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[Posted Tuesday p.m.]
PGA Tour Quiz: Name the five with 8 or more Top 10 finishes in the 2018-2019 Tour season. Answer below.
[I needed to catch up with the baseball]
Standings thru Monday....
Tampa Bay 57-46... 9
Boston 55-46... 10
Cleveland 58-41... 3
Oakland 57-44... 7.5
AL Wild Card
Tampa Bay... 1
Washington 52-46... 6.5
Philadelphia 52-48... 7.5
St. Louis 52-47... 1.5
Milwaukee 53-49... 2
Los Angeles 67-35
Arizona 51-50... 15.5
San Francisco 51-50... 15.5
NL Wild Card
St. Louis... ---
San Francisco... 2
These wild card races will be nuts.
The Giants have been on a rather startling 16-3 run. How are they doing it? I mean they are 14th in ERA and 22nd in runs scored.
--I have to go back to last Thursday as the Yankees were sweeping the Rays in a doubleheader at the Stadium. New York manager Aaron Boone didn’t like the balls and strikes calls from young umpire Brennan Miller and in Game 1, Boone was tossed for a second-inning outburst, filled with expletives. Brett Gardner had just been called out on strikes and Gardner rammed his bat 10 times into the shelving where the helmets are stored and another eight times onto the roof of the dugout in frustration, while standing right behind Boone.
Boone then went after Miller and was ejected, making contact with the bill of the umpire’s cap with his own cap.
Boone screamed at the ump, “My guys are f---ing savages in that f---ing box....Tighten this s—t up!”
So for the rest of the season, the Yankees will be labeled, guess what, savages.
While the Yanks have lost their last two, after stretching their latest winning streak to five, they are 23-7 against the AL East since May 19. The goal this season was to avoid the wild card and they will.
--Pretty amazing how the Mets lost three of four to the Giants in San Francisco over the weekend, all three extra-inning affairs. In Thursday night’s 16-inning, crushing 3-2 defeat (Pete Alonso’s homer having put the Mets up 2-1 in the top of the 16th, only to have the bullpen lose it in the bottom of the inning). The game was significant in terms of the looming trade deadline, because if the Giants wanted to trade Madison Bumgarner, he threw nine innings of one-run ball.
--I have to mention another outstanding effort from Thursday, Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg, who went 3-for-3 at the plate, homering and driving in a career-high five runs. He also worked 5 1/3 innings for his NL-leading 12th win, a 13-4 thumping of the Braves. [The Braves-Nats split their big 4-game system.]
--And another on Thursday....Chris Sale and two relievers combined on a two-hitter as the Red Sox beat the Blue Jays 5-0, Sale striking out 12 in six innings. It was just his fourth win of the season (4-9), but most importantly, his first victory at home since July 11, 2018 – a span of 14 starts.
Also in the game, Boston’s Rafael Devers hit a three-run homer giving him 28 RBI against the Blue Jays in 2019, the most ever for a player against Toronto in one season (with three games left). It is the most for any player against a single opponent since Gary Sheffield drove in 28 runs against the Orioles in 2005.
Devers then had four RBIs in his next four games against Baltimore and Tampa Bay, giving him 27 RBI for July in 17 games thru Monday.
--Houston rookie slugger Yordan Alvarez homered and knocked in a pair of runs on Monday in an 11-1 win over the A’s, making him the first player to have 35 RBIs in his first 30 career games since runs batted in became an official statistic in 1920.
Alvarez, 22, and from Cuba, didn’t burst on the scene until June 9 and promptly homered in each of his first two games. Overall, thru Monday he is hitting .342 with 11 home runs and 35 RBIs.
He hit 23 homers and drove in 71 in just 56 games in the Pacific Coast League before his call-up.
The Astros had three Cuban-born players – Alvarez, Yuli Gurriel and Aledmys Diaz – homer in Monday’s 11-1 win, just the second time in MLB history that had happened.
--Last week, the Mets swept the Twins in a two-game series in the Twin Cities, 3-2 and 14-4. I’ve been meaning to relay something Johnny Mac pointed out...that the Twins allowed 9 unearned runs “in the last 20 hours”)...while the 1999 Mets, with a great fielding infield of Robin Ventura, Rey Ordonez, Edgardo Alfonzo and John Olerud, yielded 20 unearned runs the entire season! The average team in the National League that year gave up 70+.
That year, with all four playing in 154 or more games (remarkable, for starters), Ventura committed 9 errors, Ordonez 4, Alfonzo 5, and Olerud 9.
This year, the Mets have given up 34 unearned in 99 games. The Twins have given up 49 in 99 games.
