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Rory Tells The Shark Where To Stick It!
Add-on posted early Wed.
***A little computer gremlin hit this column as you’ll see, in terms of the formatting. Stuff happens.
U.S. Open / LIV
--Phil Mickelson had his pre-tournament news conference on Monday and everyone observed it was just “sad.” Phil looked sad, the topic is sad (or infuriating, depending on your take), and this is a guy who blew it…his chance to have 30 years as Golf’s favorite elder, a la Arnie and Jack, shot to hell.
“I have had strong opinions ideas, let’s say, regarding most of the governing bodies, and I’ve done a poor job of conveying that,” Mickelson said. “I’ve made it public, and that’s been a mistake. That’s one of the mistakes I’ve been making, and I try to, going forward, be a lot more thoughtful with my words and actions and try to keep a lot of those things behind closed doors.”
Mickelson was asked about a letter he and other players who competed in the first LIV Golf event received from Terry Strada, a widow with three children, whose husband was killed in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Strada is the national chair of the 9/11 Families United coalition.
“Given Saudi Arabia’s role in the death of our loved ones and those injured on 9/11 – your fellow Americans – we are angered that you are so willing to help the Saudis cover up this history in their request for ‘respectability,’” Strada wrote. “When you partner with the Saudis, you become complicit with their whitewash, and help give them the reputational cover they so desperately crave – and we are willing to pay handsomely to manufacture.”
Strada noted in her letter that Osama bin Laden and 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudis.
“I would say to the Strada family, I would say to everyone that has lost loved ones, lost friends on 9/11 that I have deep, deep empathy for them,” Mickelson said. “I can’t emphasize that enough. I have the deepest of sympathy and empathy for them.”
In a statement to ESPN Monday night, Strada said Mickelson and other LIV players should be “ashamed” of what they’re doing.
“They are helping the Saudi regime ‘sportswash’ their reputation in return for tens of millions of dollars, at the very same time our government is rolling out more damning evidence of Saudi culpability in the 9/11 attacks,” she wrote. “As the PGA Tour commissioner said Sunday ‘you’d have to be living under a rock’ to not understand the implications of involving yourself with the Saudis.”
Mickelson said he plans to play in the remaining seven LIV events this year and The Open Championship at St. Andrews. As for competing in PGA Tour events in the future:
“So I think it’s been pretty public that I’m suspended [from the PGA Tour] along with a bunch of other players, so it would be only speculative going forward,” he said. “I am going to play the LIV events. I am going to play the British Open, but anything other than that would be pure speculation. I don’t know how this is all going to play out.
“My preference is to be able to choose which path I would like, one or the other or both. I feel that I gave as much back to the PGA Tour and the game of golf that I could throughout my 30 years here, and through my accomplishments on the course I’ve earned a lifetime membership. I intend to keep that and then choose going forward which events to play and not.”
Mickelson tees off at 1:47 p.m., Thursday, playing with Shane Lowry and Louis Oosthuizen.
We’re all waiting to see how the fans react.
But no one expects Phil to be contending on Sunday.
On the other hand, the more interesting reaction would be if Dustin Johnson is contending on the back nine Sunday, playing with a Justin Thomas or Scottie Scheffler.
Mark Cannizzaro / New York Post
“A U.S. Open will be played this week at one of the most historic venues in golf, yet the talk around The Country Club on Monday was not about the third major championship of the year.
“No. It was about LIV Golf….
“This, of course, is not good for golf….
“This has become a ‘one-or-the-other’ choice when it doesn’t have to be.
“How long this division remains in place – and it’s going to get worse before it gets better as more PGA Tour players will chase the Saudis’ bottomless money pit – isn’t known, and that has many of the top players disturbed.
“At the top of that list is Justin Thomas, who’s been one of the strongest voices defending the PGA Tour in its battle with LIV Golf. Thomas on Monday spoke with passion about his concern with where this is going, using the word ‘sad.’….
“ ‘I tossed and turned and lost a lot of sleep last week thinking about what could potentially happen,’ Thomas said. ‘I grew up my entire life wanting to play the PGA Tour, wanting to break records, make history, play Presidents Cups, play Ryder Cups. The fact that things like [the product of the PGA Tour] could potentially get hurt because of some of the people that are leaving, and if more go, it’s just sad. Everything has got a price, I guess.’
“Those prices have been staggering, with Phil Mickelson
reportedly being paid $200 million, Dustin Johnson $125 million and Bryson DeChambeau $100 million.
“ ‘It’s astronomical money that they’re throwing at people,’ Thomas said. ‘There’s going to be some kind of number that’s going to get people to think about it, and they’re reaching that number with a lot of people. Selfishly, I don’t want anybody to leave.’….
“Thomas said one of the things that bothers him about the rush of publicity LIV Golf has gotten is that it’s taking attention away from the U.S. Open….
“ ‘This is the U.S. Open, and this is an unbelievable venue, a place with so much history, an unbelievable field, so many storylines, and yet that seems to be what all the questions are about.
“ ‘That’s unfortunate. That’s not right to the USGA. That’s not right for the U.S. Open. That’s not right for us players. But that’s, unfortunately, where we’re at right now.’”
Ian O’Connor / New York Post
“(Mickelson) sounded nervous and appeared unnerved by some of the questioning. Deep down, while packing a fatter wallet in his back pocket, the escape artist has likely come to the realization that there’s no escaping this one.
“Will the adoring masses now abandon him? ….
“Though his accomplishments are dwarfed by those of Tiger Woods (whose aren’t?), the 45-time tour winner and six-time major champ could go down among the 10 greatest players ever. So when LIV golfers were pressed on the brutal slaying of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Mickelson was front and center. When 9/11 families wrote to the American players expressing their outrage over their partnership with the Saudis, Mickelson was the first player addressed on the latter.
“ ‘How can you live with yourself when you take money from an organization that killed 3,000 people on 9/11?’ Doug Mello, the father of American Airlines Flight 11 victim Chris Mello of Rye, NY, told The Post by phone… ‘It’s too little, too late. …He seems to be trying to weasel his way out of this. I have no empathy for Phil and the other guys whatsoever. I fight like hell to keep my son’s memory alive, and I’ll go to my grave saying, ‘Don’t ever forget.’ And here, 21 years later, you have some superb golfers in decline who are just out for the money. Come on, just do the right thing. If you turn your back on your country, good luck down the road.’ ….
“Mickelson acted like a man Monday who know’s there’s a series of ominous storms ahead.
“Right after his news conference ended, he was part of a two-cart, two-police-officer motorcade ride straight to his courtesy car. At 1:24 p.m., Phil Mickelson wheeled his white Lexus SUV out of the players’ lot, with no clear escape in sight.”
--Back to Rory McIlroy’s win on Sunday at the Canadian Open, I never have enough time to add all the final facts, but I do have to note that in winning his 21st career PGA Tour title, he passed Greg Norman, which gave Rory much satisfaction in this current environment.
“My 21st PGA Tour win, one more than somebody else,” he said after. “That gave me a little extra incentive today and I’m happy to get it done.”
