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Tiger and the Aftermath
[Posted Sunday p.m.]
NHL Coaches Quiz: The other week I saw that Islanders coach Barry Trotz had won game No. 850 behind the bench (now 855), placing him third on the all-time NHL coaching wins leaderboard. So I was embarrassed how I didn’t know the top five on the list, aside from one obvious pick. Name the other four aside from Trotz. Answer below.
College Basketball Review
Since last chat, a recap of another chaotic week, with a further reshuffling of the Top 25 to come when it is released Monday afternoon.
5 Illinois lost to Michigan State 81-72, while an awful Kansas State team (7-18, 3-13) upset 7 Oklahoma (14-6, 9-5) 62-57.
2 Baylor returned to play and beat Iowa State 77-72, and 14 Texas ended 17 Kansas’ winning streak 75-72.
15 Virginia fell to North Carolina State 68-61, and 20 Arkansas beat 6 Alabama 81-66.
In another huge Big Ten matchup, 3 Michigan continued their rather miraculous play in whipping 9 Iowa 79-57, and Michigan State pulled off its second top-5 upset of the week, beating 4 Ohio State 71-67, the Spartans still just 13-9, 7-9.
3 Michigan moved to 18-1, 13-1, with a 73-57 win at Indiana, while 7 Oklahoma lost again, this time 94-90 to Oklahoma State.
But the big upset was Saturday night, as 17 Kansas rebounded from its loss to Texas to hand 2 Baylor its first loss, 71-58. The Bears are now 18-1, 10-1; the Jayhawks 18-8, 12-6. [Kansas outrebounded Baylor 48-28.]
So without a question Kansas not only continues its string of 30 consecutive NCAA tournament bids after going through a midseason dry spell, but they probably will get a top-four seed, which they have attained every year since 2000…which is even more impressive than 30 straight appearances.
Yet another biggie as Butler (9-13, 8-11) beat 8 Villanova (15-4, 10-3) 73-61, the Wildcats a putrid 2 of 27 from three! The Bulldogs won despite making only 9 of 20 from the free throw line. [They hit 50% of their field goal attempts, 27 of 54.]
And then 9 Iowa defeated 4 Ohio State, 73-57.
In other games, North Carolina’s Roy Williams became the fifth Division I men’s basketball coach to reach 900 wins last night, the Tar Heels with a big 78-70 win over 11 Florida State (14-4, 10-3), UNC securing an NCAA tournament bid as they improved to 15-8, 9-5.
Williams joins Mike Krzyzewski, Jim Boeheim, Jim Calhoun and Bob Knight in the 900 club, and he’s the fastest, doing so in just his 1,161st game.
Lastly, I have to note the recent play of my Wake Forest boys. I was writing all season that amid major Covid issues, the Deacs were playing hard, with little talent, for first-year coach Steve Forbes. They started out 3-9 in ACC play, but had played tough in all but three of the contests.
Alas, after league loss No. 9, a crushing 92-85 loss in overtime at Florida State two weeks ago, the Deacs have played absolutely awful…losing four straight by scores of 84-60, 80-62, 60-39, 84-46…the last score their game at 16 Virginia Tech yesterday, the Hokies 15-5, 9-4.
Saturday, the Deacs shot 15 of 55 from the field (27.3%), and 10 of 32 from three. Wednesday, in the 60-39 loss to Clemson, Wake was 12 of 47 from the field (25.5%), and 5 of 24 from downtown. That has to be the worst two-game shooting performance in school history.
But we’ll learn everything we need to know at the end of the season when it comes to Coach Forbes. How many kids leave the program? That was the big ongoing issue with the last coach, Danny Manning…zero continuity in the program.
--One more…speaking of transfers, the Pitt Panthers (9-9, 5-8) are losing their second- and third-leading scorers, Au’Diese Toney and Xavier Johnson; both entering the transfer portal. The two were averaging 14 points a game apiece and probably would have had Pitt preseason top 25 next season.
--'One more’, part deux…South Carolina’s men’s basketball program was placed on probation for two years by the NCAA on Thursday for former assistant coach Lamont Evans accepting between $3,300 and $5,800 in bribes from a sports agent.
The NCAA’s decision put an end to South Carolina’s role in the college basketball corruption case that began in 2017.
