April 27, 2008

The Show Goes On

Azinger got cinged by the Ryder Cup flames he lit, but so what? You want boring plain vanilla? Yankees versus Red Sox is more like it

Good natured politcally correct fun between the Ryder Cup captains? Not Likely.

Good natured politcally correct fun between the Ryder Cup captains? Not Likely.

In a recent conversation with 2008 U.S. Ryder Cup captain Paul Azinger, he expressed genuine and sincere disappointment with himself after being quoted saying unkind things in the London Mail about his September counterpart, Nick Faldo of Europe. Azinger's remarks were, to summarize, that, "Faldo has tried to redefine himself. Some people have bought it. Some have not. But if you're going to be a [naughty word] and everyone hates you, why do you think that just because you're trying to be cute and funny on the air now that the same people are all going to start to like you? The bottom line is that players from his generation and mine really don't want anything to do with him."

To Azinger's credit, Azinger never said he was misquoted -- to other reporters or to me. Nor did he issue a complete retraction. Instead, Azinger's apology was akin to a mea culpa issued by one of those baseball steroid users who admit, sort of, partaking in foreign substances. You know how it goes: "I want to say that I regret if this story has caused my friends, family and teammates any distractions. I also hope that my many fans will not lose faith in me, because I want nothing more than to win the World Series for them and continue to sell them my signature hats, gloves and jockstraps on my website, which by the way is ... "

In other words, a number of these ballplayers express sorrow for everything except being juiced. They wish they hadn't inconvenienced anybody, they wish they hadn't been exposed, and they wish the media would drop dead.

Now, I'm not suggesting Azinger is being disingenous. My guess is he's upset at himself for bearing his soul, especially to newspapers in the United Kingdom about which he has always been careful and suspicious. At a British Open a few years ago, Azinger met the press after a round. One reporter posed a question, and he had a question of his own: "Do you write for one of these tabloids?" The answer was affirmative, at which point Azinger started talking about the weather or some such stuff.

My hope is that Azinger, who is famously honest, does not clam up because of this little brushfire. He's got a history of tiffs with Faldo, and the buildup to the Ryder Cup is no time to be politically correct. This is a golf match, for goodness sakes. What's wrong with a few slings and arrows? They certainly haven't hurt the rivalry between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox.

Personally, I have no problem with Faldo, either. When he thanked critics "from the heart of my bottom" after winning the British Open several years ago, it didn't bother me one iota. I thought it was hilarious -- but the tabs didn't. By "apologizing" for his statements from the heart of his bottom, Azinger violated nothing, least of all his penchant for saying what he thinks. The Ryder Cup will be settled with sticks and balls, but if Azinger and Faldo decide to become boring, everybody loses. Adjectives don't equate to points, but this is show biz. If the idea isn't to make people buy tickets, why sell them?