"Roughing the Passer - A PK Frazier Novel"

My new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" is the follow-up to "Illegal Procedure" and "Roughing the Passer" and is now available in print and in e-formats at amazon.com, smashwords.com and iBooks. Follow me on twitter @kevinkrest.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

What A Great Day In London!


Gold and Silver for the US Olympic Men’s Basketball Team?: Forget Spain. Why don’t we just have the US Men’s Olympic first team play the second team? I mean really, the performance, albeit against Tunisia, of the second team was pretty impressive. Although, frankly, I have a hard time putting Mello on the reserves.  He should be a starter. The biggest surprise for me is Kevin Love. Maybe it’s because he plays in a small market with little or no national exposure. I have to admit, when he came out of UCLA after his freshman season, I thought it was a huge mistake.  I didn’t think we would ever hear about him again, unless it was in a mop-up role for a championship team. Man, did he ever prove me wrong. And Anthony Davis definitely looks like he belongs. Those Hornets should be making things exciting in New Orleans for the next few seasons, provided the team stays put.  My guess is they don’t, but what do I know? Just ask Kevin Love….

Just Give Him a Big Lead: How good is Michael Phelps? Even at the end of a record-setting career, the guy finds a way to win silver and gold in one night. And how close was that silver to another gold? No more than the length of a finger. But at 19 medals and counting, the most decorated Olympic athlete in history shows no signs of stopping. And for the first time, he swam the anchor leg on a relay. He asked for a big lead, and guess what his teammates gave him? All I can say is WOW! We don’t see swimming that often, so it’s hard for us to think about Phelps in the same way we revere Montana, Jordan, Federer, Woods, Sorrenstam, Gretzky, Brady, Manning (one or both, take your pick), Rice and all of the other greats I left out. But he definitely belongs there. Congratulations Michael Phelps! We should have nothing but respect for his accomplishments. In addition, he has inspired an entire generation of swimmers that continue to bring excellence to American swimming.

What the Men Couldn’t, the Women Did: One night after the US Men’s Gymnastic Team stumbled out of the blocks, the women came out, killed the vault and never looked back. What a gutsy performance, especially given the disappointment of Jordan Wieber two nights ago. They put together 12 strong, sometimes spectacular performances to pretty much lap the field. The balance beam, traditionally an American nightmare, proved to be the explanation point on the efforts of five women who not only won gold, but miraculously defied the Sports Illustrated cover jinx.  Great performance, great night for five very deserving young women.

There are a Lot of Great Performances at the Olympics: There have been so many great performances at these Games, but NBC’s is not among them. I can understand botching a live broadcast, especially with all of the venues and cameras they have in and around London.  But when you have 4 or 5 hours to fine tune the production of THE glamour event of the entire Olympics, and you fail to show scores after numerous performances, come on. We all know it’s not live. We don’t care that it’s not live. So don’t try to make it seem like it’s live by screwing it up like it’s live. Like I said yesterday, and I’ll keep saying it until they get it right. Come on NBC, you can do better by your viewers.  We’re watching sports. Give us scores. Especially when you have a few hours to do so.

I Know, Football Camps Opened: I’ve been so wrapped up in the Olympics, it took my 11 year-old daughter to remind me that evidently, RGIII is killing it in Redskins camp. Now, don’t get me wrong. Camp isn’t the same as taking on the potential dynastic dream team of Philadelphia, or America’s team (well, not anymore, but don’t tell Jerry Jones), or even the defending champion Giants. But after 20 years of pretty much playoff futility for us Redskin fans, I’ll take a good camp over a bad one. 

Monday, July 30, 2012

Olympics Continued

Phelps Not Finished Yet: After Michael Phelps toyed with the field in his 200 butterfly semifinal tonight, you have to believe he may a little magic left. He has his work cut out for him tomorrow night, but given his record, who am I to cast doubt on his chances? True, he tanked in the 400 IM, but that was an event he really didn't train for. At this point in his career, with what he has accomplished and after his inspiring leg in the 4 x 100 relay Sunday, I won't count him out. A silver would still be a great finish.

