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Duke's Stunning Comeback
[Posted Wed. a.m.]
NCAA Basketball Quiz: 1) Who is the leading scorer in Div. I this season? 2) What two D-I players will soon be in the top ten all-time for points scored? [Not major conference players.] Answers below.
AP Poll (Feb. 11)
1. Tennessee (40) 22-1
2. Duke (24) 21-2
3. Gonzaga 23-2
4. Virginia 20-2
5. Kentucky 20-3
6. Michigan 22-2
7. Nevada 23-1
8. North Carolina 19-4
9. Houston 23-1...as Butch and Sundance said, “Who are those guys?”
10. Marquette 20-4
25. Buffalo 20-3
28. Wofford...if you carry out the votes
--So Monday we then had a biggie, Virginia traveling to Chapel Hill to face UNC, and after a bad loss at home to Duke on Saturday, the Cavaliers played Virginia basketball, winning 69-61, shooting 53.3% from the field, while holding the Tar Heels to 35.4% (including 9 of 30 from three).
Kyle Guy (20 points), De’Andre Hunter (20), and Ty Jerome (15) are frankly the whole UVA team, so that’s what’s kind of dangerous come March, as in the three really need to be on their game, but this was a big win.
As for Carolina, Michael Jordan was in the stands and I’m guessing he was thinking, ‘Yoh, Coby White, cut your hair!’ The kid has talent, and has been playing great of late, but he was totally out of control Monday, going 6 of 19 from the field and spending way too much time dribbling around without purpose.
--Then last night, Tuesday...
What an incredible game we had in Louisville, the No. 16 Cardinals hosting 2 Duke. I was watching this one and as the television broadcasters duly noted, Duke was suffering a major letdown from its win over Virginia. The Blue Devils were totally outplayed and outclassed, down 38-29 at the half, and in the second, with the score 56-36, I was ready for bed.
But something told me to stay up just a little longer, Louisville stretching the lead to 59-36 with under 10 minutes to play, when Duke began its biggest comeback in the Coach K era, outscoring Louisville 35-10 the rest of the way for a staggering 71-69 win, Duke now 22-2, 10-1; Louisville falling to 17-8, 8-4.
I then had to stay up to see what stud Zion Williamson (27 points, 12 rebounds) said after and he said with Duke down 20, Krzyzewski told them, “I don’t coach losers.” What a great line. His boys bought in. How Louisville responds the rest of the way will have a lot to do with their own coach, Chris Mack, who said after, “I’m stunned.”
Almost as stunning was Penn State (9-15, 2-11) taking down 6 Michigan (22-3, 11-3) 75-69. Michigan shot 51.0% from the field, it’s just that the lowly Nittany Lions found a way to prevail.
And we had another upset, 19 LSU (20-4, 10-1) defeated 5 Kentucky (20-4, 9-2) 73-71 on a tip-in at the buzzer. It was the first win for the Tigers over the Wildcats since 2009 (just sixth all time), plus it was in Lexington. LSU also snapped Kentucky’s 10-game winning streak.
More to form, 10 Marquette (21-4, 10-2) easily handled DePaul (13-10, 5-7) 92-73 behind Markus Howard’s 36.
And 11 Michigan State (20-5, 11-3) is back in form after its recent 3-game losing streak, defeating 20 Wisconsin (17-8, 9-5) on the road, 67-59.
--Gonzaga appears to have lost a key cog, forward Killian Tillie, who was rounding into form after missing the first 15 games with an ankle injury, averaging 6 points and 4 rebounds, but when healthy, last season the 6-foot-10 junior from France averaged 12.9 and 5.9, while shooting 47.9 percent from three.
--The woman who has accused Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax of sexually assaulting her on Duke’s campus when the two were attending school there, has also alleged she was assaulted in 1999 by a Duke basketball player, who the New York Times has identified, but I won’t. It’s not fair to do so.
But I can’t help but add that as the investigation now begins, Duke having said it was considering opening one, the school said in a statement, “Coach Krzyzewski confirms that he had no knowledge of the alleged conduct from 1999.”
That’s the key. IF it happened, did Coach K. know? After last night’s Louisville victory, Krzyzewski, when questioned on the topic, said, “I had no knowledge. At that level, for that serious of an accusation, it’s always university-level. Always. Our university will handle everything, and that’s what should happen. Coach shouldn’t do anything with that.”
