Shanoff's Wake-Up Call: Is Tiger Bad for Golf?

Today's Calls: Tiger vs. the Field, Brett Favre vs. Aaron Rodgers, Dan Ortmeier vs. Ryan Spilborghs, Albert Pujols vs. Mike Jacobs, Nuggets vs. Warriors, OJ Mayo vs. Kevin Love, NHL Playoffs vs. NCAA Frozen Four and More! ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: "Tiger vs. the Field" is either the greatest thing -- or the worst thing -- to ever happen to golf. ↵

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↵Perhaps like many of you, my interest in golf is mostly tied to Tiger's success, particularly for majors (and even more particularly for the Masters). Perhaps like many of you, I stop watching (or caring) when Tiger isn't in the hunt. Perhaps like many of you, I actually couldn't care less about the other golfers. ↵

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↵"Tiger vs. the Field" has become the shorthand for the state of golf these days; there is Tiger, and then there is everyone else. ↵

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↵Particularly this season: Tiger is playing so spectacularly that it's not IF he'll win the Masters, it is (a) by how much, and (b) is it en route to a season Slam. Is outcome inevitability good for any sport? ↵

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↵Tiger brings tons of new fans into the fold; to his credit, he transcends golf -- who wouldn't want to see living history... arguably the greatest sports performer of our time... in his prime? ↵

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↵But our interest isn't golf; it's Tiger. ↵

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↵Consequently, when Tiger wins -- all the time -- the rest of golf loses: Tiger uses up all of the available oxygen. ↵

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↵Even Phil Mickelson, who seemed to have a budding rivalry with Tiger just a few seasons ago, has been eclipsed by Tiger (who isn't just global, but if you've seen his new Gatorade ad, is intergalactic). ↵

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↵And when Tiger doesn't win, people tune out. The downside for the PGA about fans emerging to witness the greatest golfer in history is that it isn't about the golf. ↵

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↵As for a Masters prediction, again: "Tiger vs. the Field?" I used to take the Field; not this season: I'll take Tiger FTW. ↵

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↵Favre Update: Ready to play... in a pinch? I'm a day late, but this story about Favre being open to returning to the Packers in the event Aaron Rodgers gets injured? ↵

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↵You can totally see this coming. ↵

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↵Favre might not be itching to play full-time for another team, but he sure seems to be sending signals that he is willing to keep playing under the right circumstances: Like a spot-start. ↵

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↵From a Rodgers injury one Sunday to the next game a week later, I'm quite sure Favre could step in cold off his couch and jump right back into the Packers huddle; in fact, that seems like his dream scenario. ↵

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↵When he retired, Favre seemed to indicate that it was the year-long grind -- even the season-long grind -- that he was tired of: That if he could just play those 3 hours a week, he'd be happy to keep playing. ↵

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↵As an emergency fill-in, he wouldn't have to deal with any of that stuff; he would just jump right in and play. ↵

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↵Is it possible that Favre might even be secretly rooting for a Rodgers injury, if only to see if he could pull it off? This would be the only season to try it. ↵

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↵NFL Draft: Dolphins negotiating with Jake Long? Smart move to lock up their pick well before the draft. It also gives them leverage: "Don't want to do a deal? Fine, we'll call CHRIS Long." But if they are sincerely set on Jake Long, it's a great pick: Teams could do a whole lot worse than a franchise left tackle, no matter WHO the QB is. ↵

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↵Latest MLB Instant History: The Tigers had to win eventually, right?... Was someone saying that Albert Pujols was headed for a down year?... Daniel Ortmeier!... The Royals (the Royals!) are 6-2 after shutting out the Yankees behind '08 breakthrough SP Zach Grienke... Fantasy Stud: Is Mike Jacobs still available in your league? (Doubt it)... Any further questions whether the D'backs were a fluke?... Ryan Spilborghs! ↵

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↵Steroid Watch: You know who had been missing from this scandal? Agents. Apparently, not anymore: Would it really surprise you to learn that some agents (as yet un-ID'ed) pushed their players to a California doc allegedly involved with giving MLB players PEDs? ↵