“I had extra motivation of what’s going on across the pond,” Rory said. “The guy that’s spearheading that (league) has 20 wins on the PGA Tour and I was tied with him and I wanted to get one ahead of him. And I did. So that was really cool for me, just a little sense of pride on that one.”
Tuesday, at his press conference, Rory offered no sympathy to his peers who have gone into business with the Saudis and now are facing unrelenting criticism from multiple sides.
“My dad said to me a long time ago, once you make your bed, you lie in it, and they’ve made their bed,” McIlroy said. “That’s their decision, and they have to live with that.”
--As for the issue of how the majors will treat LIV Golf, all four are businesses, first and foremost, and save for the Masters, it seems likely they will allow the LIV players to participate, as the USGA is doing this week.
But the organization left the door open to what might happen next year with their qualification process that would clearly factor in LIV Golf, but not in a positive way.
“Our decision regarding our field for the 2022 U.S. Open should not be construed as the USGA supporting an alternative organizing entity, nor supportive of any individual player actions or comments,” the USGA said in a statement. “Rather, it is simply a response to whether or not the USGA views playing in an alternative event, without the consent of their home tour, an offense that should disqualify them for the U.S. Open.”
But as Alex Miceli of Sports Illustrated and Morning Read notes:
“Would the USGA really want to put the quality of the U.S. Open in jeopardy?
“If they did deny players, what would their television partners and sponsors say when the field, interest and ratings started to suffer?
“Would denying LIV players not send the wrong message and would it not be the biggest story and ultimately upstaging its own event?”
Just some of the issues the majors face.
--Very much tied to the majors is the Official World Golf Ranking. This is put together by an independent board, outside of the PGA and DP World (European) tours, and if the LIV fields are strong enough, and with just a few ‘names’ they will be, they’ll have to get points for their events.
The points, and the ranking, are crucial in terms of being eligible for the majors, so we’ll soon learn, I’m sure, how the OWGR is treating LIV. As writer Alan Shipnuck remarked the other day from the Centurion Club tournament, if Tiger’s charity invitational for 20 golfers gets points, it’s inevitable the LIV events will.
So this is huge, and it is highly doubtful the OWGR will blacklist LIV, which thus gives the majors protection to allow LIV players into its events.
--Going back to Sunday, I didn’t have time to get in Commissioner Jay Monahan’s comments on LIV in his interview with Jim Nantz.
“It’s been an unfortunate week that was created by some unfortunate decisions, those decisions being players choosing to violate our tournament regulations. …It’s my job to protect, defend and celebrate our loyal PGA Tour members, our partners and our fans, and that’s exactly what I did. I don’t think it was a surprise to anybody (suspending the LIV players from the tour), given how clear I had been about how we were going to handle this situation.”
Asked by Nantz why players couldn’t compete on both circuits, Monahan began his reply with a question of his own: “Why do they need us so badly?”
“Because those players have chosen to sign multiyear, lucrative contracts to play in a series of exhibition matches against the same players over and over again,” Monahan continued. “You look at that, versus what we see here today, and that’s why they need us so badly.
“You’ve got true, pure competition – the best players in the world here at the RBC Canadian Open, with millions of fans watching. And in this game, it’s true and pure competition that creates the profile and the presence of the world’s greatest players. That’s why they need us. That’s what we do. But we’re not going to allow players to free-ride off our loyal members, the best players in the world.”
As to whether the likes of Dustin Johnson and Mickelson could one day be allowed back, given the PGA Tour faces legal challenges to its suspension, Monahan told Nantz: “We’ll see how things continue to develop, as we do go down the road here.”
Monahan at one point in the interview also said: “Why is (LIV) spending so much money, billions of dollars, recruiting players and chasing a concept, with no possibility of a return? At the same time, there’s been a lot of questions, a lot of comments about ‘growth of the game.’ And I ask: How is this good for the game that we love?”
Monahan also posed a rhetorical question to players who have left for LIV Golf or were considering it: “Have you ever had to apologize for being a member of the PGA Tour?”
--Lastly, I just went back over the earnings list for the 48 players in the LIV Golf event in London and I honestly recognized just 18 of the 48. That will change at the second tournament when Bryson, Patrick Reed, Pat Perez and probably a few more turn out. But I still don’t have an answer to the question, what happens to those in the first field who are bumped from the second?
--The Warriors went up 3-2 on Monday night in San Francisco, 104-94, as Andrew Wiggins had the best game of his career on the biggest stage, 26 points and 13 rebounds, on a night such a performance was badly needed, Steph Curry contributing just 16 points and a rather stunning 0 for 9 from 3-point land, especially after his spectacular performance in Game 4.
Curry’s 0-fer from downtown broke his NBA-record streak of 132 straight postseason games with at least one 3, along with his NBA-best run of 233 consecutive games with a 3 between regular-season and playoffs combined.
Klay Thompson also had a big contribution, 21 points, including five 3s.
For Boston, Jason Tatum and Marcus Smart were solid, but Jaylen Brown sucked (5 of 18 from the field).
The story, though, was Wiggins, the former overall No. 1 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft whose first eight seasons have been solid, just nothing spectacular, and he appeared in his first All-Star Game this season.
It’s just you look at the guy and wonder why he can’t have more nights like Monday? Well, Monday happened, as they say. And he was terrific in Game 4 as well, 17 points, a career-high 16 rebounds.
So good for him. This is how legacies are built…in the playoffs.
Game 6, Thursday, back in Boston.
--The Atlanta Braves won their 12th straight Monday in Washington, 9-5, to cut the idle Mets’ lead in the NL East to 5 games.
But the Braves lost All-Star second baseman Ozzie Albies to a broken foot after taking a swing in the fifth inning. He took one step, fell to the ground and later hopped into the dugout. Shortly after, the Braves announced he had suffered a fractured left foot.
The typical timeline for such a fracture is four to six weeks, but it can take much longer depending on the severity. And then Tuesday the Braves put Albies on the 60-day IL.
The Braves then won No. 13 last night, 10-4 over the Nats, blasting five home runs.
--The Mets, back home from a grueling west coast swing, got a much-needed boost from starter Chris Bassitt, whose struggles I chronicled last time.
Bassitt threw eight scoreless as the Mets shutout the Brewers 4-0. So the lead in the NL East remains five games.
--Well that didn’t take long. Washington’s Stephen Strasburg made his first start of the season the other day, getting shelled, and was due to start Tuesday night against the Braves, but Monday he was headed back to the injured list after feeling discomfort following a bullpen session.
Tuesday, we learned it was a rib injury. No timeline.
--The New York Post’s Jon Heyman noted that the Cubs, in losing to the Yanks 18-4, did manage to halt their streak of zero hits in 48 at-bats with runners in scoring position – worst in 40 years. Holy Toledo! Or since its Illinois, Holy Moline!
--Speaking of New York, the Yankees entered play Tuesday against the Rays 44-16, 8 ahead of Toronto, 9 in front of Tampa Bay.
How dominant have the Yanks been? They lead the majors in OPS, slugging, home runs (94), ERA (2.84) and more. They are on pace for 119 wins, which would top the MLB seasonal record of the 2001 Seattle Mariners, who won a record 116.
And then the Yanks shutout Tampa Bay 2-0, with Gerrit Cole getting back on track, six scoreless, as he improved to 6-1, 3.33.
