Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Open

Phil Mickelson: Just happy You Know Who's not around
The British Open starts today at Royal Birkdale. Exciting golf times. The British Open is the best (or at least my favorite) of the golf majors and in terms of overall sports events, it's top 3. It is the ultimate golf test for these players, who are used to the soft greens, kind rough and wide fairways of Milwaukee, Chicago and Tampa.

Over there, it's windy, cold, wet, foggy, soggy, humid and just plain miserable. One minute it's sunny, the next it looks like The Nothing from "The Neverending Story" is rolling in. You get in the rough at Royal Birkdale, they have to tie a rope around your waste in case you die and they can drag your body out.

Expect poor scores, extreme concentration and, for the winner, fantastic shots.

The favs without Tiger? Phil? Eh. The World Wide Leader is rolling with Jim Furyk. Not an awful pick. Consider the chances of Geoff Ogilvie, too.

NFL discourages 'Fluffy-Fingers'
What's better than celebrating scoring a touchdown in an NFL game? Apparently celebrating AND violent street gang affiliation! The NFL announced it has hired experts to review tapes and look for evidence of players flashing gang signs during touchdown celebrations. I don't know about you but I'll take T.O. or Chad Johnson's antics over that crap any day. -Brad C
"There have been some suspected things we've seen," said Milt Ahlerich, the league's vice president of security, according to the Times' report. "When we see it, we quietly jump on it immediately, directly with the team and the player or employee involved to cease and desist. Period."

The under-commented story of the week goes to ... the firing of Billy Packer!

Frankly speaking, Packer was a pompous, self-absorbed ACC homer, who seemed like the game (or, more likely, the players) had passed him by a decade ago. I'm not losing any sleep over Packer getting sacked for Clark Kellogg (who sounds like a comic-book character) and I doubt any of my top 5 college basketball buddies are either. He was a whip to listen to.

But Packer doesn't deserve anything less than a quiet exit. I think the guy was still sharp and still able to look at a team or a play and analyze with deftness. I think he loved the game. He had opinions and he wasn't afraid to share them nor was he afraid to criticize. As much as I dislike Packer, I don't consider him any more or less nauseating than John Madden or Dick Vitale who are dolls that if you pull their string they'll spout off some cliche or generic analyses.

Packer was a SOB. But you don't build a career like he has for not being good at least most of the time.

Over the past three days, one four Texas Rangers have shown up for work. Almost everyone else is enjoying a sweet break before the bulk of the second half of the season. Those not taking time off are those coming back from injury making rehab starts. Here's the deal.

Hank Blalock
The third baseman-turned first basemen had his third rehab last night ... unfortunately, he was a late defensive scratch and had to DH. In those three games: 2-7 - 1 double - 1 RBI. Barring any setback (you know, getting attacked by dinosaurs or a bizarre harpoon accident ... you never know with Blalock these days) he'll be back Friday.

The big question: Will Chris Davis still be here? Unless they want a riot, he'd better.

Eric Hurley
He started Monday for the RoughRiders and is clearly ready for the second half: 7.1 IP - 4 hits - 0 ER - 1 walk - 2 K.

Shoeless Joe Jackson

Over the past year or so, the Library of Congress has started uploading it's insane archive of photography up on Flickr.

In addition to it's phenomenal database of sugary-sweet Americana is a large collection of baseball photos from the late-1800s through the 20th century.
It's a fascinating and haunting glimpse into a glorious bygone era of sports that would probably be foreign and absurd even to the most astute fan. If you have a couple of hours to waste at work, browse and enjoy.

The New Orleans Hornets just got better. They signed swingman James Posey to a 4-year, $25 million deal yesterday. Posey got his years and payday. The Hornets got a legit bench guy that can score, hit a big three and play some sticky defense against the best shooting guards and small forwards in the league.

And he's a winner. I believe there's no coincidence that Posey has two championship rings just as there's no surprise that Robert Horry has a handful. Not that they're players that win championships, but they're smart players who have a specific skillset that allows them to blend well with a number of squads and a skillset that improves a team on both ends of the floor.

The Hornets could very well not win a championship with Posey on the team, but they're a heck of a lot closer than a lot of teams addressing a major area of concern (the bench) with a nice free agent.

