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Tiger roars once again, Padres En Fuego and baseball notices it

What I learned this weekend in sports

Rich Herrera
April 15, 2019 - 12:23 pm
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I didn't need a crowd mic to hear it, because it was so loud that the entire world heard it: Tiger Woods has roared once again! 

I am not sure if he will catch Jack Nicklaus for the most major titles ever, and quite frankly right here, right now, I don't care.  Right here, right now I am basking in the moment and the deafening sound of his roar.  We can stop the ongoing debate on if he will ever win another major because he did. He came back from the abyss and won the green jacket for the 5th time in his career. 

Am I going over the top in his platitudes, you ask me?  He had become a national punchline during his fall from grace. The chosen one who was on a throne not only had his crown fall off, his kingdom was burned to the ground over his off-course behavior.  His wife took a golf club to his car on Thanksgiving day, he got a DUI that splashed his mug shot for the world to see, sponsors ran for the hills to avoid being connected to him. As far as a golf, the number one player in the world fell to the 1,199th ranked player in the world. His body betrayed him and his back was his Achilles heel. If he walked away and retired, no one would have tried to talk him out of it. In other words, the world thought Eldrick Woods was done. But he proved them all wrong as he stared down the field and the patrons who once adored him and then abandoned him, rekindled their admiration for Tiger and helped bring him his major.  

If you didn't tear up a bit while watching Tiger hug his young son, I am not sure if you have a beating heart.  My mind flew to the memories of his dad Earl hugging a young Tiger two decades earlier at the same exact spot. 

For anyone one who lost their dad like he did, that memory is jarring because we can all remember that hug from your dad when he was able to envelop you and the two of you became one sharing a moment, that you felt safe because he had you in his arms and nothing else mattered.  The only thing that comes close to that feeling is hugging your own son the way Tiger hugged Charlie on that same spot where his dad hugged him. Full disclosure, my son got a boatload of extra hugs on Sunday just because I could.  

The 2019 Masters lived up to its place in the sports world and had all the ingredients that make it special. 

Golf is a game of raw power, driving the ball off the tee, finesse on the green, and nerves as you try to keep your wits when your heart is about to explode.  At majors, there is always a moment of truth where champions are made or broken.   

On Sunday, Francesco Molinari was in control and everyone knew that Tiger did not have the raw punching power in his game that he had 15 years ago.  All Molinari had to do was play his game and the green jacket was his.  But as Tiger kept clawing and the infamous Tiger roar started to erupt, Molinari blinked at the pressure and put his ball in the water and with it, his green jacket.

There is also "The Cinderella Story" of someone making a run at the leaders.  This year it was Dustin Johnson, who made a nice run and made Tiger look over his shoulder once he began to hear footsteps, but he came up short. 

All that set up Tiger to bring it all home.  Is there anything more iconic in a Ruthian manner than Tiger in his red shirt on Sunday at Augusta National with the background of a sea of patrons losing their minds as he raises his arms in victory?  He might be a little older, with a few more wrinkles around his eyes and a little less hair on top of his head, but at that moment for him, nothing had changed.  

Padres fans, I warned you last week on Facebook Live it was coming. 

The cute little story of the San Diego Padres nice start will fade, and in its place will be others around the game hammering the Friars.  The Padres have been winning games by hitting homers and playing great defense and teams around baseball are starting to take notice.  Want to know how I know?  I just have to look on social media to see how fans are reacting. 

Some teams are just used to winning. The Yankees, Red Sox, and Dodgers are always supposed to win, aren't they? When upstart teams begin to win, it's great. At first, we say that we all want parity in the game. When you climb out of the cellar and get close to .500, everyone is happy for you. When you are a party crasher with the big boys in the game, you go from a cute little team to a skunk in the garden. That is when you begin to hear things like "it's good for baseball to have the Yankees and Red Sox play well, and it's great for the game to have the Dodgers playing in the World Series." That's why the national media is so obsessed with TV ratings. 

If the Yankees and Dodgers are in the World Series, they will have great ratings simply because they are the two biggest markets. Anyone else dining on the table isn't worthy. 

If you have built your castle on rolling into San Diego and picking up wins every year, how are you going to feel if that goes away? How are you going to feel when the cellar dwellers are moving into the penthouse? You are not going to like it.  Just like the bully that beat me up daily in the 7th grade hated it when I grew 6 inches over the summer and knocked him on his rear end on the first day of school. I upset the order of things and he had to get knocked down many more times before he recognized the script had flipped. 

But until he understood I wasn't his to push around anymore, he did his best to try and keep the status quo.  Padres fans were upset with Bob Brenley's comments over the weekend.  I have known Bob for years from when we worked back at Fox Sports, before he led the Dbacks to a World Series win.  He is old school and says what's on his mind and he doesn't sugarcoat anything, including what thinks about the Padres and everyone else in baseball.  Get ready San Diego, because there is a lot more where that came from. 

You will begin to see the national media question if you belong on top of the standings.  Some will be legit, some won't but I promise they are coming if the team continues to play the way they have been this season.  Until people around baseball figure out the Padres grew during the offseason, they will try and keep the Padres right back where they think San Diego belongs.  It's not the Padres that are trying to avoid the sweep these days, it's everyone else.  Enjoy it all because you know what the criticism means: that the Padres matter.