Master of my TV domain

With the Basketball Blog on hiatus until the NBA playoffs start, I woke up on Monday morning, made some coffee, answered a few e-mails, sat down in front of my laptop and typed down my weekend thoughts for the rest of the morning. Here's what transpired:

My six favorite things about the 2007 Masters:

1. Tiger's incredible tree shot in which he snapped his 4-iron on the follow through. I'd watch an entire "Outside The Lines" devoted to this baby. How did he not get injured? How did he get off such a good shot? How would you even learn to hit a shot like this? At any point did his caddy say, "Dude, you can do this, just promise me I'm not gonna get fired?" Why weren't the cameras trained on every major Nike executive for their reaction as it was happening? When is that busted 4-iron going up on eBay? The whole time, I felt like I was watching the middle of a Kevin Costner movie in which he's playing a superstar golfer who gets a little cocky at the Masters, breaks every bone in his left wrist and may never play again ... until Kelly Preston nurses him back to health.

2. Justin Rose's duck hook drive at 17 when he realized he was within a stroke of the lead. Can you blame him? Which got me thinking -- wouldn't it be cool if we could see every golfer's heart rate throughout the Masters? Uh-oh, Jim, Justin Rose is over 190 right now ... we might want to tell the gallery to move back. They should try this for the PGA Championship. Nobody cares about the PGA, anyway.

3. My mom (visiting for the weekend) thought Zach Johnson was Joaquin Phoenix and kept saying in a deep voice "Hello, I'm Johnny Cash" every time a close-up of him was shown. (Note: I was much more excited about her comedy chops until I logged onto my mailbox and had about 200 Phoenix/Cash jokes waiting for me.) And let's face it -- he looked EXACTLY like Joaquin Phoenix. Which raises the question, out of the 300 announcers CBS had covering this event, couldn't one person have brought this up? Is it a rule that your sense of humor gets disabled as soon as you're within 10 miles of Augusta? Does everyone take themselves seriously there, even during the 51 weeks when the Masters isn't going on? I just picture the locals gingerly walking around and whispering to one another.

4. I enjoyed Stuart Appleby's hair/cap contraption all weekend (it looked removable) and couldn't figure out what it reminded me of ... and then Jose Luis in Monterrey, Mexico, reminded me: Jeff Daniels in "Dumb & Dumber." There you go.

5. Suggestion if you're ever watching a golf major in a room mixed with males and females: Any time a no-name golfer wins and hugs his wife, if the wife doesn't look like a supermodel, quickly start making the "Uh-oh, time to trade her in!" and "Looks like somebody needs to go the dealer for an upgrade!" jokes. Any woman within earshot will flip out. High comedy.

6. I started the fourth round rooting for Tiger under the "tournament is always 10 times more interesting if Tiger Woods is involved" corollary ... but I'm a sucker for Cinderella stories and Joaquin Phoenix certainly qualified. As soon as he started to pull away, much to my shock, I kept rooting for Tiger to catch him and even found myself muttering things like, "Come on, Tiger" and "Bang this one close to the pin" during his shots. If he had caught Phoenix, I would have rooted for Tiger in the playoff. So here's my question: Does this make me a Tiger Woods fan? By definition, the answer would seem to be "yes," right? I'm not sure how this happened or what to do about it. Lemme chew on this for a few more days.

(On the flip side, the one thing I hated over everything else was CBS killing my favorite part of the post-tournament show -- right before the interview with the champion and the green jacket presentation, when Jim Nantz would exchange a few gushing words with the Masters chairman while grinning like a serial killer. For whatever reason, they cut away from Jim as fast as possible; it's almost like they discussed it in the production booth beforehand. Come on, fellas. I don't ask for much.)

My eight favorite things about the first week in baseball:

1. Elijah Dukes wearing a ski mask during his second game at Yankee Stadium. This killed me on about 200 different levels -- it was like the new ad for Bad Idea Jeans. If somebody sold a framed photo of this, I'd buy it and stick it in my office.

2. Finding out that DirecTV offers a "Superfan Package" for an extra $39.95 that provides two games per day in HD ... but only a few teams have HD cameras, so I'll be getting more than a few Red Sox games in HD (including some road contests in which I normally would have been stuck watching the other team's announcers on a non-HD channel). They could have charged an extra $900 for this and I would have paid it.

