(Thanks, Protrails.com for the photo)
Good to be back…Thanks to Brad C and Uwe Blab for doing such a great job filling in. Please go to Uwe’s blog to see his find work. I am not sure where Brad C normally writes except his emails to me. Either way, thanks to them. If they are so inclined, you may see more of them around here…
If I were to share anything with you about the vacation to Estes Park, Colorado, I might recommend the hiking trip to Emerald Lake. Amazing. read about it here …What a trip.
Anyway, let’s see what happened this weekend. Thanks to XM radio in my Grubbs Nissan, I actually listened to the British Open and had high hopes of seeing the Shark win at 53. Instead, Padraig repeated …
By doing what major championship winners do best, Padraig Harrington of Ireland won the 137th British Open at Royal Birkdale by four strokes on Sunday, defending the Open title he won in a playoff last year at Carnoustie. He faltered but did not fall, stared down defeat without blinking, overcame his own mistakes, ignored an aching right wrist and outlasted his opponents.
In the process, he validated his place in golf history, shooting a final-round 69 for a total of three-over-par 283 to become the first European in more than 100 years to successfully defend the Open title. Playing the final six holes in four under par, with an eagle at the 17th hole, he rendered moot Ian Poulter’s late charge and turned back 53-year-old Greg Norman’s quixotic and compelling quest to become the oldest major championship winner.
“I did say to him coming down 18 that I was sorry it wasn’t his story that was going to be told this evening,” Harrington, 36, said of Norman, whose two-stroke overnight lead quickly evaporated after he bogeyed the first three holes. “I did feel that, but I wanted to win myself. In this game you have to take your chances when you get them.
“But it would have been a fantastic story. Greg has been a great champion through the game, and you know, another win at this time in his career would have been the icing on the cake.”
For Norman, who had not played any competitive golf since May and had not led a major championship since the 1996 Masters, it would have been more than that. Turning back the clock more each day during the turbulent week, Norman had emerged as the sentimental favorite. His last real opportunity to erase the memory of past major championship failures with one history-making victory resonated with the fans.
He came tantalizingly close to doing it. Even after he relinquished the lead with four bogeys in the first six holes, Norman regained it after Harrington bogeyed three straight — missing 8-footers for par at Nos. 7 and 8 and a 5-footer at No. 9.
But Norman promptly bogeyed the 10th hole, lipped out a birdie putt at the 11th and an 8-footer for par at the 12th, and bogeyed the 13th. When Harrington birdied the 499-yard 13th in spectacular fashion, he had reassumed control with a three-stroke lead over Norman, who never really threatened again.
“Obviously I’m disappointed,” said Norman, frowning for the first time in what had been a magical week. “That would be an understatement if I didn’t say I was disappointed. But it was a tough day today.”
Feinstein shows there is life after Tiger …
As it turns out, there is LWT in golf.
That would be Life Without Tiger. When Tiger Woods announced last month he was undergoing knee surgery that would end his 2008 season, there were, no doubt, plenty of people who thought golf might just as well shut its doors until he could play again.
Would the majors matter?
Should there be an asterisk next to the names of those who won the British Open and
the PGA Championship?
Would anyone care? Would anyone watch? Why would anyone watch?
All of those hysterical questions were answered emphatically during four remarkable days at Royal Birkdale Golf Club. They were answered by Padraig Harrington and by David Duval (for a couple of days anyway); by Ian Poulter and by Greg Norman.
Yes, Greg Norman.
It has been 12 years since Greg Norman really mattered in a major championship -- in spite of ESPN repeatedly putting up a graphic that showed him finishing second in the 2006 Masters; they were only off by 10 years -- and everyone who remembers the 1996 Masters remembers the disastrous Sunday 78 that turned Norman's six shot lead into a five shot loss.
Norman is 53 and has spent more time in recent months making society columns than putts. He married Chris Evert last month in a much-ballyhooed wedding in which the couple had 20 major titles between them -- 18 belonging to Evert.
As a two-time champion, Norman was eligible for The British Open, so he decided to play, more as a warmup for this week's Senior British Open than anything else.
Somehow, for three days, he walked into a time machine, playing superb golf, making putts all over the place, crushing drives and looking like the Thursday-to-Saturday Shark of 1986 when he led all four majors after 54 holes. Sadly, he was the same Greg Norman on Sunday as he so often was during his heyday, shooting 77 to finish in a third-place tie.
Even so, this particular Sunday for Norman wasn't about choking. It was about running out of gas. Even a superbly-conditioned 53-year-old is 53, and Norman admitted feeling his age in his legs during the final round.
That fatigue was quickly enhanced when Harrington began piecing together a remarkable back nine 32, pacing him to a second-straight Open Championship, this one going away.