Okay, So I Like the Women: Well, for those that know me, that's no surprise. But in these Olympics, only three days old, there have been some pretty cool performances by the women. Misty May and Jennifer Walsh continue to amaze on the beach volleyball court. Missy Franklin, a 17 year-old who swims like she's 25, was terrific swimming to a gold medal tonight. The fab five looks to make some real noise tomorrow night. The women's water polo team took the best shot from Hungary and prevailed in a brutal match. In volleyball, the kind they play with their clothes on, the US women played a terrific match against the Brazilians. Now because I'm a guy, I can't help but comment on one thing: that Brazilian volleyball team is the single best collection of truly great looking athletes I have ever seen. And they can really play!

If Johnny Miller Did Gymnastics, We Know What He Would Say: Unlike Miller, I don't generally use the word "choke", but the American men came out of the locker room tonight and, well, what can you say except that they choked? They looked tired and mentally unprepared.  I mean really, these guys prepared four years for that? I can understand not being as good, maybe not able to perform the same routines or combinations, but what we saw tonight was nothing short of disgraceful. Whether it was coaching, the selection process or preparation, something was clearly amiss tonight. Did our coaches and athletes expect China, Russia and the Ukraine to screw up again? And by the way, there was no margin for error as EVERY score counted.

How Bad is the Production Quality for These Olympics: Is it just me, or is NBC slightly behind the curve on its production quality for these games? I just finished watching the men's gymnastics team finals, and at the end  1) no one could hear the announcers (which seems to be the norm in London) and 2) there were no graphics showing scores. Therefore, we had no, and I mean no, idea what was happening. Did the British men overtake the Chinese for the gold? Where were the Japanese, the Ukranians, the British? After almost twenty minutes, we finally found out, but this is what happens when a major network pretty much only handles sports every couple of years. Sunday night football, a few golf tournaments, NASCAR, post season hockey and ...............oh,yeah, three horse races a year. That hardly qualifies as a sports network, despite their newly launched NBS Sports Network. And it shows in the production quality at these games.  Shame on you NBC. You need to be better than this.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Olympics Overload

Olympics Overview from a Couch Potato: I can't help myself. I really can't.  Every four years we are inundated with sports we never see, don't generally care about, couldn't name a player except for maybe basketball and swimming, yet we are mesmerized by the action, especially when it involves a participant or participants from the United States. I've watched archery, shooting, water polo, rowing, table tennis, cycling, beach volleyball, indoor volleyball and synchronized diving. I think if hoarding was an Olympic sport, I would watch it as long as the people with 728 cans of green beans were Americans. Really, you can take a Jamaican running the 100 meters in 1.7 seconds. I'll take Joe Bob and Susie Jean who had to build an extra garage to house their paper towels and toilet paper, as long as it's a little bigger than the one built by that Croatian couple for their 1250 pounds of dog food. Now forgive me, but it's time for women's weightlifting.

I Want to Be Coach K: So how hard is it to be Coach K? Or for that matter, assistant coaches Jim Boeheim and Mike D'Antoni? Let's see. We have Lebron James, Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant and Chris Paul. And if they falter or get a little tired, we have Carmello Anthony, Russell Westbrook, James Hardin, Deron Williams and Kevin Love. And just think of the guys that aren't in London, including Derrick Rose, Dewayne Wade and Dwight Howard (although I'm sure Howard would have found a way to somehow intimate he may play for France, or maybe Argentina, no, make that Brazil......). Can you imagine what Coach K had to do to convince his assistants to come on board? "So, Jim, this is Mike.....Uh, huh you know, Mike K......Yeah, that one. Anyway, you know I'm coaching the Olympic squad, thought you might want to help out.........Well, not much, really. I mean, I don't have a hell of a lot to do myself. I was thinking maybe, you know, since you coached Mello for a season where he actually seemed to play defense, that you might see if you could get him to, you know, guard a guy now and then, not so much against Tunisia and Nigeria, but Argentina bothers me a little bit...........Well, if you want to put it that way, maybe a Mello-sitter makes sense. But I prefer to think of it as a nice vacation in London for a couple of weeks..........Your wife says she's in? Great. She can hang out with Anthony Davis...."

