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08/21/2014

Generous Phil

[Posted Wed. AM]

Ball Bits

--On Monday, after a 4-1 loss to the Cubs, the Mets matched a major-league record with their fifth straight game with four or fewer hits. No team has had a longer single-season streak since at least 1914. The Mets are also the seventh team to have four such games and the first since the 2004 Mets.

But on Tuesday, the Mets rapped out seven hits in a loss at Oakland, 6-2. David Wright extended his streak without a home run to 120 at-bats, with a whopping two doubles in that stretch. Curtis Granderson has gone 87 ABs without a homer. The two are making about $35 million, combined, to, err, hit home runs.

By the way, the Mets have scored 94 runs in 32 games since the All-Star break. As Johnny Mac was saying, now we know what the dead ball era was like.

--The Pirates’ Andrew McCutchen returned to the lineup Tuesday, but the Pirates lost 11-3 to the Braves to fall to 64-62. Pittsburgh was 5-9 without the 2013 N.L. MVP.

--We note the passing of former infielder Jerry Lumpe, 81. Lumpe played 12 seasons in the big leagues, 1956-67, with the Yankees, Kansas City and Detroit. He played in two World Series with the Yanks, 1957-58, and was an All-Star second baseman in ’64 for the Tigers.

But while with the Kansas City A’s in 1962, he had his finest season, batting .301 with 10 homers, 83 RBI, 10 triples, 34 doubles, and only 38 strikeouts in 641 at-bats.

Overall, Lumpe batted .268 for his career with 1,314 hits.

Johnny Football

Johnny Manziel lost his cool in the Browns’ preseason game with Washington on Monday night, flipping off the Redskins bench after a third-quarter incompletion.

“I felt like I did a good job of holding my composure throughout the night, and you have a lapse of judgment and slip up,” said Johnny Football afterwards.

Manziel could be subject to a fine by the league of up to $11,000.

Browns coach Mike Pettine said, “It did not sit well.... because what we talk about is being poised and being focused.”

Of course this wouldn’t be news except it’s Manziel, whose every move this rookie year will be under the microscope, including his personal life.

College Football

--Big news out of Columbus, Ohio. The Columbus Dispatch first reported that Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller reinjured his right shoulder during practice Monday, and that his season was very much “in jeopardy.”   On Tuesday, we learned he is indeed out for the year. Miller was throwing an out-route in practice when he grabbed his throwing arm/shoulder and told coaches he felt something.

Miller originally hurt his shoulder in the Orange Bowl and had surgery in February. He was a leading Heisman Trophy candidate this year and had the Buckeyes thinking national title.

LeBron

The basketball world wants to know how it was that LeBron James became so skinny. Turns out he cut carbohydrates from his diet; a summer-long carbohydrate cleanse following his loss in the NBA Finals to the Spurs.

James will turn 30, this coming Dec. 30, and he is entering his 12th NBA season. So he said he decided to make some adjustments.

Well, LeBron’s new diet has others around the league changing their eating habits. The Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony has also lost a lot of weight. Ditto Kobe and Dwight Howard.

Last off-season, Heat guard Ray Allen subsisted on the “paleo” diet, one that is heavy on protein-rich meat and fish but light on carbs. [Ben Cohen / Wall Street Journal]

Lefty...the great tipper

Luke Kerr-Dineen has a piece in the September issue of Golf Digest on tipping on the PGA Tour. None are better at it than Phil Mickelson.

After his all-time collapse at Winged Foot in the 2006 U.S. Open (his godawful drive on the 72nd hole that cost him the title), Phil still made the obligatory media stops and signed autographs. Then he sought out Winged Foot’s staff members.

“He thanked them for their work, shook their hands, and discreetly handed each a wad of cash: $1,000 here, $1,500 there. Phil had spent a lot of time preparing at Winged Foot before that year’s Open, so he wanted to thank everyone.

“It’s reasonable to estimate that Mickelson handed about $10,000 in tips to staff throughout the week, according to people who were there. But as he was driving away, Phil felt compelled to turn the car around. In the craziness after his collapse, he realized he had forgotten to tip a handful of the locker-room guys, and he didn’t want to leave without taking care of everyone.

