Monday, June 18, 2007

Good Week for Argentina

They may have had a crappy World Cup, but with Manu and Angel, it is all looking up...

Angel Cabrera can make Birdies. Tiger Cannot

He took deep drags from a stubby cigarette and footlong divots from Oakmont Country Club until, at last, Ángel Cabrera walked off the 18th green with the hopes of a nation and the burden of a lead in a major championship.

A former caddie from Cordoba, Argentina, who needed financial assistance to learn the game, Cabrera scaled a walkway above Oakmont and looked out over the expanse of the golf course. Somewhere, in the distance and out of his control, Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk were lurking.

Cabrera took a seat in the scorer’s area of the clubhouse, watching the end of the United States Open on television like so many others, and speaking in staccato Spanish with his caddie.

When Furyk missed a 45-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole and, minutes later, Woods followed with a 30-footer that was off line, Cabrera rose from his chair and into a new echelon in golf. He was the winner of the 107th United States Open.

“This will be huge in Argentina,” said Eddie Gardino, Cabrera’s caddie. “I don’t know how many people in Argentina know about golf, but I think it will have a huge impact over there.”

Cabrera, who trailed the overnight lead by four shots, shot a final-round 69 to defeat Woods (72) and Furyk (70) by a stroke. His five-over-par 285 on the difficult Oakmont course matched the winning score from last year’s championship at Winged Foot.

Cabrera, the only player to break par in two rounds, became the first player from Argentina to win the United States Open and the first to win a major since Roberto De Vicenzo won the British Open in 1967.

For Woods, who was bidding for his 13th major title, Oakmont was the site of his second consecutive runner-up finish in a major, after he closed 2006 by winning the British Open and the P.G.A. Championship. For Furyk, who grew up in the Pittsburgh area, it was his second straight runner-up finish in the Open.

“Ángel played a beautiful round of golf today,” Woods said.

In holding off Woods, the No. 1 player in the world, and Furyk, the No. 3 player, Cabrera, 37, also overcame the tough setup at Oakmont and his own nerves. He had never won a PGA Tour event, let alone a major, and yet he held on.

“I was definitely feeling nervous, but I assumed that this is the same sensation everybody was having,” he said through an interpreter. Later, he added: “There are some players that have psychologists. I smoke.”

Rangers win another series!

After his last start in Pittsburgh, Rangers ace Kevin Millwood admitted he was "kind of lost."

That was putting it politely. Millwood had wandered completely off the map and vanished into the worst slump of his career, losing five of seven starts while compiling an ERA that looked more like someone's time in the 100-meter dash.

Then, like an amnesiac with his memory restored, Millwood was himself again on Sunday. He had 10 strikeouts, the most by a Texas pitcher this season, in six solid innings in the Rangers' 11-4 victory over the Reds.

"I felt like the longer the game went on," Millwood said, "the more I got comfortable with it and the better things went."

When he struck out the side on 11 pitches in the sixth, Millwood showed that he is still capable of dominating. But to get there, he had to withstand a 29-pitch first inning in which the Reds scored only one run despite loading the bases with two outs, and an equally dangerous third inning.

To start the third, Millwood gave up a single to Ken Griffey Jr. before Adam Dunn hit a two-run homer. Edwin Encarnacion followed with another single, but Millwood retired the next three hitters and allowed only one more hit: Dunn's solo homer in the fifth.

"I definitely wanted to hold on to that lead," Millwood said of the cushion the Rangers provided with three first-inning runs.

Millwood had lost five straight decisions and hadn't won in seven starts overall since a win on April 13. In his four starts before Sunday's, Millwood had a 12.27 ERA. Everyone he faced seemed as tough as Ted Williams, as opponents hit .405 during that stretch. In 14 2/3 innings over those four starts, Millwood had only eight strikeouts.

"Just to be able to go out and give us a chance was a good thing for me today," Millwood said.