To Get a Little More Serious: The Olympics are only two days old and there has already been a lot of great action. The men won a terrific water polo game against Montenegro and were more dominant than expected in an opening volleyball match against Serbia. Michael Phelps finally showed his age in a fourth place finish in the 400 individual medley, but Ryan Lochte was terrific, so perhaps it's time to consider the torch passed. The US basketball teams both are on track for gold as long as they don't go brain dead for an extended period of time.  I think they both have far too much depth for that to happen. The women's soccer team has looked terrific since the first 14 minutes against France, as have all of the beach volleyball teams.  And a few Americans have won medals in sports such as archery, shooting and synchronized diving that are not generally on our radar. Like I said, I just can't help myself.....

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A-Rod's Hand is A-Broken, Dog Days Roll On, Is it Football Season Yet?

A-Rod Goes Down: Alex Rodriguez's hand injury will keep him out of the lineup for 6 to 8 weeks. He's batting .276 with 15 homers and 44 RBI, so his offensive numbers, while good for a third baseman, won't be as difficult to replace in his absence.  The rest of the Yankees' lineup is still fairly potent, so I don't think this significantly opens the door for the rest of the American League East to challenge the Bronx Bombers for division supremacy. The good news is that A-Rod will be back to give his usual mediocre playoff performance.

Lebron and Mello Lead the Olympians: Lebron James and Carmello Anthony led the 2012 Olympic Basketball team to an impressive victory over Spain on the opponent's home court in Barcelona. They looked very strong, even invincible at times against a team that sat one of their best players, Marc Gasol due to injury. The speed of the Americans overwhelmed Spain and probably would have even with Gasol on the court. As I watched the game, two concerns about the US team surfaced for me: They struggled at times against the zone and they also seemed to occasionally lose focus. But at the end of the day, this starting lineup that includes Lebron, Chris Paul, Kobe and Kevin Durant is just too good to lose in London, not to mention the calming presence of Coach K on the sidelines.

Mystery Golfer: If I was to tell you that this professional golfer had three wins, the 36-hole lead at the US Open, a third place finish at The Open Championship and has climbed into second place in the World Golf Rankings, you would probably think that was a terrific season. Especially coming off major knee surgery and a rather comprehensive swing change over the course of the last couple of years. But since his name is Tiger Woods, he is generally viewed as underachieving. As ESPN's Mike Golic is known to say, we just need to "Stop It!"

Finally, Football!: Is it just me, or has this offseason been longer than usual? NFL training camps finally open this week and it couldn't happen soon enough.  Last year we had the day to day labor situation to captivate us. This year, outside of the Saints ordeal and the usual Tim Tebow hype, there really hasn't been a consistent story to hold our attention. As a Redskin fan, I am particularly interested in the development of RGIII. As a football fan in general, there are plenty of other great stories as the preseason unfolds. Is Peyton Manning, now second in his own family in Super Bowl wins, healthy and ready to take the Broncos to the next level? Will his successor at Indianapolis be able to step into his shoes and return the Colts to respectability? Can the Eagles live up to another preseason of high expectations? Will Cam Newton continue to develop and lead the Panthers into the playoffs? How much difference will Jeff Fisher make to the Rams and their young quarterback, Sam Bradford?  Can the Saints overcome all of the off-season difficulties and become the first team to host and play in a Super Bowl in the same season, and without a true head coach? And what about the Cowboys? I don't know about you, but I can't wait to find out.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

