September 27, 2018

1. The Ryder Cup. On the surface one has to think the Americans ought to be heavily favored. This might just be one of, if not the, most talented teams ever assembled. Lots of young guys who thirst for the spotlight. And with Europe, is there anyone besides Tommy Fleetwood and Francesco Molinari that scares you right now? Rory McIlroy certainly doesn’t, and neither of the others do. I won’t be watching – I’ve got too many other things to do – but it wouldn’t surprise me if the Americans win in a rout.

2. The 2109 schedule. Man, talk about compressing your entire season into just six months! I can see a greater likelihood that someone who, say, comes out of The Players Championship (no, I’m not going to capitalize all the letters as the PGA Tour does), really hot could then run off a string of majors in short order.

3. Justin Thomas. Have to admit he’s looked a little listless and sloppy at times this year. But one has to remember that he’s still a (at least in PGA Tour terms) a kid, and he’s still learning his craft. I fully believe that in five years’ time he’ll have racked up at least three more majors and will be the dominant American player. And there aren’t many guys I know who could pull off wearing pink.

3. Jordan Spieth. Could it all have come a little too easily too early for Jordan? I love his game, but there’s something going on there that if he doesn’t get a handle on it he runs the risk of becoming a has-been at a very early age.

4. The problem is that there’s too damned much money out there. Think about it: you’re 24 years old and rich beyond your wildest dreams. And in this day and age on the PGA Tour you don’t even have to win to make oodles of dough-re-mi. It would take someone with a very high level of discipline and maturity not to let it get away from him after achieving so much success so early in his professional career.

5. Rory McIlroy. See #4 above.

6. Dustin Johnson. It’s obvious the guy has game and can hit the ball a long way. But I sense no killer instinct there, no desire to refine his game to the point where any one would fear him. Sure, the guy will make a pile of money any given season (and maybe that’s good enough for him), but in my view he’s wasting his talent. Maybe those rumors of issues in his marriage with Paulina Gretzky have something to do with it.

7. Rickie Fowler. Think Dustin Johnson without all the rumors that have dogged Johnson over the years. On the surface Rickie is squeaky-clean, and perhaps that’s true. But methinks between the money, the fame, and his character he doesn’t possess that killer instinct you need to start out hot at a major, then put your foot on the necks of the rest of the field to grab his little piece of immortality. He’s a nice player and fun to watch, but he doesn’t strike me as someone who can come from behind and snag that major by going super low on Sunday. I hope I’m wrong – would love to see it happen.

8. Phil Mickelson. I think that win in Mexico will turn out to be his last hurrah, both in terms of his game and he being the ultimate fan fave. That act he pulled at Shinnecock gave his reputation a hit (he should have either been disqualified or, more appropriately, DQ’d himself after the round ended), and his game is all over the place. He’s had a good run, but time catches up to everyone no matter how good you are.

9. Tiger Woods. And the same will happen to Tiger. As I’ve mentioned before, he’s going to get injured again – it’s a virtual guarantee. His body was old before his back surgery, and nothing has changed since then. This is a very good run for Tiger – perhaps he can keep it up for another year or two or three – but no matter how hard he works out it is unreasonable to expect him to maintain his level of play over the past month for an entire season.

10. That being said, I could see him peel off a major or two over the next few years. There are still significant headwinds facing him – the number of great players out there, his health and age, etc., but I’ll admit I never expected to see him playing at the level he has been again. So maybe all the fawning attention Golf Channel has been foisting on him all year is warranted. After all, Tiger just doesn’t move the needle as far as professional golf is concerned, he IS the needle.

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 01:53 | Comments (0)
August 13, 2018

That was a pretty entertaining Sunday at the PGA Championship, and it was probably the most exciting final round of a major this year. A few thoughts to close out this season’s majors:

Is there any doubt that Brooks Koepka is a killer, a true product of golf’s modern age? Not only can he hit it far, he can hit it straight. You see his performances at the U.S. Open at Shinnecock and the PGA at Bellerive, and you have to wonder when folks are going to start giving him his due. Dustin Johnson may be rated as the #1 golfer in the world rankings at the present time, but if given a choice between DJ and Brooks, my money would have to be on the latter.

