During the Grammys last night, it dawned on us that music and sports are such parallels it's staggering. Whether team or individual/solo or group, there can be individual brilliance and group success. There is intense pressure, unbelievable rewards, crazy publicity and spotlights and it all comes from doing something that started as childhood dreams. Plus, people have a huge amount of appreciation for the gifts that athletes and musicians share with us. Think of it this way, none of us have a working understanding about doing brain surgery or arguing before the Supreme Court. Each of those are noble and admirable tasks in life, but we have a hard time grasping the level of skill or magnitude of either.
But everyone has either hit a golf ball, thrown a football, shot a basketball, sung a song or tried to dabble on an instrument, so when we see those acts done at artistic levels, we are wowed.
This is relevant on a lot of levels this morning. Trust us.
From the "Talk too much studios," let's go.
Tiger Woods, right, and Phil Mickelson, left, during the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am golf tournament in Pebble Beach, Calif., Sunday, Feb. 12, 2012. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
On the Beach with Tiger
The Grammys paid tribute to the Beach Boys, who are celebrating 50 years of performing. (Two quick points: 1) Wow, 50 years is a long time to be doing anything; 2) At least once one of the Beach Boys looked like he dozed off and had to be nudged awake by some skinny guy that plays in some pop band that we make fun of. In short, the Beach Boys did not look "Beachy" by any account.)
Along the lines of great artists that are more memory than in the moment, let's turn our attention to Tiger Woods. Woods, who won his 14 majors and more than 70 career titles, created a persona that was larger than golf. He was the Terminator in a sport of gentlemen. He was a bare-knuckle brawler in a bridge tournament. He showed up on Sunday in red shirts so that his opponents' blood would not leave a stain.
Then his world changed and his private lies became public and his layer of impenetrability was pulled away.
Now, Woods misses 5-footers for par. Now, he fails to get up and down on the back nine on Sunday. Now, he's a golfer playing for position and paychecks.
It's sad really. And not unlike wanting the Beach Boys to hit the stage and pick up right where our memory left them, the distance between now and then is stunning. So it goes.
That said, let's not overlook the staggering Sunday performance by Phil Mickelson. Mickelson, who was paired with Woods, showed out. He made up six shots on third-round leader Charlie Wi and hunted flags and tagged birdies at a fevered pitch.
(Side note: Want even more proof that Woods has lost any and all intimidation factor: The last five times Mickelson has been paired with Tiger on Sunday, he's posted a better score than Woods. We have discussed how the younger generation grew up wanting to hunt Tiger, so it makes sense that those kids are undaunted by the Tiger mystique. But when the guys Woods has forever dominated are standing toe-to-toe with Tiger on Sunday, well, it speaks volumes.)
One more golf note, and hold on because this is a doozy.Let's couple golf stars and musicians. Let's say that Tiger was Michael Jackson, the transcendental star of his generation. Who is Phil Mickelson? Before you answer, know that he's better than you think. In fact, we'll say he's Springsteen. And if you think that's too high, know this: after his charge Sunday, Mickelson now is in a select group of golfers with 40 career wins and four or more majors. And yes, you're thinking that's all well and good, but Springsteen? Springsteen's the Boss for crying out loud?
True, but do you want to hear the names with Mickelson's that have 40 or more wins and four or more majors? Snead, Nicklaus, Woods, Hogan, Palmer, Nelson, Hagen and Mickelson. That's a big-time list, right. Some would even call it Boss.
Singer Whitney Houston poses backstage with her seven awards at the 21st annual American Music Awards in Los Angeles, Ca., Feb. 7, 1994. (AP Photo/Douglas Pizac)
Gone too soon
Since we're already making the music-athlete comparisons, let's move to the name everyone discussed this weekend.
Whitney Houston died Saturday. She was 48. She was a once-in-a-generation talent. She was so gifted that her remake of Dolly's "I Will Always Love You" was better than the original, and it's not like Dolly's version was anything short of outstanding. She was so gifted that her version of the National Anthem at Super Bowl XXV will be the measure against which all others will be measured. In fact, Houston's run from early 1991 to the end of 1992 was awesome in its awesomeness and bordering on epic. Her National Anthem performance was in late January 1991 and then "The Bodyguard was released in 1992, which was a top 5 movie and the best-selling movie soundtrack of all time and won three Grammys.
But after her meteoric rise because of her undeniable skills, Whitney became her own worst enemy. She struggled with real-life demons that changed her and the public perception of her.
In fact, it was not all that shocking when news started circulating. It was surprising — no matter how certain, death almost always is surprising when it ultimately arrives — but not shocking.
And when the tributes started to flow and the news began to sink in, you know who it made us think about... Mike Tyson.
Both were undeniably the biggest and baddest of their time in their field. People of our age will say they are the best ever. Sure, it's a great debate but who could out-sing 1992 Whitney? And who was better than Tyson is his prime?
Plus, the comparisons go deeper. Each had a demise that was unexpected and self-inflicted.
Another link: Sadly, if you saw the headline, "Sports legend _ found dead," Tyson would be on the short list to fill in that blank right?
Whitney's end came too soon. Just like her and Iron Mike's run of dominance.
