Im probably not as guilty as most but I am guilty of finding some statistics, some rankings, some measurements interesting and occasionally useful. I check the Yankees and Braves box scores, lift an eyebrow when I read that some PGA guy has missed inside ten feet only once in 30 tries, stuff like that.
But they are just numbers, just scenery in a stage play.
The sports world today is a world in which a number is placed next to just about everything. Baseball is probably the most analyzed of all our sporting endeavors but golf cant be far behind. Every shot of every round in a PGA Tour event is measured for distance and accuracy, recorded and placed in order for all to see.
Some people love these numbers. I dont get it. Theres no beauty there, no warmth, no excitement, no passion.
As the British Open was winding down Sunday, television announcers fed us some significant numbers about Ernie Els and Adam Scott to set the stage for a dramatic finish, as they should. But when the moment of truth arrived for both of the contenders, none of it mattered.
That craggy face of Ernie Els as he studied the putt that might win him another major championship in the approaching twilight of his career needed no numbers beside it. He has had his heart broken in majors several times before but this one, coming after a long dry spell, was yet another matter.
He had been through a personal and professional rough patch. Win and the beloved good guy, the Big Easy, would have come all the way back.
And I would trade you a thousand statistics for the image of Scott sinking to his knees when his tying putt slid by the cup on the final hole. That was all the despair golf had to offer gathered up in that moment. Scott, bidding for his first major championship, had lost in a most painful way, bogeying the last four holes to fritter away a four-shot lead. Lose by a shot, lose in a playoff, shoot yourself out of it early on Sunday and people forget. Bogey the last four holes to blow the British Open and people remember. You, especially, remember.
The glorious, the inglorious, the tears of joy in the eyes of Els caddy, the almost imperceptible shake of the head as Scott stared out over the empty course and pondered what had just happened, theres the story that no statistic can ever tell.