To say that Harrington was a deserving champion is a vast understatement. He went to bed Wednesday night uncertain he'd be able to even attempt a defense of the title he won when he beat Sergio Garcia in a playoff at Carnoustie last year. He'd jammed his left wrist five days before the tournament during a training drill, and the pain was so severe that on Wednesday he hit two shots to begin a practice round, then walked off the course.
"At least I was better rested for the weekend," he said, half-joking when his exhausted, windswept week of golf was over.
With the British Open in the rearview mirror, let's recap 2008: Trevor Immelman won the Masters less than four months after back surgery; Woods won the U.S. Open nine weeks after knee surgery and a week prior to major knee surgery, and now Harrington has won the British Open playing with a wrist that almost forced him to withdraw.
Maybe Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els, Sergio Garcia or Adam Scott -- the pretenders who were supposed to step into Woods' void -- can find a way to get hurt in the next 18 days. That might give them a chance at the PGA Championship.
Oldest to ever win a Major? …
These are the oldest golfers to win one of the men's major championships:
• Julius Boros: 1968 PGA Championship, 48 years, 4 months, 18 days
• Jack Nicklaus: 1986 Masters, 46 years, 2 months, 23 days
• Old Tom Morris: 1867 British Open, 46 years, 99 days
• Hale Irwin: 1990 U.S. Open, 45 years, 15 days old
• Roberto de Vicenzo: 1967 British Open, 44 years, 93 days
• Harry Vardon: 1914 British Open, 44 years, 41 days
• Raymond Floyd: 1986 U.S. Open, 43 years, 9 months, 11 days
• Ted Ray: 1920 U.S. Open, 43 years, 4 months, 16 days old
To baseball, Padilla and Teagarden save the weekend? …If I am Jon Daniels, I trade Padilla as soon as I can…
Taylor Teagarden made his first major league hit count.
The rookie broke up Scott Baker's perfect-game bid with a sixth-inning home run and caught Vicente Padilla's gem Sunday as the Texas Rangers beat the Minnesota Twins 1-0.
"The only thing he didn't do was clean the stadium after the game," Texas closer C.J. Wilson said.
The Rangers denied the Twins their fourth series sweep over the past month, handing them just their eighth defeat in 31 games. Baker (6-3) took a hard-luck loss, his first in six starts.
Baker retired the first 17 Rangers who came to bat and by the time Teagarden stepped to the plate in the sixth, the crowd of 36,029 had begun to catch on. Baker received ovations before all three of his two-out, two-strike pitches to the rookie.
But with the count full, Teagarden, in just his second major league game, stroked a fastball that kept carrying and barely cleared the center-field wall and Carlos Gomez's glove.
"Baker was throwing so well at that point, I figured he was going to come with his best fastball, and he did," Teagarden said. "I just tried to put an easy swing on it and make contact."
Baker said after the game that he shouldn't have thrown a fastball.
"After thinking about it, I should've chose to treat the situation as a 0-0 game more so than a no-hitter or whatever you want to call it," he said. "You can't allow one swing like that to change the whole plane of the game."
But catcher Joe Mauer defended the pitch.
"If Scott can do that the rest of the year, we're going to be pretty tough," Mauer said. "He threw the ball well. That's a guy you want to go after, and he put a good swing on it. I wish we could've got him some runs."
Baker took a perfect game into the ninth inning last August against Kansas City, but gave up a walk and a hit before finishing the shutout. He finished Sunday with eight strikeouts, one short of a career high. He completed a season-high eight innings, giving up two hits and a walk.
Revo on the Deadline …
the Rangers will very likely be more selective with whatever deals that may be presented.
Yes, if they get the right offer, they’ll probably move Hank Blalock or Frank Catalanotto, or both. They already learned to live without Blalock and they simply can’t find enough at-bats for Cat, who deserves a chance to catch on with a contender if it’s offered.
On the other hand, Blalock can be a powerful force in the lineup and in the clubhouse. He’s a team-first player, as evidenced by his willingness to come back as a third baseman after being told he was moving to first.
Blalock had committed himself, physically and emotionally, to the move and it’s what he would have preferred at this point. But keeping Chris Davis at first and his bat in the lineup is what’s best for the team, and Blalock recognized that, too.
He could have pouted or even refused when Daniels and manager Ron Washington asked him to come back at third, but he didn’t, and that speaks volumes about the type of ballplayer and person Blalock is.
It’s another reason why other teams may covet him, but there’s no question he holds more value as a third baseman than he does at a position he’s never played in the big leagues.
For the Rangers, it’s a win-win situation. They either keep Blalock — they hold a club option on his contract for another year — or they get bowled over by an offer and send him to a contending team.
