By now you have probably heard that Baltimore had a small problem with riots. That caused an issue with Oriole’s scheduling. When they finally played a home game again, it was like opening day all over again. There were people arriving in limousines and there was a festive mood. Continue reading Orioles Reborn
Jordan Spieth is definitely going to be the talk of the town in the years to come the way Tiger Woods was if Spieth keeps playing this way. He was in it to the very end of the British Open and almost was able to become the first person since Ben Hogan in the 1920s to win the first three majors of the year. Unlike the US Open, this time we didn’t hear any griping about the greens but wow was that a lot of wind they had for a while.
It looked at first like Dustin Johnson was going to make up for missing the putt at the end of the US Open that would have given him the win or at least a tie and a playoff. He was playing incredibly well and in the lead. But it seemed like as the weather improved, he faded.
The story of the third round could have been Dustin Johnson fading, but instead it was the lights out playing of Paul Dunne. He is a amateur from Ireland who goes to college in the United States. Last year he was able to do well enough to be invited to play in the British Open but didn’t make the cut. This year, he not only made the cut but by the end of the third round was tied for the lead. Even more amazing, his score was 3 strokes lower than the lowest score by an amateur in British Open history after three rounds.
Tied with Dunne were Jason Day and Louis Oosthuizen. Jordan Spieth was one stroke back, Padraig Harrington was two strokes back and nine people were three strokes back, including Sergio Garcia, Adam Scott, Zach Johnson, Mark Leishman and Justin Rose. So it was still anyone’s tournament.
On the last day, unfortunately Paul Dunne fell apart. He was way over par and you had to feel for him. He almost looked like he wanted to cry by the time he got to the last hole. Here he was, in the final pairing, and was stinking up the course. On the final hole with the whole world watching he chipped past the green and onto the rough on a steep little hill that then ended in a fence/building. He finally got it in the hole. But, he should be proud of what he accomplished through three rounds and the amazing improvement from the year before. For the first time in a long time, if he had scored one less on the last round there would have been 4 amateurs in the top 20 finishers.
Zach Johnson plugged away steadily all day and finished with 15 under and then had to wait and see what other people did. In the next to last pairing, Day also came in at 15 under but Spieth finally cracked slightly. He pulled his tee shot way left where he and almost no one else had been during the tournament. He ended up missing the playoff by one stroke so his chances of winning the first three majors was dashed. But it was an impressive attempt.
In the last pairing, while Dunne was imploding, Oosthuizen finished at 15 under as well. There was then a 4 hole playoff and Leishman quickly fell by the wayside. Zach Johnson was able to eek out the win over Oosthuizen. A very exciting tournament and finish.
Jordan Spieth and the US Open
What an amazing US Open. A lot of people panned it because of the conditions of the greens and the crazy slopes, but that made it interesting.
By winning the US Open at the age of 21, he became the youngest man to win the US Open since Bobby Jones in 1923. That is almost 100 years. Quite the feat. And that ain’t all folks. He is only the sixth person in history to win the Masters and then win the US Open as well. The last person to do it was naturally Tiger Woods in 2002.
The Chambers Bay Golf course became as much of a story as the competition. It took a lot of heat for the condition of the greens and the layout of the course. It was also interesting having trains going by the golf course. We don’t remember ever seeing that before.
Morning vs. Afternoon
It was also interesting that the entire course played differently in the afternoon than it did in the morning. The grounds crew would water the course overnight and they would get the wetness such that the ball rolled at a certain speed designated by the person from the USGA who set up the course each day. However, the course was built on a sand and gravel quarry and the moisture would drain away during the day and by the afternoon, the ball moved considerably faster and the surface didn’t grip it as well.
The greens also ran differently in the afternoon. Apparently the greens are supposed to be fine fescue but poa annua invaded some of the greens. By afternoon it grew some and people said it was like playing on broccoli or cauliflower. One woman commentator said she had grown up playing on Poa annua and preferred it to Bermuda grass. But a lot of others had a lot to say about the conditions. One person said it was the first time in history that people were happy to miss the cut and go home and not have to play the course anymore. Sounds a bit like sour grapes, but to each his own.
Other people complained about the slopes. One person said it wasn’t reasonable to hit the ball within a yard of the hole and then watch it roll 50 yards away. There were some dramatic slopes, there is no doubt about that.
The commentators kept talking about how the fairways were much wider than usual. It didn’t seem to matter. A lot of people still missed them and hit into bunkers, of which there were a lot, (why not make use of the sand from the quarry?) or they hit into the rough. And what a rough it was with tall grass that you wanted to take a scythe to.
The course was also unusual because of the elevation changes. On several par 3s, the tee was 50 to 90 feet above the green which made judging the distance and what club to use that much more difficult.
