Wednesday, April 25, 2007
A texting competition?? I'm almost speechless. Is LG serious? Apparently so...
I remember the days when a good argument could start up around whether or not bowling was a real sport. By now, I believe the verdict is in, and after hours on ESPN on a Saturday afternoon bowling and bass fishing are both acceptable sports. I think I'm still on the fence about these. After all, what makes something a sport?
The competition? The rivalries? Physical activity? The prerequisite of training? The passion?
I don't think about it too often, but how many "sports" are really sports and what is the criteria?
Speed walking. Definitely harder than it looks when one considers how many very probable missteps could lead to disqualification. But is it a sport, or a funny-looking activity that usually screams "Speed walking: For the almost jogger."
Cheerleading. This was a controversy at my high school. My dear friend ran track for four years including cross country. She maintained an A average and was president of the National Honor Society. Her schedule was filled with science courses and Latin. We just knew that in her senior year as co-captain of the cross-country and track team, especially with the success of the track team that year that she would be awarded the student-athlete award. It went to a very bright student who happened to be a cheerleader. We were all shocked. And while we could not deny her intellectual capacity, we had no other choice but to make the claim that cheerleading is not a real sport. Yes, it requires athleticism and training. There are rivalries and competitions. But is it a sport?
Is car racing a sport? Is chess a sport? And if chess is a sport, why isn't checkers? It's only fair. Poker is a sport, so why not solitaire? Is this becoming a game vs. sport debate?
I've heard people describe all the hobbies, activities, passions above as "sport." But are they?
Good ol' dictionary.com defines sport as "an athletic activity requiring skill or physical prowess and often of a competitive nature, as racing, baseball, tennis, golf, bowling, wrestling, boxing, hunting, fishing, etc."
That's the first definition. The third definition of sport on dictionary.com is "diversion; recreation; pleasant pastime." (Is that enough of a thing to be a sport? Sounds more like a game to me.)
Hopefully, a few years from now, texting is not considered a sport. I just feel deep in my gut that someone will try to call it a sport and through tacit content of sports fans, journalists and competitors it will become acceptable to participate in the sport of texting. Something in me just says, "NO! Stop the insanity!"
But the question is still lingering in my brain: What makes something a sport?
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Maybe Tracy should have positioned Bay in the bullpen Saturday instead of stacking the infield.
From: Free Tank Carter
To: The Nutting Family
Re: Manager and GM
Dear Bob and family:
Please hire someone who will not give B-movie actresses license to publicly ridicule our team and its decisions. While changes will likely need to be made at many levels, we would appreciate you begin with a General Manager who might hire a Manager slightly less renowned for his idiocy and ineffectiveness than the current occupant of that office.
Please look here for a brief summary of Alyssa Milano's "career." We are sure you will agree that, her producer credit on the hit series "Charmed" notwithstanding, Ms. Milano is not a source from which shit should justifiably be spoken. We further trust that you will see the urgency of this situation and remedy it posthaste.
Please let us know if you would like further assistance. It would be our pleasure to furnish you with personnel ideas and recommendations.
The awesome Dejan Kovacevic explores:
It was a week ago today, fewer than 24 hours after the Pirates had put down a sizzling St. Louis rally in the ninth inning, that catcher Ronny Paulino reflected upon it and offered this surprising tidbit ...
"You know what the key was to that whole inning?" he said. "When David Eckstein got hit by that pitch."
Hitting Eckstein -- not intentionally -- loaded the bases and, ultimately, forced closer Salomon Torres to pitch to Albert Pujols with a one-run lead.
"Doesn't matter," Paulino said. "Eckstein's the guy you don't want to face there."
Others agreed without hesitation, players and coaches alike.
"Can't let Eckstein beat you there," shortstop Jack Wilson said.
OK, so, just to be clear here: The Pirates are happy to duck a 5-foot-7 career .282 hitter to take on the sport's most imposing hitter?
