Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
Man or Machine?
2008-06-17 08:22
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to

People say Tiger Woods is ungodly. I'd say his performance is often flat-out godly. During yesterday's dramatic playoff at the U.S. Open, one of the TV commentators said that Tiger isn't used to chasing someone this late in a Major.  The pressure is on Tiger, he said.  A friend, who is an avid golf fan, turned to me and said, "The pressure is always on the other guy because Tiger is relentless."

Today, Joe Posnanski wonders what drives Woods and notices that there aren't many telling anecdotes about the living legend.  Michael Jordan's competitiveness is well-documented, but Woods is almost like an android, he's so contained, so controlled.  But I thought this was revealing. Woods told reporters: 

"This week had a lot of doubt to it, to be honest with you.  I hadn't walked 18 holes until the first round here since Augusta.  You know, you keep playing.  You just keep going, keep going forward.

All my buddies, when we were working out, used to always say 'For.'  How many more reps do we have? 'For.  Forever.'  And that's the idea.  You just keep going.  There's no finish line."

I think Woods is simply one of the most focused, disciplined, single-minded champions of all time. He is relentless. That's why the pressure is always on the other guy. I'm sure he doesn't let anything get in the way of his game--family, friends, even business. It doesn't make me want to hang out with him. How could a guy like that be fun to have a conversation with? But it's hard not to marvel at his drive, nerve, and his continued excellence in the world of golf.
2008-06-17 09:39:43
1.   horace-clarke-era
Rocco, who reminds me more than a little of Lee Trevino, was interviewed before the playoff and asked if he'd talk during the round, as he usually does. Said he would, and that Tiger would let him know soon enough if he didn't want to.

I didn't see them chatting, nope. Relentless, utterly focused, both apt, Alex. Talent is never enough, not at that level.

Mediate was really fine, undone by his driver on the 18th, an easy birdie hole, then again on 7 which is a harder hole and needed a fairway placement. But 91 holes to a US Open is pretty special.

2008-06-17 09:51:27
2.   Alex Belth
Rocco came across as candid and a real mensch. He was proud of how he played and rightfully so. No shame in losing to the best.
2008-06-17 10:11:01
3.   Josh Wilker
1 : I heard Rocco interviewed this morning, and he said after he flubbed a putt on 7 (?) he asked Woods "Did your putt break?" "Not late," Woods replied. (I don't really understand what this means but Rocco told the story as a way to show that Tiger was better than anyone at reading the greens.) The interchange was interesting to me in that I was surprised that anyone would have the nerve to to talk to the guy as if he was among the mortals. The talk was also telling in that Woods was terse, as you'd expect him to be.

I haven't enjoyed golf that much since Nicklaus defeated time to win his last major in the early '80s. Rocco lost, but like Rocky I he also won. I just wish Tiger would have shouted an Apollo Creedian "Ain't gonna be no rematch!" at some point during the aftermath.

2008-06-17 10:13:03
4.   ms october
this post sort of makes me think of the eariler post about pete rose and alex - but thankfully with no awful pictures of pete rose :}

i have heard people refer to tiger as a golf nerd before and i think it fits - and it is not necessarily a derogatory expression. i think alex is a baseball nerd. it seems like they don't just practice or watch film or whatever just to make themsleves better (or the best) but they actually througoughly enjoy all the preparation for their sport - they are baseball/golf nerds

2008-06-17 10:49:33
5.   ChrisS
0 I'm a golfer, and I love watching Tiger play. For non-golfers: there's about 100 things that can go wrong in a swing, and you're swinging the club 75 times a round. Times 5 rounds. He does things so consistently that it's disgusting. It's extremely rare for him to mis-hit a ball twice in a row. He rarely has bad rounds. And these championship courses are ridiculously difficult.

And to be honest, despite some critical stories about his father forcing golf on Tiger at a young age, it's really all Tiger. No one can become that good at golf without having the physical tools and the mental make-up. You have to want to go to the range every day and hit a thousand golf balls, take a drink, and hit a thousand more.

I enjoy the game, but I can rarely get through 18 holes twice a weekend without fading at the end and having breakdowns in my swing. Tiger never loses focus.

2008-06-17 11:45:13
6.   Vandelay Industries
He is aloso a notoriously cheap tipper. Friends reportedly regularly return to the table or location to up the tip left by the $500 Million dollar man.

He could be the best golfer in history, but I agree, I wouldn't want to sit down for a beer with him. I know most folks like to believe their favorite athletes are great guys, but it's best left in the imagination.

2008-06-17 12:15:26
7.   dianagramr
I hope I'm not opening up a can of worms here but ...

I admire his nerve, his skill and his temperment.

I DON'T admire that he continues to wear Nike clothing, given their long-standing record of shoddy labor practices overseas.

Now, yes there are plenty of other athletic equipment manufacturers that adhere to the same Nike practices, but they haven't been in the limelight as much or for as long as Nike. If Woods really wants to make a name for himself, he'll divest himself from Nike at some point (after all, doesn't he have all the cash he could ever need already?)

Note, I'm not bashing on Tiger. I do appreciate that he does give back to those less fortunate ....

2008-06-17 14:06:03
8.   Vandelay Industries
7 I agree, but all major sneaker manufacturers employ the same practices, no matter how they spin it. A feww others come to mind: Sam Waterson schilling for TD Ameritrade; Dennis Hopper for Fidelity; and most notably Coach K taking tens of millions from Nike when every dime should go to the school. How on God's Green Earth did NCAA coaches aquire the right to negotiate contracts for college sports teams and keep the money? That one I'll never understand. The college kids wear equipment they may not prefer and the coach gets rich, while the coach is under no requirenent to share with the school?

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