“ ‘Phil is one of the most generous men I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing,’ says Doug Steffen, the director of golf at Baltusrol Golf Club, where the year before Winged Foot, Mickelson had claimed his second major championship ‘The way he takes the time to meet all the staff and thank them for their work, I’ve never seen anything like it.’”

ESPN’s Rick Reilly tells the story of the Sunday night of Phil’s first Masters victory in 2004.

“There were three emotional club employees giving him long bear hugs,” Reilly wrote. “Turns out they were the lower-locker-room guys who were losing Mickelson and his fat $1,000 tips to the Champions Locker Room guys upstairs. They were nearly weeping.”

The PGA Tour actually starts teaching players about tipping on the Web.com Tour. They get tipping pointers during orientation and then regular text messages through the year reminding them to tip as they go. “At the start of every week, when players check in for tournaments, Web.com Tour staff members collect $20 from each player to give to the locker-room workers on Sunday.

The PGA has regulations that players are required to tip locker-room attendants a minimum of $50 for the week. In a 156-player field, that comes to at least $7,800 divided among the handful of attendants clubs usually employ.

If players forget, attendants are encouraged to tell the Tour, which follows up.

Needless to say, tournament weeks are grueling ones for the attendants, with little sleep, but in the end it’s rewarding.

It’s an unwritten rule that players winning a PGA Tour event tip extra. After Tiger Woods won his first tournament, in Las Vegas in 1996, he took the trophy and prepared to go home. Butch Harmon, his coach at the time, emptied his pockets to cover for his student.

“Even though he’d signed contracts worth north of $40 million,” Harmon wrote in his book, The Pro, “he still lived and acted like a college student.” After hopping into a limo with Woods, Harmon told him, “You just won close to $300,000. You should have tipped a grand. And you should do the same thing every week, win or lose. Every Tuesday when you show up, you should hand out hundreds to everybody in the locker room and thank them in advance for taking care of you.”

But not everyone plays the game well. Tom Weiskopf once told Golf Digest’s Guy Yocom in 2000. “There are guys you see at the end of the day taking the plastic bag you’re supposed to put your golf shoes in and filling it up with beer or soft drinks to take it back to their room or out to their buddies...And they’re cheap. I’ve watched some of them tip the locker-room attendant, the guy who shines their shoes all week long, as little as $20. I mean, they drink $30 worth of soft drinks and beer alone. I just couldn’t believe it.”

Back to Phil, though, he’s in a league by himself. As Luke Kerr-Dinnen writes: “He’ll tip $300 to hostesses for seating him at empty restaurants, and another $300 to valets parking his car. The stories of him handing small, folded up $100 bills to the young girls at lemonade stands at the Byron Nelson Championship, then watching the delight as they unravel the prize, have made their way into folklore.”

Of course Phil can afford to do this...but as he puts it: “What’s a few hundred dollars to me, when I know it’s going to make the other person’s day.”

One other golf story, also courtesy of the September issue of Golf Digest, and unrelated to tipping. Henrik Stenson gave his thoughts on various topics. Such as this:

“True story from the European Tour: A well-known caddie was running to catch a train to get to a tournament. There was little time to spare, and he had to go to the bathroom very badly. Just as he gets to the train station, he trips and falls. The impact jars everything loose. Disaster. Fortunately, there’s a clothing shop at the station. He shuffles in and buys a track suit, ignoring the wrinkled-up nose of the salesperson. He barely makes the train. Once the train was underway, he goes into the bathroom, takes off every piece of his clothing and throws it out the window. He removes the track suit from the bag and finds, to his horror, that the suit is missing the pants portion. So he turns the top upside down, forces his legs into the sleeves, zips it up and returns to his seat, topless. For hours he absorbs glares from strangers and the conductors. When he arrived at the tournament, he could barely speak for two days. A post-traumatic-stress situation.”

--Appearing on “The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon,” Monday, Tiger Woods said little about his back injury, though it’s expected he’ll be out until at least December.

When asked by USA TODAY Sports about Rory McIlroy, his Nike stablemate, and Rory’s ‘major’ success, Woods said:

“We’ve gotten to know each other pretty well over the past couple of years. He’s a great kid. He’s got so much talent and he’s only going to continue to improve, which is going to be so much fun to watch.”

But when Woods was asked if McIlroy’s emergence has given him extra incentive to get back to the top of his game.

