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Patrick Reed Breaks Through
[Posted Sunday PM]
NBA Quiz: The NBA has had a league MVP every year since 1955-56. 1) Who was the first? 2) Who is the only player under 6-foot-1 to be MVP? Answers below.
The following was written Sunday morning....
After three rounds....
Reed -14 (67 3rd round)
McIlroy -11 (65)
Fowler -9 (65)
Rahm -8 (65)
Stenson -7 (70)
Jordan Spieth, who opened with a first-round 66 (-6) then shot 74-71 and was back at -5. But in leading after one, it marked the ninth round in his last 15 at Augusta that he held or shared the Masters lead, putting him in third place all time for the most number of rounds holding or sharing the top spot after 18, 36 or 54 holes. Ahead of Spieth are Arnold Palmer (14 times) and Jack Nicklaus (13 times), while Spieth joins Gary Player and Raymond Floyd.
Entering the final round, Rory McIlroy, looking to complete the career grand slam, insisted all the pressure was on Patrick Reed.
“It’s massive to be in the final group for the first time here since 2011,” said McIlroy, who led by four shot after 54 holes in 2011 before collapsing to a closing 80. “I feel like I learned an awful lot that day and hopefully I can put that into practice tomorrow.
“I’ve been waiting for this chance, to be honest. I always have said that 2011 was a huge turning point in my career. It was the day that I realized I wasn’t ready to win major championships, and I needed to reflect on that and realize what I needed to do differently.
“But now I’m ready. Obviously I’m not in the lead like I was going into that day, so I probably don’t have as much pressure. I don’t have to protect anything. I can go out and sort of freewheel like I did today, which is a great position to be in.”
So Sunday, McIlroy and Reed exchanged punches before Rory faded, while Reed stayed strong, weathering a few bogies, only to bounce back, beating back a huge surge from Jordan Spieth, who shot a final-round 64, but bogeyed 18.
Reed had to sink a 3 ½ foot par putt on 18 for the win, Rickie Fowler having birdied the hole to finish second.
Reed -15 (71)
Fowler -14 (67)
Spieth -13 (64)
Rahm -11 (69)
McIlroy -9 (74) ...T-5 with three others
So Captain America breaks through. Reed, 27, is a lightning rod, and that’s alright. I’ve written of his past issues extensively. He has a real chip on his shoulder as a result, and he’s as talented as the other young guns. Golf is in amazingly great shape, and Reed, because he is different, is a super addition at the top.
[Meanwhile, Tiger Woods just never got it going, though he had a final round 69 to finish +1.]
--What a performance by Tony Finau, who unbelievably fired 68-74-73 (-1) his first three rounds....
Thomas Boswell / Washington Post...written after the second round.
“The weekend at the Masters exists to identify who wins a green jacket. The first two days of the Masters often exist to identify someone who wins our heart.
“This year, that player is Tony Finau, who is – unbelievably – tied for eighth place after 36 holes. Finau shouldn’t be on a leader board, not unless that board is a makeshift litter to carry him into surgery after his Finau Flop on Wednesday.
“What’s a little thing like dislocated ankle and torn ligaments – which Finau suffered here Wednesday while celebrating his hole-in-one in the par-3 contest – to an accomplished fire-knife dancer of Tongan and American Samoan descent who now hits a golf ball farther than all but a handful of players in the world?
“Healthy specimens of Golfus Immortalicus have been reduced to bumbling wrecks here. Defending champion Sergio Garcia took a 13 at the 15th hole Thursday. Phil Mickelson shot 79 on Friday. Tiger Woods has drowned his ball at the 12th hole both days. Comedy, not virtuosity, has been the Masters theme despite glorious weather. On his first Masters hole, Jason Day’s ball found a fan’s full beer cup. The patron, told that Day must ID his ball, responded in the spirit of Georgia, in the morning, on a golf course: He chugged his beer as the crowd cheered. That has been the mood here: wacky and make the best of bad.
“So why shouldn’t Finau, on one leg, be at 2 under par? What’s the big deal?
“Just tape your ankle until you can barely move it, then come to the range two hours early Thursday to invent a new swing that keeps weight and pain off your left foot. Then endure that pain for five hours a day while you’re at the course and, just to keep your spirits high, birdie your 36th hole. Otherwise, spend every hour with your foot in ice or elevated and try to sleep through the ache.
