Archive for June, 2009

Duval reaches out to Blackmon on road to recovery

In April 2005, Puggy Blackmon had a surprise telephone ring. The caller was David Duval, from whom Blackmon hadn’t heard in quite awhile.

“Can you come over to Augusta and meet me?” Duval asked.

Blackmon had been Duval’s coach at Georgia Tech and had worked with him at times since, but not recently. Instead, Duval had taken his golfing cares and woes to a number of “witch doctors,” as some of us are inclined to label those professionals whose specialty is “remodeling” Tour players — fairly or unfairly. Duval hadn’t made a cut in a major championship in three years and, for the most part, had disappeared from the game.

In other words, he had hit rock bottom. The Masters was coming up. He was running low on exemption and was turning to the coach he trusted most of all, although they hadn’t talked for the longest time.
“I was surprised,” Blackmon said. “You could have knocked me over with a feather,” and there he stood under the big tree at Augusta National waiting for their …

Continue reading Duval reaches out to Blackmon on road to recovery »

Brace yourselves, but Braves should put Chipper on the market

OK, now it’s the Braves’ turn. After all those seasons of shoring up their roster with blockbuster trades in mid-season, at the expense of raiding the farm system, consider this: (Are you sitting down?) Tell the world they’re putting Chipper Jones on the open market. Anybody out there in need of a third baseman, or, on the American League side, a designated hitter?

I can hear all the gulps, and the screeches, and calls for my scalp. First place, forget where you saw this. This is not my choice at all, but considering the direction the Braves have taken the past four years, the lock is running low on sentimentality. Sure, Chipper is the face of the Braves. And the voice. He speaks for the team when anyone is looking for an opinion, or reaction to a news event. All of us seek him out, and he responds in his even baritone voice. He never lets you down. So to offer him for trade, hang him out there like a piece of meat for swap, a dreadful thought.

But think again. He deserves one …

Continue reading Brace yourselves, but Braves should put Chipper on the market »

Nicklaus’ comment motivates Woods

Tiger Woods found motivation from a source to win Memorial golf tournament. (AP)

Tiger Woods found motivation from a legendary source to win Memorial golf tournament. (AP)

Wait’ll you hear this: Guess whose swing advice Tiger Woods has been following? Not Hank Haney (he’s been busy with Charles Barkley). Not Butch Harmon. (They’re divorced.) Nor that moose of a caddie, Steve Williams.

None of the above. Jack Nicklaus, that’s who. Happened during a news conference at the Memorial, when somebody asked Jack what he thought about the progress of Tiger’s return from the disabled. Remember, the Masters and the Players had passed without a trophy. Now he had a round of 74 to face up to at Dublin, when Jack was put on the stand.

“If you look at his golf swing, I don’t think he moves out of the way of the ball like he used to,” the tournament host said. (Remember, he and Tiger had been paired in a Skins Game the day before the Memorial. Tiger had looked like best-in-show, but that was fun and games.)

“I think that’s probably protective, and that’s probably …

Continue reading Nicklaus’ comment motivates Woods »

Glavine deserved better from Braves

Well, they led him to the altar, but they couldn’t convince him to say, “I quit.”

Speaking here of the “Tom Glavine affair,” which is not going away, and which the Braves will have plastered across their dossier for time to come. Coming on the heels of the indifferent dealing with John Smoltz — who tired of waiting for a commitment — we now have become witness to the end of an era: The Smoltz-Glavine-Maddux era, when the Braves had the three greatest pitchers they have ever had on their roster at the same time.

But, Glavine is the central figure here. Say his time had come, if you choose, but no one had ever given the slightest hint that he was being whip-sawed with such a dead-end decision: Take retirement or release. Then the heartless words spread across the television screen: “Braves Release Tom Glavine.”

If they were going to release him, then why this agonizing process of rehabilitation tests at Gwinnett and Rome? It was some kind of anxiety scene outside the Braves …

Continue reading Glavine deserved better from Braves »