--Despite going 4-for-5 against the Yankees Sunday at the Stadium, the Rockies’ Charlie Blackmon still has a split of .415 at Coors Field, .237 BA on the road.
--The Los Angeles Angels DFA’d pitcher Matt Harvey. There was a time the “Dark Knight” was the real deal, like 2013, when he was 9-5, 2.27 ERA in 26 starts. 2014 he had Tommy John surgery, but then he returned in 2015, seemingly none the worse for wear, going 13-8, 2.71.
But Harvey clearly threw too many innings that season, 189, plus another 26 in the Mets’ playoff run to the World Series, where they lost to Kansas City, most famously 8 innings, 111 pitches in the deciding Game 5, and he was never the same since.
Harvey had an ERA of 4.50 or higher each of his next four seasons, for the Mets, Reds and Angels, going 19-31.
At best, he might get a shot with a big-league’s AAA club, where perhaps he could be an emergency starter from time to time, but there’s also no reason to take up a spot that should go to a younger, more promising arm.
--The Dodgers unveiled plans for a $100-million renovation of Dodger Stadium that will provide a new center field plaza as well as elevators and bridges that will connect the outfield pavilions to the rest of the stadium. I read an extensive piece on the project and I’ll be surprised if it’s finished in time for next season, though it certainly will have to be by the summer, when Dodger Stadium hosts the All-Star Game.
But the plans sound very cool. And the stadium will maintain its league-high capacity, which is listed at 56,000. Plus despite all the changes, club officials say the picturesque view of Chavez Ravine will not be disrupted.
--And finally, I didn’t have time last chat to mention the passing of Pumpsie Green, Green, 85, was the first black player for the Red Sox, the last of the 16 major league franchises of the time to have remained all white.
In April 1945, the Red Sox, under pressure from a Boston city councilman, gave a brief tryout at Fenway Park to Jackie Robinson and two fellow Negro league players. None of them heard from the Red Sox again.
When Robinson broke the color barrier in April 1947 with the Brooklyn Dodgers, Green was 13, living in the San Francisco Bay Area, with a dream of playing in the Pacific Coast League.
But by the time Green was called up, the likes of Jackie Robinson, Frank Robinson, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Ernie Banks, Roberto Clemente and Larry Doby were forging Hall of Fame careers.
Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey had maintained that they could not find a single black player to help them.
Green seemed ready to make the jump to the Red Sox in spring training, 1959, but the Red Sox said he wasn’t quite ready for the majors, though he had had a solid spring.
The Red Sox held their spring training in Scottsdale, Arizona, and the team’s hotel barred black guests, so the Red Sox found lodging for him at a hotel in nearby Phoenix, and he was driven to and from workouts by a team employee.
The Boston chapter of the NAACP, accusing the Red Sox of racial discrimination, expressed outrage at the team’s failure to promote Green, and a state agency began an inquiry. It ended when Red Sox officials promised to “make every effort” to field black players.
Green then made his appearance on July 21, 1959, as an eighth-inning pinch-runner and then played shortstop to finish the game against the Chicago White Sox at Comiskey Park.
When Green played his first game at Fenway, Aug. 4, against the Kansas City Athletics, starting at second base, he received an ovation, and then hit a triple in his first at-bat.
Green would hit .244 as a part-time player for Boston in four seasons, 1959-62, and then played 17 games for the Mets in ’63, batting .278 in 54 at-bats. Overall, his career average was .246.
Pumpsie returned to Fenway in April 2009 as a part of baseball’s annual ceremonies to commemorate Jackie Robinson’s breaking of the color barrier. He received a nice ovation, as he threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
--There are some great videos of Shane Lowry’s party in Dublin after he won the Claret Jug Sunday. And I imagine all of Ireland is still aglow over not just having a native win The Open Championship on their soil, but they deserve to be beaming with pride over staging such an awesome event at a truly spectacular venue.
And as John Feinstein wrote in Golfworld, the lords of golf did the right thing in moving the PGA to May.
“Golf got one right.
“For all the complaining about the decision to move the PGA Championship from August to May and, in the process, make the Open Championship the year’s last major, the change has worked out perfectly. And will continue to do so in the years to come.
“The reason for the move wasn’t as simple as the PGA just deciding that May would be a better date for the event. As always in sports, money was involved in an important decision. The PGA Tour and FedEx badly wanted to move its playoffs out of September and away from competing with the NFL for TV viewers. As long as the PGA was the second week in August, that was impossible.
“And so, a deal was worked out: The PGA of America would cede August to the tour, and in return, the tour would move the Players Championship back to March – where it always should have been....