It’s another classic case of ‘wait 24 hours.’
--Russell Westbrook notched his NBA-record 10th consecutive triple-double Monday, breaking Wilt Chamberlain’s record of nine. Westbrook had 21 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists (while teammate Paul George had 47 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists), as the Thunder defeated the Trail Blazers 120-111 to improve to 37-19.
--Also Monday, for the second time during his own historic streak, James Harden needed a three-pointer in the final minute to reach 30 points, the 30th consecutive game with at least 30, one behind Wilt’s second-longest streak of 31, Houston defeating Dallas 120-104. Harden shot just 9 of 23 from the field, 6 of 17 from downtown.
--The Lakers’ Magic Johnson spoke out finally about the failed trade talks with the Pelicans for Anthony Davis, saying he had no regrets about the public nature of his discussions with New Orleans GM Dell Demps, and the constant mention of various Lakers players who could be moved, saying he believed the players were professional enough to handle hearing their names in trade rumors.
“Quit making this about thinking these guys are babies, because that’s what you’re treating them like,” Johnson said. “They’re professionals. All of them. This is how this league works. They know it, I know it. That’s how it goes. So we gotta move forward, and we are moving forward. They played outstanding against Boston (referring to a recent come-from-behind win on the road there). We need to play well and move on.”
Asked if the thought New Orleans was negotiating in good faith. “No,” Johnson said. “We knew that basically at the end of the day what happened, happened. And we knew that when we first started. In terms of what happened. But hey, it is what it is.”
But following a 143-120 loss at Philadelphia on Sunday, some of the players had tepid reactions to their individual chats with Magic.
“We just hashed out, just is what it is,” Kyle Kuzma said, conceding a lot of his teammates were a bit disconcerted by the process.
As for Demps, while he spoke several times with Johnson, he said he never told Magic what he wanted for Davis. Lonzo Ball, Kuzma, Ivica Zubac, Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram, Rajon Rondo and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope all were offered to the Pelicans at some point.
Clippers fans yelled “you’re all getting traded!” at the Lakers bench during their Jan. 31 game. During a 42-point loss at Indiana, fans chanted “LeBron’s gonna trade you” while Ingram shot free throws.
Speaking of LeBron, fans are growing more and more disgruntled, the Lakers 28-29 after a 117-113 loss to the Hawks last night, despite LeBron’s 28-11-16 triple-double. As in what was all the hype about in bringing LeBron to L.A.? They were at least supposed to make the playoffs and win a round.
--Boy, the Cleveland Browns sure made a controversial move, signing free agent running back Kareem Hunt on Monday, even as Hunt faces a probable 8-game suspension from the NFL because of the domestic violence incident that led to his release from the Kansas City Chiefs.
Hunt spoke out publicly and apologized for his actions, and Cleveland GM John Dorsey, who drafted Hunt in Kansas City, cited his long “relationship and interaction” with the running back as part of the reason why the team signed him.
“My relationship and interaction with Kareem since 2016 in college was an important part of this decision-making process but we then did extensive due diligence with many individuals, including clinical professionals, to have a better understanding of the person he is today and whether it was prudent to sign him,” Dorsey said. “There were two important factors: one is that Kareem took full responsibility for his egregious actions and showed true remorse and secondly, just as importantly, he is undergoing and is committed to necessary professional treatment and a plan that has been clearly laid out.”
According to the NFL, Hunt has undergone treatment for both alcohol and anger issues.
Commissioner Roger Goodell told reporters at the Super Bowl he expected to conclude the investigation into Hunt “soon.”
--The Oakland Athletics must be livid with Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray announcing he is committed to the NFL, the A’s having selected him with the ninth pick in last June’s baseball draft. But the A’s took a gamble, and for now they’ve lost.
“We just don’t see athletes like this on the baseball field very often,” Oakland’s scouting director, Eric Kubota, said when they first tabbed Murray. “He’s just a tremendous athlete, which can translate to the baseball field in a lot of ways. He has a chance to really be dominant on both the offensive end and from a defensive standpoint.”
Back then, Kubota also said the risk of Murray’s playing quarterback at Oklahoma was worth taking.
And now Murray has made his decision, making no mention of the $4.6 million deal he reached with the A’s last June, with the promise to play only baseball after the 2018 college football season.
