HOFFMAN SOUNDS OFF

Ken Hoffman rips Tiger Woods and the latest food trend

Ken Hoffman rips Tiger Woods and the latest food trend
Mickelson and Woods are all smiles after landing this showdown's payout. Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

This article originally appeared on CultureMap.

To my golf buddies: Are you going to pay $20-$30 to watch Tiger Woods go one-on-one against Phil Mickelson the day after Thanksgiving on pay-per-view TV?

Let me rephrase that. Do you have any interest in watching the world’s No. 13 golfer (Woods), who hasn’t won a major tournament in more than a decade, play the No. 26 golfer (Mickelson), who hasn’t won in five years and whose golf career is clearly in decline?

The winner-take-all prize is $9 million, not counting side challenges like longest drive, closest to the pin and other bets. So stupid. I wonder how Justin Rose and Brooks Koepka, the actual No. 1 and No. 2 golfers in the world, feel about Tiger and Phil pushing them aside for the big money?

Let’s contrast this with tennis, where the No. 1, No. 2, and No. 3 stars — Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, and Roger Federer — are playing at peak performance and each won a Grand Slam event in 2018. If the No. 13 tennis player went against the No. 26 player on pay-per-view TV, it would pit Fabio Fognini of Italy vs. Richard Gasquet of France. How many people would pay to watch? In the words of a celibate George Costanza: absolute zero!

I understand it makes sense to have American golfers on the pay TV special. But there are six Americans ahead of Woods in the world rankings, and 13 players ahead of Mickelson. That’s not a good sign for golf, when its two most (only) marketable stars are past their prime and don’t win the biggest tournaments.

Dog-gone election result 
Here’s an out-of-state election result that surprised me. Florida, where craziness lives, voted 69-31 percent to approve Amendment 13, banning greyhound racing by 2020. The Sunshine State currently has 11 dog tracks. Florida becomes the 41st state to abolish the so-called “Queen of Sports.” Stop guessing, horse racing is the “King of Sports.”

One by-product of the ban, between 5,000 and 7,000 racing dogs will have to find new dog tracks or go up for adoption. Since only six tracks will be in business in the U.S. after 2020, most of Florida’s greyhounds will be available for adoption. That’s not counting all the greyhound pups who haven’t qualified for racing yet.

Texas hasn’t banned dog racing at the voting booth, but the industry is in such free fall that it’s going away all by itself. Live racing is rarely held anymore at our three dog tracks, in La Marque, Harlingen and Corpus Christi. Gulf Greyhound Park on I-45 in La Marque effectively closed as fulltime facility in 2016. Now it offers live simulcast betting on dog and horse racing from around the country seven days a week, doors open at 11 a.m.

Most blame (or credit) the decline in Texas dog racing to cruelty concerns and more popular casino gambling in surrounding states. Of course we can’t have casino gambling in Texas because our courageous, righteous leaders in Austin are more concerned about who goes potty in which public restrooms. Funny, they sure don’t mind accepting donations from casino operations in other states, though. Okay, not so funny. Put casino gambling on the ballot, I dare you.

A serious Hoffman warning
You know me, always adventurous, always health-minded when it comes to food. I’ve been hearing a lot about new ways that cauliflower is being used to create healthier options. For example, you can get a pizza on crust made from cauliflower. That sounds criminal.

The most popular cauliflower product seems to be mashed cauliflower — as a substitute for mashed potatoes. Okay, I’ll give it a shot. I bought a package of frozen Green Giant Mashed Cauliflower (with "no potato") for $4.99.

The deal is, mashed cauliflower is supposed to taste just like mashed potatoes (one of my favorite foods) and nobody can tell the difference. Really?

Mashed cauliflower is horrible. You know why? Because it tastes like cauliflower, one of nature’s most hideous creations. Not only does it taste awful, it filled my house with a foul odor that had me opening windows and spraying Glade. I thought the smoke detector would go off in protest.

True, mashed cauliflower has fewer calories and carbs than mashed potatoes. But it’s the ultimate pyrrhic victory: not worth it. You can control mashed potatoes’ health hazard by going easy on the butter and milk and sour cream. I use I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter and 2-percent milk and everybody loves my mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving.

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Astros on the hunt. Composite Getty Image.

With the Astros' surge from 10 games out of first place to within two games of Seattle, catching and going past the Mariners has naturally become the top objective. It's no given to happen but it's right there. In the final series ahead of the All-Star break, while the Mariners are in the midst of four games with the lowly Angels, the last two World Series champions renew (un)pleasantries at Minute Maid Park.