The Gamecocks largely avoided more serious penalties like a postseason ban for what the NCAA deemed a Level I infractions case. Coach Frank Martin was not named in any NCAA allegations.
Evans pleaded guilty to bribery conspiracy for taking some $22,000 to steer basketball prospects to Columbia.
--For the record, the reserves for the NBA All-Star Game were announced. Unlike with the NFL’s worthless Pro Bowl, it is a big deal to be selected for an NBA All-Star contest in terms of how you look at one’s legacy over time.
In the East, the reserves are: guard Jaylen Brown and forward Jayson Tatum from Boston; Knicks forward Julius Randle (most deserving); Bulls guard Zach LaVine; Philadelphia guard Ben Simmons; Brooklyn’s James Harden and Orlando center Nikola Vucevic.
In the West: Utah center Rudy Gobert and guard Donovan Mitchell; Portland guard Damian Lillard; Clippers forward Paul George; Lakers forward Anthony Davis; Phoenix guard Chris Paul and New Orleans forward Zion Williamson.
Speaking of Utah, they are an NBA-leading 27-7.
In the West….entering Sunday’s play…
In the incredibly mediocre East…
Milwaukee 20-13…highly disappointing
The Knicks? 17-17? They hit .500 with a 110-107 win last night over Indiana (15-17). Boy, us Knicks fans couldn’t be more thrilled. Nets fans demand a championship after the James Harden trade. Us? For a 72-game schedule, we would have been happy, more or less, with 33-39. That would have meant we were at least largely competitive. But now not making the playoffs would be a huge disappointment, though there are some wondering if an early-round exit would be worth it vs. getting another high draft pick and continuing the rebuild.
Brooklyn had its 8-game winning streak snapped Saturday, losing to Dallas (16-16) 115-98, as the Nets played without both Kyrie Irving (balky shoulder) and Kevin Durant.
Durant has missed seven straight and won’t return until after the All-Star Game (March 7). The issue here is a hamstring strain and the team is now worried this will just linger on into the playoffs.
Meanwhile, out in L.A., the Lakers, who play Golden State tonight, beat the Trail Blazers Friday, 102-93, snapping a four-game losing streak. The issue in L.A., though, is LeBron…as in James has played in all 34 games, after the Lakers wrapped up their 2019-20 title campaign late in the year; James with very little offseason rest.
So why isn’t he taking a day or two off from time to time, as is accepted in the league these days, especially during this compressed season? LeBron is playing 35 minutes per. Sit the guy down or the Lakers are going to flame out in the playoffs earlier than expected…so says your editor.
News hit Tuesday so this is a recap for the record. Yes, still some questions.
Tiger Woods was driving a 2021 Genesis GV80 SUV and Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said Tiger was driving at a “relatively greater speed than normal” when his vehicle crossed into the opposing lane of traffic at approximately 7:12 a.m. before veering off the road entirely and onto a hillside.
Personnel from the L.A. County Sheriff’s Dept. said the interior of the vehicle remained intact. That, combined with the fact that Woods was wearing a seatbelt, allowed him to escape what “otherwise would have been a fatal crash,” according to Villanueva.
Justin Thomas summed up the sports world’s reaction in those initial hours after we learned of Tiger’s crash.
“I’m sick to my stomach,” a visibly upset JT said. “It hurts to see one of my closest friends get in an accident, and man, I just hope he’s all right. I just worry for his kids. I’m sure they’re struggling.”
Justin Rose tweeted: “[Tiger], just seen the awful news. We know how tough you are, we’ve seen it a hundred times. Hoping and praying you’re ok my friend.”
Dr. Anish Mahajan, the chief medical officer at Harbor-UCLA, later said that Woods had “comminuted open fractures” to his right tibia and fibula, which are the bones directly under the knee.
“Comminuted” means the bones broke in more than two pieces and “open fractures,” or “compound fractures,” happen when a bone fragment pierces the skin.
Those types of fractures are generally more prone to infection and take longer to heal, according to experts.
To treat the breaks, doctors had to insert a metal rod into Woods’ shin bone, Mahajan said.