And why, exactly, is this?
"Because," Wilson said. "Eckstein's clutch."
Please excuse me while I go and claw out my eyes. Paulino's a young catcher, but Jack, buddy, I expected better of you. Next thing I know, you'll be saying you should be hitting second.
Albert Pujols is probably the best hitter in the National League. David Eckstein who Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim sent in when their rally monkey got sick.
Okay, we'll skip the parts where Dejan explains why it's idiotic to believe this, and go to Dan Fox, author for the statistics Bible Baseball Prospectus.
"What they've found is that while there may be a small clutch ability -- for example, hitters who can adjust their approach in different situations seem to have a small advantage -- that ability is dwarfed by the normal differences in overall performance."
Take, for example, the differences in performance between Albert "The Second Coming of Ted Williams" Pujols and David "One Gritty Dwarf" Eckstein.
More good reporting by Dejan, and then we hear that the NL batting champ doesn't believe in clutch hitting, even though his average with RISP was second-highest in the league last year.
Anyone want to guess who was first? That's right, Albert Pujols!
Good thing we pitched around Eckstein to get to that clutchless, gritless shithead!
Of those who feel [that analyzing clutchness is the dumbest fucking idea ever], Pirates pitching coach Jim Colborn said, "Dead wrong. There is an element in certain people that allows them to focus at their peak and get into a zone when the situation is more important."
If you're new to baseball, here's a decent rule of thumb: If Jim Colborn thinks something, just think the opposite, and you'll probably be right.
He cited, from his playing days, Joe Rudi, a career .264 hitter who had a reputation of elevating his level every postseason for the Athletics, at least as measured by the intangibles of timely hits and key defensive plays.
"Believe me: For all the great players in that lineup, Joe Rudi was not the one you wanted to face. He just had a knack."
Baseball Prospectus does not give me Joe Rudi's average with RISP, and I don't feel like digging. What I can tell you is that he's a lifetime .264 hitter because he played too long. But his lifetime EQA is an average .275, and he had five years where it was over .290. So he was probably pretty good at baseball, and then he was correspondingly good in "clutch" situations. If someone wants to do further research on this, be my guest.
More good reporting by Dejan, an interview where Jason Bay reveals that he knows the word "predicated," Bob Walk saying he believes in clutch, and then the real killer:
There is no bigger proponent of clutch in the Pirates' clubhouse than the man in charge.
Hey, Dejan, could you remind me how big an idiot our manager is? Please?
When his team wins, Jim Tracy invariably points to "big" hits that were delivered. When the team loses, he points to the lack of same. Even after the Pirates were blanked on three measly hits in their home opener April 9, Tracy lamented, "We had chances."
Tracy's view is reflected in how he forms his lineup, bucking the modern thinking that the highest on-base percentage players should be stacked at the top. Instead, he favors the more traditional approach of getting the runner on, moving him along and getting a "big" hit.
The Pirates will score 12 runs this year.
"Isn't that what makes teams good?" Tracy said when asked about his value of clutch.
Well, talent helps. But yeah, I guess putting lousy OBP guys in the two hole and then praying really hard for a hit is what makes teams good, too.
"It's what separates you from the pack, your ability to take the big at-bat. You don't expect somebody to hit 1.000 with runners in scoring position, but you have to get your share of hits in those situations. Look at the upper echelon of clubs, and that's what you look for. And if we can get to that point, we've got a chance to become a pretty decent team."
"Good cliche things are good and big. Nobody is perfect, but being good is good. Some cliche things that are good look good. If we get to be good, we have a chance to be not bad."
[Slams face into desk].
The National League's highest average with runners in scoring position last season was the .286 of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and they were one of the four playoff teams. The other three also ranked above the league average.
But then, so did ... the Pirates? Their .266 mark ranked seventh, even though they finished with the fewest runs and were nowhere near the playoffs.
