WATCHING THE GOAT

John Granato: Golf is just fine without him, but who wouldn't want Tiger back on top?

John Granato: Golf is just fine without him, but who wouldn't want Tiger back on top?
Tigers return will mean a big audience at The Masters Andrew Redington/Getty Images

I have the unfortunate circumstance of working with uninformed slow dullards. We all have our crosses to bear. This is mine. There was an article this week on this  website about how golf is desperate for Tiger Woods to be great again.

Well DUHHHH.

Who wouldn’t want their sport to be led by one of its all time greats? I’m sure David Stern and the NBA hated when Michael Jordan came back and won three more titles or even when he came back as a Wizard. Nope. Wouldn’t want to fill up arenas to watch the GOAT.

Despite his differences with the Patriots do you think Roger Goodell doesn’t love Tom Brady highlighting his Super Bowl week practically every year? Nope. Wouldn’t want people tuning into the big game to see the GOAT do GOAT things.

Those are the comparisons that should be used when talking about Tiger - Brady and Jordan, the greatest of not only their era, of all time. It’s arguable who the greatest golfer of all time is. Thanks to Tiger’s injuries and indiscretions Jack Nicklaus still holds the title but it’s not arguable who the most popular golfer of all time is. That title belongs to Tiger.

Tiger also belongs with names like Jackie Robinson for how he opened doors for people that weren’t allowed to play his sport. He wasn’t the first like Jackie was but he brought more people to golf than any human ever.

He belongs with names like Jesse Owens for walking into an arena where he wasn’t welcome and not only winning but dominating. At some point no matter how bigoted you were you had to admit that that black man was the greatest player on the planet.

He belongs with names like Muhammad Ali for how polarizing and controversial he was. Ali missed a big portion of his career in his prime when he became a conscientious objector to the Vietnam War. Tiger’s pursuits weren’t that noble but this decade basically without him has robbed us of witnessing history.

That’s why having him back this week playing at a level comparable to what we remember is so cool. A buddy of mine is at Augusta and sent me this text. “You would have thought it was the back nine on Sunday if you just saw the gallery today for his practice round. It’s insane.”

Does golf need Tiger? Golf is fine without him. It’s a niche sport. It’s not for everyone but it takes on a much bigger spotlight with Tiger in contention. The ratings prove that. Who knew what The Valspar Championship was a month ago? With Tiger in the hunt it brought millions to the table.

If he contends this week the ratings will probably rival NBA Finals numbers. Is that good for golf? If you’re in the golf business, of course it is. The more people who are interested the more they might want to buy your product.

Does golf need Tiger Woods? No. Golf has been just fine without him. If you’re a golf fan you don’t really care who’s contending. Unheralded names like Trevor Immelman and Charl Schwartzel have won the Masters. They didn’t have to shut down Augusta National because of it.

Does golf want Tiger to compete this week? Of course. It’s like going to see your favorite band and they’re playing your favorite song. It means something to you. You loved that song when you were younger and it brings you back to that time.

Tiger is that 20-year old song now. Where were you 20 years ago when Tiger burst onto the scene and gave us all those great memories? I’m older so I remember 32 years ago when a 46-year old Jack Nicklaus gave me one of my greatest sports memories and won his sixth green jacket.

That’s why people are so excited about this Masters. There’s that outside chance that Tiger could give us another one of those indelible memories. If a Trevor Immelman or Danny Willet or Mike Weir win this week good on them but it’s not something we’ll remember years from now. But if Tiger wins, 32 years from now some obscure writer on some obscure website will remember where he was while Tiger was playing that sweet music one more time.

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We're not saying this is the greatest photo of Alex Bregman ever…but we're not saying it's not. Photo by Bread & Water Productions.

Only Alex Bregman, his tireless crew (we’re looking at you, Tyler Straub), and his endless business and charity interests could make Major League Baseball’s quiet offseason seem so 24/7.

The latest: Wild Sol, the spicy and saucy new Southwest food brand that Alex and his wife Reagan have created — and just toasted with a totally fire launch party at EaDo hotspot Chapman & Kirby.

Alex and Reagan welcomed a star-studded, invite-only list of party people to celebrate the Wild Sol official launch and sample some savory — and spirited, literally — salsas (more on the “spirited” part in a moment). The party also saluted the Wild Sol team who have been working for more than a year on the launch: Laurice Howard, Reagan’s mother (and an Instagram treasure); the aforementioned Tyler Straub (whom we here at CultureMap have dubbed “Tyler the Creator”); Michael Posey, and Adrienne Price.

While hot Houston DJ Mr Rogers spun his party-perfect beats, the VIP crowd sampled Wild Sol’s line of Hot, Mild, Salsa Verde, and Mango Habanero salsas. Flecha Azul Tequilaprovided the perfect way to cool off from the spicy Mango Habanero and Hot salsas. Considered the fastest growing additive-free, ultra-premium tequila in the world, Flecha Azul was founded by A-list friend of the Bregmans — Mark Wahlberg — along with his partners Aron Marquez, and Abraham Ancer.

