Friday, June 29, 2012

Chief Justice Roberts: Unimaginable hero (or villain) in sport-like Obamacare drama

My single favorite things about sports (or "sport," as Mitt Romney likes to say) is that we just don't know what will happen. We may think we know what will happen, but even the most skilled prognosticators are wrong time and time again.

For me, covering sports meant chronicling different dramas everyday, with new heroes and villains, surprising stars and incredible 3D action.

If only life could be more like sports, how interesting life would be.

Sometimes, thankfully, life doesn't disappoint. Such was the case Thursday, when the Supreme Court decision on Obamacare came down.

Although a majority of pundits seemed to think the law would be shot down, there were plenty who felt it would be upheld. But did any of the folks on either side of the aisle -- even one? -- believe the drama would unfold the way it did?

As it turns out, it wasn't Anthony Kennedy -- Mr. Swing Vote -- who would decide the law's fate, as pretty much everybody had predicted. No, the unlikely hero (for libs) or villain (for cons) was Chief Justice John Roberts, a reliably conservative jurist vetted by Karl Rove and appointed by Dubya Bush, who saved Barack Obama's signature act as president.

Why did Roberts do it? Why did he go out of his way -- seemingly digging and digging until he found something of a loophole -- to uphold the dreaded individual mandate that Republicans hated (even though many GOPers liked it before it was pushed by Obama, who hated it before he liked it)?

We might not know until Roberts writes his memoirs. Heck, we may never know.

In the end, it was something straight out of a John Grisham novel ... except in this one, readers would have shaken their heads in disbelief and said: "Yeah, right. As if that could happen."

But happen it did: a thrilling, impossible conclusion to a hotly contested Game 7, a wild finish that left half the audience elated and the other half crushed.

Pretty cool, just like sport itself.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Today's High 5: College football's unimpressive playoff. Also: vacations for me ... and Erin Andrews

5. Four teams? Please.

The college football playoff needed to accommodate at least eight teams to make it a true national tournament -- as well as to keep cronyism at bay. You know the selection committee will be filled with big-money-conference types who will protect their golden geese. 

The bloated bowl system remains intact, too, which is nice for fans of the Beef O'Brady's Bowl.

As satisfying as it was to hear the powers-that-be finally admit that the BCS was a huge failure, this is barely progress. And for some head-scratching reason, college honchos felt the need to lock this new system in place for 12 years.

Wake me when we have a real champion, please.

4. White Sox GM Ken Williams gets criticized often, but I always have admired the way he swings for the fences. His latest move, getting Kevin Youkilis from the Red Sox for spare parts, bordered on brilliant.

3. I took some time off from TBT while Roberta and I visited Chicago. We drove up from Charlotte with our beautiful pup, Simcha -- who was in the car, not strapped to the top in an air-tight cage.

We spent most of our time with young'uns Katie and Ben, who are doing wonderfully, thanks for asking. We also got to visit our dear friends, the Marks, the Pellikans and the Brundidges.

On Friday, I golfed with sportswriter buddies Rick Morrissey, Teddy Greenstein, Mike Imrem, Lindsey Willhite and Adam Rittenberg. That's right: a Sun-Times guy, a Tribster, two Daily Herald dudes and an scribe; that's about as diverse a group as a bunch of lily-white males can be. It would have been even more diverse (and more white and more male) if the Southtown Star's Phil Arvia had joined us as planned. He wimped out with the lamest of excuses: his wife broke her leg. Two days later, I hit the links with my two best Marquette friends, Tom Chodzko and John Lamich. I shot a pair of 93s, so it's a good thing the company was great!

One of the trip's highlights took place Saturday night, when my wife and I saw our favorite band, Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers, rock the Cubby Bear. Katie and Ben joined us and a fantastic time was had by all.

Oh, and of course, we ate at Pequod's, the best deep-dish pizza on earth.

All in all, it was a super fun Chicago visit before we returned to Charlotte -- just in time for it to be 100-plus degrees all weekend. Pass the deodorant, please.

