Thursday, May 17, 2012

MY 6:37 A.M. TEE TIME


Ever since my father died, I don't play golf very much anymore. In fact, I only play
once a year and when I do, I take just one swing and call it a day. One swing is all I need
to put a smile on my face and go home. No mulligans, no excuses, no do-overs. On May 17,
I hit one ball to honor my father who died on this day, and I do it early. Patrick J. Devlin
passed away at 6:37 a.m on May 17, 2008.

On the anniversary of his passing, I get up well before dawn and drive to the Westchester
Country Club in Harrison, New York. I make sure I allow for enough time for traffic, bad
weather, and other unpredictable things, like leaving my Big Bertha driver at home, which
I've done before. As long as I make it to the tee box at 6:37 a.m., all is good.


This first tee on the West course, which had been the home of a PGA tour event for more
than 40 years, was a special place for me and my Dad. It's where we started the countless
rounds of golf and shared truly incredible times together as father and son, but more importantly,
as best friends. As a kid who grew up with nothing on the south side of Chicago, my father
never played golf and never really spent a lot of time doing things with his Dad, who was
always working two jobs.

Playing golf with me became my father's favorite thing to do and as I grew older, it became
a special thing for me, as well. When my Dad showed up to the first tee, he was part
Rodney Dangerfield and part Arnold Palmer. He was a funny guy who loved to crack jokes
and bust the chops of the people in his foursome, including me. Caddies loved carrying my
father's bag because they knew they'd be in for an entertaining four and a half hours of golf.
He treated them as if they were one of his best friends, and they loved him for it. But after
my father teed off, he could be very competitive and intense. He was tossing clubs long
before Tiger Woods made it part of his game.


The first hole is a Par-4 and 308 yards long. Even when I was as young as 13, my father
would make me play from the back tees. Like hell if he was going to allow me from to hit
from the white tees because to him, they may as well have been the ladies. I drove the
green when I was 16 which made my Dad grin from ear to ear, and over the years, I could
pretty much get out of bed after a night on the town and drill the ball down the middle. I
couldn't explain it, there was just something special about that first hole.

After my father passed away four years ago, I wanted to do something to honor him in
a special way. I gave thought to organizing a tournament in his memory, but it just never
happened, perhaps because I was too selfish and just wanted to keep our golf memories
between him and me. Hitting a drive off the first tee at 6:37 a.m. felt like the perfect thing
to do, even if things would never always be perfect. Last year, there was a torrential
downpour that flooded the area. Staying in the comforts of my bed would've been easy,
but  that was never really an option. My father never missed a day of work in his life, no
matter how sick he was, and he was always there for us, no matter what. I had to be there
for him.

By the time I walked the 500 yards from my car to the first tee, I was beyond soaked. The
sound of rain drilling the sidewalks and cart paths echoed throughout the club, but I was the
only one who could hear it. It seemed surreal and I felt like my Dad and I were walking side
by side as we made our way to the first tee. Even without practice or playing as infrequently
as I do, I always find a way to hit the ball straight down the middle, whether there is pouring
rain or brilliant sunshine. Everything seems so right when I'm on the tee on May 17 at 6:37
a.m. because I know that my father is watching over me just as he always did when he
was alive.




Tuesday, May 15, 2012

NBA OUTFITS. I LOVE THIS GAME!

I watch the NBA about as often as I listen to Screamin' A. Smith and Skip Bayless on ESPN,
which is never. I wouldn't know Russell Westbrook from Russell Stover and there's a good
chance you wouldn't, either. His Q-rating is lower than a canary's IQ. Westbrook is a terrific
player with the Oklahoma City Thunder, which is a team in the Western Conference, for
those scoring at home. After OKC putting a thumping on the Lakers in the first game of their
series, Westbrook strode to the podium looking like Erkel all grown up. He had the glasses and
a shirt with a pattern that looked like something Lindsay Lohan would've come up with after
an all-night bender. OMG. LOL. WTF? They all apply to this look.


