Big D

Big D

Monday, June 20, 2005

Last Great Sports Weekend of the Summer?

As June comes to a close, it is fairly safe to say that we will not see another weekend like the past one until the end of the baseball season combined with the start of football season sometime in September after Summer comes to a close. I'd first like to say that for those who weren't there, Jeff Hurst and Lauren Butters wedding was quite a gathering this weekend in Horseshoe Bay. Great time had by all, and I guess the only disappointing thing about the whole weekend was not seeing Glover get thrown in the pool at the reception. Of course, i did leave relatively early in the night so maybe something happened after I left. Any updates are welcome as to Glover's situation. I do know that the smart money was on Glover being the first one in the pool at the hands of Marcus.

With that out of the way, let's recap the events of the June 17-19th sports weekend:

-- Great US Open at Pinehurst #2. This course now officially takes a backseat to no one on the major championship rotation. After its memorable debut in 1999, this tournament didn't have quite the ending drama of the famous Mickelson/Stewart duel, but this year was another memorable Sunday at #2. The great thing about Pinehurst compared to some of the other venues chosen by the USGA is that the course doesn't have to be tricked up to bring the greatest players in the world to their knees. It was definitely a fair setup yesterday, and still guys were crumbling under the pressure worse than Tim Duncan at the free throw line last night.

Other quick-hits from the open:

  • Tiger Woods has nothing to be ashamed of. The guy hit the ball as good as I've seen him since his hey-day back in 2000. He has really found his driver again (see tee shot on that dogleg 400 yard 7th hole), and his iron shots were dialed in all day. To make 6 birdies under that course setup is pretty phenomenal. If you take away his slip-ups on 16 and 17, Tiger ends up with a 67 for his final round score and most likely ends up in a playoff today. I think the rest of these guys should be very scared if Tiger ever finds his touch again on the greens. St. Andrews should be the next time Tiger wins a major again in about a month or so.
  • Despite his 84 on Sunday, Jason Gore is exactly what makes the US Open such a special tournament. On the hardest golf course in the world, Gore was able to hang with the big boys all the way until the final round. Sure, he ended up 14 shots off the lead when it finally over, but Gore and the people who watched will never ever forget his performance this weekend
  • As infallable as Goosen seemed the first 3 days, his sunday performance (81) shows just how difficult #2 was playing. No player (Tiger included) is immune from blowing up at a US open and Goosen showed that Sunday. While it seemed unlikely Goosen would come back to the field with a seemingly comfortable 3 shot lead coming in, yesterday showed that no lead is safe at a US Open. Was I surprised it happened to Goosen ? Sure Was I shocked ? Definitely not.
  • Great coverage by NBC all weekend (Bob Costas always adds that something a little extra to an event), but Johnny Miller continually criticizing these guys on Sunday was getting old. Sure Johnny, some of these guys really didn't play all that well yesterday, but he made it seem like this was the bob hope classic or something out there. Birdies were tough to come by and I was happy to see the winning score come in at 280 (E). You never see pros struggle and squirm like the at the US Open (except for the British when the weather is bad), and I think it is good for the pros to be humbled once a year by the USGA. I think it definitely is fun to watch as a viewer.

-- Unbelivable game 5 win for the Spurs last night in Detroit. As much as I have bagged on the NBA this season, last night's game was something special. If I could only watch one game all season, last night's game would have been the one I chose. It was a back and forth struggle throughout the 4th quarter with both teams exchanging big shots. The difference ended up being that same guy who always seems to come up big around this team of year: Bob Horry. NOt much more you can say about the guy except that he will go down as the best clutch player of this generation not named Michael Jordan. Tim Duncan came very close to handing this game the Pistons with all of his missed free throws. But the bottom line is now the spurs are going back to SA up 3-2. I'm not ready to bury the Pistons just yet, but it is definitely not looking good.

-- Longhorns are able to win their first game of the CWS against Baylor 5-1. I only was able to catch the late innings of this one due to the wedding thsi weekend. From what I could tell, this was a very business like performance by the longhorns. Having lost to Baylor all four times they met during the regular season, it was nice to see the Horns get the job done when it really mattered in Omaha. With the tournament being as wide open as I can ever remember, Texas will be in great position to at least get to the championship series if they can get by Tulane tonight.