Can we rename this the Tour de EPO already?
The Tour de France has disqualified yet another rider for doping. Riccardo Ricco from Italy was forced to withdraw along with his entire Saunier-Duval team after testing positive for EPO. This is the third rider disqualified this year. After the Floyd Landis thing last year you think these guys might get a clue. Is it just me, or does cycling’s drug problem make baseball look like small potatoes? -Brad C

Italian rider Riccardo Riccò of Saunier Duval has tested positive for blood booster Erythropoietin (EPO), French sports daily L'Equipe reported on its website on Thursday. According to the paper's Damien Ressiot, one of the climber's urine samples collected by the French Anti-Doping Agency AFLD showed traces of a third generation EPO called CERA (Continuous Erythropoietin Receptor Activator). The Saunier Duval team has voluntarily withdrawn itself from the Tour de France, and said it would not compete in any races until further notice. Directeur sportif Joxean Fernandez Matxin said he was as surprised as anybody.

"We only found out ten minutes ago. The entire team will stop racing, not only in the Tour de France. We suspend the activities of the team until we understand what has happened."

‘The Office’ spin-off gets canned

NBC had planned to create a spin-off of ‘The Office’ which was to begin airing immediately after next year’s Super Bowl. Apparently this idea has been scrapped and none too soon if you ask me.

I don’t think any true 'Office' fans liked this idea from the beginning. I think the original Office cast has found the perfect mix and you just shouldn’t mess with perfection. It seems like it would be really hard to get things like that to come together again. That’s what she said. -Brad C


The Beatles, on the rooftop


Popsicle Stick Chick said...

Enjoying the guest blogging, really like the photos you use. But where are Bob's Blog commenters, did they go on vacation too?

Fans of the BaD Radio Experience can check out

Crisatunity said...

I think you have your Fantastic Four mixed up with your The Neverending Story movie knowledge. It's "The Nothing" not the "The Thing". I think it would be best if you left clever movie references to Wilonsky.

SpoonerStreet said...

By the way, it was "The Nothing" in Neverending Story, not "The Thing". Atreyu and Falcor would be upset at this injustice.

sarah said...

Okay here's the thing, I never comment on other people's blogs, especially when it’s not even Bob writing. But that being said I feel that this time it is necessary for I am a huge cycling homer and the sport needs a little defending in this case.

Yes, three riders have been kicked out of the Tour de Framce thus far this year. But these are all riders that were targeted as possible dopers because of abnormal blood work in the pre-race tests. I am not sure how I feel about targeting specific riders but that is neither here nor there . . .

Ricco was caught using Cera, a very new form of EPO that before this morning nobody realized they even had a test for. (Because of its newness nobody is certain if the test result will even hold of in the CAS or subsequent appeal hearings). Cera is so new that many riders were not even familiar with it. This just shows that the scientists are finally starting to catch up to the dopers, which is nothing but good news for cycling and all other sports that actually test.

5-7 years ago there is no question that many of the great cyclists were doping, but that is no different than any other sport (before you ask what about Lance, well he was tested more often than the next top 2 riders combined so yes their might be a cloud of suspicion above him but he passes every litmus test he can be given.) Just like in the 50s and 60s most cyclists were on speed (as were must US pros), but once they began testing for that people largely stopped taking speed to prepare for a race/game. Now the majority of the peloton is clean, with at least two teams (Garmin/Chipotle/Slipstream and Columbia/Highroad built around the ideals of clean cycling).

The riders have begun to realize that the various organizations, sponsors, testing agencies, and team are not fooling around and if you are caught doping you are given a two year suspension (in all cases) and your team is out of the race (in the majority of cases).

The 2-year ban for one positive result is something that is unheard of in most American professional sports. If the "four majors" in the US followed this guideline for a first time offense, Shawn Merriman would still be serving his suspension.

Cycling might appear dirtier than all of the other sports, outside of track and field, but that is because of the full extent of the testing that is done. If this same level of testing happened for football, baseball, hockey, or basketball, the American public would be stunned.

Or would they? Which is where the problem really lays the American public gets such a level of tired head when it comes to doping that they prefer not to think about it. It is so much easier to just look at the stupid Euro sports and make fun of them for their problems without recognizing that we have the same problems at home. The cycling organizations have done the right thing and have tried not to hide from their problems (like Bud Selig did) but rather face them head on and attempt to fix the problems, which has resulted in several scandals through the years but because of their dedication to a clean peloton the sport is better for it.

So all of that is to say, yes it is just you. The problems in cycling make baseballs problems look much bigger because while cycling is trying to do something about their problems baseball is making half-hearted attempts at fixing things about 20 years to late.

Not to be picky but I should point out that Floyd Landis (a-hole extraordinaire) won the 2006 Tour de France while Alberto Contador (of Team Discovery) who now rides for Astana won the 2007 Tour de France. Other than that I have loved your work on the blog this week and nicely done with the Wilco and Beatles videos today.