By In Stuff

A few links

We’ll get back going again here next week with the next baseball player on the 100 and a few other things I’m kicking round. In the meantime, a bunch of links here:

Really enjoyed this one … caught up with Jackie Stiles, the all-time leaders scorer in women’s Division I basketball. I’ve been writing about Jackie since she was a kid. It’s is good to see her find her happily ever after.

Lots of golf:

Jordan Spieth, designed by Apple in California.

— Tiger Woods has shown himself to be over the weird yips he had a couple of months ago. Can he be great again or will he just be another good golfer? It’s an open question.

— No matter what happens, Tiger remains the biggest story in golf. This is a bit of an indictment of the young golfers who try to take his role. A video essay.

Also, my book THE SECRET OF GOLF will be out June 9. I’m not saying you should be thinking about Father’s Day. I’m just saying, yeah, you should be thinking about Father’s Day.

18 Responses to A few links

  1. Bob in VA says:

    Kansas City was my home when I first discovered your writing about Jackie Stiles. Still read whatever you write, remember meeting and talking to Buck O’Neil and try to write some myself. But your stories are the best. Thanks, Joe.

  2. Re: Tiger…. Let’s not forget that they changed the courses because of what he was doing. He would’ve won 8 green jackets by now if they hadn’t. In his prime, they “Tiger-proffed” Augusta, as well as virtually every major gold course. So, as great as he was, the people at the top of the sport actually interfered with his efforts to completely dominate.

    • Paul S says:

      This is simply not true.

      Augusta was lengthened (and so were many other courses) because the distance generated by the newer clubs and balls was making a mockery of the original designs. Tiger was the longest hitter of them all, and the most dominating figure in golf, so it was no surprise that it became known as ‘Tiger proofing’. But, it is quite clear that lengthening a golf course plays into the strengths of the longer hitters, and makes it much more difficult on the shorter players. Rather than make it harder for Tiger to win, it was an advantage. Other factors – injuries, swing changes, his personal life, the loss of a magic putting stroke, and just as importantly, the emergence of other ‘Tiger-like’ players who generate the same power that was once his alone – that is what stopped him from winning more.

    • nevyn49 says:

      Yeah, that’s not accurate at all.

      Lengthening Augusta kept some scoring records from further falling in a new, longer ball era, and kept holes playing the way they are designed to. But it did not get changed to hurt one golfer.

      The changes were to keep the traditionally toughest holes tough. It changed the scores to par, and the intrigue of the round, not the identity of the winner.

      • Interestingly it seems Augusta National has almost reversed itself this year, making conditions easier. The tournament was a lot more fun this year than some of the angst fests, especially 4-5 years ago. The average fan isn’t interested in watching concrete greens funnel good shots off the green to a difficult par. As much as everyone raves about Augusta, the course was annoying as hell for a few years. I think they’re getting it now. People like some scoring. Good shots should score not kangaroo hop off the green or keep rolling until the golfer is faced with a tough up and down. Bad shots can be penalized. A bogey or double bogey caused by an errant shot, is totally fair.

    • Dave says:

      The truth about “Tiger proofing” was they lengthened most of the courses so ridiculous scores could not be shot. In many ways this made it easier for a long hitter like Tiger.

  3. gosport474 says:

    I really enjoyed the story on Jackie Stiles. Being a Hoosier, I kind of thought of her as the female Larry Bird.

  4. nevyn49 says:

    I disagree with the notion that Tiger Woods being “still the one” is an indictment of young golfers in any way.

    To me, it is a product of his dominance, an indictment of the media and a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    Tiger Woods, as you say in the article, was transformational. Greatest is an unwinnable cross-era debate, but he was among the greats. More importantly, though, he was different, and he was dominant at just the right time.

    Dominant in HD. Dominant as sports broadcasting exploded. Dominant not just as a player but as a brand. Other great golfers grew the game, but Tiger drew eyeballs that cared little about golf, but just wanted to see a dominant athlete.

    And golf broadcasting and journalism got used to Tiger. In those few times he found himself well back, the TV would still follow his every shot, and talk about how he was never out of it, because half the audience was only watching for him.

    Moreover, in being so dominant, Tiger created this expectation that when someone is top dog in the sport, you can reliably predict them as a winner and be right as often as you’re wrong. The narrative is just easier to set up.

    And even amidst his long and winding freefall Tiger has fed constant stories. Combacks, flashes of brilliance, swing changes, injuries, salacious personal life.

    So why have viewers not latched on to the amazing young golfers around today:

    1) Half the stories are still about Tiger. Tiger shoots 82 and half the highlight reel on sportscentre is his yips instead of the leader’s shots. In grasping to get Tiger back, the media does not build up its new heroes. Why are they grasping?

