Monday, August 11, 2008

A Good Walk Spoiled

Call me crazy, but I think that golf is confusing. I mean, I get the rules; those seem pretty straightforward. The objective couldn’t be more obvious. And I suspect that everything I don’t know about birdies and eagles and whatever else could probably be easily apprehended if I put a little effort into it. So it is not that the technical aspects of golf baffle me. What I don’t understand is why—on a perfectly lovely day—people makes the conscious decision to go spend several hours outdoors soaking up the loveliness only to sully their time in nature in what seems like an incredibly frustrating and crazy-making effort to get a little ball into a little hole. And from what I hear, they actually sometimes even put a body of water or a sand trap between you and one of the little holes. These obstacles exist, apparently, to help prevent you from meeting the stated objective. For this reason alone, I have always known that golf wasn’t an activity that I could handle. You see, if my ball ever wound up in one of those sand traps, I’d be lying down on the ground, crying, and possibly never getting up.

But it wouldn’t ever really come to that because, frankly, I just don’t see myself getting out of the house in the outfit. I think it's bad enough that an activity exists that centers around getting a little ball into a little hole. But I see no practical reason why one should have to do it while wearing some crazy and slightly degrading outfit. Something that often involves plaid. I guess, on some level, I should be applauding golfers for their courage. You have to have either a lot of self-love or basically no self-awareness in order to wear a hat with a pom pom on it and just be like, “What?”

Given the outfits, the sand traps, the Sysyphean nature of the task, I sometimes can’t help but wonder if golfers just aren’t aware of the option of, say, going to the park? The beach? Walking? There are other ways to take advantage of a nice day. Fun ways that permit for the wearing of normal clothes. And as if the actual playing wasn’t confusing enough, there are people who actually like to watch other people golf—pause for reaction—on TV. Now I am growing suspicious. True, it’s possible that golfers are simply unaware of other, better options for a sunny day. That they’ve been brainwashed into thinking they enjoy the activity by their buddies from the investment bank. But surely anyone watching golf on TV is aware that there are other things to do on a not-so-nice day. For starters, these people are watching TV, so they know there’s TV. I’m not totally sure when golf season happens, but I know there is at least some overlap with baseball, so there’s probably a baseball game on they could be watching. Or a rerun of MASH or, undoubtedly, an episode of Law and Order. They could also rent a movie, spend time with a loved one or, for something really cutting edge, try reading a book. And yet people actually opt to sit around in their homes and watch as someone ELSE walks around in a silly outfit for several hours trying to get a little ball into a little hole. I don’t care that this seems to be an activity with universal appeal—I’m just going to be the one to say the emperor has not clothes here. Watching golf on television is boring. Irrefutably, patently, definitively boring. If it’s something you enjoy, you have cause for concern because there’s something wrong with you.

So given my feelings, it will not surprise you to hear that I was unaware of the fact that yesterday was the final day of the PGA tournament. Whatevs. There was also a Yankees game, synchronized diving, and gymnastics. I only become aware of the PGA because I happened to call my dad yesterday. When I detected how distracted he was, despite the fact that I was being engaging and hilarious, I knew right away that he had to be watching golf. Yes, my dad is one of those, and I worry about him a lot. He confirmed my suspicions and apologized, explaining that it was some big deal because some guy names Sergio Garcia was going to win it. When I informed him that this was someone I had never heard of, he got all up in arms about it. Who, he demanded, hadn’t heard of Sergio Garcia? Well, I’ll tell you what. If you are famous for golf, unless you are Tiger Woods or Michelle Wie, I haven’t heard of you.

As a result of my admission of willful ignorance, my father felt compelled, not only to fill me in on who this Sergio character was, but to offer me reasons why I should love him. His speech, I am sure he would be sorry to know, did not have the desired effect. I hung up the phone feeling fairly convinced that Sergio Garcia was someone for whom I would likely feel great contempt. Determined to prove my point, I embarked on one of my thorough ten minute google research projects. While I came away from this effort with the sense that I was probably right in my assessment, the only concrete evidence I could unearth was that the guy drives a Ferrari Modena 360—“quickly.” The need for the descriptive adverb pretty much confirmed my gut instinct about Garcia, but it wasn’t enough to lock down the case. Unfortunately, the only other stuff I could dig up was that he wears bright clothes and isn’t good in a clutch. I sort of feel like, unless you are an overpaid Yankee with frosted tips, I have no reason to dislike you because you can’t perform in when it counts. What do I care? It’s just golf. Plus, the guy apparently gets all emotional about his inability to perform in the clutch. Unlike SOME people we know who cry at press conferences, he seems pretty sincere. So given that this was all that I was able to learn about our friend Sergio, I decided to let him off the hook this this time. Just know that I’ve got my eye on you, Serg, so don't go driving your Ferrari too quickly down my street.

