Category Archives: Sports column

Why we love Jordan Spieth

Do you know what makes a great champion? Dramatic losses.

Or I should say, comebacks from dramatic losses. Muhammad Ali came back from a devastating loss to Joe Frazier, just as Joe Louis came back from a huge loss to Max Schmeling.

We love the Boston Red Sox because we remember — or at least have heard of — their monumental collapse during the 1986 World Series.

This is why we love Jordan Spieth. Sometimes he plays like us, such as the 13th hole of the 2017 British Open. Other times, he plays like Tiger Woods, such as every other hole of the 2017 British Open.

At age 23, he’s won three majors.  But he’s also lost two when it looked like he was on his way to a win. His bogey on the 17th hole of the 2015 British Open kept him out of the playoff and ruined his chances of a potential one-year Grand Slam, since he had won both the Master’s and the U.S. Open that year.

But that wasn’t the devastating loss.

The big choke came during the 2016 Master’s when Speith, leading by 5 strokes, bogied the 10th and 11th holes. Then on the 12th, the wheels came off. He hit two balls into the water on the par-3 hole and earned a quadruple-bogey. He finished in second place, 3 shots behind eventual winner Danny Willett.

That’s a 7 score on a par-3 hole. Even I can do that. Sometimes I can do better. And I love that a pro golfer, a great pro golfer, a 23-year-old pro golfer, pretty much played the hole the same way I would have.

And you love it too. Especially if you play golf on the weekends like I do (poorly).

And he played like me during the 13th hole of the last round of Sunday’s British Open. But then he played the last four holes like Tiger Woods. Hell, even better than Tiger Woods — birdie, eagle, birdie, and the 18th in par when a bogey would have won it.

Jordan Spieth is a roller coaster ride, and I love watching him. Bet you do too.

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The Golden State juggernaut

They’re amazing.
But don’t compare them to that legendary Bulls team, this is a different animal. More of a true offensive ensemble with Curry, Clay, Durant and Green leading the way on any given night.
Sure. Curry and Durant are consistently the big dogs, but which one would be Jordan in your comparison? Don’t think you can say which with any veracity.
Doesn’t matter. Different animal. And we’ll keep watching.
Because they’re amazing.
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UT loses to Kansas, 75 to 62

Today, #17 Texas lost to #11 Kansas by 13 points, despite a clear height advantage held by the Texas Longhorns.

I guess size doesn’t matter. Unless you’re Kentucky (also tall) who whooped the Kansas Jayhawks 72-40.

Today’s loss comes as no surprise to this sports writer, as the Longhorns have lost every damn game I’ve watched on TV this season, as well as two games I didn’t watch  — Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.

On the bright side, this might be the only sports coverage you read or hear all day that isn’t about Deflategate.

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Some last minute Super Bowl thoughts

My 49ers are in the Super Bowl? Hell, I don’t think I ever got around to writing about the Giants World Series win last year, and it’s been less than four months since the boys from the bay swept the Detroit Tigers on Oct. 29, 2012.

To a San Francisco fan like me, the past 120 days has been sports Nirvana. But it could turn into purgatory if the ‘9ers lose. They are 5-0 after all, so a perfect record is going to be put to the test.

I plan to watch the first quarter stone sober with a pen in hand, just as I have the last five Super Bowls the 49ers played. Yes, I realize they no longer script the first 20 plays like Bill Walsh used to do, but I’m a creature of habit and don’t want to give way to the jinx. I’m pretty sure I can wait until the second quarter to crack my first beer. (Editor’s note: Turns out I was wrong about that.)

Here’s to 6-0.

• • •

The Super Bowl is where it should always be in my opinion—New Orleans. It’s the perfect way to revive the city that won’t wash away. And there’s only a conflict of interest once every thirty years or so when the Saints are actually in the Super Bowl.

Next year in New York will be a disaster. Or maybe not, since global warming happens.

If we can’t have the Super Bowl in The Big Easy every year, then I say we should restrict the big game to these four cities—New Orleans, San Diego, Miami and Dallas.