For one thing, DJ always seems to be able to trample the field at any given PGA Tour event whenever he’s in the mood – there’s no underestimating his talent. But he seems to lack the discipline and killer instinct to put it all together at majors. DJ is the personification of today’s professional golfer. He can hit it a country mile and he makes boatloads of cash. But you can’t help but wonder if that’s really all he’s about.

Koepka, on the other hand, is a steely-eyed version of the Old West gunman who comes into town, chip on his shoulder, looking for respect as a gunslinger. He’s got DJ’s length, but he seems able to discipline himself at the majors to handle the pressure that results from hitting it so long that you ought to be able to rack up birdies when the opportunities present themselves.

And it was amazing to watch he and Adam Scott, just two groups back from the Tiger Woods circus, fire away at pins tucked only yards from the edge. Both of them were virtually unflappable, and it was a marvel to watch them both handle the pressure of the last round of a major, especially with a charging Tiger in front of them.

He made some mistakes down the stretch, but there is little doubt that Justin Thomas is going to be collecting his own share of majors over the next few years. He’s got a beautiful swing and a game you just can’t help but love to watch. He’s almost as fearless as Koepka, but you could tell he got a little rattled at the pace of play when his playing partner Shane Lowry ran into difficulties on (I think) #14. Thomas, like Koepka, likes to get up there and hit the ball – a quality to be admired. But Thomas is still learning his craft and he ought to be a force over the next decade.

I wonder what’s wrong with Rory McIlroy? Not sure if it’s physical or mental, but he’s not the same golfer he was several years ago. Maybe he should have married Caroline Wozniacki after all.

Ditto Rickie Fowler. No one doubts the guy has game, but is what he has good enough to win a major? A big question that’s only going to get bigger with every major he doesn’t win.

I think Jordan Spieth is going to look back on this year as a growing year and an important one in his career. It wouldn’t surprise me at all to see him pick up at least two majors next year.

Which, of course, makes Tiger Woods’s opportunities to win another major all the more daunting. Sure, he showed an incredible amount of grit out there yesterday, but if you don’t win, who cares? He’s back to grinding with the best of them. And his irons were pure, no doubt about it. But he really doesn’t drive the ball well, and his putting is just OK. There were six putts yesterday that the old Tiger would have made without any problem. But that’s what being 42 years old will do to ya. The difference in your putting might be hundredths of a second here or there, but it’s that hundredth of a second that will result in a putt left just short or one to lip out.

And Tiger is going to be facing some incredible competition in the years he has left. Hard to believe, but as good as they are, Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth are still learning the ropes of playing professional golf at the highest level. They’re only going to get better. You’ve got Koepka and DJ and others who just aren’t going to be intimidated by Tiger, even when he’s putting on one of his legendary charges. They respect him, for sure, but unlike his peers of 10+ years ago, these players look forward to the opportunity to go toe-to-toe with him. They relish the attention, they welcome the crowds and the attention, and they just itching to go mano a mano down the stretch of a major. As I mentioned in my last post, as long as he stays healthy (and there’s no guarantee on that) Tiger’s gonna win some tournaments. But majors? I think he’s going to find that very difficult.

One final comment about Tiger: everyone is all kissy-ass about his comeback and slobbering over his play as it has evolved over these past few months. I get it, his comeback is a great story. But they’re all placing Tiger in the same bubble he was during his prime more than ten years ago. The guy is 42, and given his history of injury, he’s an old 42. No one I heard this week expressed anything like a cautionary note that what we’re seeing now is the twilight of Tiger’s career. They’re acting as if he’s capable of dominating like he used to, and that’s just not going to be the case. I agree he’s making a great run and that it’s fun to watch, but he’s one Achilles tendon, disc, or knee issue from saying riding off into the sunset for good. And I can see it happening: he gets revved up and starts making those big, violent swings. A little dose of reality from the media in Tiger’s case wouldn’t be a bad thing.

