Fingers Crossed ...

A few new year’s wishes for the Memphis sports scene. (Oh please, oh please, oh please ...)

Posted by Frank Murtaugh on Mon, Jan 4, 2010 at 9:13 AM

• A sponsor for the St. Jude Classic. No golf tournament this side of Augusta, Georgia, can survive without the financial foundation of a title sponsor. The good folks at Southwind executed last year’s event — the 52nd consecutive year of PGA golf in Memphis — without a hitch in the aftermath of Stanford Financial’s meltdown. But the tournament (as a business enterprise) will not be sustainable without a new partner. This is an uncomfortable transition period for the PGA Tour, with its dominant personality on the sidelines for an “indefinite leave.” But considering Tiger Woods has never played in Memphis, a potential sponsor would be dealing with — at worst — the status quo locally. Golf fans all over the Mid-South will exhale when a deal is done.

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• An All-Star berth for a Grizzly ... any Grizzly. Rudy Gay would be the easiest choice. O.J. Mayo has an All-Star Game in his future, too. And the way he’s played of late, Zach Randolph should earn consideration for a trip to Cowboys Stadium in February. Nine years of Memphis Grizzlies basketball and one All-Star (Pau Gasol in 2006). Let’s make it two.

• Big 10 ... Big Dozen. Here’s hoping the Big 10 adds a twelfth school, and soon. And let’s hope it’s a current member of the Big East (Rutgers?). Such a move would all but assure a Big East search for new blood. With former Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese consulting at the side of Memphis athletic director R.C. Johnson, introductions should be made smooth and easy. The U of M has to join a BCS conference. Let’s not allow this chance to disappear.

• Profitability at AutoZone Park. Rarely will you see a sports franchise turn over as quickly and dramatically as the Memphis Redbirds did during what would be a championship season in 2009. The general manager, the sales director, and the director of community relations were all ousted by the team’s board of directors in what amounts to a radical attempt at regaining solvency. Baseball at Third and Union is priceless ... but only until the Redbirds’ start measuring black and red ink. Here’s hoping the new management team fills the prescription for profits. Perhaps new ownership will follow.

• An NCAA berth for the Tigers. As I write, this is a long shot. The Tigers simply haven’t beaten a team that will catch the tournament-selectors’ eye. That can change, though, with a title run in Conference USA play. Unless Memphis upsets 5th-ranked Syracuse this week, Memphis can’t afford more than three losses in league play.

• Good health for Maria Sharapova (at least through February). The presence of Sharapova — among the planet’s most famous female athletes — would give The Racquet Club of Memphis a dose of international buzz unlike any it’s seen in over a decade. (Sharapova played here in 2004, but it was four months before she won her first Grand Slam title at Wimbledon.) A run to the finals of the Cellular South Cup by this Russian star would give a week of Memphis tennis a share of the worldwide spotlight.

• A ticket-seller for Larry Porter. The Tigers’ new football coach has his hands full in trying to fill the Liberty Bowl. A 2-10 team lost its top running back, top two receivers, and two of its top three quarterbacks. (I’m not convinced the brittle Tyler Bass — returning to compete for the quarterback job — can be The Guy.) Porter’s arrival will sell some tickets, but come October, the Tigers will need a difference-maker with the ball in his hands.

• A playoff spot for the Grizzlies. Why not? With a record of 16-16, Memphis has one more loss than Oklahoma City and Utah, the teams currently tied for the eighth and final postseason ticket in the Western Conference. And the Griz have two games left to play against both the Thunder and Jazz. Why not?

Comments (2)

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I'm wishing for warm weather. I'm already ready for Spring. Global warming? ha, what a farce.

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Posted by Midtown Mark on 01/04/2010 at 2:16 PM

Is anybody talking about O.J.??
I think he is better than good, but I don't see any
media backing.
Is he a problem child???

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Posted by JerryC on 01/05/2010 at 9:48 AM
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