Tag Archives: tournament

Pebble Beach Stories Part II: Chi Chi Did It First

This is the second installment of the series. It was mainly inspired by the upcoming AT&T Pro-Am as well as the US Open both being held at Pebble Beach this year. I worked there for two plus years as a customer service rep while in college, and have some random stories that I thought I’d share as I remembered them. If you missed part I here it is.

One funnest parts of my job was seeing various pros come to driving range when I was given that shift. It’s cool to see different pros go through their routines, and what in particular they are working on. One of the funnier things to hear is when the caddies of the players are making bets on their guy to win during warm-ups, but that’s another story for another time. Not all players were friendly, but most would talk to you at least a little, especially if it was slow.

One summer day in 2004, Chi Chi Rodriguez came to the range after a practice round warming up for the First Tee Open. It’s one of Pebble’s Senior Tour events or I guess it’s now called the Champions Tour. Chi Chi  was chatting it up near the tent where we gave out the range balls with a couple people including me and my boss. Somehow we ended up talking about Tiger’s Nike commercial with him bouncing a golf ball on the end of his club like soccer players juggle with their feet and bodies. The commercial was pretty new at the time, and caused a mini uproar of guys (including myself) practicing it during the many boring hours at the range. At one point I could pop the ball up and hit it about 30-40 yards, which I thought was pretty good.

Chi Chi’s eyes lit up when we were talking about whether it was real or fake or how many takes Tiger took to shoot the commercial. He grabbed his wedge and said “Tiger didn’t start that sh**. It’s been around forever guys!” He pulled a ball out of his pocket and started juggling it on his wedge while telling a joke. I wish I could remember the joke, but I was mesmerized by the fluidity of his between the legs and behind the back bounces and stalls on the clubface. He never once drop the ball to the ground showing that Tiger most likely did it in one take. After his joke was done, he snatched his ball out of the air, and said I know a trick that nobody I’ve met can duplicate. Of course, we all said, “Let’s see it!”

He once again started juggling the golf ball. This time before he stalled the ball, he flicked the end of the golf club putting some spin on the ball. He then caught it on the end of his wedge like a stall, but this time it wasn’t sitting still. The ball actually had so much spin on it, that it was moving in small circles on the face of his club. I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes! Chi Chi is one cool guy, so if you ever happen to be at a senior tour event and run into him, ask him to do this trick! I think he got as much of a kick out from our reactions as we did seeing it! Thanks for the memory Chi Chi!

Should the NCAA Tourney be Changed?

Today we got in a solid e-mail chain argument on this Wall Street Journal article. It basically states, that we should expand the March Madness to 96 teams instead of the normal 64, and that would be a “no brainer”. It also states that they should have a first round bye for the teams in the top 32, and have the rest duke it out to play with the top 32 adding an extra round for all the teams that MIGHT have made the Tourney…

Cali4Dre: So what happens to the NIT?  This really dilutes that tourney to barely any decent teams, do they still hold the NIT any more or just cancel it in this scenario?  I think this dilutes the talent in the NCAA Tourney and extends an already really long event…

Chappy81: I agree, it’s waay too many teams. I could care less about the teams ranked 65-96… They should’ve won more games if they wanted to guarantee themselves a spot!

Dyslexic: Fair enough…although his additional field of teams that would get on the left were all pretty decent teams….wasn’t like USF was in there

Chappy81: I think March Madness is one of the best events in sports already. I don’t think they need to change for the sake of change!

Cali4Dre: I agree about the NCAA Basketball, it’s already pretty all-encompassing and very fair, even including a 65th team.  I think the NCAA should spend WAYYY more time figuring out how to make Football more like the good thing they have set up in basketball.

Dyslexic: Of course it’s fair already….the entire idea of expanding would be to gather more money for the schools and the NCAA itself, if there wasn’t money being left on the table they wouldn’t consider this.