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 21:41 | Comments (0)
August 11, 2018

Look, I get the interest in Tiger Woods’s comeback, but the coverage this week on Golf Channel has been nauseating to the point of insanity. It’s one thing to speculate on how he might perform during the weekend and cover it during the tournament. It’s another thing entirely to drop his name into every friggin’ discussion they’re having. A discussion about grasses? Rich Lerner has to drop a line about how Tiger played on that grass back in 2002. There’s a chance for rain? Brandel Chamblee (who, BTW, has turned into the biggest Tiger suck-up on the channel) will recall Tiger playing in the rain at Sodapop Valley back in god-knows-when. Adam Scott being rated 76th in the world? Frank Nobilo has to mention Tiger was rated 76th in the work on May 5th, 1997. My god, you would think he was the only golfer capable to hitting an iron from 127 yards out to seven feet. I’m sure that’s never been done before.

I get the fact that they’re trying to lure in the casually-interested viewer, but there are lots of golf fans who are interested in the tournament and the field in total. And (at least for me) that makes the viewing less than satisfying.

I don’t care that he’s only four strokes back. It’s fairly clear (although not 100% obvious at this point) that Woods will go another year without winning a major, making it ten – ten! – years since his last major win at the 2008 U.S. Open. Ten years. Like, a decade. It’s so hard to fathom – if someone had said in June 2008 that Tiger Woods would go at least ten years without winning a major they would have been laughed off the face of the earth. I still can’t believe it myself.

I happen to think Tiger has one, perhaps two more majors in him, but that’s not altogether certain, for sure. As I’ve said before, Golf Channel and the other sports outlets slobber over all the great shots he’s making out there, but they don’t show the putts he’s missing, the drives in the rough, the grinding his 43-year old body has to do week in, week out. It’s probably harsh to call him an ordinary PGA Tour professional at this stage in his career, but he’s certainly no better than an above average golfer. Of course, he’s got too much talent and expertise in his DNA not to play well whenever he is healthy – something he appears to be for the first time in a long time – but the level of golf he is playing just doesn’t equate to the amount of ass-kissing and non-stop coverage he’s getting. You want to focus attention on Tiger Woods? Do it from the angle of his age and the competition he is facing out there. These “young guns” may respect Tiger, but they don’t fear him. And they can hit the ball further and more consistently than he can.

One final thought: it’s ironic that the kind of modern-age, blast it off the tee as hard and as far as you can golf as played by the Dustin Johnsons, Justin Thomases and Brooks Koepkas of the world – the kind of golf that Tiger has to excel at in order to pass Jack Nicklaus’s record of 18 majors is the same kind of golf Tiger himself introduced nearly two decades ago. In that regard, he’s become a victim of his own success. The fact that Tiger is playing as well as he is at this point in the year is something to celebrate; certainly no one could have expected this back in January. But enough already with the saturation coverage. After a while you just get sick of it.

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 20:36 | Comments (0)
June 18, 2018

Another U.S. Open, another year of controversy involving course set-up. The last time the Open was held at Shinnecock Hills the USGA admitted they let the course get away from them. Three years ago at Chambers Bay, they didn’t expect the course to respond as it did to the weather and the elements, leaving the golfers crusty brown surfaces that looked like some West Texas muni. This year, Saturday was a debacle when the USGA admitted they didn’t take into account the amount of wind and the impact it would have on the greens with the pin placements that were chosen for the day. Fortunately, for the USGA…

…Order was restored on Sunday when officials chose the side of caution, dumping plenty of water on the greens overnight and situating the cups more often than not near the center of greens, away from severe run-offs near the edges.

There were still plenty of high scores, but an average of 72.2 on the par-70 course suggested the set-up had been just about right, though it was helped by winds that did not blow quite as strongly as the previous day.

The USGA got lucky, though, in that Koepka won. He played late on Saturday.

Had Tony Finau or Daniel Berger hoisted the trophy, the criticism might well have got louder.

Both played early on Saturday, shooting 66 before the greens wilted under the baking sun, and neither would have expected to be tied for the lead at the end of the third round.

Golf is not meant to be fair but Finau and Berger, through no fault of their own, were provided with such an advantage that had either won, the victory might well have left a sour taste.

Finau was ranked 37th in the world while Berger started the week ranked 43rd — both accomplished players but yet to make their mark in major championships.

In the end, the top four finishers — Koepka, Tommy Fleetwood, Dustin Johnson and Patrick Reed — all started the week ranked in the top 13, so nobody could say it was a fluke leaderboard.