So the 45-16 Yanks lead the Blue Jays by 9 (Toronto also losing last night) and the Rays by 10.
--St. Louis veteran right-hander Miles Mikolas came within a strike of tossing the Cardinals’ first no-hitter in almost 21 years in the second game of a doubleheader last night against the Pirates.
But rookie Cal Mitchell laced a double just beyond the reach of center fielder Harrison Bader, Mikolas leaving the game having thrown a career-high 129 pitches. Reliever Packy Naughton picked up the final out for a 9-1 win (Mikolas yielding an unearned run in the fourth on a two-base error and a pair of groundouts).
St. Louis (37-27), having won the opener of the twin-bill 3-1, leads the Brewers (34-29) by 2 ½ in the NL Central.
--The Dodgers’ Tony Gonsolin continued his outstanding start to the 2022 season, throwing 6 1/3 of one-hit ball as the Dodgers beat the Angels 2-0. Gonsolin is a phenomenal 8-0, 1.42 ERA.
The NL West looks like this….
--Johnny Mac sent me a note on a game, June 14, 1974, where the Angels beat the Red Sox 4-3 in 15 innings in Anaheim. The thing is, Nolan Ryan went 13 for the Angels, 10 walks, 19 strikeouts…235 pitches!
Luis Tiant went 14 1/3 before surrendering Denny Doyle’s walk-off double in the bottom of the 15th. While his pitch count isn’t known, he had just four walks and five strikeouts.
Pitch count wasn’t official until 1988, and since then, Tim Wakefield’s 172-pitch, 10-plus-inning start for the Pirates against the Braves, April 27, 1993, is the most. Edwin Jackson’s 149-pitch no-hitter for the D-backs on June 25, 2010, ranks as the highest pitch count of the last 12 seasons, best I can tell.
The reason why we think Ryan’s pitch count is accurate, not that you would doubt it when you think of 10 walks and 19 strikeouts, for starters, is because his pitching coach, Tom Morgan, kept track on a handheld clicker.
Ryan then threw six scoreless against the Yankees in his next start on three days’ rest.
By the way, the winner for the Angels was Barry Raziano, who threw two scoreless, the only win of his 15-game career.
--The College World Series is set, play starting Friday.
In one bracket…5 Texas A&M, 9 Texas, Notre Dame and Oklahoma (which late Sunday ousted 4 Virginia Tech).
In the other….Arkansas, Ole Miss, 14 Auburn, and 2 Stanford.
Notice the absence of top seeds, including, shockingly, No. 1 Tennessee, which was eliminated by Notre Dame, only the Fighting Irish’s third appearance in the CWS in their program’s history (1957 and 2002).
Tennessee had been considered one of the greatest college baseball teams in history and here they didn’t even make it to Omaha.
In fact, the curse of the top seed continues. The current college baseball tournament format was implemented in 1999, and that year, the top overall seed was Miami and they won it all. But no top overall seed since has won the championship as Tennessee continues the trend.
--I posted before the conclusion of the NASCAR Cup race at Sonoma Raceway in California, and have to note the historic win of Daniel Suarez, the 30-year-old becoming the first Mexican and second Latin-American driver to win a race in NASCAR’s top series. The sport has needed Suarez, and Bubba Wallace, to succeed to bring in some new fans and now both have a victory. Suarez’s win could be very big.
“I have a lot of people to thank in Mexico. My family, they never gave up on me. A lot of people did, but they didn’t. I’m just happy we were able to make it work.”
It was his 195th Cup Series race and Suarez said he took inspiration from a group of 350 people he met before the race, all wearing red t-shirts that identified them as “Daniel’s Amigos.”
When Suarez took the lead on Lap 60, he said he looked up at the crowd of supporters up on the hill.
“All of them were cheering. All of them were exciting,” he said. “I wasn’t going to let them down.”
--Serena Williams had a surprise announcement Tuesday. She is returning to tennis after nearly a one-year absence. Williams, 40, received a wild-card berth to play at Wimbledon, as she continues her chase for a 24th major title.
Williams hasn’t played a singles match since her last trip to the All-England Club last summer, where she was forced to abandon her first-round match with a right-leg injury, walking off Centre Court in tears.
--Boxing legend Manny Pacquiao is not backing down from some vile Instagram posts concerning his stance on homosexuality, where the current member of the Philippines’ House of Representatives has included various Bible verses, stating in no uncertain terms that homosexuals should be killed. And this was a day after he lost his sponsorship deal with Nike because he compared gay people to animals.
Oh brother. The stuff he’s written is so awful, I won’t post it.
--Here’s a story that should piss all of you off…I sure am. Yosemite National Park officials are asking for help identifying the people behind an incident that left 30 sites tagged with graffiti last month.
Rangers have found 30 sites that were spray-pained with white and blue graffiti. Most of it was about 3 feet by 3 feet, and some of the tags were as large as 8 feet by 8 feet, according to park officials. The damage was done on the Yosemite Falls Trail.
What a bunch of bastards. Under federal law, vandalism of a national park is considered a misdemeanor that can bring a $100 to $500 fine and three to six months in prison. I’d give them life without parole.
--Last time we had a situation in India where a sloth bear devoured a couple walking in the woods.
This time, “A 70-year old woman in India was trampled to death by an elephant – and her corpse was then bizarrely attacked by the same beast at her funeral,” according to a story in the Independent.
Maya Murmu (didn’t know her) was fetching water from a well in the eastern Indian state of Odisha when an elephant came barreling toward her, per reports. The pachyderm had escaped from a wildlife sanctuary located in a neighboring state.
The elephant trampled the woman, who ultimately died of her wounds at a nearby hospital.
“Murmu’s family was then performing her last rites before lighting a funeral pyre when the elephant allegedly returned and grabbed her body.
“The animal threw the corpse in the air and then ran away, a local outlet reported.”
The family completed the ceremony and the elephant did not return.
Just another reason to hold off on traveling to India until authorities can figure out what is causing animals there to act up. I’m thinking it’s tied to the Indian government buying too much Russian oil, a real slap in the face to the West, and Ukraine.
Next Bar Chat, Sunday p.m.
Add-on up top by noon, Wed.
Baseball Quiz: Name the 14 Los Angeles Dodgers to win the NL Rookie of the Year award since 1960. Answer below.
It’s the Avalanche against the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning, after the Lightning ended the Rangers’ dreams of another comeback, winning Game 6 in Tampa 2-1 in crushing fashion for Rangers fans.
New York was totally outplayed throughout the contest, but goalie Igor Shesterkin was spectacular and kept the Rangers in the game. Then, with just under seven minutes to play in their season, Frank Vatrano tied the game up at 1-1. We seemed destined for overtime.
But just 21 seconds later, Tampa Bay captain Steven Stamkos netted his second of the night, 2-1, and that’s where we ended, the Lighting winning the series 4-2.
I said before the series started that for Rangers fans it’s been a successful season regardless of what happened from here on and it was. It’s just very disappointing that they couldn’t perform better, particularly in Game 5 at the Garden, after taking a 2-0 series lead. The Rangers only had five goals combined in the last four losses.
