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Just Shut the World Down, for crying out loud...I'm tired...
[Posted Sunday p.m.]
*Guys, it’s hard keeping up these days. As I go to post, ESPN is reporting there are more St. Louis Cardinals who have tested positive today. So the figures I state below may not be accurate, but, geezuz, I need to move on at some point. Pandemics blow!
Golf Quiz: Next week, Brooks Koepka will attempt to win his third PGA Championship in a row. Who was the last to win three straight PGAs, and who was the last to win three straight majors period (the only two in the last 100 years to do so). Answer below.
In an interview Saturday, Commissioner Rob Manfred said he’s confident his sport can get through the regular season and postseason without being stopped by the coronavirus, though not every team might play all 60 games and winning percentage could be used to determine playoff teams.
Well I think the league and the players should just agree on this now…minimum 50 games, winning percentage, with every effort made to make up the games the Marlins, Phillies et al have now missed. MLB and the players did agree to seven-inning doubleheaders, which I’m all for.
Manfred said MLB knows which player introduced Covid-19 into the clubhouse of the Miami Marlins. [Some Marlins players went out in Atlanta, where they played exhibition games before starting the season in Philadelphia.] Miami and Philadelphia were then forced to postpone games for an entire week.
“I think that if everybody does what they are supposed to do, we can continue to play, have a credible season and get through the postseason,” Manfred said.
Already, 19 games have been postponed, including St. Louis’ three-game weekend series at Milwaukee. Six teams have been impacted.
Two more players have now decided to opt out; Brewers All-Star outfielder Lorenzo Cain and Miami second baseman Isan Diaz.
At least 18 Marlins players have been infected along with three Cardinals and three staffers.
The Marlins are slated to play a four-game series in Baltimore starting Tuesday.
Manfred said he had a conversation with union chief Tony Clark and expects stepped-up efforts by players and teams to adhere to special virus protocols.
“I think it’s peer pressure. I think it’s players taking personal responsibility. I think it’s the union helping us like Tony Clark helped us yesterday. And I think it’s us managing more aggressively,” Manfred said.
Manfred knows there will be more positive tests, as we’ve seen this weekend, but, “We think it’s manageable, and we’re going to continue to try to manage it.”
But as an example of the problems being faced, Boston left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez is done for the season. Rodriguez, 27, had tested positive for the coronavirus before the start of Boston’s summer camp. He was cleared to return to team workouts on July 18, but had not been activated because he developed myocarditis – inflammation of the heart muscle – after recovering, a topic which I addressed in that other column I do this week.
“We are confident that he’s going to make a full recovery, and that his long-term prognosis is excellent,” Red Sox Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom announced.
Rodriguez had said on July 19 that his bout with the coronavirus had left him feeling “100 years old.”
“I’ve never been that sick in my life, and I don’t want to get that sick again.”
Mike Wise / Washington Post
“There is a fire raging outside our clubhouses, locker rooms and fields of play. It’s called Covid-19. It’s undefeated and has no network TV contract. It wants only to attack as many of our immune systems as it can. This is not a time for games.
“This is a time to get our house in order. It’s a time to push for desperate unemployed Americans to keep receiving a $600 coronavirus stipend. Before we worry about the Miami Marlins receiving negative teste results, we first need to be Covid-free as a country.
“We need herd immunity, all right – from believing we can’t go on without the games.
“The hard truth: Sports need us more than we need them right now.”
--The owner of the Marlins Tiple-A affiliate, the Wichita Wind Surge, died Wednesday from complications related to the coronavirus. Lou Schwechheimer was 62. It was to be the first season there, before the minor league season was canceled.
Schwechheimer spent 35 years with the Pawtucket Red Sox before purchasing the Triple-A New Orleans Baby Cakes in the Pacific Coast League and moving the franchise to Wichita.
--John McNamara, who managed the ill-fated 1986 Boston Red Sox to the World Series against the Mets, died. He was 88.
McNamara managed 19 years in the big leagues for six teams (A’s, Padres, Reds, Angels, Red Sox and Indians), compiling a 1,160-1,233 record.
But he made his mark, for good and bad, when he took over the Red Sox in 1985 and guided them to the pennant in ’86, the only team he did so with.
But with a 3-2 lead heading into Game 6 of the World Series against the Mets at Shea Stadium, the Red Sox went ahead 5-3 in the 10th inning before the Mets put on their stupendous two-out rally to pull it out and then winning Game 7, the final insult Mookie Wilson’s ground ball through the legs of first baseman Bill Buckner.