According to ESPN, Murray is returning $1.29 million of his $1.5 million signing bonus, and will not collect the remaining $3.16 million that he was due to be paid next month.
Should Murray reconsider after a year of getting pounded in the NFL, the A’s retain his rights, but they get no compensation pick for his defection.
As the New York Times Tyler Kepner put it: “They gambled and lost – but baseball lost even bigger.”
--No, I didn’t watch any of the first weekend action in the Alliance of American Football, and I can’t see myself doing so until maybe next season, or perhaps their championship game.
But I did just glance at the offensive stats of all eight teams in the league and I couldn’t believe how few of the names I recognized. But I guess if you were in Birmingham or Salt Lake City, you might be kind of interested, not having an NFL team of your own.
That said, locally there was reason for mild interest in that two former Jets quarterbacks were in action; Christian Hackenberg playing for the Memphis Express and John Wolford (who also starred at Wake Forest) for the Arizona Hotshots.
Hackenberg, the disgraced second-round pick of the Jets in 2016 who never played a down in the regular season, was awful, 10-of-23 for 87 yards.
But Wolford, who was in camp with the Jets last summer but was then released (though the team had good things to say about him) was terrific, passing for 275 yards and four touchdowns. Wolford was so good apparently (again, I didn’t personally see it) that he was drawing comparisons to Drew Brees by NFL Network analysts Maurice Jones Drew and Marvin Lewis.
So this is a case where if you treat the league like it’s AAA, there’s no doubt it’s an opportunity for some like Wolford to make their case for another look by an NFL team.
--Bob Costas opened up on his early retirement from NBC, alleging in an interview that the network’s executives abruptly removed him from covering last year’s Super Bowl after he criticized the violence in football and how the “game destroys people’s brains.”
Costas’ nearly 40-year relationship with NBC came crashing down in November 2017, when at a symposium with fellow journalists at the University of Maryland, Costas remarked on what he saw as the life-altering dangers of the sport, the devastating consequences for the players and the threat to the NFL.
“The reality is that this game destroys people’s brains – not everyone’s, but a substantial number. It’s not a small number, it’s a considerable number. It destroys their brains.”
Costas had made similar comments before, and was part of an hourlong special NBC aired on the topic in 2013, but this time, just months before NBC aired the 2018 Super Bowl, the network took action. He was removed from the game coverage and network executives set into motion his departure even though he had a contract running through 2021.
--Spring training officially opens up next week and still no sign of Bryce Harper or Manny Machado inking a big deal, let alone some of the second-tier players such as Craig Kimbrel and Dallas Keuchel, who should be big contributors wherever they land.
The following is from a few days ago but I didn’t have a chance to include it last time.
Jared Diamond and Ben Cohen / Wall Street Journal
“Baseball players can be paid anything they can convince teams to pay in the sports economy that most closely resembles a free market, but they are angrier than they have been in a quarter-century. Basketball players have their earning potential artificially deflated by a salary cap, and yet they have tilted the balance of power their way.
“That contradiction shows that it’s not just a torrent of 3-pointers that is propelling the NBA or an epidemic of slow games that is hobbling MLB. It’s the economic systems of the two sports that are driving them in opposite directions.
“Baseball is the only major North American league without a salary cap, a landmark achievement for the players’ union that earned players the right to earn whatever the market will bear with no restrictions on the length or dollar amount of contracts.
“But in recent winters, the hot stove has been frigid. MLB teams are refusing to award the monster contracts to superstars they once dished out like candy. The biggest free-agent deal ever was given to Alex Rodriguez for $275 million more than a decade ago....
“It has now been 100 days since Harper and Machado officially hit the market in the primes of their careers. LeBron James agreed to his contract with the Los Angeles Lakers last summer less than 24 hours after becoming a free agent.
“The salary cap and floor in the NBA mean that someone with as much influence on his team as James will never know what he might be worth on the open market. He’s limited to a maximum salary of about $35 million this year. But what the most valuable basketball players sacrifice in earning potential they have gained in control over their own careers.
“ ‘The wage compression in the NBA has led to superstars being massively underpaid by the salary cap,’ said Yale economist Florian Ederer. ‘We moved from an equilibrium with underpaid but powerful star players.’”