While I didn’t gather enough information about Garcia to write an excoriating piece about all the reasons why we are glad he didn’t win the tournament, I did discover something else through my research. No, not that people who comment on golf blogs are boring and annoying, though I did discover that, too. The more important thing that I came to learn, however, was that we actually love the guy who did win the tournament—Padraig Harrington. I sort of knew without having to even read about him that I was probably going to like him. Why? The dude has a Gaelic name, which tells us not only that he’s Irish, but that he’s super Irish. And let’s get real, Irish people are the greatest. Who knows better than the Irish how to make an existence out of being at once deeply melancholy and unusually cheery? It’s a quality that I really respect. I know how to do one or the other, but not both at the same time. Not to mention the fact that Irish people have endearingly charming accents that make whatever they say sound automatically nicer, smarter, and more hilarious than it really may be. Plus, Ireland just happens to look a lot like the Shire from Lord of the Rings, and some Irish people kind of look a whole lot like hobbits. And let’s just say that, if the Shire really existed, and I could transport baseball there, it’s the place from which I would be writing this blog.

So for these reasons, I sort of knew that Harrington was going to be someone I would love. True, his picture threw me off at first. I was envisioning someone in jeans and a black leather jacket with a lot of product in his hair. He definitely disappointed me by dressing like any other old golfer, but everything else added up. He was married, seemingly very happily, to a woman he’d known since childhood. He appeared to have the press in some sort of rapture. And he secured the hearts of golf fans everywhere last year when, after winning the PGA championship, his son Patrick was recorded asking him if they could put ladybirds in his trophy. What’s a ladybird, you want to know? A ladybird is a ladybug, which basically makes the question adorable. It’s a little bit borderline that he named his son Patrick when his own name is Padraig, but that’s the kind of thing an Irish person can do and get away with. Because he does it with a brogue.

Leaving aside all these reasons—the important reasons—the other reason to back Harrington is that he is reportedly all class, a sportsmanlike golfer who always gives both his predecessors and competitors their due. We like class around here. Hell, I, for one, like it so much that I formed my new football allegiance around it. I don’t really know or care how he won the PGA or why. Frankly, I don’t even care that he won it at all. But I know he cares. And, amazingly, other people care. So I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge his accomplishment. You have earned the support and respect of this sports fan, who knows nothing about golf and will definitely never willingly watch a tournament in her life. But if I happen to hear second hand that you won another, Paddy, I’ll be glad. Just don’t go putting any ladybirds in that trophy, you silly rogue.

Some might say that my newly found interest in some random guy who is playing and winning at a “sport” I don’t care about is indicative of just how desperate I’ve been feeling these days. And they wouldn’t be wrong. After we came within inches of an extra innings show last night, the game was quickly drawn to its conclusion when Larry, Curly and Moe—I mean, Betemit, Cano, and Mo—worked together to bungle a play on a game-winning dribbler of a ground ball. Cano ran to field the ball, which was hit between first and second. Betemit and Mo both ran to cover first. Betemit was, by all rights, the betta’ man to be fielding the play. He was closer, and the result of his failure to do so was that the ball made its way into right, costing the Yanks yet another game. And the chasm grows ever deeper. In mentioning to whom we owe our depths of despair, let’s not forget a shout-out to all of our hitters who left men stranded on base. Not to mention Demaso Marte, who was the one to put the winning run on base in the first place. I'm going to give it to you straight, buddy. You’re not showing me much. Pettitte, on the other hand, had a solid outing. But that’s neither here nor there because, unlike Pedro or Ian Kennedy, I don’t think Pettitte is quite so eccentric that he can find a way to feel good about a game even when his team ends up walking away with the big “L.”

Time is marching on. If the postseason is something to which, indeed, we do aspire, then it’s getting to be do or die. This next series against the Twins, who are currently 2.5 games ahead of us in the race for the AL Wild Card, is critical. While I haven’t ruled out the division at this point, I’ll happily make my way to October whatever way I can. And whatever way that may be, it’s going to require that we win. And that we win quite a few from here on out. Ponson has done a pretty decent job of earning my confidence, thus far. Don’t disappoint me tonight, Sid. The Jets already done broke my heart.

There is too much to say about the Olympics to say it all, so I will simply comment briefly on the occurrence that has made the biggest impression on me up until now. That would be when I watched as the supposedly sixteen-year-old He Kexin, one of the competitors from the Chinese team, fell off the uneven bars in the middle of her routine. She kept her composure remarkably well, remounted the bars, and proceeded. Immediately upon finishing, she did what anyone with a soul would have done given the same situation, and burst into tears. It made me want to die. All her aspirations, everything she’d worked for for all fourteen--I mean sixteen--years of her life, crushed in the span of a moment. And crushed only because of her failure, that one time, to execute a maneuver that she had probably performed successfully countless times before. And all this in front of millions of people. Oh, now I see why people are so crazy for the Olympics. True, China is still on top in the gymnastics department. And, true, because of an amazingly difficult routine that was otherwise flawless, she finished with a high enough score to go onto the finals. But I know that I want to disappear when I fall on the street in front of a few casual passersby. So, this, I can’t even imagine. Add He to the list of people I’m pulling for. So, cheer up, Kexin. As my new life coach Tim McCarver would say, it’s better to make it to the Olympics than to not make it to the Olympics. And he’d be right, as usual.


jane said...

what about arnold palmer?

Melanie Greenberg said...

pretty sure you mean phil collins, jane. like the drink.