The Red Sox, who hadn’t won a World Series since 1918, then needed to wait until 2004 to celebrate and McNamara was second-guessed for a number of moves he made, or didn’t make, in Game 6 all the years until then…and still today.
After the Mets celebrated their crushing victory late that night, a disappointed McNamara was asked by reporters about his team’s long history of not having won a title in 68 years.
“I don’t know anything about history,” he replied, his voice toneless and his expression described as a clenched fist, “and don’t tell me anything about that choke crap.”
Sorry, you choked.
--Dodgers reliever Joe Kelly was handed an eight-game suspension by Major League Baseball for his role in the benches-clearing incident that occurred at Minute Maid Park in Houston on Tuesday night, after I last posted.
Kelly threw a fastball behind Alex Bregman’s head and later taunted Carlos Correa on the way back to the dugout.
Understand, Joe Kelly, by his actions, became a hero to Dodgers fans and his teammates. The Dodgers had expressed a lot of justifiable public anger after MLB’s investigation into the Astros confirmed they had used an elaborate sign-stealing method, the Dodgers falling to the Astros in seven games in the 2017 World Series. Kelly wasn’t on that team, but he was on a Red Sox team that was eliminated by Houston in the first round of the 2017 playoffs and then beat Houston in the 2018 ALCS.
--Meanwhile, as I’ve written countless times before, the only reason to watch the now 3-7 Mets* is their broadcasting trio of Keith Hernandez, Gary Cohen and Ron Darling and Saturday night, the roving reporter Steve Gelbs had finished a little report on pitcher Michael Wacha’s pre-game meal choice of eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, leaving Hernandez baffled.
“What is a PB&J?” he asked, getting a full “JESUS!” from Cohen and Darling.
“I know BLT,” Keith said to spit-takes from his partners. “I’ve never heard of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich described like that…I’m getting out of touch.”
It was a welcome bit of comic relief from the freakin’ drudgery of watching this team early on, plus the games have been of interminable length, a consistent 3:30 to 3:45.
*The Mets game today was around 3 hours, but when you have a line of 0-10-0…runs, hits, errors, it’s not good. 13 left on base. 1-15 with runners in scoring position. Mets lose to the Braves (7-3) 4-f’n-0.
Johnny, I may need my sword. Just wipe it using appropriate Covid-approved products beforehand. I appreciate the extra effort.
*And Yoenis Cespedes, after a rough start, has opted out for the season. More on this next time, including Johnny Mac’s EXCLUSIVE comparison.
--Tigers reliever Tyler Alexander struck out the first nine batters he faced today, tying the American League record for consecutive strikeouts in Detroit’s 4-3 loss to Cincinnati in the opener of their seven-inning doubleheader.
Thank god he didn’t tie Tom Seaver’s MLB record 10! I would have had to riot, throwing rocks at federal buildings.
--The SEC announced Thursday it would plow ahead with a season, starting Sept. 26 and playing 10 games, which would leave each school with an open date – along with another open weekend preceding the conference championship game, which is now scheduled for Dec 19.
But a day earlier the Washington Post’s Robert Klemko and Emily Giambalvo report that in a private meeting with conference leaders and medical advisers, “several players raised concerns about their safety, only to be told that positive cases on their teams were a ‘given,’ according to an audio recording obtained by the Washington Post.
“The meeting…included more than a dozen SEC football players, members of the conference’s medical advisory board and SEC officials, including Commissioner Greg Sankey. It was designed as a ‘confidential free exchange,’ an SEC spokesman said in an email, where the league’s medical advisers could ‘hear questions and our student-athletes were able to hear answers.’
“But the recording offers a window into how conference officials – keen on keeping a multibillion-dollar industry afloat amid the novel coronavirus pandemic – are, and aren’t, reassuring the athletes they need to make the season a reality.
“ ‘There are going to be outbreaks,’ one official told players on the call. (The official didn’t identify himself, and the SEC spokesman declined to identify him to The Post.) ‘We’re going to have positive cases on every single team in the SEC. That’s a given. And we can’t prevent it.’
“As the 2020 season barrels closer, several high-profile programs have already grappled with outbreaks. Some have had to temporarily suspend workouts, including Michigan State and Rutgers,* which are both in isolation after several players tested positive.
