I haven't posted in about ten days -- mostly because I've been trying to secure gainful employment for the coming months. With that job mostly accomplished at this point, I thought I'd dabble in an attempt at writing something semi-regularly. The subject matter will vary, covering three topics in the world of sports that I think deserve another look or make me want to rant.
We'll call it Three Strikes (on The Outside Corner).Strike One - Ben Curtis Not a One-Hit Wonder After All
Y'all may not remember the 2003 British Open as well as I do, but I assume most of you weren't working for a golf web site at the time.
On that third Sunday in July, some of the biggest names in golf were all lined up with a shot at the oldest championship in the sport when the back nine began. Tiger Woods, Davis Love III, Vijay Singh, Sergio Garcia all had their chances on the links of Royal St. George's. But when the sand from Thomas Bjorn's second bunker shot by the 17th green settled, the man who claimed the Claret Jug was a little-known rookie from Kent, Ohio named Ben Curtis. Playing in the Open by way of a T13 finish at the Western Open two weeks earlier to qualify, Curtis became the first golfer to win his first major start since Francis Ouimet won the 1913 U.S. Open at Brookline.
Aside from an NFL apparel deal that forced him to wear Jacksonville Jaguar teal and Denver Bronco orange at events, Curtis quickly fell back into the obscurity that missed cuts provide. He missed 33 cuts in his next 66 starts, finishing in the top 10 just three times and really never threatening his status as a trivia question answer.
Until this past weekend.
Although it took six days to complete, Curtis routed a watered-down field (in terms of rain and star power), going wire-to-wire after an opening 62 to win the Booz Allen Classic in suburban D.C. His five-shot victory was definitely not a back-in job, and while it's hardly a major, it erases the one-hit wonder stigma that was following Curtis out the door of PGA Tour clubhouses each Friday evening.Strike Two - Which Is Worse, Really
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me-- not if you play in Major League Baseball.
Ozzie Guillen, the outspoken manager of the 2005 world champion Chicago White Sox called Chicago Sun-Times columnist Jay Mariotti a deragatory name for a gay person during one of his tirades recently. I'm not going to add an opinion to this area -- it's been overtalked, overhyped and overanalyzed at this point. But the hoopla surrounding his comments and resulting slap on the wrist from Major League Baseball overshadowed another incident that deserves more attention.
Brett Myers, a star pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies, was arrested Friday and charged with hitting his wife in the face not far from Fenway Park in Boston. Police say they found her with a swollen face after responding to a 911 call. Surely, Myers faced a more serious punishment from baseball or his employer, the Phillies, than Guillen, right?
Myers started for the Phillies on Saturday and threw five innings in a 5-3 loss. The Phillies GM Pat Gillick said the team wouldn't punish Myers, manager Charlie Manuel bristled when asked questions about the incident and Myers wasn't exactly contrite according to quotes after the game.
I guess in Major League Baseball, verbal abuse is more dangerous than spousal abuse.
Myers did take a leave of absence from the team until the All-Star Break on Tuesday, and apologized in a written statement, but that doesn't change the fact that the Phillies and MLB missed the boat on this one.Strike Three - There's a Draft in Here
The NBA Draft is tomorrow and while I usually don't give a second thought to the NBA, I'm surprised that this draft doesn't get the attention that the NFL Draft receives.
While I'm not wishing a Mel Kiper Jr. clone on NBA fans, the NBA Draft is actually the more relevant of the two events because these picks actually will make a difference for their teams right away.
We all know the turnarounds fostered by the rookie years of Larry Bird (32-game improvement), David Robinson (35-game improvement) and Tim Duncan (36-game improvement), and it's not surprising that the right rookie can make a more immediate impact on a basketball team with five starting spots as opposed to a football team with 22 starters.
And while both drafts have their share of big misses (Brad Daugherty or Aundray Bruce, anyone?), potential NBA stars usually pan out.
Since the 1983-84 season, the 12 men to win the NBA MVP award were all taken in the first round -- none lower than 15th overall (Steve Nash in 1996). Of those, half were No. 1 picks (Shaq, Duncan, Robinson, Olajuwon, Iverson, Magic).
During the same period, eight of the 19 players who have been named NFL MVP weren't even selected in the first round -- including three-time winner Brett Favre (2nd round), two-time winner Joe Montana (4th round) and two-time winner Kurt Warner (undrafted free agent). Just two winners (Peyton Manning and John Elway) were No. 1 overall picks.
Even without a consensus No. 1 in this year's draft, keep an eye on who goes in the lottery. Chances are, a few of those players will become household names sooner than you think.Foul Tip:
June 28th, Game Worth Watching, New York Mets @ Boston Red Sox
The return of Pedro to Fenway Park. Martinez, who left the Sawx after the 2004 World Series and signed with the Mets, will be making his first appearance against his old team. He'll be facing Josh Beckett, who is 9-3 in his first year with Boston and 4-0, 2.58 at Fenway. Aside from the fact that I have both pitchers on my fantasy team, this will be a great pitching matchup.