Caught By the Tale

Caught By the Tale

Friday, December 4

You might be surprised by the fact that we talk about more than just sports at the bar. Shocking! Sometimes folks will talk to the old barkeep (emphasis on old!) about their lives and the lives of others. People have a fascination with other people, especially famous people. So when a famous person is part of something very salacious, look out! If its a famous athlete, in this country, its the 1 topic.

So, obviously, Ive been part of many discussions about Tiger Woods, too many. Ill start by saying that I can understand his call for privacy in what is a family matter. But to do that you need to be a private citizen and he is far from that, from his own, calculated doing. When you are the pre-eminent corporate pitchman of your time, or should I say, of ALL time, (100 Mill a year, according to the NY Times) fly all over the world to collect mega appearance fees to play golf, or accept big time cash to affix your name on golf properties around the globe, you are not going to get ordinary scrutiny. Sorry, cant have your beer and drink it too. (Sorry. Old bartenders, theres that word again, saying.) I understand that the media that we live in today borders on over-the-top sensationalism (Bartenders writing OpEd blogs?!) and spends way too much time on topics which should not merit our attention, but I know why: MONEY! People watch, a LOT of people. They want to know and big-time news entities know that big-time gossip means big-time ratings. Beautiful women, money, adultery, wayward drives and the 1 athlete on the planet? Its a ratings bonanza! Tiger should know this better than most. He plays this course everyday. He knows what sells. That is why hes built the image he has. Hes named his yacht Privacy. But have you seen the size of it? You dont get one that big by being a bartender! You get it because youre in the public eye and people cant get enough of you. Isnt that what you tell your corporate benefactors when you negotiate your 100 million a year? Well, theres a price. The only place that you can do anything that we dont know about is on that yacht, I mean inside, paparazzi right?

For someone who is so tedious and meticulous, on and off the course, this is an amazing blunder, pardon the pun, a car wreck. I wont rail on the infidelity, in that respect hes right, its a family matter, but again hes the one that has put his family in the public spotlight. Part of the allure is seeing the beautiful family greeting him on 18 after a win, isnt it? Thats not choreographed? Give me a break. Its part of the BRAND. The heroic Sunday round at the U.S. Open that he shot two years ago? Wasnt part of the hoopla that it was Fathers day? If he wants to leave his family, he can. Its been done a few times before. But always remember, for every action there is always an equal and opposite one. We live in the bed we make. (Puns for everyone!!) But, the Cocktail Waitress Across America Tour? Hard to shoot par there. I think what people are riled up about is that they expect more. Hes acting like hes in the NBA!

Now here is where he really messed up. The original story that was put out to the press after the accident on Friday morning was hard to believe. Coming from Mr. Perfect this raised eyebrows, and this is among clear thinking fans, I could only imagine the reaction in media sleaze outfits: Christmas? Not what you would expect from a supposed dream team of advisors. Damage control 101 is to stay ahead of the story. When you dont tell the truth, or limit the amount, someone will surely fill in the blanks. That set off the firestorm.
Then, the statement on his website? Honestly? Was that an apology or a corporate response to please his handlers that he showed proper remorse? Apologize for nothing specific and hope for the best? Then pout about the attention? Did he mention virtue, with a straight face? Stick to principles? When its convenient and suits his purpose, of course. Maybe he should have thought about virtue and principles on one of his Vegas jaunts or when leaving phone messages. I think he should have told the lawyers to hold off on the statement, and personally face the fire. The end will not begin until he does this. Sorry thats the way it is, and theres unfortunately a long line of examples he can learn from.

Why do people react with such venom? Its the same as with Roger Clemens. We know you did it, just admit it. Andy Pettite did and he basically got a free pass afterwards, maybe more do to the comparison of Clemens being obstinate, but he got one just the same. Hows it gone for Clemens? The fact that he doesnt get this will only keep it alive. Because Clemens was already done and didnt have to face fans and the press everyday, it was easier on him, but if he thinks hell get into the Hall, hes mistaken. You can run but you cant hide. The court of public opinion has so decided. So for Tiger, get in front of the story and try to become yesterdays news.