Frankly, it’s not likely any of these teams will be in the Super Bowl much either.

• • •

Got my sushi, got my Lone Star beer, got my deer antler spray. Let the game begin. I’ll be keeping a blog and will post after each quarter. My prediction? 44-21, 49ers.

Hey, if you want objective, go read last year’s blog.

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Whatever happened to Eddie D?

Eddie DeBartolo didn’t get elected to the NFL Hall of Fame today, but Bill I’m-so-mediocre-except-for-that-one-year Parcells did.

Don’t get me wrong. I think Parcells should be in the Hall of Fame, just not on the first ballot and not ahead of DeBartolo, Art Modell and Jerome Bettis. I’m fine with the other newly-elected members, which include Cris Carter, Jonathan Ogden, Warren Sapp and seniors Curley Culp and Dave Robinson.

But I’m especially pleased with Larry Allen, former offensive lineman with the Dallas Cowboys. Because Allen wasn’t just a Cowboy, he was a Cossack—a graduate of Sonoma State University.

It’s safe to say that Allen will be the only NFL Hall of Famer to ever attend SSU, since the college no longer has a football program. I think it’s also safe to say that Sonoma State isn’t likely to send even a bench warmer to the NFL. Ever.

The big question is why Allen went to Sonoma State in the first place. It means he didn’t have the SAT scores to get into Stanford, Berkeley or USC. Even worse, it means he didn’t have the common sense to go to Fresno State.

But I’m straying from my main focus here. Whatever happened to Eddie D? Well, long story short, he got taken down by Louisiana politics (as we all do eventually) in some corruption scandal that involved the Governor of Louisiana, riverboat gambling and Eddie D. He gave up ownership of the San Francisco 49ers in 2000, ceding control of the team to his sister Marie Denise Debartolo York.

The York family continue to run the SF 49ers with 32-year-old Jed York as its CEO.

Meanwhile, Eddie D. was elected to the Bay Area Hall of Fame in 2008 and the 49ers Hall of Fame in 2009. He will no doubt wind up in the NFL Hall of Fame some time in the future. It’s not like he’s Pete Rose, after all.

One thing can never be taken away from Eddie D. His 5-0 Super Bowl record as an NFL team owner. No one will ever beat that. Not even a Sonoma State grad.
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While I was sleeping…

Where have I been?

My Giants won the World Series and I didn’t say a word. Why? The whole point of this column is to write what other sports writers don’t, and I certainly have had that opportunity.

For instance. Bruce Bochy and Brian Sabean both swayed like willow trees during the post-game interview. What’s up with that? Is this some knee-jerk reaction from living in earthquake country? Or did they both drink from the greenie coffee pot.

(If you don’t know what I’m talking about, please read Ball Four by Jim Bouton. If you do know what I’m talking about, read that book anyway. It’s great.)

But I digress. The reason I feel so vacuous after the Giants second World Series win in three years is because I did not get the revenge I have sought since 1962.

I want the Giants to win the World Series. Again. Against the the big dog.

Yeah, the Giants beat the Texas Rangers in 2010. And in 2012 they beat the Detroit Tigers, sweeped them for crissakes. But I love those teams—the Rangers are my favorite AL team and the Tigers were my dad’s favorite AL team.

I want the Giants to beat the Yankees in the World Series. The NY Yankees. The damn Yankees. That would be true revenge.

Can I get an amen?
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Could we get the replacement refs back please?

Just kidding. But if you’re a Green Bay Packers fan, I understand why you might be frustrated. Good thing your team won this time. I mean… last time.

• • •

Okay. I finally got to watch the University of Texas Longhorns. Damn. Who knew quarterback David Ash would come along so well? I didn’t. He’s even throwing the long passes down field.

He’s only 19 years old, you know. I was going to give him one more year before I passed judgment, and I might yet. He should be amazing next year, the year the Burnt Orange of Austin, Texas should be ranked in the top three at the 2013 season’s start.

This year? I don’t know. What happened to the defense? More specifically, what happened to tackling?