Teams such as the Lakers were lusting after Anthony Davis (who isn’t a free agent for nearly 18 months) because any team with LeBron and Davis, or Durant and Kyree “is a title contender even if the bench consists of kitchen appliances. The difference in baseball is that a team could sign Harper, Machado and Keuchel and realistically still miss the playoffs.
“Call it the Albert Pujols rule. He was the best player in baseball when the Los Angeles Angels signed him to a $240 million contract seven years ago. They also have Mike Trout, the best player in baseball now, and they still haven’t won a playoff game.
“David Samson, the former president of the Miami Marlins, remembers watching Derek Jeter in the dugout during the final inning of the 2003 World Series. He realized that, with Jeter not due up to bat, the Yankees’ star shortstop could do nothing but watch. But when the Miami Heat signed James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, they could almost guarantee that a major star would determine their fate when it mattered. The Heat went to four straight NBA Finals after assembling that trio.
“ ‘When Bosh, Wade and LeBron say to themselves they are going to play together, they are deciding the future of the NBA,’ Samson said. ‘Baseball has no players who can do that.’”
That’s a great point.
“Basketball players are taking shorter contracts and feeling obligated to partner with each other to win championships. The result is that the NBA has become a league in which the trades and transactions get more attention than the game themselves. The season and offseason are one.
“Baseball’s free agency is an interminable slog by comparison.” [Diamond and Cohen]
--While talk has been of free agency and potential rules changes, one issue that will enter the forefront of discussion once the season begins is just how many teams use the “opener” strategy of using a reliever to start the game, followed by another reliever or traditional starter after the first inning or two; a strategy employed heavily by Tampa Bay last season, as well as Oakland after their starting staff was hit by injuries.
This season others considering employing the strategy include Toronto, Texas and Seattle.
But the other day during a Fan Fest, San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy said Madison Bumgarner texted him during the Winter Meetings and expressed his displeasure after learning the Giants were contemplating using the opener strategy.
“If you’re using an opener in my game, I’m walking right out of the ballpark,” Bumgarner said to his boss.
Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said he thinks “there are times where (using an opener) presents a real strategic advantage.
“I can just say that when the opposition is thinking about using an opener, it makes your life harder. Our goal as a team should be to make life as difficult as possible for our opposition.”
--I can’t believe I missed the passing, Feb. 3, of former Pirates great Bob Friend, 88.
Friend pitched from 1951-66, all but the final season (split between the Yankees and Mets) with Pittsburgh, but while I don’t remember him actually pitching for the Mets in ’66, I became enamored with his stats...the guy a true ironman for the Pirates...11 straight 200-inning seasons, 9 seasons with 13+ wins, an NL ERA title (1955), 22-14 in 1958 (third in the NL Cy Young vote), 18-12 in the Pirates’ 1960 World Series year, and a three-time All-Star.
What stood out in the end was his won-loss record. 197-230 (191-218 with the Pirates), but a very respectable 3.58 ERA.
You have to understand that much of this time the Pirates were awful.
Like this stretch:
But in 1955, with the Pirates going 60-94, Friend was 14-9 (winning the ERA title). In 1956 he was 17-17 for a team that went 62-92. And then in 1958, he had his big season, 22-14, for a team that was beginning to improve, 84-70.
Bottom line, he pitched his heart out, you can tell just looking at the stats.
And consider this. Bob Friend didn’t spend one day on the disabled list in his 16-year MLB career.
Friend is still the Pirates’ franchise leader in starts (477), innings pitched (3,480) and strikeouts (1,682). His 218 losses are first in club history, his 191 wins fourth.
His son, also Bob Friend (if that rings a bell, the longtime pro golfer), told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Stephen J. Nesbitt:
“My father was a Renaissance man. He sang in a barbershop quartet in high school and college and was recruited by the Pirates right out of high school. but went back to Purdue for seven offseasons and earned a degree in economics...
“I never met anyone in my entire life who had every quality that makes a man a man,” son Bob continued. “He was loyal. He was smart. And he worked hard. He had incredible character, and had a great sense of humor. He was a man’s man and a gentleman who stood whenever a lady entered the room and held doors open for ladies.
“My father had a very long career in Major League Baseball, but you could be in a conversation with dad for hours and not know he was in the majors,” the younger Mr. Friend said. “It never came up. He was the most humble guy I ever met.”