“He’s very fortunate to be alive,” said Dr. Kirk Campbell, sports medicine specialist and orthopedic surgeon, Department of Orthopedic Surgery at NYU Langone Health. “It’s going to take several months to just walk.”
In addition to the fractures in his lower right leg, Woods also had other severe injuries to the bones in his right foot and ankle, Mahajan said.
Those were treated by inserting a combination of screws and pins into the bones to stabilize the fractures.
Woods had “trauma to the muscle and soft tissue” of his leg that required “surgical release of the covering of the muscles to relieve pressure due to swelling.”
This means that his leg muscles swelled so much, surgeons had to cut open the tissue around them to relieve the pressure, which likely will require more surgeries down the road for Woods.
Dr. William Ricci, the chief of orthopedic trauma at Hospital for Special Surgery, described the condition as being similar to when “you break a twig in your hand, you feel that reverberation.”
“The muscles around the bone get bruised and injured,” Ricci told the New York Post. “The muscle that gets bruised and injured swells – it’s like a sausage with the lining on it.”
“It either takes multiple surgeries to get the skin closed over the muscle, or sometimes you need a skin graft to cover the muscle,” said Ricci.
Woods was then transferred the other day to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in L.A., where he has undergone further procedures, specifics not disclosed.
Tiger was not criminally charged for the crash.
“This is purely an accident,” said Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva on Wednesday. “We do not contemplate any changes whatsoever….This remains an accident. An accident is not a crime.”
But we’re waiting to get word on whether Tiger was on his phone, which would be an infraction but not a crime.
Law enforcement officials did not do a blood test on Woods at the accident scene because he was showing no sign of impairment. I was irritated by those rushing to a different conclusion because they didn’t realize he was going to the same photo shoot with Discovery and Golf Digest that he did the prior day. He was on time, not late.
The mystery is why there were no skid marks.
Mark Cannizzaro / New York Post
“(What) Woods’ frightening accident did was push the day when golf will go on with him no longer competing closer to reality. Like, really close.
“Woods’ accident, too, has led to a lot of reflection about what he has done for the game, where he has taken it and how his presence has affected so many around it.
“The PGA Tour would not be what it is today – the powerful financial machine that has lined the pockets of its players with $100 bills thanks to the sponsorships that followed Woods’ remarkable game-changing excellence.
“The corporate event for Discovery and Golf TV that Woods reportedly was rushing to get to when he crashed his courtesy SUV just south of Los Angeles would not have been taking place had it not been for what he has brought to the game. Because without Woods, there almost certainly would be no such thing as Golf TV.
“Woods, with the attention he brought to golf, changed the entire landscape of the sport, carried it from the fringes to the mainstream.
“ ‘He’s a transcendent human being, he’s iconic,’ PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said Wednesday from Florida, where he made a special trip to the WGC-Workday Championship to speak to the players about Woods and be there for them.
“If you don’t believe Woods transcended golf, dial up Twitter and take note of the people who’ve posted encouraging tweets for him, beginning with the two most recent former U.S. presidents, Barack Obama and Donald Trump.
“The most elite athletes from sports other than golf as well as the entertainment world reached out – Magic Johnson, Michael Phelps, Serena Williams, Rafael Nadal, Mike Tyson, Stephen Curry, Alex Rodriguez, Gareth Bale, O.J. Simpson, Kevin Hart, even Cher….
“ ‘Just look at the way the world has responded,’ Monahan said. ‘I mean the world. His impact is profound, his impact is perpetual.’
“The reality of Tuesday’s frightening incident is that Woods’ perpetual impact as a player now seems like a long shot to happen again.
“ ‘It’s probably a thought that no one wants to think about at the moment,’ Tyrell Hatton said Wednesday.
“ ‘We were all sort of heading in that direction where Tiger wasn’t going to be a part of the game [as a player],’ Rory McIlroy said Wednesday. ‘I’m not saying that was soon. But it’s inevitable that one day he won’t be a part of it, and that’s something that the game of golf and the Tour is going to have to adapt to.’….
“ ‘It may be the end of seeing the genius at work with a club in his hand, but there’s still a lot of other ways that he can affect the game in a great way,’ McIlroy said….
“Since his 2017 spinal fusion surgery, which finally freed up his back and allowed him to compete and excel again, Woods, humbled by what he missed by having the game taken away from him, has allowed himself to become close with the younger generation of players.
