Saturday, July 21, 2018

The Tiger Woods respect/fear issue

It was a remark easy to overlook and let pass. Though I'm not sure if I caught the original or one of the many replays, it's certainly been repeated often enough.

One of the talking heads commenting on this year's (British) Open said the many players still ahead of Tiger Woods on the leaderboard "respected but did not fear him".

An interesting take, but wait a second. How did he know that for sure? Did he poll those players and ask them outright? If so, no mention came of it, so can likely assume not. In other words, he was trying to put a positive spin on things, though speaking from a position of ignorance.

First -- the fear factor. Though Eldrick Tont Woods no doubt possessed it back in his heyday, it would be ludicrous so suggest any of the top players currently on tour shake in their boots when Tiger shows up for a tournament. His history over the last several years is hardly a cause for alarm among the young guns. They KNOW they can beat him. And have, repeatedly. Nowadays the question isn't whether Woods will a tournament, but rather if he'll make the cut.

Far more relevant is the respect factor yon announcer took for granted. Do the other players, most all of which are ranked higher than Eldrick, truly respect him?

Let's remember most of these guys didn't even have their PGA cards when Tiger was tearing it up during the Clinton and Bush Jr. administrations. But they no doubt heard about some things and saw yet others on TV.

Are we to believe all these guys harbor respect for, to date, the only serial wife-cheater ever on the PGA tour?

The same guy that has uttered countless obscenities while on the course, thrown and pounded clubs, and otherwise displayed boorish behavior in what is supposed to be a gentlemen's game?

The very same that thinks gently slapping the outstretched hands of fans is somehow beneath him as he walks by?

The same dude that has always routinely ignored children that idolized him before and after his rounds of golf by refusing to autograph various paraphernalia? Or even acknowledge them?

Years back, yours truly (and several friends) had the occasion to cross paths with Woods and his then caddy Steve Williams at the Buick Open. We had anted up to be there and were behind the ropes in the gallery where be belonged. Yet as golfer and caddy approached, Williams barked at us to get out of the way. Make a hole, so to speak. Evidently, he thought the President, the Pope, the Queen of England, or maybe God himself was coming through. It was just Eldrick, a mere golfer. I never forgot that. Who do these people think they are? But this is the sort of arrogant stuff viewers at home never got to see.

Don't think for a second this has gone unnoticed by his competitors over the years.

So do/did they truly respect Eldrick Tont Woods, or is/was that just politically correct hype?

We'll likely never know. The other players are too "gentlemanly" to ever say anything bad about another, regardless of how egregious his behavior might have been.

But I have my doubts as to whether they hold/held Tiger in high esteem indeed.

True, he's always been able to turn on the charm when he's doing a pre or post round interview for the media and the masses in TV land.

But a lot of history's great villains possessed that attribute as well.

It didn't make them nice guys in the end. Far from it.

Another thing no current PGA player will say is what a nightmare it must be to play in the same group as Tiger. The epitome of a travelling circus. It's gotta be tough to keep one's composure and concentration when throngs of mindless rowdy groupies are following your playing partner, hence you, all around the course. And that's just the media. The Tiger lemming fans are even worse.

So in the end, we can certainly conclude fear is not a factor whatsoever.

But the same can likely be said for respect as well.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Tiger Woods and the (British) Open.

The never-say-diers, sometimes known as Tiger Woods' groupies, are at it again. This time fueled by Eldrick himself. Both claim this is the best chance dear Tiger has had to win a major tournament in some time.

True enough, seeing as how he hasn't played in many if them over the last several years. And after all, as Eldrick himself said, this is the NEXT one. Brilliant. A regular genius, that Tiger. Who else would have thought of that pearl of wisdom?

But something appears horribly wrong. Namely, the pre-tournament odds handed out by the wizards of wagering -- also sometimes known as Vegas wise guys.

They have Dustin Johnson as the favorite to win the tournament, and well they should, given he's far and away the #1 player in the world these days. Still, even DJ checks in a 12:1 odds. Hardly a lock.

Going down the list after that gets interesting. Here are the names and the odds they supposedly have at winning the Open.

Rory McIlroy. 16:1. That seems odd seeing as how Rory hasn't been faring so well of late.

Rickey Fowler: 16:1. Also odd, given he's never won a major before. And never been particularly good on links courses over his career to boot.

Justin Rose: 16:1. Well, the Brit is playing in his own back yard so to speak.

Jordan Spieth: 20:1. Like Rory, Jordy has been in a slump lately. Why is he ranked so high here?