-- Rangers were able to take 2 out of 3 from the Washington Nationals or "gnats" as they are often affectionaly referred. Unfortunately, the Angels did the same to the Marlins thanks the impaler, Vlad Guerrero, so the Rangers are still 1.5 games out of first in the west. The most encouraging thing about the weekend series was the performance again of Ricardo Rodriguez. This guy is going to let everyone forget about Ryan Drese and he should be the 3rd guy (let's not kid ourselves about CHOP) we need behind kenny and Chris Young. The search will continue to find the answer for our 5th starter. CJ Wilson looked okay, but i am pretty convinced he is only a stop-gap solution to our problem. I fully expect to see a number of different guys audition for the role. I think Wilfredo Rodriguez may be the next guy to get a look after he gets called up and starts out in the pen. This is a situation worth monitoring.

The rangers open a large series tonight in Anaheim with Chris Young going against a suddenly resurgent Paul Byrd, so the AL west race definitely heats up starting tonight. Combined with the Tulane/Texas tilt this evening, and it should be a fun Monday night.


Sunday, June 12, 2005

Back in Business....

It’s been a while since I’ve posted on here so bear with me while I try to rediscover my “voice” in my writing (I doubt I ever had one, but teachers always told me you need to have a “voice” when you write and to this day I am not really sure what it means).

On to my random thoughts…..

Looks like the hockey labor problems are on their way to being solved. I know everyone is excited as I am, meaning not very excited. The biggest hurdle that the union and the owners had to clear was coming to an agreement on the salary cap. They solved this issue by agreeing on a salary cap that will be based on team’s revenue. I am not the smartest person in the world (no, really I’m not) but there are some fatal flaws with this system. First, and most obviously, this system means that teams that have higher revenues will have a higher “cap” and will be able to spend more money on players. Conversely, teams with lower revenue will have a lower “cap” and will be unable to keep up with higher revenue teams in paying their players. Isn’t this the exact opposite of competition? I guess the NHL hasn’t seen the recent success of the NFL salary cap system that provides more parity than any other sport. The NHL has pretty much sealed the fate for smaller market teams that have lower revenues. Since these lower market teams will be unable to compete in the long-run, they will have to cut costs (namely salaries) just to stay in business. Second, along with the “cap” the agreement also sets a “floor” for team salaries. This means that teams have to spend a minimum amount on salaries no matter what their revenues are. This means that even if a team cuts it’s player’s salaries and tries to just not lose money (similar to what the Royals and other major league baseball teams have done) they still have to pay the minimum. This will drive many of the small market (lower revenue) teams right out of the league because it will not be profitable for the teams to stay in business (which I believe needed to be done anyway through league contraction). And even if a team had an owner with unlimited resources, he would still be restricted by the cap and could not pay his players as much as higher revenue teams. What does this all mean? It means that in a few years people still won’t care about hockey.

The NBA finals have finally arrived. I was actually anticipating these finals as one of the best basketball match-ups in a while. If the rest of the games are anything like the first, I will be very disappointed. I had anticipated, and I still hope, that these games will be similar to the Rams-Patriots Super Bowl of a few years ago. I thought that you could pretty much skip the first 3 ½ quarters and just watch the end of the game and catch some of the most intense basketball in years. Hopefully the Pistons will pull their heads out of their asses and play like the defending champions.

I read an article that said that Bud Selig is actually considering for interplay next year to have AL rules apply in NL parks and vice versa. His reasoning is that NL crowds are actually are missing the opportunity of seeing players like Frank Thomas bat in NL parks. Doesn’t this defeat the purpose of home field advantage for the NL teams? Plus I don’t think too many people are showing to White Sox games to catch a Frank Thomas pinch hit opportunity. Anyways, I just thought it was funny that Selig used Frank Thomas as an example.

The “feel good” story of baseball this year has got to be the Washington Nationals. I don’t care if they end up finishing last in the NL East because the recent ride they have been on has been great. How many people gave this team a chance at the beginning of the season? Frank Robinson embodies what a baseball manager is supposed to be. What a message it must have sent to the rest of the team when he cut Toma Ohko after Toma turned his back to Robinson when he went to the mound to take him out. I wish that once in my life I could demand that kind of respect.

I will digress from talking about the Rangers because “T” has already covered the subject in some depth on this blog.