There’s no question that the USGA dodged the proverbial bullet this year, but unless they seriously – and I mean seriously – reevaluate their approach to setting up future Opens, they’ll just keep running the same risk year in, year out.

I won’t hold my breath.

Methinks the whole idea of what the USGA believes the U.S. Open is supposed to prove and how the USGA sets up their courses in order to achieve that goal is both outdated and ill-advised. Clearly, they are fighting a losing battle with technology and the athleticism of today’s professional golfers, and that’s not going to change anytime soon. I think GOLF Channel’s Frank Nobilo hit the nail on the head when he said that what the USGA is now reduced to doing is taking courses that were designed some 80-100 years ago to play a certain way in a far different era and tricking them up in order to achieve the USGA’s goal of making them par as close to the winning score as possible, and the hell with everyone and everything else.

It makes no sense. What the USGA is doing is risking making our national golf championship a farce. What does “par” really mean, anyways? And why should par matter? The idea should be to create a stern test for the professional golfer around a certain philosophy that the golfer who plays the best all-around should win. Not the golfer who can best drop an approach shot from 150 or 170 yards out onto an area the size of a postage stamp. That’s not golf, and I’m certain that’s not what the original course designer – no matter who they are or were – had in mind.

So here’s an idea for the USGA: forget about par. Forget that par even exists. And, for gawdsakes, leave the stimp meters in the equipment shed. Allow the courses you choose to be themselves and set them as reasonably close to the way the original designers had in mind. If you want to squeeze the fairways and leave the rough “U.S. Open rough” – fine. But leave the greens alone. Let them run as true to average as they can. And then – most importantly – let the chips fall where they may and just count the strokes. Forget about +2, -5, +7, etc. A guys shoots 69-72-69-75? Count it as 285. No one needs to know what par is. No one should care. Put your collective egos in your pockets and your outdated ideas about what par should be and just count the strokes. The better players are going to rise to the top, and if some non-marquee or top 20 player in the world doesn’t win, accept it for what it is.

I can assure you, as much as you think the fans out there want to see the pros struggle and get embarrassed like they do in their own weekly Sunday leagues, no one wants to see Rickie Fowler shoot an 84 or Dustin Johnson shoot 77 like they did on Saturday. No one wants to see the best players in the world shooting +12 or +18 for the weekend, even if it is just one week a year. No one wants to see a putt on line just barely trickle past the hole and then pick up speed and roll off the green entirely. That’s not USGA golf, that’s clown golf.

You probably won’t listen to The Great White Shank, but if you, the USGA, just set up your courses honestly and count the strokes instead of worrying about what the winning score should be in accordance with par, you might actually be able to relax and watch the best players do what they do best instead of sitting on the edge of your seats year in, year out worrying about the weather conditions and if the course is going to “get away from you”, leaving you embarrassed and making excuses yet again.

Our national championship deserves better.

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 17:28 | Comments (2)
May 22, 2018

I was tired, man.

Like, dead-tired.

Like, as dead tired as man could be coming off of suicide watch.

Like, as dead tired as a man coming off of suicide watch after being strapped into the electric chair for 45 minutes before being told, “Never mind” after the governor pardoned him for all eternity after discovering the dude never committed the crime he had been convicted of.

That kind of tired.

Last week was a bad week. Every time we thought we were “thisclose” to a breakthrough at “The Client Who Shall Remain Nameless”, there were all kinds of crap coming down on us. Then on Thursday night, we got word of a huge flaw in our workflow that threatened to send us back to the bad old days of February; I went to bed as dejected and depressed as I’d been in weeks, only to find out in the morning that the moron responsible for the QA had made a mistake and, oh, everything looked good after all. Sorry about that, fellas!

So on Friday afternoon I had to get away. I didn’t have my clubs with me, but I knew I could drive to the Golf & Ski in Nashua, NH and tell one of the salespeople there I wanted to try some new clubs out and he’d be more than willing to give me a small bucket.