2. I have yet to decide if I love HBO's newest series, The Newsroom, but I'm pretty sure I don't hate it.

And I must admit that I laughed out loud upon hearing that Jeff Daniels' character, combustible newscaster Will McAvoy, spent a vacation in the tropics canoodling with Erin Andrews.

You know ... I had wondered why I hadn't seen her lately.

1. After winning our previous three games, including our playoff opener, by double-digit slaughter-rule scores, our 45-and-over softball team, the Blue Thunder, suffered a tough defeat Tuesday night.

Yours truly had two line-drive hits, scored a few runs and had an RBI ... but I also messed up: Playing catcher, I failed to scoop a low throw that would have cut off a run; I also got thrown out at the plate trying to score. As a team, we played a little too loose in the field, walked a few too many batters and didn't have quite enough hits, all contributing factors to us blowing a late lead and losing by two runs.

We're not done yet, though. It's a double-elimination tournament, and we already have scored decisive victories over the next two teams we'll face (if we win our next game, that is).

Why am I boring everybody with my softball team's exploits? Well, because I can. It's my blog!

Besides ... our playoffs, unlike major college football's, will produce a true champion.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Today's High 5: Clemens "not guilty" ... but probably not Hall bound

5. OK, so Roger Clemens is officially "innocent." Can we please start spending tax dollars on something that actually matters to society?

Like, perhaps, appointing me Czar of Sports Hackery?

4. Yes, Jim Furyk imploded in a collapse that, while not quite Vandeveldeian or Normanian (or even Cubbian), certainly was impressive. And yes, some poser named Eldrick Woods fell apart on Saturday and Sunday, proving for the umpteenth time that he's nowhere near being Tiger again.

But give Webb Simpson credit. While others around him were fading away in the San Fran fog, he was shooting a 68-68 over the weekend on a course that seemed only slightly more fun than a Seamus Romney road trip.

Simpson not only outlasted everybody, he outplayed everybody. He made the most big shots on championship Sunday. And that, my friends, is how you win a U.S. Open.

3. I remember having a discussion at the end of the 2007 NFL season with another scribe during which we concluded that LaDainian Tomlinson was one of the top five running backs we had seen, right up there with Walter Payton, Emmitt Smith, O.J. Simpson and Barry Sanders. (We both are too young to remember Jim Brown.)

After that discussion, L.T. had an injury-plagued 1,100-yard season, followed by two sub-par (for him) years, followed by last season's slog as a specialty back for the mediocre Jets.

And now he has retired at the ripe old age of 32.

Life as an NFL runner is glamorous for a short spell but certainly isn't easy.

2. Finally, LeBron James is looking and acting and sounding and, most importantly, playing like a guy who cares more about winning than anything else.

He's only two wins away from proving he belongs to be mentioned in the same breath as the Michaels, Kobes and Magics.

Of course, he's also only three losses away from having more scorn rained down upon him than any Twitter-era athlete ever has experienced.

Kind of makes you root for him a little, no?

No? OK.

1. So now that Clemens has been found not guilty of perjury and all other charges against him in a trial that cost taxpayers a mere 3 million bucks, what are his chances of getting into the Baseball Hall of Fame?

Answer: not too good.

Based on how voting has gone down the last few years, if a guy even is suspected slightly of having used steroids, he gets the short shrift from the Baseball Writers Association of America. And despite Monday's verdict, more than a little suspicion remains about Roger. He will be shunned big-time.

I am leaning toward voting for him because I believe he had a Hall of Fame record of accomplishment before his juicing reportedly began.

Having said that, I probably won't vote for him this December, when he appears on the ballot for the first time.

I've never been a voter who has differentiated between "regular" Hall of Famers and first-ballot Hall of Famers. It never bothered me that some of my peers reserved first-ballot status only for the best of the best, but I always felt that if a guy deserved a Hall vote, he deserved it ... period.

I think I'll change things up for the few Roid Boyz that I deem Hall worthy. If they're going to get my vote at all, they're going to have to wait for it.

Why? Because I have the power to make them wait, that's why.

Friday, June 15, 2012

What a lucky schlub I've been

It's a big year for personal anniversaries ...