More on the Penn State Sanctions and a Look at MLB Standings

Musberger, Bilas Weigh in on Penn State Sanctions: I have a lot of respect for Brent Musberger and Jay Bilas.  Musberger has been on the top as a journalist and broadcaster for close to five decades. Jay Bilas was top player at Duke and in now an attorney and well respected sportscaster. However, I disagree with their assessment that the NCAA went too far with their sanctions of the Penn State program. This issue was all about the football program. They are maintaining that the real punishment will be meted out by the courts to the individuals involved. But that glosses over the fact that the football program was at the center of the scandal.  Jerry Sandusky was an assistant coach who allegedly retired becasue of his penchant for sexually abusing adolescent boys. The 2001 incident took place within the fotball program facilities and Sandusky was still allowed to continue access to these boys on the Penn State campus and at football program propoerty until well into the new millennium. I'm sorry, but that smacks of some serious lack of institutional control and oversight.  What could possibly be worse than turning your back while your facilities are used for the sexual abuse of boys whose parents trusted that they were safe because it was Penn State? So they get thrown under the bus to make an example. So there are a lot of fans who will have to weather six or seven years of sub-par football teams. So be it.  At least the athletes get to transfer to other schools if they choose.  Did the NCAA come over the top? Sure they did. But it's difficult to argue that a serious level of punishment was called for.  All we're really debating is the extent of the sanctions. I applaud the NCAA for taking a stand in an unprecedented case.

Ichiro to Yanks: Great move by the Yankees to bolster their lineup for the post season. When you look at the teams the Yankees will need to beat in order to win another World Championship, they'll need to be able to manufacture runs in some situations.  With Ichiro's speed and still-effective bat, he can get to second base in a variety of ways, only one of which is a double in the gap.  And the Mariners get what they needed, more young prospects to assist them in building a competitive team in a division dominated by big spending, deep pocket teams.

Who's on Top? Outside of the Yankees and the Rangers, I don't see any locks for division titles.  I think the real mystery will be how the Nationals play in September after they shut donw their ace, Stephen Strasburg as they maintain they will.  Their lead is 4 1/2 games right now, which is about the number of starts Strasburg will miss.  I still like them to win, but this year all of the teams will be trying to avoid that one-game disaster between wild-card teams, so there may be a little different strategy down the stretch. The Tigers, Reds and Giants have are hot, having won 8 of their last 10, but face tough races down the stretch.  How the Pirates finish will be fascinating, given their long record of futility.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Penn State Ruling Dominates Sports News Landscape

The NCAA Sends a Message:  Every major college football program had better be doing some level of internal review this morning. The NCAA made it pretty clear with its sanctions imposed on Penn State's football program that there is a greater context within which these programs must operate.  I'm not that interested in the specifics of the sanctions.  The real point here is that these several men put the preservation of the image of the university above the well-being of the victims of sexual abuse.  And above that, the university facilities themselves were used to perpetuate these atrocities.  A few scholarships? Four bowl games? These guys are lucky they're not sharing a jail cell with Jerry Sandusky.

I am a two degree graduate of Virginia Tech and a season ticket holder at the University of Arkansas, so I am quite familiar with big-time college football. As important as these programs are to the universities, we cannot lose perspective of where they fit within the broader social and academic context.  The excesses of the current college football system have helped to create and sustain the pressure to succeed at the FBS level.  I am totally against the salaries for coaches in what are supposed to be non-profit endeavors.  It is difficult for me to consider an organization as a non-profit when it pays it's coaches in the millions of dollars a year. What I hope is that going forward, the NCAA has taken control of the sport and can somehow reign in the excesses that have corrupted college football.  In addition, I hope that the NCAA takes the athletes out of their crosshairs and focuses more on the administrations and coaching staffs.  Winning at all costs is a misguided notion and does nothing to serve society as a whole.

