A post in which we are not cynical

It felt so good, so positive, so un-political, and while this whole week I’ve felt like crying every day, this day it felt like the tears were for good reasons, not because an idiot racist hater was elected president of the country I live in.

On Saturday afternoon I went to watch a high school sports team play a semifinal state-tournament match and I didn’t have a notebook or a laptop or an assignment or a built-in rooting interest, and I’ve done that in my life about zero times.

This team is so cool, as players and teammates and humans, it’ll make you cry. I didn’t root out loud, because the day before I’d covered the opening rounds of the tournament for the local rag and people had seen me there with my laptop and notebook. And even if I wasn’t working I didn’t want it to look like I was cheering for this crazy-amazing group of athletes, but I was, quietly.

When they won that match, I did have tears in my eyes, and then that evening, after they finished off the state championship while I wasn’t there to see it, I got teary reading about it. Which has happened to me over a group of players and their coach I don’t even know, outside of superficial sportswriter talk, about zero times.

I’m not over it yet, but anger is not the town I want to live in.

So I keep on loving my family and make sure they know it and think of ways to make myself a better person, if it’s not too late, and maybe do some good in the ’hood … because if I can’t change the whole goddamn country I can at least do my part to keep the idiot racist hater from trashing my little slice of it.

And sports, it’s funny, but it is consolation for us wounded ones, even when teams lose games we sorely wish they would not. Lately, even a little social awareness has raised its head in the corporate big leagues and right on down.

And, sometimes, the good guys win.

An American in Calgary

At some point all the nastiness will be over and we’ll be glad of it, at least until the day we’ll wish it was just politics again. Because the election won’t end well, we know that, and too soon will come the actual governing, and we’ll have to live with who we got, and that can only mean cruel disappointment or bitter anger.

Because we know the office-holder we voted for can’t possibly measure up in the cold post-inaugural light, and the office-holder we did not vote for will be worse than our most paranoid imaginings.

We’re talking, you understand, about the election for men’s club president at the Golf Course in the Valley of the Shadow of the Brewery. I don’t care about any other election.

I wish it didn’t take so long to get a passport … they say demand is high right now. Hey, what’s the job market like for an American in Calgary? Maybe Toronto?

This week in golf and culture

Election Day
Tuesday, Nov. 8
Life as we know it for American golfers will be decided by your vote. Don’t fuck it up.

PGA Tour
Nov. 10-13: OHL Classic at Mayakoba, El Camaleon Golf Club, Playa del Carmen, Mexico.
No hard news, only rumors, of American players seeking political asylum here.

Nov. 10-13: Citibanamex Lorena Ochoa Invitational, Mexico City.
The American ex-pat golferati community grows larger.

Reno edition

 It’s a night when I might as well feel good about things because the bills that are trailing me won’t catch up until, like, Tuesday and my week’s work in Reno is done and the Cubs won, Cubs won, and the bar in the Silver Legacy is perfectly happy to reward me for being a good hard-working American guy.

So I settle in and enjoy the Hatuey cigar that should be getting harsh near its nub but blessedly isn’t and I think there are other games to be played in the Biggest Little City in the World and maybe I’ll play a few of them before tucking in but right now, because I have to believe something, I believe I’ll have another Jameson, light rocks, because my plane to the world doesn’t fly ’til tomorrow.

Beware the coming storm

It’s when something resonates for no known reason, hits a target it could never have been aiming at, from a source you couldn’t have begun to see coming, that we make late-night joinings in our jerry-rigged wiring and we want to say, “See? That’s what I mean. Why didn’t I say that?”

It happens, sometimes, when you’re driving home from stringing a high school football game in rain that has to be pushing the modern-day record for inches in a single day in the sodden region where resides Grey Goatee Global HQ. The wipers dearly need replacement and the defogger, because it’s broken, only knows one speed — full on — and you crack a window to cool off and therefore decide you might as well light a cigar and the left leg of your jeans gets soaked because it’s fucking pouring on northbound Interstate 5 and it will never stop.

There is music, and really (am I right?) it’s the best way short of alcohol to get your shoulders down when they’re hunched and clenched because until you click “send” you’re on the clock and very probably late and you know they’ll never hire you again because you’re a hack and always will be.

