It's Day 3 of the Masters aka "Moving Day" and it's Day 6 for me on the road, aka "Twice as Long as I Like to be on the Road." It's been an interesting week that started with a 12-hour delay in Newark, then brought me through Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill for the Tar Heels' fifth NCAA Hoops championship and then about 250 miles South to Augusta for the Masters. Time to give you some of the highs and lows.
I Miss My Family
Not to get melodramatic here, but I am not a big fan of the long road trip. Yeah, I know it's the Masters and every dude worth his salt would give up a limb just to be here, but it's a long time to be away from Linda, Tyler and Beau (and Remy). I am grateful, however, that I am a feature writer for ESPN The Magazine and not a beat writer for a newspaper. Those guys grind it hard.
Hard to believe it's nearly 14 years ago I made the decision that I could not be a baseball beat writer and a husband and father. During the 1995 American League Championship Series between the Yankees and Mariners I learned that Linda was pregnant with Tyler. I learned over the phone while in Seattle and was not home to celebrate for another three weeks. Not being around for that moment was all I needed to know. I was not going to spend my life on the road.
Still, it was five years ago that I stood here in Augusta, covering the Masters while Tyler played his very first Little League game. None of the dads could believe it, but I was despondent. To this day, 100s of youth sports games later, there is no way I'd choose the Masters over one of Tyler or Beau's games. Amazingly, this week, I haven't missed any. But I will be here on Sunday as the family heads off to church, hunts for eggs and sits down for Easter Supper. I miss you guys.
Wayne the Giant
Now, to the fun stuff. I wandered into Hooters Augusta the other night, because old friend Timmy Cutting asked me if I could check out the John Daly Merchandise truck (never found it) for him. Of course, looking for the Daly truck made me hungry and thirsty, so I sat down for a drink and a bite. And I found myself sitting next to a giant. Seriously.
He introduced himself as "Wayne" and he was, seriously, 6-foot-9 and 400-plus pounds. He had a gray beard that touched his chest and the squeakiest voice I've ever heard. Wayne told me he had lived in Augusta his whole life and that he used to come to Hooters "every night" but was now down to "three nights a week" because "Momma said I got to start taking care of myself." At which point, Wayne pointed to his ginormous belly.
I swear to you this is true.
Wayne (and I) sat up at the bar, near all the fryers as the Hooters Crew (many imported, I was told, from other Hooters in Georgia and South Carolina, for Masters week) prepared wings and burgers and other delicacies. Wayne drank diet Coke (actually sent one back, declaring it was not diet (a weight-loss program has to start somewhere) and passed out candy bars to the waitresses whenever they wandered by, which was often. Every couple of minutes, a Crystal, Amber or Cheri would wander by and ask, sweetly and Southernly, "Wayne, can I have a Butterfinger?"
Wayne was a nice fellow and was very happy for the owner of the restaurant because the joint was hopping. He told me a few times how much money they'd made on the night, though I wasn't really paying attention. He also invited me to attend the bikini contest with him (I declined) and told me, "I'll see ya tomorrah." That was Tuesday night and I have not been back. But there's always tonight. And I'm guessing Wayne will be there.
This ain't really writing, but I'm going to throw out some things here rapid-fire...It's going to be sort of a laundry-list of things that are getting on my nerves here at the Masters...I have bought some Masters merch through the years, a few different hats, shirts and windshirts for the boys, chairs, coffee mugs and, last time I was hear, a belt (which I'm wearing today). But for some reason, I get irked when some guy feels it's necessary to wear all his Masters gear at the same time, logo'd up from his hat, through his shirt and shorts, through his watch and belt, down to his socks. Why I find this offensive, I'm not sure...When did it become fashionable to put your college major on your college sweatshirt. I saw a guy with a shirt emblazoned "Virgina Tech Industrial Engineering" and have seen many others this week touting law schools, pharmacy programs, business schools and the like. Annoying...If I'm not having a beer, I do not want to be near anyone else who's having beers. As funny as the guy who's got a comment for every shot coming into 11 green and off of 12 tee, and as much as he's killing his boys, I hate him with every ounce of hate inside my body. Shut up....Any dude out here who's dying his hair, Note to that guy: I can see you're dying your hair. You look stupid. Especially you, Red....Overly polite Southern people wear me out after a while. There's no way you're that nice. Go away...The press center Men's Room on Day Six of the Masters is rank. When you consider what a bunch of sportswriters have been eating and drinking all week, while putting in 15-hour days, sorry, I just dry-heaved...Note to guy in golf shoes and TaylorMade hat. You do not have to wear your Oakley sunglasses on the back of your hat. Sergio Garcia does that because he's paid to display the TaylorMade logo. You are not. There is absolutely no funcionality in wearing your sunglasses that way, OK?...Who dressed Phil this week? The tight pants, white belts, and tight shirts are for skinny European guys, not Philly Mick...Just because the players are close to you when you're in the gallery does not mean they want you to talk to them...And they do not need to be told, "bad break" or "the wind is kicking up" or even that you are "pulling for" them. Seriously...Finally, the tradition of the green jacket is great, but I think only person wearing a green jacket is the Masters champion on Sunday. I mean, the only person who should EVER be wearing a green jacket, at any point, at any tine, in the WORLD, is the Masters champion on Sunday.