Today on local radio, Texas head coach Mac Brown said the tentative tackling was due to the new rules tempering head-to-head contact. Okay. But how about hand-to-thigh contact? If you’re going head-to-head on an open field tackle, you’re messing up from the get go.

We’ll see. The defense seemed like the best part of the Longhorns at the start of the season, and in a way it is. But it’s a specific part of the defense—the pass rush of defensive ends Alex Okafor and Jackson Jeffcoat.

The upcoming game against West Virginia will be very telling. For both teams. Best defense wins.

• • •

I wrote the above after the Longhorns defeated Oklahom State. Here’s what I think after watching the Longhorns lose to West Virginia—I think West Virginia could win it all. Geno Smith is good.

Oddly, I thought the Texas defense did well, even though they gave up 48 points. But they also forced two fumbles, one on the goal line that allowed Jackson Jeffcoat to score a touchdown, and got four sacks.

And David Ash did great again, for the most part.

I know, I know. Next year.

• • •

Hey USGA, do you want to win the Ryder Cup? Here’s an idea. Get Ian Poulter American citizenship. You’ve got about 700 days to get ‘er done. Go for it.

• • •

Isn’t the Ryder Cup great? Golf with real crowd noise. Even cheering. And jeering. Love it.

• • •

I think I figured out the problem with the Dallas Cowboys. It’s the quarterback.

Oh. Right. You read my columns to read stuff you don’t read anywhere else. Sorry. Guess I’m piling on.

• • •

Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III are the real deal. But I think Cam Newton will be to the Carolina Panthers what Vince Young was to the Tennessee Titans. Too much head hanging there.

• • •

“Team suckage is real. It should be a stat.” Rod Babers, Oct. 9, 2012 on 300 The Zone, Austin, Texas.

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Amateur refs could lead to professional gamblers

If any gangster types are thinking about fixing NFL games, now would be the time. After all, if some of the fill-in refs have been proven to be gushy fantasy-football-playing fans, then it’s likely that some of them could be convinced to take a bribe as well.

Hey, it’s not like these temp refs have a long career to lose, right?

Besides, the NFL is all about gambling—that’s why they play the game. And I’m fine with that, unless the fix is in.

Is the fix in?

I just saw a Green Bay Packer defensive back get mugged on Monday Night Football, yet the refs called him for interference. In fairness, he did block the receiver’s hand with his face.

Seriously, is the fix in?

I don’t gamble on football, professional or otherwise. I prefer to put my money into sure things like beer. You buy it, you drink it, you get a buzz. Every time.

But I might start betting on the NFL, if I can find the right advisors. Connected guys. Guys with diamond pinkie rings and colorful nicknames like Bobby The Hammer or Mickey The Bat or Joey The Guy Who Fixes NFL Games.

Then again, maybe I’m wrong about this thing of ours. Maybe the mob isn’t fixing the games. Maybe it’s some other man, the 12th Man. The crowd. Mob rule. Did you watch the other games this week?

The Titans upset the Lions. At home. The Raiders beat the Steelers. At home. The Vikings surprised the 49ers. Also at home. The Ravens just squeaked by the Patriots, in Baltimore of course, and the Seahawks beat the Packers in Seattle with a Hail Mary pass.

There’s no place like home. With that good home cookin’ and all the fixin’s.

Look. The NFL is right, I’ll keep watching. I watched during strike-shortened seasons, so why wouldn’t I watch during a strike-corrupted season? It’s only a game, right? Why shouldn’t it be hilarious?

By the way, the Vegas spread had Green Bay winning by 4-1/2 points. If that last-second Seahawks pass Monday night is ruled an interception, the Packers win by 5.

Seriously, is the fix in?
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Manny loses, Mayweather’s in prison, boxing wins

Manny Pacquiao lost Saturday night to upstart Tim Bradley, and I couldn’t be happier.

It’s not that I’ve got anything against Manny. He’s a great boxer and an over-achiever who sings at concerts and sits on the Philippine Congress.