Sportswriter Leonard Koppett said of Friend in Bill James and Rob Neyer’s 2004 book, “The Neyer/James Guide to Pitchers,” “A gentleman in every sense, respected universally by fellow players.”
I heard a lot about the character of Bob Friend growing up on my trips to the Pittsburgh area to visit family, regaled with Pirates stories. My father was a big fan as well, going to a lot of games at Forbes Field while attending the University of Pittsburgh.
It was years ago that the New York Mets honored longtime Pirates Hall of Famer, and Mets broadcaster, Ralph Kiner, and my brother and I took Dad for what will be his last major league game. It was great fun. Bob Feller and Bob Friend were on hand.
I have a few old Bob Friend baseball cards and his autograph.
Pirates president Frank Coonelly said in a statement. “Bob was truly one of the very best to ever wear the Pirates’ black and gold. He will be deeply missed.”
--So I caught the dramatic temporary ending to play in the fourth round Sunday at Pebble Beach, Phil Mickelson up by three, insisting there was enough light to finish with two holes remaining, and playing partner Paul Casey, tied for second, insisting there was not. So a disgusted Mickelson was forced to come back out Monday morning at 8:00 a.m. local and he proceeded to finish off the win, Casey birdying 18 to take solo second.
For Mickelson it was win No. 44 at age 48 and he looked terrific throughout, especially with his wedges and short irons, and his putting.
Interviewed on 18 after, Phil apologized, sort of, to Casey for his stubbornness the day before.
“Paul made the tough call, but it was the right decision in that he protected himself and myself for the competition,” Mickelson said. “So we would have been at a severe disadvantage last night where you can’t see the targets, the greens were pretty rough, and this morning, we came out and the greens were much better after they had been mowed.”
It didn’t help Sunday that the duo was woefully behind, two full holes behind, everyone else in the field having finished.
“Sometimes I just get in my own little bubble and I don’t see the big picture and I just, I wanted to finish, I was playing well, and I just didn’t take all the factors into account,” Phil said. “So I ended up thanking him this morning for making that tough call because I made it tougher for him, but he did the right thing in protecting both of us.”
John Feinstein / Golfworld
“In his early years on tour, Mickelson’s locker room nickname was ‘Eddie Haskell,’ the old TV character who always smiled and was polite to Beaver Cleaver’s parents and then led Beaver’s older brother, Wally, into all sorts of trouble.
“Mickelson was the guy who always signed autographs after a round – the anti-Tiger Woods in that sense – always said the right things to the media, always had a smile and a wave for his adoring fans. If I had a dollar for every player who said to me, ‘Phil signs those autographs to market himself,’ I wouldn’t be as rich as Mickelson, but I might be in the ballpark.
“My answer was always the same: The kids with the autographs don’t care why he signed, they just know that he signed.
“He is also the best tipper in the history of golf – again, another anti-Tiger image. And, it’s hard not to like an athlete who calls himself ‘an idiot.’ (Winged Foot, 2006).
“But there’s no doubt about the fact that he works at burnishing his image. In 1999, a golf reporter working in Greensboro, N.C., and I were talking to Mickelson after a round at the Players Championship. The reporter wanted to know if Mickelson was planning to play at the PGA Toru stop in Greensboro that year. Mickelson wasn’t, but wanted to be sure everyone in Greensboro knew how much he loved the event and longed to return in the future.
“ ‘The sponsors down there do such a wonderful job every year,’ he said at one point.
“Mickelson paused and then said to the reporter, ‘Do they still have the same sponsor?’ Assured that they did, Mickelson continued on about how terrific they were.
“As he’s gotten older, Mickelson has become a little less image-conscious, in part, I suspect, because he’s so beloved it is almost impossible for him to make a mistake in the eyes of the public. Last year’s debacle during the third round of the U.S. Open at Shinnecock is a perfect example. En route to a third-round 81, Mickelson missed a putt on the 13th hole and, thinking it was going to roll off the green, ran it down and smacked at it while he was still moving.
“The USGA chose not to disqualify him – even though it had grounds under the rules to do so. Many in the media and most of the public defended Mickelson because the USGA had miscalculated the wind and blown the golf course setup on Saturday.