But, we ask ourselves, if the course was really all that bad, how did Louis Oosthuizen manage to tie for the lowest 9 hole score in US Open history on the back nine?
So Oosthuizen finishes with four under par, but it seemed it wasn’t going to be quite good enough with the people still left to finish. Spieth had a birdie on the 16th hold and that put him 3. But that vanished on the next hole which he double bogeyed. That put him even with Oosthuizen who had just birdied the 18th hole. Dustin Johnson who was also in the last pair birdied the 17th hole. Then Spieth birdies the 18th putting him at 5 under. But, Johnson hits a great tee shot and has a chance to win with a putt for eagle. He misses and the ball rolls 5 feet past the cup. So everyone assumes that he will sink it and tie at 5 under and have a playoff the next day. But he misses the putt, makes the tap in and ties Oosthuizen for second. And Spieth makes history. You feel bad for Johnson, but it was compelling viewing.
I feel sorry for Ted Leonsis. He seems like such a nice humble guy unlike some owners. His hockey team, the Washington Capitals, for the last several years seems about to win it all and then they don’t. This year going to Game 7 and into overtime. Heart rending. (Don’t you hate how people say heart rendering? What are they doing, cooking down the heart?)
Of all the people to get hurt, your star player crashes to the floor and breaks his hand and wrist in five places in Game 1. Yet, the Wizards had a chance in Game 4 without him. They trailed most of the game but at the very end, they passed to a wide open Paul Pierce to tie the game and take it into overtime. He is usually a sure thing from that position. He lives for this sort of moment but this time it didn’t happen
John Wall must be one tough dude. After missing one game with the broken wrist and hand, he comes back and plays in game 5. He played well, but it looked like this time Paul Pierce was going to be the hero after looking like the goat. It was looking good with the game tied and the ball in the hands of Paul Pierce with less than a minute to go. With 32 seconds left he got stripped of the ball and Atlanta gets a fast break and goes ahead by two points. Washington comes back down the floor and after several passes, Bradley Beal gets the ball to Pierce in the corner who drains the three point for the Wizards to go ahead by 1 with only 8 seconds left. Game over, right? Wrong. Atlanta gets a shot off that misses. There are Wizards all around but Horford crashes through, gets the rebound and puts it in to win the game at the buzzer.
Despite John Wall being out games two, three and four, the Wizards were only down 3-2 in games. If they had protected their 9 point lead at the end of game 5 or boxed out and not allowed Horford’s last second shot, they would be in the lead and looking to close out the series. It didn’t help that Marcin Gortat was sick and couldn’t play much. Atlanta went after the 37 year old Paul Pierce to see if he could keep up with the younger guys. Washington was down in the third quarter and fought back. Then it came down to Paul Pierce once again. He hits a three pointer from way downtown as time expires and Washington and Atlanta huddle for overtime. BUT! The refs review Pierce’s shot and determine his fingertips were still barely touching the ball as the shot clock went to 0 and they nullified the shot. Atlanta wins game and series. Unfortunately the Wizards have an uncanny ability to pull off losses like these. Hopefully next year will be the year they truly break out.
American Pharoah – Next Triple Crown Winner?
It has been 47 years since a horse won the triple crown. Yet again, we have a horse that has won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness. (Love those Mint Juleps) The Kentucky Derby was exciting with the three horses expected to be in the top three finishing one, two, three and it being a tight race the whole way. But then there was the Preakness. It was a beautiful day and then the heavens opened and the track became a soggy mess and it was still raining at start time. American Pharoah had the number one post position and with all the mud, didn’t want to get boxed in and eat mud the whole way. He bolted out into the lead and stayed there the entire way, finishing an impressive 7 lengths in the lead in all that muck. The jockey Victor Espinoza was spotless during his post race interviews, not a trace of mud.
Why no Triple Crown Winners?
There are many theories. Some people feel the horses are pampered too much and don’t build up the muscles and stamina while they are two year olds. American Pharoah ran 3 times as a two year old and most other horses these days don’t race much more. Before starting the Triple Crown attempt, Affirmed had started races seven different times with only one or two weeks rest. Before Secretariat went for the three Triple Crown races he had raced three times in five weeks two different times plus he ran four races in under six weeks.
Also, horses have gotten so expensive that people want a fast payback so the theory says that horses are bred more as sprinters now and less for distance. And because they don’t run as much as two year olds, they don’t have the conditioning for the longer Belmont.
You also have horses that race in the Derby, sit out the Preakness and then race in the Belmont, so they are much fresher. You even have horses who only race in the Belmont. So it isn’t exactly a level playing field.
Not much talked about, but drugs could also be a factor. Many medications such as Lasix are now commonly given to the horses. Lasix is a diuretic that is given to control bleeding. But the drug has side effects. Many old timer trainers feel that it is affecting the durability of horses and should be banned.