“People fail to realize I went against Phil [Mickelson], Vijay [Singh] and Ernie [Els], Paddy [Harrington] and Goose [Retief Goosen] all those years. Each one won two, three, four, five major championships. I’ve had my run against quite a few players over the years,” said Tiger. “Now Rory’s another one. And he’s younger. But there’s always going to be guys popping up and playing well. As long as you’re part of the conversation. That’s the thing. You want to be part of the conversation. Jack was part of the conversation for over 20 years. He had a pretty successful career and I’m coming up on my 20th season next year. As long as you’re part of it and involved in it, you’re doing pretty good.” [Chris Strauss / USA TODAY Sports]

Stuff

--Rafael Nadal announced he won’t be defending his title at the U.S. Open, which begins next Monday, due to a wrist injury, which comes as no surprise, but leaves the men’s field with just four former champions: Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Lleyton Hewitt.

Nadal defeated Djokovic in last year’s final to win his second Open title.

--Former Bears coach Mike Ditka, on the Washington Redskins nickname controversy, in an interview with RedskinsHistorian.com..

“What’s all the stink over the Redskin name? Iit’s so much [expletive] it’s incredible. We’re going to let the liberals of the world run this world. It was said out of reverence, out of pride to the American Indian. Even though it was called a Redskin, what are you going to call them, a Brownskin? This is so stupid it’s appalling, and I hope that owner keeps fighting for it and never changes it, because the Redskins are part of an American football history, and it should never be anything but the Washington Redskins. That’s the way it is.”

I told you my solution long ago...change the name to the Red Clouds.

--A man was killed by a 15-foot saltwater crocodile in northern Australia, near Darwin.

The 57-year-old was fishing with his wife in the Adelaide River and had waded into the water to unsnag his line.

“His wife heard a scream and turned around only to see ‘a tail splashing in the water,’ officials said.

“The body was found a few hours later, and the crocodile was shot dead by the police.” [BBC News]

The man was the fourth to be killed by a croc in Australia’s Northern Territory this year.

The attack also took place in a stretch of the river where sightseers are shown crocodiles leaping from the water to snatch chicken carcasses suspended from poles.

[I saw one story where the killer croc was called “Michael Jackson” by locals.]

--Did you see that Alabama family that killed a 1,000-pound alligator, the biggest hunting trophy ever in the state? 1,011.5 pounds, to be exact, the largest alligator legally hunted in ‘Bama. The animal was weighed and measured by a Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries biologist.

--Yikes...just read an AP story by Ellen Knickmeyer and John Locher on the BrightSource Energy solar plant in the Mojave Desert. Federal wildlife investigators who visited the plant last year “watched as birds burned and fell, reporting an average of one ‘streamer’ every two minutes.”

Estimates of the extent of bird deaths range from a low of about a thousand by BrightSource to 28,000 by an expert for the Center for Biological Diversity environmental group.

At the $2.2 billion plant near the California-Nevada border (Google is a partner in the project, incidentally), “More than 300,000 mirrors, each the size of a garage door, reflect solar rays onto three boiler towers each looming up to 40 stories high. The water inside is heated to produce steam, which turns turbines that generate enough electricity for 140,000 homes.

“Sun rays sent up by the field of mirrors are bright enough to dazzle pilots flying in and out of Las Vegas and Los Angeles.”

But authorities say the plant attracts insects, which in turn attracts insect-eating birds that fly to their death.

Wildlife officials who witnessed the phenomena of puffs of smoke and ‘streamers’ said they saw “birds entering the solar flux and igniting.”

BrightSource has applied for an even bigger solar field that would have a 75-story power tower near the California-Arizona border, but the proposed plant is on a flight path for birds between the Colorado River and California’s Salton Sea.

--David Harding / New York Daily News

“Pupils in Peru watched on as their teacher was attacked by a lion at a zoo, after she had entered the animal’s cage in order to prove the big cat was not aggressive.

“Terrified children screamed as their teacher was dragged around the enclosure by the lion after he jumped on her.

“The incident happened at the Monaco Circus in Cusco.

“The brave female teacher was inside the enclosure with the lion’s trainer when the animal pounced.

“She had been called into the cage by the trainer to prove to the schoolchildren that the big cat was gentle.