I'm sure after Westbrook came out in this ensemble, Twitter, Facebook, and all the other
ridiculous social media networks were on overload. Everybody was talking, and I'm sure that's
what Westbrook wanted. Damn, his stats in the basketball game. He looked like Erkel and people
were talking. Mission accomplished. But Westbrook's outfit brought to mind a few other one's
that somehow got past the fashion police. Westbrook's teammate, Kevin Durant, possesses
freakish skills on the court, but how his mother let him out of the house with this outfit on


is beyond me. The guys on the "Queer Eye For The Straight Guy" would have trouble explaining
this one to the masses. Is Durant going to jump out of a plane after the press conference and
parachute to safety? The guy makes $10 million a year and this in the best he could do? How
could Durant look in the mirror and say, "Yeah, I'm down with this"? How do you wash
something like this outfit, anyway? Dwayne Wade of the Miami Heat has style, but sometimes
he just tries to hard. What's up with the bow-tie, D-Wade? A guy with a nickname like that


shouldn't be wearing a bow-tie. He looks like he's paying tribute to one of his professors at Marquette, not that he ever went to class or anything. And what's up with the patch on the
glasses? Is he paying homage to Lisa Left Eye with that sticker? Maybe all these NBA guys
have seen too much of Craig Sager of TBS over the years. Sager breaks out the pastels and
all kinds of crazy patterns so everybody says, "What the hell are you wearing?" If nobody
was talking, Sager would be insignificant. But they certainly chirp about his colorful wardrobe.


I don't know how Dwight Howard of the Magic kept a straight face during this interview.
Sager's blazer looks like it came out of the Bronx Zoo's reptile exhibit. How does anybody say,
"Yeah, this is classy"? It's all about shock value and getting people to talk, tweet, and FB about
what your wearing. Look at me, I'm writing about all these interesting outfits. Like Westrbook
and D-Wade, Amare Stoudamire prefers to go with the studious look.


Stoudamire sometimes looks like he was a Phi Beta Kappa at an Ivy League School, rather
than a stud who went straight from high school to the NBA. Hey, as Madonna once sang,
"Express yourself" and NBA players sure got the message. Michael Jordan always showed up
in a $10, 000 suit and looked like he came straight out of the pages of GQ, Forget the parachute,
sweaters, and glasses, Jordan had style and he was classy. My favorite athlete of all-time at
press conferences is Clinton Portis of the Washington Redskins. The veteran running back
always has a colorful outfit for the cameras, microphones and members of the media.



And you have to give Portis credit, he not only comes up with great outfits, but nicknames,
as well. His characters include, "Sheriff Gonna Getcha", "Southeast Jerome", "Coach Janky
Spanky" and Choo-Choo. Portis is entertaining and if you're a member of the media, how can
you not like his creativity? Bold, original, and never off the rack. I love it.


THEY ARE GETTING PAID HOW MUCH?

You don't have to look at their stats to realize these players are ridiculously overpaid.
All you have to do is look at the zeroes on the end of their paychecks. Here are the most
overpaid players in the game right now. I realize Albert Pujols is still riding the Interstate with
one home run, but he's been incredible for the last 11 years, so he gets a pass.


10. ALEX RODRIGUEZ YANKEES $29 MILLION New York got suckered into giving
      A-Rod that big extension. Oh, he still can get hot once in awhile, but he's on the back nine
      of his career and in decline. The Yankees are paying a lot for him to flirt with breaking the
      all-time home run record, but the way A-Rod has been breaking down, he's not going to
      surpass Barry Bonds. And will anybody even care if he does? The HR king is a tainted
      title that I'm not sure A-Rod even wants. Don't worry 'bout getting the popcorn ready for
      this one.

  9  ALEX RIOS $12 MILLION WHITE SOX. Talk about getting a lot of bang for your
      buck, Rios has one home run this year. An invitation to the Home Run Derby at the All-Star
      Game is forthcoming. Boy genius J.P Richardi gave Rios a monster deal in Toronto and
      Anthopolous got Kenny Williams to swallow the contract. Chicago still owes Rios $25
      million after this year.
      
  8. JASON BAY METS $18.1 MILLON. He's become the human band-aid. Always getting
      hurt and can't handle the pressure of playing in the Big Apple. When he plays, Bay looks
      almost feeble and overmatched at the plate.

      
  7. AJ BURNETT PIRATES $16.5 MILLION The Yankees want to get rid of AJ so
     badly, they paid the Pirates to take him. Burnett got a ring with New York, but his greatest
     contribution to the team was starting the post-game interview pie face that nearly every
     team employs today. Way to go, AJ.

