Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Those Guys Have All the Fun - Inside The World Of ESPN: Average Golfer Book Review

I'm know I'm a little late to the party, since most reviews of the "New" ESPN book came out in late May. Think of this as the 2nd wave, pre-paperback review. Although at a hefty 748 pages, this baby won't slide comfortably into a back pocket even without the hard cover.

My age demographic pegs me as being hugely sports aware at the dawn of ESPN in 1978 and my reader's demos tell me the same about you. This book chronicles the growth of the sports media monstrosity from it's germination as an idea born from Bill Rasmussen and his son Scott in 1978 until present day. The elder Rasmussen had been the communications manager for the Hartford Whalers, so after being fired by them, anything was a step up, even a then ridiculous idea for a dedicated sports network originating in the Bristol, CT megaplex.

The book is laid out in a series of interview snippets with all the main players through the saga, including all of your favorites, Berman, Kornheiser, Tirico, Patrick, Roberts, Gammons, and the insufferably obnoxious, but legendarily clever Olbermann. Authors James Andrew Miller and Tom Shales manage to pull most of the huge volume of material together in a decipherable fashion and the provided "between quotes" commentary enlightens, fills in, and connects the dialogue. I found the book's only minor negative to be that it bogs down in spots, especially when multiple quotes on the same topics are listed. Some of the "inside baseball" references to the financing and structural makeup of the behemoth that is ESPN can be sleep inducing, but tolerable in a book that leaves virtually no stone unturned in the dissection of such a large animal. All in all a worthy read, a book you'll take a break from due to  sheer weight, but pick back up quickly to resume where you left off.

Since it's essentially a book of quotes, I won't repeat them here and deprive you the opportunity to find the gems within the 748 pages. Be assured though, the lowdown is covered on the hot topics including Limbaugh on Donovan McNabb, Kornheiser's round peg, square hole fit on MNF, Erin Andrew's stalker woes, and Olbermann's serial leaving and returning schtick. Not much is out of bounds here and that lends the book credibility. Not in tell-all style necessarily as much as truth serum. An Average Golfer highly recommended.

Available at Amazon    Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN

* Review copy provided to Average Golfer by the publisher.

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Friday, August 12, 2011

Now We Have Golf Gladiators

Been thinkin'. Always dangerous. After the ad nauseum replays of Rory McIlroy's ill advised attempt to uproot a tree and the subsequent painful result, it seems that golfers can now be categorized with linebackers in the "no pain, no gain" pantheon. Truthfully, it gained traction with Woods' 2008 US Open triumph on the now famous broken leg. Now I'm no doctor, but my brother is, and a classic broken leg in my understanding wouldn't be capable of supporting one's body in a vertical position, much less allow for the torque of an accompanying golf swing. There lies the the difference between a "break" and a "crack". Let's not forget as well that young McIlroy's shot was terribly ill advised, even without the presence of an evil root. A punch back to the fairway for an unobstructed third shot, on merely the third hole of a major championship, was in order. Chalk that miscue up to the exuberance of youth. That I can understand. Please though, don't confuse golfers with linebackers.

Swing hard and don't worry, they'll make more.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Tiger Woods, Like the Rest of Us Now.

Tiger Woods had four birdies and three double bogeys in his round of +7, 77 today at the PGA Championship at Atlanta Athletic Club, Highlands, in Duluth, Georgia. Hell, I did something similar last weekend. In my round of 91 at my local muni I carded three birdies and the same three double bogeys. I threw in a triple for fun, but that's to be expected from a weekend hacker with fourteen fewer majors than Woods. I'd safely figure that Woods' handicap at my course would be +10. That prevents me from asking him to join our 4-man scramble squad because his vanity handicap seriously screws up the numbers and our chances to win golf bags with beer logos filled with Top Flite XLs. Next year's lookin' good Tiger if your index continues it's steady climb.

We're not typically Woods lovers or bashers here at Average Golfer. We strive to be objective and attempt to limit the conversation to golf and golf exploits and foibles. Last week Woods pronounced himself to be healthy and strong, though ring rust seemed inevitable. A prep week was in order and Woods finished mid-pack. Today, three birdies in his first five holes had folks thinking of 2001. Doubles on 15 and 18 had them thinking Nationwide Tour. 10 over in his last 13 left tied him with John Daly in a twisted sort of irony. 11 of the 20 club pros in the field beat Woods, as well they should have.

I have a better chance at making the cut this week than Eldrick. If I were him I'd shelve it after Saturday and start prepping for next year's Masters. He'll be watching the "playoffs" from home regardless. Just proves that it's tough to play golf at any level without a clear head and lots of reps. Nice to see the game doesn't discriminate when it doles out it's inevitable cruelty.

Swing hard, look up,