*It’s now over a dozen Division I programs that have halted summer workouts due to positive Covid tests.
“Players in the SEC and other conferences have the option to opt out of this season and retain their scholarships. But so far just a handful of players at top schools have done so, preferring to skip the season and preserve a year of NCAA eligibility rather than risk infection.
“Caleb Farley, an NFL-bound cornerback from Virginia Tech, said this week that he lost his mother to breast cancer and couldn’t stomach the idea of losing another family member. Ra’Von Bonner, a reserve running back at the University of Illinois, told The Post the risks of playing outweighed the reward.
“Players on the SEC call, who were part of a ‘student-athlete leadership council,’ raised similar concerns, with one player asking: ‘For so much unknown in the air right now, is it worth having a football season without certainty?’
“Sankey, who earned a $2.5 million salary in 2018, responded: ‘Part of our work is to bring as much certainty in the midst of this really strange time as we can so you can play football in the most healthy way possible, with the understanding there aren’t any guarantees in life.’
“The players were especially concerned with what happens once their universities reopen. When they returned for workouts this summer, their campuses were largely empty. Most of the people they interacted with were those inside their cloistered and regimented football programs, where regular testing and the potential ire of their powerful coaches made adherence to public health guidelines a must for many athletes.
“MoMo Sanogo, a linebacker at the University of Mississippi, asked the officials on the call why his school planned to bring thousands of students to campus for fall classes. Sanogo said he has four classes per week, and he fears some of those classmates will go to bars and parties at night, then unknowingly infect football players during class.
“The answer Sanogo received shed light on the pressure that university presidents, who rely on college football for prestige and revenue, face to reopen their campuses this fall, even as the pandemic surges. ‘It’s one of those things where if students don’t come back to campus, then the chances of having a football season are almost zero,’ an official who did not identify himself said.
“The official told Sanogo that class sizes would be smaller so students can sit six feet apart from one another, and that face coverings should help keep students safe. But he admitted the arrangement was ‘not fair’ to athletes, who might take every precaution but still be infected by the students who don’t.
“He suggested that Sanogo, 21, remind the people around him to behave responsibly. ‘As un-fun as it sounds,’ the official said, ‘the best thing that you can do is just try to encourage others to act more responsibly and not put yourself in those kinds of situations. I’m very comfortable with what we’ve done on campus. I’m concerned about what happens from 5 p.m. until 5 a.m.’
“Sanogo kept pushing. ‘How can y’all help us?’ he asked. He referenced the concept of a ‘bubble,’ the insular playing environments employed by pro basketball and ice hockey, and compared it with his bustling college campus. Another member of the task force told him that his mask would offer protection, and he could be a role model for others to wear one. She told him to sit at the back of classrooms and not engage in close conversations.
“The officials’ uncertainty was not lost on Keeath Magee II, a Texas A&M linebacker, who wondered aloud whether starting the season with so many unanswered questions would be something the officials would come to regret.
“ ‘You guys have answered a lot of questions the best way that you guys could, and we really appreciate it. But as much as you guys don’t know…it’s just kind of not good enough,’ he said. ‘We want to play. We want to see football. We want to return to normal as much as possible. But it’s just that with all this uncertainty, all this stuff that’s still circulating in the air, y’all know it kind of leaves some of us still scratching my head. …I feel like the college campus is the one thing that you can’t control.’”
The story goes on and on…much of it truly embarrassing.
The Post concludes that during the call, Sankey relayed a conversation he had with his two daughters about how they should continue their lives during this pandemic by taking personal responsibility and encouraging others to do the same.
“My advice is you’re going to have to go live your life in this environment,” the commissioner said. “I think that’s the challenge that we’re trying to meet.”
No one disagrees with that. But the risks for college football players who aren’t paid?!!! To generate revenue so that the likes of Sankey, in turn, who can live in a bubble as much as anyone, get paid $2.5 million?!
Phil W. passed along an interview with Virginia football coach Bronco Mendenhall, via Mike Barber of the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
“It appears to me that the numbers are going up, not down,” Mendenhall said, offering a sobering dousing of cold water in advance of the day’s hot news. “It appears the crisis is gaining momentum, not losing momentum. It appears we’re struggling more, not less. And so, the number of games, right now, really isn’t as relevant to me.”
