Let’s Focus on the Common Enemy

So much dissension here at PCHA lately. So much factionalism.

Let’s bring back the good vibes by focusing on something that we can all agree on: Rick Reilly is the worst fucking writer in the world. And he is at a new, treacly low today, with a column about Phil Mickelson’s victory in the Masters. With all due apologies to Fire Joe Morgan (the best there is, the best there was, the best there ever will be), let’s take a closer look at Riles, and his patented brand of emotional dishonesty.

It’s not often women win the Masters, but they did Sunday.

/throws up all over self

Goddamnit, that’s not how I wanted to start this off. I knew it was inevitable that a Rick Reilly column would cause me to throw up, but now I have to plow through the rest of this post with vomit all over my shirt, and a little bit on my pants too. Unprofessional, Dilemma. Un-fucking-professional.

Actually, Phil Mickelson won, but for millions of women around the country, it must feel like a lipstick-sized victory.

Lipstick-sized victory? What does that even mean? Does that mean a fairly tiny victory? Because lipstick tubes are not very big. Or does it mean an enormous victory, ’cause of how important lipstick is to the ladies? To be fair, Reilly does not put that much effort into these columns (despite earning $2 million/year for this shit), so he probably didn’t think it through. His thought process probably went something like this: “Need descriptor for unit of size. Talking about women. Tampon-sized? No. Lipstick-sized? You’re a genius, Riles!”

Mickelson, in case you forgot, is the guy who stayed true to his wife. He’s the guy who’s been missing tournaments the last 11 months while he flies her back and forth to a breast cancer specialist in Houston. He’s the guy who didn’t need reminding that women are not disposable.

First of all, RR, in this day and age, do you really want to make a blanket statement that a millionaire, jet-setting athlete absolutely, positively stays faithful to his wife? Let’s not be naive, here. I like Phil Mickelson, and have absolutely no reason to suspect him of cheating, but I’m not so sure I would publicly, definitely say that any rich celebrity is resolute in his fealty to his marriage vows.

And then, the crack about Mickelson not needing reminding that women aren’t disposable — that’s where we really leave this plane of existence and venture off into a new realm of insanity. Reilly not only implies that Mickelson needed his wife and mother to get cancer to understand that women aren’t disposable, he insinuates that Tiger Woods clearly believes women are disposable. Look, Tiger’s a cheating prick, we all get it. But it’s still a leap from there to the belief that women are all interchangeable. Just because Tiger liked to have extramarital sex with ugly, trashy escorts doesn’t mean that he wouldn’t be sad if his wife got cancer.

Mickelson is the guy whose heavy head on the bed pillow lately wasn’t self-inflicted.

What? I’m constantly torn between wanting to attack Reilly’s message and wanting to start a fund to send him back to journalism school to learn some grammar.

You figured a guy who came into this Masters having played only seven tournaments this year — and never placing better than eighth in any of them — would have a snowball’s chance. But something melted in him when his wife and three kids showed up for the first time in nearly a year on Tuesday.

“Snowball…snowball…what do snowballs do? They melt! That’s fucking gold, Riles!”

Amy Mickelson is the kind of walking rainbow that could put a smile on a mortician’s face, so when she showed up, everything started looking up. The golf gods started raining favors down on Mickelson’s curly hair. On Saturday, golf balls started going into tiny little cups from great distances.

I am not OK right now, you guys. I’m starting to shake a little bit, and the vomit that’s begun to dry on my shirt is forming a crust that’s incredibly distracting.

The kind of walking rainbow that could put a smile on a mortician’s face? Why not “breathing sunshine that could put a smile on the face of a angry tiger” or “two-legged embrace that could make a terminally ill, perpetually depressed recluse chuckle”? Why those exact words, Reilly? Damn you and your sweet mystery!

Also, why the random shout-out to Mickelson’s curly hair? Oh, nevermind, in writing classes they always want you to add lots of evocative details, so I’m sure that when Reilly workshopped this piece, his fellow authors urged him to include it.

Reilly also spends a lot of time explaining that karma and luck and the golfing gods caused Mickelson to win this tournament (too long and boring to excerpt in full here). This approach shortchanges Mickelson’s ability and mental toughness to justify an easy, lazy angle to the column. Of course it was a nice moment that Mickelson won, given what his family has been through in the last year. But he won because he is a great, great golfer, and this week he was better than everyone else. He didn’t win because Jesus thought the poor man had suffered enough and guided his iron shots close to the pins. Writers like Reilly can never just let nice moments be — they have to wring every drop of emotion from them until the moments themselves are ruined. Until they feel fake, and until you feel dirty for having enjoyed them in the first place.

Soon enough, though, Woods will win tournaments like this, pass Nicklaus, and order will be restored in the universe. But for this one Sunday in a flower-stuffed pocket of Georgia, the good husband, the good son, the good man actually got rewarded.

See what I mean? Now I feel guilty for ever liking Mickelson, or rooting for him to win this weekend.

The worst part about all of this is that if Woods had won, Reilly would have written essentially the same column, crediting Tiger’s contrition with cleansing his mind and spirit and leading him to victory.

“For on this sun-flecked Augusta afternoon, Tiger Woods finally showed that being a good man and being a good golfer can go hand in hand. And this victory surely means more to him than any of the others, because he can hear his Dad, Earl, whispering to him: ‘Thanks, son. You’re on the right path.’ Watching from her Dick Cheney-approved undisclosed location, Elin must have shed enough tears to overflow Rae’s Creek. For now, seeing the look on Tiger’s face as he donned yet another green jacket, she finally understands that he does love her, and that he’ll treat her right from now on. Finally comfortable in his own skin, that jacket at last fits Tiger like a golf glove instead of a Trojan.”

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Filed under Sports Has AIDS, The Dilemma

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