Adam Scott Lets One Slip Away: What is it about The Open Championship that creates such incredible meltdowns? Is there a rule that prohibits leaders to take an iron off the tee? Is there some R&A official sitting in the clubhouse with a remote control that moves bunkers directly into the path of the ball? Adam Scott stepped onto the tee of the 15th hole with a 4 shot lead.  He suddenly turned into Jean Vandvelde and found a way to bogey the final four holes in a variety of ways. And just to turn the knife a little more, Ernie Els, an almost forgotten former champion, hung tight and managed to birdie his closing hole.  Needing a par to force a playoff, Scott looked like he was already defeated as he stepped to the 18th tee. What will be lost in Scott's collapse is the incredible final round that Els put together.  Prior to his 68, only one other player in the last 24 groups had even managed to break par.  What had been a very balky putting stroke in the last several years suddenly tightened up and allowed Els to scramble his way to victory. And what of Tiger? Well, triple bogeys have a way of taking players out of contention.  However, even with a sloppy 7 after leaving a ball in a bunker and then missing a 5 footer for double bogey, Woods was still in the hunt.  But on this day, only Els was immune from the big numbers and inconsistent play as Royal Lytham finally played the way a links course generally plays in this championship. Congratulations to Ernie on his fourth major championship!

Thursday, July 19, 2012


The Open Championship, Pennant Races Heat Up, Letting go of Lin, Dream Team vs. New Kids on the Block, What was Dez thinking?

Bunkers, Bunkers Everywhere:  The 2012 Open Championship at Royal Lytham in St. Annes  offers the players a smorgasbord of sand by way of 206 bunkers. The first hole, a par 3, has 10 bunkers surrounding the green.  When Tiger ran away from the field at St. Andrews in 2000, he didn’t hit into one bunker all week.  I would be surprised to see anyone go through one round without a ball in the bunker.  As Brian Katreck said on his show on PGA Tour Radio this morning, the Open Championship can be random in terms of the results.  Particularly random is the weather.  A player’s place in the draw can have a huge bearing on the outcome of the tournament.  Is it fair, is it just, is it the way a major tournament should be decided? Perhaps not, but it is the birthplace of golf, it’s a links course, and the weather is what it is. And most importantly, the players seem to embrace it and buy into the experience.  And as a fan, it’s the one time of year we get to see the world’s greatest golfers brought to their knees, literally, in bunkers and gorst. In a practice round this week, Vijay Singh lost two balls on the 14th hole.  Imagine if that happens on Sunday. You have to love it, don’t you?

Can the Yankees be caught? And can the Pirates hang on?  The Yankees are 9 games up in a division that most consider the toughest in baseball. True, the Red Sox have been decimated by injury and they’re only a game out of the wildcard race. But don’t get me started on the wild card race. The real question is can the Pirates ride McCutcheon all the way to a playoff berth. Will PNC Park finally host a post-season game?  What a story if it would happen.  No Bonds, no Van Slyke, no Bonilla, no Parker, no Stargell, no Clemente, no Mazeroski, no Kiner…….Okay, I grew up a Pirate fan, even went to the ’79 World Series at Three Rivers Stadium. It would be terrific to see them back there again. Go Pirates!!

Lin the Rocket Man: The Knicks faced a difficult decision with Jeremy Lin.  And the Rockets  ended up beating them at a game of salary cap chess.  The Knicks mistake was letting the bidding get up to where he would be luxury tax liability. But how good is Jeremy Lin, really? And how good will he be, really?  He scored 38 in a game last season, which is a pretty good accomplishment in the NBA. But I guess time will tell if the Knicks made a good move and can move on, or if they erred and will have to answer for it for quite some time.  At least we’re talking about the Knicks. As the season progresses, they may not even be the most interesting team in their own city…..