“But he could not have been proved more wrong as the lion, sitting on a small ladder, jumped on the teacher and dragged her around the enclosure for several seconds as her horrified pupils looked on.

“The teacher was taken to hospital, where she is recovering.”

No word on the status of the children, who will have nightmares the next 40 years.

--As I head to Ireland, I saw this in the Irish Independent:

“An Irish dad-of-five died after being bitten on the neck by a spider while watching a movie at home.

“According to the Irish Sun, John K. died last month from massive internal bleeding as a result of a bug bite he suffered at his home in Cork the year before.

“Before his death, (the man) suffered stomach swelling, organ failure and his eyesight failed.

“It is believed the arachnid is a poisonous red-back which is native to Australia but has been spotted on this side of the world recently.”

At the time he was bitten, the man’s wife spotted “a spider with a weird red back.”

The guy immediately was bleeding profusely, with his health deteriorating quickly.

I’m checking my golf bag and luggage carefully when I return home.

--Reader Shu noted a piece from Smithsonian Magazine on the dangers in our waters. As in, “Between 2009 and 2010, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention counted 81 disease outbreaks in the United States and Puerto Rico related to recreational waters. Many were traced to treated water sources such as pools and waterparks, but some occurred in natural settings like rivers and beaches.”

Bottom line...when you exit the water, wash your hands!!! [And don’t go swimming in the ocean with an open wound. You’ll die of flesh-eating bacteria. Half of the 35 deaths each year from V. vulnificus occur across the Gulf of Mexico region, according to the CDC.

--Two base jumpers died in separate accidents in the French Alps on Sunday, bringing the death toll of the extreme sport in August to four.

As reported by the BBC, “Rescue workers said a man from Australia is believed to have died on impact after jumping from an 8,500-feet peak near Chamonix.

“A French man died shortly after in a similar accident in Mont Granier....

“Police told French news agency AFP that the Australian man, 33, was wearing a wingsuit” and was found in some woods, hundreds of meters below the peak.

The French base jumper “is believed to have been killed after hitting a rock face.” One of the rescuers said that he “managed to clear the first rock face, but not the second.”

Splat....

--Linda Stasi of the New York Daily News asked the question, “Did alimony kill Robin Williams?

“At least in part it sure did. Paying out over $30 million to ex-wives who were allowed to attach themselves to Williams’ bank account like comatose patients on feeding tubes would be enough to make Gandhi angry and depressed.”

--We note the passing of Don Pardo, the television announcer famous for having introduced the lineups on Saturday Night Live since its premiere. He was 96.

Pardo moved to Tucson, Ariz., after retiring in 2006, but executive producer Lorne Michaels asked him to record his introductions from there.

Pardo began his career at NBC Radio in 1940 and switched to television in the ‘50s, working as an announcer on shows like The Price is Right and the original Jeopardy! Then in 1975, he got the SNL gig.

He is the only announcer to be inducted into the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences’ Hall of Fame (2010).

--Taylor Swift took to social media for a half-hour Yahoo live stream Monday evening to announce her fifth album release, 1989, out Oct. 27 and named for the year she was born; Swift’s  “first documented, official pop album,” she told a crowd of fans at the top of New York’s Empire State Building.

Rolling Stone contributing editor Anthony DeCurtis told USA TODAY, “Does anyone still think of Taylor Swift as a country artist anymore? She’s very career-savvy, and I’m sure she and her handlers are convinced she can withstand any potential blowback. And I would agree.”

Country stations, though, are unlikely to play much of her new release.

--The NFL is asking the artists under consideration for the next Super Bowl halftime show to pay to play.

Apparently, the list of performers has already been narrowed down to Coldplay, Rihanna, and Katy Perry.

The league is asking for the performers to contribute a portion of their post-Super Bowl tour income to the league.

Needless to say, the proposal is getting a chilly reception.

Last year, the Super Bowl halftime show, which featured Bruno Mars, drew a record 115.3 million viewers, more than the game itself.

--Finally, back to Robin Williams, as you know I subscribe to Army Times just so I can understand the issues better, and I saw in the Aug. 25 issue some tributes from the soldiers to Mr. Williams. I liked one in particular, from Alejandro S.

“If only we could have looked out for him and have his back like he did for us.”

---

Next (highly abbreviated) Bar Chat, Monday.