Looking at all the clubs I could feel all the stress starting to lift; I was once again a kid in a candy store. I wasn’t really planning on doing anything other than hit some balls to see how my back felt, so just for yucks I grabbed three 7-irons off the rack: a Mizuno JPX 900 with a steel shaft, a Ping G with a steel shaft, and, just for the heck of it, a TaylorMade M2 with a graphite shaft. The Mizuno and the Ping I had tried a year ago when shopping around for new irons, the TaylorMade I had tried in a steel shaft at the same time.

I remembered the feels of the Ping and the Mizuno and remembered why I had settled on my final choice of the Callaway Steelhead XRs at the time. Still, it felt good just to stretch out my back and hit some balls. And while I didn’t like either of the clubs that much, I didn’t hit them bad, and the warm afternoon sun was a nice departure to the endless crises, phone calls, and the laptop. It also didn’t hurt knowing that in less than an hour’s time I’d be enjoying Mexican food and Margaritas just up the road a piece.

I’d grabbed the TaylorMade M2 as an afterthought: I’d been a “steel” man for so long I’d never even considered hitting irons with a graphite shaft. But one swing later, feeling the way the shaft responded to a solid “on the screws” hit, the ball taking a longer and higher trajectory than I’d ever seen me hit with a 7-iron hit, I was damned intrigued. Three balls later, all hit so-so, I was enthralled. A dozen balls later, I was in love-love-love. Like, “hey mister, can we make a deal on these clubs even though I can’t afford the price and I’m two thousand miles away from home” kind of love-love-love.

Well, almost. But boy, they sure felt great. Better than any iron I’d ever hit before. Better than my Steelhead XRs, for sure.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve grown to like my Callaway Steelhead XRs, but one thing that annoys me about them is that every hit kind of has a similar feel. I mean, you know when you hit them either fat or thin, but when you hit them on the screws you never get that sense of accomplishment, that sense of the club saying to you, “Dude, you done good.” With the TaylorMade M2, not only did they seem to hit the ball higher – something I really enjoyed watching – but they seemed to go longer, perhaps a club length longer for me. After hitting another mini-bucket, not only was my back feeling good, I was feeling good. Like the way hitting balls should make you feel.

A few of my Goodboys friends joined me on Sunday when I tried the M2 7-iron out again. The way the club felt only served to confirm what I felt on Friday: these were the clubs for me. And the boys were suitably impressed as well. So that was that: I had already found I could get a great deal on the clubs at the PGA Tour Superstore website (after all, TaylorMade had stopped manufacturing the M2s six months ago), and, better yet, I could also get a very decent trade-in for my Steelheads at

So that’s it: The Great White Shank’s “Callaway era” is over. It was OK while it lasted – not great, just OK. Had some good rounds between the old RAZR-Xs and the Steelheads, but the M2 is the first iron I’ve truly fallen in love with. They’re light (something that will force me not to over-swing), the black graphite shafts have a nice sinister look to them, and they feel really good in my hands. I’m looking forward to seeing how the other clubs hit and putting them into competition.

Oh, and as far as “The Client Who Shall Remain Nameless” is concerned? We actually had a good weekend, and I hope we’ll be past the critical phase that we’re presently in by this time next week. Something to hope for, anyways. Because I’ve got a bunch of time off I would like to start taking: time off that includes a few consecutive rounds of Friday golf with my Cobra woods and hybrids, my Ping Scottsdale putter, and my TaylorMade M2 graphite irons.

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 22:49 | Comments (0)
April 9, 2018

And so the 2018 Masters is now history. I think history is going to look back on this particular edition as significant in a number of ways. A round of thoughts in that regard:

1. Congratulations to Patrick Reed for a well-deserved and hard-earned green jacket. He’s not my cup of tea: his arrogance and edginess is a bit much for my taste, but that’s OK. He putted lights out and killed the par 5s pretty much over the four days, and that’s what you have to do to win at Augusta National.

2. That being said, Rory McIlroy choked in the final round. Positively choked. He’ll never have a better chance to win the coveted Grand Slam than he did this year. All he had to do was make some putts early and it would have been him wearing the green jacket, not Reed. Yesterday was as much about McIlroy’s poor play under pressure and Jordan Speith’s stellar play than it was about Reed just going about his business in a very workman-like way and persevering by playing the course one shot and one hole at a time. I like watching Rory play golf, but boy he is infuriating in how he manages his way around a course when the pressure is on.