Magic and Bird, or Lebron and Kobe? There is a lot of debate about which is the better team, the 1992 Dream Team or the current Olympic Team. Without Dwight Howard, Dewayne Wade and Derrick Rose, the current team is at a bit of a disadvantage.  A lot of people, including both Mike’s of Mike and Mike, give the nod to the Dream Team based on a couple of factors: Robinson and Ewing at center, and of course, Michael Jordan in his prime.  I would have to agree, even though Magic and Bird were, well, retired and almost retired. Lebron would have played on either team, along with Durant and Kobe. After that, I’m not so sure, with the exception of one of the point guards, maybe Chris Paul or Brian Westbrook.  It will never be resolved, of course, but it’s a fun topic of conversation, especially here in the dog days…

Dez, Dez, Dez….What were you thinking? Assaulting your mother? Really Dez? Roger Goodell is going to have a field day with this one.  Next time you want to do something like that, you might want to call Ben Roethlisberger for some advice.  It astounds me that these guys that have great athletic gifts and are compensated handsomely for them, just can’t seem to get out of their own way.  It’s distressing and sad.  But in reality, football is a violent game and it takes a certain amount of violence within to excel, especially when running pass routes over the middle against equally or more violent men waiting for you.  Hopefully Dez can get some help that sticks. Otherwise, all that talent will be wasted, and waste is never a good thing.


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY!

Baseball Hits the Halfway Point: Although next week's All Star Game is considered the hafway point in the baseball season, most teams will play their 81st game, if they haven't already, before the weekend. It's probably time to start paying attention to the pennant races, which mean a little more this year since the two wild card teams in each league will have to meet in a one-game playoff to determine who advances to the post-season. I think the format is ridiculous and will probably be short-lived.  I think it could be especially unfair if one team is battling for a division crown while the other team is comfortably in the playoff game and can set up their pitching staff to their advantage.  I haven't heard that scenario discussed, but it's a real possibility.  That could give the team with the worse record an advantage, and that just isn't fair.  There are a lot of things wrong with this format and I certainly hope it goes away quickly.

Congrats to Chipper: I have been a long-time Braves fan and it is hard to believe that Chipper Jones is retiring after this season.  He was named to the All Star Game yesterday as a replacement for the injured Matt Kemp.  Chipper is sure to receive a rousing ovation during his introduction Tuesday night in Pittsburgh.  He has already celebrated the event with a 5 for 5, 4 RBI game last night in a 10-3 win against the Cubs. The veteran is batting .313 and certainly doesn't look like a player that should be retiring.  I would love to see him retire as a Brave, but it seems as if his bat could help an AL team as a DH.

Whatever happened to Serve and Volley Tennis? As I watch Murray play Ferrer in the quarterfinals at Wimbledon, it appears that they either put player repellent on the net or they painted the clay green.  Someone needs to tell these guys that you're allowed to play inside the service line. I mean really, one rally had 26 shots...on grass!! I remember McEnroe and Borg in that historic 1980 tie break.  Oh wait, that really was long time ago. That's when American men were making it past the round of 16.  Here it is July 4 and there is only one American, Serena Williams, alive in singles play.

Tiger Watch at The Greenbrier Classic:  The newly named PGA Tour Player of the Month will make his debut appearance at the Greenbrier this week.  Let's see, he's won three times this year, held the 36 hole lead at the US Open and he's still facing questions about whether he is "back". Why? Becasue his three victories came at courses he has won on before and in a couple of cases has dominated over the years. So if he is just doing what he used to do, then why is that not back? We'll see this week, and no matter what he does, the Tiger doubters will find a reason for criticism.  It appears the criticism and doubt are only providing him with more internal fuel to excel.  Like he really needs that. Go Tiger!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

AND THE DOG DAYS DRAG ON..........

Federer continues an incredible streak: Federer continued an unbelievable, and perhaps unbeatable streak this week by getting to his 33rd consecutive Grand Slam quarterfinal.  That is an unheard of level of consistency in any sport.  That is over eight years of winning at least his first 4 matches in every Grand Slam tournament.  The amazing thing is that these tournaments are played on three different surfaces in four different countries on three different contintents.  He has avoided injury, overcome two set deficits and managed bad bounces to achieve this incredible feat.  Tiger Woods had a similar streak of made cuts early in his career, but eventually an injury and the inevitable bad round did him in.  Federer deserves to be recognized as one of the all time great athletes and great champions in all of sports.