A Sol-powered party

Astros star shortstop Jeremy Peña (aka La Torrenta) hit the party. Photo by Bread & Water Productions.

As for the crowd, it was a family affair and a who’s-who list of sports celebs. Guests included Alex’s mother, Jackie De Oliveira Bregman; and Reagan’s parents, Laurice and Grant Howard, with her brother Kyle Howard. Other guests included Flecha Azul Tequila founder Aron Marquez; Houston Astros star shortstop Jeremy Peña; Astros business development director Kyle McLaughlin; Astros’ reporter Julia Morales Clark and husband Matt Clark; Adrienne and Jared Crane; rap legends Slim Thug and Paul Wall (who attended with his wife, Crystal); Warren Moon; former NFL star Adrian Peterson and his wife, Ashley; Madison Straub; Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale; former Houston Texans star Chester Pitts; Madelyn Payne; Haleigh Broucher; and Southern songstress Lenora and her fiancé Jarren Small.

The normally Navy SEAL-composed Alex Bregman tore it up on the dance floor and posed for an epic photo with his beloved Mom and with Paul Wall and Straub — making us wish they three would start a hip-hop act.

“I am so grateful for all of our friends and family who showed up to support,” said Alex Bregman of the party. “We’ve got great momentum and we’re looking forward to taking this to the next level.”

A little about the new Wild Sol salsas: each brings the heat and is made with an actual splash of Flecha Azul tequilas. Here’s the Wild Sol starting lineup:

Ladies and gentlemen, your Wild Sol starting lineup. Photo by Bread & Water Productions.

Hot Salsa: robust and spiced with dried chilies that really bring the heat; made with a splash of Flecha Azul Blanco Tequila

Mild Salsa: rich with limes, tomatoes, and dried chilies for a touch of heat; made with a splash of Flecha Azul Blanco Tequila

Salsa Verde: herby and smokey with tomatillos and vibrant serrano peppers; made with a splash of Los Coyotes Mezcal

Mango Habanero Salsa: sweet up front with fresh mangos and a punch of fiery habañeros; made with a splash of Flecha Azul Reposado Tequila

“We are excited to collaborate with our friends at Wild Sol,” said Flecha Azul Tequila founder Marquez. “Over the last year, I received samples of recipes, and their desire to produce a salsa that is unique and spirited shines through. You can’t have the best spirited salsa if you are not using the best tequila.”

No, you can’t, Aron. Those on the hunt for Wild Sol’s salsas can find it online at WildSol.co. — expect even more products this year. Houston shoppers can also look forward to Wild Sol on H-E-B and Kroger shelves in the coming months, the company promises. Score the Flecha Azul tequila line at local Spec’s, Total Wine & More, or online.

Breggy talks his bomb offseason

Bregman poses with his manager Tyler Straub just before he headed back to Phoenix after attending Astros Fan Fest. Photo by Steven Devadanam.

As we mentioned, few — if any — MLB stars have put in the work like Alex Bregman this offseason — on and off the field. Just how committed is the All-Star third baseman? In January, he flew in from Phoenix, where he’s been training, just to attend the Astros Fan Fest — only to hop a flight immediately after the event.

Seriously, does he sleep?

“Oh yeah,” Bregman told us at the event. “Sleep is the key. The sleep’s where you recover — you gotta sleep. I feel like that’s the best form of recovery for any athlete. So, we try to sleep eight to 10 hours a night.” When we jokingly asked if the headline is that Baby Knox (his son) is letting him sleep eight to 10 hours a night, Bregman chuckled.

“Oh, Knox sleeps — Knox might sleep 12 hours himself. He’s growing so much and I think it’s because he sleeps so well.”

Bregman, who (somehow) turns 30 on March 30, is well aware of all the speculation as to whether he’ll extend with the Astros, like his teammate José Altuve. He revealed good news for his fans who are waiting for an epic season.

Big things ahead

“I feel better than I’ve ever felt,” he told us. “I feel younger than I’ve ever felt. I feel more athletic than I’ve ever felt. I’m really looking forward to having a really good year.”

He’s also working on every part of his game as he readies for another World Series run, and is ready to play ball —as he works on every part of his game. “I think it’s every single aspect of the game, trying to get a little bit better,” he said. “This offseason’s been really hitting-focused and it’s been fantastic. I cannot even tell you how excited I am to get down to Florida and get going.”

We also caught up with Bregman at the annual Cactus Jack Celebrity Softball Tournament put on by Travis Scott this past week, where he hit the field with a host of all stars and celebrities. Having just headed up his Bregman Cares Classic tournament at Sugar Land’s Constellation Field, a ball game for a special cause meant that much more to him.

“It means so much,” he told us before the game. “Being able to help any community is such an honor.”

We also asked Bregman about his Super Bowl experience, where he partied with Houston Texans superstar quarterback C.J. Stroud and newly minted NFL Hall of Famer Andre Johnson, the first Texan to be inducted into the halls of Canton, Ohio.

“It was an honor to be able to hang with him and Andre,” Bregman added, “and celebrate their amazing seasons.”

And we’re ready to celebrate an amazing Bregman season, too.

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