“Yes, that Finau. The name on the leader board is the same tall, smiling 28-year-old who celebrated his hole-in-one this week by sprinting toward the green. Then, in grinning glee, he spun around and backpedaled furiously toward the hole, something he had never done. He fell and wrenched his left ankle, his foot hanging at a grotesque angle. Then, in a split second, he grabbed his foot and popped it back into place as if he had done it a hundred times....
“To his delighted surprise, X-rays and an MRI showed ‘a couple of torn ligaments but nothing major. Pretty much a high ankle sprain,’ Finau said. ‘We’re obviously putting it under pressure quite fast. But we’re in the Masters; why not?’”
Sunday, Finau had six straight birdies on his way to a 66 and a T-10. His “Q Rating” no doubt soared.
--I guess we have to note Sergio Garcia’s 13 on No. 15, Thursday, the defending champ hitting five balls into the war in setting the record for highest score on the 15th hole and tying the record for highest score on any hole (joining Tom Weiskopf’s 13 on No. 12 and Tommy Nakajima’s 13 on the par-5 13th).
Much more on The Masters next chat.
--As I go to post, the Mets are 6-1, while playing the Nationals Sunday night in Washington, New York having taken the first two games of the series, sending a message, after the Nationals took 13 of 19 from the Metropolitans last season. Mets fans are rapidly coming to the conclusion that our new manager, Mickey Callaway, clearly seems to have the right stuff.
And the Mets staff leads baseball with a 2.14 ERA. It’s sure early, but it feels pretty good thus far.
But I do have to note how in Saturday’s game, I was watching when the Nationals’ Anthony Rendon was thrown out of the game by home plate umpire Marty Foster, despite not saying a word after Foster called him out on a borderline strike in the fourth inning.
Rendon tossed his bat in displeasure and threw his head back, hardly actions that would qualify as “showing up the umpire,” but Foster threw him out of the game anyway. Washington manager Dave Martinez then ran out of the dugout and said a lot, which earned him an ejection.
It was outrageous behavior by Foster and MLB should suspend the guy.
Crew chief Joe West, another piece of work, spoke on behalf of Foster afterwards and offered this explanation.
“The pitch prior to the strikeout, he walked completely out of the hitter’s circle, which the hitters aren’t allowed to do. Marty said, ‘We got to play. You got to get back in there.’ Then when he called strike three, he threw his bat,” West said. “You have some options there, and Marty felt that what he did was showing him up worse than an equipment violation would have been, and that’s why he ejected him. You have to do something or he loses all respect from the players. I understand that he could have [done nothing], but he chose that this was the penalty for what he did. So it was more involved than just strikeout, throwing equipment.”
Oh brother. Cue Jeff Spicoli.
--The Yankees have been reeling early with one injury after another. Saturday’s lineup had Jace Peterson, Miguel Andujar, Ronald Torreyes, Tyler Austin and Austin Romine in it, hardly what the fans expected in March.
Pitcher CC Sabathia and third baseman Brandon Drury were placed on the disabled list yesterday, CC with a hip strain and Drury suffering from severe migraines. Catcher Gary Sanchez has had “cramp” issues.
Aaron Hicks and Greg Bird are also on the DL, along with outfielder Billy McKinney, who had been brought up to fill in for Hicks.
Today, the Yanks fell to 5-5, losing to Baltimore 8-7 in 12 innings, with Giancarlo Stanton going 0-for-7, 5 strikeouts. Stanton is 7-for-42, fanning 20 times already. Not what the Yanks signed up for.
--The Dodgers beat the Giants 2-1 in 10 today, but Clayton Kershaw, who threw seven innings of one-run ball, is now 0-2, 1.89 ERA. Not exactly a lot of run support.
--But the Shohei Ohtani Show is the story in baseball thus far, as Ohtani has shocked everyone in homering three straight games, the last on Friday night launched 449 feet as the Angels rallied from down 6-0 to beat Oakland 13-9.
No Angels rookie had hit home runs in each of his first three home games, and the most recent player to homer in three straight during a season in which he also started a game as a pitcher was Babe Ruth in 1930. [Ruth started one game that season, complete game victory.]
Ohtani also became the first American Leaguer with at least one home run and two RBIs in each of his first three home games since the RBI stat was invented.
So in keeping with the new routine for him, Ohtani had Saturday off to focus on his second start today.
Imagine that his pregame routine on Friday began with throwing a bullpen session in preparation for the start two days later.