“There were – to put it mildly – skeptics about the August-to-May move for the PGA. ‘What about spring weather in the Northeast?’ they moaned. ‘What if you got a cold winter? Would golf courses like Bethpage Black, Oak Hill, Aronimink and Baltusrol be playable that time of year?’
“No doubt there will come a year when getting one of those courses ready in May will be difficult. But how about the weather in August ANYWHERE? If the PGA Championship has had a signature in the past, it was horrific heat and humidity and thunderstorms.
“Often, the best players were exhausted by the time they arrived at the PGA by the combination of trying to play three majors in nine weeks and the heat they had to face during the championship. Now, they arrive at the PGA a month after the Masters without having to deal with brutal heat....
“And, there’s more to it than that.
“The climax of the majors’ season is no longer the fourth-rated major. As David Duval once said so eloquently, ‘If there are four of something, one of them has to be fourth-best.’
“That has always been the PGA, and there have been years where the last major has ended more with a bust than a boom. Now, though, ending the majors’ season with the Open Championship is perfect.
“To me, the Open has always been the best of the four majors, and not just because it’s been around the longest. The golf courses on the other side of the Atlantic are completely different than most of the golf courses in this country. Not only are they links courses, but how the week goes is almost always directly connected to the weather. The old Scottish saying, ‘If it’s nae wind and nae rain, its nae golf,’ rings true.
“Consider this: Shane Lowry played brilliantly on Saturday at Royal Portrush to shoot 63 and take a four-shot lead this past weekend. He might have played better on Sunday to shoot 72 and increase his winning margin to six shots. The difference, of course, was the weather.
“And then there are the fans. There are a lot of corporate tickets sold at all the U.S. majors – yes, including the Masters. A lot of the fans who show up at those majors are there to tell people they were there. I’m not saying that sort of fans doesn’t exist in Great Britain, but there are far fewer of them.
“Many years ago, Tom Watson described the difference: ‘In the U.S., almost everyone grows up understanding baseball,’ he said. ‘Maybe you don’t play the sport, but you’re exposed to it, and you understand it. That’s the way golf is in England, Scotland and Ireland. They understand that there are some shots you hit to 30 feet that are great, and others that aren’t.’....
“I ask you this: Is there a better climax in golf than the impending Open champion walking up the 18th fairway with the huge grandstands on either side of the green packed with people standing, screaming and singing? Fred Couples calls it ‘the best walk in golf,’ and he never won the Open. The giant yellow scoreboards are unique, and I always get a little chill when I see the hand-posted sign, which this year read: ‘Congratulations Shane. See You Next Year at Royal St. George’s.’
“The coolest moment, though, comes during the awards ceremony. It’s brief and simple: The head of the R&A says the most eloquent six words there are in the sport: ‘The Champion Golfer of the Year...’
“Gets to me every time, regardless of the wniner. It’s the perfect annual climax to golf’s four most important events.
“This year. Next year. And, I hope, forever.”
I have to admit, as much as I love The Open, the Masters, a tradition unlike any other, on CBS, will remain my favorite. A lot of this has to do with the fact it is the first major of the year, after a long winter away from truly great golf, save for Riviera, and sometimes Pebble, which a lot of top players blow off because of the amateur element, and 5- to 6-hour rounds.
Augusta also has the familiarity and a penchant for dramatic finishes, but John Feinstein is spot on with his comments on The Open Championship and its many charms.
--Official World Golf Rankings after Royal Portrush....
1. Brooks Koepka 11.47
2. Dustin Johnson 9.50
3. Rory McIlroy 8.40
4. Justin Rose 8.21
5. Tiger Woods 7.04
6. Francesco Molinari 6.57
7. Bryson DeChambeau 6.44
8. Jon Rahm 6.40
9. Justin Thomas 6.25
10. Patrick Cantlay 6.40
11. Xander Schauffele 5.99
12. Tony Finau 5.49
13. Tommy Fleetwood 5.34
14. Rickie Fowler 5.30
15. Gary Woodland 5.29
16. Matt Kuchar 5.24
17. Shane Lowry 4.98 (up from No. 33 with the win)
--I was surprised to hear that Tim Duncan is returning to basketball as an assistant coach under Gregg Popovich. Duncan was always indifferent to his stardom (in a refreshing way), staying out of the media spotlight as much as possible, and I just thought he’d stay away the rest of his life, enjoying the fruits of his labor.
But Duncan was apparently a fixture at Spurs’ practices, plus there is only one man for which he’d do this, that being Popovich.
“It is only fitting, that after I served loyally for 19 years as Tim Duncan’s assistant, that he returns the favor,” the tongue-in-cheek Popovich said in a statement.
--I can’t believe what Anthony Davis is saying.