The statistic that correlates most closely with scoring runs is on-base percentage ---- how many times a batter reaches base safely, whether by hit, walk or hit batsman -- and this is backed by every spreadsheet back to the late 19th century.
Last year, the Pirates' on-base percentage was .327, third lowest in the league. This year, it is .303, second lowest.
At this point, I think it's fair to make a BOLD PREDICTION: Jim Tracy will try hitting Salomon Torres in the two spot before the end of the year because of his "clutchness."
Monday, April 23, 2007
But wait! Before you dismiss these blogs as populist garbage, perhaps there's someone who posts on here who knows a little something about sports, or is a football expert or something. Work is really boring, and I could really go for some well-written, insightful football analysis right now. What have you got for me, Ben Goldberg-Morse?
We all know that quarterback is the most mentally challenging position on the entire football field. He has to have the demeanor of both a coach and a leader, needs to inspire confidence in all of his teammates, needs to make the right decisions and be smart both on and off the field. Even for a quarterback who brings the total physical package to the table, it is not enough.
I guess this will do just as well.
Look, it's no secret that Vince Young isn't the sharpest spoon in the spoon cabinet, but he's got the makings and the look of an excellent quarterback. I wouldn't trust him to house-sit for me while I went on vacation to Italy, I wouldn't trust him to cook a spinach and feta omlette without burning my kitchen to the ground, and I probably wouldn't let him help my hypothetical children with book reports. But everything I've ever read about or seen from Vince Young leads me to believe that he's got an incredibly bright future as an NFL quarterback.
How will physically dominant players like Jeff George or Ryan Leaf be remembered? I, for one, will only remember them as quarterbacks who were perfect from the neck down, but just couldn't cut it psychologically, and it ruined any chance of success.
Ryan Leaf was a physically dominant quarterback.
Ryan Leaf couldn't win games because he was too focused on his pre-game routine of physically dominating Chargers' groupies and the occasional homeless man. Ryan Leaf skipped team meetings to drive around San Diego and beat up nuns. Ryan Leaf challenged each of his teammates and every member of the Chargers' press corps to the "Feats of Strength" after practice every day.
I don't know how Jeff George got lumped in here. George was actually a pretty servicable NFL quarterback for a very long time -- he even led the league in passing yards once, and regularly finished in the top-10 in completions, touchdowns and adjusted yards per pass. He had a reputation for being a huge whiner, and he definitely got June Jones fired in Atlanta, but he was nowhere near the egregious waste of space that Ryan Leaf was.
Morelli doesn't appear to have the attitude problems that plagued George and Leaf, I fear the worst for him; I really don't think he's up to the task of making effective decisions within the current offensive system to lead this football team to greatness.
Now, we're into the meat of the argument! Anthony Morelli is Penn State's starting quarterback -- a Penn Hills product who just about scored his weight on the SATs. Remember, intelligence isn't essential for a good quarterback, it certainly helps -- especially if you're not the most mobile of signal-callers. Peyton Manning? Not so mobile, but great at reading defenses and calling plays. He's a smart quarterback. Vince Young? Still learning to read defenses, but his right arm is a surface-to-air missile launcher and he can always beat you by running. Anthony Morelli has a fantastic arm, but he's easily confused by all the moving parts, and wouldn't be much less mobile if chained to a flagpole. He's a yinzer Patrick Ramsey.
I've already tempered my expectations for him -- he has a great set of receivers to throw to, and will be successful if he can only perform at an "effective" level, I'm not even asking him to be "good."
I'm not even going to "try" to justify Ben's use of "quotation marks" here, because I don't "understand" it. It "makes" no "sense."
How a quarterback can attempt 386 passes in a season and only 11 touchdowns boggles my mind.
Anthony Morelli is a bad quarterback.
You'd think, from looking at that statistic, that he's a dink-and-dunk passer, a Rich Gannon/Chad Pennington type who effectively throws short patterns. God, I actually wish that was the case.
