Apr 122010

by Mike Radano

The tear was real and spoke of something bigger than just a Masters title.

The tear was real and not some contrived stunt dreamed up by a public relations firm focused on damage control. The tear was real and not just something edited into a documentary by a close friend. The tear was real and not borne out of some contrived sense of being singled out by the masses.

The tear was real and the best part of a long fascinating day in sports.

When Phil Mickelson hugged his wife Amy it was about more than just winning the most prestigious tournament in golf. It was more than just personal pride or even worse, image.

“I really want to recognize my family,” Mickelson. “My wife, we have been through a lot this year and it really means a lot to share this joy together.”

For Mickelson, the win eased the burden of a year in which both his wife and mother have battled cancer. It was a moment of true emotion and that’s hard to come by in this day and age which of course was proven out as the Monday rolled around.

It took just a few hours for the worst in human nature to surface as the Internet rumors of his affairs with strippers and Amy’s affair with of all people Michael Jordan surfaced. No substantiation, just rumors which is a topic for another day

Mickelson has taken heat from his fellow pros for years. He’s outspoken and has at times shown himself to be more than worried just about golf but about the big picture. He doesn’t always think before he speaks and that has led to some animosity including being called a prick by Tiger Wood’s caddie Steve Williams.

Which begs the question, just how good of a evaluator of humanity is Steve Williams?

But all of that is just a sidebar. It’s the lowest common denominator on a day sport was elevated to it’s highest levels. So for the moment, ignore the bottom crawlers and get back on point that the tear was real.

Real emotion is hard to disguise and that’s what made Sunday so special.

Four months of Tiger Woods’ rumors, would he or wouldn’t he play, did he or didn’t he cheat with this, that or the other one all led into The Masters and had CBS and the Golf Channel pining for something juicy from the world’s greatest player. He gave them very little to work unless you count that creepy ad with his father’s voice asking him what he’s thinking.

In other words, Wood gave the world a pre-packaged response put together by the best public relations people available. Translation: Wood’s gave us nothing real.

On a similar note, Tuesday night on ESPN should be special as E:60 presents Kobe Bryant and why he just can’t win over the heart of his hometown Philadelphia. Yeah, this should be Bryant’s real self. Just as Spike Lee presented the “real” Kobe Bryant in very special documentary.

ESPN ran a small segment of the piece on Sunday and you could just feel the love . . . from ESPN.

First off, it’s hard to accept that Philadelphia is Bryant’s hometown since he lived here for four years. Second, if as he said Philadelphia made him what he is which is among other things, wait for it, “thick-skinned” why does the booing bother him? Finally, he was quoted as saying he’s from LA now and not Philly, so the reality is, Kobe should shut up but then that would be real.

And let’s not forget the celebration at the Wachovia Center on Sunday afternoon. The Flyers won in a shootout over the New York Rangers and earned themselves a playoff berth. Brian Boucher made the final save and went nuts.

Yes, the emotion was real. Boucher has had a tough year and played outstanding on Sunday but at the same time, is it really worth celebrating being the eighth team in an eight team Eastern Conference field? Weren’t the Flyers supposed to be Stanley Cup contenders not just a franchise that filled out the playoff field?

So say what you want about the range of emotions felt on Sunday and over the last week. Some were meaningful, others manufactured but none more heartfelt than the Mickelson’s under a bright, Georgia sky on the second Sunday of April.

Because the tear was real and put sport back into the proper perspective.

Michael Radano’s columns can be found at phillysportscentral.com and also at philliesphever.wordpress.com