Back Nine: Masters magic again
Published: Tuesday, April 16, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, April 16, 2013 at 10:51 a.m.
The Back Nine comes at you after a wonderful weekend of baseball, a lot of golf and a tremendous lunch Sunday at St. Augustine's Oasis restaurant with my favorite people — my family.
10. I had a plan and it worked to perfection — be in the recliner for the back nine of The Masters. I watched a lot of Thursday and Friday and as much of Saturday as I could between pitches. But there is nothing like the back nine at Augusta. And it did not disappoint. If you don't like golf, well, I get it, but I think you are missing out. But if you do like golf, you understand how spectacular that finish was. Lost in Adam Scott's win was one of the greatest shots in golf history. Angel Cabrera's second shot on 18 to force the playoff was incredibly gutty and came in a driving rain. I was happy for Scott, who has always been one of the good guys on Tour, but nobody could have been rooting against Cabrera with his son on his bag. Cabrera showed what a class act he is after losing in the playoff. The worst part of today is that The Masters is over for another year. I love watching the other majors, but there is nothing like the beauty and the history of Augusta National.
11. OK, here is where I stand on Tigergate. For those of you who missed it, Woods hit the pin with his third shot on No. 15 Friday and it ricocheted into the water (did someone say karma?). He went back and took a drop two yards behind where he originally hit his water-bound ball and made bogey. The Augusta rules committee, headed up by Florida graduate Fred Ridley, ruled that what he did was OK, but after a TV viewer called CBS the determination was made to penalize Woods two shots. No.1, I always thought you could go as far back as you wanted to drop a ball, so I learned something; 2. I did not know the PGA Tour put in a rule in 2011 that a call from a fan watching on TV cannot get you disqualified; 3. I didn't think Woods was trying to cheat, not on the course anyway; 4. It would seem to be common sense that Augusta National, where they light their cigars with $100 bills, could have a rules official on each hole; 5. No, Woods should not have withdrawn. That's just silly; 6. I wonder if he hadn't been penalized and was at 7-under coming home instead of 5-under if that would have made the leaders feel some extra heat?
12. I don't want to say that Florida's baseball turnaround is amazing because anyone who follows the team knows the Gators weren't that far away. This young team has finally learned to win close games. Still, this isn't a team that is going to overwhelm you at the plate. Florida had three extra-base hits in its three-game sweep of South Carolina and they were the three doubles that came in the 10-run sixth inning Saturday. In four wins over ranked teams last week, Florida had all of four extra-base hits. But the Gators are finding ways to score just enough runs. The Gators have pulled into a tie for second place in the SEC East and could present an interesting situation for the NCAA selection committee. Let's say they had to make the call right now — Florida is 19-18 but has an RPI of 12 and the No. 1 strength of schedule. Are they in? It's difficult to imagine a team ranked 12th in RPI not making the field. Of course, there is a lot of baseball to be played.
13. Speaking of baseball, I'm looking forward to seeing “42”, the biographical film about Jackie Robinson that set box office records over the weekend. I'm guessing it will be better than “The Jackie Robinson Story” which was made in 1950 and starred Robinson as himself. I'm hoping the film lets young people understand how special Robinson was not only for his baseball skills but for having the courage to deal with racism at a very aggressive, nasty level. One of the stars of the film is John C.McGinley who plays Red Barber. Barber, of course, is a Florida graduate who got his start calling Florida football games on the radio.
14. And speaking of more baseball, how about them Braves! I'm trying not to get too excited because I know it's a long season, but I'd rather be 11-1 than 2-10 (see: Padres). And the best story in baseball is Atlanta's catcher Evan Gattis. The burly Gattis was supposed to go to Texas A&M but went to rehab instead. He spent several years wandering from job to job in the western part of the country looking for answers to his life. Then he decided he wanted to play baseball again. And now he's hitting .324 with four homers and 10 RBIs. I love the way he attacks the ball.
15. Bobby Stoops stirred things up last week when he told my buddy Matt Hayes of the Sporting News that college football players get plenty and don't need any more money. I happen to agree with Stoops. Now, I know, you're going to use the argument that the greedy conferences and schools are raking in billions and they're using players as pawns in their big money games. But what has to be realized is that these schools aren't taking that money and putting it into a bank account in the Cayman Islands. They're funding non-revenue sports all over campus. They're sending the softball team to the West Coast because that's where the best competition is. They're sending the golf team and the track team and the volleyball team all over the country to make them better. And I totally agree with Stoops that the fans aren't coming to see the players (OK, Tim Tebow was an exception) as much as they are coming to see the team. But that's just me. And Stoopsie. It is funny that Stoops and Steve Spurrier, who are very close friends, are so diametrically opposed on the issue of paying players.
16. Wednesday, the SEC will make the long-awaited and expected announcement that it will launch the SEC Network in August of 2014. I think we're all looking forward to it, but I am curious about the content. The league bought back its third-tier rights to all sports and that's where a game like Florida-Toledo may end up. I'm optimistic it will be must-see TV for all SEC fans with special features and talk shows, but the main thing is that we want to see games. Live games. All sports. At least that's what I want to see. And maybe with this new deal, the league can fix its website.
17. The Tweet of the Week comes from San Jose Mercury News sports columnists Tim Kawakami — “I think (Angel) Cabrera could use Adam Scott's putter off the tee and hit it 350.” Scott was the first Masters winner with an anchored putter, but the fourth winner in the last six majors and that conversation will continue. They are supposed to be banned in 2016, but we will see.
18. I was thinking about this the other day, how I think we are living at a great time for music. There are so many directions you can go with a playlist. Anyway, try these downloads — “One Woman Army” by Kate Earl, “Keep You” by Wild Belle and for the old school in you “Year of the Cat” by Al Stewart.