Justin Thomas: 20:1. Given he's the #2 golfer in the world, shouldn't he be ranked even higher?

Tommy Fleetwood: 20:1. A quiet sort of guy that doesn't attract much attention, but he's definitely got game. But ranking him on the same level as Justin Thomas is quite a stretch.

Brooks Koepka: 20:1. Another low profile guy, but he IS the back-to-back US Open winner. How will this translate to Carnoustie? Probably not very well.

Jon Rahm: 20:1. A solid choice, given the Spaniard's only 23 years old and already ranked #3 in the world. Look out for him in the future.

Jason Day, Tiger Woods, and Henrik Stenson: 25:1.

This is where it gets ridiculous. Both Aussie Day and Swede Stenson have been much more accomplished in recent years than Woods -- which isn't saying much.

Patrick Reed: 30:1. Want truly ridiculous? The reigning Masters champion supposedly has a lesser shot at this major than Eldrick? The same guy that hasn't won a major in over a decade? Say WHAT?

Well OK. Time for some personal wagering. Normally, I'm not much of a betting man anymore, though I used to be. And I hung with some folks, guys and gals both, that were quite astute in such matters. No fools, they. We used to wager internally all the time. Ya win some, ya lose some, and though I never added it all up over the years, I'm pretty sure they collectively (no pun intended) got the best of me.

I sought a few of them out earlier today and made them an offer. I had a C-note that said Eldrick Tont Woods wouldn't even make the cut at this year's Open.

Figured I'd get a few takers.

But quite to my surprise -- not a one of them bit. They all think Tiger's washed up as well. According to them, only his legions of hard-core lemmings, and of course the ever-fawning media, still think he's a force, or ever will be one in golfing again.

So either I missed out on a windfall, or avoided getting taken to the cleaners one more time.

They'll be teeing it up in Scotland just a few hours from now.

We shall see indeed.

I'll be paying particular attention to the cut on Friday.

Eldrick actually winning the thing? Not a chance. Get outta here.

I'm still trying to figure out how the oddsmakers have a guy not ranked in the top 100 in the world as a better shot to win this tournament than all those that actually are?

Even Phil Mickelson. He comes in at 50:1 odds.

They're trying to tell us Tiger is twice as likely to win this Open as Lefty?

Not buying that either.

So here's the deal. Dear Tiger has definitely been "cherry-picking" his tournaments of late. And he's taken the last month off just to prepare for the year's Open.

Now's his big chance to shine again.

And I think he's going to crash and burn. The young guns are going to eat this dude alive, if the course itself doesn't.

Monday, July 16, 2018

The great home run deception

If you've just about had your fill of politicians lying to you on various fronts, it probably won't come as good news that Major League Baseball has been pulling the wool over your eyes for decades as well. In other words, you been conned.

Right now the annual Home Run Derby is taking place on the eve of the All-Star Game. That's great. See the sluggers hitting ball after ball of batting practice pitches into the seats. Quite the show for those so inclined.

But also see the deception that continues to be perpetrated upon you.

These days, the announcers will come up with all sorts of superlatives. "Moon" or "monster" shot for any ball traveling over 400 feet. Over 440 will get them hyperventilating. What comes after moon or monster? It simply isn't so. Never has been.

In days of old, Tiger stadium's center field wall was 440 feet from home plate. A fly ball hit, say, 420, wasn't a moon shot. Not even a home run. Just a long out.

The old Yankee Stadium featured a whopping distance of 465 feet from home plate. The longest home run hit to date this year wouldn't been a home run if hit in that direction back in the day. Maybe an out, or maybe a double, if the left or center fielder couldn't catch up to it. But definitely not a home run.

Here's a question. How come no Major League player in recent years seems capable of hitting a ball 500 feet or more? What would the announcers call that? A deep space probe?

After all, back in the 1960s, a chubby little first baseman named Norm Cash of the Detroit Tigers supposedly hit several balls well over 500 feet. Clean out of Tiger Stadium over the right field wall. And he wasn't the only one. Several other players around the league did the same in those times.

Nowadays, players have custom made bats, the balls themselves are supposedly "juiced", the pitchers are throwing as hard as ever, maybe harder, and still no 500 foot home runs. How can that be?

Back in 1971, Reggie Jackson hit a ball high into the light tower in right center field of the same Tiger Stadium. If Cash's homers were somewhere around 500-525 feet, as advertised at the time, surely that one had to be at least 550, or more.

Legend has it that the longer homer ever hit belonged to one Mickey Mantle. Some 585 feet. If that were done today, the same announcers would faint dead away. But that's not going to happen.

