The Fed Ex Cup started this week! Somebody pinch me!
Forgive my cynicism, but pro golf already has a playoff system. It's called the majors. But sure enough, the PGA has tried to go the way of NASCAR, instituting an arcane, meaningless points system in its end-of-year events in a craven attempt to grab a few more dollars before the NFL usurps America's attention. I, it should go without saying at this point, am not buying.
Like most sports fans, I pay attention to golf exactly four times a year, five in a Ryder Cup year. I care about who wins the John Deere Classic every bit as much as I care about the sales of R. Kelly's "In The Closet, Vol. 54," which is to say: not at all. I acknowledge that a nearly-year-long golf tour is necessary, if only to give Bubba Watson and Jim Nantz something to do with themselves, but I don't have to watch it. In fact, I refuse to watch it.
There's a reason ESPN isn't shelling out big dough to cover golf events anymore, and it's this: other than the majors, there's about as much weekly drama in a golf tournament as there is watching tide pools. Will this millionaire beat that millionaire to add to his coffers? Will this spindly-armed little puss-ball bark at a cameraman for having the temerity to click his camera on said puss-ball's backswing? Who can make the most constipated faces while swinging a golf club?
Even the sport's biggest star (and about the only one who definitively isn't spindly-armed), Tiger Woods, understands what an utter sham the Fed Ex cup is. He's not attending the first event of the playoffs. Imagine if they invited the Cleveland Indians to the wild card round, and the Indians said, "Yeah, no thanks. I'll be on my yacht." The points idea works in NASCAR because NASCAR already had the idea of a "playoff" ingrained in the sport. There always were points in stock-car racing, and so there always was a "points champion." In golf, how can Rory Sabatini be allowed to earn points in an event where the top 10 players in the world don't even play. It'd be like saying to Johnny Sauter: "Hey, Johnny. You just won at Daytona, so even though Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart and Dale Earnhardt Jr. declined to attend, here's a playoff entry form."
Yes, this is a money-grab, and it makes no sense, because points don't make sense in this sport, because not enough of the athletes actually participate in enough events. When your own superstars are caught yawning at the format? Not a good sign. I'll be watching preseason football, thank you very much.
College football begins in earnest next week, so let's go there for a moment. Who are your personal favorite two teams to square off in the BCS Championship Game in January of '08?
Bodog Bookmakers, Bodog.com: USC and LSU are 2/1 and 8/1, respectively, to win the national title. USC will be in the title game, without a question. John David Booty has lost his top targets to the NFL, but he’s talented enough and has numerous options in the backfield, as the Trojans have a plethora of talented running backs including freshman phenom Joe McKnight, who some have touted as "the next Reggie Bush." Their defense was stifling last season and this season they have 10 starters returning. As for LSU, the Tigers will dominate on the defensive side of the ball and the offense has enough talent to score more than the defense is likely to allow. Les Miles will have his team in position to win his first national title, but I'm sticking with USC to prevail.
And who's your Heisman winner for the '07 season?
BDB, Bodog.com: I haven’t decided yet; this year there are enough strong candidates that I can give you four names who could be finalists for the award. The first and obvious choice is Arkansas RB Darren McFadden, who is 3/1 to take the award. If McFadden can surpass his incredible 2006 stats where he scored 19 touchdowns and became one of two running backs in SEC history to run for 1,000 in his first two seasons (Herschel Walker was the other), he’ll be the Heisman favorite. USC's John David Booty (5/1) is the best college quarterback, playing on the best team in the nation. Provided he can stay healthy all season, he'll be one of the three Heisman finalists. The third spot should go to either Brian Brohm (3/1), who could become the frontrunner if he can get Louisville into the national title game, or Steve Slaton (9/2), who's exceptionally talented, but could lose some votes considering he has to share the spotlight with West Virginia QB Patrick White.
Larry Johnson signed a five-year deal for big money to get back in Chiefs camp. Do you think he's going to have the down year many are predicting?
BDB, Bodog.com: If there is one thing you can say about LJ, it's that he's a fierce competitor. It's unlikely that he would let the extended contract negotiation period affect his game. Johnson will have his eyes on the rushing title that he feels he deserves. However, as competitive as Johnson is, I wouldn’t be surprised if he does have a down year. Aside from Brian Waters, the Chiefs' offensive line is mediocre at best. Larry Johnson will have to earn every penny this year.
Finally, how much are you bidding for the 756 Barry Bonds ball that's going up for auction soon?
BDB, Bodog.com: I really doubt I'd bid on it, but I'm sure someone out there will pay around $400,000 for a little piece of baseball history. If I were to invest in a home run ball, I'd sooner buy the ball from Barry Bonds' final career home run, which should fetch a million dollars or more.