Special to Page 2
Today, The Cooler replaces bile for beauty, sarcasm for sugar. After all, how can you be angry at the sports world these days?
I mean, besides the fact that the NHL left you for a year.
And besides the fact that Terrell Owens says he won't honor a contract he signed.
And besides the fact that the BALCO mess ended without the full truth being told.
And besides the fact aw, forget it.
I meant to dedicate this opening to Tiger and Lance, and to make all sports fans pause and give thanks for living in an era of legends, names that will live on for decades and decades. Tiger 'n' Lance. Lance 'n' Tiger. This is the time, my friends. Drink it in. Right in our midst are Paul Bunyan-like figures, with the added bonus of not having a foul-smelling oxen nearby.
In Scotland, Tiger penned another chapter of his epic ode, a tome that is beginning to resemble one of those mondo-books you'd see in a medieval monastery, the kind that takes a couple of monks just to turn one page. In France, Lance moved closer to a mountaintop no one thought could be scaled -- a mountaintop that contains roadside cycling fans so heated, they make Philly fans look like members of the Women's Christian Temperance Union.
If you're not taking a moment to appreciate it all, you should have your "SportsCenter'" privileges revoked for a week, and be forced to watch "The Best Damn Sports Show" with the volume on your TV set at 11.
We look at Tiger and Lance and expect the athletic genius, as though it's a video game. What we don't see is the work, the hours of practice, the days when things don't work out, the times they get angry and depressed, and the times their agents call with crushing news: "Nike said they're going to be a day or two late with the direct deposit hold off on the down payment for the yacht for a week or so."
Listen, every era has its greats. And I'm not breaking news here. I'm just appreciatin', is all. It's summertime, the lemonade is fresh, and the sports news is for the ages. Let me just put it this way: I'm betting that when ESPN does it 21st Century Top 100 athletes, there's an excellent chance Tiger 'n' Lance will both be in the top 10. Now get busy enjoying it, or get busy being a lame-o.
On, then, to the Weekend List of Five:
It says something for the historic lure of the British Open, and for the generational pull of the game of golf, that Jack Nicklaus' farewell to St. Andrews Friday left me wondering who jammed that slice of apple down my throat and put those eyedrops in my cornea.
I did not anticipate my reaction. I mean, a Jack farewell? Hadn't we done this before?
In fact, we have. He did his Grand Farewell/Everybody Cry on Cue As He Walks up 18 For the Last Time Tour in 2000, when he waved good-bye at the Pebble Beach U.S. Open, the St. Andrews British Open, and the Valhalla PGA Championship.
Five years later, he decided to do it again at St. Andrews. Say what? It made the 2000 emotion feel cheap, and more important, devalued the memorabilia everyone had from the 2000 St. Andrews Open. Jack, pulling a Roberto Duran and coming out of retirement? Jack, like Frank Sinatra, faking his final tour? Finger-down-the-throat time, if you ask me.