Anthony Morelli is a bad quarterback.
He completes a very low number of his passes, and seems to force the ball into coverage when it is totally unnecessary.
Anthony Morelli is a bad quarterback.
The problem is, he holds the key to Penn State's success in 2007, and he doesn't have [running back Tony] Hunt to rely on anymore. He also doesn't have All-American left tackle Levi Brown protecting his blind side, and as such, he will undoubtedly face an even stronger pass rush this season than last.
Right. So without question, this guy is going to be worse than he was last year. His supporting cast isn't as good as it was, and even if you factor in maturation, Morelli clearly doesn't have the tools to succeed, as evidenced by his numbers from last year, his third season in the system:
Hopefully tomorrow's Blue/White game will mark the first public display of Morelli's turnaround
Despite losing every decent member of his supporting cast, having no discernable ability to read defenses or consistently throw a football with any measure of accuracy, a stragely under-developed sense of depth, a tendency to be distracted by movements and shiny things, an inability to properly spell his own name and agility that makes him look like he's trying to jog while wearing cement shoes, Anthony Morelli should absolutely turn around his career in tomorrow's intraquad game. It's gonna happen. I can feel it.
Friday, April 20, 2007
Alyssa has managed to stay hot, talks about dating baseball players, and is bringing real knowledge - who knew she could actually understand baseball? - plus, her blog is named *touch* 'em all...
But Lil' John has pictures of him with the Stanley Cup and sentences like this about the Thrashers:
They’re all great guys. I met all of the cats and they showed me a lot of love. They appreciate me coming out which I thought was amazing. Sometimes they get kinda pumped up when they look over; they saying to themselves "Jon’s in the house tonight, we gotta crank it up!"
I have to say, I'm pretty excited for this weekend's (and next weekend's) Yankees-Red Sox series. This is an unfamiliar feeling (I usually ignore and sometimes revile the 800-pound gorillas).
1. If it's unfamiliar, how can you usually do anything? 2. revile: "n. To assail with abusive language." So you usually ignore and sometimes insult metaphors for large, powerful things. What?
At least for the weekend, I'm just like seemingly everyone else in the world of sports journalism -- endlessly fascinated by the Yanks and Sox.
You can't be endlessly anything for a weekend.
Eric goes on with some stuff about Dice-K that is unoffensively nonsensical. But then...
Matsuzaka's no stranger to pressure. The hopes and dreams of Japan ride on his every pitch, and he knows it.
Because everyone knows that Japan is a country full of simple folk who only care about how baseball players do in America. And bow a lot.
But I wonder, will this atmosphere -- with all its bilious history -- register as some other order of weirdness for him? Will he think, even for a moment, "What the hell have I gotten myself into?" Will there be some step-back, deep-breath, go-to-the-rosin-bag stroll behind the hill during which you can literally see the scene press down on him?
Literally? Eric Neel thinks that some type of physical manifestation of a baseball game will descend and start pressing on a Japanese pitcher? Will it be Don Zimmer's body lowered out of a helicopter or something?
And how will he respond to it?
I'd be pretty fucking scared. But then, I'm not Japanese.
Will we get a glimpse of what's already become his trademark shy, sly smile?
There is nothing shy about Dice-K. And if you start talking about his prepubescent hips, I swear to God...
Will he step back up to the rubber with a sense of purpose and fearlessness and proceed to make the Yankees' hitters look silly just for showing up? Or will he press and sweat and hang sliders and get rung like a bell?
We have reached a point where I am happy that only bad writing awaited me in those sentences.
Chapter 1 in the Matsuzaka story was the posting and the signing. Chapter 2 was the first few "show us what you got" starts against teams the Sox were expected to beat. Sunday is the beginning of Chapter 3 -- the heart of the story, the true outlay of character, the start of the action.
Every dictionary on dictionary.com lists this as the definition of outlay: "n. - an expending or spending, as of money."