The music, at that moment, could have been Van Morrison with Them singing “Baby Please Don’t Go” or Bob Dylan the Nobel laureate and what do you know about that (!) but in fact it was Jesse Sykes and the Sweet Hereafter and if you don’t know that band you should check them out today or as soon as the floodwaters recede.

The song was, well, I don’t know because it’s stuck in iPod World with no identifying markings save for Jesse’s unmistakable voice, but the lyric is this: “If it’s my job to hate you, it’s your job to pretend to be kind” … and for some reason it made me think of Trump and how he’s the most unhappy man in the world and what he has to do to get his shoulders down when they’re clenched so tight around his ears that he doesn’t get enough blood to his brain and does things that just aren’t normal. He doesn’t even pretend to be kind or rational or show any qualities that would help him live among humans much less be elected to anything.

It’s hard to hate a sad old man with an ugly mouth and stupid hair so it’s more like pity, and not for him, for us — because one (out of only two) of our major political parties can’t do any better. My shoulders start hunching up just thinking about it, and it’s still raining and it will only get worse.


Tiger changes his stripes

It’s easy to be disappointed that Tiger Woods has withdrawn from this weekend’s Safeway Classic in Napa, but hard to be surprised. He’s not hurt, they say, but his game’s not ready. Shit, whose game is? But we power on, right?

Brooke Henderson  Photo by Scott H. Bisch

Brooke Henderson
Photo by Scott H. Bisch

Another 500 points is in play this week for the winner  in the first of the final four tournaments before the LPGA’s Race to the CME Globe winds up at the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, Fla., Nov. 17-20. The tour stays in Asia this week for the Keb Hana Bank Championship in Incheon, which of course you know is in South Korea.

Lydia Ko finished T20 at the Fubon in Taiwan last week and still increased her lead in the CME race t0 134 points over second-place Ariya Jutanagarn. You could do the math, i.e., who needs how many by when, but why hurt yourself?

It’s worthwhile to know that the CME Group Tour Championship ups the points prize to 3,500 points for the champeen, which could really shuffle things up at the top for somebody, like, say third-place Brooke Henderson — 1,199 points behind Ko — and that’s not advanced math, just simple arithmetic.

The promise of Tiger

Tiger Woods in wine country, playing actual competitive golf … no, not this week, next week, but we think it’s OK to jump the gun a little bit. We’re missing somethin’ in golf with Arnold Palmer gone. Woods is no Arnie, but maybe he can fill the void a little bit, bridge the glamour gap, help us get through the long months until April.

Can he still hit it? You read it here first: Tiger will play at least two rounds at the Safeway Classic in Napa … unless he gets hurt and withdraws. That’s just too painful to contemplate.

It’s squeaky-close at the top in the Race to the CME Globe on the LPGA Tour. Eighty-three points separate leader and defending CME champion Lydia Ko and five-time winner Ariya Jutanagarn, with 500 points in play at the Fubon LPGA Taiwan Championship in Taipei. Sakura Yokomine is 6-under through 16 in the first round — it gets late early that many time zones away, and it’s on your television sets, right now, on the Golf Channel. I know you’re watching.

Citizen Palmer

Arnold Palmer (left) and Peter Jacobsen share a moment at Palmer's last appearance in the Northwest in 2011 at the Umpqua Challenge in Portland. Photo by Scott H. Bisch

Arnold Palmer (left) and Peter Jacobsen share a moment at Palmer’s last appearance in the Northwest in 2011 at the Umpqua Bank Challenge at Portland Golf Club.
Photo by Scott H. Bisch

I watched the debate last night, but only after seeing “Arnie” through again on the Golf Channel. I let the DVR cover the early-round insults and lies while I made sure I hadn’t missed any segments in the 2014 mini-series about Arnold Palmer, which was looping continuously on Monday, the day after his death.

Just checked — the Golf Channel has moved on to the Ryder Cup, and Brandell Chamblee and David Duval were arguing, not all that civilly.