“Not only the health of my team, but it’s the UVA community,” said Mendenhall. “It’s Charlottesville, it’s the nation in general. And currently it doesn’t seem like we’re close to having a handle on the virus nationwide.”
The ACC released its schedule of 10 conference games plus one nonconference matchup, the season starting between Sept. 7 and 12. FBS independent Notre Dame will play a full league schedule and will be eligible for the ACC championship game. There will also be no divisions and the top two teams will vie for the conference title. The nonconference game must take place in the home state of the ACC institution.
Who the hell knows….
Jerry Brewer / Washington Post
“Sports aren’t built for disruption. That’s why their return, though greatly anticipated, is also uncomfortable. Sports are back not because they know it’s safe, not because they know it’s right, not because they are evangelical about the value of their entertainment. They are just doing what they know: play, make money, repeat, never quit.
“The business of major sports is tied to this perpetual churn. The games are ubiquitous because of the public interest and the revenue that guarantees. It’s all hitched to the belief in an unbreakable fan obsession: palatial arenas and stadiums, massive television deals, seemingly boundless advertising potential. As long as there is a functioning economy to buttress them, sports are a simple, dependable endeavor.
“It makes the novel coronavirus pandemic the cruelest opponent possible, and it’s why our sports leaders should be doing something they’re unaccustomed to: Plotting the long game more than just staging the next one.
“As the American sports community tries to forge ahead despite a virus that has yet to be tamed, the money-driven attempt exposes how these multibillion-dollar enterprises are from year to year. For as much as this seems to be a gold-plated dream world, it operates without much of a safety net. There is no great hidden reserve of cash for unpredictable, hard times. There is no advanced strategic thinking because it’s unnecessary. The games go on, always. Until they don’t. And then watch the leadership panic.
“What you’re witnessing now is the manifestation of a kind of desperation that even the smartest people in athletics didn’t see coming. After a four-month hiatus, the sports scene is starting to feel robust again despite the risks. But discomfort is the dominant feeling. The excitement of a welcome diversion competes with the sense that every athlete, on every team, in every sport, is simply trying to stop a long losing streak.
“The mission is to salvage whatever revenue can be recovered from Covid-19’s destruction. It’s understandable. It makes some of these monstrous leagues relatable, even though they’re trying to amass billions rather than scrape together rent money. But it’s still a desperate and urgent act. And you’re left to watch and hope it doesn’t end up being reckless.
“The importance of maximizing revenue now is amplified by the harsh reality that the losses could be even more significant next season. That’s why the NBA and NHL are doing everything possible to complete their 2019-20 seasons, bubbles and asterisks be damned. That’s why MLB, the NFL and other leagues are adamant about at least getting something out of this season, even if they are forced to stop. That’s why college football, the great revenue generator for athletics of major universities, won’t give up the dream. They’re all bracing for a multiyear struggle and employing the only thing they know to use in this situation: the ability to persevere….
“What’s next? What happens after these difficult times? What’s the encore to the strangest year in modern-day sports? No one was prepared for a pandemic, and sadly no one seems to be preparing for the next one.
“Perhaps it would be okay to take a chance and consider this another once-a-century disaster. But that could be a huge mistake. This pandemic has magnified our vulnerabilities as a nation. They apply much more than a widespread disease. A different kind of crisis could put us back in this same place, divided and unwilling to sacrifice.
“As best it can, sports should prepare for the next disruption. And preparation requires revisiting financial models (especially in college), cutting back on the arms race with facilities and amenities, planning better for rainy days and operating like true businesses instead of playthings for the wealthy.
“Nike has debuted another wonderful ad for the sports restart. The ‘You Can’t Stop Us’ commercial, voiced by soccer icon Megan Rapinoe, is a warm and timely inspirational video. It’s wonderful in its optimism. But the return of these games also should provide some solemn thoughts.
“There is gloom sloshing around in this joy. Sports can be stopped. Sports have been stopped. This comeback isn’t merely a testament to persistence. It’s a warning that, to rebuild, sports will need to exhibit unprecedented agility.”
--We note the passing of former Oklahoma defensive back Rickey Dixon, who died Saturday at the age of 53 after a long battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), according to former Sooners coach Barry Switzer.
“He died in his home in DeSoto, Texas, with his family around him,” Switzer posted on Twitter. “He was one of the greatest players (who) ever played (for) the Sooners.”
