Steve Williams’s rendition of “hell hath no fury like a caddy spurned” is proof the The View lives in TV sports. Tiger Woods’s former caddy became a TMZ poster boy after unloading on his old boss in the wake of Sunday’s PGA Tour win by Adam Scott, Williams’s new boss.
Some knocked Williams’s repeated use (27 times) of the first person singular in his vindictive televised rant against Woods (all the while ignoring Scott, who actually won the tournament). Others lauded Williams for inserting yet another stick into the spokes of Woods’s publicity wagon. (Williams apologized, sorta’, on Monday for going “over the top”.)
Seemingly ignored in the tiff about caddy divorce was the role of CBS TV, which first granted Scott a perfunctory winners’ interview before indulging Williams’s extended broadside at Woods - believed to be their first ever caddy postgame interview. David Feherty virtually palpitated with glee as he stoked the hurt feelings of the man who’d made an estimated $9-million-plus carrying Woods’s bag. The only thing missing in CBS’s treatment was Mike Wallace tossing the questions and Andy Rooney following with, “Have you ever noticed how when rich guys kick their caddies to the sidewalk it doesn’t go so well?...”
This is not to knock CBS’s news instincts. The Williams/Woods divorce was THE story of the week, and the network would have been remiss journalistically if it had passed on the chance to extend Williams a shoulder upon which to cry after his highly satisfying revenge at the WCG Accenture tournament (Williams’ 10 per cent of the win topped Woods’s own earnings). The situation cried out for some crying. Williams obliged with a “this is the most satisfying week of my career”. Said CBS analyst Nick Faldo, not stranger himself to straight talk, “That was quite a little, a little more than a dig there, I would say,”
The revelation in all this was the “Et tu, Brute” role of CBS, the network that habitually fawned over Woods in his historic ascent to the top of the sports world. While NBC’s Johnny Miller grudgingly granted Woods his props at NBC and Curtis Strange occasionally snarled at Woods on ABC, CBS purred for Tiger. With Jim Nantz’s mellifluous tones narrating the script, CBS built Woods into an icon of unsurpassed brilliance.
Think the love-in after Woods’s historic chip-in birdie on the 16th green at Augusta in the 2005 Masters - a scene enshrined for evermore in CBS Sports promos. “In your life have you seen anything like that?” gaped CBS announcer Verne Lundquist as Woods’s ball dropped in the hole.
Its announcers endured Woods’s smug , self-serving media availabilities with the grim smile of a lowly footman. Tiger’s few critics such as Stephen Ames were dismissed with a Monty Pythonesque, “This fine, honourable man, whose boots you are not worthy to kiss...” CBS’s own occasional reservations were delivered while backing slowly away from the scene with eyes down.
After all, Woods wrote the cheques for the entire business for 15 years. But now, with Woods reduced to a sidebar story, the Tiffany Network has finally decided to level the field with its Williams exclusive. No more the Uriah Heep, CBS handed the verbose New Zealander a club with which to humble his former boss. Woods’s people (the shrinking cadre still loyal to him, at least) protested Williams’s portrayal of Woods, a performance CBS did not get Tiger to rebut last Sunday. If CBS is contrite we've yet to hear it.
Which only leaves the sequel when Woods and Scott are paired for the first time in a tournament. With HBO passing on its Hard Knocks NFL series, that five-hour round would produce enough drama for several seasons of reality TV. Let us pray for Tiger and the ‘Roo.
Golf Redundancy Redundancy: By the way, can we stop saying golfers are “paired together”? Can you pair them apart? Also, two’s a pair, three is a trio. So no more three-man pairings, please. You may now resume your normal programming...
Local Boy Does Good: Former Hockey Night In Canada exec Doug Sellars is one of the top TV producers that Canada has produced. Sellars parlayed his expertise with HNIC into a job developing the look for televised in hockey in the U.S. Now comes news that Sellars has become the executive vice-president of production and executive producer for the Fox Sports Media Group. In his new position, the Ryerson University product will oversee all production for Fox Sports broadcast and cable entities.
Great Gretz: And yes, the week marks the 23rd anniversary of the Gretzky to Los Angeles Kings trade. Perhaps as memorable as the trade itself was the effect on the Canadian hockey media, who lost their naiveté that day in 1988. Till then, the souls who suggested hockey was a business were regularly scoffed at by the old hands of the press box.
But Gretzky’s deal begat the salary spiral in the NHL, the expulsion by players of house-union boss Alan Eagleson at the NHLPA and the four work stoppages we’ve seen since 1991. Today, the lonely few who cling to the 1988 fiction of the NHL owners as gentlemen sportsmen are the outsiders, replaced by CapGeek.com, sports business columns like this one and a host of interesting bloggers. And for that we should be thankful.