The Greenbrier hosts the PGA this week: My only memory of the Greenbrier resort has nothing to do with golf.  It was early in my career and I was on a business trip that took me and a colleague to Lewisburg, West Virginia, a short distance from The Greenbrier.  It was the mid 80's and our daily per diem for food was probably around $23.  Janice decided that we should have dinner at the dining room at the resort.  I had no idea what we were getting ourselves into, but I do remember the incredible service, wonderful atmosphere and outstanding food.  I also remember the bill was $35 per person plus tip for a seven course dinner.  At the time it was a hardship and I think we ate at McDonalds for two days to make up for it, but over 27 years later, it is still one of the highlights of all of my extensive business travel memories.  It is no wonder that the touring pros are flocking to The Greenbrier this week to play in the event.  However, I'll challenge them to find anything to eat on the property today for $35..........

Independence Day....How lucky are we?: I would say incredibly lucky.  In spite of economic issues, political turmoil, Obamacare debates, etc. etc., we still enjoy the most freedom and opportunity in the world. God bless our forefathers for their wisdom and courage to carve out a constitution and form of government that has survived for the last 225 years. When I hear athletes whining about anything, it makes me sick.  The rest of us use our gifts and accept what our employers pay us.  Pro athletes today, for the most part, seem to lack perspective relative to their fan base.  I know there are a lot of athletes that give back a tremendous amount to charities within their communities.  Perhaps these leaders should get in the ears of their less understanding peers and tell them to STOP IT.  Dwight Howard, are you listening?  Your selfish behavior resulted in two people losing their jobs and you won't even be in the organization ten days from now. If I remember correctly, Lebron did not hold a franchise hostage, he just wanted to be given the opportunity to go somewhere to win a championship. Freedom. Independence. Opportunity. USA.

Monday, July 2, 2012

IF TIGER ISN'T BACK IT'S NEWS TO PGA TOUR PLAYERS

Three Wins, FedEx Cup Points Lead: If Tiger isn't back, I'd sure like to know what he needs to do to convince anyone.  Is he back like 2000 - 2001 back? No, but he's 36, not 25. Is he back like 2009 back? Probably so.  He won six times in 2009 with no majors.  Sound familiar? We still have half a season left, including two majors. He's climbed to fourth in the World Golf Rankings, and has a great chance to move higher considering he doesn't have a lot of points from last year that will decrease or drop off as the season progresses. What was impressive yesterday was how he controlled the last two holes.  On the 17th, he played it safe with a shot to the front left of the green after Bo Van Pelt had hit it long.  And then on 18, he really put the pressure on his opponent by hitting a perfect 345 yard tee shot, making Van Pelt's second shot from 220 yards all that more difficult.  The nine iron from 190 yards was a thing of beauty.  I'v been watching golf since the early sixties, so I grew up watching Palmer, Nicklaus, Casper, Snead, Trevino, Player, Weiskopf, Watson and Miller.  No one plays or has played the game like Woods does when he is on.  It's not just me.  Ratings more than double when he is in contention.  To paraphrase ESPN's Colin Cowherd, "When you outdraw your sport, you're doing something special."

At Least it Didn't End in a Shootout:  Unfortunately, in the EURO 2012 final Spain eliminated any drama early by taking Italy out of its game and showing why they have won three consecutive major soccer titles.  I'm not a soccer expert by any means, but I know a good butt-kicking when I see one.  It didn't appear Italy had a clue all day, which I would imagine is more a tribute to Spain than a knock on an  Italian side that clearly overacheived to get to the final.  Now we have almost two years of qualifying matches to see if the United States squad can avoid a bad draw in the 2014 World Cup.