As for why he didn’t DH on Saturday, manager Mike Scioscia said, “At some point, he has to become a pitcher. We have to get him ready to pitch.”
You can’t help but agree.
As a hitter, Ohtani has started off going 7-for-18, 3 homers and 7 RBIs.
So what happened Sunday? Ohtani pitched 7 innings, allowing one hit, one walk, while striking out 12 as the Angels won 6-1 over the A’s.
I was following online while watching The Masters and noticed he had four innings of no-hit ball, then five, then six, before yielding the lone hit in the seventh.
This is beyond amazing. 3 home runs, 2 wins on the mound, in essentially one week.
--The Red Sox have started out 8-1 after an 8-7 win against the Rays (1-8) today.
--The Cleveland Indians’ decision to remove Chief Wahoo from their uniforms still isn’t enough for protesters who find the logo offensive.
After decades of protests, the team announced in January that beginning next season it will no longer have the smiling, red-faced caricature on its caps or jerseys. However, the team will keep selling merchandise bearing the logo.
But as a small group (about two dozen) protested outside Progressive Field on Friday prior to the Indians’ home opener against the Royals, chanting “Less Wahoo? No Wahoo!” they were met with fans yelling “Save the Chief” and other comments. I’m in the latter camp.
--I’m drooling...in an article on ballpark food and the newest culinary monstrosities, via Sports Illustrated, I have to note Pittsburgh’s PNC Park and the pulled pork pierogi hoagie: Pulled pork, potato and cheese pierogi topped with crispy onions on a hoagie bun.
And Atlanta’s Suntrust Park has this one, the Spec-tater: Jumbo potato stuffed with jalapeno cheddar sausage, wrapped in bacon, smoked, and topped with cheese, cream, scallions and jalapenos.
Sounds like an item that is conducive to excessive beer drinking. Uber it, boys and girls.
--The Washington Post’s Neil Greenberg notes that the strikeout rate in 2017 (hitters retired on strikes) was 21.6 percent of the time, a major league record for a full season, and after the first week in 2018 (admittedly a small sample size), it was 22.3 percent. Certainly the prevalence of fresh arms out of the bullpen versus history is a big reason.
But it’s worth noting that in 2006 and 2008, the strikeout rate was “only” 16.5 percent.
It’s just a virtual certainty that the strikeout ratio will continue to increase as pitchers are used more efficiently (like starters only getting the chance to go through a batting order twice), and hitters going for the fences.
--Finally, we note the passing of former pitcher Carl Scheib. He was 91.
Richard Goldstein / New York Times
“In the summer of 1942, Carl Scheib was working on his family’s farm in Pennsylvania and anticipating another year in high school.
“At age 15, he didn’t have a car, but he did possess a nifty fastball and curve, pitching for his high school baseball team.
“He had never seen a major league game, but even if he had ventured to Philadelphia to watch the Athletics or the Phillies play, there wasn’t a lot to look at. Both teams had been in the doldrums for years, and baseball was beginning to lose ballplayers to military service in World War II.
“A salesman in his hometown, Gratz, Pa., happened to work as a part-time scout for the A’s, and on his recommendation the team invited Carl to a workout at Shibe Park. Connie Mack, the A’s president and manager, was impressed enough to ask him to come back the following summer.
“Scheib dropped out of school for good in the spring of 1943 and became a batting-practice pitcher for the A’s.”
Well, wouldn’t you know, but Scheib made his major league debut on Sept. 6, 1943, in relief against the Yankees. He was 16 years, 8 months and 5 days old. In all, he got into six games that year, all in relief.
He would go on to pitch for the A’s in all or parts of 11 seasons, but will be most remembered for having been the youngest player in American League history.
I have to admit, I didn’t know this. I mean all baseball fans grow up learning about Joe Nuxhall, who was 15 years, 316 days, when he made his major league debut on June 10, 1944, for the Reds.
Scheib finished with a 45-65 record, 4.88 ERA, with his best season being 1948 when he went 14-8, 3.94, with 15 complete games.
But Scheib was a good hitting pitcher, batting .250 for his career, including .298 in 1948 (21 ribbies in 104 at-bats).
In 2005, the bicentennial of its founding, the town of Gratz, Pa., had a ceremony in which the community named the ballpark where Scheib once pitched after him and a bronze plaque with his likeness was dedicated, Scheib in attendance. Now that’s cool. The best of America.