“That was true. It was also true that 66 other players that day played all 18 holes without blatantly violating a rule they knew they were violating. Mickelson even said after the round that he knew it was a two-stroke penalty but thought he might be saving himself a stroke or two by hitting the moving ball rather than let it roll off the green.
“Heroes don’t get DQ’d – see Woods at the 2013 Masters – even when they aren’t in contention.
“And Mickelson is a hero in the golf world. Not just to fans, but to most in the media and most players. He has grown from Eddie Haskell to ‘Papa Bear’ as Zach Johnson has noted.
“Personally, I’ve always liked Mickelson and appreciate the time he’s given me through the years. I am amazed by his ability to continue to play as he likes to put it, ‘some really good golf,’ less than 18 months from being eligible for the 50-and-older tour.
“But I have trouble putting him on the pedestal many put him on.”
Personally, I’ve covered most of Mickelson’s career, ditto Tiger’s. As always, it’s complicated.
--This week we have my favorite non-major event of the year, the Genesis Open at Riviera, and it’s a great field, with Tiger Woods paired the first two rounds with Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas. Others include Phil, Xander Schauffele, Jordan Spieth, Bryson DeChambeau, Matt Kuchar, Jon Rahm, Dustin Johnson, and Freddie Couples. [But the weather, like last weekend at Pebble, will be an issue.]
--I forgot to note that with his latest win on the Champions Tour last weekend in Boca Raton, Bernhard Langer became the number one money-winner on the senior circuit at $27,196,504, passing Hale Irwin.
But Irwin still holds the record for most senior wins at 45, Langer now at 39, though the 61-year-old may yet surpass both Irwin and Mike Fetchick’s record as the oldest winner on the senior tour, 63.
--As I was going to post, I saw a story by Matt Bonesteel of the Washington Post that is worth noting, especially given the reference above to what a great tipper Phil Mickelson is.
Last November, at the Mayakoba Golf Classic in Mexico, Matt Kuchar, who won the event, played without his regular caddie, John Wood, who didn’t travel there because Kuchar made a last-minute decision to enter the tournament and Wood had prior commitments.
Instead, Kuchar relied on a local caddie at the El Camaleon Golf Club in Playa del Carmen, David Giral Ortiz.
After winning it, Kuchar said of Ortiz, “He was definitely my lucky charm. He brought me good luck and certainly some extra crowd support and did a great job as well.”
Ordinarily, regardless of the tournament purse, the typical fee for a caddie is 5 percent, around 8 percent for a top ten and 10 percent for the win.
Kuchar took home $1.26 million, but according to Ortiz, all Kuchar gave him was an envelope filled with $5,000 in cash, well below the $126,000 Kuchar’s regular caddie, Wood, would have earned.
Ortiz told Golf.com’s Michael Bamberger, one of the top writers on the sport, that he understood that as a local caddie he was not going to make the same amount as Kuchar’s usual caddie and that he had agreed with Kuchar on a somewhat nebulous figure before the tournament: $3,000, plus an unspecified cut of his winnings. Eventually, Ortiz said, Kuchar’s camp offered him another $15,000 to bring his total to $20,000, a nice payday for a guy who told Bamberger he makes $200 on a good day during his usual caddie rounds, but still far short of the bonus he thought he should have received for his help, Ortiz mentioning $50,000.
Ortiz wrote an email to Kuchar’s agent, Mark Steinberg, saying in part: “I am not looking to disparage Matt or give him a bad name. Fair is fair, and I feel like I was taken advantage of by placing my trust in Matt.”
Ortiz showed Bamberger three emails he sent Steinberg, the agent replying to one of them. “I am out of the country. What Matt has offered is fair.”
As for Kuchar, he was asked by reporters about how much he had paid Ortiz at the Sony Open in January.
“That’s not a story. It wasn’t 10 percent. It wasn’t $3,000,” he said.
So this creates an uncomfortable situation for everyone when Kuchar returns to defend his title next November. Ortiz said, “Matt is a good person and a great player. He treated me very well. I am only disappointed by how it all finished.”
As I’ve said many times before, us golf fans remember certain little stories, especially on the generosity or lack of same regarding the players we follow so closely. Phil Mickelson, for example, is known not only for being such a generous tipper, but also his over-the-top charity contributions. And all of us remember when Rory McIlroy won the 2016 FedEx Cup title, and the $10 million bonus, he gave the full $1 million to his caddie, J.P. Fitzgerald (plus Rory won the tournament and that meant another 10% of that purse for J.P., who Rory later fired but that’s a different story).
