Notes on a stack of golf scorecards which I will subsequently burn to keep warm …
… The inevitable has become reality: The New Orleans Pelicans are losing superstar Anthony Davis, who made it known Monday he will not re-sign with the club. You may also be surprised to know that the Mississippi River is wide and beignets are messy but delicious.
It was not just the iceberg that sank the Titanic, but a series of blunders and design flaws. It is not just Davis wanting to play for the Los Angeles Lakers (he does), but a series of missteps in how the Pelicans are structured that led to this decision.
The Pelicans are set up as the little brother of the New Orleans Saints, a scrawny sapling struggling for daylight in the shadow of the mighty live oak. Saints general manager Mickey Loomis oversees both clubs, with Pelicans general manager Dell Demps running the basketball day-to-day operations (if you can call it that). This set-up is without parallel in professional sports, and for good reason: It’s foolish. The Pelicans need their own separate power structure. They also need to blow up the whole franchise from the front office to the end of the bench and start over once Davis leaves.
If fan interest in the Saints is a 10, fan interest in the Pelicans is about a 4. If that. I predict the Pelicans will leave New Orleans within a decade, in part because the market has always been too small to support two professional franchises, and, in part because the Pelicans frittered away six-plus years of Davis’ prime talent. That said, the Saints will always be the dominant franchise here even if the Pels win multiple NBA titles.
The only way to keep fans from writing the Pelicans off after the Davis debacle is to show a different kind of commitment from what was tried and failed with The Brow under contract. The basketball is now in Saints/Pelicans owner Gayle Benson’s court to do just that.
… Well-known local raconteur Otey White asks this question of the infamous no-call in the Saints-Rams NFC championship game: What if Saints coach Sean Payton had thrown his red challenge flag?
The official answer is the Saints would have been charged a timeout (they had two remaining at the time) because you are not allowed to throw a challenge flag in the final two minutes of each half. The no-call came with 1:45 remaining. The practical answer is nothing would have changed.
But given a minute more for Payton to yell and scream and protest? Who knows?
This is not to blame Payton for not throwing his red flag. Coaches are conditioned not to do it, just like drivers are conditioned not to run red lights. But maybe, just maybe, it would have forced the refs into a huddle over the no-call that might have resulted in a flag.
… Speaking of that play, Mr. No-Call Himself, Rams cornerback Nikell Robey-Coleman, for some reason poked the bear that is New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady by saying that time had “taken its toll” on the 41-year old first-ballot Hall of Famer. Robey-Coleman tried to put some backspin on those comments Monday, but the damage was done. Now Saints fans who, like most non-New England NFL devotees have no love for the Patriots (except when playing Atlanta in the Super Bowl), will probably relish seeing a couple of Brady-to-Rob Gronowski or Julian Edelman aerials torch Robey-Coleman on Sunday night.
… Augusta National Golf Club has quietly sharpened the fangs of its fifth hole in advance of this year’s Masters tournament, stretching the par-4 from 455 to 495 yards. There was no fanfare, just a mention of it in the 2019 Masters media guide that was released Tuesday. The folks who run the Masters figured, rightly, that we would notice soon enough. If you place a new brush stroke on the Mona Lisa, people will pay attention.
Pushing the tee box back will tie No. 5 with No. 10 for the second-longest par 4 at Augusta, behind only No. 11 (505 yards). Augusta National now stretches a breathtaking 7,475 yards from the championship tees.
What makes the story of No. 5 more interesting is Augusta National’s means to make the move. In recent years the club basically purchased an entire neighborhood save for one holdout and razed all the houses to make room for fan parking (no charge, just first come, first served). It also removed Old Berckmans Road, which hemmed in the northwest side of the course behind the No. 5 tee. Berckmans Road has been rerouted much farther north, meaning Augusta National could make the hole even longer if it wants (a par-7 anyone?).
It also begs the question: how big is the budget at ANGC for course maintenance and alterations? The answer is there is no budget. The budget is whatever it takes.
Anthony Davis was fined $50,000 by the NBA on Tuesday afternoon because his agent made public trade demands.