--The amazing Philadelphia 76ers extended their win streak today to 14, 109-97 over Dallas, to move to 50-30, a game ahead of Cleveland, 3rd in the East. Friday, the Sixers beat the Cavs 132-130, as LeBron had 46 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists, but eight turnovers, while Ben Simmons was 27-15-13.
--Another story in the NBA as I write is the battle in the Western Conference for the final playoff spots...two games left.
4. Utah 47-33
5. New Orleans 46-34
6. San Antonio 46-34
7. Oklahoma City 46-34
8. Minnesota 45-35
9. Denver 45-35
--The Celtics’ fleeting hopes for a long run in the playoffs were dealt a deadly blow with the announcement that Kyrie Irving will undergo his second surgery in less than two weeks on his left knee. The first surgery had already ruled Irving out for the first round; this one – involving the removal of screws inserted in 2015 in an area that is now infected – rules him out until the fall.
What was kind of bizarre was we were initially told Irving could be back for the playoffs because the first surgery was “minimally invasive.” We went from that to this...where suddenly the long-term impact on Irving’s career is being called into question.
Boston has already been dealing with a season-long injury to franchise player Gordon Hayward (and various injuries to Marcus Smart), and now the Celts have to decide whether to offer Irving a max contract next summer, a five-year deal worth close to $200 million to someone who has an extensive injury history.
This is Irving’s seventh season, and he’s missed more than 15 games in four of them – and more than 20 three times. [He also played only 11 games in his lone season at Duke due to a toe injury.]
What an awful week for Manchester City. Yeah, they are going to win the Premier League title, running away with it, but they lost their first leg of the Champions League quarterfinals this week to Liverpool, 3-0, and then Saturday, with a chance to clinch the PL in front of their home fans against Manchester United, City took a 2-0 halftime lead, only to lose 3-2 on the strength of Man U’s Paul Pogba’s two scores in the last ‘45.
In other games, Liverpool, clearly thinking ahead to future Champions League success, having virtually clinched its spot in the top four for next year, tied Everton 0-0.
But most of the other games had relegation implications.
Bournemouth tied Crystal Palace 2-2, Brighton & Hove Albion drew with Huddersfield 1-1, Newcastle basically clinched a position in the PL for next season with a 2-1 win over Leicester, Tottenham beat Stoke 2-1, Swansea and West Brom tied at 1-1, and today, Arsenal beat Southampton 3-2. [Chelsea, continuing its awful stretch, gave up a late tying goal to West Ham, 1-1.]
So the standings after 32/33 of 38...ties broken by goal differential...
1. Manchester City 32 (played) – 84 (points)
2. Manchester United 32 – 71
3. Liverpool 33 – 67
4. Tottenham 32 – 67 ...Champions League line
5. Chelsea 32 – 57
6. Arsenal 32 – 54
15. Swansea 32 – 32
16. Huddersfield 33 – 32
17. Crystal Palace 33 – 31 ...Relegation line
18. Southampton 32 – 28
19. Stoke 33 – 27
20. West Brom 33 – 21
Kentucky Derby...it’s around the corner, sports fans....
What a weekend for Derby prep races. I told Johnny Mac to remind me to watch them, having watched the Florida Derby the week before, and then I forgot (though there was other sports stuff going on). J. Mac then sent me the link to all three and Sunday I caught the action.
Wow, check out Justify in the Santa Anita Derby. It’s a Bob Baffert horse and what was so impressive is that this was only “Big Red’s” (Baffert’s name for it) third start, and he defeated a very good Bolt d’Oro, who was the Derby fave about three weeks ago. Mike Smith, aka Big Money Mike, is on Justify and he’s as good as they come.
Good Magic, another Derby fave, had a solid win in the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland, and in the Wood Memorial it was Vino Rosso over another Derby contender, Enticed.
Next week we have the Arkansas Derby and the Lexington at Keeneland and then the wait to the big one. I’m pumped after watching yesterday’s action. [Shu, catch Justify...I know you’ll be dropping some coin on it later.]
--What an incredible tragedy in Saskatchewan, Canada, when 15 people died and 14 were injured in a crash involving a bus carrying a junior hockey team. [First reports had 28 on board, 14 killed, before the Royal Canadian Mounted Police corrected the record. Apparently the bus driver wasn’t initially included...and then a 15th person died in the hospital.]