And sometimes, shit happens. Spectacular Bid is considered the best horse to have not won the Triple Crown. Just before the race he stepped on a pin that went into his hoof. He had a large lead but was caught. Some people don’t think it was the pin but a poor ride by his jockey, who took him out too fast and hard in the beginning of the race. Then there was Big Brown who also looked promising. He cracked his hoof while winning the Preakness. During the Belmont his jockey pulled him up saying he “had no horse left”. You think that wasn’t second guessed.
And What About American Pharoah?
American Pharoah was the top two year old and the last 4 Triple Crown winners were also as well as two earlier Triple Crown winners. None of the other horses going for the Triple Crown over the last 47 years except Spectular Bid had that distinction. Also, he won the first two races in entirely different conditions. One reason American Pharoah raced so little as a two year old is that he injured his leg in one race and was recovering. Some people think the may just be peaking now. If horses are stressed or worn out, they lose weight. That is why Firing Line was pulled from the Belmont after doing well in the Derby and Preakness. American Pharoah has been in good spirits, eating well, hasn’t lost weight and in his last workout had really fast times. We may have a winner here.
How frustrating for the owner, the players and the fans to be up 3-1 in the series against the Rangers and to lose 3 straight games and lose the series 3-4. The teams were obviously evenly matched. They won or lost each game by one goal and two games went into overtime. Exciting hockey.
But game 6 was inexcusable. Did the Capitals think they had it all wrapped up? How could they, they had just let the Rangers back in with an overtime win in game 5 to bring the series to 3-2. You knew the Rangers were going to fight back. Scoring goals in hockey is tough compared to a lot of sports. So when the Capitals found themselves down by 3 goals, there was serious questions about the ultimate results of the series.
But suddenly they came alive. First Evgeny Kuznetsov flipped a puck from close range up into the top of the net to start the scoring. Then forward Joel Ward poked a rebound back into the goal. So in three minutes they had turned things around and only needed one more goal.
With 2:44 left, there was a penalty called and the Capitals pulled their goalie and put 6 men on the ice. They had 2 shots on goal but both were blocked. The Capitals didn’t get another chance and they lost by 1.
It was a sad ending to a great season. New coach Barry Trotz had taken a very good team and made it even better over the season. All the players were playing some of the best hockey of their lives and their record showed it, giving them home ice advantage for the start of the playoffs.
Not only were all the games decided by one goal, but the Rangers only scored one more goal than the Capitals for the whole series, 14 goals to 13 goals.
It didn’t help that the Capitals were playing in Madison Square Garden and not at home. The Rangers had won six straight game 7s at Madison Square. The Rangers also had the best record for the season by a good margin.
The Capitals star, Alex Ovechkin, took first blood with a goal in the first period. But then they had to spend a lot of energy killing several penalties. With only a few seconds left killing their 4th penalty, defenseman Brooks Orpik messed up a clear attempt. The Rangers took advantage and with some sweet passing got it to Kevin Hayes on the back side who tapped it in for an easy goal.
The Capitals were not able to convert on a power play against the Rangers in the second period. The third period was scoreless for both theams. And then there was overtime. It ended when there was a faceoff in the Capitals end after an icing penalty. They had been great at faceoffs, but lost this one. A shot was taken, a rebound straight to Derek Stepan with an open net and the season was over.
Patriots put out a rebuttal. They had an interesting explanation for the text by one of the equipment managers who called himself The Deflator. They said he was just referring to losing weight because he was chunky and wanted to lose weight and Deflator was the term he used.
Rebuttal to Rebuttal
In Wells’ rebuttal to the rebuttal he seemed to be saying that The Deflator had even threatened the Patriots with going to ESPN with the story. And if The Deflator was just talking about losing weight as the Patriots say, why did the Patriots suspend him and another equipment manager indefinitely.
Will Patriots appeal?
Apparently it is common for the players’ association to put out a rebuttal, but rare for an owner to buck the league. Normally everything is done behind closed doors. After all, the 32 owners have to get along. The Patriots had one week in which to appeal the decision. Brady appealed. But why would the Patriots put out the rebuttal if they were going to appeal? It is more likely that this was put out to save face and that Robert Kraft won’t appeal. But why put in things that are so ridiculous as mentioned above that that is what people are talking about and not the reasonable points. And why put it out at all since being defiant and devious is what got the Patriots and Brady slapped much harder than they probably would have otherwise. Judy Battista wrote an interesting article about this.
View different in Boston
Of course, people in Boston don’t see it the same way as the rest of the country. A law professor from Northeastern University wrote an article saying that it would be uncalled for the the first game of the season which is always played by the Super Bowl champions at home to be played without Tom Brady. He felt there was little evidence and that Brady should have been fined but not suspended as punishment for not cooperating with the investigation.
Bob Ryan of the Boston Globe feels that the league is out to get the Patriots for past transgressions and that the punishment far outweighs the crime.