To me, Kuchar’s reputation has been tarnished.
--Manchester United stumbled badly in its Champions League matchup at home against Paris Saint-Germain Tuesday, 2-0; PSG’s brilliant Kylian Mbappe with a score. United now needs a heroic effort in Paris on March 6 in the return match to advance to the quarter-finals.
Tottenham hosts Borussia Dortmund in a first leg CL match later today.
--Johnny Mac passed along that not only did Frank Robinson and Bill Russell go to the same high school in Oakland, Ca., McClymonds, but among many others were Curt Flood and Vada Pinson, who were classmates. Imagine those two in the same outfield! Someone find me a pair of future MLB All-Stars who patrolled the outfield in high school better than this pair.
--The Grammy Awards saw a slight ratings bump, growing 0.5% over last year to 19.9 million viewers, according to Nielsen data, after a sharp drop the year before to a nine-year low, though the program saw a troubling decline among viewers ages 18 to 49, a new all-time low in the audience category most sought by advertisers.
The only part I missed was the tribute to Dolly Parton, as I was catching the drama at Pebble Beach, but as Mark R. and I exchanged notes later, we both thought it was generally terrific. There’s no doubt they could have lopped off a half-hour, while still giving award winners just a little time to say ‘thanks.’ I was ticked how Drake was cut off, seeing as he was saying something useful.
But Mark and I agreed Alicia Keys was great...the perfect host for such an event. Keep it about the music, make sure it’s a celebration, and don’t get involved in politics.
As for J. Lo getting panned for being the strange pick to honor Motown, I have more important things to worry about in the world. Some of us just like watching her in virtually any setting, know what I’ sayin’?
But now the Grammys has to get high-profile performers such as Ariana Grande, Kanye West, Jay-Z, Beyonce and Taylor Swift to return to the fold, all of them skipping the event following recent or past snubs.
For the record, Kacey Musgraves captured album of the year with “Golden Hour.”
Dua Lipa was named best new artist.
Childish Gambino’s “This Is America” won record and song of the year, the first time in Grammy history a rap song has won either award. The artist, real name Donald Glover, wasn’t in attendance.
Yes, Michelle Obama created quite the stir with her appearance.
Top 3 songs for the week 2/12/77: #1 “Torn Between Two Lovers” (Mary MacGregor) #2 “New Kid In Town” (Eagles) #3 “Blinded By The Light” (Manfred Mann’s Earth Band)...and...#4 “Car Wash” (Rose Royce...just godawful...) #5 “Love Theme From ‘A Star Is Born’ (Evergreen)” (Barbra Streisand) #6 “Dazz” (Brick) #7 “Enjoy Yourself” (The Jacksons) #8 “I Wish” (Stevie Wonder) #9 “I Like Dreamin’” (Kenny Nolan) #10 “Lost Without Your Love” (Bread...I was in my spring semester of my freshman year at Wake Forest and after a decent start in the fall academically, it was downhill from there...as the music got worse and worse, too...)
NCAA Basketball Quiz Answers: 1) Campbell’s Chris Clemons leads the nation in scoring at 29.1 ppg. 2) And Johnny Mac’s favorite player is also on the verge of entering the top ten on the all-time D-I points list, along with South Dakota State’s Mike Daum, who is fifth this season in scoring at 25.0.
1. Pete Maravich, LSU, 3667 ...43.8, 44.2, 44.5 ppg his three seasons
2. Freeman Williams, Portland State, 3249
3. Lionel Simmons, LaSalle, 3217
4. Alphonso Ford, Mississippi Valley State, 3165
5. Doug McDermott, Creighton, 3150
6. Harry “Machine Gun” Kelly, Texas Southern, 3066
7. Keydren Clark, Saint Peters, 3058
8. Hersey Hawkins, Bradley, 3008
9. Oscar Robertson, Cincinnati, 2973
10. Danny Manning, Kansas, 2951
Chris Clemson, Campbell, 2930 (next game Wed.)
Mike Daum, S.D. State, 2883 (next game Thurs.)
Next Bar Chat, Monday.
*Shu thanks for the package of material from the desert.