3. Some might think it hokey, but I like the dignified way CBS covers the Masters from beginning to end. The ESPN coverage on Thursday and Friday tried too hard to be “edgy” with that dopey hard blues music serving as intro and their personalities all trying to get their moments of “insight” before the cameras. Hey ESPN, just shut up and let the tournament play out.

4. We all knew it would happen, but between ESPN, CBS, and Golf Channel the coverage of Tiger Woods bordered on the insane – primarily at Golf Channel during their “Live From the Masters” coverage where virtually every stat they conjured up over Masters week had Tiger’s name on it, as if all the coverage of him actually playing golf and his post-round reactions to his golf wasn’t sufficient in itself to hold people’s interest enough.

5. Time is the great equalize in all sports, and this year you could see the impact of time between the past (Woods, Mickelson, O’Meara, Couples), and the future, with all those great young American golfers and Australia’s Cameron Smith.

6. As far as Tiger is concerned, he can talk all he wants about his irons not being crisp one day, his driving not being good another, and then his poor putting on yet another day, but the fact is that the older you get the harder it is to put all the facets of your game together and have it hold up over four rounds of golf. And that is especially true at Augusta National, where placement and precision is everything.

7. …and the same holds true for Phil. Sure, he’s been playing great and had been playing particularly well going into Augusta, but there’s a huge difference between your average PGA Tour stop and Augusta National. There was a time when playing the role of “Phil the Thrill” might have worked for him, but he’s older now and he’s just not able to put the ball where Augusta demands him to, hole after hole. It’s kind of sad to watch, but there are just way too many young golfers out there who are (to be truthful) better and more capable than either Tiger and Phil are at their respective stages in their careers.

8. …and not just better than Tiger or Phil, they’re fearless as well in their total and utter disregard for par. Looking at the leaderboard on Sunday and seeing all those players with one or more major wins under their belts was pretty amazing. And now that Reed has one, you just know that Rickie Fowler’s gonna get one, and soon.

9. I really enjoy watch Jordan Spieth play golf. The guy is not just incredibly talented, but fun to watch. I love how he talks to his ball and how he wears his emotions on his sleeve; he’s a modern-day Arnold Palmer in that regard. And boy, does he know Augusta National like the back of his hand! I don’t think it’s a reach to project him winning another two or three green jackets in the future.

10. Maybe it’s just me, but Dustin Johnson does nothing for me as far as watching golf is concerned. He might be able to blast his way around your average PGA Tour stop and the other majors, but his game isn’t suited to Augusta National at all.

11. #4 aside, Golf Channel’s “Live From the Masters” following the CBS coverage was great viewing. Brandel Chamblee and Frank Nobilo are consistently good, and David Duval has really come into his own as a former player with insight into the player’s mindset. Of course, Rich Lerner remains a borderline insufferable Tiger suck-up, but he’s just reading what the teleprompter is telling him. And I really like the different settings they use during the telecasts. All very tasteful and dignified, as it should be.

12. The best shot of the tournament? It had to be Marc Leishman’s massive hook around the trees on #15 on Friday. He had to have hooked his ball 50 yards or more.

13. …but Charley Hoffman’s hole-in-one on #16 on Sunday was pretty cool to watch as well.

14. I’m looking around for lightweight bucket hats to play golf in this year and found a Masters version on the internet for $89. I dunno, I think it’s a bit ostentascious if you haven’t actually been to the Maters, never mind kind of expensive. But it does look good!

15. Justin Thomas is destined to win a Masters one day. The same holds true for Jon Rahm.

16. I wish I could say the same for Rickie Fowler, because that a green jacket would look awesome against Rickie’s orange motif, but I think a PGA Championship is more in line with his game and the more likely scenario.

17. Hearing the Masters theme song never gets old for me.

18. The biggest winner over the weekend, of course, was Augusta National. The course layout, the colors, the sounds, the roars on the back nine, and the tradition make it perfect for viewing on a big flat-screen TV with snacks and beverages in the comfort of one’s own home. Masters week for me is the best week of televised golf, and this year’s edition didn’t disappoint.