So Eric Neel either a.) thinks Dice-K will reveal that is some type of artificial life form composed entirely of dollar bills and credit card receipts or b.) understands not what this thing is that you call the English language. Votes?
Ditto that for A-Rod. His first couple weeks have been comic-book-hero spectacular. With 10 swings he's moved the intractable Alex Rodriguez story lines -- off his no-love affair with Derek Jeter, off his jittery play at third, off the glossy lips and frosted tips, off what he can't do and who he isn't, and onto discussions of 70 home runs, another MVP award, and the return of Yankee greatness. It's been the most radical transformation -- every one of his grimaces from last year finding its counterpoint in a smile and a shout these past two weeks.
I just checked dictionary.com. You can, in fact, use "counterpoint" to mean something other than a musical syncopation, according to two of their four sources, if you get down to the fifth or sixth definitions. Then it can mean "any element that is juxtaposed and contrasted with another." I'm still trying to figure out how a grimace can find its juxtaposed element, but I guess it's not completely impossible that Eric Neel knew the meaning and just wrote badly...
The conventional wisdom is that Rodriguez's fate in New York hinges on what he can and will do in October -- which is true -- but it's also true that October really begins this Friday night in April, against the Red Sox. No matter how hot he's been, no matter what thunder he brought down on Cleveland, he's vulnerable right now, his new reputation minted in glass.
Sorry, I was wrong. There's no chance. He got lucky on the definition. In other news, Alex Rodriguez is going to retire as one of the 3 best hitters ever, maybe the best player in history. Good thing you can't mint reputations, or glass, or he'd be vulnerable.
The fates of Matsuzaka and Rodriguez clashing like Godzilla and Mothra -- with smoky, miniature-scale buildings and crushed little plastic cars scattered beneath them -- is drama enough to make me watch.
I'm trying to decide if he made this reference because Dice-K is from Japan. Especially since the Yankees have a different player whose nickname is "Godzilla."
It's not just that I enjoy watching the mighty Yankees scrape and bow a bit (though I must confess …).
That stupid parenthetical notwithstanding, I just spent way too long researching the meaning of "scrape and bow" which means "kowtow," or "act obsequious." So are the Yankees surrendering?
It's that, in the scraping and bowing, they start to take on a little bit of an underdog look, going heads-up with a potent Schilling-Josh Beckett-Matsuzaka hydra.
Well, I guess showing deference would make one appear like an underdog. I guess.
The underdog look doesn't suit them, of course. But that's what I like about it -- its awkwardness, its freshness.
It also doesn't suit them because their lineup will score eleventy billion runs. Even if they are pitching against a potent three-headed hydra.
If they succeed in the six games they have with the Red Sox in the next 10 days, it most likely will be because the Yankees' young punks, who have no business doing so, stepped up and pitched with a kind of moxie the moment demands.
Or it could be because they scored 45,278,347,392 runs this weekend, and only allowed 45,278,346,355.
...in this stretch, early in the season, the job of going toe-to-toe with hated Boston falls to far greener, far shakier, trees.
Jobs fall to green, shaky trees? Am I reading a poem by a high school student on mescaline?
Clearly, I need help.
Help can be yours, Eric Neel! For free! At www.dictionary.com
So, how could I be completely unaware that the NBA playoffs started? Really. When did they start and who is playing? Apparently, I'm not the only one who just doesn't seem to have a clue or care... Perhaps I've been distracted by traffic on the Major Deegan while driving to and from work, the gym and my house. (Thank you Yankees. Spring is here and so is the baseball season!) Or maybe I was trying to eliminate the phrase "nappy headed ho" from my everyday use. Was it the excitement that seems to have been given to the NFL draft and misbehaving NFL players and players-to-be that got me all jacked up in the game? Can I blame Sanjaya for my problems. Perhaps it's been the weather or tragedies on college campuses. I don't know why, and I really don't care. Perhaps, just maybe there is the slight possibility that Kobe's 50+ point games aren't interesting anymore. There is always the chance that news of additions to the NBA's injury lists gets boring and takes away from the game. Maybe there are too many teams in the playoffs that don't deserve to be there. It could be that the Eastern Conference is a disgrace. Heck, I don't even know if the real pride of Mt. Vernon, NY (Ben Gordon) is playing in the playoffs. The Bulls made it right?