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Bar Chat

08/21/2014

Generous Phil

[Posted Wed. AM]

Ball Bits

--On Monday, after a 4-1 loss to the Cubs, the Mets matched a major-league record with their fifth straight game with four or fewer hits. No team has had a longer single-season streak since at least 1914. The Mets are also the seventh team to have four such games and the first since the 2004 Mets.

But on Tuesday, the Mets rapped out seven hits in a loss at Oakland, 6-2. David Wright extended his streak without a home run to 120 at-bats, with a whopping two doubles in that stretch. Curtis Granderson has gone 87 ABs without a homer. The two are making about $35 million, combined, to, err, hit home runs.

By the way, the Mets have scored 94 runs in 32 games since the All-Star break. As Johnny Mac was saying, now we know what the dead ball era was like.

--The Pirates’ Andrew McCutchen returned to the lineup Tuesday, but the Pirates lost 11-3 to the Braves to fall to 64-62. Pittsburgh was 5-9 without the 2013 N.L. MVP.

--We note the passing of former infielder Jerry Lumpe, 81. Lumpe played 12 seasons in the big leagues, 1956-67, with the Yankees, Kansas City and Detroit. He played in two World Series with the Yanks, 1957-58, and was an All-Star second baseman in ’64 for the Tigers.

But while with the Kansas City A’s in 1962, he had his finest season, batting .301 with 10 homers, 83 RBI, 10 triples, 34 doubles, and only 38 strikeouts in 641 at-bats.

Overall, Lumpe batted .268 for his career with 1,314 hits.

Johnny Football

Johnny Manziel lost his cool in the Browns’ preseason game with Washington on Monday night, flipping off the Redskins bench after a third-quarter incompletion.

“I felt like I did a good job of holding my composure throughout the night, and you have a lapse of judgment and slip up,” said Johnny Football afterwards.

Manziel could be subject to a fine by the league of up to $11,000.

Browns coach Mike Pettine said, “It did not sit well.... because what we talk about is being poised and being focused.”

Of course this wouldn’t be news except it’s Manziel, whose every move this rookie year will be under the microscope, including his personal life.

College Football

--Big news out of Columbus, Ohio. The Columbus Dispatch first reported that Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller reinjured his right shoulder during practice Monday, and that his season was very much “in jeopardy.”   On Tuesday, we learned he is indeed out for the year. Miller was throwing an out-route in practice when he grabbed his throwing arm/shoulder and told coaches he felt something.

Miller originally hurt his shoulder in the Orange Bowl and had surgery in February. He was a leading Heisman Trophy candidate this year and had the Buckeyes thinking national title.

LeBron

The basketball world wants to know how it was that LeBron James became so skinny. Turns out he cut carbohydrates from his diet; a summer-long carbohydrate cleanse following his loss in the NBA Finals to the Spurs.

James will turn 30, this coming Dec. 30, and he is entering his 12th NBA season. So he said he decided to make some adjustments.

Well, LeBron’s new diet has others around the league changing their eating habits. The Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony has also lost a lot of weight. Ditto Kobe and Dwight Howard.

Last off-season, Heat guard Ray Allen subsisted on the “paleo” diet, one that is heavy on protein-rich meat and fish but light on carbs. [Ben Cohen / Wall Street Journal]

Lefty...the great tipper

Luke Kerr-Dineen has a piece in the September issue of Golf Digest on tipping on the PGA Tour. None are better at it than Phil Mickelson.

After his all-time collapse at Winged Foot in the 2006 U.S. Open (his godawful drive on the 72nd hole that cost him the title), Phil still made the obligatory media stops and signed autographs. Then he sought out Winged Foot’s staff members.

“He thanked them for their work, shook their hands, and discreetly handed each a wad of cash: $1,000 here, $1,500 there. Phil had spent a lot of time preparing at Winged Foot before that year’s Open, so he wanted to thank everyone.

“It’s reasonable to estimate that Mickelson handed about $10,000 in tips to staff throughout the week, according to people who were there. But as he was driving away, Phil felt compelled to turn the car around. In the craziness after his collapse, he realized he had forgotten to tip a handful of the locker-room guys, and he didn’t want to leave without taking care of everyone.