CNN hadn’t moved on past the debate as of today, worrying over the winner and the loser, as if it was something other than obvious or all too obvious, I couldn’t tell which at a glance, which means they can keep it up well into October, until the next debate.

We wonder about police shooting black men and how we feel when Colin Kaepernick insists on a protest. Speech is free, opinion is cheap, and what I know is Kaepernick didn’t play Sunday when the Seahawks drummed the 49ers. I know the smartest voice in this debate, Doug Baldwin, caught eight passes for 164 yards and a touchdown.

Arnie was a Republican, everybody knows that, but he came from another era of the party, another lifetime, when it could claim Abraham Lincoln and keep a straight face. His politics were closer to the old-language roots — Middle English politic, Greek politikos — which meant things like civic, civil, the commonwealth, citizen.

Today we speak truth to power, or some of us think we do, while others of us speak power over the powerless. Arnie seemed to speak in the Old Latin — populus … people. Golf was incidental to Arnie’s power, which drew from the people and radiated back among them. He was of the people, about which there can’t be much debate.

Clevenger: The tools of ignorance

The Seattle Mariners weren’t keeping Steve Clevenger in the organization for his offense. He’s a career .225 hitter. Like all backup catchers, Clevenger hangs onto a major-league salary because he’s good with the mitt, decent at throwing out runners, and smart enough in his handling of pitchers that you can pencil him into the lineup once a week or so and he won’t hurt you.

That’s the last time you’ll ever see “Clevenger” and “smart” in the same sentence.

He hit the “Tweet” button on racist comments that are less evil than just stupid, ignorant, stupid. In this climate, today, right now in America, he tweeted what was in his heart, apparently, the real Steve Clevenger, which is stupid, just stupid.

And he’ll never have another job in baseball. Thirty-year-old backup catchers do better than okay, relative to the average working schmuck, and he’ll be lucky to land a half-stipend job coaching catchers at East Dumbshit Community College. Who would hire him? Only somebody stupider even than he is.

It could be Clevenger woke up and said, “What have I done?” Or he might just be too fucking stupid.

Le Grey Goatee

If I know you, you’re in Evian-les-Bains, France, strolling the playing grounds of the fifth and final major of the LPGA season. The women have the weekend to themselves, mostly, with the PGA boys taking a week off before the top 30 take on the FedEx Cup final next weekend, with the Ryder Cup the week after that.

So the women should be dominating the golf news this weekend, but, hey, the first day of play earned two column inches on an inside page in the local rag. That’s OK — I know I can find it on my television set. And you — you’re there.


If you have any travel left in you after your voyage a Evian, might I recommend the new  hotelier out on Capitol Boulevard in Tumwater USA, a few3GA hat hundred yards as the raven flies from the Golf Course in the Valley of the Shadow of the Brewery.

You know, without being told, you being you, the event I’m talking about, the global golf championship that is not all about the money, but is played for something bigger, purer, richer, a deeper green … which can only mean The Cardigan, the most coveted golf championship garment in that part of the planet blanketed by Grey Goatee Nation.

The sightlines and gallery amenities are unmatched at the Golf Course in the Valley of the Shadow of the Brewery — let it be said the 3GA Tour knows how to throw a party, and there is none bigger on the Grey Goatee season calendar than this one, El Finale Grande, le 24 septembre.

Book early, is my advice.

In other news: The FedEx

They’re building up to playing for a $10 million first prize in the FedEx Cup playoffs, and all it takes is Tiger Woods saying he “plans” to play some tournaments this fall, after the FedEx, and he absolutely owns the news cycle.

The golf world, they say, has moved on from Tiger. I might have thought so, too … but without even a press conference, with nothing but four paragraphs on his Website, Tiger is so back. And who would think it’s not good news?

The top 70 in FedEx points are moving on to the third stop in the Cup finals at the BMW Championship at Crooked Stick this weekend. Jason Day is the defending champion here, and a repeat would be a huge leg up in the FedEx race. They’ll skip a week, then finish it up Sept. 22-25 in Atlanta, when the field is down to 30. Jordan Spieth won in Atlanta last year — won the $10 mill, too. Was that just last year?

This just in: Tiger Woods might be teeing it up again.