The Astros enter the weekend five games ahead of the Rangers. They lead the season series with the reigning champs four wins to three. While the Astros can't quite finish off the Arlingtonians by sweeping them in this three game set, shoving them eight games back (even further back of Seattle and the current Wild Card teams) and clinching the tiebreaker would seem close to a death blow. Taking two out of three would be fine for the Astros. If the Rangers win the series, they are clearly still in the American League West and Wild Card races coming out of the All-Star break.

Last year the Rangers had the best offense in the AL. So far in 2024 they rank a mediocre eighth in runs per game. Nathaniel Lowe is the lone Ranger (get it?!?) regular playing as well as he did last season. Corey Seager has been fine but not at the MVP runner-up level of last year. Marcus Semien is notably down, as is 2023 ALCS Astros-obliterater Adolis Garcia. Stud 2023 rookie Josh Jung has been out with a broken wrist since ex-Astro Phil Maton hit him with a pitch in the fourth game of this season, though fill-in third baseman Josh Smith has been the Rangers' best player. 21-year-old late season phenom Evan Carter largely stunk the first two months this season and has been out since late May with a back injury. Repeating is hard, never harder than it is now. Hence no Major League Baseball has done it since the Yankees won three straight World Series 1998-2000.

Chasing down the Division at a crazy clip

From the abyss of their 7-19 start, the Astros sweep over the Marlins clinched a winning record at the break with them at 49-44. Heading into the Texas matchup the Astros have won at a .627 clip since they were 7-19. A full season of .627 ball wins 101 games. If the Astros win at a .627 rate the rest of the way they'll finish with 92 wins, almost certainly enough to secure a postseason slot and likely enough to win the West. Expecting .627 the rest of the way is ambitious.

With it fairly clear that Lance McCullers is highly unlikely to contribute anything after his latest recovery setback, and Luis Garcia a major question mark, what Justin Verlander has left in 2024 grows more important. With the way the Astros often dissemble or poorly forecast when discussing injuries, for all we know Verlander could be cooked. Inside three weeks to the trade deadline, General Manager Dana Brown can't be thinking a back end of the rotation comprised of Spencer Arrighetti and Jake Bloss should be good enough. The Astros have 66 games to play after the All-Star break, including separate stretches with games on 18 and 16 consecutive days.

All-Star MIAs

Viewership for Tuesday's All-Star game at Globe Life Field in Arlington will be pretty, pretty, pretty low in Houston. One, All-Star Game ratings are pitiful every year compared to where they used to be. Two, the Astros could be down to zero representatives at Tuesday's showcase. Kyle Tucker was rightfully named a reserve but had no shot at playing as he continues the loooong recovery from a bone bruise (or worse) suffered June 3. Being named an All-Star for a ninth time was enough for Jose Altuve. He opts out of spending unnecessary time in Texas Rangers territory citing a sore wrist. This despite Altuve playing four games in a row since sitting out the day after he was plunked and highly likely to play in all three games versus the Rangers this weekend. Yordan Alvarez exiting Wednesday's rout of the Marlins with hip discomfort and then missing Thursday's game seem clear reasons for him to skip, though he has indicated thus far he intends to take part. Yordan is the most essential lineup component to the Astros' hopes of making an eighth straight playoff appearance.

Ronel Blanco should have made the American League squad on performance, but pretty obviously his 10 game illegal substance use suspension was held against him. As it works out, Blanco will pitch Sunday in the last game before the break which would render him unavailable for the All-Star Game anyway. Blanco is eligible to pitch, but given the career high-shattering innings workload Blanco is headed for, no way the Astros want him on the mound Tuesday. Just last year the Astros kept Framber Valdez from pitching in the game.

While waiting, and waiting, and waiting on Tucker's return, the Astros have also been waiting on Chas McCormick to get back to something even faintly resembling the hitter he was last year. McCormick routinely looks lost at the plate. He has four hits (all singles) in his last 32 at bats with his season OPS pitiful at .572. During the break the Astros should seriously weigh sending McCormick to AAA Sugar Land and giving Pedro Leon a try in a job share with Joey Loperfido.

*Catch our weekly Stone Cold ‘Stros podcast. Brandon Strange, Josh Jordan, and I discuss varied Astros topics. The first post for the week generally goes up Monday afternoon (second part released Tuesday) via The SportsMap HOU YouTube channel or listen to episodes in their entirety at Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

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