Switzer saw something special out of the scrawny defensive back when he recruited him out of Wilmer-Hutchings High School in Dallas. He didn’t get an offer from any other Southwest Conference school.
Switzer encouraged him to put on weight and when he arrived on OU’s campus, Switzer told the incoming freshmen – a group that included Troy Aikman, Keith Jackson and Lydell Carr – that Dixon was likely to wind up the best of the group despite his small stature.
And Dixon then helped the Sooners win the 1985 national championship and in his final season, 1987, Dixon was dominant, setting a school record that still stands with nine interceptions. His 17 for his career remains second all-time to Darrell Royal.
Dixon’s biggest moment with the Sooners came in the 1987 matchup with No. 1 Nebraska when he picked off two passes, the second of which helped seal the win by No. 2 OU and put the Sooners in the Orange Bowl with a 17-7 road win. That season, he was a consensus All-American and shared the Jim Thorpe Award as college football’s top defensive back with Miami’s Bennie Blades.
He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2019.
Dixon was the No. 5 overall pick of the 1988 NFL Draft by the Bengals and spent six seasons in the NFL. His best season was 1989 when he started all 16 games and had three of his six career interceptions.
He was first diagnosed with ALS in July 2013 when he began losing weight and had occasional pain that was first believed to be arthritis.
Doctors told the family the disease was possibly caused by repeated blows to the head during his football career.
I’m not even trying to keep up with all the players to opt out of the 2020 season due to Covid concerns. I wrote of Chiefs guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif being the first to do so, and then he was joined by three Patriots starters on Tuesday (linebacker Dont’a Hightower, offensive tackle Marcus Cannon and safety Patrick Chung), and Vikings nose tackle Michael Pierce, who had signed a three-year, $27 million deal with the team in free agency, and Chiefs running back Damien Williams, who led K.C. in rushing yards with 498 despite playing only 11 regular-season games (and then 104 yards and two touchdowns in the Super Bowl win over San Francisco), and Giants left tackle Nate Solder, a cancer survivor, who was slated to make $9.9 million in base salary….and about 30 more.
Guys are in camp. But they are in the midst of their 14-day acclimation period before there are any extensive team drills, contact, etc.
--We started today’s WGC FedEx St. Jude’s Invitational with the following leaderboard.
Brendon Todd -12
Byeong-Hun An -11
Rickie Fowler -10
Brooks Koepka -9
Justin Thomas -8
As I had Mr. Todd in my DraftKings lineup, there was a thrill up my leg…cough cough. Visions of mega $s dancing in my head all Saturday night. How would I spend the potential $20?! [Net $17.] Two six-packs of Coors Light and $2 for the children?
Alas, it wasn’t to be. Todd, as is his wont recently, folded late…the rest of my lineup as well.
But what’s this? I actually eked out $5? [Net $2.] Sorry, kids…it’s going for a medium coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts. Not you.
Enough about me…what we ended up having is an amazing story. Justin Thomas won his 13th career title, age 27, 3 months…the 3rd-youngest to do so! Thomas shot a 65.
But what makes it even greater is that Jim “Bones” McKay, Phil’s long-time caddie who the prior two weeks was on the bag for Matthew Fitzpatrick, taking a break from his NBC duties and guiding the lad to two good finishes, was on JT’s bag, under a two-week contract including next week’s PGA Championship; Thomas’ regular, Jimmy Johnson, battling dizziness. Seriously, incredible stuff.
--Alex Myers / Golfworld
“If you’re already sick of Bryson DeChambeau, you’re not going to like hearing this. Bryson plans on being around for a long time. A really, REALLY long time.
“Of course, we are nowhere near sick of him. This PGA Tour Content King continues to give us stuff to write about. Even on a day in which he made news for trying to get a drop because of some ants (LOL), he managed to out-do himself with something else he said.
“In an interview with GQ, DeChambeau dove into the details of his workout regimen and his diet, even explaining that he’s found the purest water has a pH of 9.5. It was all pretty standard Bryson stuff until you get to the last question, which somehow prompted him to give this ambitious – and random – goal.
“ ‘Have you always been this curious and into the ‘why’ behind your training and nutrition?’”