    2) Golf media has forgotten how to cover great-but-not-dominant golfers. It is used to being able to set up a narrative and have it play out. Its Tiger or its Phil. But golf tournaments feature 100 individual elite competitors. The normal state should be and is that it is difficult to predict who will come out on top.

    And every time the media tries to get the public behind Rory as next Tiger, or someone else as the next star, and that player has a pedestrian week, viewers mentally check out. That’s not the fault of the golfers. If every generation had a Tiger in his prime golfer, Tiger would not have been so big in the first place.

    McIlroy is still very young and has 4 majors and 3/4 of the career grand slam. Jordan Spieth is on a very similar trajectory by age as Tiger without having the dominant length/athleticism over the rest of the field.

    • Marc Schneider says:

      The easiest thing is to blame the media for whatever stories someone doesn’t like. But Tiger was and is still a big story and, frankly, a lot more interesting to casual fans like me than Spieth or McElroy. That’s not the media’s fault. We are also sort of forgetting the elephant in the room in terms of what really made Tiger such a story, ie, a black golfer dominating a traditionally lilly-white country club sport. He is, with all his flaws, still more interesting for most people than the new white boys on tour network. Moreover, aside from race, Tiger was/is a historical figure, in the vein of Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, etc. It remains to be seen how many, if any, of these new studs become historical, but in golf you have lots of players who win a major and then you don’t hear from them for four years. Maybe these guys will be different but it’s unlikely they will ever be as interesting a story as Tiger.

      • nevyn49 says:

        You are completely missing the point.

        I’m not blaming the media for stories I don’t like. The media are blaming the next generation of golfers for not being as interesting as Tiger.

        But if it was reasonable to expect the normal state in golf to be having a dominant player like Tiger, Tiger would not have been so special.

        And I’m saying that they are troubled over this because of people like you, the ‘casual fan’. They don’t know how to make you watch without Tiger. All they know how to try is ‘next Tiger’. And until they get a ‘next Tiger’ all they can do to keep you watching is keep you hoping that Tiger will make it back.

        They have always been doomed to lose your interest, and it has nothing to do with the next generation of golfers. In the meantime, their broadcasts and stories are less than they could be for CORE golf fans, because they are wasting so much oxygen trying to keep the casual golf fans interested,

        And I frankly don’t care whether they keep you watching or not. I’m fine with golf as a niche sport.

        • Andrew says:

          I agree with your point entirely.

          Marc Schneider, I am puzzled that you are a Joe Posnanski reader yet consider this a race issue. You clearly appreciate the work of a man who can make us care about any number of subjects without the crutch of star power. Why shouldn’t other writers, producers and editors strive to do the same? It isn’t that hard to manage for an audience of voracious sports fans.

          PS. Tiger Woods bores me to tears. Any number of other golfers are better stories.

          • Karyn says:

            You can’t seriously believe that a small part of Tiger’s appeal was him dominating while being non-white in a game with a large association with racist practices.

  5. David Jacobs says:

    your write-ups are the best.
    I’m fine with golf as a sport.

  6. chlsmith says:

    What about Phil? Rounding up, he’s a Senior Tour player, yet he played great all weekend. The guy is on freakin’ rheumatoid arthritis medicine commercials!!! While Tiger may have had the best all around game in my lifetime, Phil has possibly the best short game ever. I would LOVE to see him finally win the US Open…..

    • Well, except for all the short putts Phil manages to miss, I’d agree with you that he has a great short game…. though not the best of all time. Tigers was better in his prime. But Phil is not winning any US Opens. The oldest player EVER to win a US Open was Hale Irwin at 45. Hale Irwin is the type of player that wins US Opens. Accurate, not terribly long. That’s not Phil. Now, yes, Phil had a couple of great opportunities to win a US Open and didn’t close. But, it’s fair to say, that if Phil didn’t win one in his prime, it’s highly unlikely that he’s going to win one at age 45. If he is, though, he better get it done this year. His window is almost closed. I thought it was fully closed, but he did play well at the Masters in what were hardly US Open conditions. So, I give it a 1% chance that Phil wins another Major. He’s just too old.

  7. mbastable66 says:

    Speaking to reporters at the tournament, Zoeller referred to Tiger Woods as “that little boy” and urged him not to order fried chicken or collard greens for the Champions Dinner next year.

    Um…so yeah I think race had something to do with it

  8. morggy says:

    Last week while paying dues for my time spent fishing was doing the flea market antique store dealie with wife. Actually, sometimes if junky enough these places are kind of fun. Live near Springfield now, and was stunned to see one of the highest priced signed framed jerseys in the joint was…. Jackie’s.

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