3. Papelbon's ridiculous five-out save in Texas on Sunday night. One look at his face jogging in from the bullpen and you knew the Red Sox weren't losing that game. Not a lot of guys you can say that about. As Bill from Gainesville wrote afterward: "This is coming from a Yankee fan. Watching Papelbon work 1.2 innings against a potent Ranger lineup was simply jaw-dropping. He threw 15 pitches to five hitters, simply three pitchers per batter. I have to say that was a Mariano-like performance. Kudos."

4. The return of Sammy Sosa in HD. You can see every dubious muscle and every crevice of his prolonged cranium. I studied him like Jim Garrison studying the Zapruder film last night.

5. Kei Igawa's abominable "I hope they kept the receipt on that guy" start against the Orioles. I'll let Steve from South Windsor, Conn., explain:

"I'm watching Igawa's dreadful Yankee Stadium debut right now. After giving up a home run to Melvin Mora in the fourth to make it 7-2 Orioles, the YES announcing crew discuss how Igawa had fallen behind 15 of the 23 batters he faced. Right after they say [that] Igawa gets an out and then goes 2-0 on the next hitter. The YES camera crew zooms in on pitching coach Ron Guidry who was absolutely staring daggers into Igawa, like he just found out Kei knocked up his daughter or something. The camera stayed on Guidry for about eight seconds of the stare, then Guidry rolled his eyes."

(My favorite part of this story: My buddy Mikey spent $12 on Igawa in our AL-only league. How do you say "sunk cost" in Japanese?)

6. This YouTube clip of Joey Gathright jumping a car.

7. On Friday afternoon, I co-hosted Dave Dameshek's new sports radio show in Pittsburgh (the Man Station, 93.7 FM), which he's doing from the West Coast for now. Because it's a Pittsburgh show, our TV was showing the Pirates-Reds game, so we were watching the game as the show was happening. Two things killed me: First, the Pirates had a starter named Paul Maholm; one of his strengths in the thumbnail scouting report for him was, "He comes right after hitters." I love that. That's the pitching equivalent of somebody describing a QB as "he knows how to manage a game." Needless to say, he got shelled. And second, it was 30 degrees there and they cut to a young couple in the stands at one point ... both of them were shivering to the point that it looked like they were enduring an earthquake. We might need to work on the whole "it's OK for cold-weather cities to host games in early April" thing.

8. Enjoying the Devil Rays for selfish reasons (Rocco Baldelli and Elijah Dukes on my fantasy team) and legitimate reasons (they have the greatest collection of young athletes I've ever seen on a baseball field). Seriously. If MLB ever staged some sort of offseason "Superstars"-like decathlon where teams had to send 10 representatives to compete in touch football, basketball, bowling, golf drives, the 100-yard dash and so on, the Rays would legitimately destroy everyone else. It's absurd.

(Note: I'm worried because the Sox and Rays have bad blood dating back to Pedro Martinez plunking Gerald Williams during the 2000 season -- although nearly every guy from that game is gone, bad feelings inexplicably remain, almost like the Bloods and the Crips when nobody knows exactly what started the fight in the first place, just that they're supposed to hate the other guys. And I mention this only because you do NOT want to get in a bench-clearing brawl with the 2007 Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Dukes alone would turn into Sly Stallone during the last 15 minutes of "Cobra." Anyway, I suggest Terry Francona calls the Rays tomorrow and offers an immediate truce. Just trust me on this.)

Seven thoughts about Sunday night's HBO block of programming (SPOILERS INCLUDED):

1. Seconds before last night's fight on "The Sopranos," I would have set the gambling line like this: "Soprano (-400) Bacala." What a shocker! Has there been a bigger upset since Douglas-Tyson? We needed Jim Lampley and Larry Merchant to show up after the show to give us a historical perspective. Maybe even a little Harold Lederman. Oh-kay Jim, I scored that round 10-8 for Bobby Bacala ... he controlled the fight, worked the body well and gets the extra point for the knockdown ...