“Woods 2.0 has shown an embraceable side we never saw when he was crushing the competition. Even the most hardened of Woods skeptics had to have felt some emotion when he won the 2019 Masters and his two children, Sam and Charlie, melted into his arms alongside the 18th green at Augusta.
“If Woods isn’t able to come back to play again, it’ll be a shame, because it felt like we were just getting to know him.”
Gary Van Sickle / Morning Read
“Now, Woods, at age 45, has to climb a mountain to recovery and try to regain as much of his health as he can. It’s not about getting back to 100 percent of where he was. It’s about getting to 100 percent of what he can be. No one knows what this is yet….
“We don’t know…Woods’ prognosis, but we do know the measure of a man who won a U.S. Open in 2008 while playing with painful micro-fractures in his left leg, an event that stretched out to 91 holes due to a playoff.
“That win was more of a medical marvel than you might recall. Woods tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the summer of 2007, while jogging during British Open week, he said. Woods kept playing but finally had surgery after the 2008 Masters to remove torn cartilage in that knee joint, a temporary fix that allowed him to return to action to play the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines. If he’d had the ACL repaired, he would have missed Torrey Pines and the whole summer, and golf history would be different.
“So, in other words, we know better than to put limits on what Woods can do….
“No one who watches golf, plays it, writes about it or even casually kind of likes it has been unaffected by Woods. It’s a fair guess to say that no player in history has had a larger percentage of his shots struck in tournaments televised. Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer played in the era when golf didn’t even come on TV until the weekend for the last three, four or five holes. In the 1980s, no golf was televised Thursdays and Fridays, and even on weekends, it still was limited to a few hours each day.
“It’s no coincidence that TV coverage time exploded about the same time that Woods arrived on the PGA Tour. So did purses, thanks in large part to the ratings Woods helped deliver.
“Palmer brought golf out of the dark ages into the TV age, but Woods took it to the moon and back.”
Mike Vaccaro / New York Post…Nicklaus talking Ben Hogan…
“There was a day in April 2000; a few of us had followed Jack Nicklaus from the old media room at Augusta National into the brilliant sun of a perfect Georgia day. Two years earlier, Nicklaus had taken one more remarkable, glorious dance around Augusta’s sprawling lawns, firing a final-round 68 at age 58, good enough for sixth place.
“But he’d missed ’99 because of hip surgery, and that’s why we followed him to a spot under the Eisenhower Tree along the 17th hole. A champion’s heart and his will always outlast the rest of his body. Nicklaus was no exception. A slight limp offered proof.
“ ‘What you need in this game, more than anything, are your legs,’ Nicklaus said. ‘That’s why, to me, the greatest comeback in the history of sports was [Ben] Hogan. There were times you’d look at him walking and you wondered how he made it out of bed every morning, let alone a golf course. It’s the most incredible thing I’ve seen.’
“Hogan was already on his way to becoming one of golf’s immortals on the night of Feb. 2, 1949, when he had a head-on collision with a Greyhound bus on a road outside Van Horn, Texas. He suffered a broken ankle, broken collarbone, double-broken pelvis, smashed his ribs. It was doubtful he’d ever walk again. Somehow, after the accident, he won 11 tournaments, including six majors, often playing as few as six or seven events a year.
“It is impossible to not conjure Hogan now, and to link his story with Woods’. Woods himself always said he took inspiration from Hogan’s story during his own protracted journey back from the abyss, one that reached a climax at Butler Cabin on April 14, 2019.
“A few days earlier, Woods had accepted the Ben Hogan Award in recognition of his remarkable comeback, and said: ‘It meant a lot to me to receive this award after its namesake, what Mr. Hogan went through, what he did was truly remarkable and to have my name on a list of recipients like this is truly special.’
“Less than two years later he is back in a hospital bed, his body once again broken. Yes: we must root first that he enjoys many more decades with his kids, and that he can handle the excruciating pain he is no doubt suffering through without relapse. Those are most important. And maybe we have seen the last of him at Augusta, at Pebble Beach, at St. Andrews, at every prominent golfing place he used to command absolutely.
“If so, we must take the trade-off.