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↵NBA West Watch: Suns clock Spurs by 17 in San Antonio (anyone else want to believe this is playoff foreshadowing?)... Hornets beat T'wolves by 32 (team-record 55th W)... Rockets beat Seattle by 23 (without T-Mac)... Tonight's Must-Track: Nuggets at Warriors in a battle between the two teams vying for that coveted West 8-seed. ↵

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↵NBA Draft: OJ Mayo turning pro. Does this REALLY surprise you? Given that he might have been the No. 1 overall pick TWO years ago (after his junior year in HS, if such players were draft-eligible), and would have been taken higher either of the past two years than he will be this year, this is a draft-age-limit casualty. ↵

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↵Syracuse's Donte' Greene is turning pro, too: He had a great year on a limited team (17.7 ppg, 7.2 rpg). He could have been a Top 5 pick a year from now (and Syracuse would have been a GREAT team), but he is a first-round lock in '08 (mid-teens?), which apparently was enough to get him to bolt. The knock on Greene: He doesn't shoot long jumpers well enough to settle for so many of them. ↵

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↵West Virginia postseason sensation Joe Alexander will test the Draft, but won't hire an agent: Presumably, if he's a lock of a first-round pick (as he should be), he will stay in. ↵

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↵Oklahoma's Blake Griffin is going another way: He will return to school, and is not just a preseason All-American, but is likely a lock Top 10 pick in the 2009 NBA Draft. ↵

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↵(Meanwhile, UCLA coach Ben Howland -- and Kevin Love's own mom -- says Love and Darren Collison aren't in (or out) of the NBA Draft pool yet. I suspect it's just a matter of time, but who knows: Maybe they'll surprise us.) ↵

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↵College Hoops Coaching Carousel: While Bill Self's situation at Kansas is still unsettled, apparently there is clarity at LSU, which is reportedly set to hire Stanford's Trent Johnson. (I thought they would hire VCU's Anthony Grant.) In a bit of ironic timing, former Stanford coach Mike Montgomery was just hired by rival Cal. ↵

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↵NHL Playoff Star: Joe Sakic, who put in his 8th OT playoff goal of his career, leading the Avs to a 3-2 win over the Wild, and a 1-0 series lead. (More winners: Flames in a 7-over-2 upset over the Sharks; Rangers and Pens win, too; the top-seed Habs and R-Wings open tonight.) ↵

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↵Despite not being much of a hockey fan, I caught some of the Avs game: It is remarkable and unique to hockey (and more fun, btw) the level to which players' intensity ramps for the playoffs. ↵

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↵(Speaking of hockey, it's the NCAA Frozen Four tonight in Denver: Michigan vs. Notre Dame; B.C. vs. North Dakota. Which one of these schools is not like the other? How can you NOT root for North Dakota -- hockey's real "N.D.") ↵

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↵WNBA Draft: Candace Parker -- instantly the WNBA's biggest star -- is a perfect fit in Hollywood for the LA Sparks. ↵

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↵Not only is Parker instantly the top talent (and draw) in the WNBA, but also she broke the age barrier, becoming the first WNBA player to be drafted with college eligibility remaining (she turned pro via a loophole). ↵

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↵For the record, all 5 Tennessee starters were drafted (the Sparks reunited Parker with her 5-2 PG Shannon Bobbitt). ↵

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↵Olympic Torch vs. San Francisco: What's the point of a Torch relay if fans don't get a chance to see it? You could argue that the protesters ruined it for those who just want to see the Olympic Torch without it being some big political statement that they hate humanity, but let's blame an overly cautious local S.F. government for forgetting the Torch run is for fans. ↵

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↵Related: British PM Gordon Brown is going to skip the Opening Ceremionies: This is going to be THE litmus test for world leaders and any signal of their implicit or explicit approval of China's involvement in human-rights sketchiness. Germany's Angela Merkel is out; France's Nicolas Sarkozy is iffy. And it's only early April. ↵

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↵The Last Word: I take it back. I will watch some non-Tiger portions of the Masters... via that "hole-cam" at Amen Corner. Since it was introduced, that's been the killer online app for golf. (Can't they sign up Bill Murray to do online-only play-by-play?) ↵

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↵Dan Shanoff writes The Wake-Up Call every weekday morning for SportingNews.com and blogs daily at DanShanoff.com. Got any comments, questions or feedback? Email Dan at shanofftsn-[at]-gmail-[dot]-com. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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