Bryson: “I’ve always been interested in life in general, growing up. I always questioned everything. I didn’t have a lot of resources when I was young. I couldn’t go down all these roads with these questions that I asked at an early age. But now that I’ve been able to have some success, I’ve kinda gotten deep into most of these things and only taken what has added value to me. I’m always trying to add more value to my life in general. I mean, my goal is to live to 130 or 140. I really think that’s possible now with today’s technology. I think somebody’s going to do it in the next 30 or 40 years. I want humans to be better. I want them to succeed. I want to say, Hey, this is all of the stuff I’ve experienced that helped me do my best. If it helps you, great. If it doesn’t, well, let’s keep working on it. Let’s keep figuring stuff out. That’s my take on life.”
Alex Myers: “Wait, wait, wait. One hundred and THIRTY or FORTY?! WTF?! That’s longer than the sport of golf has even been around in this country! Even Gary Player thinks that’s a bit much.
“By the way, only one human being in history is on record as living even 120 years. That’s a French woman named Jeanne Calment, who lived an astonishing 122 years and 164 days. Maybe Bryson thinks his French last name gives him a better chance at longevity.”
Some golfers such as Justin Thomas mocked Bison.
“What in the hell are you even talking about dude.”
Myers: “Shhh, JT. Just let the guy keep talking. It’s good for business. Good luck, Bryson. We’re pulling for you in this quest.”
Actually, left unsaid is that Bryson is setting us up for a new product…his line of “lifetime shakes…designed to add years to your life. Get the first month’s supply for just $10, including shipping!” [Subsequent months will cost $129.95.]
--The USGA confirmed the U.S. Open will be held at Winged Foot Golf Club in September, but without spectators.
--You gotta love the blunt talk from Brooks Koepka. In an interview with Golfweek, the issue of last year’s Northern Trust came up. The interviewer, Justin Ray, said he was standing with Ricky Elliott (Koepka’s caddie) when Bryson DeChambeau asked him to tell Brooks to make any comments about slow play to his face.
Ray: “When you got the message, you went right over to talk to him. That face-to-face stuff doesn’t happen much on Tour.”
Koepka: “Golfers hate confrontation. I know what it is, but they’re afraid of it. With a lot of guys, when they fire somebody, they’ll have their manager fire them instead of having the balls to do it themselves. That’s ridiculous. If you have an issue, go say it face to face. Listen, I don’t have to like you, but I can respect you. I’ve never had a problem with Bryson. I just thought he was slow. Then when he went up to Ricky and was like, ‘Tell your man to come find me and say it face to face,’ well, I thought that was kind of an oxymoron to go to Ricky. I thought it was kind of cowardly, if I’m honest. But at the same time, if he’s going to say that then I’m going to go up and say, ‘Okay, I’m here.’”
Ray then asked Koepka, “Who’s your best friend on Tour?”
Koepka: “I’m not close with any of the guys out here. We are friends, but at the same time I’ve got enough friends. I see these guys 22 weeks of the year. When I go home I don’t need to see them for another 30 weeks, you know?”
Koepka said the whole supposed friendship with Dustin Johnson “got blown out of proportion because we worked out in the same gym. We no longer do that… I’ve got all of the friends I need, friends that I grew up with and enjoy being around. They’re not big into the golf scene. I don’t go play with guys when I’m at home. I don’t stick to myself, but if I’m practicing I’m not trying to help other guys out at the same time. I’m not going to tee it up in a practice round with guys. I feel like you’re giving them an advantage in how you see the golf course and strategy.”
--56-year-old Miguel Angel Jimenez played in his record-breaking 707th European Tour event this week, the Hero Open in Birmingham, England. Jimenez even shot an opening round 64, two off the lead, before fading to T-34, the event won by England’s Sam Horsfield.
Jimenez broke Sam Torrance’s record.
But to give you an idea of the money problems the European Tour is having, Horsfield won ‘just’ $185,000, vs. what last week’s winner of the 3M Open on the PGA Tour, Michael Thompson, bagged…$1,188,000, which is actually one of the lower purses of the year.
--Davis Love III announced he’s no longer with CBS Sports. Well that was short. Love said he wanted to return his primary focus to playing.
“Since golf returned in June, CBS has allowed me time to focus on my family, play a few tournaments, and bring some stability back in a difficult year,” Love said on Twitter. “I have realized in this time my passion to play is still strong, and my heart yearns to be home.”
Speaking with Golf Digest, Love said he realized how difficult the job of talking about the sport on TV is. He also said he was surprised how nervous he was.
--I don’t follow Formula One like I used to as a kid (when many of my favorite drivers died…safety limited in that era…)…today I leave that up to my brother who watches the races Sunday mornings, most of them in Europe.