I first cultivated my sense of adventure ... as captured in this Aug. 1, 1962 story in my hometown Milford Citizen:

Little 20-month-old Michael Nadel decided to go for a walk this afternoon at 5 o'clock and wasn't missed until the family saw his chair empty at dinner time.

Just as the family of Mr. and Mrs. Jerry Nadel, of 59 Wheeler Avenue, went out to look for the boy, he rode up to the house a proud passenger in a police car.

Sgt. Frank Polizzi, who lives about a half mile away from the Nadels, explained he saw sun-suited Michael walking along Milford Point Road and didn't recognize him as being from the neighborhood. A few youngsters nearer the Nadels' home told the policeman where the boy lived.

My parents should have been soooo embarrassed. I mean ... a sunsuit?


The fall of '72 was incredibly thrilling as my team, the Miami Dolphins, became the first -- and still the only -- NFL squad to go through an entire season (including playoffs) unbeaten and untied.

How did a kid from Connecticut come to like the Dolphins instead of the Patriots, Giants or Jets?

Well, I was a late bloomer when it came to sports. In fact, I kind of hated them. But as I approached adolescence, I got to be good friends with a kid named Dave Kirschner, who was a huge sports fan. He convinced me to like his favorite basketball team, the Knicks, but I wasn't about to like the Jets because, well, they pretty much sucked.

No, I was an impressionable kid and I wanted to root for a great team, and the Dolphins were coming off a Super Bowl season (they lost to the Cowboys). Plus, they had the coolest aquamarine and orange uniforms. Larry Csonka was my favorite player.

So I became a Dolphins fanatic. Eventually, a Knicks and Yankees fanatic, too. And I started keeping scrapbooks on those teams, as well as the Rangers in hockey. Which, in turn, made me fall in love with writing.

And the rest, as they say, is history.


Marquette won the '77 national basketball title in Al McGuire's final game as coach.

Not long after that, I went to a college fair and the Marquette representative was very persuasive. She had to be to get a Jewish kid from Connecticut who had never been east of Lancaster, Pa., to agree to freeze his keister off in freakin' Milwaukee. Why I didn't go to Arizona State or Miami or Hawaii or UCLA, I'll never know!

There are those in academia who claim that the success of athletic programs doesn't really help a university's profile. Well, I wouldn't even have known Marquette existed if not for the Warriors -- and I'm guessing thousands of others who chose to matriculate there say the same thing.

After becoming a professional sportswriter, I gave up my allegiances to the Dolphins and Knicks and Yankees and Rangers. But I always will root for Marquette hoops.

Bottom line: I was never a Dolphin or a Yankee. I'll be a Warrior forever.


I graduated from Marquette and began my career with the AP in Milwaukee.

These days, it's tough for graduates to get a job. How difficult is it? In article after article, the authors almost always write something like: "This is the most difficult job market for college graduates since 1982."

Yep, the 1982 recession was a rough one. I was one of only a few Marquette J-school grads to get a job in the profession. I'd love to say it was because I was the best, but I know better. It was at least 75 percent luck.

How I got that first job with AP is a great story ... and maybe you'll read about it someday if I ever write that book!


I covered my first Stanley Cup Finals in 1987 -- Oilers vs. Flyers -- beginning a long stretch as AP's de facto national hockey writer.

Was I chosen because I was a hockey expert? Hardly. I was working in Minnesota, so I simply was closer to Canada than anybody else. "Hey, they have lots of ice in Minnesota, right? Let's send Nadel to Edmonton."

The association with hockey worked nicely for me, as I went on to cover seven more Stanley Cups and four Olympic hockey tournaments for AP. The only two national writing awards I received were for hockey-related stories.

These days, I'm not sure I could name a dozen NHL players. Is Chris Chelios still in the league?


I covered my first NBA Finals -- Bulls vs. Trail Blazers.

One of my favorite keepsakes is a Portland newspaper photo of a media session. Michael Jordan is looking up at me, answering one of my questions.

Someday, one of my grandkids will ask: "Who's that guy in the picture with grandpa?" That'll be cool.

I still had hair in 1992, though it was thinning rapidly. I also had my trusty Bic 4-color pen in hand ... and I still buy them by the multi-pack.


Jordan had his incredible "food-poisoning game" against the Jazz in the '97 NBA Finals.