     
 6. CARLOS ZAMBRANO MARLINS $18,000,000 No wonder former Cubs GM Jim
      Hendry got the boot out of the Windy City. He gave Zambrano and Alfonso Soriano
      (See below) monster contracts that became obscene just a few years into them. Zambrano
      became such a head case and a human volcano that nobody on the team wanted to play
      with him anymore. Cubs GM Theo Epstein dumped the "Big Z" on Miami and is paying
      all but about a nickel of his salary.

  5. ALFONSO SORIANO CUBS $18,000,000. Really? Think of how Eddie Murphy
      laughs when he hears something really absurd. This is absurd. Soriano can't play defense,
      or run. He can still hit a little bit, but for $18 million, the guy should be hitting 40 jacks
      a year.
     
  4. VERNON WELLS ANGELS $21,000,000 His albatross of a contract got two general 
      managers fired. Then Toronto GM J.P. Riccardi gifted Wells with a 7-year, $126 million
      contract in 2006. Bye, bye J.P. New GM Alex Anthopolous pulled the biggest sucker job
      in baseball history when he convinced Angels GM Tony Reagins to take Wells and the
      remaining $80 million on his contract. No chipping in with the price tag. Nothing. They
      actually received Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera in return. Bye, bye Reagins. Wells is no better
      than Endy Chavez now.

  3. BARRY ZITO GIANTS $19,000,000 He should've been put in Alcatraz a long time 
      ago for stealing San Francisco's money. Oh, the former Cy Young award winner is 
      starting to pitch like Miquel Batista this year, but he's been a bust with the Giants no 
      matter how you slice it. The guy can play a mean guitar, though.

      
  2. JOE MAUER TWINS $23,000,000 Some may be surprised to see Mauer up this 
      high on the list, but when you're making $23 million per year, you need to produce. 
      I realize Mauer hit for a high average early in his career, but anyone making this type 
      of bread needs to put up some power numbers. Mauer has never driven in 100 runs in 
      his career. Makes good Head & Shoulders commercials, though.

      
  1. CARL CRAWFORD RED SOX $19,500,000. seriously, the guy has been hurt and
      invisible since signing with the Red Sox in the winter of 2011. After Edgar Renteria,
      Crawford has melted the most in the Boston spotlight. Theo Epstein gave a player who
      never hit 20 home runs a $140 million contract. What a waste.

   
      

Friday, May 11, 2012

JOSH BECKETT AND HIS '18 DAYS OFF'


 If there was a movement in Boston to protest the 1 percent, there's little doubt it'd be titled,
"Occupy Beckett's Head." At $17 million a year, Josh Beckett rests in a tax-bracket for only the
elite or grossly overpaid (Carl Crawford) in baseball. Players get 12 paychecks a year and even
that 4-year old kid who was sucking on his mom's boob for Time magazine can tell you that
comes out to over one million dollars every two weeks. For the average working class person,
(the 99 percent) that's like winning the lottery a dozen times a year.

After getting whacked around like a pinata in 2.1 innings of 'work' on Thursday night, Beckett
looked like John Edwards getting grilled on the witness stand about his $400 haircuts. He was
getting peppered by the sour Boston media about playing golf before missing a start with an
alleged injury. With each question Beckett grew more defiant. It appeared that steam was coming
out of Beckett's ears and he wanted to take the microphone of every reporter and stick it
where the sun doesn't shine.


Beckett claimed his golf outing had nothing to do with the odoriferous performance he gave
against the Indians on the Thursday night. But when he delivered the line that is surely to be
etched in the memory of every member of Red Sox nation, ("We get 18 days off a year. I think
we deserve a little time to ourselves") the "Occupy Beckett's Head" movement went into full
effect: What the hell was he thinking? What is going on inside the dome of the mighty righty? Beckett morphs  into A.J. Burnett on the mound, giving up seven earned runs in just over two
innings and he defends himself and his golf outing by saying, "We get 18 days off a year. I
think we deserve a little time to ourselves."

Beckett appeared to be so flippant and oblivious to the one thing that really matters to the fans
in Boston: caring. If a player doesn't care in Atlanta, Tampa Bay, or San Diego, it's not a big
deal because the fans in those passionless baseball towns don't care, either. The Red Sox are
religion in Boston. Baseball is everything in that town and if the fans sense that you don't care
about the game, then they'll never let you forget it. After that performance during the game and
in the press conference, Red Sox fans will be bring their five-irons to Fenway for every one of
his starts to tee off on him.