Why? Because nowadays sophisticated technology exists to determine, within a foot or so, exactly how long any home run actually is. Much like the yardage on any PGA golf hole is lasered and computed from all angles and distances.

Bottom line? Either the pudgy, partying players of old -- with their comparatively primitive equipment (bats) --  were a whole lot stronger than the modern day players, or we were fed a bunch of grossly exaggerated hogwash back in the day -- and bought it.

Chubby little Norm Cash hit balls more further than Bryce Harper, Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, even Barry Bonds?

It made for great fairy tales once upon a time, and was fun to believe. So was Sleeping Beauty, Jack and his beanstalk, and why do you think Don Quixote is the best-selling novel of all time? The masses ate up the idea of tilting at windmills.

Yet it can safely be said they were just that -- fairy tales -- as in pure fiction.

And so were the "monster" home run lengths in days of old.

They were nothing but grabbing an arbitrary (outrageous) number out of the air and declaring it to be true.

Nice stories, but in the end, lies.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

More idle thoughts

So Serena Williams got beat in the finals of Wimbledon. Not just beat, but thrashed by Germany's Angelique Kerber.

And then I saw a first. She was actually gracious in defeat. No, she didn't, OMG, admit Kerber was the better player that day -- heaven forbid -- but didn't make any of her usual excuses either. You know, her knee, ankle, back, elbow, eyeballs, ovaries,  -- SOMETHING -- hurt. But it's early. Give her a day or two and she'll come up with something. Anything but fess up to the fact she got whupped fair and square. Not in her DNA.

The annual main event (no-limit hold-em) of the World Series of Poker is being shown via replay these days. Now it's down to two players, out of a starting field of almost 8000. But something's wrong. Both these guys have about 200,000,000 chips. So why are the "blinds" a measly one and two million? Worse, the antes only an even more paltry 300K? They could play for hours, days, at this rate. I say, let's speed it up. Make the blinds five and ten million. And the antes at least two.

Not that long ago, a friend of mine was crowing about how the Detroit Tigers weren't so bad after all. They were only one game under .500, a couple games back of the Cleveland Indians in the AL Central, and very much in the wild-card hunt for a playoff spot.

It should be noted this friend is a life-long Detroit "homer". As a long-time season ticket holder to the Detroit Lions (misguided devil), he still thinks this might be the year they make the Super Bowl. Poor fellow has obviously consumed WAY too much Honolulu blue and silver Kool-Aid over the years. The Lions and the Super Bowl go together much like Donald Trump and diplomacy. As in mutually exclusive. Where one is present, the other cannot exist. And I'm pretty sure the Super Bowl will be played again next February.

At any rate, we recently bumped into each other again at a local watering hole. I gently reminded him how truly awful the Tigers actually are. They now sit a whopping 17 games under .500, and are dropping like like a stone thrown out of an airplane in their division. The not-so-good Minnesota Twins have blown by them. Instead of being one game behind the Indians, try 12. And that's the good news.

If they were playing in any other American League Division, it would be far worse. In the East, the Tigers would be a colossal 27 games behind the Bosox. In the West, 24 behind the Houston Astros.

Wild card? The Detroit puddy-tats are 23 games behind the Yankees and 19 behind the Seattle Mariners.

Everything about that team is bad. From starting pitching, to relievers, to decent hitters, to defense all over the field, to baserunning, and even the manager. In the current age of super-advanced metrics and analyses, kind of like the Jetsons of cartoon fame, the Tigers went out and hired Fred Flintstone, sometimes known as Ron Gardenhire, as their Skipper.

They've played a fairly weak schedule so far, or things would be even worse. But now they're in Houston.

Over the first two games, both losses, no surprise there, the Tigers have been outscored 12-1. This, while the Astros have been resting some of their A-teamers, and cobbled together a bullpen only pitching line-up for one game. Didn't matter. Tomorrow, the Tigers get a serious dose of one Justin Verlander, a former teammate. Also having one of his finest seasons to date. Look for Kate's hubby to mow them down like a blue whale does plankton. That could get uglier than Judge Judy or Roseanne on a nude beach. At least fifteen strike-outs would seem to be very likely.

But I bought my friend a couple beers. Hard not to feel sorry for him. He still thinks the Pistons and Red Wings will have a shot next season. Did I mention the Detroit Kool-Aid factor gone horribly wrong? As in the mass destruction of brain cells? A couple more brews can't hurt THAT scenario.

Too late, already gone.

Outta here.

And so am I for now.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Laughable sports bytes -- or bites

Can there be anything more pitiful than the NBA summer league? See all the draft choices and wannabes trying to make an impression.

