I Predict

One year ago, I predicted the Seattle Mariners were going to win the World Series. Finishing the regular season at 61-101, they just missed the playoffs. Their anemic offense set records for futility. I am the original April Fool.

A few weeks ago I predicted the Belmont Bruins were going to win a few NCAA tournament games and go farther than Arizona. Wrong and wrong.

I will not be swayed. I predict I’m going to see the sun next week when I’m living large in . . . wait for it. . . Palm Springs, California. Look for me. I’ll be the dude by the pool with a hoodie over my headphones. This is what I’ll be rocking.

I also predict Butler over KY which means you should bet on UConn or VCU (where I interviewed for a job back in the day). Shaka did too much press this week. Wasn’t smart. Beware the bright lights.

In other news, we learned this week that the President has been lurking on Pressing Pause. Wednesday’s headline read, “Obama calls for U.S. to cut oil imports by a third by 2025“. Of course any goal that exceeds a politicians term by a year, let alone nine or thirteen, is disingenuous. In 2025, Obama will be playing golf on a daily basis. I call bullshit on any politician whose promises exceed his or her term.

Every once in a while you write a post that starts out nice and focused, say on failed predictions, and then goes off the rails, and we all know what happens when a train jumps the rails.

Fitness update. See, total nonsequitur. Jumping the rails never ends well. March was very solid. In terms of Tour de France prep, I’m slightly ahead of schedule. Lighter than normal teaching schedule, injury free, no excuses. Swam 2x/week, 29,400m; cycled about 4 hours a week, 349 miles, all but 76 indoors on the M3; and ran 4x/week, 148 miles. And I’m turning into a pushup planking machine. Highlight of the month (or year, or decade, or my athletic life), when Marley spotted me too big of a lead up our hill and I held him off for the driveway victory. Lowlight, doing backstroke right on the lane line during a busy day at the pool and first brushing an unknown woman’s breast, then her hip, and then her thigh in the lane next to me. I was not arrested and I have not seen my picture in the lobby. Wonder what the statue of limitations is on something like that?

What races or events are on the schedule? Apart from waiting on the RAMROD lottery, strangely, none at present.

As soon at Butler cuts down the nets, the obvious question isn’t what to do in Libya, but who is going to win the first major golf tournament of the year at Augusta National? Tiger, Phil, Watney, Kuchar, Westwood, Double E, Kaymer, Couples, Matteo Manasserro? I’m going to go with Watney, which means he’ll be lucky to make the cut.

For tolerating this stream of consciousness, I give you Cori Schumacher, who because she’s not for sale, is the Pressing Pause Person of the Week. Link here.

As always, thanks for reading. Have a great weekend and “see” you next week.

Left to right, The Winner and the LOSER

Politics Stream of Consciousness

• Just like her opponent, Senator Murkowski from Alaska says she wants to reduce spending and reduce the national debt. And then in the same breath she says she will work hard to maintain all of Alaska’s federal funding because one-third of Alaskans’ jobs depend upon it. And she might win as a write-in candidate. So what she meant is she wants to reduce federal spending in the other forty nine states.

• Newsflash, President Obama is ordinary. The problem of course is that he was an extraordinary campaigner. ARod isn’t supposed to hit .255, Tiger isn’t supposed to be a Ryder Cup captain’s pick, and Meryl Streep isn’t supposed to make bad movies. He’s a victim of unrealistic expectations. I’m cautiously optimistic that he makes the necessary adjustments and steadily improves throughout years three and four.

• In a recent Washington State Senate debate Dino Rossi and Patty Murray were both asked two times if they would raise the minimum age for full social security benefits. Neither answered. Four non-responses. Are any politicians willing to tell constituents what they need to hear and not just what they want to? Why couldn’t Rossi or Murray say what’s so painfully obvious, “Yes, for the well-to-do at least, we’re probably going to have to raise the minimum age for full social security benefits again. More generally, we have to make serious changes to our entitlement programs to have any hope of balancing the budget and reducing the national debt.” I’m sure their non-responses are based upon political science research. By desiring honest, straightforward, specific, succinct answers, guess I’m in the minority.

• Juan Williams has been fired by NPR for comments made on Bill O’Reilly’s show. I met him once in Kyoto, Japan. I agree 100% with this commentary on his firing. As the Quakers say, “That Friend speaks my mind.”