“But we can still hope for more than that. You’d like to think if Tiger Woods’ career has taught us one thing, it’s OK to always want more.”
Sally Jenkins / Washington Post
“It’s the constant quest to heal that is so alternately moving and frustrating in the story of Tiger Woods’ career over the past few years. The continual effort to be a great player for a long period has been accompanied by such an obvious price, both physically and emotionally; the personal crackup and the physical surgeries were the inevitable toll of a prodigy who became a star. And now there will have to be another convalescence, another long walk back to wellness.
“All you could think, after seeing the picture of that crushed, rolled-over vehicle, was thank God he’s alive. But after the relief, what came was despondence for him, that he has to undergo it all again, the knife and the small steps and the ceaseless questions, with the world watching and asking him for another comeback, but not really understanding what it takes from him and out of him.
“He’s had more than 10 surgeries in all now – and he’s just 45. …Five times surgeons have cut on his left knee, five times they’ve gone into his back to dig out pieces of him….
“The worst part was that even before the wreck Woods sounded so tired of the pain. ‘I don’t know what the plan is,’ he told (Jim) Nantz, seeming dispirited over yet another microdiscectomy surgery on his back….
“Woods spent a lot of years as a great champion and not an especially pleasant or self-aware guy, one whose enablers were still calling him ‘kid’ at 34. But it was a pleasure to see him so fully healed, matured and exultant when he won the Masters in 2019 and grasped so close the two children who clearly adore him and give him meaning. It was a scene you hoped could be repeated. At this point, though, you just want him to be able to stand up straight again and enjoy his life and family with a sound body and spirit….
“Great talent is not an end run around pressure. On the contrary. Nobody has ever summed up the special burden of being a great player more insightfully than baseball agent Scott Boras. Last year on a podcast with Golden State Warriors Coach Steve Kerr and Seattle Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll, Boras discussed the hidden complications of trying to help players cope with great talent. ‘They know it, they feel it, they have expectations, and then they have a dedication to it,’ Boras observed. ‘And often they have an edge, and that edge causes really a lot of issues in their lives. …Because there is fear that goes with it, and the greatest fear is: ‘I have got to be what I should be. I’ve got to be that guy that I should be.’ And it wears them out. Because once they have the great season, the most difficult season is always the next season, because the expectation, the ease of their performance and the brilliance that the fans see, it’s like they should be able to give it and give it every day. And there is almost an internal anger about what they have to go through to repeat that greatness.’
“For that rare creature who had been trying to repeat that greatness since they were a child, there is a sense of remoteness, a cut-offness, an inability to find similar experience or sympathy from others, that only exacerbates the pressure of the joint-crumpling grind. ‘They see the cars and the plane, and if they don’t try, they stop there,’ Andre Agassi once told me years ago about being a prodigy. ‘And it’s scary to be defined and judged that way. You just want to be seen for who you are.’ There are times when the whole thing makes you feel no more real than your last highlight clip. ‘Like I’ve been edited in,’ observed Agassi, who would up with his own back and psychic injuries.
“No wonder Woods sounded tired. Small wonder he drove fast.
“There is more unknown than known about what caused the accident and what the extent of Woods’ injuries are. But what’s certain is that Woods will have to put his greatness down, at least for a while, while he heals yet again. May he make this long, slow, mending walk at his own quiet pace, without obligation or burden of reputation, back to blessed health.”
Back to Ben Hogan, Bob Greene had some of the following in a Wall Street Journal op-ed:
“Hogan and his wife, Valerie, were returning from the Phoenix Open [Ed. February 1949]. At 36, he was the holder of a U.S. Open title and two PGA championships. His future seemed limitless. En route to their home in Fort Worth, Texas, they were on a narrow highway when a Greyhound bus coming from the other direction tried to pass a truck.
“Hogan, knowing the bus was about to strike his car head-on, threw his body over his wife’s in the passenger seat to protect her. She would later say, ‘It’s a good thing he did, because the engine of our car was tossed back into the seat and the steering column was shoved through the driver’s seat and into the back.’ Hogan’s injuries were devastating: his pelvis broken in two places, his collarbone shattered, his ankles fractured, his ribs chipped and blood clots forming. He would not leave the hospital for 59 days….