But it's not just the playoffs. Wasn't basketball just boring this year? Hasn't it been lame for a few seasons? I grew up watching a league of giants. Where's my Bird now proving that white men can jump? No one else has the all-encompassing magic of Jordan (please, I can't take another LeBron comparison). I must (regrettably) admit that AI got less interesting with the crazy antics. Chris Webber is not so cute when he's losing. Jason Kidd, while a great player, is heavily associated with his team because he's such a team player, and I don't like the Nets because they are coming to Brooklyn. Sadly... no personality (while, I too had high hopes for Arenas) can match those that really got me into the league, if not the game.
Well, you don't have to agree with me. Dan Steinman, editor of the Washington Post's D.C. Sports Blog says a possible cure for the NBA could be to "cut the length of the series, especially those first-rounders that often aren't competitive." He continues...
"I'd say the problem is the same it's been for years: a regular season that's more bloated than an American Idol results show, and first-round playoff series that last longer than some marriages," he said. "It's just hard to get pumped after all that basketball, and with all that basketball still to go. At a minimum, they should go back to best-of-5 in the first round, which will never happen. Or better yet, best-of-3. That would indisputably add some life to the first round."
Yes, it does seem like NBA basketball goes on forever, sometimes anti-climatically or finally climaxing when I've already lost interest and moved on (yet another connection to my relationship with men... hmmm), especially when there are so many other sports to devote time and energy to.
So maybe next year, NBA. By this time next year, we'll have inaugurated a new president, encountered another natural disaster (I'm not predicting or wishing it happens, but it's likely), and dethroned another one of Hollywood's "it" girls. Perhaps that will give the league the motivation it needs to compete for my attention.
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
The Post-Gazette reported today that police witnessed Benjamin arguing with his ex, Ashley Olczak. She looked about like someone who'd had the crap kicked out of her, Benji looked like he'd just finished one of his nice 25-minute-long streches of sitting on the bench. The argument, apparently, turned violent when Olczak punched him in the stomach.
After she hit him, Olczak said Benjamin punched her on the left side of her face. Olczak said she hit Benjamin in the chest again and that Benjamin punched her again, this time knocking her to the ground. Officers observed swelling and a bruise on Olczak's right cheek. She said she did not know how the other injuries occurred, but said they were a result of the fight.
Benjamin contended in the criminal complaint that Olczak threw several punches at him that he was able to block with his hands. Benjamin, who was uninjured, said he never hit Olczak and did not know how she received her injuries. Both refused medical treatment. Olczak was arrested as well.
So she was so fierce that he was forced to put up a guard and hide behind it while she kicked the crap out of herself.
Or maybe a third party, perhaps a one-armed man, came in and beat her up with his prosthetic arm, while Benjamin was blocking her punches.
Maybe after he gets off, Benjamin can search Oakland for the real abusive dickhead.
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
The good news: Pittsburgh clocks in at #19 (.505 total), Buffalo at #16 (.507), and Boston #13 (.51276623894570238003245790234763459069567900293728936560238402...)
The bad news: The top five includes Salt Lake City (#2, the Jazz), Edmonton (#4, the Oilers), and Montreal (#5, Canadiens, Maroons and Expos), and Montreal is the only city with more than one team. The top 10 includes Calgary, Portland, and Jacksonville, before giving way to actual cities like LA and New York/New Jersey, which someone should have told ESPN is not one city but two states.