I'm sure over the next few days Beckett will backtrack and offer a few thinly-veiled, "my bads",
but the damage has been done and his reputation has reached the depths of John Lackey, his
drinking and chicken wing eating buddy who is collecting a cool $15 million as he sits out
the entire year recovering from elbow surgery.

As for Beckett and his 18 days off a year. In his previous six seasons with the Red Sox,
Tiger Beckett has averaged about 30 starts a year. That is 30 work days during a six month
season. He is only counted on by the Red Sox, who will pay him more than $100 million
when it's all said and done, to work 30 days. That's it, that's all. Then he goes home for four
months before he reports back to spring training.

The baseball season is a brutal grind that can wear players out. But Beckett is not a player,
he is a pitcher. He performs once every five days and then gets to play all the golf he wants
in that "free time he deserves." Most pitchers play a lot of golf during the season, that's just
a fact. Those who pitch once a week that play in Arizona, San Diego, Atlanta, and L.A.
often play every day except on the day that they pitch.


Beckett did it after missing a start because of an injury and didn't really seem to care how
it was perceived, or care at all, for that matter. I'm not a big fan of the saying, "perception is
reality", but not caring is how Beckett is perceived as in Boston, and that's going to be hard
for him to shake.

A 'TIME' TO HAMMER SLEAZE


After watching Terrell Owens cry like a baby on the Dr. Phil show, I thought I had pretty
much seen it all. The dead beat dad was getting battered by the three mothers of his eight children
that he's never seen. Or is it nine? I forget. It doesn't matter. The former NFL receiver is a train
wreck.

The news cycle rinsed away T.O., hopefully, for good, and then came the despicable cover of
TIME magazine, which was once the gold standard of all news magazines. Not anymore. The
magazine officially entered the world of those that have little to do with substance and everything
to do with style and sleaze. They went for shock value with a cover that blew up Twitter,
Facebook, and just about every news and entertainment show on the planet, and Lord knows,
there are too many of them. The cover story was about attached moms and breast-feeding, or something like that. It didn't really matter. Nobody was talking about that. Instead, everyone was focusing on a little kid, not an infant, sucking on the boob of a hot blonde, who is allegedly his mother.

At first glance, I thought it was an old cover of National Lampoon magazine or some whacked
out fetish periodical. After all, in this day and age where anything goes, can you blame me?
A young, beautiful mother with a kid who is probably on Facebook and Twitter already, standing
on a chair and sucking on the breast of his mother for the entire world to see. Forever. I know it's
a rhetorical question, but is nothing sacred anymore? I guess we can all answer that question by
looking at some of the pictures that are posted on Facebook these days.


What kind of mother allows her and her kid to be pictured doing an act like that on a magazine
cover such as Time? And make no mistake, it was an act. When you pose for a photographer
with all kinds of lighting with your kid sucking on your breast, it is an act. I wonder how that's
going to play out at the country club or with her 1,848 friends on Facebook. I wonder what kind
of taunts  that kid is going to get when he reaches the first grade. That picture is going to follow
that kid forever and guaranteed to make him the subject of abuse, probably for the rest of his life.

The people at Time magazine have sunk to a level reserved for Snooki and the disgraced producer
of the "Girls Gone Wild" franchise. This cover is pure garbage. Oh, yes, I understand shock value
and doing something that creates a buzz and has everybody talking. I understand the old adage
that "bad publicity is better than no publicity." I get all of that and how to generate views, hits,
and ratings. But this cover is a disgrace.  Imagine if your kid sees this cover and comes up to you
and asks for an explanation what the heck are you going to say?

And why didn't they put some homely mother on the cover? No, they had to get some stunning
blonde that would catch the attention of everybody. Then they throw in some kid feeding on her breast like it's his last meal. Insane. Just really, really insane and just another example how really steep the decline of character and moral fiber in our society is.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

CARL BEANE: GONE WAY TOO SOON

For most of us, Christmas Day only comes once a year, but for Carl Beane, it happened 81
more times during the baseball season. If the Red Sox made the playoffs, he'd get a little
extra something in his stocking. You see, Beane was the public address announcer at Fenway
Park. It was a dream job which he landed close to the age of 50. Red Sox players making
millions to play a kids game, never took the field as happy as the man who was introducing
them. Nobody or anything could wipe the grin off the face of Beane, not even a meltdown
by his beloved team when they blew a 9-0 lead to the Yankees earlier this season. Beane had a
job that he waited almost a lifetime to get and after nine years behind the mic, he was firmly
entrenched in it.