For the Lighting, goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy, after a shaky start in Games 1 and 2, played like the best goaltender in the world, as he’s known, the rest of the way.
It should be an outstanding Finals, Game 1 Wednesday in Colorado.
--Friday night, Stephen Curry was terrific, 43 points on 14 of 26 shooting, 7 of 14 from 3, 10 rebounds, and because of him the Warriors evened the series with the Celtics at 2-2, Game 5 in San Francisco on Monday.
What made Curry’s performance even better was that he suffered a foot injury near the end of Game 3’s loss, but he looked just fine Friday.
Curry needed help and he got it from Andrew Wiggins, 17 points and a career-high 16 boards.
The Warriors have won at least one road game for 26 consecutive playoff series.
Game 6 will be back in Boston, Thursday.
--The Mets have been hanging in there, 4-4 on their current West Coast swing prior to Saturday’s game against the Angels*, but the thing is, Atlanta and Philadelphia are on fire. The NL East was supposed to be a tight division, with the Mets, Braves and Phils battling it out, but then the Mets took control early and the other two struggled mightily.
Now, thru Friday, Atlanta had won nine straight and Philadelphia eight in a row, the last seven under interim manager Rob Thomson (who replaced Joe Girardi).
The Mets dodged a bullet in San Diego last week when both Pete Alonso and Starling Marte suffered what appeared to be serious injuries, but Alonso is already back after taking a pitch to his hand, while Marte was to be back in the lineup on Sunday night.
But Saturday, the Mets received a good dose of Mike Trout and Ohtani, as Trout returned after being out a few games with a groin injury to slam two home runs and a double, while Shohei Ohtani doubled and homered in an 11-6 thrashing.
Sunday, their game tonight, sees the Mets’ lead now down to 5 games as the Braves won their 11th, 5-3. Philadelphia’s streak ended at nine.
*The Angels broke their franchise record 14-game losing streak on Thursday, Ohtani (4-4, 3.64), pitching seven innings of one-run ball while hitting a 2-run homer in a 5-2 win over the Red Sox.
At the same time, Saturday, the Braves beat the Pirates 10-4, while the Phils and Zack Wheeler shut out the D’Backs 4-0, the tenth straight for Atlanta, and ninth straight for Philadelphia. The Braves were now just 5 ½ back.
Separately, the Mets have a real problem in their starting staff in that Chris Bassitt, who would be No. 3 behind a healthy Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom, but is now counted on more heavily in their absence, has a 7.32 ERA in his last five starts, after starting the season at 2.34 for his first seven.
Bassitt, if nothing else, is brutally honest. “I’m beyond embarrassed and really upset I am putting our bullpen guys in a position to basically clean up the rest of the game. It’s something I literally never have gone through.”
He’s a free agent at the end of the season and had been hoping for a nice 2- or 3-year deal from the Mets. He has an incentive to get his act together.
--The Yankees continue to roll, 9 of 10 after beating the Cubs in Chicago, Friday night, 2-1.
Even when New York’s vaunted starting staff stumbles, as it did Thursday night, the offense then bails the guy out.
Thursday, Gerrit Cole gave up a career-high five home runs to the first 16 batters he faced, 2 1/3, 7 earned, but the Yanks won 10-7 as the bullpen threw 6 2/3 of scoreless, one-hit relief.
But once again there is murmuring about Cole, who saw his ERA climb to 3.63. Which Cole will show up in the postseason?
Anyway, Saturday the Yanks blasted the Cubs 8-0, hitting six home runs, two more for Aaron Judge, Nos. 23 and 24. Jordan Montgomery threw seven scoreless for the win.
So 43-16, 10 of 11.
Make that 44-16! Not only did the Yanks obliterate the Cubbies this afternoon 18-4…but Matt Carpenter had 2 home runs, a double, and 7 RBIs! As in Matt Carpenter, who has totally sucked for three seasons (2019-21), and is 36-years-old….a guy who was literally in baseball’s wilderness, before Yankees GM Brian Cashman brilliantly saw something in him that could help the team, now has 13 RBI in 24 at-bats…six home runs!
Why if he had 480 ABs, he’d obliterate the record book…the editor wrote with a smile.
--The Dodgers were on pins and needles Saturday, after Walker Buehler exited Friday night’s 7-2 loss to the Giants in San Francisco with right elbow discomfort. Buehler had thrown 70 pitches and yielded three runs in four innings.
The Dodger ace had Tommy John surgery in 2015 and said ever since he has had various sensations in his elbow over the years. But this one “was just a little bit different and something we need to check out,” he said.
And then Saturday we learned Buehler was placed on the 15-day injured list because of a right forearm strain, but, he won’t be picking up a ball for six to eight weeks, and then he’ll have to rebuild his arm strength, though at least surgery isn’t deemed necessary. Nonetheless a huge blow.
Clayton Kershaw at least came back Saturday, allowing 2 runs in four innings (limited to a pitch count) in a 3-2 loss to San Francisco. Kershaw said he felt great.
--Byron Buxton of the Twins was a preseason favorite for AL MVP, which wasn’t surprising, given his performance in 2021, but this is a guy who is never able to stay on the field. Literally, Buxton has just one season, 2017, where he appeared in more than 100 games!
Last season, in 61 games, 235 at-bats, though, he slammed 19 home runs, had 23 doubles, 50 runs scored, and a 1.005 OPS.
Could he stay healthy in 2022 and lead the Twins to an AL Central title?
Well, Buxton once again got hurt, but he’s now healthy (for how long is unknown) and entering Saturday’s game against the Rays he had five homers in his last three contests, giving him 17 on the season in just 43 games for the first-place Twinkies.
--Washington’s Stephen Strasburg returned to the mound, Thursday, going 4 2/3 and yielding 7 earned in a 7-4 loss to the Marlins.
After all his heroics in the 2019 run to the World Series championship, he had pitched 5 innings in 2020, and 21 2/3 last year. That’s it. The guy was paid $35 million in each of 2020-21 (pro-rated in 2020 due to the reduced schedule), and is making $35 million per through 2026.
But the Nats have a title, largely because of him, and the Mets haven’t won it all since 1986…and that’s the real bottom line for a baseball fan.
--White Sox fans are calling for manager Tony La Russa’s head, particularly Saturday after the team blew a 5-run lead and lost to the Rangers in 10 to fall to 27-30.
It’s the culmination of a number of events over the season involving the 97-year-old…oops, 77-year-old…especially the inexplicable intentional walk he ordered to the Dodgers’ Trea Turner with a 1-2 count(!) on Thursday. The next batter, Max Muncy, smacking a three-run homer.
La Russa’s explanation was absurd and not even worth noting.
And then today, possibly compounding Tony’s woes, starter Michael Kopech left after 13 pitches…Kopech with a 1.92 ERA.
--The NCAA Baseball Championship continued with super regional play this weekend to winnow the field down to the eight entrants for the College World Series in Omaha next week.
And Notre Dame shocked the baseball world, taking out #1 Tennessee to advance to the CWS, along with Texas A&M and Oklahoma (OU taking out #4 Virginia Tech), as I go to post.
--Oklahoma won its second straight Women’s College World Series by beating Texas.
