Tiger Tiger

Question for ESPN's Jason Sobel on his British Open blog around 8 this morning: "It's been at least 30 minutes without a TW mention. Is that a record?" Nothing daunted, Jason fired back, "Good point. Sorry about that. After yesterday's 73, Tom Whitehouse will tee off in a little over three hours. There. Better?"

But really, is ESPN backing away from Tiger? He teed off yesterday at 4:09 am EDT, but ESPN didn't start broadcasting from St. Andrews till 5, and even then they gave him only normal coverage. It used to be that they'd follow him into the men's room. And Mike Tirico had the unmitigated gall to suggest that Tiger might actually not win here. (After Tiger's bogey-bogey start this morning, Mike is looking like Paul the Octopus. Maybe the two of them could go on PTI.) Has LeBron replaced Tiger in ESPN's hearts and minds and pocketbooks?

Also: is it my imagination, or are there fewer Americans on the Open leaderboard than there used to be? After the first round, I counted something like 11 out of the top 45. It's about the same now. And unless Mark Calcavecchia or Tom Lehman is this year's Greg Norman/Tom Watson (the "other" TW), or you think Ricky Barnes or John Daly is going to hold up for four rounds, you're looking at Lucas Glover and Hunter Mahan (okay, and Tiger) as the only Americans with a realistic chance.

On another front: some insight into what might have happened to the Dutch in last Sunday's World Cup final. Last Saturday, a press release went out stating that if the Dutch won, Andre Rieu and his orchestra would jump on stage and play for the fans assembled in the Vrijthof square in Maastricht. Could word of that have leaked out to the Dutch side? Could it be the photos of Andre that the Spanish bench were holding up that caused those big gaps to appear in the Dutch defense? When Nigel de Jong stuck his studs into Xabi Alonso's chest, could he have been trying to get sent off? What did he yell at referee Howard Webb? Maybe something like "What do I have to do to get a red card?" Who knows. But in the end, Iniesta saved us all.

And with regard to the French: back in 1998, Jean-Marie Le Pen, the leader of France's right-wing National Front, complained that his country hadn't fielded "a real French team" in that year's World Cup and repeated his call for the expulsion from La Belle France of all "immigrant foreigners." That was AFTER France had won the World Cup, beating Brazil 3-0. My suggestion that France consider fielding two national sides, the Archie Bunker regulars and the "Equipe des Refuses" immigrants, fell on deaf ears. Now, of course, the side are in disgrace after Nicolas Anelka was sent home and they refused to train for a day before the defeat by South Africa. Indeed, they've been way up and way down ever since 1998, winning Euro 2000 and going to penalties at World Cup 2006 but a flop otherwise. Are they the only national team of note where the make-up of the team isn't representative of the country? 

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