Young Guns Take Center Stage: As a depleted Tiger Woods and aging Phil Mickelson exit stage left, twenty-two year old Jordan Spieth and twenty-four year old Patrick Reed will be playing in the final group of today's third round of the U.S. Open. Even though it doesn't look like it, it's the year's second major and Spieth is the only one with a chance to capture the Grand Slam. No one has held every major trophy since Woods won the 2001 Masters to complete the Tiger Slam. Of course, it's only Saturday morning, so it's way too early to assume that Spieth and Reed will be battling it out come sunset on Sunday. But the point is that these two Americans are emblematic of the talent that will be the face of the PGA Tour for the next fifteen or twenty years. Dustin Johnson turns thirty-one on Monday and after a self-imposed hiatus last year, is in the mix along with twenty-eight year old Ben Martin. Unless Tiger Woods has some miraculous revival in his career, it's unlikely he will re-emerge from the horrendous trough he finds himself in. His 80 - 76 start at what I think is an embarrassing Chambers Bay layout, leaves him in search of a swing and any sliver of confidence that can propel him forward. If I was him, perhaps I'd be grateful not to have to play another two days at the Robert Trent Jones layout. By Friday afternoon, the greens looked like something at a miniature golf course, the fairways were baked brown and it was impossible to differentiate between the fringe on the putting surface. Add to that the amateurish coverage by Fox and this is by far the least attractive U.S. Open I can remember. That's significant because I've seen every one since 1964, when Ken Venturi battled the heat and a great Congressional Country Club course to win his only major championship. The only way to salvage this year's event will be for a couple of young guns to come to the back nine on Sunday, battling for the championship. For me, I'm looking forward to being at Oakmont next year, a course that even the USGA can't diminish.
A-Rod Gets 3000th hit, 2000th RBI: Alex Rodriguez joined Hank Aaron as the only players to get 3,000 hits and drive in 2,000 runs in their career. It's a staggering accomplishment, except that it isn't. A-Rod's career has spanned the PED era, and along with Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, will probably not be voted into the Hall of Fame. Despite great talent that probably would have landed them in Cooperstown without the benefit of chemicals, the trio will forever be on the outside looking in. I'll reiterate my stance on the subject, as I've been consistent and forthright over the years. First of all, I don't feel that the baseball writers should be the group that determines admittance to the Hall of Fame. The PED issue aside, there are actually voters that will not vote for a player on the first ballot, no matter how great their careers. This is an asinine notion and any voter that voices that opinion should be stripped of their voting rights. It's really easy for the self-righteous bunch to deny admittance to the Hall, but only the players really know what transpired during an era when PED use wasn't even against the rules of Major League Baseball. By denying the issue for years, baseball itself was complicit in the practice, and now players like Bonds and Clemens, who were forced to stand by and watch guys like Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire put up huge numbers while juicing, are being unjustly penalized. Gaylord Perry, who admitted to throwing spitballs, is in the Hall of Fame. Really? How different is his brand of cheating from that of the players that used PED's? Different era's have differing circumstances, and players should be judged against others that played along side and against them. Bob Gibson, Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale and Juan Marichal had the benefit of a higher pitcher's mound. Should their accomplishments be reduced in the minds of voters? And what about the batters that had to face those pitchers? And how do we know that Craig Biggio, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz, the HOF class of 2015, weren't taking something at some point in their careers? Because they said they weren't? They didn't look like they did? Their numbers weren't outrageous? Who are we to differentiate one from the other? I think it's tragic that the greatest players of an era will be excluded from the Hall of Fame, especially given the talent and drama they brought to the game.
Don't forget to check out my new book, "Roughing the Passer - A PK
Frazier Novel" and my first, "Illegal Procedure - A PK Frazier Novel",
available in print and e-formats at Amazon.com, iBooks and Smashwords.