My question: How do you not give weight to cities that have more than one team? The Canadiens are about 1,000 games over .500, which is just a hair under the total number of games played in the #2 city, Green Bay, since 1927.
All right, whoever put this together is almost as bored as me.
Today, a 4-3 decision allows a second jury to hear that Williams wiped down the gun and jumped into a pool after the incident, presumably to remove his prints from the gun and take one last dip in his pool before the anticipated legal fees forced him into a studio apartment in the rough part of Trenton.
The good news is that Williams' plans to appeal, so he'll die of old age while out on bail, long before anyone might actually decide if he's guilty of recklessness or if the shooting was accidental. I don't mind saying that, in cases like these, I don't envy the jury. It's a pretty fine line between accident and negligence.
I mean, there were some times in college when me and my roomies got pretty stupid, but it's not like, if something bad had happened, it would have been more one person's fault than another's.
Of course, that doesn't mean someone wouldn't have been held accountable. Also, I wasn't getting paid to drive any of my roommates around.
So I say make Jayson Williams fight in court for another five years, then let him off with the accumulated time, energy, stress and legal fees as his punishment. It's not like anyone's ever going to be dumb enough to go over to his house again, anyway.
The schedule, released today, isn't telling anyone much, since we don't know how good anyone will be, but the Steelers, even after an off year, have two Monday Night games, both at home (!), against archrival Baltimore in Week 9, and against their old mate Joey "Don't Hit on 17" Porter and the Miami Dolphins in three weeks later.
Just one MNF game for Indianapolis, who did okay last year, but Denver, who almost was good for the seventh straight year, has three MNF games.
And of course, Dallas at Buffalo in Week 5.
Monday, April 9, 2007
As it turns out, this year's Masters was won by PGA Tour player Zach Johnson, not Tank Johnson.
Tank Johnson did not compete in this year's Masters, as he's currently serving a 120-day sentence in an Illinois jail for violating his probation.
Two-thirds of FTC was out of town all weekend attending a fantasy baseball draft, and in our struggle to catch up to the rest of the world, we used information provided by sources at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
The quotes attributed to Tank Johnson were actually said by Zach Johnson. Tiger Woods was not misquoted.
Free Tank Carter regrets the error. Kind of.
Sunday, April 8, 2007
Johnson finished his round two shots up on Tiger Woods, who entered the final round just one shot off the lead. Woods briefly took sole command of the leaderboard with a birdie on the second hole, but a broken club and several off-target shots derailed his attempt at a fifth green jacket. Needing to make up two strokes on the final two holes to tie the Bears' tackle and force a playoff, Woods managed only pars on the 17th and 18th holes to finish 3-over-par, in a three-way tie for second place.
After his disappointing finish, Woods speculated that golf likely appeals to Johnson's love of firearms.
"He played beautifully," Woods said. "Look at the round he shot out there ... He did what he needed to do. He went out there, grinded away, made shots he needed to make."
Johnson, though, remained stoic.
"As they say, giants gotta fall at some point," Johnson said, though it was unclear at the time if he was referring to Woods, the New York Giants, the Bears' recent Super Bowl loss, or his recently murdered bodyguard, William Posey.
More on this story as it develops.
Wednesday, April 4, 2007
It's best not to rely on your eyes. They lie. They're vulnerable to the leanings of your heart. They rush you to judgment.
The smart play is to wait for numbers, to be a cool analyst of hard facts, to play it straight and sober.
But I'm not that bright. I'm prone instead to enthusiasms and impressions, to feelings and possibilities.
Thank you for your candor, Mr. Neel. Let's see how your column goes:
I must confess: I eyeball. So I begin this season absolutely certain "King Felix" Hernandez is going to kick some serious tail in 2007.
I watched the 20-year-old King, who today becomes the youngest Opening Day starter since Dwight Gooden in 1985, pitch against the Angels in Peoria, Ariz., last week. And he knocked me out. He wasn't perfect (four earned runs in six innings), but he looked great.