Hell be back on the course, and I like many golf fans will watch, but it will be different now. It will take time to heal the wounds and move on. Like David Letterman, it will be hard to take him serious for a while. But as always, much to my chagrin, those with the gift will find a way to get back to the top in spite of any social miss-steps. That first day back on the course should be interesting.

I find myself wondering what the reaction is from Tigers nemesis, Phil Mickelson. Tiger could never understand the connection between fans and Mickelson, while Tiger was regularly beating him. Its because Phil shows that hes human. He connects in a way that an unfeeling bottom-liner would not understand. We all make mistakes. Just dont pretend that they didnt happen or notice. Ironic also is the private situation that Mickelson is dealing with right now. He and Tiger are polar opposite once again, this time on how they regard their families.

So as we now tune out the phony corporate mantras that Team Tiger has infused our brain with over the years, maybe, if were watching, this Tiger situation might teach us something real. It should be a reminder to all of us that maybe, enough, is enough.

What White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson is doing to combat second-year struggles

What White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson is doing to combat second-year struggles

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Tim Anderson got what sounds like a much-needed day off on Saturday night.

Normally soft-spoken, the White Sox shortstop was even quieter than normal during a pregame media session at Kauffman Stadium. Anderson discussed at length his struggles on and off the field after what has been another few trying days. A day after his mentor Todd Frazier was traded, Anderson bunted into a double play on Wednesday after he failed to quickly get out of the box. He also was surprisingly thrown out on an infield chopper in Friday’s loss, though his manager said that was more about Anderson’s route after he made contact. Either way, Anderson is learning how to handle the grind in a difficult season.

“It’s going to be — it was an up and down season,” Anderson said. “I’ve learned a lot. Just from on a maturity level. And just on the field. I still have to keep working and keep having fun with it.

“It’s easy to lose focus when you are not doing good. It’s something I have to keep grinding through. The game won’t stop for nobody. I have to keep playing.”

Anderson had a trying night during Friday’s four-plus hour affair played in 100-degree plus temperatures. Not only did he fail to beat out the infield chopper in the third, he also had a base running mistake to end the sixth inning. Anderson reached on a one-out single with a line drive to left. But he aggressively tried to advance from first to third on Kansas City pitcher Scott Alexander’s errant pickoff throw not noticing the ball rebounded most of the way back toward first base. Anderson got caught in the middle as Eric Hosmer quickly retrieved the ball and started an inning-ending rundown.

That play came three innings after Anderson hit an infield chopper that Alcides Escobar fielded near third base and fired to first just in time. Manager Rick Renteria said Friday he was a little surprised Anderson wasn’t safe but attributed it to his route out of the batter’s box. Renteria said it’s an adjustment the team is working on with Anderson.

“He's got a tendency to run out of the box, almost like he's going to start rounding a banana, and he does that a lot,” Renteria said. "We're trying to clean him up from going out and creating a straight line. I don't if it's because he ends up finishing his swing, he starts to fall out toward that side. But once he got down there he was busting his butt. I thought he got down there once he got himself back on track and line to try to give himself a chance and beat it out. Was I surprised? Yeah, it was close.”

Anderson said there’s been some discussion about his route from the box to first base but not a ton. He also said it’s an involuntary action.

“I don’t feel it,” Anderson said. “It’s something I’m still working on. I don’t feel it coming out of the box.

“When I get down the line a little bit, I kind of feel it. But I don’t feel it directly when I come out of the box. 

“Sometimes my finish could throw me back a little bit and kind of take me to that route.

“It’s just naturally.”

It’s only natural that Anderson is down about Tuesday night’s deal that sent Frazier, David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle to the Yankees. Frazier has taken Anderson under his wing since the second-year player arrived in the majors last June.

Anderson said Frazier helped him improve his positioning and was a constant presence with their ongoing conversation.