It was the only playoff game during the Bulls' Jordan Era II that I didn't cover.

While in Utah for Game 4, I got the word that my mom had died. After that game, I flew to Philadelphia for the funeral. I watched Game 5 -- the sickness game -- while sitting on my brother's sofa a few hours after we buried my mom.


As a freshman, my daughter Katie helped her high school team win the city championship in its division. She was the leading scorer in the playoffs and made the title-clinching steal.

Katie would go on to be the first athlete in Walter Payton College Prep history to win four varsity letters in one sport.

I still display a great framed photo, snapped by a Chicago Tribune photographer during her freshman year. The one time in her life she drove left, it was captured for all eternity.

Obviously, I was proud of Katie's exploits ... and equally proud of my boy Ben's many, many athletic triumphs. Today, both are in their mid-20s, employed and on their own -- which also makes me very proud.

For a guy who never rooted for the teams he covered, being able to cheer on my kids' teams was huge. After Ben played his last high school baseball game in 2006, I went through withdrawal. Seriously. It took me a year to get over that void.

If you have young kids and they are into sports or acting or music or whatever, enjoy the hell out of it, because the time will go by far too fast!


GateHouse Media bought the Copley newspapers in Illinois.

That was the beginning of the end for me, because I knew it was only a matter of time before the weasels there deemed me a luxury they no longer could afford. After all, they needed to have plenty of money on hand to give themselves bonuses and double-digit raises. Not that I'm bitter or anything.

Thankfully, 2007 also was the year we sold our last Chicago home, an overpriced condo that we never should have bought in the first place.

Despite its glorious rooftop deck that provided a sterling view of the skyline, the condo didn't sell easily. It took six full months and the process caused lots of angst. Little did we know that the housing market was in the early stages of a total freefall and we were lucky to sell at all.

We moved into an apartment with the idea that we'd buy a house, maybe in the suburbs. But the market just kept getting worse ... and then I got laid off. It sure was nice knowing we didn't have a house we couldn't afford. That "temporary" apartment ended up being home for 3 1/2 years until we moved to Charlotte.

Wow. Lots of anniversaries. Next year's the biggie, though: 30 years of wedded bliss to my wonderful Roberta. Who'da thunk a schlub like me would be lucky enough to land and keep a babe like that?

You know, despite a bad break or two, I really have lived a charmed life.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Chicago musings: Forte's contract, Humber's imperfection, Jaramillo's exodus

I guess what the mystics have said for eons is true: You can take the bald dude out of Chicago, but you can't take Chicago completely out of the bald dude ...

The Bald Truth

If I were Matt Forte -- and we often are mistaken for each other because of our incredibly athletic physiques -- I would skip all of minicamp, all of training camp and as much of the season as it takes ... until the Bears give me the contract I deserve.

Contracts in the NFL are unlike those in baseball, basketball and football. Beyond their signing bonuses, most players do not get guaranteed money. If they get hurt, they can be discarded as if they were dryer lint, and their team owes them nothing. Running backs, especially, have short careers and must maximize earnings while they can.

Forte has given everything to the Bears. One could argue pretty easily that he, not Jay Cutler or Brian Urlacher, has been their MVP these last few years.

Since he arrived in 2008, has there been a more underpaid player in the entire NFL?

After being jerked around by the McCaskeys and their personnel people, Forte deserves a contract that reflects his value.

He is irreplaceable, and he should dare the Bears to try to replace him.

The Balder Truth

In his 4-0 win over the Mariners on April 21, Philip Humber didn't allow a single baserunner. In his other 10 starts for the White Sox, he has a 6.92 ERA.

Oh well. Nobody's perfect.


When the Cubs couldn't hit in either the 2007 or 2008 postseasons and then got off to a slow start in 2009, somebody had to take the fall. It wouldn't be their GM or manager or, God forbid, any of their players. No, it would hitting coach Gerald Perry. He was the problem, so Jim Hendry fired him.

The following offseason, in probably the most-hyped hiring of a hitting coach in baseball history, Hendry threw millions of Cubbie Bucks at Rudy Jaramillo. Over the ensuing months, Hendry and everyone else associated with the team repeatedly called Jaramillo "our biggest free-agent signing."