The bus containing the Humboldt Broncos (ages 16-20) and coaches, collided with a semi-truck on a highway Friday night. The team was heading to play in Game 5 of a playoff series against the Nipawin Hawks.
The president of the Nipawin Hawks said the truck hit the side of the players’ bus.
Humboldt is a town of 6,000. I can’t imagine the hurt in that community. And I know the community of Nipawin is hurting as well. All of Canada is. Just so sad.
--The New York Rangers fired coach Alain Vigneault after the team’s regular-season finale Saturday, a 5-0 loss to the Flyers, and hours after Vigneault spent the postgame press conference laying out every shred of evidence he could find to persuade anyone listening that he deserved to come back for a sixth season.
Asked if he expected to come back, Vigneault said, “Yes, yes, without a doubt.”
Ah, not quite. He does, however, leave quite a record, with a regular-season mark of 226-147-37 and a President’s Trophy, plus a Stanley Cup finals appearance.
But the Rangers were 34-39-9 this season and missed the playoffs for the first time in eight seasons.
--They held the NCAA’s Frozen Four this weekend in St. Paul and in the semifinals, Minnesota Duluth, which barely squeaked into the 16-team field for the college hockey championship, beat Ohio State 2-1, while Notre Dame defeated Michigan 4-3.
Then in the final, Minnesota Duluth, which had lost the championship game last year to Denver, defeated the Fighting Irish 2-1 for the title.
I saw an incredible stat about the “Bulldogs.” They scored the first two goals in the final in the first period, and with the final score being 2-1, that meant that since Feb. 21, 2015, Minnesota Duluth is 56-0-3 when taking a lead into the third period.
--In NASCAR, Kyle Busch won his first of the season, defeating Kevin Harvick at Texas Motor Speedway.
--For the archives, I just have to note Sports Illustrated’s look at the next college basketball season.
4. Michigan [especially if Mo Wagner returns]
6. North Carolina
10. Tennessee [well-deserved, today, on paper]
Ah, no Wake Forest.
--Speaking of the Deacs, in the current USA TODAY Sports Weekly, they take a look at the safeties for the upcoming NFL draft and Wake’s former safety, Jessie Bates, is ranked fifth, with this comment: “He had just two years of on-field experience for the Demon Deacons after redshirting as a freshman. Bates covers a lot of ground and can change directions on a dime. But his poor angles and lean build fuel concerns about his ability to stop the run.”
[Minkah Fitzpatrick Alabama, and Derwin James, Florida State, are the first two picks at the position.]
--I watched HBO’s “Paterno” Saturday night and I thought it was terrific. I had read a lot of reviews and they all said it left you guessing, which it does. What did Joe Pa really know?
Al Pacino as Paterno is brilliant. It’s worth watching just for that reason, but I thought the whole film was outstanding in giving a great sense of that tumultuous period when events rapidly spun out of control at Penn State.
--Lastly, there is no doubt who the “Dirtball of the Year” already is; mixed martial arts star Conor McGregor, who was arraigned on felony criminal mischief and other charges following a backstage melee at Brooklyn’s Barclays center. When you watch the video, it is not just outrageous behavior on McGregor’s part, but it’s sick.
The melee injured two fighters and forced the removal of three bouts from UFC’s biggest card of the year the following night.
McGregor was released on $50,000 bond and co-defendant Cian Cowley on $25,000 bond. Both are due back in court on June 14.
McGregor’s attorney said his client is “the most visible face on the planet” and has no criminal history.
The guy was already a despicable pig, and then this.
Top 3 songs for the week 4/13/63: #1 “He’s So Fine” (The Chiffons) #2 “Can’t Get Used To Losing You” (Andy Williams...love this tune...) #3 “South Street” (The Orlons)...and...#4 “The End of the World” (Skeeter Davis) #5 “Baby Workout” (Jackie Wilson) #6 “Our Day Will Come” (Ruby and The Romantics) #7 “I Will Follow Him” (Little Peggy March) #8 “Puff the Magic Dragon” (Peter, Paul & Mary) #9 “Young Lovers” (Paul & Paula) #10 “Do The Bird” (Dee Dee Sharp...bring on the British Invasion...)
NBA Quiz Answers: 1) Bob Pettit was the first MVP, playing for the St. Louis Hawks. 2) Allen Iverson is the shortest player to be league MVP, 2000-01, while with Philadelphia.
Next Bar Chat, Thursday.