“It’s tough to see people like him go,” Anderson said. “He’s kind of the voice of the locker room. So, it’s kind of, I’m on my own really. Just trying to figure it out myself.” 

Anderson’s had plenty to deal with already this season. The sudden death of his friend, Branden Moss, in May is well documented. He’s also struggled at the plate and in the field as the league adjusts to him. Renteria doesn’t think any one thing is responsible for the toughest year of Anderson’s life as a professional.

“There’s probably multiple factors,” Renteria said. “There are a lot of things going on in his life this year. I think the opponents are adjusting to him a little bit more. I think he’s having to deal with the newness of trying to also make his own adjustments. I’m sure he’s frustrated at times and still trying to kind of put himself in a position where he feels good about how he’s handling his at-bats. The truth is, though that’s the nature of the game of the big leagues.

"We’ve talked about process obviously, but we’ve also talked about, you’re always going to be making adjustments, but you’re also looking at some form of a finality in terms of trying to figure out exactly where you’re at and who you are as a hitter and as a player. And even then, you’re still always evolving, because the game’s always changing; the opponent’s always changing. You’re always having to make adjustments along the way and what will be I believe a very good and long career for Timmy.”

For the Blackhawks defense, change is the new normal

For the Blackhawks defense, change is the new normal

Ulf Samuelsson saw the changes the Blackhawks made this season, his hiring as assistant coach being one of them. Soon he’ll be working with the team’s defensemen, another area that’s had some upheaval.

“I think there’s a lot of opportunity here, some uncertainties and some moving parts that I probably, typically haven’t seen going into a season. So that makes it even more interesting and challenging,” Samuelsson said. “So I’m looking forward to this opportunity to really develop and work with some of the younger players.”

From its immediate coach to its personnel, the Blackhawks’ defense is dealing with plenty of change that will continue when the season begins this fall. The Blackhawks have had some addition (Connor Murphy, Jan Rutta and Jordan Oesterle) but dealing with the subtraction (Niklas Hjalmarsson and Trevor van Riemsdyk) will nevertheless be tough. Coach Joel Quenneville said on Friday that pairings are a work in progress.

“We’re going to see when we’re putting the pairs together, whether we're going to reunite [Duncan Keith] and [Brent Seabrook] or look for some balance,” he said. “There are a lot of options. We’ll look forward to that and sorting it out.”

For Murphy, who was acquired in the deal that sent Hjalmarsson to the Arizona Coyotes, there are no set expectations as to where he fits yet.

“With any team you go into training camp proving where you’re going to be. Everyone has to come in and earn certain positions, especially me being a guy who they’re not as familiar with; I have to show what I can do,” Murphy said. “I definitely want to bring a more physical edge to defending at times and be able to skate well, have a good reach, make smart reads and try to help out with whatever’s needed with that.”

As for young players, the opportunity is there. Gustav Forsling admits he wasn’t happy that fellow Swede and role model Hjalmarsson was traded. But Forsling, who looked strong coming out of camp last September, knows he has to take advantage of the situation.

“Of course, I want to take the next step and play more,” he said. “I want to keep progressing my game and keep developing.”

The same goes for Jordan Oesterle, who the Blackhawks signed to a two-year deal on July 1.

“When I wanted to come here the opportunity was tremendous. Just the chance to come in and try to make the top six is there, it’s a battle with a number of us guys but that’s all you ask for in the situation I’m in,” he said. “Just the amount of opportunity that is in front of me just drives me even more. I want to be here and force their hand to keep me here.”

Again, the Blackhawks could re-address defense once they implement Marian Hossa’s long-term injured reserve after the season begins. General manager Stan Bowman said there’s “no exact plan” right now on how they use that space – “that’s probably going to be dictated by where we’re at when we get to October, how the team’s playing, what areas are strong, what areas we want to add to,” he said.

It remains to be seen on that front. Regardless, from coaching to personnel, much has changed with the Blackhawks defense.