GOOD TO BE BACK
It wasn’t all fun and games while I was away. Much of the time was spent rehabbing from minor surgery, which wasn’t the most pleasant experience I’ve had, but it made for a lot of uninterupted time in the recliner, in front of the T-V, during the Wimbledon Championships. I find the major tennis championships very compelling and usually devote substantial viewing time to them, but I never saw more of one of the majors than I did of this fortnight at the All England Lawn Tennis Club. For that reason I claim some legitimacy to my opinion that the most compelling feature during the coverage was Chris Evert’s reliving of the finalists walk to the court for the championship match and the ensuing conversation about that walk between Evert and John McEnroe, and the differences in the walk for the women and the men, who’s locker room is much closer to the court than the women’s. Evert and McEnroe together make up, perhaps, the most intriguing tennis commentary team in memory. While my break opened with nearly non stop viewing of Wimbledon, the timing alone, most of the television time being in the morning, allowed me to watch just about as much of golf’s 143rd Open Championship. Never was the changing of an era more evident in golf than with this Open, Phil Mickelson passing the Claret Jug, and the torch, to Rory McIlroy, the standard bearer of the new generation, who held off challenges from Rickie Fowler, Sergio Garcia and new world number one Adam Scott while the previous generation, save Jim Furyk, virtually watched from the sidelines. This is one changing era ESPN is not willing to accept gracefully. While McIlroy was running wire to wire for his third major championship in the 72 months since Tiger Woods last claimed one, ESPN’s attention was primarily focused on the past for the first three rounds. Tiger made himself a legitimate story in round one, just three shots off Rory’s lead, but he showed the classic signs of age in rounds two and three. The true greats, regardless of age, will always be able to put up a low score, but, for most, it’s repeating the feat over four straight days that becomes problematic. So it was for Tiger. But we were served notice early in round two that no matter how it played out, this round would be about Tiger. He put his tee shot on one into the rough on the 18th fairway. Seconds later Sergio Garcia holed his second shot at number two. ESPN replayed Tiger’s tee shot, we never got a replay of Sergio’s shot. The second round adulation of Tiger Woods was about to reach new heights of ridulousness. At that point my greatest fear was that Tiger would miss the cut, which he made just on the number, and they’d cancel the weekend telecasts. A threat of bad weather on Saturday forced a reformatting of the round, the top half of the field going off one and finishing on 18, the bottom half going off 10, finishing at nine, which allowed for some jury rigging of the tee order that had Tiger finishing the round late in the telecast, hours after golfers who started four or five strokes ahead of him. Watch for him to be installed as the favorite for the PGA Championship. He was the favorite for the Open. And I wasn’t suprised to see the controversy over the baseball stadium in Hartford continue to wind it’s way through myriad twists and turns, including illegitimate concerns over competition with the XL Center. All it takes to stop a project like this is a manufactured mountain or two to climb. Jeff Jacobs was right. Mayor Segarra laid the foundation for the those mountains himself by failing to do the necessary groundwork before announcing the deal was done. Glad to be back in the sports world, I’m Scott Gray.