Lend Me Your iPhones….I Come to Bury Tiger, not to Praise Him by The Sports Philosopher

May 15, 2011
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     Tiger Woods withdrew from the Players Championship on Thursday.   You saw it.   Walked right off the course.   More knee and Achilles tendon injuries.   Walked off the course at last year’s Players Championship too, with a neck injury.   Since he turned 30 he’s had several knee operations, a broken leg, a torn ACL ligament, recurring Achilles problems, calf problems, a couple swing overhauls, hasn’t won a tournament in 21 months, hasn’t won a Grand Slam “major” in three years, and of course has become the all-time poster child for sloppy, arrogant, profligate, entitlement-crazed, and unabashedly horny behavior in Sports.

Breakfast of Champions

Breakfast of Champions


   Things are not getting better for our favorite feline, they are worsening.   He’s suddenly 35 years old, with, as one golf commentator said on TV last week, “the ravaged body of a 55-year-old”.  (As a real 55-year-old with a ravaged body, I can empathize.)   Seriously, his ongoing golf health is a real issue these days.   So is his bulked-up body.   In a recent poll, 25% of his fellow Tour pros said they believe Tiger is involved with performance-enhancing drugs.   And his confidence, for the first time since he was probably ten years old, is shot.   He forgot how to chip.   He can’t make a putt.   Even a short one.   The “yips”, they call it.   He knows everyone is watching him the way we wait and watch the aftermath of a car accident, or like Old West townspeople showing up in droves for a hanging, we’re all waiting for (and dare I say hoping for) the next tawdry revelation from his decade of bizarre sexual exploration and multi-orifice discovery, modern-day Magellan that he is.   He may yet win again, he may yet win another major, maybe even two (in deference to his great heart, peerless arrogance, and sheer force of will), but Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major championships is safe, and El Tigre (as I have correctly predicted several times in this space during the last couple years) will never again dominate golf or become, once again, the Number One ranked player in the world.  

     In other words….

     as a big-time dominator of his sport….

     ….he’s through.

     Roger Federer has won a record 16 tennis majors but none lately, keeps losing to both Novac Djokovic and Rafa Nadal who are both now ranked above him, is now married with children, and is suddenly pushing thirty.   He will still win the occasional tournament, will probably even win one more Wimbledon, maybe even two (in deference to his glistening grass-court game), but as for ever again dominating his sport or ever again being ranked Number One….

     ….he’s through.

     Kobe Bryant has had a great career.   Five world titles, an MVP, two Finals MVPs, the status of being an all-time-top-15 player in NBA history, and a hatful of records and accomplishments that a kid can only dream about shooting hoops in his backyard growing up.   But his beloved coach just retired (I think), his team gave up on him last week (that was ugly, huh), his teammates (Odom, Gasol, Fisher, Artest) are getting old, his center (Andrew Bynum) is a punk, His Kobeness is 32 but going on 38 from the years and years of giving it everything he has deep into the playoffs and punishing his body in practice like the dedicated gym rat he is.   He’s done a lot, he’s been around forever.   He’s even gotten us to just about forget about how he (allegedly) assaulted a young woman in a Colorado hotel room a few years ago, or, at minimum, publicly cheated on his wife.   Kobe is still a great basketball player.   He’ll still do some great things before he retires.   He may even break Kareem’s scoring record.   But as far as being a big-time dominator or potential league MVP or the best player in the league, or someone who might lead these fractured Lakers to another NBA title, no, those ships have sailed, because in all these respects….

     ….he’s through.

     Shaquille O’Neal has had a great career.   Four world titles, an MVP, three finals MVPs, a hatful of records, a career very much like his old teammate and arch-enemy Kobe.   But watching him lumber up and down the court this year, nearly 400 pounds, on painfully bad wheels, the oldest player in the league both figuratively and literally, moving like a giant human dirigible clad in underwear and tennis shoes as if he just sprang from a Ghostbusters sequel (remember the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man?), I am both amused and reminded that….

     ….he’s through.