“ ‘Phil is one of the most generous men I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing,’ says Doug Steffen, the director of golf at Baltusrol Golf Club, where the year before Winged Foot, Mickelson had claimed his second major championship ‘The way he takes the time to meet all the staff and thank them for their work, I’ve never seen anything like it.’”

ESPN’s Rick Reilly tells the story of the Sunday night of Phil’s first Masters victory in 2004.

“There were three emotional club employees giving him long bear hugs,” Reilly wrote. “Turns out they were the lower-locker-room guys who were losing Mickelson and his fat $1,000 tips to the Champions Locker Room guys upstairs. They were nearly weeping.”

The PGA Tour actually starts teaching players about tipping on the Web.com Tour. They get tipping pointers during orientation and then regular text messages through the year reminding them to tip as they go. “At the start of every week, when players check in for tournaments, Web.com Tour staff members collect $20 from each player to give to the locker-room workers on Sunday.

The PGA has regulations that players are required to tip locker-room attendants a minimum of $50 for the week. In a 156-player field, that comes to at least $7,800 divided among the handful of attendants clubs usually employ.

If players forget, attendants are encouraged to tell the Tour, which follows up.

Needless to say, tournament weeks are grueling ones for the attendants, with little sleep, but in the end it’s rewarding.

It’s an unwritten rule that players winning a PGA Tour event tip extra. After Tiger Woods won his first tournament, in Las Vegas in 1996, he took the trophy and prepared to go home. Butch Harmon, his coach at the time, emptied his pockets to cover for his student.

“Even though he’d signed contracts worth north of $40 million,” Harmon wrote in his book, The Pro, “he still lived and acted like a college student.” After hopping into a limo with Woods, Harmon told him, “You just won close to $300,000. You should have tipped a grand. And you should do the same thing every week, win or lose. Every Tuesday when you show up, you should hand out hundreds to everybody in the locker room and thank them in advance for taking care of you.”

But not everyone plays the game well. Tom Weiskopf once told Golf Digest’s Guy Yocom in 2000. “There are guys you see at the end of the day taking the plastic bag you’re supposed to put your golf shoes in and filling it up with beer or soft drinks to take it back to their room or out to their buddies...And they’re cheap. I’ve watched some of them tip the locker-room attendant, the guy who shines their shoes all week long, as little as $20. I mean, they drink $30 worth of soft drinks and beer alone. I just couldn’t believe it.”

Back to Phil, though, he’s in a league by himself. As Luke Kerr-Dinnen writes: “He’ll tip $300 to hostesses for seating him at empty restaurants, and another $300 to valets parking his car. The stories of him handing small, folded up $100 bills to the young girls at lemonade stands at the Byron Nelson Championship, then watching the delight as they unravel the prize, have made their way into folklore.”

Of course Phil can afford to do this...but as he puts it: “What’s a few hundred dollars to me, when I know it’s going to make the other person’s day.”

One other golf story, also courtesy of the September issue of Golf Digest, and unrelated to tipping. Henrik Stenson gave his thoughts on various topics. Such as this:

“True story from the European Tour: A well-known caddie was running to catch a train to get to a tournament. There was little time to spare, and he had to go to the bathroom very badly. Just as he gets to the train station, he trips and falls. The impact jars everything loose. Disaster. Fortunately, there’s a clothing shop at the station. He shuffles in and buys a track suit, ignoring the wrinkled-up nose of the salesperson. He barely makes the train. Once the train was underway, he goes into the bathroom, takes off every piece of his clothing and throws it out the window. He removes the track suit from the bag and finds, to his horror, that the suit is missing the pants portion. So he turns the top upside down, forces his legs into the sleeves, zips it up and returns to his seat, topless. For hours he absorbs glares from strangers and the conductors. When he arrived at the tournament, he could barely speak for two days. A post-traumatic-stress situation.”

--Appearing on “The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon,” Monday, Tiger Woods said little about his back injury, though it’s expected he’ll be out until at least December.

When asked by USA TODAY Sports about Rory McIlroy, his Nike stablemate, and Rory’s ‘major’ success, Woods said:

“We’ve gotten to know each other pretty well over the past couple of years. He’s a great kid. He’s got so much talent and he’s only going to continue to improve, which is going to be so much fun to watch.”

But when Woods was asked if McIlroy’s emergence has given him extra incentive to get back to the top of his game.