• Get a load of French high schoolers. When I taught high school I struggled to get my students to think beyond Friday night’s game and dance. In contrast, these adolescents are protesting something over forty years down the road, having to work to 62 instead of 60. Talk about long-term thinking. Guess they anticipate hating whatever they’ll end up doing for a living and maybe they already have detailed plans for when they’re 60 and 61.

• Favorite campaign development. . . multimillionaire candidates spending tens or hundreds (in the case of Meg Whitman) of their own millions and still looking like they’ll lose.

We Don’t Know Phil Mickelson Either

Masterful Masters. Listening to Bones and Mickelson talk it through and then witnessing Mickelson’s shot on 13 from the pinestraw and trees just may have been worth wasting a beautiful afternoon indoors. Unbelievable. Has there ever been a better player-caddy relationship?

Sometimes an announcer make no sense like when Jim Nantz said Tiger’s play on Thursday was so warmly welcomed by the Masters patrons (don’t call them fans) because Americans love the redemptive arc or something nonsensical like that. What the heck does Tiger’s making a few birdies and getting his life together have to do with one another?

Here’s how the press will want you to remember the 2010 Masters. Phil was inspired to win it for Amy, his wife who is battling breast cancer. Watch SportsCenter for the continuous replaying of Phil’s and Amy’s post championship embrace or the Golf Channel or see pictures of it in Sports Illustrated on Thursday. Analysts will laud Phil as the anti-Tiger for days to come. Faithful family man versus filandering “family” man. The joke will be, “Wonder which blonde Tiger would have embraced had he won?!”

The truth of the matter is, we don’t know Phil just like we didn’t, don’t, and won’t ever know Tiger or Kobe or Sandra or name the public figure. Hell, do we truly know half of our friends and acquaintances? Maybe Phil hasn’t always been faithful. With no way to know, why put him on a pedestal for anything other than that filthy shot on 13. That’s not cynicism, it’s healthy skepticism. Cynics assume the worst, skeptics know things aren’t always as they appear, and therefore, question conventional wisdom.

Now Lee Westwood, he seems like an all around great bloke. :) Here’s hoping he breaks through later in the year.

Doesn’t Compute

In an email I recently received, my father-in-law asked me what I thought of Tiger’s performance. I’m guessing his use of the word “performance” as opposed to “statement” means he wasn’t buying what Tiger was selling.

I thought Tiger was sincere, but who knows, talk is cheap, and as he acknowledged, only time will tell. The question of whether he was sincere is not the most interesting one, nor is the question of what he does or doesn’t owe the public, nor the related one of why didn’t he allow questions.

For me there’s one interesting, actually troubling aspect of the whole Tiger melodrama, and one interesting aspect of his performance or statement.

The disconcerting aspect is the opportunity costs of our fascination with celebrities. In your circle of friends, what’s the ratio of “Tiger talk” to “education, foreign policy, health care, or economic talk”? We are a People magazine people and the quality of our democracy suffers as a result.

The interesting aspect of his statement was how pained he appeared to be, how unhappy I’m guessing he is, and his paragraph on Buddhism. We are a materialistic people. Here’s a guy that’s close to being the first billionaire athlete living a complete life of luxury and he’s unhappy. How can someone who’s the best in their field, on the way to being the best ever, with hundreds of millions of dollars, private jets, yachts, houses, Escalades, be unhappy?

Doesn’t compute.

Lots of people think if they had El Tigre money and fame they’d be much more happy than they are. To me, the Tiger story, like a lot of Old Testament ones, is a powerful reminder that money and fame are no substitute for a sense of self; a selfless spirituality; honoring your ancestors; a sense that your wife, children, and close friends respect you; a sense that you’re at least as good a person as athlete.

Tiger in Hiding

I know it’s absolutely none of my business, and I hate to admit it, but I can’t help but follow the Tiger Woods story. Maybe it’s because we’re from the same town and our games are so similar. Or maybe I’m just shallow. Rather than explain what I find most interesting about it, I feel compelled to point out one inexplicably underreported part of the story. Just think what the $164 traffic ticket and 4 points on his FL license are going to do to his auto insurance. If he think his life is stressful now, just wait until the new statement arrives in the mail.