     Alex Rodriguez, despite the fact that I consider him the most overhyped overblown overrated so-called “superstar” in baseball history, has had, admittedly, a fine career.   Over 600 home runs, three MVPs, baseball-card stats that would make even the greatest players in history jealous.   But his skills have been on-the-wane for three years now.   A career .300 hitter, he hit only .286 in 2009, went down to .270 in 2010, and is hitting just .259 this year.   More significantly, his power numbers are also steadily decreasing.   Now 36 years old and an admitted ex-Steroid user, his home runs have dropped from 54 to 35 to 30 in ’09 and 30 again last year, as he fights desperately (in his charming me-first way) to keep his 30-homer-a-year streak alive.   A-Lightning-Rod will go on to set a whole bunch of bitchin’-ass records, will probably break Barry Bonds’ home record in five years if he doesn’t do something stupid or Mannylike first (which in his case is certainly possible), but as a big-time dominator who could potentially win a 4th MVP or ever again be ranked among the top-10 players in baseball….

     ….he’s through.  

     And speaking of Manny Ramirez he just retired of course, thank God, meekly retired rather than serve yet another drug suspension and he therefore….

     ….is blissfully and thankfully through too, the big dope.

     It happens fast in Sports, people.   As George C. Scott said, in his very last spoken line in Patton, “All glory is fleeting.”   All these athletic icons are through at the top—the question is who will take their place?   Only time will tell.

     Happens fast in real life, too.

     So don’t wait around.   You might die this week.   Push the envelope, take some chances, do something.   Anything.

     No one can say that the Sports Philosopher doesn’t practice what he preaches.   For instance, just the last few years have seen me self-publish a book and travel all over the Western world.   But in addition to all that, I have taken the proverbial bull by the horns in one other tasty area of Human Existence, which I will now share with you to illustrate that almost anything is possible if you keep pushing the envelope.  

     Anyone who knows me knows that my favorite breakfast cereal is Alpha-Bits.  

     Yes, I said Alpha-Bits.   That tastiest of sugary, oats-based breakfast treats is surely nothing less than a delight commissioned by the gods.   There is nothing quite like wholesome whole-grain oat flour combined with hydrogenated coconut and palm kernel oil to make me feel good.   It reminds me of being a kid.   However, as so often happens to me in stores and restaurants with products I like, it has been virtually discontinued.   You can’t find it on the shelves of any supermarket anymore, anywhere, and it’s been that way for years.   It has gone the way of the dodo, of Tiger Woods, Roger Federer, and Alex Rodriguez, here today gone tomorrow.   Through.   I had just about given up all hope….

     But then, I had the brainwave of brainwaves.   What is the one good thing that has happened in the last twenty years that has actually improved the Human Race, and injected magic into all of our lives?   The Internet, of course!   Sure enough, I went onto amazon.com, punched up Alpha-Bits, and to make a long story short two days later FOUR HUGE BOXES of Alpha-Bits had arrived at my front door.   What a discovery!   They must have all the Alpha-Bits in the world stored in some top-secret warehouse somewhere!   It was, is, a modern-day miracle….    

     I hope this little parable inspires you to do something out of the ordinary in your own life.   For while Sports comebacks are rare, they are still possible in the real world.

     Just remember this: Tiger Woods may be through.   But through the good and kind offices of the Internet, Alpha-Bits lives on.

meet….The Sports Philosopher!image0027

Brad Eastland is an author, historian, film buff, undiscovered fictioneer, and a lifelong lover of hydrogenated coconut and palm kernel oil.   Brad’s other recent columns for LaVerneOnline can be found in Sports under ‘The Sports Philosopher’ and also in Viewpoint under ‘Brad Eastland’s View’.    Brad has also written 4 novels* and over 20 short-stories.   

*To pick up a copy of his recently published novel of life at the racetrack, WHERE GODS GAMBLE, a tale of American mythology, simply search for it on amazon.com, iUniverse.com, or bn.com….its easy!  (If you go through amazon.com, go ahead and add on a few boxes of Alpha-Bits to your order.)





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