Before I get into the whole LIV Golf situation, we did have a helluva leaderboard heading into the final round of the RBC Canadian Open outside Toronto today.
Tony Finau -11 …after a third-round 62
Rory McIlroy -11
Justin Thomas -9 …after a 63
Sam Burns -9
Wyndham Clark -9
Alex Smalley -9
The first four on the leaderboard were Nos. 18, 8, 6 and 9, respectively, in the Official World Golf Ranking.
Well…Rory, despite stumbling on 13 and 16, shot a 62 for his 21st PGA Tour win, and as Jim Nantz and Nick Faldo said after, in essence sent a message to Greg Norman to go f--- himself. [Actually, Nantz and Faldo didn’t come that close to saying that…but I did.]
Justin Thomas stumbled himself to finish third, but had a 64, ditto Tony Finau, who was solo second.
Great stuff…that can’t be supplied by Norman’s crap. [And your editor had his biggest win ever at DraftKings for golf…remember, bet with your head, not over it.]
Justin Rose had a legitimate shot at 57 or 58…but finished with a stupendous 60 for a T4. [There have been 12 sub-60 rounds in PGA Tour history, headed up by Jim Furyk’s 58.]
After the first-ever round of the LIV golf Invitational Series began Thursday, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan issued a memo to players saying that all 17 PGA Tour members in the 48-player LIV field would be suspended indefinitely, and that those who gave up (resigned) their membership would not be allowed to compete in PGA Tour events via a sponsor exemption, which had been viewed as a possible loophole.
This last bit was a surprise to tournament officials who said sponsors and tournament directors had not been notified in advance.
Monahan’s memo was stern, but also did not state how long the suspensions would last. It’s a warning to those considering doing this in the future that their path back to the PGA Tour – if they want it – might not be so easy.
Monahan also stated that players who had resigned their membership would be removed from the FedEx Cup Points List starting next week.
The PGA Tour, like any other employer or organization, has the discretion to enact rules of conduct of its members, employees and independent contractors. One of the provisions in the PGA Tour Player Handbook and Tournament Regulations is that each PGA Tour member acknowledges the commissioner, the tour’s policy board and the appeals committee have the authority to permanently ban a member from playing in a tour co-sponsored, approved or coordinated tournaments if the member violates its regulations. The handbook also provides that a player ceases to be a member of the PGA Tour if, in the judgement of the policy board, the member commits a serious breach of the Tournament Regulations, the PGA Tour’s Code of Ethics, or otherwise conducts himself in a manner unbecoming of a professional golfer.
One such regulation generally prohibits tour players from playing in events when there is a PGA Tour-approved or sponsored event taking place at the same time. Per the handbook, players who reach the 15-event minimum (which a member must meet as a condition of their membership voting rights) are eligible for three conflicting-event releases per season, which is why so many tour players were allowed to play in the Saudi Invitational earlier this year. However, the regulations also state such requests can be denied.
The tour is adamant they have the legal authority to issue disciplinary measures, and LIV Golf’s CEO Greg Norman has openly expressed his desires for players to challenge that authority, which it seems Ian Poulter, for one, is going to do.
Monahan also said in his statement:
“I am certain our fans and partners – who are surely tired of all this talk of money, money and more money – will continue to be entertained and compelled by the world-class competitions you display each and every week, where there are true consequences for every shot you take and your rightful place in history whenever you reach that elusive winner’s circle.
“You are the PGA Tour, and this moment is about what we stand for…it’s about lifting up those who choose to not only benefit from the tour, but who also play an integral role in building it. I know you are with us, and vice versa. Our partners are with us, too. The fact that your former tour colleagues can’t say the same should be telling.”
LIV Golf replied in a statement, calling the PGA Tour’s punishment “vindictive” and said it “deepens the divide between the Tour and its members.”
“It’s troubling that the Tour, an organization dedicated to creating opportunities for golfers to play the game, is the entity blocking golfers from playing,” LIV Golf said. “This certainly is not the last word on this topic. The era of free agency is beginning as we are proud to have a full field of players joining us in London, and beyond.”
Sergio Garcia, who resigned his membership, didn’t seem to care, and I couldn’t give a shit about Sergio. Phil Mickelson didn’t comment, but expressed the day before that he thought as a lifetime member of the PGA Tour he should be allowed to play when he wants.
Rory McIlroy said the following:
“I think it’s a shame that it’s going to fracture the game. I think if anything, the professional game is the window shop into golf. If the general public are confused about who is playing where and what tournament’s on this week and, OK, he doesn’t get into these events, it just becomes so confusing. I think everything needs to try to become more cohesive, and I think it was on a pretty good trajectory until this happened.”
Rory added: “But for me I want to play on the PGA Tour against the best players in the world. And I think for me, speaking to a few people yesterday and one of the comments was, anything, any decision that you make in your life that’s purely for money usually doesn’t end up going the right way. Obviously money is a deciding factor in a lot of things in this world, but if it’s purely for money it’s not, never seems to, you know, it never seems to go the way you want it to.”
Justin Thomas repeated previous thoughts that his peers are entitled to choose where they wish to play.
“You know, it’s a bummer. I mean, I think a lot of us are – I don’t know if annoyed or tired is the right word. I mean, it’s just one of those things.
“I don’t dislike DJ [Dustin Johnson] now,” JT went on to say. “I don’t think he’s a bad dude. I’m not going to treat him any differently. It’s like he’s entitled to choose as he wishes. Like I said, it doesn’t make him a bad person. Now I’m disappointed and I wish that he and others wouldn’t have done it, but that’s their decision.”
Bryson DeChambeau joined the LIV Golf crew. Rocket Mortgage then cut ties with Bison, citing its relationship to the PGA Tour for its decision, as it serves as the primary sponsor to the tour’s tournament stop in Detroit. RBC had dropped Dustin Johnson and Graeme McDowell last week.
Greg Norman said in a statement: “(DeChambeau) is passionate about the sport, innovation in his approach and committed to pushing the boundaries in pursuit of excellence. He’s not afraid to think outside the box and supports our mission of doing things differently to grow our game. The power and energy he brings to the course will deliver added electricity to our competition in Portland and beyond.”
Bryson is a d---.
As for the action on the course in St. Albans, England, Charl Schwartzel had a 3-shot lead heading to the third and final round of the 54-hole event over fellow South African Hennie De Plessis in the fight for the $4 million individual first prize. Both players were on the “Stinger” team, LIV having a team competition to share in a $3 million additional purse.
And Schwartzel ended up banking $4.75 million on Saturday, a one-shot victory over De Plessis (who I never heard of). $4 million for the win, and another $750,000 for winning a team event. So Schwartzel made more money in 54 holes than he had from the last four years combined, when, I hasten to add, he largely sucked.
Patrick Reed and Pat Perez followed DeChambeau’s move, both playing in the next tournament in Portland, Oregon, on June 30-July 2.
All three are assholes of the highest order, so good riddance.
Greg Norman didn’t speak to the media at the event but called the series a “force for good” in a speech at the victory ceremony, without addressing criticism of the Saudi project.
Oh, and Uasir Al-Rumayyan, governor of Saudi’s Public Investment Fund, said on stage that there would be a prize of $54 million for any player who could hit an implausible 54 at a LIV event.
