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Woods still disappointing us

  • Published Monday, May 10, 2010, at 4:35 p.m.
  • Updated Tuesday, May 11, 2010, at 2:10 p.m.

Tiger Woods hasn't lost his ability to entertain, even though golf is no longer his primary tool for doing so.

Woods dropped out of The Players Championship at the seventh hole Sunday, explaining he had a bad neck. And we're supposed to believe him?

Why?

Because he's been so honest in the past?

I suppose Woods could have a bulging disc in his neck, as he claims, but it's not the nature of the injury that intrigues me. It's how it was sustained.

Woods insists it has nothing to do with the famous car crash into a fire hydrant that was the impetus for him being outed as a serial adulterer and all-around sleaze of a guy.

I'm sure he would also deny that the injury was incurred when his wife, Elin, swung a club at his head. Or by performance-enhancing drugs. Or by an all-night tryst with one of his ladies.

The problem is: We can't believe anything Woods says. His bond of trust is broken and anything he says comes out sounding like "blah, blah, blah."

It's OK, because golf is doing well without Woods. It was fun to watch South African Tim Clark win his first tournament on the PGA Tour on Sunday.

Does Clark have Woods' game? Of course not. Woods is the greatest golfer to ever live, whether or not he chases down Jack Nicklaus and his record 18 major tournament victories.

But Clark is a good story. The more golf I witness with Woods in the background the more I appreciate some of the other players who never got their due when Woods was in contention.

As you can tell, I'm angry with Woods. I feel like he has been personally lying to me for all these years because of the close association I — and all golf fans — developed with him.

Come to find out, it wasn't a close association at all. I feel naive and foolish to have bought into Woods for all those years. If he gets his life figured out, fine. If he doesn't, golf goes forward.

Bottom line: I don't care what happens to Woods.

***

Albert Pujols is the greatest Cardinals player of this generation and he has a chance to surpass Stan Musial as the greatest St. Louis baseball player in history.

That's incumbent on Pujols remaining a Cardinal for his entire career, and that's far from a given.

Pujols' contract runs out after the 2011 season and the Cardinals will have a tremendously difficult decision. Anybody who believes it's a no-brainer to pay Pujols $30 million a season for eight seasons, starting in 2012, isn't giving the matter serious thought.

I'm a Cardinals fan and a Pujols adorer. I get a little gleam in my eye every time he comes to the plate. I've never seen a better hitter.

Here's the problem: Do the Cardinals ante up for Pujols based on the numbers he has accumulated or do they attempt to pay him for what they think he'll do moving forward?

If it's the latter, how can St. Louis justify a long-term, $30 million per year deal?

In the world of baseball economics, would the Cardinals be better served by using that $30 million to develop players, sign other free agents or pay their own free agents to be, like Colby Rasmus, David Freese and Jaime Garcia?

By trading Pujols during the off-season, with a year remaining on his contract, the Cardinals undoubtedly could acquire two major league-ready players as well as a couple of top prospects.

Pujols is the kind of player the big-market teams salivate over. Bringing him in at 31, which will be Pujols' age next season, would be a no-brainer for teams like the Boston Red Sox or Los Angeles Angels. The Yankees, another potential bidder, don't seem to need Pujols as badly, what with Mark Teixeira signed to a long-term deal to play first base.

Deciding what to do with Pujols is a daunting task for Cardinals management. The fan base would vote almost unanimously to sign Pujols to a long-term deal no matter the cost.

Management can't afford to think like fans. It's a more complicated situation than a fan would have you believe.

Something to definitely pay attention to.

***

I wanted to share an interesting e-mail exchange I've had in recent days with Wichitan Kent Overaker.

He's the son of former Wichita Eagle and Beacon sportswriter Bob Overaker, who died of a heart attack in 1967. Kent Overaker's mother, Dian, worked for years as an executive with the National Baseball Congress and is one of the finest people I have come across in this business.

Last week, Kent e-mailed me two pictures of former Philadelphia Phillies great Robin Roberts, a Hall of Fame left-handed pitcher who died last week at the age of 83.

In the pictures, Roberts is shown with Bob Overaker and with Kent, as a child, during the early 1960s. The photos were taken at Lawrence Stadium, now Lawrence-Dumont Stadium, and Roberts was the guest of NBC founder Raymond (Hap) Dumont.

Great photos.

In our correspondence, Kent Overaker mentioned the Illinois Wesleyan sweatshirt he's wearing in the picture. He said it was a gift from UCLA coaching icon John Wooden, who was once a high school coach in South Bend, Ind., when he developed a friendship with Bob Overaker, a writer for the South Bend newspaper.

Wooden, Overaker wrote, was a pall bearer for Bob Overaker's funeral.

"I talked with (Wooden) I think twice and he encouraged me to stay in shape and do well in school,'' Kent Overaker wrote.

Kent Overaker mentioned meeting many other sports icons, thanks to his father. They included Ernie Banks, Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Bear Bryant, Bud Wilkinson and Wilt Chamberlain.

"I'll never forget looking up to Wilt and shaking his huge hand,'' Overaker wrote. "I was spoiled as a kid, but in the right way.''

***

Speaking of Chamberlain, I happened to run across a few of his statistics while researching the performance of Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo during the Celts' Game 4 Eastern Conference semifinal playoff win over Cleveland on Sunday.

The 6-foot-1 Rondo had 29 points, 18 rebounds and 13 assists in one of the most incredible playoff performances. The only two that could be considered better? Chamberlain's 29-36-13 in 1967 and Oscar Robertson's 32-19-13 in 1963.

Robertson and Chamberlain are considered two of the best players in NBA history. Rondo averaged 13.7 points, 4.4 rebounds and 9.8 assists this season; he has been a playoffs revelation.

Chamberlain was a revelation from the start of his NBA career after two seasons at Kansas and a short Globetrotters stint.

In his fourth game as a pro, Chamberlain had 41 points and 40 rebounds for the Philadelphia Warriors. He would go on to have games of 44 points and 42 rebounds, 58 points and 42 rebounds, 44 points and 45 rebounds and, against the Los Angeles Lakers in 1961, 75 points and 43 rebounds.

Chamberlain has the only double-triple-double in NBA history (20-plus in points, rebounds and assists). It came in 1968 against Detroit, when Chamberlain had 22 points, 25 rebounds and 21 assists.

Some of his numbers don't even register, they're so incredible.

***

Some quick shots from outside the world of sports:

How good was Betty White hosting "Saturday Night Live?" Unbelievable. It's unfair to even mention age when we talk about White because it doesn't do her justice. She's funnier than performers half her age. As "SNL" hosting gigs go, White's has to be Top 10. Maybe better.

I love the new Stone Temple Pilots song, "Between the Lines." STP's new album comes out in a couple of weeks and they'll be at the 70th Sturgis Motorcycle Rally on Aug. 11, part of a lineup that includes Tesla, .38 Special, The Guess Who, Godsmack, Great White, ZZ Top, Creed, Disturbed, Scorpions, Kid Rock, Eddie Money, Skillet Monster, Uncle Kracker, Motley Crue, 3 Doors Down with Hinder, Marshall Tucker Band, Jason Aldean and the Doobie Brothers. Can I hitch a ride?

The thing I'm most looking forward to during May's television sweeps is the finale of "Lost." I've watched the show for six seasons and have very little idea of what's gone on. So I probably won't understand the ending, either. Still, I'm mesmerized by the show.

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