July 14, 2009
Never-ending appeal is the exception in sport
By GARY LOEWEN
The appeal of most sports, in most towns, runs in cycles.
(And we're not talking the Tour de France. Nor the unending support for the Maple Leafs.)
Exhibit A: Wayne Gretzky says Phoenix is a lot like other American hockey markets -- the Coyotes will draw if they win.
Exhibit B: Commissioner Gary Bettman is fond of reminding us that most of the Canadian franchises, flourishing now, have struggled at times when the teams weren't competitive. (And he single-handedly rescued them, nudge, nudge.)
Exhibit C: The Blue Jays, who drew more than four million fans a year, 1991-93, rank 26th in the majors this year, averaging 22,839 a game. That projects to about 1.71 million for the season.
Exhibit D: The PGA Tour, flourishing now, was criticized for being boring during the post-Jack Nicklaus, pre-Tiger Woods years.
Exhibit E: The LPGA Tour throws commissioner Carolyn Bivens under the riding mower, as the tough economy and a lack of star power, result in seven tournaments having been dropped since 2007.
Women teed off
Bivens ceded to the wishes of a group of players who wrote a letter calling for her resignation.
But what the tour needs more than a new commish is a new high-profile star, a female Tiger Woods.
There are some highly touted Americans with appeal, such as Natalie Gulbis but, for the moment, their records suggest they're merely the Anna Kournikovas of golf.
The fact is the Asian players are kicking their butts.
Hence, if the LPGA can't dredge up enough sponsors for U.S. events, maybe the time has come to create a truly global tour.
Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times has a trade proposal: A Canadian star in exchange for the star of Canada's team. No, not Vernon Wells.
The Dodgers are being urged to trade for the Blue Jays' Roy Halladay.
The price-tag, Shaikin suggests, would be Canadian catcher Russell Martin and a couple of prospects.
"(Halladay) would make the Dodgers a World Series winner," an AL executive says.
So Halladay would get a ring in LaLa Land and the Jays would get a homegrown all-star who is just 26.
Perhaps the Dodgers could be persuaded to take a certain centre fielder's contract, too.
Call it the Wells forgo.
I'm not saying Woods is old, but he is almost twice the age of one of his playing partners for the first two rounds of the British Open.
Woods, 33, is in a group with Japanese sensation Ryo Ishikawa, 17.
Ishikawa, considered potentially golf's "next big thing" was five when Woods won his first of 14 majors.
Tiger shouldn't be too worried yet, though.
The third member of the threesome is Lee Westwood, 36. He, too, was supposed to be a Tiger challenger, once.
No love in tennis
Serena Williams says she doesn't have much of a social life.
"It is hard to have a relationship with me because I'm a little crazy, and I wouldn't want to date me," she told London's Daily Mirror. "I'm a little psycho, but that's okay.
"Am I with anyone now? Yes, I am. I'm with my racquet, and his name is Wilson.He's amazing."
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