And if he stays, they’re an even better team offensively with him in the lineup, which takes nothing away from the job Ramon Vazquez has done at third in his absence.
When the Atlanta Braves sent a package of prospects to the Rangers for Mark Teixeira at the trade deadline last summer, they were hoping Teixeira would be the catalyst that would propel them back into the playoffs.
Instead, as Jamey Newberg pointed out recently, the Braves hit the break with a 72-77 record since the trade while the Rangers have gone 77-74.
Can’t really blame Tex, whose 125 RBI over that 149-game stretch are the second-most in baseball, but now the Braves are facing the reality that they can’t possibly get as much dealing him now as they gave up to get him.
Baseball America ranks Neftali Perez, who was acquired in the Teixeira deal and reportedly hit 101 mph twice in his Double A debut, as the Rangers’ No. 1 prospect now.
Uh, Jim. That is Neftali F-E-L-I-Z. Learn it, know it, live it.
Now, CJ Wilson heads to Ozzie’s House …
Ozzie Guillen has always been one to stoke the fire of verbal wars. C.J. Wilson, in response to the Chicago skipper's most recent scathing comments directed toward him, is apparently trying to extinguish the flames.
In fact, the Rangers closer said on Saturday he never saw the spat with Guillen as an issue.
The pair began feuding on Sunday during the Rangers' 12-11 victory over the White Sox. Wilson entered the game with his club leading, 12-8. The closer gave up four consecutive singles before securing a popout from Carlos Quentin. Guillen became agitated at this point because of Wilson's reaction to the play and began yelling from the dugout. Jermaine Dye followed with a two-run single cut the lead to one.
Wilson would later say Guillen's harsh words provided the adrenaline boost necessary to strike out Jim Thome and Paul Konerko to end the game. Guillen countered that Wilson had showed up Quentin and Thome with the his reaction following the important outs.
Wilson said he was angered by Guillen's taunts and that they took his game "to another level."
On Friday, prior to Chicago's game against Kansas City, Guillen had more to say: "When your closer comes up with a seven-run lead and you almost blow it, then look yourself in the mirror and then start talking," Guillen said.
Guillen negatively compared Wilson's on-field demeanor to Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, whom the Chicago skipper considers the best closer in baseball history. Guillen said Rivera gets the job done without showing up the opposition.
Wilson is 0-2 with 22 saves in 24 chances and a 5.01 ERA this season. He will get another shot at the White Sox when the Rangers visit Chicago for a three-game series beginning Monday.
"I like people when they are good. I don't like people when they are [bad] and they are cocky," said Guillen to MLB.com. "When you are good and cocky, that's fine with me. But when you aren't that good and you try to pretend like you are that good ...
"He showed a couple of my players up, and I don't like that. He showed my dugout up in that inning and that's why I screamed at him. The only reason I was screaming is because he was not professional."
Responded Wilson on Saturday: "I have a Mohawk, how am I supposed to say that I am professional? Just look at me: baggy uniform, I shave once a week, I have a Mohawk. I'm here to compete and play baseball. I'm not worried about whatever else is going on."
Guillen often jaws with the opposition, mostly in good fun, from his perch in Chicago's dugout. This was not one of those situations.
"As a player or a manager, I never scream to anyone for no reason," Guillen said. "I don't mind you being cocky or have your emotions on the field. That's fine. That's part of the game. But when you show up a professional player, you better do something before that happens."
Wilson disagreed with that connotation.
"I wouldn't say I'm cocky, but I'm definitely emotional," Wilson said.
The closer went on to provide an explanation for his actions Sunday.
"If guys take strikes and complain about it, then they are showing up the umpire. That's what happened," Wilson said. "I don't care who is on the other team, I am going to try to get them out. I don't care how good he is, or how big a fan of this guy I was growing up, which was the case with Thome. It doesn't matter. I don't care how nice he is, I'm trying to get him out. He's not going to help me out. He's not going to send me money for Christmas."
The Series …
Series matchup: White Sox vs. Rangers
Season series: Rangers lead 2-1.
Monday: 7:11 p.m.
RH Eric Hurley (1-1, 3.57) vs. RH Javier Vazquez (7-7, 4.61)
Tuesday: 7:11 p.m.
RH Luis Mendoza (2-3, 6.28) vs. RH Nick Masset (1-0, 4.14)
Wednesday: 1:05 p.m.
RH Kevin Millwood (6-6, 5.23) vs. LH Mark Buehrle (7-8, 3.69)
Who's hot: Rangers rookie Chris Davis hit seven home runs in his first 19 big-league games. Josh Hamilton has 21 RBIs in his last 24 games. Carlos Quentin is 10-for-32 (.313) in his last eight games. Alexei Ramirez is 18-for-43 (.419) in his last 11 games.
