A Stones Throw 2-23-12


While I don’t want to sound disrespectful, most years President’s day seems to just be an excuse for the banks and Post Office to close and for furniture stores and car dealers to have the “sale of the year.” Of course that is until the next “sale of the year.”

In other words, in terms of a holiday, most years President’s day gets a big “Ho Hum.”

Not this year. This year I finally realized that President’s day is really President’s weekend. And what a weekend it was.

At least for me.

Sunday’s final round of the PGA’s Northern Trust Classic kept most golf fans glued to the television. It took two birdies on the last hole to force a three-way playoff. More importantly, fan favorite Phil Mickelson was in the playoff.

I would tell you who won, but I really don’t care. I was too busy following the over 50s PGA Champions tour. I was watching my son-in-law’s brother – Kenny Perry – destroy the field in the Ace Group Classic Tournament.

Normally I only watch golf when there is no football, baseball, NASCAR, or Curling to watch. That is, except when Kenny plays. Then I try not to miss a shot. (I guess I have to thank my daughter, Kelly, for marrying Todd Perry. Through him I was able to meet Kenny and immediately became both a golf fan and a Kenny Perry fan.)

In case you missed it – Kenny won last weekend. He set a Champions tour record with a score of 18 under after two rounds. He went on to win the tournament by five strokes.

Way to go Kenny. (By the way, if anyone knows who won that other tournament – you know the one with Mickelson in it – let me know.)

Most of the time a Kenny Perry win would be the absolute highlight of the weekend.

Not this weekend.

Not President’s day weekend.

This weekend, it became official. The Chicago Cubs and the Cincinnati Reds are tied for first place in the National League Central. Even better, both teams will remain tied for first place for at least 45 days.

And, NASCAR and Danica Patrick started their season last weekend. No – wait. Danica didn’t really start anything except the hoopla that will follow her wherever she goes this year. (I know – so what’s new?)

While the best of the best in auto racing were battling bumper-to-bumper at speeds up to 200 miles per hour in the Bud Shootout at the Daytona Speedway, television commentators were constantly asking Danica to explain what the drivers were experiencing, and how the new car design rules were affecting the race.

Hey guys – Danica Patrick is a rookie. She hasn’t got a clue. She is trying to understand what is going on herself. On the other hand, while she may not do very well in NASCAR this year, she does look good in those ‘Go Daddy’ commercials.

That is apparently enough to make her a NASCAR spokesperson and superstar. At least she is generating tremendous publicity for NASCAR.

And, NASCAR needs the help. After all, pitchers and catchers reported to spring training last weekend. And, the Cubs are still in first place.

I have to admit I am a little concerned. It seems no one gives the Cubs a chance to do anything once the real season starts. That is not exactly true – most experts give the Cubs a chance to lose a lot of games. The Cubs have become an afterthought even before they could become a current thought.

Cubs’ fans all over the world are already shouting the alternate Cubs anthem – “wait until next year.” The real Cubs anthem is the song “Go Cubs Go.” It is played after each home game victory. Unfortunately it hasn’t been played much during the past few years.

“Wait until next year,” on the other hand is shouted year round – except for the 45 days of Spring Training.

And these are the days.

Enthusiasm is at its peak. Hopes are high. The Cubs are in first place.

Then, the season will begin. Hopes will dim. Enthusiasm will move to despair – then to disgust. The Cubs will fall out of first place. (Usually on the first day.) Shouts of “Wait until next year” will boom from the rooftops.

This year, I think it is time to find a way to generate lasting enthusiasm for the Cubs. We have 45 days to figure out a way to hide the fact that they will probably go from “lovable losers” to “unloved losers” once the real season begins.

My first thought is to make Danica Patrick a “Go-Cubby” girl. Unfortunately, she is busy trying to keep NASCAR popular. I wonder if the Sports Illustrated swimsuit models are available. Or super-skier Lindsey Vonn.

They would generate enthusiasm and interest. On second thought, I’m afraid the players would be distracted – I know I would be – and we need to have them concentrate more, not be distracted.

With that in mind, I thought I might ask Kenny Perry to set up a golf course inside of Wrigley Field and stage a golf tournament between innings.

That won’t work for two reasons. First, Kenny can hit a ball three times farther than any of the Cubs – and he is over 50. I don’t want him embarrassing my Cubbies. Second, golf is the only game where you can watch both grass grow and paint dry between shots. At least with baseball, there is only time to watch the grass grow.

So, after a lot of thoughts – a lot of ideas – the solution became obvious.

Kenny needs to concentrate on winning tournament after tournament on the PGA Champions Tour. Danica needs to perform at a level in NASCAR that justifies the hype.

Baseball doesn’t need their help. What baseball needs – what the Cubs need – happened President’s Day weekend. – Pitchers and catchers reported for spring training, and the Cubs and Reds are in first place.

What more do we need? Go Cubs Go!

– Mike Cooney