Lou Piniella quit, Hendry got fired, a bunch of players got shipped away, different players came aboard. And no matter what, the Cubs never hit under the great Rudy Jaramillo.

Now, it's Jaramillo who is looking for a job.

Yep, today's Cubbie Savior (Theo Epstein) has sent yesterday's Cubbie Savior packing.

And on and on and on it goes.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Casey Martin rides again!

Remember the caterwauling more than a decade ago, when Casey Martin won the right to ride a golf cart in professional tournaments due to the rare circulatory condition that renders his right leg almost useless?

Dozens of players will start claiming medical reasons to ride, ruining the very fabric of the sport! Golf has an endurance component to it, and this will give Martin an unfair competitive advantage! Walking is traditional; golf is tradition-bound; ipso fatso, this will end tournament golf as we know it!

"Someone else along the line will use this, I promise you," Jack Nicklaus warned after a court order allowed Martin to use a cart lo those many years ago. "It will happen. There will be another mess someplace."

When it comes to golf, Jack isn't wrong often. But he and the many other top golfers of the time who argued against Martin were dead wrong about this.

Not one other championship-level golfer has tried to gain the right to use carts during tournaments. Nobody has suggested that carts be used in events on brutally hot days. It's a non-factor, a non-issue.

Somehow, golf has done just fine despite Martin's attempts to "ruin" the sport.

Martin is back at the U.S. Open, his first competitive event in five years. He got the right to play this week in San Francisco the hard way: He earned it through qualifying. (And, yes, he did use a cart to get around the course.) He is now a 40-year-old golf coach.

I'm rooting for him to at least make the cut.


On a completely unrelated note ...

I wrote another financial article for the Seeking Alpha site last week. Here's the link:

No guarantee that reading it will make you a billionaire.

Or even a hundredaire like me.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Another columnist bites the dust

Tim Sullivan, who spent the last decade of an outstanding journalism career as the supremely talented columnist at U-T San Diego (formerly the San Diego Union-Tribune), was fired last week. The newspaper's president and CEO, a vengeful weasel named John Lynch, made the move out of spite because of something Tim had written six years earlier.

Here's an account of the situation from Dave Kindred of Indiana University's National Sports Journalism Center:

He was at work on the Mike Trout column when a window opened on his computer screen. At 3 p.m. Friday, he had an appointment with the paper’s editor, Jeff Light.
The note was ominous. Six years before, Sullivan had made an enemy. That man was now his newspaper’s president and CEO. He had criticized XX Sports Radio station owner John Lynch for “heavy-handed” editorials in favor of a new stadium for the San Diego Chargers. “The man has all the subtlety of a sledgehammer,” Sullivan wrote of Lynch, and then quoted a Lynch editorial threatening the city attorney: “If you attempt to be an obstructionist in a county or other deal with the Chargers, we will lead a campaign to recall you. That’s a promise and we will spend whatever it takes to remove you from office.”
Then, in November 2011, San Diego hotel magnate Doug Manchester bought the newspaper and installed Lynch as its top executive. The Voice of San Diego, a non-profit news organization, reported that Lynch wanted the U-T sports page “to be an advocate for a new football stadium” and quoted him saying the paper should “call out those who don’t as obstructionists.”
A journalistic product of the Watergate era – reporters as skeptics, as idealists – Sullivan didn’t like anything Lynch said. He went to Light with misgivings about their new boss. Sullivan says he wanted to provide Light “the background on what I had written about Lynch and to express my ethical concerns going forward. I told him then that I was not in a position to quit on principle but that I was worried that Lynch’s interview had inflicted serious damage to the paper’s credibility and that his leadership would result in compromised standards.” Sullivan also says he “expressed concern that (Lynch’s) heavy-handed ways had not changed since my 2006 column and, as a consequence, my position on the stadium question might cost me my job – that Lynch might see me as an obstructionist.”
Sullivan had not been an obstructionist. He had been a reporter asking questions and forming opinions, which is what the best columnists at real newspapers do. “My position has been that the paper’s primary responsibility is to protect the public from another bad deal, such as the one that resulted in San Diego (taxpayers) agreeing to guarantee sellouts for the Chargers. That document was so badly drafted that even a sportswriter could see its flaws: no limit to liability, no cap on ticket prices. I have felt that the paper dropped the ball in failing to scrutinize that deals (years before my arrival) and should be exceedingly careful in endorsing another stadium deal. Mr. Lynch appears to be of a mind to make the stadium happen and bulldoze the opposition or even those who raise questions.”
At age 57, Sullivan has embraced, truly if lightly, the media revolution. He has built a social media presence on Twitter and Facebook. He does all the radio, TV, and promotional appearances that have become the pro bono duties of a metropolitan sports columnist. And yet, like many journalists, he has asked in staff meetings at some volume the questions that every thinking journalist has asked for the last five years: How can we be expected to do more with less? How can we do right by the printed paper which makes 95 percent of the money while being asked to produce added content for the website? In short, and not that he ever said such a thing but I, for one, have often asked: Have all newspaper executives lost their minds?
So, on that fateful Wednesday with a message from Light on his computer screen, Sullivan suspected trouble. “For two days,” he said by email, “I attempted to ascertain the subject of this meeting without success. Tracked Light down in the newsroom Thursday and he claimed he couldn’t talk, and that he would talk to me Friday. When I was admitted to his office, he was talking on his cell phone, pointed me to a chair at his conference table and closed the door. When he got off the phone and sat down, he blithely said something about how I had been right (in November), that John Lynch had gotten me. I don’t remember much after that — too shocked . . .My shock quickly morphed into anger. I am told I slammed his door pretty hard on the way out.”
Sullivan doesn’t know what’s next for him. He has asked an intermediary to arrange a face-to-face meeting with Lynch. He has spoken to newspaper sports editors in major markets. He calls himself “mobile and motivated.” A couple days after the firing, Sullivan dropped in a note on his Facebook page. “A sports editor prone to overstatement says I am the Albert Pujols of sportswriter free agents,” he wrote. And then, ever the columnist looking for the next bright analogy, he said, “Well, I am grumpy and having a bad year.”

Amazing, huh?

Tim and I aren't friends, but we know each other and share the mutual respect that goes with being members of the small fraternity of major metro sports columnists. Sadly, we also are members of the growing fraternity of ex-columnists.

For several years, we were "teammates" of sorts. I was the Copley Newspapers sports columnist in Chicago and he worked for the Copley-owned Union-Tribune.

The beginning of the end for both of us was the sad day in 2007 when David Copley sold most of his journalism holdings (but not his hometown Union-Tribune) to GateHouse Media.

I knew I soon would be deemed a luxury they couldn't afford ... and that's just what happened in January 2009, when I received a daunting email from my editor telling me to go to a meeting the next day. As I told my wife: "I don't think the meeting is to tell me I won the Pulitzer."

Shortly after I was laid off, Copley sold the Union-Tribune to a private investment group, which in turn sold the paper to the present owner. The ensuing move to hire John Lynch as CEO doomed Tim Sullivan.

Though he was fired for a different reason than I was, shedding his salary must have delighted the company's honchos. Maybe, like the evil GateHouse gang that gutted our newsroom, they'll celebrate Tim's departure by giving themselves raises and bonuses.

I was only 48 when I was thrown out with the trash. Like Tim, I had a sterling reputation as a journalist, a list of awards on my resume and a willingness to work hard. Here's hoping he has better national connections than I did -- and better luck, too. With newspapers and Web sites loathe to add salary, he'll need lots of the latter.

Best wishes, Tim.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Tiger is golf, but he's still not "back"

While working at the golf course yesterday, I parked my cart in front of the pro shop and went inside to use the men's room. On my way back, I stopped briefly in front of the small TV in the shop. Seconds later, one of the club members walked next to me and asked, "How's he doing?"

I didn't have to ask who "he" was, and the member didn't need to say a name.

Even though it has been nearly four years since he won a major tournament, and even though he pretty much fell off the golfing map for the better part (or worse part, in his case) of two years, Tiger Woods is golf.