See them all revert back to playing hoops like they were on a concrete court with metal nets in the ghetto somewhere. Who can out Harlem-globe trot the other guys?

Oh my, see them dunk. Hey, even high school kids can dunk these days.

Oh my, see they can't be bothered with playing a lick of defense, or the faintest resemblance of team basketball.

The latest breaking news -----

Stop the presses and gag the talking heads, at least for a couple minutes. It's earth-shaking.

That's right. There are rumors that one Kobe Bean Bryant might come out of retirement to join Lebron James on the LA Lakers.

That would be a hoot.

Two ball hogs on the same team.

Two Trump-sized egos on the court and in the locker room at the same time.

With a pitiful squad of complimentary players around them.

What could go wrong with this? LMAO

Teams like the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets must be doubling over in hysterics just thinking about the possibility. If the LA-LA boys weren't already dysfunctional enough -- THAT ought to do it.

I haven't heard any fanfare of trumpets, seen a bazillion replays of years long past, or watched golf announcers hyperventilating lately. That can only mean one thing. Eldrick Tont Woods, sometimes known as Tiger, must still be holed up in Jupiter, Florida and not entering a PGA tournament any time soon. Old Tiger sure does seem to cherry pick his spots any more. But you can bet that when he makes another grand appearance two things will happen. The trumpets, replays, and screaming will be back -- and he'll get waxed by the myriad of young guns when he actually deigns to play a tournament. Nowadays, it isn't about his chances of winning, but much more about his chances of merely making the cut. Regardless, when he finally shows, count on Eldrick getting more air time than all the players in contention combined. This misguided craze, bordering on lunacy, doesn't seem to be going away. How old and how bad does this guy have to get before people realize his days of glory are far in the rear view mirror?

So France defeated Belgium 1-0 in the World Cup soccer finals - eh? Maybe this is revenge over 200 years later. Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo happened in 1815. Guess where Waterloo is/was? Yep, Belgium.

Speaking of futbol, apparently it's a big deal to some that some dude named Ronaldo changed teams.

Personally, I wouldn't know Ronaldo from Ronald McDonald, nor care what soccer team he plays for. They run -- a lot. They kick here and there. They flop over the most incidental contact like they were steam rolled by an NFL linebacker (OMG I'm dying), but are perfectly good to go a couple minutes later. Once every few hours a goal is actually scored. And they get paid ludicrous amount of money.

And while on that subject -- what is it with soccer uniforms anyway? Tune into any game and you can't tell which team is which. Instead of the team or country names on the uniforms, it's one sponsor or another. Whoever put up the biggest bucks. At least the USA squad gets that part right. Pity they weren't even good enough to qualify for the World Cup.

What's that? A recent Sports Illustrated report mentions that the BBC has/had been paying John McEnroe a whopping TEN TIMES as much as Martina Navratilova for their commentary regarding the Wimbledon tourney in jolly old England?

Well dang. Could it possible be that Johnny Mac's take on all things tennis was worth ten times what Marnav had to contribute?

Beats me. Don't have much use for either of them.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Detroit Tigers Keystone Kop moment

So OK, another day. I'd ran my usual errands, pulled a few weeds out of and watered the garden, cooked and ate something to eat, the dishes washed and dried, dogs fed, and showered up. (Me -- not my beloved yorkies.) Good to go for some serious TV sports watching.


It's the Detroit Tigers taking on the Tampa Bay Rays. To no great surprise the Motown puddy-tats are behind by a few runs.

But here was the situation. The Rays were at bat with runners on first and second base and one out.

Crack. The batter lofted a fly ball to deep right field. Back, back, back went Detroit right-fielder Nicholas Castellanos. He leaped -- but he didn't have to. The ball was easily catchable at about head high level. But at the last second, dear Nick took his eyes off it and completely missed it. A little league mistake. So it bounded off the wall as Nick flailed away in futility.

It should be noted that Castellanos was once the third baseman for the Tigers. Bad as they are, even the Tigers realized Nick had Roberto Duran-ish hands of stone at that position. But because he could hit some, they had to find a place for him. Again, like little league, when in doubt, stick such a player in right field and hope for the best.

Turns out his best at the 9-position can be embarrassing at times. This was one of them. An average college player, maybe even a high-schooler, makes the catch on that particular routine fly ball.

But it didn't end there. While Nick was picking himself up off the ground, the center fielder came over to finally field the ball. Somebody had to do it.

And what did the 8-position player do? Heaved it in the general direction of the infield. Nowhere near the cut-off man.