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 11:55 | Comments (0)
April 4, 2018

We’ve been waiting for, like, forever but it’s finally here: the Masters. Between now and Sunday we’ll be treated to the best professional golf has to offer, and in the most beautiful of surroundings. Here’s ten predictions for the Masters:

1. Jim Nantz gets all folksy and greets us each day with “Hello, friends.”
2. All the ESPN guys commentating on golf – especially Mike Tirico – will stand out like brown shoes on a tuxedo, and the late Ken Venturi will once again be turning over in his grave.
3. Tiger Woods’ name will be mentioned 14,659 times over the four-day broadcast.
4. The azaleas will astound.
5. It will sound as if every blue jay and sparrow, and nuthatch will have gathered on the Augusta National grounds.
6. We won’t get tired of the limited commercial breaks.
7. Tiger Woods finishes second to Bubba Watson.
8. Rory McIlroy misses the cut.
9. …as does Sergio, Dustin Johnson, and Justin Thomas.
10. Anticipation to do it all over again in 2019 will begin.

Speaking which, queue the music!

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 21:33 | Comments (0)
February 27, 2018

Was able to watch quite a bit of this past weekend’s Honda Classic in between family obligations and stuff and was struck by how quickly Golf Channel has reverted back to its prior incarnation of the “Tiger Channel” where you could go anywhere without seeing Tiger or hearing Tiger’s name dropped into every feasible conversation possible. I mean, to some extent I get it: Tiger’s latest comeback attempt is newsworthy both to golf enthusiasts and most especially the casual observer who tunes in only to see how Tiger is doing, but his quality of play is nowhere near how it is being hyped by those who ought to be able to keep things in perspective.

For example, at the end of Saturday’s round Tiger is, like, eight strokes back with a dozen players in front of him. Yet, there’s Jim “Hello, friends” Nantz asking Nick Faldo if Tiger has a chance to win on Sunday. To Faldo’s credit, he didn’t jump up and down and say, “Absolutely!”, instead he chose the path of least resistance by going through all the unlikely scenarios that would have to happen, stopping just short of saying, “Well, if the entire field collapses in a heap of rubble and monkeys start flying out of their collective butts…”, which is really all he could do. I mean, no one likes to say someone of Tiger’s abilities and past achievements stands as much of chance of that kind of comeback as a snowball’s chance in July, but there’s nothing wrong with a little dose of reality – the audience tuning in ought to be able to handle it. Then on Sunday, there’s commentator Mark Rolfing, with Tiger something like five back at the turn, teasing the audience with the question of whether we’d see Tiger’s first comeback win. I mean, come on – there were like three or four golfers at the top and they all were barely out of the gate! Why not just say that it’s simply good to just see Tiger on the first page of the leaderboard on Sunday (which at that time he was)?

Look, I watched the entire round while filling out senior housing applications for my dad. Did Tiger play well? Sure. Did he stick some nice approach shots from 150 yards in? Absolutely. But so was everyone else out there, and when they did it, it wasn’t as if the heavens opened up on their particular golf mastery. And the opposite held true as well: Tiger missed a few putts in the 6-8 foot range out there, but he wasn’t the only one. I guess all I’m trying to say is that, while its good to see Tiger Woods out there right now, you’re seeing a very ordinary golfer by PGA Tour standards. He’s still trying to figure out things and get his weekend endurance back, so his comeback is still a work in progress, but he’s never going to be that much better than the field like he was in his glory days. Not only is Tiger older, but the equipment has changed and the golfers are younger, stronger, and have a fearless and total disregard for par. Tiger is going to be respected out there, for sure. But feared? I don’t think so.

As I’ve said before, I could see Tiger winning the occasional tournament again – perhaps even a major were he to catch lightning in a bottle over some four-day span, but the days of him dominating an event are over. And I just wish that the national media would be honest with the viewing public about how both the game – and Tiger himself – has changed since the era of his domination, something we’re not likely to see happen to the same extent ever again. It would all be so much more enjoyable if instead the media would cover Tiger’s comeback without all the unnecessary hysteria and hyperbole.

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 07:11 | Comments (0)
October 6, 2017

Time for playoff baseball!

If you’re a major league baseball manager, that means your whole season is now condensed into a series where: 1) you actually have to know what you have for a playoff roster and how you’re going to use it and when, and 2) you have to manage to game conditions and make decisions fast. In both cases, the Red Sox loss to the Astros in Game 1 of their Divisional Series showed a manager seemingly incapable of both.

