In which I flip through this morning’s New York Times sports section and make grumpy middle-aged remarks:
—page 2: In the golf notes at bottom left, we see that Ian Poulter won the HSBC Champions tournament in Shenzhen, China. Elsewhere in the sports pages, we find that this tournament has a $7 million purse (slightly below major level), and that of the top 17 finishers, only two have recognizably Asian surnames. In women’s golf, for a tournament held in Asia, it would have been at least 12 out of 17. But (going back to the men) . . .
—A separate item, later in the same section: “By winning the Asia-Pacific Championship, Guan Tianlang, 14, became the youngest ever to qualify for the Masters.” Is this another case where the Chinese will soon eat our lunch (and I don’t mean McDonald’s)?
—And underneath that: “Kentucky announced the firing of Coach Joker Phillips one day after a 40–0 home loss to Vanderbilt . . .” Didn’t football coaches use to be called Bubba and Buddy and Bull and Buck? Or at least Weeb and Bear and Jim Bob? I say, you hire a Joker, you get a Joker.
—page 4: “The Packers Are Hobbled, Not Daunted.”* Remember when sports-page headlines had a language of their own? BOSOX NIP TRIBE . . . BOMBERS SNAP SKID . . . MIZZOU AIRSHOW TRIMS ’HORNS. Now it’s “Invictus” Lite. But that’s the Times for you. Other headlines and subheads in today’s eight-page section use “frenetic,” “cathartic, “hordes,” “wrenching,” “discord,” “tranquillity”** and “soul-stirring.” Carry on, chaps.
—page 4, right-hand column: Sports in America went finally and irrevocably to hell when condensed NFL box scores started giving complete individual stats but not saying how and when the teams scored. It used to be that you could get a quick idea of how the game went, whether it was back-and-forth or deceptively close, whether a last-second field goal decided it, and so forth by scanning the list of scoring plays. Now all anyone cares about is how their stat-league guys did. Harrumph!
—Plus one from the business section, where the Times’s advertising columnist discusses the Astros’ new marketing campaign, centered around the slogan “The Star Is Big and Bright and Back for Good.” Perhaps, not being Texan, I don’t understand the visceral appeal of allusions to “Deep in the Heart of Texas”; but even so, is this going to make a bunch of football-mad Lone Star Staters want to come out and watch a ballclub that finished 55–107? In fact, has anyone ever gone to a baseball game because of a slogan? Bill White used to say during the slow parts of Yankee broadcasts, “You know, Scooter, the best way to get fans out to the park is very simple: Win.” That or give away bobblehead dolls. Harrumph again, and another harrumph for moving the Astros to the American League. Why couldn’t they just bring back the Brewers and restore some order to the universe?
* the online version has a different headline
** with two l’s, despite what my spell check says