“The golf tour went on without him, with no realistic expectation he would ever return.
“But Hogan was Hogan, and that rendered all other considerations insignificant. Within a year of the crash that might have killed him he was, almost beyond belief, playing in the 1950 Los Angeles Open, losing to Sam Snead in an 18-hole playoff. By June he was in contention at the U.S. Open at Merion Golf club in Ardmore, Pa. In a three-man playoff Hogan won the title, shooting a 69. No one was watching on television, but in those days when people viewed their sports heroes via newsreels at their neighborhood theaters, the Movietone narrator intoned: ‘Four thousand dollars goes with this trophy, enough for Ben and his wife to celebrate in championship style. Nice going, Ben!’
“He would win 64 tour championships and nine majors in total before he retired in 1971. (He died in 1997 at 84.) When ambulance attendants pulled him from the wreckage on that February Texas highway, no one gave him much of a chance. Except for the only person who counted: Hogan himself.”
--So this week we’d normally be in Mexico City for a World Golf Championship event, but due to the pandemic, at the last minute it was moved to The Concession Club in Bradenton, Florida, with Workday picking up the sponsorship.
And what a treat it was. All are in agreement, Concession (a Nicklaus/Tony Jacklin design) is a terrific venue for a tourney. Huge risk-reward.
After three rounds we had….
Collin Morikawa -15
Billy Horschel -13
Brooks Koepka -13
Webb Simpson -12
Rory McIlroy -11
Patrick Reed -11
As Larry David, golfer, would have said of this leaderboard, ‘Pretty, pretty good.’
And Morikawa closed the deal, win No. 4, and just the second to win a major and WGC event before age 25, the other being Tiger. Collin made some super classy comments after concerning Woods. We keep looking for the next Tiger and Morikawa certainly is on course to fit the bill.
He is also now 36 of 40 in cuts made as a pro, which is spectacular.
For those of you who were watching, I do just have to add that to paraphrase Muhammad Ali, Koepka’s eagle putt on No. 17 was ‘the worst of all times!’ Koepka ended up parring it.
Brooks, Horschel and Victor Hovland ended up tying for second, three shots behind.
--With the WGC event having a limited field, we had an alternate PGA Tour event in Puerto Rico and it was another feel-good story. South Africa’s Branden Grace, who years ago was thought to be one destined for greatness with some solid performances in majors, finally picked up his second Tour victory, first in five years, with a one-stroke victory over Jhonattan Vegas.
Grace lost his father to Covid a month ago. God bless him.
--The PGA of America announced that attendance of 10,000 will be allowed at the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island Golf Resort’s Ocean Course, May 20-23, which would be the largest yet among the major professional golf tours since play restarted last summer after the Covid-19 shutdown. Spectators were banned during the four recent California events, but the Phoenix Open allowed about 5,000 per day.
10,000 is a solid number. To get a couple hundred, a 1,000 or so around the greens on Sunday will give a great feel.
--Congratulations to Annika Sorenstam, who at age 50 made her first start on the LPGA Tour this week at the Gainbridge LPGA event in Orlando, Sorenstam making the cut on the number (75-71) before finishing 79-76, +13…but focus on making the cut, which is rather remarkable.
22-year-old Nelly Korda picked up her fourth LPGA Tour win. Her sister, Jessica, six wins, won the last event.
--The senior folk on the Champions Tour were playing just their second event of the season (their tour doesn’t really kick in until April)….
--Seattle Mariners CEO Kevin Mather was forced to resign after making disparaging remarks about a Japanese player for not learning English, belittling a star prospect from the Dominican Republic for his language skills and deriding another top prospect while admitting to manipulating his service time.
Addressing a local Rotary club, he unloaded in a 45-minute chat, saying of 20-year-old super prospect Julio Rodriguez, a slugging right fielder from the D.R., “He is loud, his English is not tremendous.”
And of super prospect Jarred Kelenic, a 21-year-old prized outfielder picked up from the Mets in the disastrous Robinson Cano trade, Mather said that after Kelenic turned down a six-year contract with three club options, Kelenic will start 2021 in the minor leagues, though the team plans on bringing him up in mid-April, at which time they’ll have ensured he remains under team control for an extra year, which will piss off Kelenic, and the Players Union, to no end when they see this in print.