Anyone who has been watching Chris Sale pitch down the stretch knows it’s fairly easy to tell when he’s struggling, yet ol’ Manager John kept trotting him out one inning after another to take the punishment. Sure, it wasn’t easy to gauge the extent to which Sale was struggling since it wasn’t like he was being dinged one hitter after another, but it was clear he didn’t have his best stuff, either. Surely, Manager John has seen enough of him this year to know when his #1 dude has it and when he doesn’t.

Hint to Manager John: it’s OK in a playoff series to go to your bullpen early – after all, you really don’t want to get your inconsistent offense down too badly, too early. Oh, and it’s OK to bring in someone else other than Joe Kelly (of all people!) to replace Sale – not only is he as inconsistent as hell, but jeepers, you’ve got to pick his spots better than that. But of course that would require a manager who goes into a game with a plan and is ready to execute it if things start going awry. I’m guessing that’s too much to ask here.

And, while it was true that Eduardo Nunez was a solid hitter since his acquisition, the dude has had a bad knee (which, by the way, he blew out on his first at-bat of the game). Is Hanley Ramirez struggling? Yes. But he’s still a home run threat when you have him in your lineup. Still, Manager John chooses to play a dinged up, if not bona fide injured, player ahead of one of his only true home run threats. For gawdsakes, everyone (except Manager John, apparently) knows the Sox are going to struggle offensively against the Astros, yet Ramirez is sitting on the bench?

I guess what pisses me off the most about Manager John isn’t his incompetence (which he exhibits in spades) or his seeming aloofness (or is it arrogance?). What pisses me off the most is his lack of preparedness once the first pitch is thrown and the appearance that everyone else in the ballpark is at least three hitters (if not more) ahead of him. He seems to manage by the seat of his pants without rhyme nor reason. There seems to be little communication between Manager John and his coaches, and between his coaches and players. I honestly don’t know what Manager John is thinking when he’s there in the dugout, leaning forward seeming deep in concentration as he shifts one leg to another on the next step, and from all appearances, I don’t think he does either.

One final note: I’ve got a sneaky feeling the Sox are finding out under the not-so-best of circumstances that this winter they’re going to have some big decisions to make. Jackie Bradley, Jr., while one of my favorite players and a defensive whiz, can’t be counted upon for any real offense. Dustin Pedroia (another fave) is playing old. And they’re going to have to think about what they want to do at catcher, first base, and DH, because every time they take the field they’re playing teams who can actually generate offense – real offense – out of those positions.

The Sox are playing like a tired team, but even worse, they’re playing with a manager who has no clue what it means to manage a baseball team in the playoffs.

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 02:24 | Comments (0)
October 2, 2017

It’s going to be a great post-season in Major League Baseball, I think. There is a lot of excitement here in the Valley of the Sun for the Arizona Diamondbacks because of the way they man-handled the L.A. Dodgers during the regular season, but first they have to get past the Colorado Rockies in that one-game playoff. I can tell you who the Dodgers will be rooting for!

The Red Sox will be playing the Astros in the first round of the playoffs. Not too many people are giving the Sox a chance, and I have to agree with the so-called “experts”. The Sox are a mess right now. Of course, they do have the most dominant closer in the major leagues in Craig Kimbrel, but in my view it all comes down to the offense, and there’s no question the Astros hit the ball a helluva lot better than the Sox do. Right now there are a lot of holes in the Sox lineup, forcing them to work too hard to manufacture runs.

I love the enthusiasm the Minnesota Twins bring to each game and I’m hoping they’ll beat the Yankees. Whoever wins that series won’t matter, because I see the Cleveland Indians going all the way this year in a repeat of last year’s World Series matchup.

So, my predictions work out like this:

Astros beat Red Sox in the ALDS
Indians beat Twins in the ALDS

Dodgers beat Rockies in the NLDS
Cubs beat Nationals in the NLDS

Indians beat Astros in the ALCS
Cubs beat Dodgers in the NLCS

Cleveland beats Cubs in the World Series

Play ball!

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 01:50 | Comments (0)


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