But I have to note that six-time world champion Lewis Hamilton won his record seventh British Grand Prix at Silverstone. Bro and I had the awesome experience of being at Brands Hatch way back in 1968…where we have great pics of Bro with his hero, Dan Gurney, and me standing next to Denny Hulme…God bless Aunt Jean for efforting that.
Anyway, what will be memorable for F-1 afficionados is that Hamilton won the race running on three tires the last lap…his 31-second lead evaporating…by, err, the second, only his skill carried him through the finish.
Hamilton said after, “I was able to stay calm and really measured…I heard that Max (Verstappen) was catching up at crazy speed;” Hamilton’s engineer Peter Bonnington counted down the gap on the final lap as the champion limped towards the checkered flag. “I could hear, seven, six, five…and I just managed to keep it together.” He has no idea why the tire went down.
So Lewis Hamilton picked up his astounding 87th career win, just four shy of Michael Schumacher’s all-time record.
--And in NASCAR, I had a big DK win here as well, until it wasn’t. Brad Keselowski with his 33rd career win at Loudon, New Hampshire (third this season), Denny Hamlin second.
I’m going to have a sitdown with my NASCAR team this week…we need to up our game. Because, again, it’s about the children…and Coors Light.
--My interest early on in the restart is minimal…actually, not even that. Maybe when we get to the playoff semis I’ll care.
But I can’t help but note former North Carolina State star T.J. Warren, now in his sixth season in the NBA. I have to admit I hadn’t really noticed that he’s carved out a solid career, averaging 19.6, 18.0, and 19.2 points per game his last three years for Phoenix, and now Indiana, though he hasn’t played a full season due to injuries.
So Saturday, in the Pacers’ 127-121 victory against the Philadelphia 76ers, Warren suddenly went off for a career-high 53 points on 20-of-29 shooting, including 9-of-12 from 3-point range. His season-high was 36, and previous career-high was 40 with Phoenix. Only Reggie Miller (57) and Jermaine O’Neal (55) have scored more in an NBA game for Indiana.
--Arsenal won a record 14th FA Cup, 2-1 over Chelsea behind Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s two scores, the Gunners thus securing a place in the Europa League next season. Helluva finish for Arsenal in an otherwise disappointing campaign.
I do have to note that American Christian Pulisic, who tallied Chelsea’s lone goal, has played terrifically since the Premier League’s restart and clearly has proven he can hold his own with the sport’s elite…and that’s good for U.S. soccer overall.
But I can’t believe I missed this game. I thought it was today. It was yesterday. #Idiot
--Women’s World No. 1 Ash Barty is bowing out of the upcoming U.S. Open due to coronavirus concerns. The Australian has yet to decide whether she will travel to defend her title at the French Open in late September.
Novak Djokovic, Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka are among those committed to the U.S. Open, the first two also saying they will play at Roland Garros.
--We note the passing of actor Wilford Brimley, 85. He was best known to many for his television commercials for Quaker Oats, but on the big screen known for playing Ben Luckett in the 1985 film “Cocoon.” And he was the grizzled baseball manager in “The Natural.”
While ne was never nominated for an Oscar or Emmy Award, Brimley amassed an impressive list of credits. In 1993’s John Grisham adaptation “The Firm,” Brimley starred opposite Tom Cruise as a tough-nosed investigator who deployed ruthless tactics to keep his law firm’s secrets safe.
Brimley also had a recurring role as a blacksmith on “The Waltons” and the prime-time series “Our House.”
“Wilford Brimley was a man you could trust. He said what he meant and he meant what he said. I’m sad that I will no longer get to hear my friend’s wonderful stories. He was one of a kind,” Brimley representative, Lynda Bensky, told Newsweek.
He suffered from diabetes mellitus, which prompted him to appear in American Diabetes Foundation commercials to educate the public on the disorder.
--The great director Alan Parker died. He was 76. Parker was nominated for the best-director Oscar for the 1978 film “Midnight Express,” one of the more disturbing, and terrific, films of all time, and again 10 years later for “Mississippi Burning.”
Parker directed a wide variety of other films like “Fame,” “Birdy,” “Angela’s Ashes,” and his first film, “Bugsy Malone” in 1976. Music was often a key to his films, and it was no surprise he directed “Pink Floyd: The Wall.” In 1991 came “The Commitments,” a lighthearted tale about a band in Dublin. And in 1996 he directed the film version of “Evita.”
