Monday, August 5, 2013

The Mahan Conundrum

"Golfas always want credit for
some sh-t they supposed to do."
Two Saturdays ago, Hunter Mahan was warming-up for the third round of the Canadian Open which he led at the time by two strokes when he received a phone call informing him that his wife (Fantasy Golf Report favorite Kandi Mahan) had gone into labor. At that point, he packed-up his gear, presumably climbed aboard a private jet and flew back to Texas to be present for the birth of his first child. The media has since blown-out a hamstring trying to manufacture a debate out of whether he did the right thing (apparently they were as bored as the rest of us with the Alex Rodriguez story and they needed something to carry themselves over until Johnny Manziel and Ogre inevitably burn down the Alpha Beta house).

Look, the debate has never been whether you should bail when leading halfway through the Canadian Open to be there for the birth of your first child. If you have doubts about the right thing to do in that situation, you probably watch Mad Men for the parenting tips. For this to be a real debate, we need higher hypothetical stakes like whether you bail before the final round of the Masters with a two-shot lead and no major titles to your credit. The answer will probably be the same but in the latter situation, a good lawyer could at least make the case for staying and playing.

"Oh I almost forgot the most important
thing. Unless it's for a top client, never
drink brown liquor before 10:00 a.m."
In lieu of a "good" Lawyer, I'm going to have to be the one to make that case. First, I need a client. I originally thought that the perfect guy would be a young player who had found his way into the Masters field thanks to a semi-flukey win in 2012 but who could just as easily disappear from the golfing landscape without anyone noticing. A guy like that could live off a win at Augusta forever even if it was the last victory he ever had so he would at least have to think twice before giving-up that opportunity to do the right thing.

The best version of that guy in the 2013 field was probably Ted Potter, Jr. who got in thanks to his win at the 2012 Greenbrier Classic but has since missed the cut in 9 out of 19 tournaments this year. However, as I was scrolling down the 2013 Masters leaderboard looking for my client like Danny DeVito trolling the cafeteria at the local hospital in a John Grisham movie, I stumbled on to a far more intriguing scenario. What if the guy forced to make that decision on Sunday afternoon was Sergio Garcia? He of the 18 top ten major finishes without a victory and arguably the most mocked and ridiculed golfer of all-time. Is there anyone to whom a major win would mean more than Sergio? You could argue Lee Westwood but a major wouldn't radically change his legacy to the extent it would for Sergio. Despite his general unpopularity, you know people would be rooting for him to make a putt on the 72nd hole of a major for the win. Perseverance has to count for something. Not to mention, as my client, Sergio is the perfect illustration of the fact that lawyers often find themselves in situations where they are forced to represent people who they personally can't stand.

So with that being said, ladies of the jury, I present the following case in favor of Sergio blowing-off the private jet and playing the final round at Augusta:

1. It's Not Like He's the One Delivering the Baby:

Unless you are a complete idiot and get suckered into the ridiculous notion that child birth is some kind of natural act that requires nothing more than a bathtub, a midwife and a hemp blanket,* then you're really not a necessary part of the process. If you've never experienced the "joy" of childbirth before and have no idea what I'm talking about, let me paint the following picture for you:

Imagine that you and your wife have been captured by terrorists and they begin torturing her and will not stop until she admits that she has been wrong at least half as many times as you have since you got married. This of course goes on for the better part of ten to twelve hours because she honestly does not believe it to be true** and to admit it would itself be an admission that she was wrong about that. Meanwhile, you are forced to sit in a chair and share your wife's pain but the sons a bitches have done this to you on a Sunday in the fall and they've put a TV in one corner of the room tuned to the Redzone Channel and given you an iPad so you have to pretend you're not watching out of the corner of your eye and checking your fantasy stats.

"Why in the hell would I admit
something like that? Have you
met my buffoon of a husband?"
Just when you think that she's about to break, out jumps a nine pound pick-pocket who immediately steals 50% of your freedom and 25% of your future earnings before being fitted with a small ski hat and put under a warming lamp like a plate of pasta at The Olive Garden. At that point your wife passes-out from sheer exhaustion and relief and you really perform your only important task which is to call a handful of people and tell everyone that mom and baby are doing great. I'm pretty sure that if you're on the verge of winning the Masters, one of your agent's lackeys could handle that part of the job. 

