King Kaufman's Sports Daily

Legendary screw-up John Daly DQ'd from Arnold Palmer's tournament, but he's not the only one. Plus: Bob Knight on ESPN. And: The bogus lost-productivity estimate returns.

By King Kaufman
Published March 13, 2008 10:00AM (EDT)

I never write about golf, but don't worry, links fans. It's not because I don't think golf is a sport.

It's because I don't think golf is a sport and I don't think it's interesting.

But I'm amused by this John Daly thing. Everyman's favorite golfer missed his tee time at the Arnold Palmer Invitational Pro-Am Wednesday, which caused him to be disqualified from the main tournament, starting Thursday.

This happened the day after Daly was fired by his swing coach, which is kind of backward for how these things usually happen. Butch Harmon, who's a big wheel in those circles, said Daly is more interested in getting drunk than in playing golf, which sounds reasonable to me but I guess wouldn't if I were a swing coach, or if my client were an alcoholic, which Daly is.

Harmon ditched Daly following last week's PODS Championship in Palm Harbor, Fla. Daly waited out a rain delay in the Hooters tent, then had Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden caddie for him when play resumed, which Harmon said "made a circus out of the whole event."

Now I ask you. What's more fun, a golf tournament or a circus? This is why golf fans love John Daly. Of course, if he were getting trashed on cocaine instead of liquor it would be why golf fans hate him. And I wonder if he'd be seen as such a jolly character if he were a self-destructive alcoholic who was black.

After missing the cut, Daly spent Saturday in the Hooters tent too, drinking and signing autographs.

Now here comes the funny part of the story. That wasn't the funny part yet.

The Associated Press reports that a PGA rules official -- not Daly -- said that Daly had called Palmer's Bay Hill Golf Club to ask for his Wednesday tee time and was told 9:47 a.m. That was actually his Thursday tee time. His Wednesday time was 8:40. He was just arriving at the course when officials told him he was late and disqualified.

PGA rules say that a player who misses the Wednesday pro-am without a valid excuse, such as an injury, is disqualified from the main tournament. But evidently being told the wrong tee time isn't a valid excuse. Daly must have talked to the wrong person. "I should have looked into it," he said.

After Daly was disqualified, not one but two alternates got dinged because they weren't there. Ryuji Imada and Nick O'Hern thought they were alternates for the afternoon, but they were wrong. When they weren't around to take Daly's spot, they were out as well.

What kind of tournament is Arnold Palmer running? I've seen pickup basketball games that were better organized. It could be that Daly, Imada and O'Hern all screwed up, should have known where they were supposed to be and when, should have known whom to ask.

But when you've got three players in one morning disqualified because they don't know when their tee times are, there's a pretty good chance the problem is more systemic than coincidental. When a bunch of people push on a door that says "Pull," the problem's probably the door, not the people.

I'd like to propose a solution to the Palmer's organizational problems. My plan needs a little work, though. If you need me, I'll be studying in the Hooters tent.

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Bob Knight debuts on ESPN [PERMALINK]

New ESPN college basketball commentator Bob Knight made his debut on "SportsCenter" Wednesday, and he was pretty good. He chattered amiably with Rece Davis and Digger Phelps and, as is often the case with athletes and coaches who are new to commentary, had some interesting things to say.

After they've been on the job for a little while, they tend to start repeating themselves.

And I'm not just saying that because Knight said something that agrees with my opinion, which might be a first. Before a Big East tournament game, Davis asked him how he approached a conference tournament knowing that his team was safely in the big Tournament.

"Well, I was really opposed to conference tournaments," Knight said, "and that may be why my teams didn't play particularly well in conference tournaments. I even said back when I was in the Big Ten and we went to the first conference tournament that if we had a clear-cut shot at going to the NC-double-A, there wasn't any ifs, ands or buts about it, I would use players down the line and rest our starting players."

Phelps said, "You would rather lose the first game. Don't tell me you wouldn't." I've long thought the smart thing for an NCAA Tournament-bound team to do is tank the first game of the conference tournament, then go home and rest for the important games, which come fast and furious a week later.

"Well, but I don't think there's anything wrong with that either," Knight said, adding that he liked having the chance to give reserves a chance to play.

You won't get that from a current coach, though occasionally one whose team is in first place will grumble about the existence of conference tournaments. Knight then said that when he was at Texas Tech, his teams never went to the Big 12 tournament not needing to win a game to get into the NCAA Tournament. So he liked conference tournaments then.

"The dog turns around every once in a while," he said.

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Imaginary lost productivity on the rise again [PERMALINK]

There was encouraging news on the NCAA Tournament lost-productivity front last year when the Chicago consulting firm Challenger Gray & Christmas' made-up number was less than a third of what it had been in 2006.

Alas, inflationary times are back, friends. You're back to costing your employer more money. Challenger Gray's imaginary estimate of the Tournament's cost to U.S. businesses is $1.7 billion this year. That's a staggering 42 percent increase over the 2007 fantasy, which was $1.2 billion.

You really ought to be ashamed of yourself.

This year's $1.7 billion figure, which Challenger Gray says is arrived at by multiplying the number of basketball fans by the average hourly wage, and also by making all kinds of crazy assumptions such as pretending that no worker in the United States ever wastes a single minute except at Tournament time, is still a 55 percent drop from the all-time high of $3.8 billion in 2006.

"The made-up lost-productivity figure market is highly volatile," says Archibald Wockenfuss, a phantasmal economist with the firm Fictional Consulting Inc. of Jefferson, Miss. "There are a lot of factors that can cause the estimate to go up or down sharply. I've seen various theories about the 2006 spike, but I think the most logical is that they got ahold of some of the brown acid at Challenger Gray that year."

Here are the figures that Challenger Gray has made up for the last five years, in millions of dollars:

2004 $765.7
2005 $889.6
2006 $3,800 Get back to work!!!
2007 $1,200
2008 $1,700

In other hallucinatory economic news Wednesday, this column's stock was up 13 percent on reports that it generates more than $3.1 billion in annual revenue for Salon, plus another $487 million for Challenger Gray & Christmas and $38.57 for Hooters.

Previous column: A Hall of Fame debate worth having

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    King Kaufman is a senior writer for Salon. You can e-mail him at king at salon dot com. Facebook / Twitter / Tumblr

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