But Mather belittled players from the Dominican Republic for years, continually making fun of their inability to speak English.
Good riddance, asshole.
--We note the passing of hurler Stan Williams, who played from 1958-1972, accumulating a 109-94 record, 3.48 ERA. He helped the Dodgers win the 1959 World Series, and from 1960-62 for L.A. was 14-10 (his lone All-Star campaign in 1960), 15-12, and 14-12 in a rotation with Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale and Johnny Podres. After the ’62 season he was traded to the Yankees for Bill “Moose” Skowron, after which Williams was largely a journeyman, though he had an outstanding 1970 with Minnesota, going 10-1 with 15 saves, 1.99 ERA, and pitching six scoreless in the ALCS as the Twins lost to the Orioles. Actually, Williams, in four postseason games, including a critical two-inning stint in the 1959 World Series, didn’t yield a run in 11 innings.
Stan Williams was 84.
--Division I-AA (FCS) largely didn’t have a fall season due to the pandemic, so the conferences are playing a spring schedule and yesterday, Southern Illinois upset North Dakota State 38-14, thus ending the Bison’s 39-game winning streak, which included three straight FCS championships.
It was NDSU’s worst loss since 2005, the Salukis 16.5-point underdogs.
--Clemson defensive end Justin Foster announced his retirement Wednesday, saying that a combination of asthma, allergies and Covid-19 have made it impossible for him to return to the field.
Head coach Dabo Swinney said Wednesday that Foster is feeling far better than he was after initially testing positive in August 2020. However, Foster said he is “not in a position now nor do I see that position soon, to step back on the field.”
Swinney said: “He had a very tough fall,” Foster missing all of the 2020 season while dealing with Covid symptoms.
Foster is the second Clemson defensive lineman to deal with long-term Covid symptoms. Xavier Thomas tested positive last April, and symptoms persisted to the point that he was forced to sit out all of fall camp and missed the early part of the 2020 season.
Foster had been a leading member of the D-Line in 2019 and was projected to be a starter in 2020. The kid graduated last year, but could have come back. I admire his decision and wish him the best.
Saturday, Manchester City defeated West Ham 2-1, in a huge test for the fourth-place Hammers.
Today, Arsenal had a nice 3-1 win over third-place Leicester City; Chelsea and Manchester United played to a 0-0 draw; Liverpool beat Sheffield 2-0; and Tottenham finally had a nice win, 4-0 over Burnley.
I put this one last because in the Spurs’ win, Gareth Bale had two goals and a sweet assist. Since Tottenham picked him up on loan for the season, he’s kind of been held in wraps, mostly used in Europa League games, not the Premier League. His performance today will have many wondering why Jose Mourinho didn’t use him more earlier. Could he have been the difference in two games…six points? Maybe.
Standings after 24/26 of 38…Played – Points
1. Man City 26 – 62
2. Man U 26 – 50
3. Leicester 26 – 49
4. West Ham 26 – 45 …Champions League line
5. Chelsea 26 – 44
6. Liverpool 26 – 43
7. Everton 24 – 40
8. Tottenham 25 – 39
It’s all about that fourth CL spot the rest of the way. Next time we’ll talk about the relegation line. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is close to being relegated, I can’t help but add….not to inject politics into Bar Chat…it just fits.
--I only mention for the archives the suicide of John Geddert, the former U.S. Olympic gymnastics coach who led the women’s team to a gold medal at the 2012 Summer Games. He killed himself Thursday, hours after he was charged with sexual assault and human trafficking in relation to acts that occurred at a Michigan gym he owned and ran for decades.
Geddert, 63, worked closely for years with Larry Nasar, the disgraced sports physician and convicted serial child molester whose offenses were first revealed publicly in 2016, leading to a scandal that continues to resonate in the gymnastics community.
--If you were offended by my placement of ‘Man’ on the All-Species List (a new one having been released last week), you need look no further than the Lady Gaga dog-napping / shooting story. But with the two dogs’ safe return Friday, the mystery only deepened.