Let me take that back. A.D. has never been known to be the sharpest tool in the toolbox.
But the Lakers must be mortified when a guy they gave up a ton for, to pair him with LeBron James, thinking they had Davis for years to come, made an unreal statement to ESPN.
Davis said he’s only focused on the upcoming season with one year left on his contract, while acknowledging he’d like to play for his hometown Chicago Bulls.
“I mean, (this is) definitely hometown,” Davis told the Chicago Tribune. “If the opportunity ever presents itself and when that time comes, I’d definitely consider it.”
During his introductory Lakers press conference, GM Rob Pelinka said Davis would be a pillar for the Lakers over the next decade.
But Davis said in an interview with Rachel Nichols:” I don’t know what’s gonna happen....when that time comes around in the summer or whenever the season’s over – hopefully around mid-June after we just had this parade and I need a couple of days to think – then we can talk about that. But until then, I’ll to do whatever I can to help this team win this year.”
Phil W., fellow Demon Deacon, passed along the following releases from the ACC.
173 media members credentialed for last week’s ACC Kickoff in Charlotte, North Carolina, came up with the following predictions.
Clemson received 170 votes to win the conference championship, Syracuse 2, Virginia 1.
In the Atlantic Division, headed up by Clemson, Wake Forest was tabbed sixth, ahead of only Louisville. [I’m not concerned. Just want another 6-6 season and a bowl game.]
In the Coastal Division, Virginia was tabbed first, followed by Miami. Duke is fifth, ahead of North Carolina and Georgia Tech.
As for a preseason All-ACC Football Team, the same media folk placed 13 Clemson players on the 27-member squad, including preseason Player of the Year and quarterback Trevor Lawrence, running back Travis Etienne, four offensive linemen and a pair of wide receivers (Tee Higgins, Justyn Ross).
AJ Dillon of Boston College is the other running back.
Wake Forest didn’t have anyone on the All-ACC team, but then a lot of teams were shut out when one school has 13 of 27. [Syracuse had 4, Miami 3.]
--I won’t be covering NFL training camps much, unless there is a major injury.
But looking ahead I was reading a piece on the Kansas City Chiefs (it kind of popped up in my face...not to give the impression that I care about said team), and Tyreek Hill, who is soon to be suspended by the NFL, one hopes, under the personal-conduct policy. There’s no telling how long he could be out but he is clearly going to receive eight games, in my estimation. I mean Tyreek Hill, we all know, is not a good guy, but he’s one helluva athlete.
The thing is Coach Andy Reid and company have to figure out how to replace 25% of the team’s offensive production in 2018.
--Soccer superstar Cristiano Ronaldo will not face charges after being accused of sexual assault, U.S. prosecutors said. Kathryn M. had alleged that the Juventus player raped her at a Las Vegas hotel in 2009.
She reportedly reached an out-of-court settlement with Ronaldo in 2010, but sought to reopen the case in 2018. He denied the allegations.
Las Vegas prosecutors ruled the claims could not “be proven beyond reasonable doubt.”
--The Atlantic magazine (a super publication) has a monthly topic, “The Big Question,” which they do mostly through Twitter and I see it only in the print edition. But the question was (per the August issue), “What lost treasure would you most like to find?”
Well this is a quite erudite readership because I sure as hell would not have come up with the No. 1 choice, “The Library of Alexandria.” 78 percent! Sorry to admit that while I read of this maybe twice in my entire life, it’s not my No. 1. 9 percent said “A fifth Gospel,” which I go for; 8% Genghis Khan’s treasure (I’m not a descendant of the lad so really couldn’t care less); and 5 percent Vermeer’s The Concert, the artist being famous in part for turning out a limited number of works. [The Concert was stolen from a museum in Boston in 1990 and has not been recovered.]
So....here is how I would answer the question. I would love to recover the lost tapes of “Kiner’s Korner,” Ralph Kiner’s post-game show in the 60s and 70s that Ralph did while a broadcaster with the Mets. Every game, Kiner, and staff, I assume, would pick a player of the game and Ralph would interview them. It was so much fun. We all stayed beyond the end of the game to watch it.
And the times were different, of course, with the players sitting in a Spartan studio at Shea Stadium, virtually every one of them drinking a beer (Rheingold...the big sponsor back then).
I mean you got an interview with all the great stars of that era. But the Mets made a fatal mistake when they decided, for monetary reasons, to tape over “Kiner’s Korner” tapes. What f’n idiots!!! Literally, just a few survived.
For you longtime fans, Ralph’s tremendous theme song was the Flag of Victory Polka by Alvino Rey.