Sally Jenkins / Washington Post
“Phil Mickelson looked like a fugitive from his own face as he cringed at questions inside his dirty new beard. Meanwhile, goons strong-armed the reporter who outed his gambling debts, and Greg Norman stood in the background orchestrating it all with a smile as mirthless as Goldfinger’s. What a ‘fresh and fun’ new thing this LIV Golf tour is. You may think it’s just plutomania backed by a despotic murderer and sold by duckers and hucksters, but that’s because you haven’t thought as hard as Mickelson has about how to make the world a better place with Saudi-blood-money golf purses.
“You may have been tempted to shout at Mickelson and his fellow elopers to the Saudi tour: ‘Just say you want to t be filthy rich! It’s so much more defensible than the tripe that you’re trotting out!’ But you misunderstand Mickelson’s motives: He’s not out there to grasp at nine-figure checks. He’s there in an ambassadorial role for the greater good of the game and his fellow man. Graeme McDowell and Dustin Johnson, too. If you have a problem with kicking bunker sand over the bloodstains left by crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, you simply don’t understand what a profoundly beneficent influence Saudi golf can have around the globe.
“ ‘I don’t condone human rights violations at all,’ Mickelson said, with a look on his face that suggested he was trying to choke down smuggled diamonds. ‘Nobody here does, throughout the world. …I’ve also seen the good that the game of golf has done throughout history.’
“McDowell’s turn. ‘Speaking personally, I really feel that golf is a force of good in the world,’ he said.
“The obvious follow-up question is: Exactly how has golf has been a historical force for good, if you please, especially in repressed countries? Reporter Alan Shipnuck might have pressed Mickelson on this topic after the first round at the inaugural LIV event at Centurion Club outside London, except he was hustled away from the press area by a couple of ‘neckless security dudes’ saying they were acting on orders ‘from their boss, whom they refused to name,’ as Shipnuck wrote in a tweet.
“When Shipnuck messaged LIV Commissioner Norman for an explanation, that platinum-coated mannequin replied, ‘Did not hear, thanks for letting me know,’ only for camera footage to reveal Norman was actually right behind Shipnuck as it happened, looking as if he was about to murder him for the diamonds that Mickelson had already swallowed.
“Since the golfers would not or could not answer any questions of substance before being cut off by emcee Ari Fleischer, it’s left it to the rest of us to catalogue the many ills that golf has cured all around the world and across history and to spell out the ‘force for good’ the LIV tour will bring to such needy locales as Pumpkin Ridge and Trump-Bedminster.
“In order of importance, here are the ways in which golf has been a source of indispensable virtue from ocean to ocean:
“No. 1: The irrigation of Scottsdale
“Certainly, a most meaningful historical event. Think of what a desert the desert might have become had Jack Nicklaus not whacked so many hundred-year-old saguaro cacti to introduce elevation changes and rolling Scottish-style fairways to the Sonoran ecoregion so that mid-level executives could play annual corporate outings at places names Cochise and Geronimo.
“No. 2: The motorized cart
“Invention is surely a byword of golf, and thus the Club Car and the E-Z-Go must be entered into the book of historical contributions. Without these vehicles, children of private enclaves would be denied their early F-1 lessons, and aging arthritics would not be able to drive straight to their gated townhomes.
“No. 3: The hospitality tent
“Has there been a more important contribution to the alleviation of suffering than the corporate greenside villa as a haven for Cohiba smokers and sockless gin-soaked hedgies, seeking refuge from the relentless raff and torturing sun? ….
“No. 7: The beverage cart
“There you are, stranded and parched, miles from the 19th Hole bar, when here come the refreshments in a lurchy wagon, driven by a young woman with a surly-weary expression, offering a choice between canned vodka mules, pale ale, Jim Beam and High Noon Sun Sip, accompanied, as ever, by a sweating cheese sandwich. Next to world food programs, it’s hard to think of a more munificent humanitarian contribution….
“Which brings us to perhaps golf’s greatest – and most inarguably valuable – global contribution.
“No. 9: The excuse
“As Mickelson, McDowell and the rest of their Saudi bootlicking company demonstrate, where would the soul of mankind be without golf’s influence on the creative search for self-exoneration for our bad decisions and worst shots?
“ ‘I switched from the Srixon Z-Star ball to the Bridgestone B-RXS, but I could tell in midflight it was a bad decision.’
“ ‘I really should have waited for the green to clear.’
“ ‘Did you feel that wind change?’
“No doubt Mickelson and McDowell et al. feel a change in the wind. And you can bet it feels cold despite all that warmhearted global do-gooding they say they are doing.”
Joel Beall / Golf Digest
“LIV Golf’s attempt to disrupt the sport has been nothing short of a reality show, and if you’ve ever watched a reality show you know they are entertaining, bewitching and speak to an inner craving that we’re ashamed of admitting. LIV Golf seemed right out of Bravo central casting. Melodrama! Self-sabotage! Unintentional comedy! Shady business deals! People who seem like nightmares! It was a guilty pleasure, mostly because it existed merely in the abstract. Of course the undeniable truth about reality shows is there’s not much ‘real’ about them. LIV Golf? In spite of its trappings – perhaps in spite of itself – LIV golf has proved over the past nine days it is very real, and its evolution from a concept to something concrete has massive consequences. And none of them are good for golf….
“(The) enterprise can’t be dismissed, much as the PGA Tour wishes to do so. Not after LIV’s coup of signing Dustin Johnson and in-their-prime stars like Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Reed. Not with a number of other players about to follow suit or weighing a similar jump. Not with LIV’s endless mountain of gold that would put Scrooge McDuck to shame. The operation has brought the game to the once-unthinkable precipice of a schism at the professional level.
“That’s an important delineation, ‘schism.’ Competition in any business is healthy. It can usher positive change and spur innovation and force the entities in question to be better because that is what is required to survive. Schisms…schisms can be terminal. Any doubters only need to look at the dystopian wasteland that boxing has become.
“LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman has said he does not want a schism; he envisions LIV to be additive to the sport. Norman is also rolling out a field in London this week that, with a few notable exceptions, is composed of has-beens and never-wases competing for ungodly sums of money under the misguided notion that it will somehow help a maligned government sportswash its image. How that is additive to the sport, how that is interesting to golf fans, remains unclear. In a related note, tickets remain widely available.
“If that’s all that LIV golf could be this wouldn’t be a discussion. Theoretically it could help the PGA Tour and DP World Tour, cleansing them of those stuck in the purgatory between relevance and the Champions circuit and making way for fledgling stars. But for all that it hasn’t been, LIV has shown just enough of what it could be – and the chaos it could impel – and that’s the problem.
“There’s the problem of the disruptor in question, the series being funded by the Saudi Arabian government, for it is driving this discussion and its direction seems aimless. Perhaps the issue begins with the vehicle itself. There is a fundamental fault with the competition that LIV Golf is creating, and for a second put aside the problematic strings to this venture and focus on that competition. At its heart, golf is appreciated for being the purest rendition of meritocracy, where sports aren’t given and you only make what you earn. LIV Golf is the antithesis of this spirit. It offers signing bonuses and no-cut guaranteed paydays to players most fans would not pay to see. Aside from the general curiosity surrounding its Thursday debut and a better-than-expected production, the LIV Golf presentation had no appeal. There was nothing on the line, no reason for these guys to be playing aside from the chance to line their pockets no matter how they finish. It is a glorified exhibition, a televised member-guest, and nothing more….