Kentucky's Anthony Davis (23) dunks against South Carolina during the first half of their NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012 in Columbia, S.C. Kentucky defeated South Carolina 86-52. (AP Photo/Mary Ann Chastain
We had a ball at the George Strait concert on Friday. Unbelievable.
You know when you are witnessing greatness, and you don't really know what to say about it other than, "Wow." King George hit that level Friday night in the Gwinnett Arena. It was special; one of those moments that will be used as a measuring stick when comparing future concerts, music acts, etc.
Sports have moments like that, too. Especially for teams that are building special seasons. That single moment that you look back on and say, "Wow," and begin to realize that anything is possible with this bunch.
Late Saturday night in Nashville, in that wonderful purgatory called Memorial Gym, that moment happened for the Kentucky Wildcats. Down late with a full house going N-U-T-S, Kentucky blanked Vandy for the final four minutes for a 69-63 win.
It was impressive on a lot of levels. It was done with defense, which translates well into March. It was done on the road, at a tough, Tough, TOUGH place to play and an even tougher place to shoot. It was done by a young team (no starters older than sophomores) against an experienced team (no starters younger than juniors).
Here's the 5-at-10's Elite Eight
1. Kentucky — If there's a concern for Big Blue nation it's the Cats' abilities against a zone. But compared to the shortcomings of other college basketball powers, that concern seems miniscule. Like the one bad song on your favorite album that you always skip. (Music-sports technology side question — how were we able to function in a world without CDs and the easy skip option and TVs without being able to rewind live sports and watch our own replays? Seriously, when we try to tell our kids about days of cassette tapes or football games with the yellow first-down line or games without scoreboxes they're going to roll their eyes like we did at the stories we heard that included "walked to school 5 miles each way..." or tales of black-and-white TVs.)
2. Syracuse — Depth and defense have been their calling card, but these guys can score. The Orange made 59 percent of their shots against UConn on Saturday. Heck, there were semesters at Auburn that we would have been lucky to make 59 percent of our classes.
3. Kansas — We know we have them overrated, but we can't help it. The Jayhawks have improved greatly, and they likely will continue to get better.
4. Missouri — Much like the Jayhawks, Missouri is a bona fide bracket-wrecker. But Sweet Shooting Strokes from Different Folks, these Tigers can score. Quickly.
5. Michigan State — Great win at Ohio State on Saturday in a game that showed Michigan State's biggest assets — Tom Izzo and a ton of guts. Draymond Green is going to be a tough match-up for everyone in the tournament.
6. Ohio State — As much ink as Jared Sullinger gets — and deservedly so — Aaron Craft is the guts of this Ohio State team.
7. UNC — As much talent as anyone. More question marks — especially in the toughness category — than the previous six.
8. Duke — Still believe the Devils are flawed to the point that some athletic No. 7-seed — a Temple or Texas maybe — could easily bounce Duke in the second round.
Jose Canseco sits in the dugout after batting as the designated hitter for the San Diego Surf Dawgs baseball team in a game against the Chico Outlaws in Chico, Calif., on Monday, July 3, 2006. Canseco struck out in his first two at-bats. (AP Photo/Steve Yeater)
This and that
— Speaking of the Elite Eight... Another music-to-sports corrollary, countdowns and top 10s or top whatevers. And yes, the 5-at-10 loves the draft — you know this — but we're also a big-time sucker for any Top-10 show. Top 10 moments in Super Bowl commercial history? Yep, we'll watch it. Top 5 songs written by left-handed Europeans? Sure, we're in. Top 20 basketball shots made by former SEC basketball players/Top 20 liquor shots taken by current SEC football fans. You know this.
— This has nothing to do with music or sports other than it's all over ESPN, but the ripped up Old Spice commercial guy needs to find a new project.
— Jose Canseco is trying out for a Mexican League baseball team. After all that he's been through and the steroids storm, would this be like Milli Vanilli trying out for American Idol?
— Monster win for your Tennessee Vols on Saturday at Florida. Makes us curious where they will be in Chas9's Top Tenn poll of hoops teams in Tennessee. We'll say No. 3. Thoughts?
New York Knicks guard Jeremy Lin reacts after hitting a basket during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game against the New Jersey Nets, Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012, at Madison Square Garden in New York. Lin led all scorers with 25 points as the Knicks defeated the Nets 99-92. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
Lin-sanity has hit a fevered-pitch. While the comings and goings of the NBA in general and the New York Knicks in particular are normally not a big part of the 5-at-10's daily routine, the flood of Jeremy Lin stories on ESPN have made this kid a star after four games.
Holy Buckets of Billy Ray Bates and Billy Ray Cyrus, there was even talk about how the Knicks will start losing again when Carmelo Anthony returns because he won't mesh with Jeremy Lin. Do what? Really? Really? We're going to start looking around about one of the game's five best offensive players can mesh his Olympic talents with Jeremy Lin?
Whatever, and let's see If Lin-sane in the Membrane lasts longer than three weeks, then let's start discussing things.
Today's question — biggest one hit wonders in sports and/or music. Discuss. We'll start with Buster Douglas and "The Macarena."
Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...