But he never fought Floyd Mayweather when both were in their prime. And that hurt boxing, a sport which is slowly turning into the red-haired stepchild when compared to the UFC’s mixed martial arts—or as I like to call it—cage fighting.

Now what? Will Mayweather fight Bradley? I doubt it. Once a coward, always a coward. Will Mayweather fight Pacquiao? I doubt it. For the same reason.

Maybe now Floyd Mayweather will finally be recognized for what he is—a great fighter when facing bums, and nothing more.

Joe Louis fought a lot of bums, the bum-of-the-month club I do believe. But he also fought Max Schmeling. Louis lost the first one, but won the second in a first-round knockout so decisively there wasn’t a third fight. There wasn’t even a need for a third fight.

Do you know what happened when Pacquiao met Mayweather? No, you don’t and neither do I. And we’ve all been deprived of that.

Let’s see if Bradley has the courage to capture our imaginations.

• • •

It’s on, OKC vs. The Heat. Yes, I really thought the Spurs would muster one more championship, but my eyes might have been clouded by nostalgia.

I’m 100 percent behind OKC though, and do believe they will win. Kevin Durant is on fire and Russell Westbrook isn’t a slouch himself. Throw in the best Sixth Man in the NBA, James Harden, and you’ve got a winning combination.

They’ve also got one more secret weapon—Derek Fisher. He’s just a journeyman player who knows how to win, reminiscent of Robert Horry, another journeyman winner, who holds seven championship rings.

If OKC wins it all, Fisher will have six rings, one more than Kobe. That’s impressive. That’s more than impressive, that’s hilarious.
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Peyton and other places

Peyton Manning will now play quarterback for the Denver Broncos. They might as well start building the new sign at the border of Denver’s city limit.

“Welcome to Denver, the city where Peyton Manning was paralyzed for life.”

I was hoping Manning would take a long hard look at the big picture and simply retire, the way Steve Young did when he got one too many concussions as a 49ers quarterback.

Manning has a neck injury, nothing to be trifled with. I could be all wrong, but I’ve got a bad feeling about this.

At least the Broncos had the good sense to trade Tim Tebow. Whatever Manning faces in Denver, it won’t be the evangelical, revival-tent, circus-like atmosphere Tebow creates.

Besides, Tebow’s a perfect fit for New York. And yes, I’m being sarcastic.

• • •

I was pretty sure—and really hoped—that Jim Harbaugh wasn’t serious about getting Manning. I think Harbaugh took a long look at Manning just to build up Alex Smith’s confidence.

“Yeah, the GM wanted me to interview Manning, but my heart wasn’t into it,” I imagine Harbaugh saying. “You’re my guy at QB, Alex. You’re my guy.”

I could be wrong about that scenario, but I’m really glad about Smith’s three-year deal with the 49ers.The playoff game against the Saints convinced me he’s finally got the QB position down.

• • •

I didn’t fill in a bracket and I don’t have a final four, but I do pick Michigan State to win the NCAA Basketball National Championship.

My only reason is the faith and passion of MSUCrazyLady. She makes me wanna believe. So I will.

• • •

Frankly, I don’t give a damn about women’s basketball. It’s like watching the Special Olympics, except I actually do care about the Special Olympics.

The female sports I like are soccer (a little) and softball (a lot). Softball is the ultimate women’s sport, but I’ll expand on that topic in another column.

Still, it doesn’t take a lot of paid attention to pick the NCAA Women’s Basketball champion.

Baylor. It’ll be Baylor. And everybody knows that.

• • •

I started this column with Peyton, so I’ll end it with Payton.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Saints’ head coach Sean Payton a full year for allowing a bounty system—payment for injuries inflicted by the defensive players on key offensive players. You know. Key ones, like Peyton Manning.

The former defensive coach of the Saints, Gregg Williams, is on indefinite suspension and New Orleans general manager Mickey Loomis was suspended eight games.

The Saints as a team was also fined $500,000 and lost two second round draft picks, one this year and another in 2013.

One radio commenter said he wished baseball had a commissioner as strong as Goodell.

Me, too. I want a baseball commissioner strong enough to bring back steroids.
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