Millwood wasn't perfect. His control eluded him early, and he gave up the two home runs to Dunn and four runs total. Still, he grew tougher as the game went on, retiring 12 of the final 13 hitters he faced.

"That's the old Millwood," manager Ron Washington said. "He bent, but he didn't break."

Kobe hasn’t heard his own name talked about very much, so time to post another message on his website

Kobe Bryant reposted a message on his Web page Sunday strongly suggesting the superstar wanted to be traded from the Lakers.

"When you love something as much as I love the Lakers its [sic] hard to even imagine thinking about being elsewhere," he wrote on his Web site, "But, the ONE THING I will never sacrifice when it comes to basketball is WINNING."

The two-time scoring champion also wrote: "The more I thought about the future, the more I became convinced that the Lakers and me just have two different visions for the future."

The 28-year-old nine-time All Star has four years left on his contract, but can terminate it following the 2008-09 season.

FC Dallas pounded in Toronto …ouch.

A one-sided game was exactly what was expected in a meeting of Major League Soccer's standings points leader and an expansion team.

But the result was unexpected: Toronto FC 4, FC Dallas 0.

In the first meeting of the two franchises, FC Toronto (4-6-1) took complete charge after the first half-hour of play and surprised the Western Conference leader before a franchise-record crowd of 20,156 fans at BMO Field.

Not even the return of leading scorer and team captain Carlos Ruiz -- who played the second half -- provided a spark for FC Dallas (7-6-1), which had won two in a row on the road.

Ruiz, who played for the Guatemala national team Saturday in a 3-0 loss to Canada in the CONCACAF Gold Cup, made the trip from suburban Boston to rejoin FC Dallas.
"We played today against a very good team," Ruiz said. "It was our first time here. I think Toronto has very good players. I don't know why the team is [sixth] in [the Eastern] conference."

FC Dallas' offense pushed forward in the opening minutes and again just after halftime -- when Toronto FC led 2-0 -- but got nothing from its 10 shots. And FCD allowed season highs in goals, shots (13) and shots on goal (10).

Prepare for Signing season in the NHL …click the link to read all about it…

The Stanley Cup is in Orange County, the Hart Trophy is on Sidney Crosby's mantle and former Sun Media columnist Mike Keenan is in Calgary. Now comes the quiet season for the NHL, right? Guess again. As the temperatures heat up, so, too, will player movement around the league. The festivities begin with the annual entry draft starting Friday in Columbus, an event many NHL executives feel might turn into an episode of Let's Make A Deal because of the large number of expected trades. In two weeks, the arrival of July 1 marks the opening of the free agency signing period. For big names like Chris Drury, Daniel Briere, Sheldon Souray, Brian Rafalski and Scott Gomez, the prospect of having their bank accounts swell significantly is a juicy one, to be sure. Without further ado, here is a rundown of what each of the 30 teams face entering the summer.

Chris Young vs Derek Lee

Bear Grylls vs. Conan

Nikoli Zherdev - who Columbus wants to get rid of...


Don said...

Why is it every pitcher that comes to the Texas Rangers gets lost? I believe they need a whole new coaching staff out there starting with the pictching coach.

MK said...

Part of the problem is they keep bringing in pitchers who are flyball pitchers, like Millwood and Park. There is a smaller margin of error in Arlington. The Rangers need to be targeting groundball guys, of course the defense would have to be competent for this tactic to succeed.

What a lousy sports summer. Maybe the MLB will get interesting. But I don't see Bond's homerun chase captivating too many people.

Robert said...

I am captivated by Bond when he orders a martini shaken, not stirred.
One pitcher in Ranger history has put it together at the current park, Kenny Rogers. Why has the Ranger not tried to sign more guys like him (Chien-Ming Wang, for example, would have come pretty cheap two years ago)? Short of raising the walls to Green Monster-type heights, the sinkerball is the only way to hold opponents under a touchdown at the Ballpark.