“No doubt, LIV Golf will move forward and potentially grow. Players will see other players – many who are lower than themselves on the sport’s hierarchy – having the Brinks truck backed up for playing in a handful of events and think, ‘Yeah, I’d like some of that.’ And they could, for LIV Golf has blank checks and a forever runway to take flight, and is willing to take others down in order for it to rise.
“Which brings us to the problem facing the PGA Tour, and make no mistake, it is bad. This is simply the first wave of defectors, especially if the majors don’t stand in solidarity with the tour. The money is too tempting and where that money comes from has not been a deterrent to a contingent of golfers. How do you sell your product to fans, telling them this is worth their time, when the very players who populated the tour are saying the opposite?
“This should serve as an intervention for the tour. It bet hard on legacy and lost. By its own popularity rankings, the No. 2, No. 5 and No. 7 players on its Player Impact Program have left. Or, framed in another light, the tour gifted Mickelson, DeChambeau and Johnson a collective $12.5 million to incentive them to stay…and were trumped by roughly $400 million from LIV Golf. That’s not including Bubba Watson, who finished 10th in the PIP and was accidentally featured in a LIV promotional video Thursday morning amid rumors he, too, is leaving. There are bigger purses, bigger bonus pools, bigger FedEx Cup bonanzas coming to the tour, but they don’t have the resources to engage in an arms race, and legacy won’t be enough….
“Sources have told Golf Digest there is a general unity behind the scenes between the tour and the other governing bodies. Still, it’s not the job of Augusta National, the USGA, the R&A and PGA of America to clean up the mess, and that the tour is beholden to them to succeed should be a wake-up call. If tour officials don’t take this moment to take a serious analysis of the product it’s presenting, they are just as much a threat to themselves as LIV Golf is to them.”
Some final thoughts…for now.
Never has there been a sports topic where my dictum ‘wait 24 hours’ is more applicable. We need to see who else is going to bolt the PGA Tour for the money? I’m looking at the World Golf Rankings and a few names wouldn’t surprise me…Cam Smith, Billy Horschel, Hideki Matsuyama, Abraham Ancer…Shane Lowry, Justin Rose… [Though in the case of Rose, would he really want to give up his Morgan Stanley gig? And his other endorsements?]
There is obviously no way Justin Thomas, Rory, Jordan Spieth, Scottie Scheffler and Xander Schauffele will.
But would Brooks Koepka? Especially if he knows his best days are over, due to his injury issues, yet he has a chance to bag $100 million+? Sam Burns? I don’t know about Sam. He just strikes me as the kind who could, as opposed to his buddy, Scheffler.
Jon Rahm would be a killer, but he has to be concerned with his legacy.
I’ll tell you who would be the ultimate coup for LIV…Will Zalatoris. But no way…no way (pleads the editor).
Anyway, there will be some big names. But here’s the deal. LIV says it is limiting itself to 48-man fields. If a few more big PGA Tour names bolt, no one has said anything about the guarantees offered the schmos in the first field! What happens to them? Like next year, what would happen to a Pat Perez (who makes his debut in the second event)? He’s not a top-48 under LIV terms after they get a few more marquee types. So, this is a big question to be answered. And if LIV were to expand to, say, 60-man fields without a cut…that is a further boatload of money for the Saudis. This is the Public Investment Fund, after all. These are supposed to be investments in money-making, not money-losing, ventures, or items for the good of the Saudi people, such as infrastructure projects. Norway doesn’t spend its massive public fund on money-losing garbage.
But aside from further player moves, we all need to wait to see what golf’s four majors do, none of which are run by the PGA Tour. We know what the USGA is doing next week, and I desperately want the LIV performers to suck wind in same!
But what’s going to happen next year, after the four inevitably get together to adopt a policy.
As I noted a while ago, Phil’s story is as much about Amy as anything else. She didn’t know he had lost $40 million+ gambling until Alan Shipnuck’s book came out. I’m sure she bought Phil’s story that, ‘Honey, it was just $1 or $2 million.’ And now she knows this other book, gambler Billy Walters’, is coming out early next year. Phil is scared to death of what Walters, who is no doubt looking for major payback, will say after Phil dissed him. You don’t mess around with the Billy Walters’ of the world.
As for Dustin Johnson, he wouldn’t have made the move if he wasn’t now married to Paulina, perhaps the highest-maintenance babe on the planet. [J-Lo and any Kardashian would be up there on the Mount Rushmore of HM as well.]
One guy whose exit for the LIV Tour is kind of puzzling is that of 30-year-old Talor Gooch, who came into the week 13th on the FedEx Cup standings, a guy clearly coming into his own. But I don’t know his situation at all.
In conclusion, Nick Faldo commented Saturday:
“No. 1, you saw those faces (of the LIV participants), you can’t feel good being a major champion to be suspended from the Tour. We’ve got two totally different golf tournaments. One, we play for tournaments and national championships over here. And the LIV Tour is what, 54 holes and no cut, shotgun start, you know, sounds crazy.
“And the other thing that is very noticeable is the players that have left. Obviously they’re in their mid-40s [Ed. not DJ, Bryson, Reed, Talor Gooch, but point taken], they’ve been out here on Tour, they’ve been battling away and they probably know they can’t win out here against these youngsters. So they’re taking the easy option to go over and try and win a boatload of cash.”
Jim Nantz noted that he was proud of CBS’ broadcast partnership and that “we’re proud of it,” before saying that he and others felt misled.
“But I think about – what I keep hearing from people, too, is a sense of disappointment, even a little betrayal,” Nantz said. “They’ve always been told the story – and I know it was true – that at some point in their careers the dream was to play on the PGA Tour, build a legacy, build your future financially.
“And the Tour’s been good to them. It’s a Tour that’s come into these communities for decades and made these communities better than how they were when they first got there. I’m talking not millions; I’m talking billions of dollars into these communities.”
Nantz also couldn’t help but note that Charl Schwartzel came into the week No. 126 in the world rankings.
Well, for this coming week it’s all about one thing. The U.S. Open Championship at Brookline. With all kinds of story lines, it should be delicious. More in my Add-on.
*** I watched Jay Monahan’s comments with Jim Nantz this afternoon and totally agree with them, including 9/11, but I’ll document some of it next time. [As in, I’m out of time….]
--Washington Commanders defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio was fined $100,000 by the team for his comments on Jan. 6, 2021, where he referred to the events at the Capitol as a “dustup” and compared that day to “riots, looting, burning” during protests in the summer of 2020.
Washington coach Ron Rivera responded:
“(Jack’s) comments do not reflect the organization’s views and are extremely hurtful to our great community here in the DMV [D.C.-Maryland-Virginia]. As we saw last night in the hearings, what happened on the Capitol on January 6, 2021, was an act of domestic terrorism. A group of citizens attempted to overturn the results of a free and fair election, and as a result lives were lost and the Capitol building was damaged.”