“People fail to realize I went against Phil [Mickelson], Vijay [Singh] and Ernie [Els], Paddy [Harrington] and Goose [Retief Goosen] all those years. Each one won two, three, four, five major championships. I’ve had my run against quite a few players over the years,” said Tiger. “Now Rory’s another one. And he’s younger. But there’s always going to be guys popping up and playing well. As long as you’re part of the conversation. That’s the thing. You want to be part of the conversation. Jack was part of the conversation for over 20 years. He had a pretty successful career and I’m coming up on my 20th season next year. As long as you’re part of it and involved in it, you’re doing pretty good.” [Chris Strauss / USA TODAY Sports]

Stuff

--Rafael Nadal announced he won’t be defending his title at the U.S. Open, which begins next Monday, due to a wrist injury, which comes as no surprise, but leaves the men’s field with just four former champions: Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Lleyton Hewitt.

Nadal defeated Djokovic in last year’s final to win his second Open title.

--Former Bears coach Mike Ditka, on the Washington Redskins nickname controversy, in an interview with RedskinsHistorian.com..

“What’s all the stink over the Redskin name? Iit’s so much [expletive] it’s incredible. We’re going to let the liberals of the world run this world. It was said out of reverence, out of pride to the American Indian. Even though it was called a Redskin, what are you going to call them, a Brownskin? This is so stupid it’s appalling, and I hope that owner keeps fighting for it and never changes it, because the Redskins are part of an American football history, and it should never be anything but the Washington Redskins. That’s the way it is.”

I told you my solution long ago...change the name to the Red Clouds.

--A man was killed by a 15-foot saltwater crocodile in northern Australia, near Darwin.

The 57-year-old was fishing with his wife in the Adelaide River and had waded into the water to unsnag his line.

“His wife heard a scream and turned around only to see ‘a tail splashing in the water,’ officials said.

“The body was found a few hours later, and the crocodile was shot dead by the police.” [BBC News]

The man was the fourth to be killed by a croc in Australia’s Northern Territory this year.

The attack also took place in a stretch of the river where sightseers are shown crocodiles leaping from the water to snatch chicken carcasses suspended from poles.

[I saw one story where the killer croc was called “Michael Jackson” by locals.]

--Did you see that Alabama family that killed a 1,000-pound alligator, the biggest hunting trophy ever in the state? 1,011.5 pounds, to be exact, the largest alligator legally hunted in ‘Bama. The animal was weighed and measured by a Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries biologist.

--Yikes...just read an AP story by Ellen Knickmeyer and John Locher on the BrightSource Energy solar plant in the Mojave Desert. Federal wildlife investigators who visited the plant last year “watched as birds burned and fell, reporting an average of one ‘streamer’ every two minutes.”

Estimates of the extent of bird deaths range from a low of about a thousand by BrightSource to 28,000 by an expert for the Center for Biological Diversity environmental group.

At the $2.2 billion plant near the California-Nevada border (Google is a partner in the project, incidentally), “More than 300,000 mirrors, each the size of a garage door, reflect solar rays onto three boiler towers each looming up to 40 stories high. The water inside is heated to produce steam, which turns turbines that generate enough electricity for 140,000 homes.

“Sun rays sent up by the field of mirrors are bright enough to dazzle pilots flying in and out of Las Vegas and Los Angeles.”

But authorities say the plant attracts insects, which in turn attracts insect-eating birds that fly to their death.

Wildlife officials who witnessed the phenomena of puffs of smoke and ‘streamers’ said they saw “birds entering the solar flux and igniting.”

BrightSource has applied for an even bigger solar field that would have a 75-story power tower near the California-Arizona border, but the proposed plant is on a flight path for birds between the Colorado River and California’s Salton Sea.

--David Harding / New York Daily News

“Pupils in Peru watched on as their teacher was attacked by a lion at a zoo, after she had entered the animal’s cage in order to prove the big cat was not aggressive.

“Terrified children screamed as their teacher was dragged around the enclosure by the lion after he jumped on her.

“The incident happened at the Monaco Circus in Cusco.

“The brave female teacher was inside the enclosure with the lion’s trainer when the animal pounced.

“She had been called into the cage by the trainer to prove to the schoolchildren that the big cat was gentle.