--Ben Jipcho, a Kenyan distance runner who was best known for his role in the 1,500-meter race at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City, died of cancer. He was 77.
For old-time track fans, Jipcho set a torrid pace in the race to aid his countryman, Kip Keino, in defeating American Jim Ryun, the favorite.
Kenyan runners won eight medals in Mexico City, taking advantage of the high altitude that was familiar to them back home. But Jipcho was not one of them. Instead, Kenyan officials used him in a plan to give Keino an advantage after he had lost to Ryun in a 1,500-meter semifinal. Ryun had not lost a mile or 1,500-meter race in three years and held world records for the 800, the mile and 1,500.
So Jipcho was sent out as the rabbit to tire Ryun out and it worked.
Jipcho said after he wasn’t really willing to fulfill the role, but the Kenyan folks said Keino was getting old (he was three years older than Jipcho) and thus more deserving.
So Jipcho ran the first 400 meters in a stunning 55.9 seconds, with Keino in third place, and Ryun in the back of the field. Jipcho kept up the pace through 800 meters when Keino took the lead. Keino won in 3 minutes and 34.9 seconds, Ryun second, a full three seconds behind. Jipcho faded to 10th.
Several years later, Jipcho told Ryun that he regretted his role, that the tactic undermined the Olympic spirit and Ryun’s chances at gold.
Ryun told the AP in 1989, “I said, ‘You didn’t have to say that.’ But he felt he had to do it.”
In 1972, Jipcho won silver in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, Keino winning the gold.
Jipcho went on to more success, running the second-fastest mile, 3:52.0, at a meet in 1973 in Stockholm, Ryun then holding the record at 3:51.1.
Jipcho then turned pro to earn some money for his family. After winning a mile race in El Paso in 1974, he told Sports Illustrated, “The $500 will buy some cows for my farm in Kenya.” [Richard Sandomir / New York Times]
Personally, I was a huge Jim Ryun fan and as a 10-year-old was crushed when he lost the 1,500 to Keino.
--The killer of one of Uganda’s best known mountain gorillas, Rafiki, has been jailed for 11 years.
Felix Byamukama pleaded guilty to illegally entering a protected area and killing a gorilla.
Byamukama had previously said the gorilla attacked him and he had to kill Rafiki in self-defense, according to the Uganda Wildlife Authority.
Mountain gorillas are endangered with just over 1,000 in existence and the UWA said “Rafiki has received justice.”
Byamukama has killed other rare animals, such as a small antelope known as a duiker.
I’d put the guy in a cage with wild hyenas.
--From USA TODAY:
“It was Caitlin Lukehart’s turn to snag the next paddlefish.
“But she was too tired from already catching several big ones, so she let her husband have the next turn on the pole.
“The twist of fate Sunday gave James Lukehart a likely world record paddlefish weighing 146 pounds, 11 ounces. It also broke the current Oklahoma paddlefish record by several pounds.”
The behemoth was snagged at Keystone Lake, west of Tulsa. The guide found the fish on his fish finder. Thankfully, the paddlefish wasn’t out of water long during the official weighing process and was released. It was estimated to be 25 to 35 years old.
It’s easy to find a picture of the catch. Very impressive. Good job, Lukehart!
--There continue to be ongoing bull shark sightings off the south shore of Long Island. Stay safe, my friends.
Actually, be reckless as hell…I need to juice ratings.
“Bull shark kills 14 total jerks who ignore lifeguards’ warnings!”
Top 3 songs for the week 8/3/63: #1 “So Much In Love” (The Tymes) #2 “Fingertips, Pt 2” (Little Stevie Wonder) #3 “Surf City” (Jan & Dean)…and…#4 “(You’re the) Devil In Disguise” (Elvis Presley) #5 “Wipe Out” (The Surfaris) #6 “Blowin’ In The Wind” (Peter, Paul & Mary) #7 “Easier Said Than Done” (The Essex) #8 “Judy’s Turn To Cry” (Lesley Gore) #9 “Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport” (Rolf Harris) #10 “Just One Look” (Doris Troy…just six months from…The Beatles!)
Golf Quiz Answer: Walter Hagen won four straight PGA titles, 1924-27, and Peter Thomson won three straight British Open titles, 1954-56.
Next Bar Chat, Thursday…or sooner.