On Wednesday morning, Beane died of a heart attack while driving in Sturbridge, Massachusetts.
He was just 59 years old. In a season that's been unfolding like a soap opera for the Red Sox,
the death of Beane is like a tragedy in a Greek play, except this is real. Beane was a beloved
figure around Fenway Park, a person who appeared to be an underdog all his life, finally
enjoying his greatest professional achievement. He was the Red Sox public address announcer.
In Boston, if you are employed by the Red Sox or have anything to do with them, (unless you're
John Lackey or Josh Beckett) you are looked upon in a very good light and envied by many
throughout Red Sox nation. No game started before Beane introduced the lineups and he took
an enormous amount of pride in doing it.


I first met Beane on my first tour of Boston in 1998. I'd always see him at Red Sox and Patriot
games where he'd be in the scrum of reporters holding some kind of microphone waiting
to record the same old, vanilla-flavored answers from the the athletes. He'd occasionally ask a
question or exchange small talk with a colleague, and I'd always say to myself, "That guy has
one helluva voice." After leaving Boston and coming back from Atlanta in 2004, I discovered
"that guy" was the public address announcer for the Red Sox. He had auditioned for the job a
year earlier and won the position over a number of other candidates. He wasn't just Carl Beane
anymore, he was Carl Beane, public address announcer of the Red Sox, and he loved every
minute of it. And Beane appeared to be a good luck charm for the Red Sox as they won the
World Series in 2004 and 2007.


Beane wore the two World Series rings presented to him by Red Sox ownership like the kid
who got the biggest present at Christmas. And why not? Can you imagine getting your dream
job at 50, then being considered part of not one, but two World Championship teams in Boston?
Boston is not Atlanta or Phoenix where they don't win anything, or even care about anything,
for that matter. Boston is the greatest sports city in the country with the most passionate fans
around and Beane was a part of it.

Life is cruel and it sure as heck isn't fair. Good people die way too young and bad ones get ahead
by lying, cheating, and throwing others under the bus. Carl Beane was a good guy who died
way too young. But he achieved his dream and he did things the right way. Red Sox nation will
miss him.

BEST JOSH HAMILTON STORY I'VE EVER HEARD

Before the four home run game on Tuesday night, the tape measure shots, and the demons and
drug addiction that almost derailed his life and career, Josh Hamilton was a ridiculously talented
player at a high school in Raleigh, North Carolina. He was on the radar of Major League scouts
as a freshman and by the time he was a senior, Hamilton didn't have to bother looking at colleges.
A major league team was going to make him an instant millionaire as soon as he was eligible for
the 1999 draft.

During the scouting process, a well-respected talent evaluator was assigned to check out Hamilton
prior to the draft. He worked for the Arizona Diamondbacks and prior to the game, the front office
of the D-backs told this scout to call them after watching Hamilton play in the first inning of the
game. Hamilton was scheduled to pitch and there was some debate as to whether Hamilton's
future in the game would be as a pitcher or outfielder. The left-hander could throw the ball through
a car wash without it getting wet and he just overpowered high school hitters.

In the game the scout was watching, Hamilton's first three pitchers out of his hand were 96, 96,
and 98 miles per hour. Those are the kind of pitches that high school hitters HEAR but don't see.
Hamilton struck out the side in the top of the first inning. He batted third in the bottom of the
inning and the crushed the first pitch he saw into the trees some 450 feet away.


As per request, the scout for the D-backs made a call to the front office to let them know what
Hamilton did in the first inning. "Well, Hamilton hit 98 on the gun and struck out the side in the
first inning," the scout, in a slow, southern drawl told the people anxiously awaiting on the other
end of the line. "Then he hit a ball  that would've gone of Yellowstone Park in the bottom of
the first."

The D-backs personnel in Arizona weren't really all that surprised because they knew how
talented Hamilton was. But they pressed the scout to compare Hamilton to any other player
he's evaluated or seen in the big leagues. The scout responded, "Well, I'm not exactly sure,
to be honest with you." The front-office was incredulous that the scout couldn't come up with
at least one player that was comparable to Hamilton. "Come on," demanded the man on the
other end of the line. "There has to be someone who Hamilton compares to." There was silence
on the other end for a few seconds.

"Well, I'd have to say Babe Ruth."

True, very true.