“But he could not have been proved more wrong as the lion, sitting on a small ladder, jumped on the teacher and dragged her around the enclosure for several seconds as her horrified pupils looked on.

“The teacher was taken to hospital, where she is recovering.”

No word on the status of the children, who will have nightmares the next 40 years.

--As I head to Ireland, I saw this in the Irish Independent:

“An Irish dad-of-five died after being bitten on the neck by a spider while watching a movie at home.

“According to the Irish Sun, John K. died last month from massive internal bleeding as a result of a bug bite he suffered at his home in Cork the year before.

“Before his death, (the man) suffered stomach swelling, organ failure and his eyesight failed.

“It is believed the arachnid is a poisonous red-back which is native to Australia but has been spotted on this side of the world recently.”

At the time he was bitten, the man’s wife spotted “a spider with a weird red back.”

The guy immediately was bleeding profusely, with his health deteriorating quickly.

I’m checking my golf bag and luggage carefully when I return home.

--Reader Shu noted a piece from Smithsonian Magazine on the dangers in our waters. As in, “Between 2009 and 2010, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention counted 81 disease outbreaks in the United States and Puerto Rico related to recreational waters. Many were traced to treated water sources such as pools and waterparks, but some occurred in natural settings like rivers and beaches.”

Bottom line...when you exit the water, wash your hands!!! [And don’t go swimming in the ocean with an open wound. You’ll die of flesh-eating bacteria. Half of the 35 deaths each year from V. vulnificus occur across the Gulf of Mexico region, according to the CDC.

--Two base jumpers died in separate accidents in the French Alps on Sunday, bringing the death toll of the extreme sport in August to four.

As reported by the BBC, “Rescue workers said a man from Australia is believed to have died on impact after jumping from an 8,500-feet peak near Chamonix.

“A French man died shortly after in a similar accident in Mont Granier....

“Police told French news agency AFP that the Australian man, 33, was wearing a wingsuit” and was found in some woods, hundreds of meters below the peak.

The French base jumper “is believed to have been killed after hitting a rock face.” One of the rescuers said that he “managed to clear the first rock face, but not the second.”

Splat....

--Linda Stasi of the New York Daily News asked the question, “Did alimony kill Robin Williams?

“At least in part it sure did. Paying out over $30 million to ex-wives who were allowed to attach themselves to Williams’ bank account like comatose patients on feeding tubes would be enough to make Gandhi angry and depressed.”

--We note the passing of Don Pardo, the television announcer famous for having introduced the lineups on Saturday Night Live since its premiere. He was 96.

Pardo moved to Tucson, Ariz., after retiring in 2006, but executive producer Lorne Michaels asked him to record his introductions from there.

Pardo began his career at NBC Radio in 1940 and switched to television in the ‘50s, working as an announcer on shows like The Price is Right and the original Jeopardy! Then in 1975, he got the SNL gig.

He is the only announcer to be inducted into the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences’ Hall of Fame (2010).

--Taylor Swift took to social media for a half-hour Yahoo live stream Monday evening to announce her fifth album release, 1989, out Oct. 27 and named for the year she was born; Swift’s  “first documented, official pop album,” she told a crowd of fans at the top of New York’s Empire State Building.

Rolling Stone contributing editor Anthony DeCurtis told USA TODAY, “Does anyone still think of Taylor Swift as a country artist anymore? She’s very career-savvy, and I’m sure she and her handlers are convinced she can withstand any potential blowback. And I would agree.”

Country stations, though, are unlikely to play much of her new release.

--The NFL is asking the artists under consideration for the next Super Bowl halftime show to pay to play.

Apparently, the list of performers has already been narrowed down to Coldplay, Rihanna, and Katy Perry.

The league is asking for the performers to contribute a portion of their post-Super Bowl tour income to the league.

Needless to say, the proposal is getting a chilly reception.

Last year, the Super Bowl halftime show, which featured Bruno Mars, drew a record 115.3 million viewers, more than the game itself.

--Finally, back to Robin Williams, as you know I subscribe to Army Times just so I can understand the issues better, and I saw in the Aug. 25 issue some tributes from the soldiers to Mr. Williams. I liked one in particular, from Alejandro S.

“If only we could have looked out for him and have his back like he did for us.”

---

Next (highly abbreviated) Bar Chat, Monday.