A woman returned the two French bulldogs who were stolen, Wednesday, when two men leapt out of a white sedan in a Hollywood, Calif., neighborhood, demanding Gaga’s dog walker, Ryan Fischer, hand them over, including a third dog. As Fischer struggled with the robbers, one of them shot him once in the chest and the assailants grabbed two of the three and sped off.
Police Saturday said they have no suspects in the attack, but they believe kidnapping the dogs was the motive and are not sure if the assailants knew the dogs belonged to the pop star.
As for the woman who walked into a police stationhouse with the dogs Friday night, she told them she believed they belonged to Gaga.
The police are not releasing the woman’s name for fear she could be harmed, and while they are saying she had nothing to do with the dognapping, the investigation continues. Police are also not saying where the woman found the dogs, but a source told the Los Angeles Times that the woman found the dogs tied to a pole.
Lady Gaga had issued a $500,000 reward for the return of the dogs, and Gaga’s representatives are in touch with the woman. Gaga is overseas filming a movie.
French bulldogs have been selling for as much as $10,000, depending on the breeding history. It is prized for its sweet disposition, plus it looks cool.
As for Ryan Fischer, he continues to recover from the wound.
--From the BBC: “A cockerel that had been fitted with a knife for an illegal cockfight has killed its owner in southern India.
“The bird’s owner was impaled in the groin [Ouch!] by the knife as the animal tried to escape. The man died on the way to hospital from a loss of blood…
“The animal was held at a police station before being transferred to a farm.”
The bird had been fitted with a three-inch knife on the leg.
Cockfighting was made illegal in India in 1960 but fights are still relatively common in rural areas. Last year another man in India was killed by their cockerel after he was slashed in the neck.
--Bruce Springsteen pleaded guilty Wednesday to drinking shots of tequila at Sandy Hook national park in New Jersey last year, but had two other charges of drunken and reckless driving dropped because his blood alcohol content was found to be well below the legal limit, as in .02, versus the .08 threshold.
I told you when this all first became public that it was absurd, and a set-up, with two a-hole cops looking for publicity. I rest my case.
Springsteen was fined $540 and Judge Anthony Mautone asked, “Mr. Springsteen I need to ask you how long you need to pay that fine?”
Springsteen replied, smiling, “I think I can pay that immediately.”
Springsteen has a few past driving violations, but nothing of a serious nature.
Jeep, by the way, which had pulled its ad featuring Bruuuuuce upon the arrest, said it would re-release it.
Top 3 songs for the week 3/4/78: #1 “(Love Is) Thicker Than Water” (Andy Gibb) #2 “Stayin’ Alive” (Bee Gees) #3 “Sometimes When We Touch” (Dan Hill…stay away from me! We’re in the midst of a pandemic!)…and…#4 “Emotion” (Samantha Sang) #5 “Night Fever” (Bee Gees) #6 “Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah)” (Chic…godawful…) #7 “Lay Down Sally” (Eric Clapton…couldn’t stand this one…) #8 “Just The Way You Are” (Billy Joel…his best…) #9 “I Go Crazy” (Paul Davis…solid tune…) #10 “How Deep Is Your Love” (Bee Gees…gee, ya think they were making some coin during this period?...C- week…)
NHL Coaches Quiz Answer: Top five on the all-time list, through Saturday.
1. Scotty Bowman (1968-2002)…1,244 wins (far and away the greatest of all time; Bowman won five Stanley Cups in Montreal, including four straight from 1975-79, won one in Pittsburgh, and then three behind the bench at Detroit)
2. Joe Quenneville (1997-2021),,,938 (currently Florida coach; also coached in Chicago, Colorado and St. Louis; won three Stanley Cups with the Blackhawks)
3. Barry Trotz (1999-2021)…855 (aside from Isles, coached at Washington and Nashville, winning the Cup in 2017-18 with the Capitals…after which ownership let him go…idiots)
4. Ken Hitchcock (1996-2019)…849 (won Stanley Cup at Dallas)
5. Al Arbour (1971-2008)…782 (won four straight Stanley Cups with the Islanders, 1979-83…so from 1975-83, just two teams in the NHL won the Cup…)
Next Bar Chat, Tuesday p.m.
I will have a Bar Chat Exclusive on Sports Greatness…spurred on by comments from Dr. W. concerning women’s tennis. Ben Hogan will be part of it, and many others.