Cali4Dre: In the article, I was turned off from the second paragraph where the guy states that expanding the NCAA to 96 teams “is the biggest no-brainer in sports”… really????  Why not expand it to 128 teams and add a full round???  Why not 196 and add a round and a half if there’s so much left on the table?  Why? Because it dilutes the tourney and brings in the rifr-raff instead of making it a tournament for the ELITE teams in College Basketball… Conference Champions, Top Ranked teams, and those teams that scheduled tough non-conference schedules and one some of those games.

This guy is crazy to think this is more pressing than changing the BCS system to a playoff.

Dylsexic: what money would they be leaving on the table?

I mean, I just work at LoopNet, so I can’t give you a detailed breakdown….But one example I can think of is the contract the NCAA signs with ESPN or CBS coming up will be highly leveraged on the additional games and higher advertising prices either company could charge for advertising during those games. Ticket sales will bring in more money because the NIT are home games for teams and they pocket more money… Heck, many of the first games of the regional NIT games aren’t even televised, if those games are wrapped into the NCAA tourney and they are all on TV, and national TV at that, it would certainly bring in a boat load more money.

Cali4Dre: But like I mentioned, they earned the right to play with the nation’s very best schools by winning their conference, as humble as it may be.  They didn’t finish in the middle of the pack in their conference and happen to schedule a bunch of non-conference powder-puffs because they could afford to buy the games and bring in slaughter house meat to roll over on their floor.  That’s all, I’ve exhausted my argument.

Dyslecix: Exactly…so they can add to the field, let those smaller teams who’ve earned their way in, and still be a part of it…still make as much money…and at the same time roll in more of those major conference schools that were middle of the pack (and have big names), all the while the NCAA still rakes in the dough, and more of it.

I think this will be highlighted even more this year after the Pac-10 only get’s in two schools….I’m sure the NCAA would love it if they could still find ways to bring a UCLA, Arizona, Oregon, despite the fact the programs are down for a year or two.

I’m just playing the other side of the coin. Either way it goes I wouldn’t objective…I’d like to say this isn’t the biggest “no brainer” in sports to the average sports fan. He must have been catering to the rich WSJ readers!

Cali4Dre: One last comment… it seems as though you might be describing the Major Conference Championship Tourneys.  That’s where, on National TV, the major conference teams that were middle of the road, and didn’t play the best non-conference schedules can either add to their win total to get back in the argument for a bid or win the auto-bid themselves.  If they don’t do either, why invite them to the Big Dance at all??  Just cause they are in a Major Conference?  Major Conferences already get like half their teams (for instance the Big East usually has like 10 of their 14 teams), you want teams from the bottom half as well?

Dylsexic: I played college basketball I get what the Major Conference Championships are all about 🙂

Again, I don’t know how to boil my point down any more. The NCAA would love to bring in as many Major Conference Schools as they can (I assume with at least a winning records) and leverage the hell out of them in every aspect to make more money. Florida, UCLA, Oregon, Arizona, LSU, Indiana, Michigan: You guys had a down year, worry not! They want excuses to bring schools like the ones I used as examples and there big names into the fold each and every year they might be down, and leverage the hell out of expanded fields for money,  ticket sales and what not.

Harvard, Alcon St, Weber St, San Diego, USF, Rider, Fordham you guys one your super small conference tourney? Awesome, that’s great, you can still come and join the big dance…were just going to make sure we can make as much money from all of the bigger schools that would have missed out.

Cali4Dre: Making the tourney 128 teams would be better numbers-wise than 96, or seeding teams from 1-24 makes sense as well… it’s just lame to have half a round imho.  And absorbing the entire NIT pool isn’t a bad idea, but that’s the whole point, to have a champion of the riff-raff, the “other guys”.  I think the mid-majors and smaller basketball schools in big conferences (football schools per se) like the idea of still being able to win a championship against their equals.  Why scale back the hardware to just one trophy nationally?

I don’t know man, it’s just messing with tradition jacks everything up.  Look what the BCS did, JUST BECAUSE THERE WAS MONEY ON THE TABLE.  The ordinary fan, and student, is the first to lose out when money enters the conversation.