Less Than a Month Until London: Now that the trials are all but over, our attention can turn to the London Olympic Games which begin July 27.  Michael Phelps has decided to compete in seven events, giving him the potential to leave his last Games with 21 gold medals.  I think five would be a great accomplishment, but you never know.  Phelps is amazing and always seems to peak at the right time.  His most stellar competition is probably on his own team, Ryan Lochte.  However, by foregoing the 200 meter freestyle, he avoids one of those matchups. 

Major League Baseball All-Star Teams Announced: Before inter-league play, I was much more interested in seeing the All-Star Game.  Now, however, you don't have to wait for the midsummer classic or the World Series to see matchups that you wouldn't see in the regular season.  In addition, players move around a lot more, so over the course of time they all end up facing each other at one time or another.  There are two long-time stars, first ballot Hall of Famers, who have played for only one team. One, Chipper Jones, will retire after this season.  Hopefully he can make it in as the fans' choice from the National League. And Derek Jeter, only a Yankee, will play again and we won't know if this will be his last chance.  My guess is he'll be back at least one more year.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

THEY SAY MONEY CORRUPTS, BUT POWER MUST BE A CLOSE SECOND........


Sad State of Affairs in Happy Valley: Reports that Joe Paterno may have bee involved in the cover up of the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal is troublesome, but in the scheme of things, not all that surprising. A legacy that as recently as 9 months ago was solid and secure, is now in shambles.  It's hard to believe that if he were still alive, there would be a possibility of Joe Peterno facing crimnal charges.  That is a moot point now, but still a sad turn to an already shameful story for Penn State University.  It is a lesson in  the need for oversight, accountability and transparency in these big budget athletic programs, fueled primarily by the football teams.  Perhaps it's time for fans to look at themselves in the mirror and rethink what is really important.  At the end of the day, has the price for winning college football games become too high? What are we really valuing? Where will it end?

Is it my imagination, or does Tiger Woods seem to contending every week?: Okay, Tiger didn't close the deal at the US Open despite leading heading into the weekend. But after his very tidy bogey -free 67 yesterday, the best player of his generation sits just one shot off the lead.  Long putts, chip-ins, precise iron shots....Wait, is it 2000 or 2012?  After two wins already this year, another win by Woods on a major championship caliber golf course could signal some really big things for the 14-time major tournament winner.  I still think 19 majors may be out of reach, but it should be exciting to see if Tiger can make a run at Jack's seemingly unattainable record.

Speaking of money, what should college football do with the playoff windfall?:  On ESPN's "The Sports Reporters" this morning, Bob Ryan said that it was too complicated to come up with a way to compensate college athletes beyond scholarships. I don't agree.  The big complaint I have about the system and the reason so-called student athletes resort to selling items and committing petty theft, is to provide themselves some spending money.  I don't believe the players should be "paid", thus making them professional athletes.  I just believe that these kids, many of whom do not come from families with significant fanancial means, should be able to have some discretionary money.  It doesn't seem complicated to me. If any student-athlete is on scholarship, then part of that benefit is a monthly cash stipend.  Will that eliminate all of the problems? No. But I think it's a fair way to distribute part of the money to the people actually playing the games, matches, etc. If we can pay coaches seven-figure salaries, provide them with cars and club memberships, then it's time to acknowledge the student-athletes.

50/50 with Bob Ryan: Bob Ryan opened this morning's show pleading for the EURO 2012 Championship not to be decided by a penalty kick shootout.  I couldn't agree more.  My hope is these two teams opent it up and play an exciting match worthy of this prestigious championship, second only to the World Cup. I know I'll be watching!

How important is Matt Kemp to the Dodgers?: Matt Kemp is on the DL and the Dodgers have been  shut out in 5 of their last six games.  I can understand if these are the 1960's era Mets or Senators.  But this is a team that before the past week was the story of the season in Major League Baseball.  Seven consecutive losses later they don't even lead their division.  Kemp is making minor league rehab starts and for the Dodgers I'm certain his return can't happen soon enough.