Frank-n-Tiger. No, it's not Wienerschnitzel's delicious new Clemson-themed offering. And it's not Sinatra eating Frosted Flakes for breakfast. Instead, it's the late-2009 phenomenon of alpha-male, upper-class trainwreck behavior that we have to thank for keeping things in perspective.
"Comparison is the root of all unhappiness," said a wise man who probably didn't get a Big Wheel (with Power Brake!) as a kid. But sometimes a guy can't help but wish he were (allegedly) worth $835 million and owner of one of the finest franchises in baseball, or a groundbreaking young professional athlete with a net worth approaching $1 billion with a Swedish model wife.
Frank McCourt and Tiger Woods have shown us that education, wealth and fame won't necessarily protect a guy from poor judgment. McCourt, the self-proclaimed "steward" of the Dodgers, came to Los Angeles on a sour note when his purchase of the Dodgers precluded the signing of Vladimir Guerrero.
Despite multiple PR-related misfires (including raising parking to $15), McCourt actually made some good moves, maintaining a player payroll of at least $100 million for the past three seasons and resisting the urge to rename Dodger Stadium while planning to expand the grounds around it.
However, McCourt's latest fumble, his step-over-a-dollar-to-pick-up-a-dime strategy, serves de facto notice that his personal situation has taken precedence over the long-term welfare of the team. Quality players on the 2010 Dodgers or first-round draft picks: How could you go wrong? Yet the Dodgers opted to forgo both options, apparently out of fear of increasing payroll or forking over signing bonuses. (Don't play the lottery, Frank — you might have to pay taxes on those winnings!)
Even the cash-strapped Rangers and reduction-mode Tigers offered arbitration to some of their players. While McCourt may not have specifically ordered Ned Colletti to withhold offers of arbitration to eligible players — Dennis Mannion is running the Dodgers on a daily basis, according to T.J. Simers — it is impossible not to make a connection between McCourt's divorce proceedings and the Dodgers' continuing penury. (Recall Colletti's efforts to keep the 2008 acquisitions of Manny Ramirez and Casey Blake revenue-neutral, costing the Dodgers super-prospect Carlos Santana.)
A lack of funds is definitely not one of Tiger's problems, but no amount of money can undo the developing stories of his alleged infidelities: Rachel Uchitel (whose surname would suggest she's the heiress to some Japanese phone company), Jaimee Grubbs ("you were working as a waitress in a cocktail bar when I met you..."), Kalika Moquin (Mele Kalikimaka?)...while Tiger releases vague statement after vague statement. You're making us mortal dudes look pretty good, Tiger.
As for the privacy Tiger is pleading for, forget it. That's simply the price paid by someone who makes a living — a very, very good living — in the public sector. Just ask fellow TMZ front-pagers Frank and Jamie.
Of course, these dramas are far from over, and the possibility of redemption exists. The Dodgers' homegrown core of youngsters could bring the team its third consecutive playoff appearance (which would be a first in franchise history), and Tiger could win his way back to relevance (see Bryant, Kobe).
But the point remains: Go ahead and make your mistakes; just don't think that loads of money or talent would have prevented you from doing so. And remember to thank Frank-n-Tiger — for being rich, and powerful...and human.
top photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images; tiger photo by Roger Hooper