2. Winning the Masters is a Life-Changing Event for Both of You:

And I don't mean like the time Homer blew-off marriage counseling to catch a giant fish (General Sherman) and then tried to convince Marge that it meant a better life for the both of them.**** I'm talking about the difference between Alan Shepherd being the first American in space versus Gus Grissom who came later and then blew the hatch too early leading to the sinking of the capsule. One guy and his wife got to meet the president and have a ticker-tape parade and the other guy received a participation medal and then he and his family got stuck in a two-bedroom efficiency across the highway from a Florida beach that I'm guessing today looks like a heroine needle farm.*** Or to reference an even older movie, it's the difference between being Debra Winger and getting carried-out of the paper plant by Richard Gere or being Lynette, the blond haired skank who drove David Keith to hang himself in the shower when she was oh so close to punching her ticket to a better life.*****

"Who walks-out on a chance to win the
Masters? I want a green jacket not that
corduroy piece of crap from J.C. Penny."
My point is that staying and winning the Masters is not a purely selfish act. I mean for the rest of her life, anytime someone asks your wife what her husband does for a living, she could say, "he plays golf and oh by the way, he won the Masters." Every spring whenever anyone asks her to do something, she could respond, "I'll need to check the calendar and make sure it doesn't conflict with our trip to Augusta." Even on a random Tuesday in November she could drop the occasional, "I'll be there shortly. I just need to stop and pick-up my husband's green jacket at the cleaners."

And getting back to the Sergio thing, whenever people would wonder, "why would she marry him?", they could rationalize it with, "well, he did win the Masters." (I think there's a Mark Zuckerberg "well, he did invent Facebook" joke in there somewhere but I've watched The Social Network enough times to know that I probably don't want to go there).

3. If She really loved you, she would want you to stay and win the Masters:

And if she really really loved you, she'd call right before you're about to tee off and, between contractions, gut-out a "good luck honey, not much going on here." Remember when Rocky completely lost his training mojo because Adrian was in a coma after having their first child and then, when she came out of the coma, she delivered this motivational chill scene. I mean that was great but what took her so long? She couldn't have blinked that in morse code while she was in the coma? He lost days of valuable training time moping around that could have cost him the title. Paulie was right. She was a loser.

Or to paraphrase an exchange from the greatest sports movie of all time . . .

Myra Fleener: You know, a golf hero around here is treated like a god. How can he ever find out what he can really do? I don't want this to be the high point of his life. I've seen them, the real sad ones. They sit around the rest of their lives wearing their green jackets and talking about the glory days when they were thirty-seven years old.

Coach Norman Dale: You know, most people would kill to be treated like a god for just a few moments.

And there it is members of the jury. I can't say it much better than Norman Dale who was fired from his college coaching job for punching one of his players but hey, I'm sure the kid had it coming. After considering all of the evidence, what say ye?

Yeah, that's what I figured. Sorry Sergio, I tried.


* That of course is a shameless plug for the one thing I've written that was ever formally published (unless you count all of the constructive criticism I've posted on the message boards of a certain local newspaper). You can check-out the madcap tale of FGK 1's entrance into this world here.

** And she's probably right.

Lest we not forget The Right Stuff's sneaky
70's and 80's hot Barbara Hersey before she
dulled it down to portray Myra Fleener.
*** This a reference to The Right Stuff, a great 1983 movie about fighter jet test pilots and the first American astronauts that features quite a cast including Ed Harris, Scott Glenn, Sam Shepherd, Dennis Quaid, Jeff Goldblum and Harry Shearer who is of course the voice of Charles Montgomery Burns, Ned Flanders and Reverend Lovejoy.

**** I actually had the following exchange with the FGW while watching Tiger's 61 after getting home late on Friday:

Me: I just want to check this out . . . Tiger shot 61 today.

FGW: Good for Tiger (not a big fan).

Me: Hey, not just good for Tiger, good for us because I picked him this week.

At that point the FGW said something that I didn't quite catch but it sure sounded a lot like "what was I thinking 20 years ago?"

***** That would be An Officer and a Gentleman, a great 1982 movie about Naval recruits training to fly fighter jets (Jesus this whole website is like one big contrived theme park). If you're choosing between the two, The Right Stuff is probably the better film but An Officer and a Gentleman is far more entertaining and includes one of the best random fight scenes of all-time (at least now you have a reason to watch it after I gave away the ending). Oh screw it, just watch this clip from The Simpsons episode - A Homer and a Gentleman and you'll get the idea. (OK, I'm done).

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