2. I've always, always, ALWAYS enjoyed Carla Gugino's work and believe that she and Ali Larter were the two most underappreciated actress/babes of the past 10 years ... but I'm not sold on her as a Hollywood agent. No way. It's not just a stretch, it's a Bob Beamon leap. I couldn't get past this for the entire show.

3. Hey, does anyone else scream out loud during every sex scene with Tony and Carmela? Or is it just me?

4. "Entourage" has just about exhausted the homoerotic card at this point. Between Drama's masseuse ruining the Vegas episode, the threesome at Sundance, the episode in which Drama loved another guy's calves and last night's obvious "Ari and Vince as a broken-up couple" theme ... I mean, um ... can we go back to the whole "four guys bagging chicks in Hollywood" theme? Please? Pretty please?

5. Somebody needs to break the news to David Chase that there's been music released since 1974.

6. "John from Cincinnati" ... I have to say, I'm intrigued.

7. My Sopranos prediction for the final episode: Carmela kills Tony. Why? Because Chase has maintained from the beginning that he always knew exactly how the series would end and never wavered from that statement, not even once. And since that's the case, there are three ways it can end: Tony gets whacked; Tony goes into a witness protection program; or Tony gets killed by his wife. Given the past six seasons and the way everything has been carefully set up, I'm going with the "Carmela kills Tony" scenario. It makes the most sense. Regardless, there should be a way we can wager on those three scenarios along with "the field" of every other scenario.

Seven other thoughts just for the hell of it:

1. Going from Tubby Smith to Billy Gillispie is like upgrading from a '93 Saab Turbo to a souped-up 2007 BMW M3. Unbelievable. Kentucky just extended the life expectancy of every fan it had older than 75 years old. And while we're here, either players should be able to transfer schools right away or coaches should have to wait a year to switch schools. You can't have one and not the other.

2. When LeBron James hosts the ESPYS in July, should we expect him to mail in the first hour of the show and then turn into Chris Rock during the second hour?

3. I wish reporters could have interviewed me after a rash of injuries caused me to bow out in the semifinals of the Celeb Fantasy League, just so I could have said, "Even if I beat Kid and Pam, I don't think my guys had enough left to handle Meat Loaf."

4. Watching "Risky Business" on cable last week, I realized something: There's a decent chance that the Scientologists replaced Tom Cruise with someone else at some point during the past 15 years. There's no way Joel Goodson and Mr. Katie Holmes are the same guy. It's impossible. Same for John Travolta in "Wild Hogs" versus Travolta in "Saturday Night Fever." Different human beings. Replaced.

(Speaking of cable TV, Dameshek and I had a conversation Friday about how there's a cable rotation of movies that get beaten into the ground. One month, "Boogie Nights" will be on all the time, the next month it will be "Risky Business" or "Boogie Nights," and it's always one-two movies, but they change every month, with one exception ... "Road House." That one's always on. It's like the Johan Santana of the rotation -- the No. 2 through No. 5 starters change every month, but "Road House" remains the Johan Santana of the rotation. And it's been that way for about 10 years. Intriguing. You'll think of us when you're flicking channels tonight and stumble across Patrick Swayze and Sam Elliott. You will.)

5. Last night I had a nightmare that the Celtics extended Doc Rivers' contract.


Wait ... that WASN'T a nightmare???


6. Between "Sons of Hollywood," "Real World: Denver," "Debbie Does Dallas Again," "Amazing Race," "The Hills," "The Bachelor," "The Apprentice," "Survivor" and the upcoming "Real World/Road Rules Challenge," we should be calling this The Golden Era of Reality TV. It's like being a heavyweight boxing fan during the '70s. Between these shows and a healthy dose of "Sesame Street" and "Teletubbies" every day, I feel like I'm getting dumber by the hour. I will not be able to break 10 on the Wonderlic test by June.

7. At a dinner party on Saturday night, my buddy Daniel showed us his Trio, which was hooked up to his Slingbox, which was hooked up to his DirecTV, which was showing the Sox-Rangers game as it happened. That led to this exchange:

Daniel: "I was even watching this as we drove over."
Me: "Wait, were you driving?"
Daniel: "Yeah."
Daniel's girlfriend: "I thought we were going to get into an accident the whole time."

(These are the conversations you have as a sports fan in 2007.)