--From the Irish Independent:
“The fate of a miniature Chihuahua is unknown after a seagull swooped down and carried the dog away in its beak, the owner said.
“Becca Hill of Paignton, Devon, England, is hoping four-year-old Gizmo will be found alive.
“ ‘My partner was in the garden putting the washing out at the time and suddenly he saw it swoop down. It carried Gizmo a fair way as we couldn’t see him any more. I have no idea if he was dropped or where he is now,’ Ms. Hill told reporters.
“She also posted about Gizmo on Facebook.
“ ‘Please, please, please, anyone finds a Chihuahua he’s mine, a seagull took him from my garden,’ she wrote.”
--We note the passing of David Hedison, 92. Who was he? None other than the star of the original sci-fi classic “The Fly.” He also appeared in two James Bond films.
And in his long television career, he portrayed Capt. Lee Crane in the long-running series “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea,” and Spencer Harrison on the daytime series “Another World.”
Hedison played scientist Andre Delambre who turned into an insect in the “The Fly” (1958). In “To Live and Let Die” and “License to Kill,” he played CIA agent Felix Leiter.
His family in a statement said he had a positive attitude and “wicked” sense of humor.
Well, if you had once been an insect, no doubt you would have a different take on life.
Top 3 songs for the week 7/25/70: #1 “(They Long To Be) Close To You” (Carpenters...all-time great song...) #2 “Mama Told Me (Not To Come)” (Three Dog Night) #3 “Band Of Gold” (Freda Payne)...and...#4 “The Love You Save” (The Jackson 5) #5 “Make It With You” (Bread) #6 “Ball Of Confusion” (The Temptations) #7 “Ride Captain Ride” (Blues Image) #8 “O-o-h Child” (The 5 Stairsteps...great tune...) #9 “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours” (Stevie Wonder) #10 “Lay Down (Candles In the Rain)” (Melanie with The Edwin Hawkins Singers... just a ‘B’ week overall....)
PGA Tour Quiz Answer: Top 10 finishes for the 2018-19 season....
Rory McIlroy 11
Jon Rahm 9
Patrick Cantlay 8
Matt Kuchar 8
Gary Woodland 8
[Koepka has 7, in case you were wondering.]
1969 Mets, cont’d
The Mets hit the All-Star break, 53-39, five games back of the first-place Cubs. Play resumed Thursday, the Mets hosting the Reds for four.
July 24: The Reds won the first, 4-3 in 12, as Bobby Tolan and Reds starter Jim Merritt homered off Gary Gentry, who gave up two earned in 9 innings, but Tug McGraw, in his third inning of relief, gave up a home run in the top of the 12th to Tony Perez, which proved to be the game-winner. By the way, Tolan’s homer was his 18th. I forgot how good he was in 1969-70. Look it up.
July 25: The Mets flip the score and win, 4-3, as New York scores three in the bottom of the eighth, after falling behind 3-1. J.C. Martin had a big two-run homer, bailing out starter Jerry Koosman, who having yielded three in seven innings was headed for the loss. Ron Taylor pitched the final two for the win. Clay Carroll (12-5 out of the pen) took the loss.
July 26: Mets win 3-2, as Tom Seaver, clearly not hurt, won his 15th, joining Phil Niekro and Denny McLain for the major-league lead. In the ninth, the Mets holding the 3-2 lead, Bobby Tolan led off with a single off Tom Terrific, and then Tony Perez lined one to right-center that looked like it would be extra bases, and tie the game, when right fielder Rod Gaspar, who had just come in for Art Shamsky, made a terrific catch, as Tolan, three-quarters of the way to second, was doubled up on Gaspar’s seventh outfield assist of the season.
Seaver, in throwing the complete game, fanned eight and is now 15-5, 2.56. He also contributed a key double in the Mets’ sixth as they scored two to take the lead.
July 27: Cincinnati (50-44) gained a split in the series with a 6-3 win; the Reds jumping out to a 5-0 lead in the fourth and cruising from there. Don Cardwell (3-9) gave up five runs (3 earned) in 3 1/3, including a first-inning two-run homer to Tony Perez, his 25th. The Reds’ sore-armed Gerry Arrigo threw seven innings to pick up his first win of the season. The Mets had a very lackluster effort as Tommie Agee was lazy in going after a single, that Alex Johnson turned into a double, and Donn Clendenon fell asleep on the bases, believing there were two outs, not one, and was easily doubled up on a fly ball by Ron Swoboda. Skipper Gil Hodges was not pleased.
So the Metropolitans are 55-41, still five back of the Cubs.
I’ve caught up to the calendar, and will pick up the ’69 Mets next week.
Next Bar Chat, Monday.