“Tiger, Meet My Sister”…And Other Things I Probably Shouldn’t Have Said by Rick Reilly (4 out of 5)
Truth be told, my exposure to Rick Reilly, prior to this book, was minimal. I knew that he was a sports columnist at ESPN. Many of my guy friends told me he was hilarious, and widely respected for his thoughts, his candor, and his humor in calling things as he saw them, in every little nook and cranny of the sports world. Two of my other friends thought he was crap, mainly because of his undying support for his long-time friend Lance Armstrong, amidst all of the allegations that were coming out years back. On that, my friends were correct. Rick Reilly was wrong, and damned if he doesn’t get that over with right away in the book. You have to admire him for the fact that he can admit that he’s human and made a mistake. Turns out that many of our sports celebrities aren’t too far behind him with the mistakes. Some of them are minimal, some are long-term and life shattering (looking at the Sandusky-Paterno quadrant of hell. Satan’s ready for both of you bastards), and some are just plain funny. (the Dallas Cowboys testing their cheerleaders to make sure they’re intelligent enough to well, be Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders. Compare then to the questions and answered levelled forth and answered by well known Cowboy players, and I dare you not to piss your pants laughing at the ineptness put forth by the players. Fucking hilarious).
This little collection is made up of the past five years worth of ESPN columns ranging from everything to not much at all (like the intelligence quota of the Cowboys franchise, for example). Obviously, from the title, Tiger Woods takes a beating (and not just ducking his ex wife with the golf clubs, either), but one that he, oh so richly, deserves. The sport of golf is well known for its attempts to present a united and semi-elegant show of manners in playing and conducting one’s self during the game. The anti to that? Tiger Woods, of course. Many examples are shown, several well known incidents are brought forth, and clearly, most are of the opinion that the self-absorbed narcissistic punk should be shown the door and a swift kick in his debauched booty. But then you have to battle against that reputation, but why? Reilly presents many a compelling argument, but ultimately, it’s not hard to see what side of the fence he’s on. And he’s right. Talk about putting a bad face on a sport that has always had its share of gentleman leaders and classy patrons. Tiger’s made a lot of mistakes, so has Reilly, and that’s what the book represents. There are a number of columns that Reilly got nailed over (mostly Lance Armstrong), and there are no apologies for his telling it like it is. My favorite chapter? Well, I’m a Bears fan, so the “Jay Cutler is No Teddy Bear” essay was fabulous to read. I always thought Mr. Sourpuss was too busy worrying about how much gel to put in his hair than to worry about the game itself. I’m heartened to note I am NOT alone in this impression, Mr. Reilly and probably a shit ton of the NFL players think the same thing. I also enjoyed re-reading about Michael Jordan’s infamously scathing Hall of Fame speech where he spat upon everyone who ever girded his purse with gold coins; just because the athlete is a superstar on the court, doesn’t mean he’s not a jackass off of it. I did, however, as I stated, love the Dallas Cowboys chapter, and much of the book got a chuckle out of me.
There are several notable exceptions- where Reilly spends his column showing how the power of sports can change someone’s life. A Baltimore Ravens fan who’s stricken with cancer in 2012 and gets to call a few plays for the Ravens as a dream come true. I’m not a fan of the Yankees at all (go Mets!) but how the classy Yankees have a special box set up for kids who cannot be exposed to the sunlight and arranged special night-time workouts for them to observe, and a story about New York Yankee manager Joe Girardi and the players spent a day hanging out with a blind fan in New York’s infamous subway system as she tried to navigate in order to get to a game. Barry Bonds isn’t an asshole, either. Good stuff, these vignettes that signify that not all athletes aren’t gigantic douchebags. Tim Tebow, NFL’s former Jesus in the End Zone, makes you smile with his innocence and views on the world. However, once the stats are brought out, well, it makes you realize that he may be made for the church picnic and not the gritty world of the gridiron.
Perhaps, as I said earlier, the most poignant part of the book is Reilly’s retelling of his fourteen years of close friendship and defense of Lance Armstrong. His ire at Armstrong once the truth comes out is genuine, and so is his heartsickness once he realizes that he’s defended someone who lied to the entire world. Everyone gets played a fool in their lives; to have it done in a public manner time and time again can’t be easy. Reilly handles it with aplomb, apologies, and above all, harsh words for he who used and abused the friendship to pull the wool over eyes everywhere. I give Reilly a lot of credit for not pussing out of this, and admitting it. It takes a big man to admit he made a huge mistake. Tiger Woods could learn a lot about class from Mr. Rick Reilly.