought into the prevailing view that the charismatic Woods -- winning every tournament in sight -- was good for anything other than television ratings. As I've noted before, I'm not an ad executive, so what do I care what you watch? The argument that Woods' total domination brings fans to golf is wrong. If they turn off the set when the Big Man isn't in contention, he's done nothing for golf except sell Buicks -- not a concern of mine…

Is the NFL preseason of any value to the fan at all? Yeah, if you're a serious gambler. Those awful second halves, when the screen's littered with guys named Tyrone, can be quite telling … if you can stand watching it. It's all about depth. For example, if Miami's playing Oakland and the Fins' scrubs are pushing the Raider scrubs all over the field, it might strongly suggest that come November, when the first-string guards, ends, and QBs are injured -- the norm in the NFL -- those same scrub Fins (now starters) will still push Oakland's scrubs around, just like they did in July. Is this a reason to watch a preseason football game? God no!…

It's a common consensus among tennis experts that Austinite Andy Roddick is destined for stardom: a lofty place where I, if I don't say so myself, made a contribution. Steve Jones, a long-time local tennis pro/bum had been working with me for some time. One day Jonesie asked if I'd play a 10-year-old kid he was teaching. "He's a nice kid," Jones said, "you'll like him. His name's Andy." I knew this was a lose-lose deal: I beat a little kid and what am I going to do, write a column about it? I lose and my self-esteem is down the tank. I've just lost to a 10-year-old. That makes me feel good, and thanks a lot, Steve! Roddick (a polite, skinny little kid who called me sir) demolished me in 12 straight games. In tennis terms I was double-bagled by a kid too young to wear braces. We all play a part.

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