Who's not: Milton Bradley was 1-for-10 in the Minnesota series, and fellow All-Star Ian Kinsler was 0-for-11. Michael Young was 1-for-11. Orlando Cabrera was 1-for-12 and Paul Konerko 2-for-10 in the series against Kansas City.
Redskins get aggressive, Jason Taylor …
Jason Taylor was destined to dance with Dan Snyder and the Redskins, but it took the first day of practice for Taylor's reality show to head to Washington.
As Taylor entered the offseason, the lifelong Dolphin knew it was time for a change. Dolphins executive vice president of football operations Bill Parcells was bringing in the third rebuilding plan for the Dolphins in four years. Knowing he was going to be 34 years old this fall and disappointed by failed rebuilding efforts by Nick Saban and Cam Cameron, Taylor wanted a chance at the playoffs. He didn't want another season on a team that might be a couple years away from winning.
The Redskins were the logical team all along. First, Washington has been a playoff contender the past couple of years. Second, the Redskins have an owner, Snyder, who is always willing to bring in big-name players. Third, Washington has been looking for a defensive end with double-digit sack ability for the past two seasons.
It also didn't hurt that Taylor became a television superstar while finishing second on "Dancing With the Stars." Hollywood studios have shown interest in his post-NFL career acting ability because he showed he can deliver 25 million loyal viewers on the television show. Snyder has his own ties to Hollywood with a business relationship with Tom Cruise, but it was Redskins football that brought both sides together.
For the Redskins, the price -- second- and sixth-round draft picks -- was worth it. Defensive end was their thinnest position. The first-day practice losses of Phillip Daniels and Alex Buzbee on Sunday left them with only nine healthy defensive linemen. Erasmus James is the 10th defensive lineman left on the roster, but he's on the physically unable to perform list recovering from years of knee problems.
Snyder and general manager Vinny Cerrato had prepared for a rainy day, but they were being careful this offseason. They had more than $9 million in cap room to be able to make a quick trade. They had 10 rookie draft choices and all but a fourth-round choice from their stash of 2009 selections. If Taylor can solidify the defensive line, the price was worth it.
Parcells showed that patience can be a virtue in making trades. Many people in the organization suggested to Parcells he release Taylor and move on if the player really didn't want to be there. Parcells knew Taylor was a valuable asset on and off the field, so he waited. When the Redskins called Sunday, he was willing to make a quick trade.
For a rebuilding team, the Dolphins are better served by having more draft picks. For a playoff contender, Taylor could be worth an extra win or two in the tough NFC East.
The UK Guardian looks at Beckham …
David Beckham, like the Spice Girls, is popular in the wrong way. He's too glamorous. He's not deep. He is a bit fluffy. And LaLa Land was the perfect place for the Saronged One to end up.
Or maybe not. Latest reports from LA Galaxy say Beckham has had a real impact on the club and the profile of his sport in the United States.
For all that his critics here thought him a busted flush, Beckham has done the business - on and off the pitch. He has scored five goals and played a key part in seven others. The Galaxy are now the most feared attacking side in Major League Soccer, which is some way removed from the limp losers I watched a few times when Beckham moved there from Real Madrid last summer.
At the gate, the Galaxy are the best supported team in the United States. They average 25,513 fans at home games - 5,000 more than the next best, Toronto FC. Across the country, whenever Beckham is in the side, the Galaxy average attendance is 27,094. By Friday, the New York Red Bulls team had sold 42,000 tickets in anticipation of his arrival yesterday.
Alexi Lalas, Galaxy's president, is trying hard not to tell everyone: 'I told you so.' So he's not bothering. 'There is a method to any perceived madness when it comes to the business of Beckham at the Galaxy,' he says, disproving the madness of backers who put together a credit-trembling $250,000,000 deal for him to perform at $1m a week for five years.
The deal was described at the time as the 'biggest investment in sporting history'. It might yet turn out to be one of the best.
Brawl in Columbus? …blame soccer…
A halftime brawl between more than 100 fans marred an exhibition match Sunday between West Ham United of the English Premier League club and the MLS' Columbus Crew.
The fights, which overshadowed West Ham United's 3-1 win, began when a handful of West Ham supporters, some wearing the team's claret and blue colors, entered the northeast corner of the stadium where the Crew's most boisterous supporters typically gather.
Crew supporters began directing chants toward the rival fans, and fights quickly broke out between more than 100 Crew fans and at least 30 West Ham fans. Columbus police officers and Crew Stadium security staff eventually separated the groups.
Highway Patrol officers arrested one fan outside the stadium for disorderly conduct, Patrol spokeswoman Anne Ralston said. A dispatcher didn't know whether Columbus police had made any arrests inside the stadium.
Fedor Owns Silvia