“Tiger meet my sister … and other things I probably shouldn’t have said” by Rick Reilly (Blue Rider Press, 342 pages, in stores)
“Tiger, meet my sister … ,” a collection of the longtime sportswriter’s ESPN columns, showcases the best and worst of Rick Reilly.
Reilly has long excelled at human-interest pieces. When he tells the story of blind sportswriter Hal McCoy or a bullied teenager, he makes readers see and care about them in a way that few can.
But when he writes about going out on the shortest golf course available and spending days trying to make his first hole-in-one, it feels like he just ran out of ideas.
It’s hard to accuse a man who ran with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain, of not putting in the necessary effort. His first-person account of that ordeal certainly meets any sort of criteria for a column — it’s exciting, compelling and not something you read every day.
But Reilly also spends plenty of time handing out unsolicited advice and making bad jokes.
The book’s title comes from one of those jokes. For the uninitiated, it’s a reference to golfer Tiger Woods’, um, love of women. The line comes from a gag in the book about “sentences no one’s ever uttered.” Tiger jokes went out of vogue several years ago for most of America, and the reference just feels dated.
However, a silly title and a few lightweight columns don’t mean this book is without feeling. There are plenty of touching pieces, and Reilly expresses what certainly feels like genuine rage at Lance Armstrong, whom he previously defended, as the cyclist led Reilly to believe that he did not use performance-enhancing drugs.
The columns are published mostly as they originally appeared on ESPN.com, with short postscripts added by Reilly. Most of those are fairly inconsequential, but some provide worthwhile updates on the column subjects.
Reilly’s work for ESPN seldom lived up to that from his early days at Sports Illustrated, and this book doesn’t quite stack up to some of his previous work, like the New York Times bestseller “The Life of Reilly,” which is made up of his first Sports Illustrated columns.
While some of Reilly’s weaker columns probably should have been omitted, there’s still plenty worth reading in “Tiger, meet my sister ... ” And with Reilly recently announcing that he will stop writing weekly columns to focus on television work, this is likely the last anthology of work from one of America’s most-read sportswriters.
Hayley Riggs McGhee, Assistant Sports Editor