The fine money will be donated to the U.S. Capitol Police Memorial Fund, Rivera said.
Del Rio will address the team when the Commanders begin their mandatory three-day minicamp Tuesday. He apologized in a statement saying, “Referencing that situation as a dust-up was irresponsible and negligent and I am sorry. I stand by my comments condemning violence in communities across the country. I say that while also expressing my support as an American citizen for peaceful protest in our country.”
Rivera said Del Rio has a right to voice his opinion, “However, words have consequences, and his words hurt a lot of people in our community.
“I want to make it clear that our organization will not tolerate any equivalency between those who demanded justice in the wake of George Floyd’s murder and the actions of those on Jan. 6 who sought to topple our government.”
--We note the passing of six-time Pro Bowl running back, Don Perkins, age 84.
Perkins played for the Cowboys from 1961 to 1968, an NFL Rookie of the Year who rushed for 6,217 yards in his career with 42 touchdowns, both of which rank fourth in franchise history. He was inducted into the Cowboys’ ring of honor in 1976.
Talk about consistency, the All-American out of New Mexico had 614 to 945 yards rushing each of his eight seasons in Dallas, averaging 4.1 per career.
NIL and other stuff
I wrote a month ago that the whole NIL (name, image, likeness) situation in college sports was going to be largely a dead deal in two years as players, particularly in basketball and football, understand that the NBA and NFL teams looking at the kids as potential draft picks won’t think kindly of someone who seems to care more about picking up a few $hundred thousand over how well his team does, as there is no doubt in my mind that individual performance will suffer.
Yes, it’s a big fad now, and a royal pain in the ass for coaches trying to recruit, including through the transfer portal, if they can’t guarantee (some) kids that they’ll get superior income opportunities by coming to X, as opposed to Y.
Case in point, Ohio State star quarterback C.J. Stroud, who it was revealed that as a result of a deal with Sarchione Auto Gallery, a luxury-vehicle dealership in Belden Village, Ohio, is going to be driving a $200,000 Mercedes G Wagon, which Stroud selected over a $150,000 Bentley Bentayga. It’s his to keep through the coming season, as part of an endorsement agreement.
Well, gee, that’s great, C.J. I’m sure the NFL owners looking at you for the 2023 Draft are thinking, well there’s a checkmark in the ‘character’ box.
This, friends, is an idiot. He is heaping gobs more pressure on himself to play at a Heisman level. Maybe he’ll pull it off, at which point, sometime in late November, I’ll be forced to go, ‘Well, good for him…I thought he’d be distracted.’
There will be tens and tens of such cases in college football and basketball, and there are going to be some very jealous teammates, and anxious coaches.
The Stroud auto story hit Wednesday. Thursday, Charles Barkley weighed in on NIL deals, as well as the transfer portal.
“I hate NIL because, No. 1, I think it’s going to have tremendous resentment among teammates. They’re going to be comparing who makes the most,” he said. “The transfer portal is going to be, they’re going to be cherry picking guys every single year now, like, how much are they paying you at this school? We need to give you more to come here.”
Barkley said the NCAA is at fault for overly enforcing minor rules infractions in past years, such as coaches taking players out to eat.
“The NCAA has nobody to blame but themselves because they’ve been boneheads forever,” said Barkley, an All-American at Auburn from 1981-84. “Suspending guys for getting a free meal, suspending guys for getting an extra pair of sneakers and stupid stuff like that. And now you’ve bot the toothpaste out of the tube where every kid is going to the highest bidder.
“These little schools, they got no chance going forward. They’ve got zero chance, because they’re not going to be able to pay what these big schools are going to pay.”
Two years…that’s all it will take…for the smart athletes to wise up once they’ve seen the negative impact on supposed stars and their teams, which will influence where these kids are being drafted.
--Mo Donegal won the Belmont Stakes, giving trainer Todd Pletcher his fourth win in the race, his sixth victory overall in a Triple Crown affair. Another Pletcher horse, Nest, finished second. Skippylongstocking was third.
Mo Donegal (ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr.) won a wide-open eight-horse field without a clear favorite – We the People, a monster in the mud, opened at 2-1 with the rainy forecast but reached 7 to 2 by race time as showers held off.
Rich Strike, the stunning Kentucky Derby winner, was never a factor and finished sixth. Trainer Eric Reed had held him out of the Preakness with an eye on the Belmont, but he said they (including jockey Sonny Leon) “made a tactical error” in race strategy.
--We have us a surefire “Dirtball of the Year” candidate. The Rangers fan who knocked out a Tampa Bay Lightning supporter after the Lightning had defeated New York 3-2 in Game 5 at the Garden.
Hours later, James Anastasio of Staten Island told police he was worried that the attack would go viral, which it did.
“This may be on the Internet. Oh f---,” the guy said to an officer at the Midtown South Precinct after he was caught sucker-punching the Tampa Bay fan. The victim was left unconscious on the concourse floor but was uninjured.
Anastasio was freed on supervised release. The next day, his father told the New York Post that his son “made a choice.”
I truly wish this guy the worst.
--Paris’ police chief admitted that the policing of the Champions League final on May 28 between Real Madrid and Liverpool had been a “failure.” Initially, French authorities blamed Liverpool fans for the chaos.
--A sloth bear mauled a couple to death before devouring their bodies in a forest assault in India.
Mukesh Rai and his wife Gudiya were walking home through a wooded area in Panna when they spotted the beast.
The creature “tore their bodies apart before feeding on the carcasses,” reports the Times of India.
Cops arrived on the scene, but not for an estimated four hours, after the bear had chowed down on the couple, and reportedly it took two further hours to tranquilize the bear and capture it.
I didn’t see if the beast (who I guess tired of his normal diet of ants and termites) will be brought to trial, but the sloth bear, native to India, is endangered.
Top 3 songs for the week 6/15/63: #1 “Sukiyaki” (Kyu Sakamoto) #2 “It’s My Party” (Lesley Gore) #3 “You Can’t Sit Down” (The Dovells)…and…#4 “Da Doo Ron Ron” (The Crystalls) #5 “I Love You Because” (Al Martino) #6 “Blue On Blue” (Bobby Vinton) #7 “Those Lazy-Hazy-Crazy Days Of Summer” (Nat King Cole) #8 “Still” (Bill Anderson) #9 “Hello Stranger” (Barbara Lewis) #10 “18 Yellow Roses” (Bobby Darin…C week…six months from British Invasion…)
Baseball Quiz Answer: Fourteen L.A. Dodgers Rookie of the Year winners since 1960.
Cody Bellinger 2017
Corey Seager 2016
Todd Hollandsworth 1996
Hideo Nomo 1995
Raul Mondesi 1994
Mike Piazza 1993
Eric Karros 1992
Steve Sax 1982*
Fernando Valenzuela 1981
Steve Howe 1980
Rick Sutcliffe 1979
Ted Sizemore 1969
Jim Lefebvre 1965
Frank Howard 1960
*Our thoughts and prayers to the Sax family, who lost a boy in the recent Marine Osprey aircraft training accident near San Diego, Capt. John J. Sax, 33.
Add-on up top by noon, Wed.