Deal in the Works?
Some of the other owners feel the punishment was excessive as well and there is now speculation that there will be some compromise at the coming owner’s meeting. If a deal is reached, what effect would that have? One article thought it would imply the Patriots’ guilt and it would make the NFL look like it had no valid discipline guidelines. And how would the fans react since the NFL is very publicity conscious? How could they explain a reduction that made sense and didn’t just look like spin control?
The issue with Brady is separate from the Patriots, but we have read reports that the Patriots are quietly looking for compromise and that might include an understanding that Brady’s suspension would be decreased if he dropped his law suit. We will see what happens.
So, the big question is, will the punishment stick? Or will the punishments be reduced or eliminated. (Check out the prior post.)
Kraft and Brady dispute the findings
Robert Kraft is not accepting the findings or the punishment. He is coming out swinging. He released a statement saying the Patriots hadn’t tampered with any footballs. He said that they were prepared to accept whatever the league decided was reasonable. But he said that they felt what the league chose to do was completely unreasonable and they didn’t want to accept the league’s decision afterall. And, oh by the way, Brady is a good guy and is being unfairly dumped on.
He said everything was circumstantial evidence and that the report was one-sided and that it ignored science in the form of Boyle’s Ideal Gas Law that the Patriots had presented.
Brady and the NFL Players’ Association are challenging commissioner Roger Goodell’s right to hear the appeal. They feel there should be a neutral third party arbitrator. This could be a major change in how things are done in the NFL going forward if they get their way.
Ted Wells, who did the 243 page report on the Patriots for the NFL blasted Brady’s agent and others. He said the owner, Robert Kraft had been happy when he was appointed because he felt Wells was fair. Brady’s agent said the NFL had influenced Wells, which incensed him. He said that the Patriots complained to him that they were caught in a sting operation. He investigated that and found that not to be the case. He said Brady’s agent was just complaining now because he didn’t like the punishment.
Brady and his agent have said that they were forthcoming. Wells said that they were up until when he asked to see the text messages on Brady’s phone. Wells gave them the option of scrolling through and showing him only the ones that were relevant to the investigation, trusting them to do so. They refused.
He also said he felt that it was proven that the Patriots had deflated balls on purpose. The only reason he used the words “more probably than not” was that those were the words specified to be used in the NFL rules. He also commented on the accusations that the NFL was out to get Tom Brady. He said why would the league want to go after the most popular player in the league, one who could be considered the face of the NFL?
Many people said the commissioner of football would not punish the Patriots adequately because he is such good friends with the owner, Robert Kraft. Well, now that punishment has been handed out, what do you think? Do you think Brady’s appeal will get him off?
A bit too tricky?
Many people thought there was too little evidence to justify anything being done to the Patriots or Brady. They thought wrong. They probably would have been right if the Patriots had been forthcoming. But instead they were evasive. They didn’t turn over emails, they gave dubious answers to questions, didn’t show up for follow up interviews. Generally were either arrogant or evasive. It hurt Brady that he and his lawyers decided not to turn over any of his texts.
The Patriots and Brady have been anything but contrite. They have almost taken the offensive unlike in 2007 when they got in trouble for improperly recording other teams signals. In that case Belicheck was apologetic. In this case, Kraft and others have insisted that they did nothing wrong. He has backed Brady and basically said he is getting a raw deal.
– Brady suspended for 4 games without pay
– Patriots fined $1 million (seems like chump change for an NFL team)
– Lost their first round pick next year
– Lost a fourth round pick in 2017
– Two equipment staffers were suspended indefinitely
Differences of Opinion
Some NFL players and former players thought the punishment was warranted and liked the fact that Brady getting punished sent the message that nobody is exempt from the rules. Others thought the punishment was too harsh and that it was ridiculous to give Brady the same penalty as someone who was using performance enchancing drugs.
Colts and more Colts
The first team Brady will face when he gets back is the Colts who were the ones who complained in a playoff game. At halftime, the balls were tested and most were below the lower limit for pressure. The Patriots said it was because of cold weather. Yet, one of the equipment managers in text messages or emails called himself, The Deflator. Hmmm.
The punishment was based off of a report by Ted Wells, an attorney hired by the NFL to investigate.His report said it was “more probable than not” that the balls were deflated and that it was likely that Brady was aware of what was being done. As a retired NFL football player said, you would have to be an idiot to think that an equipment manager would take it on himself to do something like this. They aren’t going to do anything the quarterback doesn’t want.
After extensive renovations, Field of Champions Sports Bar & Grill was back, better than ever. The economy didn’t cooperate unfortunately. Timing is everything. Despite our new menu, new lighting and of course our many large flat screen TVs so you could watch whatever game and whatever sport you want we just couldn’t make it. We have relaunched as a sports website.