He had an ERA of 6.00, and you say he wasn't perfect? Nitpicker. We all know it matters how Hernandez looks to you.
You've no doubt heard that he came to camp 20 pounds lighter (226 pounds) this year. But the difference isn't just that he's healthier, fitter, easier on his 6-foot-3 frame.
Eric Neel is spending a lot of time looking at Felix...
The difference is he's grown into himself.
A lot of time.
Gone are the baby-boy cheeks, and the prepubescent hip handles.
I think Felix should be uncomfortable about now.
This isn't the pudgy prodigy; this is the man.
With cheekbones and a sense of purpose.
He has cheekbones!
The core of successful pitching is stuff and command.
True. Excellent analysis, even if "stuff" is a bit vague, at least you weren't commenting on anyone's prepubescent hip handles.
But another smaller, but maybe just as important, part of it is looking the part -- coming off like you're bad and you know it.
I think he means "bad" in the Michael Jackson sense, or "good." And no, that is not maybe just as important.
Think Dave Stewart's curled cap bill. Think Roger Clemens' black glove to the face.
But I want to think about their hip handles!
Hernandez was cuddly last year -- clearly talented, but clearly young. Tune in this afternoon and you'll see someone more mature, more focused. Someone lean and hungry. Losing the extra weight was a leadership move.
Okay, I quit. I seriously have to stop halfway through this column. You win, Eric Neel. Felix, take the man out to dinner. He's clearly hurting. Just give him a chance.
But after leaving the meeting at NFL HQ, Henry gave a phone interview to the NFL Network. When Rich Eisen, appearing on the NFL Network for the 12,146th consecutive hour, asked Henry what he might say to fans who are troubled by his propensity for getting arrested, Henry called a play designed for him by close friend and former roommate Karl Rove.
"They're really not true fans, I guess."
If you question the quality of Chris Henry's character, not only are you not a real football fan, but you're helping to energize those who Chris believes are the NFL's rivals, i.e. the commissioner's office and any law enforcement.
Chris Henry is on a crusade to purify the game. Football isn't about money, it's about using that money to buy alcohol for underage girls. It's about having someone in your entourage dump giant bags of that money on strippers, and shooting whoever tries to retrieve it. If you don't understand that, you're not a real fan, and the terrorists have already won.
Former offensive lineman J.D. Quinn and Bomar were permanently dismissed from the team the day before the start of practice last fall for taking money for hours they did not work at a Norman auto dealership.
Quinn, who transferred to Montana, told the Tulsa World he didn't understand why he and Bomar were kicked off the team Aug. 2.
"All I did was take cash," Quinn said. "I didn't break any laws and I get kicked off the team, but there's people on the team that are breaking laws and failing drug tests and stuff like that, and there's nobody getting kicked off the team for that type of stuff."
1. "All I did was take cash" is a wonderful quote, certainly in the running for best of the year by a moron athlete.
2. Throwing your teammates under the bus should help you get back on the team.
Quinn declined to provide details of his allegations about other players, but said it was not necessarily about players on the OU team.
"I was just saying around the country. I wasn't saying it in the context of Oklahoma. There's just people I've heard of doing things."
Wait, scroll back up... Okay, J.D., you said:
"...but there's people on the team that are breaking laws and failing drug tests and stuff like that..."
So, "the team" means "around the country." And you don't actually know what any of those things are, you've just heard that people, somewhere, do those things. And that that those poeple don't get kicked off of whatever team they might be on. But you just took cash, so you should be back.
J.D. Quinn needs to run for office, and I mean now.
Monday, April 2, 2007
Against management's wishes, Chris Duffy accepted a challenge by pitcher Matt Capps to down four (4) Wendy's 4-Alarm Spicy Chicken Sandwiches in one hour. That's 16 alarms, Chris! Sixteen alarms!