The Opening Pitch: "I'm sorry" is the best thing Tiger can or will say at 11 a.m. this morning.
It is what most fans and media want to hear -- expect to hear. And I'm sure he will say it, hopefully not falling back on the "this is a private thing" talking point. Then again, he's not taking questions from reporters (or "reporters"), so he isn't giving himself an opportunity (or pitfall) through extemporaneous conversation.
But "sorry" is not the most important thing Tiger should say. That would be: When is he returning to golf?
His real rehab is on the course. The real subject-changer is the first opportunity Tiger gives sports media to talk about anything but his affairs, but especially about golf.
That is why the best advice (unheeded) that Tiger got in the immediate aftermath of the scandal's first days was that he (a) 'fess up and (b) get on the course, playing anyone, anywhere.
And so Tiger will make some kind of apology. He might even announce that he is returning to rehab.
He needs to show public contrition toward his cuckolded wife. But that is simply making the cut -- a basic expectation of decency.
The news he can make that would lead the coverage -- and finally push the affairs to the back-burner -- is to say precisely when he is getting back on the course to compete.
NBA Trade Mania: T-Mac takes New York! It doesn't matter that the Knicks are going to eject him 5 seconds after the season ends; the trade deadline was precisely about the coming offseason.
In the Knicks' case, it was about freeing up cap room to make a play for LeBron and one other top-tier free agent. In the Cavs' case, it was about showing LeBron they will do anything to surround him with championship talent.
Here is the fascinating part: It's a zero-sum game. Either the Knicks get LeBron or the Cavs do. So either the Knicks' ultimate cap flexibility is appealing to LeBron -- or the Cavs' commitment to surrounding him with talent prevails. But one strategy will be a complete disaster.
(Speaking of LeBron, what a battle he had with Carmelo last night -- 45 points as part of a triple-double for Bron, but a home L to Denver, which was paced by Melo's 40, including the game-winner in LeBron's face to end the Cavs' 13-game W streak.)
The same goes for Chicago, which cleared enough room to make a run at hometown favorite Dwyane Wade. But if Wade stays in Miami (or joins LeBron in, say, New York), the Bulls can pick up two very good players with that money.
(Something to consider: There are eight teams with "max" cap room, but fewer than eight players who are worth the max -- at least ones who won't simply re-sign with their current team, like Dirk. A bunch of teams are going to not use that money -- they can tell their fans they tried or that they now have room for 2011, but I'm curious how many fans will still buy into that.)
The deals that didn't happen: Amare had all the heat heading into yesterday, but in the end, nothing happened, which is a let-down. But the more intriguing coulda-shoulda-woulda was Carlos Boozer to the Heat, which might have made Miami a darkhorse in the East -- and certainly made it more appealing for Wade to stay.
Hot Winter Olympic Action
• Star of the Day: Evan Lysacek. You don't have to be a fan of skating to appreciate that he put on his best performance when it mattered most -- the aspiration for any sports moment.
• Co-Star of the Day: Torah Bright, the Australian snowboarder who owned the women's halfpipe comp and eclipsed Americans Teter and Clark.
• Vonn crashes in slalom: Tough break, after the way she led after the downhill portion of the combined. Her Olympics are secure after the downhill gold, but the expectation is still that she'll win multiple medals. (Hmm: US teammate/rival Julia Mancuso is already there.)
• Umm... a little too close for comfort, eh, Team Canada? Especially with the showdown coming with the U.S. on Sunday.
CBB Games of the Weekend
Siena at Butler
Villanova at Pitt
Kentucky at Vandy
Ohio St at Michigan St.
Baylor at Oklahoma St.
Bracket Buster: I'm less concerned with the mid-majors who can leverage a win tomorrow to get an at-large bid than scouting the field for NCAA Tournament sleepers who could make a run into the Sweet 16. (Tonight's Old Dominion at Northern Iowa is a totally intriguing one, btw.)
Last night: After the odd loss at home to Louisville, Syracuse comes through with a huge win at Georgetown. (Yes, I can now put Syracuse back on my short list of Final Four favorites. Gonzaga, on the other hand. ...)
MLB Spring Training: Aroldis Chapman made his Reds debut and should be considered the most intriguing rookie in the league this season.
The Last Word: "He's under contract, and he's going to be with us. He's part of the organization. If he wants to play, he's going to play here." -- Wizards GM Ernie Grunfeld, on Gilbert Arenas.
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. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/danshanoff.
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