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The Rules of Distraction

March 05, 2007
March 05, 2007

Table of Contents
March 5, 2007

SI Bonus Section: Golf Plus
From the Editor
SI Players: LIFE ON AND OFF THE FIELD
Hockey
Baseball
Pro Football
Cover Story
The Buckeyes

The Rules of Distraction

Tiger behaved bizarrely and Pacman was his usual self: bad news all around

Keep your eye onthe ball. Words to live by, and Tiger Woods lives by them better than most. SoAustralia's Nick O'Hern was planning his exit as Woods stood over a four-footputt at the Accenture Match Play Championship last Friday. Woods would soonhave a birdie and a win over O'Hern and be closer to his eighth straight PGAwin. "Mate," the Aussie said to his caddie, "he doesn't missthese."

This is an article from the March 5, 2007 issue Original Layout

Then he did. Stuffhappens. But in the what-will-end-Tiger's-winning-streak pool, who had"carelessness and a choke job"? After O'Hern eliminated Woods from thetournament on the next hole, Tiger's explanation was no less startling than thegaffe itself: A ball mark that he failed to repair kicked his putt off line."I didn't pay attention," he said.

The lessoneverywhere last week was stay focused—or pay up. Titans cornerback Pacman Jonesmay have thrown away more than the $81,000 in cash he tossed at strippers onFeb. 19. In a week when Scottie Pippen plotted a comeback at age 41 after a badbusiness deal left him owing millions, it seemed in poor taste. But it gotworse. After someone filled a trash bag with Pacman's cash, a scuffle brokeout, and a bar patron was shot and paralyzed from the waist down. Jones wasn'tcharged, but it was his eighth interview with cops since 2005, and he may bedone in Tennessee. Others are fed up with those who can't keep their eyes onthe prize. The NFL union just proposed a three-strikes-and-you're-out policyfor players who run afoul of the law.

Worse, sometimes,is running afoul of the media. In Fort Myers, Fla., the mental focus of the RedSox' $52 million man, pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka was under assault by camerasand microphones. Oddly, many of the questions concern the effect of so muchattention on a person's concentration. "For me to see how far I haveachieved in preparation for the games," Dice-K said, "is to see howbatters are reacting to my pitches." There ought to be a three-strikes rulefor translators.

Yankeesrighthander Carl Pavano is harder to understand. Since 2005 Pavano has barelypitched, and this spring Joe Torre and Mike Mussina have grumbled about hisfinally stepping up. Pavano promised he will—but probably not on the footinjured when he was struck by a line drive last Saturday. That was nothingcompared with what happened to the Sabres' Chris Drury last Thursday. A violenthit by Ottawa's Chris Neil gave Drury a concussion and touched off a melee.Neil said that he hit Drury because his rival was not looking up, that he wasstaring too intently at the puck. Sports, like life, is full of mixedmessages.

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ILLUSTRATIONPHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY JOHN UELANDPHOTOPETER READ MILLER (SOSA)SpringTraining
FEB. 25 Rangers picture day
PHOTOJED JACOBSOHN/GETTY IMAGES (BRADLEY)[Seecaption above]
FEB. 24 Oakland's Milton Bradley
PHOTOERIC RISBERG/AP (ZITO)[Seecaption above]
FEB. 25 Barry Zito as Paula Abdul