Meanwhile, the Tampa runner on second was easily scoring. But the one on first had evidently gone as brain dead as Castellanos. As the ball sailed back into the infield, he hadn't even reach third base yet, but he ran through a stop sign by the third base coach and barreled towards home.

The result? Out by about 40 feet. Embarrassing. Did I mention little-league stuff?

So OK, that was all worth a yuk, but the best was yet to come.

The Tigers' TV announcers had the utter nerve/naivete/lunacy to suggest the original lead runner for the Rays could have been cut down if the Tigers had fielded the ball correctly.

Really? Hey, if an opposing runner is on second base and a batted ball goes off the outfield wall, he'd have to be slower than the Tigers' Victor Martinez NOT to score. I mean, a handicapped person in a wheel chair with one wobbly tire could score given that scenario.

Just when you think the "homers" can't come up with something even more ludicrous than they have in the past -- they strike again with another "you've gotta be kidding me" remark. Where do they GET these guys?

In total, this all took maybe 2-3 minutes, considering the replays. And that was just about enough.

Yep, Nick is still a defensive liability. The Tigers are still awful. And the announcers are still shameless -- completely detached from reality.

Click. Over to the World Series of Poker.

Yeah, I know. It's already been played, a champion decided, and it's basically just a rerun on a second class network.

But it's gotta be better than continuing to watch the Tigers. On THEIR second class network.

Though I appreciate a good belly laugh as much as the next guy, one can only stomach so much of Keystone Koppish play, at supposedly the Major League level.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Thai boys in the cave

OK, maybe it's a stretch to call spelunking, also known as exploring caves, a sport. But hey, if cornhole, throwing bean bags, and a poker tournament can be broadcast by ESPN -- a network devoted exclusively to sports -- than surely spelunking qualifies.

As the world has known for a while, about a dozen young boys and their coach became trapped in a cave a couple weeks ago. Most, including myself, thought they were the proverbial goners. Maybe their remains would be discovered somewhere in the future, but things weren't exactly looking good.

And then -- surprise!!. A Thai team of SEALS -- no, America doesn't have a monopoly on such elite military personnel -- found them. Not only that, but alive and quite well. What's left of the compassionate people in the world breathed a sigh of relief. The ordeal was over.

But it really wasn't. Not by a long shot.

Turns out, those cave refugees were two and half miles from the entrance to said cave. By any standards, that's a long ways. Worse, the tunnel they had originally traversed was an up and down route, any many of the "downs" had filled up with water due to the rains that somehow find their way into such eco-systems. So there was no easy way to get out. Worse yet, their location was a half mile underground. Could potential rescuers tunnel that deep? Maybe. But only if they could be sure they wouldn't collapse the earth into where the survivors remained. Trying to rescue them -- only to bury them alive -- wouldn't seem like the optimum plan.

For now, the kids and coach seem relatively safe. The SEAL folks have provided them with food and all report they are in good health.

Let's also not forget that, after a couple weeks, any flashlights they may have originally had were long since useless. Batteries won't last that long, so they were completely -- can't see your hand in front of your face -- in the dark. A scary proposition for even the bravest of hearts. At least they had an ample supply of oxygen. Until the SEALS arrived with their own artificial lighting.

The problem is getting them out. It's one thing for highly trained elite divers to swim and otherwise traverse a two and half mile obstacle course, but quite another to expect teenagers totally untrained in such things to do the same.

Worse yet, the monsoon season is just beginning. There will be more rain, MUCH more rain, for the next four months or so. No way of pumping out the passage.

Perhaps they will figure out a way to have the kids -- one at a time -- be outfitted with a SCUBA apparatus and merely hang on to a SEAL diver taking them back out.

Then again, Thailand is a warm country, but caves are always on the cool side, so temperature extremes wouldn't seem to pose much of a problem.

Could they stay down their for four months, until the monsoon season ended? Most likely so.

And here's the kicker. When all this is over, they'll have likely figured out a way to bring the kids and coach back to the friendly confines of the rest of the world. Maybe sooner, maybe later, but you just know it's going to happen.

And then those boys and their coach should have a number one priority.

Hire an agent.

Because you also know somebody in Hollywood is going to want to make a movie out of all this, which will likely be a smashing success at the box office. Who wouldn't pony up a few bucks to see the heroic ordeal these folks went through?

OK, maybe they're stuck in a cave for another four months.

Might as well strike it rich when they finally get out.

Sounds like a plan to me.....

No wonder those kids are all smiles.

Perhaps they already have that part figured out.