Sometimes people complain that he gets too much hype or that ESPN focuses on him too much or that golf writers can't write any golf story without mentioning him -- even if he didn't play in the tournament about which they are writing. There's a reason for all that:

Because he's Tiger Freakin' Woods.

Whether you are a Tiger fan or whether you are a Tiger hater ... whether you are a huge golf fan or barely even a casual observer ... whether you enjoyed Elin taking a 9-iron to his head or thought she should have used a wedge ... his name resonates.

He is golf.

I do not care if Tiger Woods wins or loses, but I prefer that he be a factor whenever he plays. If Tiger is contending on Sunday, a tournament is more interesting. It simply matters more.

In winning Jack Nicklaus' tournament on Sunday -- thereby tying Jack for second on the all-time wins list -- Tiger made a high-risk chip shot so incredible that Nicklaus himself called it "the most unbelievable, gutsy shot I've ever seen."

That's two wins this season after a long dry spell for Tiger, and many have declared that he is "back" just in time for the U.S. Open, which takes place in two weeks.

Sorry, but I'll believe he is back only if he wins the U.S. Open.

He impressively won Arnold's tournament on March 22, leading many observers at the time to say he was back. His next three events: tied for 40th; missed cut; tied for 40th.

He wasn't back.

Tiger himself measures success by the majors. He has been sitting at 14 major titles, four behind Jack's all-time mark, since winning the '08 U.S. Open.

By his own measure, he has failed for four years. Why should us mere mortals measure him any other way?

I'm glad this year's U.S. Open is San Francisco, because that means Sunday's final round will be on in prime time on Father's Day. I'll be home from work and sitting on my La-Z-Boy, watching the entire final round, a bowl of guacamole on one side and a platter of pita chips on the other.

I hope I'm watching Tiger Woods at his best, because the entertainment will be better if he is.

Oh, I'll enjoy it whether he wins or loses. The U.S. Open just about never disappoints.

But if he wins, I'll lift my glass to the TV and say: Tiger is golf ... and now he's finally back.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Not just another pretty sportswriting face

Doing some financial writing, too, for an excellent dividend-stock-investing site called Seeking Alpha.

Here's my latest article:

Follow me on my trip down investing lane, and I can make a zillionaire out of both of us. All you have to do is provide the 2 zillion bucks!

But seriously folks ...

As I, um, mature, and given my employment situation (or lack thereof), I'm trying to figure out the best ways to make the most of what I do have. I have decided that investing in excellent, dividend-paying companies is one major way to do that, and have found a community of similar souls at Seeking Alpha.

You might get some ideas yourself. Or you might think this is exactly what you don't want to do. Either way, getting exposed to numerous ideas never hurt anybody.

Happy reading. I'll share links to my future articles here, too.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Today's High 5: NBA conspiracies, idiotic tweets and the baldest of eagles

5. I am shocked -- shocked! -- that the Hornets, who have been owned and operated by the NBA this past year, won the Draft Lottery (and the right to select the only great player available).

And I am shocked -- shocked! -- that anybody would dare suggest a conspiracy or a conflict of interest.

4. It seems Albert Pujols isn't the next Mo Vaughn after all.

3. The Baldest Eagle has landed!

That's right: I carded my first-ever eagle on Thursday thanks to a boomer of a drive, a best-of-the-season 5-iron and a 2 1/2 foot putt. If I'd have choked on that putt, I never would have lived it down.

I saved my choke for the next hole, when I hit my 9-iron tee shot within 5 feet and then promptly 3-putted.

Eagle or no eagle ... I still golf like me, dammit!

2. Will any of us ever forget where we were Wednesday, when Kordell Stewart announced his retirement from pro football a mere 7 years after he last wore a uniform?

1. Has-been Wally Szczerbiak took to Twitter to rip ex-teammate Kevin Garnett for being a guy who "lacks the #clutchgene."

Yes, the famously clutch Szczerbiak ... owner of what, a dozen NBA titles? OK, not quite. But he was owner of a reputation as one of the NBA's most selfish players back in his day.

A day that has long since passed, by the way.

Wally Effin Szczerbiak ain't even the lint in KG's belly button. Put a hash-tag on that, loser.