Squeeze Play: The black eye of the Tiger

December 3, 2009

Who doesn’t want to be like Tiger Woods? He’s a famous athlete, good looking, has a smoking-hot wife, and is richer than most small nations. He’s the subject of a classic Dave Chappelle sketch and the face of Gillette. But I, yes I, the humble author of a semi-weekly sports column, have something very important in common with Eldrick “Tiger” Woods. We both have embarrassing facial injuries stemming from (alleged) domestic abuse.

We’ve all heard Tiger’s denouncement of the “malicious rumors” swirling around on the internet about his Thanksgiving car crash. But when medics report arriving to find you semi-conscious on the ground—with your wife standing over you holding a golf club and the back window of your SUV smashed in, a few days after another woman publicly claimed to have slept with you—you’ve got to expect people to jump to certain conclusions. Maybe Tiger realized he was out of cranberry sauce and the turkey was dry. Maybe he wanted to beat the crowds on Black Friday. Or maybe his wife went absolutely bat-shit crazy on him with his favorite club after finding out that the back nine was actually his nickname for a certain cocktail waitress. Like Fox News, I report, you decide.

There must be something about the fall holiday that puts everyone on edge. Tiger isn’t the only professional athlete to suffer friendly fire in the last week. In a passionate display of disgust after letting up a goal on Monday, Florida Panthers defenseman, Keith Ballard, accidentally slashed his own goalie, Tomas Vokoun, in the head. Play stopped, Vokoun was taken to the emergency room, and Ballard prepared himself for a lifetime of Gus Frerotte-style ridicule.

Call me crazy, but I smell a publicity stunt. If it were John Daly getting caught with his hand in the cookie jar or Ray Lewis shanking a teammate, that would be believable. But Eldrick Woods and Keith “The Puppy” Ballard? Here’s what I think. Golf and hockey both suck. One’s dominated by aristocrats from south of the Mason-Dixon and the other by shaggy-headed lumberjacks from north of the 49th parallel. Both involve moving a small object around with a stick. Fascinating, no?

Eldrick has realized the essential element that golf is missing: violence. By pretending that his wife may or may not have assaulted him (wink, wink), Tiger is hoping to draw car wreck-obsessed NASCAR fans to the links. Ballard recognized that nothing short of blood would cause normal, apple-pie munching Americans to watch hockey on a regular basis, and he hopes to re-brand the NHL as MMA on ice.

And what’s behind my own domestic incident? That’s a story for another column. In the meantime, I’m stocking up on Neosporin.

Jeff will take your abuse at

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